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|20100527 161401 Z||The Fall of Rome -- W H Auden||wonderingmin … e-w-h-auden.html||www.crossfit … ive2/005447.html||Language, Literature, Quotations, Text||Three words of the day: somatotonia, viscerotonia, and cerebrotonia.|
|20110529 193909 Z||Testing posting to Facebook and Twitter from my app||Cyber Life, Inspiring, My Stuff, Quotations||"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -Helen Keller|
|20110529 202935 Z||Testing posting to Facebook and Twitter from my app 2||Cyber Life, My Stuff, Quotations||"I seem to be a verb." - Buckminister Fuller|
In addition to the link, I'm posting the whole thing here:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics -- you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to -- it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington -- it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek -- it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers -- in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House -- a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn -- I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world -- our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down -- we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security -- we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright --tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America -- that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing -- Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time -- to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth -- that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
It's been a while since I've done one of my litte free association scribble sessions, so here goes.
Today is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species [W]. It's a good and grand occassion for celebration. I don't mind that Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort are giving away copies of the book with an anti-evolution introduction --the book, the evidence, the testing, and the ideas are simply blow away the stuff that Kirk and Mr. Banana come up with.
I have loved science and the philosophy of science for most of my life. Last month I saw David Deutsch: A new way to explain explanation [http://www.ted.com/talks/david_deutsch_a_new_way_to_explain_explanation.html], a video of David Deutsch talking science philosophy. Good stuff espencially its tie ins to Karl Popper [W].
By coincidence, I've been having an email exchange with my Conservative/Republican/Right-leaning friends. They were trying to slam Hawaiiaan health care with this article: Remember Hawaii's Health Care Lessons [http://sweetness-light.com/archive/lessons-from-hawaiis-health-care-system]. I countered with this email (which has been edited for privacy and formatting):
As is in the lowest costs per beneficiary in the country?
The attached chart is from last month's article: In Hawaii's Health System, Lessons for Lawmakers [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/17/health/policy/17hawaii.html].
"Hawaii's health care system insures over 95% of residents. Under the state's plan, businesses are required to provide employees who work more than twenty hours per week with health care. Heavy regulation of insurance companies helps keep the cost to employers down. Due in part to the system's emphasis on preventive care, Hawaiians require hospital treatment less frequently than the rest of the United States, while total health care expenses (measured as a percentage of state GDP) are substantially lower. Given these achievements, proponents of universal health care elsewhere in the U.S. sometimes use Hawaii as a model for proposed federal and state health care plans. Critics, however, claim that Hawaii's success is due at least in part to its mild climate and to its status as a chain of islands whose economy is heavily based on tourism: features that make it more difficult for businesses unhappy with paying the plan's premiums to relocate elsewhere."
My brother lives in Hawaii and so does Linda. We can ask them.
Epistemology [W] because there's more than Fox and Rush.
From the responses, at first I thought I went over with the thing about epistemology, so I wrote this:
Sorry if talking about epistemology sound pretentious, but I've been reading about Karl Popper [W] and the philosophy of science, which all ties in to epistemology, as in what distinguishes common knowledge from scientific knowledge? What makes knowledge objective or subjective? How do we know? I think people like stuff that's very objective (science) or very subjective (art), but when things get in between (politics), it gets very muddy. Another important aspect is that somethings that "should" be objective may actually be quite subjective and vice versa. Certainly scientific/objective knowledge isn't everything, but knowing the distinctions between approximating the weight of a thing versus whether you like your weight are interesting to me.
Popper says some interesting stuff about freedom too, which BTW supports fighting: "The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato. Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal."
It's all good considering that today is the anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". It's a theory right? What makes it "better" than say a theory that claims that we were created by Zeus? Knowledge are theories and conjectures, but scientific knowledge is testable and falsifiable.
However, further discussion seemed to indicate that it was actually my quip against Fox and Rush that totally sidetracked what I thought was going to be a discussion about health care. So later on in the email thread I said this:
My exact words: "Epistemology because there's more than Fox and Rush"
My words insult Fox and Rush and those who listen predominantly to them. If you have more sources than Fox and Rush, then you shouldn't be insulted.
You could take the same phrase and replace "Fox and Rush" with a comparable pair of terribly left-leaning sources. Would I be insulted? I don't think so. I for example, don't follow any specific blogs these day.
Hmm. I'm having deja vu. This sounds similar to the race discussion we had a little while ago. Am I really so brusque in my communications? My wife gives me a similar attitude sometimes too. I think we're just talking --and then all of the sudden I'm in trouble. Am I becoming some sort of Archie Bunker?
Ewww. Sorry: I'm over-quoting. Anyhow, it seems that as a species, we can be very good at objective/scientific/mathematical thinking as well as subjective/creative/artistic/magical thinking. We can make great science and great art. What gets me is when they clash poorly or maliciously or both. Religion and politics are the primary examples. Religion and politics can be so inspiring, creative, and constructive for society, but they are often abused, dogmatic, and destructive. It seems to me that the problem is largely political (in the sense of people promoting and protecting their own interests). People squibble about power, resources, time, love, ideas, popularity, money, justice, attention, and so on, but if we could all be less trivial, we could do some really great stuff.
I'm tired of being trivial, of being morose and maroon. I want to do great things, feel great love, think great thoughts, share great wealth, be patient, be "orange", foster the good. It's time to maximize that signal-to-noise ratio. Big bold words, idealistic words. I know, I know. But it's hard to not be so when you watch Hans Rosling: Asia's rise -- how and when [http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_asia_s_rise_how_and_when.html], and you clapping and really believe that India and China and other lagging countries will become first-world countries by 2048! OK, so maybe we'll lose our polar caps and polar bears by then as well, and maybe we'll run out of oil too, but still, there's a lot of good we can do.
Is it such terrible hubris to believe? I love science, but I'm a believer. I believe that we want what's best for our kids, for all the kids, for our race, for our species, for our planet. We may indeed be a flash in time, an effervescent moment, a fleeting arrangement of legos [http://xkcd.com/659/], but oh how we dazzle, oh how bright are those shinging eyes [http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html].
Pffftt! I can almost hear those Republican friends of mine tell me about drinking the tree-hugging kool-aid. You know what I say?!? FFFFFFUUUUUUUU!!!! Yeah baby! I'm living large! I'm breathing fire! I'm eager for my next CrossFit workout! I'm ready to cross swords! I'm watching too much TED and South Park and Heroes!
Phew. Slow down, slow down. Take it easy. I can breath fire calmly. I have the hubris to save the world. I'll do it Kill Bill style: I'll make a list.
Gaah! It's a crappy list, but it's a start. Time's up: Spell check and post. GO DARWIN!
My numbers for today are 7 and 13.
7 is for We are Seven by William Wordsworth. The death of a loved one temporarily weakens us, but to honor them we must ensure that their lives strengthen us and lives through us.
13 is for transformation, rebirth, rebellion. 13 exceeds the numerology of 12. A death must occur in order to have a resurrection. The extraordinary requires the surpassing the status quo.
We are seven! We will transform!
[FYI: Here is a copy of "We are Seven" by William Wordsworth. I prefer the original intro by Coledridge.]
A little child, dear brother Jem, That lightly draws its breath, And feels its life in every limb, What should it know of death? I met a little cottage Girl: She was eight years old, she said; Her hair was thick with many a curl That clustered round her head. She had a rustic, woodland air, And she was wildly clad: Her eyes were fair, and very fair; --Her beauty made me glad. "Sisters and brothers, little Maid, How many may you be?" "How many? Seven in all," she said And wondering looked at me. "And where are they? I pray you tell." She answered, "Seven are we; And two of us at Conway dwell, And two are gone to sea. "Two of us in the church-yard lie, My sister and my brother; And, in the church-yard cottage, I Dwell near them with my mother." "You say that two at Conway dwell, And two are gone to sea, Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell, Sweet Maid, how this may be." Then did the little Maid reply, "Seven boys and girls are we; Two of us in the church-yard lie, Beneath the church-yard tree." "You run about, my little Maid, Your limbs they are alive; If two are in the church-yard laid, Then ye are only five." "Their graves are green, they may be seen," The little Maid replied, "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door, And they are side by side. "My stockings there I often knit, My kerchief there I hem; And there upon the ground I sit, And sing a song to them. "And often after sunset, Sir, When it is light and fair, I take my little porringer, And eat my supper there. "The first that died was sister Jane; In bed she moaning lay, Till God released her of her pain; And then she went away. "So in the church-yard she was laid; And, when the grass was dry, Together round her grave we played, My brother John and I. "And when the ground was white with snow, And I could run and slide, My brother John was forced to go, And he lies by her side." "How many are you, then," said I, "If they two are in heaven?" Quick was the little Maid's reply, "O Master! we are seven." "But they are dead; those two are dead! Their spirits are in heaven!" 'Twas throwing words away; for still The little Maid would have her will, And said, "Nay, we are seven!"
I finished reading "Brave New World" (1931) by Aldous Huxley earlier this afternoon. The first chapter is harsh and it continued to be harsh. However in spite of the harshness I think it Brave New World was very provocative and applicable to the current time.
I'll get to those ideas, but first I will briefly discuss some of the science fiction aspects of Brave New World (BNW). Huxley started BNW as a dystopian variant of the utopian novels by H.G. Wells, so it had to have science fiction in it.
BNW has the circumvention of internal fertilization and our vivvparous nature (bearing live young). We have seen this in popular culture with movies like "The Matrix" and "Man of Steel". In real life, we have achieved some degree of ovuliparity (external fertilization) with test tube babies, but we are nowhere near achieving oviparity (laying eggs), or of developing the zygote in an artificial egg or bottle (the term used in BNW). The best we can do now is develop safer and more effective pain killing drugs and delivery methods (like epidurals). I'm sure women have wished to circumvent the pain of delivery for thousands of years --I wonder what was the earliest recorded expression of that wish in literature?
BNW has the casting of people into castes (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon) from the moment of conception. In BNW this was done through chemical manipulation since inception, and then brainwashing. If Huxley had written BNW after the discovery of DNA, perhaps he would have written in genetic manipulation. While corporations like Monsanto may do genetic engineering of food, people aren't doing much genetic manipulation of people --yet. As far as social stratification, we seem to do that to ourselves.
There's other science fiction stuff in it like centralized economic control, feelies (immersion movies that can provide direct neural stimulation), soma (a very powerful happy drug distributed by the state that BNW people consumed regularly), chemically induced youth, rampant recreational sex, etc. Even just listing that stuff can put people in a paranoid state about socialist godless liberal hippies running the world. Our social development comes partially from our science, but is largely driven by us.
The philosophical apex of the book happens in chapters 16 and 17 when John "The Savage" and Helmholtz Watson (the yearning writer) have a frank discussion with Mustapha Mond (the World Controller of Western Europe). The crux of the discussion is that in the face of self-extinction, the people in the BNW decided to favor safety, survival, stability, happiness, and comfort, over liberty, truth, beauty, history, and religion. I shall encapsulate the topic with the phrase "Safety v Liberty" for the sake of convenience and in honor of this saw from Benjamin Franklin: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.".
The topic of "Safety v Liberty" is old and important. There is safety in consolidating power to one or a few, but its price is Liberty. The closest we seem to get is a Republic (rule of law) and a Democracy (rule of the people). I'm not too worried about the government against the people because the trend is towards government by the people instead of the few. Don't like Gaddafi or Morsi?, then throw them out. (Good luck getting rid of Putin or Kim Jong-un!) What do I care that Google and the NAS have info on me?
My concern is of "Safety v Liberty" is on the personal level. It's not so much a matter of explicit cases of "Hikikomori" (Japanese "pulled inward") or hermits, but the more subtle case of people fooling themselves. As Feynman said: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.". You don't need friends or corporations or government to fool yourself. When you fool yourself, you feel safer, but you steal time from yourself, thus taking away your liberty, your freedom.
Another interesting thing in ch 17 of BNW was their discussion of God.
"We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property."
I agree with that except that I think we merely are, we are of the universe, we do what we can, and we are no one's property.
"as the passions grow calm, as the fany and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns toward the source of all light"
Probably many of us start thinking along these lines when we get to be middle aged and the flower of youth if fading. At this point one seeks a transformation, a continuation, because otherwise there is only decay then death. I've always looked for a meaning, but if I can no longer find meaning in the magnificence of my physical prowess (I'm so awesome!), then what do I find meaning in? For some it will be in the continuation of genes, goals, or memes. But isn't it possible that a gamma burst could wipe out all life on this planet at any time? Or that this universe could blink out because of some event in the multiverse? What if there is not continuation? What if there is? Each of us has to look for that meaning. Is "seeing God" the easy way out? If instead you see the void, then perhaps you need to look harder until you see something else?
"God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness."
It's interesting that Mond, who actively suppresses the propagation of the concept of God, thinks that "there quite probably is one", but that God manifests himself as an absence. In BNW, society lives youthfully, safely, happily, and then slips into death while in a soma-induced happy state. So where is a need for God in that? In BNW, it is more convenient to be without God, but in the real world, for many it is more convenient to have God.
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