Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry kraussmas


Every atom that makes up all that we are, once spent billions of years drifting across the vastness of space.  Long before there was any such thing as a year, before there was time, as we know it.  Born from the explosion of a star, propelled across an immeasurable distance, to eventually coalesce around our Sun, to form this planet, and all that's on it.

Ego really is such a delusion.  Siddhartha couldn't have known just how right he really was.

or, as Krauss put it,
The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way they could get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.
  • "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss

Funny how there's this impulse to put an almost religious significance to it. It really is amazing, how learning the complexities of how things work just blows anything religion proposes out of the water.  Reality is just so far beyond anything we could have imagined.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

civilization

How is government mysterious, exactly?  Who doesn't understand how it works?  Sure, but have you ever thought about the fact that government is not a thing?  It is not even a "they" really?

It's more like a concept.  It's this incredibly intricate latticework of systems.  Interwoven with people.  On all different levels, cooperating to make it work.  From the President, and senators, all the way down to the workers building roads, or collecting trash.  It doesn't exist, without all of that, and so far removed from the people who originally enacted it.  People who just had these ideas of how we, as a society, should work together, for the greater good.  For us, as a species, to best survive and flourish.. and that somehow takes on a life of its own, that we all have to figure out how to work within, just as if it were a physical system of nature.

It's something that happens, everywhere there are people.  We've created these systems of cooperation, which grow more and more elaborate, as we carry them on, usually without question.  Different people have had different ideas of what would work best, but really, we're all trying to do the same thing.  Same as any other animal, same as any other life form.  It's all about who just happens to have the better way of going about it.

red (white) and blue

I've been a lot more political lately.  I don't know why, but seemed to start with paying attention during the months leading up to this last election.  Now I suddenly find myself paying attention to all of it.  It's weird.

...but I have some thoughts.  One thing I keep coming back to is the partisanship.  Democrats and Republicans, and all the other labels that fall more towards the red or the blue.  All the details and meaning to why people seem to fall into one of these two categories   As for people who think they don't.. I think they usually just have some underlying reason for not realizing that they do.  Some people are even on the wrong side I think, too.  Some other association that blinds them to how it goes against their natures.  For the most part, though, I think the differences are clear.

One dichotomy that's come to mind recently, is how one side seems to think more adversarially.  That is, us vs them, way more often than the other side does.  Instead of cooperatively.  Standing off, instead of joining in.  Even in terms of the government, wanting it to be small, and inneffectual, as if in poor grasp of the concept that government is part of us, not them.  It's outside our familiar circle of understanding, though.  It feels beyond us, mysterious in how it works exactly.  Not safely, us.

Yet, close enough to us, that when looking further, beyond, to all the other nations around us, this one side, suddenly wants government to be big.  Big enough to fend off the entire rest of the world, if we have to.  How adversarial is that?  I think I'll call this side A.  The other side B.

A. favors tradition, religion, status quo, wealth, power, domination.  They all too often racist, sexist, homophobic, segregating, standing off, protecting themselves, afraid.

B. favors education, science, progress, charity, compassion, equality.  More often cultured, fair, accepting of differences, inquisitive, cooperating, joining in, protecting each other.

I could go on and on, I could easily slip into more prejudicial terms.  I just find it amazing how all these elements tend to go together.  And how one set is so clearly superior to the other.  It almost looks like a branching of our genealogical tree, with one side looking like it might be going the way of the neanderthal.

Course, I'm biased, though.  I'm not on the selfish bible-thumping materialistic greedy impractical scientifically illiterate redneck side.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

pardon my optimism, but...

i think a lot about where things are going.  not in the abstract philosophical sense, but all the different elements that make up our societies.  politics, entertainment, logistics, ideas, and ideals.  you can see a lot of it being tracked on different web sites, as what's 'trending.'

it's not just what's popular, or best selling, but trending.  that is, the emphasis has changed, to focus on the velocity, not just the position.  it almost seems like an evolutionary step, what would seem to be the more pragmatic way to go.  given an intellect sufficient to succeed at making predictions.  is that more the case, these days?

you can see it especially in the younger generations, sites which cater more to their demographics.  for example, atheism.  i've seen a lot of references suggesting that it is increasing, gradually, up to 10-20% or so of people, these days.  still, a drastic minority, if you're lumping all theists together.

reading comments by younger people these days though, you'd think atheism were the norm, by a sizable margin.  Much the way it appeared that Obama would win by more of a landslide than most polls seemed to indicate.  It seems that the internet is tracking people so effectively, it can be the best way to figure out where society is going, in all sorts of ways.  people who aren't on the internet?  these are the people who are becoming less and less relevant, and will basically die out.  like going back a few hundred years, people who don't learn how to write, or going back hundreds of thousands of years, people who didn't learn how to speak.

It occurs to me that this might just be what humanity does.  Efficiency of communication may be a key part of that, but this could even be the same biological imperative that protected us from the elements, way back when cavemen were trying to figure out how to get a fire going for the first time.  I'd even bet that there were other people there, yelling and fighting, to stop them from doing it.  (aka filibustering?) People who couldn't get past their primitive fears, and couldn't imagine how change could possibly be a good thing.  This could even be related to imagination, at its pinnacle, the spark that gets innovation started, but something a great many people have very little of.

I think humanity is naturally progressive. We have to fight for it, every step of the way, but we've been taking one step after another, ever since we left the stone age.  It would be comical that there are so many people that are against it, if it didn't get so brutal.  These are people who are essentially against progress. It is, by its very definition, the losing side to be on.

It's interesting that despite our entire history of social evolution, this sizable segment of anti-progressives seems to remain.  As if there's code in our DNA, that never gets weeded out.  Maybe a certain equilibrium is actually beneficial to us, as a species.  That is, there could be a direct correlation between this mental deficiency in a significant subset of society, and their capacity to either help us survive, or proliferate - more than we would without them.

Numerous possibilities there, really, but I'm more interested in a larger issue here though, the premise that we do socially evolve.  Not just genetically, physically, but as if there's a fundamental mechanism for social progress built into us, as well.  We've been doing it forever.  If you think the 1950's were bad, just imagine what the 1450s were like.  I think it's pretty clear, this social evolution is an inherent part of being human.

It's something we've always had to fight like hell for, though.  There's always been conflict, and setbacks, but overall, as a species, we keep going forward.  Maybe needing to fight for it is part of what keeps it going, or makes it more effective, but it's a fight we always win.  Just tends to take a few thousand years.

Monday, November 26, 2012

there are no facts in science

I keep getting sucked into these evolution vs creationist debates that arise from every YouTube video that even remotely touches on the subject.



The funny thing is, not in the way most people do.  I don't argue with creationists.  When people deny the validity of  evolutionary theory, they're basically starting from the premise that they don't believe in science.  They may not realize it, but its what the basics of their argument boils down to, and there's just no way to have a rational discussion with someone like that.

No, what I end up trying to get to the bottom of is a disagreement between people who do believe science.  A disagreement which usually starts with one person saying that evolution is not a theory, but a fact, and the other person trying to point out that there is no such thing as a scientific fact.  That point tends to go right over the first person's head, and they move on.

It looks like semantics, but I think it's much more important than that.  The Scientific Method is at the very foundation of science.  For some reason, it isn't taught in grade school, though.  It's taught much later, when students have already memorized countless facts, and the idea that science doesn't operate on facts has become extremely counter-intuitive.

The reason the scientific method does not involve stating anything as a fact, has to do with its purpose, the human drive to get ever closer to the truth.  It must be able to look long and hard into the abyss of all that we don't know, before it can even begin honestly figuring any of it out.  As soon as you start calling something a fact, it ceases to be a process, and becomes a conclusion.  Conclusion being the antithesis of progress.  Science uses hypothesis, phenomena, laws, and theories as tools in this process. Like a means to an end, in which there is no end.



What really strikes me as important though, is how this applies beyond science, and in a way, to all human thought.  It's a more elaborate way of thinking about the world, that's about always putting external and unknowable truth above our own egos, and the impulse to just settle on something.  It is a key step in human thought, which allows us to face the unknown, climb out from ruts of tradition and habit, towards actually making sense.

It only leads to intellectual stagnation to think in facts, to think that you really know something.  It's a path that ceases going anywhere.  It's really not surprising that the more righteous a person is, the more they'll tend to be wrong about everything.  Personally, I find it amazing, the way science transcends that way of thinking entirely, and yet it's so frustrating, that this isn't common knowledge.

We still have well educated people trying to insist that gravity is a fact.  I know it sure seems that way, but that isn't how science works.  That's kind of what makes it science.

Friday, November 23, 2012

if wishes were horses

Sometimes people find out i'm on disability, and they seem to not only wonder why, but how I expect to get anywhere in life without doing more. It's as if it doesn't t occur to them that this is something that I've been trying to figure out my whole life.

It's all too easy to fall into the trap of dwelling on how differently my life could have gone. How what I'd really want to do, would involve things going very differently for me, decades ago. I'm almost forty, and the longer my life goes on this way, the more impossible it gets to even imagine doing anything differently.

I wish I'd had someone to help me get through school, when I went off the rails way back then. I wish I'd followed a path into science, computers, engineering. I could have landed myself somewhere serious, like MIT, and made something of myself.  Maybe even lived up to some of that potential everyone seemed to think I had, when I was a kid.

but now.. I have to aim lower. Maybe a whole lot lower. I need to figure out what my options are. Realistically.  I need to aim higher than flipping burgers or stocking shelves. but I don't even know.  People are so full of drunk sincerity, it can feel impossible to get real answers about what my prospects are. Of doing something that would be at least somewhat rewarding and engaging for me.

because this isn't even just about money. this isn't how I want to spend my entire life. aimless, drifting, no fucking clue what to do with myself. Even if nothing else, it is unbearably boring.  I just don't know how I can get out of this ever deepening hole, of just living day to day, the only way I know how.

isn't that pretty much true of everyone, though?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

this is your brain.

I'd planned on going into some brief detail, like an outline of my entire life, from Syracuse to Montclair to Long Island to Pittsfield to Minneapolis.  Maybe even including some cursory mention of Georgia, Philadelphia, Cambridge, and New Orleans, pervaded with references to Manhattan of course, all the way up to landing here in Chicago.

I have trouble sitting still for very long, but apparently, so does my brain, because I seem to have lost my focus on all that.  Maybe I'll get back to it some other morning, when I feel like typing it up.

this is your brain on video games.

I used to play a lot of video games.  Lately, not so much anymore.  I still dabble, I still check out new releases all the time.. but I can't get into most of them.  Even when I do, it's very short lived.  Somehow, I still manage to find the focus to discuss them every day, though.  When I find myself unable to think about much of anything else, including what game I even want to play, I can always head over to some gaming forum, and rant about everything that's wrong in the gaming industry.

Honestly, I don't get that.  I'm sick to death of talking about it.  I barely even play them, lately.. but its like this groove of thought that's been so deeply embedded in my mind, I keep returning to it.

Maybe one of my major motivations in getting this blog going again is an attempt to get away from that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

high quantum proliferation theory

Reality creates itself along the paths of what's possible, steered by what's probable.  I would sum this up with the simple statement, "what works, works."  This absurdly simple concept explains how everything can exist, including past, present, and future, without us realizing it.  Due to biological blinders, both obscuring this truth, and yet helping us proliferate.  Even thinking non-linearly, that simple concept, of "what works, works" explains why proliferation in any direction would be probabilistically steered into further proliferation, just as if it were true in the obliviously linear temporal sense.  Equally functional, but the latter being simpler, easier.  More likely.

Incidentally, this would also line up with how quantum mechanics implies all possible states to exist at the same time.  As if what's possible is somehow more real as what is.  Due to how it's "what's possible" that really matters, and drives everything forward.  As opposed to what just incidentally is, and could have also been anything else.  Anything else, within the absolutely concrete limits of what's possible.

Hold on, I need another hit.

for happy

Hmm, was that an abrupt and random way to end the last entry?  It seemed long enough, and I have bit of the ADD.  Might have something to do with my AGHD, or maybe just all the pot my parents smoked around the time I was born.  Who knows.

Anyhow, so we moved from that apartment on Henry St, when I was still just a few years old.  Still, I have lots of memories there, of things like getting covered with ants, who didn't like me sticking twigs into their anthill.  An early morning, being jolted awake by the yelling of my dad, when he dropped a brick on his toe.  The day I got home from Jowonio hippie preschool, just as my dad was digging a grave for our dog, Happy.  I remember knowing what had happened immediately, since she'd been at the Vet a lot lately.  I remember being so upset, I dropped my cup of popcorn, spilling it all over the gravel at the side of the road.  I still almost tear up, to this day, thinking of that moment.

It seems amazing to me, how much I still remember from so long ago.  How much it still effects me.  It feels as though that doesn't quite add up, with how we normally think of the human mind.  How much emphasis we put in the present.  If time is just another dimension of space, and it's all just as real, at any point, past, present, or even future.. maybe, as mere three dimensionally situated beings, we've developed this instinct to overemphasize the significance of the present moment.  That view would certainly help with prioritizing growth and survival, whereas a little too much awareness of the grand scheme of things, maybe not so much.

I guess we only lived in that place for a year or two, before getting a loan to buy a quaint little ghetto house, where we settled down, and stayed for most of my childhood, where I pondered the infinite size of the universe, and how that must logically imply that somewhere out there, there was someone else exactly like me, thinking exactly the same thing.  Times infinity.

I was so naïve.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

123 henry street

This morning, I awoke from the wispy tendrils of a dream, in which I was trying to tell my life story.  Maybe write my life story.  Wait, no, maybe it was a song I was singing.  Ok, I don't know, it all slipped away pretty quickly, but I held onto the idea of how I might manage to get this writing exercise here up to speed.  I could simply start with telling my story, maybe.  I'll probably ramble a bit, but you know, something like that.

My parents settled in Syracuse, NY, when I was a toddler.  Aside from a hazy image of sitting outside watching leaves dance in the wind, I don't remember anything before Syracuse.  I only remember that much, because the way I'd phrased the observation seemed to get my father all excited.  That was possibly the proudest he's ever been of me, so maybe its not surprising that I've spent so much of my life trying to get the hang of making language more interesting.

Ironically, I kinda hate it though.  English, anyhow.  It never seems to really cover what I'm trying to say.  No matter how well I try to articulate, I can't seem to get past the feeling that, for the most part, I might as well be making hand gestures for chimps.  Making them more elaborate doesn't exactly help.  Not that I'm any less of a chimp, myself.  but nevermind that, for now.

I keep trying though.  I might not be able to express much of what I really want to express, but if I could just manage to be entertaining anyhow, that would be something, right?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

the war for drugs

I used to be pretty straight-edge.  Even refused to drink any alcohol, for a while there.  I had this idea that my mental faculties were of utmost importance, and that it would be foolish to do anything that might compromise that.  Life was my battlefield, and I had to be at my best, ready to fight whatever I had to.

Well, aside from being a rather narrow-minded view of intellectual prowess, all that fighting never really went all that well for me.  I certainly didn't win, in any case. I suppose that it depends on how you look at it, but for the most part, I've come to realize that I am who I am.  My life is what it is.  I was naive to think any of it mattered all that much.  Wait, that sounds terrible, doesn't it?  No, I don't think it really is.  It's just realistic.  It's about learning to relax so that I can appreciate life the way it is, in whatever ways I can.  Up to a point anyhow, but moderation isn't something I've ever had much trouble with.

So eventually, I came around to some more serious drug experimentation.  Hallucinogens, dissociatives, and THC, mostly.  I find myself wanting to talk about this stuff a lot, as aside from enjoying it, I find a lot of it fascinating.  but then it turns out, not only is there all this moronic stigma against it, there are even laws against it.  How ridiculous is that?

So, I've been watching the news, the controversy, the states trying to legalize it, and the federal government trying to do something about that.  People are saying that Obama has been cracking down even harder than his republican predecessors, but to me, it looks more like a natural escalation.  As more states push for legalization, it only makes sense that the government will do what it can to stop it, more and more, until it catches up and goes along with it.  It's just that this is going to take a while, and in some ways, it will likely get worse before it gets better.

I am getting really sick of arguing with nitwits on YouTube, though.  There's gotta be better ways to express myself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

the facebook is not enough

I have a lot to say.  Just ask Jenny, she loves hearing me go on and on.. and on.

For some reason, I seem to have stopped blogging, though.  Couple reasons for it, like the latest trends leaning away from anything that can't be summed up in semi-literate one-liners.  Also, just being in a relationship seems to have diminished my biological imperative to tell the world what I'm thinking.

I get the distinct impression that the world doesn't care all that much, and yet.. seems like a healthy thing.  As human beings, there seems to be something vital in how we share ourselves in some way, cooperatively striving to be more than what we are.  Even if we don't really get anywhere, maybe there's something to be said for the effort.  Something to be said for not just giving up entirely on the impulse to contribute.

I'm tired now, though. and have a bit of a headache.  Maybe I'll post more later.