Category Archives: Opinion

Apollo 11 and Us

We dream of soaring…

Sunday night I watched the new Apollo 11 documentary by Todd Miller. At first, I was really into the show. When the Apollo 11 mission happened I was just starting high school and had been a big fan of the space program going back to Project Mercury. Watching a Saturn V lift off has always induced a profound sense of awe in me.

But I was increasingly struck by how white it all was. And male, but really, really white. That diluted the joy I was feeling with some deep regrets about how we act still today over what are basically paint jobs and some minor accessories.

Given where we find ourselves these days, 50 years hasn’t brought as much progress as it should have. We’re still really stupid about paint jobs.

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What is Consciousness?

When it comes to consciousness, one of the top challenges is defining what it is. (Some insist it doesn’t even exist, which makes defining it even more of a challenge.) Part of the problem is that there is no single correct definition. There never really has been.

There is also that there is sentience (essentially the ability to feel pain as pain) and there is sapience (roughly: wisdom). Lots of animals are sentient, but sapience seems to be a property of human consciousness.

Which raises the question: Are humans just a point on a spectrum, or is there some sort of “band gap” between higher and lower forms?

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Consciousness: Final Answer

On the one hand, a main theme here is theories of consciousness. On the other hand, it’s been almost eight years blogging, and I’ve covered my views pretty well in numerous posts and comment threads. Our understanding of consciousness currently seems stuck pending new discoveries, either in answering hard questions, or in providing entirely new paths.

A while back I determined to step away from debates (even blogs) that center on topics with no resolution. Religion is a big one, but theories of mind is another. Your view depends on your axioms. Unless (or until) science provides objective answers, everyone is just guessing.

But it’s been three-and-a-half years, and, well,… I have some notes…

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Idiot Clowns

Nope. Never liked’m.

Watching the Thanksgiving episode of the rebooted Murphy Brown on CBS, where Murphy decides to cook dinner with easily anticipated and well-worn results, it struck me exactly why I don’t find the show very funny. And why I really don’t find any of the CBS comedies since the 1990s very funny: Idiot Clowns.

In general, it’s why I don’t find a lot of comedy very funny. Idiot Clown comedy requires an idiot clown — someone so stupid they are unaware of basic reality, a blindness forced on them to enable a (typically) lame joke. I find it cheap and easy and without much value.

More to the point, I just don’t like idiots or clowns in my entertainment.

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Texting Subtext

Recent politics makes us, perhaps, overly aware of just how differently from us people can see the world. Recent politics also makes us very aware of how fraught it can be interacting with people who see the world differently. (Although it isn’t the differences that divide us so much as our tribalism.)

Setting politics aside for a moment, I recently stumbled over a difference that I found both bemusing and enlightening. It explains something that’s puzzled me (and caused a degree of head-shaking) for quite a while. What’s cool is how it switches my worldview, because now I understand it’s not a mistake or laziness, but a valid choice.

I’m talking about periods and lower case in text messages!

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Breaking Wrong

For years friends have been urging me towards the TV show Breaking Bad. They tell me about how the writing is so good, and the drama so engaging. The problem I have is that it stars, not just a meth dealer, but a meth maker. For me that’s a deal breaker that no writing is good enough to overcome. Nothing is worth inviting a meth maker into my life on a regular basis.

I see a parallel in how people accept Trump even when they do see him for the idiot and creep that he is. In this case, it’s certainly not good writing (or good governing) they seek, it’s getting their way that makes them support an ignorant, incompetent, greedy, narcissistic racist.

I gotta ask: Have we gotten too willing to embrace human failure?

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Got Time?

For the last week or so, on a physics blog I follow, I’ve been part of a debate about the nature of time. It’s been interesting and fun, but the conversation has reached that point where folks are mainly maintaining their positions, and it seems that the matter has stalled.

Some of the on-going assertions bemused me so much, that I was about to tender one more rebuttal comment… When I remembered what a wiser person, “back in the day” (before the web), said about online debates: State your view. Support it further if you need to address points raised. But once you’ve covered it well enough, just stop. After that, you’re just wasting your time; it’s rare that anyone changes their mind on the internet. Including yours.

Fair enough. I can natter on about it to myself on my own blog, though…

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Bitter Irony

One of my very early posts here (God is an Iron) was about irony. It featured a pretty decent definition of the word by the dear departed, and much missed, George Carlin: “Irony is ‘a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result.’”

The POTUS Putin America First…

It’s a good definition to keep in mind when considering how, for so long, a key gun rights Second Amendment argument is the vital importance of being able to stand up to a corrupt, tyrannical government…

Yet most of those folks seem to be supporting the current regime…

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Protest Signs #1

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Barr and Bee

Roseanne Barr is still generating the occasional headline with her antics in reaction to the cancellation of her ABC show, so I thought that, rather than just delete this post (which has been sitting in my Drafts folder), I’d set it free to roam the web. “Better out than in,” I believe the saying goes (and, yes, I’m well aware of what that then compares this post to; I stand by that comparison).

One thing I found interesting about it all was the contrast between Barr’s transgression and one made by Samantha Bee on her TBS show. There were some similarities in that both involved personal insults made by popular entertainment figures from their chosen platforms. There are also differences in content, as well as in how Barr and Bee handled themselves after.

Currently we’re in a very reactive, very polarized environment, and the Barr and Bee fracas put it all on mini-display.

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