Alas (and also alack), with all that’s been going on lately, my Artistic Muse has temporarily fled (she’s almost as prone to suddenly vanishing as her sister, Lady Luck). As such, I’m not feeling much inspiration towards posting right now.
But my Nine Year Blog Anniversary is nearly here, and I’m determined to publish post #1000 to celebrate it. Pulling that off requires three posts between now and then (not to mention figuring out what to write for post #1000).
So today I thought I’d take care of a bunch of random notes.
These are all from my collection of “seeds” — jotted ideas that caught my fancy and seemed capable of growing into a post. Metaphorically, to do that they need planting, watering, and nurturing. Some seem almost eager to grow.
Others sit waiting for… something. A few need fertilizing research on my part (and I’ve been putting off the effort). Others are so slight and small I’m not sure planting them is worthwhile.
Brain Bubbles posts were intended for the smaller seeds, although lately I’ve gotten into the habit of using them as collections of seeds. (I just can’t seem to get into short-form blogging. I don’t tweet. I’m not sure I understand the concept.)
In any event, here is another seed collection…
My post, Searle vs Gödel, sprang from thinking about implementing math via lookup rather than calculation (although at some level they can be seen as the same thing). Gödel popped into mind again because of a note I have about his application to rules and laws.
The intended post had the working title, Gödel and Protocol (although I also considered The Gödel Metaphor, since I meant to get into how common it is to apply the Incompleteness result inappropriately. It can work metaphorically, but it’s usually a category error to take it literally.
Then I got to thinking maybe it could apply to systems of laws, since those are formal systems. (It doesn’t, of course, because systems of laws are rarely, if ever, capable of arithmetic, and Gödel only applies to arithmetic systems.)
The seed came from when I was thinking about how philosophical moral platforms, such as consequentialism for example, work in some cases, but never in all cases. Or how Kant’s Categorical Imperative is great for isolated cases, but less useful for messy real-world cases.
The law, in general, needs a judicial system because no set of laws can cover all cases. Too few, or too broad, and they don’t cover enough. Too many, or too narrow, and they end up affecting the innocent, if not making life impossible.
So I wondered if maybe Gödelean Incompleteness had something to do with all that, and maybe it does metaphorically.
But not literally.
Even if they could do arithmetic, legal systems are almost never consistent — they contain contradictions (another reason for the judiciary). As such, they are doubly disqualified from Gödel.
[This one was a partial post in my Drafts folder for a couple of years, but it never really interested me enough to flesh out. I do like the seed, though.]
One of those modern phrases that I’ve never cared for is the oft stated quest to “find myself.” And, yes, I understand what’s really being said; it’s just that the phrasing always puzzled me. It’s not a phrase I can imagine using; it’s not how I see things.
My response to the phrase is to suggest — literally and figuratively — just looking in a mirror, because, boom, there you are. It requires being able to face what’s in the mirror, and maybe that’s the part that’s tough.
It may not be a case of finding yourself so much as being honest with yourself.
This ties in with the idea behind the Johari Window — which divides us into known and unknown parts.
What does it even mean to “find” yourself? In what way are you lost or out of view? Are you hiding somewhere?
Are you trying to find some “zone” (of what exactly)? There isn’t one.
Are you trying to find your “identity” (whatever “identity” is)? The thing is, especially these days, it’s your choice. Be who you want to be!
The problem with searching for yourself is that you’re looking outside, when (rather obviously, one would think) you are to be found inside.
On a somewhat related note: Identity politics. I don’t get it. (But that may be because I’m the social “default” — I don’t need an identity or representation because that identity and representation are everywhere.)
There is, however, a Yin-Yang tension for anyone who is not a native-born white male.
Women chart a course between their identity as a woman versus their identity as just a person. Many female science fiction writers have gone by just their initials (due to unfortunate sexism among SF fans). I didn’t even realize D.C. Fontana was a woman until I started getting behind the scenes of my beloved Star Trek.
People of color chart a course between their identity with their community versus the more generic identity that discards or minimizes that community.
A similar tension exists for people of nationality. Does one hold to cultural values from the place of origin, or assimilate into the generic culture. The question is much harder for some than for others. (I couldn’t possibly care less about my Norwegian cultural heritage, and I wouldn’t touch lutefisk with a ten-foot pole.)
This is a topic I’d like to explore further, but as a white male born in the 1950s, I’m not sure anything I have to say is relevant or on point. Simply put, WTF do I know?
Along with “finding myself” are two other very human phrases that I have a hard time with. These bother me because I hate saying anything I don’t think is true. These things seem like lies to me.
The first: “Anything is possible!” No, not even close. Even acknowledging that “anything” doesn’t literally mean “anything,” it’s still one of those meaningless bullshit phrases people use when they can’t think of anything cogent to say.
The second: “It’ll all be okay!” This one is a real problem for me, because I fully understand that everyone understands it’s meaningless bullshit used to apply comfort to someone who is hurting.
But I really hate lying, and very often the situations that call for the phrase are situations where the last thing I believe is that it’ll be okay. Seriously, the words almost choke me.
But what else can you say?
Recently I posted about my annoyance with headlines proclaiming that “Fans Flip Out Over _____” or the mirror version, “Fans Are Thrilled About _____” As if anyone cared. (That’s actually what pisses me off: that so many do care, that it’s worthy of a news headline.)
I’ll add headlines that proclaim some actor either “Admits” or “Reveals” some supposedly juicy nugget. Except it’s almost always utter bullshit; almost always some passing comment they made that doesn’t come close to “admitting” or “revealing” anything but just “saying” something.
But “Admitting” and “Revealing” make clickbait, so that’s what we get. That’s what we’ve sunk to. I’ve learned to just ignore those articles.
There’s one more that I’ve realized has become a clickbait cliche: “X Just Gave One-Million Users Reason To Y“ I’ve seen that one quite a few times recently.
“X” is, variously Google, Microsoft, Apple, Android, or GMail (to name a handful). “Y” is usually “Quit” or “Switch” or “Worry” or something along those lines.
What I wanna know is why it’s always one-million users.
(Sometimes I wonder why I even bother reading the news.)
I have a related note about the conflation of serious journalism and blogging.
I’ve noticed for a while now that many blogs have become serious contributors whereas many more formal journalistic outlets have become more casual and blog-like. (And does everything need a comment section?)
The language of serious journalism seems to have become much less formal (note to serious journalists: I get to use “fuck” — you don’t), and some online content is surprisingly bad in terms of grammar and spelling considering the source.
It makes me wonder if modern online culture has killed serious journalism. Do people even know what it is anymore?
I’ve always wished journalism lived by a simple question: What would Edward R. Murrow do?
As long as I’m venting minor irritations, and with the full appreciation of how English is a dynamic and evolving language, I have to complain about another conflation.
When you publish a blog post, it is just that: A post. It is not a blog!
The blog is the whole collection of posts, pages, and whatever else (image galleries, menus, etc). The term comes from web log — originally a kind of online diary.
Don’t make me tell you this again.
(Seriously. Among the cognoscenti saying one just wrote a blog is like saying one just ate a restaurant. It grates on the ear.)
In closing, if anyone wants to buy me an anniversary present, I’m looking for one of those underwater note boards scuba divers use.
I keep having ideas while in the shower, and I equally keep forgetting them by the time I’m out and dry. (Swiss cheese brain.) I’ve lost a couple really good ones lately.
Stay posting on your blog, my friends!