Not Enough Beeps

I had some down time in Sweet Transit so here we are. It’s been a very low-energy week, which I mostly attribute to getting a long-overdue COVID booster earlier this week. It’s actually been really nice overall—the feeling isn’t fatigue or anything like that, mainly just feeling really relaxed and mellow. “Mellow” being an unusual thing for me.

It’s surprisingly easy to fall back into old habits of giving a shit about whatever the online drama du jour happens to be. I’m thankfully less engaged than I used to be, but it hasn’t been wholly inescapable. For example, I got in an argument with someone yesterday on Discord regarding the Bayonetta 3 thing. The specifics of the controversy don’t matter; it was, in my opinion, a case of the other person conflating two separate issues. After things ended, I found myself frustrated that truthfulness wasn’t valued more, even when it conflicts with some other value.

Ultimately I was left feeling alienated. There’s definitely a tendency among leftists to be as dogmatic as anyone else, and in particular to engage in some of the same types of poor argumentation that we see elsewhere. (This isn’t to equate the two main political axes in the slightest.) I don’t like the speed-to-judgment, and the tendency towards ad hominem before all else. I understand the argument (at least that I’ve heard), namely that there’s much to be gained by attaching a strong social stigma to being a certain way, e.g. racist or sexist. There’s some truth to this, but it also represents giving up on anyone who’s wrong, which is not something I’m on board with. You have to approach people where they’re at, and you won’t make someone less racist by calling them a racist asshole (most of the time, at least). It’s related to why “my body, my choice” is a bad argument (even if it’s true): if someone genuinely believes that abortion is murder, saying “whether I commit murder is my choice, not society’s” is not particularly compelling. But we’re apparently having more fun talking past each other. Even before Twitter, there was a self-imposed word limit on political arguments.

I have a sense of the kinds of social situation I’m looking for, but not really how to find it. It’s not about finding people that agree with me about everything; instead, I’d just like to have a sense that I’m heard and that I’m valued. For all the difficulties I had in high school, I do remember an openness among my social circle and a willingness to talk about more than just what we were playing that day that I sorely miss.

At least part of this is my own “cultural” differences. For one, I’ve always hated the American tendency to talk around what we actually mean, and so much is left unsaid or distorted under the guise of “politeness.” But how do we trust what someone says if they’re only ever to tell us positive things? We tend to keep ourselves so closed off from one another, even in ostensibly friendly circumstances—that “oversharing” is even a thing says a lot.

Something this broad, i.e. “find a social niche,” is easily overwhelming. How does this even start? The answer I’m usually given is to seek out people with similar interests, but even this isn’t actually that clear in practice. Most if not all my interests are things one does in isolation (drawing, coding, reading, etc.), and I haven’t really figured out a way to turn these into social things. Meanwhile, I don’t have a good sense of when someone’s thinking/believing something means I need to walk away from the relationship or not. It’s a combination of moral scale (i.e. whether x is worse than y or some specific threshold), what I’m comfortable being associated with, the extent to which I believe in whether the person can change, and whether I’m willing to wait.

It’s easy enough to see the problem, but I rapidly fall apart when it comes to answering these questions. I’ve noticed more and more that I take a very systematic approach to things. I’d describe this mostly as rules-based, but also that these rules need to come from somewhere. Just deciding “this is my cutoff” without connecting that to something else feels arbitrary and thus meaningless. Granted there’s always going to be a point after which you cannot answer “why”, and I don’t always have a problem with that. Because it’s so difficult for me to have a single thought in isolation (they always bring their friends),

Sometimes I think my next tattoo should be a donkey.

A more prosaic decision is also on the horizon, namely what (if anything) to do this weekend. We have a couple things coming up over where my parents live (about an hour from here). I never want to leave the house when faced with the choice, but that doesn’t seem to correlate with whether I enjoy myself once I do. At the same time, it’s rare that I end up regretting the decision either way, so I can’t really use that as a criterion, either.

Coding continues apace. I’ve chipped away at the project I’m over-coding for my day job (I decided to do a terminal, text-based interface in a web browser), as well as the memorization/concentration thing. For the latter, I’ve basically figured out the page layout so that it scales/rearranges itself well. I haven’t tested it a ton, but (1) this is mostly for me, so whatever, and (2) I don’t know how I could realistically check all the possible permutations of screen resolution, browser window size, and number of cards.

I also had to sort out my initial dataset (the alphabet for Biblical Hebrew), which was more complicated than I expected. It turns out that the vowel markers (those “dots” above and below the actual letters) have not been consistent over the centuries, so I had to sort out what I would need to know to read the Old Testament versus, say, what’s used in Modern Hebrew. There was also an added rub in that my textbook doesn’t use the same transliteration scheme for their names as elsewhere. It also forced me to figure out how to do combining characters, which thankfully didn’t prove to be too difficult.

Next on the to-do list is to do a modal for picking between data sets. I’d eventually like to allow it to load data from a file too, but don’t want to have to load a file every time I use it. The longer term approach will probably be to have a sub-directory on my site that contains them all, and then just hope I can get a directory listing (or hard code the file names). Whether I go beyond that (allowing the loading of an arbitrary file) remains to be seen.

There are also a couple household tasks that I need to finally get done, namely finishing painting a wall in my home office and putting up a motion light on the outside of the house. This does kinda suggest staying home this weekend (or at least minimizing what we do); there’s one thing each on Saturday and Sunday, and they both would eat up a solid half of the day. Given that I have to catch my brain when it feels like doing something to get anything done, having somewhere to be can really screw that up (doubly so where, as here, it’s later in the day rather than first-thing).