Saturday, December 24, 2011
Oh we're a tragically short sighted species. We invent meaning and dwell on facts while the Truth is all around us. Our fictions have served us well, landing us on the moon, splitting atoms, harnessing electricity, but the vast majority of us believe in these things rather than recognizing our limited understanding of them; precious few recognize the huge distance between whatever reality may be and our crude thoughts on it.
We are like moles, blind to what is around us, feeling our way along with our weak senses, trying to make sense of the phenomena we bump into. We crudely describe the book in our hands because we perceive photons bouncing off it, giving it shape and colour in our eyes. We think the seeing and touching of the book is the book itself, it isn't. On a fundamental level our intelligence is removed from the reality in which it is suspended. This offers us a wonderful imaginative freedom, but also creates a perilous relationship between our being and what we perceive as our place in the universe.
When the stories we invent about the world around us roughly approximate Truth, we are able to stumble forward, creating light in the dark. Unfortunately these successes feed our egos, provoking us into believing that our understandings are Truth. Our rough approximations have allowed us to advance in technology, but the vast majority of us use it in ignorance, not even understanding the rough approximations, let alone the galactic distances between our minds and the Truth they inhabit.
One of the most cunning stories we tell ourselves is that of causality. The result of anecdote, and such an old habit that most of us only see it as truth. Like other fictions of science, this one often approximates the unknowable, and regularly gives useful results. Conditioned to recognize this as Truth, we take it in as such; happy fictions for our distant minds.
We use technology to further remove us from this Truth, taking us into invented worlds and created moments, free of the complexity of the alien Truth we ourselves are a part of. Perhaps one day we will harness technology to allow us to comprehend Truth on its own terms, but it seems unlikely. We'd rather harness atoms and photons to move ourselves away from Truth and create more fictions. The majority treats technology as a distraction when it might be the key to realizing our place in the cosmos.
Science, like religion, creates stories to justify our sense of self-importance; invented meanings to make our mental isolation bearable. And like religion, science can be a powerful means of directing and empowering us in our mental confines. We are free to be assholes of universal proportions, to abuse reality and each other, to embrace lies and greed, and invent self importance. Systems of thought like science and religion can offer us a way of structuring our minds in potentially virtuous, more universally harmonious ways, but they only work if the user is honestly and truly humble.
Humility is the key to any genuine understanding, be it scientific or spiritual. We only recognize our blindness to the phenomenal world around us when we view it through the prism of sincere humility. The nature and complexity of the universe operates on so many more dimensions than we can sense or even comprehend, and until we recognize that, our theories and ideas won't come close to assuming their true (and humble) place in the scheme of things. Humility recognizes our limitations and allows us perhaps to evolve beyond them without fiction taking over. It recognizes the limited scope of our perspective and allows us to authentically extend our thinking beyond the confines of our experience.
The moment any human endeavor gains a profit motive, it is no longer humble before creation. If greed invents short shortsighted economic motives, or competition drives research and ignores evidence, or political power is the reason for analysis, we fall back into the realm of human affairs. We might become successful in those terms, but only at the expense of distancing ourselves from universal Truth.
We're in such a dead end that most people now believe that profit produces happiness and greed is a virtue. We think that offloading physical effort to mechanization and thinking to digitization makes us better. We use technology as an excuse to make ourselves less, not more conversant with nature.
A world ballooning with over seven billion human beings, the vast majority of whom are happy to make use of science and technology without realizing that its fictions are trapping us in a dead end. On top of that, many of that majority still cling to older ideas of species divinity based on the last round of wrong headed human self-aggrandizement. Humility is about as far from religion, science, economics or education as we can possibly place it.
Yet Truth surrounds us intimately and continuously, if only we'd quiet our thoughts and feel it.
Kant's noumena & phenomena
Plato's allegory of the cave
Causality gives us the appearance of intimate knowledge, it's the source of arrogance.
"Every story is a slippery conjecture, a catchy conjecture..."
Perception is the greatest prejudice of all.
There isn't a test for any disease, there are correlated results. Correlation in statistics is a purely abstract means of understanding reality.
Does teaching an idea based on the fact that it's our best way of explaining of explaining it make the knowing less valuable?
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Well, at least we've institutionalized half of the human race. If this were happening based on race, people would be up in arms.
TeacherHann on twitter suggested that traits we've bred into men are redundant now that we don't hunt, gather or manufacture anything. We still hunt, gather and manufacture things, we've just found a way to off-load it to out-of-sight, globalized slaves we don't have to think about.
Then we de-value work that boys enjoy (physicality, single minded intensity), because we've made most of the human race serve our own systemic greed and laziness. We've gotten to the point now where there are psychological factories designed around reshaping boys to sit in cubicles.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
9. We really do breed like rabbits, unfortunately we don't die like them.
8. After millennia of cruel dictatorial rule, we finally develop a system of representative government and half the people in it can't be bothered to even vote, let alone participate in a meaningful way.
7. When we develop technology, a stunning percentage of us just get fat from it, and end up doing less.
6. Everyone competing in a free market thinks that a monopoly is the goal.
5. Many augmented human beings are just going end up being amplified ass holes.
4. When given an opportunity to compete, many of us immediately cheat under the misconception that winning on paper is the point of playing a game.
3. We prefer to blame other people for our own short comings. (or invent some if they don't have anything obvious - see #2)
2. We invent differences in order to divide ourselves for our own, individual advantage (racism is purely selfish in nature). Do you think all the black dogs hate the brown dogs? (they wouldn't even if they weren't colour blind)
1. We say we embrace change, but only if something embraces the change for us, we don't want to actually have to do something.
Monday, October 31, 2011
- I'm in the middle of a lesson on Hamlet (how different types of archetypal fathers are shown in the play, so pretty light stuff), when a student knocks on the door. Interrupted, I walk over and open it. He hesitates, and then asks where another teacher is. I reply, "not here." He begins to ask a question, hesitates, and pulls his smartphone out of his pocket in response to a Facebook update... while in the middle of the conversation in which he just interrupted thirty people. I shut the door and try and remember what I was saying. He is offended that I shut the door in his face.
- after trying to pass the human verification test and failing to accurately type in the text half a dozen times, a frustrated student calls me over. I watch her type in the pass-code wrong four more times. During two of the attempts she stops what she's doing and clicks over to Facebook and types in responses to an ongoing chat before returning to mis-type the pass code again. The computer no longer considers her to be a human being. What will happen to these former humans in the future?
- We're working on imovie editing when the internet goes down. We have to have a 10 minute discussion about how the internet going down in no way prevents them from editing their videos.
- I remove a student from their Mac because they aren't actually doing anything. He moves to a non-computer table and pulls out his iphone and opens up... Facebook!
- A student asks for help and I walk over to his desk. He can't open WORD. I ask him to show me what he's doing. He goes to click on the WORD shortcut and misses it, opening up Facebook in his browser. He minimizes it and goes to click on the WORD link and misses again, re-opening Facebook again. He tries a third time and finally hits the WORD link (it was broken, we got it re-aimed). I told him a Freud quote, "there are no accidents."
... and then I snapped. Too much shear stupidity!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
If all those users could kick off their BB and Apple training wheels and use the many avenues available to them to access data in the cloud, they wouldn't find themselves labouring under a despotic, closed ecosystem. Of course that same ecosystem means their tech can be 'easy', 'intuitive' (a catch word for easy) and, most importantly, simple enough for people who don't really care how something works to use it.
This kind of trained ignorance results in people who call themselves technically literate, but don't know how to resolve an IP address when their DNS server isn't working. Like most people behind the wheel of a car, they have no interest in how it works, yet consider themselves expert drivers. If you're going to call yourself 'leading edge' and 'technically literate' you should be able to pick up any device because you understand their fundamentals. Anyone who's an evangelist of a single source of technology and is only comfortable with that one source, especially one in a closed ecosystem, can't claim to have any real digital chops.
An expert driver can hop into a vehicle in Japan or the UK, with the controls reversed and the stick shift on the wrong side, and have it humming. It's a lot easier to say you're an expert in your field of interest than it is to demonstrate it. That driver understands vehicle fundamentals and only has to refocus some simple hand-eye habits to quickly acclimatize. They have the confidence, knowledge and range of experience to quickly adapt.
I sometimes find my Android phone frustrating, but that's usually after I've wandered far from the manufacturer's suggested settings (something easy to do in this open-source environment). I sometimes find Ubuntu frustrating when it doesn't do things as easily as I would like. But in either case, I've never sat in the dark for three days wondering where my information went, or sat staring at a single point of failure that got overloaded when the ihordes came in waves.
Ease of use matters, no doubt, and software design only truly works when users are able to effectively operate the machines they are using. What makes me anxious about the recent closed eco-system failures is that the vast majority of (l)users are trapped in systems designed to keep it simple for them, and they don't realize how dependent and unresilient they are in an otherwise massively complex technical eco-system.
No wonder hackers feel like they are in a forest of low hanging fruit.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Re: You've made a typical mistake
We are a local pan-species research group looking at civilisations within the Orion Spur of the galactic structure. We monitor over one hundred thousand civilisations across thousands of systems. We are contacting you today to review your unfortunate situation. Current estimates put the current human push to diaspora near the eightieth percentile for failure.
Unfortunately, an abnormally high number of civilisations fail at the stage you are likely about to fail at. Your technological adolescence has given you dominion over the natural processes within your ecosystem, but you have failed to develop an adequate understanding of the consequences of your actions. You've encouraged technological growth in order to satisfy basic animal needs for protection, procreation and comfort, without adequately accounting for their true costs.
Even though the data is very evidently in front of you, and becoming more obvious daily, your species' tendency towards wishful thinking over rational thought (and the fact that those beliefs often justify your immediate needs while injuring those out of sight), have put you in what we call a 'dead end'.
Typically, this plays out as a collapse of resources under the groaning weight of a ridiculous overpopulation. Your species has, unfortunately, walked right into a classic 'dead end' scenario. I/we estimate you have less than a century before your species undergoes a violent reduction in numbers at your own hands; 'a natural regulation of population to counter declining resources' is the technical terminology. Your own species have undergone this cull in regional cases (Easter Island, your Roman Empire, among others), but this will be the first time it will happen on a global basis.
Evolutionary logic is quite clear: participating in a diaspora beyond your world is the logical goal of any species when they gain dominion over their local ecosystem. If you overpopulate the only place in the cosmos you are able to reach, you will collapse within your own gravity well. Your species' inability to grasp this simple truth, and instead squander your resource rich world on tribalism and personal comforts has resulted in a species particularly unsuited to the challenges of interstellar life.
I/we initially hoped for a stronger push towards sustained development and a rigorous, species-wide appreciation of the challenges of technological development. Instead what we got was a few brilliant hairless apes coming up with very advanced technology and pushing it onto the rest of the population for their own gain. The vast majority are more than happy to remain ignorant if it offers them an easy life. They are even willing to ignore the disaster they are passing on to their own children in order to enjoy their ease. The idea that people could benefit from technology without knowing anything about it (and therefore not being able to recognize its true cost) has buried your drive for the stars.
The problems with 'dead end' scenarios do not end with your (81.1% likely) immanent cull. The damage caused to the ecosystem and the resource depletion of your initial failure make it exponentially harder for any future iterations your species' civilisation to achieve diaspora. There are a number of civilisations we monitor that can offer little more than physical labour as their own innovative drive has been bred out of them by life in a resource depleted, depressed ecosystem. These species are left to peter out, or are eventually tapped as a labour resource. In either case, failing to develop your own species beyond your world puts you in a poor situation.
You won't ever experience an invasion, but interested parties monitor your world for your (increasingly immanent) failure, for their own benefit. Dropping a heavy transport on your world to pick up docile, evolutionarily bankrupt humans will (likely) one day be your world's only export.
I've been observing your world since your 'great step forward', something now lost in your species' history. It saddens me that a species that has created the arts and sciences you have in such a short time will flare out, but such is the nature of these brief bursts of light on the galactic rim. Overcome by your own success, you will (likely) choke on your own lack of foresight.
I live in hope, but I fear for the future of my homo sapiens.
Please try and do better, time is of the essence.
Senior Research Associate
Monday, August 1, 2011
I'm in love with the Bruce Peninsula, so time to start dreaming about potential cottages:
Cheap and we could really work it over: I envision an off the grid, self sustaining cottage with this one. It's right on top of the escarpment, I'll be able to develop my Chinese Dragon Wind Kite Turbine Technology in a steady breeze! Nothing says the future like a quaint Victorian log cabin with a sixty foot chinese dragon kite drawing in electricity as it flies above.
I'll need that bank job to come through, then this!
Richard! Still feel like planning the perfect getaway?
Tucked up under the national park, deep in dark sky territory, this one looks more like a self sufficient compune! On 32 acres!!!
Workshop, garage, good sized house, someone already working on the raised potege! It's like it was designed for our weirdness! I'm seeing an observatory on that, something like: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/04/garden/04observatories.html?hp=&pagewanted=all
With the darkest skies in Ontario, and a monster scope, I'll be able to see FOREVER! Muhahahaha! (while eating greens from my own garden)
Oh how I dream of dark skies and quiet nights.
No jackasses on Harley Davidsons driving down those dirt roads...
Friday, July 29, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
I sit here listening to no less than 6 gas powered, uncatalyzed lawn mowers making perfect lawns,
What virtue are we promoting?
Slug like men melting on riding mowers,
Spindly blue hairs firing up gas mowers to cut less than 100 square feet of grass,
A two stroke cacophony burning the world.
People spraying dandelions flat,
Hating any change to a senseless aesthetic.
Fight nature, it won't fight back.
Lightning and downdrafts,
Shaking us off.
Suburban Perfection: Shear stupidity
"Under current standards, in an hour a push mower will produce the same HC+NOx as a car driven 257 miles, and the same CO as one driven 401 miles. To put it another way, assuming a car averages 40 miles per hour, a push mower produces more HC+NOx than six cars and the same CO as ten." LINK
And yet, when I tell my suburbanite neighbor that I am trying to maintain a zero carbon lawn, he looks at me like I'm insane.
Pretty Grass: reason 12,304 that we are doomed as a species.