The Test
(11-20 February 2004)

20 February 2004
-Check it out!  Not only were about 29,000 Book Quizzes taken yesterday (& yes, all traffic records were broken again), but the BP is a chart-topper!!  I like this ranking more than BlogDex, for obvious reasons.
-Signed the lease late last night & so we're moving to Oakland in less than a month.  So very crazy but so very fun, especially having about triple the square feet & living with Fish.  I just hope Pandora adjusts & calms herself down...
-Stina jumped into Lisha's & my discussion from yesterday to talk about why she is an ends-based pacifist.  Interesting, but it has less to do with my means-based pacifism than just about anything means-based.  The point of pacifism isn't usually to accomplish something.  It's to do what's right, or much more to the point, to not do wrong.  It's nice when we can point to Gandhi & say "Look, sometimes it gets people on your side!", but there's a reason that his principle was right yet his example was lonely.  Pacifism has yet to be a common road to so-called "successful" actions.  If one defines success by survival & public opinion, & not by the status of one's soul/moral agency, then pacifism will not give you success.  But if the only reason for pacifism were to be a public martyr, there wouldn't be much principle to it, would there?
-Here's another chart that the BP tops for the day.
-Interacting with Stina's continuation of Lisha's arguments again:  I'm not saying that ends-based is "evil" & I don't mean it that way.  Ends-based reasoning is highly unappealing to me for a variety of reasons.  For one thing, it's impossible to know the ends of a given action in a world where any individual has less than 100% control of themselves & the people around them.  Ends are based on the presumption of predictability... which is where we run into problems, because life has a nasty habit of not being predictable.  Well, people say, if everyone had acted rationally, this never would have happened...  The point is, in the world as it stands, it's impossible to predict most any outcome.  But ends-based reasoning requires the fulfillment of predicted ends for it to work... the ends are only justified if they are the outcome.  Because ends-based reasoning cares about results, not intent, so if you get the wrong results, it doesn't work.  It seems to me much stronger to just base one's lifestyle on good means since that's something one has control over.  I can control whether I hit someone to fulfill my goals or I don't... & that's what my means are.  One also avoids the flaw of the illogical viewer... the person who "nukes in the name of world peace" & so forth.  Israel & Palestine have the best of ends in mind when they attempt to blow each other into the next millennium.  Doesn't seem to be solid logic to me.  Anyway, Stina tries to say she's looking at both means & ends (few people really try to throw themselves all the way to one end of the spectrum, after all).  But examining the nature of her argument, it's all spoken from an ends-based standpoint.  Every argument is justified by results, by outcomes, by effects... what will it teach?  Those are ends.  I don't hear a lot of arguing from pure principle, which is why I think her stuff is more ends-based than she might realize.  Finally, she talks about dealing with the trauma of victims.  This is indeed difficult, & something very important, as I've devoted my professional life to it at this point.  I could say that my whole perspective comes from dealing with the trauma of a planet facing the disease of violence, that can only be stopped by individual decision & not by force.  But she closes on "Imagine if she ran?"  Then I'd be clapping for her, because she ran instead of hitting back.  Running, you may recall, is a pacifist response.  As is talking.  Nowhere have I ever said that pacifism instills a requirement to take violence upon oneself... again Stina uses Gandhi's precise example as a model for all pacifist action.  While there are sometimes values to be found in not resisting violence, running away is usually the best course of action for all concerned.  That way one avoids the violence without doing wrong, which is the whole idea in the first place.

19 February 2004
-Yesterday didn't just break all prior records for traffic at the Blue Pyramid.  It made them feel bad about themselves.  The Book Quiz was taken over 20,000 times.  Twenty thousand book quizzes in twenty-four hours.  It's already been taken nearly 32,000 times since inception & it's been up for less than a week (it's 5 in the morning as I write this).  Meanwhile, the BP page itself was visited by over 1,400 unique visitors, with the prior record (set the day before, incidentally) being around 600.  The prior record before that was closer to 350.  For much of yesterday, there were at least 100 visitors somewhere on the site at any given moment.  At this point, I'm realizing that I really didn't have a good sense of how absurd traffic could get around here.  Suffice it to say that two quizzes are better than one.
-I've been obsessed lately with "She Don't Want Nobody Near".  The video (available for free viewing here) is pretty spiffy too... reminds me of a video I would make if I ever had a band.  "Don't you wonder why it's dark outside at night?!"
-Quick round-up of other peoples' online comments:  (1) Lisha should know full well that I don't believe that thinking of doing something violent after someone else has changes the morality of the violence.  Order of thought has little to do with the quality of the action.  What most folks might classify as self-defense has always struck me as just thinking of doing the same thing second.  The moral agency is unchanged... it's still violence towards another person.  As people have gasped at me for years, does that mean you just sit there & take it (or try to reason them out of it, or run away)?  Yes.  I thought everyone knew this about me already.  (2) Beth, actually Siddhartha was the #11 result last week, just missing the webpage stats.  Eleventh out of 64 is indeed fairly common, so your initial intuition wasn't wrong.  (3) Unikowsky, stop living in the past!  (Check the year on your recent posts.)
-When Paul Simon last sang "Leaves That are Green" prior to singing it in front of me in Oakland, it was in 1967 & he sang "I'm 23 now, but I won't be for long" instead of the song-release "22".  I just noticed this on the live recording of it I have from he & Art in New York in '67.  Even though the quizzes are popular, I've got a lot of catching up to do at not-23-for-long.  Ah well.
-Lisha & I rarely see eye-to-eye & we have pretty good reasons for our separate views.  & I detest gender as a concept for all sorts of reasons, so I guess it's natural to get miffed when she dances around my views being male-based.  Though I do appreciate that she dances around it & realizes that it isn't the key issue at hand.  I think it's more reasonable to address issues from a perspective of those who have actually endured violence... something that I have done, even though I'm male.  & I've endured some pretty serious violence without fighting back in the name of self-defense.  No, it wasn't rape & it wasn't life-threatening.  But I'm pretty sure I could face those today without fighting back too.  I hope I'm that strong.  It's a principle.  & while it might not be thinking the exact thing second, it is thinking that violence is acceptable to achieve one's ends.  As long as violence is considered an acceptable means, there will always always always be violence.  So those truly committed to not have violence must start at the only point they can really control:  themselves.  Whether the ends are sadistic joy or saving life doesn't really interest me, because one can explain one's ends in whatever light they see fit.  In the end, it's the idea that violence is an option at all that breathes life into ongoing violence.  I think it's reasonable to want people to join the effort to cut off this cycle.  & I know plenty of females who agree with me.
-BlogDex is currently ranking the BP 107th among the "most contagious information currently spreading in the weblog community".  I'm disappointed at how they track this, though, since the blogs they track seem to be pretty selective (if LiveJournal's Meme Tracker were working, for example, methinks I'd be really doing well).  So on the one hand, I'm ranked highly with only 3 links in the last 24 hours.  On the other hand, I'm 1 rank below John Kerry's national campaign site.  So that's not exactly shabby.

18 February 2004
-Later today, Emily & I will almost certainly find out if we are relocating to Oakland with Fish.  If we don't, we will almost definitely go on to relocate to Oakland with Fish.  I could explain in detail, but I'm really tired (unlike last night).  Basically, there are two places, but we're pretty sure we're going to get the first one.  & we find out later today.  In theory.  If we get it, I will miss the Berkeley address, but we will still be about 3 blocks from Berkeley.  We shall see.
-A couple of early birthday presents, including the apartment & a big surprise at work.  The apartment is actually the top floor of a Victorian-style house near the Oakland/Berkeley border.  It's yellow on the outside & multi-colored on the inside & huge by comparison to this place.  I have mixed feelings today, but am very excited in general.  Then the potential landlord at the other place we'd been considering (our backup) called & asked if we were applying, saying that we were his favorite potential applicants.  I had to say we'd already gotten another place, which was tough because he was an awesome potential landlord.  So it goes.  The work surprise seems like something that I shouldn't be spreading around too much just yet, but things are looking up.
-Good days, more than others, tend to have their challenges.

17 February 2004
-Yesterday was stellar at work & I've just been in a great mood lately.  It's so good to have Em home again & most everything is just cruising.  Yesterday I was standing in line for lunch at Chipotle & just had this transcendental moment of joy where I realized how I've achieved so many facets of happiness & entirely on my terms.  & having been on the real end of very sincere unhappiness for so much of so many years makes the joy tangible & endlessly meaningful.  It just felt like hitting the sweet spot of the universe, of things falling into place.  These moments still inevitably yield to pangs of guilt & horror at how lucky I am, but the fact that I can enjoy them at all is progress.  & the guilt has found some perspective, rather than tearing me to shreds as it might've in the past.  I think that had I no guilt, that would be just as worthless as being obliterated by guilt, because both are equally relevant to life.  A little guilt is vital to appreciating how much work needs to be done by the fortunate.  I'm almost rambling, so I guess the moral of the story is that sincere emotions make one appreciative.  Or perhaps that it's really good to stand in lines sometimes, because they give enough perspective to let us actually see.
-The server slowness of my 'site cleared up almost as soon as I posted on it.  & my webmaster has said nothing about bandwidth, even when I asked him about the issue, so I think I'm with CoastlandTech for a while yet!
-I want to voice how proud I am of Stina for the risks she's taking with her website & how holistically she's throwing herself into the project.  I know just how easy it isn't for her.  I'm quite a sucker for people opening up & pelting the world with honesty.
-You can now take a look at the Book Quiz results, through a few days back.  In its first three days, the new quiz was taken more than 3,000 times, neatly trumping the few hundred that the Country Quiz started out with in similar time.  I stopped tracking the Country Quiz's progress in late June last year, not just because I was about to get married & go on my honeymoon, but also because the process had become repetitive.  The UN & Thailand were, & always would be, the top two results.  There were slight shifts in the lower ranks of the top ten, but generally things were settled after tracking things for six months.  I was very conscious of the UN & Thailand when designing the Book Quiz.  The UN was highly popular because its final question (pitting it against Poland) was whether one lets people walk all over one Sometimes or Constantly!.  Very few people will admit that they always let people walk all over them, thus the UN was highly popular.  Similarly, Thailand's final question asked people whether or not they believed in self-defense.  Quite sadly to me, almost everyone believes in self-defense, giving Thailand huge popularity (at the expense of Costa Rica).  So in making the Book Quiz, I tried not to have such obvious dichotomies, especially late in the quiz, so that results could have greater parity.  This week's results seem to bear that out at the upper end, but not with the bottom three results, which combined could only muster 0.69% of the total.
-Since I'm 3 hours into the 17th & just can't stop posting, I want to comment on how utterly pleased I am to live in the Bay Area at this time in history.  While he was much worse than his Green Party run-off rival in the mayorial election, the current mayor of San Francisco is taking such a great stand of civil disobedience that I can probably forgive him for beating Matt Gonzalez.  Gavin Newsom's endorsement of same-sex marriages (together with the Massachusetts Supreme Court as I posted on a few days back) has finally taken the gay marriage debate away from the 3/5th's compromise of "civil unions" & put it where it should be, on actually equal rights.  It seems that there's hope for America after all, in the triumph of an outcast minority over a myopic majority.  Funny how breaking the law seems to be the only way to fix peoples' minds.
-An early endorsement of the Book Quiz, from a random livejournal webpage:  "that is probably the best description of me ever, and it came from a total strangers impersonally generated webpage. I think that speaks for its truth more than my own assertions."  It would seem that even from a distance, I understand people better than they understand themselves.  Of course, it also could be that people are impressionable when it comes to quizzes.
-I really need to stop posting, & especially about quizzes.  I will go to bed after asking a final question... anyone know Finnish?  Ever since the Country Quiz was linked at this site, the CQ has been HUGE in Finland.  I get hundreds of visitors a day from Finland.  I have garnered from some web searching that it's a popular online magazine site in Finland, but I'm stunned at how many people are following that link given that it's one of 32 quizzes linked on that page.

16 February 2004
-Well it looks like we've chosen a place to try to live in.  It's funny how the instant one commits to trying to move, one gets pangs of missing the current location.  But that's to be expected.  It's time to move on up anyway methinks.
-Greg's band apparently has gotten serious enough for a website as well.  Therein you can also find a chronicle of all the shufflings of its various incarnations & populations.
-Just in the last few minutes, it seems my site has gotten very slow.  I hope I'm not starting to have a bandwidth issue.  I really am not in the mood to move my site in the next 24 hours or something crazy.

15 February 2004
Happy Birthday to Ariela Maruri
-The longest day, but at least I'm not feeling so sick.
-Emily's finally home!!!!

14 February 2004
-Exit Zimmy.  Was great fun to have him around for the better parts of a week, & I wish him luck on the job front.
-Productivity IS possible.

13 February 2004
-While a few people have posted their results of the brand-new Book Quiz (thanks Beth & Stina), many of you have still not checked it out.  Given that it's only been up for 14 hours, I guess that's okay.
-Meanwhile, the Country Quiz just got some new noteriety from an online columnist.  A fairly flattering review, all told.
-Apparently the rumors that Zirkin is in a band that's taking itself very seriously are all true.

12 February 2004
-In notes on other peoples' pages today, Emily has finally updated just as Zimmy (though he's staying here) falls into the land of lack of updates.  & Dolan has (allegedly) retired.  Meanwhile, remind me to never attend a university that Unikowsky might open.  He would require more science during the first year than I took in high school & college combined.
-&... it's here!!!  The Book Quiz, sequel to the Country Quiz (13 months running & over 400,000 times taken) is up & running.  Go take it now!
You're The Guns of August!
by Barbara Tuchman
Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can diplomats."
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

-Once again, I'm posting my own result.  Maybe this one isn't as accurate as the last one that pegged me as Ireland.  Heh.

11 February 2004
-I'm starting to think it was a mistake to advertise that I was working on a new quiz going into a big week of work.  Now that I have a little bit of time, I can say it'll probably be up by the end of this week (MAYbe sooner), but no one should exactly hold their breath.  Might as well get it right if it's going to be taken anywhere near as much as the Country Quiz.
-Soooo tired.

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