Entries from February 2006 ↓

On having an addictive personality

Recently I’ve been assessing myself mentally. I’ve been reviewing the values and morals in my life trying to root out some subconscious beliefs and emotions that have been annoying me.

Through this I have discovered that I have a very addictive personality. Things that make me feel good are difficult for me to resist, although that isn’t the problem. The difficulty is being able to still enjoy things, but only in moderation. There is such a strong urge to binge on anything that is really difficult to describe fully to someone else.

I have a disposition to being addicted to drugs, but I can also be addicted to people and experience. None of these things are inherently bad, but if they begin to consume your life and you consciously don’t want whatever you crave but can’t resist it then there are problems. When the inevitable break in will power arrives, and once you’ve indulged your addiction, you look back with guilt and low self-esteem and think “I didn’t want that, damnit!”.

Hopefully further understanding of my weaknesses will only help me grow stronger.

Handling addictions

Review: Judas Unchained

Today has started from the wrong side of bed. I’ve been forgetting things, I ran out of coffee for my coffee machine and my ass is a jandal.

But enough about me. What about Judas?

Judas Unchained – Peter F. Hamilton

Judas Unchained is the sequel to Pandora’s star, which is in turn based off of the same universe as Mispent Youth (thanks Bob). I’ve enjoyed most of Peter F. Hamilton’s books to various degrees, but they’ve always been rather light scifi entertainment – very much space operatic. Pandora’s star is basically about humanity inadvertantly releasing a single minded alien race that is bent on being the only lifeform in the universe. Judas Unchained tells of how humanity fights back, and it wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to say that we “win” in a way, because otherwise everyone would be pissed off with the ending (I use the speech marks so that if you haven’t read it there will still be an air of mystery… ooooOoOOo).

Like the Night’s Dawn Trilogy there are lots of mini story arcs progressing through the books, and it took me a while to remember what had happened in the first book. If you have the time (which I suspect none of us do) I recommend rereading Pandora’s star, especially if you have difficulty recalling what the Lost23 were, where the hell Ozzie was, and what the deal is with Far Away. The arcs all merge reasonably well towards the end, and I was satisfied with the conclusion, although I know other people who thought it was a bit of a let down.

You can expect lots of ridiculously destructive weapons, a pornstar and gratuitous sex, large interdynasty politics (although this is mainly done through the sex), and superman. This may make it sound bad, it isn’t my intention: the sex isn’t always gratuitous, and superman is actually super augmented human that has only a very brief moment of showing his power.

Rated 7 out of 10 exploding stars

Gmail Irony

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Irony is entertaining – Check out the Gmail sponsored link.

Imagined Worlds – Freeman Dyson

After finishing Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton (which I’ll review at some stage) I’ve decided to go on a bit of a non-fiction book spree since Judas Unchained was so huge and time consuming. I miss my dose of pop science.

First up was a book I found in the library by Freeman Dyson. I had little knowledge about Freeman. I knew he was a futurist and that the Dyson Sphere was named after him. That’s about it.

The book goes on to describe Tolstoyan vs. Napoleonic scientific research. Tolstoyan science is chaotic with many different theories and participants working in loose groups, whereas Napoleonic science is that of the huge government porjects – rigorously structured, bureaucratic, and expensive. Not only that, but napoleonic often leads to failure due to the influence of politics.

I was also rather surprised by Freeman’s quite scathing view of science. Mainly due to science’s influence in widening the gap between rich and poor and he calls for an application of ethics to guide or projects and endeavours.

I wasn’t overly amazed by the book, but it was a quick read and held some interesting stories about failed scientific projects over the last century (all Napoleonic in nature). I think it was aimed at a more general audience then I’m used to.

Bash script trickery

I have come up with a convoluted way to remove duplicate numerical entries from a bash array and sort the results (i.e. creating a sorted set). I invite others to give a a better solution… but this works and that is what is important for a throwaway script:

seeds2=`echo -e ${seeds[@]}| awk '{if (!x[$1]++) print $1"\\\\n\\n"}'`; unset seeds; seeds=( `echo -e $seeds2 | sort -bg` )

where $seeds is the array to sort – with each entry ending in a “\n”… awk needs inputs line by line (as does uniq, but remember uniq is only for removing adjacent repeating lines).

Nochnoy dozor (Night Watch)

Finally a vampire movie that doesn’t exude cheesiness. Although that isn’t strictly true about it being a vampire movie since it is about other supernatural creatures too.

The basic story goes that there is an eternal struggle between light and darkness. This has been going on since an evenly matched ancient battle was called to truce, with a prophecy that one day a great Other would appear and have to choose between light and dark. The side choosen is prophesised to become victorious. Okay, that does sound kind of cliche, but it is still cool and epic.

Night watch is the name of the Light forces. They keep an eye on the Dark, and conversely the Day Watch monitors the Light. All the supernaturals are called Others.

What I loved most about this movie is the CGI and the absence of polish. The CGI is just there, they don’t needlessly call your attention to it. For example, a small indoors fight is going on and a shapeshifter transforms into a tiger and attacks a bad guy, okay pretty normal, but this is in the background and I don’t think it was even in focus.

The whole look and feel of the movie is also really REAL. Which can’t be said about Blade or Underworld or any of the other average movies out there (Queen of the damned was an exception, I liked that). The rooms are messy and untidy, they look like real people’s abodes.

So if you hadn’t guessed yet. I liked this movie lots, although the ending is a bit weak and odd, but then it is meant to be a trilogy. Hopefully they don’t screw up the others like they did with the Matrix.

( BTW, this film is in Russian and has the best damn subtitle effects I’ve seen. )

( BTW, look out for the coffee brand that has obviously paid for product placement. )

5 out of 6 litres of blood (6 litres being the amount in the average human body)