Thus Contemptible

Noma Bar has awesome negative space artwork.
"Now he's left to pine on an island, wracked with grief"
I'd like to know more about how we calculate the decay time for positronium.
Normal heart sounds. Auscultation.
"You have corrupted your purpose... and so yourself. And you did hide away what should always have been mine."
I don't like how easily I find significance in simple words phrases and sentences. It makes me feel cheap.

So I guess on the one hand I have an abnormally weak sense of dedication to friends and family, but an abnormally strong dedication to humankind in general. In which case it becomes unclear why I care about who. And how does one express affection, or appreciation or concern or support or caring, for friends and family, or romance for specific individuals, when they cannot differentiate between why they concern themselves with friends and family verses with humans in general? I'm all for saving animals, for avoiding inhuman treatment, maybe even, when I really think about it, for vegetarianism, I'm not entirely sure. But at least for a minimizing of animal suffering. However, I cannot imagine placing animal suffering on an equal plane as human suffering. And plenty of humans are. Beyond starvation and unsanitary issues, beyond preventable disease (which motivated Bill Gates to spend more than 30 billion dollars fighting diseases in Africa that have essentially been eradicated in the industrialized world), we just simply don't get along! And I see this as hugely influential in the rest of the problems. If we all took this attitude, we could eradicate virtually all human suffering in just a few years. The resources are unbelievably abundant. But instead we concern ourselves with cable TV and riding lawn mowers, or private jets or vacation homes or all sorts of other unbelievably lavish luxuries. There is another way to get there though. If we can push ourselves far enough forward, it seems inevitable that the result will be a vast entitlement to the whole world. I've said this before, I see nothing to prevent us from replacing all human work with robotics, and in fact I see nothing to prevent this from happening naturally, as capitalism forces increased automation. Which implies forced unemployment. Which isn't a problem if everything is automated. But the transition would require some consideration. So why do we each pick different paths in attempting to improve the world? Because we each have different interpretations of what is best, what is achievable, what is realistic...
An update (10·12): this is bound to happen as computers become ever more ubiquitous; modern computers are mostly machine made as is, since most of the parts are too small to be seen (modern processors actually have billions of transistors which are too small to be seen with light! So you need an electron microscope or atomic force microscope, or one of many other types of non-optical microscopes.) Indeed, humans cannot get involved in building computers, we simply cannot be skilled enough (of course, for at least a while longer we'll be designing them and assembling the bigger parts maybe, but those jobs too will benefit from automation eventually.)

The question is, after you've allowed your imagination to run amok, is anyone very interesting? Skeletons in a closet, could they beat out the realities in the papers? Like the Fritzl case? Or the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard? Or how about voluntary cannibal victims? Like Armin Meiwes's victim? Or how about Issei Sagawa? No, truth is probably stranger than fiction. Dammit, now I'm freaked out by how weird this world is.

"Send out a battalion, to find her."
Beauty abounds.
The process of fragmenting one's mind is no fools errand.
Do people respect me so much because I respect them so much? Can they really see that in me? I'm not saying I don't, I just wouldn't have thought it would be any more observable than the rest of my feelings.
Stupid wiring! Stupid brain!
Negotiations and arguments and secrets, and compromises.
I don't want to cross such a flimsy concept as "meaning" with something so permanent.

The idea that aliens might immigrate from their own planet to our solar system, in search of resources, such as is portrayed in the movie Independence Day, doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Considering the amount of resources required to move anyone from one planet to another, let alone one star to another, it seems highly unlikely that anyone would make such a journey in search of new resources. It's sort of like getting in your car and driving around the planet a few thousand times, in hopes of reaching a gas station. I could do the numbers... figure the closest star, Proxima Centuri, is about 4.2 light years away, which is in the ball park of 24-25 trillion miles (a trillion being a thousand million). It's a bit disappointing that no comparisons really help us to comprehend that distance; driving around the earth about a billion times doesn't mean anything to us. How about this... if you got in a plane, and flew at 500 miles per hour (maybe a little slow for an airline? I dunno...), it'd take... about 5.5 million years. Or how about this, if you had kids at aged 35 (admittedly, a little bit older than average), and they had kids at the same exact age, and so on, it'd take about 157 thousand generations to get there. Granted, 500 mph is very slow for space travel. So lets assume 1,000,000 mph, (~278 miles per second, still pretty slow compared to c), then it would only take ~78 generations! (At 35 again for reproduction.) The vastness of space is very difficult to relate to. Probably downright impossible, for all of us. Because we just didn't evolve to deal with such huge ranges in scale. But back to the point. Can you imagine setting off on a voyage with the goal of "invading" a foreign enemy, trillions of miles away, so you could get... what, oil? gold? It'd be cheaper to make it in a nuclear reactor (it'd be cheaper still to dig it out of the ground.) What, to get energy? Until our star dies, that doesn't matter (~5 billion years, estimated?). And if you have the means of surviving a 24 trillion mile trip, you must have some damn good methods of storing and transporting energy, in which case the destination star can't be that important. I'll bet you can find enough of any given resource in interstellar space to make a trip to another star completely useless. Why is it so easy for people to make such miscalculations of scale? Or do I overestimate people's ability to do so?

"What'd you make of that?"

It's funny how I deal with mathematics. It's not that I change from not understanding to understanding, it's more like I change from unable to remember to remembering/accepting. As if progress were mostly attributable to my ability to remember definitions rather than something more commonly interpreted as comprehension.

Wait a second, why don't they just put a second laser on the mouse? One for the normal mouse movements, and one for the 'wheel/ball'. If apple mice get dirty and need cleaning out (EXACTLY like older ball-based mice had problems with), then isn't it logical to switch to a "laser" system? (That never needs cleaning.)

People sometimes reject my efforts to combat creationism, asserting that such people will not be swayed. But watching this video with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, in which Kirk suggests you help by getting a bunch of copies of their mutated version of On the Origin of Species for your church, I realized, while we mostly pan to our own audience, and they mostly pan to their own audience, we are both fighting over the small middle ground, and I believe we have much better odds of swaying them than the opponents, since we have actual evidence and reason and logic on our sides, and all they really have is an old book that essentially knows nothing of the reality we live in.

I can identify with the outrage people are expressing over this, but only a little bit. It's too silly for me to be seriously concerned with. Maybe I'm just smug, but it seems that they cannot win this battle. Beyond reason and evidence (and faulty reasoning and a lack of evidence on their side), we have a whole heap of useful results. It's simply untenable. Even if an anti-evolution movement could succeed in displacing evolution in america, all it means is that another country would outpace progress that depends on evolutionary theory (maybe not, considering the shear size of the american education system, even if there were strong sentiment against evolution there would remain limited strong support, which would result in intelligent and successful researchers). But what I mean is "the cat is out of the bag", and our global society is one big capitalist free market, and if we don't accept the most useful and accurate hypothesis, someone else will, and it'll pay off. And why should I care if it is us or them that improve my life? Certainly it would be easier to relate to an Iraqi or Iranian or Palestinian or North Korean evolutionary biologist than it would be to identify with an American creationist (ID "theorist", ha!).
Martians are from Mars, Venusians are from Venus.

"What I was trying to do is not smile and not scowl... I was sort of trying to look like an empty suit." -Bill Clinton

I will take your fury.
"I wouldn't pick me."
People seem to fear the idea of having no memory, as portrayed by EP in this article. I'm not sure I relate entirely. When you consider things people are typically saddened/frightened/anxious about (or any other rough interpretation of negatively disturbed), they seem more often to rely on memory than not. People seem to remember past mistakes, and previous traumatic experiences, and grudges and regrets. Fears seem more situational, and limited. I suppose if you have an overwhelming fear of something in ever day life, then the loss of your long-term memory may generate much anxiety, but more typical fears seem limited to situations and seem less persistent.
"Would you love me, if I was anything but what I am?"
So I thought this was kind of interesting, and I wonder: if it turns out that turbulence is only really well-modeled (i.e., completely/accurately/under a wide range of conditions) when based at the particle level, and if we could further prove that any model which does not attempt to simulate the particle level must sacrifice accuracy for the sake of tractability, would that imply that economic systems suffer from the same tradeoff?
Do a good job of bringing me back from incredulous, and I'll be happy.

Thus contemptible.

The Laws of Physics are such that they simply cannot be violated—any verified violation would simply result in a reformulation of the Laws. There are no requirements beyond absolute agreement with evidence. This is the basic reason why Physics supersedes god: it abandons all traditions and dogmas, favors no opinions, no beliefs, and no books. This is really true of all science, physics just happens to be the science of finding the base laws of the universe, and as such, provides the foundation for what is and is not possible. This is also the basic reason why religion encounters so much trouble, by declaring truths prematurely (or really, at all). To be fair, we are all guilty of this from time to time (especially the cosmologists! You're going to make us all look stupid! I say it with love.)

In what interpretation is this seen as fiscally conservative? If you consider yourself fiscally conservative, then who the hell voted for W.?

Press button, wait for signal.

There can be such supremely pleasant emotion invoked by music; I wish I could write it down here to express it and record it. (I think both rapture and ecstasy are better descriptions, but both words seem to have more common meanings that have grown distant from my intent.)

Learn you. I'd be ruined.

Wandering in a room pitch black, without knowing where the obstacles lie, and a constant keen anxiousness that at any moment you might meet an object that refuses to give way to you—table, chair, wall—invoking that seemingly absurd sensation of abruptly halting when you have scarcely moved!
This is the most familiar meaning of social relationships to me.
Of course, after all these years I remember that people typically keep the center of their rooms clear of obstruction, and if I can get to and remain in the center, physical conflict will cease.
But if I spend enough time with someone, my eyes do adjust a little bit, and I can begin to make out the dim silhouettes of their furnishings, and I can begin to navigate and avoid the violent impacts with their lives.
Unless we discuss science of course, which is a well lit room that I've spent most of my life in.
Interestingly enough, conflict avoidance is probably not the optimal solution. Just as overconfidence has unexpected benefits.

Hold in your breath.

Ha ha, I just found the website for a college radio station I've been listening to (91.5 WUML Lowell), and at the bottom of their webpage it says this:"Unfortunately and ironically, the opinions expressed by WUML
do not necessarily reflect the opinions held by UMass Lowell."

I just found this in an email I wrote to myself on 8·14·06, but never sent:
I am beginning to realize that creationists distrust the empirical methods of scientific investigation. And I am wondering, just what sort of alternatives are there to empirical evidence?
Immediately I think of the human mind, and intuition. I suppose inner thought, intuition, divine inspiration, are all somewhat lumpable together, since they all occur within the observers mind and are by definition excluded from any other observer's view.
I am aware that I may be overlooking alternate sources of knowledge, so if you think of any, let me know.
For now, I'll focus on these inner thought methods.
If inner thought is a reliable source of knowledge/information about the material world, how is it that we should differentiate between true and false conclusions? After all, inner thought has lead to a great many miscalculations, both personal and public, among every single human being in all of history.
How is it that the non-agreeing inner thought of two individuals can be reconciled? Obviously 'god' reveals different messages to both christians and satanists, or christians and judaists, or protestants and catholics, or virtually any two religious denominations.
How is it that we may personally trust our inner thought?
How is it that other people cannot see how absurd this whole idea is?
How does one differentiate between premature enlightenment, and the real thing? Simple, one does not. One assumes that what one knows is as much as one can know until one knows more. There is no use fretting over knowledge unknown.

This is fun:
Every invalid syllogism breaks at least one rule.
This syllogism breaks at least one rule.
Therefore, this syllogism is invalid.
Someone posted that in a jokes forum, and pointed out that both the premises and conclusion are true. Hence the joke.

State of calamity.

I'm not all for egalitarianism, nor am I all for meritocracy, but rather somewhere in between. I'm egalitarian about a basic set of human needs (food, shelter, clothing, education, health), and merit based for most else. Does that make me a socialist? I don't think so, but if it does, then so be it. How can so many people have said/heard/believed that actions speak louder than words, and yet so many people be hung up on words so easily?

"Love is little, love is low,
Love will make our spirits grow:
Grow in peace, grow in light.
Love will do the thing that's right."

Simple solution: stop worrying about it!
So this is kind of crazy:permanent infant. So if you barter your soul to the devil in exchange for immortality or extreme longevity or eternal youth, be sure to specify what age you mean by youth.
"We never seem to get a break, do we."

This is enjoyable.
Am I an early socialist?

People have far less compassion for one another than I previously believed. Even now, this fact remains so counter-intuitive to me that I have to remind myself of it and force my own processing of it to remember, and to see how that fact affects my own view of the world. It is a real wake up call. It has even now revealed that my optimism often overpowers my rationality, which, as a scientist, is a little bit worrisome. Though at least now I can be more aware of my biases.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."
If only; sans religion would internet in the 1600s have been possible?

Whoa, clearly I have much to learn.
I believe I spend more time calibrating my judgement than I do judging things.
I don't exactly think that nothing is sacred, I merely reserve the right to reject other individual's claims to something being sacred.

"...hence, like one who is afraid, he spoke as loudly as he could."
"All religions bear traces of the fact that they owe their origin to an early im-mature intellectuality of men—they all make very light of the obligation to speak the truth: they know nothing of a duty to God to be truthful and clear in his communications to mankind."
-Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, The Dawn of Day, p81

Dry run you might say.
Oh, it's so obvious in retrospect (isn't it always?), if we are to define scientific statements as falsifiable, then we immediately know where religion can survive: in the un-falsifiable. (Perhaps we should define retrospect as the process in which a problem transforms from difficult to trivial.)

"In science 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."
-Stephen J. Gould

Very well said Stephen! (Another Dead Hero)

Whoever wrote the the bible stories about genesis and Noah's ark didn't know anything about inbreeding did they?
Oh wait, I guess whoever wrote the story of Noah the second time did know better, since they said seven, not two, of every thing.

Meet me half way, because I'll never cross this gap alone.
Please let me be blown away.

What I want is nothing.

I need this as much as you do.
So when did I become the serious and solemn one?

Bernard just sent me this. On the one hand, it's too bad I didn't have a large poster of that when I was little, because if I did, I'd probably know the periodic table very well now. On the other hand, I'd probably be a chemist, so it's better that I didn't!

Oh, and a while back he sent me this, an interesting news article about some recovered work by Archimedes, from 2,200 years ago. (It appears he was much closer to discovering & understanding calculus than we previously imagined, something europeans repeated in the 1700s). Why did it go unnoticed so long? Because some religious asshole at some point recovered the paper for some religious nonsense. The harm that religion has inflicted upon humankind is without equal. Small pox may have killed 300-500 million people between 1900 and 1979, but it was (and continues to be) religion that interferes with the scientific and technological progress that frees mankind from such scourge. Calculus before christianity? Why is the latter so widespread, when the former is so incredibly powerful? One provides a kind of internal comfort, the other unravels the mysteries of nature, brings the horribly complex phenomena surrounding us into focus, translates the universe into a language that actually fits into our tiny little heads.