Stop Saying This, Please

One phrase I’m seriously sick of reading is “I don’t care if it was photoshopped.  It was funny.”  I wouldn’t care so much if this was part of the original post.  “I came across this and I know it’s fake but, bearing that in mind, you may still find it amusing.”  That’s honest.

But they never do that.  They post stuff as if it is real, sometimes just to make a joke but sometimes to make a point (it’s better to have a point when you’re making a joke than to get poked when you’re in the joint, I suppose), and then when somebody calls them on it, they come up with this lame “I don’t care” response.

Just admit it.  You got burned.  It happens to everybody.  More and more, actually.  On the great human trek from apelike savagery to intergalactic enlightenment, we are deep in the tall grass of the uncanny valley right about now.  We have the rudiments of the hive mind that will be able to analyze all of the resources on Earth and construct a paradise like the Eloi lived in in The Time Machine, cure all the diseases , send robots and human micro-societies out on ark ships to explore the universe, and spot the difference between a real  video and a fake.

How can you tell?  The one with the flying bed is definitely fake, for instance.  Stuff with people dressing up their dogs as ballerinas is undoubtedly real.  I don’t know.  I don’t have a foolproof method, and I get it wrong all the time.

The point is to be honest about it.  Because maybe  it still would be funny.  Just not if people are expecting us to think it’s real.  That’s not funny.

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The Coming Crisis

I don’t know any better that anybody else what’s going to happen when the grand jury issues its statement in Ferguson, as to whether Darren Wilson should stand  trial for the murder of Michael Brown.  This is not even the trial.  This is the secret trial to decide if there  should be a trial.

To me, it’s a no brainer.  He killed him.  There should be a trial.  He can try to persuade a jury of this ‘feared for his life’ nonsense.

But, that’s not what I expect to happen.  I saw an article today  about how protesters in Ferguson are getting arrested, and I suspect this is pre-emptive.  If a lot of the protesters are already in jail when the news comes down, and the grand jury says “Nah, we don’t need to bother with a trial”  it will be easier for the police to maintain order.  So, I suspect that the Ferguson police already know that that’s what the grand jury will say, and  that means the fix is in.

It figures.  Police all across the U.S. are killing people without any fear of repercussion.  None have been charged.  None have had a trial.

 

 

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They Never Give Up

Some people just never give up.  For over 70 years, they have propagandized about marijuana’s entirely imaginary negative effects.  They said it was fatal, they said it would make you crazy, they said it would cause  birth defects, they said  it was as  addictive as heroin and while they were saying this, they tried desperately to find  some scientific evidence, some shred of a whisper of evidence, that there was something harmful about it.weed

Now, it’s  completely legal in two U.S. States, and Uruguay.  Also, its medicinal uses are finally starting to be  realized.  It should be overwhelmingly obvious to everybody that the original claims were wrong.

But, some people just never give up.  Every couple of weeks you hear news of some recent government study which proves, absolutely, that marijuana is the devil’s rose.  This latest one says that long term, heavy use will make a certain part of the brain shrink. (although it simultaneously increases the connectivity of neurons in that section, so it seems like it should be a draw.)

The headlines screamed “Marijuana May Cause Brain Abnormalities.”  Well, to be fair, they did say ‘may.’  But, the long  and short of it is, they’ve got nothing and, even if they had something, they’d have nothing.  Back when we were hippies, back when smoking pot was a social statement, and not just a pleasant after-dinner ritual, brain abnormalities was kind of  what we were looking  for.  We’d seen normal and we were not impressed.  The  goal was to open the Doors of Perception, to Break on Through to the Other Side, to reach Nirvana, to alter our minds.

That isn’t even  a negative.

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A Message From the Dead

I suppose I’ll stop writing about Philae and Rosetta and comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko eventually, probably even soon.  The mission is done (except it’s not – Philae may well rise from the dead as Churyumov-Gerasimenko gets closer to the Sun – but that won’t be for a while).  Other space feats will happen and the news will fade..

But…Philae is  phoning it in posthumously, and ‘it’ is absolutely amazing.  They’ve discovered carbon on the comet.  This is major.  The old Drake equation keeps  getting  pushed back and back and  back.

We now know there are planets  around other suns -lots and lots of them.  We know that water is not just  an earthly phenomenon.  Now, we know that you can find carbons, maybe even carbon compounds, on comets.

Not only is it looking like life in the galaxy is common but even life that’s more or less as we know it.  Of course, this does not mean there won’t also be Silicon monsters like the Horta, and intelligent energy clouds, and green-skinned women in 60s hairdos and antennae.  There is  room for a lot of diversity, but life as we know it is what we’d like to find.

I believe it was Carl Sagan who said that probably the first extraterrestrial life we’d discover would be a bacteria, or something like that.  The small stuff first.  Well, this is one step before that.

 

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Time Flies

Time flies, I suppose, at the speed of light, but time flies, relatively, because it flies when you’re having fun, it flies when you’re occupied, but that’s really just our perception of time, because we have  forgotten about time for a period of time which, since it was preoccupied by other  thoughts, might as well not  have counted, in time.

I really had no idea it  was so late, I’d just smoked a 2nd joint and felt like it was about 9 o’clock, but Sam didn’t  even  get home until 9:30, we shouldn’t have let him be out that late, but all’s well that  ends well, he  went  to see a floorball game with friends from school.

He got a 3- on a math test, and the teacher told  him he could  bring his grade up if he redid all of the questions he got wrong by Thursday, and so I took a look at it intending to help, and the math was way over my head.  Lots of geometry.

Still, he has  to redo it.

I’m going  to finish this  blog now.

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A Few Thoughts

I like Senator Al Franken.  He’s cool.  He’s not flashy.  But, he’s direct.  He’s clear.  He says Ted Cruz does not understand Net Neutrality, and then he proceeds to give the clearest, most succinct explanation of it ever.  So, he not only set Ted Cruz straight, he also did a great job of educating the public.

I don’t really know what to think about Bill Cosby.   I still don’t know what I feel about  Woody Allen.

Sadness, I suppose.  They are cultural icons, I have been influenced by their art, they are a part of my consciousness.  But, it’s not looking good for Bill Cosby.  Too many incidents.  And the women have all told  similar stories.

Philae is dead.  It’s battery is dead and it’s only getting a couple of hours of sunlight a day, stuck in a crevice,  so it’s not likely to be charged soon.  Of course, as the comet gets closer to the sun, maybe.  Maybe Philae’s in a pretty good spot.  I hope so.  If not, RIP Philae, you did great.

Just watched a thing on Chupacabras (on Discovery Science, to their great shame), with the emphasis on their being aliens.  They had all sorts of dramatic questions – could they be aliens, with glowing eyes, and fur, and long, red tongues?  Could they be a CIA experiment gone wrong?

They had the scientist on who said it was just dogs, but they had several others who said no, it had to be aliens, or vampires, or alien vampires.  They had a lot of tense, dramatic scenes of people working in labs, doing tests and then, at the end – it was dogs.

But they didn’t even end it there, they closed with a question.  Could it be true?

Why do they do that?

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Starry, Starry Night

I sometimes get a bit tired of the adulation of Vincent Van Gogh.  I wonder how much of it is our collective human guilt.  Does the fact that he died unrecognized mean we are trying to make up for lost time in expressing our appreciation now?  Or does it just make a more compelling back story?

The Starry Night (Vincent  Van Gogh -1889)

The Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh -1889)

Oh, sure, his paintings are great.  But is he better than Monet, or Gauguin, or Brueghel, or Dali, or Chagall?  It’s all subjective.  I sort of feel the same about Shakespeare.  Of course, he was an amazing writer.  But he was not the only amazing writer.

That said, this little video, which appeared on my facebook page today, only adds to the Legend of Vincent Van Gogh.  It’s also a good demonstration of how modern technology converges.  All of the things we know, in all of the different fields of knowledge we are exploring, sometimes bump up against each other.

Van Gogh painted “Starry Night” in the late 1800s, looking out the window of the insane asylum where he was residing, shortly before dawn, when the night, proverbially, is darkest.

The mathematical formula describing turbulence wasn’t discovered until about a hundred years later.  However, one scientist noticed that Vincent had painted it.

I don’t think Vincent Van Gogh was a genius physicist a hundred years ahead of his time.  I don’t believe he was a visionary like Nostradamus.  (I don’t even believe that Nostradamus was a visionary like Nostradamus),  or a time traveler or anything  like  that.

But, neither do I think it’s total coincidence.  One thing Van Gogh was known for was painting fast.  He never made any money, but he churned out a lot of canvasses during his sad and too-short life.  There is something to painting fast, or writing fast, or playing jazz, or doing improv in comedy, which leads to a special, and treasured, result.  If you spend a lot of time thinking about something, your internal editor has time to stifle your impulses.  It means fewer mistakes, but also less inspiration.

In fact, if  you are writing fast, like Jack  Kerouac blasting out “On the Road” in a single session, which  might  be an urban legend but I’ll bet there’s a grain of truth behind it, you are putting out directly,  unfiltered, what is in your head, and perhaps it is  a message from the universe beyond your  mind.  Everybody gets those messages, not everybody is uninhibited enough to let them flow through.

Van Gogh didn’t paint turbulence because he knew anything about turbulence,  or even because he actually saw the turbulence.   Van Gogh  painted turbulence because he was letting the universe speak through him.  Which is,  perhaps,  even more amazing.

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