This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.                             the guys: philogynist jaime tony - the gals:raymi raspil

        20060228   

Michael considered fate at 18:53   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Bullocks. Innernector is down at the pad and slow at the office. These are the trials and tribulations of a modern first-world life for most of us, not the more traditional who might eat me on my walk home tonight? or where is my next meal coming from?. Therefore, as I trial and tribulate, the rest of you will have to wait for the weekend photos of hideously ugly men.

Admittedly, I will be one of them.

Michael considered fate at 17:15   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Warning: Technobabble ahead.

First off, there is now yet another search engine on the internet but this time it's not just a rehash of your same-old same-old. It's a textual search for audio speech called Podzinger. What does it do? Why it searches the full text of podcasts, of course! From boingboing.net:
Podzinger is a service that aggregates hundreds of thousands of episodes of podcasts, converts the entire text of the casts to text, and then delivers a searachable index. You go to Podzinger, search for a search, and you get back all the podcasts that have mentioned that term -- along with embedded players that can play you back the whole podcast, or just those segments where the keywords are mentioned. In a nutshell, this lets you do Tehcnorati-style full-text searching of podcasts, treating them like textual blog-entries.
What's even niftier about this is that it's based on some "de-militarized" technology from DARPA EARS's program (Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text).. I guess the gov'ment is good for something after all. (I jest - let's not forget the internet's birth is thanks to those same squirrely secret-keeping spooks - yah for advanced research projects).

"So what?" you might ask and well you should. If you're my average reader than you either a) don't know what a podcast is, b) have never listened to a podcast, c) have listened and just gon't "get it", or d) couldn't give a rats ass about what I'm talking about.

Well, you should give a rats ass because podcasting is basically akin to public access television in the 70's and 80's except it's far more accessible, less expensive, and easier to distribute to very large audiences. Certainly some may argue that most podcasts - like blogs - will never find anything close to what you would define as a "wide audience" but I might point out that this was basically true of PATV. While some may find this to be a good reason to not give a rats ass others might find this truly liberating. Until big media gets it's grubby hands on this technology you basically have free reign over a multitude of shows - both video and audio - with which to wet your appetite for more grass roots programming.

Take, for example, TikiBarTV. If you aren't familiar with it let me give a synopsis: It's a short video podcast featuring a new mixed drink each episode. New episodes come out somewhat irregularly and are usually about 4 minutes long. If you've come this far you might ask "What?" and I'll tell you: I'm not watching for it's mixed drink recipes. It's hilariously funny sketch comedy. There is a hot babe, a good looking doctor, a goofy bartender and yes, sometimes, there are even robots.

As far as people can tell TikiBarTv is filmed somewhere in BC most likely in the Vancouver area. There is clearly no corporate funding for this show; it's just something the actors/producers enjoy doing.

What else? The entirety of Burn, a science fiction novella by James P. Kelly is now available as an audiobook podcast. James has been releasing a new chapter each week for the last 16 weeks and now it's finally done. If you dig scifi, or are even mildly interested, check it out. That's the beauty of the medium right now; it's free and easy and with ubiquitous broadband anyone can fill their favourite mp3 player, burned cd, or computer with interesting choices that you just can't get through mainstream channels.

These last two examples are complete random picks. Lots of news is available from the likes of 60 minutes, NPR, APM's Marketplace, and many more. Online sources abound as well like Slate.com.

Sure, not everyone liked PATV. In fact we had a late-night show in my town which showed someone mowing their lawn for 30 minutes every night - questionable usage of energy and other resources. But podcasts are clearly a huge improvement. You watch/listen when you want. It's global (excpet, perhaps, holdouts like China). Best of all there is a living, breathing, community out there that will happily slaughter anything not worth it's weight and raise to the pedestal that which is great.

A good example is Ricky Gervais' chit-chat podcast which earlier this year received a Guinness record for the most downloaded podcast with 261k in one month. Sure, the guy created a hit TV show in the UK which has resulted in a US spinoff. He's obviously above and beyond PATV celebrity status. The doors are not as quick to open for us small guys, but it's happening.

Additionally, podcasts are only a small portion of what some people like to call the World Live Web; the ever-changing, evolving, growing information available online (think blogs, newspaper content, product offerings / sales, etc). There is a large disjoint between this and the static web, which is far easier to search (yet starting to trail behind the live web in it's usefulness and everyday usage). Only recently have tools such as Technorati (blog searching) and Podzinger been introduced. Even while we still struggle with old tech (the static web and google vs. china vs. yahoo vs. the U.S. gov'ment) we are also experiencing the growing pains of technology advancement (the world live web). Doc Searls outlines this quite well in a recent post:
This morning I wanted to find a piece where I quoted Terry Heaton about unbundling. That brought up a goose egg on Google. So did leaving my name out of the search. I got farther with Terry Heaton and Unbundled, but not to what I wrote about the subject.

So I looked around my hard drives and found a draft of the piece, with the phrase "This morning, fortuitously". The top result on Google got me to —
Doc Searls' IT Garage - 5:08am
This morning, fortuitously, he treats us to some important wisdom in 2006: The
Unbundled Awakening. Here are the core paragraphs: ...
itgarage.com/ - 28k - Cached - Similar pages - Remove result
Which was helpful, because I could read the cached page and then locate it in IT Garage.

But there was no direct link to the original piece.

Yahoo brought many more results, all around IT Garage, but nothing on the first page pointing sraight to the piece.

So I tried some Live Web engines.

While some of the engines found nothing, Blogpulse, Google Blogsearch and Technorati each found exactly what I was looking for.

These results highlight the differences between the Static Web and the Live Web
End Note: CNN was wrong in their predictions of Apple's new product announcments this week. Their picks:
  1. A True Video iPod
  2. Intel Mac Mini
  3. Widescreen iBook
  4. iTunes Movie Store
The reality:
  1. iPod Hi-Fi (a boombox for your iPod)
  2. Intel Mac Mini (single and dual core)
  3. iPod leather case..
Uhhh.. bravo, Apple innovators. This is the sort of failure to live up to expectation that sends people to alternate, often smaller, brands:
The question has become how much extra consumers are willing to pay for the difference in quality or brand reassurance. Recent surveys show consumers often name price over brand as their main buying criterion in electronics
This is certainly nothing new but rather something that companies like Apple need to remember. Don't forget that Apple's position as "the most innovative company of the past 75 years" (as named by 500 "senior-level business executives" in a poll for BusinessWeek's 75th anniversary) is chiefly a measure of their performance over the last few years. Though perhaps they should get credit for introducing GUI advancements and accessories such as mice to the consumer market back in the 80's, the truth is nobody remembers that far back. Right now they're riding the iPod wave and that wave is as fickle as any in this fast moving market.

The connection between these problems that Apple must remember and the growing pains of the live web are, in some ways, very very similar. Nevertheless, I'll leave you to ponder that on your own.

        20060227   

Michael considered fate at 16:47   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
went to maine, fishing.

well, we didn't fish. no ice. just got completely stupid with about 20 guys, the equivalent of watching a barrel-full of monkeys fight with eachother to be the one that gets to be at the bottom. Talk about evolution..

left friday morning, got to maine around 6pm, proceeded directly to the beer store. drunk by 8, down to the bar, many many pitchers and lots of hideous local women. the next day, hard liquor shots having been administered on wakeup, hangovers having been fought with diner-food and an olympic hockey game on the boob-tube, drinking began in earnest by 2pm.

..fast forward approximately 12 hours..

we found dead mice in the unused hot-tub in the basement, and there are pictures of one monkey raising a piece of pizza to his mouth with dead mice on top, covered in bbq dipping sauce. another primate who loves his party-music blasted wolf parade and... wait for it... danced with a lazy-boy ottoman in his arms for approximately 20minutes straight, by himself, with nobody else in the room.

sadly, these are the only two anecdotes from the weekend that I feel comfortable repeating. you'll have to imagine the rest.

        20060223   

Michael considered fate at 20:59   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

The people demand more updates!! 
Truth is I've not the time nor energy for straight up post-every-day-like-it's-my-job blogging so this sorta spotty coverage is going to have to do. The time thing, well, that's due to working and schooling and, well, drinking too but the energy, that's more of the problem. I just don't have the energy to be all out balls-to-the-wall everyday in and out through and through like, maybe, I was at one point. Most likely I never was - they were just fleeting moments of fancy floating on the wind like a bad misha barton scene. Or something.

Or something. Somewhere in all those words flowing out underneath this post and out into the archives and back months and months and now years upon years ( I can say that now, 2 + 2 does equal 4, and 5 is about to be one more ) it seems like it's probably all been said by now. Not it all in the grander scheme but just it all for me, here, at the place and time where I currently find myself. It's like I've said what I had to say, spoke a little longer than I wanted to, spilled one too many bad jokes, and now it's done. I'm sitting at the laundromat watching my clothes on the spin-cycle, I've commented to the girl next to me about the moron VP playing on the dirty idiot box in the corner, I've made my peace with the old man at the door asking for change and I've gotten what I need from the counter person - a fifty cent box of Tide and one dryer sheet please.

What I had to say is said. Or at least what I'm able to say. The real struggle, and the reason I come back over and over again, is so that I attempt to say the things I wasn't previously able to. In this, I think, is a character growth. That is, if you are actually able to eek out one or two new things each time.

If you stare long enough into a mirror you will see something new. The ultimate question is what?

        20060221   

Michael considered fate at 02:13   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

"...the fact that we were, once, mostly a gathering society and not a hunting one..."

depends on what your evidence is. if you're using modern african hunter-gatherers as a proxy for our ancestors, perhaps. but human evolution could not have been possible without the adaptation of relying on a more nutrient-dense food source, i.e., the reason our brains are so friggin big is because we switched our diets to consuming more meat.

hooray for term papers on hunter-gatherer diets. 

Yes, it's clearly true that meat played a role in our evolution. But what I am arguing is that it's silly to think that it always played an important role. In order to evolve, of course, in order to climb the ladder, you have to at some point be at the bottom rung. I'm arguing that, yes, perhaps at some point "our ancient ancestors [were] hunters who conquered all in their way" but that before that happened, there was presumably a time when our ancestors were not so high and mighty.

You ask of evidence? I use no evidence.. my whole argument in this post is that common sense and logical would lead me to this belief whether I was taught it or not. That is, of course, debatable, which makes the whole excercise interesting and open for more discussion. 
Part duex of amazing science here on the blog.. I didn't even have to wait a week for this one to fall right into my lap. Predators drove human evolution:
The popular view of our ancient ancestors as hunters who conquered all in their way is wrong, researchers have told a major US science conference.

Instead, they argue, early humans were on the menu for predatory beasts.

This may have driven humans to evolve increased levels of co-operation, according to their theory.

Despite humankind's considerable capacity for war and violence, we are highly sociable animals, according to anthropologists.
As Guinness would tell us: BRILLIANT! I've got plenty to say on this but I don't think it really needs any commentary. You either get it (i.e. share my opinion) or you don't. If you are amazed that anthropologists have managed to come up with such a mind-blowing theory such as we are highly sociable animals, however, I might suggest you go out and try to get a clue. Apparently these guys have been spending too much time at the dig site huffing in all that dust because, uhh.. if they spent any time in a bar at all I think they'd have come to the same conclusion in, oh, 2000 B.C.

Plus, I'm not sure what all this surprise about predators is. We've been fighting bad apples and sneaky snakes for years.



Okay okay.. I can't leave well enough alone. This frustrates me to no end and I can't just shut up about it. 1) I'm fairly certain that my humble education in the development of man includes the fact that we were, once, mostly a gathering society and not a hunting one, as the misnomer "hunter gatherer" would imply. 2) Based on the (extremely limited) fossil record it seems obvious that there has been many related (and possibly unrelated) species very similar to us sapiens battling for survival over the last 60,000+ years and that, lo and behold, it hasn't exactly been a walk in the park for anyone (except, one could argue, us of the new millenium.. though we deal with our own potentially-larger problems now). And finally, 3) I am fairly confident that I would deduce this even if I had only meager knowledge of the human race (like a) guns have only been around for a short bit, b) it's cold out there, and c) lions think we taste good).

I jest, but this "science reporting" is getting absurd. To be fair, I wouldn't blame the actual sciencetists for this until I heard their story directly. I suspect this is mostly your typical "dumbing down for the masses" media.

        20060220   

Michael considered fate at 12:51   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Somehow I give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time which most who know me would either agree that a) this phenomenon doesn't exactly match my character (or their perception thereof) or b) I am lying about my benefit-giving. I don't think I am lying, so that leaves a: a none-obvious character trait which is somehow masked in me by other, perhaps more overarching, traits.

So while I'm busy berating goodly god-fearing folk (the facetiously ironic term god-fearing not having escaped me here but nevertheless being saved for a scathing post of a later date) vis-a-vis my last post on viruses (not to be confused with the hacker's colloquial "virii" - the ultimate latin meaning of which is "men"; the irony in that also not having escaped me) it may not appear to the common eye that I have any sense of acceptance or owing of one's rights of belief. This is entirely not true and I stand by the statement that I am more accepting than your average vir (man) which is the real crux of the matter: man (vir) is not overly effective at admitting other's inalienable right to unique thought (read: own beliefs).

Setting my own inequities aside for the moment, let us consider the very being of man. To be is to have thought and, by that arrow, we are bound to a flight through those airs (and here I speak of affectation as well as mien, those two lovers who fight like the roses, thorns entangled and intertwined). We can't anymore ignore our predilections than we can choose to know what other options proffer themselves; in some respects we could almost forgive all of our inevitable sins of mountebankery for this fact if not for the other hand, that of our own uniqueness.

Each and every one of us, while implicitly asked to lie in a moulage (as if we were to be judged if we failed to conjure upon us a jacket of reason, juried if it does not fit), nonetheless can not choose to be or not to be; it is not a question in this respect (?) though fitting to compare to Shakespeare's particular version wherein the troubles of life are weighed against the options of death. Here I talk of the choice of thought - one which, though we may fictiously motion to dispatch, never can leave us in our earthly form. Thought is not function nor form but the very awareness of being, the lightness that leaps our minds from within our brains and allows for transcendentallism (of which I speak of the most limited form as a common characteristic of all men).

So there it is; our inalienable right to thought (being) which, if taken from us, requires the sequestration of our corporal form to be tossed upon the pyre by some thing, person, or institution which, by it's own edict, has deemed our rights as a citizen of the human race null and void. This edict, attempting to build self-effacement along the way under the guise of wellness of the group, as it goes through generation to generation, creates the illusion of thought in men; like a wall in the mind between original and learned ideas, it is only through a judas that our true selves peak out at the world - one way, and unable to communicate with the outside world.

This viral growth of groups does not squelch our individual knowledge of self but hides it behind a curtain of pedagogic scholarship. It is our own panacea to ourselves, a doctor drunk on his own medicine, a placebic opiate for the masses as if we can ever climb away from the dark pits of fear and dispair that spiral beneath us like wormholes of questions (through which a jump may or may not contain an answer which may or may not be desired); we can only look away, through the one-way peephole. It is healthy here to remember that the monster under the bed exists only when one has not yet checked to see if it exists. This is the achievement of imagination or, alternately, the scientific method applied to the unknown. How do we account for that unnerving feeling, that need to pull the covers over our head and hide (quivering; a pool of jello with all it's inabilities to prevent itself from being eaten), except for the existence of a monster under our bed; a big, hairy hobgoblin of doubt up-ending our very existence?

So, when the option of the hypothetico-deductive method (in so much as a way of reasoning) is taken from one's choices and ideas are prescribed like medicines then the opium sets into the mind as rigor mortis applies to a body after death. When this imagination fails us it is the welfare state that has overdosed our conflicted souls.

And in this place we find innocence lost, our ability to believe in whatever we choose taken away, and replaced by those ideas presented by others. These, conflicting strongly with the views of some different socioeconomics, do present clearly comforting blankets; covers with which to climb under. But to believe them is to believe that there is only one right way of thinking, else the entire facade on which the group's premise is built might come crumbling down - or so we are shown to believe. This leads to the inability to accept - nay, allow - the options of others ever and anon as we ourselves have been limited in thought, life, and self-being. The very existence of their discordance presents friction enough to poke holes in our armour of teaching; doubt.

Tis a scary bight that doubt which offers up such a hole in the bucket as to present not only a way for ideas to flow out but - ahgast! - a way for different ideas to flow back in.

So though our friend William that bard of almost Avalonic myth, the son of Stratford-upon-Avon, may have meant Hamlet's speech as purely a question of life or death, in the most direct of senses, I will present a brief excerpt here as a suggestion that we can take from it perhaps more than simple suggestion for suicide; such as a question of belief, the ills we chance to wrought-up if we are not careful to allow it (in us and in others). The application of some limited allowance of individualism in any society is, in some ways, the actualization of an ethereal brain-death not unlike true bodily exodus from our physical dimensions.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;


And though it seems death (that solid sleep) is imminent, lest we not forget the choices we always have to allow other's their own ideas:

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come


Not to be confused with fantasy, these nightmarish possibilities Hamlet envisions, but here I consanguineously liken them to the human condition - whether in life or in death we are torn with these troubles and evermore will we be forced to face them; daydreams in life, nightmares in death, regardless we are plagued.

Bottom line? Remember, every mind is it's own so accept your neighbour's right to opinion or, as Rob in High Fidelity so eloquently put it, "How can it be bullshit to state a preference?"

        20060217   

Michael considered fate at 16:27   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

Did you hear that? I think I just heard a big bang. Hopefully everything will work out just perfect for that planet also. Silly me it was just the t.v. , the start of planet of the apes. ha ha ha ha it's o.k. God still loves you. 
I seriously just read this tag-line:
Viruses have been viewed as being non-living parasites, outside of the evolution of living organisms. New research has uncovered the shocking conclusion that viruses are actually the ancestors of all living things.
I'm quite seriously appalled by people's inabilities to accept the fact that life did not start from the benevolent effluence of a greater being (or, let's say for those who will argue the extremes, that human life did not start from it). I really try to be objective when listening to the arguments of intelligent design but more often than not it seems like I'm listening to an abacus try to describe the invention of the cell phone - that is: impossible.

We, as humans, continue and continue and continue to believe that we are something special, that life is somehow a unique vessel, that we are not chemical machines and I assure you - from my maniacally egotistical ivory tower - we are.

From the cover article of the March 2006 Discovery (seriously!):
"We have a lot of [new evidence] that the virus phylum is at least as old as the other branches of life and that viruses were involved very early on in the evolutionary emergence of life."

That represents a radical change in thinking about life's origins: Viruses, long thought to be biology's hitchhikers, turn out to have been biology's formative force.
"No shit!" he said in wide-eyed surprise. "Whoda thunk it?"

"Totally.."
This is striking news, especially at a moment when the basic facts of origins and evolution seem to have fallen under a shroud. In the discussions of intelligent design, one hears a yearning for an old-fashioned creation story, in which some singular, inchoate entity stepped in to give rise to complex life-forms - humans in particular. Now the viruses appear to present a creation story of their own: a stirring, topsy-turvy, and decidedly unintelligent design wherein life arose more by reckless accident than original intent, through an accumulation of genetic accounting errors committed by hordes of mindless, microscopic replication machines. Our descent from apes is the least of it. With the discovery of Mimi, scientists are close to ascribing to viruses the last role that anyone would have conceived for them: that of life's prime mover.
"Now the viruses appear to present a creation story of their own"??!? Now? As opposed to yesterday when I thought that GOD took some time out of his day about 6,000 years ago and *plop* - dropped 'ol A&E down in the Garden of Eden?

"Our descent from apes is the least of it"!?!?! The Least of it? When was it ever the end all be all? Are creationists convincing themselves they are comfortable with evolution by believing that we descended from apes and no further - that's it - it ends there? WHO the.. What the fuck are you.. I don't.. The CHINAMAN is NOT the issue here!

Do these sentences - in a main-stream scientific magazine - sound like horseshit to anyone besides me? Who the hell is writing this article? It sounds like a kindergartener whose just been taught that peanut butter goes well with jam.
There is even a newly discovered category of subviral agents known as viroids: naked snippets of RNA that lack even an outer protein coat and don't encode for anything.
Newly discovered? NEWLY DISCOVERED? The first viroid was discovered in 1971 so unless the editor's of Discovery (what I thought was a reputable magazine) are on CRACK and think that the first-ever video game Pong is "new", then we're in more trouble than I thought we were..

Oh wait, I guess I did think we were in an awful lot of trouble. Nevermind.

Michael considered fate at 16:00   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

what's the problem? serves the end user right for buying that sack of shit movie. 
Twilight Zone Friday: Those homeland security fuckers, after harassing an Idaho man for having anti-war bumper stickers on his truck (seriously..sketchy) they are now .. looking out for our best-interests by suggesting the outlaw of rootkits:
"The recent Sony experience shows us that we need to be thinking about how we ensure that consumers are not surprised by what their software programs do," Jonathan Frenkel, director of law enforcement policy at the U.S Department of Homeland Security said in a speech .. at the RSA Conference 2006.
This after recent findings that the German release of the Mr. and Mrs. Smith DVD has "rootkit-like cloaking technology" as well - this one from our friendly movie folks at Fox.

Luckily I'm in Canada so I probably won't get the strip-search for calling them fuckers till I hit the border next Friday. Plus side of U.S. cavity searches: I'll be traveling with an Egyptian who will most certainly look more appealing to the latex-glove than little 'ol white-bread me.

Cracka!

        20060216   

Michael considered fate at 16:41   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Tongue in cheek: The Futures of Money:
Instead of credit ratings to acquire capital, credit records could become capital. If I'm superb at shopping, a super-user whose word is law for those who trust me for recommendations, how come I'm not paid to shop? Maybe Mr. A minds his p's and q's and never touches his capital--while Mr. B is a player who plunges into debt and escapes it repeatedly.

        20060215   

Michael considered fate at 19:06   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

I just stumbled across a reference to Maslow's "Grumble Theory" that states "the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence and dead on our side." Who needs to self-actualize when you can just grumble?! 
I escaped the corporate holiday that is valentine's day for the umpteenth year in a row and, while I am grateful in some ways, it also leaves a hollow emptiness which I attempt to fill with beer, anti-cupid themed parties, and introspection of the could be worse variety. Unfortunately beer is a painfully fleeting emotional currency and, just like that, it is Feb. 15th and the grey skies somehow feel greyer, the cold wind somehow feels colder, and the dampness of spring drills home the truth that we are of a social nature. If, somehow, we find happiness in our solitude and in ourselves we are only happier to share that with someone else.

The term self-esteem is far from intuitive because, ultimately, it has a lot to do with externals. It's all a based on where you see yourself in relation to others. It's got little to do with self measure, but everything to do with self-perspective. Are you taller or shorter than the next person, from your perspective? Are you smarter or dumber than the next person, from your perspective? You never know, you might be dancing in a house of mirrors.

All I want, really, is to someday make someone a little happier and, through that, maybe make myself a little happier. Frankly, I feel I'm about as happy as an individual, all by their lonesome, can be. Reading up on Maslow and his self-actualization (the top of the hierarchy, fullfilling one's instinctual need .. to make the most of their unique abilities) I feel like I'm pretty much there on all accounts.
On self-actualizing people:
  • They embrace the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) rather than denying or avoiding them.

  • They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.

  • They are creative.

  • They are interested in solving problems; this often includes the problems of others. Solving these problems is often a key focus in their lives.

  • They feel a closeness to other people, and generally appreciate life.

  • They have a system of morality that is fully internalized and independent of external authority.

  • They judge others without prejudice, in a way that can be termed objective.
Though I should state I don't necessarily feel we, as individuals or as a species, have a specific role or purpose and that might not jive with my self-actualization. What's left? Hope? Spirituality? Fate? Destiny? No, you all know my stake in hope; as a concept, it's flawed, as a realization it's about as likely as Earth colliding with Mars. Spirituality is unembracable for me - it's too loaded with religious current-affairs, muddied in scandal, deceit, war, and other sundries. If I believe in the ultimate random nature of the universe I cannot believe in fate, at least not any prescribed version of it. Destiny? Fortune? Kismet? Karma? What are all these co-mingling concepts, this need to believe we are something more than we are? It's a self-esteem issue; an outwardly-directed question of hope; maybe there is something more?

I just don't have time for that other than sleepless nights tossing and turning rolling in my own torrid seas of thought. When I wake up in the morning and look out the window I see others; walking down the street, going about their day to day business, interacting. I step out of my room, greet my roommates. I walk to campus, discuss ideas of innovation with colleagues, and then go home to enjoy a beer and some emotional connections with the people I live.

If I made even one of them happy - out of all of those people - then I may not know it but in some abstract sense I've increased my own level of satisfaction. For now I live one more year without the ardent love which valentine's day prescribes. Perhaps somewhere in the future (that as-yet unpainted masterpiece) I will find myself on a new Feb. 14th with a wallet pleasantly-lighter for the love I will have given. Perhaps.

Michael considered fate at 15:19   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Google's Olympic logos are getting pretty hideous, which just goes to show you that when you have to come up with something new every day it ain't so easy - even for a goliath like them. Back when they posted just a few special holiday logos they had all year to perfect them but now.. shit, I think I saw them throw up a festivus pole as the 'l' in late december. I wonder if Larry and Sergey wrestled?

And this is why big companies struggle. It's all about movement. Product is one thing, service is another, but when those offerings don't continually improve (whether through price or performance) is when you have an ailing business that starts looking for an out. The only question is where will they look.

Sometimes, a company gets out from under the bright lights of the hot seat by playing with the numbers; cooking the books. While that might work for awhile we all know how that goes in the long run. Others, such as Google, run wild purchasing small upstarts to fill the void - they were once a small upstart and they have nothing but fond memories of those times so why wouldn't they pick up some more of that? Then you have your AOL-TimeWarner deals which basically looks like two ancient old drunks hugging in the alleyway for warmth and comfort. Someone must have found some money there because all the talk these days is about TimeWarner breaking up again - somebody wants it all and doesn't want to share. Ever tried to get two bums to split a fiver?

As the knowledge economy becomes more and more a thing of the present and not just the talk of the future, we will continually find ourselves asking, "is the culture of corporate business dead?" This is because of the unique nature of the beast; information is a very liquid resource.

What is the knowledge economy?

It's an economy based on information and not on our traditional notion of "goods". It's a business market trading in correlative data. It's a trend that is all about trends. No longer are we dealing in raw data; our currency now is pertinent data. Data-mining, statistical analysis, machine-learning, and artificial intelligence is moving us forward in our understanding of what all the numbers mean.

So how does the knowledge economy change anything?

It changes how we look at business. It changes how we massage the numbers. It changes how we look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning. It changes our entire perspective on things. It changes how the economy actually works.

Remember that we are nothing more than a part of the evolutionary process and that our collective - our intelligence that keeps us feeling so very separated from that process which bore us from it's very womb - is itself as much a part of the process. Economy is nothing more than the biology of currency, the study of the living-breathing-wriggling-and-writhing thing that is the markets of the world. Sure, when things become so abstract that we are no longer trading cattle but ideas about the statistics about the cattle, frame of reference can get shaky; but never forget, it all boils down. We are nature.

So what? So we evolve? What's the point?

Take a lump of savings that is compounding interest. Even at the (sometimes) slow rate of inflation, over time it seems to grow more quickly. An inflation of 2% on $1 is 2 cents. An inflation the next year of 2% on that $1.02 is 2.04 cents, and on and on, until the actual value is increasing very quickly (10 years later it would grow 2.39 cents), even if the inflation rate is constant.

One could argue that the economy, an evolutionary process with invention and innovation is similar to this problem of compound interest. Things start to move really fast and the acceleration only gets larger with time.

Can companies sustain themselves in this evolutionary market?

The answer to this question may be yes or it may be no but most likely there is no static answer. It's similar to asking whether all species will be able to adapt and cope with a changing environment; certainly some will, yet some others won't.

The important thing to note is that, more than likely, the conventional numbers don't capture the emerging knowledge economy:
As Greenspan would be the first to tell you, it's a lot easier counting how many widgets the nation produces in a year than quantifying the creation and marketing of knowledge. After all, we're talking about intangibles: brand equity, the development of talent, the export of best practices.
Historically, "hardware" such as machines and buildings have been tallied as investments yet spending on "software" - education, training, and R&D - have not. In fact, it wasn't until 1999 that the Bureau of Economic Analysis started counting software purchases in this way. At the time:
Companies were spending more than $150 billion annually on software, far more than the $100 billion for computer hardware. And the software often stayed in use longer than the hardware.
And that's just scratching the surface:
Grab your iPod, flip it over, and read the script at the bottom. It says: "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China." Where the gizmo is made is immaterial to its popularity. It is great design, technical innovation, and savvy marketing that have helped Apple Computer sell more than 40 million iPods. Yet the folks at the BEA don't count what Apple spends on R&D and brand development, which totaled at least $800 million in 2005. Rather, they count each iPod twice: when it arrives from China, and when it sells. That, in effect, reduces Apple -- one of the world's greatest innovators -- to a reseller of imported goods..

..Most of the workers who immigrate to the U.S. each year have at least a high school diploma, while about a third have a college education or better. Since it costs, on average, roughly $100,000 to provide 12 years of elementary and secondary education, and another $100,000 to pay for a college degree, immigrants are providing a subsidy of at least $50 billion annually to the U.S. economy in free human capital.
As many regular readers will remember I am a big proponent of trying not to forget the little guy - human resources are about as important as it gets in a knowledge economy because - whether you count knowledge as the resource or humans as the resource - it's all coming out of our brain matter, this isn't stuff you're pulling out of the ground or manufacturing in a plant. Example? IBM spends roughly $700 million a year on training, another uncounted statistic.

Certainly, problems in the economic numbers is nothing new. A classic issue is the black market - those mutually agreed-upon activities such as the sale of sex or drugs which are not really measurable because they exist underground, uncharted, untracked, yet are true "productive" transactions that are taking place and ultimately should somehow be fit into the numbers.

Nevertheless, the issue I am discussing here is not existing unmearsurables but the unmeasured changes that are taking place.

Is information flow the new energy flow?

While it would also appear that the average U.S. citizen has a negative savings rate one must take into account that educational debt (i.e. student loans) is still considered consumer spending. Somehow, this doesn't quite seem to fly. The $168 the average American male spends on valentine's day does not seem like it should be categorized with an equal $168 of tuition.

This is a matter of information and it's important to remember that the flow of it is almost wholly and purely positive - that is to say, information send from point A to point B does not cease to exist at point A. This is the very definition of intangible. How do you measure an economy based on freely-replicatable resources? We have yet to discover a law of conservation of knowledge. The answer to these questions, right now, is that we just don't know.

Are big businesses the dinosaurs of our age?

What it's going to take to understand the evolving economy is innovation, not invention. Building a new robot to vacuum my rug is great, but building a new adaptive economic model in order to understand the business of knowledge is even greater and that is the difference. As evolution speeds up it doesn't just increase in velocity, it increases in acceleration as well. Big businesses that are not able to move quickly in the face of change will be the ones that eventually die out. We may be seeing the very beginnings of these deaths in companies like GM.

Maslow's hierarchy - a phsychological theory based on a pyramid of needs - places security in a much more important role than love, self-esteem, and self-actualization (the top of the mountain, so to speak). While a company, as a being, is not necessarily directly-comparable to a human as a being, security is nevertheless very important here as well. It is human nature to be reluctant to consider changes in the rules and this transcends the individual into institutions as well, where it may be much harder to dislodge as a way of thinking. That is to say it is harder to change the resistence to change in a corporation than it is in an individual. When resources become more ephemeral (what is considered important or valuable information quickly becomes old news and is replaced by newly created information) and more abstractly attainable (information can be pulled out of thin air whereas there is a finite number of trees in the world at any given time that may be cut down and turned into lumber) you have a situation where small, quickly moving creatures (e.g. start-ups) can evolve much quicker than giant monoliths. They are not stuck with an aging philosophy of business and - if they are - they can quickly die out to be replaced by yet another small start-up. Their needs (in resources) are more easily met, their efficiency is higher, there is less leakage (i.e. middle-management) and therefore their level of security is higher, and they have a better chance of attaining that elusive and all-important self-actualization (a term originated by Kurt Goldstein) - the instinctual need to make the most of one's unique abilities.

So for now our start-ups will be bought by larger corporations, these corporations will merge and demerge, but overall there is an inevitable evolution of the process; the rules, they are a changin'. Eventually, we may look back on the economy of the 20th century and recognize it no more than we recognize Cro-Magnon as our great-uncle.

Knowledge is power and power corrupts. Absolute knowledge is absolute power which corrupts absolutely. But remember, "corrupt" is simply another way of saying "alter from the original", which is to "innovate", which is to accept the path we all must follow (whether by choice or by proding) down the road of change we call life.
A musician must make music, the artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. (Motivation and Personality, 1954. Abraham Maslow)

        20060214   

Michael considered fate at 03:00   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Okay, so I'm an asshole, but I know it so it sometimes makes it feel as if it's okay.

Sometimes.

The truth is that I'm mostly an asshole to myself so it's like any number of addictive diseases: you're only hurting yourself. Luckily nobody else is close enough to notice and I just go along my merry way, smiling to strangers on the street, and sneering inward at my hateful core.

It's no big thing, really. But oh is it the little things; the tit for tat, the promises, the ignoramus ultimatums, the amorifically imbecilics, the hard-headedness and finally the search for a higher power of melancholy (you know, that part of your brain that might actually truly feel sorry for yourself - agree that life is out to get you, you're on the bottom, it's the world that's holding you down).

Yah right.

It's all a big to-do-about-nothing. I've routed the closets. I've checked the attic. Ain't nobody lurking around that I haven't seen before and let me tell you - everyone who is still around is a premo-brand certifiable asshole.

So why am I still checking inside? Do I expect to find a new piece of art hanging on the wall the next time I visit? I'm there every fucking day - it's not like you can live outside yourself for too long after all - when, exactly, is this new art going to be snuck in there?

It's always the same, too, like the waiting room of a doctor's office. All the same magazines, same thoughts. Same snot-nosed brat being loud in the seat next to you and the constant hum of a front-office just loud enough to make sure you don't forget where you are. Whoever called it purgatory sure must have got a kick out of that one.

Okay, so it's only sort of like that. It's familiar at least; but it's more an empty hallway with lots of boring things hanging on the wall - old art that stopped inspiring you years ago but, like the pack-rat you are, you just can't face pulling it down. Lots of echos. Last time, I think I saw a dead rodent in the corner, sorta dusty like. It didn't look as if it had died painfully, just a typical slow uneventful exodus of life precursored by an almost-silent far off death knell. It had probably fallen over in slow-motion. It's legs were rigamortised to the sky doing the eternal happy-hands of darkness.

Animals in the corners and a giant load of crap-art hanging on the walls and I'm supposed to not be an asshole? Whose running this show? Does anybody want some advice?

Park Carré St-Louis, Montreal, After Dark


Well yeah, we want some advice we just don't want to have to actually listen to it. We want it injected nicely - somewhere it doesn't hurt, like in the thigh or the meaty parts of our just-slighty-too-large-(but-oh-so-comfortable)-ass - and once it's set in like a good drug, we'll just feel it - know it - and the idea of effort, motivation, .. well, they were all excuses before, but we don't need any of that now m'boys..

.. okay, now that we're off that high we can get back to the lousy paint-by-numbers rattling in my brain, as if plastic frames were ever classy, as if I ever cared whether plastic frames were ever classy, as if I ever thought long enough or stopped to feel long enough why (why? because I love you) whether I should care if I ever cared - did I ever care? - plastic frames, yah.. they're a bummer.

Way way way back when I was a kid being babysat in a trailer in the middle of the woods I could smell the place before I even got there. It had an old couch straight from the seventies with brown patchwork textures and a deepness that sucked you straight into the tv before you knew what hit you. It had that familar smell, touch and feeling about it. It probably knew I was coming before I did. I used to watch Captain Kangaroo there - remember the ping-pong balls? Those crazy canucks on You Can't Do That on Television gots nothin' on us! Anyhow, nowadays that couch would probably push me way back into a corner of my little hallway along with the rest of those memories of childhood - the odd little clothing, all that polyester, and the weird things that made a house a home in the early 80's. They'd collectively push me into a cramped space, make me feel trapped like a school yard bully being taught a lesson from the older kids down the street. They'd kick me around for a bit, mash my face straight into that plastic frame on the wall - the one with the paint-by-numbers - and after they'd gone, I would pick up it's broken pieces and - though I tend never to shed a tear these days - I would weep sadly inside for my broken treasure. I'd think back minutes, hours, days, all those times when I saw that plastic frame hanging there on that wall in the recesses of my mind and I would love it more, more then than I had ever loved it.

After awhile you throw things away that are broken, but I'm no good at that. I tape, screw, cut, paste, and do my best to patch things up. I can't say no, I can't say go. I can't even throw away half a gauze pad (why? because I love you). Call me a latter-day depression-depreciator; it's all got some worth to me.. Somehow.

So whose the asshole? The asshole walks in every day and sneers at that poor little plastic frame that's been patched up with a piece of masking tape. After awhile, when the tape has curled at the edges and even gotten a little browner, the adhesive so dry that if you just flicked it things might fall apart, that asshole begins to sneer more and more.

Eventually it gets to you; you can't stand it anymore, all the negative vibes, the thinly veiled hatred, the disgust.. and so, like all animals learning to cope, you develop a response. You come up with a retort. After awhile you just start to sneer back.

        20060213   

Michael considered fate at 13:46   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Writing is hard to understand! Go figure.
According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.
This is simply because people are very very good at their own style of perception but not so good at a) remembering that other people have their own perspective, b) simulating that perspective in order to ascertain characteristics such as tone of an email, and c) knowing which of somebody's many moods (and therefore which of their many perspectives) they are currently in.
Those who sent the messages predicted that nearly 80 percent of the time their partners would correctly interpret the tone. In fact the recipients got it right just over 50 percent of the time.

At the same time, those reading messages unconsciously interpret them based on their current mood, stereotypes and expectations. Despite this, the research subjects thought they accurately interpreted the messages nine out of 10 times.
If I tally my own numbers I think girls tend to misinterpret my emails about 90% of the time and misrepresent themselves 100% of the time. I guess this article just points out that it isn't all my fault. Here's to research.

        20060210   

Michael considered fate at 16:57   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Okay, blah blah blah, etc, etc, etc.. I feel obligated to post these latest rumours of a new true video iPod. There are some non-apple photos up on a random blog too, but who knows if they are anything close to real. Regardless, it'll almost certainly be a crippled DRMd piece of junk with ass-tight battery life so unless you just want to be seen with the glow of Apple branding lighting your dark face in the subway tunnels, don't get too excited.

Michael considered fate at 15:07   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
On my love for social networking sites, as eloquently expressed by one Sally McCreeperson (that's an alias, btw):

[Social Networking Site X] was great at first while I endlessly stroked my ego, I mean tweaked my profile. What are my favourite books? Gosh, look how offbeat yet appreciative of universal classics I am! Movies? See how I transcend traditional highbrow/lowbrow boundaries! How postmodern! Hmmm, what music can I cite that makes it clear I have faultless taste? I'm soooo together!!! Oh, yes, oh, harder, faster, OH!!!! I'm so unique! Take that, round hole! I'm no round peg. I'm not even a square peg! I'm a fucking exploding infinite-faceted titanium peg from another
dimension and I refuse to even play this game!! Who wouldn't love me?????

Anyway, that phase lasted about a month. Collecting friends was also pretty good as ego-lube. I never got very far with this, actually, but I can see the appeal. I just look at all the people I'm connected to, no matter how tenuously ("hey, I've talked to you twice, join my network!"), and I instantly feel better about myself. It's like justification for the ego-fucking: See? I AM cool after all, because just look at the people that think so! Except not one of those people are on my list because they saw my profile and were overwhelmed by a need to get to know me. Not one of them is someone I've never met. On the contrary, not only is everyone on my list a prior friend, but I INVITED these people onto my list. In fact, maybe I'm less appealing than I thought... especially if I'm the only one NOT getting unsolicited friend requests.

With no new people banging down the door to my inbox pleading to be associated with me, and me having no real desire to search out new people on

[Social Networking Site X] for anything more meaningful than to instantly judge them by their photos, well, is it any wonder I have pretty much ignored the site for the past two years? What does it have to give me? I can communicate with almost anyone of my first-degree friends without going through [Social Networking Site X], and I have enough trouble keeping up with them that the chances of me getting in touch with people in further degrees are pretty slim.

These days my only interaction with
[Social Networking Site X] is deleting the increasingly frequent emails it sends me telling me what new irrelevant features it can offer me.

        20060209   

Michael considered fate at 20:05   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I'm posting this only because I recently had one of the most coincidental experiences of my life. I'm no crackpot, I assure you. Nevertheless, I think I might be wearing tinfoil on my head for awhile.

Study Proves that the Heart Responds to Future Events:
.. researchers found that we can actually be aware of an event five to seven seconds before it happens. In the recent study, subjects were shown a series of images. Most of the images were peaceful and calming, such as landscapes, trees and cute animals. Other photos, randomly dispersed in the succession, included violent, disturbing and emotionally stimulating images such as car crash, a bloody knife or a snake about to strike..

.. The main findings show that the heart receives and responds to intuitive information. Significant changes in heart rate variability occurred prior to disturbing and emotionally stimulating images appearing on the screen..
These are very similar findings to the Global Consciousness Project that I've mentioned before: random number generators placed throughout the world that actually record patterns during significant events (Tsunami, Terrorist attacks, etc). If you want to know a bit more on that, check out a Time Magazine article from May 2005 here (warning: PDF).

Regardless, it does have that funny hint of quack-science to it, if you ask me.

Michael considered fate at 19:40   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
This just in:

I just came from a Google recruitment talk here at my university and, of course, someone had to drop the big bomb of a question: What's the deal with Chinese search censorship vis-a-vis Google's "Don't be evil" mentality? While the speaker was a rookie software engineer at Google and probably had next to nothing to say on the matter, he never the less said that it was a "new problem" and that he was convinced Google would be able to "figure it out with time".

        20060208   

Michael considered fate at 20:25   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I admit it, I'm completely crazy. I've sort of shat on the video iPod for quite some time as being, well, mostly pointless. Then again I don't commute on a train every day or otherwise spend time away from my computer doing diddly-squat which I could replace with time absorbing media on an iPod video.

So why am I crazy? Because I'm slobbering over this:



It's the Cowan A2 - basically a portable media player (PMP - that's what the toddlers are calling it these days) - $399 for a 20gigger or $499 for 30gigger. Sure, it could sport a larger capacity but 20g is certainly reasonable. Pick up a refurbished unit for $350, just fifty more smackers than a 30gig iPod.

What's so great about it? Why get one over an iPod?

Well, for starters, it's got a 4inch screen that reviews better than pretty much any other portable device out there, including portable DVD players and it's closest competitor, the Archos.

It can play basically every video format you'd want including xVid, Divx, and MPEG-4. These videos can be output straight to your tv, or anything else that handles RCA jacks. (Oh, and it can record straight from your TV as well).

It handles all the audio formats you'd likely want as well, including Ogg.

This thing has FM radio - something some people have been looking for in the iPod for years. You can even record radio on a set schedule so you never miss your favourite show.

You can actually record anything you want. Lectures, concerts, your cousin's fart noises, you name it.

PLUS - fucking 18hr playback time for audio? Find me an iPod that comes close! (10hrs video ain't bad either)

(17:39:02) BritCoal: Think of this: you download 5 seasons of your favourite TV show. FIVE FUCKING SEASONS on a portable device, and off you go to your favourite cottage-in-the-woods. Sit in the hammock, on the dock, or in your rowboat and watch whatever you want.. or pipe it to your tv.

16:9 aspect ratio screen. And considering the 4inch screen it's not even that big - 5 by 3 inches and less than an inch thick.

The only downfall is that, in this market, it will be obsolete before you can say I want one.

I'll end this post with a link to Northern California Judge Gives Green Light to Monopolization Suit Against Apple. If the claim is true in saying that Apple has an 80 percent share of the market for legal digital music files and more than 90 percent of the market for portable hard-drive digital music players then yah, I'd say they have a case. What's the big beef here? The fact that Apple has closely tied the iPod to it's iTunes music store and basically left all those other portable players out in the cold. Is this the next Windows + IE war? Possibly..

Michael considered fate at 16:59   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
It's picture day here on britcoal.blogspot.com!

If you've never been to Mexico City (I haven't) then you owe it to yourself to check out some of the pictures that follow in this link: Helicopter Pilot shares photos from above of Mexico City. I'll only give you a few quick previews here:


Xochimilco at Dawn in winter.


This is a real photo of a low-incoming housing


"Megalopolis?" the photographer asks. Yeah, I think so.


And over on the other side of the world we have some truly and amazingly beautiful photographs of that burgeoning economic force that is China. Photographer is Feng Jiang. Follow the link for bigger sized photos - they are definitely worth it.







Enjoy!

Michael considered fate at 01:40   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Kentucky Derby caves - Allows first sponsorship in 132 years. The five year deal was made with Yum Brands - a little-known resturant company that owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC:
"You'll see very discreet signage. It won't look like a baseball stadium," Churchill Downs Inc. president Tom Meeker said at a news conference in Louisville.
Well, that's good to hear I guess but we all know it's just one big slippery chicken-greased slope, this advertising business. Once you pop, you can't stop. Nobody can have just one. It's everywhere you want to be. Because your worth it. Just do it. Be all you can be. Raise your hand if you're sure. Just ask the Nextel halftime show - it's sure.

Speaking of football, this is the real reason I bothered to mention this story: Yum wouldn't admit to the cost of the five year deal but it was less than the cost of a 30 second superbowl commercial according to APM's Marketplace (link to real audio, blech). Yipes. Then again, the last time the gates opened up at Churchill Downs they probably didn't have 90.7 million viewers like last Sunday's Hawks vs. Steelers game.

Michael considered fate at 00:29   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Ever since The Shining trailer was remade to make the movie look like a fluffy family feel good movie of the year, there has been a number of similar attempts at this form of pop-culture comedy.. not all of them that great. Regardless, here are a few decent ones:
Brokeback to the Future

Sleepless in Seattle


        20060207   

Michael considered fate at 22:51   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. 

Michael considered fate at 16:14   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
An excellent article on homelessness, car pollution, and the power law distribution just came out at the New Yorker: Why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage. It's a long one but certainly worth the read.

Michael considered fate at 04:18   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
 if I had a sharpie for every dollar..

    never try to pour spilled milk.

  a picture of one thousand blue moons paints an infinite number of brass monkeys.

           don't look a fly on the wall in the mouth.

      ..houston, we have a knee-jerk reaction.

money is the root of every new york minute.

        20060206   

Michael considered fate at 20:06   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
To be honest, I never have been able to understand cutters - those people who cut themselves to feel something (aka self-harmers), so this one is odd: UK nurses want to supply clean blades and cutting advice:
[The nurses] say people determined to harm themselves should be helped to minimise the risk of infection from dirty blades, in the same way as drug addicts are issued with clean needles.

This could include giving the “self-harm” patients sterile blades and clean packets of bandages or ensuring that they keep their own blades clean. Nurses would also give patients advice about which parts of the body it is safer to cut.
Without getting into a debate on this might I just say what the fah..? For shizzle, is this the sort of thing I want my gov'ment spending money on? huh? Granted I am not from the UK but just a "what if" for the states. Are these people that my tax dollars should be supporting in this way? Certainly, a poverty stricken single mother is something the government should consider helping. Certainly, a veteran who defended his country and lost his legs because of it should be considered. It's arguable to some whether heroin addicts should even be provided with clean needles. For nizzle, are self-harming people such an epidemic that a nationwide debate must be raised? Perhaps I am clueless as to how wide-spread this social problem is.

Note that I'm not providing answers to any of my questions; I simply don't have them.

Do you self-harm yourself? Punch yourself in the gut? Cut your wrists? A large craze in my junior high (admitting my age here: that was in 91-92) was the "scratch test" whereby you took a paper clip and proceeded to scratch it on the back of your hand until you could absolutely no longer stand it. This basically resulted in 50% of the student population running around with giant scabs on the back of their hand, to which I am still scratching my head. Needless to say I never tried it.

Side note: When Dustin Hoffman pounded his head against the wall of Mrs. Robinson's bedroom in The Graduate it was actually un-intended improv that the director kept in the film - Hoffman had actually forgotten his lines and proceeded with this act of self-harming as a result of his frustration.

Michael considered fate at 17:34   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
I'm going straight to hell in a handbasket and then back, via hot-air ballon and special ruby slippers that go click-click-click when I say "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

I never knew they had puffed cheetos. I had lived many moons on the simple belief that good 'ol crunchy cheetos were all a man could need; but no. They've proven me wrong once again.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the United States gave roughly $2.68 per U.S. citizen to Tsunami relief to rank 19th, far below the $30 and $23 contributions of #1 Norway and #2 Luxemborg [1], respectively, but also a far cry from #3 Australia, #4 Sweden, #5 Netherlands, #6 New Zealand, and #7 Finland - all in the $9 range. Alternately, the United States has the highest social confidence in the institution of church (sharing the #1 spot with Ireland at 72%) and can boast the second highest citizen participation in voluntary charitable organizations.

Curious.

The United States also Ranks in the top 15 most trigger happy nations, along side other first-world countries such as Colombia, Zimbabwe, Uruguay, and Estonia (based on total recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm).

That was an attempt at luring you into a statistics-filled post with an unassuming lead-in. How'd it work? Did you make it all the way here, to the bottom?

Note: All statistics from NationMaster.com

[1] Luxemborg and Norway do rank #1 and #2, respectively, as the richest countries in the world per capita. That makes them roughly 168% and 137% richer than the U.S. on the same scale

        20060203   

Michael considered fate at 16:32   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
This is too good to pass up - Zombifying cockroaches, the wasp way:
[the Ampulex compressa wasp] finds a cockroach to make her egg's host, and proceeds to deliver two precise stings. The first .. delivers .. brief paralysis .. gives the wasp the luxury of time to deliver a more precise sting to the head.

She .. probe
[s] the roach's brain until she reaches one particular spot that appears to control the escape reflex. She injects a second venom that influences these neurons in such a way that the escape reflex disappears.



.. the roach is able to lift up its front legs again and walk. But now it cannot move of its own accord. The wasp takes hold of one of the roach's antennae and leads it--in the words of Israeli scientists who study Ampulex--like a dog on a leash.

The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp's burrow.. Now the wasp .. lays an egg on its underside. The roach does not resist. The egg hatches, and the larva chews a hole in the side of the roach. In it goes.

The larva grows inside the roach, devouring the organs of its host, for about eight days. It is then ready to weave itself a cocoon--which it makes within the roach as well. After four more weeks, the wasp grows to an adult. It breaks out of its cocoon, and out of the roach as well. Seeing a full-grown wasp crawl out of a roach suddenly makes those Alien movies look pretty derivative.

Michael considered fate at 15:41   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

You live on stereotypes and abstractions. You think that people "just hear" music. You think you can't see or smell it (you can do both at concerts, coincidentally, but why does that even matter?)

Your local yokel comparison makes no sense. First of all, the people you are making fun of might enjoy local bands as much as stadium tours. Second, the terrible bands you despise were, it stands to reason, once local bands themselves. Even Jimmy Buffett, I suppose. Sounds like you are being a "local music" snob.

It's not obsession, it's purely joy. Don't you enjoy anything? Does that make you 'weird?'

Maybe metalheads are happy when they hear music they like. So strange? Again you have stereotyped a lot of people based purely on the kind of music they like. That is simply dumb. I'm sure they pay rent, go to work, use the toilet, and are happy about things just like you.

Besides, why does the end goal have to be to make you feel "okay"? That is idiotic, like something an anchorman on the local news would say.

It's not so much 'embracement of the human condition' as it is just having a soul. You do have a soul, right? I'm sure you do. It's just some people don't feel to uptight to express that they do have a soul. Even in public. Go figure. Have fun being happy. 

A stereotype is almost, by definition the opposite of an abstraction, so I don't really know what you're talking about. I don't think people "just hear" music, only that I have my own way of appreciating and taking in music, and that may be different than other people, and that is OK.

As I clearly stated, there is nothing wrong with that.

If I don't care for the taste of, say, lima beans, that doesn't mean I am calling into question the validity of someone else's enjoyment of lima beans.

And as far as local yokels versus big business bands point goes, you completely missed the point. Just because I like to search out, say, homemade fudge from local vendors doesn't mean that, by defacto, I dislike snickers bars.

The key factors in this post are the words "me" and "I". If you picked up on this, you would realize I am not at all "making fun" of anything, I am not at all calling any particular band bad.

In fact, the whole post ends with a statement that I am probably wrong and that I do feel, if not the same exact way, at least very similarly about music as many metalheads do:

"Embracement of the human condition, maybe? I guess maybe I do understand. It's not so complicated afterall."


It seems like you approached this post with assumptions about what I was saying, without actually reading and interpretting carefully what I was saying - or I write so poorly that it is difficult to pick up on the subtleties that I am intending for the reader to pick up. Either is equally possible.

Thanks for the comment. 

Yeah Mike, where is your soul? 
I'm not sure I'll ever understand the devil-horn pumping insanity of a truly obsessed metalhead. Don't get me wrong, I've raised the horns in my time and I've certainly been obsessed with certain music, certain bands. The moshpit I get, that makes perfect sense to me.. even if I usually hang out at the edge and just bob my head. For me, concerts are introspective events. If I wanted to party I'd buy some beerz and go to a bar. You can't see music, you can't smell music. You can just hear it. This is why I can't understand the push-to-the-front-and-touch-his-shirt mentality.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I don't get parrotheads or dave matthews band fanatics either. Especially not U2 freaks. U2 sounds, in my book, perfectly fine at home on my hifi. There are a heck-ton of a lot of other bands that I don't a) see nearly as much, b) hear nearly as much, and c) get innundated by through media attention as much. These are the bands I'd rather see. The locals, the yokels, the amazing artists that are doing it not so much for money or fame (they've been doing it for a decade or more - they've figured out by now that it certainly isn't going to get them fame or fortune). They're doing it for the pure enjoyment - nah, love - of the act and action of performance and the crowds inhalation of that.



Obsession is a weird beast. It's fantasy at it's finest, as if one day you'll wake up and be friends with the band or be in the band and you'll be touring the country, putting your body through motions it wasn't meant to be put through on a daily basis, and staring out over the top of thousands of people's heads, their hair spiked, gelacquered, coloured, greased, dreaded, black. It's about the grind, and secondary is perhaps money.. maybe the money.. but only tertiary - in the deep recesses of their minds - is it about making a living doing something you love.

Metalheads don't like to admit anything about happiness, right? Hope? Forget hope. Happiness is a four letter word. Somehow it's about the viscerality, not about the end goal of feeling okay.

Embracement of the human condition, maybe? I guess maybe I do understand. It's not so complicated afterall.

Michael considered fate at 02:18   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment

        20060202   

Michael considered fate at 18:51   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
do you know?

No. I most certainly do not. This is one thing I can say for sure.

then, why?

Because. Knowledge is power and power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and I'm absolutely corroded which is almost the same thing, sort of, so it's like knowing nothing.

huh?

Exactly. These are the sorts of hard hitting questions I've been avoiding so I'm glad you bring them up now. It's probably healthy to confront them and just deal with it.

so...?

So nothing. It's just the way it is. Some things you can't control in life, like when the sun rises, and other things you can like when you eat. Sometimes this means accepting that you don't always know. Sometimes it means accepting that you know too much.

and what, exactly, do you know?

I know that I'm smarter than that. I know that it nevetheless does not make any difference, I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to misrepresent my perspective to my own self, lie to my own face with a straight smile.

and the problem with that is..?

The problem is that perspective is everything - just ask a prism. The only place that we can truly live and survive is inside one's own head. We'll die out there, in the air in the ether in the empty space of it all. Only inside, boxed in by the cozy walls of conciousness, can we truly breath.

what's out there that's so important?

Everything. Everything out there is important and it's what pulls us out of our own self-indulgence. It's why we don't spend our lives with our eyelids closed, looking inward, chasing our own tail.

so what does perspective have to do with it?

Perspective is like a colour filter on a camera lens. Perspective is what gives life that red, green, or orange hue. It's what makes a run of the mill whodunit into a film noir. It makes things dramatic, or undramatic; comedic or sad.

so what?

So what? So what? So it becomes a choice about whether you want to live a lie or not, that's what. At some point you have the chance to ask yourself whether you want to experience the world or just your version of it. That's a scary decision to make. It's not easy to accept the duality of the beast, we tend to be single-minded. Choose one perspective and you're stuck with it until you can force the train to jump the tracks (which is not easy with a 386 ton locomotive on the head of it). Remain open-minded about it and you're stuck with a cold breeze, confusion, and constant in-fighting between perspectives (your ego may take care of your id but that doesn't mean your id has to like it).

so which do you choose? single-minded or open-minded?

Well that's just the crux of the matter, now isn't it. Both have their downfalls to be sure but there is really only one choice. Ignore the duality of nature and you go spinning out of control like a satellite with a busted gyro, flailing through the darkness of space with it's solar-panels akimbo and little LEDs blinking, panic stricken. Accept the duality of nature and you accept a cold breeze. Now, nobody likes a chilling breeze but it's a lot better than spinning wildly in the dark. It's just the human condition to shiver.

Michael considered fate at 18:16   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Call me crazy but it took me awhile to understand this whole Scarlet Johansson thing. I've finally come around, though, and I think it's because I've realized she looks very much like another gal I dig: Charlize Theron. Okay, obvious age difference, but you can't tell me there isn't some resembalance.



        20060201   

Michael considered fate at 16:26   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
From a friend, when asked for the State of the State of the Union (I missed it and was wondering what he thought of it):
why can't we have a president like David Palmer.... you know, someone smart...or at least appears smart on tv.

Michael considered fate at 05:16   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Hope is a four letter word. Fiction is seven, and we're lucky if that's what concerns us; novels, movies, short stories, and celebrities' lies (I mean lives). Drive is five, somewhere inbetween but leaning towards fate's more dreamy, fantastical cousin, that four letter word; hope. I, the singular, one and only. Together, with hope, it's five. I hope. The drive. We? More fiction than function, not nearly narrow enough margins for mere men. We hope. Collectively, we hope like hundreds of hungry human hearts humming desperately for defibrillators; desperately; doomed. All of us demanding the very last available one, the machine, to jump start our jumbled pile of person parts - pick me - I as in individual - I as in independent - I as in I don't know how other people exist - I as in I hope.


Powered by Blogger

Check out heroecs, the robotics team competition website of my old supervisor's daughter. Fun stuff!
Page finished loading at: