Friday, May 1, 2020

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

I'm never quite finished, even though I never quite say anything interesting. But I require a place to make notes for myself, and this - up here in the cloud - is more likely to persist than most places. Just in case I want to remind myself of something. I still feel that I'm out in public naked. The way people react if they do take a look only reinforces the feeling. I know you look askance. I would. It's only polite.

Oh well, I am a fraud, so why complain? Like this morning I woke to a fever dream that I'd somehow brought the entire university network down, which was never impossible. I didn't really know what I was doing when I reconfigured the network for the entire Law School. The authorities were not pleased. But I got away with it!

The dream persists. I didn't have an actual fever - it's just a figure of speech, so to speak. Well, no it's reality, but you know what I mean.

This morning I sent out for public consumption a link to a story that is both true and interesting, though I think I wrote it to death.

Yesterday, I listened to an online live presentation where two authors, one a roboticist, one a novelist and writer, presented their theory of consciousness just like the one I keep trying to develop, except that I'm a fraud and they're not.

I feel really lucky for the coronavirus most of the time. It's like being in a room without any distractions and lots of time to read. I understand that Bertrand Russel did his best work in prison. And he liked it! I'm not sure, but I think he was imprisoned for disbelief in something or other. Those guys yesterday would have given a lecture someplace I could never get to, and I wouldn't have had the intimacy of  'live' the way I did by way of the magic of Zoom.

But now it's May 1, and the workers of the world really should unite! Especially the essential workers, none of whom, by definition, is rich. They owe student loans, which ought to be forgiven (Thanks Bernie!), and they take risks that the rest of us don't have to (thanks postal workers, delivery people, grocery stockers and checkers, truck drivers, nurses, doctors, EMTs, police and the list goes on and on), and they twist apart their lives to teach online, which has almost nothing to do with what school is all about. And especially all those "illegals" (Jesus, can a person be illegal?) who keep our food growing.

And then there's this tasty little article this morning speculating on the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine in their time of plague. It starts by stating the regret the US must feel for chasing out a spy. He was the man who fathered the Chinese nuclear and space industry. Sometimes we are just so stupid. We are so blinded by our certainties.

Like we are certain that we must have some inner life, and that it's important to have one, and that if one doesn't have an inner life then one really isn't quite human. Like all those Trump supporters. I mean, really, is Trump human in any sense that we respect?

But those Chinese who are now elect for becoming our brand spanking new enemy on the block that we always seem to need; those Chinese never really were concerned about an inner life. You wear your secrets on your face, as it were, and no need to probe too deeply. I think that's why they readily accept the face-recognition cameras and the app tracking in times of virus, even though there's lots of overstepping. I mean you've got to trust someone or something, and so why not trust the government if they show their basic interest in the public good?

There are certain things that it never was polite to say out loud, though now, even in China, they say the equivalent of fuckety fuckety fuck out loud into their cellphones in public just like we do. Though they mostly keep their electronic mouths shut about what's wrong with the Party.

Wouldn't it just be too ironic if it was all the Trump supporters who are being taught that China is the enemy who are going all Chinese now? No inner life to speak of. Take Trump at face value.

The thing is that there is no sense of irony in China. I once asked a Chinese expert on global humor to his face if there is any sense of irony in China, and he answered 'of course,' and proceeded to tell a standard-issue Chinese joke that didn't have the slightest shred of irony to it. I wish I could remember the joke. It was really funny. But I can never remember jokes. That's part of what makes me a fraud.

My theory at the time was that you have to believe in God to have irony. Irony arises when you first realize that you're believing in something ridiculous. Without irony, you could never believe, even for a second.

Well, unless you're a freaking evangelical, in which case I guess you'll believe just about anything. In my little circle we call that being po-faced, because we can't come up with a decent word for people without a sense of irony.

The etymology for po-faced is uncertain, but the one which makes the most sense and the one I find most compelling is that po-faced describes the look on your face when you emerge from the outhouse. Potty face, to go along with potty mouth.

Yep, it's true, there are lots of times and places where you have to shit in public in China. Although along with our giving them lots of other diseases, they're starting to put doors on their stalls (though not seats on the toilets since that would be just gross, except where foreigners might congregate. They don't want to offend us.).

Too bad that China is catching our lab-built bugs of privacy, secrecy, and speaking out badly in public.

And I'm not done with Richard Dawkins either, even though he does have a bona-fide connection to Western New York, which is an odd place for the most significant atheist org on the planet, given that Buffalo very recently had the highest concentrations of Catholics of any city on the planet.

Well, now that I think about it, with the Church in Buffalo now bankrupted for pederasty, maybe it's not such a stretch for atheism to be headquartered in these parts.

But Dawkins wants to go all the way out there to many worlds theories, as in what if our little Big Bang were just a local one, and there are lots of other universes out there? I don't see how that can be much different from just stopping up the endpoint with the word "god" and being done with it. I mean, once you strip the word of any meaning beyond just "wow," who really cares?

Yes, I know, it must be a wonderful hobby to keep on truing the maths for all eternity as though there were going to be some elegant and complete understanding of the physical cosmos which would let you keep your materialism and eat it too.

These consciousness dudes I listened to yesterday are thoroughgoing materialists, and so am I, but that doesn't mean I think that we're going to figure it all out. Consciousness is limited, as is the life-span of the cosmos, and I think we already know enough to know that we can't rule much of anything out. Or in other words, there's a lot we can already say about what we can't say. Like causality gets all messed up by chaos theory. And you can't know position and momentum both. That sort of thing.

Certain things that we recently thought impossible will soon be shown to be not only possible but actually quite likely. But that doesn't mean that everything will go all wonky.

Like, for instance, just now we're caught up on privacy still. Even though by telling the world and everyone exactly where we've been and letting an app tell us what we can do and where we can go so that we don't have to stay imprisoned in our houses anymore, we're afraid to do it.

Well, I think we should be afraid to do it, because there are so many bad actors out there who will try to do something with your private information that could hurt you. You might find yourself in a different kind of prison if you've been touched by the virus, or if you are mistakenly blacklisted like they did for airplanes, once upon a time when airplanes were actually still flying.

While the workers of the world unite, why don't we just stop flying around so much already? Why don't we just ban cars from cities? We're trying these things and they're working out pretty well. They ride bicycles up north in Europe and we could too! Nevermind that China kicked the habit after we introduced them to the car disease. I was there at the beginning, with Jeep, so I should know.

Hell, I got an ebike recently and it's so damned pleasant that I don't even mind riding where there are steep hills. I hardly break a sweat, if that's what you're worried about.

Let's let the oil industry go down the tubes, and let's leave our cars to the rural areas where all the Trump supporters are, and let's install capacitive charging for all the new graphene capacitor electric cars we're gonna have, once China perfects the technology (I don't know why Wired located the Chinese-made busses in Serbia, but I can guess.) Busses with capacitive electricity storage are all over the place in China. They charge while passengers get on and off.

Before we can do a thing, we have to find some way to trust our government. We thought we had that down, once upon a time. But we don't any more. Can't we please just get the money out of the elections? Can't we please get rid of gerrymandering? Can't we please make voting more universal and more trivial to accomplish?

Hell, we moved everything else online. That seems related to why the economy hasn't quite collapsed. It's not that we lack the tech to make online voting happen. If Estonia can do it, then so can we!

But really, I have nothing against Trump voters. As far as I can tell, they're real people, just like me and you. My so-called inner life hasn't ever done me any good. When I turn it out - we call that expression, just like what you do to a dog with a blocked bladder - it just goes splat!

Well, I'd better go take a walk. Oh wait, is that legal yet? Nah, I'm taking a bike ride, outside, socially distant and without a mask. It's a nice day. I'll go shopping tomorrow with my mask on. It's been over two weeks, and I just got my stimulus check. Whoopee!!

I'm sending mine to the Biden campaign. Well, no probably not. I tried that once when Dubya tried to buy us off. Just like now, it wasn't enough money to pay any bills, but you could buy a flat-screen with it. I gave the money to Obama in a fit of some anger. But I had a paycheck then and now I don't. I still might though. Obama won.

I'm no crazier than I ever was, but a lot more sane than you are if you think you have an actual soul and that God listens to you babble on, even to yourself.

Yep, I'm sane. I believe that my actual self is located outside and all around me, in my past and into some indeterminate future, just like those guys talking about consciousness on Zoom. (with Zoom, through Zoom, over Zoom?).

Given that the stars are part of me here and now, and given that I've already experienced eternity on or with or through or over the experiences of actual death I've had, not to mention over the moon, which would just make me a lunatic, I'd say I have as much of an eternal soul as you do. So there!

What I don't have is any difference between inside and outside, which just problematizes the hell out of what privacy means. Unless it just means lack of trust, in which case we're plenty warranted.

I think this is a pretty good reality TV show. I just want it to end so that I can go back to living.

Let us pray! Mom used to say that. I'm not sure she really meant it either. But it sure can't hurt. It helps to focus the mind. You know, that thing I'm out of,  along with shaving cream and money.

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