Philosophy Majors Run Tech Support (Part 2)

Finally, the much awaited* follow-up to Philosophy Majors Run Tech Support (Part 1):

Customer: Lately, I’ve noticed that my laptop battery has been dying really quickly. I’m not sure what the problem is.

Tech Support: Well would you really consider that a problem, given the alternative?

C: Alternative?

TS: With the inevitability of death, the only alternative to dying quickly is dying slowly.

Which is better? It’s hard to say for sure.

Would you rather have a slow decline, with enough time to plan for the end–but also enough time to dwell upon every grain of vitality that slips away, until down to just a sliver? Or would you rather have that life yanked away with hardly any warning–but hardly any dreading anticipation either?

But perhaps the question comes down to not just how quickly it dies, but how quickly it lives.

Some seek to race through their existence, leading lives which end quickly, but not before getting their share of excitement and danger and joy and conflict and achievement and loss. Others are equally content to languor along the journey, leading lives which are longer, if less densely packed. Perhaps the only real tragedy is to die faster than one lives.

So you ought focus not so much on how much time passes before your battery trickles away to zero, but on what actions it produces in that fleeting window of power.

C: Uh yeah, I guess I was running a lot of apps at the same time, if that’s what you’re getting at.

C: I’m trying to update my software on my phone, but it says that I don’t have enough space. Do I have to delete a bunch stuff from memory before I can get the new version?

TS: Ah, the dilemma of progress. At times, it seems that we must choose between holding on to our memories of the past and moving onto to future. 

There are those who remain attached to their pasts and refuse to relinquish them in order to hop on the latest bandwagon of “progress.” They ignore the nagging messages to bring themselves up-to-date, unconvinced that the newest tools have as much worth as their stockpile of moments, conversations, and personal history, weighted with nostalgia and lessons learned.

Eventually, these people will get left behind, unable to function properly in the world we live in, unable to communicate with those who have moved on, unable to accept new developments.

But these people are not the only ones who are misguided.

You may be eager to wipe away your past for the promise of something newer and better. You don’t want that weight slowing down your forward progression.

But often, you’ll find that the moment of change is not the great leap forward that you imagined would render all your previous experiences irrelevant. And as you advance in shaky half-steps, you’ll still need those same old memories to make sense of the present. 

Because you know what they say about those who forget history . . . Though you are always looking forward, you find yourself in repeating cycle: making moments to delete as you jump into the next round, never holding on, never building up.

For genuine progress, we need to find a space for our past memories to be held and referenced, without allowing them to dominate the forefronts of our lives.

C: So you’re saying that I should make a backup before I erase stuff from the phone? Got it.


*By whom? Maybe just me.


Life in the Geekosphere (& Other Updates)

So remember when I learned Python? Well now that I’m back home, I’m once again being a caffeine-less seasonal computer geek. Or at least a part-time appropriator of geek culture.

My mom convinced me to take her online JavaScript class (slightly ahead of the schedule so I can check for typos and clarity and such). The good news is that I made a virtual dog named Fredward. But JavaScript is not my fave. I guess Python spoiled me, but that stuff has way to many curly braces for me to handle. I think I spend about 20% of my time writing code and 80% trying to figure out where that missing curly brace is. And I’m a touch snobbish about inconsistencies in the language:

Me: What? Why is the type of null an object?

Mom: It just is.

Me: It doesn’t make sense.

Mom: It’s just a design flaw. This guy made JavaScript in 10 days so–

Me: That sounds like Genesis or something. Like “…and on the fourth day he created arrays.”

Mom: Um…

Consensus is, Brendan Eich isn’t exactly God-status, but . . .

Okay, never mind. If this cat likes JavaScript it must be good. (From JavaScript for Cats)

Python and I had another little fling too. My dad wanted me to make a program that would slurp info about his patents from the patent office website and organize it into text documents. I did, and I was feeling pretty proud of it at first. Like Hey I just made a thing. Like, an actual thing that does things. What if I got people to buy this thing. Could this count as a start-up?

Then I realized that I didn’t actually know what my program was for. Minor problem. Asked my dad. His response: “I don’t really know. I just felt like it could be useful for something. It’s a good start, right?”

Besides that, I’ve mostly been just hanging around, getting ready to tutor some kids next week, dancing (though not nearly as much as I wish I was), and enjoying the California weather, while also missing NYC like crazy. Next month I’ll be working as a chaperone for a dance intensive (and yes, dancing too) which I’m super excited about. I do kind of wish I was doing more right now, particularly since everyone around me seems to be doing amazing things with their summer, but I guess there are worse things to have than free time.