Saturday, May 12, 2007

Type O Negative

I don't know why, but I am loving this Type O Negative cover of an old Bad Company song, Feel Like Making Love. (Zip file, 3.7MB.)

Social security/state pension

"Social security [state pension] operate on a basis that would send the owners of any private insurance company to prison: it expects to repay your 'contributions' with money it will take from somebody else later. As the years pass, it becomes harder and harder to keep this pyramid scheme going."

-- Fail-safe Investing by Harry Browne

(Recommended by Through The Lens.)

"Watching porn makes you ugly"?

Anti-sex crusaders have stooped to a new low. (You'd think their spine would be broken long ago.)
Just in case anybody would take this ridiculous lie seriously (I know one guy who did), then consider: 1) the drawings are obviously rank amateur drawings, not from any scientific study. 2) the "before and after" photos are obviously the same picture, just photoshopped.

Higher sensitivity

Michael Reichman has posted a First Impressions article of the new Canon pro camera. A two-stop improvement in sensitivity? That is truly awesome. Decidedly non-trivial for many photographers (basically anybody who works in natural light).
I am looking forward to this technology to arrive in the next version of the Canon 5D. (The 1D is a big, heavy camera, and designed for sports photographers basically.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

What to look for in a man

What to look for in a man.

Magnetic Mary injects:
"Oh my god, this is so accurate it hurts..."

I am sure we can make similar statements for our Woman Wanted.
"Has to be nineteen, but very mature of mind.
Has to be highly educated, but only really care about me.
Has to be innocent, but a hellcat in bed..."

Wonko said:

Don't forget the old joke about a man advertising for a wife in the paper:
"Wanted - woman to marry me. Must be able to cook, clean, mend and own her own boat with motor.
Please send photo of boat."

I'm also reminded of the quote from Frasier:
Daphne: "You men, you're all the same. You just use sex to get what you want."
Frasier: "How can we use sex to get what we want? Sex IS what we want!"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shit and art

What can a struggling artist do in a world where some of the most successful art is literally shit?

Pascal weighs in:
"Some claim that anything can be considered art. Well, I believe there is some definite confusion between the pure philosophical statement of, say, putting the by-products of your alimentation in cans (thus reversing its purpose), and producing an emotion. Art IS expression, but it's more than that. If there's no beauty in it, only the intent to shock, it's something else, not art. Perhaps revolutionary philosophy?..."

I tend to agree.
Even if we consider the idea to be art (and I can live with that), then there is the question "is it good art?" I think the shit-in-a-can idea is a good spoof of how the fine art world works. And for the fine art world to actually consider it great art and a great investment is proof that the spoof hit the nail on the head.

De Nattergale

New uploads on my YouTube page.

They are from a Christmas show made by the Danish music and comedy group De Nattergale. (The name is a Danish pun combining "The Nightingales" with "The Madmen". Sort of.) I think their music is great. But I imagine that most of the excellent humor is lost if you don't speak Danish. Of the great ideas of the show was that these "nisser" (It's a Scandinavian/Danish thing.) are from the US, and so they speak English... but not really. They speak it atrociously bad, with inch-thick Danish accent, and with like every third word in actual Danish. Trust me, it's hilarious. :)

I discovered to my great horror that there was nothing from that show on YouTube. So I carefully isolated, ripped, and uploaded these from the DVD. I think they will be appreciated by the many Danish fans and help the sales of the DVD. When this show aired in the early nineties, everybody spoke in the catch phrases.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Steve Jobs Stanford speech

Steve Jobs' famous Stanford speech is now on YouTube.

ACIM interview

An early interview with the transcribers of A Course In Miracles. Interesting for people interested in parapsychology, spirituality, or theology.
A later interview with one of them.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hugh and Fry

Two new fun vidoes on my YouTube page.

University, who should go?

Many intelligent and successful people did not go to university, or dropped out. And yet most parents want their kid to go, and surely for good reason.
Never having gone, I don't know much about it. So chime in, you: assuming sufficient money and intelligence is there, who should go to college and who shouldnt? (University... college... it's rather confusing.)

Final Identity brings up:
"Another point is, that education is not -- and should not be -- about employment, but about self-growth and enlightenment."

Yeah... Nobody is bigger on those things than I am. But is a very expensive and rigid education really the place to get them?
And will people really spend that kind of money and time for those things, for themselves and their kids?

Another thing is: is it really healthy to never try to work until you're 28?

F.I. also adds:
"So, the method we have over here has a load of weaknesses. And it's in flux -- most citizens of the USA think of "higher education" as a ticket to a higher-paying job (and that is a general truth) so they spend their undergraduate time taking things like Hotel Management rather than Greek Drama. And then calling themselves "college-educated." They aren't. They haven't read the classics, encountered cultures different from their own, learned some essential human criteria by which good and bad can be judged, mastered a foreign language or five, discovered their own limitations. They've just followed a materialist path, and college has enabled their addictions.

By the way, Eolake, I'm not surprised you're of a non-traditional type of education. Ben Franklin said, among many other maxims, that one should try to spend one's life with those of great means and little education, for they rightly think practically about the world. To him, an "education" meant a snobby, upper-class, useless type of sherry-drinking brandy-dandling thing accessible mostly to the effete idle children of the upper classes. What shocks me is that, so different as I am from that sort of person, my background and resume make me look more like them than unlike them, simply because I valued a real education."

TTL boldly goes forth with:
"I never went to University. Never even considered. What a waste of time that would have been. Instead, I spent those years studying many interesting subjects: music, philosophy, computer science, art, physics, psychology, etc. Something I would never exchange for doing hard time in a University.

The only thing I feel I may have missed not going to the Uni is the camaraderie among the students. But that hardly seems worth the sacrifice in tolerating all the bureaucracy and other nonsense.

Some people go in order to get a degree. But the degrees are only good if you want a job that is paid out of money confiscated from the citizens. I despise that kind of jobs.

In honest jobs where you offer real value to the marketplace, and where people pay you voluntarily, you are never asked for degrees. In fact, in the most high profile projects a degree is a liability. It reveals that you are not capable of thinking and studying on your own. Also, it reveals that you tolerated the University 'culture' which is a sign of lack of creativity and true talent.

Please view Sir Ken Robinson's talk Do schools kill creativity? It is one of the best talks I have ever heard. Certainly the very best on the subject of education."

Wonko interjected:
Here in the UK we have a Government that is committed to pushing more and more young people into Further Education, irrespective of whether we as a society and nation need them to, or they are suited to it. 25 years ago around 5% of 18 year olds went to University, today nearly 50% go on to Further Education"

This sounds totally astounding to me. For sure I can't imagine that fifty percent of the youngsters in this town will go to college, or would enjoy it. (I live in a working class town in Northern England.) Read more of Wonko's long comment in the Comments section.

Laurie/Signalroom contributed:
Final Identity, thank you for that incredible bit of writing. It was so refreshingly astute, and I even learned a new word, je-june:) I read that initial piece out loud to my companion Jeff, who gave it high kudos as well. Have you ever read John Taylor Gatto's "The Underground History of American Education"? I recommend it highly, though it's long. Since reading it I have never looked at the public education system (U.S.) without shuddering.

TTL, I continue to look for your comments which are obviously well thought out. Thank you for posting.

I quit college my second year to move into a Zen Buddhist meditaion center where I thought I might learn something truly of value, the true nature of my self. I was not disappointed. I went back to undergrad. and got a degree in theology which was a complete waste of time. I went on to graduate school at 37 because my life was at a standstill. Three years later and thousands of dollars in debt, I left without a master's degree feeling totally hoodwinked by the system (and by my own mind in looking for something real from the system). My most satisfying and original bit of writing had been given the lowest grades because I refused to use significant and professional "sources." My own mind was apparently not source enough.

I am now working in the public school system with kids who have behavioral issues. I refuse to be a teacher in the system, I consider myself a companion to children (though it's different on paper), helping them remember their souls through the deadening conformity of their school day. I consider my job sacred (to myself), though on paper it looks mighty humble, and I am a puzzle to my administrators, who know that I have intelligence, but why am I working such a low paying job?

I am a product of the public education system, and I believe it accounted for much of the depression I experienced as an adult. I have re-educated myself out of depression and cynicism via deep inquiry into EVERYTHING, everyone, and most notably, myself. Deep inquiry, especially through meditation and long periods of silence (for me) have yielded wisdom, not an education.

I very much appreciate this thread.


Shoot Superman

Shoot Superman.

Fairy mummy

If you want to believe in fairies.

The appearing person

Here's a tricky logic puzzle. Count the people before and after the picture changes.
(I have it half figured out.)

You will need to have picture (GIF) animation enabled in your browser.

Quantum fits

In a comment to the Illusions post, Pascal gets Quantum on our asses:

“God does not play dice” - Einstein

To which Louis de Broglie replied: “And who are YOU to tell God what He can do?”

The quantum uncertainty principle is just as much a fundamental fact of Science as the light spectrum of atomic Elements.
Basically, it states that if God doesn't play dice, only He can ever know it.
Or, more matter-of-factly, that if you imagine quantum particles in the Universe as ants in a colony, there is nothing smaller than an ant that you can send in to gather information, but your added robot-ant will disturb the information by its presence. "Oi! Move on, buddy, I've got corn grains to carry here! Make yourself useful, go guard the Queen's Chamber with those big choppers of yours. And watch where you put your feet, will ya? Sheesh..."

Here's a simple example of the uncertainty principle:
A spectral line represents a given wavelength of light (or other energy emission). But a spectral line always has a certain width, amounting to a frequency range. Why is that? Because the laws of physics show this: if there was only one, mathematical photon wavelength, one exact frequency instead of a narrow range at best, its energy would be infinite. It would amount to dividing a given intensity by a width of zero. Even with one single photon, this still applies. There's no escaping it, just like death and taxes. ;-)

As soon as you get a little far above a beach, it appears as a continuous surface. But at a small scale it'll always be made of grains, and its physical properties will differ from those of a true fluid or a normal solid. Which will be noticeable even at a scale far bigger than grains.
Inversely, under a moderately powerful microscope, sand will appear as a heap of tiny rough rocks. It may appear in very different fashions, none of which is truly representative of what we can only understand with mathematical tools, namely "the big picture". Sand is a peculiar solid (a "grainy matter") that sometimes behaves like a liquid. When you stroll on a beach, you have the illusion that this can't happen... until a sandstorm rises, Allah forbid!

Mud is even more complicated in behaviour, because it's grains closely mixed with liquid, at a scale where tiny surface forces have a tremendous cumulated effect.
Did you know that tar is actually a liquid? Hit it with a hammer, and it shatters. Leave it in a pierced barrel, and it'll run. Veeeeerrrrry slooooowwwwwly. It is viscosity at a very unusual scale. Glass is similar, in reality. It is an incredibly viscous amorphous solid. A window could theoretically become a puddle on the floor at ordinary temperature. The thing is, it would take millions of years, provided erosion doesen't get it first! Its stability is purely an illusion created by our own time scale. Compared to minerals, we live very fast dog years...

Our senses are sophisticated measure instruments, which give us a reprepsentation of the world, in a certain fashion which is USUALLY the most efficient. For who and what we are. But they have their limits, all of them put together still have their limits. Only with our intelligence can we get past that illusion... one slow step at a time.

Given enough speed and kinetic energy, a water-filled balloon can go right through the armor of a battle tank like a red-hot knife through butter. Unless the air friction evaporates it first in a cloud of steam. A feather in the void of space could possibly kill an astronaut, because no air slows it down. We're just not used to such things happening. We live in the illusion of our habits.
An infant could move an aircraft carrier with one hand. In the wieghtlessness of space, or even in a very calm water harbour. All it takes is the patience to overcome the inertia of a great mass and wait till you see a visible result, so keep pushing!
The fragile silk sheet of a parachute can hold a man in the air. A spider's silk is way tronger than steel or Kevlar, and would make great (and lightweight) bullet-proof vests. It would seem that an unarmed frail cleric could halt the Scourge of God with mere words.

So, always beware of what you take for absolutely and universally certain. Keep an open mind. We only know as much as we have already learned or discovered, and yet not always.

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." — Mark Twain