She's a Beautiful Mystery

Tragedy strategy

So everyone agrees that selective breeding works, right? So isn't it easy to realize that the selection process doesn't require a conscious selector (e.g., farmer)? Farmers carry out an artificial selection, when choosing mates, individuals are performing sexual selection, and when the cold cruel world's limited resources put a strain on the number of creatures that can survive in a given environment, it is nature that is doing the selecting, thus natural selection. We might call genetic engineering yet another form of selection, perhaps direct genetic selection(?). And maybe other methods of selection apply as well. But where is the controversy in this idea? (Keep in mind, I am not a biologist, these ideas simply aren't complicated on the face of it. A real biologist however might take offense to some of my language, and know better the appropriate terminology.)

"Can you hear me hear you now?"

Ugh, puke guns?
Here is some evidence that we're all screwed.

I went surfing once, with my cousin's husband, who's pretty passionate about surfing and I think probably pretty good, he taught me what to do, but after catching two waves, and failing to pop up both times, I was too exhausted to continue. The waves were sort of big for me (they weren't huge, but bigger than the typical east coast waves I've encountered), maybe 3 or 4 feet at the most (maybe even smaller, am I exaggerating?). And yet, they really push you around. I can't imagine what it's like when a wave the size of a building falls on you.

My apparent discomfort with ambiguity is in direct contradiction to the great degree of ambiguity with which I tend to express myself typically.

"Whoa, this is wrinkling my brain!" Somewhere I read about a drug that induces a sort of mild, trait-specific amnesia, and interestingly enough it was being used to treat a post-traumatic-stress sort of problem. If I remember correctly, the experiment involved the patient taking the drug, and then recalling the memory and focusing on it. I think the hypothesis was that when your brain recalled a memory, it actually cuts it out of memory and "thinks" about it. Then afterwards it re-records the information back into memory. This drug prevented your brain from re-recording the fear aspect, I think. Or at least that was idea. So now I'm thinking about deja vu again, and I'm wondering, if your brain cuts something out of memory, and holds it in consciousness, and then puts it back in memory, it must be at some point also be storing information about the context of that memory (related memories, especially memories indicating some historical context, like year or day or week or event). If this is the case, then deja vu could very easily be the mechanism that contains the context, malfunctioning. It even seems likely that a very simple mechanism (and corresponding failure) could result in these conditions. For instance, imagine a very simple archival system, where whenever a document is removed from the archive, a switch is flipped on, to indicate that the file was taken from archives. When it is replaced back into archives, the switch is flipped off again. When new files are introduced to the archive, the switch is normally off. But in deja vu, the switch is accidentally switched on (especially easy to imagine when you consider our brain, our feelings, indeed our entire conscious experience is dictated by extremely fragile electrochemical reactions—a tiny bit of one neurotransmitter or another released in the wrong place or at the wrong time, or not taken up correctly, and BAM! your switch is flipped. And what is perception besides these chemicals? As A.C. Grayling pointed out in that debate, "if you want to investigate the relationship of consciousness to matter, and in particular the brain, just take a heavy blunt instrument and bash yourself over the head and see which bits of thinking you can no longer do."

"It sure is hard, to dance across, the room when you've got, one foot on the floor …and one foot, outside the door.
I want nothing more, than to dance with you. I want nothing more, than to float with you." —Laura Veirs (is awesome).

"The unconsidered life, is not worth living."
"Logic is new and necessary reasoning [—Aristotle]. New because you learn what you don't know, and necessary because conclusions are inescapable!"
If the flower's petals could only betray his emotion.
"There is an old german saying: 'if you want to learn something go on a journey.' "
She is empty. She won't give more.

I should aim to be a logician of sorts. Except how does my interest in the general notion of phase transitions mesh with that? I am interested in the criteria that define the kind of state a collection of elements forms. That is, under some conditions, fluids like water will flow smoothly (laminar flow), and beyond those conditions, it becomes chaotic (turbulent flow). Interestingly, the general notion of a problems seems to follow this form. If I give you 1000 songs, and each song is exactly 2, 3, 4 or 5 minutes long, then you can split the playlist into two equal length playlists. But if I just took 1000 real songs, at random, with lengths defined down to say a 100th of a second, chances are overwhelming that you could not tell me if there were a way to split them into two equal playlists or not, even if you converted the whole universe into a computer and ran it for billions of years. Because the number of ways to split 1000 songs into two sub-lists is inconceivably enormous. So ridiculously unimaginably enormous that there aren't even good ways of describing how enormous it is. If every atom in the whole universe was given an equal number of these sub-playlists, the number each atom contains would still be too large to imagine! Now isn't it interesting that water (or any fluid) will transition from this smooth to chaotic flow, and likewise the playlist problem transitions at some point (depending on how 'nice' the songs are), between easy and entirely intractable?! It is a beautiful mystery, one which could occupy my life, provided the opportunity.

I'm pretty much indifferent to whether or not they find the Higgs Boson, but recently a dark matter experiment failed to find a significant result supporting DM. It certainly doesn't qualify as falsifying DM, but it also failed to support it, and I do have a slight vested interest in the failure of DM experiments.

"I'd much rather be a rising monkey, than a fallen angel."
-Terry Pratchett

Well, my internet has been disconnected. 649 GB transferred in November. Thats 109 GB more than we went over last time we got in trouble, and 399 GB more than we were allotted. Well, screw you Comcast. It seems mighty dumb of you to track your customer's usage, but not disconnect it when they exceed your limit. We can't track our usage, how do you expect us to have any clue? It seems a little bit unfair that you expect us to obey some limit but give us no tools to monitor that limit.

"Can I call you mine? You can call me yours."

Or are you as cold as you seem?

"Cause it's bad to do what's easy, just cause it's easy, and I want to do what pleases me, but I can't."

"Your body still remembers things you told it to forget."
"Why must we return to this place?"

"And it turned out to be Julia."

"Before I pine away."

If you plug the temperature of the CMB into the Hawking-radiation temperature equation for black holes, you get about one order of magnitude less than the sun. Unfortunately, this isn't clearly meaningful in any way (at least not that I can tell).


XX Spukhafte Fernwirkung

"Metaphysical bagage."

The only reason to do anything ever is because it pleases you. (Or because some extended effect of it will please you.)
I pay the price in ill-conceived laughter.
Flowers it is.

How does one go about confronting a delusion? If someone suffers from a delusion, how might someone else confront them? What if the are delusional about everything? How might one recognize self delusion?

How does one differentiate between the sensation of deja vu, versus actually experiencing something they have experienced before? Does AJ ever experience deja vu? My own interpretation of deja vu is that it is a simple dating error in our brain.

REM dreaming may be simulations.
Clearly dreaming (both REM and non-REM) must be evolutionary selected. (Otherwise it wouldn't persist both throughout our species and throughout many species.)

"knowing, that you don't know, is the most, essential step, to knowing, you know?"

La terre est bleu comme une orange Jamais une erreur, les mots ne mentent pas
(The Earth is blue like an orange, never a mistake words do not lie.)

Science is a tool, method, or process, or collection of these things, that distill information out of the noise. It's a system of doubting. Science is a system of doubting information, and testing it, validating it, always trying as hard as possible to invalidate information, to disprove it. In this way, it is a reliable process for distilling truth out of the nonsense of noise that pervades human thinking.

A good amount to think about.
Short-circuited compassion unit.
Do double contractions exist? E.g., might'ven't, instead of might have not, might've not, or might haven't? Is one of these more correct than the others?

You prove it's true.
You prove it's not true.
You prove it can't be proven.
you prove it can't be disproven.
You prove it's ill-defined.

It's sufficient to happen.
It's necessary to happen.
It's both sufficient and necessary.
It's neither sufficient nor necessary.

Immediately he recognized only four possibilities: either he was mistaken, or everyone else was. Or they were liars, or, most dreadfully, it was hallucination, and he was therefore mad.

It is necessary and not sufficient.
It is sufficient and not necessary.
A and B
Not A and not B
A and not B
Not A and B
It is either sufficient or necessary.
It is either sufficient or necessary, but not both.
It is sufficient or it is not necessary.
It is necessary or it is not sufficient.
Porch on cat a is there.

Reason is the only path to reality.
Science is our only hope.
The only road leading to absolute certainty.

Of course it appeals to my self nature, being an overtly cautious fellow.

"My curiosity barely exceeded the fear of getting caught."
"This moment marked a terrible disappointment. …but ignited the rest of my life."

The greatest nightmare, of madness, threatens the considerate.
"Were it not for the hope of reason. …The vision of a totally logical world I had glimpsed in mathematics."

Hot, three-way oval action. Oval on oval action.

Privacy is such a strange issue to me; I tend to think I might be an intensely private person, but I believe that is largely due to me not knowing where other people's barriers lie, and fearing that overstepping barriers of personal privacy would be highly offensive to most people. This is severe hypocrisy for me, since I tend to be very difficult to offend, and would not find personal questions offensive in any way imaginable. (Does it count that if I don't want to reveal something asked of me, I would simply explain I don't want to reveal that? Or does that count as taking offense?).

I tend to have a real fear of girls that I am very attracted to. And this isn't always the case, I'm fairly certain the fear is directly related to how interested in me they seem; if it is very obvious that a girl is interested in me, and I actually notice, (a hugely improbable qualifier), then I am much more able to interact meaningfully, or express my own feelings. If, alternatively, a girl is at all ambiguous about her feelings towards me, I tend to actively suppress all expression of feelings, not just towards her, but towards anything, probably in an attempt to not offend. (Should that be "possibly in an attempt..."?)

I am constantly consciously cautious with respect to offending other's opinions, what a tragedy.

There is a lot of debate among various types of atheists (and critics of atheism), about how honest we should be, or how vocal we should be, or how "offensive" we should be. I am a "new atheist", which means I think we should be as honest and vocal as possible, and I believe the charge of offensiveness is misguided—the consequence of the privileged position that religion has enjoyed for far too long. As has been said with increasing frequency lately, criticizing another person's beliefs, or questioning their reasons for those beliefs, is not considered offensive in politics, or science, or most other areas of our lives (e.g. movies, music, books). The religious however are excused to get all riled up simply if an atheist mentions god might not exist, or that one can be good without god (google "atheist bus campaign" for more info). The tragedy of this situation is that atheists (like many theists, and apologists from both sides, I imagine), are so vocal precisely because they are convinced this is the most effective strategy to improving the world. My own experience with this originated in learning some history of science, specifically about Giardano Bruno, a contemporary of Galileo.
Bruno was burned alive at the stake, for merely suggested that the earth might not be the center of the solar system. They cut his tongue out as a sign of mercy. They probably would have spared his life, if he had only recanted. 22 years later they banned Galileo's book (placing it on the list of books that if read, would damn you to hell for eternity). Later they forced Galileo to recant, but he remained under house arrest in the later years of his life. His book was not taken off the "burn in hell" list for 200 years. An apology from the church only came in 1992! This institution, the catholic church, has done incalculable harm to the human race, and it is unforgivable. We can forgive the individuals, we can help them recover, we can free the masses, but the institution itself, the traditions and doctrines, should not be celebrated, but abhorred. It was this history specifically that motivated me to vocalize my criticisms of religion. Imagine, this is only the tip of the iceberg, we don't know how many geniuses were murdered over the eons by self-proclaimed authorities suffering from the same superstitions as nearly everyone else of their time. People cite all the great art and music created in the name of music over the last millennia. Though there are many good, valid arguments to describe why religion cannot take sole credit, we must ask, what might humanity have accomplished if religious authorities had not murdered the most creative, most insightful and most bold thinkers of any given era? And although this is a bit off topic, can anyone give a compelling argument why we, the new atheists, should not speak the truth? The reality of this situation is that we are not being mean, we are not going out of our way to offend, we are most definitely not violent, not on a personal, physically threading level, nor on a terrorist level (as many religious groups are). Given that we are merely asserting the truth, why should we stop again?

This is so sad. And scary.
Seems like a good idea.

Atheist nations are more peaceful.
Might atheists be distrusted because they are simply unknown, as this article suggests? Or is there more to it?
"Home is wherever I'm with you."

"Hey Goldman Sachs, put down the crack pipe!"

"Love of color sound and words, is it a blessing or a curse."

What is it about humans that causes us to side on sets of issues? I can understand religious influences, for instance, as in-group behavior. And I can understand scientific consensus as a set of convergent opinions arrived at through independent lines of reasoning. But how is it that someone who isn't very religious, sides with the typical base set of religious beliefs? Case in point, Joe G, who buys both the intelligent design argument and the global-warming is a hoax conspiracy theory.

Why is it that the uniformed feel so justified in faking their qualifications as if it will convince the informed? For instance, creationists will sometimes claim they were formerly atheists, and then were convinced. Don't they understand how frequently atheists originated from some sort of religion? That it is the non-believers who have typically considered both sides in detail, not the believers?

"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."
—Victor Stenger

"I respect you too much to respect your ridiculous ideas."
—Johann Hari

A.C. Grayling is so awesome. If you want to watch the whole thing, you can wander through that list on youtube, or you can see it here as well.