December 6th, 2010


On Saving the World

For those who like messages of people summing up human life in a goodbye, I found Elizabeth Edwardsのfarewell to be touching. Statements of that sort have long been interesting to me - while the product of a life is mostly that life - the social ties we build and occasionally the contributions we give to others through our work and other projects, when someone is getting ready to leave the stage it's hard not to listen. I confess extreme irritation at any mention of Randy Pausch at this point, but that's mainly because CMU's PRfolk will not STFU about him; I know that this is similar, and that most of us may have similar moments when our times come. Books, lectures, a few words, perhaps the endless streams of words that some of us bloggers produce - this is our story, and one side of it may be a futile stand against anicca. I like the idea of the human race keeping that British "stiff upper lip" in that "good fight" we're programmed into, made more ironic by our ability to make breathing space for our species, within civilisation, for us to engage art, fiction, and culture for their own sake.

Wonder: How does nuclear deterrence compare to the entangled alliances that made WWI possible? Related - Salon had an interesting editorial about the passing of the American Empire - something I believe is very likely. Primarily, I suspect that failures in both our political system and our democracy have finally collaborated to doom us to mediocrity; neither the American Left or Right are interested in the kind of regime we need - a technocratic, high-taxes, high-services, one focused very strongly on infrastructure and education and at least willing to tackle environmental problems. Additionally, we need to rework entirely our electoral system to remove all corporate influence.. This isn't going to happen, and I doubt the kinds of change we need will come from either party.

A few more thoughts about Wikileaks:Collapse )

I'm trying to get into making more content on my youtube channel - I doubt I'll ever try to be some big public figure like a few people I know, but it's amusing, for now, to sometimes toss some stuff up.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about information flow in interactions with friends. What do most people talk about? What do I want to talk about? What makes for a good friendship? Relationship? I think a lot of people talk about their lives - it seems that abstract ideas are a bit more rare. Trying to think back on conversations with close friends - difficult. I remember a few specific ideas or topics, but the vast majority of things I spoke with them about seem lost. I'm not entirely surprised - maybe these things were either often of no consequence, repetative, or about day-to-day slices of life that have also been forgotten. Or, perhaps these conversations did have interesting things that have been lost to time anyhow. I wonder what it'd be like to have logs of in-person conversations. I suppose people arn't used to ideas like that and could easily be made uncomfortable - I think a lot of the time people like to understate themselves so they can maintain wiggle room for who they are, what they believe, what they've done, etc, and the fog of memory helps keep us secure in the ability to redefine ourselves, our past, and the like. Maybe this is why many people feel stifled by the presence of their parents - more than almost anyone else, parents can see through this. Perhaps it's a mark of discretion for a parent not to do so publicly. Conversational fingerprint - how distinctive are the topics and levels of information flow to a person's conversational preferences? How quickly would we notice if we replaced one person's habits with another's? Topics? (Pardon the topical shifts here, this is more a thoughtstream than a tight idea)

Still slowly working my way through Salman Rushdieの「Haroun and the Sea of Stories」. I'm happy to hear there's a sequel of sorts that came out this year (「Luka and the Lake of Fire」).

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