4.29.2003

It strikes me as good analogy to liken the current state of humanity to an adolescent.

As infants, we are only aware of our self and even then in only the vaguest of terms: happy, hungry, sad, wet, etc. As our minds develop we become aware of various external forces and objects. Food becomes linked to hunger, parents to comfort and other such associations. We slowly begin to form some concept of the world around us. Young children question everything trying to wrap their head around all that they see. They learn about other children and interact and experiment. Then adolescence hits and suddenly they want to participate in the world instead of simply observing. But they haven't got the skills yet.

They cannot empathize well. Or over-empathize. They believe they have all the answers, usually simple answers to complex questions, but not because they are stupid but rather because they don't have all the information. Sometimes it's because they don't bother looking it up, sometimes they simply haven't been exposed to it, sometimes they simply cannot conceive of information they do not know. It is endlessly frustrating to try and impose your will on events larger than yourself.

Which is where we are at in terms of the world order. Nations are now connected in a way inconceivable to generations gone by. Cultural exchange is not inhibited by distances thanks to television, satellites, the internet, telephones, airplanes and all manner of socio-economic exchange. English has become a lingua franca and, despite fears of supplanting native tongues, will become globalized as the inevitable necessity of having a common tongue will enforce English whether people like it or not. But, until now, the world was as large as your nation (in some places, your village). Projects weren't larger than individual nations could handle. Wars were nation to nation. The idea of "we" was much, much smaller 100 years ago. Today there is a space station built by the richest nations on Earth. The United Nations is a tentative effort at a global parliament, though today it is seen as a tool for national agendas.

Things are slowly changing. Nations are growing up and learning to live with its neighbours. Each still is out for its own good, to be sure. But now careful negotiation is required and consensus is seen as desirable by a large portion of the world (when it suits them of course). Even this false notion of governance, however self-serving in the short-term, plants the seeds of actual growth in the next generation. Europe has long had its sibling feuds and rivalries. But France and Germany seem to have grown out of it. The lessons of history have taken root. England hesitates, balancing being a big fish in a little pond of Europe or a little fish swimming alongside the giant shark, American protege. But, it must be acknowledged that the awareness is there. Eastern Europe is not far behind.

Asia has not yet finished forgiving each other its past sins. Pride runs deep still but each passing decade it remains divided, the further back it falls behind. Religious states still exist seeing as they're the only organizations interested in the day-to-day affairs of these people.

Africa, ruined by abandoned European masters, is still settling disputes. The very technology that bridges the devloped world has yet to penetrate that continent fully. Until it does, the world will remain a small place to those who live there. Free access to information on an individual level would speed things along but ethnic divisions still clash with borders drawn by European exploitation rights. Until this disparity has been closed, until the wounds have healed only then will time be allowed to pass giving them time to nurse grudges as Asia currently does.

South America seems content to be ruled with iron-fists and second-hand traditions. Instability would be the byword for the region. A maelstrom of highs and lows, perhaps it is the future of second-world nations racing beyond their means to become first-world participants.

North America has not had to cope with divisions. Its indigenous people decimated, its land divided, bought and sold, almost with disinterest, by Europeans. Always the struggles were seen to be elsewhere. The birth of the USA and its Manifest Destiny burned from one ocean to the next with little to no opposition. The attacks on home ground have long since been forgotten (explaining the outstanding trauma of Americans from 9/11) and international engagement has been little more than self-interested business opportunities or righteous intervention, rather than survival in the face of aggression. When fires burn at home, how much less interest is there in gunpowder diplomacy?

A few of the world's players have the capability to excercise their vote. And now they must learn to work together. Instead of wariness, distrust and isolation, we are now forced by circumstance into unity, cooperation and compromise (the dirtiest of words). The alternative is endless destruction, and as our capacity for devastation escalates, extinction becomes the logical conclusion.

So, how do we navigate this uncharted water? The answer can only be drawn from our own human experience of transitioning from adolescent to adult: by making mistakes. It is my hope that we learn from them before we make a mistake from which we cannot recover. The belligerence and isolation of humanity is nearing an end. But what kind of adult comes from such a childhood?

4.25.2003

Sometimes, as I go to sleep, I pretend I'm dying and that I won't wake up. It's actually kind of peaceful after you get over the terror of the first few hundred times.

Nothing has changed my perspective on life and people I meet like acknowledging my (and their!) mortality.

4.22.2003

It would be nice to be able to say I understand this planet. But I don't. I just can't wrap my head around how people stick their head in the sand, how they cling unquestioned to their beliefs despite opinion (and sometimes evidence!) to the contrary. Are people trained or born with the inability to handle more than one concept at the same time?

I make it my personal goal to always understand and respect someone else's point of view even if I know that they are dead wrong. And I'm not just talking about "blue is better than green" wrong, I mean, "2+2=5" wrong. I've been wrong before on many counts where I thought to my core that I was right. I've learned not to espouse many things as fundamentally true. Is it so difficult to accept that we make mistakes? What have we been taught about mistakes and the tolerance thereof? Sure, certain things are not to be tolerated otherwise everything breaks down but surely there's room for leniency and accomodating.

Part of the problem lies in the belief of only one "true" solution and especially one "true" moral solution to problems. Killing people is bad because it's immoral. Is this valid? Why can't I say it is moral? I personally don't think killing people is a good thing. I don't want someone to kill me. So I'm against killing people. What if I did want someone to kill me? Can I then say killing is a good thing? Get out your guns! That doesn't seem likely. I feel safe in saying that it's a fairly universal sentiment that people would choose not to be killed if given the option.

Now what about something like abortion? Is it killing? Well, I think a major stumbling block is "Is it alive?". If you don't think killing is right, and you think it's alive, well, then you're against it. If you don't think it's alive, well, you're not killing anything, just a few inert cells. What do you do when you reach an impasse? Do you suddenly go ballistic and assassinate people? Hmm. Are you killing them or performing justice? I think it's fair to say individuals should not take justice into their own hands. In any case, a general policy is required in this society called law as to what is allowed and not allowed. But what prevents this from becoming a reasonable debate is the "black and white" outlook which doesn't help anyone and completely stops any progress in its tracks. Right and wrong are rarely clear especially when opposing sides differ on fundamental premises. If you really believe something is wrong compromise is not exactly your first thought. But it always comes back to the fact that you cannot know you are right. The solution that encompasses a multitude of views and allows for both sides to achieve partial satisfaction of their goals is often elusive. The satisfaction has to be enough that the matter will be swallowable. Which is why the best solutions leave both parties unsatisfied. It's an unpalatable philosophy but doesn't victimize one over the other (never underestimate the ability of people to feel robbed, denied, or generally hard done by). Victims rebel, rally and rage.

Sadly, people, for the most part, are unwilling to swallow anything but their own blind "truth". Then you have to ram it down their throat and hope that time brings wisdom as it often does. Sometimes, if you're lucky, the issue is made moot by obsolesence or circumvention. But don't count on it. The best bet is that even wrong principles are corrected by the majority over time. Deception and injustice are good in the short-term but erode readily.

4.17.2003

I've got these lumps in my forearms. I've seen about 5 different doctors and none of them say it's cancer. I don't want to be one of those people who keep harassing doctors even when they're not sick but you can't blame me for being too careful, can you?

I think what concerns me is that only one of those doctors gave me an idea of what they might actually be. The rest of them said, it's not cancer, please leave, I've got some serious shiat to deal with. Well, maybe not so brusquely but it felt that way.

The one thing they might be is blocked sweat glands. This makes sense because a week before I noticed the lumps I carried a heavy canoe for a few hours and there was a lot pressure on the spots where I got my lumps.

Anyways, it's been 8 months and I think they've gotten bigger. I did get a referral from my family doctor to go see someone if something changed. So now I'm going to try and make an appointment.

What a colossal pain.

4.16.2003

I posted this elsewhere today, I figure it should get an echo here:

In a star there are two pressures at work, gravity and heat. When a star's core has fusion run out of control, the overdose of energy is released as heat which expands the core. The expansion slows the rate of fusion since it gets less dense (the less crowded those atoms are, the less chances they have of smashing together). Less fusion means the bigger core can't stay as hot and cools down. As it cools, gravity kicks in and starts to collapse the over-inflated core. The whole thing starts to crowd into the center-of-mass. Which makes the star get more dense, which ups the rate of fusion, etc, etc. Eventually equilibrium is reached and the star just sits there spitting out a bazllion photons for the convenience of our eyeballs.

That's my take on how people/society work. We fuck up enough and we start to figure out that we're headed straight for the paleontology museum for our future ant overlords. Corrective action is taken. If none is taken, well, vines and seeds have grown over all sorts of funtastic former-civilizations.

I figure we'll either kill ourselves off or figure out that the last chamber holds a bullet in time. It's the only reason I'm not in some clock-tower. Why rush it?

Alternatively, you can get behind this movement.

http://www.vhemt.org/

4.15.2003

I guess the war in Iraq seems to be heralded as over as far the media is concerned. Back to your regularly scheduled pap.

I suppose that one day if Democracy flourishes in the Middle East some people will look back at this as the beginning and say, "Well, if it weren't for us, you still wouldn't be able to vote." much like they say "If it weren't for us, you'd be speaking German." (I won't specify who "they" are. I'm sure you can't figure my crypticism out. Yes, I just made up that word.)

Does that mean, in the end, wrong in the present can become right in the future? Or just different? Is it that history is written by the winners or is it that the winners survive history repeating itself?

I speak of wrong and right as though there are absolute answers when I know full well there aren't any but for some reason the mind demands it. Is our conscience that binary? I'll think about that.

4.12.2003

It's ok. I found my logbook. I know you were worried. There, there.

4.10.2003

I've lost my logbook at work. Where is it?!?! WHERE IS IT!?!?!?! It's got all my shiat in there!

Dammit. It's Chinese Water Torture to live the American Dream.

I suppose it's better than having my entrails held up to Western media cameras as an indication of the evil of the Enemy.

Or if I have triplets, they won't be taken from me and raised in a state orphanage.

Or that I can't play in the next-door field because of landmines or unexploded ordinance.

Mmmmm. This Water Torture sure is pretty sweet.

4.09.2003

Speaking of corpses, I watched the Manchester v Real match yesterday.... That was the very definition of devastating.

Also, as a Canadian, it is soothing to my psyche to know that it is the time of year when I get to hear those magic words:

"And here's Ron MacLean with a Stanely Cup Update..."

Ahhhhh.

Morbidity levels: low and dropping

4.08.2003

Make a fist with your hand. Pop out your thumb like you're giving a thumb's up. Put your thumb back in your fist. Think about how that thumb wayyyy down there moved.

You wanted it to move. You commanded it to move. The impulse travelled down your spine, down your arm, to the hand and flexed exactly right to move your thumb. It's all so transparent to you that it is actually very difficult to contemplate it objectively.

That thumb moving is YOU. That is the grand sum total of direct influence YOU have on this universe. Everything else is indirect.

The sad news is, eventually, even the body betrays. Which is why I appreciate and live in Wonder of my own body while it still functions reasonably well.

My body is a temple? No, it is levers and pulleys. It is haiku and limerick. It is medic and warrior. It is summer and winter. It is mine and I love it.

4.04.2003

Honestly, you know what's strange? I've had my mind blown away twice in my life (I specify mind because my heart is devastated fairly regularly). Both times were thanks to physics.

1) Finding out that the inverse root of the electric and magnetic constants equals the speed of light. I now know the magnetic constant is picked so that this is true but before I knew that my mind was peeled back, grated and replaced in my skull. What the? Electricity and magnetism somehow come together and yield the secret speed of light? That was like finding out if you take a rabbit and breed it with a radish the rabbit will give birth to a pocket calculator.

2) Watching Maxwell's Equations go from four to two by using a gauge transformation. I don't think any art will ever demonstrate an equal elegance. If math is simply the language of nature, then physics is its poetry. It was a moving experience. 99.9% of people probably think I'm some alien for getting emotionally involved in math. Maybe they're right but I feel that I have an appreciation for these things and I understand what went into making that leap. It's like watching someone blowing a bubble with bubble gum for the first time. "You can do THAT!?! I thought it was just for chewing!!" The universe is beautiful in so many ways I fear we will never know them all. That, my friends, is tragedy.
I'm not particularly religious. I have a degree in physics so right away you know I'm one of those logical, "proof-wanting" losers. I have very little respect for religion as it is a man-made endeavour and it is, at best, a fallible interpretation.

But that doesn't mean I can't have a sense of spirituality. I think the universe we live in is amazing. Water is less dense solid than it is liquid. If you don't understand how bizarre that is, I'm not sure I can explain myself to you.

The following things make me feel spiritual:
-RNA
-Planetary rings
-The transparency of the Earth's atmosphere to visible and radio EM waves

I could go on and on. And just so you don't think I only get science-erections, here's a few more:
-A genuine smile from my wife
-The American Constitution (plus the Bill of Rights)
-True stories from friends
-Sunsets (cliche but anyone who isn't moved by a good one should have their eyes removed and given to a blind kid)

The universe is a big place and it's so strange to me that I'm here and I can grasp just enough of it to taste its sweetness.
Holy shiat-in-a-box. I have to update the page to view any changes I make. That means a lot of crappy entries in the blog. I'll try to post something that isn't a total waste of your time.

Here:
In the Code of Hammurabi, the first two rules dealt with casting a curse on someone. WTF? Was it that big a problem?
Just because I'm going to die doesn't mean I have to have a crappy interface for this thing. Time to get into the nitty gritty of blogger and make it look good (or, at least, better).
Seriously, am I pissed that I lost all that time before I was born? Not really. So then why do I care about all the time I'm gonna miss after I die? It's a question of learning what finite truly entails. I'm enjoying myself and not suffering. I should just spend my time trying to spread that good shiat around.

4.03.2003

This is strange. I can write whatever the hell I want and I'm not sure how to go about it. Do I want to write about the pretentious rages of my inner workings or maybe go lowbrow with my sexual demons? Who in god's name would read these? It's textual masturbation.

It's going to take me a while to let my guard down and spill my guts on the page. Bear with me.

Goddammit, I am way too into myself.
Here's the first post. Too bad there won't be a way for me to comment on my last...