Lately I've been ranting about writing a pamphlet or putting on a seminar, for computer programmers, titled "Planning For Clusterfuckery". The idea here is that our software typically has to live in a heterogeneous environment with other software, and any number of issues--bugs in our code, bugs in someone else's code, misconfiguration on your or someone else's part--can bring the whole system down. So, we need the attitude that something will go wrong, and that's a natural part of the process; we need to bring this attitude both into the development of our software, and into the usually-inevitable problem-solving and post-mortem processes of a major system screwup. Seriously. I've even started an outline.
Some of my friends are libertarians. Most of them aren't particularly enlightened or well-read libertarians, which pisses off the rest of us who probably would have been called "secular humanists" in the days when it was still okay to think that society should help those who cannot help themselves. Being Monday morning, a friend of mine found this interesting article about libertarians, by a libertarian. Though he misses the point that most libertarian ideas range from naive to stupid, it's an interesting look at why people present their ideas or philosophies as they do.
Huh. A cranky-looking stormtrooper. Kinda hot, though.
Somewhat spur-of-the-moment, I'm going to the Mt. Baldy Retreat, held every year at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center. (It's beautiful: there are pictures.) I've wanted to go in the past, but haven't wanted or been able to take the money or time. Tonight I finally ran out of valid excuses--which I'm proud of, as it's known I can normally keep a stream of bullshit excuses going until an opportunity has passed--and bought my plane tickets for Friday. It should kick ass all around, between the martial arts, the meditation, the mountain, and the (probably very tasty) vegetarian food. (The position of cook in a Zen monastery, the tenzo, is a profoundly important one: far from being drudge work, preparing food in the monastery requires complete diligence and concentration. I'm not really qualified to explain it, but Master Dogen wrote the Instructions to the Cook, which is sublime in several senses of the word.) Some friends will be there, and a Zen community is usually somewhere I seem to belong, as I do on a boat.
Also I'll be way the hell out of town on top of a mountain in Southern California. Much as I love all my gadgets and connectivity, I need a break, and this is more than perfect.