Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Job That's Never Started

I relaxed today. I slept in for a while, then I had brunch. Over brunch, I discussed punctuality with a person from Spain. As Samwise Gamgee once said, "It's the job that's never started that takes longest to finish." In the US, punctuality hardly seems to exist. Take, for example, previews at movies. They play for a while after the time the theater says that the movie will start. This was likely begun mostly as a tool for advertising, as it maximizes the number of people watching the previews. However, it has another effect. People say that it is okay if they are running a few minutes late, because the preview will still be playing. In this way, people are expected to be late. Because of this, some events tell you to arrive at a time before the event is actually planned to start - just so that people who are late do not miss the event. In Europe, or at least Spain, the mindset is different. People are not expected to be late, so events can run more smoothly. I believe that while being late due to something completely unexpected and out of your control is forgivable, being late when you could have prevented it is far less. As Shakespeare said, "Better three hours too soon than a minute too late." Of course, this does not apply if you are a wizard, as a wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.1

After brunch, I did my laundry. While I waited for it, I read through several acts of Homestuck. Homestuck is a webcomic, with various animations, in which the various characters play a game that brings about the apocalypse. I returned to my room, where I read more Homestuck. I also read The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. A major theme of the book was creativity versus control, and how they can work together. I thought that this was very interesting in how it applies to programming. One of the reasons I like to program is that I have control over the world inside the computer. The computer always does what I tell it to, even if it's not what I want. Still, I feel that I am able to be creative with my programming. My programming is a path through which I can guide my creativity.

After reading, I had some dinner. I then continued to read. The Rithmatist also has the themes of tensions between art and science, perhaps as an extension of the balance between control versus creativity. Art an science are often thought of as opposing forces. I am fairly logically-minded2. However, my focus on science does not mean that I do not love art. Yesterday, one of my favorite activities was visiting a modern art museum. While art and science are certainly different methods of looking at the world, I do not believe that they are opposing. The NY MoMA, for example, had a section on design. It had various pieces that could be thought of as more scientific than artistic, such as the windmap or the device that detonates mines. Another example of where science and art overlap is Apple.3 Apple has made technology that looks good. While I did not do as much today that was out and about, I enjoyed the opportunity to relax and think.

1Who do you think would win in a fight, Tolkien or Shakespeare? I am inclined to believe that Tolkien would, because, let's face it, wizards are awesome. Also, Tolkien has written some incredible poetry as well - take The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrùn. It is written in a combination fornyrðislag, malahàttr, and ljòðahàttr. He switches between these for stylistic reasons. They depend on length, stress, and alliteration, making them more complex, in my opinion, than simple iambic pentameter. Tolkien undoubtably has a more epic style than Shakespeare, which some people might interpret as dry. Tolkien's methods of exposition vary from work to work as well. In The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrùn, the story is revealed through bursts, like lightning illuminating a scene. In the Lord of the Rings, tension seems to build in a much more standard way, like that of Shakespeare
2I have the Myers-Briggs Type of INTJ. This means that I go through things logically, and that I like to plan. For more information, I recommend both here and here. I would say that most of what these articles have to say is fairly accurate, though it is virtually impossible for a mere personality test to wholly describe someone.
3Apple is a decent example, not so much because they made technological improvements (go Steve Wozniak!) as that they were designers. (Steve Jobs was a businessman, not so much an innovator)

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