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These are random thoughts, that don’t fit anywhere else. Perhaps some day I may
develop some of them into full blown essays. I hope they work both as Deep
ThoughtTM humour and sometimes to prang your brain into thinking afresh.
If the Buddhists are right about reincarnation, I
would like to spend one studying regional accents. Accents seem such puzzling things e.g.
Why do some black people drop the l is help but not other
Why do some black people pronounce the word feel as fill, but
don’t transform similar words.
Why did England go r-less, e.g. cah instead of car, but none of
How do new regional accents start, as a teenage affectation like valley speak?
What holds accents distinct even when people live in close proximity?
Under what conditions do people mimic upper class accents for social climbing? This
can be as minor as avoiding double negatives, ain’t and substituting
them for those.
Texans and nearby people drop the g in words like looking. Why
Americans are gradually substituting d for t, as in
wadder for water. Doesn’t this make it harder to comprehend
speech without the distinction?
Why do vowels drift?
Does the Internet and TV tend to homogenise accents or does it speed up the
introduction of regionalisms?
I would like to listen to conversation in English in 1200, 1300… 2100 where 2100 is a best guess of where the
language is headed.
How did the nasal Bronx accent come about? It is unlike anything else I have heard.
Is it the result of immigrants speaking some foreign language attempting to pronounce
How many accents can be accounted for by admixture with some non-English language
or group of languages.
Do languages besides English have the same sort of regional accent structure?
Mothers give their children a basic life
goal. It might be stay out of trouble, enjoy yourself, make lots of money,
become famous, accumulate power,
be loved, become the president/prime
ministerobey authority etc. Because it is given so
early in life and repeated so often, children become like mothers’ robots,
programmed to blindly live out this command. It is almost impossible for a child to
disregard this prime directive or to choose another life goal. They don’t question
it. Perhaps they do not even notice it. It just seems the way things naturally are. My
mother gave me a rather grandiose prime directive — do
something more profound, beneficial and wonderful than any human has ever done
before. Happily, she did not insist that others acknowledge my marvelous
contribution. I have better than average gifts: a genius level IQ (Intelligence Quotient),
an ability to think outside the box, strong curiosity, a
weak herd instinct, imposing height, a pleasing voice… yet these seem hardly up to
such a task. I am 69 years old. HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus)
drugs sap my energy.
My life contributions will not even rate a footnote in an encyclopedia. The shame of this
failure is extremely painful. Others can’t believe I could be serious, but they
were not programmed with my prime directive.
Presumably Darwinian evolution happens
all over the galaxy and the universe. Given all that space and time, you’d think by
now the galactic dandelion would have evolved — some
sort of life form that can travel between planets and colonise them, probably virus or
bacterium. I don’t think anyone has found it. Why not? Is it simply that we are so
far away from other life-infected planets that such dandelions would not often arrive? Is it that we don’t recognise
them as alien since they are so similar to terrestrial life forms?
Humans are prone to
errors of this sort:
I might as well eat this cream puff. One cream puff won’t make any difference
to my weight.
There is no point in voting. My vote won’t tip the balance.
There is no point in recycling. There are so many other people, what I do
There is no point in protesting war. The system likes war; you can’t beat
There is no point in going to the gym. Missing one session won’t make any
I have six answers to this defeatist thinking:
If it truly does not matter, that it just as much an excuse for doing something as
not doing it. You might as well do thing that feels right. You might as well do the
thing that has some tiny hope of creating the change you want rather than something
that has no hope.
Kant suggested you should base your actions on how wise they would be if everyone
did them. For example, if everyone voted, it would be a good thing. It no one voted, it
would be a bad thing, so vote! You are inching the world toward the good.
Act that your principle of action might safely be made a law for the whole world.
~ Immanuel Kant(1724-04-221804-02-12 age:79)
Individual acts may not count for much, but they build lifetime habit patterns.
Over a lifetime, habitual actions add up to significance.
Imagine a school bus stuck in the snow. Each despairing man who walks by says,
Nothing I acting alone could do could free that bus. I might as
well do nothing. and drives on. Happily, some less egotistical men and women
come by too and say, I could contribute 3% of the effort of freeing the bus. Until more people show up to help, I
wonder what I could do that will be useful? Just your presence helps attract
When I was faced with the extreme prejudice against gays in 1969 (where murder of gays was condoned and all other gays I knew of
were in the closet), making any sort of dent in this bigotry was clearly impossible. I
decided to tackle it anyway, just because it felt better to tackle it than to despair.
I calculated it would take centuries to affect the change needed with the lectures,
radio and TV appearances I was doing. Yet to my utter astonishment within 4 years we had the first human rights legislation protecting gays here in
BC. You never know if you could succeed until you try. That gays can now marry would
have sounded absolutely silly back then.
Most people don’t ever break new ground. However, they love jumping on
bandwagons. When you tackle the impossible, you create the
bandwagons of the future. You inspire others. Consider Gandhi.
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
~ Mahatma Gandhi(1869-10-021948-01-30 age:78)
Now Is The End
Not many people fret over the predicted end of
the universe. Perhaps a few more people are concerned about the sun expanding and frying
the earth to a crisp, scheduled in a few billion years. I personally fret considerably
about my species and life on earth going extinct or near extinct. Many people dread their
own personal death. Fruit flies don’t seem to look ahead much. They happily set up
shop on an apple that will be gone in a few days. Philosophically you might say they
value life, even if only a few days long. The trick is to combine the fearlessness and
optimism of the fruit flies with vigorous action to preserve that which you cherish.
When I look back over my life, there are two things
I would have done differently.
I would have taken my time at university more seriously. I got only that one chance
in my life to spend years doing nothing but learning in the best possible environment.
I would focus more on taking advantage of a chance to learn the material for a
lifetime, not just doing well on an exam.
I would have not been so shy about asking for sex when the other party seemed to be
White Hat/Black Hat
We have all been raised on stories, TV and
movies where there is a clear distinction between the good guys and the bad guys.
Sometimes, a movie like Bonnie and Clyde will show the story from the bad
guys’ point of view, where they see themselves as the protagonists. Very few movies
such as Beckett show issues from more than one point of view. This
dichotomous world view is poor training for understanding politics, where there are no
good guys and bad guys, just many different groups each pursuing their own self interest,
each utterly convinced they are the good guys, ignoring their own faults and magnifying
those of their opponents. I cringe at the way even professional politicians vilify Arabs
as insane having no reasons at all for their opposition to America. You can’t be an
effective strategist until you can get inside the heads of all your opponents/enemies,
where everyone sees themselves as the hero. If you are afraid to even understand an
opponent, much less sympathise with him, you won’t be able to come up with win-win
solutions. Any other sort of solution is temporary or at least unstable.
I think it all but certain there is other life in the galaxy.
It seems to me, you should assume other parts of the universe are the same as here until
proven otherwise. We know elsewhere has the same physics and chemistry, so it seems
logical it should have something similar to our biology.
I also think it all but certain there is other intelligent life in the universe,
though it may only arise in brief sparks so that even one-way remote contact between
separate species may be exceedingly rare. Intelligence arose very quickly on earth once
mammals arose and in several
species and, on a geological timescale, looks headed for almost immediate
I think there is some sort of extra sensory perception that allows remote
communication between people and communication from the people in the future. I
personally had a prophetic dream about 2001-09-11 as did many other
people. I suspect somehow millions of people focusing over and over on those same images
of the planes flying into the towers broadcast them so powerfully they could even be
sensed backward in time. I don’t mean something supernatural, just some weakly
evolved ability we don’t understand yet.
Finally, I suspect we each live in our own private universe, loosely connected to
everyone else’s. This might just be that minds hallucinate their own version of
reality, or it may be deeper, that we actually live in different quantum worlds where the
events truly are different from other people’s versions, but resonant with those of
others, so they roughly match, though not in the details. I explore this further in my
Reality is a Hallucination essay.
We have all seen the amazing power of stage hypnotists to fool people into seeing
things that are not there, but we tend to trust too easily reports of people who were
subject to hypnosis in other contexts, most commonly in religious revival services,
seances and political rallies. Even the healthy human mind has incredible power to
generate dramatic life-like hallucinations. It is much more difficult to sort out what is
real and what is imagined than we presume.
Back in the 1960s, Dr. Pat Greenwood, my advanced probability and statistics prof was
covering Markov Processes (a mathematical process with limited ability to remember the
history of what state it was in. Computers are a sort of Markov process.). She explained
the 0-1 law that made my hair stand on end with excitement. Roughly speaking it is this:
if an event has any probability of happening at all, if you wait long enough it will
happen with complete assurance. Further, if you wait long enough it will repeat
infinitely often, no matter how freakishly weird the event. (Mind you, mathematicians are
prepared to wait much longer than the projected lifespan of the universe.)
In a less rarefied sphere, contrary to everyday intuition, uncommon events are far
from impossible. They are all but mandatory. Consider this experiment. Every time you sit
next to someone, ask the person if today is their birthday. The odds in any given
instance of asking and getting a yes (presuming people tell the truth) are only
1 in 365.25 (some people are born on
02-29). If you do this 1000 times,
your odds of never sitting beside someone on their birthday are 1 in
1 / Math.pow( 1 - 1/365.5, 1000 ) = 1
in 15.48. In other words, uncommon events are
expected to happen every once in a while. Something would be amiss if
they did not happen.
Lay people don’t understand this. When an uncommon event (a coincidence)
happens, they imagine some sky god must have arranged it, or fate, or magic or luck. They
don’t accept that the coincidence is part of the day-to-day workings of the
universe, nothing special at all. This leads to pigeon superstition.
On 2008-12-14 I had
a dream. A black gospel choir sang an atheist spiritual called Show Me The Way, To
Lay My Burdens Down. There were no Lord Lords and no
Jesuss. It was about seeking acceptance of death. It
presented this task as an interesting challenge. Perhaps, someday, I could transcribe the
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
for the melody which might well be from a piece I heard before.
Two of Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby’s
partners in Midsomer Murders, prior to Ben Jones, namely Gavin Troy and Dan
Scott disappeared without a trace, without comment, never mentioned again. I smell a
I also suspect Jessica Fletcher of Murder She Wrote of being a serial
murderer. The odds of somebody being murdered every time she comes to visit happening
purely by coincidence are astronomical. Anyone in their right mind should immediately
hang up the phone when they get a call announcing her arrival. She is like the grim
While I am at it, there is something extremely fishy Ben Matlock and Perry Mason,
expensive attorneys, who only manage to attract innocent clients who have been
I am Humbled
I have to laugh when an actress wins an award, or a
politician wins an election and says I am humbled….
What nonsense is this! Winning is an ego trip; losing is humbling.
Getting too old to be horny — that is humbling. Losing control of your bowels in
public — that is humbling. Perhaps what they mean to say is, I
am enjoying humbling the competitors that I beat. Perhaps what they mean is,
I thought someone else would win..
A premise for a sci if movie. Dream sharers are psychic vigilante force who go after those too powerful
to be brought to justice otherwise, such as George W. Bush. They cause criminals to have
nightmares about being the victims of their own crimes. The criminals share the
nightmares of their victims reliving the crimes.
I saw a documentary about 5 cm(1.97 in)
Japanese wasps. About 32 of them will attack a colony of about 30,000 honeybees and kill them all in about an hour. I often have
nightmares about them. I have also seen documentaries about ant slavery. A Polyergus
queen for example, use pheromone trickery to take over a hive and exploit them to raise
young for the Polyergus queen. If find this sort of immoral
activity disturbing, to see it built into life itself at so deep a level. I find myself
wishing for a way to wipe out or at least discourage such species. I wonder if
intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy would look out my own species in the same light.
In the many years M*A*S*H was on TV, never once did any
character notice that the wounded Korean war soldiers the doctors were patching up were
killers themselves, mindlessly killing for no reason. Never once did any character notice
that he was aiding and abetting that killing by patching up soldiers so they could go
back to killing people who had done nothing to the USA. They portrayed the soldiers only
as innocent victims, never once as people who chose to play the war game who got hurt as
a logical consequence of their own malice.
Life After Death
I don’t think modern day Christians
truly believe in life after death. I think they entertain it as an unlikely possibility.
If they were serious, they would behave much more like the devout in the middle ages.
I speculate sometimes that maybe after you die you are forced to reincarnate as the
being/species you despise most. I give a little shiver. Why do I do it? Probably for the
same reason some people like to go to horror movies.
What is behind this Christian fairy tale of after-death judgement?
So you can imagine that all those who wronged you and got away with it will be
finally unmercifully punished.
It helps you belief in eternal life, — it may be horrible, but it is still
life. It makes it more plausible. It is more like ordinary life in terms of average
It lets you fantasise about some cosmic surprise party awaiting you where all your
secret desires will be fulfilled. Children call it daydreaming.
Since the rules are much better for winning a lottery than entering heaven,
everyone who entertains the notion knows in their heart of hearts they are hell-bound.
If most people were convinced they were already heaven bound, they would not let
preachers drag them about by the nose. If you read the bible literally, you will learn
you have no chance at all. This makes even the most miserable life quite pleasant
compared with what is to come.
Being Dumped III
All animals, male and female, including human, look
for mates with the highest status/fitness. It is the Darwinian imperative to ensure
survival of the offspring. So when you are dumped, unless your bad behaviour is obvious,
it is not as though you were left, but rather that your mate found someone more
attractive whom they believed they had a chance of landing. There is no great shame in
this. It is utterly unrealistic to expect that you would be the highest status person on
the planet whom your mate figures he or she would have a chance with. Some people imagine
they would even have a chance with Brad Pitt or Sandra Bullock.
Whenever I see a beautiful young person, or either
sex, I feel a terrible sadness, similar to the feeling I have beholding a vase of cut
flowers, knowing the freshness will last but days. I know how brutally quickly that
beauty will fade. The young person is completely unaware that old age will descend with
the suddenness of a car accident.
Most people resent routine repetitive tasks like house
cleaning. Computer scientists have a different way of looking at it. Computers are
masters of routine — repeating the same steps billions of times a second. The more
something is repeated, the more it pays off to figure out how to do it perfectly. You can
think of a routine activity as a second and third and … chance to correct your
mistakes. Consider making a game of some routine tasks such as:
Getting your self cleaned and groomed in the morning.
Cleaning the dishes.
Making various edits to documents.
See if you can get it down so that your movements flow like a cat without a wasted
Continuity of Consciousness
When people tackle the thorny problem
of consciousness I think they make four errors.
They presume it must be something else, something less mysterious, perhaps a kind
of energy, electric field etc. I think it would be more productive to presume, for now,
that consciousness is its own thing, as different from an electric field as time is,
and start studying its properties.
They presume it either exists all or nothing. I think it exists to different
degrees, within different people, within different species, or even within the same
person at different times. This difference admits the possibility of measuring degrees
of consciousness or at least measuring something highly correlated with it. We might
discover how to measure consciousness by looking for things that correlate to a
subjective measure of wakefulness. Only once you can measure something can you do much
serious theorising about it. Then boldly apply those correlates to other species to
estimate their degrees of consciousness. I think we will discover consciousness exists
in some form almost everywhere in the tree of life. We have been blinded to it
primarily by religiously induced species chauvinism.
They are overly influenced by the ancient religious soul theory of consciousness,
where a sort of vapourous homunculus parasite resides behind the eyes and moves from
body to body transcending death. The illusion of continuity of consciousness comes from
the continuity of neural patterns and the all-is-familiar signals the brain gives to
consciousness. As far as I can tell, when I come out of anaesthesia, I am newly minted.
Granted I have memories of life before going under, but I just seemed to pop into
existence out of nothing. Similarly my consciousness seems to gradually fade out of
existence when I go under anaesthesia. You might think of consciousness as like
incarnations of an operating system between boots on the same hardware. There is
similarity between incarnations but no continuity. The operating system
RAM (Random Access Memory)
image does not go anywhere between boots, There is nothing analogous of the soul
hovering around awaiting a suitable newly booting machine to infest. The
OS (Operating System)
image disappears and is newly created on each boot.
Because consciousness has proved so slippery to study, people like to just ignore
it and pretend it is not important.
Consciousness in the most important ontological question. After all, if we truly
imagine a world in where there is no subjective experience (a world in which these
is swirling stuff but no conscious entity to experience it,) that world may as well
not exist. In some philosophical traditions, both Eastern (certain schools of
Buddhist thought, for example) and Western (specifically, observer-based
interpretations of quantum mechanics), that is exactly how such a world in
~ Ray Kurzweil(1948-02-12 age:69)The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
You have probably noticed that people care far more
about horrible things happening to those in their own country than they do when they
happen to people on the other side of the world. People have a similar bias toward
mammals. Consider the reaction to a man putting sharp hooks in balls of cat food, feeding
them to kittens and jerking them into the air for amusement, or farmers pouring scalding
water on horses to kill them, or teens running over puppies in their cars to see how many
they can squish. We think absolutely nothing of these same acts of deliberate cruelty
when the victims are fish, chickens or frogs. My eyes tell me the amount of pain is no
different. I studied zoology is high school and dissected many animals. All these
animals have advanced nervous systems. I see no reason to believe they are experiencing
any less pain than they appear to be.
In his book
The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests the purpose of humanity is to spread its culture, faster
than the speed of light if possible, to fully occupy the entire universe. To me this
smacks of the desire of a young tom cat to mark its territory by peeing on it.
The Fermi Paradox Revisited
The famous physicist Fermi noted that if
there were even the slimmest chance of a technological civilisation evolving, their
presence should be visible throughout the universe. Instead there is nothing but a great
silence. What are we to make of that? Here are some possible explanations:
Efficiently encoded data is utterly indistinguishable from random noise. We may be
awash is a sea of intelligent radio and light communications, but without the
technology to detect, decode or decrypt them.
We presume that advanced species will use radio transmissions. Advanced
civilisations may consider radio hopelessly primitive. They may not want to use it for
transmission since it would interfere with galactic observation, much as astronomers
want a light-free skyline or for aesthetic reasons. The cosmic
FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
quickly shuts down transmitters. We might be expecting a call any time now.
The birth of an intelligent species may be a relatively rare event. They
don’t want to disturb us so they can study the process. Their technology would be
millions of years more advanced than ours. If they did not want us to see them, we
We are the butt of a cosmic joke. We are so conceited that we imagine we are the
most intelligent species the universe even though we have only looked on one other
planet. Scientists estimate there are a
billion earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. This is so funny to more advanced
species that no wants to let us in on the truth that we are one of billions of
intelligent species, nothing out of the ordinary at all. In fact we are not even the
brightest species on earth, just the most technologically adept.
As I suggested earlier, technology inevitably destroys its creator within a century
or two. We indeed are the only intelligent species in the galaxy, but by no means the
Virtual reality and artificial intelligence speeds up thinking and hence slows down
the experience of reality. To advanced civilisations, reality moves far too slowly to
hold any interest. All intelligent species have turned inward. They are not interested
in communication with dullards like us when sentences communicated take eons of
subjective time to exchange. We are ignored for the same reason college student tend to
ignore first graders.
The universe is indeed a dangerous place. Like forest creatures in the night, wise
civilisations camouflage themselves and maintain silence.
Tourists rarely go to Sudan. It is just too depressing. Earth’s barbarism,
which we decry, would be utterly unbearable to an advanced civilisation that had never
witnessed any form of violence. We are so revolting, that even the idea of exchanging
radio signals would be nauseating.
Then there is the Kurzweil hypothesis that we are indeed the very first intelligent
civilisation. Somebody had to do it, just as somebody has to win the lottery, even
though there is nothing all that special about them. This still smacks of religious
jingoism and the religious view that the earth in the center of the universe, the apple
of God’s eye. I think it the least likely explanation, even if on the face of it
is seems the most obvious.
Women scorn shabbily dressed males, or
men who drive old cars. They fail to understand that men are sentimental about clothes
and cars. These objects record the memories of good times past. They fail to understand
that men who are so sentimental that they won’t discard a shirt, just because it is
worn, likely won’t cast aside a partner just because her looks fade.
One advantage of being a human male is that the
requirements for happiness are greatly simplified. 90% of
what s needed is to get your penis in your favoured type of hole a sort of
Some people’s lives are so boring they feel the need to
stimulate themselves by artificially creating frustration and stress through game
playing. What would happen if instead of diverting themselves with pointless trivia, they
upped the difficulty of real-world problems they tackled?
The Nose Ring
There are not many things to be said in favour of old
age, but one of them is an acute awareness of how you have been dragged around all your
life by a ring in your nose — your hormones. It is amazing that you can getting
anything done at all in youth with that powerful distraction. We have thrown only the
thinnest veil of hypocrisy over our ruttings. Viewed from the relative tranquility of old
age, that thralldom appears somewhat disgusting, primitive, irritating, juvenile, yet
also the pulse of life that provides the motivation for everything. The nostalgia for it
can be unbearable.
Give up! Don’t waste another millisecond trying to get
love or parenting from someone who doesn’t love you or want to parent you. It
doesn’t matter if they logically should want to or
should feel morally obligated to or have done so in the past.
Immediately look elsewhere for a new source of your psychological needs. Most people can
barely scrape by making their own lives work. They have little energy left over for the
needs of others. If you put your life on hold until you have rehabilitated basket-case
parents sufficiently they will be capable of running their own lives successfully
and parenting you, you are making the task of making your own life work
On 2008-06-26 the Supreme Court
of the United States ruled that Americans had a constitutional right to leave unlocked,
loaded handguns in their homes for self defense (even though
the constitution talked only of their use in a state militia). The defining feature of an
American is his intense desire to keep a gun at hand to kill people in his home. Few
other cultures, save the Nazis, were that attached to their guns. Americans are well
aware that handguns kill far more children than burglars. What is the source of the
intense attachment? I can think of two reasons:
The materialist ethic is so strong that protecting property trumps protecting the
life of children.
American men fantasise about murdering their wives and children. When they finally
do kill then, they want the ready excuse that they thought they were burglars.
And Never the Twains Shall Meet
Metaphorically speaking, God played a
cosmic joke on straight people. Men and women have completely different tastes in decor,
activities, food, music, entertainment, vacations, tidiness, movies, hygiene, ways of
spending money… Yet they are still passionately attracted to each other. Even
while they are madly in love, they bitterly complain about the fundamental
incompatibility. Tribal and Muslim societies acknowledge the problem by largely
segregating the sexes, even after marriage. Again metaphorically speaking, God also
played a cosmic joke on gay people. The old are fatally attracted to the young who treat
them with contempt.
Animals are often highly territorial and aggressive to smaller
creatures. It seems prudent to presume other life in the galaxy is similar and other
intelligent life could also be hostile like man. Yet we broadcast our existence and our
vulnerabilities to the galaxy with radio and TV signals and with the explosive emission
of greenhouse gases. Even termites are smart enough to stay hidden.
One of the most delightful things about children is none
of them have ever voted Republican.
One of the most distressing events of getting old is waking up
one morning and noticing, that in the night, aliens have replaced your hands with some
We Are not Alone
Given the trillions of planets in the universe,
and how life appeared almost the instant the earth cooled and how, man, a brand new
species, reached the moon in a twinkling of evolutionary time, I find it the Christian
notion that we are alone in the universe almost inconceivable. Why then don’t we
We have broadcast our presence for only about 70 years,
barely enough time to notify the closest stars.
For the same reason tourism to Zimbabwe is unpopular.
For the same reason people don’t travel to the other side of the world to see
a strip mall. Our sort of world may be as common as cosmic grass, not worth
Because Einstein was right and the speed of light effectively enforces
Because like biologists, visitors do their utmost to remain hidden so they can
watch the natural behaviour of earth’s inhabitants.
Visitors send probes not physical bodies. They might send nanobots or other forms
we would not recognise as life.
They may well visit. However, if anyone reports seeing an alien life form, we
dismiss that person as a kook, even when there are tens of thousands of such people.
This ridicule discourages people from reporting encounters, reinforcing the notion that
only nutcases ever have such encounters. It becomes impossible to scientifically
research the topic without being dismissed as crazy.
Intelligent life inevitably destroys itself with war before it develops the
technology to explore the stars. So newly emerged intelligent life almost never finds
What a Different A Word Makes
If a wolf kills a young caribou and
a crow comes by and feasts on the corpse, we say the crow dines on carrion. This is especially true if the wolf has left and the corpse has
rotted a bit. Yet when a butcher kills a castrated bull and allows the meat to
age (tenderise by bacterial breakdown) for a month or two,
before someone else eats it, we would not likely term that eating
Similarly not many of us would dream of drinking the liquid secretions of the sweat
glands of domesticated antelopes, but don’t blink an eye when we call it
milk and serve it in a non-recyclable plastic jug.
Most of us find the thought of chowing down on the arthropods (spiders, scorpions,
insects) quite revolting, yet most of us feast happily on crabs, lobsters and shrimp
which are simply the marine members of the phylum. It is as illogical as eating salmon
but refusing to eat trout on the grounds they are too disgusting.
There are a few people, who on gaining
great wealth, show some corresponding imagination in spending it. I include:
Bill Gates: eliminating malaria and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Andrew Carnegie: building libraries in all the major urban centers of his
George Soros: taking down George Bush.
Building unique homes, particularly ones that have minimal impact on the
a middle-aged cosmetic dentist whose name I cannot recall in Montréal:
setting up a music studio for the use of the poor youth of Montréal North.
Most spend it on conspicuous consumption with no more intelligence than a high
school drop out:
drugs and alcohol.
excessively large homes.
yachts that just sit at dock.
buying off people to pretend to be friends.
Why Americans Hate the Government
When we Canadians hear
Americans fulminating against the evil of the govmint, we
imagine they are a bit crazy. However, the American government is not
the same sort of animal as the Canadian government. There are good reasons for people to
hate and fear it.
The bureaucracy. The United States is a much older country. It was formed by the
coming together of independent states, each with its own unique bureaucratic style,
that lives on to this day, foiling attempts to this day at computerised streamlining.
For example, in Louisiana, sales
tax collection is farmed out to a private businessman in each parish who publishes
his own website explaining the rules and rates. There is no table consolidating this
information for the entire state. In contrast, in Canada all a cash register needs to
know is two numbers, the federal GST (Goods and Services Tax)
rate and the provincial PST (Provincial Sales Tax) rate of the home province. All
you need to know about sales tax for all of Canada can be summed up in a table of a
dozen numbers. The equivalent information for the USA is available as a subscription
from a service bureau for
I once met an American at a New Year’s eve party. It turned out we were both
writing tenders for roughly million dollar computer systems for quasi governmental
bodies. We both complained about all the required the legalese and government
regulations. We decided to swap tenders to see who had it worse. His was ten times
thicker. It even had clauses about washrooms.
Then there is the matter of medical billing — something that requires rooms
full of clerks in every American hospital, carefully tracking every aspirin. In
Canada there are no such staff. Since there is a single payer, it is all electronic
and greatly stripped down. Dealing with a broken leg might require 15 keystrokes at
most. A hospital admission takes about 5 seconds.
The USA has ten times the population of Canada. That means the bureaucracies are
more than ten times bigger with even more layers to grind to a halt.
The USA has elected judges who face periodic reelection. Canada has appointed
judges who cannot be removed except for gross misconduct. That means the judicial
system in the USA tends to do what is currently popular, even if unjust to a currently
The Canadian parliamentary party-discipline system generates periodic sweeps where
every politician in the government is swept from power. In the USA, changes are usually
incremental. Even a politician in an American minority party is still powerful and
still worth bribing. An American thus feels he has less power to punish and control his
The USA has a huge military and uses it to dominate the world in a rather roughshod
way. This creates enemies and leads to paranoia such as the Joe McCarthy
Commie-under-the-bed era or the currently fashionable fear of Muslims. This leads to
reckless abandonment of civil liberties and constitutional safeguards. Canada is too
small to pose much of a threat internationally, though its oil wealth could lead it
astray in future. The result in American government tends to be paranoid and
manic-depressive and the Canadian phlegmatic.
The Approval Drug
One of the fastest routes to misery is seeking
public approval. No matter what you do, somebody out there will consider you an utter
bounder for it and phone in a death threat. You have to give yourself
approval. In former times, people called this doing the will of
God as opposed to succumbing to worldly temptations. But even then, there were
60,000 jealous gods commanding dreadful acts of cruelty, so
even then you could not win. Today we might call it doing the right
thing. The alternative is to become a slave to those who hand out the approval, or
to cower like a mouse, afraid to do anything of note, trying desperately to camouflage
yourself out of existence.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying
to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
~ George Bernard Shaw(1856-07-261950-11-02 age:94)
Consider the gauntlet that salmon endure to spawn. They
have to make it past seals, orcas and commercial fisherman in the ocean. There are the
sports fishermen, bears, eagles, native spear fishers, nets… There is the
pollution, torrents, waterfalls and mud. Only an elite few make it few, battered to spawn
the entire next generation. The whole process reminds be of third worlders seeking to
immigrate to the rich countries. They have to accumulate sufficient money for the journey
working in a country where daily wages are measured in pennies. They must survive police,
guards, dogs, deserts, snakeheads, gangs, robbers… They have to somehow make it to
the promised land, find under-the-table work, acquire id, camouflage themselves as
legitimate immigrants and never get caught. Only the very strongest and smartest make it.
Think of the ways we try to stomp the natural
compassion out of children, how we teach them to enjoy the suffering of others.
Punch and Judy shows where whacking a baby with a sticks is presented as
America’s Funniest Videos where people having accidents are
presented with silly voices and zany music to teach children to see others in pain as
Video games where children kill by the score and defecate on the corpses.
Cartoons where characters attempt to kill each other in the most painful way
Pro wrestling matches where actors pretend to permanently injure one another and
pretend to be in unbearable pain.
Fights leading to permanent brain injury as part of pro sports, especially
Extended kung fu and other extreme fight scenes, which in real life would have
resulted in fatalities, in nearly every TV drama.
Violence as entertainment is so pervasive in our society, we don’t even notice
what we are teaching our kids.
The aim of military training is not just to prepare men for battle, but to make them
long for it.
~ Louis Simpson(1923-03-272012-09-18 age:89)
Here is my advice on how to have
a lasting relationship. I have said this in
similar words before, but it bares repeating:
Make sure you give your partner some physical pleasure every day, in the form
they like. It might be a literal back scratch, a foot massage, a hug
or coffee in bed.
Be at least as polite as you would be to a stranger.
Listen to their petty complaints about you. If they ever leave you, that will be
the real reason why.
Have you noticed how humiliation has become
the national sport of America? Some examples include:
Donald Trump and You’re fired!.
American Idol where the week’s loser is publicly shamed then kicked off the
show with the camera glued to his face to catch every nuance of distress.
The Jerry Springer Show where couples tell the nation every embarrassing fact (or
fiction) they can come up with about their ex.
The Maury Povich Show where young women are humiliated when their promiscuity is
exposed in detail to the nation as DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)
test after DNA
test fails to find the father of their child.
The frequent use of the terms kick ass and kick butt.
Giving college students ten times more work than they can possibly complete, then
shaming those who crack under the pressure and drop out.
America invades tiny third world countries and grinds them under its heel.
Forgetfulness of Money
What did people do before the invention
of money? They tracked who had done whom a favour. They made allowance for disability and
unusual capability to contribute. In general, people helped each other, unless they
couldn’t. Everyone knew how much each was contributing and how much each was
consuming and used social pressure to keep this in reasonable balance. People did not
move far from where they were born, so everyone knew everyone else quite well. There was
no way to pull a dirty trick or to do an unusually good turn without everyone knowing
about it. Reputation was thus more important then than today.
The immense convenience of the invention of money allowed even total strangers to
safely do business. When a man walks into a country club and asks to join, money erases
the history how he came by it. He may be a faith healer, swindler, gambler, speculator,
monopolist, advertising executive, embezzler, Ken Lay, Dick Cheney, Conrad Black, drug
dealer, arms dealer, thief, bribe taker, blackmailer etc. someone who came by the money
without providing a service to others. Or he made have toiled producing food, goods,
services, inventing, entertaining, managing in any one of millions of ways of serving his
fellow beings or his planet. What is most peculiar is even when we know how a person came
by his money, we tend to treat all equally, honouring the wealthy crooks with just as
much respect as the wealthy Nobel prize winners. Before the invention of money, we would
have ostracised the crooks, not idolised them.
From the point of view of a mosquito, the universe is a
banquet laid out by God for their exclusive use. The sole purpose of humans is to supply
blood to mosquitos. They are much like Nazis or Americans who imagine planet
earth’s resources are for their exclusive use and they have the right to take them
by force or treachery from anyone.
somebody wrote the letters FLQ (Front de Libération du Québec)
the name of a defunct separatist group, on the mausoleum of Pierre Trudeau, a former
Prime Minister of Canada. The country is up in arms. I find this a gross overreaction,
ironically giving the vandal just what he wanted. Had the vandal written this on Mr.
Trudeau’s door while Trudeau were still alive, it would not even have made the
local papers. There is weird superstition that insulting the dead is somehow more hurtful
than insulting the living. Nobody felt the least compulsion to refrain from insulting or
criticising Mr. Trudeau while he was alive. In a similar way, Americans were far more
upset that the Iraqi resistance dragged the corpses of American soldiers behind a truck
than had the Iraqis done so while the soldiers were still alive. A number of people
threatened to kill me when I criticised the actions of Canadian soldiers killed in
Afghanistan. Yet they are only mildly disgruntled when I criticise the actions of living
ones. It does not seem to matter that the dead soldiers never even heard my condemnation
of their deeds. Dead people are no more saintly than living ones. It is a goofy Kristian
superstition that the dead feel pain both physical and emotional and require special
protection we don’t extend to the living.
If you are Dumped
Especially if you have issues with the
likely the most painful thing that will ever happen to you in your life is you will be
dumped suddenly. Oddly, in your entire education, your teachers never spent so much as an
hour on how to deal with this blow. Here is a crash course:
Getting dumped happens to nearly everyone. It is just others handle it better than
you and are better at concealing their hurt.
Don’t expect others to be particularly solicitous. To them, the
dumper’s flaws are blatantly obvious. They don’t feel your insane
attraction. To everyone else, the solution is obvious, move on; forget the past. The
dumper is not worth wasting any more emotional energy on.
No matter how attractive the person who dumped you appears to you now, they are not
the only person for you.
You probably feel totally blindsided. With time, you will gradually recognise the
many forewarnings they gave you.
The dumper had mixed feelings about leaving you. That is why they had to convince
themselves you were an ogre, to cement their resolve.
The dumper is not your one and only true love. Your true love
would not treat you that badly.
When someone tells you they hate asparagus, does that provide information about
them or about asparagus? When your lover dumps you and says they hate you with a
ferocious intensity and always have, is that an accurate, unbiased evaluation of you
and your future relationship potential with all others? Of course, not! It is a
Before you get involved with someone, find out if they make a habit of suddenly
cutting off old lovers, friends or acquaintances. If they do, you will eventually be on
A dumper is someone too immature to take the time to dissolve a relationship
gracefully, with consideration for the feelings of all concerned. It requires kindness
and patience. Being dumped is a bit like taking a spoonful of oatmeal in the eye flung
by a two-year old. Don’t take it seriously!!!
Watch the Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos, Montel Williams and Maury Povich daytime
trashy TV shows. You will see dumpers from hell beating up on exes who usually do not
deserve such abuse. You don’t deserve it either. Note how in every case the
dumpee is well to be rid of such a shrew/slut/bully/sadist. The same applies to
Sci Fi Anomalies
Science fiction so often jars me with its logical
inconsistency. For example:
On Star Hunter, the holographic communications have more interference
than ’50s TV through rabbit ears.
On Star Trek Next Generation, the new species they encounter always
use compatible cellphones and speak 20th century American English.
On the original Star Trek, the advanced communication system did not
include a caller id feature.
The replicators can’t create spare parts for the engines or medicines.
Fireballs from explosions move in slow motion making it possible to outrun
In Star Wars, no one has yet invented automatic target lockon, or
computer controlled navigation.
Humans, a recently evolved intelligent species, are always able to outsmart any
other species they encounter.
When Spock announces a probability of survival to 4 decimal places, no matter how
close to 0, you know all the regular actors will survive intact for the next episode or
I am astounded how rapidly technology advanced once the
notion of it got started. Even ancient societies seemed to rapidly develop such
technologies as astronomy and masonry. It looks as if our technological civilisation will
self-destruct within another hundred years. Technology seems like a century plant that
lies dormant and then every once in many, many decades blooms for a night. This led me to
wonder if a technological civilisation like ours, with an understanding of quantum
mechanics and electronics, has ever evolved then quickly self-destructed, so thoroughly
that it erased its tracks. I have seen some tantalising hints in global mythology. I
asked a paleontologist friend what paleontologists far in the future might find remaining
of our civilisation to mark its passing. She replied bricks.
Other than the Geishas of early Japan,
there is a group that engages in tooth darkening cosmetology. They treat
their teeth with a scalding hot dark brown dye up to ten times a day. Some resort to
burning the brown leaves of a toxic plant and inhaling the sticky tars to stain their
teeth. This tribe are commonly known as Americans.
The Cosmic Etch-A-Sketch
The history of life on earth is like a
cosmic Etch-A-Sketch. Life doodles theme and variations in abundance, then something
comes to shake the earth to all but erase the profusion, be it an asteroid hitting, or a
species too intelligent for its own good. Then, after a brief recovery period of 10
million years or so, it starts doodling in earnest again, but with slightly less
exuberance than before. We arrogant humans imagine the that extinction of man is
synonymous with the extinction of life.
The Devolution of Competition
Ecosystems that have not been disturbed for long periods of time (whether by humans or
natural disasters) tend to read a state of dynamic equilibrium which ecologists call a
climax phase, meaning that organisms have adapted themselves
to one another in such a way as to avoid direct competition, to keep energy
flow-through to a minimum and to recycle energy flow and nutrients as completely as
possible. They have formed, to use an anthropomorphic term, a community.
~ Richard Heinberg(1950-10-21 age:67)
Book referral for Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
recommend book⇒Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
Oil is peaking. The supply is getting smaller each year. Just what are the implications? Heinberg sees the only viable option as a global program of resource conservation and sharing. Predicting chaos unless the U.S. — the world’s foremost oil consumer — is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a managed collapse, that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future. website. The opening chapters of the book give a lucid, simple, but not simplistic recap of the basic physics, biology, history and ecology you need to know as background to understand the energy crunch. When I was reading this section, it dawned on me that most Americans are completely ignorant of this basic science. That is why they approach the energy and global warming problem is such a superstitious and irrational way.
Online bookstores carrying Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
In other words, animals over time learn to avoid direct competition because competing
wastes too much energy. Animals evolve to avoid competition by specialising to stay out
of each others’s way. In a similar way, bloody battles for mates eventually evolve
into dancing competitions. Even human executives do this. Competition between
corporations gradually tends over time to devolve into informal co-operation and price
fixing and only ritual competitiveness. Competition in a capitalist system must be
fostered. It does not maintain itself naturally.
The science of cooperation. How cooperation develops among the selfish and even between warring parties. The key is long term association with the same group. Not all cooperation is good. Oligopolies form by the same mechanism. It explains why strict tit for tat is a sound strategy. It is about the mathematics/strategies that generate revenge spirals and spirals of co-operation. Somebody must have read this book when Britain decided to stop taking two eyes for every eye in Northern Ireland, which eventually lead to bringing terrorism under control. Using computer modeling Axelrod discovers the power of a simple tit for tat strategy in dealing with others. He also discovers the mathematical conditions under which people co-operate, collude, compete, aid each other or refuse to offer reasonable assistance. He also explains the mathematics of why corporations tend toward price-fixing and other co-operative behaviour with their competitors.
Online bookstores carrying The Evolution of Cooperation
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
The atrocities of the Americans in Iraq and
Afghanistan are nothing new. They are a direct consequence of imbalance of power.
Americans overwhelm their victims in technology and wealth. That power necessarily
corrupts. Humans, not just Americans, are hard wired to abuse excessive power over
others. It took 500 years for the atrocities of the Spanish Conquistadors to become
widely known. Spaniards, Nazis, Russians, Americans… like all humans, are deeply
in denial of their own atrocities. They work hard to keep them hidden and to attack those
who expose them.
The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side,
but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
~ George Orwell(1903-06-251950-01-21 age:46)
War as a Game
When animals fight, it is over territory. They also
have ritual battles to determine whose genes will sire the next generation, but rarely
are the combatants seriously injured. When human leaders fight, it is over territory,
natural resources and national prestige. When ordinary humans fight it is much like a
football game. They fight to the death simply because their side is fighting. They root
for the home team, no matter how badly the home team has behaved. Even Nazi mothers were
proud of their sons. Even the mothers of serial killers (both civilian and military)
insist that their sons are innocent of any wrongdoing. In humans, team loyalty nearly
always trumps justice.
Unscrupulous leaders like John McCain, Dick Cheney and George Bush exploit this
and urge their fellows on to greater illegal mayhem, simply for national pride and the
supposed shame of losing/withdrawing/calling off the attack. They trick their fellows
into expensive wars, with no prizes to be gained from pursuing them. McCain, Cheney, Bush
and their backers reap hundreds of billions in war profits. Their dupes reap a lifetime
of sorrow and guilt.
The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side,
but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
~ George Orwell(1903-06-251950-01-21 age:46)
It quite enough to expect that we tolerate
each other and our various customs. It is wrong to demand we pretend to
respect each other’s delusions, which includes all religions and
How could you name children in a gender-equal way? In Canada
where I live, a child receives the surname of his or her father. In Iceland, a child
receives the surname of his or her mother. In old Norse, a child received the surname of
his father’s given name, e.g. Lief Eric’s-son. Politically correct couples
try to solve the problem by concatenating the mother and father’s surnames, e.g.
Blumé-Temoin This solution won’t work for successive generations since the
length of surnames would double with each generation. So here is my proposed solution
modeled on the Spanish convention. When a person marries, they acquire a second surname.
So, for example, when Mary Smith marries John Jones, she becomes Mary Smith de Jones and
he become John Jones de Smith. A female child takes the surname of her mother, e.g.
Smith. A male child the surname of his father, e.g. Jones. If the father is unknown, a
male child takes the surname of his mother. The naming system parallels the way it is
possible to trace the purely matrilineal line, mother of mother of mother, or the pure
patrilineal line using DNA, but it much harder to trace the mixed ancestors.
Scientists tell us they are on the brink of extending
life to 200+ years. I don’t think I could bear it. The nostalgia would be far too
intense. Actuaries tell us that even with medical technology allowing an infinite
lifespan, the average age of death would be only 200 — from death by misadventure.
As a result, we would become too fanatically concerned with safety to enjoy our lives,
putting on helmets to climb the stairs.
Life is fundamentally unfair. Some people are better
looking, healthier and wealthier even when they put no more effort into it than anyone
else. Others have to bear poverty, ill health, deformity, disease or minority status
through no fault of their own. You can make yourself unnecessarily miserable or even
crazy if you deny this fundamental fact of life. Christians are wont to denial on the
grounds of wishful thinking or logical consistency — how could a loving God
possibly have created such an unfair universe? Hindus rationalise it with their notion of
reincarnation. Christians imagine misfortune is caused by God punishing secret sins.
Acknowledging the unfairness is not to say you accept it or approve of it. You
can’t do anything about a problem until you stop pretending it does not exist.
Before the industrial revolution, man
depended on manual labour for agriculture. Everyone had to work hard from dawn till dark,
or people would literally starve to death. Industrious was prized at the most important
virtue. Sloth and idleness were serious sins. Today we still highly value
industriousness. Conservatives still advocate leaving to die those who are not
sufficiently productive. We reward with billion dollar salaries the
CEOs (Chief Executive Officers)
whose companies most industriously produce goods, mine minerals, consume energy, promote
consumption, gobble resources, pollute the air, soil and water, erode the soil, log and
pave the forests, pump greenhouse gases into the air and that holiest of all activities
— stimulate the economy (i.e. increase optional
consumption). We most admire the rich and famous who excel at flamboyant, novel and
conspicuous waste. The planet is reeling from the onslaught of these type A individuals.
Oops, maybe industriousness is not such a virtue any more.
A Tibetan and an Amazon river basin tribesman were each asked what they thought of
western civilisation. Oddly, they gave identical answers. They replied, What is the matter with your women? They are supposed to stop the men. Everyone
knows when you let men cut down trees, they don’t know when to stop.
We need new values.
It is good to leave a light ecological footprint.
It good to live comfortably consuming the least amount energy and goods.
It is good to discourage others from wasteful habits.
We need to start throwing virtual tomatoes at the dinosaurs who are still
frantically working hard to destroy the planet.
I have often wondered how a truly nutty idea
like Naziism, Christianity or fanatical Islam can take hold of a population. Notice that
such ideas get little traction in areas where there are only a few adherents. Yet when
the idea reaches critical mass, it takes over the entire population, even including
people who ought to know better. Man has sheep genes. He does not like to be at odds with
his fellows in his beliefs.
Small Minded Cruelty
There is something so petty, small-minded
and cruel about a society that forbids sex only to those in the stage of life who want it
English is so ambiguous, e.g. I
don’t want a car. can have at least five meanings:
no current need
I don’t want a taxi just now. I am not going anywhere.
I live on a tiny island. What on earth would I do with a car?
I don’t want for a car. I am fully satisfied in the car
department. I have 3 vehicles already.
would prefer something else
Dear sugar daddy, I want diamonds, not a Rolls.
I detest cars. They pollute and the repair people are all
crooks. I wouldn’t take one if you gave it to me.
Since I think in English, this muddied ambiguity infects my thinking too. It is not
necessarily clear even to myself when I say I don’t want a
Anyone not shocked by quantum mechanics has not yet understood it.
~ Niels Bohr(1885-10-071962-11-18 age:77)
Many people seem to think our scientific theories of the very small and very
large cannot be true because our intuition rejects them as absurd. Ask the question the
other way around. Why does our intuition work so well on the mid size? We evolved in a
3D, mid-sized world, dominated by a tiny frequency band of sunlight and nasty predators.
We needed a brain with computational shortcuts for dealing with it. We never had the need
to evolve the intuition modules to deal instantly with a
broader world, the quantum small, the cosmic large or 4D. We can deal with them, but only
with the ponderous tools of mathematics. Conceivably within a century, you might be able
to get such intuition modules installed. This could lead to a period of rapid
breakthrough since the behaviour of the mico and macroscropic universe would become
I think most people give up too easily to work for world
peace, end world hunger or save the environment because they have preposterously high
expectations. They imagine if they work for a few days then the world should
noticeably change, as if they were some sort of deity. You are one of 6
billion people. If you manage to have any more than 1/6,000,000,000 of the total human
effect on how the planet runs, you are doing better than average. Pat yourself on the
back, even if you can’t see the effect.
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
~ Mahatma Gandhi(1869-10-021948-01-30 age:78)
The oceans were created one raindrop at a time. The pyramids were built one
stone at a time. Be glad there are so many millions of others working on your project too
so that the end result will be far more magnificent than anything you could possibly have
It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to
do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that
there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right
thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing,
there will be no result.
~ Mahatma Gandhi(1869-10-021948-01-30 age:78)
Admiring bodies is like admiring butterflies or
flowers. You must do it purely for the moment.
Here are three tricks to enjoying your life:
Learn to get off on little things, like the pleasant feeling of a brush on your
scalp, or warm water on your back in the bath.
Do what you like doing. So many people slave away at pointless jobs they
When trivial stuff upsets you, ask yourself, if we were about to be nuked in 10
minutes, would this matter? Where does this fit in the hierarchy of cosmic
I am continually baffled why people who hog 500 times the normal size of slice of the world resource pie are considered
admirable. Surely they should be ostracised as gluttons, thieves or con men. There is no
way anyone deserves a 500 times bigger slice
of the pie than others. There is no conceivable amount of labour they could perform to
justify that. When someone accumulates that kind of money, they had to
cheat. They either got away with some criminal act such as theft, gouging, confidence
games or monopoly or they found some legal loophole in the monetary system to trick
others into giving without compensating return.
Even worse, when these people commit conspicuous consumption or conspicuous waste,
they are committing an environmental crime; they are deliberately despoiling the
environment. When they overconsume, others have to go without. What is admirable about
that? Even at the height of the famine in 1985, Ethiopian
farmers were growing strawberries for the breakfast tables of the world’s
UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) s
I find it strange when people tell me they
don’t believe in UFO
s. What do they believe? That every flying object has been identified? That every flying
object not identified was a hallucination? That there are no new types of flying objects
to be discovered? Surely not.
Unless you die suddenly of a heart attack, you will
probably end your days in bed unable to do anything much but read or watch TV. Yet many
people paddle furiously all their lives to amass a fortune they won’t ever need.
You won’t have any need at all for a big house, a big car, lavish meals, a private
jet or jewelry. Perhaps it would make more sense to enjoy life with all its varied
activities while you still have your health, especially exploratory travel.
I avoid any company that offers me cash back. They are trying to pull a fast one and this is just the first
of many ways they will attempt to screw me. A cash back scheme has six disadvantages:
You pay more sales tax than had they just reduced the price.
When you have to mail in the rebate request, you find you need copies of receipts,
packing boxes and anything they can think of you might have discarded to void the
Most of the time the company refuses to pay the rebate, claiming it is expired.
They will just sit on your application for 6 months to make
You won’t get your money until many months later if ever.
They are counting on the process of getting your rebate will be so onerous you
The handling costs the company much more than just reducing the price. They are
screwing you out of that difference. This is also true of preferred customer cards that
add to processing costs and make checkout lines longer.
Society overvalues leadership. A society of egotists
each dead set on dragging everyone along their way won’t get
anywhere. On the other paw, a society of sheep is vulnerable to an evil or incompetent
leader, like Hitler or Bush, whom they blindly follow simply because he is the designated
leader. What you need are people who will fully co-operate so long as the leader is going
in roughly the right direction, but who will dig in their heels when they believe he is
taking them in a foolish direction. There is a superfluity of would-be leaders motivated
mainly by desire for limelight. The true power is in the seconder, who selects the best
approach and champions it.
When baby animals play, it is obvious to us they are rehearsing
adult activity. It has a serious purpose. Likewise, when we arrange activities for young
humans, we are teaching them to rehearse adult activities, for example:
dolls: care of children.
board games: strategy, keeping track of money.
music videos: sexual flirtation
listening to music: drugs, crime
hockey: fighting, revenge
video games: killing, raping, stealing
football: war, turning an arbitrary goal into a life or death pursuit.
I am surprised parents are so careless about the lessons they give their children.
Have you ever opened a package to discover it was 9/10
empty. Why did the manufacturer do that?
To deceive you into thinking you were getting more product that you were.
To make the product take up more shelf space so that you would me more likely to
To provide more surface area on the package for advertising images.
Manufacturers continue these unethical and wasteful practices because they are more
competitive. They won’t stop to consider the ethical or environmental effects until
there are honest and frugal packaging laws. Such laws won’t harm manufacturers, so
long as there is a level playing field. Such laws will actually make them more profitable
since they won’t need to waste so much money on excess packaging.
I have no experience with other life in other parts of the
universe to compare. Statistically, earth is probably just average. However, I
can’t help but feel in my gut that earth is one of the more hellish planets. What
on earth possesses us humans to do such things as:
Refuse to allow those in unbearable suffering to die in peace in the manner they
wish. We would never dream of such cruelty to a terminally ill puppy.
Kill, torture, maim, rape or steal from each other in war and claim we do it for
Wage all out war on nature trying to kill off every last species. We happily steal
the food supply or habitat of any other species, even for the most trifling convenience
(e.g. for fashion).
Fight to the death with each other over made up stories about an all-loving
Honour military serial killers with medals and treat with utmost disdain those who
take pleasure from anything but the most humdrum sex.
Claw each other for more wealth to the point of harming ourselves with
overconsumption, denying others life and destroying the ecosystem that sustains us
Perhaps it is for the best that we humans are destroying the ecosystem that sustains
us. Perhaps sacrificing even a whole planet is a worthwhile sacrifice to prevent us
humans from spreading like a cancer throughout the galaxy. Earth will recover from the
blow we inflicted in another 10 million years, an eye blink in geological time. You could
think of man as failing a difficult test, one a species must pass before proving himself
worthy to colonise space. He must get into space without destroying his home world first.
As a gay man, I feel sorry for straight men. They are so
pathetically needy for sex and the approval of women they will twist themselves into all
manner of unnatural shapes hoping women will approve. Unfortunately, most women
don’t like men the way they come out the box. They can’t stand men unless
they pretend to be tame, domestic and completely monogamous, quite unlike the way men are
naturally. They guilt trip them into thinking there is something wrong with being male.
Eventually a man who contorts himself this way rebels and ends up hating his female
partner for tricking him into wasting his years as a mere shadow of his authentic self.
She is baffled. She had no idea of her transforming power over him.
Maya Angelou has one of the great voices of the
planet. It feels like warm water poured over my back in the bath. Somehow just listening
to her say ordinary things with her beautiful precision restores my faith in humanity. A
religious person might explain it as like being in the presence of a saint. Some of the
other delightful voices include Barbara Jefford, Peter O’Toole, Michael Yorke,
James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer, Sean Connery, Kelly LeBrock, Leonard Cohen,
Roberta Flack, Judy Collins, Felicity Kendal, Michael Caine and Sebastian Spence.
Especially after viewing a documentary
like What A Way To Go: life at
the end of empire it is hard not to despair at how our fellow humans are so dead set
on destroying the planet and with it all or nearly all of human kind. Here are some ways
to cushion the emotional blow:
There are 6 billion people on earth. Properly your share of the enormous task of
saving planet earth is only 1/6 billionth of the job. Since most people are deadbeats
or actively evil, your share increases to perhaps 1 billionth of the job. Do you think
you can bear a burden that heavy?
You don’t have to do everything. You can pick out tiny part of the problem.
Other people will handle the rest.
The earth has had multiple mass extinctions in past. Life recovered after about 10
million years. That sounds a very long time to a human, but is not that much in
Humans are just another animal. When locusts, lemmings or tent caterpillars
overpopulate and strip their environment, we don’t weep when their populations
crash back down to sustainable levels. We are mildly relieved. Why should we react to a
human population explosion and crash any differently? Look at this not as a human, but
from the perspective of all life on earth. Life will give a collective gasp of relief
when humans are humbled.
Humans surpassed the sustainable population about the time of the American civil
war when the world population was 1 billion. The 5 billion we have added since then
have been only temporarily sustained by the cheap energy of non-renewable fossil
We expect far too much of our fellow humans. Even though humans can rationally
predict the consequences of their actions, they are still motivated by ancient drives
for power, sex, food, territory just like other animals. We humans are incapable of
acting in our own best interest, even when we are aware of what we are doing to hurt
ourselves. We get in trouble because our technology magnifies our power to endlessly
satisfy unslakable lusts. Imagine humans as monkeys playing with guns, cars, explosives
or an assembly line pumping out an endless and overwhelming supply of bananas. Humans
too, are driven by their standard monkey motivations. It can be comic.
Let us presume we are doomed. It truly is hopeless. We are all going to die and
take most of the species of earth with us in any one of a dozen plausible scenarios. In
the meantime, will you feel better wallowing in despair or taking action on the off
chance it might make things better? I started gay lib back in 1969 when everyone was opposed to me, even the gays. People were so
opposed that about 300 of them called to shower me with abuse each day and about three
of them each day threatened my life. (To put it in perspective, Martin Luther King got
40 death threats a day.) I did it just because it felt right to protest the injustice.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think my actions would make any difference. Yet within
two years we had the first gay rights legislation. You never know. People are herd
animals. They can turn on a dime, even after centuries of bovine stupidity.
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
~ Mahatma Gandhi(1869-10-021948-01-30 age:78)
Many years ago I asked my Dad why he sometimes bought lottery tickets. I said,
Surely you now the expected value of the ticket is less than half
the ticket price. On average you lose money. He replied that he did not see
lottery tickets as an investment, but as entertainment. With the ticket you could
imagine how fun it would be to win. Without a ticket you could not. Saving the world
works the same way.
There was once a priest who prayed every day for 50 years
to win the lottery. He wailed at God that an upright fellow such as he surely deserved
the prize. God in frustration finally thundered back, You could at
least have made it a little easier for me by buying a ticket. Saving the world
works the same way. And I mean saving it literally, preventing its utter
Scientists tell us there are trillions of planets in the universe. Weeping over the
failure of earth to thrive is like gnashing over your teeth over the failure of a
single dandelion seedling.
One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction.
Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
~ Woody Allen(1935-12-01 age:82)
The cleanest, easiest high is doing something nice for
someone else. Given how little effort is required, how intensely pleasant the high is,
and how there is no hangover, just a nice glow that can last for years, it is amazing how
rarely people use this method purely to make themselves feel good.
Since children are sponges absorbing new behaviours
from whatever they see, you can consider anything you expose them to as a learning tool.
There is no such thing as simple entertainment. What are you intending to teach them when
you give them a video game like Microsoft Halo or Grand Theft Auto or taking them to see
a preacher milking the crowd by threatening hellfire or taking them to a movie like Death
The word freedom means the right to conduct your
own private affairs without outside meddling and concomitantly allowing others to do
things, that don’t concern you, that you don’t like, without interference.
Americans use the word quite differently. They imagine people are free only when the
think like Americans, believe in Jesus and work primarily for American interests.
People happily rebel in ways that don’t matter.
For example they will wear a ring in their tongue, get a tattoo, shave their head, design
an eccentric beard, or wear some highly uncomfortable clothing. They will refuse to
standardize on computer function keys or MIME types. They will refuse to conform to naming conventions with programming
computers. Yet when it comes to rebelling in a way that matters e.g. expressing unpopular
religious or political beliefs, people turn into perfect sheep. They are too afraid to
say what is in their hearts, even when what they have to say is blindingly obvious, e.g.
that war is bad for children and other living things or that the rich are screwing the
The Great Error
Nothing causes more suffering than this great error. A
great love of your life rejects you or dumps you. You are seduced by some of their
positive qualities into thinking they are the one and now life cannot
continue without them. However, there were not your true love. Your true
love would never treat you that way. The dumper was an imposter.
Like predictions in the bible, these predictions are
undated. You can thus never prove them wrong. At worst, you can have a false alarm.
It will be mandatory to wear a helmet on public transportation.
It will be illegal to drive cars on city streets for reasons of safety, speed, fuel
economy and traffic density. Cars will be driven by automation.
Taxis will outnumber private vehicles for economic reasons. They don’t need
parking and they don’t lose value sitting in a garage rusting. They work full
China and the USA will hold a war in a hapless third country, ostensibly over green
house gas emissions and other pollutants. However, the actual reason will be the usual
excuse for war, economic hegemony.
Economics of Fashion
Consider how economics drives fashion.
The general principle is whatever is fashionable requires affluence. Fashion is primarily
an affluence display. For example, in cave man times being fat was in because food was
hard to come by. Consider the Rubenesque Venus statues of the period. Today, the poor
balloon up on Kraft Dinner and wealthy require personal trainers and expensive diets of
fresh organic foods to stay slim. In India today, rich women still roll their enormous
bellies voluptuously, rubbing it into the undernourished general populace. In medieval
times, a pasty complexion was in. Serfs were tanned from field labour while wealthy women
could stay inside and avoid such coarse labour. Today the poor toil in sunless offices
while the wealthy tan on Caribbean beaches. In days when it took hours of servant labour
to starch and iron your clothes, wrinkles in clothes were a disgrace. Today they are in,
since they require more expensive natural fibres. In days when people wore their clothes
until they wore out, tattered clothes were shameful. Today they are in because it takes
so much labour to create the tattered look and new mass manufactured clothes are so
cheap. Diamonds and gold are preferred as personal decoration to African beads, not
because they are more colourful or beautiful, but simply because they are rarer and hence
more expensive. The results of plastic surgery are bizarre: bloated pitted lips, wind
swept faces, bug eyes…, yet because the procedures are expensive and hence
inaccessible to the average citizen, the results are considered fashionable. Similarly
expensive makeup and nauseating perfumes prevail over pleasant inexpensive alternatives.
Males traditionally participated even more in fashion that women, though today women seem
to drive fashion. You saw men adopting digital watches when they first came out and were
very expensive. Now they are going back to less accurate, more expensive analog watches,
simply because everyone can now afford an accurate digital watch. They will buy a pair of
socks for five times the going rate simply because of a bold designer logo that shouts
This guy is so rich he can waste money on overpriced socks.
Humanity’s Rites of Passage
Like a young man sent on a
dangerous vision quest to prove his mettle to be considered a man in the tribe, humanity
is beset with four increasingly difficult rites of passage.
We have developed weapons terrible enough to destroy all of humanity
if not all higher life forms. We must individually develop the wisdom not to use them.
We are drastically altering the planet with our economic activities. We must
co-operate with everyone else on the planet to refrain from damaging the eco-systems
and causing massive including rapid climate change.
The earth reverses
magnetic polarity about every 200,000 years on average.
The last time was 780,000 years ago. We are in the process of
a flip right now. Though it is a somewhat random event, most likely in about 300 more
years, the earth’s magnetic field will temporarily disappear, to be restored in
about another 1000 years. So what you say? Who will even
notice but a few boy scouts? The earth’s magnetic field is protects us like a
force field from cosmic radiation. We will unprotected from particle bombardment from
space and from the sun, causing additional cancers and disruptions of satellite
communications. To deal with this lesser threat we will have the even more difficult
task of co-operating actively to deal with the problem.
The resources of earth are finite. We must learn to share them fairly and to avoid
bearing more children than the planet can currently sustain. This requires overcoming
our deepest biological urge — to survive and populate at the expense of others.
So we must pass from individual restraint, to passive collective co-operation, to
active collective co-operation, to overcoming our genetic nature — quite a
You do not have to change: survival is not mandatory.
~ Dr. W. (William) Edwards Deming(1900-10-141993-12-20 age:93)
On Overcoming Resistance to Change
Punish The Crime
I often see a judge throwing the book at
someone who has had an accident while driving drunk. Similarly I see a judge harsh with
someone who has an accident because they did not properly maintain their vehicle. But the
crime is not having an accident. It is driving drunk or failing to maintain a vehicle.
Whether there is an accident is irrelevant. The punishment should be the same for driving
drunk whether or not there is an accident. Judges are too harsh with those who have an
accident and not harsh enough with those who don’t.
When people go to a David Copperfield magic show
they will see the impossible. Yet no one presumes a miracle was involved even if for the
life of them they can’t figure out any possible way Mr. Copperfield could have
pulled the illusion off. Yet when most people hear of some rather minor children’s
magic, like changing the colour of a liquid, third or fourth hand, even via anonymous
reporters, even when there are no details, even when the alleged magic happened hundreds
or thousands of years ago, they are absolutely certain a true miracle occurred. Such is
the immense power of wishful thinking.
Insurance is deceptively advertised as if it magically
protected you from harm. It does no such thing. It merely gives you legal right to
wrestle with the insurance company for some money long after the unpleasant event. It
would make more sense to spend some money on prevention, e.g. air bags in your car, or a
high crash test safety rating vehicle, or having your house wiring and heating updated.
You might move away from an area prone to tsunamis, floods, wars, earthquakes or
industrial accidents. That will actually protect you from harm.
I have often wondered why chiropractors, the
people to correct bone alignment, have a reputation for quackery. Here in BC where all
manner of medicine is covered by universal health insurance, chiropractors are excluded.
No other type of medicine can instantly relieve pain. Perhaps professional envy is the
Most people treat housework as drudgery. They postpone
it and suffer the consequences of living in dirt and less than ideal sanitation, getting
a reputation as a slob not to mention the Herculean task of getting the house ready for
guests. When they do it, all they can think about it what a waste of time it is and how
they would rather be doing something else.
Instead, treat it as a game, where the goal is maximum efficiency — to keep your
place as clean as possible with the least effort. You constantly work at finding ever
more efficient ways to do things. This keeps your interest up. I discovered that for
example, by treating the kitchen floor as if it were a work surface and giving it a
quick wipe with Lysol all purpose spray cleaner each day, it never needs to be washed,
and it is always sparkling clean, though I do rinse it with water from time to time. This
also keeps any dropped food from being ground into the floor. I found that letting the
dishes soak in a pan outside the sink keeps the sink free for other uses. I found that
oven cleaner will instantly clean anything with baked on grease, not just ovens,
especially white ovenware. Experiment with different cleaning tools and chemicals to find
the ones optimal for each job. If you live with someone else, you will find they
automatically are less likely to leave messes than before.
A sociopath is someone who carefully monitors
his victim and does and says whatever it takes to please them as a preliminary to
manipulating them. He is not constrained by morality, social convention or inhibition.
This sounds much like what we could expect from an artificially intelligent silicon
The greatest of all sins is blind obedience.
Without it, the power of an evil man to cause harm is limited to killing perhaps 100
people. With even a million blind followers, he can kill and torture by the tens of
millions. Blind obedience allows not particularly malicious men to commit the most
hideous atrocities and feel profoundly virtuous about them.
The elderly like to tsk tsk at the young over pornography
because, even in fantasy, they find it too absurd to imagine coupling with the perfect
specimens it portrays.
The Biggest Mistake of My Life
I am telling you his story in the
hopes it will help you avoid making the same mistake. It cast a pall over my whole life,
even bigger than contracting HIV. In the early 70s I lived with
my lover whom I was head over heels in love with. I remember thinking to myself with a
mild tinge of regret that I had reached the pinnacle of happiness. It could not get any
better than this. Then one day, out of the blue, he told me that he hated me, had always
hated me, had only pretended to love me the last few years and that I was so horrible
that I should never get involved with anyone else again. I made two errors:
I assumed that since he knew me better than anyone, his assessment must be
I was well aware of my faults, but I was baffled that he could go instantly from
100% positive to 100% negative. I figured it required some
extraordinary explanation such as drugs, devil-worshiping cult or some sort of
His personality change was so drastic I told myself that I should put my life on
hold until he returned to normal. I should dedicate my life to his recovery. I should
patiently wait for him to come back or later resume the same sort of friendly relations I
had with other ex’s. Unfortunately, with a couple of exceptions, he refused all
communication. I had to get all information on how he was doing third hand.
I soon learned he had found someone else, but I still could not see why that would
explain his sudden change in attitude to me. In retrospect, I had seen him dump friends
suddenly for unknown reasons. I also discovered there was a drug component.
My vigil went on for about a dozen years, then gradually dwindled in intensity for the
next twenty. However, I never again let myself trust anyone. I always held back. It was
like a constant note of sadness in my life. Later partners were irritated knowing I was
still pining for him. I had put so much pain into this vigil, it was hard to give it
Oddly, watching the Jerry Springer Show was the most healing. I watched women
surprising their boyfriends or husbands with the news they were dumping them for other
men, then proceeded to humiliate and insult their old boyfriends on national TV. It had
never dawned on me this was anywhere near normal behaviour for the human species.
I think the mechanism goes like this. The dumper feels guilty at leaving, so decides
to vilify the dumpee in her/his mind in order to justify it. It may also be that the
dumper has accumulated a pile of unexpressed resentments. They finally get the courage to
state them only after deciding to leave.
The important thing is, don’t pine! If your lover doesn’t
want you any more, you are not a good match. They won’t be happy even if you do get
back together. Move on!
Why is it women get upset if you leave the toilet
seat up, but don’t mind a bit if you leave the lid down?
I Am An Idea
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.
~ George Orwell(1903-06-251950-01-21 age:46)
We now know that you do not directly experience reality. In a manner
something like a computer’s, you process the little electrical signals coming up
your nerves into your brain. Your brain creates a dream/hallucination loosely based on
this digitally encoded information. Everything you subjectively experience is an
idea/dream/hallucination. So even when you think about yourself, it is still just an
idea. Thus, what you subjectively experience as yourself is
just an idea. It flits in and out of your consciousness just like any other idea. I
expound on this in my essay Experience is a Hallucination.
Why do we humans bring fruit baskets and flowers
to people in hospital? A primitive human has genetic programming that says When I am deathly ill and food is scarce, it is best that I die and thus save
food for my kin who will carry on my genes. If I drag on, we will all end up
dying. To turn off this programming, you must convince the subconscious of the ill
person that it is summer and food is abundant, so there is no need for his sacrifice,
hence the fruit basket and the flowers, which will work even if he does not eat the
fruit. The gifts also say We would rather you lived; we feel in no
danger from you consuming food if you continue your life.
Let us say you buy a $1
lottery ticket each month for a prize of $10 million. To
offer that prize, there must be about 20 million tickets sold each month. You will win on
average once every 1,666,667 years.
The age life on the earth is about 3.5 billion years. If you had been playing since
the first microorganisms formed, you would have won about 2100
The age of the earth is about 4.5 billion years. If you had been playing since the
formation of the earth, you would have won about 2700
The universe is 13.7 billion years old. If you had been playing since the dawn of
time, you would have won about 8220 times.
The periods of peak happiness in my life occur under three
I perform an act of kindness.
Someone performs an act of kindness for me.
I witness someone performing an act of kindness for another.
Scientists have discovered that serotonin levels increase in all three situations,
and also that immune systems strengthen. I makes me wonder why people don’t seek
out kindness with the same assiduousness they seek out money, status, sex and excitement.
It works much better and is some much easier to achieve.
Get Goal of War
The end goal of war is to
force the other guy do something he does not want to do, e.g.
Stop attacking you.
Hand over his land.
Hand over his resources.
Convert to your religion.
The means goal of war is to create as much suffering as
you can for the other guy, per dollar you spend, while avoiding creating even more misery
Commerce has a different ethic. Nobody signs a deal unless both parties believe they
are better off for it, even when one party is benefitting much more than the other.
I spent a lot of time thinking about global problems,
such as global warming, overpopulation, pollution, soil erosion, racism, sexism, species
extinction, nuclear war, biowar, globalisation, runaway corporate power, poverty, George
Bush, torture and atrocities in America, Afghanistan and Iraq… It looks as if
humanity is determined to go extinct. We humans have the motivations of a chimpanzee
wired to the genius to destroy of an Einstein. It is a combination that is causing our
species to prepare for suicide by dozens of means.
I work as hard as I can, given my limited energy, on all fronts simultaneously. It is
hard to notice any beneficial effect at all. What is so frustrating is there are so many
well-funded people working diligently against me to promote global warming, war,
pollution, cruelty, greed, exploitation, overpopulation etc. As you might expect, I
become deeply depressed over this situation.
This is how I pull myself out of it. I go down to the beach and look out over the
water toward Port Angeles. Then I imagine what this scene will look like when man manages
to wipe himself out and possibly much of life on earth along with him. The lights of
Port Angeles will be gone, but the stars will be there, exactly as before. The clouds
will still there. The wind will be there, perhaps whipping a lot harder. There will still
be some rain and the ocean. Once in earth’s history, the land was completely
barren and bit by bit plant life colonised it. No matter how scorched, poisoned or
denuded the continents, plants will eventually work their patient miracle again. Life on
earth has already survived 30 mass extinctions that wiped out more than half the life on
earth. There many not be another technological species for a long while, but that is not
such a terrible thing. We humans sadistically tormented the earth and all its creatures.
We are one of the very few creatures who leave the environment less inviting to our
offspring than we found it.
However, I can’t help but notice that I too am a human with a chimp’s
motivations. I wish I could kill those who oppose me. I am deeply ashamed of being a
human, a member of a failed and insanely self-centered species.
I see only one plausible rescue, coming from artificial intelligence, smarter than
man, capable of saving us from our own stupidity. That’s why I have put so much
effort into the Java glossary.
It is not nearly the Hail Mary you might imagine. I wrote a FØRTRAN program
myself in the 1970s for BC Hydro to design high voltage
transmission lines called Optow, that was more intelligent than humans. One day it was
laughably stupid. The next, with just a tiny bit more tinkering, it was 10% smarter than a person and instantly put 50 engineers with masters
degrees and PhDs out of work. Humans are not good an estimating intelligence progress. They underestimate it when it is far from human and overestimate it when it is near.
Book referral for The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence
recommend book⇒The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
If computers don’t rescue us, you can console yourself with this thought. Humans
are something like goats. They leave the environment in ruins. The sooner humans go
extinct, the better for planet earth. The fewer species will be lost and the faster earth
If you watch the Maury Show, you will see harpies screeching at men
they have slept with and men shouting back obscenities and insults. The women demand
money to support their children. The men contest that they are indeed the fathers.
I would imagine any impressionable boy viewing this spectacle would never want to
touch a girl, much less screw her, knowing in nine months she could turn into such a
fiend from hell and he could be tied financially to this venom-spitting hellcat for
20 years. If I had any choice in the matter I would stick to gay
sex or sex with very low risk for pregnancy.
Yet even the best abstinence education does not work. It actually increases risk of
transmission. You have to teach people safe sex. You can’t contain hormones, just
I enjoyed a magical experience. I watched a
circles . Much of it was just irritating, flakes spouting pseudoscientific guff about
vibrations, frequencies and matrices, but the photographs taken from airplanes of the
crop circles themselves were utterly spellbinding. These are works of art with more
appeal for me than anything I have ever seen painted on canvas. Each one was so original
and so perfect without a needless stroke. The recent British crop circles are intricate
jewels, some 700 feet across. Some might almost be described as
iridescent the way they changed as you viewed them from different angles.
Just who is/are the artist(s)? Circa 1990, a couple of men
claimed to have created over 1000 of them in three months, but
never demonstrated producing even one. For many, this closed the mystery. My partner
figures the artist is a team of talented young people working for the British military
testing out secret technology. Others believe the designers are not human. The circles
are well above the quality of graffiti or pranks. Whoever is doing them is an artist of
the highest order. Just looking at them induces a mild euphoria. According to that
documentary, the crop circles appear suddenly in the middle of the night, apparently in
as little as five minutes, yet even though there have been over ten thousand of them, no
one has managed to photograph one being formed. One other odd feature is the stalks are
not broken, but bent and the wheat or other grain continues to grow unharmed. There is a
new religion growing around them believing them to be messages from a benign alien
I don’t know who made them. I am not about to make up my mind from only one
video made by true believers. However, as artistic works, they impressed the heck out of
me. There are not your grandfather’s crop circles. This is something you want to
see on a big screen.
advertises on TV for an exercise video. The announcer proclaims if you don’t lose up to
25.40 cm(10 in)
you can request a refund. That, of course, is no guarantee at all. The only people who
qualify are those that lose more than and more than
25.40 cm(10 in). If by some fluke that
happened, the customer would have no reason to request a refund. Even if the product
caused you to gain , the guarantee would still not apply since
losing still counts as losing up to . So
there is no guarantee at all. Yet the ad stresses the no-risk guarantee over and over and
over as if it were real. Whenever you hear the phrase up to in an advertisement,
guaranteed they are trying to deceive you.
FOX sued in the supreme court for the right to make up the news. They argued and won
that it is entertainment and need not have any connection to reality. Yet people, out of
old habits, still watch FOX news imagining they are hearing some approximation to the
There was a time when scamming was the province of door to door salesmen and con
artists. Today it is standard business practice. Royal Roads business college teaches
students how to be unethical in business. There is no longer even a pretence of
This is not all that new. I had my first taste of corporate scamming when I was five
and saved up $0.50 (four weeks allowance) for a submarine
that dives and plunges The picture on the back of the
Kellogg’s cornflakes box showed it to be at least a foot long producing a
prodigious wake with two astonished children in the background for scale. When it finally
arrived it was about four inches long and did not plunge at
all. It would tilt on its side and emit a bubble like a tiny fart. Undaunted, some years
later I sent a dollar to Kellogg’s for a pumped water rocket that would go 100 feet
in the air. This time they kept my dollar and said Sorry, we
don’t deliver to Canada. even though I got the offer off a box of Canadian
Kellogg’s corn flakes. I still have not forgiven them. I always buy some other
If you watch a movie, do the characters have free will?
Of course, not; every frame is fixed in celluloid. Yet this does not become obvious until
you watch the movie a second time. When you first watch a movie, the characters appear
free to choose their actions and fates. Yet the freedom was all an illusion. Yet this
illusion of freedom is completely comfortable, without any feeling of restraint, at least
the first time you watch the movie. So why are we humans so distressed by the notion that
choice may be merely calculation with a little randomness thrown in? We humans are so
puffed with vanity we demand that choice be something unfathomable and mystical,
something only humans can do.
Whenever I look back on my life, it seems to me my choices were inevitable given what
I knew at the time and what my hormones were doing.
I have a sense of confinement if somebody or something stops me from doing what I
believe would work out best. My freedom is not in the least impinged if the correct
course of action is blindingly obvious, when it is something I definitely want to do, no
matter how inevitable my choice. The word free has too many
meanings and has too many emotional connotations. It befuddles people. When you have a
free choice it really means the right to take the option you
want, not whether there was some doubt about the choice.
My Mom used to say if only are the two saddest words in
the English language. The words represent a vain wishful thinking that you knew back then
what you know now. You didn’t. You couldn’t. If you went back in time limited
by the same knowledge you had back then, you would do the exact same stupid things all
over again. The purpose of regret is to remind you avoid repeating mistakes, not to
torture you endlessly for ones you already made.
What if you and a friend watched a rerun of a game show on TV. You have seen the
rerun; your friend has not. The contestant has to make a random choice, box A gets him a
car, box B gets him a cabbage. You watch him constrained to
pick box B. Your friend sees him making a free choice. So free will is in the eye of the
beholder. It depends on how much knowledge of the future you have.
Microbes attempt to consume you all your life long, then finally
at death you surrender to them. Perhaps an analogy to dying would be the demolition of a
house. It simply is no longer there, other than in memory. Many of my friends and
relatives have died. There is not the tiniest sign any of them attempted to communicate
with the living or performed any deeds after they died. They are simply gone, as gone as
my old house that was demolished to make way for an even bigger dwelling.
I am told people often die smiling, as though the moment of death is a pleasant
release from the pains and indignities of sickness or old age.
To me, life is like a roller coaster ride. The hypothesis that it might be
never-ending is a nightmare. I find it odd that other people like to make up the most
elaborate and fanciful stories about death where they are rewarded for every good deed
and their enemies ferociously punished for every transgression. What is even odder is
they treat these conjectures as literal truth with nothing at all to base them on. The
impenetrable wall that death creates allows wishful speculation to have a free reign and
create iron-clad certainty.
I live in a sensory universe. I don’t
experience reality directly; I experience only my sensory hallucinations of it. When I smell tobacco smoke, for example,
what actually happens is I experience my cellular level negative opinion of tobacco. I
live in a world of looks, feels and smells, emotions, likes and dislikes, not of objects
and atoms. My experience bears the same sort of relationship to reality as does a
painting. How I experience reality is my artistic creation.
House is my favourite TV show. It is about an arrogant,
sarcastic, overly candid doctor who is brilliant at diagnosing obscure diseases. You
might have ignored it, since it in on FOX. The dialog is brilliant, the characters
complex, the plots surprising. Even though the show mocks its own theatrical conventions,
I find myself caring about the characters as if they were real people. It is the event
each week I most look forward to. You might call it TV for adults.
In the 1980s I became interested
in isolation tanks after having talked with Dr. John Cunningham Lilly, the dolphin
researcher. I floated in warm water, laden with Epsom salts, in the dark. I floated so
high in the water, I could even fall asleep safely. There is no light or sound or any
other distraction. I became aware of my thoughts, which seemed like some crazed AM radio
blaring away with the volume turned up to nine. I became aware of how inane and mindless
most of my thoughts were, just jabbering. I tried desperately to shut off the racket. The
only thing that I found that worked was listening. I would try to hear faint sounds
coming through the muffled walls. The internal voices would shut up for a few seconds to
let me hear. You don’t need an isolation tank to do this. Just go somewhere quiet
and listen intently to the quietest sounds.
Me In a Nutshell
My purpose is to
convince people to stop doing things that interfere with other people’s long term
Red Light Sheep
In Chicago, when drivers stop at a red light,
they lean on their horns until the light turns green. A friend asked a cab driver why he
was doing this. He replied, Because it is a red light. I
wonder how the custom got started. Perhaps a driver’s horn got stuck once and lo
the light turned green. He discovered that by honking his horn long enough, he could make
the light turn green. He was reenacting the ancient ritual of pigeon
superstition, discovering for example that dancing would eventually make it rain,
or that praying hard enough would eventually make the seeds sprout.
Even pigeons do it in lab experiments. They peck for pellets and one time one happens
to be standing on one leg when its get some food. Thereafter it stands on one leg to peck
for pellets, like a superstitious gambler.
Scientists have told us what we need to do to
ensure the survival of the human race to deal with the big problems like global warming,
nuclear war, destruction of the environment, overpopulation, the end of oil, soil
erosion… What stops us from taking action?
Corporate thinking: the next quarter profit is more important than long term
Religious wishful thinking: imagining that if man plays helpless, God will
eventually take pity and make it all better.
Selfishness: people are unwilling to make any sacrifices of immediate pleasure for
their children’s or even their own survival. All that matters is immediate
Secular wishful thinking: ignoring the best science and believing any crank or
corporate shill who will tell you there is nothing to worry about.
Man imagines he is the most intelligent of species, but he is the only one I know of
that is trapped in such fatal delusions.
We’re All Going To Die
I worry quite a bit about global
problems: global warming, nuclear war, destruction of the environment, overpopulation,
religious insanity, the end of oil, soil erosion… It seems unlikely we will manage
to deal with all this in anything like a satisfactory way. However, we are all going to
die anyway. Nobody gets out of life on earth alive. So the premature deaths of billions
of humans is not quite as tragic as it first seems. The happy part is, if nearly everyone
is killed by global stupidity, most of my enemies will die too — the rude snot on
the Internet, George Bush, the truck drivers who ran me off the road, the people who have
stolen or vandalised my bicycles, the soldiers who tortured kids, the snotty bureaucrats,
the people who leave trash at mountain lakes… Earth will recover in a few thousand
millennia, having shrugged off humanity like an infestation of pubic lice.
The Last Lap
There is a period near the end of your life I call
the last lap where you recognise it is all downhill from here
on and that you won’t be starting any major new projects and you will become
increasingly dependent on others. When my Dad went through this, he expressed regret he
had accomplished so little in his life, even through by the usual standards he was very
successful. My Mom, after a lifetime as a tyrant, suddenly wanted love and affection from
her family. I am like my Dad, feeling great shame I did not do something worthy of Nobel
prize. Everyone tells you, your life is over so quickly, it seems like the blink of an
eye. It is as if you are a teenager and one day you wake up the next day and there is an
old man staring back at you from the mirror. If you plan to do something grand or even
adventurous, you had better get on with it early in life and dedicate the necessary
amounts of time and effort. Life is like a deadline. It seems you have all the time in
the world, then suddenly the deadline is upon you.
Dealing With Bullies
Bullies at school can make your life
hell. They have no pity. They usually operate in gangs. They will pursue you relentlessly
for years in their sadism. I have found only one way to deal with them. Philosophically I
don’t like this, but I found nothing else works. You must plot a surprise attack on
the ring leader. The attack must be extremely painful and barely within the law in terms
of the violence. To cover yourself from legal reprisals, the attack must be planned to
coincide with an attack on you first. Don’t hold back. Use every ounce of your
strength to cause maximal pain and injury. Holding something like a roll of quarters in
your hand will let you break his jaw even with a roundhouse swing. Study the various
techniques even tiny women can use to disable a rapist. Bullies usually surround you and
strike from behind. It is fair to use subterfuge, possibly feigning weakness, to lure
your target within range. Half measures will just make things worse. I wonder if this is
also the best way to deal with international bullies who steal natural resources instead
of lunch money.
The Man-Eating Clam
I have a fantasy, to find the empty shell of one of
those enormous man-eating clams and have it lined with
Tempurpedic foam and upholstered in velvet. Then when the world gets too much, I climb
inside, assume the fetal position and pull the shell almost closed.
The sexual adventures I remember most clearly
are the ones that didn’t quite make it, but that looked as if they almost could
have been. Perhaps they leave the most room for fantasy as to how wonderfully they could
have turned out.
Have you noticed how Madison Avenue has embraced Zen. They use the word so sell
everything from bath salts to office furniture. Have you noticed how when advertisers
want to show a spiritually enlightened person, they pick a Buddhist monk. Buddhism
symbolise rationality, calm and beneficence. Isn’t it odd that a culture has
abandoned the symbols of virtue of its own religion.
Our daily interactions run in ruts. Consider
breaking the pattern. Let’s say you go for breakfast and the waitress says
How would you like your eggs cooked? Instead of the usual pat
answer consider the following:
Stare stunned as if you had been asked a profound philosophical question. Pause
then reply, I don’t know… Do you?
Look puzzled. Reflect a second. Say I don’t know how you
cook eggs. Ask the chef. Surely he must know.
Look mildly panicked and embarrassed, as if you were an alien and have just been
uncovered not understanding some facet of human culture every human should know. Say
please enumerate some plausible possible answers, then do a
Starman gesture and pick boiled and add after a pause,
in water, please.
It’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium
A common question a nurse
asks to determine if a patient is disoriented is What day of the
week is it? But how does the patient know? 107
years ago, the weekly rhythm was punctuated with mandatory Sunday church attendance.
Today, it is punctuated by the Tuesday night House TV show. Whenever FOX changes its
schedule, or throws in an extra Monday night showing, thousands of patients are
A New Colour
I have always wondered if technology some day will
figure out a way to let me experience a totally new colour, one I have never seen before.
I don’t mean just a slightly different shade of green, but some new colour as
different from all the colours of the rainbow as yellow is from red and green.
Imagine someone growing up in an environment where everyone protected him from ever
seeing the colour red. Then in some special ceremony, it would be presented for the first
Emperors of old tried to impress their subjects that way. British royalty forbade
anyone but themselves from wearing purple. Chinese emperors forbade anyone but themselves
from wearing yellow.
Are pitted olives olives with pits
or olives with pits removed? The can states that the olives may contain pits, so
even the manufacturer is unsure.
War is a special state of grace where all manner of
crimes are excused automatically, including murder, torture, rape, genocide, wasteful
spending, squashing civil rights and destruction of the environment. The main difference
between war and peace is our tolerance for criminal action on the part of both ourselves
and others. So when someone excuses murder because there is a war
on, he is merely expressing a tautology, not really telling you anything.
Turning Women On
If you really want to turn a woman on, as opposed to
turning yourself on, try washing windows or cleaning behind the fridge, or whatever that
chore is she nags you about. And don’t forget the power of frequent hugs, foot
massages and backrubs.
Big Picture Math
The big question is why is there anything at all?
matter, space, time, life. Then you start wondering why is the universe the way it is. It
seems conceivable that the universe could have worked many other ways, but oddly, in all
of them, mathematics would be the same. The universe could work by different mathematical
rules, but the constraints on what is mathematically true would be the same.
Pythagoras’s theorem would be true in all possible universes. So mathematics is
even more fundamental than existence.
The Purpose of Life
I once asked the cosmos What is the purpose of life? To my surprise, I got an answer back,
complete with impressive special effects. The answer was There is no
purpose. You have to create one. The universe suddenly struck me as a forlorn
place. The cosmos continued It has to be that way when you consider
how much variety there is in the universe. No one purpose could possibly suit everyone.
Just because you get to choose it does not mean it is not a perfectly valid purpose worth
pursuing. At first this feels frightening and empty, but if you think a little longer, it
gives you freedom. You can put your heart into a purpose you choose much more than
someone else’s purpose handed to you. It was extremely ‘kind’ of the
universe to trust you this way. Rejoice in your cosmic freedom.
Let’s say you were a Bushman living in the Kalahari
desert in a tribe of 20 people. If you figured out a way to scarf a hundred times as many
mogongo nuts as anyone else and at the same time contribute no labour to collecting them,
would you do it? If you did, your fellows would likely chide you for your greed and sloth
until you relented. But in North America, people aspire to do this very sort of thing as
the purpose of their lives. What is even stranger is that North
Americans who succeed in this con have the highest social status.
Do screensavers run when you turn off the monitor?
It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to
do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that
there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right
thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing,
there will be no result.
~ Mahatma Gandhi(1869-10-021948-01-30 age:78)
Consider a dandelion. It creates seeds and the winds blow them away. Then
nothing happens. But come spring, some of the seeds sprout. This is very much the way
social change works. You do your lectures, essays, demonstrations, letters to the editor,
websites, blogs, newsgroup posts, TV shows, radio shows etc. You don’t fret over
the effect of any individual action. This is how I worked on gay lib starting back in
1969. When I started, everyone was opposed to me, even the gays
at first. I knew it was utterly hopeless, but it felt right to work for gay civil rights
just the same. Magically, within three years, we had the first gay rights legislation.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
~ Mahatma Gandhi(1869-10-021948-01-30 age:78)
Life is like a cafeteria, where sometimes the best thing on the
menu is Lo Pi Rat.
Man is the kudzu vine of the animal kingdom. We pretend not
to notice out of team loyalty.
You once held a Guinness Book of World Records type
distinction. What was it? Everyone on earth had their time in the sun at being the
titleholder for a short while.
As you get older, one by one you have to
accept the fact you will never climb another mountain, have mad passionate sex with a 20
year old, or even run up a flight of stairs. The temptation is immense to imagine some
magic will let you relive the experiences of your youth. You find yourself pondering the
silliest religious notions of heaven that have no evidence at all for them.
Similarly, it is hard not to lie to reassure a child crying over the loss of loved
relative, friend or pet.
These are not innocent lies. They rob the young of realising how precious those short
years of youth are.
I think; therefore I am.
~ René Descartes(15961650 age:54)
Descartes became the father of animal cruelty. The flip side of what he said is that
if you don’t think, in the rational mathematical sense, then you don’t really
exist. This provides the excuse for animal cruelty. The Christian view was that animals
(and slaves for that matter) do not reason and do have souls,
so they are not truly conscious and thus they only appear to suffer. Man will believe
the silliest bullshit to salve his conscience. Descartes was fully aware that humans and
animals had almost identical nervous systems. However, he ignored that and instead
swallowed the Catholic doctrine of the soul.
What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or
perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a
more rational, as well as more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or
even a month old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is
not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law
refuse its protection to any sensitive being? The time will come when humanity will
extend its mantle over everything which breathes…
~ Jeremy Bentham(1748-02-051832-06-06 age:84)
Principles of Morals and Legislation
Of course, neither of these authors were aware that crows, parrots and dolphins could
do mathematical reasoning.
If nearly everyone could remember events from a past
life it would never occur to us to wonder how that was possible, or whether these
memories were just imagination. Instead, we would wonder why some people did not have
If I Had To Live My Life Over
My life had periods of relative hell
punctuated by periods of bliss.
Preschool was reasonably pleasant, except for my Mom’s violence and sitting
at the dinner table with a strap forcing me to eat things I found disgusting like milk,
carrots and turnips, gagging them down.
My school years were a nightmare dealing with gangs of bullies at school and my
Mom’s unpredictable violence at home. One day she smashed in all my fish tanks
with a coke bottle. I counted the days until I was old enough to leave home.
Age 15 to 21 I made myself miserable fretting that I was gay and doing nothing
about it. I was head over heals with my straight friend.
Age 21 to 27 was the golden age of my life when I came out, made tons of friends,
did my gay lib and became relatively famous. I remember thinking that my life was
perfect and I could not imagine anything better.
The next years were hell as I pined and pined and pined for my lover Jimmy who
dumped me. I pined even when I was involved again. I also worried about him because his
personality had changed so drastically overnight.
When I was 38 I had another short golden age as new love for Shannon made me
temporarily forget Jimmy.
Then from age 39 to 69,
has overshadowed my life.
So what would I do differently?
I would have phoned the operator and asked for help with my Mom. She would have
been mortified. At the time I was too afraid of
I did manage to get two bullies off my back by hurting them so badly they never
touched me again. I would plot to get each one alone and similarly hurt them.
I would have smuggled some ordinary clothes to school to avoid the monkey suit (a British boarding school uniform) that was at the root of
most of the ridicule.
I could have tried to find other gay people my own age rather than staying so fixed
on my straight friend.
The biggie is realizing when a lover leaves it means he is not the one. Find
someone who is more compatible. Even if the guy who jilted me came back, there would be
endless tension. There is absolutely no point going after someone who does not show
interest in return. Even if you were successful, it would take constant effort to keep
the relationship going. I also learned that it is completely normal for an ex to change
suddenly from loving to totally rejecting. It is not a sign of pathology. No pining!
would be the watchword of my second try at life.
When I was in San Francisco I should have checked out whatever
education was available. I dismissed AIDS
as hysteria or the result of drug and alcohol abuse since the VD (Venereal Disease)
officials in Canada had ignored it.
Life is so much shorter than I imagined. The passage of time accelerates as you get
older. I would have done a lot more world traveling when I was young. My adventures in
Europe and Indonesia seem to fill about 10% of my life
memories even though they took only a few weeks of my life.
Probably more than any person I know, I tend to hang on
to past loves, even when doing that is extremely painful. Perhaps I don’t let go
because to give up the pain would be to give up the vestiges of the connection.
Most religions presume some sort of after
death judgement and punishment. There is also a natural punishment the universe hands out
while you are still alive. It requires no supernatural power for its administration.
Consider, for example, what happens to soldiers who enlist to kill people:
They are first stripped of their will in boot camp.
They live under harsh conditions.
They are shot at and perhaps killed, maimed or tortured.
Consider what happens to people to accumulate excessive wealth:
They can’t trust anyone. Anyone nice to them is probably just scheming to
take their money.
They live in fear of attack, blackmail or kidnapping.
Natural punishment seems just to care about what you do, not your rationalisations
for doing it. It does not care if you joined the army to defend your country against a
nuclear attack or you joined because you figured it would give you the opportunity to
rape children without interference.
Parents Never Sleep
My Dad took the family camping to Kalamalka Lake in
the Okanagan of BC Canada. It was a hot day and my Dad lay down on a cot in the sun and
fell asleep. We five kids gathered round to watch. We had never seen my Dad asleep before
during the day. I noted that he looked like a dying
butterfly. Soon my three sisters and my little brother were in tears at
Dad’s pending death. The noise woke him up and he asked what was the matter. When
we told him, he was quite angry that we would not even once is his life let him relax. My
sister told him about the dying butterfly. I don’t
think he ever forgave me.
Cuban Missile Crisis
In 1962, Kennedy and
Khrushchev were threatening nuclear war. I was 14 at the time. I was so sure this was the
end, I did not do my homework, something I had never done before. The next morning the
newly installed nuclear attack sirens went off. We went to the radio to get details. It
was dead. We kids all started crying We are all going to die!
Dad was angry with us for making such a fuss. I figured this was it, so I made by bed,
and went out to sit on a giant granite rock in our front yard at 845 Pyrford Road in West
Vancouver, BC Canada. There was a sweeping view of Vancouver harbour. It was a clear
sunny day. I would have a great seat for the end of the world. I waited and waited and
Circa 1967, I thought to myself, what if this happens for
real? Do I want to be tormenting myself with thoughts of why I did not do anything to at
least try to prevent the nuclear war. I decided to do something that would be
sufficiently drastic that I would be able to content myself with the thought I had all
that could reasonably be expected. So I gave
to the fledgling Greenpeace for their anti-nuclear protests. This was a large sum for a
kid putting himself through university in the days when room and board were
a month. I got a letter back telling me it was the largest donation they had ever
received. I has occurred to me since that my donation might have been the horseshoe nail
that made the difference between Greenpeace fading away or becoming what it is today.
For want of a nail a shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe a horse was lost,
for want of a horse a rider was lost,
for want of a rider an army was lost,
for want of an army a battle was lost,
for want of a battle the war was lost,
for want of the war the kingdom was lost,
and all for the want of a little horseshoe nail.
~ Benjamin Franklin(1706-01-171790-04-17 age:84)
There was a German Christian who lived in the
1900s in Stadtsteinach in Germany named Gottfried Johannes
Müller. Some called him a saint. He arranged homes for orphans around the world. He
suggested the key to transforming earth from hell to heaven lay in tiny acts of
compassion, for the lowest of the low, e.g. even earthworms, done in secret.
You must behave as if your every act, even the smallest, impacted a thousand people for
a hundred generations. Because it does.
~ Gottfried Johannes Müller(1914-04-102009-09-26 age:95)
If I knew what I know now and I had my life to live over
again, I would not have the courage.
I think I am getting better at relationships as
I get older. Here are my rules:
We are primates. Primates groom each other as their primary social interaction.
Nothing beats a good back scratch or massage.
Give your partner what he/she asks for, not what you think they ought to want.
If your partner asks you not to do something, refrain from doing it, even if
you think it is inconsequential. They are deadly serious.
Many years ago I worked with Andy, a mild mannered little guy
who told me that his great dream was someday to write software to control nuclear
submarines. I was shocked that he would have fantasies of destroying the planet. But to
him, they were just giant toys he would be able to make plunge and dive. I watched a Nova
program about the contest between Boeing and Lockheed to get the
F35 jet fighter contract. Not once did anyone acknowledge what these aircraft were for.
The engineers called them transport vehicles. All they were
interested in were the propulsion and control systems. They never once mentioned their
ability carry weapons. They carefully blocked their purpose out of their minds. They
never questioned the need for a titanium bulkhead that took 6 months to machine. Just
whom did they imagine these fighters would be used against, aliens?
The Fermi Paradox
The famous physicist Fermi noted that if there were
even the slimmest chance of a technological civilisation evolving, their presence should
be visible throughout the universe. Instead there is nothing but a great silence. What
are we to make of that?
It may be very unusual for technological civilisations to evolve. Whales, dolphins and
elephants have brains larger than ours. Squids have brains 20
times larger. They evolved superior intelligence to ours, but lacked the hands necessary
to let them evolve technology.
I think the answer is simple. Mankind evolved too much power too fast. We will soon
destroy ourselves in one of a thousand ways with that power. See my essay on
mankind’s extinction. Technology develops too easily and
brings on changes too quickly. Any species going down that route soon destroys itself and
takes most of a planet with it.
Nobody Knows You Are a Dog
In 1993, Peter Steiner did a famous cartoon for the New
Yorker of a dog sitting at a computer terminal, saying to his friend On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. It’s true. Unless
you tell them, people don’t know how old you are, how good looking you are, how
sexy your voice is, where you are from or even your gender. I discovered something
disturbing. In person, people usually treat me with exaggerated respect. On the Internet,
they treat me with contempt. It dawned on me that respect the may be largely because of
my great height, which is not visible on the net.
Where Are You?
Kick back on the couch and wiggle your toes. Just
where is that sensation of your toes rubbing together? For me it is about 6 feet
away. The sensation is located in 3D space at my toes. It is not just that I know the
sensation is coming from my toes; the experience of the sensation also is located there.
I normally think of myself as being like a little homunculus hiding behind my eyes. Yet
that cannot be. In my ability to experience sensation, I am way out there down by my toes
too. If my brain can create that illusion, (it is an illusion since, presumably, the
actual subjective experience occurs inside my skull) why not a sensation subjectively
located outside my body? This is what happens to people with phantom
Scientists make a cosmic assumption, the
laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe as they are here. They make this
assumption without having done any visiting, just studying the light coming from other
parts of the universe. Yet, oddly, humanity makes the assumption that this is not true of
biology, a branch of carbon chemistry. Man assumes, until proven otherwise, that life
exists only on earth. Why the asymmetry? It is caused by religious pride. Man wants to
believe He is the apple of God’s eye and that the entire universe was God’s
gift to Him alone, despite all the evidence we are nothing out of the ordinary. If this
idea intrigues you, read more.
We usually think of religious
tolerance as a virtue, but it is not always. The virtue is leaving others alone to choose
their rituals to connect with the mysteries of the universe. The vice is offering no
resistance to people behaving abominably in the name of religion, spreading superstition,
hatred of minority groups, violence, condoning theft of land, touting the divine
superiority of their religious group. It is cowardice to accept bribes from the demented
Reverend Sun Myung Moon to crown him the Messiah in the capitol building, not religious
tolerance. The Pat Robertson’s and Jerry Falwell’s of the world use religious
lies to meddle in politics. It is thus fair game to fight back as their supposedly holy
authority. Creationists meddle is science spreading disinformation. They must be
tolerated no more than any other flavour of liar.
The Wisdom of Old Age
As I get older, I wonder what all the fuss was
about in my younger years. Part of the change in attitude is experience, but mostly it is
just lower hormones. Most of the things I used to torment myself over now seem relatively
unimportant. The notion there is one and only true love for you is the stupidest,
cruelest idea ever perpetuated. If that person has already had a relationship with you
and decided to leave, no matter what the circumstances, what more proof do you need they
are not a suitable partner? Get on with finding a more compatible one! There is
no need to complain about either of you just because you did not mesh well over time. I
stayed stubbornly stuck for decades because I could not believe my exceedingly loving
partner could dump me with such sudden violence. There had to be some explanation and
once explained, all could be put right and I could enjoy the same friendly relationship I
had with my other ex’s. Gradually, I learned his behaviour did not need an
explanation; it is an ordinary part of human nature and relationship transitions. Now I
feel silly, embarrassed and regretful to have wasted so much time hanging onto the past.
The Human Family
Scientists who study mitochondrial
tell us the human species is only 7000 generations old, a baby as species go.
150,000 years ago, we all sprang from a common grandmother who
looked something like this. This means
everyone on planet earth is literally a long lost relative. It also means we all have
black ancestors, which will drive the racists crazy.
Tommy Douglas lead the New Democratic Party for
many years. They never once came to power in Canada federally. Mr. Douglas himself twice
lost his seat in parliament. The Liberal party stole all his best ideas. The newspapers
reviled him as a Communist.
Yet now it is clear to everyone, he shaped Canada more than any other politician.
Without him Canada would not have universal medical care, old age pensions or
children’s allowance. Canadian identity is based around these social programs that
see everyone is cared for.
The biggest problem with democracy is the people who
claw their way to top are in it primarily for power over others. These are the people you
can least trust to make wise decisions for the common good.
Some Christians pray with fingers tightly intertwined. This says I beg of you. I beseech you. Do things my way. I really do
know better than you what is best for all concerned.
Some Christians pray with palms together. This says I am
holier than my fellows, therefore you God, owe it to me to do things
Some new agers pray with palms up. This says I am entitled to
your bounty God. Give me my due.
Muslims grovel to pray. This says Please don’t beat me.
I claim you are merciful with my tongue, but in my heart I believe you are
In my dreams, white-frocked nuns pray with hands up and palms forward. This says
I surrender. Let me be not so clueless and do it your
The Fundamental Sadness
There is small south American catfish who
sits on my desk in an aquarium. One of three things must all but inevitably happen:
One day I will go to feed him and will discover he is dead.
One day I won’t come to feed him because I am dead.
One day we will both be killed simultaneously.
Most people don’t particularly enjoy their lives. It
just one damn thing after another, yet they don’t kill themselves. This is not
great surprise given Darwinian selection. However, what is odd, is that when you look at
the trials people have to endure, it bears little on whether they kill themselves. The
lives of our ancestors were extremely nasty compared with ours, as are those of people in
the third world, yet they are less likely than we to suicide. What is going on? Has the
fear of punishment subsided? Are tools of painless suicide just more readily available.
Have expectations on life risen to ridiculous levels from a constant onslaught of movies
and TV? Are people now just more isolated than they were before, now that people
don’t need to look out for each other’s physical well being as much? People
no longer feel part of their societies.
Only intelligent species whales, dolphins and humans suicide. There need to be three
factors for a human suicide:
Desperation or acute intolerable mental pain sufficient to overcome fear. It takes
an act of courage comparable to jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. This is
why antidepressants can trigger suicide. They give people the energy to carry through.
Death is a great unknown and cultural myths promise terrible supernatural torments.
Those fears must be overcome to suicide.
A belief that conditions could not possibly change sufficiently to make life
A belief that others would be better off, or would not particularly object if the
suicide were accomplished.
When I read biographies, two things stand out.
The lives of great people are filled with even more emotional distress than
Every famous person was at some point ridiculed by those in authority. Yet they
persisted anyway. They did not have the good sense to give up.
I suppose then, for people like me who desperately yearn to leave some magnificent
legacy to our species, tragedy and ridicule should be encouraging signs.
Whenever I see a handsome young gay man
I think to myself, I wish I too could be young and cute. It would be
so great to have everyone chase after me. Yet I notice that young gay men
don’t enjoy having everyone chase after them. They find it a nuisance. So likely,
so would I if I were magically transformed. As an older gay man, I am left in peace.
Perhaps I could learn to appreciate my state, through the eyes of someone young, cute or
Even since I was a little boy I have puzzled over why
mirrors reverse left and right but not top and bottom. Obviously mirrors have no
directional preference. It must be something in our language that makes up/down different
The top of the image is aligned with the top of your body. The left side of the image
is aligned with to the left side of your body. So, the mirror is not reversing left and
right. Yet it is reversing the writing on your T-shirt, left and right, but not top and
You can think of mirrors as letting you see the writing from inside the tee shirt.
Yet, why should that reverse left and right, but not top and bottom?
Imagine a T-shirt with writing in various orientations. The writing always reverses.
So it is not a left-right thing after all, but the handedness of the entire image that
In the movie the Matrix, Morpheus offers Neo a choice. He
can take the red pill and see the truth for himself, or he can take the blue pill and
return, comfortably unaware, to the illusion of the Matrix. There he can live out his
life oblivious to and undisturbed by the truth.
The Internet is the red pill. TV is the blue bill.
We humans are utterly convinced,
without leaving planet earth, that physics and chemistry are identical throughout the
universe. We humans are also utterly convinced, without leaving planet earth, that
biology is unique to earth. If anyone suggests that somewhere in those trillions of
planets there could be other life or intelligent species, we call for a white coat or a
tin foil hat. We persist in this belief even though we know primitive life appeared on
earth almost the instant it cooled. What’s so special about earth?
The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature,
the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous
convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.
~ Dr. Stephen Jay Gould(1941-09-102002-05-20 age:60)
Our Sun has enough fuel to burn about 9 billion
years. We humans appeared about half way through the life span. If we humans somehow
destroy life to the point it has to start over from scratch, there may not be time for
another intelligent species to evolve before the Sun goes nova. However, if we simply
wipe ourselves out and leave some other mammals, there will be no problem at all.
Fear of Dying
It is not death, it is dying that alarms me.
~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne(15331592 age:59)
Having lived so long getting used to the threat of imminent death from
HIV, I think
I am less afraid of death and dying than most people. The fear is all rather silly. Most
people never even get to experience dying. They go to sleep or go unconscious first.
People have no trouble accepting that when plants and animals die, that’s the end
of them as individuals. Their bodies are cycled. It is vanity or wishful thinking to
imagine something grander must necessarily be the fate of human animals.
Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I
fear that which cannot exist when I do?
~ Epicurus(341 BC270 BC age:71)
In the future, I will put a layer of nanobots on my bare
feet and glide around like a jet-propelled ice skater, without clothes, over the shopping
In the future, I will be able to wake up a totally different person if I choose.
In the future, I will wonder how all the people back in 2002
managed to endure the primitive technology, especially medicine.
In the future, I will be so intimately connected to everyone else, the boundaries
between me, us and them will blur.
In the future, I will wonder why it took so long to abolish war, hunger, pollution,
poverty, disease, overpopulation, superstition, torture, cruelty to other species and
slavery, when it was so abundantly clear how undesirable these things were to nearly
Mother Theresa and The Billionaire
A billionaire paid a secret visit
to Mother Theresa. He asked Mother, how much should I give?.
She replied, Give until it hurts.. He replied, But that would be too painful! Mother T. said, Bill,
Pay attention. I said until.
If you are gifted, you will have a more difficult time
giving up ego. Because you have so much evidence that you would do a better job that
anyone else (including God) of managing your affairs, God sometimes conspires a
catastrophic collapse where you simply cannot cope on your own and you learn, despite
your many special gifts, that you are just like everyone else. What a relief!
Will things ever stop getting worse? Any time you
choose, start looking for evidence they are turning around, not perfect,
just turning around.
The Cause of Alcoholism
Alcoholics imagine that the only time God
will talk to them is when they are roaring drunk.
When a decision seems impossibly hard to make
it is because you will do both — perhaps sequentially, perhaps simultaneously.
For every 34.2 years that you
do nothing to help, you are 100% responsible for allowing one
man, woman or child in the third world to die. For every year you do nothing, you are
only 2.9% responsible.
Ending hunger, protecting the environment and eliminating war are big problems.
Logically you should need to shoulder only 1/6,500,000,000th of the problem. However,
because so many people are so discouraged, they are doing nothing at all, you will have
to shoulder 20/6,500,000,000th of the problem. Do you think you can handle it?
The Stock Market
The stock market is a 3-card Monte, buffalo jump, zero-sum
Remain calm; buy low; sell high.
Take advantage of your opponents’ weakness at estimating.
Tip your advisors.
Not To Worry
The freedom to compose the life story of planet earth is
only granted to those who have demonstrated responsible behaviour. There is no need to
worry about this power being given to maniacs (like your sometimes self). You may still
participate, just not control.
Even if you don’t like the insects or the
smell of a rainforest, it is very reassuring to know it is there.
Definition of Extinction
Extinction is planetary genocide.
Definition of Love
Love is giving someone the power to break your heart and trusting they will not use
Why am I so alone?
This is the wrong question.
Ask instead where is the other lonely person
I’m supposed to pair up with?
When you are manic, ideas press so hard and fast on
your consciousness it feels as if they are coming from the outside. Channeling a
message from God is a bit like playing charades. You feel a
pressure of meaning that can only be relieved by composing. You translate the meaning
pressure into English. You feel gradually diminishing pressure as your translation
gradually more accurately expresses the precise meaning. Eventually you stop, even though
you still have not got it perfectly, simply because you can currently think of no better
way in English to express the idea. Sometimes the message comes through
literally word by word, like taking dictation over a noisy phone line. That feels more
frightening. You don’t channel; something channels through you. You are like an
intelligent secretary. The works are not yours, yet they sometimes look as if they were.
Your lover did not leave you; someone else even
more magnetic than you, perhaps inadvertently, attracted them away.
The Secret of The Universe
Whatever you put your
attention on, you get more of. You can put it on sex, lack of sex, stability, chaos,
Environmental Tax Subsidy
What would happen if we doubled
the prices of all things that harmed the environment and halved those of things that
In Heaven, McDonald’s serves no food; they just manage
the public washrooms.
In Heaven, there are more trees than people.
Perceptivity of Genius
When you see what others do not see,
this is called perceptivity. When you know what others do not
know, this is called genius. The perceptivity of genius is what makes victory a foregone conclusion. Those
for whom victory is a forgone conclusion, they defend what cannot be attacked and attack
what cannot be defended.
Randolf Richardson paraphrasing a Chinese sage.
Orca FM was a radio station that broadcasted orca (killer
whale) sounds live from British Columbia, Canada. It is likely the radio station of most
interest to extra terrestrial civilisations monitoring earth’s radio emissions. It
is very difficult for large-brained marine mammals to develop radio transmission
technology and even harder to develop reception.
Something For Laurie
Some people… cut
lawns… in the dark… Imagine that, spoken by, Laurie Anderson.
Jesus really had it in for the publicans. I have
found nothing definitive on his opinion of Re-publicans.
Definition of Cosmic Consciousness
Cosmic Consciousness is the ultimate
multiple personality disorder.
Definition of God
God: the thing you are most afraid of that won’t
actually hurt you.
Dolphin’s Eye View
Scientists tell us to reduce our
consumption of tuna to a few grams a week to reduce mercury, but what are you supposed to
do if you are a dolphin?
School for Celebrity
There aught to be a finishing school
for people catapulted into celebrity.
Rubbing It In
The BC Government labels each bottle of free
drugs with the wholesale price. Some people look at the price and say I cannot reciprocate; I must die. Others look at the price and say,
My! how the citizens of BC must love me to spend so much money
keeping me alive.
The Curare Mistake
The conservative assumption is to presume
something is conscious until proven otherwise. Otherwise we may make the curare mistake.
Curare is a paralysing poison used by South American jungle dwellers to tip arrows.
Doctors decided to use it as an anaesthetic for infants. It was completely successful. It
had low mortality and few side effects. It went into widespread use. One day a doctor
decided to test curare on himself for an operation since it was so successful with
infants. He felt every twitch of the surgeon’s knife exquisitely, but could not
move or shout out his pain. He could not so much as blink his eyes. Curare was not an
anaesthetic after all, just a muscle paralyser. Only then was the use of curare as an
anaesthetic for infants dropped.
The Last Day of My Biology Career
When I was high school, the
biology teacher, Mr. Jackson cut the bottom shell off a live turtle and attached its
heart to a lever that charted the twitchings on a graph. I told everyone he was a sadist.
Mr. Mackenzie, the principal, called me down to his office and gently chastised me for
slandering a teacher. Mr. Jackson reassured me The turtle feels no
pain I countered How you know? He replied It’s spinal nerves are cut. I said Well, it sure
looks as if it is in pain. It is struggling frantically to right itself. He
responded That is just a reflex. He offered Using the turtle will save many lives. This turtle will last all day. Had I used
frogs, I would have had to kill one for each class. I accused Your experiment has no point. Everyone already knows that hearts beat. He
said You are planning a career in biology. You will have to get used
to this. I said If that’s what it means to be a
biologist I want no part of it. Since I am writing this years later, I can compose
a better retort: If you are so sure this will not hurt, how about I
poke a scalpel into the back of your neck and cut your spinal nerves.
Then you can reassure me, based on evidence, that the procedure is painless. From my
personal experience, nerves hurt like the blazes when you cut them. Turtle nerves and
human nerves are almost identical.
That was the last day of my biology career and my first day of animal rights
I am telling this story from memory, so don’t take those quotations absolutely
literally. The recollections of the other two present may differ.
Capital Punishment For Animals
What do humans consider a
sufficiently humane way to kill a human?
What means do humans use to humanely kill animals not human?
It disturbs me that the two lists are different. Humans are so impatient when it
comes to killing animals, yet they take decades to kill one of their own by capital
Humans Have Trouble With Estimates
Humans overestimate the
importance of short term fluctuations and underestimate the importance of long-term
Humans overestimate what they can do in the short term and underestimate what they can
accomplish in the long run.
Humans accurately estimate the intelligence of fellow humans and underestimate the
wisdom of everything else.
The Definition of Truth
The Truth is true. If it contains any
bullshit, it ain’t the Truth.
The Delphinic Word for Human
word for human in delphinese roughly translated means
dry-mammal-giving-strange-tastes-in-water-like-Christmas-tie-for-us, or more literally
The informal term is roughly translated stinky-pie The phrase
refers to all the gifts of odd chemicals humans dump into the
oceans. Humans have a bad sense of what makes an appropriate gift, but it is still a nice
The Purpose of Evolution
It must have felt so good to finally
evolve fingers, so you could finally scratch the inside of your nose.
I wonder if you could inoculate kids against drugs
by giving them tiny doses of them.
Geological Point of View
When mother Earth gets age
wrinkles, we call them mountains.
It is loving when a man notices his wife has just
lost five pounds and it is even more loving if he doesn’t.
Why Men Are More Romantic Than Women
Women think they are more
romantic than men, yet they blind to the I-love-you of unplugging the toilet.
Men refuse to abandon tattered old clothes because of all the loving associations they
Top secret usually means
I don’t want the citizens knowing about this because if they
did, they would be furious.
Red Light At 3 AM
I feel silly waiting at
a red light late at night with no cars in sight. The purpose of the light is to manage
contention for the intersection, yet there is no contention.
Tell The Truth
Some future technology may unmask every lie you
say or post. You might as well fess up now and avoid future embarrassment.
As children, we learned that animals
breathe out carbon dioxide for the plants and plants breathe out oxygen for the animals.
This is misleading. Plants breathe out carbon dioxide at night (just like animals) and
breathe it back in again during the day. Animals have very little to do with the overall
/oxygen exchange. Man’s machines and furnaces do, however, produce enough
to throw it out of balance.
Definition of The Universe
The universe is a nested set of puzzles
for baby intelligences to play in.
The universe is everything, including whoever or whatever created it.
Taliban human rights violations are popcorn
fights compared with whale sacrifice.
Tips To Authors
Imagine in your audience is the being you most respect. Don’t waste time. Get
to the point immediately.
If it does not make even you laugh or cry out loud, it won’t have any impact
on the audience.
Reserve very for special occasions.
Avoid my. Rephrase avoiding it. To a lesser extent, avoid I;
consider i. Then avoid me or any other possessive.
You is not interested in I, but may be concerned about
W E is more important than you.
Don’t ask questions.
Read your work aloud.
Imagine your work will be read by every being on earth.
The Power of A Clear Question
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world;
indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
~ Margaret Mead(1901-12-161978-11-15 age:76)
When I was about 11, I went to an all-candidates meeting in West Vancouver
for the federal election. I asked If you are elected, will you permit
nuclear weapons in Canada, yes or no? The politician waffled. Then the crowd
started chantingYes or No! Yes or
No! The politician waffled, squirmed and eventually sat down
humiliated. Ever since, I have had great faith in the democratic process.
Tips To Dieters
Think how much better it will taste if you wait until you are good and hungry.
Graph your weight accurate to a tenth of a kilogram. Also graph your 15-day moving average
weight to see the big picture. Just watch the graph. Note what you did when it goes up.
Note what you did when it goes down. Note what you did when it stays level. Don’t
try to make it move. After a few weeks you will have learned weight control.
The hard part is over. Now, take your weight down and level off. When you are gaining
weight, weigh daily. When you are losing weight, weigh less often.
The time to resist temptation is while shopping, not while staring down a key lime
pie in your fridge. Don’t shop hungry.
Get a juicer that takes a long time to clean, like the Braun MP-80.
To learn self control, carry a bag of unopened Frito Lay potato chips with you to
give to a homeless person.
Don’t be a tyrant. Coast (not gorge) to celebrate after each success.
Stare at yourself and notice even tiny improvements.
Think about the well-tested eating patterns of your great, great, great,
great… ancestors. Move in that direction. When you are hungry, eat. When you are
not, don’t. When you are thirsty, drink. Don’t confuse hunger and thirst.
When you are tired, rest. When you are sleepy, sleep. If a food makes you feel good,
eat it again. If makes you feel bad, don’t.
Sleep with fewer blankets and the furnace/air conditioner off.
If you eat every last scrap on your plate, there will be less for the starving
microbes in your garbage can.
Contemplate that everything has to eat something else to stay alive.
Ask God to tell you when and what to eat.
It is ok to save some for later.
Take exercise breaks. Even walking will do.
It is important to establish the habit of regularly going to the gym. What you do
there, at first, is unimportant.
Imagine you are going to be on Oprah soon for some reason that is not quite
clear at the moment. You just have to look your best.
Candy is not food. Don’t treat it as if it were. Savor it very slowly.
Protein powders also taste sweet.
Only when all else fails, try the aversion diet. Give a substantial sum of money to
a politician/evangelist you detest in the unlikely event you should fail to meet your
Be gentle with yourself.
Eat food you don’t particularly like.
Think of food as fuel, not as pleasure.
(I painlessly lost 30 pounds so far using these tips.)
Saving the World
Everyone thinks we have to change the minds of
the corporate mavens to save the world. These old dinosaurs are irrelevant. The kids,
Oprah’s viewers and computer programmers in the third world are the real movers and
The Nature of Reality
Reality recapitulates fantasy.
Planet Earth, Love It Or Leave It.
Remember the à la mode.
Taking credit for the economy is a little like a
rooster taking credit for the sunrise.
A Business Model
Every company survives solely from voluntary
donations from its customers. The company does, however, reserve the right to refuse to
deal with excessively stingy customers.
The purpose of a company is both:
To make money.
To render service.
In some cultures, companies exist satisfying only one of those two purposes.
Rendering service is the more fundamental.
Don’t steal time with perfunctory thank-yous.
Don’t imply that response is obligatory.
Green Eyed Monsters
If my lover is the sexiest person in the world, it is selfish to keep them all to
If I want my lover to have maximal fun, I must let them boink a supercutie from
time to time.
Both abortion and banning abortion have major attendant
evils. There is no hope for compromise. One way out is better contraception. Having a
baby should require some deliberate act (other than having sex). Every baby deserves at
least two adult caregivers who can and want to care for him or her.
On The Second Amendment
Pooing on your lawn is probably
protected by the constitution, but that does not necessarily mean you should do it.
psychotic break is
what humans call moulting.
Automobiles, machines and products are often named after
deities : Thunderbird, Mercury, Saturn, Neptune, Trinity,
Shiva, Lemmon, Sun, ME, Quantum, Nike, Venus, Mars, Baba, Ram, Athena, Alpha, Omega,
Universe, Pan, Balder, Thor, Vulcan, Prometheus, Chi, Karma, Corpus Christi, Apollo, OM,
Planet, Calypso, Pélé …
Location, Location, Location
A sign : You are here
confidently confirms your existence.
Consider the possibility that heaven truly is right beside you.
Search and Replace
Search & Replace does not seem to understand
electronic Bible is implicitly read-only.
Costs of War
It is ironic that in a war to defend freedom of speech, freedom of religion and
democracy, those are the first three things to go.
Fanaticism induces fanaticism in its enemies.
Posturing leaders forget they are slashing to death hundreds of their countrymen
with every, single, word.
You are either with us or you are with the terrorists.
~ George W. Bush(1946-07-06 age:71)
Neutrality is not an option.
Order these in increasing order of
to be jealous of a vibrator
to be envious of a dildo
An annoying machine is one that:
wantonly wastes time.
cares little for your convenience.
insists you understand it deeply.
I am disturbed. It seems ordinary people enjoy
seeing others in pain, or at least worse off than they are. Examples include wrestling,
violent movies, disasters and heavy dramas. This may be some innate cruelty, sharing
unavoidable pain, disaster planning, compassion or something else.
Thanks For The Memories
If you had perfect memory, you could
proofread a book while walking in the park.
SPAM and Locks
Think how much extra work everyone goes through each day
simply because a few people refuse to behave ethically.
The Best Things In Life
Bill Gates could not go to work in his
Only the first and last day of a loan are all that much fun.
If you don’t use it frequently, it does not belong in your most
Counters, desktops, bookshelves and eye-level cupboards are une espèce
de (a species of) most frequent drawer.
If it is temporarily most frequent, it is ok to put it in your most
frequent drawer, temporarily.
File recently-read books at the left end of your most frequent bookshelf.
If they won’t fit, remove books from the right end.
While you are waiting, do something else.
If you see something out of place and you are going to its proper place anyway,
take it with you.
Cleaning your home is a gift to your future self.
Interior design is where you can have it your way without annoying
Leave the work uncompleted.
P.S. You can’t do otherwise.
Tackle the most annoying mess you can first.
Decide on a proper place for each item.
It’s ok to have a junk drawer, so long as you only
keep junk in it.
Do a little bit each day.
The easiest time to deal with a mess is before and just after you make it.
Label the proper places for things.
To write an efficient disk defragger, model how you tidy your apartment, better
still, how Martha Stewart tidies her house.
A special occasion is more special if it is not marked on the calendar.
The more the merrier; the less the looser.
Celebrate the success of others.
How can the invention of the
telephone be considered complete when it behaves like a drunk barging into your dining
room loudly banging on a bell demanding your immediate attention?
In English because words have more than one
meaning, lying is all but inevitable.
Agree to say Good
bye cruel world with a lungful of helium as part of your final farewell.
Too Obvious To Mention
It is crueler than you realise, to punish
someone, when they did not do anything wrong.
If you want a luxury that is injurious to the environment, you must pay for it first.
No one seems interested in discovering
whether prohibition actually increases or decreases the use of alcohol,
marijuana or cocaine.
God Bless America
Remember to say please, even when addressing
Compassion is not weeping, hand-wringing or tearing
your clothes. It is getting of your tail and doing something useful to help.
Signs of Devilry
No live Christmas trees permitted in the building.
(Presumably only cut ones with dried-out needles.)
We are not responsible for lost articles.
(I wasn’t accusing you.)
Buses do not pick up passengers after they have left the
(How could they?)
The pull cord on a bus means Please let me off at the next
stop; the pull cord on the Skytrain means Emergency! Stop the
Windows copy won’t tell you how many floppies you will need.
Norton LiveUpdate doesn’t share with other workstations.
In Granville Square is an art piece that looks like a jungle gym. There is a sign
on it that reads Climbing this structure is forbidden by
We have fully self-cleaning ovens but only partially self-cleaning toilets.
Signs of Angelry
You are here
(not the only way)
Obey your thirst
The coin slot on a coke machine is camouflaged.
Candy bars come wrapped in untearable paper.
Was It Heaven or Hell?
Each prisoner has his own personal bed, one metre long.
Each prisoner has his own personal salt or pepper shaker.
Each prisoner has the key to someone else’s cell.
How long did it take you to decide?
Consider the possibility that you are already dead.
Magic is the art of making the audience selectively forget.
Tips For Debaters
Your opponent can’t argue with the facts, a question, an unstated premise or
The goals are to discover truth and to get your opponent to shift his position, not
to humiliate your opponent.
No ad hominems.
Agree with thine adversary quickly.
Lay traps for your adversary so that whether he agrees with you or not, he still
has to shift his position.
The more neutral you appear, the more persuasive you are.
Being proud of being gay is like being proud of being left footed.
Being proud of being straight is like being proud of being right handed.
Pride is a sin. That includes being proud of your country, your sexuality, your looks,
your intelligence, your wealth or anything else you had little to do with creating.
Both pride and shame
deny that you are inextricably /connected to/linked to/part of/are a hologram of/blended
with/merged with/of/ the universe. Don’t confuse shame with guilt.
The only envy is self envy.
Gluttony is taking more than your fair share of anything. Anorexia is refusing to take
your fair share. Both gluttony and anorexia deny that you are inextricably part of the
Lust is treating a person as an object, as is revulsion. Sex need not be involved.
Both lust and revulsion deny that you are inextricably part of the universe.
Thieves are sleepwalkers who steal from their own pockets.
Sloth is wealth without work.
Screaming the name of a deity whenever you hit your finger is like dialling 911 and
Honour your father and mother, even posthumously, with the greatest gift.
I wish I spoke a language where the agent was optional and the action was paramount.
When God wants to get someone’s
attention, he has to proceed carefully to avoid scaring the living daylights out of them.
Religious Report Card
Religious Report Card
thinking that souls are separate †
confusing addiction and attraction
living in the past
thinking gods do not have to behave responsibly
cruelty, gluttony, lust
thinking Jupiter does not behave responsibly
guilt, fear, prudery, judgementalness
failure to fully accept the material plane as real
fanaticism, fear, anger
thinking that Allah needs to resort to violence
blind to the unknown
sloth, lack of ambition
thinking that God is local
promising more than can is delivers
EST (Erhard Seminar Training)
fanaticism, fear, anger
thinking that you need to resort to intimidation
Course In Miracles
failure to accept the material plane as real
thinking that a religion can be based purely on logic
Aquarian Practitioners of Light
thinking that an individual can send another to hell
Sorcerer’s apprentice delusions of grandeur
thinking you can leave the flock.
impatience, lack of respect for individuals
thinking that souls are not also separate. †
* Souls are like countries. When you look
from space you can’t see the boundaries. That should help resolve the paradox.
Most religions err in thinking only humans have souls.
Definitions of Interest Loans
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Stealing from your future self.
Definition of Sacrifice
Gandhian: Doing an onerous task, such as studying, that will reap long term
Judeo-Christian: Wringing a dove’s neck and wasting the meat in the vain hope
it will make you feel better.
Inflicting pain on yourself or any other creature is more usually termed
What Women Want
In some languages there are no separate words for dance and
What turns women on most looks very boring to a guy. Trust her when she tells you
what it is.
You are punished for your sins in the same
sense you are punished when you hit you thumb with a hammer.
God tries his hardest to teach you carpentry.
The master carpenter grips your hands to show you how to control the saw. Don’t
worry; this won’t always be necessary.
The Good Intentions of Bullies
To attract God’s attention, a
guru once recommended developing a juicy ripe ego, ready to burst. His theory was that
God would then come along to transform it into something wonderful.
To an earthling, Sun worship comes naturally.
The problem with all the world’s great religions is that they were, despite
appearances, largely designed by men for men. No other species had much input.
The Plants’ Complaints
Please, be careful with any form of bridge, e.g. aircraft. Species were not meant
to fly that fast.
For millennia the insects have designed us. Your designs, in comparison, are, er,
The Dolphins’ Complaints
Eaten is all the food on land; now take ours and waste it!
Please, gifts of cologne, no longer!
Love Thy Enemies
God loves the atheists because they:
keep people debating the existence of God.
are the wrecking crew and renovation team for obsoleted religions.
love the Truth more than their comfort.
will work for good without threats, bribes or pay.
Hints To Suitors
Imagine you were the quarry. In a sense, you are.
The Truth Hurts
Gautama Buddha was called honey tongued because he had the skill to tell
people unpleasant truths without insulting them.
debating: discover truth.
screaming: damage hearing.
shouting: change mind.
killing: stop all actions.
vaporizing: annihilating the soul.
Definitions of Planet Earth
a spherical park floating in space
Mandelbrot’s blue green period
fur feather fin phloem forming field
The penis is mightier than the sword.
Be too interesting to dismiss.
Tell the absolute truth.
As you perfect the universe, the universe
As you perceive the universe, the universe perceives you.
As you destroy the universe, the universe destroys you.
You cannot change the universe unless you are willing to let it change you.
If you want the universe to show you her secrets, you must first show her yours.
Do unto the universe as you would have the universe do unto you.
If you want the universe to be more gentle with you, be more gentle with the universe.
If you want the universe to stop trying to change you, stop trying to change the
If you want the universe to stop changing you, stop changing the universe.
If you want the universe to change you, change the universe.
When you co-operate with the universe, the universe co-operates with you; it is not
necessarily consciously rewarding you; you are just moving in harmony with it.
Given we still have no way of
measuring consciousness, it is anybody’s guess what is and what is not conscious.
The fail-safe assumption is that everything, everylife or everyone is conscious, yet most
use peer pressure to decide.
Blinded By Science
Science is confined to a small domain by
fear of ridicule.
Definition of Money
Money is man’s way of keeping track of who owes whom a
favour. Because of interest/usury, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, even when
the rich do no work and the poor work 12 hours a day. What then is this favour the poor
owe the rich just for having more money than they need? Is this just a loophole in the
system or an essential feature of the design?
Be the planetary citizen you want everyone
else to be.
Tips To the Paranoid
If someone is spying on you, do something to really freak them
Get off your high horse! The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
has too many bigger threats to be bothered fighting with you.
All great programmers are paranoid.
Every moment, you are on stage, with God, in the audience.
It is somewhat disconcerting that the concept to represent the future universally used
in advertising is a bald mechanised soldier on steroids.
Rubbermaid Disk Pans
It can’t be literally true, but is seems the thing I do most, other than sit at
my computer, is wash dishes. I wash them in a Rubbermaid™ tub (aka dishpan) that fits in the kitchen sink. Unfortunately, the
bottom of the tub fits flush against the bottom of the sink keeping the sink from
draining. I got the brilliant idea of buying four square rubbery feet each about
1 cm(0.39 in) tall and about
2 cm(0.79 in)
across and gluing them with epoxy to the four corners of the underside of the tub. This
raised the tub off the bottom of the sink and allowed the sink to drain even with the tub
in place. It worked splendidly.
I then emailed
Rubbermaid™ suggesting they build feet into the tubs they sell, either by
gluing on feet as I did, or by moulding feet as part of the tub itself. I also suggested
they offer a wider range of colours, particularly ones that did not show stains as much.
They wrote back saying they did not understand what I was talking about. I despaired for
the future of humanity.
Through a series of coincidences, I got to spend a night at the Shangri-La luxury
hotel in Vancouver. It was a bit like visit to the future. Access was via a touchless
card I waved over the doorknob, not a key. First, the prices were what you might expect
for the year 2213, water $8,
toast $8 (jam extra). The light switches were little white
squares all over the room. If you pressed them, nothing happened, at least for a few
seconds, then all the lights in the room would gradually lighten and/or dim to some new
pattern, like the dimmers at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. For example, hitting the
button turned on the light above the bed and dimmed everything else. Beside my bed were
perhaps 6 such buttons, but they were all identical except for
the engraving, so it took some experimenting to get the desired effect. The room was
quite small given its expense but it had a large bath and shower, with an electric
mirror. The mirror came with a remote to control it. Visions of Snow White’s evil
stepmother sprang to mind. What could an electric mirror do useful? It turned out it
caused a panel in the mirror to morph into a TV. There was a little camera case lined
with foam with six holes that held what looked like squat bullets in various metallic
colours. They seems to be filled with compressed air. They had a springy feel like a
bicycle tire. I figured out these contained coffee and were designed to be placed in a
machine that would pierce them with a large lever. I dared not try them out least I be
charged $10 a cup for the experience. The plumbing in the
bathtub was very elegant looking. However, it squirted the water into the tub at a
45° angle. This caused the water spray into the air. I spent 5 minutes trying to get
the elegant bath spray to work. It was inscrutable. I gather, in future, appliances, just
as today, will not work sensibly, but will look great.
I was awakened several times in the night by the sound of grinding gears like a
’52 Hillman. I tried to track down the source of the noise and finally decided it
was probably the steam heating. This suggest that technology has has not changed in the
last century, probably won’t be radically improved in the next decade. To be fair,
the hotel is brand new and is going through the normal teething.
Age of Consent
I would like it if we stopped using the term child abuse
because it is too vague. It could mean:
Cruel words designed to destroy esteem.
Spanking through clothing.
Spanking on the bare buttocks.
Hitting on the upper body, but not the head.
Threats of eternal hellfire to ensure sexual compliance.
Threats to kill parents to ensure sexual compliance or silence.
It is unfair because a principal is accused of child abuse meaning, cruel
words, but people hearing it think rape.
I get annoyed when Miss Grundy accuses Jimmy of having sex with a young child. This young child is 20 years old! We should not used the word child to describe people
older than 12. People 13 to
19 should be called teenagers.
All the time in the news elderly men are put on trial for sexual improprieties they
allegedly did in the 1970s. This is unfair. No witness can be
accurate after all this time. Further, juries of today are far more Puritanical than
those of the 70s. You should judge a crime in the proper
I have talked to dozens of people at workshops who were having trouble getting over
the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. I ask, Did you cry at the
time? They usually say No. I note, Then than can’t be the time when you received the trauma. This original
trauma must have been less than falling off a bike and skinning your knee if you did not
even cry. The real trauma must have happened later. Some well-meaning person convinced
you that some unspeakably terrible thing had happened to you and it was so awful you
were damaged for life. They may have convinced you the person who abused you was the
biggest criminal in the history of the earth and by extension, any tiny part you had in
allowing this crime to happen condemns you to eternal damnation. We have to be
much more careful with child abuse victims so that they can roll with event and get on
with life. This does not mean letting molesters go unprosecuted, just that you must
mainly focus on preventing further trauma to the child.
In one case there were no adults involved, just two boys. The mother of one of the
boys totally freaked and blamed his older brother for not preventing the sex play. She
guilt tripped him so badly he spend the rest of his life in mental institutions.
The notion of age of consent was conceived back when the average age of female puberty
was 18. Due to hormones in meat and milk and better nutrition
generally, many girls now are reaching puberty at 8 years old.
We will have to stop this premature puberty if we want our age of consent laws to be
When I was 15, I was madly in love my biology teacher. Had I
managed to seduce him, he would have been in great trouble since he was in authority over
me. The law treats me as like some sexless infant, tricked by an adult into sex. It would
have been the very opposite. I was hornier at 15 than any time
since. Our notions of age of consent are based on some very out-of-date Victorian notions
of young people and sex.
I have heard that RRT will help people
very rapidly get over childhood sex trauma.
quotations: concentrated wisdom.
Wisdom 101 : the Cliff Notes