Wandering through fields of deer

I work in a city in Florida called Deerfield Beach.  People often refer to it simply as “Deerfield”.  Being who I am, I can almost never hear or see that word without thinking something along the lines of “What kind of field is a deer field?”. Then I usually begin some lighthearted speculations on the matter.

I will now share some of these with you, because why should I be the only one to suffer from such stupidity?

I often speculate to myself that perhaps the deer field is a recently discovered quantum field, along the lines of the electron field and the gluon field and all the rest.  If that is the case, what we see as “deer” would be, fundamentally, just local disturbances or vibrations in the “deer field”.

Obviously the deer field interacts with the Higgs field, because although deer can be quite speedy, they never move anything close to the speed of light, and they can even be at rest; they clearly have a rest mass.  As everyone knows, “massless” particles, the ones that don’t interact with the Higgs, always travel at the speed of light*, which is just another term for the speed of causality.

Speaking of which, of course, an individual deer is very massive for a fundamental particle.  The median mass of a deer is around 50 kg.  Putting that in terms more typical of particle physics, it’s roughly 3 x 10^30 eV**.

To give you some perspective, the most massive of the quarks, the top quark, which is (I think) the most massive previously recognized fundamental particle is about 170 GeV (giga-electron-volts).  That’s 170 billion eV, or 170 x 10^9 eV, or 1.7 x 10^11 eV.  That would make a typical deer particle nearly 2 x 10^19 times as massive as a top quark.  Writing that out in terms that might hit home more powerfully, that’s 20,000,000,000,000,000,000 times as massive.

No wonder it’s never been produced in any of our particle accelerators!

Yet the deer field must have very weak coupling with other fields, because individual deer particles are extremely stable.  We can feel reasonably confident that not one single deer particle has decayed spontaneously into other, less massive particles in all of human history, because if it did, the energy released would dwarf the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by humans.

Recall that the explosive force of the original atom bombs at Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki was produced by the conversion of less than a gram of matter into radiant energy, yielding a blast equivalent to the explosion of about 20 thousand tons (aka 20 kilotons) of TNT.  The energy released by the “decay” of a single deer particle would be about 100,000 times as great, if my figuring is right, or 2 gigatons.  I’m sure you’re all aware that the Tsar Bomba, the largest ever nuclear explosion set off by humans, was “only” about fifty megatons, or about one fortieth as large.

So, don’t stand too close to a decaying deer…and “too close” would probably be “within a few hundred kilometers”.

All this leads me to speculate, given their mass and stability, that perhaps the deer is one of the theorized “supersymmetric” particles, thought to be paired with each of the more “typical” particles of the Standard Model, but which have not yet been detected in any particle accelerators‒again, given the rest mass of a deer, we should not be surprised.

I don’t know whether deer are fermions or bosons; my initial thought is that they would be spin-zero, since I’m not aware of deer showing, for instance, any tendency to align with magnetic fields.  Then again, maybe they’re too massive for spin-related magnetic alignment to be detectable.  They certainly appear to be electrically neutral, though again, if they had a charge comparable to an electron or proton, its effects might hardly be noticeable given their mass.

I would hope that particle physicists would flock‒or perhaps “herd” would be a better term‒to the places where these amazingly stable particles are plentiful, the better to study their characteristics.  Ironically, although I work in Deerfield, I have never seen a single deer particle there, but up north‒particularly in New Jersey‒I’ve seen many.

What is it about New Jersey and similar locales that leads to the local aggregation of so many of these ultra-massive “particles”, which seem likely to be primordial remnants of the big bang***?  Is it perhaps that they interact somewhat strongly with the prominent local corn fields?

Wait a minute!  Corn field?  What’s the nature of that quantum field and particle?!?!?

Anyway, this is the sort of shit that goes through my mind almost every time I see or hear the word “Deerfield”, and it’s only one example of that sort of thing.  There are countless others.

Just in case you ever wonder why I’m always so depressed.


*The two most well-known such “massless” particles are the photon and the graviton.  Of course, the graviton has not ever been measured as an individual particle, but it has been confirmed‒as expected‒by LIGO, VIRGO, et al, that gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, and so are massless.  I can’t help think that’s a good thing, because if gravitons had/have mass, there would be what I would assume to be some quite complicated self-interactions‒gravitons would themselves interact strongly with the gravitational field‒that would make their theoretical characteristics and so on quite complicated.  The very fact that they carry energy means they must self-interact at some level, since energy interacts with gravity, but they are expected individually to have very low energy, gravity being far weaker than the other “forces” of nature.  Of course, gravity is in some ways not quite like the other forces in character, but don’t get me started on that.

**Short for electron volts, defined as the amount of energy gained by an electron from being accelerated through a potential difference of one volt.  It’s a measure of energy, and it’s used as a measure of mass as well, because in the realm of fundamental particles, E=mc2 really comes into its own.

***It’s hard to imagine any subsequent processes generating such particles, though perhaps supernovae could occasionally create a few.

There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top

Well, it’s Friday, the 13th of January, and I don’t have any idea what to write or what to write about today, but I’m writing anyway, as you can plainly tell.  That’s a metaphor for life if there ever was one, don’t you think?

Of course, I could write a bit about the fact that it is Friday the 13th, but I’ve mentioned that previously, and it’s not all that interesting.  There’s no such thing as an unlucky day or an unlucky number; that’s all just superstitious, magical “thinking” stupidity.  But there are numbers that are interesting, and the the prime numbers are interesting to me.  I feel a sort of peculiar, protective affection for 13, since so many silly humans think it’s an unlucky number.

For similar reasons, I’m slightly less fond of 7 than I am of most other prime numbers.  It’s sort of the numerical equivalent of Prince Harry or, to pick an older comparison, Paris Hilton*.  It’s already receiving plenty of attention and support, far more than it deserves, so I won’t waste my effort.

There was an update overnight to my phone’s operating system, and now some “buttons” such as the return key, are no longer slightly-rounded rectangles but are more precisely slightly rectangular ovals.  I don’t like it.  The background colors are also slightly altered, and that’s frustrating, too.

In addition, the app buttons are changed, including the text app, and the phone is trying to push all sorts of new apps that it recommends “for me”…but of course, it’s not actually for me (or for you in case you think otherwise) it’s actually for the companies that make the apps, who have paid a premium to have those apps promoted.  

The system forces you to go through their stupid update-based notice thingy to decide on new apps, and many are pre-checked, so you have to opt out of them actively.  Similarly with their “bookshelf” function or whatever it is, and when you close the apps, the screen doesn’t go away, you have to dismiss it separately, which makes no sense and was not that way before.  The people responsible for all this should be burned to death with flame throwers as soon as possible.

I don’t know why companies do that sort of thing.  Gmail has done it with its updates, turning all the nice, well-demarcated shapes with edges and corners into soft, gooey, Play-Doh looking things, as if they really are trying to “child-proof” the world.  I don’t enjoy change without good purpose, and I think there are good reasons not to enjoy it.  If something is functioning reasonably well, most changes will be for the worse, especially if optimality is something not simply and easily achieved.

Just look at genetic mutations to get a clear example.  In an organism that’s functioning well enough to survive and reproduce in its environment, most changes in general are not going to be beneficial.  That’s one reason I hate social movements that say they are pushing for “change”.  Well, what kind of change, in particular?  I mean, the global Covid pandemic was/is a change; the war in Ukraine is a change; the diminishing respect for rule of law and the constraints of the U S Constitution are changes; an asteroid impact that wiped out civilization entirely would be a change.

Well, that last one would be beneficial, so it’s probably a poor example.

Anyway, I wish that people like Android** and Google (are they part of the same company?) and Microsoft and all those would reserve their updates to those changes that are at least attempts to improve functionality, not cosmetic nonsense or transparent and pushy marketing.  It’s very irritating to get used to the color scheme and key layout of a computer system and then wake up to find that it’s different, as are some of the basic functions, and for no good reason.

Even the icons to start writing and to save writing on the Google Docs app are different colors.  Why?  I mean it would be one thing if the previous color were some frequency of X-rays, and using the app was causing cataracts and retinal deterioration and even ocular cancer.  But it was just a sort of neutral blue or gray color, and was reasonably pleasant.  Now it’s sort of a yellowy orangey beige that looks vaguely like something you might heave out after you’ve already vomited all the food contents of your stomach but your body still wants to throw up some more.

It’s unnecessary.  I don’t like surprises, usually even when they’re positive ones.  And this is not a positive one.

Oh, well.  What else is new (ha ha)?  I had a brief glimmer of hope that my enforced change of commute might come to an end today, but it looks like that isn’t happening.  I’m not really surprised, but I am mildly disappointed, and it doesn’t help my energy level.

Oh, I did have a slightly interesting thought about Friday the 13th, thinking of the movies by that name as compared to the Halloween movies.  I had thought for a brief moment that at least the Halloween movies are named after an actual holiday, and it was also one that comes around a bit more often than Friday…the…

…then I caught myself, because I know that any month that begins on a Sunday is going to have a Friday the 13th in it.  And on average, one in seven months will begin on a Sunday, and so there will be, on average, just under 2 Friday the 13ths every year‒the day, not the movies, thankfully.  And in non leap years, if February has a Friday the 13th, so will March!  So there are quite a few more Fridays the 13th than there are Halloweens.

Just imagine if we had 2 Halloweens every year.  Wouldn’t that be great?

Anyway, that’s a lot of writing about nothing. I apologize for the last few days, and for my foolish notions of seeking help, when I don’t think I deserve, or merit, or am worthy of help, or frankly that it would be a good use of anyone’s resources.  Also, I probably would/will not know how to accept help.  Sting had a great line from one of his songs*** that feels pertinent to this: “And I wriggle like a fish caught on dry land, and struggle to avoid any help at hand.”

Of course, if someone could offer me a goodly dose of Valium and Fentanyl that I could use in a pinch to make a basically painless exit, that might at least be worth keeping in my pocket, just in case.  But otherwise, I can’t really imagine doing anything that would involve serious changes.  I don’t like change, and I don’t like surprises, and I particularly don’t like phone calls out of the blue, especially from someone who has in the past made me feel guilty for being depressed.  It all just stresses me out and makes me feel worse about myself.

I mean, if my son or daughter called me, that would be a different matter.  That would be brilliant.  But I would be deeply ashamed if they did so out of a sense of obligation rather than just because they wanted to do it.

I don’t know what the hell I’m getting at.  Nothing much, probably.  Anyway, it’s Friday, and I don’t work this weekend, so you shouldn’t be seeing any new blog posts from me before Monday at the soonest.  If something catastrophic‒depending on one’s point of view‒happens and I don’t write anything even on Monday, well…that’s a change that most people wouldn’t find too unpleasant, unlike the stupid muddy, puss-like color and shape changes on the phone apps and keyboard.

*Interesting…both examples have “initials” P. H.

**And that name doesn’t makes sense.  Android means “man-shaped” and nothing about the operating system or the phones is man-shaped.  Even their little symbol isn’t really man-shaped.  I’m android.  Nothing about the phone system is.

***Be Still My Beating Heart

The satirical rogue says here that old men have grey blogs

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time once again for my traditional Thursday blog post, which always starts with some variation of “Hello and good morning”, as you have just seen.  It’s the second Thursday of 2023, and it is the 12th of January, meaning that tomorrow‒as I’ve noted before‒is Friday the 13th.

I apologize for the tone and content of yesterday’s blog post, which feels to me as though it was unusually dank and dismal.  I’m not apologizing because I didn’t mean what I wrote; I did mean it.  If anything, I tend to understate things.  But I’m sorry to have foisted all that on you lot.

What I wrote yesterday is true, though.  I have a difficult to terrible time seeking out help, so when I get even the slightest urge to do so, I have to try to get it out there.  Because the fact is that I could really use it.  But my mental resources‒and my physical ones, let’s be honest‒for seeking help are stunted or crippled or maimed or whatever you would want to call it.  This blog, at least now that I’ve made it “daily”, is to a large extent my attempt at a proverbial cry for help.  But it’s not doing very well at that.  Not even close.

Maybe I always suspected that would be the case?  Well, no, I think it’s more accurate to say that I feared it might be the case.  If I had truly expected there to be no benefit, I wouldn’t have bothered.  I don’t have quite the kind of mental twistiness that leads one deliberately to do things one doesn’t think have any chance of working.  I really do (and did) wish that somehow this daily blog writing would help me gain some form of mental improvement and possibly even entice someone or something somewhere to help me…somehow.

It’s vague and nebulous, I know, and rather laughably optimistic.  I might as well just play a random Powerball ticket.  Getting millions upon millions of dollars would certainly at least give me greater freedom and resources to seek out help than just about anything else that’s physically possible to have happen to me.

And if wishes were horses, we’d all be hip deep in horse shit.  In which case, climate change would be much worse than it is, because all that horse shit gives off a lot of methane.  And even if you burn the methane, that just gives you a molecule of CO2 and four molecules of water for each molecule of methane burned (in oxygen, anyway), and each of those new molecules is another greenhouse gas*.

Anyway, that’s my mea culpa for yesterday, sort of.  Not that I think I did anything truly wrong, mind you.  I mean, it’s my blog.  It is whatever I want to make of it, and no one is forced to read it**.  If they choose to do so, well then caveat lector, or whatever the appropriate Latin would be.  Let the reader beware.

But the reader doesn’t have to beware all that much, because, in the end, these are words, words, words, as Hamlet said to Polonius when asked what he was reading.  I love words, and written language, obviously, but it is nevertheless true, as we used to say in grade school, that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” And by hurt, I mean literally, physically.

Of course, words do have power.  Language can affect the world, and is the means by which we exchange, record, and pass down knowledge and other information.  Written language is the lifeblood of civilization.  But it is only the blood.  It is not the muscle or sinew or bone.  Words cannot conjure magical beings or events, as they can in stories, other than in the sense that they can be used to make such stories.  Perception is not identical with reality, speech is not violence, and as DMX said, “Talk is cheap, motherfucker.”

I don’t know how I arrived at that point in this blog, but it is a message I try very hard to get across.  We can be glad indeed that words cannot literally hurt people, because if they could, it would make the picture of a world in which wishes were horses, complete with their copious excrement, seem almost paradisiacal by comparison.  I know that my wake would probably be littered with corpses.

Hey, maybe that would be a good idea for a horror story (probably a short one): someone discovers that their words literally have the power to hurt people or make other things happen.  It could be called Sticks and Stones.  Actually, I’ve already written a story that has some of that aspect, in The Death Sentence, and I think H. G. Wells wrote a story about a guy who could make things happen by speaking, quite a long time ago.  Not that the concept is exhausted, of course.  There are many things, potentially, one could do with such a story idea.

I don’t think I’m going to be the one to do it, though.  I don’t think I’m likely to write any fiction again, or even live all that much longer.  Not without some kind of help, which does not seem likely to come.

Oh, well, whataya gonna do?  I hope you all have a good day today, and look forward to tomorrow, which is a Friday the 13th, but has nothing to do with the overworked movie franchise.  That’s got to be worth celebrating, right?


words words words

*The “m” is right above the “period” on this phone keyboard, so I briefly made a typo, which the autocorrect showed no sign of changing, that read “another greenhouse gasm”. This sounds like something that might happen to a truly passionate plant lover upon entering a lush, indoor botanical garden when it was deep winter outside.

**Not by me, anyway.  And I don’t think there are any sadists out there cruel enough to make someone read my blog when they have no interest in it.

As blog is full of unbefitting strains, all wanton as a child, skipping and vain

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the 5th of January, and this is my first official, “original recipe” Thursday morning blog of the new year.  Isn’t it exciting?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.  But people are supposed to pretend to be enthusiastic and celebratory about every little thing it seems, until there are so many celebrations and holidays that it becomes a relief when a rare day arrives in which nothing in particular is being celebrated.  There are so many sweets and treats and rewards and awards, day after day, that soon people feel entitled to receive a medal for not drooling and peeing on themselves, and a piece of cake for dinner because they skipped a cookie at lunch.

Eventually, many seem to think that, because they got their various “best attitude” or “cleanest desk” awards throughout their formative years, they’re just as worthy of admiration as someone who received a Nobel Prize in Physics or a Fields Medal or a Hugo and/or Nebula Award for science fiction.  It’s nauseating.  No wonder we consume so many acid blocking medications these days!

As you can probably tell, I’m a bit grumpy today.  This is in large part because I’m very tired again.  My insomnia has been reasserting itself over the last few days, with last night being worse than the night before.  Though exhausted and stressed from matters at work‒another contributing factor to my grumpiness‒I couldn’t get to sleep once I finally got back to the house, and then, despite that, I woke up starting at 3ish this morning, slightly earlier than yesterday.  It’s a weird situation when one finds oneself wistful and nostalgic for the times when one was (more) severely ill, because at least in those situations, one could rest.

In other matters, at the time of my latest look this morning, there have been two total votes on my poll from yesterday.  I would say that’s not a statistically significant sample of any kind, especially since the two didn’t choose the same option.  Perhaps the statistically significant result, which should have been obvious to me from the start, is that nobody gives a flying fuck at a rat’s ass what I do.

Well, why should they?

Apparently, the Tri-rail has given up on even the pretense of trying to run their trains in time in the year 2023.  So far, every train I’ve been on, and the other ones I’ve seen going the other direction, have been five to ten minutes behind schedule.  There are those who believe in some notion of “American Exceptionalism”, but sometimes it seems that we’re most exceptional‒at least among wealthy, “western style” democracies‒at being slipshod and disorganized.

Oh, I know, I know, NASA is pretty darn impressive, and always has been.  But NASA by its nature draws applicants from among the brightest, hardest working people in the country (and the world) and can be selective‒for now, at least‒about whom it hires even from among that group.  Of course it would tend to do exceptional things, even if that were the only factor that made it exceptional.

But to be exceptional is a judgment only properly to be applied after the fact, rather like “luck”.  There is no inherent “exceptionalness” which would mean someone or something is exceptional before it’s done anything at all.  Of course, one could say that everyone is exceptional in some way; certainly each person’s specific genes and environment are unique, and indeed each new moment in the universe in any given place is different in some sense from every other that has come before.  But this sort of “universal, uniform exceptionality” is trivial at best.  Or, as Dash so wisely noted in The Incredibles, to say that everyone is special is just another way of saying that no one is.

“Ignorance is strength.  Freedom is slavery.  Speech is violence.” One of those three statements is not from the original book, 1984, but spiritually it belongs right there among the aphorisms and axioms of Big Brother’s Party.  Of course, nowadays, if you mention Big Brother, most people will probably just be triggered* to think of some idiotic “reality show”.

I don’t know how I got on that track, but that’s one of the things about a free-form blog post: you never know what you’re going to get**.  I honestly didn’t much feel like writing at all, today, but “mood is a thing for cattle and loveplay, not fighting”, and also not for most anything else to which one has committed oneself.  An Impala that doesn’t keep a watch for lions and leopards and hyenas and the like because it’s not in the mood is soon going to be removed from the population and gene pool.  That’s more or less how it has to be, given the laws on nature.


day off

*Shouldn’t we be eliminating the use of the word “triggered”, given that it could be, well…triggering in and of itself, since it can invoke thoughts of firing pistols and rifles, which thoughts can cause recurrent trauma in those who are personally devastated by news stories of mass shootings, even if they’ve never experienced a single instance of true violence in their own lives?  It seems rather insensitive.  We really ought to put edge guards and drawer locks and padding on (and apply sanitary wipes frequently to) all surfaces, literal and metaphorical, should we not?  We need to child-proof the world, since it is, after all, populated merely and entirely by children.  Of course, it bears remembering that all the Powers That Be are children, too, so they certainly can’t be trusted with doing the child-proofing.

**This is in contrast to the Gump-ian box of chocolates, since with a box of chocolates, unless it is a prank or joke or a trap, what you’re going to get is a selection of chocolates.  Of course, what you’re going to get in a blog post is some sort of writing on some subject or topic of the writer’s choice, so perhaps it’s unfair of me to criticize the line from Forrest Gump, but rest assured that when I do so criticize, I do it for a very good reason: I am a Hypocrite.

And “prime” rib doesn’t come from the 13th rib, even though cows have that many*****

Well, it’s Tuesday, the 27th of December (in 2022 AD or CE) and I’m writing this on my phone because I didn’t feel like carrying my laptop yesterday.  I have to say, now that I’m not writing fiction anymore, I find the portable laptop more and more just useless and even irritating.  It was handy on Friday night, when I was at the hotel‒“free” Wifi that comes with the room and all that‒but that sort of thing is unlikely to happen very often.  In any case, I brought it with me on Friday specifically with that thought in mind.  But for other purposes, it’s just mostly an unnecessary and often unpleasant burden, rather like its owner (me).

I think it’s interesting that, come 2023, I will be (indeed, I already am) 53, a prime number, in a year for which the last 2 digits (23) are a prime.  2023 is not a prime, though it looks like it might be at first glance.  But it has prime factors 7 and 17 apparently; a nice pair, but the number they produce (by multiplying 7 x 17 x 17) is by definition not prime.  Still, that’s not many prime factors, and again, they’re particularly pleasing primes, though 7 and 13 would have been more fun.  But 7 x 13 x 13 would be 1183, I think…yes, that’s right.  I just went and checked my mental arithmetic and it was correct.  Phew, that would have been embarrassing to make that sort of mistake in front of all my readers.

So, anyway, 1183 is nice, but it’s 840 years ago next year.  So I’m a little late for that one, I’m afraid.  It’s 839 years ago this year, and 839 is a prime number, but neither 2022 nor 22 are prime, so what’s the point in that?  I wouldn’t even have looked at the number if not for my previous digression.

All that stuff is beside the point I intended to make.  The point is, my age is a prime, and the last 2 digits of the year will be prime, so if I die before my next birthday (but on or after New Year’s Day, of course), I will, in a sense, die “in my prime”.  It’s slightly forced, but as Michael Palin said in the role of a pet shop owner, “It’s as near as dammit”.  He was trying to pass off a terrier as a cat for the customer, who said it wasn’t a “proper cat”.

Anyway, that’s all slightly encouraging about next year’s prospects for me.  It’s about all I have to look forward to (or, rather, “all I have to which to look forward”), so I have to take what I can get, even if it involves squeezing a bit of the potential prime number relationships.

When you think about it, the numbers for the years are more or less entirely arbitrary, and even Darth Ratzinger* has admitted that the historical Jesus (assuming he actually lived) was born in about 6 BC, according to our current date system.  Which is kind of funny, when you think about it‒Jesus was born six years before Christ.  But then, we know he wasn’t born on Christmas, either, as I’ve mentioned before.  Hey, it was 2000 or so years ago, how accurate do you want people to have been**?

The next subsequent chance I would possibly have to die “in my prime” would not be until 2029, when I’m 59!  Although, 2029 is actually a prime number, and so is 29.  So that’s a bit tempting.  But I don’t even really want to imagine waiting six more years!!  And what if I died by accident some year in between?  What a waste that would be.

All of this is silliness, of course.  I like the idea because it’s playing with prime numbers and playing with words at the same time, and they are both things that I like to do.  But I’m not in any way committed to any numerological notions in any magical thinking sense.  If I were, then the 2029, 59 thing would be much more convincing, particularly since 2029 is the year the asteroid Apophis‒named for an ancient Egyptian god of chaos and destruction‒will come within 19,000 kilometers of Earth on April 13th.   That will be a Friday the 13th, by the way!  And if the asteroid passes through a very tiny gravitational “keyhole” (extremely unlikely) it will have its orbit altered such that seven years later it will hit the Earth***.  If I were dogmatic, committed to some quasi-mystical notion of prime numbers and the magical powers of some words, that would all be quite convincing.

But I don’t believe in any mystical or magical things, and I don’t think I’m wrong not to want to believe in them.  I’m well acquainted with metaphorical notions of magic (and fictional ones, of course) and am well acquainted with awe and with the numinous and with the state of being moved profoundly by wondrous things, from the contemplation of the scope of space and time on up to the births of my children.  But these don’t require belief, in the sense of conviction without justifiable evidence and reason.  Faith of that kind is a bug, not a feature, of the minds in which it resides.

So, no, I’m not convinced by the prime number/prime of one’s life coincidence.  I’m just very tired, and have nothing of real, deep value in my life, nor am I myself of any real, deep value.  But I enjoy prime numbers and word games, so it would at least be mildly amusing and satisfying‒or so I imagine‒to die in a year in which my age is prime and so are the last 2 digits of the year.  There’s nothing deeper to it than that.

There probably is nothing deeper than that, come to think of it.

*That’s the Sith name of Pope Emeritus Benedict.  Is he even still alive?  Also, why does “Sith” get the red squiggly underline of an unrecognized word, but “Jedi” doesn’t?  It’s blatant bigotry and hypocrisy by the Jedi, as should come as no surprise to anyone.  Well, I’ve added Sith to my local dictionary, at least.

**Of course, presumably God could have ensured precision and accuracy, but probably an omniscient, omnipotent, infinite being would not think our arbitrary dating systems‒or indeed, we ourselves‒were important in any way whatsoever.

***Of course, there’s plenty of time before then for someone who has, for instance, a private space program to send up a rocket that will gently nudge the asteroid, just a little bit, so that it hits the Earth in 2029…or in 2036, if that’s easier to pull off.  It wouldn’t need to be anything as dramatic as NASA’s recent asteroid deflection test thing, but it would require careful simulation and then application of force on a local scale.  Are you listening, Elon?  It wouldn’t be a mass extinction event, nor even a civilization-ending event, but it would be a global catastrophe such as hasn’t been seen since civilization began.  It might shake humans out of their idiotic Woke vs. MAGA type tribal bickering and make them take seriously the fact that they need to spread out off this planet, to colonize the moon and Mars and so on.  Or…was that actually the purpose of the rocket you sent toward Mars with a Tesla in it?  Is that camouflage for a mission to nudge Apophis to make it hit the Earth?  That’s it, isn’t it?  Oh, I knew you were an evil genius after my own heart!****

****Speaking of evil geniuses, I’ve seen recent videos that show, for instance, what the Death Star’s weapon would look like if it were accurate to real lasers, or showing how impractical it would be to use such a powerful laser, and regarding the apparent rebound energy if one fired a laser powerful enough to destroy a planet.  But the Death Star weapon is no more a laser than are blasters or lightsabers (though lasers may be involved in the workings of the devices).  Blasters and lightsabers are packeted plasma weapons of some kind, with the plasma perhaps constrained in highly shaped electromagnetic fields.  And the Death Star weapon is similar but of a different fundamental type.  I suspect it to be a highly energetic and dense plasma, but composed of anti-matter, and when the plasma strikes the planet at relativistic speeds, the matter/antimatter annihilation is what provides the incredible destructive force.  Or perhaps, alternatively, it is some form of plasma of W and Z particles, which cause massive, rapid nuclear decay in the atoms of the planets they strike, causing hitherto unprecedented fission events on a planetary scale.  It might even be a quark-gluon plasma, but generating that on such a scale seems boggling even to my jaded science fantasy mind.  Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, it’s just a pet peeve.

*****It can come from the 7th rib, though, and I guess you could request that specially.

Sour grapes may sometimes become fine wine

I’m writing this on my phone again today, because I just didn’t feel like carrying my laptop when I left the office yesterday.  There wasn’t anything particularly onerous about carrying it, but there wasn’t anything particularly beneficial, either, so I figured “just leave it”.  Life is irritating enough already without literally shouldering burdens that don’t seem to offer much benefit.

I think, maybe, if I do ever write any new fiction, I might do it on my phone, as opposed to even just with pen on paper.  The great advantage of writing on the phone is that I can readily do so pretty much anywhere with relative ease.  Even riding a bus would not be particularly troubling for writing on the phone, as I know from personal experience, whereas writing with a mini-laptop, though doable, is far less convenient, as I also know from personal experience.

One difficulty with fiction on a phone as opposed to the laptop is that there tend to be fewer functions available when using the phone, but that is improving all the time.  Already, the Google Docs app has bold and italics and underlining and text color changing available right on the main screen.  They are quickly catching up with MS Word, though Word also has a pretty good phone version of their app.  Of course, for writing on Google Docs, one does seem to need connectivity, whereas with MS Word on the laptop, one can write and save and upload later.

Writing by hand on paper is limited only by the amount of paper one has, but to “upload” those writings is a rather laborious process.  Of course, when I’ve written books by hand, there’s always not only the editing one does when reviewing the previous day’s writing, but also that which one does when typing it in.  That can be quite useful, because the change in format tends to make one look at things differently.  When editing drafts on Word, I often change the font of the whole file each time through, which makes me look at the writing in subtly different ways.  I’m not sure how much actual difference it makes, but I think it at least does something.

Of course, all this may well be moot.  I don’t know if I’m going to write any new fiction, ever.  I don’t think many people will be too disappointed by that.  How many people read books anymore, anyway?  Let’s have a show of hands.

As I thought:  I don’t see anyone but me holding up a hand.  My sister is too far away to see clearly, but I think, or rather I suspect that she’s raising her hand.  I know that she reads.  But who else does anymore?  Maybe I’m fooling myself‒because I was brought up in a home with readers, and then attended an Ivy League university and all that, and married someone I had met there who was also a reader‒but it seems that very few people read actual books anymore.

I was terribly disappointed when Sam Harris, in response to people who think like I do, said that he was not going to be mainly writing books (or even blog posts) much anymore, because his podcast reached more people in 24 hours than one of his books would reach in years.

Of course, my inclination is to respond with the question, “But how many people does your podcast actually, truly reach?”  Podcasts are nice and can be interesting, of course.  But even if they last for hours at a time, their treatment of any subject can only be superficial.  Now, it was thanks to Sam Harris’s podcast that I went out and bought books by people like Eliezer Yudkowsky, Max Tegmark, Paul Bloom, David Deutsch, Yuval Harari, Anne Applebaum, David Frum, Anil Seth, Geoffrey West, and so on.  But it was reading those books that was the real educational experience.  No podcast, even one by as intelligent and skilled an interlocutor as Sam Harris, can really be much more than a superficial skimming.  Sam is better at that kind of thing than anyone else I’ve encountered; he clearly thinks carefully about and deeply understands the subjects he’s addressing.  But even his interactions with his “guests” are just the beginning of interest in their work.

I tend to like his solo podcasts more, when he talks about his own thoughts and reflections on given topics, often in response to questions from his listeners.  His speech is careful and lucid, and he doesn’t seem to approach subjects frivolously.  From him, a solo podcast really is almost like a written article.  But I still wish more people would read, though clearly I’m preaching to the choir here.

Even WordPress, in the main page of the blog when I get on the site, has recently promoted the service of podcast production, with the enticing offer that one can increase one’s reach with a podcast.  Now, I’ve done some of what are, effectively, podcasts, posted here and on Iterations of Zero and on YouTube.  They can be fun to do, and they’re easier on the thumbs than phone-written blog posts, but one cannot do a podcast on a train or a bus…unless one’s podcast is something like “The Sounds of Public Transportation” or similar.  That might be intriguing for an hour, I guess, but after that, I think people would tune out.

Actually, I think people probably tune out a lot of the time on even the best podcasts.  If you’re listening to a podcast while working out, how much can you really think about the subject under discussion?  Not that it’s a waste of time to do it; surely any exposure to interesting ideas is better than none, or to listening to low-quality background music.

Maybe my complaints are just sour grapes born of the fact that my hearing is unilaterally quite poor and accompanied by tinnitus, and that Sam Harris isn’t talking to as many people I find interesting anymore.  I have enjoyed it when I’ve done what I call my “audio blogs”.  They’re more trouble to edit than a blog post, but they are way easier than a video post (and easier on the poor consumers’ eyes than any video that includes me).

Perhaps I’ll do this:  I’ve taken far too long to address the question of sugar that my sister asked me to address, and I haven’t said much about Parkinson’s disease.  Also, I received a fairly recent suggestion about cybernetics/robotic parts and the like.  Maybe I’ll try to record some relatively brief audio files about those.  I’ve learned some new things about audio recording recently, mainly by trial and error after pondering just how close Thom York in particular gets to the mic when he’s singing.  I’m always trying to learn more, I’ll say that for me without too much fear of being narcissistic.

In the meantime, I won’t be writing a post tomorrow, unless something very unexpected happens, and of course I won’t be doing one on Sunday.  For those who celebrate it, Sunday night is the first evening of Hanukkah.  I hope you enjoy it!

From Cyber Monday to confidence mistakes

Well, it’s Monday now, and we’re “seeing how it goes”, I guess.

This is the last Monday of November in 2022.  The Monday after Thanksgiving is sometimes called “Cyber Monday”, but that’s really just a marketing gimmick* invented by companies that sell electronics and related things, to encourage people—preferably without making them think too much—to buy computers and phones and items in those categories as part of their Christmas (or other holiday) shopping.

I think the term Black Friday was something that happened more or less organically; it’s hard to imagine retailers and marketers deliberately choosing something that sounds similar to the names given to the dates of various stock market crashes and so on.  No, it was a term born of legitimate lamentation about just how unpleasantly busy malls and other commercial establishments become on the day after Thanksgiving, when a good percentage of people in the USA would have the day off, and would be unable to deny that the Big Holiday was coming, and that they hadn’t gotten much, if any, of their shopping for it done.

But, of course, smart marketers still took advantage of the term and began setting Black Friday sales and the like.  When there’s a source of available resources, of one kind or another, and a busy ecosystem, something will eventually arise to exploit the resource.

Although, to give full disclosure, apparently it took millions upon millions of years for fungi (and possibly other types of microorganisms, I’m not sure) to evolve that could break down the wood of the oodles of plants that had grown and died in the “carboniferous era”, and that’s why those wood carcasses just lay around, and got buried, and for quite a few million years sequestered that carbon, but were converted by pressure and time into coal and so on.  There was a lot of it, obviously, but it is finite, and we’ve gone through much of those millions of years of cellulose creation (from the very air), and returned a good chunk of it to the atmosphere from whence it came, in a precipitous fashion.

It’s going to take more than just tree planting, I suspect, to counter that, because we can’t plant (and grow) many millions of years of trees in the space of a human lifetime.  The solutions are going to have to be at least a bit cleverer than brute natural selection, and probably multifarious, or else brute natural selection will do what it usually does and eliminate a great many forms of life.

It remains to be seen whether the human race will be smart enough to survive for much longer.  The various faces of politics and social media and the like don’t exactly fill me with optimism, but it’s difficult to make reasonable predictions about such things, because we don’t have any good prior data from which to draw our conclusions.  There have been no previous technological civilizations on Earth, and we’ve found no evidence of any out in the rest of the galaxy or beyond, so we just don’t really know one way or the other.  Anyone who confidently make claims about the future (without explicit or at least implicit caveats) is overconfident, more or less by logical definition.

I’m not one of those people who is impressed by confidence, by self-assurance, let alone by dogmatism or arrogance—though back when I was a pre-teen and into my teens I held a spot of envy for such attitudes.  Honestly, though, now I think overconfidence is generally reprehensible.  Holding beliefs that do not scale with the evidence has been a source of some of the greatest atrocities the human race has ever committed, against other humans and the rest of the world.

Beware of people who are certain without adequate reasons for certainty.  And by “adequate”, I mean reasons that would convince a disinterested extraterrestrial of good intelligence and emotional restraint without any preconceived notions one way or the other, not that would convince some naïve group of humans, even a lot of them.

Overconfidence is truly dangerous, and most of the confidence that people tend to try to invoke or evoke or project is overconfidence.  It’s not a coincidence, nor is it wrong, that “con artist” is short for “confidence artist”.  I recommend against trusting anyone who wants you to trust them rather than to be convinced by their evidence and argument.  It may do you good to remember that “trust” is really always just another word for “calculated risk”.  Try to make your own risk calculations as accurate as you can make them.

Anyway, that’s my meandering blog post for today.  I don’t really have energy to write much more.  I had a particularly bad week last week, so I haven’t made progress on reviewing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, and I want to get a better review in before I write any more about them.  I also have a request—from my sister—to write something about the problems and dangers of sugar.  That’s something that doesn’t require nearly as much review, but I’m not up to doing it today.

I don’t feel much better than I did last week, if any at all; I’ll have to see how the day goes.  But it’s not as though the holiday season is over.  Also, the daylight is getting shorter and shorter, and will be doing so for more than three weeks—although, this being near a local minimum of the sine curve, the rate of change is shrinking, and will reach its minimum absolute value right when the daylight reaches its minimum.  Of course, that also means that even once days start getting longer again, the change is going to be very slow at first, and hardly noticeable.

I honestly don’t know how (or if) I’m going to make it through until Spring.  No one has yet given me any good arguments for doing so, certainly none such as might convince a  disinterested extraterrestrial with no preconceived notions on the matter.  And, as I’m the closest thing to an alien that I’ve ever met, I’m better at making that judgment than many others might be.

But I don’t know for sure.  I do know that I’m tired, and I’m sad, and I’m frustrated, and I’m lonely, and I’m confused, and I don’t feel well.  I also can’t seem to sleep very well at all, even for me.  My world is a miserable place, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better over the course of my life.  I don’t know whether the future is therefore likely to be better, or is more likely to be worse still, or what.

I do have my doubts that it’s worth much effort, though.  Again, I guess we’ll see.  Or, perhaps, we won’t see.  Maybe no actual answers will ever be forthcoming.  If so, that’s okay.  I’d rather be uncertain than have firm beliefs that don’t have good, sound, reasonable bases.  I hope you feel much the same.

*Like “non-GMO” and “organic” and “gluten free” are, for the most part, though for those with actual celiac disease, that last one can be a truly serious matter.

But if you blog it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and it’s time to resume my traditional, weekly blog posting day after a brief hiatus last week due to a rather lackluster tropical storm.  I expect there will be another hiatus next Thursday, since it will be Thanksgiving here in the USA, and that’s probably a more universally observed holiday here than anything but New Year’s Day (the latter being mainly observed because many people tend to be much the worse for wear after New Year’s Eve).

I’m not going to pick up the discussion of Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s disease today, largely because I’m writing this post on my phone*.  Also, Thursday has traditionally been a day for blog posts about writing, especially fiction.  This makes it a good opportunity to address something raised by the same reader, StephenB, in a comment after yesterday’s blog, in which he asked what my thoughts or approaches were to writing good dialogue.

It’s an interesting topic, not least because I’ve never really thought about trying to write good, let alone great, dialogue.  I have, however, always (as long as I can remember, anyway) enjoyed reading both good/great dialogue and good/great narration.  But the greatness of such writing was always measured by how much I enjoyed it or the story in which it took place, and was from my point of view, never in deference to what anyone else said was good or great.

I’ve always tended to notice passages of writing that I find moving or eloquent, and I read and reread them, and often involuntarily memorize them.  In high school, almost every day, I would write some quote or other on the little-used blackboard of the orchestra room**.  I’ve also always loved characters who used words well‒they’re usually villains for some unclear reason‒in various books and movies and comic books and whatnot.  A big part of the reason Lord Foul is one of my favorite villains is because of his way with words (as well as the fact that, despite being a Sauron-style “big bad”, he actually speaks in the stories)***.

I’ve also always watched people around me and listened to them, mostly to try to discern how ordinary people talk and interact and communicate, which has often been far from intuitive for me.  If someone has peculiar habits of speech or sayings, especially funny ones, I’ll tend to remember them, and sometimes these will appear in my characters’ speech.

But when I’m writing dialogue, whether in a story or a play or whatever (it’s been a long time since I’ve written a play or a screenplay, but I did write them, once upon a time), I’m not really trying to make the dialogue good.  I’m not even really thinking about it as “dialogue”.  To me, the characters in my stories are just people‒real people in a sense.  I don’t do any formal process of, for instance, deciding someone’s background or motivations or nature, partly because, as far as I can see, no real people have such clearly defined backgrounds or motivations‒real people are messy and fuzzy‒and partly because it seems boring.

So, when my characters are speaking, they’re just talking to each other, as people talk to each other, and the subjects and words depend on the situations and the vague tendencies of the person talking.  I will have people try to be funny, when the character wants to try to be funny, but I can’t always tell if they’ve succeeded (and it’s often, ironically, funnier when they haven’t).  Sometimes characters get the right words out and make what they’re trying to say clear on the first attempt, and other times the other characters don’t quite get what they were saying, and they’ll have to clarify their point, sometimes with exasperation.

But real people, as far as I can see, don’t do “dialogue”.  They just talk to each other, and it’s very free-form and impromptu and usually quite messy, but sometimes fun.  And, as I said, the people in my stories aren’t anything but people to me, even the “bad guys”, and so they are prone to say whatever they say in any given situation, and succeed or fail at communicating depending on their luck, skill, or circumstances.

Of course, I do a lot of editing as I finalize stories, but I suspect that I edit dialogue far less than I do narration.  I certainly don’t bother trying to be grammatically correct when people are speaking, unless that character is someone who likes to try to do that, because most people‒even I‒don’t speak in grammatically correct sentences.  Occasionally I’ll tweak something if it’s said in an awkward way that’s not a natural kind of awkwardness, or I’ll add something if it occurs to me that this character really wants to say a bit more about a particular subject than was written originally.

And, of course, in The Chasm and the Collision, the characters sometimes deliberately choose not to swear when they definitely wanted to swear, and would have done so, if not for my decision, on my father’s recommendation, not to have any swearing in the book (since it was “kid” oriented).

So I fear I have little advice to give about writing “good dialogue”, but personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to do that.  I doubt Shakespeare ever tried to write good dialogue specifically; he probably just had his characters say what he thought they would say, both to have fun and to advance the plot (and often tweaked into iambic pentameter).  He ended up making some truly great dialogue, but I think his goal was just to write an enjoyable, moving play that people would be willing to pay to go and see.  The man had to make a living.

I’m no Shakespeare (clearly), but I basically just read what I enjoy and try to write what I enjoy, and my characters aren’t Characters, they’re just people.  They don’t do dialogue, they just talk, like people do, often saying stupid things, and interrupting each other, talking way too much, too loudly, and in singularly unflattering ways.  I don’t know if that counts as any kind of advice or insight; these are just my thoughts on the subject.

That’s my own “dialogue” for the day.  I hope you got some fun out of it, and that you have a good day, and a good week, and have whatever conversations you have with your friends/loved ones that seem to fit.  And, of course, please comment here with suggestions for subjects and topics or inquiries regarding matters about which you’d like me to write.


socrates dialogue bubble

*I didn’t bring my laptop when I left work early yesterday, exhausted beyond belief by Monday and Tuesday nights.  I wish I could say I’d gone on some kind of binge on those evenings, but alas, I can’t even usually finish a single glass of wine, and apart from caffeine, allergy medicine, and OTC analgesics, I don’t use any drugs.

**The orchestra teachers were pretty easy-going about this, presumably because I was a good student and the process was nominally educational and occasionally interesting or amusing.  They did give me the “dusty cello award” in my senior year, near graduation, for my idiosyncratic habit, and that very much caught me off guard.  I never really realized it was odd or funny.

***He’s the second person we “meet” from the Land, in the chapter “Invitation to a Betrayal”, and I doubt I will ever forget the final paragraph of his warning to Thomas Covenant:  “One more word.  A final caution.  Do not forget whom to fear at the last.  I have had to be content with killing and torment, but now my plans are laid, and I have begun.  I shall not rest until I have eradicated hope from the Earth.  Think on that, and be dismayed.”

A personal brush with being nonverbal

It’s Monday morning, the beginning of the first full work week in November.  I had the weekend off, so that’s why there was no post on Saturday.  I wish I could say that I had an enjoyable, restful weekend—I did at least rest some, though I don’t feel rested—but I didn’t do anything of value to me or to anyone else this weekend, except perhaps for my minimal contribution to the economy that entailed buying things to eat and some cleaning supplies.  I certainly did not socialize in any way.

I did not edit that recording of mine on the nature of time, so my apologies to anyone who was looking forward to it*.  I did do another very brief recording to myself last night, but this was mainly a reminder to me to try to write or think about something, and since it did work to remind me, I’ll mention what it was about here, now.

I was watching a video by a young woman who was diagnosed with ASD in adulthood speaking and thinking about “selective mutism”.  The kind she was discussing was that where someone apparently loses the power of speech only in specific circumstances, and for her it seemed related to social anxiety.  There are, however, instances of prolonged apparent mutism, or nonverbal state, among people with autism spectrum disorder.  Thinking about that from time to time had made me recall a rather disturbing event from my own childhood, one that I don’t think anyone else has ever known about.

I was very young when this happened.  Possibly it was shortly before I started kindergarten, but more likely it was in the first year or two of elementary school, but I remember one day I was frustrated about something I had tried to say.  Perhaps someone had laughed about my inability to get something out, perhaps someone had told me to be quiet; I don’t recall what or who the specific trigger was.  In any case, I recall deciding to myself, in an almost spiteful way, that I would just not talk anymore.  So, I made myself be silent, and for the next few hours, I did indeed remain silent, not speaking.

Then, a little later, something rather frightening happened:  I decided that I wanted to say something**, and realized that I could not speak.  There was nothing wrong with my mouth or my vocal cords or my lungs.  I simply felt that the part of my mind that produced the spoken word had been flipped into the “off” position; Broca’s area had been taken offline.  It was a bit like having taken in a post-hypnotic suggestion that one would be unable to speak; I learned years later that I was a pretty good hypnotic subject, and I did daily self-hypnosis for years starting in junior high or so***.

But that was years later.  At this age, all I knew was that, having decided earlier in anger that I was not going to speak anymore, I found that, indeed, I could not seem to speak.  I remember—I think—being in the dining room near the back of the house, where the deck door would eventually be put in, though I’m not sure if it was there yet.  I felt very frightened that I would never be able to speak again.

It occurred to me, or it felt to me—if I remember correctly—that if I let this go on, it would only be harder to break over time, and it might become permanent****.  I don’t recall exactly what I finally was able to force myself to say, after several moments or minutes of trying; I think it was something like “Hello”, or some rhyme or something along those lines, something very easy to remember and automatic.  But it was difficult.  I really had to force myself, as hard as I had told myself not to talk anymore, to do it.  I was finally able to do so.

It’s a very strange event, but I’ve never really forgotten it, thought the details are plainly fuzzy.  But I wonder if the fact that I was so close to being able to shut my speech down is related to my (apparent) ASD—according to the many tests and explorations that I’ve done—or if it’s simply that I am, as I noted, a good hypnotic subject and was able inadvertently to hypnotize myself in a moment of frustration and anger.

Perhaps “hypnotizability” is related to some aspects of autism spectrum disorders, such as the tendency to become obsessed with certain subjects or interests, to “zone out” when focused on things, ignoring the world around, and even to do various fidgety stims (I’ve always tended to fiddle with things in my hands in one way or another, from dice, to coins, to pens or pencils, to my fingers themselves, and so on).

I don’t know, and I don’t know that anyone has done much research on such things.  There seems to be a relative paucity of functional and structural neuroscience research on autism spectrum disorders, at least based on my own searches—though perhaps I’m just not deep enough in it to know where to look.  But it is interesting and somewhat disconcerting.  Still, maybe my flirtation with being nonverbal, albeit only for a few hours, is related to the phenomenon overall.

More likely, it’s just me being exceptionally weird, as usual.  I don’t know that I’ll ever find out.  In any case, no matter what, I’ve always been decent at writing, and me being nonverbal would not have spared any of you the existence of this blog.

*As if there were any such person.

**Again, I cannot recall at all what I wanted to say or why.

***I got a book about it from my father, because I had a second-hand book from the same author as his book.  My father is probably the person I’ve known whose mind was most similar to mine in many ways, so I guess it made sense that he and I had books from the same author about influencing one’s own mind.

****I’m sure there are people out there who wish it could have been so.

Yet another blog post without a real title. What do you expect?

It’s Monday morning, and I’m at the train station ever-so-slightly later than usual*, because I slept a tiny bit later, having stayed up quite a lot later than usual last night.  That was because The Power of the Doctor was on BBC America starting at 8pm, and I was quite wide awake even after it was over.

It was pretty good, though not as good as The Day of the Doctor, but then again, that was hard to beat.  The ending was a real surprise…but I don’t want to give any spoilers, except to note that I like the fact that the thirteenth doctor stepped outside the Tardis to regenerate so she didn’t trash it.  I’ve already given spoilers for the presumed heat death of the universe, that’s more than enough.  And that’s okay because the chances of anyone alive today in the universe being around to see it and having their surprise ruined are so small as to make winning every lottery in the world seem a near-certainty.  At least, that’s my intuitive estimate.

Also, I could be wrong about the heat death of the universe.  It could end in some far more horrific fashion.

I just noticed something curious, speaking of time travel-related shows:  In the little Microsoft search bar at the left of the toolbar on the screen, just after the Windows symbol, there’s a little stylized jacket and skateboard from Back to the Future II, the least good of the three movies (in my opinion).  I wonder what that’s about.  But I don’t wonder enough to look into it.  If anyone reading this happens to know and cares to leave a comment about it, I’d be grateful, but it’s not important.

Nothing is important, really.  Or everything is.  Either one is the same statement, when you get down to it, or at least they’re equivalent statements.

Of course, importance is a relative measure.  There’s no absolute importance scale like we have for temperature.  Importance is also subjective.  What’s important to one person is different from any (and probably all) others.  Importance is also variable, it being an estimate in the mind of the beholder that varies from day to day, year to year, decade to decade, and so on, for any given person.  If you’re not convinced, try to think of the things that were most important to you when you were five, then when you were fifteen, then twenty-five, and see how your priorities have changed.

Hell, when you’re old enough, just being able to sleep through the night without having to get up to go to the bathroom several times can be amazingly important.  I have a head start on that, in that I wake up anyway, so I sometimes get up to go to the bathroom preemptively.  I’m clever that way.

Oh, speaking of being old enough, I want to send out a (belated) Happy Birthday to my cousin, Lance, who apparently reads this blog with some regularity.  I didn’t write any posts over the weekend because I didn’t go to work, but I hope he had a good birthday and enjoyed himself.

My own weekend was basically rather frustrating and annoying, but a lot of that was just because I was there.  Of course, that’s rather trivial when you think about it.  Any given person cannot be frustrated or annoyed unless that person exists and is “present”, whatever that might mean in any given circumstance.

I did do something rather funny, yesterday.  I made a note using my phone’s video feature about something that I have realized before but had never recorded:  microwave popcorn tastes quite nice, and is a pleasantly easy snack to eat while watching (for instance) the sixtieth anniversary Doctor Who special, but it leaves a smell that lingers in the air for hours, and that smell is rather reminiscent of nether bodily effluvia.

I think it’s funny that I used the video function to record me commenting about that.  I would normally** have used a voice recorder app rather than wasting video, which has the unfortunate effect of recording pictures of my face, but my new phone doesn’t have an easily used voice recorder app.  It has a recording app.  There’s an app simply called “recorder” and it has a waveform of sorts as its icon.

I don’t think it has anything to do with those wooden (or plastic) flutes they have you try to play in grade-school level music classes before you’re ready to use real instruments, but when I tried to use it, once, to record a quick note to myself, it asked me for all sorts of permissions and things, and I decided, “You know what?  If it needs to get clearance for all sorts of things that I have to give it clearance to do, then I don’t want to record my notes on this app.”  Honestly, why can’t it just be like the previous app, which recorded what you said, just like an old-fashioned Dictaphone, and stored it as a file named based on the date and time of the recording?

Apparently, the camera function doesn’t require any permissions of that sort, though it’s recording presumably just as much audio information, and a ridiculously unnecessary (in this case) amount of video information.

Oh, well, what are you going to do?  The world is stupid.  But, well, it would be, wouldn’t it?  It’s just a planet, after all, how smart could it be?  And so is human civilization stupid, or at least human society on the local, daily level.  I suppose that, taken as a whole, human civilization is the smartest thing that we know of in the universe, but that’s not saying very much.  Most of the universe is vacuum, filled (slightly) with whatever “dark energy” is, and that’s getting bigger all the time.

Dark energy really is bringing down the average cosmic intelligence, but it’s not as if it was high to begin with.  Or even to middle with.  As far as we can tell, right now, it’s as smart as it’s ever been, and that’s just because of human civilization*** is smarter than, say, the moon, or a star or a black hole or a nebula or “dark matter****”, or anything else.

Anyway, before I bring down your overall intelligence too much, or at least your mood, I’ll call it done for today.  I’m not that happy even still to be around for another week, if I’m honest with you (which, in that, I am*****).  Hopefully that won’t happen too many more times.  Some promising signs have occurred recently, but I’ve been disappointed before, as I was particularly for the last five days.

I hope you all feel more upbeat than I do.  It’s not a high bar to clear.

*By which I mean, I got here at my self-scheduled time, in time for the usual, second train.

**So to speak, anyway.  I don’t know what I’ve ever done “normally” in my life.

***You can watch my video about there being no life in the universe, effectively, if you want to explore these thoughts further.

****As far as we know.  We know so little about the substance of dark matter than I guess it could be amazingly intelligent.  But there are good reasons not to think that’s the case, so far.

*****Though I can make no promises about honesty at any other time.  How could I?  If I’m honest, the promise would be true by default, and if I’m dishonest, then the promise might be dishonest.  It’s a pointless promise to make, as are all too many promises.