Rough Days and Nights

It’s been another rough couple of days and nights for my Web hosting friends at Hosting Matters. First came random problems caused (I think) by a router — or “stuff” related to a router; now it’s some kind of security problem* that’s leading to headaches. I’ve probably said it a dozen times before, but I’ll say it again: I don’t envy their job. They do it superlatively well; I couldn’t handle those headaches. So much is involved in Web hosting, and no matter how proactive a host is (as the HM crew is), it seems there’s always some odd new blip waiting around the next corner. Even the best Web host is unlikely to ever reach a point where it can sit back and relax. I keep hoping that I’ll come relatively close to that point in my business, but if my business were Web hosting, I think that hope would be just that: a hope. Thus, every time something screwing happens at my host, I wince and feel their pain.

* Update: I just got word on the exact nature of the security problem but, for HM’s sake, I won’t get into details in aMMusing. I will say, however, that my remark above to the effect that a Web host can never hope to reach the point of sitting down and relaxing was oddly prescient.

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I had a really rough night two days ago in that I had this totally horrible nightmare. I’ll skip to the punchline of my terrible dream: I witnessed a plane crashing on takeoff. My whole family was on that plane — my parents, my two brothers and my sister. I was inside the terminal, and deep inside I knew they were all dead yet, as I was sobbing, I kept denying it. People were coming into the terminal through the arrivals gate; for a split second, the person coming through the door looked exactly like my sister …but then I would realize it wasn’t her. Then my parents …but same thing. I woke up crying and had a bad case of reflux. It felt desperately real. Of course, when I woke up, it was to the droning of that infernal engine above me.

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He whom I call The Slut of Seton once said, “I love my job, but there’s just too much of it.” I’d have to say that’s how I feel about my own work these days. Recently I’ve been able to put in a solid 7 to 8 hours of coding each day, but that’s not enough for all the ideas I want or need to implement. I’m amazed that we’re already at the end of January. I’ve accomplished so much since the new year has begun, yet there’s still so much left. I look forward to the day I don’t have to do everything on my own. But the “I love my job” part reinforces how I’ll probably never again be able to work in an office, especially not for someone else.

Hate Mongerers Have Killed “Argumentation”

Ah, Margaret Cho! I know Adam likes her a lot, as does spyke. Personally, I’m not as enthusiastic about her writing, even though I tend to agree with much of what she has to say. Maybe I’d be a bigger fan if I saw her on video.

But from there to such attacks on Cho? Attacks that do not address her commentaries (other than stating glaringly obvious disagreement), that merely refer to her as a “fat, ugly gook”? It’s profoundly disturbing.

Then today, I receive a nasty comment in response to my light-hearted post earlier this month on “Retro Style” (scroll to the bottom) and the comments others have posted in response. Like homophobia, misogyny and racism, “ageism” is disturbing on the grounds that a central part of the human condition is that everyone grows old(er) and nothing can be done to change that, just as one can’t change his or her sexual orientation (don’t go there!), gender (the Operation is only an option for a very few who actually want “reassignment”), or race (Michael Jackson notwithstanding). But particularly bizarre in the case of the above comment is how the URL of “f*** fags'” website was to what seems like a pr0n site of gay twinks. (The e-mail, however, was to a Yahoo address, supposedly account f***fags@.) If the comment was left by a gay man, young or old — which somehow I doubt — then …I don’t know.

I probably shouldn’t even be drawing attention to that comment. But it got to me, although not so much for being told (in an exemplary comma-spliced/run-on sentence) that “you guys sound like a munch [sic] of old homosexuals.” Rather, it’s the base mean-spiritedness of it all, which seems to have eliminated all semblance of discourse. What does anyone hope to accomplish by saying or writing stuff like that? Am I to find someone to take my “old” decrepit homosexual’s body to a pasture somewhere and ask that it be shot for the sake of sparing the rest of humanity the pain of having to see it hobble pathetically along the street? Is respect for the sanctity of human life that selective? And while we’re at it, who made you God?

Arguments today revolve around how one person’s take is “clear, simple, logical, and thus obvious.” The implication, therefore, is that his or her adversary’s take is muddy, illogical and desperately biased. But more often than not these days, the implication is that the adversary is too dumb and illogical to come up with a cogent argument. Putting down the person has become the trump card in argumentation. Any display of passion is dismissed as the hallmark of an emotional, thus illogical, argument. Disagreements are seen as a certain sign of a serious deficiency in the opponent: a weak mind that leads to illogical conclusions. (I wanted to kick he who calls himself Mosey in a thread in Adam‘s blog, yet I’m the least violent person you could ever meet!)

Now please don’t think I just grasped the notion that the world is not a pretty place, or that not all people in this world are “nice.” Nor am I a big fan of “political correctness” and the absurdities it has spawned. But it seems to me that argumentation, defined as “the presentation and elaboration of an argument or arguments” and “deductive reasoning in debate,” is as good as dead because we’ve allowed attacks on persons rather than attacks on persons’ arguments to become the only form of discourse that resonates.

In my mind, hate-mongerers from all quarters are guilty as charged: they have killed argumentation. Yet that’s precisely what we would need in these troubled times. Alas, instead, we’re stuck with ideological posturing and (what should be meaningless) personal attacks.

Welcome to the 21st century, brought to you in part by the letter I (for “Internet”).

Perspective, and Lack Thereof

I admit that I, too, was disappointed in Howard Dean’s third-place finish last Monday in Iowa, for I still believe he’s the best candidate in the roster of Democrats running for the nomination. More distressing, however, is the zeal with which his opponents — Republicans and Democrats alike — and media pundits are citing “The Scream” as evidence that he is unfit to become the president of the United States.

While I admit he should, in future, avoid “pumping up the crowd” with so much gusto, I think Dick Meyer, the editorial director of CBSNews.com, is the most reasonable in his analysis. “We constantly bemoan how scripted politics has become,” he writes, “and then we jump on any gaffe or misstatement, as with Dean.” Indeed, this view echoes my sentiment in an earlier aMMusing entry in which I came to the defense of politicians, whom I believe are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

I don’t know that much about Kerry, who won the Iowa Caucus. But he does strike me as one of those bland, scripted politicians to whom Meyer is referring. I maintain that, despite his foibles and failings, Dean is the most likely to overthrow the Bush administration in November. And where I hold that objective as tantamount, I worry that if Dean is not crowned the Dems’ presidential candidate, it’ll spell four more years of “faith-based initiatives” and other reactionary crap coming from Washington, D.C.

Jet Landing on My Head

You know the sound of a low-flying jet in the distance? Or the sound — although a bit more muted — you hear when you’re in a jet? Well, since early this afternoon, that’s what it sounds like inside my humble abode on the top floor of Fort Needham.

Through much of autumn and into this month, I’ve had to endure walking stomping and banging overhead as workmen redid the roof. The pièce de résistance of this construction project was to be the installation of a new, massive ventilation system in an attempt to bring mold under control in the building. A laudable goal, given the severity of the problem, but the execution of the solution may be seriously flawed.

From the sound of the engine that’s right above my head, I get the feeling the property owner is trying to kill a fly with a jackhammer. The devices were probably conceived for big high-rise buildings, not a three-storey walk-up with 40 units. But what’s particularly irritating is knowing that the racket is all for nothing since the outlets in the apartments — in the kitchen and the washroom — haven’t been vacuumed in …oh …probably since the building went up in the early 1960s. As a result, there’s no suction happening. None. Nada. Ziltch.

I don’t believe in the notion of “white noise.” Noise is noise; quiet is quiet. I find it hard to believe I’ll ever get used to this sound. Maybe if it’d been there when I moved in 1995, I wouldn’t notice so much. Not after 9 years in the building, though.

I won’t deny that I’m upset about this. First, the beasts were fired up on a Friday, meaning they’ll probably be on all weekend. (Then again, the supers, whom I called to complain, admitted having the control to turn them off, but they [rightly] fear getting in shit if they do.) But second — and perhaps more important — now that the property owners have spent so much money in their attempt to fix a very real problem, they’re not likely to take criticism very well, namely that this first attempt to rectify a bad situation may be just that: a (failed) first attempt. (It certainly will be a total failure if all the outlets don’t get vacuumed soon.)

So now I’m wondering if this is my “new normal” and if I’ll simply adapt since I don’t want to move out. I’m too fond of my space and my harbour view. I wonder, although I’m not terribly optimistic right now, about the clout I have to change this. Or do I?…

Things That Made Me Laugh Today

Macs
If there’s one debate that I find sooooo 1991 that I refuse to get into, it’s the Mac Versus PC debate. Both have their strengths in some ways and both suck in other ways. When I worked in traditional publishing, I was the odd guy out with my PC. Back then and now, I would readily concede that a Mac would probably have been much better for what I was doing. To this day, though, since I’ve seldom operated a Mac, I find the operating system a bit odd. And I have seen Macs, when they “decide” to get flaky, get really flaky. Thus that’s why I find this video quite funny, not because I really believe Macs suck. (Flash 6 required.)

(Anti) Marketing
I’ve made it clear before that I despise marketing, and that I’m not too proud of the fact I have a degree in “public relations.” Hence this joke, forwarded to me by e-mail today, made me laugh.

Subject: Marketing defined
The buzz word in today’s business world is MARKETING. However, people often ask for a simple explanation of “Marketing.” So here it is.

¤ You’re a woman and you see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and say, “I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Direct Marketing.

¤ You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy. One of your friends goes up to him and pointing at you says, “She’s fantastic in bed.” That’s Advertising.

¤ You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and get his telephone number. The next day you call and say, “Hi, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Telemarketing.

¤ You see a guy at a party, you straighten your dress. You walk up to him and pour him a drink. You say, “May I,” and reach up to straighten his tie, brushing your breast lightly against his arm, and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Public Relations.

¤ You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks up to you and says, “I hear you’re fantastic in bed.” That’s Brand Recognition.

¤ You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He fancies you, but you talk him into going home with your friend. That’s a Sales Rep.

¤ Your friend can’t satisfy him so he calls you. That’s Tech Support.

¤ You’re on your way to a party when you realize that there could be handsome men in all these houses you’re passing. So you climb onto the roof of one situated towards the center and shout at the top of your lungs, “I’m fantastic in bed!” That’s Junk Mail.

¤ You are at a party, and this well-built man walks up to you and gropes your breast and grabs your ass. That’s the Governor of California!