Saturday, February 12, 2011

A short announment - I recieved a letter from my grandma

Some background:

I used to play the piano. I was never good at reading music, but I taught myself chords when I was a kid and could play pretty well "by ear." I used to noodle around on the keys a lot, picking out song melodies and making up Ryan-y compositions on-the-fly. My grandmother once asked me to make her a recording of my playing and I said I would. I never did.

I haven't played in more than a decade. I don't really remember how anymore. My grandmother, who has gotten older, sicker and lonelier every year since my grandfather died, found out and sent me this letter.

I have been thinking of you, your gift--which you didn't even have to take lessons to develop--and your many years ago Mother's Day promise to me to give me a tape of half an hour of your keyboard "wanderings." Gifts die when they are not used--if you don't believe me, just look in my cupboard at the cracked crock pot I got from your mother one Christmas and never used.

I am old and sick and I want my tape before I can no longer hear it. Your brother says you don't play at all anymore. I don't know how he knows--if he knows-- but if that is so, shame shame shame on you. I want you to set aside half an hour each day for two weeks straight--late at night, in the middle of the night--and see if you can reestablish the old synapses and hand-brain coordination. If you really try and you cannot do it, I will release you from the promise. But if you find you can, I will be so grateful I will cry--even harder than I am crying right now as I write this.

I know your life is busy and more than usually complicated right now--new semester, sharing a room with Craig, complexity piled on complexity, etc.. But please do this--for me, for yourself. To let a gift such as you had/have dry up is a sin, and you will burn in hell (assuming there is a hell) and if that doesn't scare you enough to do this, I will find a way to come back and haunt you. And THAT WILL scare you.

Love, Grandma

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2-Guns white Caddy

While pumping gas at 711 last night, a white Cadillac squeals up to the negro using the pump opposite mine, and a man leaning out of the passenger side window shouts, “Freeze, mother-effer!”
The first man immediately rushes over to him, saying, “Ha ha! I heard you was out!”
“And a little sooner, huh?” He laughs in a nudge-nudge sort of way.
“Hell, they ain’t keepin’ me! Effin’ nobody.”
“’Cept Nella, sucker.” He indicates the rather haggard and entirely oblivious woman driving the car, slapping his new friend on the shoulder and laughing all the harder.
“Sh*t. That’s my ride, b*tch.” They laugh together, as if this is the funniest thing in the world.
“What in’e hell you doin’?”
“Sh*t. Lookin’ for the hook up, dawg.”
“Oh yeah?”
The man from the car notices me, and without pause queries, “What in’e hell’re you lookin’ at, Kneecaps?”

I feel like I missed a grand opportunity here to come up with a witty and suitable response. In my defense, I have to say that half my brain was busy contemplating why he just called me Kneecaps, and the other half of my brain was plotting an appropriate escape route and deciding if I had the spare time required to screw my gas cap back on. There were no neurons left to come up with an appropriate retort.

I've since decided it would have been best to have just shouted "I'LL CUT YOU!" and run.

But I believe what I actually said was something like, "Nothin'..." Then I quietly replaced the gas pump, got into my car and calmly drove away at roughly 95 MPH.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Have you ever really given it a 100% push?

When I'm taking a less than cooperative dump, I try not to push too hard.

You gotta give it a little time to come out on its own. Like a kitten. Or a turtle. Or something.

But I have sometimes pushed so hard that I can feel pressure building up in my veins and in my ears, and I've stopped because, well, because I've gotten scared. But I could have pushed harder. I know it. There was still 'push' in reserve. But I didn't do it.

I've heard stories of people getting hernias doing that. Or having strokes.

So what I want to know is, has anyone here really truely pushed as HARD as they possibly could? Or do we all have this safety barrier?

What about in an emergency? I hear that under times of great stress the human body is capable of superhuman feats! Could you push out an entire blockage if it was a life or death emergency?

It boggles the mind I tell you. Boggles. The mind.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To the upstart that suggested I donate plasma in exchange for money

Ok, I admit it sounds pretty good. Except that I have a fear of needles. So with my small phobia, would it be better to get my body used to shots by doing hard drugs such as heroin?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A few words of wisdom based on the life experiences that I have been able to garner from my moderate span of years on this planet.

Note: This is principally directed at Craig. I am going to make this into a continuing list that I can update weekly. Whenever Craig needs a little advice he can read this post. I hope others will add to the list as well, because certainly the poor fetcher needs all the help he can get.

1. Craig, don't get too down on yourself about your low Organic Chemistry test score. You are motivated. Goal-oriented. You get things done. You will do better next time.

Through hard work and determination I know you'll find the best way to cheat.

2. As for your relational problems, a little arguing isn't always a bad thing. Just make sure you don't squabble too much, but just enough that you can make up with a tickle fight.

3. I know you have been getting a lot of flack for your bad profile picture, but really, it makes you look like a disgruntled movie producer living on the outskirts of L.A. Lose it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stevo is tying the knot... *cough* noose *cough*

"Dear" people who read this blog: I have an announcement. I don't think anyone saw it coming - least of all me.
Stephen Anderson is engaged. Yes. Engaged. The fiancee is Melissa DeWeese. My condolences to her and her family.

I don't know how he did it. He has made some sort of unholy pact with the god of love. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here in a pool of sacrificed, virgin rabbit blood with no results, and you have no idea how hard it is to find celibate bunnies.

This whole situation reminds me of a story. I know this guy from school who planned it out to propose to his girlfriend at a wrestling tournament. That fell through, so he proposed while -- wait for it -- she was sitting on the toilet. True story.

Who said romance was dead?

Whoops, get a load of us. We're completely off-topic and this pathetic loser needs all the advice and confidence he can get. You know how it is, a NEW phase of life. A NEW step towards eternal progression. Like Tom Gibb's many STD's, it seems huge. Naturally Stevo is a little nervous about this change in his facebook status. If anybody has ANY words of 'advice' or words of 'encouragement' or even words of 'sympathy' please WRITE STEVO A MESSAGE. Either on his wall, or over a facebook message. Wait, his facebook got hacked... hmm, well write it on my wall and I will relay the message.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chris Hansen is a national hero.

After watching the 2-hour 'To Catch a Predator' special on Dateline NBC, it is obvious that Chris Hansen is a national hero, should be the next president, and if the position of God was not already filled by Bob Ross he would have that too...

So far we I've only caught one predator - a far cry from what Chris has done.

There is something about these predators though. The look on his face when we lured him over - the one he had right as we answered the door - before the embarrassment and confusion set in - was altogether too familiar. It reminded me of the look I used to get from a certain bum that lived in Palencia in Guatemala. He would sit on his corner hustling people for money in exchange for him not baring his genitals.

Its nice to get another pervert off the streets.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I recently renewed my gym membership.

I spent about 90 minutes at the gym and performed 3 sets of dumbbell presses on the incline, using only 70 pounds each hand, 20 repetitions, each set. Pitifully small weight, but still taxing for me; I'm not used to that weight overhead supported only by my arm; most uncomfortable and uneasy feeling. If I start using the free weights, rather than the machines, I'll have to start almost from beginners' level, after a lifetime of weightlifting!

But, beginning today, I'm going to try the system that Brianne Jack suggested for me. No more machines, and the reduced repetitions with the free weights, beginning light and working upward. I'll be a surprising visitor to the free-weights area of the gym, there, together with the giants handling those enormous weights! Yes, I'll have to begin LIGHT! My greatest problem will be balance, and the fear of those weights overhead with nothing to break their fall, should I lose control. Of course, there's always my head there to cushion the fall of the weights; I wouldn't want to damage the weights.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Skunks, so what?

We don't have skunks in my homeland of Turkey.
But we have stink beetles.
They're not as stinky... but you can cram an entire handful of them down the back of someone's pants.
And that gives them that je ne c'est croix, elusive winning factor.
Beetles 1, skunks 0.
Turkey 1, land of skunks 0.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gary Kasparov

Gary Kasparov is a nerd.
A big chess nerd.
If I had half a chance I would have smacked him with a chess board too.
But I would have to throw in a Bruce Willis style one liner right before the moment of impact. Something jazzy and ironically linked to chess like "Checkmate pal!" or "Yo! Chessboy! Rook to queen 4!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Moral Dilemma: Did I do the right thing?

The guy in the apartment below me is a large man, the kind of guy who walks around in the winter with a wifebeater on to show off muscles he developed 20 years ago that have since gone to seed. I've also suspected for about a week now that he was abusing his son.
Sweet kid, about fourteen years old, tall for his age but rail thin. Very artsy, from what I can tell, but not in that obnoxious goth way some kids are - the kind of teenager you'd expect to stumble across as the victim on a television movie. And every once in a while he has bruises.

They're not huge, or particularly nasty looking, but they do unmistakably demonstrate that someone is beating up on this kid. I hadn't brought it up with him before, because, you know, not something you can work in between "hey" and "how's school." Plus, not my place if the kid gets beat up at school - certainly not uncommon.

But about a week and a half ago, there was this huge fight below - I heard it when I got in from work and it went on for a good 20 minutes after that. Nothing to indicate violence, just the two of them, who live alone, screaming at each other. And the next day the kid has a black eye, when he didn't a couple days before.

It's become clear to me that this pattern's repeated itself a couple of times in the month and a half or so I've lived in the apartment, I just hadn't put two and two together.

Not being a man of action, I've been thinking about this for a while, wondering what to do. Then, yesterday, I notice a nice looking girl, a few years out of college by the looks of it, waiting on the porch when I get off work. She's holding a briefcase and a clipboard, looking very official. I ask if I can help her, and she asks me if she knows the people in Apartment One. Says she's from the kid's school, and from the way she says it its very obvious that she's actually from Child Protective Services.

I tell her yes, but only in an upstairs neighbor kinda way. She hesitates, then asks if I've ever noticed bruises on the kid. I hesitate, and she notices, and I ask her to the restaurant across the street to talk about it.

Five minutes later, we're sitting there, me generally looking nervous and her looking out at me with these big blue eyes from over a cup of coffee. She admits she's actually with the government, and that some teacher's at the kid's school reported his bruising, as well as this personal narrative he wrote that might as well have been titled "Daddy Only Drinks When I Anger Him." At this point I realize that something very serious is going on, that I need to step up to the plate.

So I tell her: "you have beautiful eyes."

She looks taken aback for a second, and then a smile comes washing over her and I know I'm in. Thirty minutes later, she's back in my apartment, and we're talking a little, getting to know each other a little better. She ends up spending very late. Pretty much a perfect evening, if it weren't for all the damn racket from downstairs.

So my question to you is: should I have called her back?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I signed up for a blog for one reason: to shatter people’s dreams. Well... also for the chick's but that was a woeful miscalculation. Unleashing heck and tearing this place asunder was a welcome diversion and a good deal of fun at the time, however something very unexpected has happened -- I’ve actually become somewhat fond of certain bloggers here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m shocked that a great deal of you can successfully type and breathe at the same time, yet a fair portion of this website is good peoples. As of now, a hesitance to appear like a total jerk has coincided with a return of warm, tingly feeling to my extremities. I haven’t been within ten yards of a pair of pants in days, but that only partly explains this.

If you think you’re lost, believe me, you’re not the only one. I can’t grasp any of this. It’s almost as if I’m locked in the confessional box with a Catholic priest -- not only do I feel violated; I also feel this evocatively niggling urge to tell the truth… I don’t hate you all.

Friday, March 12, 2010

If the punch doesn't kill you the late fees will

My local Blockbuster has been taken over by a cult. "That's crazy," you say? Shut up and let me finish. Shall we look over the facts? We shall.

• Previous classic-Blockbuster overweight employees with beards and glasses are gone. In their stead are clean-cut, thin drones. Are these the kind of people who normally work at media rental shoppes? I don't think I need to tell you the obvious answer (it's "no").
• They freak me out.
• Said new "employees" do not don the characteristic blue shirts which have been a staple of the Blockbuster chain for many years. Instead they are neon green. Now you may be saying, "That's probably just a promotional thing.” Promotional thing? What would they be promoting? Trees? Grass? Next you'll try and claim it's merely a coincidence that aliens are also neon green (that's a well known fact so there's no way you'd question that, well unless you're stupid).
• They're extremely happy and polite. I don't just mean they greet you when you come in and tell you to have a good day when you leave, they will shine your shoes while giving you a formal yet sensual massage if you emit any sound that could be interpreted as indicating discomfort (note: I haven't actually tried this yet but I will just assume it's completely true). They also try and recruit you into some "deal" the "store" is "having" every single time you rent "something." Plus, what kind of person, who hasn't been brainwashed, would find happiness working at Blockbuster? Not a sane one.
• Holy heck do they freak me out.
• No matter what time of day you go or what day of the week it is, the same three people will be there. In the summer, I tend to make quite a few trips to the ol' blue fun shack (that's what I sometimes call blockbuster, and by sometimes I mean this was the first time, I didn't enjoy it that much so it will probably also be the last.). No matter when I go, they are there, waiting, watching, grinning, and waiting. Believe me, I have gone at extremely different times and days of the week solely for the purpose of avoiding these people because, I don't know if I've mentioned this, they really freak me out. It never works, they're always there.
• Hey guys, did you hear Rick Moranis isn't dead? He was in some movies. Movies you can presumably rent at Blockbuster. That is, if you make it out of there without becoming one of them.

Facts do not lie, people. Facts aren't like that girl who acted like she was interested and gave me her phone number, then when I called the next day I was greeted with a the man on the other end asking me what I wanted on my pizza. I went with ham and pineapple.

I'm afraid one lonely night when I go to rent Pretty Woman, I might slip into their grasp. It's like a siren's call, beckoning me to join a life of blissful mindlessness.

No, I'm not making this up.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This is in response to John's remarks on black holes...

I thought that although there was a theory about the change undergone by mass caught within the field of a black hole, it didn't actually 'disappear' nor did it dissipate, as the increased mass of the black hole was represented by a proportional increase in the gravitational field it projected, there being a direct link between the critical mass for a potential black hole and the gravitational field required to prevent the escape of light...

So, black holes don't 'go' anywhere, nor do they pose a possibility for 'travel'. You smash into the ultra compacted (and some say reformed in a manner not possible outside of a black hole) matter which was originally the star that collapsed, and your mass is added to the mass of the hole itself.

The tricksy thing about black holes and why they represent so many scientific possibilities is that the universe as we know it is limited by a series of physical laws which as far as we know are ordinarily unbreakable. Except within the fields of black holes perhaps. And now at sub string level they say too.


Still doesn't support the idea that you could fly into a black hole and go anywhere except the physical space at the center of the black hole. The only interesting thing would be how broken down your component bits would be.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The United States of Amexico

I was having a conversation with my female friend the other day on the topic of immigration. We were discussing a news article I read which described the discovery of a 5-foot-tall passageway with electric and ventilation systems and security cameras leading from a Mexicali residence to a house across the border. Her words - I say it's time to dig a trench all the way down to bedrock across the entire southern border of the US, and fill it with concrete.

What an interesting concept.


Or we could spend that money transforming our bible belt into an armed 'anti-illegal immigration' militia...

Or maybe construct a giant space laser.

Yes. It is time for one of those things.

Yes. Sure.

Maybe we should dust the border with some kind of mild toxin so that when they cross over they fall to the ground frothing at the mouth like rabid dogs.

Yes. More ideas. Lets have more ideas about stamping out this terrible menace.

Why don't we deposit weight for weight the same amount of nuclear waste into Mexico as they ship across to us in illegal immigrants?

So, you've heard about Los Alamos. Area 51. It's actually the end of the Mexican tunnel, and when they come up out of the ground where all those nuclear tests were done, they're all grey and scrawny with huge heads and eyes so they can see in the dark tunnels...

Excuse me... I have to go write that down....

Go Mexico. The United States of Amexico. Two nations, one financial institution. Final thought, we can turn Mexico into one giant prison, or alternatively some kind of cheap labor market resources... Oh wait...

The School for Male Models

Are you beautiful on the outside? Do women catch their breath as you walk past, and not because you smell like a cheetos and diet cola factory? Are your chiseled abs hard enough to crack the fingers of a small child as they attempt to retrieve a candy from deep inside your belly button?

Yes, I thought not.

But would you like to know the joys of all these things?

Yes, of course you would. Your body cries out for it, I know that it does.

It wants to know the gentle touch of aloe vera, it yearns to bathe in keratine, to be exfoiliated and moisteurised, to be clipped, trimmed, waxed, scrubbed, peeled and finally massaged with exotic oils until you too are beautiful, beautiful like a young and virile greek god.

Now you too can enroll in my very own school for male models.

Look at one of my most successful graduates. originally, this man has a very charming boy next door look.

But I transform heeem! With my patented male model program, I transform him into a GOD!

All it takes is hard work, a belief that you too are sensationally beautiful and a 6 week course in my patented male model program.

You know that beautiful people are better people.

Come, its time you became one of us...

Send US$100 in cash to an address that I will shortly post to gain entry to your new life!

Warning: Not all participants in the program will acheive the results of the example given above. Indeed some of you will come away smelling even more like cheetos and cola, only now you'll also have the sour stench of failure and defeat about you. Some products involved in the patented male model program may cause the following side effects: Gigantism, flatulance, boils, permanent disfiguration, loss of bowel control, loss of bladder control, short term memory loss, blurred vision, priapism, hallucinations, shortness of breath, shrinkage of the testicles, random animal attacks, your parents will hate you and cut you out of their will, nausea, vomiting, compulsive disorders, blindness, cancer, gangrene, hair loss, persistent genital rash, impotence, grand mal seizures, paralysis of the hands, 'werewolf' syndrome, nervous tics, ingrown penis, development of breasts, and possibly pinprick hemmorages of the colon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Craig, please take a moment to re-evaluate your internal motivations for your actions and feelings about relationships

Sorry, don't get cranky, its just too much to expect some people to appreciate that everything that we dress up and call love is in actual fact just a reflection of some need in ourselves, and those we love are the people on which we feed to satisfy those needs...

Craig Delson prefers to think of love in more 'romantic' terms.

But I'd like to examine the idea that all of those 'romantic' notions we have about love (like walks in the park, teddy bears and the 'one') are all illusions covering up the fact that what we really want out of love is what we lack inside (honesty, control, strength, safety)

That’s not to say that romantic love isn’t real, and my word I don’t think that my relationships would have endured even to the extent that they did if it wasn’t, but its important to be honest with oneself about what is actually going on.

Lets face it, if you weren't getting what you wanted on some level from a relationship, you wouldn't be there...

I will caveat the above by also saying that what we want/are driven to seek in relationships is not always healthy either. e.g. people in destructive relationships who don’t walk away although it seems so clear that they should. They 'love' because deep down they have some issue which is validated when someone else treats them like dirt. And vice versa for the partner who can't feel whole unless they ARE treating someone like dirt

Of course some people are healthier than others and therefore have fewer issues to iron out. But then again, unhealthy co-dependency (which is just another succinct way of saying that people fall in love with or date others because they both provide something the other person needs) is extremely common.

But as to relationships being based on psychological needs, why do you even feel the urge to meet others, to share your thoughts and feelings with others, to be close with, communicate with and eventually procreate with others? That’s a baseline psychological need right there.

Look at your typical career woman in her mid 30s, desperate to find a breeding partner, both for core biological and social reasons. Her capacity to 'fall in love' becomes so skewed that she would fall for anything in a suit which could pass for half decent and who knew how to use cutlery. Now that’s twisted.

If humans were perfectly self sufficient we would die out. End of story. We breed and the species survives. We also bond in breeding pairs to ensure the survival of the offspring... So that’s a cold blooded explanation of 'love'. But it’s not necessarily accurate because humans and human relationships have evolved in many ways beyond the bare primitive urges to procreate.

So: Love can be special and meaningful. However, if 'love' were always 'special and meaningful' there would be no divorce, no unhappy relationships.

So we conclude that either (a) love doesn't exist, or (b) many people think they are in love but are in reality undergoing some entirely different psychological process.

People can argue (a) all they like. No clear answer there. (b) offers a reasonable explanation that agrees with what I have seen in my moderate span of years on this planet.
This wearies me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pray for mojo

Is anyone, anywhere, having a worse Sunday than me? Aside from all of the poor starving children in war zones with no legs and enormous tumors on the sides of their misshapen skulls?

The answer is no.

And the future is grim.

Very very very very extremely grim.

Plus I'm tired. And broke.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


There are a lot of things that piss me off. I should really compile a list.

Hmmm...maybe I can make little citations to give to people that make me mad and I can write their offense on it. Wait, that sounds like something an annoying jackass would do. That settles it, I will start drawing them up tonight!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

To the Mineral Water Girl

Dear Mineral Water Girl,
I am sorry for the angry post, I was sad and in my deranged state of mind I acted irrationally.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Here it is, the message that Scott sent me:

I am assuming that everyone read my blog post concerning my fake facebook profile, and the success that the Duke and I have had thus far in catching sexual predators.

For weeks now a certain Scott Nielson has been sending messages to my fake profile. I've been resisting his charms for nearly a month now, but its gone too far. Too effing far.

So after eleven messages I finally decided to write him back. I've been baffled by Scott's apparent blindness in this matter. I laid out the proof. And, I was promised, if I complied, that the detractor would apologize--even eating his words. I wouldn't expect any of that, however I would expect to be treated reasonably and without insult, at the very least. But Scott couldn't seem to afford me even that.

I warned him that if he didn't get the HECK OFF MY CASE, I'd post it! He only has himself to blame. So here it is. The last message he sent me (me being Nicole Eriksen [fake profile used to catch predators]). SO EVERYONE CAN SEE.

do you find humor in this yourself? because your using english literature type sentences to get a point across which you haven't even accomplished?

My PUBLIC response.

Someone who can't identify their thesis statement in a single clear sentence is either an idiot or someone talking rubbish for the sake of listening to themselves. We can both relegate ourselves to one of the two categories as I have outlined above. I would group you with the first, and myself with the second.

I have over 300 inbox messages from people like you.  So yes, it is humorous to me when I show them the obvious fallacy of trying to meet up with an underage girl over the internet.

I can imagine the messengers sitting at their desks down in the basement afterwards going "OOOOOOOHH! That Nicole Eriksen! She really gets my goat!"... Ha ha yeah, I love it... Makes me feel all warm inside as I imagine them foaming at the mouth, thrashing about on the floor in impotent rage and then storming upstairs to bite and claw at their family before being thrown out the trailer door by their burly and latently homosexual father into the cold mid western night hee hee wearing nothing but their mickey mouse jimmy jams ha ha their deformed misshapen head casting bizarre shadows as they lurch about in the moonlight, crashing into garbage cans and the like...

Ask yourself, is Nicole Eriksen a killjoy?

Now, slap yourself for asking such a stupid question.

She's not a killjoy, shes a sadomasochist.

Now hopefully that dirty bastard will respond to me here. In public. Like a man.

Or will he decide to take it like a whiny girl?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I'm getting tired of Queen Henry. How is it that I am getting charged $4.30 for Evan's sand bags that he left on the porch? And it isn't only the management. OOH NO. For some reason I seem to have replaced Tyler Jenson as the King Henry jerk (While I don't particularly discourage this perception of me, it could be counterproductive were I to run for Resident Assistant. Or something). Its because some people don't understand - they CAN'T understand. Sure, the Intelligence Quotient is a load of crap if you want to be rational (or even remotely sensible) about it, but the last month it's become evident to me that there is a correlation between geography and aptitude. Some balmy nights I feel like I'm bailed up in the deep south in a barn by drooling men who have complex inter-familial relationships that you will never understand... I think i'm with Craig on this one. Time to move to Belmont.

As a side note, I watched part of the movie Congo last night on TV. I learned that Africa has many natural resources. They include: ebola, grass, zebras, and those scary white monkeys that guard laser-producing crystals by smashing intruders heads with rocks.

It would be interesting to live in a place like that. I'm pretty poor so maybe if I can't afford Belmont, I'll move to Africa. It would be a nice change. You don't need money. People there don't work, don't go to school. They don't do anything really. From what I could tell from the movie, women just run around topless beating drums and the men sit on the street corners hustling people and shooting their blow darts.

Now for my point: I was discussing my ridiculously high intelligence with a female friend of mine yesterday when i realized i had actually turned her into a bottle of mineral water by sheer force of will. Unfortunately that means that I have to turn to you fetchers for suggestions. What do I do? I mean I could try and explain myself here, clear up the misconceptions, but what if it is too complex? What if people still don't understand? It would probably be easier to run from my problems anyway.

Ok, so here are my options, do I:
1. Explain myself here, try to clear up all of the confusion, and stay in King Henry
2. Move to Belmont
3. Move to Africa

I have added a poll on the sidebar.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cartesian Doubt, and articles of faith in the sciences

Cartesian Skepticism is possible, and it does show that anything that the physical sciences tell us can be doubted, and thus science must be accepted on the fundamental article of faith that Cartesian Skepticism is false even though it could be true.

Descartes asserts that because something can be doubted, somebody or something must be doing the doubting. Therefore, thought exists. “I think therefore I am.” The very fact that he is doubting proves an existence. Thus Descartes concludes that he exists, but in what form? He perceives his body, and the world around him through the use of the senses; however, these have previously been proven unreliable. The senses can be manipulated and confused. So Descartes concludes that the only indubitable knowledge is that he is a thinking thing. Thinking is his essence as it is the only thing about him that cannot be doubted.

What follows is a case based on a premise of Cartesian Skepticism as to why the physical sciences are based on a fundamental element of faith, and that one doesn't accept science except on the basis of faith, obscure though it may be. There are many other arguments as to why this is so, but this is perhaps the easiest to communicate.

Take for a moment a “Matrix” type scenario – more importantly, imagine that you are in “The Matrix”. The Matrix creates and controls the variables by which everything you recognize as true seems true to you. The Matrix creates for you your conception of your body. The Matrix has arbitrarily set the constants of your universe. The Matrix is the sole place in which this dualistic conception of matter and energy exists. Taken in its entirety, every single thing which your senses tell you is an utter and complete fabrication, a fallacy, a cosmic joke being played on you.

What’s real outside of this matrix scenario is this – you’re a brain in a vat. Except, there is no brain and there is no vat. You’re a shapeless, massless, dimensionless something that we can’t quantify because the illusion of The Matrix has given us no terms in which we could discuss or conceive of what you really are. The reality of the universe is one that belies temporality, matter, motion, rest, necessary causality, in fact, it doesn’t even adhere to the laws of reason. In this dimension (if we could call it that), the “true” dimension, things don’t even follow reasonably, as we know reason, because it is wholly different. So what is actually “real” is utterly and completely alien to what we perceive as our reality. In short, this is a universe where all of the conventions of science as we know it are completely non-applicable, our library of scientific knowledge is false, and in general, science as we know it would need to be almost completely revised to be anything but an exercise in futility in this “true” reality.

Now, here is where I say that science is based on a fundamental article of faith.

The physical sciences are based upon, rely upon, the laws of reason and the idea that observation will yield for us some sort of truth. In the above example, I’ve (Well, Descartes has) given a case where all possible observations of science, all the fruits we garner from this, are reflective of nothing more than an illusory falsehood and don’t actually reflect the true conditions of our existence – or at best, only reflect a very small portion of that existence, and one which (by conventional standards of truth and falsehood) we are not inclined to say is reflective of any objective truth, and only show us the patterns within our hallucinations, but not the truths of our hallucinations. Some say that science reveals truths for us, and science is not taken on faith, however, by taking the idea that science can reveal truths of the universe, we are showing faith that the above case is not true. So science is based on a fundamental article of faith. Now, saying that it could be made possible that the rules of reason could be rendered non-applicable is actually my taking a bit of liberty and going beyond the realm of Descartes’ argument. We can apply this same skepticism to almost any reality conceivable. Change the scenario to one where all of the laws that science has identified, every element on the periodic table, gravity, even causation are creations of the Matrix, and in fact none of them apply to the ‘real’ world around you. Thus, the laws of reason can still be applicable within the known frame; however all of the knowledge garnered from scientific methods and observations are fallacies because they happened in the false reality rather than the real one. And in the real world none of them would hold true.

The case of Cartesian doubt, is not one that is based upon specific, obscure, philosophical methods that are alien to science. It is founded on reasonable derivations of what reason would define as possible. The purpose is simply to show that one has rational to doubt what can be generally thought of as reasonable conclusions based on what we perceive around us. If human capability were greatly expanded, the premises for Cartesian doubt could quite plausibly fit into the realm of science as something that must be tested and a problem that must be solved - an experiment. I hope it’s clear, Cartesian doubt is a premise founded on reasonable grounds by a reasonable man, meant to be entirely within the laws of reasonable derivation that govern the sciences – in other words, Descartes played by the rules of science to show that there was room for doubting the reasonable and experiential grounds which the sciences find their basis in.

What does this all boil down to? Descartes showed us a case, reasonably conceived, that seemingly falls well within the realm of reason, by which we could have realistic doubt about anything the physical sciences reveal to us. If one wants to maintain that science is not based on a fundamental article of faith, you have to show one of several things: One, that Cartesian doubt is outright impossible – and you must show that it’s not simply likely impossible, but is impossible, or you fall back into faith. Or two, you have to show that Cartesian doubt is in fact some philosophical sleight of hand and is somehow not even applicable, and that though it may be true, we aren’t operating on faith that what science tells us is true. If one of these two things cannot be said “The case of the Cartesian Matrix is true, and it does leave grounds for doubt that the sciences show us anything accurate at all” and in doing so, you admit that you accept scientific knowledge on faith.

Now, even if Cartesian Skepticism is a valid case, this is not reason to abandon science nor hold it in any less regard than we do. It simply changes the premise on which we value science. Whereas many now perceive science as some necessary engine to truth, acceptance of Cartesian Skepticism would mean that we admit that we accept it on some level of faith and instead value it because it is the source of all pragmatic motive and purpose. Even in holding beliefs in science that we admit may be false, we appreciate the benefits it gives us and that this belief does give us a very comfortable, if conditional, premises on which we understand our world. It is not a statement of the uselessness of science, it’s simply a recognition of the ambiguous nature of human existence and that even with seemingly elegant and comprehensive tools that science affords us, there is room for doubt, and we still take even seemingly systematic systems like science on the basis of assumptions, and with a grain of faith. If anything, Descartes was simply pointing out the gap between the idealistic of human nature and how we apply these ideals onto reality, showing that there was always a bit of slippage leaving room for doubt. It is important to look at the implications and contradictions within the belief structure that science provides the, it can not be taken as a vehicle of fact and to fact, but that doesn't belittle the practical applications of that belief structure. Indeed, we should value science as a means to pragmatic ends and not as a will to truth.

Monday, September 1, 2008

This is in response to your e-mail concerning Berkeleyian idealism







Thursday, July 3, 2008

I tried to think of a good title for this post but I couldn't

I once worked a brief stint as Guest Services Manager at a hotel, which was just a fancy term for "Bell Captain". One of my fellow bellmen/valet drivers was not very comfortable driving a stick. Usually, he would ask a guest, "Is your car a stick?" If it was, he'd give the ticket to another valet. This guy was a friend of mine, and we were perpetually short-staffed, so I didn't have the luxury or desire to fire him for that particular shortcoming.

That is, until this one day... We'll call the valet Mark. Mark had spent the night before with his cousin in a parking lot mastering the art of stick driving. By the end, he decided he was no longer afraid. The next day, Mark seized the chance to prove his newfound skills when a guest showed up with his claim ticket and Mark ran off to fetch the guy's 9-month old Porsche.

A note about the hotel. It was used often for business conferences. This guest had just come from one - a luncheon for his company that was taking place on the front lawn near the valet station.

In the lot, Mark was now behind the wheel of the Porsche - a nice car, light yellow. He put it into gear and started to pull it around.

A note about Mark. He is a big guy - 6'4, probably 200 to 210 pounds. Boat feet. The kind of guy you'd easily picture all but busting out of his uniform. Portions of this story are retold from Mark's point of view as he had described it to me later.

Back behind the wheel of the Porsche, Mark is in 2nd gear and loving it. He's confident, flying high. He steers the car into the circular driveway toward the valet station.

Had I known Mark was the one pulling this car around - eager to prove his worth - I might have stopped him before he got in. As it was, I could only watch.

It is at this point, as Mark is rounding the circular driveway that his confidence wanes. He gets suddenly confused, his hard-earned stick training suddenly escaping him in a rush. His giant boat feet get jumbled, caught in the tightly grouped racing petals in the floorboard of the Porsche...

Unaware of any problem, the guest steps out onto the driveway to meet his car as it nears...

All of this takes place in mere seconds. Back in the car, Mark is in a panic. Still traveling at a good clip, his feet completely caught in the petals, he is running out of room.

The car closes, heading straight for the guest, and then there is a moment...

It is one of those moments that come along rarely - a moment when one human being truly connects with another. In this moment, Mark looks though the windshield and directly into the eyes of the guest - the owner of the car - standing right in front of him. Their eyes lock, and confusion meets terror, rich meets poor, valet driver meets guest. In that moment, eons of understanding transfers between them.

And suddenly, hanging tightly to the tail end of that moment, Mark finds a shred of hope. At this the last possible minute, Mark figures it out. All the fear and confusion rush away and his feet become untangled. He finds the brake. And he slams on it.

Only it’s not the brake. It’s the gas.

The car lurches forward, closing the last of the gap in a splintered second, and revving somewhere in 2nd gear Mark hits the guy with his own car.

In full view of his co-workers having lunch not 100 feet away, the guy flattens into the hood of his own Porsche, his outstretched arms crumple as he slides toward the windshield, his feet flail up into the air for a moment in a very comical way.

He rolls off the side just as the car smashes into the pillar framing the stairway of the entrance of the hotel, and stops dead.

And that's it. The hotel lost an ash urn and needed some resurfacing work done, the car suffered minimal damage, the guest's biggest bruise was his ego. And Mark would never be paid to drive anything ever again.