This is yesterday’s blog post

It’s Tuesday morning, and I’m back waiting at the bus stop, which in many ways is preferable to the way things were yesterday, and so many days before, though I won’t get into the specifics.  I had a rather significant exacerbation of my insomnia last night/this morning, by which I mean I woke up extremely early, even for me—and I’m writing this at 5 am, so “extremely” early is early indeed.

I came very close to just getting up when I couldn’t sleep and walking the five miles to the train station (rather than waiting for the bus to go the other one) and getting the first train of the day.  The only thing that really stopped me is that I didn’t want to start the day all sweaty*.  It’s not so bad to end the day that way—there’s no one to whom I’m coming home who has to deal with my sweatiness, and I can just doff my clothes and get a shower and get ready for “bed” when I get back to the house.

Other than that, there’s not much going on in my life.  As you all know, I’m not writing fiction anymore**, and I’m not writing any new music, nor learning any new songs.  I think the last thing I did that was “new” on the guitar was figuring out the tune to Baker Street, especially the sax riff.  That might have been before New Year, though, so it’s been a while.  It didn’t take very long, though it was quite satisfying for a moment.  That sax riff is amazing, and almost everybody recognizes it when they hear it.

Otherwise, everything is mainly empty, and it’s harder and harder for me to distract myself.  I wish I could just go catatonic or something.  But I don’t think my psychopathology is of that type.

Everything is also very noisy, and that’s irritating.  I don’t wish I were deaf—or deafer than I already am—but I do wish everything were quieter.  I particularly wish people did less loud talking, and especially less loud talking about nothing at all.

I started trying to read and work through problem sets—at least all the odd numbered problems, so I could check the answers after doing them—in my old, used copy of Thomas & Finney’s Calculus text, which was the one I used in my undergrad days.  I’ve completed one problem set, very early in the book.

It’s easy stuff, of course, at that point in the text, but I figure reviewing and practicing isn’t going to hurt.  I knew someone in college who literally did every odd-numbered problem in the textbook so he could master the material, and when test times came, he got terrifically high scores on exams that everyone else found difficult.

Obviously he’s inherently very smart—that made him fun, because it’s nice to be around someone smarter than yourself, so you can learn things—but as with many people who are very smart, he also worked quite hard.

I think it would be nice to try to master some more mathematics so that I could actually do some of the calculations related to General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics at more than a rudimentary level.  I’ve also tried to restart reading Sean Carroll’s Spacetime and Geometry, which was really good as far as I had gotten before, but which I stopped partly due to limitations on my mathematical skills.

I think I should probably just try to muscle through things this time, and just file away the bits I don’t understand yet—mostly mathematical formalisms, since the concepts aren’t that difficult—and maybe then get them more and more as I come back to things later.

Of course, all this is really just a fantasy, an idea of me trying to “recapture my lost youth” by attempting to complete some version of a Physics degree on my own.  It’s a pipe dream.  I don’t think I have the will to carry it through, because I really don’t have the will to do much.  The only advantage the idea has is that all the other things I do for fun are steadily losing their charm, so maybe I’ll be able to focus on it by default.  I doubt that will be enough, but who knows?

I suspect it won’t be, though.  I feel like everything is coming to an end for me.  That’s all right, I guess.  It’s not as though I’ve really brought much joy or happiness to anyone in the world, and the people I love don’t tend to find me tolerable over the long term.  I think I’m probably a net loss to the world, and the loss of me would not be a net loss.

I would like to go out in a unique and semi-dramatic fashion, though, as long as it doesn’t cause too much unnecessary inconvenience for other people.  It can be slow and drawn out, and may even, in the process, lead me to some new personal insight or adjustment or revelation.  I don’t know.

That’s all probably a fantasy, too.  I’m not sure exactly what I’m thinking or what I’m getting at.

I’ve just passed 800 words or so, and someone once told me that about 800 words is the best length for a blog post if you want people to want to read it.

I’m sorry, I don’t think this has been very coherent at all.  I’m not feeling well in general, in case it’s not obvious; I’m having some GI** trouble, the cause of which is uncertain.  I’ve taken medicine for it, and that’s obviously done at least some good—after all, I’m waiting for the bus so I can head into the office—but it’s not completely taking care of it, and I feel the temptation to just head back to the house.

The trouble with that is, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of just not going in at all, and not doing anything at all, and just withering away.  Which, I guess is not necessarily that bad.  But, as always, I don’t want to inconvenience people.  Heaven forbid that anyone should be inconvenienced by me.  I already hate myself; I’d like not to add too much fuel to that fire.

However, my belly pain is actually starting to increase somewhat, and I think I’m going to have to go back.  The last thing I want to do is have a “crisis” on the bus or the train and have to make my way back from there.

Further bulletins as events warrant, I guess.

*It turned out that I had some form of enteritis, also, including a low-grade fever, so it was probably just as well that I didn’t even try that walk.  Perhaps the developing issue contributed to my worsening insomnia, now that I look back at it.

**Which I guess is no loss, since no one seems to care about the fact.

***That’s gastrointestinal, nothing to do with the military.

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.

Some musings on brane-worlds, “dark matter”, and even “dark energy”, with apologies

I told you yesterday  that I would be writing another post today, since I’m going into the office, and here I am, writing another post.  You were given fair warning—or at least, you were given adequate disclosure.

Yesterday (and into today) I was listening to an episode of Sean Carroll’s Mindscape in which he spoke with Adam Riess, one of the discoverers in the late 1190s of the increasing rate of cosmic expansion—the single most exciting scientific discovery I recall happening in my lifetime.  In the podcast, the two physicists spoke, of course, of “dark energy” and “dark matter” and the “Hubble tension” between two different ways of predicting and/or calculating the Hubble constant*, and that all reminded me of something that I’d thought of more than twenty years before.

If M-theory (an overall theoretical structure that subsumes “string theory”) were to be right, and we are merely living in a 3-brane embedded in a higher-dimensional “bulk”, then perhaps the explanation for “dark matter” could be simply the gravitational effects of matter in a nearby, parallel 3-brane, or perhaps even more than one (since, if more than one, why not more than two?).  I had first tried to give myself a very simplified model on which to do some calculations about the possibility just for fun, way back in a lunch break during my first year in private medical practice, but I didn’t get very far.  My schedule was rather busy, and I had many good and interesting things going on in my life that drew my attention.  That last part, at least, has changed almost completely.

Despite all the theoretical and proposed notions for what dark matter particles might be (WIMPS, Axions, lots of primordial black holes, etc.) there has not been a single detection of any of them.  There hadn’t been any twenty years ago, and there haven’t been any as of this writing, unless they’re keeping it under their hats, which is unlikely for something of such importance.  Nobel Prizes will be won by those who discover convincing evidence of any dark matter particles!

The evidence for dark matter in general. though, is tremendous and all but unassailable, coming from multiple fronts in astronomy/cosmology/astrophysics, but its specific nature is still not known.

So, yesterday morning, I decided to retry the notion I’d had twenty-odd years ago, just for fun.  I don’t expect to make any particularly interesting breakthrough here, obviously, but it was just my way of seeing if my notion has any modicum of worth at all, or if it’s totally self-contradictory.

As before, I needed to set up a highly simplified situation, just so that it would be within the wheelhouse of my very limited mathematical skills, which are rusty to say the least, and which were never nearly advanced enough for any serious work in GR or M theory (I often consider trying to work my way up to better, more useful such skills, but I don’t know whether that will ever happen).

So, I took my model down to being just a plane rather than a space, which makes the strength of gravity fall off linearly with distance, rather than as distance squared.  Then I just took a line of identical masses, x, (x0, x1, x2 etc.) all separated by an even distance, which I called y, and so the gravitational force on my x0 mass due to any other was just proportional to x over some multiple of y.  I made my gravitational “constant” just 1, so the force would literally be x/y or x/2y, and so on.

Really, in the first universe, though it was in principle two-dimensional, I only had to deal with one dimension of additive forces.  This will make my model not terribly useful with respect to the actual universe, but I wanted just to get a feel for things.  You’ve gotta crawl before you can walk or run or fly.

Then I took my “parallel” brane to be also y distance away—to keep applications of the Pythagorean Theorem and such simple—but obviously in a direction that’s orthogonal to every direction within the original brane.

According to the ideas in M-theory/string theory, most particles—photons, electrons, quarks, gluons, neutrinos, etc.—are described as “open” strings, with free ends, and as such, they cannot leave the brane in which they exist (apparently their ends are “sticky”)***.  But gravitons, as proposed in string theory (they were one of the main things that first led people to take string theory seriously as a potential theory of quantum gravity) are closed strings, and they can go between branes and into the “bulk”, the larger, overarching spacetime in which lower-dimensional branes could be embedded.  Thus, one brane can gravitate with respect to another, and this tendency of gravity not to be confined within a brane could explain the relative weakness of gravity compared to the other forces of nature.

Okay, so I did my best to try to work out the situation relating the additional strength of gravity felt by my initial, single particle due to the added gravity from masses in the parallel brane—and then two parallel branes or so, just to see.  I made some mathematical errors that I caught, and I’m sure I made others than I didn’t catch, so I’ll include my—utterly chaotic and not really annotated—worksheets here below, in case anyone is masochistic enough to want to look through them.

I don’t think I produced any startling insights, of course, but one thing that became more obvious on working it through is that, as parallel masses get farther away as measured in the plane of the original universe, their gravitational effects become more like that of the masses within the original brane.  This makes sense, because the farther away they are, the less the effect of the separation of their branes has relative to that distance; so the angle of that force relative to the plane of the first universe is smaller, and its within-brane component is larger****.  The “nearer” masses would have gravity that was barely felt, or not felt at all, within the original brane (or universe), but the farther out the masses go, the more they would be felt as if they were mere additional mass within the original brane/universe.

Could a situation analogous to this but in higher dimensions explain why dark matter acts as though it is a halo going through and around galaxies, and doesn’t seem to clump together?  And could such a description, in the absence of any detectable particles of dark matter, constitute a test of the notoriously difficult-to-test M-theory in the real world?  At least, the longer we go on being unable to find a direct dark matter candidate particle interaction, the more the Bayesian prior for a string/M-theory explanation might go up.

I don’t know.  I’m way too out of my depth.  But it is an interesting thought, and I invite any readers who have actual expertise in such matters please to give me their reactions.  I don’t think my thoughts are anything that’s useful for anyone, but it is kind of cool.  I think.

For those of you who aren’t interested in such things, I apologize.  It is a Saturday post, so you can consider it a weekend indulgence (though I did the figuring on Friday morning, really).  It’s the sort of thing I think I previously would have confined to Iterations of Zero, and I’ve skirted the topic in the past there and here.

I have to have things like this to do from time to time.  If I weren’t able to think about such things to distract myself from my own awfulness, I would already have killed myself a long time ago.

Maybe that would have been better for everyone.  But the past cannot be changed without making a completely new universe that wouldn’t benefit anyone in this one.  So, it is what it is.

Have a good weekend.

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0001

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0002

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0003

*It’s either roughly 67 or roughly 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec**, which is the overall rate of expansion of the universe.  These values do not have overlapping error-bars, and they both have become tighter over time, so something is being missed.  It’s not a huge difference, but there should be no difference at all if the models are correct in all aspects.

**The parsec is not a measure of time, of course, but of distance, and a mighty big distance at that.  A parsec is a little over three light-years (which is about 30 trillion kilometers), so a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years.  Big!  With this measure of the Hubbles constant,  you can see why, at close distances, attractive gravity vastly supersedes expansion; the expansion tendency doesn’t become very large—indeed, expansion doesn’t even happen—until distances become truly cosmic in scale.  The Andromeda galaxy is less than one megaparsec away (not by much), and its net movement toward “us” is about 110 kilometers per second.  I suppose that implies that if it were not for the Hubble expansion, it might be coming toward us at about 180 kilometers per second, and might “collide” with the Milky Way in only two or three billion years instead of four or five.  Oh, well, we’ll just have to wait.

***The thought just occurred to me that branes, like strings, are thought to be composed of some form of “energy”, admittedly a nebulous term and a place-holder—there’s always more to learn.  But uniform energy creates a negative pressure, which in General Relativity produces repulsive gravity…the very cosmological term/constant Einstein proposed and discarded, but which has come back into its own as a descriptor of “dark energy” and even cosmic inflation.  On the scale of individual strings, say, even though the energy density would be high, the Lambda term would be too small to lead something the size of a typical string to expand at all, but in a brane—2 dimensional, 3-dimension, or more—if it’s large enough, the very energy that constitutes the brane might be enough to explain the existence of repulsive gravity, from inflation to the current “dark energy”.  Or am I totally off-base here?

****The vector component of their gravitational force that can be felt within the first brane should be the cosine of the angle between the second-brane mass and its analog in the original times the total gravitational force it would exert on the first.  Any other component would be felt between the branes.  Such possible inter-universe gravitation is in the source of the threatening catastrophe in my book The Chasm and the Collision.  Don’t worry, the book doesn’t dwell much on any technical aspects of this.

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.

Pursuing it with eager, weary feet

It’s Monday morning again.


It’s the second Monday in February, though it feels like it ought to be the third, at least to me.  That’s because the first was on a Wednesday, so it feels like the work week is slightly askew compared to the length of the month.  And, of course, because this is February in a non-leap-year, that means that March will also start on a Wednesday, as I know I’ve mentioned on this blog before.

I’m writing this on my laptop, because this weekend I was forethoughtful enough to bring it with me when I left the office.  I had a potent reminder all day Friday from my severely sore and aching thumbs, and we didn’t push past usual closing time, since everyone gets their checks on Friday, and no one wants to delay things.

I had an adventure of sorts this weekend.  I had realized on Friday, after walking home from the train instead of taking the bus, that I had walked just shy of nine miles that day, and I felt pretty good, physically at least.  So I decided on Saturday to take a longish walk and at the same time try out some new hiking shoes/boots I had recently bought and had only worn twice to work.  They had seemed fine, but they were designed for hiking, so I figured I might as well do a bit of a hike.

I first walked two miles to a nearby 7-11, where I picked up some snacks for later and a bag of cat food for the cat I leave food for outside, and put the items in my backpack.  Then I decided to go out west along the road I’d come from in the east, just to see how long a walk it was to the turnpike crossing, and then—if that was a reasonable distance—on to the next major north-south walkable road and up to the crossroad that would eventually come back to where I live.

Well, the turnpike wasn’t all that far away, or so it seemed, though it had been a steady if shallow uphill walk of nearly two more miles.  Then I passed the Hard Rock Stadium, which I had never seen in person before.  Then I finally got to a north-south road, recommended by Google Maps.  It wasn’t the one I thought it was, but it was okay.

I was feeling pretty hot by then; it had been 80 degrees out when I started, and the skies were at least half clear.  I’d already had a small bottle of Lime Perrier—not nearly as good as the orange or the pineapple, and miles away from the peach!—and decided to stop in the next convenience store for water.  They had no fizzy water, so I got two one-liter bottles of Aquafina®, which was probably a bad idea.  They were heavy, and my backpack was already none too light, nor is it really a hiking backpack.  It’s more of a student-oriented backpack.

Anyway, heading back I tried to use Google Maps to pick the most direct walking route, but it led me around behind a casino and toward what it thought was an accessible road, but which had been blocked some time in the past, said blockage including big signs telling everyone that all copper had been removed from the facility.  Was it ever a public walkway?

So I had to reconfigure and reorient, trusting my own judgement a bit, though I’d been wrong about the distance to the road past the turnpike.  I backtracked to the proper road before too very long, but I did rest in the shade in the casino parking lot—which was huge and grassy—not caring if anyone thought I was weird, since people tend to think I’m weird, anyway.  I’d been drinking the water steadily, but I was starting to feel more and more fatigued.  I only realized it later, but I was also getting a bit of a sunburn.

Anyway, I had to stop and rest for about ten minutes at a time on a few more occasions, including one where I sat against a wall with my shirt off, no doubt looking like an overweight homeless person.  I thought I must be dehydrated, so I kept drinking water, and pouring some on my back and head.  I also walked up and over the turnpike this time, on an artificial hill much steeper than any natural one in south Florida.

Finally, I decided I’d come far enough that it was okay if I took a bus for the last leg of the trip; I had rested at bus stops a few times.  I waited for the Dade County bus, having put my shirt back on, and then rode only about a mile until the stop just before where I live.  I got back to the house and, not too long after, felt queasy (actually, I’d had hints of it before), so I grabbed a Tupperware container nearby—because I had laid down and didn’t want to get up—and then promptly threw up copious amounts of water, pretty much all the water I had drunk.  I had to switch Tupperware containers in the middle.  I guess in my worry about dehydrating, I had overcompensated, and my stomach was just irritated by the water, and almost none of it got absorbed.

That didn’t last long, though, because there’s only so much one can throw up when one has drunk two liters of water but hadn’t eaten yet that day.  I did get a cramp in my upper abs from the heaving, which was not fun at all.  I was pretty wiped out, and I recognized my sunburn at that point; most of my usual walking is early morning and later evening, so I haven’t walked in the sun for a while.

It turned out, based on my pedometer, that I had hiked almost exactly twelve miles (it had taken almost six hours, but that was with a lot of stopping).  So, that was quite a trek for a Saturday—longer than I had planned for it to be, but my shoulders were far more troubled than my legs, and indeed, they were the most common reason why I took breaks.

I did get a few new minor blisters, because of the combination of the long distance and the new boots, which were quite good in general, but which are, of course, going to rub in different places than my usual shoes.  It was a good starter hike, though, and I mean to keep working my way up, because I have a goal/plan in mind, and I don’t want to be hindered by silly things like blisters and sore shoulders, and other things I can condition myself for ahead of time.

Anyway, it’s probably been a boring blog post, and my sister has already heard the story, so she’ll probably be really bored by it, but it was a bit of an adventure, and was not without its own minor perils and pains.  I’m going to try to work in more walking during my typical days, though I may take the bus home from the train today, just to let the blisters rest.

Further bulletins as events warrant, or probably even as they don’t.


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.

The sound and the fury of sore thumbs

I’m writing this on my laptop today because my thumb joints (especially in my right thumb) are severely painful and inflamed.  Okay, technically it’s the base where my thumb attaches to the wrist and palm, not the actual interphalangeal joint within the thumb, but I’m not going to split hairs or phalanges right now.  Although I guess I just did that, didn’t I?

I’ve tried to cut out any other activities that cause my thumb(s) to hurt—other than handwriting things at the office to fix incorrect or missing information on paperwork, and even that hurts—but it has been to no avail.  It seems extremely likely that it’s the writing of blog posts on my phone that is making things—thumbs—act up.  I wouldn’t give it a 100% estimate, but it’s mightily close.

Fortunately for me—though perhaps not for you—I hardly use my thumbs at all when typing on a laptop keyboard.  So this gives them a bit of rest.

I guess it’s just as well that I haven’t gotten any feedback encouraging me to complete either of my partly completed stories or to start a new one, because if I had done so on the phone, I probably would have needed to give up on that.  Ditto for if I had decided to write it out long-hand, since the use of pen and paper even a few dozen times a day seems at least to cause the joint to flare up, and writing a book by hand again would probably have caused similar problems or worse ones.

I did listen to and begin editing that voice recording I made while walking to the bus stop on Monday, but I’ve decided not to post it.  Quite apart from the fact that I merely said inane things—which was, after all, as expected—the fact that I walk pretty quickly gave my voice a peculiar wobble that reminded me just a bit of Katherine Hepburn, though with a lower frequency of wobble.  No disrespect intended to the great, great actor that she was, but I just felt weird about the recording, as if I were doing a disrespectful impression.

I’ll try to make a sedentary audio recording sometime soon to upload here and as a “video”, if I can keep up my motivation to do anything at all.  No promises!

I’ve noticed that my readership, as well as my “liker” ship has gone down recently, possibly because my writing has become more depressing as I’ve become more depressed, though I feel as though my writing has been pretty depressing all along.  Also, I haven’t been reading (and liking, when it’s accurate) other blogs as much as I used to do, largely because I haven’t been reading (or liking in any sense) much of anything lately.

I’ve been forcing myself to reread some things that I know I’ve liked in the past, so I read a bit of Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality—he’s as good as it gets for entertaining and reasonably deep science explanation—and then skipped over to reread Max Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe, which is also a great book.  Tegmark even refers readers to Greene’s book for a discussion on the possibility of making new universes deliberately if inflationary cosmology is correct*.

Anyway, I’ve gotten somewhat tired of even those two excellent books, and was going to switch to Brian Greene’s Until the End of Time, which is not better (or worse) but at least discusses things like the eventual end of our universe as we know it, and so seems more appropriate to my mindset.  However, I did receive a pre-ordered Japanese light novel yesterday that I hadn’t recalled was coming, so I’m reading that first.  I will probably be done with it by midday today, even only reading it during breaks and lunch, and even though today is payroll day.

It’s a pleasant enough story, but of course, even though it’s about a “loner”, it entails the loner having friends and a girlfriend and doing various activities, and anyway, he was never a loner because of awkwardness or rejection of or by others—he’s one of the most self-assured characters in the story—but simply because that was what he preferred, no sour grapes required.

This is the second, and apparently last, of the “light novels” of this series.  The characters are nice, and their interactions are free of the usual stupid melodrama that so often infects fiction about “normal” people when there are no deadly forces facing them, just the idiocies of other humans, so that’s pleasant.  I hate when stories create “drama” out of nowhere by introducing unrealistic misunderstandings and conflicts.  If you just gave your characters supernatural enemies to fight, you wouldn’t have to invent personal difficulties that make them look like kindergarteners on a playground, but with less sense of fairness and personal responsibility!

That book won’t last me more than about half a day, probably.  I always get weird when I read those stories, anyway.  I feel almost as if I am the characters, and I begin to think and even talk to myself as if I were—heck I even find myself thinking that way when playing phone-app euchre immediately after, in my thoughts toward my “partner” and the other two “players”**.  It’s very strange, and it doesn’t last long, but it’s quite melancholy, and tends to make me feel worse about myself once I return to myself, and no one needs that.  Just being me is bad enough as it is.

Not that I would prefer to be anyone else.  It’s a bit like Winston Churchill’s purported quote about democracy—I am the worst person in the word for me to be…except for all the other people I could be.  Something like that.  It doesn’t quite work, but you probably get the idea.

Anyway, I’ve already written more, and well before the bus has arrived, than I usually write at all using the phone; there’s no doubt that I write quickly on my laptop.  I should probably wrap this up soon.  I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow if my thumbs are still killing me.  I’ve tried various treatments, both topical and systemic, and even tried wrapping my thumb up a bit, but so far to little avail.  It hurts like a son of a bitch***, and the joint is getting unstable, so that when I shook my hand in the air—briefly—trying to distract myself or loosen it up somewhat, I could feel it pop out of joint slightly, and that didn’t help with the pain, as I’m sure you can guess.

I suppose, if I write at all, I’ll write tomorrow’s post on the laptop.  I honestly feel like wrapping this whole thing up, along with everything else, not just for the day, but for good, so to speak.  There’s no point to any of it.  It’s not helping my depression, that’s clear.  It’s not eliciting any good recommendations about help or insights, or any mythical, heroic rescue of any kind.  It’s not providing any kind of therapy.  And it’s not getting me started back to writing fiction again.  So what’s the point?  It’s just the proverbial, Shakespearean tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I’m in pain all the time, I’m alone, and I have no capacity to act on my own behalf, which means that frankly I deserve it if I crash and burn—literally or figuratively—and just die without any revelation or meaning or recognition.  But I’ve always really known that I deserve that, anyway.  I’ve never even really been in denial about it, or at least not for quite a long time.

I don’t know.  If I write tomorrow, I guess you’ll see it here on my blog.  If not, I don’t know what I’ll be doing, if anything.  I can’t make any promises one way or the other, honestly.  Sorry about that, Chief.

would i lie to you

*Greene points out that it would likely be quite disappointing, since, based on General Relativity and the best of the rest of our theoretical understanding, in the original universe, the new universe would just turn into a tiny black hole, and the creators would have no access to their new universe.  Of course, this presumes they don’t discover some means by which to access other universes semi-directly, but if you can do that, why do you need to make a new one?  In any case, as far as I can see, a very small black hole is going to become an immediate, violent source of Hawking radiation that would fry anything around it with tremendous force before it fully and rapidly evaporates, but presumably such an advanced technological civilization could shield themselves from such things.  A bigger question is, when the black hole evaporates, what, if any, effect does it have on the nascent universe?

**They’re all just computer generated.  I have no interest in playing any kind of game online with strangers.  I can’t even deal with interacting with the other people on online support groups or subject-matter groups about things in which I’m interested; I surely don’t want to play card games with strangers.  Anyway, I have more in common with simulated, computer-generated people than with “real” humans.  I even talk to them sometimes.

***This expression, presumably, refers to a puppy.  Do puppies tend to hurt a lot?  Well, they do when they bite you with those tiny little, needle-sharp teeth!  Ba-dump-bump, crash!  Waka, waka, waka.