10.15.2019

12.11.2004

My life as a vast and empty wasteland

Filed under: a group of folks,thoughts @ 20:21

It has recently come to my attention that there are people out there who are actively involved in making a difference. In talking with some of these people, I have realized that I am not one of them. Educating children, feeding the hungry, counselling, community development, hell even auditing and entertaining all have wonderful, respectable uses in today’s society. Slacking off in grad school studying analytical bounds on quantum search algorithms seems not to. Sure, it’s easy to say that something I do will eventually be a part of the next big development in computing or the next big theory describing our universe; neither of these things is impossible.

But that’s just the thing, my field (on many levels) deals with probabilities. It is certain that being an assistant at a preschool helps people’s lives. It is known that financial services are a useful commodity and that entertainment is highly valued. But it is not known that some bit of research I do (supposing I ever actually do any) will result in any change in lives or society, let alone an improvement.

It’s also a fair argument to say that, currently, I am simply being trained. My real accomplishments will come when(?) I am a card carrying professor either leading a group of intelligent researchers on the future’s current topics, or teaching to a room of eager students looking to learn about the ways of nature (man will it ever be hard to dash the dreams of the naive). But that doesn’t help much with the fact that right now, sitting here in some torn up jeans and a wrinkled guess brand shirt having just finished a helping or two of Mac n’ Cheese, my current, cumulative offering to the world at large is a few bucks to a couple worthy causes, a couple “charity” concerts with some old choirs, volunteering at a church rummage sale or two, making fun of a few detriments to society (I’m talking about you, JH), and lots of well wishing. Oh – and I gave some homeless dude some spare change.

I’ve talked about something like this before, but it was thrust into my mind again this afternoon at Holly and Cheryl’s surprise (SUPPLIES!) birthday party downstairs. All of their friends are real people. What’s worse is that real people seem to be impressed with a person studying physics in grad school at caltech even when that person does absolutely nothing of immediate consequence. That really speaks to the amount of faith society has in science and it’s far reaching consequences: faith I’m not sure I deserve (though I can certainly name many people here who do: developements in medicine, medical technology, environmental studies, alternative energy, technologies and methods which could be considered ‘meta’ in the context of this tirade…).

Perhaps I should just be a stronger believer in ‘division of labor’ as a key and fundamental component of our society.

2 Comments

  1.  
    xaosseed 12.12.2004 @ 07:45

    Well, its sort of the same way as people keep pets, y’know? Us taxpayers you work our asses off every day doing spreadsheets and drinking coffee like to know there are students out there, because it means no matter how little we do, we’re *still* a rung up the ladder-of-idlenss.

    I’m sure wolfhounds and the like wonder why people feed them when there are no longer flock-menacing wolves.

    And anyway its all well and good saying you do nothing, but someones got to actually take Professors random spoutings and do the gruntwork, crunch the numbers and show either a) its a pile of crap and you’ve just wasted four months or b) its going to make you all rich on basic patents and put us one step closer to cities on mars and zero-g sex for all.

  2.  
    MDA 12.12.2004 @ 12:53

    Hm… I do believe the zero-g sex argument trumps just about anything else. Fair enough.

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