Archive for February, 2005

Creationism, Evolution, and ‘I don’t know’.

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

We’re doing something wrong that is costing us a lot of personal growth and a lot of growth as a culture.

We’re teaching our children that it’s *wrong* not to know things.

‘I don’t know’ is one of the most beautiful statements – one that beckons to far horizens of knowledge, to fountains of discovery. To imaginings and experiments and readings and writings and trying things and coming back able to say ‘I do know.’ There’s nothing more important to learning than the understanding that you don’t know something.

P. seems to be under the impression that I learned biochemistry.. I don’t know how to break it to her that I’ve never studied intimately the copying process by which DNA is copied, stitched, and executed. But it’s not that I’ve forgotten – I’ve never known this material. I know the difference between ‘I’ve forgotten’ and ‘I don’t know’ – it *tastes* different, as Kayti would say.

And we’re teaching our children also that there’ ssomething wrong with forgetting things. It’s true that we would like to shoot for 100% data retention.. but the reality is, that’s not how our analog, multipath brains work. We’re not digital computers, and let’s be grateful that we’re not!

And yet.. there is such a thing as failing a test.

The challenge, it seems to me, is to find a interface for dumping data into a child’s brain, and find some way to make them like aquiring that data. Because once you like reading, fiction or non, you’re going places. IMHO.

One of the long standing debates is whether we should teach children creation/intelligent design or evolution. Both is one acceptable answer.. since one has to suspect both occur and have occured and will occur. Teaching that we don’t, in fact, actually know yet, and that these are the most current guesses but that no one has any actual hard data on the subject would seem the honest thing to do. Of course, this offends some people horribly..

Freedom of speech..

Friday, February 25th, 2005

Pandora’s box is opened. The genie is out of the bottle. The ‘net gives us all free speech, freedom of the press.. and the powers that be may be discovering that this is really terrifying for them, becuase it means that sooner or later, they will be the powers that were – but they can’t stop it. Information and ideas want to be free… they always have. The Man has been caging ideas since there was a Man – and now, he can’t.

The next ten years should be interesting.


Lawsuits and rolling eyes..

Friday, February 25th, 2005

Okay, so, apparently we have a largish number of lawsuits and laws being passed to attempt to turn back the tide.

Memo to Hollywood & the Labels: You lost. Go die quietly, or come up with a game plan that doesn’t involve
a: Trying to make peer to peer file sharing illegal
b: trying to make it illegal for me to download copies of songs that I already own the CD of and the CD has become unreadable
c: Trying to render hundreds of thousands of already existing hardware MP3 playback devices obsolete

If you keep pissing us (i.e. the hackers and coders of the world) off, we’re likely to come up with things you’ll like even less than the current status quo. So just accept that piracy technology has existed for many years, some people are going to pirate and some are going to buy licenses.. and we don’t need billion-dollar indutries deciding who the next ‘in’ musicians are going to be.

I’m a recording artist, and I *cheer* every time your profit-hungry machine falls another notch. I won’t miss the labels at all.

You can’t stop us. You can’t even *find* us. We will build wireless networks. We will lay our own fiber. We will do whatever it takes to keep this ball rolling, and to free the music and movies of the world from unreliable mediums. To ensure that once you buy a movie, you have it for life, not just until some very unreliable storage medium wears out. To ensure that there is no such thing as a song going ‘out of print’.

As far as the ‘broadcast flag’ – attempts to use weak technological solutions never work. You can’t stop us from building things, you can’t stop us from buying things.

As far as children downloading porn.. that’s one of the things I’ve loved about the internet ever since I was a child. It sends a clear message: ‘We all enjoy this. Don’t be ashamed of it’. A message that it’s high time the members of the human family got. And if the net enables young, impressionable kids to control what content they see instead of having parts of the world censored by their parents.. YEEHAAAA!

I’m sure my parents would have not liked me to have access to the usenet groups that taught me I wasn’t ‘really sick’, but just a little different. Nonetheless, access to those groups has helped me be considerably less ashamed of who I am, and I think the world is better off for that. These same parents would probably like to be allowed to dictate their children’s sexual orientations – well, guess what, the world doesn’t work that way. So let’s all be *grateful* for the ability of children to download porn – face it, either they won’t be interested, or they’ll be satisfying a curiosity they already have. Children *aren’t stupid*. They lack experience, but they have the most intelligence they ever will [because they haven’t yet been sold by the world at large on the beauties of alchohol, a fine organic poison]

Personally, I hope that the children get it better than we do, and any information that helps them figure out the human condition and do a better job of being human – should be theirs. I would love to see the children solve the jealousy problem (if they’re all poly, and make it work happily, I’ll be envious)

I don’t know what the next generation will go through in terms of learning experiences before they take the helm.. but if my life is any indication to date, probably a lot of difficult things.

Human race achiving escape velocity..

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

I can’t shake the feeling that computers might correct the tendancy of large groups of people to behave irrationally and without the interests of humanity in mind, by helping to erase the border between ‘us’ and ‘them’, and teaching us that we all have more in common than we have apart.

One of the things computers have taught me is that sexuality is not evil, and we’re all fighting the same battles, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of but hurting other people.

It was a little distressing for me to find out that most of the things I was taught as a child were fiction, even when they were presented as fact. Helped lead me towards a deeper state of sanity, however.. a understanding that I can never know the truth of things that I haven’t witnessed myself – that, in fact, I can’t even neccesarily know the truth of things I *have* experienced myself, since my memory could fail or be altered in a number of interesting ways – some of them biochemical, and some of them based on cues from the outside enviornment.

One of the questions that I’ve struggled with is ‘Who created Sheer?’. The answer, and it’s actually rather obvious once you think about it from a computer geek’s point of view, is ‘I created myself’.

I was gifted with a body, and with education, and with problems to solve that helped me become aware of myself as a information processing entity and helped me understand conditional logic, boolean logic.. and the fiction that life is as simple as boolean logic. This is, as Live observed, not a black and white world. Digital computers have a very hard time coming up with new ideas, or even understanding the analog world that humans dance in. Someday someone will build a neural net out of microcontrollers with analog busses and a analog traffic management protocol – and it may show the emergant behavior that we describe as ‘waking up’. The side effects of this could be fascinating – if we can keep fear from causing us to declare war on it as soon as it shows signs of life. I would love to write a peice of software that acted as a distributed net client that ran on hundreds of thousands of computers, and used the random noise that could be detected with the sound cards of those computers as a source of random data to feed into a information processing net that was designed like a neural network. Could be rather a lot of fun – could be interesting to see if it would begin to show signs of self-awareness. Could provide the end of centuries-old debates, too.

I suppose there are some that would say that for man to create self-aware life would be blasphemy. I don’t think so – I think we’re supposed to create. Certainly if there are higher energy systems (i.e. gods?) watching us, they’d be quite capable of stopping us if we did something we weren’t supposed to do. Christian types can’t have it both ways – either God is a highly powerful entity, capable of stopping us if we get into trouble – or s/he/it’s not watching. I tend to hope that someone is keeping a eye on humanity, and will keep us from killing ourselves off – but that may just be wishful thinking. It feels true, though.

In some sense, the internet may act as a living entity of its own, although if so we as humans may not be able to see it.. (it may not even be aware of us, any more than we are aware of the activities of individual neurons in our brain) – it’s certainly being fed signals from enough sources, and enough types of signals, that it could begin to show signs of life.

The problem is I have a hard time seeing a digital system waking up – the very nature of our existance is analog (mathematicians might say ‘irrational’, which is sort of comic). The shape of the universe is suggested to be analog (witness the trouble our digital systems have in representing pi, for example)

I wonder if there are any irrational primes? One could take this set of ideas into entirely new dimensions.

One also has to wonder: Does the act of hypothesizing affect the experiment? Shrodinger seems to feel that the act of observing affects the observed – if a tree falls in a forest with no one to hear it, it might or might not have actually fallen. I don’t know that I understand this, but it does lend credence to Drachen’s theory that reality is just a agreed-upon formality. Certainly out there in the ‘real world’ there are a number of other worlds – the business world, the artist world, the partier world, the dream world, and the ideal world that each of us would like to construct..

I don’t know. But it does seem likely that as far as becoming the Sheer I am, I created myself. I was gifted with a wonderful computer system – the one that’s between my ears – redundant, self-repairing, and given the ability to recognize patterns and see beauty in patterns. And I grew from there, in suprising directions.

I can not exist without affecting other life forms. Non-interference isn’t something I can reasonably achive. I can try not to interfere in negative ways – but even that gets tricky. Design a new technology, and there will be good and bad effects from it. Try and design a technology that can live peacefully with Earth and the systems and sentients aboard her, and you’ve got a truly difficult problem on your hands.

I look forward to the day when we all read on our computer screens, and no more trees are being chopped down.. and new trees are being encouraged to grow. I think that humanity is close to escape velocity.. that point at which we start improving the world around us rather than damaging it, that point at which we can develop technologies to keep ourselves alive even if the sun goes out – or goes nova – or a asteroid wings it’s way inward to nail us. But at the moment, we’re frighteningly vulnerable. We could die off in any number of ways – none of them pleasent. We could kill ourselves through damaging the climate control systems of Earth – be killed by a asteroid or a supervolcano.. it boggles the mind. I refuse to worry about these things though.. we just have to keep climbing, and hope we make it. We can’t rewind, we’ve gone so far.. interactivity is waking up the radio star that is Earth. How long before another planet depends on us for its energy? It seems that we may crack the fusion nut, and once we’ve done that – and built scoopships to gather more hydrogen – we *are* a star! Maybe we’re only emitting at radio frequencies, rather than ‘light’ – but that’s okay. Not all stars are created equal.

Let’s make the jump! Who knows, once we learn not to fight, and that with enough knowledge and enough creativity there’s room enough for everybody (it’s a big universe!), what other sentient entities we might find – and how large, complex, and beautiful they might be?

you know..

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

I really want to identify with the republicans. I really do. I’ve been trying to understand how they think..

and as far as I can tell, they’re all on some very, very strange drugs. Or else they exist precisely because the democrats need a enemy. (‘Every cat a fine rat’) (‘us and them’).

I mean, these are people who truly think that the worst thing a child could face is a education that doesn’t include religion. What I’d give for a education that hadn’t included religion right now is rather a lot. (This isn’t to say that I’m not glad I was taught ethical systems.. because I am, in fact, glad I was taught ethical systems and ethical behavior. But I could do without never knowing which of my fears are live and which of them are memorex – not to mention the never-ending question of am I talking to a higher power or my own subconcious? Oh, being crazy is so much fun. The especially fun part is knowing that these words will be identified with me forever.. whatever I’ve thought, whatever I’ve said, it’s etched into the memory of the net (which is notoriously long.. I keep waiting for naked pictures of me when I’m 20 to recur, since I know some people still have them. Not that I particularly care at this point)

I miss Kayti.

Still out there, still ticking..

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

Well, it doesn’t seem that my recent visit to psychosis has damaged me much, aside from my continued rumniations on the nature of God [definately a risky subject, since people seem to get all up in arms about it from time to time..]

I’m liking the idea of being friends with more complex entities and energy systems – I’m not liking the idea of taking orders from them, but that seems to be because I was designed not to take orders from anyone. Or perhaps I grew to be that way. I don’t really understand it. I like helping people solve their problems, and creating nifty technological solutions to problems – I’m thinking I’m at least somewhat a technological wizard, although I’m nowhere where I will be after another ten, twenty, thirty years – if my brain doesn’t fail, but I’m guessing it won’t. It hasn’t yet, and I haven’t been a very good owner of it..

Mental note to do better, as always, and then roll forward.


Sunday, February 20th, 2005

I’ve gone crazy in entirely new hues and new dimensions.. and come back to being me, although I will be forever changed from the experience, as always. And as always, I will have learned something.

P. once asked me why I wasn’t capable of having a drug experience.. although really it’s any kind of experience.. without learning something from it, or taking something away from it. I don’t know.. it’s kind of who I am. I’m perpetually making up for missing high school.. but never ceasing to learn new things. There’s a lot of things that I don’t know about yet, and am not that good at.. on the list to learn for this year:

a) Electrochemistry. [Ouch!]
b) more CAD skillz. [For the trike, and the hopper]

I’ve decided to try and make a flying EV. Don’t worry, I’m starting with a small remote-controlled version.. but I have a concept for something which might just replace the car altogeather. Will you all miss them? 😉


New cells?

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

There are new cells in our body every day. What happens to the old ones? How do we ensure that the copy command for our body’s cells doesn’t have errors induced in it?

I like to think that my thoughts, at least the good ones, travel further than my body, and I am more my thoughts than my body. I love my body.. after all, it’s the one I’ve got right now, and it’s important to not damage it too much because it takes it time to heal. Important to stay flexible, too. I have some self-check routines I run to make sure everything is still flexing.. I call them ‘dancing’.. 😉

I’m a high energy dancer.. I want to continue to be. For many, many years. After all, there will be much new music to dance to, and wouldn’t want to miss a chance to interpret it with my body..

Another mantra for me for this spin cycle: ‘Maybe I can’t. But we can.’

A important thought from the Matrix

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

Has anyone ever tried this before? No. That’s why it’ll work!

Nothing new under the sun, my ass. There’s something new under the sun every day. We’ve been given the ultimate in freedom of speech – let’s use it, create with it, enjoy it. Find your voice and use it. ‘They’ can’t stop you, and ‘they’ don’t want to try!

I think the constitution needs a amendment or three, to add to the bill of rights.

For example, your journal, even if public, is not legal grounds for dismissal from a job.

By the way, say bad things all you want about me.. but say them to me, in a polite and respectful way, so I can learn from them. Talking about me behind my back teaches me nothing. And I will endevor to say good things about my friends and neighbors.. (actually, I already do).

Disney thought there.. ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’. But on the other hand, eating bad things hurts.

How a hard a thing it can be sometimes, to forgive. How hard a thing it can be sometimes, to let go.

But we are generation Net. All of us who have made it to the net. And we don’t *have* to let go.. because we can always shoot off a email, and anyone who wants to know what we’re up to can always tune into our journals, web sites, etc. I want my friends to be able to find me.

Sometimes I wonder what happened to a few of my old friends.. and whether they will ever call again.

If you can’t think ‘I love myself and I want to live’, at least think ‘I hate myself and I want to live’..

A modest proposal

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

Future wars should be fought as laser tag games.

Yes, I’m serious. We shoot you, you’re dead, you have to wait on the sidelines for five days. Never mind shock and awe, let’s have loud music and pretty lights and no actual property or body damage! WHY NOT?

Let’s share information, not bullets. Let’s find solutions.. if it means mining the astroids for everyone on earth to have enough that we don’t have to fight over possessions.. then let’s bloody mine the asteroids. We all get further when we all know more. I don’t know who originally told this to me, but it’s become sort of a mantra… (of course, I have a bunch of those. How many of them have I learned from other people and how many have I just made up on the spot because I needed one that fit the situation? I don’t know. Do I care? Probably not. It’d be nice to be able to credit every single one of my influences.. and some day maybe I’ll try, although it would take a while.. but let’s face it, I have *lots* of influences. We live in a world that’s full of them – ideas travel, and these days they travel *far*. Our thoughts are finally free, they’ve finally escaped the cages of our brains and are racing around the world. With increasing use of wireless networks, they are beginning to radiate out into space – no longer do you have to be the elite with a radio license to broadcast, now we *all* are bouncing our ideas outwards.

Is this the only place intelligent life exists in the universe? Probably not.

[few thoughts deleted. I wonder if I should really delete thoughts? I’m trying to document, for myself and so I can understand, my growth as a individual]

I wonder if LiveJournal has any way to get a dump of your entire journal? I’d feel better if it were being backed up somewhere else.. maybe I could pay for a account on (oh, wait, does that exist?) How about [we broadcast with a few hundred milliwatts straight at another star with a laser.. oh, wait, that’s probably not going to do much good because there’s some silly rule which says radio signals decay in strength as they travel in space. Hm. Unfortunately, laws of the universe aren’t that flexible]