30 September 2013

The Government "Shut Down" In Plain Fucking English

The government is going to shut down and it will be the end of the world!!!!!1

Actually, no. The government has "shut down" many times in the past forty years, usually for 1 to 3 days. The last, and longest, "shut down" was in 1996 as a birthday present to me, and it remains the greatest present I have ever gotten. It lasted 28 days. Most government employees, deemed "essential" keep working, though they have to wait until the end of the year to get back pay for the few days the government was "shut down."

Here's why there's going to be a "shut down." The extremely unpopular, unconstitutional ZeroCare tax law, which is so unpopular and destructive that Zero himself has granted waivers to everyone who supported it and has illegally postponed parts of the law himself through executive fiat doesn't want the bad conservatives from saving the American people (me) from having to pay hundreds of dollars a month because we are uninsured. The evil conservatives want to continue funding the government, they don't want it to shut down, and they have repeatedly called for special conference committees (the normal course of action) to reach a compromise. Zero cries "WAAAA!!!! WAAAA!!!!! BABY WANTS A ZIMA!!!!!!" The Demoncrats say "all or nothing, even though Zero HIMSELF postponed parts of his own law you evil conservatives are not allowed to postpone anything. We are willing to let everyone in America die if our lord or lords god of gods Zero does not get his way." The media are repeating the lies the Demoncrats. "Why do you hate orphans and want old people to eat cat food? Why do you want to keep Americans from getting the bestest health care in the universe, that's so good that people in Briton die of dehydration in the waiting room trying to drink from potted plants and their bodies are left there for three days and people are flocking in droves from Canada to get care in the US? Health care so good that other countries around the world are going back to an evil market based system because it doesn't work, never has worked, never will work, is just an excuse by statists to take control of the entire economy and punish poor people?"

Fuck you obama, fuck you very much.

27 September 2013

Disease or alien? Answering a question with another question. [1]

Working on the Sufficiently Alien Hypothesis has led me to a tentative criterion for answering the question whether a cognitive mode (I think I'm calling it PBC - Personality, Beliefs, Cognitive Mode - now) is a disease or whether it is alien. This may be a bit definitional, and in today's world people shy away from definitions because "hey man, I'm the only one who can define me," but that's stupid and without definitions we might as well just not try to understand anything. Methinks this question could be answered by looking toward the future.

Could a society structured around beings with similar PBCs be made to function indefinitely? If yes then it is (or MAY[2] be) alien, if no then it is a disease. Of course there is also the question of "could such a society ever come to exist in the first place?" It's a related question, but I don't think it's necessary to answer in order to answer the first question, though it may make answering the first question more difficult. Getting a group of people with similar PBCs (over 2,000 is necessary to allow for sufficient genetic variation in case the PBC turns out to be viable and a perpetually self-sustaining population is to be maintained) and seeing how they get along together would be a step toward finding an answer, but it may not be the only way.

The answer is "yes" for "normal" people, since history is pretty much testament to such a society functioning for several thousand years. It's not perfect, but it works well enough to have marked survival value. As stated before there seem to be some antiquated PBCs that were dominant in hunter gatherer societies thousands of years ago that are displayed in a small number of people today. That would also be alien. Some PBCs are clearly fatal. A society cannot be built around predominantly people with extreme paranoia, or who cannot stand physical interaction, or cannot feed or clothe themselves. Under the above criterion these would be classified as diseases.

There is the interesting side question of modern Western society, indeed any extremely affluent society, as to whether it does, in fact, represent a diseased PBC and not merely an alien one. All extremely affluent societies throughout history have been plagued by extreme narcissism and apathy, which is displayed in declining fertility rate. Some societies, such as Japan, are so affluent that they are literally on the fast track to extinction because they simply stop breeding. A PBC that cannot[3] produce children above replacement rate (2.1 births/woman) has no survival value and would, by the above criterion, represent a disease. After the inevitable collapse whatever society that arises to fill the void would be made of individuals who possess viable PBCs. As I mentioned in "Affluence and Apathy", there is a healthy form of affluence, though it has never seemed common enough to prevent an entire affluent society from collapsing. It would be possible for healthy affluent to form a viable society, and so I would classify healthy affluent as alien, though it has never happened before and probably never will.

The trouble with most alien PBCs is that the individuals are so widely spread out, and so scarce that it may not be possible for such individuals to find each other in sufficient numbers to actually form a society. The result being that while these alien PBCs could form a viable society they probably never will. However, it is not necessary that a PBC form a society to demonstrate its viability.

1. I believe I have clearly defined "alien" by now, but the fact that I later use "alien" to include "normal" people later on may seem a bit odd. It is important to know that all societally viable PBCs would appear alien to all other societally viable PBCs. Viable PBCs may be mutually exclusive.

2. It's possible that there is some overlap. A disease need not be bad enough to inhibit the survival of the society and/or individuals in question. When I actually get around to writing that 200 page dissertation I'll go into more details, but for now all that I'm focusing on is narrowing the field to exclude all societally fatal PBCs, as they definitely cannot be alien.

3. A PBC that CANNOT, not one that WILL NOT. An individual may sacrifice reproduction for the greater good of society, such as defending the society in warfare or uplifting the society culturally or spiritually through extremely dangerous exploration or monasticism. This does not necessarily place all such individuals outside the society, even if these professions may be safe havens for individuals who are. The difference I'm getting at is between those who do not reproduce out of the choice of self-sacrifice for the greater good and those who cannot reproduce because they are terminally incapable. An outlier, an alien within a society who is incompatible with other members of that society is still capable of reproducing with similar individuals, though may never encounter such an individual in an alien society. Such an individual is also not included here.

Addendum B

The following is a comment I made to someone in response to an interesting question he raised in regard to the first Sufficiently Alien Hypothesis video. It's very interesting but I haven't figured out where to put it, so I'm just putting it here. It helps to explain the incompatability of outliers in society.

That's an interesting question: would all differences manifest valueless? I'm not sure. I have not worked out where exactly to draw the line, but as I see it there are roughly four different schemes, and again, this is just me painting with as broad a brush as possible:

1. Healthy Brain/Modal Cognition - e.g. "normal" people
2. Pathological Brain -> Deviant Cognition - e.g. Parkinson's, dementia
3. Deviant Cognition -> Pathological Brain - e.g. OCD, clinical depression
4. Healthy Brain/Deviant Cognition
    A. Antique Cognition - e.g. ADHD
    B. Other Deviant Cognitions - e.g. ?
    C. Sufficiently Alien Cognition - e.g. ?

As it stands, I do not know exactly where various deviant cognitions fit or how to determine if one is truly sufficiently alien or not. Some deviant cognitions do have benefits in normal society. Most psychopaths turn out to have highly successful business careers because there is value in maximizing profit versus caring about other people. We can think of the corporate world as a subset of the normal world.

I would suspect that some traits of these sufficiently alien cognitions may provide benefits over normal people in certain areas. Maybe more concrete and/or abstract thinking ability would allow for better problem solving under certain conditions while certainly proving detrimental in other activities, most notably in interpersonal areas. Sufficiently alien by definition should include greatly decreased interpersonal skill, at least when among "normal" people, because there's that gulf that must be crossed that makes the distinction between "normal" and "alien". Whether sufficiently alien people would have no problem interacting interpersonally with each other or whether there would be physical limitations that prove disadvantageous I'm not sure.

19 September 2013

Aliens, Serial Killers, and Mental Illness Part Two: Transplanting Minds Part 1

I got to thinking about this winning premise I came up with about a week ago in the light of some experiences and a year's worth of musings on what I call "The Sufficiently Alien Hypothesis". How can you tell if someone is a human or an alien disguised as a human, assuming the disguise is so sophisticated that it appears identical to a normal human body at the cellular level? What behavioural clues would give an alien away even with an otherwise perfect disguise? I attempt to argue that a sufficiently alien being would give itself away though its disguise is indistinguishable from a normal human body. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out what criteria to look for, yet. The alien mind would need to be compatible enough with the human brain in order to function using the cellular structures of the human brain (this requires that it be possible to transplant a nonmaterial mind into a "vacant" brain, which I have good reason to suspect is true). However, and here's where it becomes relevant to my story, I suspect that being encased in a human body and brain the alien mind would, in some way, be affected by the physiological processes of the human body. What we would end up with is a being that looks human but acts just different enough to allow us to know it is not human and, at the same time, this being would also act less alien than an alien occupying a fully alien body.

The story I was thinking (and have begun, more or less) is basically "what if Charlie Sheen's mind was transplanted into Scootaloo's body?" I started working thinking Charlie Sheen's mind would be completely unaffected by having a totally alien body, so it would be putting Scootaloo in otherwise exact replicas of situations Charlie Sheen would find himself in. Now I'm thinking that wouldn't work. I'm not so sure personality can be transplanted exactly. I'm still loving the idea of having Scoots snort cocaine and hang with porn stars, but now it's just because of my sick weirdness.

Let's look at a much simpler scenario before getting back to crazy ponies or alien invasions or whatever (I was originally thinking that serial killers, or a number of them, are the aforementioned aliens in human bodies who find the change of body so disorienting that they turn to killing, or something. Not that there aren't well adjusted aliens; I haven't worked it out yet). Focusing just on humans may shed some light on the alien problem.

Assuming that I am not an alien disguised as a human, just a (really abnormal) human male. What would happen if my mind was transplanted into a human female brain? Would my personality, beliefs, and cognitive modes (structures, whatever, the process by which I think) be the same or would they be different? Would I be male mind in a female body or would my new body alter the way my mind works and "switch" it to female mode, or some third mode somewhere in between? Methinks, pretty strongly, that there would be some change, to say nothing of the degree. Which, if true, raises another question: if it is possible to change a person's mind by changing a person's body, to some degree, is it possible to bring about the same or similar change without changing the body? Can we change a person's personality, beliefs, and cognitive modes (PBC's) through some method, undiscovered perhaps, and to what degree?

Would we want to? Maybe I should ask would it be moral or justified to do so? Certainly I would want to, assuming no one else has that power. I believe it is literally possible to cure someone of evil. It would have to be a monumental shift in a person's PBC's, I would argue the greatest possible shift. Curing evil would be the most difficult change possible, but I think it is possible. I certainly believe it is possible, though far from easy, to essentially remake a person as someone completely different, and while I find eliminating evil from all persons in the entire world to be personally desirable, that desire is separate from the question of whether it is moral or justified to eliminate evil, or alter any aspects of a person's PBC's if such a method were discovered.

15 September 2013

The System Revisited

This is a brief essay I wrote about The System 2014 and its main characters Arthur and Devi. The System was a story I wrote in 2003/2004 and on the tenth anniversary I decided to do a reboot of the story, since the first time around I had hard deadlines and had to make a lot of cuts and compromises to the story to get it done. Now I'm looking to do things right. Enjoy.

There is a fine line in creating something that is completely alien and creating a character that is different enough yet the reader can still identify with so as to make for a more compelling story. The world of Harmonia is not like the other worlds in The System. Earth 776 - the primary world in the original story - and Earth 774 are very similar, but Harmonia is as alien as any world gets. The challenge is to make it recognisable enough that the reader will identify with Devi and yet so totally different that when Devi goes to Earth 776 she has to take a lot of time adjusting to all the changes.

In the first half of The System the hero, the Kosmic Vishnu, the Atlas, Arthur Strife, started from the bottom. Even though he is literally the most important being in the universe, and his existence is vital to the survival of the System, he really gets no love. Not only must he struggle for everything he has, he must struggle for his very life. The entire universe is literally set up to try to kill him, to test him, to see if he is indeed the Atlas, the only one capable of using The Heart of The System to its full potential and keep Oblivion from destroying all existence. He is a poor outcast who is constantly fighting, constantly having to prove himself, and just when he thinks he can finally rest another challenge rears its head and he has to face it too. Finally, when he seems to succeed, he leaves Earth 776, and that's where the original story ended. In the reboot we learn that he went to Harmonia, which he sees as the ideal world full of the most advanced beings who understand the energies and principles underlying the System, and it is here that he will begin the new revolution to wake everyone up.

The second half begins with Arthur in Harmonia, freeing a race of living crystals from the physical god emperor Hyperion and looking to train a successor because, somehow, he has lost touch with The Heart. A whole fourth of the story is devoted to exploring this world and familiarising the reader with these strange creatures to make Devi and her rival compelling characters for the final struggle.

Devi cannot be further from Arthur in their histories and in the challenges they must face. Arthur possesses unspeakable Kosmic power and yet he has to fight tooth and claw every step of the way to rise above his station and claim his divine birthright. He's an outcast, he's living off the charity of the few friends he has, the few people who actually show him love and understanding. And it is only through a series of intense, existential crises that Arthur is able to fully come into being Atlas.

Devi is just the opposite. She is born with innate power and privilege. Singled out by the supreme being, she never has to work for anything in her life. Her every need is instantly fulfilled to make sure she can devote all her available time to understanding how to use her powers. The first time she really has to do anything is when Arthur gives Hyperion his power back to test what Devi has learned as sort of a final exam before ascension.

The importance of why she must go to Earth 776 to find The Heart, the importance of the extreme difference between the two worlds, is precisely to compensate for the missing experiences in Devi's life. She understands the god-level aspects of her job, but it's all just theoretical; there is nothing real, nothing compelling her to move forward except her desire to be the best at everything. What's missing for Devi is precisely what made up the early part of Arthur's life, which is the struggles of powerlessness and depending on the kindness of others to survive. You can't be the messiah unless you care for other people, and you can't care for other people unless you understand other people, unless you understand their struggles, their hardships, their triumphs. She must intimately come to know the people she is serving, in all worlds, to love and embrace them as Arthur had to, and that is why she must be dropped in an alien world where all her powers are basically useless. Unless she is busted down to normal and has to learn to crawl back up to the top through this connection with other people, all her understanding of how to use Kosmic energies is worthless. Remember, it is The Heart of The System, not the Intellect of the System, that is the supreme power in all existence, and without that union of wisdom and compassion, the role of Atlas cannot be fulfilled. Whereas Arthur started with compassion and had to learn wisdom, Devi begins with wisdom and must learn compassion, and with that the story comes full circle in a way I couldn't have done in 2004 when I first wrote it.

08 September 2013

On Marriage

The first new Urban Mystic Show episode since May 2009 begins a new series on marriage. The rest of the videos will be based on previous Urban Mystic posts. Runs 15:37

06 September 2013

On Gratitude

A much more personal subject than most.

Yes, my life has problems, but for the vast majority of people on the planet those problems would be blessings. I had a back injury that nearly killed me and an eye disease that may or may not end up destroying my left eye, but I have been blessed with so much: my time spent with family and friends, the help I have gotten with being out of work for several months, and the incredible joy I get from my writing. I also have the many regular blessings that come from modern Western life. I have luxuries that are unknown to billions of people, including the great kings and emperors of antiquity. I live in greater luxury than Alexander the Great, Marcus Aurelius, Charlemagne, Akbar, or Louis XIV. They may have had more money and power but I have sanitation, hot and cold running water, flush toilets, air conditioning and heating, gas stoves, telephones, the Internet, the automobile, ice any time I want it, fresh fruit all year round, antibiotics, electricity, moulded plastic, the printing press, and any of a number of things they could never have imagined.

A lot of people just don't care. A lot of people's egos get in the way of their caring for other people. They want to complain about their petty shit and when some enlightened soul tells them about the plethora of genuinely unfortunate people in the world they scowl "I don't care about other people, what about me!" I want to strangle these people and shout "what makes you so much better than them?" You, whose curses would be their blessings and the host of fictitious post 1950s Western diseases. I, who have so much laid before me, what right do I have to complain when there are people really suffering, going days without eating, dying of diseases like cancer and malaria, born blind or limbless, having to bury half their kids before the age of five, endless warfare, and vast festering slums and refugee camps that stretch for miles in all directions? Who am I to complain when I am given so much?

I am thankful, immensely thankful, for all I have been given. I thank God every night, even for the bad things I have to face. My hardships have really shaped me, like the great pressure needed to make a diamond. Greatness is never easy; if it were it wouldn't be worth it. Problem of evil? What problem? What would be the point of life if we were handed everything on a silver platter?

First Principles Anecdota

One of the hardest things for people to grasp seems to be first principles. I have such a great volume of notes on the subject it would be a waste not to make a video series about it.

03 September 2013

Why Russia, Iran, and whoever else wants in on the gang bang should co nfront and attack the United States

Yes, the misspelling in the title is intentional. Sometimes I type these fast and make errors (they are fixed in the archive version, and sometimes here if I catch them in time), but this error is for comedic effect.

You see, I received an email from someone calling himself Raul English. Well, actually, the email was sent to julie@nurturingyoursuccess.com, and I just received it somehow else. The subject of the email provided the title of this post, complete with error. The message contains something purporting to be an article written by someone called "Independent Correspondent Aaron Chaney".

Funny thing is, I can't find to which publication Aaron Chaney corresponds. The only other place on the net he appears, as far as I can tell, is the comments section of a USA Today article and a Russia Today article, both on Syria, and both left by someone on Facebook called Alexander Argentina, who is some kind of a loser who writes fictitious news correspondences on his page.

The actual content of the email is either a farce or a testament to the sorry state of our public education system. I can't tell if a monkey hammered away at a keyboard or some genius sunk hours into crafting a subtle and brilliant piece of mockery. It jumps around from Bush and Iraq to Libya to Egypt to Obama in Syria in no particular order with only the most gossamer threads tying these otherwise incoherent ramblings together. Gigantomonstrohippopotamus-sized words are used to look smart in places followed by crude colloquialisms and numerous uses of the word "Nigger".

With a backlog of four topics and an impending war over weapons of mass destruction that do not exist, I am glad I took the time to look at the lighter side of life. Thank you, mystery person who sent me this email. This Bud's for you.