Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Cheek!

The modern atheist thinks he knows that God is dead; what he doesn't know is that, unconsciously, he continues to believe in God. What characterizes modernity is no longer the standard figure of the believer who secretly harbors intimate doubts about his belief and engages in transgressive fantasies; today, we have, on the contrary, a subject who presents himself as a tolerant hedonist dedicated to the pursuit of happiness, and whose unconscious is the site of prohibitions: what is repressed are not illicit desires or pleasures, but prohibitions themselves. "If God doesn't exist, then everything is prohibited" means that the more you perceive yourself as an atheist, the more your unconscious is dominated by prohibitions which sabotage your enjoyment. (One should not forget to supplement this thesis with its opposite: if God exists, then everything is permitted - is this not the most succinct definition of the religious fundamentalist's predicament? For him, God fully exists, he perceives himself as His instrument, which is why he can do whatever he wants, his acts are in advance redeemed, since they express the divine will...)
- Slavoj Žižek

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dave Barry on Writing Humor

This resonated...
"When you write humor, it’s not funny to you. It’s not even really that funny when you first think of the idea. There may be a glimmer of humor because it still seems vaguely original, but after a couple of days it’s not funny at all. You’re just trusting that it was, at some point, funny, and that your honing and tweaking is really improving it. I would eventually reach a point where I would just think, This feels old, even though nobody’s seen it but me."

from And Here's The Kicker

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Embracing and Harnessing Randomness and the Unknown

This morsel was too tasty not to repost...a summation of Nassim Nicolas Taleb's ideas from The Black Swan (and his thought overall) that has been clarified though much thought and rewritings of the concepts in different mediums and articles. The article is more than worth reading in its whole.
Let us go one step further. It is high time to recognize that we humans are far better at doing than understanding, and better at tinkering than inventing. But we don't know it. We truly live under the illusion of order believing that planning and forecasting are possible. We are scared of the random, yet we live from its fruits. We are so scared of the random that we create disciplines that try to make sense of the past--but we ultimately fail to understand it, just as we fail to see the future.

The current discourse in economics, for example, is antiquated. American undirected free-enterprise works because it aggressively allows us to capture the randomness of the environment--the cheap Black Swans. This works not just because of competition, and even less because of material incentives. Neither the followers of Adam Smith nor those of Karl Marx seem to be conscious of the prevalence and effect of wild randomness. They are too bathed in enlightenment-style cause-and-effect and cannot accept that skills and payoffs may have nothing to do with one another. Nor can they swallow the argument that it is not necessarily the better technology that wins, but rather, the luckiest one. And, sadly, even those who accept this fundamental uncertainty often fail to see that it is a good thing.

Random tinkering is the path to success. And fortunately, we are increasingly learning to practice it without knowing it--thanks to overconfident entrepreneurs, naive investors, greedy investment bankers, confused scientists and aggressive venture capitalists brought together by the free-market system.

We need more tinkering: Uninhibited, aggressive, proud tinkering. We need to make our own luck. We can be scared and worried about the future, or we can look at it as a collection of happy surprises that lie outside the path of our imagination.

(clicker for even larger..ooo)

Friday, July 17, 2009

There's a Lot Going on Here

Watch This Video of a teen dude dancing and gaming, both, remarkably

Several things i enjoy about this video:

  • The sincerity of his performance and the sincerity of the audience's enjoyment of it. No money's changing hands here - he's enjoying performing for them, this dance he's worked on, and they're enjoying the fruits of that.
  • the beginning of the video establishes his relationship to the audience - he gets song demands shouted at him, his shrug asserts so little in return. Nonetheless his asides make the crowd laugh with him - sort of an equal with them; "he's one of theirs". I think this makes their very vocal enjoyment of the dance all the more satisfying - and i would think that they would know what they were getting, but they still sound stunned (sss) and astonished at a few moments in the performance.
  • Reminded me of a David Byrne quote m'grandpappeh told meh...
What I took away from the whole Talking Heads experience was the idea that if you know the kinds of restrictions you have to work within - budgetary restrictions, or creative restrictions or whatever - that can be great, that can even be a spur to creativity. That old idea of, 'Oh, I don't want anybody telling me what to do', or 'I want my creative freedom' - that's bullshit. What you need is to be told clearly what the parameters are. Because, if you allow them to do anything, most people will just waffle about.
M'boy here is using the constraints that he's gotta deal with. He's "making the work work for him". I'm sure he can do some of these moves when he's not playing the game, but its workin' on hittin' them pads thats keeping the dance grounded - he creates around that. He glows at points.

PS - i realized this may be video from a competition/event...the mix of the crowd's familiarity with the dancer and their enjoyment of the performance is still enjoyable, though they may not be as close knit as i first construed. "construed." yeah ill run with that

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Gordon Brown

Golden Brown


PoPo: Police

GoPo: Gordon Police

BoPo: Border Police (ie, into Canada) or Boat Police (as in, "snap, the boat police", a.k.a. Coast Guard)

GroPo: An abuse of their status

BroPo: Police force populated by bros ("Bro!")

MoPo: High amt. of anti-depressant use in police force

BoGo: Buy One Get One ("Free?" "Yes, questioner.")

Friday, July 3, 2009

"The Girl Who Doesn't Age"

Doctors Baffled, Intrigued By Girl Who Doesn't Age

Brooke hasn't aged in the conventional sense. Dr. Richard Walker of the University of South Florida College of Medicine, in Tampa, says Brooke's body is not developing as a coordinated unit, but as independent parts that are out of sync. She has never been diagnosed with any known genetic syndrome or chromosomal abnormality that would help explain why.

In a recent paper for the journal "Mechanisms of Ageing and Development," Walker and his co-authors, who include Pakula and All Children's Hospital (St. Petersburg, Fla.) geneticist Maxine Sutcliffe chronicled
a baffling range of inconsistencies in Brooke's aging process. She still has baby teeth at 16, for instance. And her bone age is estimated to be more like 10 years old.

"There've been very minimal changes in Brooke's brain," Walker said. "Various parts of her body, rather than all being at the same stage, seem to be disconnected."

Kinda messes with our perception of the passage of time, as far as what one may think would be the sort of irreversible impact this passage would have on the body. Brooke's seemingly unaffected...

In her first six years, Brooke went through a series of medical emergencies from which she recovered, often without explanation. She survived surgery for seven perforated stomach ulcers. She suffered a brain seizure followed by what was diagnosed as a stroke that weeks later left no apparent damage.
At 4, she fell into a lethargy that caused her to sleep for 14 days. Then, doctors diagnosed a brain tumor, and the Greenbergs bought a casket for her.

"We were preparing for our child to die," Howard Greenberg said. "We were saying goodbye. And, then, we got a call that there was some change; that Brooke had opened her eyes and she was fine. There was no tumor. She overcomes every obstacle that is thrown her way."
...The visual evidence of that unpredictable future is always there in the family pictures -- photographs in which everyone but Brooke is aging.

In the long term, the idea that the aging process might somehow be manipulated raises serious questions about what human beings might do with that knowledge.

"Clearly, that's the science fiction aspect of it," said Walker, describing the social and ethical dilemmas that would arise. "We can't have continued reproduction and people who don't age."

One possible reason to slow the aging process, Walker suggested, would be to allow astronauts to travel in space for long periods of time. "But right now, it's only conjecture," he said.