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Shlomi Fish Introducing Himself to the MIT Writers Mailing List

From: Shlomi Fish < shlomif@shlomifish.org >
To: writers
Subject: WOW: Introducing Myself (Shlomi Fish)
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 17:34:11 +0300

Hi!

I haven’t really introduced myself, so consider this an introduction. It is rather lengthy, but only because I have a lot of things to say. For the reader’s sake I have split this document into sections, so if one section bores you, just skip to the next.

Personal:

My biography can be found here:

http://www.shlomifish.org/personal.html

Namely, I was born in Israel, and lived there most of my life, save for some time in the states when I was very young (and to trips abroad, naturally). I am a proud member of the Jewish people and culture, but also a very ideological Atheist. My mother tongue is Hebrew, but I have a very good command of English as well. I studied written Arabic and to a much smaller extent French in High School, but I forgot most of them, since, due to lack of practice.

I have two younger sisters. Both of them graduated from the same high school as I did, and both finished their army service. They are now studying in university - one Bio-Technological engineering, and the other Computer Science.

As for me, I did not go to the army (exempt from service), and instead worked for a while at three different workplaces, and then enrolled into the Technion. My studies were interesting, frustrating, eventful, and all-in-all a very intensive experience. I did graduate, however, this year, (B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering) and am happy everything is behind me. Tonight, I had a phantasm about having to attend a Technion lecture, only to recall that I no longer had to endure such a thing. Pheewww!

Right now, I’m looking for a good job. I was able to earn some money by writing articles for O’Reilly Net and other gigs like that. But a steady source of income would be even nicer. My ideal job is interesting, with good and supportive co-workers, and naturally such that doesn’t require me to overwork. Too many IT workers work way too long, and it doesn’t increase their productivity by one ounce. In fact, several software management systems, like Extreme Programming or Peopleware, explicitly state that one should maintain a 40-hours week.

Writing:

Cutting to the chase, I’d like to say that I write both fiction and non-fiction. My fiction consists of the following creations:

1. The Enemy and How I Helped to Fight it

This is a political satire (with a much more general moral) about the situation that used to prevail in the Israeli-Lebanese border. It tells the story of the ex-Member of the Organization, who after leaving makes a suggestion to his commander for better fighting the Enemy, the archevil nation that the organization is dedicated to fighting. This suggestion is so good, that the commander implements it immediately. As the ex-Member and another member who quit from the Organization that day leave, they witness the Organization’s post’s members killing one another. (read the story to find out what was the ex-Member’s suggestion)

This is just the beginning of the story in which the ex-Member of the Organization, finds himself handling the consequences of his suggestion, much to his great gain.

This story was originally written in Hebrew. I eventually translated it to English. However, since the story was written in a relatively high language, I found out that I did not understand some of the words in the translation after I read it again. You are welcome to read it anyway (because most of it is understandable) and comment.

I do have a to-do list item to revise both versions to make the language somewhat more common, but I have other priorities first.

Despite its shortcomings, I consider this my best and favourite piece yet.

2. The One with the Fountainhead

This is a parody of Ayn Rand’s book, The Fountainhead modelled around a two-part episode of the T.V. show Friends. This is probably my funniest piece yet. The combination of the Fountainhead, which is an excellent book, that takes itself very seriously, and Friends, which is an excellent show, that doesn’t, as well as my crazy imagination, led to some very nice gags.

Many of which follow various common sitcom patterns, but I think they are still funny. So far I received two good impressions from the story, one of them from someone who did not watch Friends.

I was able to find other nice parodies (by other people) of Ayn Rand’s works online as well.

Read and enjoy!

3. The Pope died on Sunday

A humorous story that describes a rather insane week in the life of a female American graphic artist in her early twenties. Only in Hebrew for the time being, and heavily under-finished. I received some very good reviews of it from some people I know.

4. The Human Hacking Field Guide

The story is written in English, and focuses on high-school teenagers at present-day Los Angeles, California.

It talks about one female open-source hacker (= a computer enthusiast, not a computer intruder) who is a full guru, but a self-made social outcast, and a punk, who tutors a female hacker wannabe, (who is also the narrator of the story) who is a pop-culture and very solid girl, who’s at first only interested in open-source so she can get to a good college. There are then other twists to the plot.

I’d rather not reveal it to the world at large at this point until it is finished, but if you’re interested drop me an E-mail, and I’ll send you the URL. (as long as you implicitly promise not to disclose it to someone else without my permission)

5. Humanity

This is a screenplay for a film that aims to be a parody of Humanity and modern life in particular. It tells the story of an imaginary (and incredibly unrealistic) Semitic city circa the year 500 BC, through its common elements, each associated with a skit.

I personally find it very amusing, but your kilometrage may vary.

6. More small-scale creations:

Check:

http://www.shlomifish.org/humour/

Non-fiction Writings:

In the course of time I wrote a lot of articles, essays, and the like about philosophy, science, computing, politics, etc. Most of them can be found by following the links from:

http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/

Or:

http://www.shlomifish.org/lecture/

Or simply a google search for “shlomi fish” possibly with some of your favourite keywords. Perhaps I need to index my favourite creations and put them or link to them from my site, but once again, have other priorities.

Technical Work:

Despite the fact that I studied Electrical Engineering in the Technion, I’m more of a programmer and mathematician by profession. I’ve been programming since I was 10 years old, and I’m 27 years old now. I still feel a bit nostalgic about DOS and BASIC, and sometimes get the feeling that young people today who grow up on using such great systems as Linux, Mac OS X, and to a lesser extent the NT-line of MS-Windows systems, haven’t suffered enough, and don’t really appreciate the power and stability of their systems.

As time went by, I learned C/C++, Windows 3.x, Windows programming and Visual Basic for Applications. My real revelation came in my second job as a programmer, where I was exposed to UNIX and Perl. Both technologies were so good that I felt that I saw the light, and found the pot at the end of the rainbow. I still feel this way.

There was a time, I actually preferred using Windows 98 for most day to day use (but not development), because I found it more convenient. After KDE 2.x was released, I found that working on Linux was considerably more enjoyable, and now use it for everything, including most tasks I used Windows for. While, I still acknowledge the fact that some Windows software is superior to its Linux equivalent, (including some Microsoft software) I still detest Windows as a whole more and more.

I am a user, developer and advocate of open-source software. My enthusiasm with open-source stems out of the appreciation of its technical (and to a lesser extent philosophical) superiority, rather than as an ideologist who’s trying to eradicate the “evil”, “greedy”, vendors of software that is not free-as-in-speech. I contribute because I like to contribute and it makes me feel good, and makes me highly appreciated in the community, not because I feel I have a moral obligation to.

You can find more about my open-source endeavours here:

http://www.shlomifish.org/open-source/

Aside from being a programmer, I also webmaster and write content for a few sites, including my homepage (http://www.shlomifish.org/), and the site of the Israeli Group of Linux Users (http://www.iglu.org.il/). I’m writing my HTML directly with the help of Website Meta Language (http://thewml.org/) or other frameworks that don’t generate incredibly bloated code. I don’t like WYSIWYG editors much, and since I like Linux where they aren’t always available, I tend to not be able to use them anyhow, and I certainly don’t miss them much.

The HTML I produce by hand is clean, standards compliant, and can be viewed by all modern browsers. OTOH, I wish I had a nickel any time an overbloated site misbehaved in browsers except MSIE (or even in MSIE). It doesn’t happen with my sites or with big international sites, whose back-end writers are much more clueful than to use automatic graphical front-ends and generators to generate them.

Language:

I am very enthusiastic about the way I express myself in both Hebrew and English. I do my best to always write and speak in a style that is grammatically and syntactically correct, fully punctuated, with proper capitalization, using the best words I can think of, etc. I even try to do it in interactive chats, where it is many times obvious that my fellow conversers invest much less effort in trying to accomplish that. While it takes me longer to write and express myself this way, I feel that my message gets across better, and that I am happier with the end results.

I am very interested in Linguistics, etymology, etc. but only get random bits and pieces from various sources, and nothing particularly professional. I do have aspirations of getting a Ph.D. in Linguistics someday, but it’s not a high priority, because lingual experts still need to eat.

Philosophy:

So far there were four books that influenced me the most:

  1. Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos
  2. The Neo-Tech Discovery by Frank R. Wallace (pen name) and others. (the book I have is now out of print)
  3. Feeling Good by David D. Burns.
  4. The Cathedral and the Bazaar Series by Eric S. Raymond.

The most influential among them was #2. Neo-Tech is an extension and re-organization of Objectivism, that is mind-blowing, mind-expanding and revolutionizing. I have searched for the philosophical “truth” since I was very young, and Neo-Tech is just that. Anything contradictory I encountered or heard about before or since, is a long way behind. The non-contradictory things were often very insightful, but fell nicely within the grand Neo-Tech scheme and weren’t as fully revolving as Neo-Tech.

Note that this book is not available in shops and you need to order it by mail. http://www.neo-tech.com/ is the official Neo-Tech site, but since its purposeful but malevolent re-organization which removed most of the contents ( :-( ), I am no longer even able to find the catalog there (or on Google). I was able to receive one by mail by commenting through their commenting system, though.

The latest Neo-Tech material seem to have become more repetitive, to incorporate more hard-to-understand material and to generally become more redundant. This is instead of either making minor updates to the already existing material, selling it through bookshops, and making it available online, plus sending people to propagate Neo-Tech and give presentations about it (for pay or free of charge depending on the context) around the world. The way I see it, the Neo-Tech leadership is a bit paranoid in this regard, and that’s not good, because they have a philosophy that is second to none.

I have a solution in my mind to remedy it and reverse this unfortunate trend, but I will need some perpetual financial income to embark on it, which I don’t have now.

Personal #2:

I like to bike, take walks in my neighbourhood and hike. I also like to swim, albeit I don’t have too much discipline when I’m in the swimming pool. I used to hit the gym quite often for weight-training, but no longer have a subscription.

The thing I hate the most is probably stupidity and irrationality. I know quite a lot of very intelligent people who are infested with it as well. I, too, have my share of it, but try to minimize it as time goes by. The second thing I hate the most is probably cruelty. I encountered some instances where some people were just cruel to me or to other people, and it is very irritating. I hope I don’t seem cruel to anyone else, because I have to practice what I preach. (I was sometimes mocked, but it’s not really cruelty, and I’m perfectly OK with it).

I’m not going to say the usual C.V. bullshit about myself like “Team player. Fast learner.” etc., (even though it may be true) but just say that I consider myself honest, idealistic, individualist, and think I am entitled to be proud of these.

Some of my faults are that I’m too spontaneous sometimes, and do things I tend to regret. I’m also not very assertive, and have a bad diction, and a bad hand-writing. (which is a bit ironic considering the language part).

I try to keep myself healthy by eating good food and I refrain from consuming Alcohol, Sugar, Caffeine, Nicotine, much less the currently illegal drugs. I never was a real junkie of anything like that (except perhaps sugar), but now that I completely refrain, I feel that I’m much more focused, energetic, feel less drowsy, etc.

Finally, I’m keeping an online journal at:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/shlomif/

Best regards, and I hoped you enjoyed reading this, and found the various links interesting.

Shlomi Fish