Seldo.Weblog: October 2006

Ghettorian

My office is a few footsteps away from Old Compton Street, heart of London's gay district. So I walk up and down it a lot, to and from lunch and when out with friends. Often, as I walk down this street, lined with bars and shops full of gay people and images, seeing gay couples strolling unselfconsciously hand in hand, and in fact just seeing this huge mass of people who look entirely ordinary in every way, but I know they share my sexuality and as a result many of the same concerns and experiences and history, I'm struck by a pleasant, fuzzy sensation of belonging, of ownership. The glimmerings of that feeling of the "gay community" that everyone mentions but never really exists anywhere except for a few hours at a Pride march. It's a lovely feeling of freedom and openness and comfort: it feels like the safest street in London, a big street full of friends.

And I wonder: is this how it feels to be straight? Do straight people feel like this all the time, and just don't notice it? Is this just the very final shell of coming out, that only gets to be taken off on one street, even in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world?

Or more optimistically: do straight people never get this at all? Is the payoff for feeling only the very slightest discomfort of selfconsciousness everywhere else, that there's one street where the feeling of freedom is concentrated? Is the welcome, warm feeling of the heart of the ghetto a feeling reserved only for those who are ghettoized?

And is the payoff worth the price?

Currently...

Thinking: Yes, alright, the drought is over, we get it. Stop raining already.
Watching: The new season of Smallville -- oh joy! And also Studio 60, which is like The West Wing without CJ, i.e. not as good
Listening to: Sam's Town, the new album by The Killers. It's great, run out and buy it.
Wondering: If it's cold enough to put the heating on yet, or if I should just have another cup of tea.

Artemis

02 October 2006
some of us don't get to feel at home in either :S

Mikey

03 October 2006
And some of us don't need to be on a paticular street to feel at home

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Agreement in Principle

Yep, it's official: some crazy, misguided man from a reputable brokerage has agreed to lend myself and housemate A an absolutely obscene amount of money, that we may begin the long process of hunting for a location between Clapham Common and Stockwell, so we can then start throwing our money at a heartless bank instead of a landlord. In the eternal struggle of the smug and the damned, I am in the process of switching camps.

For the first few years, as is the nature of these things, we will be paying more in interest than we would have in rent, so it's sort of a voluntary increase in rent, which sounds sort of stupid. But we will also be putting a certain amount into equity, so it's a savings vehicle, and the bet is that the property will increase in value by more than the extra rent we're paying, so it'll be at worst no worse than renting for that period and any better will make some money.

That sounds dicey, but actually the sums say that anything more than about a 2% annual increase in value will do that for us, and London house prices have been growing by a lot more than that for quite a while. But yeah, past performance is no guarantee of future results, and the name of the site I got my house price growth data from is "housepricecrash.co.uk" -- don't think we're not aware of that possibility. It's a gamble, and it's scary. But that's what investments are all about, right? And most investments don't give you an excuse to redecorate.

ed

03 October 2006
Technically you should also factor in the opportunity cost of the downpayment. Also property taxes.

Simon

06 October 2006
What, and leave behind your wonderous 80s masterpiece of a flat?!! But it's a timeless classic!!

The start of a story

Everything works better when run by smart people. Therefore, smart people are in a lot of demand. Because of this, it's often too expensive to hire large groups of smart people: it becomes more cost effective to hire one extremely smart person, and get them to produce a system where a bunch of dumb people can perform the complicated task. This principle of increasing productivity -- specifically, increasing the productivity of people who aren't otherwise very productive -- is pretty much the foundation of economic growth. Therefore in order to continue to grow, it was not just desirable, but necessary that ever-smarter people be produced in order to continue to produce the ever-more-complicated systems of automation required to continue economic growth.

Luckily, humanity was quite capable of producing this new breed of smarter human: the intelligent tended to seek out the intelligent, producing even more intelligent children. At the same time, economic growth allowed ever-larger numbers of people to rise out of poverty, producing higher life expectancies and falling birth rates. Amongst the newly non-impoverished, fewer but better-fed and educated children in turn produced new generations of smarter people. It was a virtuous circle, and IQs rose worldwide continuously from the mid 1900s onwards.

However, in the middle of the 20th century humanity began to notice the emergence of a new kind of people, some of whom were so intellectually focussed that they could find it difficult or impossible to adequately understand, express and sustain emotional relationships, a condition known as Asperger's syndrome or, in more extreme cases, autism. Over generations, Asperger's and autism went from being a minority condition to a widespread pandemic: human intellectual growth was turning out to be self-limiting, since beyond a certain level of intellectual development reproduction rates dropped to zero. The shortage was not of brain power, but of the empathy required to communicate the results of intellectual activity.

Evolution would eventually have stepped in, natural selection providing for those who were both emotionally and intellectually accomplished, since they would be financially more successful than emotional people who were less intellectual than they were, and reproductively more successful than people who were less emotional than they were. But humanity didn't have time to wait for natural forces to kick in: to prevent worldwide economic stagnation, by the late 2130s the world required the production of people with profoundly improved levels of emotional connection, and genetic engineering had advanced to the point that manipulating brain development was becoming a practical possibility.

Initial experiments were mixed, producing spectacular successes, such as Marcus Pohl, a gene-engineered child born in California in 2138 who successfully combined his talents for organization and emotional connection into a spectacular political career, rising to become President of the United States in 2176. It also produced uncounted numbers of heartbreaking failures; from the emotionally unstable to the totally emotionless, as well as isolated cases of total failure, producing children with severe mental impairment. Suicide rates amongst gene-engineered teenagers in the 2150s and 60s were triple the already high rate of teen suicide, producing a strong and vocal backlash against the entire practice.

But the unanticipated domination of politics by charismatic, gene-engineered men and women, who despite the stigma of their birth were undeniably both capable and popular, ensured continued strong governmental support for Genetically Modified Offspring programmes worldwide. The high-profile success of the early GMO superstars was also a strong incentive for many parents, many of whom privately regarded their "geemo" children as a high-stakes gamble on future financial security.

In 2215, Anna Gajewski was born in London, and in 2227 became the first medically documented and officially recognized human being to be recognized as having Profound Empathic Ability, although it was later suspected that several particularly successful, high-profile individuals born in the early 2200s also had PEA but kept their abilities secret, for reasons of fear or as a tactical advantage. Anna's early life was highly public and the focus of much media attention, a factor that may have influenced her decision to go into acting.


Like it? Shall I write more?

Simon

07 October 2006
I like it

Oliver

08 October 2006
I'd certainly read it if there was more of it.

When I started that post I thought it was going to be a commentary on the latest edition of The Economist - the war for talent.

What about the non-GM'd underclass?

Laurie

08 October 2006
That economist article was indeed the inspiration for the start of the story. I started writing about it but 20 minutes later it was a story instead of anything factual.

Leah

08 October 2006
Arghhh.... I know it's fiction, but there's so much wrong with the nominal science underlying it.

Laurie

08 October 2006
hehehe.

Jamie

09 October 2006
I like it too. It's got a feeling of Coud Atlas about it (well, the futuristic bit of Cloud Atlas anyway). And anything with a character like Deanna Troy in it is good for me ;)

Carly

09 October 2006
lol @ leah

Carly

09 October 2006
also, the work 'smart' when you mean 'intelligent' realllly bugs me. but that's probably because i'm in the US atm.

Leah

09 October 2006
You're just lucky I didn't even get into the politics or sociology underlying it. There's just so...much....wrong with it.

Dave

09 October 2006
Anna Gajewski - any relation to Artur or just a coincidence?

Laurie

10 October 2006
Hehe, I thought I might as well pick a believable name :-) Maybe she's his great-grandaughter or something.

M

10 October 2006
I like, keep writing :)

Pixie

23 November 2006
I want to know what happens to Anna! You can't just leave her there!

I do the web

Somebody asked me recently: when asked about my job, I tend to say I "do the web". And what does that mean?

Well, the web is lots of things. There’s the act of surfing around it and finding funny stuff and cool videos. I do that. And there’s using it for social networking and jobfinding. I do that. And there’s using it for communicating with friends and strangers, via blogs and comments on other blogs. I do that. And there’s using it as a research tool, for learning about trivia and self-training in your job. And I do that too. There’s also the act of creating it: not just writing a blog, but writing blog software, writing content management systems, e-commerce websites, neat little web-based tools that let people get their jobs or their life done easier and faster. I like doing that part a lot. And finally there’s the theory of the web: its current form and technical architecture, the technologies that make it up and how they fit together and how to use them to meet the future needs of the ever-changing web. And that bit consumes me utterly, though I’ve yet to produce anything really tangible around it, tending to get stuck in the everyday mess of implementation.

So it’s easiest to just say I “do the web”. It’s sort of my whole life, but I like it so much that that doesn’t even seem sad to me anymore.

Ursula

23 October 2007
It is my window to the world, as I am an expatriate and hardly understand a word that is spoken around me. Totally net-addicted.

Thiiiiings... can only get bettahhhhh....

So, I've had a pretty shit week so far. On Monday at 5pm, I was unexpectedly made redundant -- along with the rest of my department, going up two levels of management -- from my dream job. At 10am this morning, as per previous scheduling, I had a wisdom tooth extracted. So now I sit here, jobless, unable to eat solid food, bleeding profusely. I think we can all agree this week can only go up from here.

Oh, and believe me, the irony of the post immediately preceding this one is in no way lost on me.

michael, StE

10 October 2006
Boo.

And hiss.

*shakes fist at universe*

M

10 October 2006
Anything I can do? Come running round with soup and job adverts? xxx

Bob

10 October 2006
dude, that sucks. I'm sorry. What happened to the big Y!?

Talia

10 October 2006
*sad trumpet noise*

Josh

11 October 2006
Man that sucks! Really sorry to hear that - I know how much you love your work.

I guess on the bright side, you have some fantastic experience to take elsewhere?

Giles

11 October 2006
THis is crap news. There are some web jobs going at RBS in London had a look over lunch, but don't guess they are your cup of tea.

Rik

14 October 2006
Shit - that blows. Sorry to hear that, man :(

Chris

15 October 2006
Condolences :(

When it rains, it pours

Oh, and it's been raining for 24 hours and I've caught a cold.

Okay, now things can only get better. Unless a tsunami hits London.

Ade B

11 October 2006
Stop tempting fate!

The Thames is looking vulnerable.

ed

11 October 2006
Well, I hear that we had Michael Brown come over and check out your flood perparations, so I'm sure you'll be fine.

Dude! I will be there in a month, all chubby and jovial! You will be so happy! Just keep it together until then.

Giles

11 October 2006
Or perhaps a weapon from N. Korea

Laurie

12 October 2006
Ed, when you laugh, does it shake like a bowl full of jelly?

marc

12 October 2006
You should say something like the yiddish don't-tempt-fate expression 'pfui pfui' (accompanied by the traditional spitting gesture) to ensure that that tsunami doesn't come after all.

Had a dentist appointment myself this week in which he THINKS he didn't penetrate the nerve--I'll know if I need a root canal if I wake up in agonizing pain. I'm quickly beginning to believe that the world would be better without teeth in it (pfui pfui).

Pin

13 October 2006
Hey, I was looking over some of your poetry and I found one on, Growing Up. [http://www.seldo.com/poetry/secondwave/growingup.php]

I'm currently apart of my speech&debate team, and I'm doing an individual event called, "Poetry". We're supposed to research some poems on the theme of our choice.

Mine, is Growing Up. I quite liked yours, but I have to get permission to use it in my competition. I'll just be reciting it, giving YOU as the author credit of course, and tying it in with my introduction.

So if that would be okay, would you mind emailing me with your first/last name so I could credit you?

pinkidpuke@gmail.com

Thank you for your time.
-Pin

Five things

Will had a good idea: make a list of five things you've not done that you intend to get done, with a hard deadline. Rather than moping about recent crappy events, here's mine -- all to be done by October 16th 2007.

  • Replace this bloody blog software with something that, y'know, works.
  • Walk the Thames Path as far as the barrier at Greenwich, as it's so often recommended
  • Visit the London Wetland Centre because the ads look cool
  • See Evita (tickets booked!) and Chicago live on stage.
  • Have dinner at The Ivy.

I'd have put "get a new job" on there but it seems giving myself a twelve-month deadline to do that would be tempting fate somewhat. I want a new job by tomorrow, dammit.

ed

16 October 2006
I am totally down to do the Thames walk when I'm in town, assuming that it's not TOO cold and/or wet. (Obviously, this being London, a certain amount of cold and wet is to be expected.)

Josh

19 October 2006
Make a thing of the Thames Path! It's beautiful, though I have only done it in disjointed parts.

Laurie

11 August 2007
Approaching October 16th, 2007, and I've got, er, one of these things done. And not the one I expected.

Panic over

I have a job again. Details soon.

Josh

19 October 2006
I am on the edge of my...err...desk chair. :)

edan

20 October 2006
As if anyone had any doubt you'd be sorted in about 5 minutes! Never mind that, bring on the seldo,com IE7 review!

Chris

21 October 2006
Congrats!

Saaan Fraaaan-cisco

The silver lining on the cloud of my recent unexpected change of job is that, as part of the shutdown work on my now-doomed former department, we are heading over to Yahoo! HQ in Sunnyvale for handover work. So if you, dear reader, are in San Francisco, I'll be there from the 30th the 27th until the 2nd of November (Halloween in SF!) so get in touch.

Update: as noted above, I've moved the flight forward (yay business flights!) so I'm now in SF over the weekend. Do get in touch...

ed

23 October 2006
My advice to you is to try to stay in SF itself, if you can. By all accounts, Silicon Valley itself is pretty dismal.

Laurie

23 October 2006
You underestimate my levels of nerdiness. Just being in Silicon Valley itself will have me twitching with glee.

Talia

23 October 2006
Wow, mega good silver lining

John

26 October 2006
Yes, Silicon Valley is a great place to work but a terrible place to exist. San Francisco is the converse.

Oh, man

I'm going to California! This was not high on my list of things I was expecting to do 2 weeks ago. I need to be up in 5 1/2 hours, I should get some sleep...

I ass-cone SF

(Etymology: "I love SF" -> "I heart SF" -> "I <3 SF" -> "I less-than-three SF" -> "I cone-ass SF" -> "I ass-cone SF")

The reason I'm loving SF is that somebody made that joke and everybody in the car got it without having to explain. Also, nice weather and good food.

Mikey

31 October 2006
I don't get the penultimate step....

Laurie

31 October 2006
"Ass cone" just sounds funnier.

Mikey

01 November 2006
*penultimate* :P

the 'I less-than-three SF' -> 'I cone-ass SF' one

Ade B

01 November 2006
its a maths term.

< means less than.

> means more than


eg. Number of people in the UK > Number of people in Ireland

Number of vegetables actually cooked in our house < less than number of vegetables bought each week.

so... I

Mikey

01 November 2006
I am absolutely confuddled at how I am failing to convey my, rather trite, question.

There are five stages of inference:

The first: From "I love SF" to "I heart SF". Clear
The second: From "I heart SF" to "I

Mikey

01 November 2006
Screw it. It's not even posting my comments in full