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.)