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OKR #7 and my grumpiness

Posted on Aug 14, 2022 by Chung-hong Chan

The world has become a worse place than it was since the previous OKR.

Previously on this blog: my objectives; actual OKR #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6.

The recurring theme of previous OKRs, Corona, is kind of subsided. I mean, at least in the collective attention of the people in this area (Europe). Compared with any time in the last two years, I don’t think it is now the most important topic. Don’t get me wrong: the Omikron variant is still rampant. It still kills more than 10 people per day here in Germany. But it is no longer the most important concern.

I have gone back to office since June. It concluded the over two years of WFH. It feels so wrong and so right at the same time. But I think the most important — and also a beneficial — change is that, I don’t wanna work anymore after I worked the whole day in the office. I have given my WFH monitor to my wife. I hope that it can make me realise the importance of the so-called work-life balance, although I define my life usually in terms of work.

I also attended the ICA conference in Paris this year in person. It just felt so wrong and unfortunately nothing is right. I skipped all unmask events, after several persons from the preconference event I attended (maybe I can write about it later) were tested positive. I rather stayed at the hotel eating junk food. The incidence was very high. As always, my presentations were like talking to the wrong audience. What’s the point?

I had some of the best and worst moments in this quarter. But I can’t recall all of them now (or more like I don’t want to recall them publicly).

Speaking of the pandemic, many people have already resumed their previous normalities. Going to the supermarket, almost no one is wearing mask. Even on the tram, it is still required to wear the mask in Mannheim at the moment. But half of the passengers are not following.

Well, people are really wanting to back to their previous normalities, but I am sure they can’t. As I said, Corona is no longer the most important concern. We all need to face the new normality that war is now part of life in Europe. I would say there is always at least one war, in one way or another, going on on the surface of this Earth. The Syrian War, for example, has been going on since 2011 (remember Arab Spring?). But the Russian invasion of Ukraine since February 24 is different. Bucha, one of the many sites of massacre, is just some 1700 km away from where I am.

In my opinion, NATO is just an issue invented by Putin to justify his war. This invasion instead raises many questions about EU and Russia: The relationship between the illiberal Hungary and Russia blocks many EU policies; Energy dependency makes it difficult for EU to decouple Russia; and actually, this is the kernel question: Why does EU cannot shake the heavy fossil fuel usage? And even with such crazy energy issue with Russia, why does EU don’t take this as an opportunity to right the wrong? Instead, it seems to me that EU is wronging the wrongs and hope two wrongs make one right.

Yes, this is our collective new normality. Compared to the people directly affected by the war, the so-called “suffering” in the rich part of the world is almost nothing. So, there is no need to reiterate non-issues such as inflation. Remember, every single fucking thing has a price. Freedom and democracy, as always, are probably the most expensive thing that the lucky people enjoying them have fucking no clue how valuable they are.

Other than the war: Hate crimes, right-wing terrorism, political assasination, defunding the public broadcast system, rampant [m/d]isinformation, overturn of abortion rights (not just in the US, but also in Malta, you insenstive clod!), burning forests, endless heatwaves, water crises. Life fucking sucks in AC3, man. (the third Corona year. Why don’t we name the current century after Corona?) That’s how the world celebrates the so-called “end of the pandemic”, right? It is quoted because it is endless.

Damn it! Enough of this shit. Let’s OKR.

Think out loud

I wrote 5 blog posts in the last six months. Nothing to brag about actually. All of them were written in the early 2022. It’s because the later half of Q1 was a bit too busy about some personal and career issues.

And yes, one post is about me finally shaking Twitter. And aggressively blocking Twitter works! I have drastically reduced my Twitter usage. Actually, I skip most of the social media and I feel so good about it.

Contribute to open source

The new R package is sehrnett. The original idea is for implementing the so-called Embedding Quality Test (EQT) in sweater, which needs to use WordNet. The original WordNet R package is a bit… arcane. But after implementing a new package for working with WordNet (i.e. sehrnett), I have forgetten about EQT.

sweater itself got updated (see the paper section below). But no one fucking cares.

readODS is now an R Open Sci project, after the slow software review process. And no one fucking cares either.

Publish top papers

I could only get one paper published. And that is:

And you know what? This is actually my first solo paper. And I am telling you: developing this open source R package is a lonely and unrewarding excercise. No one gives a fuck about research software. It’s worthless. Go publishing your public-sponsored multimillion research in an Elsevier journal. For academic or personal use, it’s only $39.95 to read.

Improve myself

No time for this. It doesn’t mean I am perfect. But more like I am so bad and I am beyond improvement.

Publish a book

I don’t give a fuck anymore.

Postscript: Why so fucking grumpy?

Yes. I am grumpy. The first thing I realized is that I am now 41. The second thing I realized is that only people getting old always talk about their age.

Once people get old, they are entitled to hate, again. In our youth, we can hate also but it is more like against the authority. Then in your late twenties and thirties you think you start to drop the hate and be some nice people. In your forties, you become the people you hated in your youth. You are now part of the freaking authority. People like me are waiting to die, at least in the eyes of the young chainsawriot.

Sure, I think I am now entitled to hate a lot of things. Probably the number one thing I hate is social media and the whole culture associated with it. I can’t write enough about it. Of course, the most awful thing about social media is that it is now an integrated part of the so-called modern life. For example, I think probably many people would be reading this grumpy OKR because of the social media. Without that, those people would never know this blog post even exists.

The second most awful thing is the style of communication associated with it. I dropped Facebook, I dropped Instagram also. I swear to you that I will never use TikTok or Snapchat or whatever. I hate the modern visual communication style. It is loud and attention-seeking.

Also, I’ve started to hate animated gifs, memes, short videos posting on Twitter but for figurative purposes. Of course, one possible explanation is that I don’t have the ability, like many of academic colleagues, to communicate in those styles to grab people’s attentions. But I think the better explanation is I think those things are just Kitsch. Bad taste, if you don’t even understand what Kitsch means.

Communication is more that just posting memes. Posting memes is effective, I know. But in many situations, we can sacrifice a bit of effectiveness for something better. One can always eat fast food. It’s effectiveness, right? Does it mean one should eat fast food every waking hour?

People speaking my language would say “Words have temperature”. I don’t think English or any European languages would have something like that. It doesn’t mean somethin like textual sentiment. Instead, readers should be able to feel that there is a person behind words. Words should reflect who the writer are because words radiate the writer’s body temperature. Words shouldn’t be some mass produced image templates that allow anyone to put in cold words from right-wing xenophobic nonsense to the self-important social scientific research findings. It’s dead, Jim!

I also hate the content of Twitter. I hate the fact that even the academia has turned into an arena where researchers are competing for eyeballs like YouTubers. The self-pitiness, pettiness, and pettishness are sometimes not necessary. I just wanted to radiate my disappointment and maybe also my grudge towards the milieu I am stuck in. So my grumpiness. It’s hateful, I know. But I have somehow toned down my hatefulness.

Also, to my academic colleagues: If you feel like writing a 10-tweet thread again, write a proper blog post instead. And this is against all the advices from the social media savvy academians. But you will thank me when Twitter is no longer a thing.

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