I'm sitting in an internet cafe watching the spring sun slowly set over the tops of the st. laurent roofs, trying to get work done, trying to be productive and like all of humanity (not being entirely perfect) I am doing okay
. I'm having occasional break-throughs, sometimes ticking off a task on the to-do list, but mostly staring listlessly out the window, wondering, imperfectly.
The awning across the street is set at an angle, seemingly intentional, well-placed almost so much so that if you were not sitting still, staring imperfectly at it, you may never notice the flaw. Nevertheless, it's there. From one end to the other - a span of roughly thirty feet - the front edge drops by as much a foot or more. Otherwise clean, sharply-black, and impressive looking it hangs, outwardly proud, inwardly ashamed, at all of it's imperfectness.
In front of me, for the moment, is a Porche 911. Early 90's model most likely, and shiny in the angled light of 6:40pm. It's no doubt been through the car wash or lovingly hand-soaped and sprayed. But close inspection reveals a crack in the windshield. Even I, operating with far less than 20/20, from over twenty feet away can see this flaw. Washed and waxed as it is, rolling so smoothly inch by inch towards the red-light, it is not exactly as it once was. It is broken, worn, perhaps even weary.
Nevermind the people, the many millions of meak, sheepishly embarrased mistakes. Nevermind all of the really human blemishes, the tattered bum sitting atop his backpack with his baseball cap upturned, outwardly asking. Forget about the click-clack of the high heels on concrete, the sound of a soul-less body moving through the crowd crying obessly on the inside, too skinny on the outside. Don't mind these, the broken, because truly they are all of us. Flawed, banged-up, battered, bedraggled, brain-dead, bastardly and beaten, obsessive, compulsive, over zealous and self-obsessed, we are an imperfection.
The directed and insistent communication of a phone call or an email is often times just too much for these tired thoughts to deal with and so, inevitably, it is this space that they come to. In an attempt to get away from it all, kick back, and relax as a summer day lazes around on a bed of earth, these hobbit-like creatures of brain-fancy sit quietly here, unheeded, unheard, and perfectly quiet.
Unable to speak to the specifics of one person or to address a single worry, these thoughts are more general and unfettered, free in there movement, slow in their pace. Tired, but excited. Fast but languid.
Truthfully, I mostly just sit and think. I don't record even a tenth of what I might, if there were some reason to. It's the lack of purpose and the lack of direction that these thoughts embody which give them their air-like qualities, unowned, unspecific, with no attachments no connections and no sense of being. They are, just as things which cannot fathom their own existence; they just are.
Someday, perhaps, I will return to a more directed approach. Someday when there are clearer goals of purpose, when need arises, perhaps there will be more concrete poured into this foundation but, for now, it's all just air on the wind; unknowing, empty, freely spaciously floating.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has a Flash animation depicting the effects of a Nuclear bunker buster bomb
. Specially aimed at, well, underground bunkers. The sequence shows radiation fallout and what areas would be radiated if Iran was hit.
I'm no fan of nukes but nevertheless our concerned scientists do us a slight dis-service by animating a one megaton weapon
blast, even though they admit that The funding for this weapon was cut in 2005 defense appropriations.
They happily point out that a 400 kiloton yield weapon remains in the U.S. arsenal. I don't have to point out that it's less than half the size of the depicted weapon, do I? Do I?
You can point fingers all you want but the key to remember is that there are two ends to every finger - one just happens to be attached to a hand.
Brilliant idea of the week for the sleazy slacker such as myself:
Google Calendar + Data API + home-grown program widget + mp3s = automatic alarm clock.
Imagine never having to set your alarm ever again. Imagine entering meetings, to-dos, plans to go for an early morning run, whatever you desire - when you think of it
- and never having to set your alarm clock when you go to bed. Imagine being slowly woken up to your favourite music with ever-increasing volume, without ever have actually set the alarm yourself?
Sweet.. because really, how much of your life has been thrown down the drain while sitting on the edge of your bed watching the little red numbers cycle through 12am-12pm, 12am-12pm, and then *whoops*, you go past your time and have to do it all over again.
Here is another made to look model-like
photo from this flickr slideshow
More aerial photography
- cause it's fun! Lots more after the jump
, as they say.
Longleat maze, Wiltshire, England
Looks like rain this weekend. They do say April showers bring May flowers, right? Well, how about some rainbows to get in the mood:
talk about some amazing photos - follow this link for more interesting sky photography, like a line of rolling clouds or moon pics.
An Arguement Against Computerizing and Virtualizing the Thinking Brain.
Let me try and make a point, or pose a question of perspection, so to speak. What if experience, that all-giving being which provides us life's many lessons, what if
it was actually the exact opposite of what we see it as? What if each experience you had each day was taking away a part of your imagination, your creativity? What if the absence of experience is the true path to that idea they like to toss around called enlightenment?
What if the state of having no experience whatsoever put you in a place where you could live anywhere you want, at any spot of any concept; where would you live? Would you live in a small square room with dark walls, no light, sitting in the total darkness? Walls don't exist - let's call them "borders".. no, "boundaries". In fact there is no concept of this even. How can you exist inside
anything when in
do not exist in your brain's collective experience bank, intelligence or subconcious? Would you live with strange wave-like beings that danced around your pin-point spot, a spot so much smaller than a molecule or an atom, smaller than a quark, a true
singularity (for how else is there to think with no idea of your dimensions; there are no extremities). Or would the wave-like beings exist in
your singularity - that's circular, in, out, imagine..
you're floating - but not even, you are suspended by equal forces (or lack there of) from all points of your body, there are no reference points, idea of self, your only visualization tools are your brains ability to imagine and create new ideas, thoughts, and images. You're a virtual thought machine, you are
a thought machine, churning out things never thought ever in the history of the place, space, the universe. Your ideas, spastic snap-snip-snapping of synapses, the blue and white and yellow dots, the blue shrinking blob, the oddly shaped spirals that dance down your optical nerves (seeing only those things that don't exist, hearing things without noise). But could you live
with it? Would you go crazy, spinning out of control in your singularity with no directions (when you're spinning you stand still). Would the neurons fire off questions and warning signs and alerts and emergency stop-gap measures? Would they form together in bands, arguing like gagglers at town hall over policy, choices, decisions
.. or would it be more organic? Would they come together with no sense of time or space and spread amonst themselves and in that moment of some sense of realization that the whole collective has come together - online - fully connected and aware, bent on the domination of that tiny spic of space, that singularity, it's domain
(for you, at this point, are no longer she, nor he, or any other construct). Would it be
a fully gathered, fully working inner universe replete with stars and galaxies (square and rectangle ones) and if it did - and if it did - would it really truly be a virtual universe, with virtual time and virtual space, virtual matter and heaven's lace. Would it really be a computer computing itself, computing the flow of orange juice out a glass, the waving of blades of grass in the wind, and the position of each and every atom in your cells? Would it?
Following up on yesterday's China talk, more on the east-asian technology front (trust me, this has something to do with the previous stuff, it's not just computer scifi guy talking here). First, Google (remember, that don't be evil
search company that is nevertheless going right along with the chinese gov'ment's censorship policy) has themselves quite the champion in Kai-Fu Lee, Google's head of China operations guy
Lee can sound almost evangelical when he talks about the liberating power of technology. The Internet, he says, will level the playing field for China's enormous rural underclass; once the country's small villages are connected, he says, students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves.
Important key phrase: "once .. small villages are connected
" - this is still the future he's talking about. This fact is amplified by Lee's cute and admirable equation of Google: "youth + freedom + equality + bottom-up innovation + user focus + don't be evil = The Miracle of Google.
" Specifically the "freedom" and "equality" parts, which don't seem to necessarily jive with the current plight of the "rural underclass" in China. I wonder if they'll be allowed to teach themselves such classic MIT & Harvard offerings as "Comparative Politics and China" and "The Rise and Fall of Democracy/ Regime Change". Heck, I wonder if they'll even be able to see MIT's OpenCourseWare Political Science page
, what with it prominently featuring a picture of - *gasp* - a man standing in front of a line of tanks.. my my, does that
look familiar? Probably to you and me but apparently not to most of China's students.
Second thing to note is that Yahoo is bending over for the Reds as well. Yahoo! implicated in third cyberdissident trial
Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy of the verdict in the case of Jiang Lijun, sentenced to four years in prison in November 2003 for his online pro-democracy articles, showing that Yahoo! helped Chinese police to identify him
From Slashdot's post
This latest incident occurs about 2 months after Yahoo testified, under oath in front of Congress, that the company regrets being'forced' to help Beijing [previously].
The air is talking to me, bugging me to be more productive and creative, asking me what my fucking bullshit problem is.despite being a short week, what with patriot's-easter-day, you still look a little worn. what's with that?
well, I spent all day implementing opaque predicates that asyncronously update themselves on the fly, just to be confusing. if you have the slightest what that means then you might have an idea why I look so worn, otherwise you at least know it sounds like a bore. but why do it? why not buy some spray cans and hit up the alleyways - it's a killer of a spring day
why not jump off a bridge why not take the whole week off why not why not why not eat until I burst right open and walk everywhere on my hands until my head goes full of blood and my vision blurs out to a dark nothingness and I fall, tumbling. yeah, why the hell not you fucktard?why not have more empathy for those in worse situations than you and try not to swear so much with made-up words that belittle those with disabilities. why not forego the fake-rage where you act like you actually care one way or the other.. as if you don't.
yah, that sounds brilliant; the censorship of words. these black little character sequences we see painted everywhere, printed as if they had power, they're not the problem, you can't blame dysfunction on grammatical mistakes, you can't claim innocence for no want of speech you cannot cannot cannot say that he who never speaks sees no evil (for what you see is only thyself) or that she who does not hear cannot be bothered that evil does not sing. It sings! it sings, even if you cannot or choose not to hear it you know that, deep down, and I know that of you because you continue to pretend as if words, written down in scribbly scrawled chicken-scratches or typed out tap-tap on a typewriter can be evil; displaced anxiety, the problem is elsewhere. but I neither see nor do I hear so it must be the words themselves that carry the weight, this blackness, the hatred, the human spirit - ed away from his fellow man by thoughts uncannily cruel; dark; the evil of the soul itself.
that's it, it's you, the nail on the head the air in itself; it's everywhere, and you are it. blind, deaf - you cannot play dumb. the mirror (mirror) on the wall, it's the most evil of them all..
if you get my drift.
The thing to remember when you're looking out your two little eye-windows at life is that half of it, three-quarters of it, heck, no, maybe the whole goddamned thing is what those in the bidness like to call perspective
. It's not about the blue sky, it's about how you see it. It's not about the rainy drizzle, it's how you react to it. Sure, maybe there is a default response you've programmed yourself into but if you believe you can't change it you never, never, never will.
I call it doubling your failure rate. Life is made up of two sides: success and failure. If you think for one moment that those two sides are even close to being equal than you've already screwed up - go back, try again please. The key to remember is that "failure" is just another word for practice and everybody knows that practice makes perfect.. And let's be honest, we spend most of our lives practicing.
Patriot's Day 2006 (a regional holiday celebrated by only Mass, Maine, and school children in Wisc), mid-afternoon, and Mark Loretta at .245 of the Boston Red Sox hits a walk-off home run to win the game against the Seattle Mariners. He's pushing 35 and yet hit a career-high experience. After the game, when asked by NESN how this ranks in his career: "Probably #1. I've never had a walk off homer at any level. Not even Little League."
One guy I knew, watching the game in the 9th as Loretta approached the plate said "Oh, he's due. He hasn't had a hit all game, he's .245; he's got one coming to him.."
Another guy I know said Mark was hopeless. "What has he done for us lately? Games over already."
I've known 30 year olds ready to curle up and call it a day. I've known 80 year olds with fire and gumption and go-get-um attitude. The point is if you don't keep trying you'll never know and if you think that it's all over, you probably have a long way to go.
Lemons? Sure, you could make lemonade.. or you could learn to like lemons. Savour the tangy tartness of one of Mother Nature's works of art. Two eyes, two ears; in life, there are two sides to everything - two ways to perceive, two ways to consider your situation. What really matters is deciding which one you want to look at.
I have said it before and I'll say it again: While China may be a growing economic force they still have much to overcome and I don't think it's going to be an easy road ahead. The market may suggest that China is right around the corner from becoming the world economic powerhouse but I truly believe that many in the west are underestimating the hurdles that China faces.
China's rural culture and it's urban counter-part are at severe odds, for example. As urban areas grow the poor farmers are being displaced. They are becoming poorer and their support system of free health and education is deteriorating. Most villages hold the land communally and when that land is "bought" (or seized) for condos or other urban development, the villagers are left out in the cold, unable to find decent work in the cities, and are viewed as second-class citizens. They're lucky to get maid jobs. This would not be such a huge factor if not for the fact that these rural citizens account for over 60% of the countries population - over 800 million.
Additionally, China's continued censorship is both disheartening and dangerous. Antony Thomas, producer of a recent PBS report on China
showed the iconic 'tank man' photo to a group of undergraduates at Beijing University - in 1989 the university had been the nerve center of the student movement that inspired the nationwide uprising. None of the students knew what the photo was.
I mentioned the discrepancies between searching for images on this subject at Google.com versus Google.cn in an earlier post
. There has been much news lately of uprising journalists and bloggers testing the government's resolve and I don't think this is going to end anytime soon. Many will sound off to the drumbeat, tell you that China is trying to work a middle-ground of information flow but it's a lie. It may be more obvious but it's no more or less insidious as what was suggested about public education in the U.S. a few posts below. The problem is in that obviousness - as more and more Chinese realize what is going on, the government will be less and less able to control it.
Additionally, China has aborted/killed millions of female babies in the last decade. Now, many areas there are seeing low male to female ratios - as blatantly worrisome as 2:3. If you think this isn't worrisome for them, think again.
All these problems, and then some, are going to cause the Chinese government more troubles than they bargained for. The internet and global economization are forces that have never been seen before and I am convinced that they will combine together to make for a juggernaut that they will not be able to stop. This is the information age, afterall, and information wants to be free. Will it be a citizen uprising or .. something else? I don't know but I don't think it's going to be just a smooth road ahead.UPDATE:
Unbeknownst to me, CBS' 60 Minutes did a piece on the low-female population problem this week. I was able to listen to the audio of the piece last night and you can find it here, on their podcast page
, or you can just read the article Too Many Men
The one-child policy is 25 years old, so the first generation is just now reaching marriage age, and for China that’s a big problem because it is estimated that as many as 40 million of its young men could spend their lives as bachelors..
.. The gender imbalance grew out of communist China's draconian social engineering policies, where a woman, after having one child, was forced to make a choice: sterilization or insertion of an IUD (intrauterine device).
To make sure the women kept their birth control devices in, the government — starting in 1982 — sent portable ultrasound machines all over the country. They are compact and lightweight and even some small villages got as many as two or three. But in a classic case of unintended consequences, pregnant women realized that the machines could also identify whether they were having a boy or a girl. And, as a result, by conservative estimates, more than 8 million girls were aborted in the first 20 years of the one-child policy..
.. In the early years of the one-child policy, the kidnapping of baby boys — those much desired sons — was a problem; lately, says [Zhao Baige, vice minister of the Family Planning Commission], there has been a surge in trafficking of baby girls.
Many of the infant and young girls are being sold to become wives.
"The Chinese government confiscated a large plastic bag full of 28 girl babies, ranging in age from 2 to 5 months," said [political scientist Valerie Hudson of Brigham Young University].
The baby girls, whose photos were posted on the Internet, were found stuffed together in plastic bags lashed onto the roof rack of a cross-country bus. Family members had sold them to traffickers for as little as $8 apiece.
"They were being sold to families in the countryside, who were worried about not finding wives for their sons," said Hudson. "So, they would buy them as infants and raise them in the family to become the bride of their son.."
".. political instability? Do people talk about that as a risk?" [Lesley] Stahl asked.
"Yes. Yes," [Zhao], replied.
While bottled water is a $9 billion dollar industry in the US alone and many New Yorkers drink bottled water because they say it "tastes better", an ABC 20/20 blind taste test
(yes, I see the pun-rificness there) nevertheless found that good 'ol tap water is no worse:
"20/20" took five bottles of national brands of bottled water and a sample of tap water from a drinking fountain in the middle of New York City and sent them to microbiologist Aaron Margolin of the University of New Hampshire to test for bacteria that can make you sick, like e. coli.
"There was actually no difference between the New York City tap water and the bottled waters that we evaluated," he said..
.. We ran a taste test, offering people New York City tap water and five other bottled waters, Evian, the top-selling bottled water Aquafina, Poland Spring, Iceland Spring (which comes all the way from Iceland), and American Fare, a discount brand from Kmart, which sells for less than half the price of Evian..
.. We asked people to rate the waters as bad, average or great. Lots of people said one of the waters was particularly bad. Was that the tap water? No. Tap water did pretty well. Even people who said they don't like it, liked it on the blind test.
In our test of bottled waters, Kmart's American Fare — the cheapest brand — won..
.. in last place, by far, with almost half the testers saying it tasted bad, was the most expensive water — the fancy French stuff, Evian.
"It tasted like toilet water," one man said.
From the comments of the Treehugger.com reference post
"In 2003, Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, a Showtime television network program, conducted an informal taste test of bottled water. They found about 75 percent of New Yorkers preferred tap water to bottled waters.."
Sadly, my own mother insists that having bottled water is helpful because it provides an easy way to "carry water around the house"... uhhh, you mean like a glass
In somewhat related news, is oxygen the next free commodity they'll bottle up and convince people to buy
? There are already oxygen bars..
Those crazy main-stream journalists are at it again, claiming this time that a blog is 'essential' to your career
Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field.
Ben Day blogged his way into a career as a high-earning software consultant while maintaining the freedom to schedule frequent jam sessions and performances as a keyboard player.
Blogging gave him the opportunity to stand out enough to support the life he envisioned for himself. ''For your career, a blog is essential," says Phil van Allen, a faculty member of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
''It's the new public relations and it's the new home page. Instead of a static home page, you have your blog," he said. It's a way to let people know what you are thinking about the field that interests you.
It wasn't too long ago they were telling us blogs were dangerous and could get you fired. Of course, what they fail to mention is all of this (both the potential for hire or fire) is pretty much common sense and that, once again, they are just reporting what we (should) already know.
While you pay $3 a gallon Lee Raymond, CEO of Exxon Mobil, made $686 million
over the 12 years he worked there:
the chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp. earned $144,573 for each day of the 13 years he served at the top of the oil company, according to a report in Saturday's New York Times.
I happened upon an interesting post on the densities of religions in the United States today, here at the Regions of Mind blog
. It's not entirely comprehensive but has quite a few maps (source of maps is Valparaiso University's American Ethnic Geography course page
which has not only religious but language, culture, and socio-economic maps as well). Bottom line? I like maps.
Onwards and upwards! This first map is interesting to me, being from Maine, in that Maine (besides the County) and perhaps West Virginia seem to be the least religious states in the entire east. Oregon is pretty paltry too. Not surprisinly, the midwest loves them some church!
Also, it would seem the big chunk of religiousity in south-east Florida corresponds to the heaviest concentration of Jews in the entire country except, perhaps, New York City.
jewish population by %
Another surprise - Texas isn't the worst case of death by gov'ment, at least not in so much as the number they plan to ax. Albama and Nevada have the highest number of death row inmates per capita in the country.
# of death row inmates per capita
Strangely, Maine's mid-section sticks out as a slight sore-thumb when considering the divorce rate.
% of divorced adults
Okay, so that's enough for the maps for a moment. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm an atheist and therefore am slightly bent against the religious masses - especially in this day and age of religious reinessance in which honest hard working people are choosing to believe in the alchemism of church creationism over scientific process. Whatever. What really scares me, though, is not so much this specific issue but the larger picture, a failing of the logical process, as if we're removing our limbs only to re-attach our fins and climb back
into the oceans. Like reverse, um.. creationism.
Anyhow, I recently read an article from Harper's by the same John Taylor Gatto who I wrote about much much earlier - an ex-New York City teacher who worked in public schools for 30 years. He wrote a book called "The Underground History of American Education"
which is available completely free online (follow link). I've only read bits and pieces and you may think him a bit of a radical but nevertheless he raises important points. I have always questioned the educational process in our culture, a quisicality which was most likely fostered by my own father (also a servant of the public schools) who often questioned our society's apptitude for treating professors as second-class citizens. This might sound ludicris but true academics, those of the higher education, are in fact less revered than successful businessmen, celebrities, and politicians. How many famous professors do you know?
Anyhow, the Harper's piece, How public education cripples our kids, and why
, touches on an old H.L. Mencken quote which sums up Gatto's issues with our educational system:
We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of "success" as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, "schooling," but historically that isn't true in either an intellectual or a financial sense. And plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons. Why, then, do Americans confuse education with just such a system? What exactly is the purpose of our public schools?
Mass schooling of a compulsory nature really got its teeth into the United States between 1905 and 1915, though it was conceived of much earlier and pushed for throughout most of the nineteenth century. The reason given for this enormous upheaval of family life and cultural traditions was, roughly speaking, threefold:
1) To make good people. 2) To make good citizens. 3) To make each person his or her personal best. These goals are still trotted out today on a regular basis, and most of us accept them in one form or another as a decent definition of public education's mission, however short schools actually fall in achieving them. But we are dead wrong. Compounding our error is the fact that the national literature holds numerous and surprisingly consistent statements of compulsory schooling's true purpose. We have, for example, the great H. L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not
to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.
At this point you may be asking what any of this has to do with religion but it has everything
to do with religion. Religion is in some ways, perhaps, the oldest form of institutionalized learning. What exactly is it's
Call me crazy but I believe you can just as easily substitute religion for education in Gatto's piece. What is the purpose of religion?
1) To make good people. 2) To make good citizens. 3) To make each person his or her personal best. These goals are still trotted out today on a regular basis, and most of us accept them in one form or another as a decent definition of
public education's religion's mission
Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying it's all bad. Education has served some of us well. It is not just
a giant brainwashing factory meant to zombify our citizenry and neither is religion. Nevertheless I think it's important to pay close attention to any major institution that purports to be "for the good of the people".
I don't think I have to draw the connection between red states and high religious adherancy either. This is and has been obvious. Is it any wonder that the midwest, known both for it's religion (see top map), conservatism (see next map), and low high school dropout rate (see white areas last map) is also a region of low college completion percentages?
2000 presidential election by %
high school dropout rate
Food for thought.
Every dinghy little store front you walk by was or is somebody's personal dream. I think it's important to remember that. Every building, however run down, was one man's baby at one point in time; his project, his panacea for the dingy store fronts he has to walk by everyday. An artist in an architect's shoes telling himself that nobody understands and that they'll all appreciate the new, bigger, brighter. Forward, upward, onward, progress
Every dinghy person covered twice over with the silt of the city that you see shuffling slowly down life's sidewalk is somebody's mother or grandmother or uncle or son; a person so bent over with lanquid dreams that they move as if swimming through honey, a fish out of water, gulping for air in the stickiness of summer-high temperatures. Hot time, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.
Every dinghy little second you glance ahead and see a signpost scrawled with urban scramble, those are seconds that wilt away like the drops of an ice cream cone dripping away, chocolate and caramel petals floating down through the murky depths of mid-day madness - tadpols swimming against the current of thick hot soupy air gasping, gasping, gasping for breath. There is no saving them, they are gone forever. Sometimes your best friends never come back.
Every dingy single step, every glance or move or shake, every thought you make of those old friends you had, the chocolate and the caramel - coalescing atop a sundae's magic, these are dinghy dying dusty old doorsteps, store-front facades of forever ago. Dreams you had, almost dreams you've forgotten. Soon enough it's you that's lost, gulping for air and swimming through honey, you are the mother or son, fighting off the heavy stickiness of money.
A Gallup poll released today shows 57% say they will consider buying a hybrid car when replacing their current vehicle.
Those favoring hybrids show little gender or regional differences..
Nevertheless, only 1001 adults were surveyed - hardly a statistically significant test in my book.
Am I crazy?
Are you crazy?
Do I feel like I'm not grounded, like I'm high as a kite, like I'm a crazy SOB with nuts rattling around upstairs?
Nonsense. I feel completely normal.
Nevertheless, we're all a bit batty in the brain. A consequence of our predilection for introspective thought. A reason for the seasons that are our moods, swinging in and out like a pendulum pushed sideways, sent spinning in weird circular back-and-forth motions.
Crazy? You can call it that, or just call it human to have odd thoughts and cheeky chirps in the subconscious.
Regardless, I feel a bit off. A little like the earth has tilt-a-whirled sideways and things are sliding off the edge. Somebody has come along and waxed the floors; they are slippery and I'm in my socks. A Cruise in his underwear with an invisible microphone to my mouth, screaming at it as if I were one of the Four Tops, the Four Seasons, a Temptation, a Monkey or even a.. modest mouse.
We're products of our own mind and if you buy philosophy you have to buy the idea that we could
be nothing more. Might we be a simulation? Half the world believes in Intelligent Design and, if you excuse my methodology here, if you are one of them that really means you're like pac-man, you're a yellow circle chasing ghosts that are chasing you, a bad circular dream - a simulation, or at the very best a caged animal. An experiment.
I don't like the idea of being an experiment so maybe that's why I shy away from any sort of ideas about creationism, or god-like beings. I'd like to think all of my serendipitousness has come to me through chance and change, the small effects of domino-like cascades, building ever bigger until there are streaks and streaks of chain-reactions and chemical cataclysms. I don't want to think the world is a laboratory experiment.
So forgive me my mortal sings, for having a mouth and a mind attached, for believing (and saying, singing outloud) that I simply cannot believe there is anything more than simple synapses; the singular exchanges of electronic soup built up over several (and I mean many) layers to get this, us, humans, the brain
. Forgive me my mental anguish; my believing in that human spirit that is not ethereal but in fact very
grounded and routed in our very condition - the human comedy, the fugaciously brief play we have on this earth, the seemingly eternal yet fleetingly ephmerally short scene we, as individuals, play in the big production of life; truly, we're but a line, a quick gesture, a stage direction at best in an endeavour of such great proportions that we will never know even a tiny part of it.. And yet nobody and no thing (we would like to think very much otherwise) will ever know, as there is no higher being - there is no god - there is no pie in the sky, as the weakly Wobblies once were told. Forgive me my passion, my hunger, that we should all eat some humble pie, to release from us our special sentient self-indulgences, the sessions upon sessions of pseudo-intellectual swooning over creationist swill. We aren't
This, all of it, piled atop a mound of rubble, is not depressing nor saddening to me. I can accept this whimsical view I have of the human hubris, it's just the way things go, the more things change the more they stay the same, moss grows fat on a rolling stone, etc, ad infinitum.
And so I set out to write a post on love and leaving and what I got was nonsense about the incoherency of the supreme being. How did that happen? I meant to consider the places I've been and where I want to go, who is waiting there to see me, and instead I got more angry about intelligent design. I don't know what has happened that has killed my ability to write about those that make my heart tickle; it's a change that happened in my sleep when I wasn't paying attention. Perhaps my faith was stolen in the night or more likely in the very early morning, somewhere between wake and dream when my defenses were down and I thought the world hadn't yet turned and left me there, alone, naked, by the phone, listening, waiting, knowing that when I try to get through on the proverbial telephone to you, there always seems to be..
I could write a hugmongous post about the logarithmic advancement and adoption of technology but suffice it to say that things are moving quick these days. Right around the corner are cell phones that seamlessly switch between a cellular network and VOIP over WiFi - mid call
!Cell Phone Industry Steps Closer to VoIP
Wojtek Felendzer held a mobile phone to his ear as he walked across the room, the call automatically switching behind the scenes from a Wi-Fi wireless hotspot to the regular cellular network.
"Can you still hear me?" the Nokia Corp. employee asked.
"Yes," the reporter answered.
"That's good," he said. "This is seamless handover. The voice didn't drop. Nothing bad happened."
It might be a year or more away from reality in the market place but that's an awful quick transition if you consider how old all of these disparite technologies are.. WiFi, Cells, and VOIP (hint: not very old).
A 55-year-old man was having intermittent, crampy pain in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. A colonoscopy was ordered and revealed multiple mobile 1-cm worms, Enterobius vermicularis, in the cecum.
Sound like fun? Follow the link for a video of wiggly-worms in the cecum (that's "bum" to you vernacular folk). Fun!
Despite the ballsy statement (with which I agree) to Bush the other day by a fellow American
in Charlotte, North Carolina:
Q: You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?
Q: Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and --
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Booo!
THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.
I nevertheless give 'ol W some slight appreciation for his earlier statement on religion:
I'd like to say one thing about religion -- religion and politics, if you don't mind. The United States of America must never lose sight of this beautiful principle: You can worship or not worship and you're equally American. You're equally American if you're a Christian, Jew or Muslim, atheist, agnostic. We must never lose sight of that. That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban.
.. Even if it is lip service.
The IRS, in it's usual way of making things simple and concise, have announced how the 2006 Hybrid vehicle tax credits are going to work
(hint: it's gonna be confusing).
The simple stuff:
- Vehicle must be Purchase and get delivered on or after Jan. 1, 2006.
- Must be a new vehicle
- Purchase the vehicle with the intention of using it, not re-selling it.
The more confusing bit is that this is all based on the number of hybrids a given automaker has sold. When a company sells it's 60,000th hybrid the tax credits for consumers phases out over the next 1.25 years. The details:
- Beginning January 1, 2006 and up through the quarter that the automaker sells 60,000 hybrid vehicles, 100% of the credit is allowed.
- 100% of the hybrid car tax credit continues for the next consecutive quarter.
- The next two quarters after that, the tax credit is reduced to 50% of the original hybrid car tax credit.
- Then, for the next two quarters after that, the tax credit is reduced to 25% of the original hybrid car tax credit.
- Finally, the hybrid car tax credit for that automakers’ hybrids drops to zero.
Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? But hey.. at least there is a tax credit at all. Follow the link for a table of which vehicles will give you the most bang-for-the-buck, so to speak. On top is, of course, the Toyota Prius at a whooping estimated tax credit of $3,150 (almost 15% of it's MSRP).
Meanwhile, Bush is still muffling climate researchers but it is finally getting some decent mass-media coverage. In the Washington Post today Climate Researchers Feeling Heat From White House
Scientists doing climate research for the federal government say the Bush administration has made it hard for them to speak forthrightly to the public about global warming. The result, the researchers say, is a danger that Americans are not getting the full story on how the climate is changing.
Following up on a previous note about the Dover, PA modern-day antithesis to the Scopes Monkey trial (the area school board wanted to teach creationism) is a bit in the Montreal Gazette today strongly rooting McGill University in the evolutionist camp. Prof denied grant over evolution
A clash between McGill University and the key federal agency that funds social science research in the country is sparking a scholarly debate in Canada about the theory of evolution.
McGill University says the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council made a "factual error" when it denied Professor Brian Alters a $40,000 grant on the grounds that he'd failed to provide the panel with ample evidence that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is correct..
.. The planned project, submitted last year to the council, is titled Detrimental effects of popularizing anti-evolution's intelligent design theory on Canadian students, teachers, parents, administrators and policymakers.
Alters, director of McGill's Evolution Education Research Centre, told CanWest News Service yesterday he was shocked at SSHRC's response and that it offers "ironic" proof that his premise about intelligent design gaining a foothold in Canada is correct.
Of key note is McGill's rather clear statement about it's stance on evolution:
In its decision to deny the grant, the SSHRC panel said Alters had not supplied "adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of evolution, and not intelligent design theory, was correct."
"McGill considers this a factual error," [Jennifer Robinson, McGill's associate vice-principal for communications] said.
To tie in the connection to the Dover, PA case:
Last fall, [Alters] was a key witness when creationists squared off with proponents of evolution in a Pennsylvania courthouse..
.. Judge John Jones ruled the Dover Area School Board had broken a constitutional ban on the teaching of religion in public schools when it inserted wording in its science curriculum that life on Earth might have been designed by an unidentified intelligent being.
When I was younger I used to fish a lot. Bobbing worms, fly-casting, and even walking down a brook in two pairs of sweatpants, up to the waste in the freezing water of the spring thaw. Trout. Perch. Bass. Sunfish. Pike. I never kept them, well.. except maybe some trout. I never have been much of a hunter that way. Somehow it wasn't about the fish, all that fishing I did.
I ran up Mont Royal this weekend and I saw a little bit of all that fishing. The snow was melting down into the old stone gutters along the side of the road. It had rained the day before and the trees had that new smell to them - not new manufactured smell but that musty growing smell that spring always brings. Wet, damp, cold - but not too cold. The hay, too, a few bales spilled and trampled down on the dirt, reminded me of the lambs being born in the cold of a March night, so much so that they could see their breath, their first view of the world.
Sometimes it's the fishing I miss most about childhood. Everything else seemed to be go-go-go. Forts in the woods, crab-apple wars, building rafts, you name it. It never stopped. Chasing the dogs in the woods, being chased by the pigs. Somehow, fishing seemed to pull things down, slow things up, and generally provide a stage on which to sit and think for awhile - like David's stool, etched in stone.
I don't know why spring brings such encumbered thought, these feelings of contemplation so heavy that they cannot be carried around and must be abandoned to one spot and enjoyed only there. Spring usually has a sense of lightness, of new life and growth. Nevertheless the human spirit seems to need to turn inward upon itself at this time of year and perform a similar yet different type of growth. Each and every spring old things put away and never used are brought out, dusted off, and thrown away. Yardsales of the mind, heart, and soul are found around every corner. Cobwebs and dust bunnies are herded from the dark corners and light is shown anew in places we have almost forgotten in our very own houses and homes, and in our thoughts and feelings.
And through this all the sad little perch takes the brunt of this cleaning. A hook in the jaw is the cost of his snack and though he may wriggle and jump in the bottom of the canoe he is not fired up and hell-bent at revenge as one might personify; he is writhing in pain, the agony of blinding trust, the guilt of he who has been taken - a sucker!
I throw them back because I've been there. A sucker (one born every minute) I have succumb to the tasty thought of an on-the-house snack, the offer of a free lunch, surely we are all criminals of this on at least some occasion. Luckily my free lunches are rarely delivered on a hook ready to be set - betwixt knife and fork. No, for us more introspective of species (by which I mean those who speak inwardly and listen likewise to hear the echo) the bait is more obtuse, the tackle more twisted - meddle of a different nature all together, so to speak.
So perhaps, in the quiet of those simple creatures whose lives are hinged on the nibble of a nocturnal crawler, I can hear my thoughts more clearly and know which ones I must throw out. Maybe when sitting in a row boat in the middle of the night making mental caterwauls to the whiskered below or trolling slowly on a glassy-calm lake in a cool summer drizzle my mind is quicker to put broom to brush and rag to polish. I can't be sure why but these things help me think, the slapping of the water against the side of a boat, the click-click-click of the line as you pull it from the reel and the shwosh-shwosh of the fly line whipping through the air. Laxative for the brain. Like a social mixer, an elixir, it's a mental menagerie of media, all these sounds; colours on a pallet just waiting to be painted.
How about some postwar architecture from Berlin
? This one is particularly creepy in a videogame-esque way.. it's very, bland yet comforting..