Caring fool

This post was written 1 year ago.
Fri, 24 May 2019
I feel like writing a series of posts, stringing a narrative together, of some truths I occasionally seem to catch glimpses of, but that are difficult to express.

There are certain recurring themes:
- Competence
- Autism
- The good life (both in terms of acting morally right, and living well)
- Having an impact
- The human condition
- The individual and the crowd

Starting from a naive position. That now is definitely a recurring theme in my life, too. Being naive. I even have it in my Twitter bio, I'd rather be naive than cynic. Fool on the Hill. The Fool, my favourite card of the Tarot Deck. Walking close to the precipice but not falling down. Knowing while seeming dumb. Being open. Always beginning.

All that seems in opposition to what our lives are determined by. Progress, complexity, accumulation of power, growing divides.

Can a fool learn? Now that is an interesting question.

Does he need to learn, or should he rather teach?

While I like the figure of the fool, I am not him, but maybe he is part of me. More than he is part of other people. He might make learning difficult some of the time.

Diary - mid May

This post was written 1 year ago.
Sun, 19 May 2019
A week since my last entry, and so much seems to have changed, again. Not outwardly so much. All in the mind.

A couple of hours ago, I received an email newsletter. It is written by Zeynep Tufekci. She says of it "It's an experiment: longer writing that is not public writing." It can be found here: https://tinyletter.com/zeynepnotes. This new editon, not added to the archive yet, quite threw me. It clarified something for me. Recently, I had been thinking this: We are determined by so much more than our genes and our environment. We are a continuation of all our ancestors' lives. They play out through us, and it can be surprising. This is not what Zeynep Tufekci wrote about, but the common thread is this: Genes and personality is not enough to explain why people act in the ways they do.

In her newsletter, Zeynep pointed to this article she wrote for Scientific American: The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones. I think it is brilliant. — I have not watched GOT, though it has always intrigued me. I have read up on the story and characters, watched a summary, and then watched this current season's first episode. But it seemed a bit boring to me, and some of the acting wooden. I then heard from my colleague Alex that in seasons 7 and 8 it had got a lot worse. Zeynep thinks that too, and her analysis of why it happened, is compelling and fascinating (despite my not having watched the series). Sociological storytelling has been replaced by psychological narrative. Previously, you could understand why under certain circumstances, characters acted the way they did, even the bad ones. There were outside pressures and incentives. Now things are explained from individual predispositions, which is what Hollywood commonly does. The hero/antihero narrative whith good and evil characters. And when you do that, you cannot kill off your main characters because you rely on them to carry the psychologically motivated story. Zeynep then compares this to our current times. Much is pinned on individual people: Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Bezos, Dorsey etc. But the resulting society is not so much shaped by individuals, but by what is punished and incentivised. The structures determine much more than individual people do.

Taking it into another direction, on a personal level, I find it more comforting. There is a reason for the ways I act, the things I do. Not that I want to use that as an excuse! Things that make absolutely no sense on one level, have an explanation. I can trace back and understand the steps that got me there. But it can still be a mess, and I guess the challenge is then to find ways to resolve it.

I'd have liked to write so much more. I wanted to make so many plans. But really they are all in my head and I just need to write them down. I hope!

Tags: diary /

Diary - Spring to Summer

This post was written 1 year ago.
Sun, 12 May 2019
This is going to be a short entry. I am mainly writing it so as to start this blog again at all. I like the idea to have a diary with frequent entries again for a while, as I have done a few times before.

There is a lot going on, in so many departments. I mostly feel fine, even elated. The past year has been exciting, often quite challenging, sometimes frightening, but also rewarding. In short, it felt like an adventure. Just occasionally, like today, something else is mixed in, some kind of weariness.

My main challenge is, always, that I am interested in so many things. With regards to programming, but also beyond that. Sometimes I start reading a lot, and all over the place. On Saturday I went into town around 3pm, I wanted to buy some presents for my daughter whose birthday was today. In Waterstones, I saw a pyramid of copies of a book on display. The book was called "Moneyland". I could not help but enter the store. I picked up the said Moneyland, but then also "Maintains Pereira" by Antonio Tabucchi, and a book called "Awakening" (from 1899) by Kate Chopin. I settled at a little table with the three books and got so sucked into all three of them in turn, that I forgot everything around me. In the end I bought Maintains Pereira.

I thought I had forgotten my phone, and actually liked being blissfully unaware of the time. When I emerged I found the phone in my coat pocket, and was a bit shocked to realise it was 5 past 6. I had just sat there for three hours flat, no break, no drinks, just reading. Luckily a lot of the shops were still open and I got the presents I wanted in the end.

The night before, I had equally been drawn into reading a lot online, this time about programming and in particular functional programming, but also one post with guidelines about learning to program that had lots of useful links: https://medium.com/zerotomastery/learn-to-code-in-2019-get-hired-and-have-fun-along-the-way-d4197f96be27.

There is a balance to strike between being pulled in many directions — explore —, and more systematic approaches to spending your time; to read and to learn. I sometimes wonder if I spend too much on the first!

There's lots of things I wanted to post about Codehub, to various Slack channels, and in direct messages. There's new things we are planning to do, and if I don't post about them soon it will become more and more difficult.

And also, I need to put something together for tomorrow, documenting how I deploy to a dev site with Ansistrano, so I can show somebody else.

Today was completely dedicated to my daughter, we went down to the harbour and later to Brendan Hill, where I had a go on the swing, something I haven't done for ages! In the evening we went out eating and afterwards played a game of Catan. This again had not been planned, and I'd thought I might spend some time on the computer despite the birthday. But it was good that way, and I have no regrets.

Just now, of course, there is a bit of pressure. Sticking to something I committed to.

So, this is a snapshot of my life right now. There is much more though, and some I might write about. Most will be about programming, CodeHub, ideas and things I read, and how to balance everything :)

For now, good night.

Tags: diary /