On diagnosis

If you were in my movie
I’d have you as the doctor
Small black bag
And a big black coat

I’d have you make a house call
To the woman
You could lay your
Diagnostic hand
Upon her belly and her throat

When someone has lived with a disorder for more than half his life and finally gets a diagnosis and starts a course of treatment, you would expect him to feel relief, anticipation, hope perhaps of a better life. That’s certainly what he expected, after years of living with the wrong diagnosis, being treated for the wrong disorder, and suspecting it all along. But when the day finally came—

Anticipation, yes, but fearful anticipation. Hesitation, every morning; a long time spent staring at his medication before finally swallowing it. Panic attacks in the evening, followed by uneasy sleep.

Do you understand? He doesn’t, at first. His wife suggests that he has lived with the disorder for so long that it has become a part of his identity, and he is now afraid of living without it, of becoming a man he does not know. He thinks she may be right, but it does not stop the panic attacks.

All he can do is wait, and hope.

Ooh, skiffy!

Books I’ve been reading lately:

Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut. An absolute delight; a masterpiece of satire and black humor.

Player Piano, also by Vonnegut; his first novel, in fact. Far less enjoyable; he had not yet found his form. Pretty much the only element it has in common with his later work is its pessimism.

Archform: Beauty, by L. E. Modesitt, was very interesting because it is the only Modesitt novel I’ve read (and I’ve read most of what he’s written up until around 2000) where the main protagonist’s actions results in neither the collapse of the antagonist’s civilization nor the total obliteration of their real estate. Instead, the male protagonists buys the female protagonist flowers and asks her out. Far out.

Lilith: A Snake in the Grass, the first book in Jack L. Chalker‘s Four Lords of the Diamond series. I know it’s not nice to speak poorly of the deceased, but Chalker, a fairly well-respected SF author, managed to get pretty much all of the science wrong in this one. Continue reading “Ooh, skiffy!” »

This is your brain on… what?

According to this Seattle PI article (which is unsurprisingly full of factual errors) music producers are up in arms over lossy audio compression. Listening to an MP3 (regardless of bit rate, apparently) is “like hearing through a screen door” and even CDs “contain less than half the information stored to studio hard drives during recording” (no mention is made of the fact that the half that is removed is below your stereo equipment’s noise threshold). But what really pisses me off is that these are the same producers who keep reducing the dynamic range of their recordings to make them sound louder. Some modern pop / rock recordings have a dynamic range as low as 4 dB!

Open Sores

Ah, the joys of building a community around an open source project! Build your software, release it, flog it left and right, and before you know it you have a thriving community of users asking for advice, reporting bugs, suggesting improvements, sometimes even submitting patches. Then, of course, you have your kooks. In fact, I’m beginning to think that you can measure the success of an open source project by the level of kook activity on its mailing lists. If all mailing list traffic is invariably polite and constructive, then you have a niche project which only attracts a small number of highly specialized and competent people; only a truly great software project will make enough of a splash to attract the attention of a genuine, grade-A, accept-no-imitations kook. Continue reading “Open Sores” »

Insistent idiots

The strangest feedback I got for my Vista sucks entry the other day was from an email from the VP of Operations at one of Diskeeper‘s competitors offering me a special discount on their defragmenter. Apparently, he thought that “thirty minutes later the disk has been wiped and Ubuntu is up and running” is l33tsp34k for “I am in the market for Vista software”. Continue reading “Insistent idiots” »