Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The "Yea Or Nay" Post Continued

As I was trying to point out on the previous post, the Democrats have to ask themselves just how much they have to lose in being as obstructionist as the Republicans were all during the Obama administration. As opposed, of course, to how much they stand to lose if they don't become just as obstructionist.

The bottom line here: Do they have the backbone, or don't they!

One can only hope.

Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions Faces Senate Committee Vote Amid DOJ Turmoil

See Also

Capitalism Isn't Helping At All

The Beauty Of Visualized Flow Control

A confession to make here. As unwinding from relentless information overload is as necessary as breathing is... Well... Lets just say that, if you spend as much time as I now, looking into and feeling, the "Infosphere" as I do, you would be just as thankful for games like Factoria (not to mention other strategy game types like Civilization V, SimCity, Cities XL, and, to a lesser degree, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, Endless Legend, Subnautica, Stellaris, and Fear Equation... Just to name the few I'd had a chance to come by up to now) as I am.

Don't get me wrong, immersion, action oriented games like Skyrim, Eve Online, or Elite: Dangerous (again, to just mention a few), have their place. Thoughtful, immersively beautiful, and action in a more direct context. It's just for a guy who used to make his living on figuring out useful, if not also always elegant, solutions to better process flow, Factoria has a special place.

And if you want to watch wonderfully skilled folks, like JdGames featured here for instance, apply clever utilization of the tools at hand to accomplish highly leveraged process flow, you are in for a treat. This is truly great stuff, and it's a credit to the game's designers that they included so many tools that allow for the placement of what are, essentially, very basic programming elements; as in "conditional switching," "Loops," "aggregation," and "subtraction."

If you want to spend a pleasing amount of time, in what is a very interesting combination of both logic, and system elegance (if done right of course), play this game, or just try watching it be done, for that matter, because that's not only fun, you can learn a lot in the process.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Being That Son Who Tried To Chase Some Of Them

I sometimes think of the grand aspirations that American ideals have always had a big hand in, as both the dreams of heros, but also the near ambivalence that seekers of acclaim (reluctant or not) might be after, that also borders on a seduction that can't be helped in any case. And in thinking of complicated seductions, where great passions can come and go in quick succession, I often end up thinking of the song "Dark Angel" by the band Blue Rodeo.

For reason not exactly clear today seemed like a good day to listen to it again.

Blue Rodeo - Dark Angel (with Sarah McLachlan)

Can Something From Nothing End In Nothing? Or Is There A Real Problem With...

...Considering that nothing is something in the first place?

Quanta have a couple of things bouncing out on the web now that I felt would be well worth your time and thought to consider. The first one is, as it subheads:

     "Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior,     
     scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics."

It goes in some length into a new view that thermodynamic probabilities can explain life without resorting to the biological norm of "evolution." I don't pretend to understand it all quite yet, but it does resonate some definite feelings.

The other item is a YouTube video, that the already linked article mentioned above, also linked to. I include it because the primary thrust of what I'd like to propose here contends more, I think, to entropy in general, though I suspect strongly that the issues in the first link are related as well.

Being something of a contrarian by nature anyway, I have a tendency to not let sit well notions that bother my sense of faith in things, also in general. And you would need look no further than the quite well established rule that all lines of variation will eventually fade to nothing. The absolute nothing of "no further differentials to transfer into equilibrium."

Essentially, one supposes, is the fact that all we get is what the singularity we started with imparted when it began extending the extent of both what, and when. That this singular thing is also supposed to be thought of as an, ultimately unknowable, quantity doesn't help very much of course, but still... Once you start expanding both what, and when, wouldn't the starting singularity still have to have been bounded in some way. Wouldn't it?

Well, that is one interesting question at least. It certainly does start me off to pondering things I know I get wrong far too often.

Let's start this way: Physicists have based a good portion of their very effective cosmological models on light that is sometimes billions of years old. What these models are then, in effect, are predictions of what was; what was, generally speaking, a quite long time ago (whether only hundreds of millions, or billions, isn't that critical for our discussion here). If that is so then one could justifiably state that these same models will not necessarily predict what will come in our future. Which would, of course, then to be automatically suggesting that there would be other factors still not recognized at all, much less not recognized to the proper degree.

Perhaps one could think of it along these lines:

What is not being taken into account here is the idea that "Meaning Space" and "Physical Space", in our particular vector of experience association, have not been interacting together for all that long (also begging the question of other intelligent life forms in this reality, which I'll leave to another discussion). Observation, after all, does have an interesting way of affecting what has been observed. In this, crossing as I must, over into philosophy, we have to consider that what we think, and what we do with what we think, works around into physical space in ways, beyond the usual suspects, we can only begin to speculate on now. And why wouldn't that be possible in an Entirety that is, in my view, an unbounded, singular expression, of infinite potential. At least, it seems to me, if you also accept the possibility of an infinite multiverse.

So then ask yourself this:

Would it be reasonable to suggest that the quantum foam that is thought to possibly inhabit pure vacuum might be the rumbling of interactions along other vectors of experience association.? Rumblings sensed at so many scales of consideration, energy, and time wise, beyond the nominal that we can no longer objectify them properly any longer?

Oh, I'll grant you, they can certainly plot probabilities for certain things, for certain, extremely brief, amounts of time, to pop up and out, but one wonders if that, too, may come to change once we've spent... Oh, I don't know... Perhaps say, for nice round numbers, the next several thousand years or so in keeping track of. At least then, if it didn't change, you could really start to feel a lot better about your sample size over time.

"Nothing comes of nothing," or so Parmenides thought. And if things can actually fall to nothing, was the starting something both that, and nothing at the same time (in a sense playing ending and beginning as one continuous, and timeless outside of our reality, loop)? Or is it a good deal more likely that things don't necessarily have to become completely undifferentiated. That, given the right thoughts, and actions, the accumulation of always differentiating structure is indeed possible, even if not especially likely. Structure can occur so much, in fact, that new, singular lines of experience association are made possible, thus keeping the fortuitous circle ongoing indeffinitely.

For me, this is just another way of keeping the idea of "thoughtful, loving structure" in mind both in my philosophy, and my politics.

How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder

Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics.
January 26, 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

More Ammunition...

...Hopefully, for you warriors of the heart.

Just a couple more of my attempts at "Not Poetry." More like broken prose where, also hopefully, the breaks are in the right places.

The Spirit Of You

You didn't know this was true
That there really really is
a spirit of you.
The potential of what
you can be
and do is played,
the multi-versed chorus,
out across the infinites between
the variations of nothing,
to anything.
And every instance,
copied at the start,
grows to be played,
or playing, stays
echoed through the never
ending now.
And how you play
or were played, lingers,
helping or hindering,
depending on how true
most of you were
to you.
Will you listen
to what the true
you yearns to
play through?
Be a part
of your grand band
of players,
or just lose faith
with the greater
of you that could
have been banded to.

A Category Five Reality

Whirling shards
roiling around the core;
the hurricanes of idea
tornados twisting
so many fragments,
and fragmenters flashing 
thoughts that hope
to echo feelings,
as much as descriptives 
 torn from any continuity.
My mind
and the maddening
matrix that made it.
Shit and shinola
fact and fiction
smoke, sweat, and bloody
mosaic mirrors,
always shifting;
the angles and dangles
every juxtaposition
cutting and colliding endlessly.
All of it roaring,
at the tearing away
and crashing into
thin membranes of cognition.
And still 
can it be
that connections are made?
The miracle all
the more maddening
by the flights
of floundering,
meanings chasing words,
to articulate 
a small thread of understanding
out of all of the chaos,
which itself flutters
away in the torrent.
Can it ever be
by another mind
to stitch together
a common weave
to hold 
something shared?
A way to meaning
what we mean
to agree to? 
Take the turn
of what we toil
to boil
in what we think
we know, accelerating
off the electric burner.
To find the calm
within the eye
that sees a better vision
of how to find
the making 
our way?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Should What's Left Of The American Dream Be Seen As Supernatural, or Super Unnatural?

Is anything really about anything any more? Or is it all just engrossing distraction? Or does some of it, taken as a whole, end up giving you the feeling that more is present than was ever intended in the first place.

Consider the show Supernatural. A lot has already been said about the show (see here for a small sample), I'm sure. I come late to it, as I often do to a lot of various cultural expressions. I don't seem to be able to jump in until it's already been chewed over a great deal, but what can I say. It only jumps out at me when it jumps out at me. There won't be, in any case, a whole lot new here, other than, hopefully, a fresh perspective.

What we have here is a miasma of forms, and attempted forms that are just all over the place. And now that I've worked my way through the first five seasons, all I can do is shake my head at how one series can oscillate so much, and so wildly, between so many extremes: so many excruciating scenes of awkward humor (many of Dean's comebacks for instance), trite satire, the repetitive hand wringing or sanctimonious self righteousness that both brothers go back and forth with, on the one hand, and wonderful self deprecation, the ridicule of cliche, and the oddest moments of touching sacrifice, loss, and meaninglessness on the other.

Obviously, despite whatever faults it may have, it must necessarily have elements that speak to a wide range of us, at one point or another; how could it have lasted for 11 seasons now otherwise? More to the point, however, is how that wild oscillation of extremes mirrors American life now. That it is fiction personified hardly matters because this country, and the world itself it would seem, is more and more, a war of competing fictions, with the few facts that still filter through just enough to pretend that we still have a living reality.

With so much parallel fiction going on though, inside and outside of this one TV show, with both sides of in and out playing with all of the themes of religion, morality, and the larger meanings of life, how could one resist wanting to draw on possible parallels with the characters, and what happens to them, with possible big picture metaphors.

Are Sam and Dean, as supposed descendants of Cain and Abel, an accidental commentary on the two extremes in American today? And by those biblical brothers I don't mean the competition of siblings vying for the attention of a fearsome father, but rather where one is the traditional user of their father's words (and all that were expressed by them) and the other the eternal new user, who wants to overthrow the old. How could it be otherwise when their parents were the beginning combination of the perfect old order, and gaining the forbidden knowledge of other possibilities. Or with God favoring his new creation of humans over the long serving angels.

If you start with that context you can see Sam as the rational, technical extremist, always questioning everything, looking for and expecting change, and Dean the hold fast (whatever the cost) traditionalist, resisting change, but also, perhaps paradoxically, the real emotional extremist (because love, in that sense, is always holding on without being able to let go). And the quest that they are on, despite the yearly focus on one demon, or angel, or deity, and the ultimate bad end any of these might portend at any season's end, is really just a another way of looking at how anyone, or any society, can tear itself apart trying to figure out what constitutes right and wrong any more, just as they, or it, tries to figure out what it means to be human, and the constraints that we ought to place on ourselves now that knowledge has provided us with so much power.

What is one to do with the tension between personal liberty, and concern for the greater good, in the light of questioning whether there could possibly be a plan for us, no matter if a deity is involved or not; especially now as so much power is within the grasp of possibility. Power in so few hands, working unbelievably selfish ends as the rest of the world starves, burns, or are just made to disappear because of their inconvenient clamoring;  the very hands of those who find it so easy now to ignore any notions of divine retribution; just as they ignore the possibility that a divine process, quite apart from any deity, might work a retribution that just naturally flows from choices that pay no attention to that process's need for an ongoing, dynamic balance.

So we thrash about, as Dean and Sam do, hurricanes of destruction, trashing friends, structures and all of the old notions of what makes a monster one minute, and a saint the next. And you end up wondering what will be left to hold anything together, let alone how (especially now that meaning is left to the highest bidder, and/or the most ruthless purveyor, of self serving interpretations).

As individuals, or collectives, we all thrash about with the rest of the world, and all of the many belief systems, clashing ever more precipitously precisely because we are all in each other's faces unavoidably, with proliferating media making it impossible for anyone not to notice, or have their noses rubbed in, not only what one perceives as the other's blasphemy, but where everyone competes for control of what will be the reigning fiction (the episode where the pagan gods try to step in and halt Satan's plan for the end of days is instructive not only for the bias it shows towards Westernized Christianity, but also how that bias boils down to which gods have the greatest belief power base). And in all of the channels of interaction does there run the power of not only knowledge and belief, but of perception itself. Power that seduces ever more imaginatively because imagination has also been seduced; feeding back to power, seeing it only as ways to find a rush in as many questionable things as possible to make you feel good (all the exploitations, whether from runaway sexuality, human blood -- spilled or consumed, vampire or demon blood -- which, if you think about it, might be seen as money, souls, or angelic divinity).

And now we have the magic of words given over to the new magic of synthetic perception and experience. We're promised the command of our fantasies (the new age of wish creators and granters), but the most important illusion in all of this is the fact that there is no one in real control, of much of anything any more. Because even the holders of what are deemed to be the levers of power are fooled by their own talismans, for they simply serve an old mechanistic process that is being given a mind of its own through AI and automation.

Our Country now is both as empty at the core as Dean is, as he confronts the apocalypse of season 5. This is especially telling when Dean confronts Famine (he's the only one upon whom Famine has no effect on -- Season 5, episode 14, time stamp 33:14 to 36:03):
"...Doesn't take much--hardly a push. Oh, America--all-you-can-eat, all the time. Consume, consume. A swarm of locusts in stretch pants. And yet, you're all still starving because hunger doesn't just come from the body, it also comes from the soul."
"Funny, it doesn't seem to come from mine."
"Yes, I noticed that. Have you wondered why that is? How you could even walk in my presence?"
"I like to think its my strength of character."
"I disagree." (whereupon Famin places his hand on Dean's chest -- J.V.) "Yes, I see." (laughing -- J.V) "That's one deep dark nothing you got there Dean. Can't fill it can you. Not with food or drink. Not even with sex."
"Ah, you're so full of crap."
 "Ah, you can smirk and joke, and lie to your brother; lie to yourself, but not to me! I can see inside you Dean. I can see how broken you are. How defeated.. You can't win. You know it but you just keep fighting, just keep going through the motions because inside you are already dead."
 What's interesting here, when Sam then shows up, is how Famine says he's special because he's the one who can never drink too much (in this case power granting demon blood). Because that's the way the devil wanted it. Is that the ultimate fantasy of never finding excess, or that with ever more knowledge appetites can always be engineered to be limitless?

Sam always seems to be the more hopeful of the two, always continuing to love what could be because there's still so much to know and realize. So many new wonders to discover, as he's always the one to try and find new lore to save their bacon. But does that save him from his addiction? It might seem like demon blood on the face of it, but it still boils down to power, for which you can never have enough of; especially when the economics of scarcity are combined with ever increasing competition.

We are a country that started out with the most amazing set of ideals any nation has ever started with, only to end up having a limited success in keeping them alive and meaningful. A predictable outcome as those ideals were fated to be in growing conflict with the ascendancy of "business as usual;" the selling of ourselves on the idea that our pioneering spirit, morphed over to the taming, and exploitation of nature, can grow indefinitely, without also changing how we think of growth, and how we go about finding enough consensus to continue cooperating with each other.

Nature is all about boundaries; about establishing them on the one hand, but also of seeing past them in another. This is so because nature is also all about change (which happens most where borders meet), creating new things from old things, and where even the fundamentals can be relative to scale and the choices of the perceiver.

The problem, it seems to me, is that humanity has always allowed itself to be locked into either the extreme adherence to established boundaries, or the extreme of abolishing them all without keeping sight of the past. The quest that so many epic stories revolve around isn't the attainment of a thing, or some singular goal, it is the commitment to continually find the balance between keeping boundaries, and looking past them. In that sense the quest is life, and life is the quest. In this must there be the eternal search for meaning, for which the mind is paramount, but also the continued connection to connection itself; to the feelings that are paramount to that which cannot be objectified.

No system of social organization can survive any more on either life based mostly on disconnected transactions instead of connecting interactions, or life based on immutable beliefs instead of  ongoing consideration, with both reasoning and faith involved, on what it means to be human, and how that meaning fits into the continuance of thoughtful, loving structure; structure that maintains a wondrous curiosity, with both reasonable doubt, and patient humility; along with tolerance, empathy, responsibility, and honor as important in learning as is history, philosophy, and all of the sciences. We don't do that now and we won't be able to make it so until we remove what is locking us into this growing war of competitive fantasies; fantasies manufacturing magic that won't save anything but that new machine with a mind of its own.

Image result for Supernatural