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The Scrapyard --or-- CNO's brain dump

Started by chaotic neutral observer, August 26, 2019, 12:20:11 AM

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chaotic neutral observer

Thank you.

It's inspired by climate change, one of the Doktor's posts, and something somebody once said about me in a meeting.

Me:  <detailed and horrific description of how this project could go wrong, predictions of doom, etc.>
Project manager: "Should we do something about this?"
Business development weasel: "Eh, that's just how cno talks."
Me: :-|
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.


In all fairness, your boss's statement is (as far as I can tell) a different problem. The prevention paradox: if you must put resources toward preventing something and it never ever happens, clearly you don't need to put that many resources into preventing it. When there are not enough resources and now it's happening a lot, suddenly people remember why they had that shit in the first place.

This is how we get anti-vaxxers. And it's a different problem from the "cry wolf" issue. One is about mental exhaustion, or tuning out: if you hear about the problem all the time, it becomes background noise and you stop paying attention.

The other is about invisibility: if you're doing your job right, no one thinks they need you around. (Or in your case, that they need to listen to you.)
"I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me."

There's over 100 of us in this meat-suit. You'd think it runs like a ship, but it's more like a hundred and ten angry ghosts having an old-school QuakeWorld tournament, three people desperately trying to make sure the gamers don't go hungry or soil themselves, and the Facilities manager weeping in the corner as the garbage piles high.


Paging QG.  Would QG please report to the thread.

chaotic neutral observer

He started hanging out around here after the antidepressants cut in.  The diagnosis was general anxiety disorder and depression, with some OCD.  The anxiety disorder is debilitating.  Having OCD is kind of neat.

The anxiety runs in the family.

He's quiet, and doesn't smile much.  If his smile is shallow and symmetric, he's doing it because he thinks it's appropriate for the social context.  If it's lopsided, and he looks like he's trying to fight it back, it's genuine.

He usually doesn't filter the truth, especially if it's negative. "You have a way of telling truth to power", one of his co-workers said, once.  He can keep his mouth shut if he has to, but he will almost invariably answer questions directly and honestly, even if it's not in his best interest.

He doesn't like physical contact.  He'll tolerate handshakes as necessary, and hugs from relatives.  If he's handing you an object, he'll make an effort to avoid contact.  He'll also make an effort to avoid looking like he's trying to avoid contact.

He continuously rehearses the future, and reviews the past.

He doesn't get out much.  His car is 14 years old, and has 57,000 kms on it.  He hates it when you comment on this.

He's a 41-year-old virgin who lives with his mother.  The anxiety disorder is debilitating.

He's had the same job since he graduated.  They pay him for sitting around solving math puzzles.  Having OCD is kind of neat.

He has difficulty with positive reinforcement.  Graduating at the top of his class in high-school was awkward.  Graduating at the top of his class in university was traumatic.

He has no trouble reading your emotional state from your expression, body language, and tone of voice.  The problem isn't that he doesn't feel sympathy, it's that he doesn't know how to express it.

If it seems like he's doing something nice for you, he has an ulterior motive.  It means he likes spending time with you, and thinks you should have some sort of compensation for tolerating his presence.  He is careful to stop short of the point where it appears he's trying to buy your friendship.

His self image is severely distorted.  He is intelligent enough to recognize this, but not strong enough to edit his own psychology.

He doesn't have many friends.

He has difficulty remembering faces.  Maybe he has a touch of prosopagnosia; maybe it's just because he avoids eye contact.

Sometimes, when he's conversing with you, you're talking to a real person.  Sometimes you're talking to an emulation, generated in real-time, of how he thinks a human would behave.  You can't tell which is which.  He can't either, sometimes.

He has seriously considered, but never attempted, suicide.  If he had, he would have gotten it right the first time.  The antidepressants have almost completely stopped these thoughts.

If you're intelligent, female, and between the ages of about 20 and 35, there's a chance he has a slight crush on you.  The only outward indications are that he will avoid eye-contact more than usual, and might stammer a bit if you say "hi" when you pass him in the hallway.  Don't worry about it.  He's harmless.  He'll get over it.  If you express interest in him, he'll pretend he doesn't notice, even if he likes you back.  This hurts like hell.

He's imitative.  If he spends enough time around you, he will absorb part of your personality, your vocabulary, even some of your abilities.

Unless you're watching very, very carefully, you can't tell there's anything wrong with him, other than some shyness.  He's good at faking normality.  Or thinks he is.

He doesn't see reality the same way you do.  He doesn't experience it the way you do.

It hasn't occured to him that he's autistic.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

chaotic neutral observer

"We need a hand on Project D", he says.  "There's a test that we've wanted to get out of the way for a while, but we don't have the manpower to spare.  The module already been debugged.  It should only take you a couple days."

I laugh.  The laugh is 80% amusement, 40% sarcasm, 40% giggle, and 9% manic hysteria.  That's 169%, motherfucker.

He thinks he knows why I laughed.  He doesn't realize I meant it.

I don't bother with the actual testing.  I pretend I've already done it, and that it's failed, and skip ahead to my patented "debug-by-inspection" process.  I hit a snag.  The module has been implemented to follow two contradictory source specifications.  This was never going to work.  Ever.

A meeting is called.  The systems engineer insists there's no contradiction.  He's an idiot.  The general agreement is we need to figure out how two contradictory specifications made it into the system requirements.

The argument continues via email.  The systems guy misinterprets my statements, possibly wilfully, probably a result of his innate confusion.  I ask for a copy of the original communique with the customer.  He says that my questions are answered in his requirements document.  I repeat the request; he finally complies.  There are a lot of people on the CC list.  There's a limit to how long he can play dumb in front of an audience.

Reading the customer's email makes everything clear.  There is a language barrier, but if you construct a mental model of the customer's thought process, it's clear that one of the source specifications was only provided as background information.  We weren't supposed to follow it.  The thing he actually wanted was not captured in the requirements.

I get a piece of the customer's equipment, which has been sitting around for months, untouched.  I power it up, hook it to a prototype signal generator, and a couple days and a hundred lines of matlab later, it's blinking acknowledgement.  Why didn't anyone do this before?  It should have been the first step.  I am vindicated; our requirements specification is, indeed, Just Wrong.

I unleash my true power:  Destruction.  I tear through the existing design, throwing away the work of weeks and months, of the vile n00bs and senior magi who formed and reformed the code before me, none of who had thought to ask if what they were doing actually made sense.  Hardly anything survives.

Upon the smouldering ashes I erect a new edifice, faster, more efficient, and with out-of-band spurious levels so low they could make a brave man weep.

I connect the new design to the customer's unit, perform a round of debugging, and am rewarded with the congratulatory blinking pattern.

Now it works.  Now the testing can begin.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

chaotic neutral observer

In dim-lit cell, long hours he strove
O'er arcane scrolls and weary tomes.
As sun in heaven's orbit sank,
Thoughts ebbed slow and eyes grew blear.

From shadowed cloister forth he strode,
Through passage rough and bending, then
Down two and twenty stony steps
To windowed, vaulted, airy hall.

Past vict'rys emblems, walls of brick
To hall's far-end he walked apace
At last to pause 'fore faceless fount,
The rune-clad fane of latter gods.

Six shining coins in off'ring placed,
A prayer, a pact, an homage paid:
The shrine clanged soft, and hands unseen
A bracing potion gave in trade.

Elixir claimed, he turned away
To climb again to cell's confines,
Head bowed in thought, he walked alone,
The draught in hand, as cold as bone.

Then thunder-spirit conjured he
And storm-god brought he into thrall
With powers old and grim, he called
A blast of wind to warm his drink.

Sometimes I'll get a Dr. Pepper from the vending machine.  But since I don't like my drinks too cold, I'll hook a fan scavenged from a old photocopier to a rather expensive bench power supply, and blow air over the can until it warms up.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.


As a wise man once said, it's not power if you can't abuse it.

The Wizard Joseph

You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

"You program the controller to do the thing, only it doesn't do the thing.  It does something else entirely, or nothing at all.  It's like voting."
- Billy, Aug 21st, 2019

"It's not even chaos anymore. It's BANAL."
- Doktor Hamish Howl

chaotic neutral observer

The ladybugs must have gotten into the house when the potted plants were brought in for winter.  By the time I noticed, it was already freezing outside, so I let them be.

They congregated around the grow-lamp in the basement, and seemed to prefer thyme to rosemary.  As time passed, the population of tiny flies in the house dropped precipitously.

After a few weeks, I began feeding them moistened raisins, leaving one in the thyme pot where they could find it.  When I found a bug wandering around, I would entice it with a raisin, and when it had a firm grip, put it back in the thyme.

There were deaths.  I found one near the base of the stairs, tangled in carpet lint.  Another, perhaps confused when the lamp was turned off for night, wandered down the hallway to perish, desiccated and pale-shelled.

I wondered if any of them would survive until spring.  Ladybugs live only two or three years, and winter is long.

As winter turned to March, and thyme was replaced by tomatoes, I learned to recognize three survivors by sight.  A lethargic one with a discoloured shell, a shy orange one, and a bright-red winged one, very aggressive.  The red one was seen seldom, but would rush along the edges of the tomato pots, or even atop the lamp reflectors, using its wings to hop over obstacles.  Unlike the other two, who would usually stop and snack when they encountered the raisin, this one would crawl past it, just another obstacle.

When it grew warm enough, I transferred two of them outside, placing them next to one of their wild cousins in the front yard.  I found the third, the bright-red winged one, in a tomato plant when I was putting it on the front step to get some sunlight.

I coaxed him onto a fingertip, and as I walked toward the lawn,
he leapt into the air,
and flew away.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

chaotic neutral observer

I pulled a loose thread
From the tattered fabric of my life.
The stitches came apart, and now
My ass is hanging out.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

chaotic neutral observer

If you had a choice:

Would you rather be the stupidest person in a room full of smart people, often embarrassed, always afraid of making mistakes, struggling just to keep up, rarely fitting in
sometimes learning something

Or would you rather be the smartest person in a room full of stupid people, often annoyed, always contemptuous, struggling to make yourself understood, rarely able to make a connection
but still number one?

By the way, you don't get to know which kind of room you're in.
You have to guess.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

chaotic neutral observer

If you're about to die anyway, might as well rig a catapult with a dead-man's switch, and climb into the bucket.

Think of it as a timely, brief, and fully-automated funeral service.

Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.


Quote from: chaotic neutral observer on September 21, 2020, 04:34:08 AM
If you had a choice:

Would you rather be the stupidest person in a room full of smart people, often embarrassed, always afraid of making mistakes, struggling just to keep up, rarely fitting in
sometimes learning something

Or would you rather be the smartest person in a room full of stupid people, often annoyed, always contemptuous, struggling to make yourself understood, rarely able to make a connection
but still number one?

By the way, you don't get to know which kind of room you're in.
You have to guess.

I generally assume I'm in the former. I feel a pang of terror at the idea of ending up in the latter and realizing it.
registered to see the fatberg.

chaotic neutral observer

It doesn't matter who I am inside, for I only exist on the outside.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

chaotic neutral observer

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the wounds won't be too deep
If bombs should fall before I wake
You maniacs, you blew it up, damn you, damn you all to hell.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.