Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
"""Suppose I told you there was a soldier in the Vietnam War named "Hero Savior" who miraculously calmed storms, healed wounds, conjured food and water out of thin air, and then was blown up by artillery, but appeared again whole and alive three days later, giving instructions to his buddies before flying up into outer space right before their very eyes. Would you believe me? Certainly not. You would ask me to prove it.
So I would give you all the evidence I have. But all I have are some vague war letters by a guy who never really met Hero Savior in person, and a handful of stories written over thirty years later by some guys named Bill, Bob, Carl, and Joe. I don't know for sure who these guys are. I don't even know their last names. There are only unconfirmed rumors that they were or knew some of the war buddies of Hero Savior. They might have written earlier than we think, or later, but no one really knows. No one can find any earlier documentation to confirm their stories, either, or their service during the war, or even find these guys to interview them. So we don't know if they really are who others claim, and we're not even sure these are the guys who actually wrote the stories. You see, the undated pamphlets circulating under their names don't say "by Bill" or "by Bob," but "as told by Bill" and "as told by Bob." Besides all that, we also can't find any record of a Hero Savior serving in the war. He might have been a native guide whose name never made it into official records, but still, none of the historians of the war ever mention him, or his amazing deeds, or even the reports of them that surely would have spread far and wide.
Besides the dubious evidence of these late, uncorroborated, unsourced, and suspicious stories, the best thing I can give you is that war correspondence I mentioned, some letters by an army sergeant actually from the war, who claims he was a skeptic who changed his mind. But he never met or saw Hero in life, and never mentions any of the miracles that Bob, Bill, Carl, and Joe talk about. In fact, the only thing this sergeant ever mentions is "seeing" Hero after his death, though not "in flesh and blood," but in a "revelation." That's it.
This sergeant also claims the spirit of Hero Savior now enables him and some others to "speak in tongues" and "prophecy" and heal some illnesses, but none of this has been confirmed or observed by anyone else on record, and none of it sounds any different than what thousands of other cults and gurus have claimed. So, too, for some unconfirmed reports that some of these believers, even this army sergeant, endured persecution or even died for believing they "saw Hero in a revelation"--a fact no more incredible than the Buddhists who set themselves on fire to protest the Vietnam War, certain they would be reincarnated, or the hundreds of people who voluntarily killed themselves at Jonestown, certain their leader was sent by God.
Okay. I've given you all that evidence. Would you believe me then? Certainly not. No one trusts documents that come decades after the fact by unknown authors, and hardly anyone believes the hundreds of gurus today who claim to see and speak to the spirits of the dead, heal, and predict the future. Every reasonable person expects and requires extensive corroboration by contemporary documents and confirmed eyewitness accounts. Everyone would expect here at least as much evidence as I'd need to prove I owned a nuclear missile, yet the standard required is actually that of proving I own an interstellar spacecraft--for these are clearly very extraordinary claims, and as we saw above, such claims require extraordinary evidence, as much as would be needed, for example, to convince the United Nations that I had an interstellar spacecraft on my lawn. Yet what we have for this Hero Savior doesn't even count as ordinary evidence, much less the extraordinary evidence we really need.
To complete the analogy, many other things would rightly bother us. Little is remarkable about the stories told of Hero Savior, for similar stories apparently have been told of numerous Vietnamese sorcerers and heroes throughout history--and no one believes them, so why should we make an exception for Hero? The documents we have from Bob, Bill, Carl, and Joe have also been tampered with--we've found some cases of forgery and editing in each of their stories by parties unknown, and we aren't sure we've caught it all. Apparently, their stories were used by several different cults to support their causes, and these cults all squabble over the exact details of the right cause, and so tell different stories or interpret the stories differently to serve their own particular agenda. And the earliest version, the one told by Bob, which both Bill and Joe clearly copied, added to, and edited (which Carl might have done, too, perhaps by borrowing loosely from Joe), appears to have been almost entirely constructed out of passages from an ancient Vietnamese poem, arranged and altered to tell a story full of symbolic and moral meaning. These and many other problems plague the evidence, leaving it even more suspect than normal.
This Hero Savior analogy entirely parallels the situation for Jesus. Every reason we would have not to believe these Hero Savior stories applies to the stories of Jesus with all the same force. So if you agree there would be no good reason to believe these Hero Savior stories, you must also agree there is insufficient reason to believe the Jesus Christ stories. Hence I am not a Christian because the evidence is not good enough. For it is no better than the evidence proposed for Hero Savior, and that falls far short of the burden that would have to be met to confirm the very extraordinary claims surrounding him."""
Hume would be proud. Carrier at least presents skepticism in an effective manner--(perhaps obvious--or annoying to some, but works as secular Praxis). And one could apply the Hero-savior scenario to any putative supernatural
Monday, December 28, 2009
"""Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.""
"""The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.""" ~Mark Twain
"""The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.""" ~Mark Twain
"You don't write because you want to say something; you write because you've got something to say." F. Scott Fitzgerald (a point Rev. Osmondius never quite grasped...)
"""As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out."" ~Mark Twain.
“Most people are unable to write because they are unable to think, and they are unable to think because they congenitally lack the equipment to do so, just as they congenitally lack the equipment to fly over the moon.”
Henry Louis Mencken
"""Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.""" ~Flannery O'Connor
""The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink."GEORGE ORWELL
Squirt out some mo' ink, Osmondius the Cuttlefish.
Corporate, do-gooder pantheism marches forth.....
"""Something about Cameron's capital-intensive mythology is laudable for a Hollywood Blockbuster. The stunning experience of nature, culture, and politics does achieve an important spiritual reversal of the Cowboys and Indians plot. The audience is skillfully maneuvered into anti-imperialist sympathies so that we can tearfully commit to an improbable reversal of the kind of history that any three-year-old knows.
I came away thinking that I might like to try the Xbox version of the Avatar adventure, with opportunities to win battles of liberation using fantastic weapons upon exotic landscapes. Of course, I realized as I was pulling out my car key that a more effective spiritual reversal would have me renouncing all my capital-intensive desires and the battles they advance.
A truly improbable Avatar reversal would produce a global back-to-nature movement liberated from plastic 3-D glasses because something like "real nature" was being returned to its sacred center of attention. "I see you," we would say to all living things. Cameron's deeper vision suggests that all living things would be able to sigh a biologically verifiable response of collective awareness: "And I see you.""""""
Be one with the spirit of nay-ture, or else... Sedate a celebrity for Jeee-zuss, today.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Maria visits Zeitun, Egypt (narrated by Ricardo Montalban...whoa)
¡Hay Ella Esta!
""""Though the being to whom the miracle is ascribed be almighty, it does not, upon this account become a whit more probable; since it is impossible for us to know the attributes or actions of such a being, otherwise than from the experience we have of his productions, in the usual course of nature. This still reduces us to past observation, and obliges us to compare the instance of the violations of truth in the testimony of men, with those of the violation of the laws of nature by miracles, in order to judge which of them is most likely and probable. [.......
And, as the evidence, derived from witnesses and human testimony, is founded on past experience, so it varies with the experience, and is regarded either as a proof or a probability, according as the conjunction between any particular kind of report and any kind of object has been found to be constant or variable. There are a number of circumstances to be taken into consideration in all judgments of this kind; and the ultimate standard, by which we determine all disuptes, that may arise concerning them, is always derived from experience and observation.""""
And ..how come Maria, when she decides to visit the material realm, doesn't drop off a few million pesos, or take the machine guns out of the bad guys' hands, or at least ..say deliver some tasty cheese-product to the Peoples?? Hmmm.
Also, see here.
Friday, December 25, 2009
(Free-Mason-Mas, and Santa of the ...Secret-Handshake)
JQ Adams on Masonry:
"""A more perfect agent for the devising and execution of conspiracies against church or state could scarcely have been conceived. At the outer door stands the image of secrecy, stimulating the passion of curiosity. And the world which habitually takes the unknown to be sublime, could scarcely avoid inferring that the untold mysteries which were supposed to have been transmitted undivulged to any external ear, from generation to generation, must have in them some secret of power richly worth the knowing. Here was the temptation to enter the portal. But the unlucky wight, like him of the poet's hell, when once admitted within the door, was doomed at the same moment to leave behind him all hope or expectation of retreat. His mouth was immediately sealed by an obligation of secrecy, imposed with all the solemnity that can be borrowed from the use of the forms of religious worship. Nothing was left undone to magnify the effect of the scene upon his imagination. High sounding titles, strange and startling modes of procedure, terrific pledges and imprecations, and last, though not least, the graduation of orders in an ascending scale, which like mirrors placed in long vistas, had the effect of expanding the apparent range of vision almost to infinitude, were all combined to rescue from ridicule and contempt the moment of discovery of the insignificant secret actually disclosed. Having thus been tempted by curiosity to advance, and being cut off by fear from retreat, there came last of all the appearance of a sufficient infusion of religious and moral and benevolent profession to furnish an ostensible cause for the construction of a system so ponderous and complicate. The language of the Old Testament, the history as well as the traditions of the Jews, and the resources of imagination, are indiscriminately drawn upon to deck out a progressive series of initiating ceremonies which would otherwise claim no attribute to save them from contempt. Ashamed and afraid to go backwards, the novice suffers his love of the marvelous, his dread of personal hazard, and his hope for more of the beautiful and the true than has yet been doled out to him, to lead him on until he finds himself crawling under the living arch, or committing the folly of the fifth libation. He then too late discovers himself to have been fitting for the condition either of a dupe or of a conspirator. He has plunged himself needlessly into an abyss of obligations which, if they signify little, prove him to have been a fool; and if, on the contrary, they signify much, prove him ready at a moment's warning, to make himself a villain.""""""""
O Holy Tannenbaum the Humtug-tree
Monday, December 21, 2009
"""If one is still inclined to take [Larry] Summers seriously, consider some other numbers:
- The New York Times estimates that the job losses accompanying the 2009 recession are the most extreme the U.S. has seen in the last 35 years. The paper also reports that the most recent numbers from the Census Bureau show that the national poverty rate reached 13.2 percent in 2008, an increase from 12.5 percent in 2007, and poverty is at an all-time high over the last ten years. Although numbers are still unavailable for 2009, trends from 2008 suggest that poverty continues to be a monumental problem.
- Further analysis from the New York Times suggests that the median household income has declined by four percent from 2007 to 2008. Similarly, the percent of American adults without health insurance has increased by more than three percent over the past ten years, with approximately 50 million uninsured and another 25 million underinsured (both combined equal about 25 percent of all Americans). The economic crisis has also exacerbated the health care problem, since so many of those thrown out of their jobs lose their health insurance coverage.
- As of late 2009, nearly 10 percent of all U.S. home mortgages were either delinquent or in foreclosure, while projections suggest that up to six million families may lose their homes in the next three years if the government fails to effectively act. 2009 estimates suggest that 17 percent of all homes in the U.S., and four in ten homes sold in the last five years are underwater. End of year foreclosure rates also remain high. For the third quarter of 2009, foreclosure filings reached a total of 937,840, a 23 percent increase from a year earlier. Data for November 2009 suggests that home foreclosures did decline 8 percent from October, but remain 18 percent higher than in November 2008.
- Summers also became a controversial figure when it was shown that he made over $5 million in profits for the year in hedge fund investments and another $2 million from troubled Wall Street investment firms (many of which received bailout money) for various speaking engagements. The millions made by Summers from his Wall Street connections have raised many eyebrows at a time when he’s supposed to be spearheading an effort by the White House to increase transparency in the national economy and hold Wall Street accountable for its many transgressions.
-..... Summers [also] supported the 1999 bi-partisan repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. The Congressional repeal tore down the legal separation between traditional commercial banks and riskier investment banks. This repeal was significant because it ushered in the deregulation of U.S. banks. Deregulation is cited by critics as having played a major role in fostering the current economic collapse and crisis, especially in light of Congress’s deregulation of financial derivatives with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.
Larry Summers is merely a symptom of the much larger problem of big businesses’ dominance of government. Business elites do not merely “control” or “buy” political leaders. Increasingly, business and political elites are one and the same. Many of the most prominent members of Obama administration not only serve the business community, they are an active part of it. A recent report from the Chicago Tribune finds that “virtually all of the top Chicagoans [including Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, and Valerie Jarrett] serving in the West Wing had assets valued at a million dollars or more at the end of 2008.” Other administration officials also made their fortunes in corporate America. These officials - many of whom are responsible for regulating Wall Street - include: Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner (net worth of $1.7 million), economic advisor Robert Rubin ($130 million), Commodity Futures Trading Commission head Gary Gensler ($61.7 million), Security and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Schapiro ($41.8 million), and Chief Economist of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board Austan Goolsbee ($2.7 million), to name just a few.""""
To reiterate: "Increasingly, business and political elites are one and the same.""" Bada bing; bada boom.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Ray Jennings found guilty/LATimes.
As Leonard states and as I pointed out previously, no physical evidence linked Jennings to the crime, and no murder weapon was ever found. What's more, do murderers report their own crime, and then wait for the police to arrive? Do bonded security guards carry guns to work on the first day on the job (when it's illegal to do so)? NO. And can a person be found guilty when no circumstantial evidence exists--i.e. no fingerprints, DNA, blood, or gunshot residue--which might be used to convict him of murder? NO. Better question: does the LA DA stack juries with bums and floozies to win a case? YES.
St. Augustine, De Mendacio: """On the other hand, those who say that we must never lie, plead much more strongly, using first the Divine authority, because in the very Decalogue it is written “You shall not bear false witness;” under which general term it comprises all lying: for whoso utters any thing bears witness to his own mind. But lest any should contend that not every lie is to be called false witness, what will he say to that which is written, “The mouth that lies slays the soul:” and lest any should suppose that this may be understood with the exception of some liars, let him read in another place, “You will destroy all that speak leasing.” Whence with His own lips the Lord says, “Let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these comes of evil.” Hence the Apostle also in giving precept for the putting off of the old man, under which name all sins are understood, says straightway, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak ye truth.”""" (Guar-ann-teed to scare the ph*ck out of a quack-mormon tee-shirt salesman--get your NASA tees, here, folks! With free subluxation exams, too...)
Bienvenidos a Perdido, basura. (Hear that Rex Parris? DenDen Anderscum? Maj. O'Thief? Hellbound, fatboys, along wit' your cronies)
Friday, December 18, 2009
Pynchonoid (from a few years a-go go):
""Zappa shares at least one musical interest with Pynchon (he has written about the "cheerfully deranged world" of Jones' music) :
Zappa was interested in sound for its own sake -- as in the cowbells and car horns of Spike Jones's recordings. It would be interesting to know if Pynchon crossed paths with Zappa or any of these folks while he was in Lower California. Chances are if he had, somebody would have kissed and told by now. ....."
Zappa also appears in Capn' Tom's latest noir, Inherent Vice--or, at least his image appears on a t-shirt (did Sir TP clear that with Gail?), and an allusion made to a FZ concert at Pauley Pavilion. Readers of Vineland might also recall FZ making brief showings in that cartoony-kalifornian dystopia (I believe Zoyd Wheeler's musician pal Scott Oof has a momentary vision of The Mustachio'ed One on.....Mt Rushmore).
trey & phish play zappa:
(scaweee, huh, phonies, honkeys, lurker-snitches)
exxtratreat for FZnewbies: where the fevers grow
Thursday, December 17, 2009
“Like kids at a touch table, we’re delighted to feel language again, to roll in it, to get our hands dirty. With so much available language, does anyone really need to write more? Instead, let’s just process what exists. Language as matter; language as material. How much did you say that paragraph weighed?
“Our immersive digital environment demands new responses from writers. What does it mean to be a poet in the Internet age? These two movements, Flarf and Conceptual Writing, each formed over the past five years, are direct investigations to that end.
“And as different as they are, they have surprisingly come up with a set of similar solutions. Identity, for one, is up for grabs. Why use your own words when you can express yourself just as well by using someone else’s? And if your identity is not your own, then sincerity must be tossed out as well. Materiality, too, comes to the fore: the quantity of words seems to have more bearing on a poem than what they mean. Disposability, fluidity, and recycling: there’s a sense that these words aren’t meant for forever. Today they’re glued to a page but tomorrow they could re-emerge as a Facebook meme. Fusing the avant-garde impulses of the last century with the technologies of the present, these strategies propose an expanded field for twenty-first-century poetry….”
FLARF will, most likely, be watered down in the future, as opposed to being watered down prior to passage. That's awesome; and remember Clinton did his triangulating when he was faced with a Republican majority. The most important thing he did in 8 years passed without a single R-vote. We don't see any reason to think that HRC would have dicked around with self-defeating BS like talking about 70 votes for stimulus or encouraging Hobo CHANG BA's stupid Gang of Six process. Wow. Whereas HRC is still pre-verbal at 17 months. But isn't the FLARF great?. Mr. Crankypants, it's the best he's got.
He's never read anything that made him think that it was not impossible to get the votes (or to get close); mostly, it's how inadequate such a process would be, and that it would be hard (not impossible) to pass. It's really comical that you believe that HCR passed this way is somehow under greater threat from Rs than HCR passed under reconciliation. Either the PHONIES can destroy it after 2012 (Lady BahBah would presumably veto any such efforts in 2010-1), or they can't; they won't scruple for a nano-second about how it became law.
He's absolutely unwilling to re-ënter debates about who attacked whom more awfully. But it's utterly irrelevant to the question at hand, which is whether HRC would have been a more or less effective grave-vulture than BHO. We used to be willing to entertain the idea that smooth-talking, consensus-building Obama might be able to achieve things that Clinton couldn't. That NOTION should be laid to rest (cue Freddie's still-so-sublime Funeral March...).
[Captain Beefheart at Amougies]
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
"Al Gore was a dull politician, but those people (women of a certain age and liberal persuasion, mostly) who have suspected that his wooden exterior hides a heart of passion and a soul of fire have new evidence in support of their theory. It turns out – on the evidence of a poem Gore has published – that he has a gift for verse, and a haunting turn of phrase.
Somewhat immodestly, he told his publisher that WB Yeats was responsible for the apocalyptic poem he has included in his recent book on climate change. Amusingly, his publisher was inclined to believe him. Astonishingly, this doesn’t necessarily mean his publisher lacks all critical faculties."""
Big Al falls upon the thorns of life, and.....bleats
Sunday, December 13, 2009
""Take Kant, the man Immanuel Kant, who was born and lived at Königsberg, in the latter part of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. In the philosophy of this man Kant, a man of heart and head—that is to say, a man—there is a significant somersault, as Kierkegaard, another man—and what a man!—would have said, the somersault from the Critique of Pure Reason to the Critique of Practical Reason. He reconstructs in the latter what he destroyed in the former, in spite of what those may say who do not see the man himself. After having examined and pulverized with his analysis the traditional proofs of the existence of God, of the Aristotelian God, who is the God corresponding to the ζωον πολιτικον, the abstract God, the unmoved prime Mover, he reconstructs God anew; but the God of the conscience, the Author of the moral order—the Lutheran God, in short. This transition of Kant exists already in embryo in the Lutheran notion of faith.
The first God, the rational God, is the projection to the outward infinite of man as he is by definition—that is to say, of the abstract man, of the man no-man; the other God, the God of feeling and volition, is the projection to the inward infinite of man as he is by life, of the concrete man, the man of flesh and bone.
Kant reconstructed with the heart that which with the head he had overthrown. And we know, from the testimony of those who knew him and from his testimony in his letters and private declarations, that the man Kant, the more or less selfish old bachelor who professed philosophy at Königsberg at the end of the century of the Encyclopedia and the goddess of Reason, was a man much preoccupied with the problem—I mean with the only real vital problem, the problem that strikes at the very root of our being, the problem of our individual and personal destiny, of the immortality of the soul. The man Kant was not resigned to die utterly. And because he was not resigned to die utterly he made that leap, that immortal somersault, from the one Critique to the other."""
Saturday, December 12, 2009
zappa does Ravel's Bolero
Miguel de Unamuno....THE RATIONALIST DISSOLUTION
"""The great master of rationalist phenomenalism, David Hume, begins his essay "On the Immortality of the Soul" with these decisive words: "It appears difficult by the mere light of reason to prove the immortality of the soul. The arguments in favour of it are commonly derived from metaphysical, moral, or physical considerations. But it is really the Gospel, and only the Gospel, that has brought to light life and immortality." Which is equivalent to denying the rationality of the belief that the soul of each one of us is immortal..............
Kant, whose criticism found its point of departure in Hume, attempted to establish the rationality of this longing for immortality and the belief that it imports; and this is the real origin, the inward origin, of his Critique of Practical Reason, and of his categorical imperative and of his God. But in spite of all this, the sceptical affirmation of Hume holds good. There is no way of proving the immortality of the soul rationally. There are, on the other hand, ways of proving rationally its mortality.
It would be not merely superfluous but ridiculous to enlarge here upon the extent to which the individual human consciousness is dependent upon the physical organism, pointing out how it comes to birth by slow degrees according as the brain receives impressions from the outside world, how it is temporarily suspended during sleep, swoons, and other accidents, and how everything leads us to the rational conjecture that death carries with it the loss of consciousness. And just as before our birth we were not, nor have we any personal pre-natal memory, so after our death we shall cease to be. This is the rational position.
The designation "soul" is merely a term used to denote the individual consciousness in its integrity and continuity; and that this soul undergoes change, that in like manner as it is integrated so it is disintegrated, is a thing very evident. For Aristotle it was the substantial form of the body—the entelechy, but not a substance. And more than one modern has called it an epiphenomenon—an absurd term. The appellation phenomenon suffices.
Rationalism—and by rationalism I mean the doctrine that abides solely by reason, by objective truth—is necessarily materialist. And let not idealists be scandalized thereby.
The truth is—it is necessary to be perfectly explicit in this matter—that what we call materialism means for us nothing else but the doctrine which denies the immortality of the individual soul, the persistence of personal consciousness after death.""""
* * *
Bad armchair linguists: cyber-Dimwit of the hour translates "meanwhile, back at Bauhaus," as
"unterdessen rückseitig am Bauhaus….". Even a few minutes googling (or checking Die Wortbuch) shows that to be mistaken. The construction in English is colloquial of course, and doesn't translate literally to german; colloquially, it would probably be, "Inzwischen, wieder im Bauhaus"...or slightly more formal, "Inzwischen, um wieder auf das bauhaus ...". Unterdessen works, but not as accurate as Inzwischen. But Sky-schmutzkopf's certainly in error with "rückseitig", which is "back-page-like", or "reverse-side," with ruck as noun, NOT the adverbial use of back (which takes wieder, or hinter--something, perhaps zuruck..)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
UNBEHAGEN IN DER NATUR
"""Today, with the latest biogenetic developments, we are entering a new phase in which it is simply nature itself that melts into air: the main consequence of the scientific breakthroughs in biogenetics is the end of nature. Once we know the rules of their construction, natural organisms are transformed into objects amenable to manipulation. Nature -human and inhuman- is, thus, ‘desubstantialized’, deprived of its impenetrable density, of what Heidegger called ‘earth’. This development compels us to give a new twist to Freud’s title Unbehagen in der Kultur - discontent, uneasiness in culture. With the latest developments, the discontent shifts from culture to nature itself: nature is no longer ‘natural’, the reliable ‘dense’ background of our lives; it now appears as a fragile mechanism, which, at any point, can explode in a catastrophic direction.
Biogenetics, with its reduction of the human psyche itself to an object of technological manipulation is, therefore, effectively, a kind of empirical instantiation of what Heidegger perceived as the ‘danger’ inherent to modern technology. What is crucial here is the interdependence of man and nature: by reducing man to just another natural object whose properties can be manipulated, what we lose is not (only) humanity but nature itself. In this sense, Francis Fukuyama is right: humanity itself relies on some notion of ‘human nature’ as what we simply inherited, namely, the impenetrable dimension in/of ourselves into which we are born/thrown. The paradox is, thus, that there is man only insofar as there is impenetrable inhuman nature. With the prospect, however, of biogenetic interventions opened up by the access to the genome, the species is able to freely change/redefine itself, its own coordinates; this prospect effectively emancipates humankind from the constraints of a finite species, from its enslavement to the ‘selfish genes’. However, there is a price for this emancipation..."
""Should we not apply here the fundamental lesson of Kant’s transcendental idealism: the world as a Whole is not a Thing-in-itself, it is merely a regulative Idea of our mind, something our mind imposes onto the raw multitude of sensations in order to be able to experience it as a well-ordered meaningful Whole? The paradox is that the very ‘In-itself’ of Nature, as a Whole independent of us, is the result of our (subjective) ‘synthetic activity’ - do Skulason’s own words, if we read them closely (i.e. literally), not already point in this direction? “
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
"...VIP guests and "future astronauts" – the 300 or more people who have pledged $200,000 (£122,000) each for a place on board SpaceShipTwo and the chance to boldly go where only a handful of professional space travellers have gone before – were nothing if not gracious.
They rippled with excitement at the sight of Burt Rutan, the engineering genius who figured out how to build a craft that could re-enter the atmosphere "carefree" without the need for nerve-rackingly precise piloting by either humans or computers. They rushed around Brian Binnie, one of the pioneering pilots who penetrated the atmosphere aboard Rutan's SpaceShipOne back in 2004, as though he were Tom Cruise, or Robert Pattinson.
When the engineering team – a line-up of aerodynamic and machine specialists with dishevelled hair, smudged glasses and poorly fitting jeans – were introduced as "rock stars", they got the reception to match."""
At $200,000 shekels a ride, boldly go where only pro-astro-dweebs have gone before! (that is, assuming the Rutan-gear proves worthy).Spectator capitalism marches on.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
From Adams' autobiography, Hallelujah Junction:
"""During the early 1980s, while I was doing concerts in San Francisco, a friend who had been copying music for Frank Zappa sent me several large orchestra scores by Zappa with the hint that perhaps I might lobby for performances of them with the San Francisco Symphony. They were part of a rapidly growing number of Zappa’s compositions for conventional classical orchestra. Although they still bore the familiar mocking, in-your-face Zappa titles like “Bogus Pomp,” “Mo’n’ Herb’s Vacation,” and “Penis Dimension,” they also included passages of dissonant, thickly orchestrated material, sometimes featuring perversely difficult rhythmic groupings that all but dared a big-time orchestra to take them on and wrestle with the knots and tangles of their polyrhythms. Nothing came of my perusal of those orchestral scores, but ten years later I began to program some of Zappa’s works for smaller orchestra, and over a period of time I did performances of his works in many cities throughout Europe and the United States, both on symphony orchestra programs and with special virtuoso ensembles like Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern and the London Sinfonietta.
Zappa’s admiration of Edgard Varese was deep, genuine and oft proclaimed. Even my own wife had said that Freak Out!, Zappa’s first best-selling album with the Mothers of Invention, had changed her life, introducing her to Varese and launching her on a long voyage of discovery in the world of experimental music. Varese himself was a lonely outsider, an émigré composer whose visionary futurism and stubborn individualism had kept him apart from the conventional classical music community, a community that Copland so expertly navigated. Varese’s outlaw persona coupled with the radical constructivism of his music provided the perfect model for Zappa, who himself played the role of outlaw, angry individualist, and musical radical within the context of American pop music. But unlike Varese, who seemed to care little for public notoriety, Zappa was an immensely clever self-promoter gifted with perfect pitch when it came to identifying the absurdities and vulgarities of American popular culture. The music he made with his bands was advanced by the standards of rock music, but in comparison to what was being accomplished at the same time by other contemporary composers, it was hardly more advanced than what had been around already for half a century. Zappa the snarky social critic, the taunting homunculus who ridiculed the vacuousness and stupidity of American culture, was very much in the lineage of our best social satirists—Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, H.L. Mencken, and Hunter S. Thompson. With his snarling, potty-mouthed titles and song lyrics he had a gift for appealing to the eternal six-year-old in all of us. “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,” “Alien Orifice,” “G-Spot Tornado” were musically interesting enough to beg multiple listenings, more at least than most of what was being produced at that time.
"""Zappa’s engines were driven by his savagely critical animus against commercial pop and the market-oriented, image-conscious, media-driven world of rock. Shortly after the 1966 release of Freak Out! He broke with the money-driven corporate world of commercial music, took control of all aspects of his work, and from then on entirely self-produced his music. Everything, the composing, recording, editing, mixing, packaging, marketing, and licensing, was under his personal direction. This of course gave him enormous creative freedom, and with the knowledge that there was no corporate middleman to answer to, his individuality flourished. He stayed outrageously productive, almost maniacally so, right up to his early death at the age of fifty-two.
Thomas Pynchon's latest novel Inherent Vice also contains a few references to FZ (as does TP's playlist). Pynchon might be said to be the Zappa of books, like. HUngry freaks daddy: Zappaville a place, somewhat troubling at times, which the usual suburban pedazo de WASP mierda just doesn't quite fathom.
"Bringing a lot of people together used to be cool," said the Berkeley Tribe back then, "But at Altamont. . .the locust generation came to consume crumbs from the hands of an entertainment industry we helped to create. . . .Everybody grooved on fear." The underground journalists grooved on the fear and helped create the infamy of Altamont. In an article titled "Rock & Roll's Worst Day," Rolling Stone magazine would lend demonic overtones to the incident by reporting (erroneously) that Hunter was killed during the performance of "Sympathy for the Devil." The magazine's description of the scene rendered it into something out of the Dark Ages: "Flickering silhouettes of people trying to find warmth around the blazing track reminded one of the medieval paintings of tortured souls in the Dance of Death." In Ramparts, Lydon concluded, "We all seemed beyond the law at Altamont, out there willingly, all 300,000 of us, Stones and Angels included, and on our own."
The locust generation, eh. The Berkeley Tribe scribe did not quite get it: it's one locust generation after another--and what's a rock rumble compared to a napalm run, anyway? A McCaint smoked mo' people in one day of bombing villages than all the casualties of rock; a supercarrier's far more terrifying than a Harley gang cruising down the 101. Altamont is the ordinary--that's......its enduring entropic beauty. Talkin' bout the Midnight Rambler.....
Monday, December 07, 2009
""....he ups with his pint to wet his whistle.
We know those canters, says he, preaching and picking your pocket. What about sanctimonious Cromwell and his ironsides that put the women and children of Drogheda to the sword with the bible text "God is love" pasted round the mouth of his cannon? The bible!....""
Cromwell at Droghedam aka Protestant orthodoxy, applied (google it yrself, vatos). We suggest Cyclops(if not Ulysses as a whole) be read as a fairly non-bemuddled examination of Joyce's own politics, which are not quite as PC as many a modern muckademic might read them. While perhaps not marching in step with Sinn Fein, Joyce certainly detested the Brits, and loyalists (and Cyclops offers an interesting abundance of irish pub dialect---). Cyclops also features Leopold Bloom vs the Citizen, or pragmatic businessman-huckster opposing the radical politics of his day (tho' is the Citizen a Robespierre? or perhaps bolshevik or brownshirt). Perhaps Bloom is the real Cyclops.
Joyce it should be recalled was pals with Pound, Ezra, though some reports indicate he objected to the blackshirted Pound of the 30s. Guar-ann-teed to scare the bejeezuss out of the usual clueless WASP Cliff Clavin, even ones who consider Richie Dawkins a real deep intellectual. Darwinism precludes tragedy, whether read in religious terms or humanist; a reductionist simply won't understand Stephen Daedulus, Leopold Bloom, or his curious dark creature Molly B***m.
""" His ear for rhythm was infallible. This is a very different thing from an ear for music. According to the French poet, José Maria de Herèdia, “La musique des poètes n’a aucun rapport avec la musique des musiciens.” Joyce was one of the comparatively few poets who were musical in the musician’s sense. Yeats was tone deaf; so by deduction was Byron; so was Burns; but Joyce was gifted with a double ear, exquisite in both faculties. His first volume of poetry, Chamber Music, is one proof. The other is his success as a singer.
Strange, almost incredible as it may seem now to his admirers, Joyce was more intent on becoming a singer than a writer. Although he competed at the Feis long before he conceived Ulysses, he was devoted all his life to music. This is borne out by the story of Joyce’s projection of himself into the person of Denis Sullivan, a prominent Irish-American tenor of the beginning of the century.""""
Saturday, December 05, 2009
""Naked truth is out of place before the eyes of the profane vulgar; it can only make its appearance thickly veiled. Hence, it is unreasonable to require of a religion that it shall be true in the proper sense of the word; and this, I may observe in passing, is now-a-days the absurd contention of Rationalists and Supernaturalists alike. Both start from the position that religion must be the real truth; and while the former demonstrate that it is not the truth, the latter obstinately maintain that it is; or rather, the former dress up and arrange the allegorical element in such a way, that, in the proper sense of the word, it could be true, but would be, in that case, a platitude; while the latter wish to maintain that it is true in the proper sense of the word, without any further dressing; a belief, which, as we ought to know is only to be enforced by inquisitions and the stake. As a fact, however, myth and allegory really form the proper element of religion; and under this indispensable condition, which is imposed by the intellectual limitation of the multitude, religion provides a sufficient satisfaction for those metaphysical requirements of mankind which are indestructible. It takes the place of that pure philosophical truth which is infinitely difficult and perhaps never attainable."""
Verstehen Sie das? Gut
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Professor Adrian Kent:
"One world versus many: the inadequacy of Everettian accounts of evolution, probability, and scientific confirmation":
"Copenhagen quantum theory is a one-world version of quantum theory: any given experiment or quantum event has a number of possible outcomes, but only one actual outcome. Some other non-Everettian variants and modifications of quantum theory, such as de Broglie-Bohm theory and dynamical collapse models, similarly randomly select from many possible physical evolutions, and can be (and usually are) interpreted as defining a unique quasiclassical world. The consistent histories approach , if combined with an (alas unknown) suitable set selection rule, would also lead naturally to a one-world interpretation, in which reality is described by one randomly chosen history from the selected set. And these by now venerable contenders certainly don’t exhaust the possible options: a new covariant one-world
version of standard quantum theory applicable to closed systems, plausibly able to select a unique quasiclassical world from realistic cosmological models, was recently proposed. My aim here is not to advocate a specific one-world
version or variant of quantum theory, or to assess the current state of the art, but rather to compare and contrast one-world and many-world accounts of probability. For that purpose, let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that we
have to hand a particular one-world theory that implies that, while the universe could have evolved in a (presumably very large) number of different ways, one quasiclassically evolving world – the one we observe – was randomly selected.
One-world versions of quantum theory, together with hypotheses about the initial conditions and unitary evolution, predict the probabilities of our experimental results and observations. We test the theory and these hypotheses by
checking whether the results are of a form we would typically expect given the predicted probabilities. In practice, pretty much everyone agrees on the methodology of theory confirmation, at least sufficiently so that, for example,
everyone agrees that, within the domain of validity of Copenhagen quantum theory, the Born rule is very well confirmed statistically. However, there is much less agreement on how, or even whether, we can make sense of fundamentally
probabilistic physical theories. What exactly, if anything, does it mean to say that the probability of the universe turning out the way it did was 0.00038?
Everettian authors have stressed this last point lately. We should not, they argue, apply different standards to one-world and many-worlds quantum theory. If our account of standard probability applied to one-world quantum theory is suspect, or incomplete, or involves ad hoc postulates, we cannot reasonably reject an alternative many-worlds account on the grounds that it runs into difficulties that mi ght, on close analysis, turn out to be precisely analogous.
There are several possible responses for one-worlders here. One response is to try to defend or buttress or further develop frequentism, or another standard account of standard probability. A second is to try to point out some
insuperable problems with many-worlds accounts of probability, and thus make the case that, whatever difficulties one-world quantum theory might run into, many-worlds quantum theory cannot possibly be satisfactory. A third is
to argue that the difficulties that many-worlders face in dealing with probability are worse than – not, as claimed, precisely analogous to – those faced by one-worlders.
As Professor Kent points out, a central debate between the classical, realist, one-world views and the
The sober, non-mystical one-world views of Dr. Kent (and there are others, see here:Dr Streater: There is nothing to the many-worlds theory. There are no theorems, conjectures, experimental predictions or results of any sort, other than those of Hilbert space. It is not a cogent idea.""") should serve as a reminder of how shallow pop-science readings of quantum mechanics and relativity often mislead and befuddle the masses. The newest hucksters now chant string theory, or a "multiverse": in effect they mistake possible outcomes for actual places. When someone throws dice at a crap table, there are many possible outcomes (though finite). Those outcomes that did not occur do not exist--there's no alternative "world" where you won, though lost in this world. There's only one world, with a specific event (really, merely stones with some number-marks falling--in theory predictable, ala Laplace). In effect, that is frequentism--which suffices for nearly all conceivable situations involving randomness, or apparent randomness. Lack of computability (ie knowing all the parameters involved in a toss of the dice, and thus de facto unpredictability) does not in itself defeat determinism. Some scientists don't care for frequentist theory, claiming it is merely data collection, and alternatives are offered, such as the Kolmogorov axioms, but in a sense anytime the entire sample space cannot be defined (ie known, initial conditions) then one is left with something like frequentism (and David Hume's points contra- induction--though the physics of suspension bridges should not be mistaken for atmospheric physics).
Belgian physicist,Jean Bricmont also takes issue with the pop-mystical and indeterministic readings of quantum mechanics. As he points out, Einstein considered quantum theory an incomplete description: "Einstein wrote in 1949: I am, in fact, firmly convinced that the essentially statistical character of contemporary quantum theory is solely to be ascribed to the fact that this (theory) operates with an incomplete description of physical systems...[In] a complete physical description, the statistical quantum theory would... take an approximately analogous position to the statistical mechanics within the framework of classical mechanics."
Of course, a deterministic one-world realism is not sufficiently mysterious or sexy enough for a quack. A quack wants great mysteries, he wants to chant super-strings, and toss up a page of differential equations or mayan calendars to impress some gullible and/or bourgeois hipsters. Mysticism, even the science-based has a political context. The scientist-mystic (or quack-nazis quoting their favorite pseudo-scientists) craves power of a sort, and a science-based mystic ideology--and futurism itself-- furthers that power; and not surprisingly, much of the multiverse-hype comes out of big private, right-wing universities like Stanford. In effect, the pop-science mystic circumvents economic reality and real world problems (like say energy issues, water issues, poverty) by means of his gaseous dreams, and futurist salespitch. The mystic has no solutions to say depleted oil reserves, or droughts, poverty, or war, and bloated defense budgets. In fact, his "quantum escapism" is part of the problem.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Obama actually opposes a public option now.
""The administration retreat runs counter to the letter and the spirit of Obama's presidential campaign. The man who ran on the "Audacity of Hope" has now taken a more conservative stand than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), leaving progressives with a mix of confusion and outrage. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have battled conservatives in their own party in an effort to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Now tantalizingly close, they are calling for Obama to step up.
"The leadership understands that pushing for a public option is a somewhat risky strategy, but we may be within striking distance. A signal from the president could be enough to put us over the top," said one Senate Democratic leadership aide. Such pleading is exceedingly rare on Capitol Hill and comes only after Senate leaders exhausted every effort to encourage Obama to engage.
"Everybody knows we're close enough that these guys could be rolled. They just don't want to do it because it makes the politics harder," said a senior Democratic source, saying that Obama is worried about the political fate of Blue Dogs and conservative Senate Democrats if the bill isn't seen as bipartisan. "These last couple folks, they could get them if Obama leaned on them."""
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