The Evil that is Man

One day. Also Memorial Day. Yankee Memorial Day but that doesn’t really matter. Some taxonomies are farcical. Anyway, this should be a day for remembering and considering those who died in battle. The purists might go so far as to say only those who died in Yankee service, excluding those who fought for the old Confederacy or even those who fought in the French and Indian War. I am more eclectic. I include them all. And sorrow for them. And wonder how many died to keep some politician? Too many, I am sure. That makes the loss doubly nasty.

I am also distressed at just how nasty we are as a species. I sorrow for that silver back who was killed for no good reason over the weekend.[Link] How did we get so arrogant that an endangered primate was fluff for a child who, three-sigma confidence, will never do anything substantive? That’s cold but it fits the terror and evil of the zoo swat. And probably our species as a whole.

Maybe it’s time for us to go away? Before we ruin any more of reality? 

If we’re this stupid and venial and selfish and uncaring then what right do we have to exist? Are we all politicians?

Old, I am.

I now have a new appreciation of OLD.

Stopped by the Campus of the Tennessee this morning to check out their newest building. As I was inspecting I realized that in my second year as a grad student I had a class in the previous building on this piece of ground. 

And that building was as new then and this one is now. 

And they tore down the old one because it was too hard and costly to maintain.


And, evidently, so am I.

Creation and Stupidity

Spring is here, at least today. Heavy downfall of dihydrogen oxide last evening, and evidently some vortices since my viewing of the electromagnetic audio-video receiver was disrupted with blathering weather beverage. (The animal’s blather, not the consumable. This sort of thing is quite indigestible.)

Anyway off to park for constitutional this morning. Quite dark. Quite wetted. At least a foot in parts of Shoal Creek and much water noise. I deviated and listened to a bit of a Linux Luddites podcast as diversion. Too much thinking already this week. And none of it very constructive. I sometimes chafe at other people’s projects that gather me in.

No wind so by the time I was halfway done I was a bit cooked. There was one bright spot however. And yes, today is punday but that is not intentional.

As I was departing I noted – barely – a couple walking along the verge. Why they couldn’t use the paths I do not know. That’s what freedom is about.

Anyway, I would not have seen them had not one been swinging a flashlamp and I saw its reflected beam. So I was quite satisfied I wasn’t going to have a collision.

But this did lead me to the reflection that most people call these devices flashlights – incorrectly. They are lamps. The generate photons. Light. The thing is not the light. 

And this led me to the old saws about creation. One schule in the Sowth is that we humans create nothing, only the deity can create. There is another schule – the rabid ones – who claim we create life and thereby it is sacrosanct. These are the people who want to return women to chattel slavery. And sadly, it is not legal to put them out of our mutual misery.

But if we can make flashlamps and the flashlamps can create light, which they do – its one of the oldest examples of a quantum process in the macro world, then the animal creation of life by reproductive activity isn’t. At best it is the creation of another sentience. Or intelligence. Although that second schule of thought isn’t interested in either of these. In fact, they probably consider their actuality sacrilegious and distracting from their idiocy. Which, I suppose, indicates that sometime those children aren’t really sentient nor intelligent.

Mumbo Downo

One day, and back to gym. Still a bit below where I should like but recovery under way. Moderate density of people; the regular educationalists and a couple of weight bouncers were back, probably because spring desession is over. The podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about two men who found each other in the Iran-Iraq Wat. It was not successful on many azimuths but it helped divert attention.

Yesterday was the Christianist Easter, the organizational appropriation of vernal equinox and Passover. As such, it seems fitting to mention an article [Link] dealing with the decreased religiosity of Amerika. I should like to attribute this to rational thinking but I am too much of a cynic to do so.

The tone of the article is quite civilized and its theme captured with a quote:

“Americans today are also less likely to believe that the Bible is divinely inspired with 22% of respondents agreeing with the statement that the Bible  “is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men” compared to the 14% who agreed with this in 1984 (a 57% increase).”

although I though the percentage was unnecessary and distracting. Other numbers are similar: decrease in church attendance/membership; decrease in non doubters; …

The only thing amazing about all this is the furor raised by the churchites over how their religion is “under attack”. Since when is desertion an “attack”? Apparently these people are uncomfortable with being American; unable to accept what freedom means.  But then, the removal of freedom is what most religions are about.

Third day. Gym population a bit increased. Unusual. Usually W < M. Waiting is.

Podcast an episode of “Quirks and Quarks”. Got tired of history podcasts. This one is almost a year (10 months) old so maybe I have enough stored away to get through the cast’s outrageously long summer holiday drought.

Another medicalist day. In fact, the week is such. Yesterday the ENT. Today the neurologist. Tomorrow the periodontist. Getting old is full of annoyances. And pain. All in the cause of living longer or better or alleviating the pain. 

The problem with all this intensity is that the unintended consequences are greater than the desire, intended consequences. “Que custodies custodientne.”

Film at Eleven.

The Domain of Imaginity

One Day! Air temperature almost 50 degF so balmy for March in Alibam. Gym sparse and only one weight bouncer. The podcast was a bit disconnected since it dealt with the future and zero marginal cost/ The latter caused the disconnect.

I made myself study economics and finance years ago when I had to learn to live with Yankee government accountants. And I found out zero marginal cost wasn’t even a holy grail. It was pure fiction. Why? Mostly because no one accounts for the true cost of anything.

What does a tree cost? No not what the lumber yard says, what it costs to harvest the tree, prepare it, AND grow a replacement tree. And what is the money value of that latency?

So zero marginal cost is more about fiction than fact. So the podcast failed at its introduction.

My attention wandered a bit until I saw a commercial on the monitor. I forget what the commercial was advertising; I tend to tune that out. But what gathered my attention was a subtitled claim that the people endorsing were “Real people. Not actors.”

I didn’t dwell but passingly on the crux that I have no basis to trust this assertion since I can neither test nor verify the claim. Instead I became fixated on what are “real people”? Is this a mathematical statement. Real as opposed to imaginary? And are humans actually real? Can’t the soul be thought of as mathematically imaginary, contributing to the magnitude but only creeping into reality when it interacts with another imaginary thing?

Humans are resultants of the Big Bang and Evolution. So shouldn’t “real” refer to our natural aspect? And if so, are we not immediately not-real as soon as we interact with other humans to distance ourselves from natural reality? So the only humans who are real are those who live alone, never interact with other humans, and only interact with nature. Does making a hand ax or a fire hardened stick make us unreal?

We can conceive of two realities: natural reality that we evolved in; and imaginary (?) reality that is society and civilization and such. But since we are the product of reproductive congress between two other humans, at least after we became homo sap, then we have always had an imaginary component. So how can any human be really “real”?

Then it occurred that almost all of us are inverted. We have long since gotten to the point where reality – Nature – is imaginary almost all the time and imaginity – Society – is “real” almost all the time. (It seems I have gone and invented another word.) So when the commercial says “real people” does it mean those who exist only in a social context?

And what of the statement “not actors”? Are we not all “acting” when we are interacting socially?

At least I can confirm this commercial upholds the thesis that all advertisement have a false component.

Matter Matters!

The foundation of civilization is trust. The currency of society is trust. If we cannot trust our fellow humans to behave then society becomes Hobbesian and collapses. If the organizations of civilization cannot be trusted than we collapse into individuals or, at best, hunter-gatherer bands.

The problem is usually the latter. Organizations have no morals, nor, usually, ethics. The larger the organization the less likely it is to have any driving force other than survival, quite ignoring that if trust in it is fully withdrawn it becomes vacuum.

This seems to be a lesson that humanity has largely forgotten, or, at least, squeezed out of its consciousness.

I got reminded of this in an article [Link] in the Register weekly eLetter this morning. It seems that Barnes and Noble is abandoning Great Britain and all the customers who bought Nook readers/slablets will be cheated of the eBooks they bought.

This is particularly appalling because Great Britain is the most likely place for B&N to stay afloat.

It’s also why I don’t buy any eProduct I can’t have possession of.

I expect that I will not be able to repair any actual device but then I don’t want to. I accept that it will fail and when it fails is at least partly stochastic. But I take this into account of how much I pay for it.

But software or an eBook? Sorry. If I can’t have a copy that I can store, no deal. If the government says I can’t have a legal copy then I wrestle with my morals to decide to either violate the law or I do without. Or in some rare instances, compromise my stance.

This doesn’t apply to services. They are inherently intangible. I don’t expect the phone company to give me a hostage. Bot for things, I either get a copy or I do without.

Yes, I store files in the cloud. But I also keep my own, local copies. On separate pieces of matter. In fact. the cloud copies are insurance for some catastrophic event that gets both the use and the stored item. And yes, I recognize that a catastrophe may be so widespread that the cloud vanishes. But it also likely vanishes me.

Only storing stuff in the cloud is like playing Russian Roulette with an automatic weapon.

And yes, I do have to trust banks and such like but it’s also a matter of trusting government and exercising my own vigilance.

That trust is sorely tried but I am a senior and can’t go live in the wilderness on my own. And I have to die anyway.

But trusting organizations like B&N to stay is delusion.