Print Story Do something you hate! Being miserable builds character!
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Feb 21, 2009 at 10:52:18 PM EST) Reading, Listening, OBLF, ODGF, OBMS, MLP (all tags)
Listening: "Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists". Computer problems. Museums. OBLF. Web.

What I'm Listening To
Latest TTC course was Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists by Luke Timothy Johnson. 24 lectures: covers Lucian, Cicero, Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Dio Chrysotum, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Philo and Plutarch in various degrees of depth. Johnson reckons these guys get a bit overlooked in histories of philosophy, since they're too practical, didn't tend to create grand theories, and (apart from Cicero) weren't great literary stylists.

They're mostly stoics, at least to a degree. I find the practicality of stoicism quite appealing. Plutarch's line was that "character is habit long continued". Their theory was that you can build up your character in the same way as you build up your muscles in the gymnasium: by overcoming increasing challenges, by conscious exercises, by monitoring your progress, and above all by repetition. They were quite keen on pithy maxims: part of the theory seems to be that by repeating the maxims to yourself you can make yourself a better person.

So thinking about it, my original thought that I'm just too weak and pathetic to be a stoic doesn't really make sense in stoic terms. If I'm morally weak it's because I've allowed myself to form habits of weakness. By following the stoic programme, I should be able to make myself, if not strong, at least progressively less weak; if not a real stoic, at least less antistoic.

I've been trying to practice it, but with only modest success so far. I've been modestly successful at being less impatient in slow-moving crowds, at least at first. My computer woes are still bugging me though.

It's a good course, enthusiastically and informatively presented. Because these guys are a bit off to the side of the main tradition, you don't need much introductory knowledge, and it didn't recover much ground I've gone over before.

Also has a couple of lectures on the influences between Jewish and Hellenistic cultures. He makes a good case that even in the first couple of centuries BCE Jewish thinkers were using a Hellenistic philosophical framework.

Computer Woes
Thought things were finally going well when I finally got the Vista compatible wireless router. Actually found the wirelessness useful in getting consistent web access from the Gphone in my little blackspot at home.

However, on Thursday I left the Dell XPS 420 all day for the first time, and came home to find the fans roaring like a demented dragon. When I rebooted it said "Alert! CPU fan failure", though it seemed to be spinning.

Resolved to take it in to the shop on Saturday. Saturday morning though it booted up fine. Went out for a few hours... came back to roaring fans and "CPU fan failure". Presumably the motherboard wasn't sensing the fan even though it was getting power.

Took it back to the shop Saturday PM. They switched it on and... worked normally. Left it with them while they poked around and they said they couldn't see anything wrong or any loose connections. They also managed to get the original sound output working.

They said there wasn't anything they could do. I brought it back before thinking I should have asked them if they could just replace the CPU fan anyway. Might be tricky: with the quad processors everything seems to be incorporated into a single giant block.

From Googling, this has happened with a different Dell model and turned out to be a BIOS problem fixable with a BIOS update. But I tried updating to the latest BIOS, it said it was the same version as I had, and that was before the second failure.

So, not really sure what I can do when (if?) it happens again. Can I force the shop to give me my money back or a replacement computer, even though it works perfectly when it's in the shop?

It's annoying: I thought that by just walking into a shop and getting a brand-name PC I'd be saving myself hassle. My most reliable computer, which I've revived during my problems and still works, was just a budget Medion I bought from Tesco when I was broke.

Didn't have a proper look but had a quick scout around the Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism. Big exhibition, seemed very good. Constructivism was an art movement in Russian soon after the revolution, when there was a flowering of modern art before the powers that be clamped down and insisted on Socialist Realism.

Quite a variety of stuff there. Some abstract paintings, with energetic lines and bright colours. Some elegant abstract sculptures. Also some great posters, advertisements, and costume designs.

Good show: will probably go back and have another look. Surprisingly wasn't that crowded despite the hype: on the ground floor they were selling tickers for immediate entry.

Museums 2
Also had a quick look in the Museum of London, where I haven't been for a while. Liked the London Before London gallery of prehistoric stuff, which tied in with some reading I've done lately. Lots and lots of stone tools, arrowheads, some bronze swords, and various implements. Got to see a flint sickle: they were mentioned in my "Human Prehistory" cause and I wasn't sure what they looked like.

Been going pretty well, lost 10 pounds using a modified version of the Slimfast diet. Have Meal Replacement Bars for lunch on weekdays, my own small breakfast, no snacks, and my normal light levels of booze.


Wouldn't mind losing another few pounds, maybe make it a whole stone, but getting fed up with the effort, so will probably just try to maintain for a while. Everyone at work's off their New Year Diets now, and back to merrily munching cakes and snacks all day.

Been getting some twinges in my right knee. Should probably give up the running-on-the-spot part of the 5BX plan for a bit. Happened before and got better on its own.

Here's that new development "Darth Vader's Helmet" they're building near St. Pauls.


Economics. Stumbling and Mumbling on public borrowing and the credit crunch. End of the US 21% Federal spending equilibrium? (MR)

For decades, everyone pretended to have a profound ideological disagreement about the size of government, but the reality was a comfortable standoff between 21 percent liberalism and 18 percent conservatism. In the end, both sides got what they most wanted: 21 percent spending for liberals, 18 percent revenues for conservatives -- at the politically tolerable cost of a deficit averaging 2 to 3 percent of GDP.

Update [2009-2-22 14:7:4 by TheophileEscargot]: Sterling slump's silver lining.

There used to be a rule of thumb that a 1% fall in the exchange rate has the same effect on output as a 0.25 percentage-point cut in interest rates. Our own estimates suggest the effect is somewhat smaller than this - about 0.17 points. But even on this basis, the 27% decline in sterling since the start of the credit crunch is equivalent to an additional cut in interest rates of between 4 and 5 percentage points.
Britain is well placed relative to the eurozone in this regard. Eurozone monetary conditions have tightened by about 1.5 percentage points since the start of the credit crunch owing, in part, to a stronger euro. Even in normal times, a tightening of this order would slow growth significantly over a year. To face such a tightening in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the war is precisely what the eurozone does not need. We disagree with the IMF’s view that Britain will fare worst among industrialised economies.
[On fiscal stimulus]
So how does this “irresponsible and crassly Keynesian” fiscal stimulus compare with other budgetary packages? At about 1% of GDP in 2009, it is smaller than in France and Germany (both 1.5% of GDP), smaller than in the UK in 1992, when the Conservative government eased policy by 2% of GDP, and smaller still than in America (close to 4%). Moreover, the government intends to withdraw the stimulus in 2010, while other countries plan additional easing.
Articles. UK artists protest visa clampdown. George R.R. Martin posts minor Ice and Fire update, stop hating. US prison myths.

Spoof websites attempt to educate public about scam diets.

Video. How to fight.

Pics. Console wars are over. Shorpy: Personality Fat Girl. Dinosaurs fucking robots [NSFW].

< Sanity, slipping further. | In my dream last night >
Do something you hate! Being miserable builds character! | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
Computer by hulver (4.00 / 2) #1 Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:17:25 AM EST
Take a screenshot (or photo) of the error message. Take it back to them.

They can't deny it's a problem if you've got a photo of it.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock

Aha, good idea! [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:42:14 AM EST

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
heh by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:04:22 AM EST
When I was having troubles getting "Diablo II" to run because if their stupid DRM, I actually used my camcorder to make a movie of me putting the CD in the drive and then showed the screen as it popped up the "CD not found" message. Not that that helped...
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Visas by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:09:07 AM EST
My mother has similar issues with US immigration. She's a beadworker, and sponsors artists from Peru and other central/south American countries to display their work for a week during shows in museums in Santa Fe. The rules are arcane and difficult and it is often hard for the artists, who are usually dirt-poor women from villages in the back country, to meet them. (For instance, proving they have a bank account in their home country.)
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Public Borrowing by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:11:30 AM EST
What I've found interesting lately are the reports that the Fed will be buying more Federal bonds, especially those being released as part of the economic stimulus.  In essence the Fed is starting the printing presses to flood us with more cheap dollars.  The banking system isn't lending, and regardless of how much people think Americans are saving and paying down debt that's a bit off.  People aren't borrowing, but since people were using borrowing to compensate for a lack of income we aren't really building assets.  So even with an interest rate of zero there's no lending, and there's no true build-up of capital.  The Fed needs to increase inflation and it's left with one option, strarting the printing press, but doing so in a way that most people won't recognize.  Even the conservatives are accepting the thinly vieled illusion of fiscal responsibility.  The Federal Government is borrowing money from the Federal Bank, but we're supposed to beleive it won't fuel inflation. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
"Quantitative Easing" by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 06:22:01 AM EST
They really need to think up a snappier term for it, since everyone's just calling it "printing money". The Bank of England is strongly considering it... not sure the US is quite doing it yet.

It's theoretically a good way to fight deflation, but it's never really been proven to work. Japan tried it, without much effect either way: didn't seem to do any significant harm or good.

I had quite an ironic argument with Breaker over it a while ago, where I was cautiously optimistic about it and he was dead against it. Since he's massive net debtor (i.e. new homeowner) he benefits from inflation and will be harmed by deflation. As a saver, I will be harmed by inflation, and benefit from deflation.

So really I should be the one screaming out against it. Deflation for the win!
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
IIRC by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 05:23:27 AM EST
I made the point that I'd rather take the hit and see the country back on its feet sooner than count the interest on my savings.

I still stand by that; QE is going to fuck us over for years.

[ Parent ]
You're not facing a short-term hit though by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 05:50:33 AM EST
Suppose they avoid QE and we have, say, 50% deflation across the board.

So, prices in the shops are halved, my salary's halved, your salary's halved, my rent's halved, the price of your house is halved...

But your outstanding mortgage stays the same, and your monthly mortgage payments stay the same.

Basically you either declare bankruptcy and lose the house, or you spend years digging yourself out of negative equity...
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Underwater mortgage by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #15 Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 08:02:30 AM EST
And that precisely the problem we're starting to face in the states.   Rational people will start to look at the return on investement on paying down a mortgage without supporting real estate value and deciding it doesn't make sense.  I've started the thought process myself, but I haven't determined what the break point is where maintaining the mortgage isn't going to be worth it.  The inventory of excess homes in the US isn't really expected to clear out for another ten years (regardless of what the politicians say).

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
I thought by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 02:33:28 PM EST
Helicopter drop was pretty snappy.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
Inflation by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Mar 01, 2009 at 07:57:27 AM EST
As a solid debter I'm waiting with baited breath for the inflationary cycle.  The government has two choices increase inflation or get banks to write down debt.  The current economic cycle isn't going be broken until there's some sort of equalibrium created.  There is of course bankruptcy, but under the Bush bankruptcy deform of a few years ago it doesn't help.   That and the zombie banks need to be broken up or taken into receivership and refloated.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Looking forward to Rodchenko and Popova by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 01:18:29 AM EST
I'm saving it for a dull weekend because I know I'll love it. Went to Altermodern on Saturday - a mixed bag, like you say. I liked Charles Avery's drawings of his fantasy ecosystem.

Glad I took out my Tate membership, it's really worth it.

It's political correctness gone mad!

Tate membership's pretty good by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 01:38:53 AM EST
Not sure whether to renew my Royal Academy membership though. Needed it last year, but there's not as much content as the Tate.

Make sure you check out the Member's Room balcony at Tate Modern if you haven't already...
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I went a couple of weeks ago by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 01:47:26 AM EST
Taking two friends as I thought you could take two guests, turns it you can only take one though so I still haven't tried it.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
On the subject of your subject line by iGrrrl (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 08:25:05 AM EST

 I knew a woman who was a homebrew judge. She specialized in judging stouts, which she soundly disliked as a beer. She said it made her more objective as to "true to style."

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

Do something you hate! Being miserable builds character! | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)