Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer's here and the time is right for declaring independence.

Last Saturday was, as my (2) American readers know, Independence Day here in the USA. It's a good day to be deafened by the alarms of firetrucks or by fireworks, professional and amateur, and to (weather permitting) celebrate our freedoms with hopefully sufficiently cooked hamburgers from the grill.

It turns out summer, particulary July, is a popular time to throw off the chains of colonialism or general oppression. Witness:

Algeria July 5 Independence from France in 1962.
Argentina July 9 Independence declared from Spain in 1816.
Bahamas July 10 Independence from the United Kingdom in 1973.
Belarus July 3 Liberation of Minsk from German occupation by Soviet troops in 1944.
Belgium July 21 Independence from Netherlands (Belgian revolution). Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld takes the oath as first king of the Belgians in 1831.
Burundi July 1 Independence from Belgium in 1962
Cape Verde July 5 Independence from Portugal in 1975.
Colombia July 20 and August 7 Independence from Spain in 1810.
Liberia July 26 Independence from the United States in 1847.
Malawi July 6 Independence from the United Kingdom in 1964.
Peru July 28 Independence from Spain in 1821.
Rwanda July 1 Independence from Belgium in 1962.
São Tomé and Príncipe July 12 Independence from Portugal in 1975.
Solomon Islands July 7 Marks exit / independence from United Kingdom in 1978.
Slovakia July 17 Declaration of Independence in 1992 (only a remembrance day), de jure independence came on January 1, 1993 after the division of Czechoslovakia (public holiday).
United States of America July 4 (Fourth of July) Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776.
Vanuatu July 30 Independence from United Kingdom and France in 1980.
Venezuela July 5 Declaration of independence from Spain in 1811.

This list, selectively pulled from the Wikipedia page as of today at 9:34 pm EST (if I were to brush up on my MQL skills I could have pulled more interesting results from Freebase - maybe some other time), proves my point. I'd like to use the examples set by all these brave people who fought and in many cases died as inspiration to get rid of shit I don't need in my own little life. Here we go:

The arrogant and ignorant

The arrogant I can suffer to live, if they have something to bring to the table. The ignorant who make an effort to overcome it are OK with me. The both arrogant and ignorant can fuck off and die. Unfortunately, I currently work in the corporate world, where the density of arrogant ignorance reaches neutron star levels.


As I near 40, it is clear I have accumulated far too much stuff. Not only that, having a job and a house means I continue to buy stuff I don't need, because I have money to buy it, and a place to store it (for now). I recently got a Kindle, which, like my iPod, stores rooms full of old-style content within its tiny case, yet still I pick up new books at a rate that never slows down. I need to cool it and start spending more money on food, because a good dinner might not last particularly long, but neither do you or I. I should also probably move into a smaller house, but that might be a tough sell.

My crushingly oppressive reading queue

The Kindle didn't really help here. I'm not blaming my Kindle (and definitely not giving it up), because as mentioned previously, I somehow manage to accumulate enough books, magazines, and crap I printed out from the web to ensure I will never, ever catch up.

Too many interests

There is something to be said for being the kind of obsessive who works on one job or idea 90 hours a week with no other interests or variety in life. At least you have a chance to get good at one or two things. Unfortunately, outside of the constraints of grad school or a startup, one is free to be interested in absolutely anything that strikes one's fancy, and to never really get deeply enough into anything to make any grand or even minor progress.

It doesn't particularly help having a boring, relatively easy job. Why not replace the shitload of old, crappily configured SQL Server systems with an awesome Hadoop cluster? Why answer moronic support calls when you could probably hack together a chatbot that could handle 75% of the tickets? Why write code in Java, or, god forbid, Visual Basic.NET when Python is much, much more interesting? Why use Windows when you can use MacOSX or Linux? Why have one machine for that matter, when you can run a server room's worth of virtual machines?

I should just pick 2 or 3 things and burrow into them in a deranged trainspotterish obsession.

My 3,000,000 online identities and accounts.

You OAuth and OpenID people need to sort this out. I got too many passwords, too many places to go to read stuff. I can't believe I still have a hotmail account.

Fortunately, many of the forums I used to frequent have become so shatteringly dull that it's been easy to dump them, so I guess that's a small victory.


I know healthcare in the US is fucked up, and it looks like maybe somebody in Washington will try to do something about it, but I've already got enough crap to take care of that I don't know how I can save Health Care, certainly not with lobbyists for the small minority of people who actually benefit from the status quo paying over $1 million a day to preserve that sorry status quo. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do (aside from throw money at the problem), nor whether I'd do it if I knew what it was. So there's sloth. Healthcare is just a specific example here, not the only place sloth is keeping me down.

You Don't Do What You Want To Do, But You Do The Same Thing Every Day

I think that line was in one of the Dead Kennedys' songs. It sufficiently describes the rut I need to get out of somehow. Give me liberty, or give me some free novels on my Kindle! I'll take what you've got!

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