Sunday 19 September 1999

Forest with elf
Pic of the day: More reality warping ... This time I've invited over a friend from Daggerfall. Long time readers may possibly recognize Gretchen von Schliesselmeyer, better known as the superheroine Language Grrl and collector of dubious magickal items.

Slept way into the morning today. Dreamt that it was tomorrow and I came to work and was met by a lot of computer problems related to the new PC's we installed last week, and questions that will be explained in the course. Let us hope it's a true dream.

So I took the bus to work around 12 (noon). There had not been much time in these past few days, and I caught up with files that were ready to merge into the systems, and printed out and copied a newsletter from Support Center. Wish our printers were capable of printing on both sides of the paper, but they are not. Our copiers are.

I also caved in to reason and made an overview of the essential topics for the 3-hour classroom introduction tomorrow. Because, as my dream impressed on me, there is no guarantee (and little hope) that I will have time to do this tomorrow. Now I just hope my health holds up. Today my stomach feels like it contains large-grained sand, even when it contains nothing. It may just be nature's way of saying "phat enuff!", though.

While at work anyway, I started a new backup (our backup always fails on Fridays, and only on Fridays, and nobody knows why). I also switched from the standard screensaver to one of rolling text, reading thus:
This could make some of the elderly coworkers really start to wonder.


On the bus I dipped into the paper version of The Economist for last week (September 11-17). It contained a special section looking back on this century. Why are we where we are today, and why did we not arrive here before? Despite the name of the magazine, it centers as much on politics as economics (though the two are merging with each other and with technology, these days). It comments on such interesting questions as why supposedly civilized nations would adopt ideologies that are now recognized to be not only barbaric but idiotic. It also lists examples from the more successful countries where also the government has done amazingly stupid things and thereby hurt their own citizens. Food for thought.

The survey of the 20th century can still be found on their web site.

The regular reader may have guessed that I am fairly well aligned with The Economist in political views. The magazine is highly sceptical to giving too much power to any single person or small group of persons, including but not limited to governments. I agree with this.

To be blunt for a moment: Statistically speaking, I am more intelligent than 999 out of 1000 random people. This is just how I was born and raised, and anyway the gap is narrowing for each year. But that is not the point. The point is that I would not presume to regulate the lives of these people in much detail. As long as they harm none, they can do what they will. But quite a few of them would be only too happy to lay down arbitrary rules for MY life. Ambition does not equal ability.

Certainly some guidelines come in handy. For instance, it is fairly essential to agree what side of the road to drive on. The meaning of the colors of traffic signs also comes to mind. On the other hand you have people like the famous Norwegian politician Mr Lundteigen, who thinks that our country would be a better place if everybody got up early in the morning. (He is also known as a staunch defender of the right to pee in one's own garden.) Now it so happens that I am a late sleeper and a fairly late worker. What would the effect be of forcing me to get up early? Well, apart from more sick leave and a less productive workday, there would be more rush hour congestion. The time I travel to work and back is after the rush hours, both ways.

On the greater scale, there is the question of effectively using all kind of resources, not just roads. By extending work and shop hours into the afternoon, you can satisfy more people with the same equipment. (No pun intended.) Forcing all people into the same hours means that you will have queues during parts of the day, and emptiness for the rest of the time. This is obviously a bad idea. And people are actually smart enough to understand this for their own part: Given freedom, they will learn to avoid the rush hours and use times of better capacity.

Despite this, the government (finishing plans laid by the now opposition Labor party) closed down Sunday shopping. A spesific law has made it illegal to have open shops (except for very small shops) on Sundays. The logic, if any, is that the retail workers should be allowed to have a day off once in the week, too. How nice. Why didn't they barking SAY SO then? "We hereby decree and sign into law the following: That every retail worker shall have at least one day off each week. Any employer who denies his worker this right shall be thrown into jail and rot there till his teeth fall out and his nails are as long as claws. We, the People, have spoken."

It is entirely possible, and I would say preferable, to have a day off on Saturday (which is after all the Sabbath of the Bible). Muslims would probably prefer Friday, which is the holier day of their week. And the secular majority could choose any of the seven days of the week. If it were so that workers did not want to work on Sunday, and shoppers did not want to shop on Sunday, then there would be no shopping on Sunday. And no need for a law.

The Sabbath, said the later so famous Jesus, was created for the humans, and not they for the Sabbath. The same can not be said about this law. It is created not for the people, but for the greater glory of the less gifted but more ambitious ruling group. After all, they have to do something (good or bad) occasionally, or people would start to wonder if we couldn't do without them.


Today I also intended to write a defence for being a Nice Guy. But my entries have grown pretty long of late, so I guess I should call it a day. Just one selling point for the girls: Nice guys finish last...

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