Tuesday, November 12, 2013

9:10, 11/12/13

I have no idea what to write about lately.  I wish I knew what to do, to remedy that.  I mean, it's not really that I need something to write about, so much as I need that inexplicable surge of neural activity that makes me think something I'm writing about is worth writing about.

It is a good feeling, doing something that feels worth doing.  Possibly, a feeling I'm somewhat less familiar with, than most.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

aggregaphobia

People are different, we group and categorize these differences in all sorts of ways.  A lot of these differences are going to impact who we are, in those ways we prefer to consider beyond the scope of physiology.

This, in itself, isn't unethical to express.  It isn't factually disputable, either, but there's still a legitimate ethical concern. This can lead to bigoted ways of thinking, cherry picking of facts and dismissal of context, to form prejudices.

There are a couple layers to this issue, but right off the top, acknowledging these differences in the aggregate is not the same as making a generalization.  It isn't a justification for condemning deviance from an average.  It isn't about getting anyone to conform to standards.  That's a leap some immediately jump to, but there's no rational reason for it.  A genetic reason, maybe, but that isn't a reason for our thinking to be restricted by it.

Another issue is that there are no objective values that can be assigned to these differences.  A hormone might be higher in one person than another, but that isn't better or worse.  Either way, it's going to come with some advantages, some disadvantages.  It's just one element in a myriad of other differences, none of which can be given definitive value.

This fuzziness makes it all too easy for people to focus on a positive element on one side, and contrast it with what seems to be a negative on the other, to support a narrow-minded bias, which of course, just happens to favor themselves.

I don't believe we should let that sort of stupidity steer us away from factual discourse and study, but it is something to be conscientious and ever vigilant of.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

it's all in the details

When I mention my awe of reality, I'm not talking about the obvious, not the pretty sunset, the good cup of coffee, nor even the billions of billions of stars.  Those things have their moments, but they're a bit cliche.  It would be a different sort of sad if I hadn't learned to appreciate them until now.

No, I'm talking about the minutiae, the details.  When the more I learn about something, the more I realize how little I understand it.  Or what a weak position I'm in to be condemning it.

Why was I such an idealist?  Why am I plagued by so much expectation of what everything should be, when honestly, I know so little about any of it? and the more I do learn, the more I realize how complex and nuanced it all is.  The more I realize how much I've been taking for granted aspects of life that I have only the most rudimentary mis/conception of.

Like people, for example, and their vast anthills, of social structures, education systems, entertainment, politics, and government.  Sure, on the one hand, we're a massive clusterfuck, rife with ignorance, selfishness, and blind raging allegiances to nonsense.  but on the other, compared to what?  Isn't it a little impressive that humanity has done this much?  That we've even built all this, as flawed as it may be?  Even as devastatingly prolific as it may be.

It's in our nature, as anything in nature.  We go where our genetic imperatives take us, and as such, we'll probably only change in any particular direction, when natural selection forces us to.  but if I move my baseline to thinking about how nature usually works.. we should count ourselves lucky, at least we're not proteins embedded in an asteroid, hurtling through space, unable to even find a planet to crash into?

More than that sort of forced optimism though, it's about just stepping back.  The glass isn't half empty, or half full.  There's so much more going on than that.  Stop worrying about the damn glass.  It's just a distraction.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

hello cruel world

Where do I begin?  and once I get started, how do I evade the incessant threats of distraction and exhaustion, so that I won't have to figure out how to get going all over again?  Sometimes it seems life is really more about getting from one moment to the next, than any sort of real direction or plan.  It's all about how the pieces just happen to fit together.

I used to maintain hope, with this subtle superstition of maybe there's some hidden rhyme or reason to it all, maybe an underlying or overarching organization that will ultimately work out for the best.  Agnosticism only makes sense, right?  Who knows what might be possible, or what science might yet discover?

Sure, but superstition can be insidious.  We never really know anything, but we can take some pretty good guesses.  Maybe there's a hidden purpose to all things, maybe our ancestors are watching over us, and maybe a great whale will fall from the heavens.1 Sure, it's important to keep an open mind, and we never really know, but seriously.  You probably don't want to bank on shit that doesn't make any damn sense.

I hate to admit it, but it's taken me most of my life to figure this out.  I've always leaned in this direction, yet not quite accepted it.  I wish someone had shown me how incredible reality actually is, when I was just a kid, way too young to be as disgusted by it as I was.  The world struck me as so cruel, life so boring, I've been inclined to chalk it up to the bad chemistry of imagination and depression, but in retrospect, I'm more inclined to call it misguided naivete and ignorance.  It is not knowing any better.

I saw all sorts of suffering, but I couldn't see the forest for the trees.  The world wasn't working out for me, the way I thought it should, but what does that really mean?  Who am I, for samsara to work for?  What do I know, to even begin to measure something so arbitrary?  What do we compare our very existence to, in a universe so immeasurably vast an complex?  A universe which seems to be pretty fucking amazing, when I can get over myself long enough to realize it.  It isn't about me.  It isn't about anyone, or any thing.. but it is pretty damn impressive.

We enjoy what we can, we suffer when we can't avoid it, we pretend we are more than a sum of circumstance, as we try to wrangle it all into a whole lot of egocentric nonsense.

1 Douglas Adams reference, see: Infinite Improbability Engine.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

anyone got a life preserver?

So, yeah, I've been getting more depressed lately, haunted by a lot of the familiar hallmarks of a negative outlook.  The mere passage of time becomes an unbearably cruel trick of nature.  I want to blather on about the details and the mechanics of it all, but that's just the same old mistake I learned as a kid, seeing too many therapists, with this charlatan idea that talking was doing something about it.  Best I've ever felt in my life was taking martial arts, and I think that's largely because I was actually doing something.  Something that worked for me.

I really need to find something else to do.. but it's so hard.  I really thought I'd grow up and have a life someday, but it seems that this isn't meant to be.  I don't get to be a grown-up, with all the freedoms and independence that entails.  It's very depressing.  but I still need to do something.  Something other than play Civ5 all day.

Yeah, but who am I kidding.  I've never been able to do anything, in my entire failure of a life.  And this is the worst fucking city I've ever known.  That really isn't helping.

See? Kinda negative..

Friday, July 5, 2013

disconnected

"The problem of the outsider is the he sees too deeply, and too much, but what he sees is essentially chaos" 
-Colin Wilson, The Outsider

I've remembered that quote for most of my life, having read that book when I was about 15, but I don't really think it means anything.  I like it, for saying something almost good, something poetically validating, about how I've always felt.  It was a book that I'd hoped would hold some sort of answers, but like so much else I've read, no such luck.

Something in me changed, as I grew up.  I'd always had issues making friends, but it seems that as I got older, it became more and more difficult.  With each friendship lost, weakening some internal connection.  Something in me, weak to begin with, that eventually just broke.  Romantic relationships seem to operate differently.  Immediate family seems to work ok, but lately, I've been failing to keep in touch with even them.

I don't know what to say to anyone.  I don't know what that even means exactly, it's just what comes to mind, when I think about contacting anyone.  It's always been difficult to explain to people who try to assure me that it's ok if I don't say anything.  It goes deeper than that.  I'm not just shy, it doesn't help to hear it's ok to be quiet.  I don't just need people to be friendly towards me.  Being social doesn't accomplish its psychological purpose for me, and I don't know what to do about it.

Something to do with trust, a feeling of belonging.  Affinity.  We are all human, and for some of us, that's enough.  For better or worse, others are more discriminating.  Maybe prejudices end in -phobia, for a similar sort of reason.  Who in this world do we trust?  This is a question that divides people in so many different ways.  I wonder if this is anything like the real culprit in my growing sense of isolation.  I don't trust anyone.  Something in me just doesn't click the way it should.  Society's never made any damn sense to me.  Part of me would like to think it's because I see too deeply and too much, but yeah, that's probably nonsense.

I've been saying, "as I get older," a lot, lately. Something about aging has been nagging at me.  A growing sense of anxiety about where it's all going.

Despite being such an introvert, and spending so much of my life alone, I am not an individualist.  I believe in community, maybe it's even an instinct, a genetic tendency that varies between types of people, but I deeply believe in people working together, in being a part of society in some way.  I believe it goes to the core of what makes us human, what's carried us all the way from the stone age to this place, where I can blog alongside hundreds of millions of other people.  Just another wandering nobody, along the side of this information superhighway.

I still feel like I'm drifting farther away from everyone I've ever known.  Not to leave out Jenny, we've got each other, of course.. but aside from each other, I'm feeling like we're growing dangerously alone.  It doesn't seem to bother Jenny as much, I think maybe because she has work, but still, between the two of us, we don't even have an acquaintance to feed our cats, when we go out of town.  This isn't the way life is supposed to be.

I've also realized why Hwa Rang Do was so beneficial to me.  For more than just the obvious reasons.  It feels like I've had this gaping hole in my life, since I left Minneapolis, but trying classes here didn't work out.  It didn't do the same thing for me.  I didn't feel like I was a part of anything.

I always felt like I was at the fringes there, not quite capable of joining in as much as I'd wanted to, but it was still feeding into this basic need, for a feeling of community.  It felt a bit like a bike with training wheels, in that respect.  I was allowed a lot of freedom to wobble, but despite my social ineptitude, always welcome to every class.  At first, my sister even held the bike for me until I could ride on my own.

My little sister.  I am more grateful for that, than I even know how to say.  It's been the only way I've felt involved with anything, since I was a kid.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

desperate hubris

"[...]the Court's opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decisionmaking. Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today's demolition of the Voting Rights Act."
-Ruth Ginsburg, SCOTUS

I wouldn't worry too much about this setback, just yet.  The way society is trending seems to be causing desperation on the right, driving their politics to the right, but driving the American people away from everything they're doing.  The more underhanded they get, the more they'll need to be.  I think that might be why the political pendulum's been swinging a bit differently.  It might not be swinging back quite the it used to, so they're trying to push extra hard, despite all evidence that the more they push, the more they'll lose.

So now, even the Supreme Court is showing an especially brazen degree of partisanship.  With only the most paper-thin explanation, supporting these flagrant and entirely current attempts at voter suppression.  In what's really, a relatively minor way, in the broader scheme of things.  It isn't even likely to last, but threatens to cost them pretty severely in overall public opinion.  Not only is it the obvious blow to civil rights, but strategically speaking, it's just a terrible decision.  It's as if the party's gone off the rails, and we're seeing the wreckage in slow motion.

I've been thinking some more about just how much of this might have started with the 'southern strategy,' which could have more accurately been called, the 'simpleton strategy.'  Appealing to a specific subset of society that tended towards racism, but while the south may have more pronounced issues with racism than the north, it's really more of a widespread human problem.  Some people are just more prone than others, to bigotry and fear.  More likely to oppose anything that's new or different.  Narrow minded.  Gullible, easily lied to, and fed nonsensical promises and propaganda.  Essentially, these are people who make the easiest targets, but tend to be on the stupid side.

Lower intelligence tends to have a lot of common factors, racism being just one of them.  Problem is, after a few decades, more and more of these new allies were climbing the ranks and getting elected.  Gaining control of the party, but trying to steer it right into a ditch.  You know, because they're stupid.  Stupid people not only being prone to racism, but prone to being bad at everything.  Including political strategy, and they're probably not the best choice for a collaboration.

I'm thinking, what started with the backlash to the civil rights movement, has now gone crashing through one of its pillars. Regardless, I just don't see it working out well for them in the long run.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

mind over matter

Was just watching this interesting discussion on the brain and how it measures time, and one part that really caught my attention was this bit on schizophrenia.  How they're studying the possibility that it might be a miscalibration of neurological timing.

They've figured out that normal people's brains will calibrate, even when timing is off - such as when a button push yields a result a split second later, the brain adapts after a few pushes to perceive the action and consequence as being simultaneous.  Further, that if they then correct the timing, the subject gets confused and will think the consequence happened prior to their action.  A distortion in their causal awareness, and in a schizophrenic, if such miscalibration is inherent, they might even perceive their own thoughts as happening prior to thinking them.



Schizophrenia being much more involved than that, of course, but consider what happens if such miscalibration is a lifelong experience, and how this may create patterns of distortion and chain reactions in a person's thinking and behavior in all sorts of ways.  How they may have such a fundamentally different outlook, that a whole lot of what they'd learn about life could spiral into delusion.

This may manifest gradually during adolescence, because this is when a person is expected to start being more independently functional.  Except, that normal developmental process collapses due to all those years of getting it wrong.  So of course, I'm thinking about how this may tie into my own problems - Not that I'm claiming schizophrenia.   Not even a little bit.  Although, I've always felt a certain affinity to the severity of interference in functionality.

Maybe my calibration is off in the opposite direction.  Certainly, I've always thought everyone else seems quite nuts.  Crazy people always say that, I know, so here's an especially trivial example the researcher in that clip reminded me of.  I used to play these online video games, back in the days of dial-up.  Back then, it was common to have a ping of around 300ms.  That was the delay between clicking my mouse button, firing my gun, and the data being sent to the server, and then relaying the information back to me, as to whether I hit anything.

A fraction of a second, but still, drove me crazy.  I used to go ranting on forums complaining about it, hoping to figure out some way of resolving the problem.  Except no one else seemed to be bothered by it.  This was an indisputable fact, that there was this delay, and that it really wasn't so tiny that our brains should fail to notice it.. and yet it seemed like I was the only one who did.  I was the only one who couldn't get used to it.

So, watching this video, something clicked.  Other people simply calibrated to the difference.  They noticed at first, but adjusted.  Gamers know that an excessive ping cuts into their performance, but still feel like they're in more direct control than they are.  For some reason, I never did.  It was as if my brain simply wouldn't calibrate that way.  This could technically make it more accurate, but bear in mind, there are likely reasons our brains do this.

Sometimes a measured degree of inaccuracy is probably much more viable.  Spontaneity of simultaneous thought and action, obscuring causal relationships, reinforcing the illusion of free will.  A useful illusion, definitely.  This could even be why a drug which interferes with that calibration in other people, seems to correct it, for me.

When you push that button and nothing happens, it's disconcerting.  All the more so, when no one else even seems to notice the issue.  The result happens a second later, but it feels disconnected.  It can even feel like having no control, given so much that actually goes on in the process. It is a lack of direct control.  Figuring out how to work with that becomes abstract.  Theoretically possible, or even advantageous, but viscerally, it feels like my experience isn't my doing.  Not to the extent that other people seem to think that it is.

So what if this is something I've been learning all my life?  A sort of delayed gratification, on a much deeper level.  A lifetime of experiences and lessons which are objectively more accurate, yet effectively self-defeating.  Thought should become intention, intention should become action, and action, consequence.. yet I've often felt my thoughts just go in circles, while I wait for action to happen.  Sometimes it does.. sometimes not so much.  Despite being well aware of the role thought plays in the process, I've always felt like more of a passive observer.  A very frustrated pathologically indecisive passive observer.

This is a lot of speculation, based on a hypothesis that might not even pan out.  I'm acutely aware that it can appear pointless, since regardless, I really just need to push that button.  People who would never tell a schizophrenic to pick themselves up by their bootstraps have no qualms telling me that I need to make life happen, like everyone else.  It's just not that simple.  I can see that it doesn't ever work that way.  Why can't they?

At the very least, it's really interesting to me how something so innocuously simple could possibly be the culprit of so very much going sideways.. but this isn't about doing anything about it.  I don't think that way.  I don't hold any illusions of becoming anything other than what I am.  I'd just like to understand my situation better.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

what's what

In each side we pick, it is a judgment call.  Of any issue, it takes a sort of generalization to come to any sort of conclusion.  It can seem more enlightened to be above doing so, but every time I've seen someone espousing anti-partisan rhetoric, it's become obvious that they're merely ignorant of even the basic facts.  From what I can tell of them, implausible that they wouldn't form a more polar opinion, if they were paying any attention at all.

Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that.  We couldn't be all knowing, all-opining, anyhow.  Really, I can't even fault someone for wanting to eschew the lot of it, as distraction or ultimately irrelevant, or just wanting to do their thing, live their life that way.  The problem I have with any of that, arises from these people insisting on opining, anyhow.  Half the time, without even a guise of civility, aggressively sure that despite their willful obliviousness, they know what's what, and everyone else is an asshat for not agreeing.

I shouldn't let it get to me, but it does.  I think, maybe we have this instinct, as human beings, to communicate, to put our ideas together, to build something more.  It is what we've been doing all these millions of years. Often subtle, veiled behind the day to day grind, billions of people just doing their jobs and raising their families.  It is a process, uniquely human, not coincidentally, started way back when we were living in caves, if not sooner.

For me, it goes all awry.  I get frustrated.  I don't know if I'm defective, people are just fuckwits, or what.

It is easier to frequent places where I encounter less of that, though.  It creates a feeling of communication working more like it should.  Cooperatively.  It can be frustrating when that feeling unravels, as a more divisive issue unfolds, and we're reduced to insulting each other.  That line is arbitrary, though.  We place it where it seems like it should go, but it has some flexibility to it.

Some people can be more tactful than others, bending that line, exchanging ideas in spite of misaligned foundations.  That is much more impressive to me than angry ranting, no matter how much I agree with it.  It's something I remind myself to strive for, but it's difficult.  I may not have all the facts, but I'm pretty sure I know what's what, better than they do.

(that was sarcasm.  i have no idea what the hell i'm talking about most of the time.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

loose wingnuts

When I started paying serious attention to news on the internet, and the ever present comment sections at the end of every article, I didn't really know where to start.  I like commenting, so naturally, I tend to gravitate towards sites where my comments are more likely to result in friendly discussion.  I try not to end up in too much of a bubble environment, but people are so polarized these days.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about this, being quite the radical socialist, myself.  At least, as far as my ideals, go.  To me, it isn't all about ideals, though.  That's all too easy, to get caught up in ideologies of how the world should really be, and then depressed because there isn't a chance in hell it'll ever be that way.  I prefer to think about what's realistic, what we can honestly expect, and what we might even be able to do, to help nudge things in that direction.

That said, it still surprises me, when comments I make get thumbed down for not being liberal enough.  Such as saying that I think Chris Christie would be a hell of a lot less disastrous than Rubio, Paul, or whoever else might make it through the primaries in 2016.  Not because I have any illusions that he's not a Republican and all that entails, but because I can see that he's not an utter RWNJ.  Still, this fails to elicit a single agreement, as I can only assume, it isn't ideologically rigid enough.

Too many people just want to see what side everyone's on, eager to embrace the prospect that the opposition is in a tailspin, and just plain wrong, wrong, wrong.  It's comforting, sure, but this is too much like the bubble the GOP found themselves in, when they thought Romney was the very model of a presidential candidate, while Obama, well, that it was a crazy fluke that he ever won the first time around.  It is a failure to understand the other side, but even more grievous, a failure to understand the center.  The huge percentage of the country which isn't so ideological, just fickle people who keep voting for whoever seems more likeable, without even watching much of the news, not even Fox's version.

I keep saying that overall, we're always moving forward, but this doesn't mean the winds never blow in the other direction.  It's not even two steps forward, one step back, so much as a hundred steps forward, ninety-nine back.  It would be foolish to assume we won't see a Republican president come 2016, especially given all the underhanded means they'll use, attempting to pull it off.

The irony to all this, is that people who come off as moderate can seem like they don't care as much, or that they aren't taking what's at stake seriously enough - when the reality can be that they take it more seriously.  Willing to step out of that comfort zone, of loving to hear ourselves speak, basking in the agreement of like-minded individuals, in favor of paying attention to the details, and thinking strategically, so that what we consider important has the most realistic possible chance of success.

This is why the right is looking increasingly wrong lately.  Too many of them are refusing to do that.  I hate seeing those on the left trying to hamstring their own causes, the exact same way.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

connecting the dolts

Looking at those demographics got me thinking about early immigration to the US.  How country of origin may create bias towards certain industries, so for example Germans immigrating to the US predominantly chose rural areas for farming and the like.  This creates a demographic, even centuries later, where flatland rural states are more German than urban states or states with colder rougher terrain.  These farm heavy states also tend to be very red.

Does this have something to do with the ethnicity of their immigrants, or does it have more to do with the fact that they're farm states?  Where the inefficiency of people living so far apart from one another leads to poor infrastructure, and an uneducated populace that's easily manipulated by the worst sorts of politicians.  From corporate puppets, to sociopathic power mongers, to the just plain old too stupid to win an election anywhere else.  Basically anyone who can afford enough ad space.

Maybe those rural states do need some extra help, but not in the form of gerrymandered legislators - that's like trying to cure anemia with more leeches.  What they might need is extra government assistance to compensate for their geographically inherent inefficiency.  Particularly in education.

So of course, in such places, those in power are pushing to gut their education systems as thoroughly as possible.  From their inane voucher programs and shutting down public schools, to trying to make sure that kids learn how science is just an alternative to religion.  It's almost like they want to keep their constituents stupid.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

sweden is pretty white..

Sweden sounds like one of the more socially progressive places in the world, probably more so than the US, and yet, this is an issue for them.

It is interesting how they've framed it, and could probably even make an argument for being less racist than America, despite being so homogenous.  Not to even detract from that.. but I'm reminded of what I love about this country.  The diversity.  The parts of the country that are more diverse than anywhere else I'm aware of.  Never really thought of myself as much of a patriot, but this is usually the most important thing to me, when judging how much I like a place.  I strongly suspect that it's also a major factor in our prosperity.

 


Maybe this is why it matters so much to me, where things are going, here, in particular.  Sometimes I wonder, because I can see how things could go so very wrong.  I think to myself, that it wouldn't be the end of the world, the human race seems to keep moving forward, regardless.  They probably don't need this lunatic nation leading the way.

I'm not so sure, though. The US isn't as broke as some would have us believe.  We still have the highest GDP in the world.  We have more resources, we are stronger, we probably do have all sorts of influence over the very course of humanity itself.  For better or worse, depending on whether or not we can get our act together.

Friday, May 10, 2013

depression is not an illness

Depression is a loose clustering of symptoms.  That is fundamental to the medical understanding of a condition, but it is not how medical science normally defines an illness.  It can be the way most of us think about it, but in modern medicine, that is only one of the very first steps.  Part of a process which involves getting down to the anatomical specifics of what the illness is really all about.

With depression, and really most of psychiatric medicine, that just isn't realistic.  Humanity doesn't yet understand the brain as well as specialists in this field pretend to.  They seem to hope no one notices, much like shaman and witchdoctors of primitive times, who had some knowledge of what might help, but lacked a comprehensive understanding of the overall system they were trying to work with. What we do understand is really marginal at best, and may even prove to be outright wrong, someday.

We have an approximate idea of what causes emotions, but we don't understand which specific combinations of which specific neurotransmitters cause which specific emotions, and that's not even touching on how the neurophysiology of thought plays into it, how the endocrine system is involved, etc, etc.  We can't honestly say why one person suffers depression and another does not.  We can't even show that depression is ever an illness in itself, and not just a symptom of something else.  We have no way to gauge severity.  A cluster of symptoms that can look very similar in two different people, yet be caused by entirely different conditions.  A disruption of neurochemistry, which we know can be disrupted in so many different ways.

This is to say, we do not really understand depression at all.  It suggests a gross lack of understanding of a whole lot of the human condition, but I'm just talking about depression, for the moment.  How are we supposed to promote awareness for something we just aren't all that aware of?

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/05/dsm-psychiatry/

This 'depression' thing is something I've struggled with, in my own way, my whole life.  I have experienced every symptom listed in the DSM-IV, and at any given point in the past 30 years, it's probably safe to say that I could have checked off the minimum of five symptoms necessary to qualify by those standards.  I have been worse, I have been better, but I have never been able to get out from under this.

This has been my experience, since I was maybe six years old.  Looking back on how it's all played out, I think there's a pretty good chance that this is related to the damage to my pituitary gland, which occurred at about that age.  Most notably, this crippled my body's production of growth hormone, but it's likely to have had an entire cascade of systemic effects.  Especially over time, during childhood and adolescent development.  Not to even get into how it manifested in my life extrinsically, and the psychological effects that had on me.

My endocrine system has been way off, all my life, and this is likely to explain a few things, at the very least.  Rather, it might explain a few things, if only we had a better understanding of what this insanely complex cocktail of biochemistry does, exactly.

This is just one obscure condition which can lead to some of the symptoms people call depression, but what I have, is not depression.  I think the entire paradigm of how we view "mental illness" is way off.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

i love our fake president

Obama's approval rating is down, but congress' is even lower.  This appears to be the Southern Strategy coming to a head, and as I said when this Kenyan was elected for a second term, it's not going to go over that easily.  It is a massive step forward for this country, but a step that's still shackled by our heritage of slavery, the civil war that ended it, and a Nixonian tactic, where Republicans chose the wrong side of history, for an inherently fleeting power-grab.

(and when I say "Nixonian," it isn't nonsense rhetoric.  I mean literally, involving Nixon, during his time in office.)

Even on the left, I see so much disapproval of Obama, that he's not liberal enough, that he compromises too much, that he isn't leading hard enough, but I've come to think, this is just playing into the GOP's hands.  Even if he's not quite as liberal as I'd like, suggesting that he's as conservative as Bush or Reagan is a bit absurd.

I know it can be somewhat difficult to tell, given how mitigated his efforts have been, but I think he's doing what he can, for a government that's designed to prevent anyone, even the president, from having too much individual power.  It's not a perfect system, but it's worked pretty well - at least before one party realized they could exploit it, to obstruct just about everything.

This is not a viable strategy for them in the long term, though. Times are changing, demographics are changing, this is even related to their in-fighting on immigration reform;  If they even begin to lose the south, it would be game over for the radical right, and the strategy which gave them power.

It's a reaction to Obama's re-election, it's a reaction of desperation, but by undermining the country, opposing public opinion at every turn, they're chiseling away at their own party.  The president is more likely to go down in history with a shining record, not just in spite of all this, but even more so, because of it.  As time goes on, we'll step back, and he will not look like a failure for what he hasn't accomplished, but a brave leader, fighting an incredibly difficult battle.

He's also paving the way for future progress, after all this blows over, and the right is practically helping him do it, by sabotaging themselves.  Things may be pretty rocky for a while, but it will be interesting to see how the next decade or so plays out.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

counter propaganda

There have been many instances around the world, and throughout human history, where society polarizes, where one side turns to outright lying, to make their case.  The more successful they are, the more they will impede the flow of real information, so that they can replace it with whatever they want.

How does it even get started though?  Before they get to that point, where they can control information, how do they even get a foothold?

It starts with those who just don't know any better.  The low-information types.  People are so busy dealing with their own lives, there's this huge void of ignorance, waiting to be filled.  You start getting them riled up with false information, and if all goes well, you end up with a substantial subset of the population backing a position based on the lies they've been fed.  People who will suffer as much as anyone, should the process succeed, who just don't know any better.

In the US, we're seeing arguments called out for being propaganda  more and more, because that's exactly what it is.  From Nazi Germany to North Korea, this is how extremists get their power, and no exaggeration here, it is dangerous.

This is what I mean, when I talk about the power of modern communication, information exchange, the internet, and how maybe we need to figure out how to be more pro-active about keeping the American public informed.  Pro-active, and creative - because this is no easy task, to say the least.

I suspect that we now have advantages that we've never had before, that propaganda will be a lot more difficult to spread than it used to be.  and yet, by the same token, it is also easier to spread than it ever used to be.  I've been seeing people shouting nonsense all over the place, and not all of it's even right wing.  I see independents who don't buy into the two-party system, yet buying into a lot of the same lies, because they don't have the time or inclination to stay informed.  They're easy prey for those that know how to weave compelling fallacies based on natural skepticism of authority.

Look at these forces in government now, celebrating their ability to stall progress.  They've retreated to highly defensive gerrymandered positions, where they can more safely wage their war of attrition.  This isn't even a battle between the right and the left anymore.  This won't be good for anyone.  That is, other than those just looking for the opportunity to seize power for themselves.

This is what propaganda is all about.  I don't know how successful they'll really be, but even those on the right need to think hard about how they're aligning themselves.  The way things are going, the GOP is in a lose/lose situation, where either the extremists will take over, or they'll drive the whole party to marginalization.  The latter looking to be a lot more likely, given the modern limits to how far their dishonest tactics can really get them, these days.

I'm starting to wonder if the more sensible among the right might be the only ones who can actually do something about it, before it's too late.  They need to reclaim their party, or eventually, the left will get big enough to do it for them.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

a legacy of pointless legacies


What is tradition?  It's just a word, for how things were done in the past.  It isn't a reason for doing things, in itself.  Just, often cited, in the absence of real reasons, of any kind.  As time goes on, we learn, we think of better ways of doing things.  We gain a better understanding of why we should do one thing over another.

Tradition, though, is a way of saying that we just want to do what we're used to.  Sure, that can be comforting. Important, even.. but that's only reasonable, when it doesn't interfere with what actually makes sense.

When we build society in ways that defy all logic, simply because, tradition?  It's like a big ol' "fuck you," to the human intellect, itself.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

a liberal branding problem


The search for the truth can be time consuming.  Tedious, even.  If you don't at least put in the effort though, it can be difficult to discern it from a lot of the very compelling nonsense out there.  The interweb is rich with facts that turn out to be less than entirely factual, under scrutiny.  Scrutiny which most people can't be bothered with.

Doesn't seem to stop them from thinking they know what's really going on, though.  Maybe even trying to do something about it.  How much havoc have we wreaked upon each other, in the name of shit that isn't even remotely true.  Not on differences of opinions or even power struggles, but causes built upon utterly nonsensical imaginary foundations.

Humanity seems always to be caught up in a struggle, an ideological survival of the fittest, where it doesn't matter who's right, so much as it matters who can more successfully convince others.  Which worldview propagates more effectively, eventually changing the direction of society, and even humanity itself.

Truth has a liberal bias, as they say, which does give progress the upper hand, but that isn't to say it's always enough.  There's so much bullshit out there.  In these days of viral marketing, crowdfunding, and everyone sharing their opinions about everything, I wonder if we could do better.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Egocentric Selflessness



I want to leave a better world. The reason you should do things for other people is selfish. There’s no difference between selfish and selfless if you understand how the world works. We’re all tied together. We live in an interdependent world.
~Bill Clinton, on the Colbert Report,  4/8/2013 

It's funny how this new age sounding nonsense turns out to make a whole lot of sense, after all.  In Buddhism, the term is PratÄ«tyasamutpāda.  Not simply that all things are interconnected, but that there is a causality to everything, and that causality is an ever-flowing process of interdependence.

Cooperation is about becoming more than the sum of your parts.  A society that grows more effective than the sum of its individuals working alone.  From science, to war, and even to commerce - contrary to the sort of communist ideology it might seem to resemble, it makes for much better capitalism, as well.  It's a concept that can be applied to all different sorts of government and social structures.

It isn't about forcing people to work together, so much as helping more people do exactly what humanity's been doing naturally, for thousands of years.  It's more about cultivating a society which is ever more conducive to that.  Getting as many people into positions where they can be a part of that, as possible.  I think it's pretty clearly in our nature to be that way.  If you look at statistics on people who don't contribute,  it's decidedly slanted towards people who are impeded from contributing.

Like myself, of course.  All that potential I supposedly had, but just too many roadblocks growing up in a culture that overwhelmingly didn't give a damn.  I'm inclined to leave that out, pretend I'm being totally objective, but of course not.  We share what we can, what our own experiences have taught us.  Bias doesn't make a person wrong.  It makes us who we are.  I think it is potentially the most valuable thing any of us really has to offer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

imperative for cooperation

why is it one person believes in helping others, and another believes 'survival of the fittest' means leaving others to fend for themselves?

i think it might be the very same instinct that drives all living things.  the instinct to survive and prosper.  some of us just have the sense that our best bet is to work together, to help those in need for an ultimately stronger society.  which, in turn, increases our own chances of survival and prosperity.  it isn't just about bleeding-heart empathy.  on a deeper level, that's really just a mechanism.  it's also very much about what's the most practical overall.

we want to be strong enough to deal with whatever comes our way, but for some reason, others seem content with just being able to defend their own caves.  yet can't see that they'd still literally be in caves, if not for all the people working together to do better than that.

maybe evolution just doesn't work fast enough.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

how's this for a conspiracy theory..

A long time ago the states decided that there was a strong need for a strong central government. That strong central government is what has made us the strongest nation on this planet. Why these idiots are trying to tear all that down is beyond comprehension.
~some random internet comment i read somewhere 

out of context, which idiots could he possibly mean, right?  yeah, the very idiots who are literally, intentionally, doing just that.  it's what the sequester essentially is, isn't it?  are we even sure this wasn't someone's plan, all along?  it does seem beyond comprehension, until it occurred to me, maybe it is exactly what they're going for.  this isn't political incompetence anymore.  they're pawns in what appears to be an outright attack on the very foundation of the country.

so much talk about small government, washington's "spending problem" and how it needs to be downsized, yadda, yadda, but what does that mean, really?  a lot of them are just gullible tools, and i know what they think it means, but it's utter bullshit.  they've been duped.  large countries do not balkanize because it's in the best interest of the people.  they do so, because they fall apart and local leaders are power hungry.  they'd rather be at the top of a small hill, than merely helping build a much larger hill.  a barbaric antisocial urge for power that has nothing to do with what's best for anyone.

small governments do not make for great nations.  they don't become superpowers.  they languish and fall way behind the rest of the world, while their general populace wallows in inescapable poverty.  but, if you're born rich in one, you can pretty much do whatever the fuck you want, because the whole system is too broken to do anything about it.

maybe this is what some of the more influential among them might actually want. the wealthy puppeteers who've chosen sides based entirely on which one is more easily bought.  they may not have any sort of plan to obtain it, it may not even be conscious, but somewhere in their crazy heads, this is what just might be motivating them.  especially now, that they've 'lost the country' as glenn beck put it. they literally do want to tear it down.

i know how it sounds, but i'm starting to think, this might be what this country is really up against.

for now, they're just chipping away.  trying to make it smaller.. it all feels way too stable to even consider things changing all that much.  hopefully, they'll just marginalize themselves and fade out of relevance, allowing our big government to get back on track.

..but i get to thinking, what if this goes the other way?  seems like it'd be political suicide, to keep going the way they've been going, but that could take a while.  they're poised to do a whole lot of damage, in the meantime, if they just keep obstructing everything.  to my knowledge, this country has never completely failed to pass any budget at all, before.  just how badly could this go?

especially considering global warming.  climate change.  such gentle sounding terms, but it's going to get a lot uglier than most people realize.  we've also got increasingly partisan politics driving people into marginalized desperate corners, fear mongering media inciting extremism.  if i'm right, all too soon, we're going to need a strong government more than ever.  it could become an issue of opportunity, and lately, not only have those idiots been sabotaging our economy and infrastructure, but they've been stockpiling guns like they're expecting another civil war or something.

i know, i know, but i'm just saying.. some of these trends i'm seeing are a little scary.  otoh, bill o'reilly is endorsing marriage equality these days, so who knows.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

brave new world

The internet is a rapidly growing force in modern society.  This may seem like old news, but it continues to gain momentum, to permeate the human condition, and I think we're still just beginning to see its long-term effects.  Not only in this country, but in the world, even in tyrannical countries doing their best to keep it out.  As technology advances, it gets cheaper, easier, more available to everyone.  It grows more difficult to stop it, or ignore it.

While some may be worried about the effects this has on our privacy, I see a flipside to this unprecedented level of transparency it's creating.  We're seeing more and more corruption, for example, not because there is more of it going on, but rather, because its growing increasingly difficult to keep hidden.  Much of the internet may seem to be little more than a cesspool of rampant idiocy, not because it breeds it, but because we're hearing the voices of the most stupid among us like never before.

It is the lack of information exchange that stalls progress.  The places that are the most isolated are naturally the most ignorant.  As this conduit of super-communication reaches into even the most backwater corners, we become all too aware of just how ignorant they are - but so do they.   Maybe not at first, but these things take time.  Probably generations.

As the technology moves towards ever increasing accessibility, I wonder if there will soon be a time when we won't even need to go through an ISP.  The information is out there, all over the planet.  How long before it's so well integrated, that it's just there, for anyone anywhere to wirelessly plug into it?

This is the nature of humanity.   We've been getting better and better at communicating effectively, and this is just the latest leap in that direction.  This is the very heart of all human progress, and how we cooperate.  It is how truth is tested, how what works flourishes, and how failure is laid bare, and how we're able to learn from all of it.  The more efficient the process is, the more profound its effects become.  The internet is an extraordinary leap in that efficiency that I suspect may really be just getting started.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

wtf is logistic regression

i still read nate silver's blog from time to time, and today i noticed that he's doing an analysis of how the issue of marriage equality is trending in america.

i wonder about his methods, though.  i mean, literally.  i like the conclusions he comes to, but have trouble making much sense of how he gets to them.  even tried reading the wikipedia article on 'logistic regression' but still find myself wondering what the hell it means.

it got me thinking though, about whether all the mathematics he's talking about might be the sorts of calculations our brains are all capable of - to varying degrees, decidedly fuzzier degrees, but calculations we at least attempt to make, every day.  such as when we cross a street, when we think about the likelihood of a car coming, the probability that they'll stop for us, or if they've got a red light, the chance that a car from the intersecting street might come whipping around a low visibility corner.  we consider all sorts of factors, is it raining, is it approaching rush hour, is it a friday night, etc, etc.  Ultimately, we make the decision that we probably won't get run over, and hopefully, our calculations are accurate enough.

still, i wish i knew more about this math stuff.  it does seem quite a bit weightier than just saying, ok, here's what i think...

anyhow, he talks about how this country's trending towards liberal acceptance, and away from conservative bigotry.  or as i've been saying, society is moving forward.  the speed may vary, but doesn't it always move forward?  conservatives may hold it back some, we may stumble over their foolishness left and right, but do they ever turn society around?  regain any significant lost ground?  seems to me, they always just begrudging keep dragging along behind everyone else, eventually even moving forward themselves.

Neil Degrasse Tyson does this talk, though, about Baghdad circa 900-1200 AD.  About how much of modern science and mathematics are named in Arabic, due to so much of it being discovered in that part of the world, during that time.  and how it all came to a grinding halt, when there was a surge of religion in society.  A surge of conservatism, if you will.  It does seem that society very much got turned around there, at that time.  For one thing, the scientific discoveries flat out stopped.

It's difficult to imagine how anything like that could happen here though, at this point, short of maybe a zombie apocalypse.. but my knowledge of world history is a bit spotty (ok, it's crap) so I'm not sure how often society ever turns around like that.  I can't even think of any other examples, excluding wars, progress being stamped out by military conquest.

I think Tyson may be concerned that the same could happen here, but that's not what I'm seeing.  No idea if Nate Silver's math would back me up on this, but from what I can figure, religion is on the way out, in a huge way, taking a whole lot of its baggage with it.  This sort of thing takes a while, though.

That it's only taking a matter of decades is actually quite rapid for a change like this.  I guess science has been especially convincing, this past century.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

cyber-insecurity

Internet privacy is a fallacy.  This is a public place, but I think many people have trouble understanding the concept that while they're physically sitting in the privacy of their own homes, they are virtually putting themselves out there, amidst millions of others, like visiting a sort of global shopping mall.

This isn't to say you can't wear a disguise, or try to hide in virtual dark corners and alleyways, but just like doing so literally, it still isn't private.  A part of you is out there, in digital form, in the digital open world.  This means some of the expectations we have of privacy are a bit silly, and some of that paranoia about it being breached is a bit misguided.

This is not something anyone is doing to us, not the government, nor corporations - they may use the data trails we leave everywhere, but it's really not so different than the way they use real world data, in the ways we're more familiar with.  From which shopping sales we take advantage of, to the fingerprints we leave behind.  A lot of it is being used academically, as well.   It's all just out there, as a natural result of how the internet works, and it only makes sense that people try to make use of it.

Now, if there were any evidence that we were being watched too closely, too specifically, sure, that could be scary -  but much the same way it would be, if we found out they were tracking our physical world behavior too closely.  Being stalked, audited, stopped and frisked, etc.  We do have places like Facebook, that blur the lines, where they ambiguously give and take privacy, but it's like a restaurant, where diners don't seem to realize that they're patrons of a privately owned business.  Where one person's breach of privacy can be just the exposure another person wants out of being there.

I think maybe the problem lies more in the common understanding of what sort of place this is, and really, what sorts of places we go, all over the internet.  Which places are public, which are businesses, and where we draw the line between that and our presence there ..and I'm not sure some people even understand what the internet itself really is, and what it means, just to be logging into it.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

reality is a hallucination to some people


Saw this discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher, the other night, regarding the near death experience of some neurologist, and the spiritual significance he put on it.  The panel went into what happens to the brain under such critical conditions, such as deprivation of oxygen, and the cocktail of endorphins, dmt, and whatever else.  Hallucinations are pretty much to be expected.

Not wanting to entirely belittle the experience, it was conceded that, "hallucinations are real to some people," followed by some vague references to recreational drug use, which they all laughed off, but I think that insight deserves more than that.

The way he put it was pretty weak, but think I got what he meant, and I think there's a much stronger point to be made there.  Hallucination is still a product of reality, of the chemistry in our brains, and more importantly, an experience we go through.  That it's all in our own minds doesn't really negate that.  All experience is, first and foremost, an experience- that is, a process our brains go through.  A process which can feel meaningful, give us some clue about the world around us, or teach us something.  It's all about how we interpret it.

I think it's kind of sad, the way people look on hallucination.  People are so bound to their narrow little views of reality, so sure of what's real, and what's not.  So quick to assume others share similar views, instinctively reinforcing our interpretations whenever possible, rather than really inspecting them.  Oblivious to how blind we all are, how much of what see is already the product of our own minds, doing our best to supplement that blindness.

The way we see things is primarily just what evolution's worked out so far, as what works best for keeping us alive and prosperous.   While that's going to have some correlation with reality, it really only works as well as it's needed to, to that end.  It can even be deceitful, when truth isn't necessarily in our best interest.

I think it's hallucination that can be an incredible tool, for giving us some perspective.  It can be an experience that yanks us out of the familiar every day we've come to have so much faith in.  It can give us information and insights we wouldn't otherwise have had, albeit more indirectly.  It can be a powerful experience.  It can definitely be real to some people, but what we make of that reality, is entirely a matter of interpretation.  You'd be a fool to take it at face value, but then again, I'd say the same is true of how the brain processes its experiences, even under the most normal of conditions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

darker than black


as I've aged well into my thirties, it's felt like I've been seeing my past from a whole other angle.  It no longer feels like just yesterday.  It no longer feels like I'm still reeling, having just gone through it.  Rather, it feels almost surreal, looking back on the lot of it.  It all looks so very far away.  With this sort of detachment, it looks like so much random craziness.  It looks like nothing means as much as I thought it did.

Maybe it's because I keep moving.  In each place, entirely different circumstances, entirely different daily routines.  Like different lives.  A life even more segmented by my poor ability to bridge the space created each time I've moved.  I don't drive, I'm not social enough to keep in touch.  Honestly, I usually even hate just leaving the apartment.

I think that on some deep level, our sense of reality is intertwined with people we've known.  As we've known them.  Something that arises with consensus, our mechanisms for making sense of things together.  The constant process of teaching and learning that permeates our social behavior, and has been such a part of civilization's ever evolving formation.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm more inclined to think that I might just be more sensitive to it than most.  Maybe this is why it disturbs me in this odd way, to feel so far from all these people I've known.  It's a scary feeling, like being lost in the middle of nowhere, with way too much darkness just beyond my immediate space.

Reality is what we make it to be, in the sense that without us socially making anything of it, it isn't anything that means anything at all.  Somehow, I find this to be a rather terrifying prospect.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

haters gonna hate and all but damn...


This page looks pretty bad.

i see people point out that they're all white, but i feel like, yeah of course, but there's gotta be more to it.  places i've lived, people i've known.. i know some people are that bad, but not to the point of feeling like they can be totally public, honest, and out there about it.  not so many.

so, what's different, now?  is it that we're all more connected than ever, with even the most backwards among us, learning how 2 type stuff out there on the internet?  places i've lived have always been pretty blue.  is this just normal over there in texas?

some think maybe kids are worse these days, but i remember being a kid.  they're pretty terrible, for a while there.  is it now, their internet communications are just making it more overt?

or something else, entirely.  some people do seem to hate obama more than other presidents.  there's always been some partisan hate, some anarchist hate, even.  but this sort of stuff seems different somehow.  more extreme, more widespread.  these aren't overzealous partisan political types.  these are low-information who-gives-a-fuck-about-voting types.

so there's the racist angle, of course.  sure, there's some of that, but again.  it just feels off too me.  it feels like even that doesn't quite fit all of it.  and so putting two and two together, i started thinking about how obama is also more loved than most presidents.  people who like him really like him.  again, some might point to the race element, but no, i think it's more because he's such a great speaker.  even some of his worst opposition refer to his silver-tongue, and the like.

he inspires people, he gives them hope.  i think for people who don't get that, his positive energy just pisses them off.  i know this sounds like a stretch, but i think it's the extreme apathists that he's upsetting so much.  it's might as well be the proselytizing of a huge religious authority they don't believe in.

people who hate politics, think all politicians are corrupt, and there's no point even reading the news, because that's probably all corrupt too.  these are bitter unhappy people who make excuses for the more simple fact that they really don't care what's going on outside their immediate sphere of existence and understanding.  all they know is that their paycheck would be higher, if they didn't have to pay taxes.  i'm inclined to think maybe a lot of these people are just normal stupid types, who are sick of hearing obama this, and obama that.  they're all stealing our money and ruining the country, but this one's especially vocal about it.

plus they're racist, but more than that, these are people who don't even think about what they're saying.  and now they have twitter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

class warfare

when i started watching Eugene Jerecki's The House I Live In, from everything I'd seen about the movie, I thought it was going to be about how the war on drugs is really a race war.  Modern day slavery, concentration camps, incarcerations.  By a staggering margin, leveled primarily at minorities.  In the end, though, it hit a little closer to home.

It is a war on the lower class, the dead weight of society.  People most likely to commit crimes, least likely to work, people who often need help paying for health care, or even food and shelter.  And this includes all the different reasons therein, for which one might end up as such a person.  Be it systemic racial discrimination, or just plain old being buried by a life of unfortunate circumstances and hardships.

These are also the people most prone to escapism.  Turning to drugs just to cope with the bullshit life turned out to be.  Not that it's utterly impossible to get out of it, but most of us are just trying to live.  We aren't blessed with the neurochemistry of an overachiever, who runs marathons even if they're a paraplegic who has to do it on arm stilts, made themselves out of popsicle sticks.

We're just trying to get from day to day, and make the most of it.  We assess our prospects of making more of ourselves, and try to make the best call we can, as to whether it'd be more realistic to just get drunk.  Or high.  Whatever works.  Lot of people learn the hard way that fighting for something more just doesn't work.  It's just not how life goes.  We make the most of what we have.

It's all so very complicated, and while some are bound to disagree, I think the bottom line is in the simple realities of it.  What happens, not what should happen, or why.  You've got this subset of society that has a much higher rate of recreational drug use, self-medicating, or just coping.  Some civilizations might seek to better themselves by discarding those people.  Find a way to vilify them, justify marginalizing them as much as possible. eventually even eradicate them.

Other civilizations might take a longer view, maybe feel that if you put the resources into lifting those same people up, they might eventually contribute.  In the end, for a more prosperous society overall.  It's a bit of a stretch though.  Takes a certain faith in our fellow man, maybe.  I'm not sure we're quite there, yet.

There isn't even that much of a choice, though.  This comes down to a direction humanity is heading in, where the economy is driven by systems of commodities that are growing more and more efficient, requiring less and less people to supply.

Unemployment rates are going to keep going up.  Work ethic is fading.  It will reach a point where no amount of self-serving systems of discarding the lower class will be able to compete with the masses of people who contribute to a functioning society on a much deeper level than economics.  The ever evolving social foundation of humanity, which holds everything else up.

Friday, January 4, 2013

lesser of two evils

I've always noticed that the goal posts of life seem to shift with my mood.  What I'm aiming for, how well it's in line with where I'm actually going.  I think that these things are entirely subjective.  A matter of perspective.

Is the brain just a complex organic means to signal the rest of the system towards gratification, and away from pain?  Towards survival and away from death?  The more complex a brain evolves to be, the more elaborate and convoluted the detection and reaction becomes, but ultimately, still just a simple dualistic system.

In everything we strive for, we do so from this internal compass.  Good is this way, bad is that way, but we also try to judge how far.  How attainable is the good we're aiming for, how likely is that bad to catch us, anyhow?  It's all a matter of judgement, including which direction is which, and how far we think we can go, relative to where exactly we think we are.

It's all an entirely imaginary landscape, we form in our best attempts to survive a reality that we can only measure indirectly, through our senses, our tools, and our deductive abilities.  We can explain it, but we can't ever experience it as it truly is.  The physics of the world, so very different from what our senses tell us.

So, we tend to look at everything through this lense of duality.  Is where we're going good?  Good enough?  Bad?  Catastrophically bad?   We are all trying to survive, prosper, to the best of our abilities, and maybe even figure out what that actually means, exactly.   It all feels so very real, but it isn't a description of how to figure out what's real.