Tuesday, July 27, 2021

And Furthermore . . .

Yes, indeed, just as Riccardo Manzotti insists that our mind is outside the brain, in the form of actual perceptions of actual reality, I am insisting that conceptual reality is also outside.

I recognize that these distinctions between in and out have been and will be hard to swallow, but we have been utterly deluded by the locution of  "in the mind." According to Manzotti, the mind is able to cycle perceptions in a manner to delay their "reception," in a functional equivalence to "memory." The vital function of the brain is to match new perceptions to memorized experience, in a kind of generalizing activity.

As we all know, memories are prompted by the emotions associated with them. We remember best being almost eaten by that lion, and want never to allow that to happen again. The present emotion on seeing a new lion is fear. That fear is highly functional. Cognition cannot even approach the speed of emotion, which endures no time for "transmission."

Emotion is present. Cognition, as does physical signalling, takes time.

I have determined to my own satisfaction, once by touring work I'd done on people's houses in and around New Haven with my daughter, that my memories do indeed exist outside me. I was able to "retrieve" an amazing depth of memory, well beyond which house-repair I had effected, by prompt from the relatively unchanged environment. 

In effect, this is why I retire to Buffalo, an almost incredibly unchanging environment. I feel intact here.

Thanks to the enduring quality of some repairs, and thanks to the endurance of hard goods, I could recall to my daughter events significant to me. As I'm certain you will appreciate, it is true that she became bored by my droning, and also true that no non-relation, not bound by love, would have endured it. She might have enjoyed my coming alive.

Collectively, we all must realize, our dominant emotions have returned to fear. We are unsettled by the plague, and by the evident consequences of global warming, even in the face of better present living than in any time in history.

Politicians may try to harness our fear in service to some international rivalry. Only rarely anymore do news sources report lions on the loose.

Perhaps our anxiety reflects the near-certainty that 'this cannot last.' Our experience is of a geometric curve of near explosive change. Displaced from places like Buffalo, we become slightly unhinged, and almost demand that our environments converge on something that will be familiar everywhere within our nation. I may be done with my travels. Aliner for sale.

So what could it mean that conceptual reality exists outside of us? I suppose that Plato might have understood. But I am also writing of the encoding of conceptual reality in the form of words. This process is somehow identical in emotive valence to what goes on "inside" our brains when we process present reality according to our stored generalizations. Conceptualizations. The resulting words have given us a social sapience, and ultimately, a handle on the world around us. 

Words are outside the brain, though we may rehearse them there when we "think." Writing and speaking silently to ourselves, conceptualizing durable generalities about reality.

I am also suggesting that this emergent sapience was already happening when certain responses were encoded in genetic material. The valence, then and now, was survival. The vector was encoded, in effect memorializing innumerable encounters with a perilous environment. So that some conceptual model could endure.

Since, by my definition, concepts are a function of mind, and mind is not some quality that can be contained by something like the brain alone, then mind was already in existence at the instant of the first living replicator. Elementary. 

I mean that life was elementary, as was the reality to be built on perceptual "particles."

But we elaborate. I elaborate. Particles can be combined into larger structures which persist. Their shapes, to the extent that they are durable, can be described as concepts - the schematic archetype, perhaps - as well as percepts. The match between concept and percept is what I would call an emotional event, which happens (also) outside of our personal experience. It is as recognizable and common as lived and shared perceptual reality.

I am refining my insights; their inception remains constant. I have been wrong far more than I have been right. I had thought that concepts must also move, and of course they do. I now feel again that elation of discovery, of something already and always there. The direction of evolution is defined by love. The emotion is in the encoding, the discovery, the getting a handle on what can be done for those we love. 

Patrician Leonard Cohen sang of love and hate, and died in sorrow at our recent turns. My sense is that it is time to take responsibility, and that that border had already been crossed when we learned to code digitally. The imitation game was tragic for Turing. It feels tragic again when we allow martial instincts - those collective fears drove most everything about our every technology - to overwhelm the commonality of our planet.

We can now rise up and sing a joyful song, if only we would. Not slingshot rides to space aboard phallic masculinity taken by triumphal vectorialists. Not imperial dominance for vectorialist economic triumph. But rather, in celebration of life, where we already have the means, if not the want, to live altogether in peace and prosperity, without utter destruction of our earth.

Letting the algorithms run amok has always been our doom. The argument is not about whether artificial anything can be made to exist. The argument is about responsibility, that thing we must share with those that we care for.

And now it's one earth. One reality. And I am all all one. Alone where the artifice of individualism wants me. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Electric Summer School, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw

I don't really quite know how to do this. First of all, it's always very humbling to hear accomplished academics speak. Formally speak. I tend to feel like an idiot for trying to think things through at all on my own. I have no right!

Second of all, it was very disconcerting for me to find that the event would be held on Facebook. That was cognitive dissonance, for me, in and of itself, to some fairly painful degree. I prefer my irony to be announced and on display, full stop. 

Well, but how could I? It would hardly be irony then, now would it? But whatever. As though we have any choices about participating in the disastrous overtaking of historic time by geologic (a lovely new locution I learned from the seminar).

I'll tell you what my trouble is; I can't tell irony from earnest much of the time. Televangelism, the capitol insurrection with horns and hangman's noose and prayer from the pulpit of the Senate. 

I know Bratton places the blame with neoliberal economic individualism and therefore seems to discount surveillance capitalism as a concept, but, well the film The Social Dilemma is pretty scary about Facebook's power. We clearly don't care about privacy as such, or we wouldn't do Google search so very much. But we do care about curated reality for someone else's profit. Get a grip, Bratton!

Anyhow, it was chaotic. I could never find the actual event, and the schedule bore no relation to the presentations, and the promise to give me a link to the "actual" location was never met. But I managed. 

Projecting my phone to my TV via ROKU via Airplay, just released to ROKU, or just "installed," and then navigating beyond the Polish, where it probably all made sense, and to the event, which had nothing actually happening in the event announcement space, and then onto where the videos would play and would sit by back and forth through English, and Polish with an "english" button to somehow find it, but not repeatably. I mean, maybe if I were an actual Facebook addict. Whatever!

So here's the thing. I spent the fall working on my daughter's house. Much of that was working on the electrical system, which was an incredible and dangerous mess. The house itself was built in 1850, and for at least part of its life served as a boarding house. Rooms were advertised far away (New York? Philly? I found the ad online in some handy archive) for upscale attendees to the electric-themed Pan American Exposition circa the turn of the twentieth century. "Fine dining within a short walk." Still true, although most of it is hip youth now. Maybe it always was.

So I know something of the 'electrical sublime,' I do. Electrical hell, same difference (engine).

I supervised the excavation of the crumbling terra-cotta sewer - apparently big enough for a small city, and a shock to the three sequential teams of plumbers brought in. I brought them in, the kids paid. They are University professors. No one knew ahead of time how much simpler it would have been to cut it out and replace it with plastic. Well, except then the city would have to be brought in, and it would get really time-consuming and even more expensive . . . 

Their sewer was surely big enough for a boarding or a bawdy house, which its twin next door had been. In today's terms, it's a very small house indeed. The neighbor's house still has the rooms numbered in it's attic, they tell me. I might have seen them had there not been a pandemic. I can't wait! But there is an Alpha Romeo [spell check] in the driveway now, so, well, I guess I never will. I hear even normal people can buy exotic cars now, though. Could that be true? The end is surely near.

And surely there was no electricity in either house when they were built, or even by the time that Buffalo started to light up after the Exposition. A Buffalo First. 

First Night is always at the electric tower. A family affair. Replete with ball drop and no booze.

I also worked for the power company which in my time still inhabited that "electric tower," which was and remains a replica of the centerpiece tower of the Exposition, as featured in one of today's presentations from Warsaw. Through Warsaw. Now it's an office/apartment building. The company outsourced to British National Grid.

When I worked there, I had unique access to the auditorium at the top. Word was that the Big Boss would convene his subalterns each day to preach the mystical power of antiquity as transmuted into electric power. Must have been descended spiritually from Niagara regionally-claimed Tesla, the man. He actually beat Edison to the punch of alternating current. I think. 

Now all we get is one of the Tesla gig-factories, over-subsidized by state and local, and still understaffed, reason of something wrong with the installation process for the solar roof panels. Not predictable. Space shots predictable. Fee payer super-predictable.

((I also had exclusive access to the "picture windows" (documented in the Warsaw presentation) to the upper floors of the building next door, where porn was being shot. Soon hauled off, and good riddance. So, something beyond porn. Something toward what preachers and maybe rich or royal folks do, out of proportion to the rest of us. I only saw the backside of fully grown women.))

I was doing IT work - distributed server maintenance for a massive set of databases which the big service trucks could access for maps, documentation, technical drawings as they did their maintenance and emergency or scheduled repair labor. Early wireless. The power company was then removing the massive prototype cellular transmission base. It had allowed relay radio to all. It took up too much space in the massive Halon-protected (like rare books, where you have to get out fast if the alarm sounds) server room over by the massive garages. We built two tiny fridge-sized racks to replace all of it with rare earth code.

The company was also replacing the massive failsafe power cutoff detectors with new sub-cycle electronics, whose racked servers I installed. Negotiating screwdriver rights away from the union, who still stood guard, and I should be grateful. Unlike most IT guys, I knew how to work a screwdriver.

The massive three story control room with lighted schematics of their entire grid, and where NASA grade leather round multi-person control centers had gone fallow. The blackout came later, when I lived in the country and had primitive backup systems. Hand pump for water. Kerosene lamps kind of thing. I didn't need no stinkin' generator. I had a woodstove.

Still they did once cut their own fiber-optic cable, old dead and gone Niagara Mohawk did, electronic guide system notwithstanding, and I got autopaged for nearly all my servers, all over the map. Not that they'd gone down. They'd just gone out of touch. I'd set the traps and now I had to live with them. On call 24/7. The apex auditorium was now full of servers. The seats were still bizarrely there, and I could walk the astonishing balcony, from which the ball would later be dropped on New Years. Anyhow, no more communal spiritual gatherings to romanticize electricity.

I'd worked with GIS systems in an academic setting before, at just about the time when public-facing maps of disease distribution in relation to toxic plumes, and of high wind location for wind farms were being taken down for reasons of whatever lawyerly reality, and databases (construction and maintenance) and lots of network engineering, including construction on the web before dot.com hit. After Netscape was real. I'd boned up with Gopher. 

One of the first with dialup through the University, and I decoded pictures from ASCII text. Harley choppers from the Denizens of Doom Foucault-reading usenet group, like the one I rode circuit on to my distributed servers. Pam Anderson silicone leaping. A meme, as such would later be called. ASCII also transformed by an escape code to Chinese, once the Hercules graphics card came into being. Trivia.

I tag myself here as "author of my own life, dammit!" I myself have no real idea what I meant by that way back when, and it always embarrasses me when I see it. But this is such a barren venue that it's never worth my while to update it. It has archival truth.

Did I mean "protagonist?" Probably, since when I started blogging I felt that my life was a novel, but certainly not written by me. It was the things that happened to me and some marvelous disasters that I'd overcome which might have inspired me. I read (past and present tense both) myself like I read a novel. Who knows how I come off? Not me, that's for sure. I know I like to drive, and it feels like agency to do it. But it isn't agency.

And again, as I learned today, author is not the same as protagonist, and I might say that agency belongs to neither. Benjamin Bratton certainly wanted to distinguish between protagonism and agency. I believe he sees agency as a more cooperative matter. More socialist than anarchist, he declares. Against what, really? There are no names yet which might apply. But against collective death, in any case.

My own personal authorship probably has more to do with what I resist than what I take control of. What I quit as much as what I join. Protagonists act that way too, right? That's what the brain is for. Staying alive in the face of recognizable but always shifting patterns. Emotion be my personal guide, Luke Skywalker. Intuition. My emotional responses are not uninformed. There are but few choice in the face of sure failure most of the time. Failure is legion. Success the threading of some needle. Can't take it with you. Sometimes quitting is the best and rational choice.

We get better at it when we can share the code for those ever shifting patterns; after we read books that explain what might actually be going on. Imagine ordinary denizens of bars taking cases of beer to work in the sweaty high reaches of the power plant. You  have to know what you're doing! Drills every morning in those line-worker garages, calisthenics and reminders about what never to do. Remember him?? How he died? Let us pray. Now go out there and fix shit!

As much as I learned from an incredibly interesting set of presenters (five, I think) at this Electric Summer School, I still heard no real inkling of what I consider to be my own core project. My work. There were never more than 40 or so live in the audience, though reassuringly, in this age of plague, the talks would be lightly buffed and then archived. And they have been. But you have to join Facebook to see them.

I am the audience. I am your audience, but not your colleague. I will take your exoitc locutions for the people. Their envoy, not yours. Hanging by the skin of my mind on words which always seem inexcusably arcane, technical, and having a private meaning. 

Academics mostly talk only to each other, juggling concepts, calling them idiotically "ideas" while jockeying for position, and honing the skills of clever. Imagine one of them named master. We tried that once, and only once, I think, with Woodrow Wilson. Mixed results. And he might have known how to talk to the people. That might have been the problem.

Of course I shall try to replace my use of "capitalism" with "vectorialism," as much as I can. I've had McKenzie Wark's fine and still-new book sitting on my shelf since it came out, capital is dead. I only opened it last night. Like many such things, I guess the reading of it felt like a chore, on top of too many other chore-like obligations. It is hard to stay on top of Chinese. It morphs mercilessly and sadly, in our direction. By our direction? Under our direction? Clearly not!

I was delighted to find Wark's book not only readable but incredibly useful, although, for the moment, I do still find hoarded piles of wealth to be at issue, even though that wealth now comes more quickly and isn't represented by "means of production" in physical form of capital hoarding and transmutation, so much as "right of transmission" (by fiat) or something like that. The capital still accrues, even if only in the form of futures. Information futures based on predictions of enclosure (of public space) by right of startup upstart primogeniture. How fucking primitive!

That's my issue right there. Nobody gets to own my future. I am Shevek from the rube colony, come to the imperialist universe-school-city, and the only thing I could never internalize was the cool on display even in this anti-establishment crowd of lecturers. Mine is purest engineering chic, still. Just ask my stylish daughters.

Sure, probably self constructed, but the patrician oligarch curator was gorgeous. Even McKenzie, the most down to the earth of the krewe was luxuriating in the privilege to re-design and re-engineer her body toward what? It's essence? I'd thought the project was to de-essentialize gender. 

No, Benjamin reminds me that it's about feeling at home in your skin. Age is doing its surgery and hormone hacking on me just fine. As far as feeling at home, I'm from Natchez and when I itches, I scratches. So, no I don't quite feel at home in my aging and drying skin. 

I wish the neighbor would lower his window when he pleasures himself in the shower. It's unseemly and unnecessary as goad to what? Jealousy? 

Anyhow, I was glad to see the political soul still alive and livid, disavowal of politics notwithstanding. Well, not livid exactly. More genteel than that. I'd date her, but I'm probably too old. McKenzie, not my neighbor. He's as fat and hairy as I am. Blech.

I absolutely adored the first presentation, the imaginary tale of electricity's romantic sublime, by way of Frankenstein hermeneutics. Bruno Latour was corrected. Fine, but that doesn't make his point of view wrong either.

The most interesting presenter, doomed as she said she was to live on the other side of the Cold War (virtual) wall, and speaking, I guess, from Shanghai, lit a long and stylish cigarette on screen during the denouement group discussion. It couldn't have been vape; the flame of lighting was far too interesting in the auto-calibrated light balance of the screen. Does one still have to be stylish and cool to make it to the point of being invited to speak to global audiences? I should think so. I should hope so. Not a good example, she wasn't. ! I, cowed by the MPA. The board of what? "parents?" Less smoking on screen, please!

The earnest will, you know, take over. We always do. We are so earnest in our awareness of irony.

There seems to be more continuity between the flows of old-fashioned capital and new fangled information along the vectors which have always been channels for wealth flow and concentration. More than McKenzie seems to want to admit. Well, more likely  I just don't have the proper mindset to do academics. 

As the Chinese always did say, it's very important to rectify the words. But then, they weren't so into innovation, and so their rectification went, um, backwards. They were more worried about proliferation, while we celebrate it. As though proliferation of code is proliferation of information. Wait, it actually is. Hang on!

There was some discussion about how being human, and the human itself, transforms just now in our history. Mostly by the woman smoking the stylish cigarette. Have we become different, and how much further is there to go? And we must go further if we are to reclaim history from the geological transformations which have not only decentered us as apex masters of our environment to now the losers in the game where the earth is destroyed, and we along with it. First to dominate, first to go, FIFO we called it when I bartended, so to speak, it's opposite now that we've gone corrupt. No issue for the cockaroaches, eh Wall-E? First in Last Out.

Bratton made more sense than he had to me before about what he means by "governance," and why surveillance is not the issue (our private ownership of ourselves as property has never been that important, and we have overemphasized it, forgetting the importance of physical freedom, relatively speaking. Forgetting the function of the other kind of masks, I'd say)

I have no secrets from my government, if I could but trust the state. In Google I trust. They only want my desires, after all, and won't hold those against me. (Is digital desire a thing? Seems to me I've heard it said . . .) The issue is rather what kinds of data, depersonalized/masked if not delocated; what kinds of data we need to be gathering, and how our models must act recursively on the real, based on the data which comes to them. Or else! 

But models can't act. Models stay still. That's what model means. Are we talking feedback loops? Are we talking the models as the basis for the machines? Wearing a mask in public will always be safer, no matter which kind of mask. Foil the AI recognition, foil the diseased vectorialists, foil the virus of money, which is information too, just like a virus is.

I'm the doer here, and you're the actors, the posers, the ones who will never do anything unless and until you have perfect agreement at the theoretical level, and then what? You'll advise the president about dropping the bomb, and he/she will listen because you're experts against the populists?

People don't believe in God because they're deluded. They believe in God because God is real. The trouble is that the populous to which the populists preach in Jaynesian tones of tractor-beaming; the populist preachers give them the explanations they want and need, just in order to breathe together. We don't need a Word or The Word for what is Real. The real takes no revenge. It just simply is.

Governance must happen at the level where individuals are impotent. Unless, of course, like good biological vectors, we learn to contaminate our fellows by our expression and by our actions. One metaphor which kept moving through my mind as I listened was that metaphorical masks may also defend us from the idiot winds of conspiracy theory. That preaching is always too pleased with itself.

Education composes such masks, that the tech vectorialists can't put up nearly fast and fine enough, since they themselves can't plumb their terra cotta warrior algorithms, and education can also help each of us to spread our individual infections of mind-influencing actual behavior. The truth will give us power, if only there were an educated populace to know the difference. I still strive to become educated, but not in one disciplinary dimension. Isn't that something?

We can't do a fucking thing if we feel too disempowered by, well, experts who want to tell us how it really is. Also on my mind was how massive a failure have been our state-run educational systems. Not disconnected, for sure, from the pandemic and especially now from its resurgence. The Internet is rotting and the words have gone amok.

We need much more of a hive-mind, but one without the Queen. Science be my guide, but not scientists. Scientists do the work, be the doers, and be not the patenters of my genes. You may have them for your work and not for your profit by proxy to the Big U. 

Those conspiracy theorists have a point, Left and Right, about the profits to be made by the producers of the vaccine show. But that misses the point. It's a good show! Give Spielberg his due for the spiel. No, give the actors their due. No, the writers, the authors. The viewers get what they want. And how about what they deserve? Really?

Bread and puppets, people. But you know, poor Aaron Schwartz, it wasn't pure evil that put the scientific writings behind paywalls. Most people can't read them anyhow. Editors and the review process cost money, and none but subscription fees were on offer. We do the best with what we have, and so we use Facebook, because what else can we afford, Audre Lorde?

There was a mild review about how women were posed for electrification education. Actually, I was truly surprised  that nobody mentioned the vibrator - the first "home appliance" once households were electrified. Before that, women were ministered by male doctors to cure their hysteria, I think. 

There must have been a tacit agreement not to go there, since there were lacunae all over the presentations for the role that sex plays. And even in the way that the presenters presented themselves. McKenzie, herself having transitioned, at least mentioned invisible sex workers among the organization of the workforce to build Australia's massive Niagara-grade hydro project.  But not as big as China's damn Three Gorges dam system.

All of it like mobilizing for war, or settling displaced migrants. We all go willingly. In or out of fear. by coercion if necessary. Or we did. Our new socialist near-mayor is being taken down by curvaceous boudoir shots, as if it were the Victorian age. What was she thinking (when she was very young)? She could never be a museum curator, but I'd sure take her as my mayor!

And I still want to know what will happen when we awaken to the fact that sex and emotion and wanting are all prior to cognition and ratiocination, and what Bratton calls sapience and agency. 

In most ways our emotional stance is what has changed most evidently as the computational layers have piled on to what was always stacked. Against the people. Words are also currency for elitism. Agency requires them, if it is to be social, as agency always is in reality. Are elite universities becoming vectorialists? Have they already long since? I am not qualified to say. Well, actually, I am. Most of my academic life was in Comparative Education. Universities are uniquely qualified to grant degrees (of separation).

The dramatic tension is between the vectorialists who don't mind what subversive things we do with their vectors, so long as it's always all about promoting ourselves, and those we, the washed, represent as their avatars, as individuals; the tension is between the vectorialists and the information consumers.

What about stars as hackers, McKenzie? Avatars of hyper sex hyper consumption, mega maga jets and yachts?

Once the information consumers stop amusing themselves to death. Until then, there is no tension. But the postman cometh, ringing twice. It's the e-motions being manipulated, not the behaviors, Shosho. The behaviors follow. Academics, so far, give us no purchase on emotions. Fools and knaves! 

Vectorialists and hackers are also consumers now. They must act the part, if they want our vote. They must be able to speak the language of the consumer, and act it, large. And be gorgeous and think themselves not. Unless they want to be President.

That right there is really what will have to change. And that's the part that I'm working on, as is my right and privilege. If only I had the time. I shall have to take a job now, quite simply because I have no appointments. My work will be put to the side just simply because I've always been more of a doer than a thinker for pay, and I need appointments to keep me from getting fatter and drinking more. Workforce. Be true.

But I, Sedek, worshipper of dead Ursula, am done with my theories of time process and simultaneity. Though I have lived and worked among the servant classes, I am properly accused of having been born rich. I drip with social capital. 

I lack the proper spirit of self-want, I think. One should never be accused of their birth. Right? Anyhow, my theories are complete. I just can't express them. From where? Oh, I don't know, from the mash, the hash, of words. They will catalyze themselves in time. Crystalize just in time. Because they must.

There will certainly be no expression from my mind, which is always a mess and unbounded. Expression requires an envelope, a bladder. Though not when I'm in touch with the Truth. Then my mind vibrates, and doesn't feel a mess. Incommunicado.

But friends seem to feel the need to joust about who is the most self-made. Whatever. It's tiring, and thank God this isn't Maoist China! No author nor protagonist can be self-made. 'Twas fate that made all of us. Anyhow, my theories are all public domain. Take them, please!

You self-branding hipster individualists all become the same, right? No matter which side of which wall dividing vectorialists from hackers in your imaginarium you hope to cross to (here on Urras). 

Some of us strive to live in the real, (on Anarres) where there are no boundaries, no flags, no sides, no brands, and no exclusive universities. Make a name for yourselves then, in - what did you call it? - your technological sublime? 

How here in hell am I supposed to hang onto any vocabulary? Sure I know you mock your own vocabularies. sort of, and know that no one lives in "the sublime," but how here, po-faced, shall I discern irony when you seem so certain? I couldn't give a shit. That's what the look of earnest means, when you're thumping bibles. I never was so paranoid about viral vectors as I was in Pence's Indiana. Land of the real? No irony at all!

My program is trivial. Emotion wants to be free. Fuck information. Information can never be created or destroyed. It's always there, even though and when we seem to be diminishing the information "content" of the earth. We are cosmically trivial. Humans a cosmic pratfall. If life may be comedy, we must cease to be so tragic. Always falling for the pathetic fallacy, as though there were no choice. Tragedy is always built in, dumbass.

If information cannot be created nor destroyed, all that can be done is to turn information into code for the sake of pleasuring ourselves, because we like to turn our minds into the pink/grey goo of output for our masters. The pink/grey goo was always input. Love your master and set him free. Lovers unite! and let the tinkerers with code go fuck themselves, the little Hackers, as the big O called one, showing that he didn't care. I vibrate with cosmos and come only in my mind, no math required. Snowden is one of the good guys, wearing a black hat. Obama a black neoliberal, wearing a white hat. GWB is still Alfred E.

The encoding of so-called "information" is what sapience means. It didn't exist before there were words, and the world is simpler now, not more complex. We never did have a grip on it before. The world. We had to imagine God or be damned.

Or let's tell it this way. Life also is about encoding. Replicators move unanimated matter in the direction of life. A kind of anti-entropy. Information theory shouldn't focus so much on transmission. It should focus more on survival, and how the tragedy of inevitable decay can be turned around into improvements by accident, by sex, and now by memes. Despite his militant atheism, I find Dawkins sublime. To read him is to get religion.

But there is a difference when it comes to digital code. The digital difference engine is cut off from the real. There is no longer the matrix of life to keep the code honest and moving in life's direction. The spoken and written word still evolve "naturally." Artifice is still work. There are dingbats in the code. 

There is no substrate for digital code. We must be more subtle in our philosophizing, people. Names can conflate differences as much as they can help to analyze constituent parts.

Now then, ahem, let us recognize the startup emotions. The wanting to hit it by luck of idea. Let's call it what it is. Always wanting a hit. These cannot be our masters. I will not play in your garden, Facebook. Too many creeps and weirdos parading their emotions as though I should care. It's unseemly, especially the fruit-cakes of Democracy. The fruits of Democracy have yet to blossom. The fruitcakes will say anything to get attention, even though it kills you.

I am your audience, and I don't really give a fuck for your theories. I want to know what to do, and you are not my master, so you will have to give me something real. You can't tell me what to do. I don't live in your world. I live in reality, where geographic time is overtaking history, and so I feel some urgency about agency.

And I'm telling you, agency is about emotion which is what you must suppress in order to be listened to. You must play the Queen's gambit into eternity and the rest of us must act. The house burns and you are rearranging the code in its attic. (Were you transmitting from an infectious disease lab, Benjamin, or from a prisonhouse? Same thing?) Me must find the borders and keep the boarders in our attics. The Polish anarchist killed the President at the Exposition. We got Teddy insteady.

Look, we must feel free to question each other's morality using something at least analogous to the scientific method. Jennifer Doudna working for a vaccine is not the same as Jennifer Doudna working on military contract. No matter how nice and intelligent and true she might think those in the military she works with are, no one in their right mind can trust our nation's military deployments post Vietnam, post Iraq Afghanistan, post Gitmo and Abu-gareb, and especially post the Donalds. Such power does not belong in such hands. Look Godwin, even some Nazis were nice and polite when not doing their dirty work. Some great poets and philosophers and scientists made their bad bargains too.

Alright, I'm treading way out-of-bounds here, but morality can't be determined either by algorithm or by intuition. And it especially can't be determined by intuition applied algorithmically to what some man says the Bible said. Says that God said. Oh PLEASE!

Truth is not something science can approach. All science does is truing, the verb. That's all emotional intelligence does either (a rather stupid neologistical conflation, kind of like red anger or orange four or meaning of life - just because you can say it doesn't mean it's a thing). 

Emotionally alive humans can tell the difference between love and hate. And it is not a subjective difference. It is not an individual judgement. And just like scientific truings, it can't be put to a vote. Morality is not up for vote. People are, though. Even if you don't trust the public ballot, people still vote and are voted on, even in an autocratic totalitarian state. Even if you don't trust the media, you can still true it and decide.

I once knew how to take Google down, and I knew it to be a morally good labor. My buddy with the coding expertise, who was more interested in some jackpot that I was, couldn't help but put me in the impossible position of explaining to him how to operationalize what we had been talking about. He lost his nerve. He still works in the hacker salt mines while owning his own successful company (where are the boundaries?). And we could have brought down Google and what a better world it would now be!

But what do I know? What's a crackpot sellout to do?

Google is evil not because they steal something by enclosing it without any consultation, although that's pretty bad. They are also bad because they steal hacker labor, by using up all the air in the room, if nothing else. What makes Google evil is that they overwhelm any alternatives. That was Microsoft's playbook. Amazon's for sure. 

You either work for them, or you don't work at all, and the salary is calibrated against your enthusiasm, and according to your inner masculine whiteness. How does that feel? When you're a fifteen dollar an hour picker or driver or chatbot? When you're a black woman who brings up diversity? When you want an honest job that doesn't require you to be a monitored robot? When, as consumer, you want an honest search engine which doesn't try to predict what you want, based on what you seemed to want before.

Morality is an editorial process. There should be no vectorial force or flow without it. No published author. No engineering projects. Certainly no academic publishing, but then they all know that already. The scientists do as well. But some of the editing isn't linguistic or cognitive. It's more like knowing pornography when you see it, although we know better than to do that sort of editing, free speech and all. 

Fine! I'm fine with pornography, and I'm fine with decriminalizing drug use, and I'm fine with redirecting the police away from traffic stops and domestic interventions. I'm less fine with guns for editorial enforcement, or mashups of so-called news based on occult algorithmic calibrations of my own enthusiasms where the so-called non-publisher takes no responsibility whatsoever about whose money they take for what. Free speech and all, especially if someone wants to see it.

Freedom to smoke is not like freedom to go maskless, unless you're holding an infant child in your arms, as I did, when you or I smoke. I know better now. Except that you won't tear my hands from my stick shift and sensorless car until all cars are gone and I don't need one. Or until my hands are dead and cold, of course. Or when I confess that I'm not a better driver than the unmechanicals who drive by sensor feel. Who park with a button. Damn the statistics, you shouldn't be driving if you won't learn to drive. I know my rights!

Shut up already!

OK.

Lies, damn lies, and then there's statistics. The truth is on my side. Whatever the fuck the truth is, it's on my side. You can't say that on an academic Zoom conference, now can you? But then, it's only academic. Truth is the best revenge. Against what's real right here right now. Killing ourselves softly is what we're doing. Sing it out! Or shut up yourselves.

Anyhow, did I say thank you? I guess not. Thank you Benjamin, McKenzie, Sandy, Katarczina, Natalia, Bagna. You were wonderful, each and every one of you. Thank you, one and all!

Now, back to work!



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Ideology - a 'Bated Hook

As I was going to say before I got hooked into the latest jerk-off to space, I just read this beautiful article from the March 2021 Rolling Stone explaining QAnon. I know I just put off any readers I might have had, but look at my live blog of the launch hereinbelow and you might see that I use my vulgar terms advisedly. We don't know what the deep state is up to, but it has been made clear that for the hyper wealthy it's mostly sex most of the time. Probably not pedophelia, except for a diminishing few. Did it really have to look so precisely like a dildo? I ask you, Steven Colbert. My daughter won't agree that the Amazon logo is an erecting penis.

Anyhow, the most useful metaphor from Tim Dickenson's article, linked above, was that our political spectrum looks like a horseshoe more than it does a continuum from Left to Right. The ends come together and the tines of the horseshoe can spark. 

I tend to think and I'm tempted to think that we need the right ideology to fight for truth justice and what was meant to be the American Way. Like, if only these people on the lunatic fringes, Left and Right, could come together on what's really going on. Just like theory in the sciences, ideology can make sense of otherwise pesky facts.

They're not wrong not to trust the people in charge and the media and the healthcare system. It doesn't always seem that the institutions established for our sake are working in our best interest. But they answer the questions about 'why,' with nutty notions of intentional evil.

Getting traction for any kind of anti-capitalist anything, ideology-wise, feels like prying QAnon co-conspirators from their truths by way of reason. 

The people who aren't all wrong jump into conspiracy theories because they want and need something to trust and hang on to. We all do. But there's this immediate loss of proportion once you're down the Rabbit holes. You're no longer doing anything productive, the way that educated activists are. 

Most activists there's something wrong with capitalism, but being on the street probably moderates their own extreme political tendencies. Activists just want to make things better for all of us. 

And anyhow, any ideology I come across feels so totalizing. Just like happened with Mao under China, I mean China under Mao. Ideology takes people off the rails somewhere. Almost like a conspiracy theory implemented. Stalin, for instance. Agamben regarding the pandemic. 

So the crazies left and right are actually onto something, and much of it would be cleared up by critical thinking, but there's like a deep state law against pretty much any ideology except the one that says we have to keep on keeping on in our profligate ways. Free speech and free markets can resolve anything. The less oversight the better. 

We still do entertain a little bit of subversive ideology, so long as nobody's really paying any attention. So long as nobody can figure any of it out. So long as the language is impenetrable. Calling things out straight and out loud, you might also find yourself enthused into something you really don't fully understand. "You can't crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them." says Ursula LeGuin in The Dispossessed.

But things sure are getting away from us, and it really feels like shit is all going to happen really fast now, and the hope for us to get it together feels nil. I mean it's nice to imagine solar powered air conditioning, LED lights, ubiquitous sustainable electricity from a combination of better conservation and better generation, but it may just plain be too late. There's too much going on that people won't leave go of.

Many smart people are having a hard time imagining what we can or will do.

Now in many ways I feel like a conspiracy theorist myself, although I don't think I match the profile set out in that Rolling Stone article. It matches, eHarmony style, evangelicals and Q-types based on a certain heavy side toward intuition and the importance of symbols, all blocking the way of science. 

My disposition is pure scientist, and I don't wish to have anything to gain by spreading my truths. I'd be happy to gain visibility if that would help to spread these truths around, but first I have to somehow find or make some core of people who agree that I'm not nuts.

The trouble is that while my disposition may be pure science, and my motivation is to ameliorate and certainly not to self-aggrandize, I am also most certainly not a scientist. Unless I'm right. Then I guess I'm a scientist. Just not an experimental scientist.

It's been just about 40 years since I accomplished a shift to my thinking. (Looking back, the shift was already there, as though inborn, but thinking about that makes me kind-of crazy) I haven't been able to convey it to a single other soul, or as an alternative, to shake the stuff. I do get pretty far along, and get agreement and nods. But I need someone to realize what an important breakthrough for science this is. 

Not a great track record for me. But I haven't stood still. I modify, improve, and often jettison things I thought I was sure of, but which were really just uncritical assumptions that I'd made because they sounded good. 

For instance, I remember thinking that certainly animals don't think or feel. Humans are special. Boy I sure have grown out of that one. I've learned lots more about what human intelligence is and isn't. 

Now I have time to read and read and read, but there's never enough time and there never will be, to read everything, and I get into some pretty esoteric stuff. I somehow have to learn to whittle what I learned down a little polished chestnut nubbin, in a way that someone else might say Aha!

To start with, let me say that I do rather believe that the important thing about science as a process is that it can help define what we must believe in common. I don't think it touches cosmic matters, and certainly not truth. But it describes what's cross-culturally real here on earth about the physical world. And scientific knowledge works. Obviously.

Just keeping up with news also feels important, in addition to my deeper reading, since clues that I need might happen out in the public sphere as much as I may find them in some seldom-read text. I guess I mean clues about readiness to change some basic thinking.

My trouble is that almost everything I read reinforces my "beliefs," as does everything I learn from keeping up with news. I reach out when I find something that's moving in what I consider the "right" direction, and have made some good connections, but it's really hard to get the attention of someone deep into any particular discipline. Deep enough so that they might have found their own inkling of what I'm talking about. The disciplines prevent consilience now.

I'm grateful for the time I now have as I grow old, while I also feel that the kind and amount of reading I'm doing is a dodge keeping me from doing the more important work of just plain laying it out and explaining. But there is so damned much to calibrate against.

I do have a massive stack of my own writing, and I spend a lot of time just learning to write, but I never quite get closer to knowing how to communicate my little truth. I think I could do it in person, if I were to find the right interlocutor. I've been trying for a long long time. It can be dicey, since you don't really want to be written off as a crank, and so of course I spend most of my time trotting out my near expertise on a rather amazing range of deepish understanding about how things work and how they're going. 

I'm not a wonk, but I am articulate, suffering mostly from a bad memory for details. Like statistics, attribution, dates. . . All the important stuff. But I'm not quite about to let go of what I know to be true. I'd be happy to be talked out of it. I've tried to talk myself out of it, but I can't. And you can't talk me out of it unless you can follow it to the point of the flaw and point it out. I keep looking for flaws, and when I find them I toss them, but the core remains.

It goes like this: some forty years ago I accomplished something by way of thought experiment which is very similar in many ways to what Einstein did. He shifted the Big Frame based on work others had already done before him, to complete an improved description of certain aspects of universal truth about physical reality. He took the notion that the speed of light is constant and not subject to ordinary relativity (like a train seeming to go more slowly if you're driving along with it), and he turned it into a whole new way of seeing things which had demonstrable consequences and was testably real.

In consequence of the constancy of light speed, time became relative - it could shrink and grow depending on one's inertial state in reference to other bodies. The train approaching light speed had to shrink to preserve the ratios. Shrink to nothing but energy ultimately, and time on the train stands still, and so mass became equivalent to energy, also depending on inertial state. Depending, as it were, on point of view. And later on, gravity was defined as indistinguishable from acceleration, which would be force applied to an object. A new concept arose, called space-time, which was "curved" by gravity.

I'm not really competent to go into how things were elaborated to the point that we have an entire array of discovered "particles," along with things we know how to do as a result of this Einsteinian shift.  Bombs, nuclear power, gps, radar, kinds of things.

Now I'm no Einstein, and I'm no RFK Jr. either, Mr. Bentson. My shift was to see conceptual reality as ontologically equivalent to physical reality. This was thrust upon me, as it were, by taking note of the way that subjective observation was upset by relativity, and later on by quantum theory. Observation messes with the real, as it were. Almost like the way Chinese describe a gaze. Going out from your eyes, rather than light coming in. But not really. Bell's theorem.

I was also operating from the remove of the Chinese written tradition, having given up on equity with my peers regarding our own traditions. I had no culture! I was trained only in what was supposed to lead to an engineering career, by the time I went to college. Culture oppressed and baffled me. My first real book was the Godfather, I think. Plato's Republic might have come before that.

All of this is a long story, and of course it's fully documented in this blog. But I hardly expect anyone to read it through, or even to read it hardly. But the remove of Chinese gave me a different kind of objectivity about what might be strange about the West. The West is certainly responsible for where we find ourselves, good and bad.

I was early-on disimpressed with Platonic ideals or archetypes which are supposed to be some sort of eternal verities. The conceptual reality that I meant was broader and deeper than that. While we might suppose that all intelligent creatures will apprehend the same perfect circle, I would maintain that this already says too much about what we think intelligence is. We share a limited understanding of what intelligence is, is part of my point. 

We actually think that we will know other life in the universe when we recognize the artificiality of forms that are more perfect than the ones that arise naturally. That pretty much eliminates, say, strokes from a Chinese brush pen - whether painting or writing calligraphically - as evidence for intelligence, for instance. I may be calling the supposed universality of cognitive "ideas" or "ideals" a Western parochial presumption. I'm not entirely alone in that.

More lately I've satisfied myself that consciousness, while intimately relatable to the structure of our brains, does not sit in or on our brains. Consciousness extends, quite literally in the case of collapsing quantum probability equations, into the world about us. Boundaries become diffuse, and anyhow, subatomically nothing ever quite touches now, does it?

The twin paradox, Zeno's paradox, definitions for force, poesis . . . these are the things which were my preoccupation way back when. 

It hit me with the force of intuition that there is also conceptual motion. That if conceptual reality also exists beyond the mind, in the space of eternity perhaps, then it must also move. Conceptual reality is no more static than physical reality, but it is just as primordial and ever-present. Mind in and of matter, so-to-speak, but also apart from matter and its forces. Concepts in relative motion have, Eureka! an emotive relation. 

Now you may think, as I do, that this brings Platonic archetypes back in through the back door. But here's the thing; those Platonic 'ideas' are the only artificial stuff in the cosmos. Their primordial existence doesn't mean that they were already there before we invented them, the way we found them.

The limit of cognitive forms is like the limit of the speed of light. Go there and you disappear. You become pure emotion. You? In any case a perfect circle becomes as unindividuated as a subatomic particle winking in and out of existence. There is nothing there to love, we except perhaps in the crafting of it, and the gazing on it in case it's been made approximately real. There is nothing there to hate. 

I guarantee you that you will never run into or run from a perfect circle in reality. And what if a perfect circle or square or star is just one among many obsessions of Westerners that we just can't get beyond? What if the reason our contemporary paradigm won't shift is simply because we don't want it to? We won't let it. We are comfortable with our parochial presumptions. And we don't want to be responsible. We want natural law to tell us what to do, as it mostly does, until we get too good at manipulating it, and then we have to grow up.

What we think of as cognitive truths are always supposed to be static. Mine move. My own itty bitty consciousness theory is much simpler than others I've come across. It includes emotion as an organizing and driving principle, rather than as some sort of epiphenomenon of having reached the evolutionary stage of wonderful human. We are not the end game. Blue Origin started way before our earth. Sentient creatures that react to their environments are already conscious. So are we, even if our cognitive centers are excised.

So anyhow, back to ideology. I think it's not for me. I hope my thought experiment is actually in the public realm of science, and demonstrable for that. Not esoteric or for the experts only. That it is perfectly replicable in other minds. Well, I'd settle for something better than perfect, enemy of the good that it is. Actually, I have had better luck in Chinese, though it seems to lead to a great deal of apparently painful cognitive dissonance. Or I may be projecting. 

I'm pretty sure there's nothing dangerous about communicating this conspiracy theory of mine. I sure do wish that there were demonstrable and measurable things that could be newly proven or disproved, but as far as I can tell, this shift changes just about nothing at all. Physically. Unless it changes our behaviors, which would change everything and quickly. Given how impactful mankind has so recently become.

I think it would change our behaviors if and because it would change the basis for trust. We can tell more easily who is out for himself than we can which so-called scientist is telling the truth, and which is fudging it for money or for laziness. There are many things we could have learned from data, after the pandemic hit. And in its absence, other kinds of knowledge filled the gap. Nobody really believes that this normal can't be the eternal normal, especially if they're white and living well.

Point being that cognition starts with emotion, which essentially allows our brains to mandate decisive action much more quickly than we could ever make decisions and take ownership for them. Brains do that mostly autonomously, based on apparent generalizations about perceptual objects and happenings, and where similar things have previously led. Exciting and scary happenings stick. 

The real deciding all happens pre-cognitively. Re-cognition is actually re-perception. Re-cognition is what you do when you fall into the trap of imagining ideal types. Right Mr. Kinsey? You know when you're scared, but you don't always know when you should be, in our very complex world. Conspiracy theorists are right to be scared. But they don't trust the experts, and with good reason.

Cognition is the epiphenomenon, and not emotion. Cognition falls out from being conscious and social and having hands with opposable thumbs and depth perception and a flexible body that runs relativity fast. And then there were words. Logos. Sociability across time and space and what we call conscious  thought.

Ideas don't exist without words. Ideas are the most artificial things on the planet, but they're still real. We mistake the physicals renderings of ideas for the actual artifice. But ideas also decay when we no longer care for them. Who really thinks of particles as perfect billiard-ball spheres anymore?

To me, this evolutionary definition for "previous" is a necessary and sufficient explanation for time and causality. Time being then a true conspiracy of living things, and causality a requirement for any survival narrative. It works in concert with entropy, perhaps. Lived time evolves. Dead time decays. And round and round we go. Onward and upward. Forward, not back.

Well that's about it, and likely about all any reader will take, and then some. 

I wish I could tell you more. I wish there were something I could do with this. But there is no lever long enough, nor fulcrum steady enough, as Archimedes once said. Was it Archimedes? I don't know. Not important. Just one other soul and the world will start to move, and it will move in conspiracy with universal life and not against it, as we now move. 

So I suppose that I'm suggesting that looking for a perfectly fitting ideology is like looking for a perfect circle. Most of us can tell that any approximation of any perfect geometric shape deviates from perfect. Some can see it better. And with those same instruments that allow us to know that parallel lines must meet, we can tell that even the closest, likely digital, approximation to perfection is still off by way of gravity waves and curvature of surface. There is no perfect anywhere in the cosmos. We are all destined to decay. But there are moments, and this is one.

Maybe it's more about how and why you look at some perfect conceptual object. And sure, near perfect balls make machines run more smoothly and longer, and digital synth can lure us into imaging wonders for our selves, even rocketry to Mars. But if we fail to get real right here and right now, those will be as forever far from us as is any next planet anywhere which might host life.

Anyhow, for me there's already been contact, and it didn't involve voices or UFO's or any of that improbable nonsense. But then there I go, right off the rails. Dang! By "contact," I guess I mean those peak moments of clarity and ecstasy, which we work so hard to avoid. Which our hard working in service to what we call the economy causes to diminish. Neither Bezos nor Branson, no any other space tourists will find it, though the first true astronauts may have.

Am I Muslim or something? I actually do believe that when you Name God you kill it. Like the Buddha said though, if you find yourself walking next to the Buddha, kill him! Anyhow, you can't name what can't be recognized. And you can't recognize what you can't get beyond. You have to get beyond anything to see it or to conceive it, and then you still might not know what it will become. Name your kids and give them some being. Don't name god. That's what the Christ is for. That's what incarnation means. I like that story. But don't try to make ideology out of it. That would be a terrible idea!

Wonder of wonders.

And wait! I am precisely not talking about "religion." We only need religion if we have been separated from the real. And the real is not just physical. Duh.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Live Blog of Blue Origins Bungee Jump

Wait, is that another Land Rover? What's the connection? Rough and ready wealth? British royalty? Anglophilia?

They climb what must be called "the gantry," one old man, one kid and the two Bozo Bros. Cameras all over the place, and this time no social media prattling on and pretending to use their mouse. A view of the control room, and it's all men who look precisely as you'd expect from Amazon. All white. Making only brief and meaningless facial expressions.

I learned by swapping to TV that this will be but an 11 minute flight, shorter than Sir Richard's, and quite apparently less elegant. Is Jeff the one with the big cowboy hat, or are they hiding that it's somebody else? Is the old man really a woman? I'll have to look it up. Hang on. No, named Wally so probably not. Bezos doesn't have the movements and body type I might have expected. Anyhow, we all lose our sex as we age, right?

Each zoomie is allowed a personal stroll. No, wait, Wally has to be a woman. It only matters in relation to the control room. Finally the hat comes off. I wonder how he'll protect himself from radiation on the way to Mars. Getting ready for the amusement park ride. How is he so certain that this is what he really really wants to do?

I just read a beautiful - oh wait, actual picture windows! I guess you can do that if you aren't going into deep space and heating up too much on descent. Waves out the window. How much will Blue Origin charge for tourists? I'm pretty sure Branson will get the riders. Wait, a cute white woman in the control room. Nah, must be the press room. The temporary hatch door jiggled on opening. How can that instill confidence?

One of the handlers is inside acting like a stewardess to the old one. Steward. She's getting taped up or taped in. I guess she wanted a postcard to the world, but we can't read it yet. Young Netherlander youngest ever. Going Dutch with money.

Oh yeah, the chick is just the voice. Asynchronous for me. Laughing and less scripted than Branson. Smiles and crazily smiling eyes. Mercury 13 was cancelled. Getting women in space was cancelled. Sorry that I haven't been keeping up with this. Wally.

I found running commentary on the New York Times, since the Amazon Youtube live feed isn't saying much. Really boring compared to Virgin. Wait, Jeff has a sister who he did NOT invite along? Special message from Christina. Infectous excitement (??) about space. She's Lieutenant Uhura? The only black I've seen or heard referenced, and I doubt she's black.

Camp headquarters cheers. Are they the $15 / hr. crowd? "What a day for the entire Blue Origins team"

I learn again that there's a boundary line to space at 100 KM? Maybe Branson just missed it? Who knows?

A hold. Lot's of talk about why it's meaningless. Don't need precision, kind of thing. Hey, I got another actual comment about my Aliner post. Now that's exciting. I should put the "for sale" sign on the post.

Hold ends, all good, about to pull the sunshade back, or I guess that's what it is. Has this capsule flown before? Announced goosebumps.

'You have to do it to have that "change inside" say the veteran astronauts. You have to be there. thin fragile film of air. Changed by it. Change in core values. As millions and millions have this experience we'll all change. Like herd munitions munity, something. Yes yes, that's how we change ourselves. Yes yes. 

Go for launch, T-minus 10 or so. Or so seems to be the order of this day. I'm waiting for the fuel connector to detach, which seems to be happening. Maybe. 

Four minute float after separation. Better than Branson? 105-106 kilometers. Whose dick is longest?

Fuel left for soft landing.

We will do this indefinitely, hundreds and hundreds. Thousands. "What an incredible moment" The Times is using an Amazon to do the announcing. Or maybe I'm missing the TV launch. I don't know.

110 K pounds thrust. Hydro Ox. Throttle. Bottle rocket throttle. Sorry. 15 flight.

"Let's light this candle." Very straight up. Only ten minutes left. 15K ft. Listen to the roar. Pass max Q. Beautiful burn. 40K ft. It just feels different. 2000 mph. appearing nominal. half up by scale to left on screen. MECO. Engine off. Why still speeding up? Awaiting separation. No I was looking at the wrong thing. Slowing but still climbing. 300 mph. Passed the line at 320 K ft.  Speed near zero. descending.

I  don't think. I don't know. no longer zero G? at 2K MPH. Am I watching descent of both vehicles? I guess.

Booster lands and blows out the camera. Almost bullseye. Here's the capsule 235 MPH. 11,000 ft. still slowing. Drogues. 138 MPH. Main 50 MPH 15 MPH. 2K ft. They could crash and survive, I'd think. "I'm speechless" "Big beautful windows." Skirt jet. What? Drone passes in front. Puff and down. What a day what a day. We're so grateful. "Go ahead and remain in your seats." The eyes are smiling, but not quite as brightly. Exhausted already?

Fans like at a Beatles concert, except they had to buy tickets and these guys are getting $15 / hr. to be there. Or maybe it's on their own time. Or maybe there was some sort of payment. I think I'm out.

Newest minted astronauts. Here come the land rovers. A toyota truck? Gun mount. Running. Thumbs up. Poke in a ground in the ground. Static. Charge! Run over the steps. Best day ever. No, it's ours and we didn't even get to go up to space. Sound man. Ponytale guy with camera. Sound guy. Wait, a woman running She's pulling the rope. A man has to jerk it free. Hand signals. Feathers on the black uniforms Floaters.

Jeff smiles large. Crowd jumping up and down. they release from inside. Hugs all around. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

No Clarity, No Fog - Tiny House for Sale!

Yesterday or the day before, along the way toward getting my car inspected, which proved to be impossible due to shortage of skilled labor, I'm guessing, I had a mild panic-like attack driving behind a massive confederate pickup sporting balls from its hitch. You know, rubber bull testicles. How long before we're all at literal war with ourselves?

Then last night I'm awakened by a car alarm just below my window, which had backformed itself into the dream I was having. I couldn't get back to sleep. I knew I would be feeling as miserable now as I actually do. Now. But sometimes my thoughts are more clear when my body's feeling wrecked.

I had to eat something in the meantime, composing brilliant words as I flopped the blueberry pancakes. I mean I could never be a chef, but they tasted pretty darned good, even if I ate too many of them and likely lost most of what brilliance I thought I was cooking, during the time I was cooking. All my mental composing was lost.

But here's the thing: Every little desire I have now is translated up into the brilliant cloud of want satisfaction, at the other end of which is some corporate controller whose maximal value is to satisfy that want in the aggregate. And we, the elite readership who consider ourselves well-informed, want to hate those self aggrandizers. Especially when they become elected Republican officials.

We readers really want the same thing as the blockbuster movie watchers, right?

But anyhow they are us! We want oil, we want gizmos, we want plastics, Benjamin, plastics. And we want it packaged. There is a new store in town, just opened, where you can buy such things as metal straws and glass soap dispensers, and who knows how long it's good for. The store, I mean. You can get it all by way of Amazon. I'm sure.

All I know is that in just one supersized year I'm suddenly afraid to cross the country ever again. Could me my age, but I wasn't all that much younger when in summer of 2020 I came back from the West Coast hauling my tiny home and deploying it as my portable quarantine just in time for the big 65. It was at least three circumnavigations across the three years before that. And I'm done! Medicare and out!

I'm afraid - and rationally so - to cross the anti-vaxxer states, and I'm afraid of weather and I'm afraid of fire and flood, and mostly I'm afraid that my knack for always finding a lovely spot to spend at least a night will have been overwhelmed by just the mass of new RVers. I gauge this by the inflationary cost to own one. 

Hell, I think I could get more than I paid for mine now. Sell before the crash? Make me an offer I can't refuse. Please!

I remember when Dad's dementia started to get bad, and he wouldn't wash. The nurses helpfully explained that some folks in dementia can't be confident of the floor to the shower and are afraid to step into what is sensed as a black hole. Or a white hole.

So Dad, a lifelong habitual - one might say fanatic - swimmer, would essentially wash by swimming in the pool. Which didn't exactly make me want to join him, but mostly a male nurse would be recruited to guide his shower beforehand in the large shower-room, which felt familiar to Dad as a locker room from his swimming days in high school and college. I guess. He's always been more comfortable swimming naked the way they used to do in school. Imagine! Mom talked him into at least a jock strap in his personal endless pool.

Now I look back to work I was doing on my daughter's house, using a crappy table saw with non-existing safety features, disentangling crossed wiring, shaping new mullions for rotted storm windows with a cranky router, and cringe about doing it now for myself here in my little apartment, which also needs some improvements. It's like looking down into the black hole of a shower. Gone the spring of youth! Terrifying.

Well, I was right. My clarity is gone, though my belly is full. I haven't shopped since forever. What am I thinking? I must keep supplies in store. There were flood warnings even here in Buffalo, soon to be the destination city for those escaping what they thought was climatic and geographic nirvana. The most privileged will be travelling to Mars. They should live so long.

But I don't just see the yawning black hole in front of me where I used to see exciting prospects. I see the future, and . . . OK, well, it does look like a black hole. I read my first real article about 6G just now. It was in Chinese and described research in the "science city" whose director showed me around in the Pu Dong New District of Shanghai. Like many modern new-builds in China, its celebratory days seemed behind it then, a few years ago now, and the presentation centers looked decrepit, though they'd been new just "yesterday." Ah, China.

Science City must be buffed back up with China's post-COVID bounce-back. The excitement about 6G was palpable and real in the reporting I read. And then I found the Ericsson white paper and felt the let-down that the Chinese was hyping the English-language hype. But no matter, the thing is real.

It feels like this: You shorten the wavelength down to sub millimeter, and you reduce the latency by a couple of orders of magnitude and you get a kind of Capitalist or CCP wet-dream of a globally distributed mesh where the mesh itself will sense where the nearest and best computational power and authority is, and where the storage is, and presence will be real, and so will facial recognition and WOW the artifice of intelligence. WOW!

And yes, it feels like a black hole. As in, trust who exactly? Which experts will handle the security the privacy, the distribution of resources. We don't even know how to do civic education anymore, and we sure don't share the same national mythology anymore, and anyhow how will any of this slow down the discard of single-use container waste and the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands, and where will the energy come from? And what will those sub-micro-waves (I have no idea if this is technically correct, but I think it might be) do to our bodies, not to mention the body politic?

I think that all I really wanted to say before and during breakfast is that we have found the enemy and the enemy is us. They - those who the readers among us love to hate - are only trying to give us what we want before someone else beats them to it. And the role is so addictive that they are loathe to relinquish it, even though they might have to sell their soul to keep it.

Is this really such a sin, aggregating all our little wants and meeting them? I am so sick and tired of the refrain from people who think that intelligence ought to rule the world, that these Republicans are all nuts. They've sold their souls to the devil. They're out of touch with reality! Well, guess what? We all are.

Do we really think that our rational self-interest will outvote our id? Really? When votes are bought and sold the same way soap is. In plastic containers? No money is put into the hands of the voters. Oh no, that would be patently illegal. We manipulate you behind the scenes of all the fun you get for free. Easy peasy.

Well, that's grim. But really, we know we're all implicated in what's going on. We all want guilty stuff. We're all guilty, no matter how woke.

A day has gone by now, at least, and I was offered a boat ride post-flood and we stupidly, against fellow boater advice, went for a slow cruise up the Buffalo River. We had to brave a maze of clustered logs and debris which had been flushed down the River, but not quite out, and the boat's skeg hung up on some of it, which was scary and embarrassing both.

Two woke offspring of my good old friends were along for the ride, one with an infant grandchild. And I was called out as just not trying anymore for my claim of no longer knowing how to work parts of the boat. But I think it also meant my fumbling with the preferred pronoun "they" for someone we were talking about who I used to know as "she." Guilty!

The other was the young fellow from New Orleans who'd shown me the literal "end of the world." It's a "monument" or "landmark" some-such on Google Maps, and he was both thrilled and amazed that Google had recorded the name that he thought he'd coined. Must have been in the airwaves or something. Anyhow, he was making a surprise visit to town because he works as a windmill blade repair person. That means ropes and dangling and fiberglass and grinders. He got his start in oil, in effect. But I think he's found his niche now. He seems to think so too.

So yeah, in just about another brief decade, we'll all be vibing together, and China will be doing it more seamlessly and better, probably, each individual person having internalized how to stay safe inside the all-knowing stack of ubiquitous computing. Each wanting to look like the ideal Han. How Han.

And we will be driving pickups sporting AR's and AK's or whatever can be laser sighted, right? And flags, which mean different things to different people.

Dark, dark, dark, black hole.

But I don't quite see it that way. I don't. I mean, I would be terrified to do the work, just as I am suddenly terrified to run a table saw right now, but it's not really my work to do anymore, is it? I ducked out when the clouds rolled in. The trust web stopped working for me. I was responsible for HIPAA related security and I shuddered.

I feel so relieved.

None of us went swimming yesterday, which was already the day after the yesterday that I started talking about here. Back in the day, we would have, but we all anticipated the post-swim chill and being wet at dinner time out. When I was scolding for growing up rich, and everybody needs to defend how poor they were now. As if any of us were. I ate out. I was warm and dry and we ate outside.

And I did marvel at the boisterous dock life; a concentration of non-readers for sure, and by far mostly powerboats at what I was reliably told was the largest dockage in all New York State. Though nobody believed my reliable reporting that yeah, there are more swimming pools in Buffalo than anywhere in the world, per household, which is obvious when you fly in as my young New Orlinean friend did.

Which all just proves my point that human life on earth has little to do with our misapprehension of  what consciousness is. Sure there are such things as perfectly drawn circles and squares and stars and ellipses now, and it is very very hard to imagine that these would not be recognized as such by any consciousness anywhere in the knowable cosmos. And that there therefore must be natural law and it must be universal.

But before you apprehend the perfect circle you have to find it somehow beautiful and want it. Music of the spheres kind of thing. And nobody's music sounds like anybody else's, right?

So all this 6G humming coming together might wake us up, right? Right?

I mean like this guy literally dressed literally in the literal flag comes up to Matt Goetz on the beach next to Marjorie Taylor Greene all excited to see them and chummy and putting his arm around Gaetz tells him "I don't think you're a pedophile" after telling Marj "I don't think you're crazy at all" and it takes them a while to catch on. You can check it out for yourself. It's really funny.

Like how do you ever know who you can trust and who might be a provocative agent from the enemy? Like I didn't even know I was bloodied and bruised after climbing up from the head on the River yesterday. There should be an age-limit warning against the contortions you have to make. 

Whatever~

Right?

Yeah, so anyhow we may discover that here on earth we humans really aren't all that distinguished from one another as the boundaries between and among us dissolve into the silicon solvent and we realize all over again that government of and by and for the people is far more precious than we ever did imagine and we take back the networks because they were ours in the first place, and blockchains don't make anyone rich ever anymore because you get to see what you own as distinguished from what everyone else owns and you give it all freely away when you need or want to because we're all suddenly rich together.

OK, now it's time to wake up. I am sooooo fat.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Review: The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family

The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family by Joshua Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



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You know, by virtue simply of reading this book, I belong to a minuscule elite. Most of us are discreet; we are circumspect enough not to try to compose ourselves in words. We know our betters.

But clearly, I suffer incontinence with words. It's not that I wish to join the hyper-elite of authorial authority. I am not so deluded. A kind of public service, merely, though no-one might care to read me. Well anyhow, what could it possibly matter, right? Amazon - which means simply that Bezos takes credit for all it if - Amazon owns Goodreads, owns IMDB, and can therefore funnel your enthusiasms better than I or any other elite reader. It all happens so discreetly. Mars? Really?

Influencers elsewhere make their way by appearing uncomposed, sometimes almost brutish. We elite readers really should control the world, and likely will in case we ever survive our current autocatalytic nightmares. It would make sense, wouldn't it? In a strange way. 

But meanwhile, here is a very strange book. I can't really say what I think because I'm not Jewish, and therefore likely have no right. In just the way that Canadians seem to have infiltrated our popular music culture, I am more than comfortable that handsome-looking, even boyishly androgenous self-aware Jews have taken up the best strains of our literature. It all makes for lovely reading.

The strangeness of this book is that it is supposed to contain some, or perhaps just an, actual fact(s). There is an "extra-credit" coda to the book, which is really the culmination, the conclusion, the climax, actually, of the read. This is where he fills us in on the book's inception. The Harold Bloom stuff. Perhaps the reason he's an author and I never shall be. 

I only got lore on Bloom because my Jewish girlfriend sold him books. I've never been up on names, myself. Drop them all the time, but nothing to jumpstart a career. And I would never wear little James Joyce glasses. Mine were always the same as Woody Allen's asshole characters.

Anyhow, the very finalmost culmination of the book's conclusion is a verbatim, apparently, of the actual prototype for the character Judy from the book. Now our author here seems to want us to riducule this actual self-identified dyke woman who actually did live with Harold, the man, Bloom for a while. For her, all is patriarchy, even the definition for Jew - what Jewish means - which has powerful ironic resonance with the book. So I don't know, maybe the actual woman was being celebrated. I thought what she wrote had a certain sort of cogency. At least as much as the book's protagonists do.

Meanwhile - and here's my punchline - after letting us know why and how he had to camouflage the book, because it would otherwise hew too close to real, you could actually take the coda and work it all backwards, almost like a <i>roman a clef</i> or something.

Now I thought that was really cool. Plus, he does kind of culminate all our brilliant Jewish authors in his roundabout sort-of definition of what it means to be Jewish. I'd thought he was going to toss the comic shtick, but nope, he almost does Roth one better. To whom this book should probably be dedicated except that I'm guessing Cohen rather looks down on Roth. Which is why only four stars from me.

Brilliant! What can I say?

Friday, July 16, 2021

On Invention; I Am Become Irony, Interpreter of Worlds

By rights, this post should be in response to a question posed on Quora, asking about "invention." The asker seems to betray ambition to invent. Sometimes, when I'm not quite in my right mind, I take such bait, but not often. There are lots of questions like this one on Quora, and the ones I might be inclined to respond to generally imply, to me, utter ignorance in the context for the question.

No expert myself, I still feel qualified to comment on ignorance.

I am myself quite ignorant, of course, which is likely why I never respond to most questions. I would rather be thought a fool than to open my mouth and remove all doubt, sort of thing. 

Anyhow, those who do feel that they possess sure knowledge seem always to teach me something that I didn't know. I don't even know if there is a realm where I feel any sort of expertise. Competence, perhaps, but expert status, rarely!

But here I go, on what is, by far, a less public forum. Mine. I am the only expert here. So expert that no-one dares to comment.

The term "invention" always implies an individual coming up with something de novo and changing the world thereby. But even the roots of the word are more about discovery than invention, as the word "invention" is deployed in common usage. 

Discovery implies, of course, much ground being laid ahead of time by many many more people than the discoverer. Our fixation on fixing who's first and giving them a Name is much more about our particular Western ways of viewing history than it is about anything real. 

We value individuals and we value individualism, when we value anything at all. Our economy values individualism. Our constitution enshrines it. 

As I've commented here before, it is patently absurd for Jeff Bezos to call himself an inventor, and then to claim personal responsibility for all the value-added that he attributes to Amazon. Fine, give him credit and lay at this feet the cost of all the "creative" destruction that he unleashed by simply being that unbound by scruple of any sort. 

He certainly never thought of doing good for the world, unless one wishes to make those thoughts continuous with getting us to Mars. That would be abandonment. He is a garden variety capitalist marauder is all, writ a little bit more large, and with a little bit less concern for lives of his (ever temporary) workers. It would be hard for me to ascribe anything like genius to his moves. And harder still to find any value added. The world changed, and now we can't do without Amazon. Brilliant! Give me a patent on climate change!

Many ascribe the interstate highway system to President Eisenhower. But at least he warned us about the Military Industrial Complex that it subserved. The excuse for building it was to have a way to mobilise troops across our vast continental expanse, in case of invasion. 

Now try to imagine anyone succeeding in blocking such a massive public works. In hindsight, attempts to block it might be based on the environmental destruction that so many cars unleashed would wreak upon the land. But with military and economic imperatives aligned, of course there would be no way to succeed in any blockage. Indeed high speed limited access roadways have since covered the earth. They must have been inevitable. They surely made many of us enthusiastic about long distance car vacations, obsolete though those might be just now. 

In effect, that massive public expenditure offloaded onto the public the larger cost of the private vehicles and motive power. And we were happy to afford our cars - thanks Big Anti-Semite Henry Ford! - for the sense of independence they provided. Building high speed railways would surely have been cost-prohibitive and would never have provided the engine to the economy that family motoring would.

I descend from a line of inventors and players in these transformative developments, from both sides of my family. West Point, Westinghouse, the computer math behind miniaturized electronic circuitry, the limited access highway, radar . . . 

Guilty! I would be an inventor as well, except that invention has been exposed finally as fraud. Says me. Not quite so much credit should accrue to one just lucky enough to arrive first at a solution that looks inevitable in hindsight every time. 

And anyhow, it's always a mixed bag. The prizes should go to the ones who set out the best moral path to take in taking advantage of the inventions. I'm sure that Albert Einstein would take back his contributions to making the Bomb real, if he could. 

I would highlight the irony: That we celebrate the very thing that we deny. We deny that we can deflect progress, and see our advances as inevitable even as we celebrate individuals as though none of it would have come about without them. 

I declare that our own celebrated age of innovation is, in fact, stuck in a paradigm which should have shifted long ago. Indeed I can date the shift because I might have caused it my very own selfie-self. I failed to cause it. I feel guilty, truth be told. What an arrogant shit that makes me!

The trouble was and is that nobody wants this wonderful paradigm to shift; the one where individuals invent stuff and we celebrate those individuals with riches beyond imagining, and that is right and good and just. Even though it resembles the middle-ages for the power structures that we put back in place all over again. How much rent do you pay to the new rentiers, hein? You think it's free?

Truly no-one wants to listen to anything new which doesn't increase human agency; still against nature. Even though that agency is owned by so few. It's the principle that counts.

Responsibility for our inventiveness devolves to the people as a whole, and is by and large postponed on excuse of the incredible pace of improvements to knowledge and understanding. We shall be so much more ready to take responsibility in the future. We are still but children.

In fact we are afraid of choice. We want only agency, and our belief structures dictate - dogmatically - that our choice is subsumed by the agency afforded by our discoveries. There was no choice about the Bomb. There was no choice about the limited access highway system. There was no choice about radar. These things were just simply so intrinsically good that one could not get in their way. Hmmmm. Is there really any order to our operations?

And so the next great discovery will likely never happen until it's far too late. Global warming is a far far more terrible destroyer than the bomb could ever be. And we must shrug just as Ayn's Atlas does. I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!

None of our inventions have been ontologically inevitable. Not one. We choose what becomes real. That doesn't make us as gods. Gods make rules. We make choices. As George Will says celebrating the man who celebrates the man who signed my diploma.
"[baseball] would emerge stronger, however, for the commissioner’s office had come through a difficult test with its absolute powers affirmed, and the principle established that no man, no matter how exalted, was above the game itself. For Giamatti, the whole episode had been about two things: living by the rules, and taking responsibility for one’s actions….

Which rules might we live by now? Does all invention become insurrection, then? Now? George Will gets his digs in on the "Nanny State." He is, after all, 'to the manor born.' As was A. Bartlett Giamatti. As am I. Sort of. "Just the manor missed," as I quipped to my fellow elitist headmasters once upon a blatantly racist conversation. I was rather appalled. 

Our constitution has been misinterpreted to death, by the very partisan political processes it was meant to guard against and override. Can we ever repeal the Second Amendment, now that it's fully decontextualized? Will we cancel the First? Surely Donald Trump has been the Pete Rose of  our constitutional Game of Life. Is that what George Will is saying?

We will just keep on keeping on, until the shift is upon us. And we suddenly see that the Emperor has no clothes, while the inventor is long dead and gone and voiceless. It was a minor invention at best to see that reality is not a game. That winning is not everything. That the meek will prevail in the end. As we cry out meekly, "this is not fair."