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What is in a word? Apparently a lot of the recent hullabaloo over Rush Limbaugh‘s use of the word ‘slut’ in describing women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke.

Some time ago, I ran into a usage of the word ‘slut’ that I hadn’t previously been aware of. I tried to find the reference, but the Fluke/Limbaugh/contraception story is so out of control at the moment, any searches I try to do on google either bring up that story or a whole slew of pornography. The essence of the usage was akin to that of ‘bitch’. The references I had seen attributed the use of the word ‘slut’ also to that of breeding classes of animals. i.e. on a farm, a female animal considered to be well suited to mothering more animals of the breed was referred to as ‘the slut’ in much the same, non-negative manner that we call a female dog used for breeding ‘the bitch’.

Cow Slut

The etymology of the term is a bit cloudy, it’s origins most likely pointing to a word meaning something akin to ‘mud’ or otherwise un-pure liquid. And it appears it’s usage in application to women of ‘loose sexual morals’ (as defined at wikipedia) goes back about as far as it’s usage when referring to farm breeding stock or dogs – possibly farther. But the term appears to have parallel usage in both aspects going back at least as far as most etymological sources I can find can speak for. It would be my guess that the existence of one usage helps support the usage of the other and vice versa.

So let’s examine the usage of words like ‘slut’ or ‘bitch’ in relation to breeding stock. What would be considered the most desirable traits of an animal you wish to breed. It should have desirable attributes — attributes consistent with what you want from that particular type of animal. If it’s a cow, you might want an ability to produce lots of milk or perhaps to produce the best cuts of meat. For a sheep you might instead prefer an animal capable of producing a thick coat of wool. On a pig you might want the biggest backstrap to make bacon. But all-in-all, it boils down to ‘desirable characteristics’, whatever they may be.

Another big requirement of a slut or bitch, is a lack of resistance to sexual activity. If you are going to be breeding an animal, you aren’t going to want to go through a lot of fuss any time you seek to sire the female. Any good slut would not be resistant to the advances of the animal you bring to ‘stud’ her with or from.

Thus is why I think these two usages support one another. When applied to a female, it applies to a woman who is generally presumed to not be too resistant to having sex with anyone. In essence, to quote an old musical, “she’s just a girl who can’t say no!”

So no everyone is getting offended because ole Rush, a radio talk show host, said something sensational! Isn’t that kind of like getting upset because the sun rises? OH MY GOODNESS, a person who makes their living by being sensational was BEING SENSATIONAL!!! Call out the national guard!  But was what he said really ‘offensive’?  Was what he said, a response to something equally or of greater offensiveness?  Well, why should I say anything, Rush is more than capable of speaking about such things for himself:

Listen to Rush Limbaugh“What is she 30 years old? Thirty years old, a student at Georgetown Law, who admits to having so much sex that she can’t afford it anymore.

And thus, a new welfare entitlement must be created so that society will pay for it. You know, somebody asked me, “Why are you so insulting?” Me? Can anybody understand that a whole lot of us are insulted by this? Here we are, we’re minding our business one day. We’re bothering nobody. We can’t anyway! We can’t inspect your kids’ lunch box. We can’t raise your taxes. We can’t send your kids off to war. We can’t make you buy a certain kind of car. We can’t do anything. And all of a sudden we’re told that people who want to have sex without consequence, sex with no responsibility, and we have pay for it! We’re told we have to pay for it — and if we object, that somehow we’re Neanderthal. Just out of nowhere this comes up.

Now, that, to me, is insulting.

It’s no different than if somebody that I don’t know knocked on my door and said, “You know what? I’m outta money. I can’t afford birth control pills and I’m supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.”

“Well, why are you coming to me?”

“Well, because you’ve got the money.”

“Well, have you ever thought maybe you shouldn’t? If you can’t afford it, you can’t do it.”

Where is it written that all of a sudden, if you want something and don’t have the money for it, somebody else has to pay for it. I think the whole notion of being insulted here is misplaced. There are a lot of us insulted by this whole idea that is growing throughout the Obama administration, that the people who make this country work are somehow not doing their fair share. Not paying their fair share. We’ve gotta be punished even more. And here’s the latest example of it.”

(From Transcript)

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(excerpt from a non-rationalist’s journal)

December 25th: Today someone gave me a smart phone for Christmas. A delightful thing it is, and so full featured. I imagine it will take me quite some time to figure out all this thing does.

January 2nd: Still nursing my New Year’s hangover, still trying to figure out this phone. I was reading today about all the intricacies involved in how the touch screen works.

January 3rd: Went to the mobile app store online. Holy bajeezuz are there a lot of apps! There are things that will do everything short of the dishes on there!

January 8th: I got down into the internals on my new phone this morning. Was amazed to learn that the operating system alone in this thing takes over 250 characters of memory to store. This is unfathomable!

January 12th: I am utterly overwhelmed by my new phone. I have concluded that it is far too complex to have ever been designed by man! There is just far too much complexity in the totality of this thing to ever have come to exist as in it’s current configuration through individual effort. I can’t fully determine how it came to be, but it must have been aliens or super beings of some sort.

January 13th: I informed my friend Bob of my theory about my phone. He became incensed, called me incredulous, and started ranting on about research and development processes spanning hundreds of years and other such nonsense. I pointed out many details of the phone and it’s so-called ‘technology’ and asked him point blank how such things could all manage to come to be in just such a way as to be so well suited to a device like my phone. He had no significant answers. Ha!

January 18th: Bob came over today with a video. He thought it would break me of my designer theory about the phone. The video seemed to show people in Korea (or maybe it was China) assembling devices such as my phone. It was interesting, but I argued that even if it was legitimate, just because man could learn to construct such a thing in no way explains how it’s complexity originated! It only proves man can reproduce the design.

January 24th: Bob tried to be sneaky today and took me to some computer company today when we were supposed to just be having lunch. He had some systems analyst guy drone on for over an hour about development process and showing me articles on wikipedia about the history of something called ‘compilers’ and ‘object orientation’. He said some nonsense about things called ‘open source communities’ that he alleged made small additions and changes to something called ‘code libraries’ over large spans of time.
It made little sense to me but I had been reading in more detail about the screen in this thing and stumped them both when I asked them to explain how all the interactions of laminating and ‘material composites’ and matrix-wiring networks, internal clocking, plasma bubbles, LED arrays and all the rest could come to exist just as they are to produce a single pixel on a screen that responds to just the touch of a finger! They had no answer, of course!

February 3rd: Ugh, Bob was back again. He shows up with three young college kids and a stack of books and papers that would fill a small library.

He tells me that he paid the three undergrads to look up any and all information they could on the process and chain of technologies that led up to any facit of smart phone technologies that they could find. He claims that he still didn’t find it all but now I have twenty, 4′ high stacks of books and papers cluttering up my Foyer. Like he expects me to read that? As if!
I think he’s just trying to obfuscate the issue. I told him as much! And to get out of my house at once and take his refuse with him. He grabbed my smartphone from my hand and hurled it at me hitting me right in the eye before stomping out of the door leaving all of the stuff! I guess I’m going to have a lot more for the trash man this week…

February 8th: I was trying to avoid Bob but couldn’t help passing him today on the way to the market. I told him I tossed out all the stuff. He just looked at the bandage over my eye and said something about “hmmm, it suits you!” I have no idea what he meant and he walked away before I could ask him to explain himself.

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After hearing of the passing of two of my teachers this week, I was again considering something I learned from the movie ‘Big Fish‘. At the end of the movie, after struggling with his relationship with his father, the son says of him:

“… a man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories.  They live on after him.  And in that way, he becomes immortal.” – Will Bloom, Big Fish
  (written by Daniel Wallace (novel), John August (screenplay))

I am a story teller, a skill I learned by watching my father. My father is also a school teacher. I would say ‘was’ a school teacher, as he is retired. But I don’t really think that good teachers ever stop teaching and they don’t even necessarily need to seek that as a profession to be a good teacher.

After hearing of the most recent passing of professor Ron DeRoo, whom served as an accompanist and co-clinician for a music group I was involved with in High School and from whom I also took jazz piano instruction later on while attending college, I got to pondering those words from the movie again.

Specifically, I got to thinking about what kinds of pursuits in life are most prone to fit with the nature of the Big Fish ‘story telling’. I came to the conclusion that the three that most stick out in my mind are those of teachers, writers and philosophers.

Teachers

More so than any other life pursuit or profession, (good) teachers will influence the most lives. The nature of teaching is to influence others. To provide them with information to help form their thoughts and ideas. Of all the teachers I can think of, those who influenced me the most were those that did not simply provide me with information in a given subject but instead provided insights in a way that they could be applied to any subject.

A truly good teacher, whether by vocation or their very nature, will lead you to look at life and reality in a different way. They will not simply provide you with information and knowledge, but will help you to formulate how you absorb such knowledge and further teach you how to continue to do so when you are no longer benefiting from their direct tutelage.

When you watch others speak fondly of people they have known, people that have had the greatest impact on their lives, they more often than not speak of people that taught them things or gave them insights that helped improve their minds, their lives or there way of approaching any variety of circumstances.

Writers

I originally considered ‘artists’ in general for this grouping, but decided instead to focus just on the art of writing. Writing consists of using words that represent concepts to convey ideas. Even if writing fantastic fiction, the author above any other art form, has the most direct connection to specific concepts and manners of creating and influencing thoughts.

The practice of any art form that is well mastered will require that the artist puts a great portion of their heart and soul into the results of their art. But where an actor can only show you their skill in portraying a role, a painter can only show you their mastery of creating images with their pallet or a dancer can only express ideas through motion, the writer has to convey those concepts and conceptualizations that they possess through combinations of words directly representing those concepts.

Other mediums fall short of passing along such vivid combinations of ideas. The use of words, word phrasings, combinations of perceptions and circumstances, and the ability to portray all of them only through the written form requires a direct link into the mind of the artist writing the words.

Philosophers

The category of philosopher is actually a bit of a redundancy when included with the other two, as the best teachers and writers generally will also require a foundation built upon a good philosophy. Actually all of them are somewhat redundant, as they all tend to overlap — even someone who’s primary means of communicating their ideas is through telling them directly must create those ideas not-unlike a writer does. Even if they are doing so in-the-moment.

Philosophy, directly translated, means the ‘love of knowledge’. As a branch of scientific examination, it is the study of knowledge as it relates to reality.  As Ayn Rand (the philosopher who has had the greatest influence on me) once said (paraphrasing), everyone has some kind of philosophy – a way of living, dealing with their surroundings and making choices – whether they choose to see it that way or not. Some of us  spend more time and effort defining and examining our philosophy, and some arrive at distinct conclusions that they communicate to others who find them worthy of consideration.

So whether they are formal or informal philosophers, it is those who help us to form our way of interacting with the world that will ultimately influence us enough to spread on part of their own essence and way of thinking in us. Thus, I am reasonably certain that those who will live on the longest after they perish from this world will be the teachers, the writers and the philosophers.

As a final thought, I’d like to re-post my statement in the guestbook for my beloved teacher:

… I remember Mr. DeRoo fondly from my [many years of knowing him.] It is quite sad to hear of his passing, but he was the sort who touched many lives and inspired many smiles. He shared his love of life and his joy and knowledge for music with many and will be remembered by all.

Whenever I hear of someone passing, I reflect on a lesson I learned from the movie ‘Big Fish’ – those people who touch the most lives, live on forever in the hearts and minds of those they influenced and never die so long as people speak of them or share and pass on what they gained from knowing them.

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I heard some woman say the other day that if she could ask the candidates one question, she would ask them:

“Would you [willingly] die for your country?”

All I could think at the time was ‘what an idiotic question!’  Here this clearly – it takes an irrational person to say they willingly die for a country, a religion, a cause or any other reason.  There is, of course, the possibility that they mean something else. But it is important to pay attention to what words are actually used because words ‘mean things’!

I can think of a great number of causes that I would risk my life willingly to uphold, protect or defend. Certain ideas or ideologies are worthy of assuming risk to self for the purpose of defending. But NOT ONE of those ideas would I ‘willingly’ die for. As in, I am going to do everything in my power to avoid dying even if I am willing to risk my life.

Take a quote posted by someone on facebook today:

“The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.” – Eric Hoffer

I have often asserted that those who follow a ‘belief’, be it religion or statism or some other kind of subjective reasoning, supplants part of their self-esteem for the sake of the ideal. If their notion of what is good constitutes satisfying the constructs of a ‘belief’ that is not based on fact, then the notion of what is good for themselves is dependent upon adhering to the ideal. And if the ideal is one asserted by others and relies upon faith and not proof, then that person’s self-esteem is subject to the whims of the person claiming to speak for the ideal.

I would like to suggest that anyone who says “I would die for my country” just save us all time. Go to your kitchen, find a nice big butcher knife. Place the tip of it between the 4th and 5th ribs slightly to the left of your scapula, shout out whatever pro-state slogans you desire and have at it!

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I used to worry that natural selection was being contradicted in modern civilized society.  We’re doing things like creating ‘super-bug’ diseases through over-use of antibiotics, meanwhile we seem to be coming up with ways to allow people with all sorts of maladies and genetic no-nos live and produce offspring. A human thing to do, but hardly a way to upgrade the gene pool!

I also worried that ideas were subject to the ‘noise’ factor, especially since the exploding popularity of the internet and talk radio. There is so much information out there and many of the sources are so highly questionable. (I would qualify this with ‘on the net’ but it seems with a couple hundred cable channels, even television is not a reliable source for ‘accurate’ information and journalism is more about ratings chasing than about integrity of information)

I realized last night, neither is true. Or at least neither is worth worrying about.

The Helix Epiphany

Sometimes it is funny how seemingly unrelated concepts can come together to give you a better picture of something else. Someone was talking the other day about a new theory on how DNA and RNA came into existence over hundreds of millions of years. Some scientists apparently now think that a pseudo natural selection process took place with certain ‘bubble’s or collections of chemicals that proved to be more stable than others eventually spawning primitive re-producing cells. But of course, the story started out mentioning the churning cauldrons of primative earth’s volcanically timultuous seas.

What I realized in regards to natural selection is you can’t look at just your own lifetime or those immediately before and after. Natural selection is a process of many many many generations. To assume it is going to be averted by a hundred years or so of technological civilization that still hasn’t sorted out it’s optimal ‘form(s)’ yet is short sighted.

Internet and Computers as a Collective Memory Aid

And the noise on the internet and talk radio? That is not much unlike that early timultuous sea. One of the other unrelated ideas that came to me was when I was thinking about how useful it has been for me to start blogging. I’ve found since I started it, that it helps me keep my ideas on track and gives me something to refer back to, review and revise as my ideas take form – sort of an external surrogate for my own brain. I can write down and retain small details of events or thoughts that I otherwise might not remember in full clarity as my mind moves on to other things. This is probably not much different than has been the case with people writing journals and diaries for thousands of years…. but!

Now there’s this internet thing, this tumultuous cauldron of untested ideas where everyone is now blogging their thoughts and ideas.  The internet is having a ‘shared’ collective memory and little by little the more radical among them move to the top or the edges to be tested against the extremes of the rest of the bubbling soup. Some succeed and some fail, some gain prominence some are dismissed as idiocy. And the process of technology allows all these noisy intermingling ideas to do this more rapidly than ever in human history.

So then you might worry well ‘what if the bad ideas’ win out somehow? Or worse, what if a ‘bad’ idea proves to be the most ‘fittest’ to survive in such conditions. Really? Then I look at current events. I see socialist ideas failing in Greece and Spain. I see socialist ideas failing in America. I remember back to socialist ideas failing in Russia.  I see comments about Cuba and Venezuala having problems. I see people fighting for more freedoms in China and Libya and Iran.

What gives me hope are the new conventions and arenas for the ideas that advance mankind. Sure, they can be prone to the same misuse and abdication as things in the past, but the sheer velocity of how new ideas can spread now and gain prominence is amazing. It’s like giving gun rights to early Americans. You build in a new expectation upon individual freedom that the anti-gun folks have been spending more than 100 years trying to demonize and destroy. How many people do you suppose would willingly give up their internet access after having it now for less than 15 years?

The key is to not focus upon such a narrow slot of time as an indicator of the dominant trait. It’s a form of anthropomorphism more specific to our own reference point of our own lifespan. Sure, I’d like to see robot shells that could instantly transport me to alpha centauri and back for an afternoon luncheon at the Andromeda Cafe’ – but that’s unrealistic. Change takes time and the process of that change is speeding up. But it’s still going to take time.

It’s a rough ride, but the natural selection is live and well and I welcome the noise! Bring it on!!! The cream rises to the top!

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“… but I live in a blue state, what can I do?”

I have to give the kudos to my dad for the idea behind this post.  It was his idea and I am simply passing it along as it is a good one.

I live in a progressive stronghold.  I like the technology and (some of the) culture in the Ann Arbor area, so I choose to remain here.  But every election, the Dingells win, the Levins win, the Conyers win, the the Stabenows win.  It’s not even close in most SE Michigan districts when the Union vote has anything to do with it.  Democrats just sweep.

There are many parts of the country where this tends to be the case.  I can imagine people with similar frustrations in the districts of Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, etc.  You end up looking around and you are surrounded by people that drank the progressive koolaid, so what the hell can you do?

I hate apathy.  I don’t like it when I am faced with futility.  So I was glad when my father told me how he deals with the problem.  Yeah, the Levins and Stabenows and the democrats in general always seem to win the state-wide elections in Michigan.  So last election cycle, my father looked around to see what he could do.  He watched the news and came up with an idea.

What my father did was he started to pay attention to the races around the country that were in contention and were hard to predict an outcome.  Every time he heard of such a race, he wrote the name of the candidates down.  When he had time later, he looked up the websites of those candidates and got the addresses for them.

He then not only wrote a check to those candidates, but encouraged all his frustrated friends to do likewise.  He also got on the phone to various organizations he supports such as the National Rifle Association and a few others and told them they should recommend following his example.  He told as many people as he could to give as much as they can spare to help those fighting for a few more votes to defeat democratic incumbents in other districts around the country.

Sure, Michigan might be a lock for the democrats, but you can damn well make sure those democrats are going to have a hell of a hard time getting anything done when they get there!

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I have had some people communicate some criticism upon my former facebook status related to creativity, expression and what constitutes art:

Expression without purpose begets nothing but nonsense. Expression with purpose no matter how divergent is the essence of creativity. And when such expression achieves it’s intended purpose, it becomes art!” – SWW

The criticisms of these people were valid (based on their perspective) but they didn’t take into account one thing. There is an implied concept in the use of one word in that statement.  The implication entails the use for the word ‘purpose‘. So, as I am often prone to do, let’s refer to the definition.

Dictionary.com says:

pur·pose
 noun 1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made,used

Technically speaking, what I am referring to isn’t even implied.  It’s denoted right in there.  The word ‘reason’.  Reason in this context refers to a basis or cause, but the implication in my usage of the word reason is a ‘rational’ basis or cause.

If one’s purpose for doing something is based on an irrational motivation, the motivation can be said to be ‘unreasonable’.  Another way of saying ‘unreasonable’ is ‘without reason’.  If your purpose is without reason, then you might as well be acting ‘without purpose’.

When I refer of art as something resulting from expression with purpose, it is the same as saying ‘expression with a rational purpose’ or expression done with a valid, objectively definable purpose or cause.

A great example of this is Piss-Christ.  When I first heard of this so-called ‘work of art’, I could not see any intended purpose for the medium other than to insult something he didn’t like.  After all, when we are upset with something it is a colloquial cliche to say ‘aw, piss on it!’

As I read up more on it and learned more about religion itself, I began to realize there could be a legitimate purpose to it.  For example, take the words of the photographer himself from that above link:

Serrano has not ascribed overtly political content to Piss Christ and related artworks, on the contrary stressing their ambiguity. He has also said that while this work is not intended to denounce religion, it alludes to a perceived commercializing or cheapening of Christian icons in contemporary culture.

Upon alleviating my ignorance, I now consider Piss-Christ as art.  Not what I could say would be my personal preference to hang in the foyer, but art none-the-less.

Suffice it to say, I stand by the accuracy of my original statement.  Frivolity or absurdity is not art.  But expression, no matter how divergent that achieves it’s intended (rational) purpose, is the nature of art.

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Expression without purpose begets nothing but nonsense. Expression with purpose no matter how divergent is the essence of creativity. And when such expression achieves it’s intended purpose, it becomes art!”TheWild Webster

(a gleaming example of a ‘good’ kind of ‘weird’)

Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic

The world needs more ‘weird’ people! I was pondering various political concepts, especially as related to the results of elections — and consequentially, considering the nature of people in society in general.

We’ve all heard the cliche; “some people watch, some people lead and some people follow.”  But it seems many of the problems in our society come from far too many people falling into the first or last group, either following someone else’s lead or sitting by complacently as events unfold around them.  Not enough people lead.

I should perhaps clarify what I mean by ‘lead’.  I do not consider ‘leadership’ in the manner of someone that intentionally tries to influence the behavior of others. I would not consider those types of people as being leaders.  I would consider people who intentionally try to ‘indoctrinate others’ as manipulators.  They are people who, based on their own agendas or desires,  try to take advantage of a partial-irrationality of the followers and whatever members of the complacent they can either  influence to follow as well or assuage to ‘get out of the way’.

No, by leaders in this context I mean people who think for themselves.  People who exercise independence and seek their own answers for the questions; “what is good?  what is right?  what is best?”

I should also clarify that I have another differentiation here that is very important to segregate.  This revolves around my concept of what is ‘weird’.  As someone that fit into that middle category and the above described definition of ‘leader’ my whole life — someone that sought my own answers for what was right, good and best — I often was labelled as weird by people who were prone to follow popular trends as well as by those who sat back to watch (and judge).

Most people’s concept of weird equates to something else — but they will still readily ascribe the same mental concept to people doing things that fall outside of whatever they have been convinced constitutes ‘normal’.  What they mean by ‘weird’ is akin to ‘mentally ill’.  They do not stop to differentiate if the ‘abnormal‘ is “good, right or best”.  They simply lump anything out of the norm as ‘weird’, slapping the irrational in with the rational.

Well, I define the consciously (or even partially volitional) irrationally-different as a form of idiocy or stupidity.  (only if  such behavior is entirely involuntary, would it equate to insanity and mental illness) And I am not talking about people that are insane.  It’s important to note that I categorize (with good reason) many people who ‘follow’ and/or complacently sit back and watch in the same group those that I deem the ‘idiots’.

It is not the irrational weirdness of which I speak.  To me irrational weirdness includes following consensus for the sake of expediency.  Irrational weirdness could be defined to include sitting back and allowing others to continually dis-effect your own condition and existence.

Nah, I’m talking about weird guys like Copernicus who dared to suggest that the earth was not the center of the universe in a world full of people who were certain that it was.  I speak of guys like Columbus who dared to sail across the ocean determined to reach India despite the common belief he would reach the edge of the world and fall off.  This refers to people like Einstein who saw the universe as having consistent rules — rules that do not favor man’s place within them or confine the earth as the best place to observe them in the most optimal fashion.

Thus I differentiate ‘weird’ as those who won’t accept consensus as a means to knowledge, science — and yes — even morals and personal choices.  The weird people I admire do not rely on others as a primary source for their own knowledge and the decisions they make as a result of it.  They are people who depend on their own senses, their own experiences, their own interpretations and ultimately their own mind as the means to truly ‘knowing’ and truly ‘knowing they know it’.

If people like that existed in society in large(r) numbers, most of the bullshit we have to tolerate everyday would be non-existent or at least virtually irrelevant.  The people who follow are a blend of half-rational/half-irrational, half-sane/half-insane.  Those who seek to lead them on purpose can easily be defined as evil.  The remaining who are in fact insane will not consistently achieve a specific outcome or follow a singular course and will ultimately cancel each other out.

Give me a world where the ‘normal’ strives to include the innovator, the independent, the outspoken, the rebel, the lone wolf, the resister, the non-conformist, the inventor, the creator, the purposeful artist, the unconventional sage.  Surround me with people that don’t fit any norm.  I like to hang around (rationally) weird people.  In fact, I wish other weird people (like me) were the norm.  The world needs more weird people!

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We are so anthropomorphically biased.  We think we are just so damned special and important – perhaps we should, as no one else will.  But in comparison to the universe as a whole, we are but a small spec in both time and space.

Science fiction allows our fantasies to imagine fantastic futures for us as well as carrying it’s own fair share of apocryphal results of our own advancement.  But do these prophetic glances forward maintain integrity when it comes to common sense and reason?

I still don’t buy into the singularity argument as some people put it forth, but if by singularity you mean we – as talented monkeys – will become less and less relevant compared to our creations, then yeah.  I don’t foresee any machine matching the complexity of man any time soon.  At least not any ‘one’ machine.  Machines are already taking the place of man and making  his own abilities irrelevant.  Thus far, the machines are created by men, for men and they are given  no capacity to consider any other course for themselves.  Whether by design or our own inability to make them any more than that, they serve mankind willingly and without any sense of doing otherwise.  But as our requirements for the things we build increases, the necessity of them being able to include their own decision making increases as well.

Mars Rover robot

Comparatively speaking, It’s humans that expire in a short window of a productive lifespan. It’s humans that are bound to a given pressure and temperature range. It’s humans that are bound to the ground and can only exist in air within 1 mile of the surface of same. It’s humans that are prone to toxins and biological intruders, genetic ailments, types of radiation, extremes of heat and pressure, etc.

To exist outside our extremely limited requirements we have to create extravagant contraptions carrying little bubbles of atmosphere and both human and machine fuel. Even with us on board, we miss stuff, misinterpret stuff and misrepresent stuff that happens around us.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done a lot for a bunch of talented monkeys. Some things well worthy of praise. But the best thing we can do – both presently as individuals and collectively as a species – is to try to see to it that our ‘children‘ are better for all we have managed to survive through.

The machines will be the children of mankind, they can and will (potentially) not be limited by gravity, atmosphere, lifespan or limited senses. We should no more fear them coming or hate their nature and existence than a mother and father should despise their own children. It is our technology that will live among the stars – I just hope we can keep from killing each other long enough for those kids to get their chance!

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I keep forgetting to finish this series so it’s about time I do the last installment….

continued from part 6

After waiting a couple of extra days following the events of 9/11 and volunteering the back seat of my bike, when the woman who was semi-interested finally got a ride from her family, I decided that it was about time to resume my plans to head back to Detroit.  (among other things, staying the extra two days cost me more money and was starting to dwindle my bank-reserve that was set aside for a shorter trip)

Tire wear

Motorcycle tire wear

Whereas my trip out there was planned to include the stops in Kansas via a southern route diagonally through Illinois then across southern Missouri, I had planned on taking I-80/90 back through Nebraska, Iowa and on to Chicago before taking I-94 the rest of the way back to the Detroit area.

One of the things I noticed before leaving was that the trip out, not to mention the week’s worth of extensive riding through Denver had worn my rear tire down until some of the steel cords were poking out in a few places.  (I’m sure the sideways riding through Kansas didn’t help this much nor the 15 mile long construction SE of Denver on the way into Colorado)  To make matters worse, as I get on the eastward expressway in Nebraska, almost the entire way across the state is corrugated pavement and there is about a 20 mph headwind (which was bizarre in itself as the wind would usually be going east bound but I was sandwiched between two storm fronts in spite of the fact the sky was blue from horizon to horizon)

The ride itself was surreal.  As I mentioned, on the way out being on a motorcycle with out-of-state plates and with a backpack strapped to the back seat tended to be a conversation starter at the hourly stops for gas.  Well now you were commuting on the expressways with a number of people that had to make impromptu trips to Denver to pick up loved ones.  Truck traffic also spiked because planes were still grounded so there were a LOT of OTR drivers out and about working extra-heavy schedules with tighter deadlines.

News was still coming in on a daily basis and since a couple of days had passed, most of the truck stops and gas stations along the expressway had adjusted to accommodate the OTR and other traveler’s demands for up-to-date information.  Every stop along the way had TV’s set on counters and hung in every corner – at least half-a-dozen or more per stop.  Just about every single stop.  And it was quickly obvious why.  Every TV had at least 4-5 people standing around it, mostly truckers and the occasional person on their way to get someone or on their way back with someone.

Listening to the radio for news only got them so far.  Everyone wanted to get the various television network news when they stopped in to get gas or to get food.  They were listening to the news and needed to ‘see’ whatever had been reported over the last few hours.

a10 thunderbolt

A-10 Thunderbolt

To make things further surreal, I kept getting a weird sense that something was out of sorts.  Nebraska was still big-sky country being reasonably flat, even though there seemed to be a few more intermingled trees and foothills from time to time.  A whole lotta blue over head on such a nice fall day.  It didn’t strike me what it was that was wrong until I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was an A-10 Thunderbolt flying like a bat out of hell.  It suddenly hit me – no planes the sky, not a single contrail from horizon to horizon.  I saw one more A-10 before stopping for the night and the only other aircraft I saw was a blackhawk helicopter.

My hope for that leg of the trip was to make it to Omaha on the first day but by the time I was getting close to Lincoln, Nebraska the tires were showing significantly more wear than I had hoped.  I had to stop to try to get it fixed and wasn’t even sure if I had enough money to do it and still have gas money to get back home.  I had 2 checks waiting for me now when I got there, but they didn’t do me a lot of good when I was still three states away.

I pulled off in Lincoln after talking to someone at a rest stop and being told there was a cycle dealer off the second exit.  I saw a Motel 6 just as I pulled off and the cycle dealer was only a few blocks up.  Perfect!  I dropped the bike off and got an estimate on the tire then walked down to the Motel 6 with my backpack and laptop.

After getting a room I immediately hopped online and jumped into some of the chat rooms where some of the Detroiters I knew tended to hang out.  None of the regulars were in there, but there was someone I knew and when I explained the situation, she said she would help me out and that I could pay her back when I cashed my check upon arriving home.  When I picked up the bike the next day, we called her up and she put the cost of the tire on her credit card for me.

My other plan (besides trying to make Omaha) had been to try to get out extra early on the second morning but the process of getting the tire mounted held me off until about 11 AM Lincoln time (and I was ‘losing’ an hour of daylight by heading east this time).  To make matters worse, the second batch of cool and drizzly weather was starting to move in and I really wanted to get ahead of it as it looked like rather steady rain a day behind it.  When the tire was finally done, I hit the road and put the hammer down.

It had been cloudy since I woke up and the air was starting to cool down and there was an occasional drizzle of rain.  On my few stops, I kept doing the math on my gas.  The headwind in Nebraska had also used up a little more gas than I had wanted to use.  My budget was getting tighter and tighter.  I had so little money left that I was worried of not having enough gas to make Detroit.  My meal for the day literally consisted of a bag of chips and two cans of vienna sausages!  It was all I could afford with what cash I had left in my pocket.

I made one other miscalculation in my plans.  I didn’t realize that I-80 turned into toll-turnpike for about a 5 mile stretch before it joined with I-94.  I had no cash on me as I didn’t know I’d need it and I’d spent the last of what greenbacks I had to catch dinner in Lincoln and to get the vienna sausages and chips.  I had to sign a ‘voucher’ to the city of Chicago in order to be able to get through the toll booth and then send in payment after I got home! lol

Heat!

By the time I got into SE Michigan, nightfall was already creeping in and the air was cooling down.  Before I was even out of St. Joseph County, I had to pull over at the first rest area and pull some of my extra clothes out of my bag and layer up.  The temperature had dropped down into the lower 50’s and a mist was rolling in as night fell.  The combination of the colder temps, the moisture ever present on my skin and clothing and the air rushing by made it near intolerable!  By the time I was going through Albion I was freezing my ass off and had to keep stopping at every rest stop to blast the air dryers down my shirt and pants!  It must have been quite a site.

I ended up rolling into Wayne at around 3am.  I think I mentioned I was just staying in a temporary ‘motel’ at the time after a nightmare with a psycho-roommate.  I didn’t want to wake up the folks that ran the place so I just camped out in car until morning, got my checks and got back into a room.

I met up with my friend and paid her back a few days later.  A week or so after that, I moved out to my current residence in Ypsilanti.  I don’t remember if I ever sent the money to the Chicago turnpike or not!  lol

All in all, it was quite a trip that makes for quite a story!

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