Sideband #12: Even Dozen

I’m on a numeric kick with regard to Sidebands. Don’t worry, it can’t last past 13, because 14 and the numbers that follow are fairly uninspiring. Maybe #21 will be special (or not); Sidebands become adults or something. I’ll have to think about that.

I’ve also noticed that Sidebands have taken on more life than I intended. The plan was for them to be short and frequent, but some of them are pretty meaty. That’s okay, meaty words are the point here. And I’m still searching for my “voice” as I write. Many years of more formal writing, much of it technical, seem to push me away from the personal writing I wanted for this blog.

Well it’s a journey, isn’t it; a process.

Anyway, here are a dozen random, unconnected items. A twelve-pack sampler of things that amuse me, bemuse me or confuse me.

The Pessimist says, “The glass is half empty.”
The Optimist says, “The glass is half full.”
The Engineer says, “The glass should be half as big.”

The Pessimist and Optimist use their worldviews to express emotional opinions about the glass.  The Engineer expresses an opinion about altering reality for a better “fit.” That’s part of what Engineers call “elegance.”  The Engineering opinion is low in emotional content and defines a course of action.  The first two simply label reality.

Of course, all three reflect worldviews. But at least Engineers get things done.

A problem for every honest atheist is, “What if it is true?”
A problem for every honest theist is, “What if it isn’t true?”

If you believe god exists, or if you believe god does not exist, you have a faith in the nature of reality. The fact of the matter is not known. The only intellectually honest position is to admit you don’t really know.

There are three types of magic:

  1. State a Tautology then ring the changes on its corollaries; that’s Philosophy.
  2. Record many facts.  Try to see a pattern. Then make a wrong guess at the next fact; that’s Science.
  3. Awareness that you live in a malevolent universe controlled by Murphy’s Law; that’s Engineering.

Engineering pops up again. I give the label “Engineering Mind” to describe the tendency to search any situation for its flaws, for how it can break down. Engineers understand that Murphy applies to operations and design.

2 + 2 = 5  … for sufficiently large values of 2.

I think that’s the funniest math joke ever.

Do you know the one about the English professor giving a lecture and notes that although there is a double-negative that becomes a positive, there is no double-positive that becomes a negative.

Then, from the back of the classroom comes a voice, “Yeah, right!”

Cogito Ergo Simp (My mind is…umm what’s a mind? )
Cogito Ergo Sump (My mind is in the sewer.)
Cogito Ergo Stump (I think, therefore, I am puzzled)
Cogito Ergo Sub (I think I’ll have a sandwich.)
Cogito Ergo Sumo (I’m wrestling with my thoughts.)
Cogito Ergo Zoom (I think, therefore, I drive fast.)
Cogito Eggo Sum (I think, therefore, I am a waffle.)

The thing about the USA is that it works in pursuit of high principles of freedom and democracy. We make mistakes, but generally we at least try to be The Good Guy.

The world should be thankful we try as hard as we do. Can you imagine a boldly evil USA? Can you imagine what would happen if we said, “Screw it, we’re taking over.”  Who’d stop us?

Anderson’s Law: I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Law: It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.

Galbraith’s Law of Human Nature: Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.

Cole’s law: Thinly sliced cabbage.

“All of the people I could be, they got fewer and fewer until finally they got reduced to only one. And that’s who I am.”

This is quoted in my notes (as it is above). I’m not sure if I’m quoting myself or someone else, but the statement definitely applies (to me and to us all). A person has so much potential in the beginning; a vast space of possible futures. Life has a way of closing roads until finally you end up somewhere. What’s the old quote, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

10 Things that never happen in Star Trek

  1. The Enterprise runs into a mysterious energy field of a type it has encountered several times before.
  2. The Enterprise goes to visit a remote outpost of scientists, who are all perfectly alright.
  3. Some of the crew visit the holodeck, and it works properly.
  4. The crew of the Enterprise is struck by a mysterious plague, for which the only cure can be found in the well-stocked Enterprise sick-bay.
  5. The Captain has to make a difficult decision about a less advanced people which is made a great deal easier by the Starfleet Prime Directive.
  6. The Enterprise successfully ferries an alien VIP from one place to another without a serious incident.
  7. A power surge on the bridge is rapidly and correctly diagnosed as a faulty capacitor by the highly-trained and competent engineering staff.
  8. A major Starfleet emergency breaks out near the Enterprise, but fortunately some other ships in the area are able to deal with it to everyone’s satisfaction.
  9. The warp engines start playing up a bit, but seem to sort themselves out after a while without any intervention from boy genius Wesley Crusher.
  10. Spock (or Data) is fired from his high-ranking position for not being able to understand the most basic nuances of about one in three sentences that anyone says to him.

There is data (information), and there is code (function). If function is required to make sense of information, consider the implications of the mind (code) operating on the brain (data).

If the number of bits required to describe you is N—and this includes the bits describing your brain—and the mind can imagine anything, what does this suggest about N and its ability to describe anything? Data is necessarily finite. Code opens the door to infinity.

Facebook: Watching the ephemera pass by, I’m moved to wonder if—in this urgent content-drenched, high-speed world—it is even possible to stand out anymore.  When is the last time you discovered a really good new band (or new album from old band), new movie, new TV series, new author or book series?

This comment, too, is doomed to be lost in the internet wind.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

6 responses to “Sideband #12: Even Dozen

  • d.c.b.

    This is really many different posts. I could comment one so many items, but it’s just too much to do so. I really like some though 🙂

  • Lady from Manila

    I put confidence in what you stated at #7, as I occasionally get into hot seat whenever I find myself in a discussion with anyone (my students, most especially) who misinterpret most of the deeds of the U.S. government and its citizens. I think people who think negatively about your country have been largely brainwashed by their own government or media. I’ve even met American bloggers who harbor unpleasant sentiments about the own land they live in (they usually have personal issues regarding certain matters). And then there are others who rant against your nation simply because they’re envious. I have stopped some in their tracks during a conversation by rhetorically asking, “Why do you think the U.S. is the most prosperous country in the world?” If they still don’t get it, I’ve got to spell out: “It’s because they have been blessed for having inhabitants who are generally amiable, caring, well-meaning, and genuinely compassionate to animals. Meaning, they’re basically good people with a gracious heart – which I can’t say the same for the denizens of other countries.” And I don’t think I am making an overstatement here.

    “Can you imagine what would happen if we said, “Screw it, we’re taking over.” Who’d stop us?” You couldn’t have said it any better, Wyrd.

    Yes, this post is packed with lots of amusing and bemusing thoughts. I love it, anyway.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Hello, M’Lady! I hope you had a good work week and that it wasn’t too busy. In fairness to those in other countries, the USA has certainly made some mistakes and done some high-handed things. But we’re young and bold and brash (and sometimes selfish or pushy), so we do the wrong thing or sometimes lose our way. But we do have those high goals and self-image, so we do keep trying to be better. In the end, there are many good reasons why so many want to live here.

      I’m delighted to hear you stand up for the good ol’ USA in conversations! Thank you!! 😀

      • Lady from Manila

        Well, I’ve said this many times before to both friends and acquaintances: Americans are the best people in the world. They don’t just decide and act selfishly, which means they think about the welfare of the whole planet, too. I earned the ire of a good number of people with that. My strong conviction also comes from the fact that you can tell a lot about a society through how it treats its most defenseless citizens – specifically, children and animals.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Keeping mind that there are many exceptions to any rule, and that there are good and bad people everywhere, I think what you said is generally true. It’s certainly true if you measure us by our goals and ideals.

        And I think you’re correct about how revealing is treatment of the defenseless. I have long considered it a great litmus test to see how someone treats those that don’t matter to them. (Like: waiters and other service people, strangers they encounter, etc.) Just about anyone treats nicely people they care about or want something from. It’s when we don’t care at all that our character towards others is revealed.

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