09 February 2007


I had to give up watching the history/nazi channel. I found instead the international history channel, with more bbc produced stuff. Covering Asia instead of Hitler seemed a bit more relevant to me nowadays (considering we skip those chapters in every history class in school). I could teach courses on WW2, but I still have SE Asia to figure out. Only one I liked recently was the carrier made of ice. That thing would have been insane.

Actually, I mostly have to give it up because it apparently bores the lady. There are things in history that interest us. But the fact that history is so totally consumed with the glory of warfare.. well, that's a bit overloaded. I'm not sure what she is watching over there though either. To me it seems that cooking shows are pretty much like history shows. They're all the same after a while. As the Nazi juggernaut rolled through the Russian frontier, they stopped to make a lovely strudel. Something like that. Anyone who cares to know, USSR lost so badly in the early stages because they were preparing to invade. No border patrols, no fortifications, mountains of artillery, etc.. what do you think they're doing? I guess obviously they were making mixed drinks with potatoes and ogling hot tennis players.

Back to history though. I'm guessing the reason we don't put emphasis on this is because we feel saturated by portions of it. The reality of studying history is the viewpoint of looking at events, seeing the interaction and getting to second guess people. Then realizing that it looks a lot different when it's going on right now. We learn from history that we do not learn from history, sure. But how hard is it to step back and see what sort of categorical errors are being repeated in the middle of a crisis situation. Most of us will never know because nobody trusts us with such things. Care to guess why. .well, hey, its because we don't know our history. I hate to harp on this so much, but if we expect our population to participate and understand the importance of the debate inherent to our society, how do we do that if all they know is how to read, write, add and subtract? Are we afraid that we'll hurt people's brains or something if we ask them to learn how to think for themselves?

ans does not equal mm

What. the. fuck. Do we have a two second attention span and memory anymore? Since when did Anna Nicole become Marilyn Monroe? Everything we live with and see all the time suddenly is elevated to instant greatness and everything must be compared to the greatness of our past. Well, let me see, when we can't write a new song or movie without remaking or sampling one from the past, we must not have any greatness of our own making. I'm not sure how she can be compared to Marilyn. Or mentioned in the same sentence.

Are there similarities, I suppose so. Died early, lots of attention and fame, media saturation, etc. But Marilyn is a historical figure. Outside of Helen of Troy there isn't a case where a society so enamored itself with a female figure prior to her. Mae and Rita were certainly popular, but not on that level. Most of us I think just wished Anna would go away; the money thing just doesn't bode well for most. I can't say I feel a shred of wow, look at that, that's a tragic event for the country. Sad I guess; people don't generally die that young. But I'm not all that torn up about it. Marilyn had connections to Joe D (a sports icon), JFK (a presidential icon), Arthur Miller (saved him from Mccarthyism). I don't see any kind of contacts like that in Anna's past. She's hardly an icon. Maybe it would help if we had any kind of memory, we'd make some sense of things like this instead of elevating greatness just because we can't find any on our own.

08 February 2007

complex systems

There's a difference between science and complexity. Its a gap that hasn't been easily closed. Science has observed its first major gains in places such as botany, astronomy, physics, chemistry. These are places where the bulk of study is observation, analysis, experimentation, and so forth. It is relatively easy to observe, describe, and calculate the interactions of a relatively linear system with few objects or forces involved.

It has become a frustrated method as its studies have progressed and the systems have grown larger and more complex. This began with atomic studies and the ideas of quantum mechanics. As time bears on, fluid dynamics, genetics, and the weather still escape our scientific inquisition at times. We can observe wind or water, but it is often difficult to predict exactly how it will interact with any reliability. This is because there are a great many interactions involved. Each has a minor and seemingly irrelevant part to play. Each ends up in unpredictability. The weather and the stock market are two places we try to invent algorithms to predict and give us a measured stability. We fail. It isn't because science is necessarily bad. It is because it doesn't understand living systems very well. One of the hallmarks of science is to break down a reaction and see how each part plays into the final result. But a living system doesn't have necessarily a consistent result. One can mix two chemicals at such and such pressure/volume/temperature, and the same result will evolve of this circumstance every time. This doesn't happen. The same two events in a living system can evolve into vastly different scenarios. Because minute variations become harmonies along the numerous interplays involved. If we're trying to break down such a system, we are ignoring two aspects.

First, the system often depends on its interplay for any results. It almost has to be studied as a whole unit, not as a series of interactions that are scarcely related. They are related because they amplify or dampen each other along the way. We can't study this way with science. It can observe and document, but it's only barely coming to grips with the complexity involved. We've been trying to predict the weather for at least 70 years with advanced technology like radar. We're still wrong much of the time.

Second, if we begin breaking down such a complex situation, we're altering the conditions. We have no control over the variables in the experiment. Remember even minute variations cause disturbed harmonies. Heisenberg Uncertainty says much about this problem. If we try to measure an atomic particle's speed, well we're changing its position or energy, and if we're measuring its position, then its speed changes. A sociologist or psychologist observing subjects will witness altering behavior patterns to fit something approximating societal norms. People act differently when they know they're being watched. These are complex situations. We can't study them by being detached observers, because the situation doesn't allow us to sit back and play non-interference.

So now what? Science is useless? No, its pretty important still. It just doesn't have the answers we want yet. Because it is difficult work ahead. Put it back into its comfortable zone of linear equations and we would be done by now. We're not so lucky.

06 February 2007


"humans will go down in history as the only species that caused their own extinction"

This is a dubious statement. Interesting, because there are many things that human beings do that are proof that we're not smart. But its really rather foolish. What we find when we examine the situation is that there are two aspects to evolution. One is biological change. This is something that happens, and if it does, and it does poorly, well, that's just a bad cookie. Throw that poor fella away; humans don't evolve this way much, at least at a noticeable pace (other than cancer and genetic malformity).

The other is behavior. Behavioral change is an adaptation, a response to change in the environment, either from biology, climate, or simply the behavior of other species. What behavioral change does however is any species which modifies its behavior is essentially at risk. Doing nothing also places it at risk. Either way, the behavior change occurred as a result of something else.

Human beings generally change behavior as a result of changes in our own environment, an environment which we think is distinct from the rest of the world. But the reality is twofold. One, humans aren't the only species that does this. PLANTS change behavior people. Those green things that we assume are pretty background, yeah. They adapt too. Humans have a more complex behavior, but its the same flavor. Two, our environment is merely a modification of the real world. We can't replace the reality, but we can alter it to fit our needs. Cold outside, no problem, we'll make heat. Windy, again, we'll make a shelter. And so forth. This sort of change makes us more adaptive to minor changes in our environment than many other species, and less reactive to major changes. Major changes by themselves don't kill off species like us, but they can put us on the warning list. Think of a pendelum. Here we are as a species, and we manage to dodge the first go-round. But the pendelum swings both ways. Sooner or later, the planet itself makes a correction, an adaptation. And we get caught in the middle. I don't see that kind of major change happening anytime soon (even global warming is a hiccup for the planet). And I don't think we'd be the first to suffer if it did. The planet has been around a long time. We're probably not the first species with hyper adaptive qualities. I'm more worried about a sort of boredom factor. A species that thrives on change is apt to change and radically alter its behavior without warning or purpose. If its not a good change, then we could be in for a wild ride.

Randian cults

I'll admit I'm not an expert on Rand's work. I have studied its opposite, Marxism, with considerable focus and intensity. I'm not a huge fan of either however. Somewhere in between the truth lies, always to the grey we should look to find answers. I've read some of her books. What I tend to find fault with is the extreme imbalance that her characters develop. The extremist individualist, devoid of any social reactiveness, any social responsibility. These are premises which are inherent and necessary for a society to function.

She has a few points which are worth considering. For instance. Justice is a viewpoint which we are to consider as the punishment of wickedness. But is not there also a balance created when we reward and honor successes? Why are we so quick to defeat and defy success and why are we so quick to forgive wickedness? We are surely failing to apply justice in anything approaching even-handedness if we act in this manner. Rand believes the accomplishment of the individual is theirs to earn and keep if they so choose. I feel this is foolish and irrational, even evil in her terms. Accomplishments are to be shared, distributed, so as to have maximum impact. Certainly it is right to take credit, and to profit by our achievements. Certainly it is right to receive acclaim, fame and fortune. But Rand decides that to do so, to share willingly of ourselves and our ideas is perhaps a dangerous thing. A sort of mental looting perpetuates society and if we are to spread out this thing we have done, then it will no longer be our work that is celebrated. I'm not sure this is actually the case. There are times where the person behind the masterpiece is discarded. But usually the masterpiece begs the question, who did this?

A second problem is the lack of integration. Rand's characters are too bland. They have the presupposed ability to be more passionate, more powerful, but yet they are cut off from the source of their passion. Reason by itself does not rule, does not empower. It does not act. It stalls. It runs around and around in circles finding reasons NOT to act. Cutting one's self off from emotional and reactive responses is like cutting off an arm and pretending that it's still there. I found the 'black knight' funny too. But I'm not about to become him. He's a loony. Emotion does require balance, and that is reason's purpose. To give us a clearer path of action. But that path must be a team effort of emotion, intuition and reason. Reason alone cuts us off from actually caring about the result or the damage that we do ourselves. Such stoicism serves me well in that I fail to express emotions, most of the time, this is probably good as my emotions are often hostile. There are times however when I find a way to use them. And I believe I'm for the better when I do. I feel empowered and confident when I have an emotional stake in the game. I feel intelligent and wise the rest of the time, but this is by itself, useless.

Rand would have us reach this state, where we have such power, but does not give us clues to the capacity to reach it. Like other religions and cults, it claims to have answers but the real answers are not the end results, but the means to achieve them. We are in a society devoid of answers. Philosophers since Nietzche have been busy running around telling us the world doesn't have answers. Religions have been in steady retreat since the Renaissance. And governments or other institutions (like the media) are busy distracting us with entertainment or fears rather than feeding our craving for leadership and direction. This is a a dangerous time. One that Rand certainly grasped.

04 February 2007

odd coincidence

When I'm checking in on this blogosphere, I pass by a few ad related substances. One has lately been a critique of the origins of Christianity. I'm not suggesting its a pickup on my writings here, but its still a rather amusing coincidence. I just watched the documentary 'jesus camp', which was a rather balanced portrayal of evangelical Christians. Balanced in the sense that the insanity of their behavior was apparently not apparent to the evangelicals themselves; they liked the film. Everyone else found it disturbing. Having children chanting for god to make abortion illegal when they don't have a clue what that whole issue is about seems a might bit like brainwashing. I prefer my people able to think and analyze for themselves, thanks for asking.

I did like the part where one of the pastors who was ranting on about homosexuals was later busted for soliciting sex with an undercover cop.. who was a man. That part wasn't in the film. Daily Show caught that one. Ahh. Good times. It made that part considerably funnier (I know what you did last night!). All in all, much of the problem with religion, any religion, is that people take it too literally. Its not meant to be. It is a guide book. Ever go on a vacation to a national park. They give you a guide book. Are you required to go visit every landmark in there? No, but it makes it a lot easier to get around to the places you want to go. That's the point. Religion makes life easier for some of us. That's fine. I won't argue with those people. But I will argue all of the mythology, and some of the tenets. Have fun with that.

subpar bowl commericals

After further review. A few reasonably funny commercials. The nut one with the guy messing with sleepy people. That's always funny because sleepy people like me hallucinate anyway. And the office mayhem battle scene and run for freedom. Other than that, I can't say I was truly amused. K-Fed was somewhat funny; only because it will be true in a couple of years. Then it will be funny. Beer commercials are rarely funny anymore. Same with bell of tacos or other fast food drains. The game was perhaps funnier owing to the wet ball/wet field routine.

The only saving grace was it did give me some reprieve from the ridiculously overplayed 'this is our country' commercials that eat into basketball and college football games. Or those stupid robots punching cars. That one's dumb, if we were a eugenic society, we'd be killing the person responible. Stop the cat box is still funny though. I have no idea what that one is for. Doesn't sound like Go Daddy went as nuts this year to have lots of banned ads online. I guess thats good, because unless that girl has the name tattooed across her chest, I doubt anyone would have any idea what was going on.

check writer

I only write one check a month. But I do however make some non-online credit purchases. I have to sign for them. I discovered something a while back which I found amusing. I started signing for checks and credit cards with funny or famous names just to see if anyone would notice. I'll admit I sometimes wear two different shoes or drive backwards down side streets; these things tend to draw curious glances as well. I found that more or less nobody notices the signatures. More dangerously, nobody cares. The banks honor such transactions anyway, they don't check signatures. Which is good, because mine is probably illegible as it is, and I don't think stays the same twice. It's like a snowflake. I did get one glance when I signed for some groceries with the name "Zeus". Apparently I looked enough like the ancient thunder god to this clerk to let me pass, although I don't have sculpted muscles and long mane of hair and beard. .but I digress. The point is, be aware of this as a problem with the financial world. They aren't checking out for you as much as they should. Sometimes it can be used for sport, but sometimes it will be used for fraud.

02 February 2007

living with others

I've had a few thoughts on relationships that I figured might be a problem. So I'll air them here, where nobody knows your name.

I'm in a non-traditional relationship, in the sense that I'm not married but live with my girlfriend. I'm not planning on it yet, so girls don't ask. But the problem I raise isn't my living situation. At least, not that part of it.

So I'm now sitting here with the idea that I'm comfortable, and up comes a stray. My girlfriend has a friend with a nomadic sensibility and a number of current personal issues. This friend is about to temporarily move in. While this does free up some cap space on my rent, it doesn't help me in any other way. But I'm supposed to go along with the following outcomes:

Crowded living conditions created by lack of sleeping accommodations and more pets. I'm not sleeping on the couch unless I anger someone.

Having to sleep somewhat more clothed. This would cause quite a problem either way. I'm referring also to the lack of sex as well.

Close the door for bathroom use, including the shower. I tend to leave it as it keeps the mirror from fogging up. Now it will just fog up.

A new roommate with a penchant for somewhat disastrous personal issues. Fortunately, she seems to be getting older, and they're disappearing, slowly. (I refer to: smoking, drinking, some conspicuous other substances on occasion, these don't bother me unless they're in my personal space)

Less parking space. At least its a fellow Toyota, not some demonic SUV.

I'm not sure its asking much, but I do wish I could be consulted on these things. For example, I do not know yet: how long. where will she sleep. how many of her cats are coming. how much she works. how much she makes. how much rent is coming down. how often will she be out of town to visit her own boyfriend. etc. These are useful tidbits of information that I would feel would help alleviate concerns and come to a decision that is helpful and reasonable for all people involved. I don't care too much for helping people helicopter around anymore. I did enough of that myself and I watch my girlfriend still doing it.

Liberty's Pricey

Back to some semblance of original thoughts. I'm somewhat aware I have them because my ruminating ran me in a direct course to the path of ancients. So what if they trod there before. If it was an unworthy course, then it should have been closed to me.

I'm vexed. I find that our society is handcuffed to these ideas of liberty and security. Security is in no means important. It is the illusion of security that allows society to function. The true provision of it is completely impossible. Disgruntled and disturbed individuals can always seek to take what they cannot gain or to punish for what they cannot bully and bellow out of the fear of others. What remains is the united efforts of others to live in relative harmony with one another. If we wish to do as we well please, then it is entirely necessary for us to depend on one another for as much as we can honorably do. Liberty then becomes an illusion too. Society restricts it even before governments do. All government does is write it down, codify our objection to threats and liberties.