Monday 19 July 1999

Pic of the day: Desperate user, lost in the new computer system. No, not really, actually part of a screenshot from Civ2 Fantastic Worlds, but it sort of struck me as similar...

When I came to work today, there was a whole flock of coworkers who had returned from vacation and were unable to log on their computers because of the new server. None of the others, whom I had helped get used to it in the preceding weeks, lifted a finger to help them. So I had to delay my lunch a while to get them all started. Is it really so intimidating? It's completely menu-based, no cryptic commands. I remember the time we had to give MODE commands on the C:\> prompt. Now we are supposed to attend seminars to learn to use a self-explaining help program.

While we are on the topic of not quite luminiscent behavior regarding computers, today I had the pleasure of reading in a major newspaper that 160 000 passwords and their corresponding useridents were stolen from my Internet Service Provider late in May. They did not tell their customers. The Ecocrime unit researching the case mentioned it, and they still did not tell their customers. A guy from a national newspaper turned up with a copy of the list, and they still did not tell their customers. Today the news broke on NTB, the main Norwegian newswire. My dear ISP now consider telling their customers, sometime in the future.

In comparison, my coworkers are so bright the light should be visible from space. Needless to say, I've changed my dear old password for a new and unfamiliar one within minutes. It is probably still possible to hack my site, but at least not for the average lamer who still has years left till his first acne. (For all I know, hacking might be an improvement, but I still don't want it.)


I'm hearing quite a bit lately about how desillusioned Americans are, how cynical they have become, how the dreams have died. And I hear about the poverty that is over there, people sleeping on the streets by no fault of their own, ruined by a freak accident or ill health or by caring for their own. Decent men and women struggling to earn their daily bread and clothes to cover their bodies.
And yet there is no queue of desperate Americans trying to get into my native Norway, my rich and beautiful and almost empty homeland. I mean, if people can manage to wind their way from Chile and Sri Lanka, there would certainly exist some transportation from the USA. Now, it's not like we have open house or something, but I don't think Americans would be treated much worse than anyone else. If all else went wrong, they could always marry someone for 3 years, like a few other people do. (I think it is 3 years - you may want to check before doing this.)

But why are not the poor Americans hammering at our gates, or the gates of other more temperate countries? Because, I answer, they will rather be poor in America than well fed and clothed in any other modern, democratic nation. Why is that? Because of the American dream. It is not dead at all, but continues to draw another million people each year across the borders to the big melting pot (or salad bowl perhaps in our days).

The American dream is basically like the lottery. The people who actually win are few and far between, but the rumors of them spread far and wide. And the benefit of the American dream is that whenever someone succeeds, it is thanks to their attitude and hard work; but when others in the exact same circumstances fail and sink, it is just bad luck. Or it is like a healer with a 1% success rate. You'll hear no end from the few healed, but the 99% will slink away and look for another better healer.

And I had a revelation. And the revelation was: The pursuit of happiness IS happiness.

I've known a few happy people throughout my life. None of them have been satisfied with themselves, none of them had reached all their goals. They had reached goals, but they always set new ones. Striving ever onward. In all honesty, most happy people I know have been the ones who set goals in their own life, in personal growth and not in material gains. Your mileage may vary.

Adrift in time?
Yesterday (Yes, I believe in yesterday.)
Tomorrow (if any.)
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