Category Archives: Tourette’s Apprentice

Rants and Raves and all things Vile.

Physics Is Hard but Not that Hard

Not everyone gets to have a solid foundation in physics.  It is a complex science with a heavy reliance on advanced mathematics.  This can be a difficult combination.  Setting this aside, we can certainly all enjoy a little basic physics.

Here is a primer.  Some radiation is bad for you because the particles emitted are energetic enough to at least break chemical bonds.  Some radiation is, by comparison, super whimpy.  Mostly we encounter the latter.  Our most dangerous daily source of the former is typically the sun.

Ok, now you are ready for further reading.  Go read this article on the latest craze in mistaken causes for medical ailments sweeping the globe: electromagnatic sensitivity.

“Electromagnetic hypersensitivity” and “wifi allergies”: Bogus diagnoses with tragic real world consequences

If you are still concerned, build yourself a Faraday cage and leave the rest of us alone about it.

That is all.

JamesIsIn

A Good Laugh

A friend posted this linked test on her social microblogging area.

My answers to the questions were as follows:

  • Who are you walking with?
    • Solo (keep in mind the photograph shows one person in the woods)
  • What kind of animal is it?
    • I shouted “kumquat” but was envisioning an animal somewhere between a meercat and a koala.
  • What does the animal do?
    • It splays itself open displaying a sort of doll-house interior alloted with organs and says “try my sausages” (thinking of the sausages described in Tampopo of yams and wild boar casings)
  • How big is it?  Is it fenced or no?
    • “What?  Fuck no!” (truth be told I was thinking of the meerkoala but the same would hold true for the small house)
  • Describe what’s on the table.
    • There is a note on the table.  (of important note, the house is not described in the description as “your house” that only come in the explanations set)
  • What is the cup made out of?  What do you do with the cup?
    • Brass or perhaps gold.  I look inside the cup.
  • What kind of body of water is it?  A lake? River? Pond?
    • A lake.  Not unlike the lakes you might find walking through the woods in the Pacific North West.
  • How wet do you get?
    • Fully wet if I swim but only under my knees if I follow the coastline.

As a way of telling their version of my tale, I will just turn these answers into a narrative based on their answer parameters.

I am the most important person in my life.  Then again who isnt?  My problems are about the size of the illegitimate love-child of a meercat and a koala bear.  I have the appearance of aggression because I splay my innards open and offer my organs for perusal, but there is no pain involved and I can close the case and return to my peaceful existence in a blink.

My home is of an ambiguous size because I never saw the exterior but only saw the room I entered with the table with that note.

No fences.  I am open.  (I splay myself, remember?).

Yet, my table only contained a note.  There was no food on the table (of course I just ate).  There were no people on the table (of course people don’t spend so much time on tables these days).

There were no flowers on the table.  I am now a little sad there were no flowers with the note.  But there was a note.  Presumably that note was from a person.  I feel good knowing that but I must make a mental note to complain about the lack of flowers.

There is a brass cup, a challice ifyou will, which has survived aeons of abuse and still rings like a bell.  (Side note: it might be gold.)  In short, I love me.  And I love looking deep inside of me.  (I love it enough to splay myself open, remember.)

There is a lake that is about the size of my libido.  I love to go fishing there.  For no apparent reason I have never built a path to circumnavigate this lake beyond which I live, so I sometimes swim across.  But if I don’t want to get soaked, I can stick to the shallows and wade the whole way ’round.

(Which I suppose can only mean that sex is both extremely important and only up-to-the-knees important to me.)

Fuck, I laughed my ass off.

JamesIsIn

The Global Hair Conspiracy

We’ll just skip over the part where it’s an article from a source known as “spiritscienceandmetaphysics” and just head right into the…

Well, wait… we also have to ignore the utter lack of citation and reliance upon “this guy I knew who dated another guy’s first cousin who was married to an expert”.

Ok, now we can get to the meat of the matter:  The Global Hair Conspiracy.  Obviously that’s true.

Hear ye!  Hear ye!  Read all about it!  The Global Hair Conspiracy!

Maybe you don’t know about this but hair is dead.  There is nothing living anywhere in hair.  Even the hair below the surface of the skin (below the dead layer of skin down into the living layer of skin where the hair is manufactured), even down there the hair is dead.

Sure some hairs can transmit small amounts of data into your skin, but the longer the hair the less the data transmission success.  So if you have hair like me, almost no data whatsoever gets through.

Good Hair Day
Good Hair Day

Yet according to this author I should have psychic abilities, spider senses, I should be a fucking superhero.  Well, except I shave my face.  More or less.  Mostly less.  I don’t use a barber.

Barbers?  We Don't Need No Stinking Barbers!
Barbers? We Don’t Need No Stinking Barbers!

I just trim it with some clippers.  Short hairs.  More superpowers.  I don’t do it because I hate shaving.  I do it for more superpowers!  More superpowers!

You people are so lucky I’m not evil, because I would totally take over the world and mess with your shit.

But you might be wondering how we can hope to argue against “the document”, “a thick official looking folder”, or (of course!) “Samson and Delilah in the Bible”.

Don’t even bother.  I can feel your thoughts, Interwebaroonies.

JamesIsIn

I Asked the Magic Sky Man for a Favor and Nothing Happened—Again

Yeah, you know, when the Monkees sang about being a believer they were not thinking “… and my amputated limb will miraculously regrow itself”.  You know why?  Because even the Monkees weren’t complete idiots.

The alleged power of prayer in medicine has consistently proven itself to be equal to the placebo effect; in other words if you can get better by thinking about getting better and prayer happens to give you those thoughts, you win.  To my taste sugar pills are sweeter and easier to swallow.

When it comes to matters rational, the religious among us have given themselves a free-pass to be irreverently irrational.  This happens in spite of the steady stream of evidence against any position that the Magic Sky Man is looking out for anyone on good old planet Earth.

As a telling example we have Herbert and Catherine Schaible who have allowed their second child to die while on probation for refusing to seek medical care for their first child (already dead, manslaughter, guilty)—preferring instead to rely upon prayer and faith to heal their child.  The court had, as a single condition of their probation, ordered the couple to seek medical treatment for their remaining child should appropriate conditions arise.

They arose.

You can read about that here.

Can there be any doubt that at least some religious observance qualifies as child abuse?

JamesIsIn

Happy Marquis de Sade Day

Being that neither C nor myself are cathaholics—she a teetotaler and me an apathetic—we have tossed in the proverbial towel on this so-called St Valentine and his alleged day.

In case you didn’t know (and most don’t), St Valentine had an imaginary friend.  The guy can’t stop talking about his imaginary friend.  Just loves him.  Says he is loved by him.  A match made in heaven.  But it’s over and over, relentless, like the pounding of the waves upon the beach.  Everybody he meets stares in awe as Valentinus Sinusitis regales the very air with luscious adulations of said imaginary friend.

Then he meets an emperor of Rome—let’s call him Claudius—I like the name Claudius—I might name my next cat Claudius—anyway, Valentinus continues to avail every breath which might reach those imperial ears ever-toward the tiresome goal of shouting from the top of a mountain that which could just as effectively be slipped into a note in the pocket of one’s robe like a precious telegram.

have imaginary friend stop

lots of love stop

Long story short… so Claudius says “if you don’t shut the fuck up about your invisible companion I’m gonna have a couple of the boys take you out back and beat you to death”.  Valentinus, being a smooth negotiator, talks the emperor into beheading when the beating is done: “if you’re going to do it, your highness, at least do it right”.

Clearly this is the most magnificent symbol of romantic love in the many millennia of humanity’s struggle to find someone with which to enjoy chocolate, perhaps rivaled only by Big Bird’s love of Mr Snuffleupagus—assuming of course someone were to then beat and behead Big Bird.

But hey, Big Bird’s been through a lot lately.

Big Bird: Down but not Out
Big Bird: Down but not Out

Let’s leave him and his romance to blossom as it will.  It’s a harsh world; we should never endeavor to hamper love.

So what might lovers do to spontaneously express their gratitude and joy, nay to celebrate the very fabric of love which binds so many of us together?

Let me turn your attention to another historical figure.

This chiseled human specimen is a novelist and a playwright, loves spanking servant girls in his spare time, did most of his writing in prison, was subsequently elected as a delegate before the National Convention, and can often be heard saying “Seigneur, Madame le Guillotine”.

Let’s have a big round of applause for our first contestant, the Marquis de Sade.

[Insert applause.]

(Actually he’s our only contestant as I don’t plan to stay up all night trying to convince you to laugh.)

The Marquis de Sade was probably born in June of 1740, not that it matters much.  Holidays get tossed all over the calendar.  If someone doesn’t like where a holiday lands they have always had the option to just move it.

Granted it’s a lot harder with a holiday like the Fourth of July, but as long as it’s named Lumpy Rug Day or Ether Day you have a bit of flexibility.  And thanks to the amazing magic of double-think you too can think “it’s always been on that day”.

So 14 February it is.

Not for Lumpy Rug Day; that’s 3 May.  Neither for Ether Day; that’s 16 October.

Don’t be silly.

Happy Marquis de Sade Day.  Enjoy your spanking chocolate.  You can thank me later.

JamesIsIn

No Magic in Numbers

Let us see if we cannot tease out the truth of the matter concerning the much-talked-about events such as 12:12 on 12 December 2012.  I will begin by asserting that there is absolutely nothing interesting about this date and time as compared to any other except that certain persons enjoy talking (endlessly apparently) about trivial matters.

In order for the numeric values of a date or a time to have some meaning (beyond, of course, the simple marking of the current agreed-upon time and date), the numbers must be drawn from some segment of reality and that segment reality must be marching along at the numeric rate we happen to be using to divide time.

Trouble is, all of our systems for measuring time (and thus date) are fully arbitrary.

The first day of the year has been moved all over the place in our calendar and there are dozens of other calendars (currently and throughout history). Not all calendars have leap years or any other systematic method for adjusting the shift of the calendar over the course of time. This is because a year isn’t exactly 365 days. Nor is each day exactly 24 hours.

The number of months, days in months, and days in the year has also changed and is different in all those different calendars. October, November, and December are based on the Latin words for eight (Oct), nine (Nov), and ten (Dec) because they were the eighth, ninth, and tenth months of the Roman system (later Augustus and Julius got months).

The number of hours in a day has changed and was most recently suggested to move into decimal form. The French in the 1800’s decimalized most measurements but failed to convince anyone decimalizing time was important. Days were broken into ten hours each under some ancient systems. For some systems or eras each hour was not the same (some hours were longer or shorter). This was because day and night were divided at sunset and sunrise, so the day hours in winter were pretty short while the night hours of those same periods were pretty long.

If you are in the Pacific Time Zone, when are you at the correct time? Is at the beginning edge of the zone? The ending edge? We just agreed to create the various time zones according to arbitrary (and squirrelly lines around the globe), mostly for commercial and political reasons. Then you have shifts for daylight savings. And why is this so-called midnight the start of our day?

The idea that these numbers, which are of a totally random and arbitrary nature, have some meaning can only indicate the meaning exists solely in the mind of the espouser. All of these numbers we have assigned in a perfectly arbitrary fashion. They don’t represent anything in reality. We just made up some numbers and assigned them to random points. If they mean anything, they don’t do so in reality.

If you are still in doubt, feel free to make a donation to me of all your worldly possessions and I will save your eternal soul from damnation.

JamesIsIn

How Magic Is Destroying American Farms

We have these cool machines from Starbucks which are similar to the replicators on Star Trek and which are apparently made from Magic.  They are able to, among other things, spit out hot chocolate.

Magic and Friend
Magic and Friend

Of course Magic doesn’t use milk or cream.  Magic uses water.  You need Love to make cream and milk.  I guess.

So when the Magic spits out the hot chocolate I add some Half & Half to it.  The reason I add Half & Half is because we don’t have heavy cream or whipping cream.  I would prefer cream as this would make up for the lack of milk and the use of water.  Water is the antithesis of cream and cutting it with cream would give you something like it were made with proper milk.  But I can’t so I use Half & Half.

Everyone knows “watered down” and knows it sucks.  No one says “creamed down” because adding cream would go up and make things better.  So it seems strange to say cutting it with cream since what I’d really be doing would be cutting some cream with chocolate water but whatever.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why aren’t you drinking beer?”

Beer!
Beer!

You, sir or madame, are missing the point.

There are a lot of folks out there who get a cup of coffee and they say “hey, where’s the cream?” and the Coffee Jerk points to a little table with various coffee condiments.

The Pointing Barista
The Pointing Barista

There is sugar—maybe even sugar in the raw, whatever that is—right next to the Sweet & Low and the Splenda.  Then you might have a carafe of Half & Half and a chilled bin of non-dairy creamer.

No Cream?
No Cream?

Have you ever seen a non-dairy cow?  No?  You know why?  Because they, like Santa and bug-free programs, don’t exist!

What the fuck?!
What the fuck?!

Oh, and Splenda… Splenda?!  Splenda is exactly the opposite of splendid.  It’s shit.  Shit’s nasty.  Don’t put it in your mouth.  Did your mother teach you nothing?

Just Say No
Just Say No

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.  Cream…

Cream with Lavender
Cream with Lavender

The Coffee Jerk lied to the Patron asking for cream or the Patron didn’t really mean cream.  Otherwise the Patron would have landed at the coffee condiment counter and said “ok, so where’s the cream?!”  No cream.  No love.

No Cream = No Love

For those who would dispute this equation, I offer this mild proof.  Farmers love their cows and this love is used to make cream every day.  You say “there’s more to making cream than that and some cows are in factories” and I respond “go get your own fucking cow and love it and see if it doesn’t return some delicious whole milk”.

Love and Cream
Love and Cream

You are wondering why farms in America—and here I mean family farms—are in decline?  Wonder no longer.  Demand your cream!

Who Wants Some Cream?
Who Wants Some Cream?

Join my movement.

Our Fearless Leader
Our Fearless Leader
JamesIsIn

Thoughts on Internet Isolation

On the Internet no one knows your a Turing machine.

Of course, the problem for two Turing machines conversing over the Internet is that neither can be truly certain that the other is the Turing machine it thinks it is.

Recently I had an on-line discussion with a few friends concerning the brand of isolation unique to the Internet and how that particular fashion of isolation was moving humanity.  I would like to expand and expound for your pleasure and torment my current view on the matter (borrowing liberally from my friends).

One friend (Mr BG) pointed out to us that

The internet [sic] has made you all artificial. I don’t know who any of you are.  Some of you I remember from days gone by but mostly I don’t know you and it saddens me as I’ve not been part of your journey.

To which another (EHS) responded that she

had similar thoughts a few days ago….  The internet [sic] keeps us connected but doesn’t get us any closer to actually knowing each other.

I think these are true enough observations.  We know less of one another if our only connection is virtual.  We know only our mutual advertisements.

Leading up to my graduation from the UW I met on-line and began a friendship with a woman living in Spain.  She was French and Spanish and this was great for me to practice both my French and Spanish (though we often conversed in English).  As the end of my student life loomed closer we decided I should take a visit and see a little corner of Spain.  We had more than a year of intimate if virtual interactions by this time.  Yet when I disembarked that bus in Valencia we were newly met strangers all over again.  We knew facts about the other person, but we didn’t really know the other person.

Given this background I was immediately able to understand when CB said

It all depends on how you use the connections you’ve made… look on the bright side.  When I saw Ellie in the craft store, I immediately knew her face… and her story….  When I’m able to set up meetings/lunches/dates with equally busy people via this tool, I feel HAPPY that it exists, even if some on here aren’t as transparent as others.

[E]ven if I never see you in real life because you live far away, I appreciate your opinions and your presense [sic] in my life.

PEOPLE make the internet aftificial [sic], not the other way around

Not that we can reduce the Internet to a two sentence summation, but it does facilitate superficiality in an extraordinary way.  Not to mention the raw power available when we employ anonymity effectively.  (Many believe they are acting anonymously or that they have somehow limited their identifications to a select circle and are totally wrong, but that is not exactly what we are discussing.)

If many fall into the trap of propagating superficiality we are certainly right to lament it.  We may also feel an obligation to rebel against it, to reach out to those with whom we might connect.

AH pointed out that it may well be that the Internet (or more specifically social media sites like Facebook) expose the inner workings of a person’s being, rather than that these sites allow or promote this type of behaviour.

Probably the truth is that social sites (and perhaps the Internet in general) do promote self-centric behaviour and also expose in greater detail the inner workings of a person’s being.  Of course the problem with this increased exposure is in what I said earlier about only actually exposing one’s advertisements of oneself.  The context of this advertisement is necessarily stripped away due to the superficial nature of interactions.

Let’s come back to that point though because next Nate swept in in support of a more radical point of view:

… Borg Telepathy, which I (right now) believe is the best, good, and Right goal for human communication we have this new (semi) unmediated mode of communication. somwehere between “On the internet, no one knows you’re a Dog” and “Oh (damn) I just posted something that I didn’t mean to…” [sic]

He also offered a link to a paper by Jean Baudrillard called The Ecstasy of Communication, which I include for your interest.  Baudrillard can be a challenge to read, but the rewards are great so stick with it.

I think the important part is that there is too much information on the Web and thus we must radically filter that in-stream (or die).  This leads to us missing very much of the substance and replacing it with a sizable quantity of superficial information.

Facebook is a great example here (like Google before it).  You can only see a random segment of what your friends are posting (due to time and other factors).  There are dozens or hundreds or thousands of posts slipping down your wall (right now!) which you must miss.  In spite of this those you do chance upon are often fully irrelevant to your interests and so you use the tools available (ever-changing, thanks to the developers) to sculpt your in-stream into something manageable (I am here reminded of Sisyphus).

AH accepted

that a lot of substance winds up mixed in with all of the white noise but I also don’t feel like a lot of substance or real sharing is put out there.  Needle in a haystack.  As Nate said in a different conversation, I think people for the most part hold back on FB because it’s a quasi public space with a diverse audience.  I’d probably make more dirty jokes if I wasn’t friends with my Great Aunt Daphne.

I have several times had people stomp on my balls because I dissented with some profound or inane notion they put forward.  The thing about the Internet that is key here is that if you post your opinion you are nearly guaranteed to run into opposition.

There is the whole concern (now) with employers (potential or otherwise) judging by random Internet yarns or foibles.  We have all this newfound freedom (for speech and expression), but we are socially prohibited from using it lest we suffer the consequences.

And finally we are reduced to making sound bites if we want to get anyone to pay any attention to what we say.  This is the final devolution of our personal advertisements, the diminutive dimension of our soul-marketing.

Try not to go “boo hoo” here, but on a scale of things no one visits my blogs or posts comments.  This is not meant as a lament but merely a statement of fact.  I monitor the various posts and pages using analytics so I know when something gets a lot of hits, but I have no dilusions about anything I do here suddenly going viral.  Sure I write a lot of either philosophical or creative pieces and don’t post any pr0n or cute kitten videos, but you get the point.

This idea led Aubrey to point out that there was no “point in commenting [on your blog] if nobody can see my brilliance on display… it’s outside the ecosystem”.  An excellent piece of humor but as with all humor it is necessarily tied to the truth.

Aubrey is a great example for this point because he recently did a project (which turned into a book) where he drew one drawing each day, based on one of his friends’ Facebook status, for 100 days.  Someone asked him afterwards “What do you mean you’ve been drawing statuses?”.  One drawing (image) posted to his wall per day, each receiving many comments from his circle of friends (especially the person tagged because it was their status he drew from) for one hundred days, and yet in spite of all of that posting someone (a “pretty good friend”) still missed the whole thing.

(The book is called One Hundred Days Later, as was the project, and since it’s available for sale on the Internet it is likely that there exists someone who owns it who doesn’t know Aubrey and someone who is close friends with him who knows nothing about it.  You can buy it here.  Be famous.)

This makes perfect sense to me.  The Internet, social media sites, and especially Facebook are very much in the now.  Each post and page is tossed into a torrential river turbid and frothing.  If you miss 99.9% of what passes near you in this enormous waterway it’s no surprise (or shouldn’t be).

For what it’s worth.  Fight the good fight.

JamesIsIn

Is Facebook Decending?

As with anything popular it is also popular to complain about Facebook.  Now I feel like I get a free pass since my complaints are not of the class “Why did you move my cheese?” but rather “Why doesn’t your shit work as advertised?”.

Call me a hypocrite if you’d like.  I’ll wait.

Ok.  I’m glad you got that off your chest.

Today Facebook made an announcement:

Changes to How You Share Content in Notes

You currently automatically import content from your website or blog into your Facebook notes. Starting November 22nd, this feature will no longer be available, although you’ll still be able to write individual notes. The best way to share content from your website is to post links on your Wall. Learn more about notes.

I’ve been using this buggy feature since I learned I could do it.  It never really worked very well.  The reality is that I post the links myself anyway because their feed importer rarely does its job.  When it does work it takes hours or days to import rather than the minutes they claim.

The links Facebook provides back to my blog are confusing for users (presumably because Facebook wants to keep visitors on their site and not assist me in getting them to mine—which seems utterly antithetical to the spirit of the hyperlink).

In a way it’s not all that surprising they would make this maneuver.  Nonetheless, they chose to bag this feature after spending nearly zero effort in fixing it.  I mean if they can dump hundreds of hours of coding time to make the chat list appear on the right hand side of every page, surely they could fix an RSS feed importer.

As such I expressed myself:

Self-Expression
Self-Expression

As you can see, there is much they should be spending their coding hours fixing.

Facebook, we love you but seriously: fuck off.

JamesIsIn