No live creature can continue to exist at all if there is no reality

Well, it’s Friday morning, and for those of you with a typical* American work week, I’ll say a “TGIF” on your behalf, though as I said yesterday, I work tomorrow.

That’s an interesting combination of tenses, isn’t it?  I’ll say, I said, I work, tomorrow…most of the whole latter half of that sentence is a mishmash of inconsistent, time-related words, and yet, as far as I can tell, it makes sense.  Please let me know if I’m wrong about that.

I’m still very tired from the fiascos with the trains Wednesday, and from sleeping on the floor in the office Wednesday night.  Nevertheless, on the way back to the house yesterday, I got an early enough train that I decided to walk back from the train station, despite being tired.  So, between Wednesday morning and Thursday evening I walked a total of about nine miles, and the athletic tape I put on the blister on my right foot seems to have done a good job at protecting it.

I did then pick at the blister a bit as I was lying down last night, and I might have irritated it some, since it’s slightly sore now.  That might just be from the longish walk back from the train last night.  Or, of course, it could be both.  There could even be unrecognized influences causing soreness.  Occam’s Razor pushes against that last bit—I’m unaware of any possible other causes so far, and I have potential known causes that can explain what I find and feel—but it doesn’t give any direction to the choice between the other two things or their combination.


I work tomorrow, as I said before, so I should write a blog post then.  I don’t know what I’m going to write about, but then again, I have no idea what I’m going to write about today, and yet I’ve already written some 360 words.

I think I’ve noted previously how this writing about nothing that nevertheless goes on and on seems almost related to the more ordinary thing called “small talk”, when people get together and discuss things that are of no consequence, really, and which are not planned in advance.  I gather that small talk serves some manner of social cohesion building, an interaction for the sake of interacting, done verbally in humans, since largely hairless house apes no longer need to pick Arthropoda from each other’s fur.

Small talk seems at some level essentially to consist of people saying to each other, “I’m a person you know and are socially bonded with, and you are a person I know and am socially bonded with.  We are part of the same community or tribe, at least at some level.”  I guess that’s useful, and even powerful, in an ultra-social species like humans.

Heck, even scientists and mathematicians get together at conferences**, or hang out together at lunch time.  Apart from this being a social bonding thing, it probably really helps to trigger and stimulate new ideas, as separate minds throw their thoughts into interactions with other minds, coming from varying points of view, triggering new thoughts and new insights that a single brain could not as easily produce.

Of course, reading (and listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and watching videos) can also bring on such new thoughts and ideas, sometimes in slightly deeper ways.  But there is no mutual, “real time” give and take, which can in the right circumstances lead to a seemingly near-miraculous bootstrapping of ideas.  Just imagine what the conversations were like when Gödel and Einstein hung out and went for walks together in Princeton!

Meanwhile, Robert Elessar, not sane, stood by himself against his blogs, holding darkness within.

Ha ha, that’s just me having a bit of fun with a slight paraphrase of part of the first paragraph (also part of the last paragraph) of The Haunting of Hill House.  (That’s also what’s happening in the blog title and in one of the footnotes.)

That has to be one of the best openings to a book this side of “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”***  And, of course, ““No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…” from The War of the Worlds.  Or a more recent favorite: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” from a book the title of which escapes me****.  Oh, well…call me Ishmael, if you must.

I don’t think I really have much more to write today, though something else may occur to me.  This has very much been a blog about nothing, but then again, that’s probably a decent metaphor for the very universe itself.  A lot seems to go on, at various levels, but there doesn’t seem to be any central theme or topic or subject, unless you count the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Even if you don’t count that, though, it still applies.  That’s the way of “reality”—it doesn’t depend on your awareness, or on anyone’s awareness.  Indeed, all such awareness is but a tiny little portion of reality itself.  Reality is that which exists whether you believe in it or not.  If you have doubts about that, just consider what happens to people who die sudden, unexpected deaths, as from a surprise bomb attack or similar.  Not knowing that bombs exist or that an attack was coming would not protect against them.

Ask the dinosaurs.  Oh, wait, you can’t.  They’re all gone*******.

See what I mean?  Have a nice day.

asteroid hit

*Is it really typical anymore?  I wonder what percentage of American workers overall actually work Monday through Friday nowadays.

**And even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.  See below (in the main body, not in the footnotes) for the source of that line.

***Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.  Surely the very title of that book, as well as its first sentence, would put it on the chopping block in the minds of the puritanical thought police of modern offense mongering.

****It doesn’t really escape me, of course.  It’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, obviously*****.

*****Seriously, I know it’s not.  I doubt there’s any book I’ve read more often than The Hobbit, if only because there have been quite a few times when I’ve started The Lord of the Rings and ended up stopping not long after the battle of Helm’s Deep, which is one of my favorite parts.  The early Frodo/Sam/Gollum stuff  in the latter part of The Two Towers is sometimes a lot to slog through.

*******Except for birds, of course, which really are descended from therapod dinosaurs and are, in a very real sense, extant dinosaurs.  I’m picking nits with my own words—figuratively, at least, since I do not engage in mutual grooming with any other primates if I can help it—but that’s fine with me.

So we profess ourselves to be the slaves of chance, and flies of every wind that blogs

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, against almost everyone’s better judgment.  Indeed, it’s the first Thursday (and the second day) of March, which is a new month (though the name is, of course, not new).

It being Thursday, it’s time once again for my traditional weekly blog post, which differs from my now-daily blog post only in that it follows the old pattern of a Shakespearean title and usually a picture…and, of course, this little introduction in which I note all these points, which is frankly rather tedious.  I should probably just quit doing it.

The trains were having severe troubles yesterday morning and yesterday evening.  In the morning, there was temporary suspension of the trains northbound from my usual station, due to what the fellow at the station referred to as a “train versus vehicle* event”.  The RTA was supposedly providing a “bus bridge” from that station to the next one north of the accident, and indeed, at long last, two full buses arrived bringing passengers from the station north of the event so they could continue south.  However, only one of the buses was heading back north, oddly enough, and that bus got full literally just as I was about to get on it.  I was the very one at whom the driver held out his hand, palm forward, and said, “No more passengers.”

So, grumbling, I stepped back, and I and the other remnants waited, asking when the next bus would be.  The fellow at the station did not know, though he guessed about ten minutes (ha ha).  After a while, he received notice that normal service was resuming.  This probably means no one had died in the “train versus vehicle event”, which I suppose is a good thing**.  I ended up being about an hour late to the office, and this was on Wednesday, which means there was payroll to do.  Also, we’re setting up and putting into practice a new program that I am heavily involved in, and we had two new people starting on a trial basis, who needed to be processed…and of course, meanwhile, we had at least three people out sick.  I was pretty stressed out, even relative to a normal day.

Then, last night, as I waited at the train station, the southbound train was announced to be late, and then announced to be later, and then that train was cancelled, and then the next one was announced to be late, and then later…

Eventually, it got to the point that, even if that next train got there at its announced later time, by the time I took it, then the two buses***, then walked from the stop to the house, it would be quite late.  And, honestly, I didn’t have anything (and certainly not anyone) waiting for me at the house, so it didn’t seem worth it to bother going.  I walked back to the office, and I slept here overnight.  And here I am writing this.

Such is my life—if you can call it that.  I hate it.  There’s nothing in it that’s of any real worth.  I’m still in chronic pain, I still have insomnia.  Obviously, I still have my dysthymia/depression, and of course, if I do have any neurodevelopmental difficulties that have hitherto gone undiagnosed, they certainly haven’t gone away.  I remain at least slightly uncertain in that latter category, because though I think the evidence is good, I do not quite trust my own judgment.

Can you blame me?

So, anyway, again, here I am, though metaphorically I am nowhere.  I also have a headache, which is probably at least partly tension related.  And I’m tired.  I’m not sleepy, but I am tired, almost all of the time.  I honestly don’t know what to do.  I mean, I know what I think I ought to do.  But it’s hard to get an “is” from an “ought”—though all “oughts” come from “ises****” contrary to what humeans seem to think—and I don’t have quite the will yet to overcome the activation energy wall created by biological drives/resistances to get to the other side.

I’m working on a way around.  There are things one can do to reduce one’s resistance in the short term, to lower that activation energy barrier.  But I’m not really interested in drugs, nor am I willing to deal with people who deal in illicit ones, and alcohol just tends to make me sleepy (and yet not to stay asleep or feel rested).  I do step swiftly into crosswalks when the lights change, hoping someone will not pay attention to traffic signals and will just hit me; they would deserve to have to deal with it, since pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way when obeying signals.  But so far—though many seem tempted—even when I tell them to hit me, none of them have.  I don’t know whether to feel irked about that or to be slightly pleased that so many people are more careful than one might expect.

Oh, well.  It doesn’t matter.  I suspect I’ll find a way to get back where I came from one way or another before too long, blisters and biological drives notwithstanding.  There must be some kind of quantum tunneling that can eventually get me through that mental barrier*****.

There’s no reason to expect things to head in the opposite direction, though, so I don’t really have any sense of optimism or even of possibility.  But in the meantime, I’ll keep writing these daily posts on days when I work, which will include Saturday this week.  You can continue to look forward to them, if you do, but for a limited time only.


tri rail

Golden Glades Tri Rail Station – no trains present

*Is a train not a type of vehicle, though?

**Although, honestly, given the trouble the driver of said vehicle had caused—presuming that it was that driver’s fault, which is not certain but seems more likely than not—I can’t help but wish that they at least could have been injured badly, and if you had asked me at the time, I would almost certainly have said they ought to have been killed (but not their passengers, of course, unless the accident was caused by such a passenger).  After all, given the number of people whom they inconvenienced, and the economic, social, and psychological losses they thereby engendered, and the physical stress they created among many people (me included) it seems likely that their escapade led to diminished health and even premature death in one or more than one person.  But they probably didn’t do it on purpose, so perhaps the death penalty would be excessive.  Still, I don’t hear about such accidents happening in countries where commuter trains are much more common than here in the US, whereas something of the sort happens almost monthly just during the times of my commutes.

***I probably wouldn’t have walked.  I’m trying to rest the healing blister on my right foot, at least from more than a mile of walking at a time.  It seems to be doing well.

****That’s a plural that doesn’t want to be spelled.

*****I think this was Dylan’s original first line of All Along the Watchtower, but it just didn’t scan.  It turned out fine when fixed, though, and Jimi’s version was even better, as Dylan himself is said to have admitted.

What? Were you thinking?

Ugh.  It’s a new day—and a Wednesday, at that, so I have to do the payroll.  It’s a new month, too, so there’s rent and water and electric bills and eventually cable bills and all that coming soon.

I suppose it’s nice that the vernal equinox is this month, and thus the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere.  And of course it’s nice that my brother’s birthday is also coming up this month (and one of my best friends from back home has her birthday before that, but we haven’t interacted in a long time).  But other than that, I have no interest in any of it.  Frankly, I don’t have much interest in anything at all.

I spent about ten minutes scrolling through my Audible app this morning, trying to find something I wanted to listen to on my way to the bus stop.  I didn’t find anything, though I have a fair few Audible books—not as many as I have Kindle books, but still, there are quite a few.

I eventually just returned to a podcast that I had started yesterday—an old one with Anil Seth on Sam Harris’s podcast, two interesting people talking about interesting things.  I get a bit frustrated when Sam betrays some of his bias toward the “hard problem of consciousness” being a legitimate, persistent thing, which I think is just a notion he holds onto as a meditator and thinker about consciousness—the notion that there’s something pseudo-mysterious about the fact that neural processes give rise to actual subjective experience.

I don’t understand what he thinks the alternative is.  The so-called philosophical zombie thought experiment is self-contradictory and incoherent when you look at it closely*.  How would a self-monitoring and flexible, self-directing, agentic, information-processing system that’s part of a biological organism with problems to solve and a not-completely-predictable world in which to live be expected to function?  It monitors itself internally and externally, including monitoring at least some of the contents of that processing, because that’s a useful thing for an organism to do to survive and reproduce in a complicated world that includes other beings like itself in addition to predators and prey and whatnot.  Why is it a hard problem that all this produces “subjective” experience?  What do you expect it to do?

It’s not any more sensible than asking why there is something rather than nothing.  What do you expect?  Obviously, there are only people asking that question if there is something.  And why would there be “nothing”, anyway?  Why do people assume that’s the default state?  Of course, I don’t think any actual, conscious being can truly imagine “nothing”, anymore than any conscious being can really imagine or contemplate the experience of ceasing to exist.

If you’ve been under general anesthesia—particularly really deep general anesthesia like you have for open heart surgery and the like—you’ve experienced the temporary cessation of pretty much all of your brain functions.  Try to remember what it was like when you were under complete general anesthesia**.  If there’s something for you to remember, then you were still conscious, and that means you weren’t under complete general anesthesia.

Alternatively, try to remember what it was like (for you) long before you were born, before even your parents were born***.  That’s what it was like not to be conscious.

From within its own realm, consciousness is, in a sense, endless, because it doesn’t feel itself begin and it doesn’t feel itself end—it’s almost like one of those Penrose/Escher diagrams of infinite hyperbolic spaces contained within another, finite space.  And this, of course, may very well describe the configuration of our own universe, since GR allows for spaces that look finite from the outside but are infinite from within, and mathematics can deal with them rigorously and consistently and thoroughly.  It’s not readily intuitive without a bit of thought and practice, but why would one expect it to be****?

Anyway, that’s the sort of irritated but at least engaging argument I get into within my skull with people who are not actually present with me, and with whom I’ll never interact.

When I try to talk to people at work about such things, I just get blank looks and confusion.  I tried to bring up my discussion from a week or so ago—regarding the M-theory related notion I had of a potential explanation for “dark matter”—with the smartest person I know in the office.  It was disappointing.  I was actually enthusiastic—I get that way about science and math, still, sometimes—but though he listened intently and politely, he said that it all really just went over his head.

It’s very frustrating, and quite disheartening.  I really do feel like a stranded alien castaway, sometimes, and in many ways, I always have.  This is part of why I always liked the villains in stories, not because they were bad guys—who cares about that?—but because they were always different, but strong and confident nevertheless.  They were people who got things done and changed the world, and who, by the way, also didn’t let other people fuck with them without cost.  They were strange, they were weird, but they were powerful and capable, though often not in productive ways.  And they’re fun, at least, or they used to be.

Nothing is very much fun, anymore, to quote the Pink Floyd song One of My Turns.

The next few songs on that album are Don’t Leave Me Now (too late for that) then Another Brick in the Wall, Part III, which definitely resonates with me, and finally Goodbye, Cruel World, to end the first half of The Wall, one of the greatest concept albums ever made.

The very fact that Pink Floyd’s only number one single was Another Brick in the Wall, Part II, the least good song on that album (though it’s got a great guitar solo…of course), is just another example of how unutterably stupid and worthless the world is.

Goodbye, cruel world, indeed.  And good riddance.

hyperbola hyperbole

*Just because one can utter the words of a “description” of what a philosophical zombie is and make it syntactically correct doesn’t mean the idea makes sense.  I can write 2+3=12, or say it, or whatever, but given what we mean by those symbols or words, it’s not a coherent mathematical statement.

**Not what it was like when you were just going under or gradually coming around.  Don’t be an idiot.

***Not any nonsense about past lives/reincarnation.  Don’t be an idiot.

****I think people tend to exaggerate, quite severely, just how complicated hyperbolic geometry really is.  (Get it?)

“What the hell am I doin’ here? I don’t belong here.”

I apologize for my rather boring blog posts over the past few (or several) working days.  I was trying to be as upbeat as I could, and to stop dwelling quite so much on my mood disorder and my otherwise disordered mental state, such as it is, because I feared that I would end up just turning readers off.  So, instead, I’ve focused on walking and blisters and silly things like that which, upon occasion, and in passing, would give a glancing blow at some interesting (in my opinion) subject matter like yesterday.

The fact is, I’m having severe, ongoing, worsening problems with my depression, and I feel like nothing I’ve done here or said here has been of any benefit to it or to me.  Or, well, what I’ve said and done might benefit the depression in and of itself, i.e., it might have made it stronger.  But that’s not necessarily good for the larger organism (me).

This is referring to the depression as if it were a being or entity in and of itself, with a separate nature and goals and criteria for thriving and so on.  It’s not, of course.  It’s a state of my own brain/body, a sort of self-sustaining but destructive pattern of internal and external interactions in a brain that’s already not exactly functioning in quite what might be considered a normal, or at least normative, way.

I’ve previously likened depression, as a state or an “attack”, to a hurricane—a self-sustaining pattern that forms and grows when conditions are right and is very difficult to break once it gets going.  I think that’s actually a decent analogy.  It’s certainly vastly better than the popular “chemical imbalance” notion upon which I’ve spat my vitriol more than once in the past.

As with hurricanes, I think it’s not entirely unreasonable to think of depression as if it were an entity of its own that tends to act to sustain and strengthen itself, as if it had intentions and a will, as long as one maintains the implicit awareness that this is a metaphor.  It’s easy to get into the habit of using metaphors so often that they stop behaving like metaphors in one’s head and start being, effectively, literal interpretations of things that are fundamentally otherwise, and it’s important to try to avoid doing that.  That way madness lies, as they say.

And madness does lie—almost always.  That’s one of the big problems with it.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make and to which I’m struggling to stick, is that depression acts as if it has a life of its own, rather as a tumor more or less literally acts as an entity in and of itself within the body, with its own “agenda” of self-sustenance and growth.

I’ve said to others, and to myself, that my mind is not my friend.  This is one of the reasons, for instance, that though I’m intrigued by them, I don’t think I would ever seek out an experience with any form of psychedelic.  My mental state often already has the feel of a bad trip of sorts, as I’ve heard them described.  I don’t want to pour gasoline onto that fire.

But I’ve fought with this entity in my head for almost as long as I can remember.  My brain, my mind, has always been weird—to me, relative to the people around me, and to many of them as well—though others also often seem inscrutable and inexplicable to me, at least in the sense of feeling things “in my bones”, though I’ve read and learned many things that give me at least an academic, intellectual understanding of things people do.  But I can’t say I grok them.

I’ve often said that basic primatology—particularly that which applies to primates that live in large groups—provides a sufficient framework on which to hang the vast majority of human behavior.  I suppose this should not be too surprising, since humans are primates, after all.  But it’s disheartening how rarely humans fully depart from the simple, chest-thumping, fang-baring, hierarchy-climbing, mate-seeking, dominance-submission behavior patterns that could with only a little simplification be transplanted onto the average baboon flange.

I cannot claim any superiority, of course.  My own, apparently “neurodivergent”, brain* is erratic and irrational even by its own—my own—standards, and I certainly cannot claim to be a well-adjusted machine running in optimal condition.  There are aspects to my machine that really are well put-together, and I’m glad for those, of course.  But they don’t seem to be enough to keep the whole thing operational.

I decided to give up even trying to look for help or improvement or to expect myself ever to get any better, and I tried not even talking—or writing—about it.  But that didn’t make for very good blog posts, apparently.  So maybe this one will at least be more interesting.  It’s truer to my inner state, if nothing else.

So, welcome to Hell, population one—I would like to say welcome to Purgatory, but there is no process of cleansing or improvement—of purgation—going on here.  There is only malicious, sadistic, hateful torment meted out by the demonic overlord of a realm repurposed for the eternal excoriation of a lost soul that is also the demon itself.

Okay, well, that paragraph was gratuitously melodramatic and misleading.  Sorry.  It makes the whole thing sound more exciting and impressive than it actually is.  Oh, well.  At least it’s not boring.  Except when it is, which is actually quite a lot of the time, come to think of it.  That’s one of the many forms of torture it entails.  Actually, that’s one of the big issues about it; even things that ought to be interesting are utterly mind-numbing, or seem so because the mind itself is numb (not comfortably) in the first place.

This is all a bit of mess here.  Again, sorry.  Returning to an earlier point, I’ll say that though the hurricane analogy is good as far as it goes, hurricanes have a tendency to peter out, eventually, as they move through the atmosphere, certainly once they go over land and lose the source of their water and heat, and then they kind of just fade away.  Certainly, no hurricane is going to destroy the Earth itself.

Depression, on the other hand, can absolutely do the equivalent of such planetary destruction.  In this, it’s much more like a tumor than a hurricane.  It’s a slow-growing tumor, perhaps like an indolent prostate cancer—the sort of thing you can have, and not treat, and yet you still might die of something else before the cancer ever would kill you (though kill you it may).  But even if it doesn’t kill you, it certainly doesn’t make you stronger.  It affects everything else in the system.  It steals energy from all the “good” things, when there even are any, and it further whittles away at those few good things by making a person intolerable to the people and things that are good in that person’s life, until nearly all of them are gone.

I don’t have any answers to this problem.  I know of ways to end the problem, but not to cure it.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence that anyone else out there has any good answers.  Believe me, I’ve looked, and I’m “qualified” to evaluate such matters, in more than one sense.

The world was not made for us; it was not made for anyone; as far as we can tell, it just happened.  Ditto with human beings and other forms of life—even weirdo, alien, replicant, robot, changeling, mutants like me.  Ditto with culture and civilization.  There’s no reason to expect them to work flawlessly or efficiently.  They just have to work “well” enough to be self-sustaining.  That’s natural selection, and it’s not pretty.

Well, it can be quite beautiful, depending on your point of view, but even Darwin noted how slow, cruel, wasteful, and harsh it all is.  Nevertheless, it’s the only game there is, as far as I can see.

I so just want to fold and walk away from the table.  Right now the blister on my foot is inhibiting that somewhat, but it’ll heal**.  Then maybe I can finally take a long walk off a short planet.  I don’t see any better options.

*Every time I take new or repeated tests to check on whether it’s accurate to describe it that way, I keep getting results pretty resoundingly supportive of that hypothesis.  I recognize that I am not performing scientifically rigorous evaluations, since the one administering and the one to whom the tests are being administered is the same, and it’s only too easy to introduce bias.  But I don’t have ready access, nor the mental wherewithal to take advantage of it, to resources to get a more objective assessment.  And when I go online and watch videos and when I read books and articles, when I go to social media and look at available resources and groups there, and so on, I find that, while these people all make somewhat more sense to me than most other people do, I still feel severely weird even in comparison to them, and I could not feel comfortable among them or interacting with them.  I feel no sense that I could connect to the related communities—to any communities, really.  I feel like a creep and a weirdo relative to every potential group or person with whom I could consider engaging.

**I almost accidentally wrote “it’ll heel”, which would be funny, but the blister is on the ball of my foot, not the heel, so as a joke, even an unintentional one, it just wouldn’t work.

Oh, yeah, Happy Presidents Day, by the way

It’s Monday morning, again—a fact for which surely we must all have cause to celebrate.

I’m beginning this blog post sitting at the train station instead of at the bus stop, in the fashion in which I always used to write it, waiting for the second train of the day*.  I feel quite weird and tense, almost anxious, interloping back into my old venue.  I worry that I’m going to be taking someone’s seat at the station by taking the seat I always used to take, or taking someone’s newly usual seat on the train by—hopefully—taking the seat I always prefer to take.

I don’t like things that disrupt my routines, and by extension and logical coherence, I don’t like to disrupt other people’s routines.  I also feel nervous about possible social interactions, e.g., someone saying something equivalent to “long time, no see,” and asking where I’ve been and what happened.  Thankfully, I’ve never been publicly sociable, so there’s no real precedent for anyone to say much, but it’s not impossible.

The base of my right thumb is really acting up today (and it was yesterday) and that’s frustrating because I have been doing my blog posts on my laptop—as I am doing this one—and that definitely gives my thumb comparative rest.  Also, I’ve done something to irritate my right shoulder rather badly, probably the supraspinatus and/or related structures, and raising my arm laterally (aka abducting it), even a little, is quite painful.

It’s frustrating to have all these new pains occurring.  They distract me from my usual, chronic back pain, with which I’m at least familiar.  Unfortunately, they don’t make it go away; they just add to it and sap the energy I usually have to be able to deal with it.

I’m not sure what to write about today, which is somewhat ironic given that I’ve written over three hundred words so far.  Perhaps this is my writing equivalent of small talk?  I’ve never been very good at doing small talk in real time, or at least in being able to understand the point, or endure it when nearly anyone is doing it.  But maybe this is my version of that, and maybe other people find it just as mind-numbing as usual small talk is for me.  In my ethical defense, though, I will say that no one is socially pressured** to read my blogs.  No one corners anyone at a party or in an office or whatever and shoves a computer or phone or tablet under that person’s face and insists that the person read this blog.

Do they?  Has that happened to anyone out there?  If it has, I want to extend my thanks to the person who did that to you—they’re really helping me out!

I’m kidding.  That would be a horrible thing, and I would feel guilty-by-proxy for their deeds.  Or, rather, not “guilty”—since one cannot even in principle actually be guilty or responsible for the deeds of other minds that one has not forced or otherwise caused them to commit—but I would feel chagrined, embarrassed, and just generally bad.

That raises a little tangent point I would like to emphasize:  No person, human or otherwise, can be held morally culpable for the deeds of others, especially for the deeds of the dead, because one cannot be morally culpable for anything over which one did not have even the possibility of control***.  This is why the insanity defense exists in criminal law, for instance, and in this case, the law in neither a ass nor a idiot.  You won’t find me all too often praising the law and its general practices, so enjoy that little aberration.  In most cases, I come not to praise the law but to bury it.

Well, no, burying the law would probably be a mistake.  Even a somewhat dysfunctional legal system is probably better than no laws at all.  Indeed, I suspect that, were the governments of the world to be suddenly abolished and all their power stripped completely away—perhaps as a practical joke or experiment done by immensely powerful extraterrestrials—after a period of horrible violence and instability, with mass starvation, disease, and infrastructure collapse, new systems of laws would come into place.  Even in places where there is gang rule, the gangs (as the previous term suggests) tend to institute “rules” of their own.  It just happens.  It’s an evolutionarily and game theoretically stable strategy, and it works for tyrants as well as for egalitarians.

One big trouble is that the individual people who want to set up and control governments are rarely the ones best suited to do so.  It would probably be better for us, in general, only to elect to our higher offices individuals who saw government—legislative, executive, judicial, what have you—as an unpleasant but necessary chore, like cleaning toilets, mopping floors, or mucking out horse stalls, rather than as a personally desirable thing to do, a means by which to achieve social status and the like.

Becoming president, in particular, should be done almost like jury duty.  No one who wants to do the job, for personal reasons, should probably be allowed to do it.

Perhaps we could arrange it so that no one could be nominated by anyone in their family or whom they knew personally, but could only be nominated by other people, people to whom they were not beholden and who were not beholden to them.  States could each go through a mass nomination process, by which a certain minimum number of people are suggested by those around them, and then strangers look into their character and nature and a public debate among people in general takes place, pro and con, but in which the nominated people cannot take part.

Then, at some point, a state holds a vote among nominated candidates, and the top twenty (or whatever) candidates are then put again before a public debate, in which, again, they cannot participate.  Only others can promote or detract from them, stating their qualifications and shortcomings.  Then, there would be a newer vote, and the recipient of the most votes would be that state’s candidate.

Then their would be a nationwide equivalent to select the office-holder.  No one would be allowed to refuse the job except based on legitimate and confirmed severe health difficulties.  But that would probably all shake out in the initial nomination and election process.  I suppose, to make it worthwhile, it would be best to have slightly longer terms of office, maybe with the new term overlapping the previous, so the new incomer could learn from the predecessor.  And only one term would be allowed****.

Anyway, that’s all silly fantasy stuff, so don’t worry about it.  I’m just tired and mentally unstable.  I really don’t think I can do this very much longer.  By “do this” I mean “exist on this planet”, not “write this blog”, though the former subsumes the latter.  Unfortunately, as far as I know, there’s no one coming to take me back to my home-world, or to the mother ship, or whatever, so I’ll need to figure out some other way.

I’m working on it.

hollywood train

*The irony of the bus-to-train schedule I’ve been doing recently is that it actually all but forces me to get up a little later than I used to, because the buses simply don’t start to arrive as early as trains do.

**Except by me, within my blog, of course.  But that’s a very nebulous kind of social pressure, and comes from someone who, while not anti-social, is surely dis-social.  I’m not sociopathic by any means, but I am “patho-social”, i.e., there seems to be some dysfunction in my ability to socialize, even with people I like.  It’s not pleasant.

***Thus, the notion of “original sin”, for instance, is pure ethical bullshit.

****This makes me imagine another contrafactual scenario, in which candidates for office hold an anti-debate, in which each one is required to denigrate themselves and their own party and give convincing reasons why the other party’s candidate is better, to argue with the other against themselves and their party’s positions.  It would at least be amusing.

Words, and spice, and a futile device…that’s what this blog post is made of

Well, it’s Friday again, and so tomorrow is Saturday, in the system by which we name our days.

The days themselves don’t know or care about what we call them, anymore than all the various plants and animals and fungi in the world care—as far as anyone can tell—what we call them.  Our names of things are solely for our convenience, to make communication easier and more streamlined—paintbrush handles of thought, as I think Eliezer Yudkowsky described them.

But, of course, having finite minds, as surely do all creatures, we tend to get so used to thinking of things by their names that we think the names and the things are interconnected in and of themselves, and even that the names have inherent power.  This is akin to all the old magical ideas that knowing someone’s or something’s true name gives you power over them in some mystical fashion.  It’s also related to our (depressingly) current notions of names or other words being capable of causing actual, physical harm, and being taboo—even words that are basically innocuous.

I can certainly understand why people might want to avoid using a term that’s been almost exclusively associated with historical injustice, oppression, and literal violence; that’s just a matter of trying to be polite, as far as I can see, and politeness is rarely a bad thing, as long as people don’t get too carried away.  But the tendency of humans to get hung up on some mystical (and fictional) power of names often becomes a problem, and is the error of thought which required the creation of the formerly popular and very important corrective, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

That’s very true—unless you’re dealing with Paul Atreides or some other Bene Gesserit person.  Alas, those are fictional beings.  I say “alas” not because I think that it’s too bad that we don’t have the Bene Gesserit and so on, but because it would be great if there really were people/creatures like the Guild Navigators, with the ability to fold space thanks to long exposure to the spice mélange.  That would be tremendously useful for space travel, obviously.  In our world, though, “He who controls the spice controls the universe” just refers to KFC and Colonel Sanders’s secret original recipe for fried chicken, which is tasty, but is not going to get us interstellar travel, at least not anytime soon.

Similarly, as far as we know, in our particular brane-world, there are no orcterlolets, with their ability to manipulate space directly (no spice needed).  And if Simon Belmont is real in our universe, he’s keeping his knowledge and abilities quiet, probably wisely*.

Anyway, coming back to the subject of the day and days, I hope you all are going to have a good weekend, and that you get some time off from work and so on.  I’m going to work tomorrow, unless some highly unusual situation develops, and so I will be writing a blog post tomorrow.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been using my laptop all this week to write, and it’s definitely helping my thumbs, though they are not fully recovered yet.  I will say, even I am struck by how much faster and more eloquently I “speak” when typing than in any other fashion, including actual speech, as far as I can see.  As you may know, I’ve tried to work on doing “audio blogs”, since more people seem to like to listen and to watch things than to read—see yesterday’s post for my lament about that fact—but it’s not nearly as natural to me.  I did find it gratifying to read aloud my last post from Iterations of Zero, which I turned into a “video” on YouTube and embedded here, but that’s as much because I really was trying to get that message out…yet again, perhaps for the last time, after so many, repeated failures.

Apparently, I’m not very good at making myself clear.  Then again, the reason for that, and the emphasis on that reason, was a big part of the point of that last IoZ blog post and the fact that I read it aloud and shared it in different format.  I’m probably wasting my time, though.  Even if someone actually gets the point I’m trying to make, why on Earth would anyone act on it?  Why would anyone even try to save the prisoner in my thought experiment?

Let him die, I say.  He’s a worthless little piece of shit, anyway.  I hate him.

With that, I’ll wrap up this rather bizarre and somewhat short Friday blog post.  I didn’t have any agenda going in, and I think I’ve achieved that agenda nicely, and in fewer words than I usually take to do it.  If you’re spending the weekend with family and/or friends, please do your best to appreciate your time with them.  Make the most of it.  Don’t take them for granted.  Take nothing for granted.  The universe only makes one promise to everyone—and we can’t even be completely, mathematically, epistemically certain of that one.


*The immediately preceding few sentences were references to my “fantasy” adventure book, The Chasm and the Collision, in case anyone was confused more by them than by references to Dune.  To learn more about what those references mean, you should buy and read my book!  Heck, buy them all!  They will change your life, I promise you…at the very least in the sense that you will own several more books than you had owned previously.  That’s technically a change, right?

They have blogged at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday, so I’m writing my traditional blog post, which I used to write between writing fiction (or editing it) on every other working day of the week.  I suppose it’s possible that now I’m still writing my daily blog between writing fiction, but if so, it’s a very long between, and I see no hint of a far end of that break, at least not one that involves me starting to write fiction again.

Practically no one—perhaps literally no one—has shown any real interest in that possibility, nor is anyone outside my family really reading any of my fiction.  Perhaps few people read fiction at all anymore.  I do have to wonder, how many of the people who buy even the big best-selling fiction works actually read them?

I recall back when Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was a huge best-seller* that many people just bought it to have it on their coffee table or book shelf, as a social status symbol, just as they might wear Nike shoes or drive a particular make and model of car, or frequent a particular restaurant where they could be seen with other people who were going there to be seen.  They were peacocking, so to speak—it wasn’t just males, of course, because humans have different social structures than birds as a general rule.  But the status, hierarchy, and symbolic drives are all quite reminiscent.  One could say similar things about Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Hell, back in the day, there were probably oodles of people who had sets of high-quality encyclopedias on their bookshelves, that they never used or expected to use.  This is a true shame, because I can tell you that just picking a random volume of an old-school encyclopedia and thumbing one’s way through it, stopping and reading when one encounters something interesting, can be quite a wonderful experience, and lets one learn about things one might never have thought to explore.  Wikipedia does have a sort of “random article” feature, but it’s just not the same.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent.  The point I’m making is that I think almost no one reads at all, or at least few people read anything longer than a few hundred words at a time**.  People seem to prefer to watch people speaking in order to get their news, which is far less efficient than reading actual words, which are a comparatively concise and precise means of conveying information.

There are some things for which video is especially well-suited, of course.  Conveying complex scientific ideas can be boosted tremendously with high-quality animation of concepts, especially in physics.  Also, of course, explorations of the natural world as undertaken by the likes of David Attenborough can be used to give people a more direct exposure to things they never would have been able to see for themselves.

But still, words have their power, the written word especially (or so I think).  When you come down to it, every aspect of the internet runs on written words—computer programs and commands—which convey literal, step-by-step instructions from one place to another about what pixel to put where and when, how and when and with what power to vibrate a computer’s speaker, and of course, what ASCII or similar character to call up and put where on what screen.

It happens very fast, of course, but it happens that way.  The very reason video signals can be so high-fidelity but low power—phone signals as well—is that they are transmitted as languages, with redundancy and error-correction implicitly (and deliberately) built in, so that even when part of a signal is lost, the rest can “easily” be reconstructed.

I put “easily” in scare quotes because while it happens readily once everything is set up, it took some of the most brilliant minds ever in the world to figure out how that sort of thing works and what to do to make use of it, and others to figure out how to bring it to the available use of so many of the billions of humans worldwide.

Meanwhile, most of those humans don’t think about the exquisite and astonishing machinery involved in their smartphones, or their “smart” TVs, or their GPS (which requires Special and General Relativity to function!).  Most people use their phones as distractions and—perhaps primarily—as yet another instance of peacocking, of status demonstration.  How else can one explain the push to buy the latest iteration of the latest smartphone, when one hasn’t even taken full advantage of the features of the phone one currently has?

Humans very rarely seem actually to think for themselves.  I’d say almost all of them do it some of the time—occasionally—and some few of them do it much of the time.  But that last population is vanishingly small.  Yet they, I suspect, are the ones who drive most advances in most fields, and produce the improvement of science and technology and art and society.  What a shame that they’re usually just making precious ceramic sculptures to be tossed about by troglodytes.

Oh, well.  Obviously I’m not in an upbeat and optimistic frame of mind today, if ever I am.  And it’s because of facts and thoughts such as these that I think I’m not writing this blog between writing fiction but rather after having written all the fiction I’m going to write in my life.  That’s okay, I suppose.  It doesn’t actually matter much to much of anyone, anyway.

It’s just as well, I guess.  The one person I met at work who actually talked to me about the substance and the ideas in one of my books—Son of Man, in this case—was also a person who died of a drug overdose not long afterward.  It wasn’t the fault of my book; he had a drug problem already.  But he was smart and curious, and he actually read the book and thought about it and asked me questions related to it, and debated points with me.  That was kind of cool.  Small wonder that he died a self-inflicted death; he was too much a kindred spirit to me.  What else could one expect?

So, with that in mind, I—who, regrettably, cannot seem to develop a life-threatening addiction to drugs or alcohol—don’t expect to do much more creative shit in my life.  I could be wrong, of course; I make no claims to absolute epistemic certainty about anything.  I’m not even entirely convinced by cogito ergo sum argument.  I can vaguely conceive of the possibility of myself being a figment of someone else’s dreams, albeit someone with a very vivid (if somewhat dreary) imagination.  Of course, in a sense, an imagined being, if the imagined nature of that being is instantiated in the imagining of independent thought, does exist.  So I guess Descartes’s conclusion, in sum, was still correct as far as it went.

I don’t know.  I’m tired.  If someone is dreaming me, I wish they would have a better dream.  Maybe I wish they would wake up.  Presumably I wouldn’t know that the dream that I was in ended when it ended, anymore than any of us would know if the vacuum state of the universe tunneled to a lower energy level and wiped out everything preceding it, because the wave front of the phase change would progress at the speed of light, which would mean that the first hint of its existence for anyone would be their instantaneous obliteration, faster than they could even potentially know it was happening.

Swift, painless, without the possibility of fear because fear cannot move faster than light—it’s not too bad a way for the universe to go.  To read more about it, please look into The End of the Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), by­­­­­­­ Katie Mack***.  It’s an excellent book, and quite fun.  Buy it even if you’re just going to put it on your coffee table to impress the Joneses.  At least the author would get a bit of money.  And some day, you or someone in your family might accidentally pick it up and learn something.  There are worse accidents than that!



*Admittedly, that is nonfiction, but it serves my point more generally.

**Though, to my surprise, on the train this morning I saw no fewer than three people actually, actively reading paperback books.  Perhaps I’m too pessimistic.  That would surprise almost no one.

***You need not worry about the possibility of such a phase change much.  It’s far from certain that it even could happen, and even if it can, the best science indicates that it’s vanishingly unlikely over anything like the current lifespan of the universe.  Dr. Mack explains it far better than I could.

Brief thoughts on candy, carbon, communication, and a shared “video”

Well, it’s Wednesday, the day after Valentine’s Day.  I know it’s not technically the Ides of February or anything—at least I think I know that—but there ought to be an official day for the day after Valentine’s Day, some equivalent of Boxing Day after Christmas.  Maybe we could call it Barfing Day; that might be both fun and appropriate.

I was thinking that yesterday would have been an excellent day for me to have a heart attack.  It seems an appropriate potentially fatal healthcare crisis to have on a day when everyone is sharing “heart-shaped”* treats, many if not all of which are not great for the coronary arteries.  However, though I did in fact find myself once sprinting to beat a light and then later sprinting to catch a bus—one can’t get much more cliché than that when it comes to myocardial infarctions—I felt not a hint of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or what have you.  Disappointing.  And the only nausea I felt was that sort of subjective nausea that isn’t a true physical feeling, but which is a projection of disgust over the very silly and stupid things people say and do.

This queasiness was not in response to Valentine’s Day activities!  Don’t get me wrong.  I thought Barfing Day was a good follow-up day because eating too many sweets in one day can lead to GI upset.  For the most part, I think it’s nice that people express love, romantic and/or otherwise, to those important to them.  It may be frustrating that it’s such a ritualized, scheduled expression of love, but unfortunately, if it were not for such rituals, it’s probable that many people would never make or think of any such expression at all.

Sometimes, it seems, humans need rituals to make them realize their own feelings, and perhaps even to confront their own feelings.  This can apply to bad feelings as well as to good, as when, on the approach to a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, someone realizes that the person with whom they are currently linked is someone with whom they don’t really feel that strong a bond.  Hopefully such a realization occurs before too much has been invested in a relationship.

I suppose the need to act in recognition of such a fact can sometimes lead to a stereotypical Valentine’s Day breakup, which is harsh, but perhaps better than the alternative of a long, unpleasant relationship with increasing acrimony and emotional (if not physical) abuse.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I don’t know; I’m making this up as I go.

In distant parallel to the above, I sometimes think that maybe we should lace all Valentine’s Day candies with hormone blockers or something along those lines to diminish the sex drive of those who eat them.  Surely, anything that can be done to decrease the breeding of new humans is probably going to be a benefit for the rest of the planet, and evolution just isn’t likely to get to that solution on its own.

On second thought, that may actually be a foolish notion.  Honestly, I’d worry more about people if they didn’t have any children, because the nurturing of children is one of the most potent triggers and encouragers of love—not to mention forethought—in humans.  As I think Fagin said in the musical Oliver, I think I’d better think it out again.

Anyway, that’s all for you guys to worry about.  I’m giving up on it, and with any luck, none of what humans do will have any impact on me, other than perhaps to alter slightly the rate of decay of my corpse.  Though it would be useful, I think—and as I’ve written before—to enact a policy, or even a tradition, of storing the bodies of the deceased in deep ocean subduction zones, to get them out of the carbon cycle.

Cremation seems like a terrible idea; it just gives everyone one last lunge to increase their individual carbon footprint!

It probably doesn’t make much difference, though, honestly.  Such minor sequestering and the like on local, individual level is unlikely to accumulate into anything of significance to the global atmosphere.  I think it will only be the development of new science, technologies, and processes that will engineer out the excess carbon from the atmosphere, perhaps using some adjusted and enhanced equivalent of photosynthesis on an industrial scale (among other thing).  After all, photosynthesis takes carbon dioxide and water—potent greenhouse gases—from the atmosphere and ultimately converts them into carbohydrates and fats and such.  These can then be sequestered, if necessary, or converted to bioplastics, and biofuels, to use for things we currently do with fossil fuels.

The local energy for those processes can be derived from the products of the photosynthesis (ultimately from the sun) and so on, so that even when not truly “carbon-negative” it will be at worst “carbon-neutral”.

Of course, it’s stupid to be carbon neutral as a matter of personal, aesthetic judgment.  Carbon is the backbone of life as we know it, and probably will be for most if not all other life in the universe, if there is any.

I know, in these matters, “carbon” is just a shorthand for greenhouse gas reduction and whatnot, but I wonder how many people really think about that when they use the term, especially when one considers that water vapor, which is more potent than CO2  as a greenhouse gas, has no carbon in it at all, and methane, which is also more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, has only one carbon atom for every four hydrogen atoms.  And a molecule of methane burns to make one molecule of CO2 and two molecules of water.

If more people were more scientifically literate and careful in their thought, a great many of our problems would probably be diminished, so my biggest local lament here is that many of the more vocal activists on all sides may refer to things like carbon and economics and communication and the like without even really thinking about the words they are saying.  Such words in such cases aren’t tools of communication, but are, as Eliezer Yudkowsky notes, just soldiers going into battle.  What a horrible bastardization of the greatest invention of the human species.

In closing, I just want to let you know that I recorded myself reading aloud the last blog post I made on my alternate blog Iterations of Zero, and I’ve turned it into a video to put on YouTube.  I’ve embed it here, below.  It’s only three minutes long, and some of that is a lead-in moment of silence.

You can read it or listen, whatever you like, but I hope if you “watch” it you’ll give it a “thumbs up” on YouTube.

It’s a brief discussion of a thought experiment or story of a person trapped in a peculiar prison and trying to send messages for help without alerting the jailer, but it’s not as simple as it seems, and it’s not actually fiction.


*And they are truly sort of heart-shaped, especially if you look at the interior shape of a heart.

Some 義理チョコ from me to you, with 感謝

It’s Tuesday, February 14th, which means that it’s Valentine’s Day, a day that is “celebrated” in the United States and Japan at the very least.  I think it’s observed in many other places, but I’m not at all certain of anything specific.

I guess it’s appropriate, given that it’s a holiday nominally about romantic love, that it falls on a twos-day this year.  Ha.  Ha.  Excuse me, I think I have to throw up.

Anyway, to those of you who are having, or planning to have, a lovely day with your significant other—or others, I suppose that’s possible—I hope you have a nice, even a terrific, day.  Honestly, I do.  I’ve gotten to the point in my depression where I certainly don’t feel envious or spiteful or anything.  I’m just mostly empty.  So do whatever you like with each other, with your civilization, with the world, whatever.  Ruin it, save it, let it slowly grind away, gasping and limping, to its inevitable end.  I don’t really care.  I have no skin in much of any game, anymore, not even my own.

It’s curious, the form in which Valentine’s Day was imported into Japan, at least according to every light novel, manga, and anime I’ve seen that deals with it.  It’s a day on which girls give chocolate to friends and/or to those with whom they are infatuated /romantically interested (usually boys, but not always nor exclusively).  That’s giri-choco (義理チョコ) versus honmei-choco (本命チョコ)* if I recall the terms correctly.  Subsequently, the standard practice is for one who received chocolate (usually a boy) to return some kind of gift on March 14th, which is called “White Day”, and appears to be a holiday that solely exists in Japan.

I doubt anyone much planned for any of these things to happen, of course, despite frequent complaints, there and here, that such holidays were invented by greeting card companies or the like.  As with most human institutions—indeed, as with civilization itself—they are spontaneously self-assembling systems.  They are not even in any kind of stable and/or dynamic equilibrium.  Certainly there are people and organizations that benefit from Valentine’s Day, and they will encourage it to continue and to grow to the degree they can—candy manufacturers, florists, greeting card companies, those sorts of people and things—but that happens very much spontaneously.  As with most actual “conspiracies” it’s not planned, it just occurs.

There is no shame or crime in any of this.  Who among you, given an opportunity to benefit yourself (and by extension, your family and others you love) through the honest production of goods and services that reinforce and spread the memes of a holiday which is at least nominally a positive and cheerful one, would not do so?  Making a living while supporting love seems like a win-win situation.

No one forces you to buy candies, or cards, or decorations.  No one forces you to be in a relationship**, no one forces you to buy holiday-associated clothes or treats or jewelry or whatever.  You may feel strong urges to do such things, but you can’t blame those who recognize those urges and make products that respond to them.  You can’t blame McDonalds for the fact that you feel hungry but don’t want to go to the trouble of eating somewhere else, anymore than McDonalds can blame you if you do choose to eat somewhere else.

I don’t know how I got off on that tangent.  I think I was arguing with myself, past and present, as much as anything else.  It’s all academic and moot to me, now, really.  I have no romantic interest, haven’t had any for quite a long time, and I don’t expect—or really, want—one any time before I die.  I’m a cat whose feet have been burned too painfully to risk walking across that stovetop again.  It was all always confusing and counterintuitive to me from the start, to be honest.

Speaking of walking, my feet still have a little bit of soreness from Saturday, but I got through my four miles total of walking yesterday without much trouble, and my blisters are resolving but not gone.  I think if I undertake such long walking—or longer—in the near future, I should probably do an hour on, an hour off, and so on, at least until I get used to it.  I know I can walk for an hour at a time without any real trouble.

I should also make sure to apply sunscreen.  My nose and forehead are peeling, and that’s not appealing at all.

Sorry.  Stupid pun.  I don’t like it, either, but I have a tendency to punish and hurt myself, and unfortunately, you readers got caught in the process this time.  I apologize; I try not to cause harm to innocent people when I self-harm.  I generally try not even to let people know about it.  But, of course, in the ultimate, it’s a tricky conundrum to go the final distance, so to speak, without at least inconveniencing or worrying some other people, and that’s frustrating.

I don’t know quite how I’m going to get past that.  But I’m going to have to try.  Because my tank has long since been hovering near empty, and the little warning LED has been lit for miles.  There’s no gas station in sight that I can reach, as far as I can tell, and I’m in the middle of the desert, so walking to get a can of gas to bring back is risky.

But it still may not be a bad idea.  Walking to get gas may succeed, it may be useful, with a great deal of luck.  And if it doesn’t, if it isn’t, well…a desert is at least a relatively unbothersome place to die.

I don’t know what I mean by all this.  Have a good day, please.


*See the title of this blog post.  Giri choco means, more or less, “obligatory” chocolate, though I don’t think that usually implies insincerity.  It certainly doesn’t with me for this post.  Honmei choco is “true feelings” chocolate, basically saying to someone that you have romantic feelings for them.  It is important to make clear which one you’re giving.

**Not most places, anyway.  If that’s happening, it is indeed a crime and a violation.  But forced marriages or any other variations of such things are generally not what people mind about Valentine’s Day.

Brief thoughts on habits, and locality of points of view, and the causes of headaches

I’m going to try to make this short today.  Of course, it won’t be as short as yesterday, when I didn’t write a blog post at all; my apologies for that if you were disappointed or concerned.

I was “at home” yesterday with a migraine headache, which I suspect was triggered partly by the tension from my sore thumbs, though obviously that’s not the whole story.  Then again, when is anything the whole story?  If the universe is infinite, and especially if there are multiverses‒of various levels‒then even describing everything in our visible universe would not be “the whole story”.  We’re left relying on some analog of perturbation theory to try to make sense of most things in the world.

I’m also going to try to make this short because‒stupidly enough‒I’m writing this on my phone again.  I had intended to bring my laptop with me when I left work on Wednesday, but I was stressed out, and (ironically) distracted by the pain in my hands, and by the usual person who keeps us late, who kept us late.  So, I was a bit rushed when leaving, and I screwed up and left the laptop behind.  Habits are things of powerful inertia, which is a good reason to cultivate useful ones.

Yesterday I spent almost the entire day lying in my room with the lights out, listening to some YouTube videos with the sound low.  My brain still feels rather soggy and squishy, like a wrung-out, beat-up old sponge, but I doubt that comes across as being any different than how I usually come across.

Hopefully no one was too worried about me when I didn’t write my usual blog post yesterday.  Honestly, someone who reads my blog regularly enough to notice that I didn’t write one as usual would probably long since either have seriously started to worry about me in general or would simply have given up on me as a lost cause.  They would not be unjustified in either case.  I don’t know what to say to such a person, since I don’t really know what to say to myself.

I’m not sure what topic readers might be interested in discussing, today.  I’m too frustrated to want to get into politics, because frankly, most politics seems to be a panorama of billions of apes who could easily get together and come up with workable solutions to their problems, or at least with working solutions, things that could be tried and adjusted and tweaked, but they simply are not in the habit of rising above their immediate monkey natures.

It’s not so much a problem that they respond to local pressures and incentives‒that’s the nature of reality itself, and me indeed be a good definition of locality; it can’t be avoided, any more than a closed system can choose to ignore the conservation of momentum or the 2nd law of thermodynamics.  It’s that they don’t even try to lift their heads up and look out beyond their own habitual points of view, their own emotional reactions and pre-digested judgmentalism, to try to get a bigger and deeper awareness of objective versus subjective reality.  Ironically, this would have the effect of potentially making those more distant pieces of information into local pressures and incentives, because they would be in their heads.

I don’t have high hopes for the human race, though there are occasional glimmers of promise here and there.  Unfortunately, it seems that too many people think that anyone who doesn’t agree with them about all matters other than purely aesthetic taste‒and sometimes even that becomes a dividing line‒is not merely wrong but is actually evil.  But no two people will agree on absolutely everything, because the phase space of possible thoughts and values, if not infinite, is vastly larger than the space of all thoughts that have ever been.  So, this attitude effectively balkanizes the whole human race into 8 billion individual instances of solitary versions of “Us” set against a vast sea of Them.

Maybe we should take a hint from George Harrison and have all people who so “proudly” display their pronouns on various social media* simply use “I/Me/Mine”.  Most of their little proclamations appear‒to those of us observing humans from the outside‒simply to be akin to the non-functional constructions of bower birds or the dances of bird of paradise, not the well-considered but provisional positions of creatures with sophisticated minds.  They might as well pin a leek on their lapels or put a sign in their shop windows reading “worker of the world unite”.  Or they could just whistle “Dixie”.

Okay, well, I guess that’s what I was going to write about today.  Who would have guessed?  Who would have bothered to make a guess?  Probably no one.  Why would anyone bother thinking about a creature like me?  I wish I didn’t have to think about me, frankly, so I can’t hold it against you if you don’t want to do it.  I’m tired of the whole mess already.

Oh, and incidentally, my pronouns are “It/it”…other than first person pronouns, obviously.  Those are “I/Me/Mine”.

*Which, I suspect, most of them do as a badge of fashion‒like wearing a ball cap with the emblem of a sports team‒not as any deeply thought out statement about the importance of such tags and identifiers.  Perhaps I’m wrong.