reblog: A photographer edits out our smartphones to show our strange and lonely new world

Source: A photographer edits out our smartphones to show our strange and lonely new world

As someone who has never owned a smartphone, and who thinks the rest of you often look, not just like idiots, but enslaved idiots, I really like this guy’s vision.

Right on!

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

40 responses to “reblog: A photographer edits out our smartphones to show our strange and lonely new world

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I have a major hot button when it comes to people driving while using their electronic leashes. That’s been shown to be equivalent to driving drunk. It should be made very illegal and punished severely.

    But people who go to a baseball game and then spend most of the time head down in their electronic leash… that’s just tragic.

    • rung2diotimasladder

      You won’t find me looking at my phone at a baseball game. You’ll find me under my seat fearing a stampede. (The one and only time I went to a baseball game, the fly ball of course came my way.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Many of us baseball fans hope a fly ball comes our way! XD (I’ve been close a couple of times, but never had one come closer than a dozen rows or so.)

        The tendency to be head-down in your cell phone can be a real problem at baseball games. There were a number of injuries — one very serious — to spectators from line-drive foul balls or even bats that get away from the hitter. The very serious injury to a fan involved such a bat. A woman was hospitalized with “life-threatening” injuries (she did recover).

        It may eventually result in more netting between the field and crowd, but for now you really do have to pay attention at a baseball game!

      • rung2diotimasladder

        Yeah, I’m aware of that desire to catch the fly ball (scared the crap out of me once when people started rushing my way.)

        I’d rather stay out of the stadium altogether. Call me a scaredy cat, but baseball games terrify me.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Well, there is a certain special fun in being at the ballpark for a game, but I’ve found that watching them on TV actually makes for a more enjoyable experience.

        All those camera angles, slo-mo replay, announcer commentary, full climate control, my own fridge (and bathroom!), much better beer selection, plus the ability to stretch out on the couch.

        Not to mention, do you have any idea what ticket prices are like these days? Sheeze!

      • rung2diotimasladder

        I had the same thoughts myself (I don’t watch baseball games, but I thought TV was actually a better way to experience them for the same reasons you’re mentioning.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Wow, synchronicity strikes again. After catching up on comments, in particular the one to you about how they might put up more netting due to some incidents that happened during the season, I turned on the TV to watch more episodes of Heroes Reborn but ended up watching a bit of Hot Stove on the MLB network…

        …Where one of the sportscasters said the MLB just this morning announced they will be requiring more netting at baseball parks next year.

        (As I think I’ve mentioned: synchronicity happens to me all the time!)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Turns out Heroes Reborn is okay. Better than I expected, though I had a really low bar there. 🙂

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I’ve been using smartphones since the earliest crackberries. At first it was because I had to support executives who used them, but later with the advent of the iPhone, they became too cool to do without.

    Imagine carrying around a phone, a camera (both still and video), a library of books, our music collection, a GPS navigator, a pedometer, a game system, and many other things, along with having most of human knowledge at your fingertips. Many lunch arguments are now quickly resolved because the facts are only a few seconds away.

    Of course, most of us use these things to gossip and watch cat videos, but still, they’re pretty amazing when you think about it.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Heh. Given that we both go back to the days of 8″ floppy disks, punch cards, and “giant” 5-meg drives the size of two bricks, yeah… pretty damn amazing! 🙂

      As I have said before, we sit at an unprecedented feast of knowledge and art and ideas. Yet most just want to eat Micky D’s fries. That’s the first tragedy, the real tragedy.

      That it might be degrading our ability to communicate or think… the jury is still out on that one I think. There is a lack of richness and nuance as we used to know it, but perhaps it’s being slowly replaced by something else.

      I’d like to think so, because otherwise it is a downward slide into Mike Judge’s Idiocracy… started as fiction but is becoming a documentary. For a movie supposedly set 500 years in the future as a warning, certain elements have come true already.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        When I was working on my Nanowrimo novel, one of the things I struggled with was how to find conflict in a society where everyone has access to all the information and could control their emotions. Greg Egan imagined utopias and made his books about mathematical or scientific investigations, but I wanted conflict, and utopias are too boring to provide it.

        Sometime later I realized that, even with all the info and capabilities available, most people won’t make use of it. Watching how people use smartphones and the overall internet taught me that. Most of us have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, but simply don’t care enough to reach out and grasp it, and as a result make the same age old mistakes.

        Depressing in real life, but fertile ground for an aspiring fiction writer.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah,… the only reason history repeats itself is because people don’t learn from it. (Jon Stewart did a piece not long before he left about how often the government repeats past mistakes because lesson not learned.)

        Still, perfect knowledge doesn’t have to mean perfect agreement, so conflict ought to be available in the conflict of value systems. SF lends itself to classic mommy-daddy conflicts (JMS used it with Vorlons-Shadows). Same as the safety-freedom conflict, really.

        There’s a deeper conflict SF authors who’ve considered utopic visions have almost unanimously expressed: The conflict between the very idea of utopia and the fact that it would actually suck. (Immortality or invulnerability become boring. Having everything in some sense means having nothing. When everything is beautiful, beauty has no meaning. Likewise pain.)

        In some way, the conflicts we experience today in the world reflect that. Life is arguably better (i.e. more uptopic) in many, many ways. But it’s also an era of global terrorism, terrible social violence, and vast inequities. Modern life is a lot more stressful!

  • rung2diotimasladder

    I remember the first time I saw someone talking on his phone sans phone. It was at an airport and I thought the guy was some neurotic nut bag talking to himself. It took a while for me to see he had something in his ear, but still…he continued to put off that neurotic nut bag vibe (did he really have to speak so loudly?)

    I have a smartphone, but I haven’t figured out what people are looking at. I once tried to entertain myself on it while waiting for a appointment, but I got bored.

    On the other hand, I love my phone. I mostly use my phone’s Siri to find out things (as SAP said, to resolve arguments) and for playing Spotify in my car. I also use it to tell me to wake up “forty-four minutes from now” (just because that’s funny). Plus, I have to admit, texting is wonderful. I didn’t get the whole concept at first, but now I do. I have this inability to cut off conversations, but texting gets right to the point. Apparently you can avoid all those conventions and niceties. It brings me back to my middle school days with my best friend when our phone conversations went like this:

    “Come over.”
    “Okay, bye.”

    • Wyrd Smythe

      So your testimony is that smartphones eliminate the “conventions and niceties” of social intercourse (I love saying “social intercourse” 😛 ) and that they revert us to child-like behavior (and that Siri is apparently like having your mommy follow you around). XD

      I’m teasing, of course… you know… mostly. 🐱

      (I think mostly I’m way bemused by how web tech, and now smartphone tech, have become so deeply intertwined in our lives. I still remember when seeing a URL on a billboard was unusual. Now many places pretty much assume you have a smartphone and are on Facebook and Twitter.)

      • rung2diotimasladder

        Sort of. I don’t think my mommy would wake me up at precisely the right time. 🙂

        Well, it’s true that smartphones have become intwined in our lives, but it really does depend on the person. I feel like my laptop is more of threat than my phone. I hardly remember to charge my phone…in fact, I lost service this week because I forgot to update my credit card info, and I barely noticed. But my laptop…well here I am. And here you are.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah. I think we’re definite outliers, though. We live out on the flat-lands of the bell curve. 😮

      • rung2diotimasladder

        So true. But the flat-lands are nice. You can see far and wide out here. 🙂

        I wouldn’t have bothered to get a cell phone if it weren’t for the fact that I needed to be reached at all times in case something happened to my mother. Previous to that, I used my iPod on trips to make free calls through wifi. That worked, but it wasn’t great. The free aspect of it made the problems seem like no big deal. I even did this in Greece and found wifi everywhere, no problem. (There’s a whole group of people out there who’ve figured out a way to do this seamlessly, using portable wifi which comes as a phone case. But then they have to pay for that. Still, it’s cheaper than most plans.)

        I got a lot of shit for having a flip phone (the kind drug dealers use). Eventually the thing stopped working and my family started bugging me to get a “real” phone. The main problem with my flip phone was that I couldn’t hear anything well. So I did my research and found a refurbished unlocked iPhone 4s—ancient, apparently—but I like it, and like the idea that I can switch companies. I really hated the idea of spending $100/month on a phone. (I believe it’s gotten cheaper now, but back then a lot of my friends and family were spending that much. A big part of that is the ability to upgrade to the latest and greatest phone, something I don’t care about.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Your story sounds not terribly unlike mine, at least in substance. I only carry a cell phone (an old analog flip phone) because it’s impossible to find a pay phone anymore, and it’s nice to have a handy way to call in case of trouble. Or even just a delay.

        No doubt eventually it will stop working, too, and I’ll have to upgrade. They do make phones for seniors that are simple (and have large numbers) and don’t do fancy things. I may look into something like that. Or I may say, what the hell, and go for it. There are some advantages to carrying the whole internet around in your pocket, I do admit!

        I just want something ScFi with a holographic 22″ screen that appears and a full-sized keyboard for easy typing. And watches are too big… it should be a ring! 😀

      • rung2diotimasladder

        Jitterbug! LOL. Well, you probably don’t need to go that far.

        The GPS function on the smartphone is nice. And the stargazer apps are pretty cool. I imagine a techie guy like you would find more uses for a smartphone than I.

        I like the holographic screen idea. At that point, we wouldn’t need a keyboard. The voice-to-text will be much better, I would hope!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I have a friend who works on Jitterbug’s help desk, so I have an “in”! 🙂

        The toys are nice, but I find they get old quickly for me. In some ways, I am not easily amused (and yet I can quietly stare into a campfire, or watch the ocean, for hours). I found the same thing with the electronic keyboard I have. It has tons more features than any piano — it can sound like anything, record tracks over itself, built-in drums, etc — but I found I never spent that much time with it in any given session. A real piano, on the other hand, can engage me for hours.

        As for talking to computers, I’m still getting used to it. I always punched in my credit card number using the phone keypad, but lately I’ve been over-coming the weirdness of speaking to a machine.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        I didn’t know you played the piano! You should come over and play mine. It’s just collecting dust. And that’s really sad…it’s a nice baby grand.

        I’m considering learning how to read music so I can play properly. It wouldn’t cost much. There’s a class at the community college. It’s just a matter of getting well enough to sit through a class. I also don’t do well with structured learning when it comes to music, but after trying to learn one of the Nocturnes on my own armed with nothing but “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” I’d probably do better with some guidance.

        It was a strange thing with the Nocturne. At one point I had the whole thing in my head and could play the whole thing, but only segments at a time. I could never ever ever get through the whole piece without screwing up. It was infuriating. And forget sight reading. I don’t really know how to read music.

        Once I started to forget, I had to play at rapid speeds to turn my mind off and just hope my fingers would recall something. Weird stuff. By now I’ve forgotten everything. It took me a year to get it all in my head. So sad.

        Chopin, by the way, is not the place to start. I found that out the hard way. And double sharps still don’t make sense to me.

        Oh this, this…is so much harder than it sounds. And you have to have huge hands. I could manage, but my hand would cramp up after a while. (The last part was balls to the wall. My mind worked so hard I actually held my breath without realizing it.)

        So jealous:

        I know what you mean about campfires and oceans. I feel the same way. I wish I lived near the coast…the ocean is absolutely sublime. I love everything about it, even the terror it gives me sometimes.

        Talking to computers gets easier when you realize that if you don’t, you’ll have to text. I have small fingers (for the longest time my primary computer was one of those teeny tiny Acers) but even I have problems with texting.

        Talking to machines over the phone is pretty annoying to me too. At some point I usually find myself shouting, “Agent! Representative! Nononononono. Arealfuckinghumanbeingplease!”

        “I. Am. Sorry. I. Didn’t get that. I’m transferring you to one of our customer service representatives. Due to a high volume of calls, this could take. TWENTY FIVE. Minutes….”

        Then I put the phone on speaker and rock out to some elevator music. By the time someone picks up, I’ve forgotten my question.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “I didn’t know you played the piano!”

        Yeah. Mom was a trained music teacher, plus church organist and choir director (dad was the pastor), so I grew up knowing how to play. Can’t recall ever not being able.

        “I’d probably do better with some guidance.”

        I knew a guy in high school who went far beyond my abilities after just a few years of formal music training (mine, from mom, was informal and not rigorous). I’d been playing since, like five, and this guy way outpaced me in just those few years. (Granted, he was also gifted musically and driven. He’s musical director for a major west coast university now.)

        That was my first inkling that I had a lot to learn. As I grew older, there began to be working musicians in my circle of friends — people who did music for a living — and that’s when I really saw the difference between me and a real musician.

        So I kind of let my playing decline, and I haven’t played at all in years.

        I sometimes wonder if I should have pursued it. Gotten that guidance you mention. I do seem to “feel” the music on a slightly different level than regular people, but not on the level I see my musician friends feeling it.

        There’s a story about one friend in particular (“M”). Life-long working musician. We’re all hanging out at another friend’s house, and this other friend (“J”) was showing us his guitar synthesizer set up. The guitar drives the synth, which can sound like anything.

        So J would switch in a patch, and M would doodle a bit getting the feel of the new sound, and then start playing some tune that was perfect for that sound. It was amazing to watch and hear. J would switch in a new patch and M would figure out what to do with that. They went through over a dozen different sounds, and M found a perfect way to play each one. Within seconds.

        I could understand what he was doing, but never pull it off myself!

        “Once I started to forget, I had to play at rapid speeds to turn my mind off and just hope my fingers would recall something.”

        “Muscle memory” they call it. You learn the music on almost a subconscious level. I think all musicians, once they learn a tune, operate from that level.

        And you think it’s bad forgetting a tune you learned, just imagine how crappy it is forgetting a tune you wrote! I’ve been thinking about that lately. Wondering: If I dragged my keyboard out, would I remember any of my tunes?

        They were played so often without conscious thought they descended into a very unconscious part of my mind. It would be interesting to see if my fingers “remember” any of those tunes. If those long unused neural patterns still really exist.

        [Hey, speaking of neural patterns, did you give up on my AI series? I sort of thought I’d hear more from you in those posts.]

        “And forget sight reading. I don’t really know how to read music.”

        Well, there’s knowing how to read music, which is pretty easy to learn, and there’s being able to sight read, which is being able to play a new piece of music at speed. My mom was a very good sight reader — church organists have to be! So do studio musicians and certain others, but not all need that skill. (And it is just a skill you learn with practice.)

        I was never able to play anything difficult by sight at speed, but something simple, maybe, and if I just vamped on the melody and chords, then probably.

        “Chopin, by the way, is not the place to start.”

        Mom was classically trained, so I got a fair share of Chopin, Mozart, and Bach, shoved down my throat. I enjoy classical music, although I don’t really have much taste for it. I’m way more drawn to rock and jazz. When it comes to piano, here’s the kind of stuff that I’m jealous of (and would love to write and play):

        It’s filled with so much power and sheer joy I can listen to it over and over. (I’ve just listened to it three times writing this comment.)

        Another long-time favorite:

        And kinda anything by George Winston.

        “I wish I lived near the coast”

        Well, you’re a lot closer than I am (being about halfway between both)!

        “At some point I usually find myself shouting,…”

        Yeah, randomly pressing buttons seems to have a similar effect. XD

      • rung2diotimasladder

        You should show us your playing! (I understand if that’s not your thing…just saying you’d have at least one person listening.) 🙂

        I know what you mean about those gifted folks. That was my friend back in middle school (who went on to major in music theory). I caught up to him once for about five seconds when I learned “Stairway”—including the solo—but then when he saw me at his heels, he bolted, leaving me in the dust.

        I was a pretty decent guitarist back in high school. I know what you mean about forgetting songs you’ve written. I’ve forgotten all of them!

        The “All of Me” was surprising. I fully expected to hear, “Alllll of meeee….why don’t you take aaaaallll of meeeee…”

        Amazing playing. I’d say I wish I could do that, but honestly, that’s the product of many hours of practice for anyone, gifted or not. I just can’t wish that upon myself at this point. 🙂

        On the AI series…I just can’t keep up with your tempo! I’ve been trying to work on my novel and keep up with blogs, but I’m not quite as speedy as I used to be. I haven’t written anything interesting in a very long time. I keep threatening to do a video or something like that, but I just can’t seem to squeeze it all in.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “You should show us your playing!”

        I’m not opposed to the idea, but it would require starting to play again and getting my chops back, plus I’d probably have to figure out how to record and post stuff. That first step is the biggie, and while I often think I should dig out my keyboard and see if I have anything left, I have yet to actually do it.

        “I was a pretty decent guitarist back in high school.”

        All we need is a bass player and maybe another guitarist (I like multi-guitar bands) and we can form a group! We could call it The Philosophers and we could pattern all our tunes off ancient Greek philosophy texts. 🙂

        “The ‘All of Me’ was surprising. I fully expected to hear, ‘Alllll of meeee….why don’t you take aaaaallll of meeeee…'”

        I know, right? The title is really misleading. Apparently it’s been covered by just about every serious keyboard player, but it was new to me when I stumbled on it.

        The Piano Guys is a very good YouTube channel. They do all sorts of really interesting things with music, plus the music itself is really good.

        “On the AI series…I just can’t keep up with your tempo!”

        Well, the series is over now, so you can catch up. Between Mike, Steve, and DisagreeableMe, I was feeling a little beleaguered. They’re all believers in hard-AI, and don’t seem to see it as being the stretch I do. In fact, if you get into the comments, it seems at times my point wasn’t even being understood.

        It’s one thing to disagree over a viewpoint, but rather different when someone says they don’t even understand your point. It makes me wonder if I’m really bad at expressing myself!

        “I haven’t written anything interesting in a very long time.”

        Is that strictly to do with your situation or is there any feeling about the pointlessness of blogging about serious subjects in depth? That latter one plagues me… the sense of ‘why do I bother?’ And changes to WP seem to benefit “short form” bloggers or photo bloggers or re-bloggers but rarely do they do much for us “long form” bloggers.

        I’d been trying to get up the energy or will power or whatever it takes to post this week, but it’s just wasn’t there. Winter finally arrived, too… first snow of the season on T-day plus a huge drop in temps — it was 18° (F) when I woke up this morning. I do seem a bit affected by the season… the cold is bad enough; the snow is bad enough (the ice is worse); the darkness is bad enough… combine them all and throw in the damn holiday season (which I’m hugely conflicted over) and it’s not a good emotional recipe for me.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        On recording, you could figure out how to do it very easily, but the sound quality would probably not be up to your standards unless you have the proper equipment. I didn’t really care about that, so I used sound cloud.

        On the Philosophy band, we could be like the Postal Service: “The band’s name was chosen due to the way in which it produced its songs; due to conflicting schedules, Tamborello wrote and performed instrumental tracks and then sent the DATs to Gibbard through the United States Postal Service, who then edited the song as he saw fit (adding his vocals along the way) and sent them back to Tamborello.”

        On finding musicians, I know great ones, but they’re too amazing to want to play with me. I can understand. It would piss them off that I can’t read music. How inefficient!

        “Between Mike, Steve, and DisagreeableMe, I was feeling a little beleaguered. They’re all believers in hard-AI, and don’t seem to see it as being the stretch I do.”

        Honestly, I don’t know jack about AI. I doubt I’d be able to contribute in any way that would make sense, especially for those guys who know a lot more about it than I do.

        I doubt you’re having problems expressing yourself. It could be a fundamental disagreement? I’ll check it out, though, and see if I notice anything.

        I thought about writing a post on AI and phenomenology, but that might be a bit over my head. I do see an application, maybe, but it probably wouldn’t be that interesting for those who don’t want to talk about lesser, most-definitely-not-conscious AI. Besides, I don’t know enough about the AI end of things to be sure there is an application. It just seems to me there could be.

        If robots still can’t distinguish between objects, then it seems to me we ought to find out how WE distinguish between objects. That’s the application.

        “Is that strictly to do with your situation or is there any feeling about the pointlessness of blogging about serious subjects in depth?”

        My problem is definitely not about feeling that serious subjects won’t be read. I just don’t have the capacity to deal with serious subjects right now. I’m trying to focus more on my novel, which is what I’ve been doing all along, but now I don’t seem to be able to get things done like I used to. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the meds. Who knows. I sure hope it goes away, though! The odd thing is, when I was feeling really terrible, really at my worst, I was utterly productive online and with my own writing.

        “That latter one plagues me… the sense of ‘why do I bother?’ And changes to WP seem to benefit “short form” bloggers or photo bloggers or re-bloggers but rarely do they do much for us “long form” bloggers.”

        I haven’t felt that way, but perhaps it’s because I don’t post as much or as seriously as you do. I was shocked by how much of my “serious” stuff people read and how lengthy the conversations there were. I wish I could do it again.

        On the other hand, I’m not getting a bunch of new people reading. It’s the same folks who are drawn to that sort of thing. Which is fine by me, but I guess if you want to get a lot of followers, you have to write something more universally appealing (i.e., easy, fast.)

        I’ve never understood the photo blogging thing. I just find it boring. An occasional photo, okay, or if the blog is dedicated to own’s own professional photography, okay. But I just don’t get into that.

        Don’t feel bad about not posting this week. Think of how long it’s been since I’ve posted! 🙂

        On the holidays, I hope it’s not too bad for you. I think a lot of people have conflicted feelings about them. I tend to remember all the holidays in my past, my parents, both now gone, etc. I’m lucky to have my core family to keep things light.

        My favorite thing about the holidays are:

        a) Thanksgiving. My husband and I treat this as our anniversary since that was when we really got to know each other. So each year we make it a tradition to make a full-blown traditional dinner all for ourselves. He’d invited a bunch of students to his house for Thanksgiving, the students who would otherwise be stuck on campus all alone. Everyone who said they’d come didn’t—and there were nearly 20 students, all of whom dropped out at the last minute. So we turned this potentially awkward thing into something fun and ridiculously plentiful. And that was back when he knew more about cooking than I did, so we spent Thanksgiving in the kitchen—philosophy professor teaches philosophy student how to properly hold a knife, etc. So weird to think that he was once the cook. Weird. Weird. Now I’m the fascist of the kitchen. On that note, just this Thanksgiving I had to remind him of his smoked oyster and chestnut stuffing recipe. It’s really amazing.

        b) Christmas tree. A real one.

        c) Christmas lights.

        That’s about it for me. I don’t care for New Year’s all that much. I hate the buying frenzy, but I have to get into it too. (This year I made a new rule. I told my husband that since neither of us need anything, we’re cutting X-Mas spending down to $100. I’d rather put the money into a bathroom renovation, and so would he.)

        On b), I think it makes a big difference. The scent of the tree is what defines Christmas for me. If you don’t want to bother with a tree, I would recommend heading over to Trader Joes (if you have one there?) and getting at least a little rosemary tree. Stick some lights on it. Leave the lights on all night so that when you get up in the dark morning, you’ll see this beautiful tree all aglow. There’s something magical about it that lifts my mood immensely.

        On C), that’s just another component of B), but it’s important for me. I like to use them indoors as well. I don’t discard the strands of lights that work only halfway down the line…I figure out a way to use them inside so that the missing lights don’t show. It’s another way to lift the spirits.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “…but the sound quality would probably not be up to your standards…”

        Anything I’d do these days would be entirely electronic, and probably MIDI, so sound quality as it applies to live recording wouldn’t be an issue. OTOH, my MIDI software is so old it expects an actual sound card with a MIDI port for the keyboard. My laptop would confuse it, so I’d have to get new software. That’s not an issue, but getting back into playing, let alone writing, music is.

        (Between theatre and some TV and film work, I’ve actually got a fair bit of experience with sound recording. Plus, one of my BFFs in L.A. was super into it as a career, and we had a little business using her equipment (she came from money) to record wannabe artist demos. In some cases they only wrote lyrics, so we wrote the music. Our biggest claim to fame (ha!) was a piece of lead-in music for a tiny San Francisco cable news show. Since then she’s gone on to build, own, and run, a sound recording studio in Orange County (that’s her at the sound board). For reasons I’m not entirely clear on, I hardly hear from her anymore. Kinda bums me out. I just get electronic greeting cards at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year the card didn’t work… I emailed, but (as usual) no reply. We used to be incredibly close, so it kinda bums me out.)

        “I know great ones, but they’re too amazing to want to play with me. I can understand. It would piss them off that I can’t read music. How inefficient!”

        Yeah, pretty much likewise on the difference in skill level. For a long time I knew a guy who played in a local band that got a lot of work. We did try to jam together once. Got a a part where he gave me that “take it” look — do a solo — and I just froze. So inhibited playing in front of a real musician. It was kind of humiliating, and was one of those major realization times that musically, if I have it at all (which is debatable — sometimes I do think I do), I have a long, long way to go for it to be anything other than a child’s doodles. Everything I write, even to me, sounds like musical doggerel. Trite.

        “Honestly, I don’t know jack about AI.”

        I always (on this blog) try to write for any reader. I never assume background knowledge, although I do gloss over certain things (figuring that, if the reader is really interested, they can pursue it — which is one reason I use so many Wiki links).

        “I doubt you’re having problems expressing yourself. It could be a fundamental disagreement?”

        This is why I’d like a more neutral party’s response, and a party lacking in a strong view is even better because I wonder if the resistance is more territory defending than specific objection. Agreeing that I have a point doesn’t prove either side right or wrong, but does weaken the certainty of hard AI. I got the same feeling at times that I do arguing with religious people — or with hard-core atheists. It’s (IMO unwarranted) gnosticism.

        (And if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I can’t help but get aggressively antipathetic about gnosticism. 😀 )

        “I thought about writing a post on AI and phenomenology, but that might be a bit over my head.”

        I’d certainly be interested in what you have to say. Perspectives are important! You’ve sort of dabbled in the topic before with, I thought, success.

        “I don’t know enough about the AI end of things to be sure there is an application.”

        Perhaps one of my AI posts would make a good place to explore this if you want to get into it? Or you could just write an “RFC” (Request For Comment) post. Something that puts your idea out there (and copyrights it in the process) and then says, “… so whaddaya think?”

        “If robots still can’t distinguish between objects,…”

        Depends on what you mean. They can distinguish very well between some kinds of objects. There are still issues recognizing rotations, partial images, or distortions. (Think how we can walk into a crowded room filled with strangers and recognize a friend from the back.)

        This might be an appropriate thread under the Model Code post that introduces the idea of computer models. (And that post has only four comments, so there’s some elbow room.)

        The Model Minds post, and the one that follows, Four Doors, discuss the basic kinds of models I see for consciousness.

        (Although, actually, the whole series is summarized and indexed! 🙂 in the final post, Information Processing.

        “I don’t seem to be able to get things done like I used to.”

        Did I mention I started feeling that dizzy business a couple of weeks ago? You, a friend in Minneapolis, my best friend’s wife, and now me. It was really on-again, off-again on a day-by-day basis, really strong some days, hardly noticeable others. Then it died down so it wasn’t as noticeable but was more constant.

        The last week I’ve had a bad chest and sinus cold, so my head feels like a block anyway, but the actual room-spinning stuff seems to be gone. Be interesting to see if it returns when the cold goes away.

        Anyway, my point is, I can see how the head-spinning really just totally kills motivation to do much of anything. The last few weeks I’ve felt like an unmoored boat just drifting in the current. I haven’t gotten shit done, and that’s starting to be a problem (stuff is building up and certain financially related deadlines at risk).

        So, yeah, wow, this really sucks. I feel — literally — your pain.

        “I was shocked by how much of my “serious” stuff people read and how lengthy the conversations there were. I wish I could do it again.”

        So do your readers! 😀 As you say, long-form blogs discussing intellectual topics are few and far between. Our little community of chatty, largely sane, intellectuals clearly values your input!

        “On the other hand, I’m not getting a bunch of new people reading.”

        Yeah, I know what you mean. I think WP is changing, and I do wonder if thoughtful blogging is dying out. I’m not the only one who has pondered that question.

        And, yeah, followers do come from more universal (and thus more shallow and dull) topics. It’s probably true that the more focused on a single topic your blog is, the more of a following you’ll get. On the other hand, it depends on the topic (and the writer). There’s a classic films blog I follow that gets almost no traffic (few Likes, fewer Comments). And Paul McCartney, if he had a blog, could probably write about anything and have a zillion followers.

        I think advertising in some way may be key. There is so much content out there now that if you don’t find a way to get in front of lots of eyes, you just get lost in the sheer mass of available content.

        (I got really into YouTube for a while, but I’ve stopped watching videos almost entirely now, and I’m not quite sure why. The videos are very interesting, so why can’t I make myself sit down and watch them? I think it part it somehow feels too passive — staring at the screen. But I can get into TV, so… I’ve actually begun to wonder if I’m so overwhelmed by all the videos I could watch, and want to watch, but there just aren’t enough days in a week, so I just give it up as impossible? I’m still trying to figure it out.)

        “I’ve never understood the photo blogging thing.”

        There are people who still think a photo is something. We’ve trivialized them. Remember when you had to wait for the film to be developed and printed? A photo used to cost something.

        And to be very honest, most amateur photography is like most amateur writing (or most amateur anything). I’ve got a friend in California who’s trying to sell his photography, and I’ll give him credit for at least working at it, but he only does still lifes of buildings and flowers, and I just can’t imagine buying a photograph of a building or a flower.

        Well, a building, maybe, if shot from an interesting angle and combined with good lighting and a good sky for a background (some buildings demand clear skies, some cloudy). But a flower? I totally don’t get photos of flowers, but then I don’t really get flowers.

        “On the holidays, I hope it’s not too bad for you.”

        [shrug] I varies. I get by mostly by ignoring it. The winter and darkness makes it harder, but global warming is helping. It’s already less than a month from Winter Solstice, so the light will be returning fairly soon.

        I’ve always been a bit conflicted by Christmas. Thanksgiving, to me, was about the food and, to some extent, large family gatherings (which mostly ended when we moved to L.A.). Christmas was always hard because I was alone in some sense even as a kid. Isolated by the hearing thing and by being on such a different mental plane than my parents or sister.

        I suppose one reason I’ve managed to stay sane as “an island” is that it’s pretty much all I’ve ever really known. On some level I’ve never gotten completely used to be being with people, and it takes me a very, very long time (years) to become completely comfortable around someone.

        Some of that is trust. Too many rejections by people once I’ve let them inside the castle. They always seem to find some room(s) that just appall them. (Even the ex-wife. Fundamentally that was a rejection of me as a person.)

        “a) Thanksgiving.”

        Sounds lovely! I do love stuffing. And those flakey dinner rolls. Can’t stand yams or cranberry sauce, though.

        “b) Christmas tree. A real one.”

        I’ve never had a tree when I’ve been alone (so, most years), although a friend made me a tiny (one foot tall) one with tiny battery-powered lights and tiny presents and “snow” and stuff. It’s gotten pretty ratty over the years.

        But when I did have a tree, it was definitely a real one. The smell alone, as you say, is reason enough, but there are others. (I actually don’t have room for a tree here.)

        “c) Christmas lights.”

        And haven’t they gotten amazing over the years. The new thing this year is those units that project laser “stars” all over your house. (I was at a retirement party recently and someone gave the guest of honor one of those, but he didn’t even take it out of the box and try it.)

        I do have lights, but somehow I never get around to putting them up. I do have a green “rope” light intertwined with a red “rope” running across my kitchen cabinets. Does look pretty but I never plug it in.

        I think I’m beyond all those tricks we play to make ourselves think everything’s okay. In fact, I seem to be reaching some sort of crux where I’ve got to decide how, or if, to move forward. This non-life I seem to be living is increasingly pointless. I think 2016 has to be the Year of Serious Decision Making.

        “I don’t care for New Year’s all that much.”

        I’ve been to so many great New Year’s Eve parties that I used to like it a lot. Then I began to think of it as “Amateur Night” and to see it as a good night to stay home off the roads. One of these years recently I didn’t even bother staying up past midnight!

        “I hate the buying frenzy, but I have to get into it too.”

        Being single and not close to family has certain advantages, perhaps. I do give gifts to my friends, but I go the easy route. Wine is a good gift, and you can do all your shopping at the liquor store any old time. I’ve also given books — they’re harder to shop for since they have to be appropriate. This year I’m giving candy (Lindt bon-bons) and nuts. (Steaks, or other meats, or cheeses, can also make good gifts.)

        In weird contrast, I do love Christmas music. Oh, in fact, now that it’s past Thanksgiving, I can start listing to my Christmas music play list! These days I prefer jazz and rock ‘n’ roll Christmas tunes, but I also love the classical stuff. Back in the day my Lutheran pastor dad (and church organist mom) would invite anyone in the church who wanted to come over to sing Handel’s Messiah (an incredibly stirring oratorio). Takes hours. I can still remember those evenings, our house packed with people singing.

        Last year I posted a lot of YouTube Christmas music videos. Probably won’t do that again, but might link back to those posts. [shrug]

      • rung2diotimasladder

        On music, do you sing? Write lyrics?

        The latter is what prevents me from writing songs. I could come up with music easily, but lyrics are way over my head.

        Sorry to hear about your friend. People grow apart, but in your case it sounds one-sided. You sure you got the email right? Just saying.

        I thought of this because my husband very regularly falls into the error of thinking that his friends no longer like him when in fact it’s just a miscommunication. This may not apply to you, but it’s a characteristic in my husband that he would have been totally unaware of if it weren’t for me. He tortures himself with thoughts of what he might have done to lose his friendships, when, in fact, the person in question was simply busy or dealing with problems or whatever. In other words, it has nothing to do with him.

        For example, one of his friends was a mathematician and extremely Asperger-y except when engaged in conversation with someone he liked. Then he was absolutely charming, stupendously clever, and funny. And there was never anything neurotic about his intelligence, a rarity which I certainly appreciated. We invited him to a small dinner party and at one point he simply got up from the table and went into the living room to play one of my guitars on his own. (I heard from his wife that this was fairly polite behavior coming from him. He apparently once snuck out through a window during his own birthday party.) Well one day my husband invited him to meet for coffee, and the friend refused, saying, “I just don’t feel like it today.” My husband was totally offended and kept pacing around the house asking himself what he’d done to lose his friend. I told him again and again, this guy was just a different sort of fellow and he was being absolutely honest. “He didn’t feel like it. Don’t read any more into that. Remember what he does when he gets bored? If he didn’t want to be your friend he’d probably just tell you.” My husband didn’t believe me and kept beating himself up. A few months later, the friend called and invited him out for coffee and my husband was totally perplexed. I wasn’t. Later the friend told me he was bipolar, and I had guessed as much. (BTW, this friend passed away this year. I didn’t know him well since I liked to give my husband “guy time” during which he could talk about me behind my back if he needed to :), but it breaks my heart because this man was the one friend who could fulfill my husband’s need for intellectual conversation. I actually loved how blunt and direct he was…though maybe not a great virtue in most of life’s dealings, I found it refreshing. And he adored dogs in the same way I do.)

        Long story short, maybe it’s something like that? Miscommunication? Misunderstanding?

        On your AI posts, I swear I’ll get around to reading them. I’m gonna give it a shot after finishing up with the comments here. No promises on anything intelligent to say, though! My mind has become a bit of a wasteland this year. (Yesterday I did craft-y things to feel somewhat productive. I made a wreath. And a paw-stocking for Geordie.)

        On YouTube, I recently bought a Chromecast for $20 from Groupon or LivingSocial (I forget which). It’s wonderful. I can cast any webpage onto my TV and listen to Spotify on the good speakers. Maybe this will help if you want to watch videos? I personally don’t have much of an attention span when I’m at my computer watching videos, and I don’t like the small screen. Plus, maybe the sound could be an issue for you?

        “There are people who still think a photo is something. We’ve trivialized them. Remember when you had to wait for the film to be developed and printed? A photo used to cost something.”

        I do remember that. I can’t say I yearn for those days. When digital photography came about en masse, it was just in time for my trip to Europe. I took some stunning photos with my digital camera (a rather clunky thing, but it was still better than anything taken with a phone.) I used to spend a shit ton of money on film because I always took photos like they were free. On the other hand, that was how I got some surprisingly good ones. For me it was always a crap shoot anyway. 🙂

        On the holidays, I still recommend the tree. A small one. Table top-sized. Rosemary or whatever…it’s just so damned happy. (Here we can plant the rosemary in the desert dirt and it’ll grow like crazy.)

        Sometimes those “tricks we play to make ourselves think everything’s okay” work really well. Embrace pointless niceties, even absurdities.

        But I hope I’m not making light of depression? I certainly don’t mean to do that. There’s nothing worse than having friends gloss over your problems with trite advice.

        “This non-life I seem to be living is increasingly pointless. I think 2016 has to be the Year of Serious Decision Making.”

        I hope you don’t mean what this sounds like. I hope you mean “A Year of Positive Changes”…?

        You claim you haven’t gotten much done, but take it from me, you have. Whether others recognize it is irrelevant. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished, because from my perspective, for what that’s worth, you’ve done an incredible job of pumping out informative and thoughtful posts. Not to mention comments on other posts. I hope you see it that way too. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to keep up. I think I would’ve been better at it last year.

        On health, your room-spinning sounds like true vertigo. My husband had it and it’s serious business. He fell once and smashed his face on a chair, so please be careful.

        Mine was light-headedness/passing out feeling, which is a different thing. But true vertigo often has to do with inner ear problems and you should definitely have that checked out if it comes back. BPPV is actually pretty common. Hopefully it’s a matter of the crystals in your inner ear getting whacked out of place, in which case you could try the Eppley manoeuvre (have your PCP do it for you or teach you how to do it. I don’t recommend doing it alone. When the crystals move, the vertigo gets terrible for a few seconds. My husband nearly threw himself on the floor when he did it, but luckily I was there to catch him. He thought he was pulling me toward him!)

        And I know I’m repeating myself, but if it comes back, please go to your doc. In fact, you might want to go anyways…it can’t hurt. There could be any number of things causing true vertigo, and having a diagnosis is really important. Especially since BPPV can be treated by fairly simple crystal-moving exercises. (It takes time, though. And having vertigo often leaves behind that general dizziness feeling, like a rocking boat. It can also cause anxiety since you could feel out of control and lose sleep from it. Vertigo is just awful awful stuff. I’ve only experienced it twice in my life: once when I was crazy drunk, and another time when I had the caloric testing done for my lightheadedness. The vertigo response was normal and meant that I had no inner ear problem.)

        The cold symptoms are an odd coincidence indeed! I really think it all started because of that flu I had last November. I know I’m not depressed/anxious.I also know docs have gotten to the end of the differential diagnosis road and so they’re left with nothing but a psychological origin for my symptoms, so I can’t blame them for giving me SSRIs and such. But I’ve gotten off of them and I feel much better. I think this thing I have was some sort of viral infection that caused my whole CNS to go nuts. It’s odd because it’s running a course, like a cold or flu, except this course is taking a long time. It’s been a year now. I’m at the “very cold feet” stage. I seem to be getting better, on the whole.

        And back to silly Christmas stuff, if you send me your mailing address via email, I’ll send you a Christmas card. This isn’t a normal Christmas card. This one is, um, different. I think you’ll find it amusing. (And, of course, I totally understand if you don’t wish to share that info with me.)

        You like Christmas music? Hm. I have to say that’s one thing about the holiday that I could do without. I can tolerate straight-forward Christmas music, but nothing with rock or jazz or popular stuff mixed in. (Which is odd because I really only listen to popular music.)

        On AI and phenomenology, I think your idea is good. I’ll probably go with that when I get around to posting again. (I realize this topic should’ve gone somewhere up there, but oh well…) 🙂

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “On music, do you sing? Write lyrics?”

        No and no. 🙂 Even in terms of how I listen to music, lyrics almost don’t exist unless I have access to a text version (due to my hearing). Music has always been “instrumental” to me; any vocals just sound like another instrument due to being unable to make out the words.

        “The latter is what prevents me from writing songs.”

        Yeah, it kinda keeps you out of pop or rock and some jazz. On the other hand, there is jazz and there have been some successful instrumental bands or groups. But conventional wisdom is that instrumental music is a tough sell.

        “Sorry to hear about your friend.”

        There’s a pretty rich history… we were pretty far inside each other’s “house” (so to speak). It’s weird.

        It’s not the email, which just has a link to the card site. And the site works, but the link to the card just gives a blank page. Even going to the site’s main page and entering the card code just returns a blank page. I suppose it could be my Flash install, but it’s current as far as I know.

        I do have a bit of that doubt about being liked that your hubby does (and I think there is at least a shred of truth to it — I’m just pretty different from them), but this case is something else, I’m pretty sure. I don’t see any place where miscommunication or misunderstanding could exist. I have wondered… sometimes when a close friend chooses to move away, the loss can hurt so much you harden your heart to it, and that ends up actually affecting your feelings. It’s not uncommon to have unconscious (or conscious!) anger at a friend for “deserting” you.

        (Plus there are aspects of this that aren’t for public consumption and aspects that are strictly personal, so you’re only getting a glimpse of the situation.)

        “I can cast any webpage onto my TV…”

        I’ve wondered if they’d be better on my TV. I’ve also wondered whether a tablet of some kind would work. Let me stretch out on the couch like reading a book. It just hasn’t risen to the level of being interesting enough to move on it. (In some regards I deliberately keep the interweb at arm’s length as if it were a dangerous drug or animal.)

        Hearing is one aspect. Many videos have a CC, and YT does have “auto caption” that works almost pretty good. It does affect things, but I think it’s more that watching someone talk, or even watching a presentation of imagines with a verbal soundtrack, is a hideously inefficient way to absorb data (to me). I can read text so many times faster than anyone can speak.

        I’ve had some luck with running videos at 1.5x or even 2x speed. It requires focus to listen to speech that fast, but at least it presents the information at a pace that doesn’t bore me stupid. That’s the problem I have with people talking at me… no matter how interesting the topic, speaking pace bores me stupid.

        “I do remember that. I can’t say I yearn for those days.”

        Oh, I don’t know that I do, either. Just noting what a sea change it represents.

        “On the holidays, I still recommend the tree.”

        Honestly, I think this year the ticket is ignoring them completely. It’s already December 3. A month from now it’ll be in the rear view mirror. (Sometimes being close-but-not-there is worse than being far. Sort of the loneliest place is a crowd thing.)

        “On health, your room-spinning sounds like true vertigo.”

        It was pretty weird in a “wow, this is kinda neat” way. If I kept my eyes open, things really did seem like they were moving. Hallucinations have always fascinated me (bums me out I never tried LSD when it was around), so the sensation was interesting to study.

        It might have been related to an ear infection. It’s been gone for days now.

        Speaking of hallucinations, for several years now I’ve gotten this strange visual hallucination involving this “C” shape composed of small jagged triangles of simmering light. It starts out as a small part of the “C”, grows to the full thing, hangs around a while, and then fades. It’s really quite striking!

        I described this to my best friend who exclaimed that he experienced the same thing! (Although in his case, it made more of an “O” shape.) Later he asked his eye doctor, who said, “Oh, that!” The doc dug out some pictures to show my friend and asked him if the hallucination looked like those. They did.

        What it is is the visual effects of a migraine without the pain of the migraine.

        The Epley maneuver sounds like what my friend’s wife described. I’ll keep it in mind.

        “I think this thing I have was some sort of viral infection that caused my whole CNS to go nuts.”

        Sounds like a case for Dr. House! 😀

        It’s definitely possible to get hit with something that, even though it’s gone, leaves you damaged enough that it can take a long time to recover.

        “I can tolerate straight-forward Christmas music, but nothing with rock or jazz or popular stuff mixed in.”

        So no Bruce Springsteen’s Santa is Coming to Town? Why is that? (I agree, it’s odd! 🙂 )

        I’ve been glued to the TV the last 24 hours watching the coverage of the shooting in California. What a world we’ve made.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        “Music has always been “instrumental” to me; any vocals just sound like another instrument due to being unable to make out the words.”

        So funny that you should say this. Just a few minutes ago I woke up and thought about music’s lyrics. I don’t know where I got this thought. It’s not usually something I think about before I’ve had my coffee (or in this case, tea, since we forgot to pick up coffee last night) 😦
        I thought of the reason why I like pop music lately. I never listened to it much in college (then I could only tolerate Chopin’s nocturnes and Bach’s cello suites, on repeat. Day after day after day.) I realized that the reason I like it now is because I don’t listen to the lyrics. I may even sing along, but I’m not attending to the meaning. If I did, most music would be ruined for me. My husband finds it infuriating when he can’t understand the lyrics, and I’ve never understood that. I just say, “Well stop listening to those! They’re not gonna be good anyways.”

        The only exception to that is music by Ani DiFranco. (This was my realization this morning.) I don’t listen to her much anymore (that was more of a high school angst kind of thing) and I’ve never liked her political stuff, but I can’t avoid hearing her lyrics and taking in their meaning. After all, there’s a song in which she talks about taking out her tampon to go splashing around. Yeah…

        Other times she’s very direct. An example:

        They say goldfish have no memory
        I guess their lives are much like mine
        and that little plastic castle
        is a surprise every time
        and it’s hard to say if they’re happy
        but they don’t seem much to mind…

        (later in the song)
        People talk about my image
        like I come in two dimensions
        like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind.
        Like what I happened to be wearing the day that someone take a picture
        Is my new statement for all of woman kind….

        Quick, someone call the girl police
        and file a report!

        Other times she writes beautiful lines. One of my favorites:

        Buildings and bridges are made to bend in the wind
        To withstand the world that’s what it takes
        All that steel and stone are no match for the air, my friends
        What doesn’t bend breaks

        Just the kind of stuff I’m not capable of writing. Simple lyrics that stand out in a song and come through with clear meaning.

        On the other hand, I could invent gibberish to sing. I do that all the time for Geordie. I sing along to opera in different languages, and since I don’t know the words, I just make them up. Or I sing lyrics from another song (it’s really fun to squeeze in syllables that don’t fit).

        “(Plus there are aspects of this that aren’t for public consumption and aspects that are strictly personal, so you’re only getting a glimpse of the situation.)”

        Ah, okay. Gotcha.

        “I think it’s more that watching someone talk, or even watching a presentation of imagines with a verbal soundtrack, is a hideously inefficient way to absorb data (to me). I can read text so many times faster than anyone can speak.”

        I’m the same way. My husband loves to watch/listen to lectures, but I find them so damned slow! (Although, when he found the podcasts on our Roku, he was at first very excited, but I haven’t seen him listening to them.)

        “(Sometimes being close-but-not-there is worse than being far. Sort of the loneliest place is a crowd thing.)”

        I get what you mean. Good metaphor too.

        On LSD, I probably shouldn’t say this, but it was the very first drug I tried. I mean before pot, before drinking really. I took an art class in which a few students were talking about tripping and seeing Minnie Mouse run across the floor, and I thought they were making things up. Oddly, a little while later my friend asked me if I wanted to drop acid, so I did. It was a big mistake (that I repeated again and again, believe it or not). I did hallucinate, but it took a long time to kick in and I remained skeptical. My friend assured me that this was “really strong stuff.” I didn’t believe it would happen. But oh did it happen. At one point stepped outside and moved the stars at will. I had many strange experiences that night, none of which were eye-opening in any deep sense. Later in the evening I “forgot” how to walk up the stairs. I started crying and flipping out.

        Another time I stupidly dropped acid in a movie theater during a bad, supposedly-sad military movie. I started giggling at the wrong moments and decided to leave before someone in the audience yelled at me. Then I got to experience all the patterns on the carpet, the flashing lights, everything going wild.

        I don’t recommend hallucinating. It’s not that great. I never learned anything from it, but I did feel a total loss of control and extreme paranoia. I find pot too strong and can’t get into that either. I think I hallucinate easily.

        Strange thing about your “C” shaped hallucination. Does it happen during certain times?

        I notice that when I’m extremely fatigued, I get the sense that the floor is breathing. (Same thing happens on acid, only it’s more extreme).

        I’m surprised you found the vertigo interesting. I think most people find it simply terrifying.

        On that, I wonder if it was an ear infection. Sounds possible. I hope it doesn’t come back!

        What’s Dr. House?

        And no, no Bruce Springsteen. I just…can’t. I don’t know why.

        On CA, I wonder what would happen if the media stopped reporting such events. Would they stop happening? Or at least stop becoming so prevalent?

        I tend not to watch too much news coverage of these things because rarely do they have new information. It seems like a lot of speculation and rehashing of a handful of facts. On the other hand, my husband watches the news—a lot of news—so I tend to get the “handful of facts” indirectly.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “I thought of the reason why I like pop music lately.”

        Interesting! I wonder if that disconnect exists for others? Obviously your husband’s view indicates it’s not universal. I’ve heard talk about how “OMG” and “LOL” don’t really stand for their respective phrases so much anymore. They’ve become words with their own meaning. (Meaning not necessarily reflected in the original phrases.)

        I wonder if the musical one might be related to the supposed differences in mental approach. Text-based versus image-based (or music-based).

        And as you say, many song lyrics, once you do hear or read them, are pretty lame and silly.

        I have a buddy who is into “Irish ditty” bands. Those, like rap, are entirely (or hugely) lyric-based and often strike me as musically boring or repetitious. And the lyrics of “Irish ditties” are often cute stories but less often insightful.

        “The only exception to that is music by Ani DiFranco.”

        I’ve got a couple like that, too. Some song writers are poets like that; some are serious storytellers (Dylan and Springsteen are two that always spring to mind); some are social commentators. The ones I like tend to be musically strong, also (which is why I’m a Springsteen fan, but not much a Dylan fan).

        One of my favorite musical philosophers is Bruce Cockburn (“co-burn”). From Burden of the Angel/Beast:

        From the lying mirror to the movement of stars
        Everybody’s looking for who they are
        Those who know don’t have the words to tell
        And the ones with the words don’t know too well

        Could be the famine
        Could be the feast
        Could be the pusher
        Could be the priest
        Always ourselves we love the least
        That’s the burden of the angel/beast

        That first verse just knocks me out. The last one is really good, too:

        We go crying, we come laughing
        Never understand the time we’re passing
        Kill for money, die for love
        Whatever was God thinking of?

        We humans are pretty strange. Angels and beasts in one package. What else has the universe created that seeks to understand the universe itself?

        “On the other hand, I could invent gibberish to sing.”

        I went through a phase where I could do long, long monologues in high-gibberish. Pretending to speak in tongues, as it were. All kinds of emotional inflection… just not one shred of actual signal. Total noise. 😀

        “I don’t recommend hallucinating.”

        Well, that ship sailed a long time ago. I’ve not done acid, but I have done peyote and mushrooms. I loved it, which made me sad I’d bought into the anti-LSD propaganda and not tried it when I had the chance. I have a powerful mind that’s always been able to whisper in my ear: This is just the really interesting effects of the drug. Relax and enjoy the ride!

        “I never learned anything from it,”

        Yeah, I’ve never seen it as “touching god” or anything like that. Just really fascinating what a bit of chemistry can do to your perceptions and thoughts. I do love experiencing unusual things!

        “Does [the migraine hallucination] happen during certain times?”

        It’s only happened, I’m guessing here, half a dozen times over a period of several years, so I’ve not been able to draw any lines between circumstances and it occurring. So far the only common elements I can think of are that I was awake and seated each time. [shrug]

        “I notice that when I’m extremely fatigued, I get the sense that the floor is breathing.”

        I’ve had that if I lose a night of sleep. On occasion in college, I’d pull an all-nighter and the next day the chalk writing on the blackboard (we had those in my day ’cause I’m old!) seemed to crawl around the board. I used to have some notes where I was obviously dozing off… sentences end in the middle with a long pen line leading straight off the page…

        Or things look like they have a hard outline around them that is more sensed than seen. (Most likely something going on with your visual edge discrimination system.)

        “I’m surprised you found the vertigo interesting. I think most people find it simply terrifying.”

        I’m so not most people! 🙂

        As I said, I like experiencing unusual things (hence my love of skydiving and hallucinogens).

        “What’s Dr. House?”

        One of my favorite TV shows of all time! House, M.D. The show was a take on Sherlock Holmes (see the linked post for more on that), which endeared it to me just on that account, but also featured a main character that I really identified with. More to the point, doctor Greg House was a medical detective doctor who only took cases other doctors couldn’t solve.

        “On CA, I wonder what would happen if the media stopped reporting such events. Would they stop happening? Or at least stop becoming so prevalent?”

        It’s hard to say. It’s not clear how much publicity motivates such actors. In some cases, making news (and thus a point) is part of it. The flip side is the balance between reporting news (good) and obsessing about it (bad). One consequence of all-news channels is the need to feed that 24-hour beast.

        When it comes to terrorism, that question becomes harder to see clearly. News benefits terrorism for sure, but much of the pressure is directed against government and resources. (At the no-news, high-emotion press conference by officials in San Bernardino earlier today they mentioned increased security, which is a victory for terrorism in that now a burden is placed on official resources. Plus people are scared, and who can really say which is worse: little or no info or so, so, so much info. It may vary per person. I like knowing.)

        “I tend not to watch too much news coverage of these things because rarely do they have new information.”

        Yeah, I know what you mean. And every hour they re-cap for new viewers, so it gets repetitious. I don’t do it often, but on the “big ones” (9/11, this one) I find myself really drawn into it. Part of what’s fascinating is watching all the guesses slowly resolve into facts. What makes this one so compelling is that we still don’t understand key elements of the attack.

        Why that party? It’s like they planned something bigger, but there was also a work-place component? Who radicalized who? And when? And what about the mother that lived with them? It’s just all so weird!

        It’s also interesting comparing the coverage between CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. (For one example, Fox News was first to release the name, Syed Farook (practically wetting their pants over it, I imagine). MSNBC followed not too long after, but CNN came in last after quite some time. It was also interesting seeing how the big three handled being let into the killers’ house (talk about a media circus). MSNBC showed they are a real piece of shit on that on that one (and ended up apologizing for it later).

        In some regards, it’s the sociological aspects of the coverage that are deeply interesting to me. I have a background in media, you know, and a little dabbling in journalism, so it fascinates me.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        I do like those lyrics, but not the song so much (musically speaking). I don’t know why. The lyrics really are something, though. Just the right amount of depth and simplicity.

        Funny about Dylan. I don’t find his lyrics all that interesting, but I like some of his songs. That was more the case in high school. For some odd reason, I used to listen to the song “Hurricane” all the time, even though I generally don’t like political songs. I actually liked that one musically, even though I know it’s repetitive and kind of boring. Something about his voice in that recording sounds especially angry. Why should I like that? No idea. I also like that the backup singer screws up in the middle and sings the wrong words, that the tempo seems to alter throughout, that everything about it seems un-canned. I also like the video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” That’s about it for Dylan. I actually prefer Joan Baez’s take on Dylan in “Diamonds and Rust.” 🙂

        On mind-altering experiences, I see what you mean now about the sky diving! God, I could never ever ever ever do that. I’m not an adventuresome person, I guess.

        I haven’t done peyote, but I have done mushrooms. I’d say that’s similar enough to LSD, although a lot milder, and little bit happier. (Although I suppose it depends on how much you take.)

        “I have a powerful mind that’s always been able to whisper in my ear: This is just the really interesting effects of the drug. Relax and enjoy the ride!”

        My voice says: “This is the horrible effect of the drug that you were stupid enough to take. Now you’re stuck in this situation, you bleeping idiot. How can you be such an idiot? Idiot! Idiot!” (Blah blah blah.) Once not too long ago, I decided to smoke pot in Telluride with my husband. I told him how much I hated pot, but I decided it might be different now that I’m older and with him. Nope. I complained about having cotton mouth while he stared at the river and waxed philosophical about flux. I reminded him that such things have been said before by…then I forgot who, and spent a lot of time chiding myself over that. I continued to complain about everything, all the way down to the ridiculous amount of time it took me to figure out what day it was so I could take my pill. (I nearly flipped out over that. I had taken the wrong pill the night before, so that threw everything off.)

        I might have to check out Dr. House. I love Sherlock.

        “In some regards, it’s the sociological aspects of the coverage that are deeply interesting to me”

        I totally get that. My husband watches Fox while he’s at the gym and gives me the report. That part can be really interesting.

        I often hear liberals exclaim, “How can you watch Fox news?” And I usually don’t say this, but my first thought is, “How can you know it’s so bad unless you watch it? Isn’t that rather closed-minded of you?”

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “The lyrics really are something, though. Just the right amount of depth and simplicity.”

        Good way to put it. That’s when poetry is at its best with me; simple images but rich meanings.

        “I actually prefer Joan Baez’s take on Dylan in ‘Diamonds and Rust.'”

        Ha! Me, too. 🙂 I’ve got several Dylan albums on my iPod, but I don’t listen to them often. I have them more because, well, you just have to have the classics.

        “Although I suppose it depends on how much you take.”

        According to some, if they’re fresh and potent and you take enough, they do rival or exceed acid. I mostly just got trails (very cool) and some other visual effects, but that was about it.

        “‘Idiot! Idiot!'”

        There’s such a wide range of affinity (or its opposite) when it comes to experience. Some really hate rollercoasters, others love them. (I love them, although after skydiving they seem tame.) Even stuff like driving fast or heights; some like the feelings those engender, others don’t.

        “I might have to check out Dr. House. I love Sherlock.”

        A decent medical show with a Sherlock character. Especially cool given that the fictional Holmes was based on a real doctor known for his deductive abilities.

        “I often hear liberals exclaim, ‘How can you watch Fox news?'”

        Oddly, as a news organization, they might actually be slightly better than CNN or MSNBC. (I wonder if their reporters aren’t liked and have to work harder?) They’re at least as good. Some of their commentary reflects good conservative principles, but a lot of it — especially the clear opinion shows — gets pretty obnoxious.

        But so does some of the liberal posturing on MSNBC. To me the strongly bipartisan aspects of those two come close to canceling out. (CNN leans left, but stays more-or-less center. Ish. Sort of.) But Fox still leads due to their tendency to fabricate things. With MSNBC the bias is more in how they present things.

        There are people on all that I just can’t stand. Matthews, O’Donnell, or Joe Scarbough on MSNBC; Hannity, O’Reilly, or some of those fanatical gals on Fox; the zombie Blitzer on CNN (not always thrilled with Don Lemon, either).

        Looks like my cable company just started (or I just noticed it carries) the Al Jazeera network. I’ve heard it’s a very good, balanced news network, so I’m looking forward to exploring it.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        Yeah, not a big fan of roller coasters, although I did sort of like them as a kid. Not a fan of heights either.

        Dr. House…I tried to remember that when I was flipping through Netflix the other night. Is it on there?

        O’Reilly really really gets on my nerves. Anyone who interrupts gets on my nerves, so that excludes just about all of them. I don’t like shouting. If your opinion has to be shouted, it’s probably not very nuanced.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, Netflix would have the show (House, M.D.), I assume.

        I’m with you on the shouting and interrupting!

      • rung2diotimasladder

        On a totally different topic, I just heard of a mystery novel told entirely from the POV of a dog. I remembered discussing that with you.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It sounds delightful! 😀

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Heh… I wonder what “normal” (i.e. “ordinary” 🙂 ) bloggers think when they see such long comments! ❓

      • rung2diotimasladder

        They probably just leave when they realize we’re having a private conversation on the wrong platform. 🙂 Oh well though!

  • E.D.

    so agree with your viewpoint. Who really needs a smart-phone. Most people turn them off anyway to save battery life. sigh!

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