If wisdom is found in the ancients, people must be getting stupider. When you consult the wisdom of the ancient philosophers, you’re implying that people with less knowledge than you know more than you do. Are the ancient Greeks smarter than the modern geeks?
The fact that such an aphorism has resonated for millions of people over thousands of years demonstrates something about the human condition. You can’t unravel such a self-contradictory statement by logical steps. Conclusions require thinking from the gut, a sense of joy in surprising absurdity.
Laughter is a spontaneous reaction about as controllable as a sneeze. Non-philosophical species do not laugh. Apparently brains bloated with bullshit generators require this instinct. That would explain why so many professional philosophers write with such humorlessness. No laugh kicks them out of their earnest belief that the best tool for understanding the mind is the mind. Using your mind to know your mind is like trying to taste your tongue. Studying thought by thinking is like trying to fuck yourself.
Which is where we’re philosophically at, my fellow confabulists. Once you wrap your tiny mind around how utterly clueless you are, about everything… how careeningly out-of-control your decisions and beliefs are, you can’t help but be plagued by the blessing of doubt, key to compassion toward those whose worldviews are so odious to your own.
In Andrew Sniderman’s ‘My Beef with Gmail‘ he writes:
The hidden danger of Gmail is that it creates a link to the past that is too strong, too convenient. Our mistakes and our frailties lie right below the surface, revisited with ease. It is possible that Gmail users who don’t delete their messages have created their very own historical panopticons. We may be able to see our entire written record, but it also looks at us. Preservation gives the past more weight than it sometimes deserves.
There’s something to be said for more forcefully living in the now by automatically deleting everything over a year old on all accounts: who needs old tweets, emails, or text messages? Any platform that involves an ‘archive’ should have a ‘don’t delete this’ checkbox. After a year passes WHOOSH. Whoosh being the sound of the unprotected messages vaporizing. I believe this is also the sound of being encouraged to move on into the now.
It’ll reduce the acres of server farms necessary to keep your past alive and speed up all queries made into your past. Of course I understand the need for a reflective journal and personal letters. A majority of the content deleted will be Bacn anyways. Time to slice up the “infallible memory”:
The obvious solution, of course, is to delete. Yet my index finger still quivers above my mouse when I ready an archival guillotine. Somehow Gmail has managed to make trashing messages feel like an act of cowardice. Gmail earns our appreciation for the small conveniences of infallible memory, but we ignore the virtues of forgetting.
We cannot lament all footprints that fade in a snowstorm.
This is irony: Plan to take down a whistleblower clearing house put together by the DOD posted to said whistleblower site: Wikileaks.org:
I just received an email from Wikileaks editor Julian Assange that’s pretty wild. It accuses the U.S. government of deliberately trying to take down the whistle-blower site PDF two years ago.
As proof, Wikileaks has posted a 32-page classified document PDF from the Department of Defense Intelligence Analysis program, dated March 2008, which details “the counterintelligence threat posed to the US Army by the Wikileaks.org Web site.” It reads:
The possibility that a current employee or mole within DoD or elsewhere in the US government is providing sensitive information or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out. Wikileaks.org claims that the “leakers” or “whistleblowers” of sensitive or classified DoD documents are former US government employees. These claims are highly suspect, however, since Wikileaks.org states that the anonymity and protection of the leakers or whistleblowers is one of its primary goals.
The sad truth is that sites like Wikileaks and Cryptome exist because the mainstream media can no longer be trusted to assume its role as the “fourth estate.” Just one example: The New York Times sat on the NSA warrantless wiretapping story for a full year before running it, and nobody in the mainstream media wanted to touch AT&T whistle-blower Mark Klein before he handed his documents over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Although mostly forgotten today, the “chemist’s war of Prohibition” remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was “our national experiment in extermination.” Poisonous alcohol still kills—16 people died just this month after drinking lethal booze in Indonesia, where bootleggers make their own brews to avoid steep taxes—but that’s due to unscrupulous businessmen rather than government order.
Our energy future will be defined by limits, and by the way we respond to those limits. Human beings can certainly live within limits: the vast majority of human history played out under conditions of relative stasis in energy consumption and economic activity; it is only in the past two centuries that we have seen spectacular rates of growth in economic activity, energy and resource consumption, and human population. Thus, a deliberate embrace of limits does not amount to the end of the world, but merely a return to a more normal pattern of human existence. We must begin to appreciate that the 20th century’s highly indulgent, over-consumptive economic patterns were a one-time only proposition, and cannot be maintained.
And subscribe to the Post Carbon Institute.
Unfortunately this is a serious post.
Jan Lundberg on a post-petroleum future:
The trucks will no longer pull into Wal-Mart. Or Safeway or other food stores. The freighters bringing packaged techno-toys and whatnot from China will have no fuel. There will be fuel in many places, but hoarding and uncertainty will trigger outages, violence and chaos. For only a short time will the police and military be able to maintain order, if at all. The damage that several days’ oil shortage and outage will do will soon wreak permanent damage that starts with companies and consumers not paying their bills and not going to work.
After an almost instant depression seizes the modern industrialized world, and nation-states break down, the frantic attempts of people to feed themselves, stay warm and obtain fresh water (pumped presently via petroleum to a great extent), there will be no rescue. Die-off begins. The least petroleum-dependent communities will survive best. These “backward” nations will be emulated by the scrounging survivors of the U.S. and the rest of the “developed” world, as far as local food production will be tried – in a paved-over, toxic landscape by people who have lost touch with the land…
Serious reading for a petroleum-heated afternoon in San Francisco:
This is by no means a follow up or related post to my collection of NFL Music Videos. It’s but an excerpt from the recent coverage in GQ of research of brain injuries. The article is “Game Brain” and it will rattle the (American) football industry:
What the NFL couldn’t have known then, of course, is that by the time Omalu’s article was published, he had already gotten a second brain, that of former Steelers guard Terry Long, who died at 45 after drinking antifreeze. Same morgue. Same slab. Same story. Terry Long had a clinical history similar to Webster’s. Depression. Memory loss. Crazy behavior. In and out of psych wards. He was bankrupt, living destitute and alone. He tried rat poison. He tried other cocktails. Nothing worked until finally he got it right.
Omalu took Terry Long’s brain home, sliced it, sent it in for stains, ran the same tests, found the same splotches, the same tau proteins. “This stuff should not be in the brain of a 45-year-old man,” he said. “This looks more like a 90-year-old brain with advanced Alzheimer’s.”
So Omalu wrote another paper. He called it “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player: Part II” and put it in an envelope and sent it to Neurosurgery, the prestigious peer-reviewed journal that did not, in the end, accept the NFL’s request to retract the first one and went ahead and published the second.
The news of CTE, of retired athletes possibly suffering debilitating brain damage, was now hitting the mainstream press. The NFL responded with denial and attack against the young pathologist in Pittsburgh, who surely had no idea what he was talking about.
“Preposterous,” they said to reporters.
“It’s not appropriate science.”
It was enough to tempt a man to become wicked, to lead him to thoughts of lawsuits and vengeance.
But Omalu did not become wicked. He reminded himself of who he was. “I perform autopsies on dead people every day, so every day I’m reminded of my mortality. It has made me become very religious. I know I’m going to die someday, I know I’m going to be judged by God, and I have work to do while I am here on the earth.”
Check out the Copenhagen wheel, by the Senseable City Lab team at MIT:
- Press release by MIT
- “Infrastructure, Programs and Policies to Increase Bicycling: An International Review,” prepared for the Active Living Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Preventive Medicine, Vol. 48, No. 2, February 2010, in press (with Jennifer Dill and Susan Handy). Click here for PDF.
Collapse IV features a series of investigations by philosophers, writers and artists into ‘Concept Horror’. Contributors address the existential, aesthetic, theological and political dimensions of horror, interrogate its peculiar affinity with philosophical thought, and uncover the horrors that may lie in wait for those who pursue rational thought beyond the bounds of the reasonable.
It includes poems, images, excellent writing, etc… Below are some samples from ‘Czech Forest’ by Rafani:
… and a mock childrens book: