Thursday, October 27


The world is supposedly so big
But he can't really see it
It fits in the telly
And the outside seems grim
Not that he's ever really
Walked out to it with open arms
Nor would he let anyone in
This fellow

He's a secondfloor autocrat
Still in his bathrobe
Lives alone
Thinks alone
I'm guessing he'll die alone
Or be discovered all too belatedly
Jaded by the greys
Of life disowned.

Head vs wall, part XXIV

So here I am coming back to life, clearing the fog away and all that. Slowly starting to reestablish a link with the past, get some perspective...and it's depressing. Real life is depressing.

Can life ever be more than fleeting pleasures? It certainly seems that it can be for many people. You meet people who seem deeply satisfied, fulfilled. Can it ever be that way for me? Why do I lack the discipline to make it happen? I seem to know many ways to make life richer, but I don't stick to doing them. Why is this so friggin' hard? Why are we set up as a species so that we enjoy ourselves most when we deny ourselves everything?

Tuesday, October 25

Mornings are free

It's another day. It's easy not to notice. One day seems much like the next when you're on the treadmill. Sliding through time with blinders on. But outside a grey fog has settled in, and there's a mist about, and the sounds of civilization are beginning to swell. It seems there is some life in these hills if you know where to look. Did I say hills? I meant in my body. I wandered the trails before the sun came up. The air was fresh and birds were everywhere. The skin of the lake was unblemished. And when I stood upon the dry dam and looked out at the waking city below, a strange thing happened. Dawn broke over the horizon. It's hard not to notice something like that.

Monday, October 24


The biggest problem in this world is that people don't think for themselves. They let other people do the thinking for them, because they think it's easier. Other people take advantage of this and enlist them to do their bidding. That's why we have leaders, and that's why they lead us into war for things that we couldn't care less about. Churches lead their congregations to see religious-themed movies. Managers implement cultures of productivity. Brands demand loyalty. Ninety-nine percent of the people on this earth are followers.

Raining inside

It's hard not to get sad. It's hard not to collapse under the weight of a million feelings. I feel so much. Every moment is pregnant with nostalgia, loss. Why is it the past haunts us the way it does? I can hardly bear to listen to an old song anymore. I can hardly watch an old movie. Everything I touch reminds me of a time that is gone, and I want to bury my head in my hands and cry, and I want it to stop. It's hard not to feel everything. I take my pills and follow sound advice and occupy my mind with the torrent of now, and it is all I can do to carry on. I'm afraid that if I ever stop I will drown in the sorrow of my memories.

Saturday, October 22

I'm not "happy," so much as I'm totally depressed

Psychiatrists, support groups and web forums, even mass media talk about finding happiness. It's the holy grail of the new millennium... now that we've defeated poverty, violence, stupidity, and frivolous lawsuits of course. I'm not sure the goal should be happiness though. What exactly is happiness? Euphoria? Giddiness? Contentment? Reprieve from horrible depression? That's quite a range. It's a concept that hard to pin down anyway, like beauty. You just know it when you feel it. Is constant happiness even possible or is it always a contrast against a lesser mood, and quickly adjusted for, so that happiness can only be felt for moments at a time?

I think a more specific emotion like contentedness should be aimed for, something that's real and attainable, not an ambiguous concept that people have tried for eons to come to grips with. The risk is that someone feeling their way out of a dark hole might not know what is "normal," where they should expect to stop in their quest to feel better. That antidepressant use might lead right into opiate use. No, I think contentedness is much more realistic (not that it doesn't have its own ambiguities). It's what I'm shooting for at any rate. Am I content? Sometimes I feel like I'm reasonably content for someone who has no friends and spends his long, suffocating days doing nothing meaningful, unable to sleep. No, I guess I'm not content. Certainly not happy.

Friday, October 21


the night is a black day
shadows fill up corners
pick up stones on a moonlit beach
hear the waves screech
night is a fugitive from everything
that feels good
makes you question your head
god don't let me go back there again
it was just makeshift walls
and monkey cages
icecream saturdays and vast
impassive miles of time
can you make a child cry?
I'm cold and lost inside
night is tomorrow already here
a place angels fear
I want you with me
take me as close to the clouds as you can
I have the dreams of gods but the
frailties of man
and lord how I miss the kiss of sunlight.

Wednesday, October 19

Condensed movies

I'm getting really sick of movie previews showing the entire movie, twists included. Of course, there might be the oh-so-original second twist thrown into the actual movie to throw us off. Hopefully not. But still, these trailers are so dumbed down and insulting. Like girls today, they leave nothing to the imagination. The marketing droids are so intent on showing even the stupidest person in the audience exactly what their film's about and spilling out most of its eye candy as part of the sales pitch that it ruins the movie for those who actually go see it.

This happens because of the business model of movies. They get your money after you've decided to see the film but before you've actually watched it. So increasingly the juicy bits are being frontloaded into the sales pitch in an all-out bid for your dollar. This strategy may work well for bad movies, since by careful editing they can be made to look better than they are. But it's a bad long-term strategy for good movies, because by killing the surprise and the fun you are basically guaranteeing many people won't be back for a second or third viewing. Seeing the film feels almost like an afterthought.

I try not to even watch trailers. Unfortunately it's hard to avoid when you're sitting in the theater and they hit you with seven of them before the movie starts.

Double-entendre titles and moral-of-the-story taglines are another way the machine clues you in to what to expect and what you'll learn from the flick. Two films I just saw advertised illustrate this nicely. Enduring Love: The word 'enduring' could be an adjective (eternal) or a verb (putting up with). The tagline: "Obsession is forever." Hmm, wonder what the movie's about? Paradise Now: Once you've seen the trailer and know the movie is about a Palestinian man deciding whether or not to blow a bus up, this becomes obvious. Paradise now as opposed to when you die and get all those virgins. And if you somehow missed that one, the studio hits you with the tagline: "Sometimes the bravest thing is what you don't do." So there, now we know how it ends, or at least what the film's message is. Gee, a movie released in the West condemning terrorism? How daring!

Tuesday, October 18

Dreaming of everything but you

I've just had one of those miserable dream-a-thons where I was systematically bombarded by the realization there is no afterlife, showing up at school with no clothes, taking a critical test without knowing anything whatsoever about the subject, running for my life in a city ravaged by war, and of course joining a league of boxing gorillas disguised as leaders of the world, as interpreted by housewives.

I wish I could, for a change, truly sleep. To have a long, quiet night spent in peaceful relaxation. To have no epic yarns spun fitfully by a bored brain. To keep my eyes shut, my body still, my breathing steady. It's like an itch I haven't scratched for years. I see children carrying no cares with them to the next day, who pass their nights as though momentarily liberated from existence. To sleep, to be really dead to the world, must be glorious.

Drive reduction

I know the theory of "drive reduction" has fallen out of favor with psychologists since its hayday in the 70s, but I often feel that it's a useful metaphor for our behavior, if not necessarily an accurate depiction of what actually happens at some deeper level. For example, my obsessive need to organize. Ignoring for the moment the question of trying to change this behavior, it does seem as though when I resist the impulse to organize my stress level begins to rise, and when I "give in" and tackle some big renaming or reskinning project (on the computer), my feeling of well-being immediately increases in the same way that you feel better during and after you urinate. If that's not some sort of drive reduction I don't know what is.

Sogno dell'oppio

If you want to simulate what it probably feels like to be on opium, queue up a bunch of songs from Air, Mogwai, Cat Power, and Red House Painters, put it on shuffle, turn out the lights, turn on the air conditioning or a fan, and lie back on your couch. There - no drugs needed.

Empirical confirmation

I've been taking a supplement called 5-HTP to help alleviate depression. My mood picked up a few days after I began taking it, and for the most part stayed up over the next month. Then, about three or four days ago, I ran out. I ordered some from an online store to save money, and reasoned that the interruption in routine as I waited for it to arrive would be another test of its effectiveness. Sure enough, within a day or two my mood dropped, and I began to feel the familiar nauseating tug of negativity just beneath the surface of every moment. I haven't written much. It's been hard to find motivation to post here, to keep my place straightened up, to watch a movie - really, to do anything. Even eating seems a bit more lifeless than usual.

So I guess that's enough evidence for me that the stuff works. It may not work for everyone, and some of it could even be a placebo effect, but whatever the case, I'm going to continue to take it. During that month I was outside getting fresh air and exercise much more often; I took an interest in birds and photography and travel; when the night rolled around I didn't wonder whether sleep would come quickly, and, if not, what I would do to occupy my mind until it did. Things were just a little more pleasant and less worrisome all the way around.

Sunday, October 16

The return of religion

It has seemed to me intuitively for quite some time that irrationality is on the rise. It seems harder and harder to find a person on the streets or a television program or a website exhibiting anything like logic, while it is a trivial task to find someone who believes in gods and other supernatural phenomena. Lately though I have been reading reports of studies actually confirming this to be true. The fall of Communism has sparked a comeback of traditional religions in Eastern Europe. Orthodox Judaism and Fundamental Islam are fluorishing. And Evangelical Christianity wields more power in the USA today than it has enjoyed in a century.

My theory is that religion is back on the rise after several centuries of decline (and the concurrent rise of reason) in part because science itself no longer offers a reassuringly rational view of the universe. In the classical, clockwork model that carried science from the dawn of Enlightenment to the early part of 20th century, many people no doubt found a suitable replacement for their old world view, provided by religion. But quantum theory changed all that. Uncertainty and unpredictability seem to be the rule at the smallest scales of reality, and thus all the seeming order at the scale we live our lives is built upon a ghostly foundation where anything's possible.

Of course, that's not really the truth either, and the flow of cause and event can still be considered deterministic if we loosen up our definition a bit. A bit like "vector" graphics versus "bitmaps," the paradigm of infinitely small scalability of physical law has been replaced by a new model of concretism and irreducibility. But if the laws defining such a system are quantized and fuzzy, they still yield predictable results higher up the scale. That is, we can still use the classical mathematical models of Newton today in all but the most extreme environments (small, hot, cold, fast), because the statistical nature of the underpinnings is too inconseqential at everyday scales to have to be accounted for.

Obviously, none of this discussion reaches the ears of the vast majority. Most don't even know what quantum physics is. But my guess is they sense the shift in the wind. It's enough that the face that science presents to the world has gotten stranger and stranger. People read newspaper articles (grossly simplified and distorted by a scientifically-illiterate media, but that is meat for another post) about how the universe was created and will someday die out, about matter being in two places at once or no place at all, about creation from nothing, about parallel universes. It's gotten so that even specialists don't pretend to conceptually understand or accept everything, but still have faith in the mathematics underpinning their ideas. How is this different from religion? Has science met its end not by running into a brick wall but by riding off into a sunset of increasing complexity? Is the universe just too hard to understand?

I don't know why anyone would imagine we could understand it. If our understanding of evolution is correct, our intelligence developed along with bipedlaism and opposable thumbs as a tool for survival. At the time, survival meant gathering berries and chipping away at rocks, not constructing rockets and skyscrapers and certainly not mastering our own genetic blueprints and speculating on the nature of reality itself. Why should our minds be capable of these tasks? Why should we believe that reality is something that can be grasped? Maybe it's just smoothly sliding scales of complexity without end. Maybe, indeed, it's turtles all the way down.

I believe this shift in science is one reason that religion is on the rise. There are surely others: multinationalism sweeping quickly into traditional areas has caused great social upheaval. People cannot resist cell phones, but with such technology comes an erosion of their old values. They see their children growing up in a way that is alien to them. Gender roles are questioned. Taboos are breached. It's no surprise that many of these cultures are rejecting the change in as vehement a way as they can muster, by hurling themselves back into the comforts of their traditional belief system. In the case of missionary religions like Mormonism, for example, cultures whose own beliefs have been made to seem irrelevant may even adopt those of another, as long as it provides a comforting world view and a way of life that is closer to what they have been raised to know. Even those of use who have cast off the mantle of faith and thrown in our lot with empiricism have a love/hate relationship with it. At least I do. How much more comfortable to have things mapped out, revealed to you rather than waiting to be found. And to be free of all the uncertainty and ambiguity that a scientific mentality necessitates.

In the end I think I understand many of the reasons people are drawn to religion. I still reject them for myself because apparently I was born with a mind that is incapable of accepting something without proof. It's my belief that the more you see, the more different systems of thought you are exposed to, the less likely that you'll then latch on to any particular one of them as "truth." But for most of the planet, who have not traveled and not been exposed to that diversity of opinion, it is still all too easy to fall back on the comforts of tradition.

Saturday, October 15

Thoughts in the key of brie

I was listening to myself talking today, and it struck me that I'm not always a very likeable person. I can be pretty negative and self-righteous. This falls under the heading of "not news" for people who know me, but it's not always so easy to see yourself the way others see you.

The world can be pretty depressing if you let it. Human nature undoubtedly hasn't changed much over the millennia, but that thin veneer of culture that is our outward impression to the rest of the world and to ourselves, that cultured, articulate, erudite voice of Ed Murrow (yes, I just saw the movie) or Franklin Roosevelt, has worn a bit thin and today's generation gets Larry King and George Bush. Instead of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald we have Britney Spears and Kenny Chesney. Instead of glass and brass we have plastic.

But in the end the world goes on unabated and spares no thought for me. The times I feel better are when I'm able to release my talon grip, when I can stop stressing and obsessing. This seems to happen when I come into some money, exercise, or eat and take meds/vitamins consistently. In other words, when I'm feeling better about myself. It would be easy at this point to say it's all insecurity and self-hatred on my part, and how I secretly envy others and despise them because I can't be like them, and so on. To a certain extent that is probably true, but if I could press a button right now to trade places with most people, I wouldn't. I feel like I have something to offer that many people don't, and I do value that in myself. It's just that I wish I could be who I am but also be happier and less concerned with the totality of existence around me. That is what I'm working on now.

Thursday, October 13

Walking down to the mailbox, I suddenly realize more vividly than usual why people paint, sketch, take pictures, make movies. In the deep light of late afternoon, walking across a wooden bridge amidst the leaves of trees of a dozen kinds, the visual lure of the world is visceral. My mind becomes a camera adding serene landscape upon sagacious wrought iron handrail to its portfolio of witnessed delights. Even the people I nod to in passing seem subdued by the majesty that has settled into our humble corner of life. In a few hours it will be dark, the exquisite sights gone. And tomorrow is so far in the future it doesn't bear thinking about. But here and now it all feels real and beautiful.

Wednesday, October 12


I want useful space. I want countertops I can prepare food on and a bed that looks inviting when I retire to it. I want a floor I can walk around on, a couch I can stretch out on, an uncluttered desk where I can clear my head, and drawers in which I can store things and actually find them again. I want shelves and bookcases and nightstands to serve their intended purpose, not hold up mounds of depressing, undifferentiated junk. I don't want to be cluttered and stressed out anymore. I want to come home, put my jacket on a peg, store my shoes on a rack, and put my binoculars in their drawer. Put my clothes in the hamper, take my PJs out of the dresser. Fix some food and have the dishes done afterward. Sit back, relax, and watch a movie and sip a cup of tea feeling good about the day gone by and unafraid of the day to come.

Monday, October 10

What time is it REALLY?

Everyone knows there's no such thing as a "true" time. We agree that it's a certain time where we live, and that the hour part changes by one as we move around the earth, 24 times by the time we get back to where we started. If we didn't make this adjustment, 12:00pm would occur at the same point in time everywhere in the world but it would fall on a different point in the day/night cycle. Not much use since people wake up and go to bed based more on the rise and fall of the sun than some arbitrary number. As it is, dawn doesn't take place at the same time everywhere anyway, because it changes as you move north/south. And it changes (in a smaller way) as you move east/west within a given time zone. Nothing in space or time (above the Planck length and time, of course - see quantum theory) is discrete, it's a smooth continuum all over the surface of this sphere and all over the universe.

What many people don't seem to understand is that it's this way with our position in space, too. We're not in some particular, objective location in the universe. If you imagine the universe as a three dimensional volume of space, then we'd have to be located somewhere within that space, and that would fix us with a specific location. But general relativity insists we are not at any specific location, that we can only meaningfully talk about our location relative to other objects and not in any sort of universal way. The reason that this is so is that the universe has no edges - no boundaries. That's not to say it's necessarily infinite. If this is hard to grasp, think of it like this: A sheet of paper is finite (has a surface areas less than infinity) and bounded (an ant can fall off the edges). A globe is finite (has a surface area that is less than infinity) and UNbounded (and ant can walk around on it all day and not fall off). If you proceed in a straight line in any direction on a sphere, you end up back where you started. This may be how the universe works as well, though you have to imagine that rather than a two-dimensional surface wrapping around and connecting to itself in three dimensions (the globe), space is a three dimensional volume that wraps around and connects to itself in a fourth dimension.

Of course, nothing's been proven yet. It's difficult to see how it even could be proven, but people called topologists have some pretty clever ideas they're going to try as telescopic and computational power increase. Nevertheless, whether the universe is finite or infinite in volume, it almost certainly is unbounded. What is "the universe," after all? Everything, right? Well if you had a boundary somewhere, you could ask what lay beyond that boundary, and even if the answer was "a void," that void should still be considered part of "everything." So almost by definition the universe has to be unbounded. The only remaining question is whether you'd go forever in the same direction or you'd eventually return to earth.

This unbounded condition means that we have no fixed location in space, because there is no "frame" against which to measure it. All absolute measurements require a frame of reference, some fixed outside coordinate system. The earth has logitude and latitude. But the universe contains everything, and therefore there is nothing outside the system to define where the edges are or where to start counting. So wondering where we are in the universe is pointless. We're not at the center, or near one edge, or anything else, because there IS no center, there ARE no edges.

This has some pretty interesting consequences. For example, most people think of the Big Bang as an actual explosion, something that happened at a certain point in space and at a certain point in time. But the truth is that space and time themselves were created in the Big Bang. There was no pre-existing volume for it to occur in; it occured everywhere and created the space that now exists. And, although this is much more speculative, there probably was no such thing as "a time before the Big Bang" either. If time was created when space was, then there never was a "before." There wasn't an infinitely long empty epoch prior to Creation anymore than there was an infinite empty volume of space for Creation to occur in.

The shape of the universe also makes for fun thinking. If light itself it curved by the geometry of space (and it is), then a phenomenon called "gravitational lensing" takes place. That is, if large objects distort space around them (the reason why the planets orbit the sun) then light traveling through such an area is also bent accordingly. So the stars we see in the distance may not in reality be in the exact direction we see them in. Heavy objects between them and us may deflect their light so we see them in a slightly different place. Not only may that star you're wishing on not be there anymore (it could have exploded 1,000 years ago but you're still seeing light that left it 2,000 years ago), but it may have never been THERE at all, it might have been an inch to the right, maybe even part of a double star system with an apparently unconnected companion. Not very likely, but possible.

The stranger part comes when we think that the entire volume of space might be curved in on itself. Then the entire universe acts as a gravitational lens and light, like our intrepid astronaut, can travel around in "circles" and end up where it started. If you could see far enough (a function of time and light-gathering capacity) you could see the Earth from the opposite side! You couldn't actually see the back of your head, because since light travels at a finite speed, you'd see the light that left that side of the Earth millions or billions of years ago. The exact number of years depends on the size of the universe. If it were 5 million light-years wide, you could observe the Earth as it was 5 million years ago, when hominids still looked much like other apes. 500 million light-years wide, and you could watch the first land animals crawl out of the sea. 4,550 million light-years wide, and you could watch the formation of the Earth itself. For a variety of reasons (one being that telescopes actually have looked "back" that far) it seems our universe, if it is finite in volume, must be at least 14 billion light-years in diameter. It could be much, much larger though, or it could indeed be infinite. Will we ever find out? It's possible, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Searching for the 21st century

I want to be able to search everything (the Internet, my songs, pictures, documents, books, conversations, etc.) with the same interface and the same options. There should be some kind of standards body organized for this. That way all systems (OSs, apps, whatever) could support something like the following syntax and work in a consistent, predictable way.

  • AND - Both of the terms surrounding the AND must be found.
  • OR - One or both of the terms surrounding the OR must be found.
  • XOR - Exlusive OR. One or the other term must be found, but not both.
  • NOT - The term following the NOT cannot be present in the results.
  • "" - Text between the quotes must be found exactly, altogether and in that order. No wildcards allowed.
  • () - used to sort out order of operations when multiple AND/OR terms are used in the same search.
  • * - Wildcard character that holds the place of any number of characters (greater than zero). Examples: J* could return JOHN or JUFFALO, but not J by itself. *J* could return MOJO or INJUN, but not JILT.
  • # - Wildcard character that holds the place of a single character. More than one can be used to define the precise structure of the word sought. Example: W###CA## could return WILDCARD, but not WICCAN.
Terms can be combined freely, as long as the resulting syntax is logically valid. Example: ("adam's apple" AND woman NOT eve NOT genesis) OR (abnormal female throat anatomy).

The writing fairy

Weird how the mood to write comes and goes. People call it inspiration. I find it's mostly energy. Willingness. I probably always have something to say, something I'm thinking about, turning around inside my head. But do I have the patience and the drive to sit down and type it all out in some kind of organized fashion? Not always. That's why I'll go for days without really writing anything down, then all of a sudden I'll write five pages. I imagine the hardest part of being a professional writer would be the discipline involved in making yourself write every day, regardless of how you feel. Like with anything else, discipline converts potential into actual and separates the dreamers from the doers.

Monday, October 3

Wake up birdwatcher

With the dawn, the promise of renewal. Light seems to embody hope - the same hope that the night so ruthlessly chases down and snuffs. I can see the sun's glow precede it in the east, I am awake and rubbing the dreams out of my eyes with bincoulars in hand. I know soon even the silence will give way to a chorus of bird calls.

Everything dies, but death is only the final signature stroke of life. More than that, it is the semicolon pause that awaits life's return. We needn't fear the dark. For what is the dark but chaos, and through our art, through our music, through stories, through science, through prayer, through simple awareness, through hope, through procreation, through our laughter at its absurdity and our cheerful walk back down the hill, we prove over and over that chaos is simply the nutrient soup feeding an emergent order. Order, life, consciousness - arisen from unpredictable chaos. Darkness is pushed back and defeated.

Sunday, October 2

Loverly pics

Hopefully this space won't be devoid of visual entertainment too much longer. I'm deciding on the best place to host photos and graphics (for free). I think I'll just use Google's Picasa/Hello programs, since they tie right in with Blogger. Gee, it sure seems like Google is starting to become the new Microsoft...


Traveling is an interesting thing. When you consider that the phenomenon of leaving your home base and your habitual living patterns then means you have the other 99.999% of the world to contend with, it's not exactly as though "traveling" constitutes a single agreed-upon activity. Indeed you can see by the travel literature that this is so.

When I think of traveling, I envision mostly an escape from a world that has grown too industrialized, too technological, too fast-paced, too anonymous. I want to find a village where I can get a slice of an older way of life. I want to call the barkeep by his name, listen to spontaneous music played by enthusiastic locals, kick my boots off in quaint half-timbered rooms and bicycle down to the bakery in the morning. I want to wander along rocky cliffs, journal in hand. I could make an entire vacation out of one small town.

That's probably why I never think of it as a "vacation." That word tends to conjure up whirlwind sightseeing itineraries, scenic and historic hotels, restaurant guides and evenings finished off with wine and tripping out on the fact that "we're in Athens!" Of course I have an interest in history and culture, and if my travels allow me to brush against well-known bastions of tourism, I'm not averse to adding a postcard and a photo to my collection. But that is not the reason for travel, it's a side benefit. I've seen quite a few monuments in my life, and in the end, they're just monuments.

It's the people, the living culture, that make the most lasting impression. I'm surprised to hear myself saying this actually. As much as I love the sweeping nostalgia of history, when I look back on trips I've taken to other countries, it's the people I remember most vividly. The contrast of their experiences and opinions, the comforting familiarity of their smiles and laughter. It's always instructive to witness human beings in alternate settings; you can begin to glean which aspects of our behavior are instinctual, truly "human," and which belong to the learned culture foisted upon us. The universal aspects of human nature are what comfort and edify us, while the unfamiliar local bits are delightful and intriguing.

I've noticed the vast majority of guidebooks, websites, and so forth cater to the sightseeing paradigm. It's that American idea of getting the most bang for your buck, but in my view this thinking is flawed. Yes I can see three countries and 17 cities in three weeks, but what will I take back? A lot of impressive photos and a nice feeling for having seen so many famous sights. Maybe I'll have met a score of friendly waiters, taxi drivers, and street musicians. Beneath this superficial taste of exotica, however, my person is likely to remain unscathed. To really let another culture sink in and challenge some of that provincialism that infects us, to change us in some small but profound way, requires much more depth even at the expense of breadth. I'll take my pub grub and recognition-laced 'ello over your Colisseum-and-Vatican sojourn any day.

Saturday, October 1


When things fall into place again
It will be because I shape them
Things don't really fall into place,
We make or unmake them

When I am old and look back on life
I don't want to be left crying
I want to have lived an imperfect life
Content that it is so and still surviving

When things come round my way again
I will keep my ears open longer
Everything that kills and rebuilds you
Makes you stronger.

Why be a Buddhist?

It's interesting that many people find Buddhism fascinating but reasons for studying/practicing it seem to be vary. My daughter finds it comforting but her interest in it revolves around the humanistic aspects like giving Metta (similar to praying for someone in need) and so forth. For me, the attractiveness lies in its answer to rationalism; it provides a means for optimism and thus comfort where strict rationalism can be translated by the human spirit rather easily into pessimism and discomfort. Her salvation in this case is from worry about the wellbeing of others; mine is from the worry inherent in meaninglessness. I suppose when shopping for philosophies people are attracted to that which promises to bail them out of their specific hardship.

Humanity will be the death of logic

People generally have very poor reasoning skills and a lack of education about logic. They commit egregious logical errors all the time. For example, people arguing for the existence of UFOs often get exasperated with skeptics and offer either, "why is it so hard to believe we are not alone?" or "prove to me that they DON'T exist!" Both of these are logical fallacies, of course. I can have an open mind regarding the possibility (even probability) of life existing elsewhere in the universe, and even that extraterrestrials have visited earth (a much unliklier scenario, but not impossible), without having to believe accounts that have little in the way of persuasive evidence. True skeptics aren't people who go around debunking speculations for the fun of it. They are people without an agenda of any kind, who have an open mind to all possibilities but who require conclusive evidence to adopt new beliefs. In other words, they practice the scientific method. The rebuttal to the second comment challenging the skeptic to prove that a speculation is false shows a lack of understanding about how science works. Logically, just because I can't prove something false doesn't mean it's true. The burden of proof always lies on the agent interested in garnering acceptance for a speculation. The speculation can be thought of as a hypothesis, and for the hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, it must be rigorously tested and found that the hypothesis in question offers the best (most consistent) explanation of the test results. I could make up anything, like say "space turns white and stars are black beyond the range of our telescopes" and then challenge you to prove me wrong. When you couldn't, I could say, "See! I'm right!" Obviously this sort of argument holds no water.

A hypothetical personal ad in a nonexistent paper

I'm a very strange person. I'm not evil; I don't even have enough sense of self, or of reality, to put together sequences of actions that you could call good or evil. My mind is very childlike, my coordination is poor, and my memory has more holes than inverse swiss cheese. I'm just warning you, because I consider myself to be very friendly, but scatterbrained; intelligent in a very narrow, probing and philosophical sense, but extremely naïve when it comes to basic survival skills and socialization. My attention wanders. I have broad directions that define my life, but where a given fascination will lead me is anybody's guess. I am emotionally damaged and unpredictable. I'm not a violent person, but I really don't know who I am or what I'll think, say, or do next. I'm very unstable. I just want to warn anyone who thinks they know me that they are operating under an assumption, not a true understanding of what is real. I myself don't know what will happen from one moment to the next. How can anyone else possibly claim to do so?


Moving your legs in the mud takes a toll
Brandishing a desire for more
When the world pushes and pulls you apart
Makes you question your own heart
But whatever the price
I am alive
And those who never deny themselves
Will never supply themselves with courage
To keep greed and desire at bay
Function where others may falter and fade
Strength comes in many forms
One is my absolute reverence of you
A genuine sense of excitement is two
And we can drift through this place hand in hand
If we want it
Photos trap our souls on paper
Mirrors turn us around
But the sun makes us grow and love
Well, love just keeps coming back doesn't it.

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