Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the mechanic's uncertainty principle

best illustrated when you take your car to the mechanic and it doesn't make that nagging noise anymore. usually described as "unable to duplicate the problem", I come across the mechanic's uncertainty principle frequently at work helping people with their PC's: a printer doesn't work, a document won't format correctly, a file won't save, a database error, etc... they call IT for help, I look at what's happening and magically, just using my laserbeam eyes or a few simple keystrokes, the problem disappears. "what did you do?" and "of course it works for you!" are the normal praises I get. that's ok; my magic with computers is the main reason they keep me around, put up with my abuse and feed me doughnuts.

I'm surprised to see nobody else has given this phenomena a good name yet. so allow me to make my contribution to the vernacular. Dr. Sam the dentist called it "threat therapy" and "The Magical Curative Power of the Threshold", but I prefer my more generic term... it ties in with the related Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which explains in part why the universe fundamentally needs some randomness and why focused attention can sometimes change (and fix!) things. now if I can just get my new term to catch on. digg this or something people!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

you're mormon or a member... have fun in Salt Lake City that is, according to someone in our party. I'm definitely not mormon and agree with Groucho Marx that "I'd never join any club that would have me as a member". yet here I was last weekend at Murphy's Bar newly bestowed with a lifetime membership (drinking only allowed in "private" clubs in Utah) and slamming down car bombs with the "wild cousins" in celebration of the impending wedding of a family member. (earlier, during enjoyment of a few microbrews at Squatters Pub and being asked my relationship to the wedding couple numerous times, I figured out I was the bride's-aunt's-step-son-in-law.)

it was a fun, whirlwind weekend trip in crazy Utah. now and then it's nice to feel like you belong, to be inside and included. I'm not the bar hopping gregarious type. my normal state is one of peaceful solitude. that's where I'm most comfortable and productive. but it's good to get dissolute once in while... and what better excuse than a new marriage?

while I claim to be religious, my religion is not organized. sunday afternoon as we toured the spotless gardens, buildings and statues in Temple Square and I read the official proclamations chiseled in stone, I kept wondering out loud "why was Joseph Smith murdered?" (story here). how else is my religion disorganized? I enjoy reading the gutsy athiest reasoning and debates by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (skewering the corpse of the recently departed Jerry Falwell).

my god of course allows suffering, hate and discontent, and a general lack of caring as well as good and love. the best evidence for my god is existence itself - "I am" is all I need. the proof of our existence is self-evident. another man's view of the probabilities of our existence happening as it is are
"The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System"
"Probability For Life On Earth"
. take that with a bit of salt please.

anyway, the most religious conversation I had in salt lake was downtown sunday not in temple square where the pleasant zombies greeted me, but at carls jr -- one of the few places open on the sabbath. on the way to wash up I came across a paraplegic borderline homeless guy (looked rough but had bought lunch and had a cellphone). he was complaining about a hobo outside the restaurant begging and stealing from the salsa bar - "It's not right, him doing that...". I started to engage in conversation saying saying we all do what me must, we all have our crosses to bear. but he wasn't interested in listening, so I moved on. after lunch and exiting carls I was approached by aforementioned hobo at the corner. our conversation went like this:
"excuse me sir, I'm an american indian. you know, your father defeated Superman".
"Superman? my father?"
"your father defeated Superman. and he defeated Spiderman."
"are you talking about the great father?"
he paused and smiled. he didn't know what to say.
from behind me came a yell. "aaaaah! where you going?"
I turned and saw a mildly disabled (physical and mentally I think) guy pushed an overweight woman in a wheelchair. they had trouble coming up the curb because a concrete barrier and my body were blocking the way somewhat. the two started arguing. they were well practiced and quick about it. my american indian friend tried to intervene: "don't fight. please don't fight. I'm an american indian..."
they were gone quickly and the hobo came back to me. "I was hoping to get a quarter or maybe fifty cents".
"oh, feeling lucky are you?"
I placed a quarter in his thick palm and looked at his aged pocked face and cloudy eyes. he took the quarter and said "call it" with a smile.
"tails", I said. he deftly gave it a flip. I lost.

so where was god in all of this? where was god witnessed in salt lake city? in existence itself.. in each of the interactions described. that maya is my pantheistic heresy, part of my catholicus religion. like the tree falling in the forest with no one to hear, I tell my stories to the universe of the internet and say "yes, god was here. this did happen."

from the hobo's coin flip to the blessed union of Brad and Emily, God indeed was with us.

lastly, don't know how this all fits in, but it seems I just missed bumping into another religious leader in SLC: Rev. Al Sharpton was doing the mormon thang today (story). politics dontcha know. I think I prefer the Rev's debate with Christopher Hitchens. hmmm, that's all about book promotion, right?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hillary to win: a backlash to violence

violence is it's own reward for men. that's my interpretation of a
1987 rat experiment by Swanson and Schuster where high testosterone mice were preoccupied with maintaining dominance hierarchies (fighting) and low testosterone mice cooperated in a democratic fashion to earn rewards.

while I myself admit to enjoying high energy testosterone induced levels of excitement, I sense that a shift is needed to foster real progress away from the current specter of Farfur the AK47 toting mouse.

in the emerging world order women are taking more control.
take the legal arena for example. yesterday I was introduced (in a sexual harrassment prevention seminar) to the "reasonable woman standard" of legal judgment -- that is, what the typical man thinks is not considered proper and sufficient in judging sexual matters; instead, what a typical woman would decide is how evidence is weighed. despite the recent supreme court ruling on "partial birth" abortions, women in general are going to get more of what they want, because they are better at cooperation and support.

so while the he/she ratio is still strongly biased towards male newsmakers, expect that to change as the new Clinton presidency formulates.

the competing view I have is that the best looking candidate always wins; there I thought, Edwards or Obama had it. not any more.

so reasonable women are the new standard bearers. but then what of reasonable men?
as George Bernard Shaw wrote: "The reasonable man adapt's himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man" (Man and Superman, 1903).

maybe that's why I don't play by the rules?

in light of this, to close, I must share a female perspective:
Heidi of Hollywood said "In general, I think men are great. I think they’re a lot like horses. Beautiful to look at and fun to play with sometimes, but at the moment I’m definitely glad I don’t have to take care of one."

mark my words people!

Monday, May 07, 2007

'on earth as it is in heaven' indeed...

Norman Mailer recently spoke about his latest book "The Castle in the Forest", a fictionalized biography of a young Adolf Hitler, a child loved by his mother who yet became history's evil incarnate as the unexplainable killer of millions.

In an interview w/Micheal Silverblatt, Mailer describes his religious beliefs which provide structure for the story:

"When George Bush speaks about 'evil', he speaks of an enormous sweeping force that we have to mass up with our own huge sweeping forces and face him, face to face and fight him down, knock him down. Let me speak about fundamentalism, because I happen to be religious, I happen to believe that God exists. I believe it because it's simpler for me to believe that there is a creator than there is not one. I was an atheist for many years and the problem I always had with it is how do we all begin, what are we all about? Here we are with our rich complicated lives, so moral, so immoral, so good, so evil, so sweet, so ugly, and all of that has come out of a couple of germs colliding with one another? It never made sense to me and so over the years I began to think that what if one were to see God as a creator; an existential God, a God who could succeed or fail, a God who has a vision. And this is a God with whom we are entwined. And I began to see Satan in the same way, as also existential. Satan doing his best (or her best, just as you'd see God as his or her), to diminish human beings, to destroy civilization, to end this creation of God's. Now, the fundamentalists are exactly opposed to all this. The fundamentalists believe that there is only one way to live and that way is found in the Old Testament and even more in the New Testament. And this was all written by God and that's all you ever need to know and to have any ideas that are outside the Old Testament and the New Testament you're in danger of heresy and evil and ugliness and so forth. So they're absolutely monotonous and uninspiring as thinkers. They are totalitarian in the extreme. I've gone so far as to say that fundamentalism could end up being the last weapon of mass destruction. In that sense, I'm opposed to that -- my little notion that God is existential. But following that out makes for a very interesting study of what the devil does and what God does in relation to us. Which is it's small acts with small people all the time. So it's as if each small personal life has their own notion of what they want to do and become and at the same time they are affected to the right and to the left (however one wants to describe it) by activities of small gods and small demons -- and there's a huge bureaucracy on either flank. Not to mention our own bureaucracies of corporate capitalism..."

so this is the sense Mailer has made out of the world in his eighty some years. is it right? what do you think? as someone once said, "there are no answers. there are only questions".

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

it's all new, it's all good...

I was doing a little searching and came across something I posted elsewhere quite some time ago. it's interesting and maybe correct as much as it is, but also quite incomplete if you subscribe to the notion that you have in your head a set of "rules to live by". so why do I post it (again)? well, like the "eternal return", some things just keep coming back and never really get outdated. and the possibility is it's new to you, my reader:

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!”. here’s a nutshell of that book that a reviewer on amazon gave:
1. This is it!
2. There are no hidden meanings
3. You can’t get there from here, and besides, there’s no place else to go
4. We are all already dying and we’ll be dead for a long time.
5. Nothing lasts!
6. There is no way of getting all you want.
7. You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.
8. You only get to keep what you give away.
9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.
10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune.
11. You have the responsibility to do your best nonetheless.
12. It is a random universe to which we bring meaning.
13. You don’t really control anything.
14. You can’t make someone love you.

so what was it I searching for? I googled "wonderland tomawesome" and wandered a bit. I searched because of a note from someone I've forgotten all about. she bumped into my profile on mybloglog and said "hi". (as a side note, I even have her on my blogroll -- see wonderland or not below). funny, when we keep forgetting (which I guess we must prepare for in old age), what tools we are left with to cope.that little mental jostle also reminded me to consider making a commitment to blog more often (courtesy of an idea podcasted by my pal Jason Calacanis a while ago "how to become an 'A-list' blogger"). I have no shortage of things to write about (could start by elaborating on my links), but the quality, I fear, would suffer. so what is my decision? for now, time and priorities dictate no changes. btw Alice, yr blog has mos def improved in the last two years and inspires (guilts?) me to somehow improve this blog. maybe :)
hey if this post inspires anyone, let me know and let's see what kind of connections reappear!

p.s. Jason, I may be linkbaiting you.