Why do I like what I like? Why do other people not like what I like? Do some people like things only because a lot of other people like them (popularity)? Do I like some things only because not many other people like them (exclusivity)? I think that the things I like are (mostly) awesome but if other people don’t like them, is that awesomeness not inherent in the thing but projected by me, or is it there but not visible to everyone? Or is the liking a serendipitous combination of me and the thing, and the awesomeness is in the relation of the thing and my entire personal history and essence? Is liking or not liking something just a matter of paying attention?

Can I choose to like or not like something? If not directly, perhaps indirectly by choosing to see whether and why other people like it (or don’t)? (I am thinking here particularly of films and television and the effect of reading reviews) If it’s a choice, why not choose to like everything and then we’d all agree? Is it bad to like bad (low quality/untrue/simplistic/base) things? If it’s not a choice, what does it mean, where does it come from, and can I judge people for their likes? (acknowledging that judging people, more than is necessary for personal safety, is usually a mistake) Is it some kind of imprinting? Are there some likes which it would be ethical to remove from people? With their consent or without it?

Is it good that different people like different things? Is that variety beneficial for individuals? For the species? How much variety is beneficial?

Is it essential/central to our humanity, or is it an accidental byproduct?

The year we made contact

Watched “2010: The Year We Made Contact” tonight, after watching “2001: A Space Odyssey” last night. Interesting to see what was predicted and what wasn’t.
By 2001 we did not have:

  • Permanent bases on the moon
  • Manned mission to Jupiter
  • Nuclear space ship propulsion
  • Artificial intelligence (at the level of HAL9000)

Fairly basic video phones did exist by then but usually carried by the internet not directly by the phone system. There was a fairly regular space shuttle, and we did have a space station (the ISS was first populated on the 2nd of November 2000, Mir was deorbited on the 21st of March 2001 so we briefly had two) although not one with a commercial hotel and a bar, nor any with rotation for artificial gravity.

On the other hand we did have mobile/cellular phones. Neither those nor any hint of the internet appears in “2001” (filmed in 1968) nor indeed in “2010” (filmed in 1984). The films also did not predict the collapse of the USSR nearly 20 years before the action of the second film takes place. The one motor vehicle seen in “2010” sounded electric; certainly we have electric cars but not in the numbers futurists of the 60s or 80s might have guessed. And finally, aliens have not made large scale public contact with humanity yet. A bit sad about that.. would have helped to make us more humble.

Also, coincidence of the day: Some of the action of “2010” takes place near the Jovian moon of Europa. In particular, the (super advanced?) aliens appear to have started life again, beginning with photosynthesising plants, on that body. Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is of the surface of Europa with a note that Europa may have liquid seas under surface ice and that those seas may contain primitive life.

Removing the sticking plaster

Walking home I realised that a sudden catastrophic collapse of this ‘civilisation’ might actually be better than if it staggered on like it is, consumptive, unconscious, and increasingly unequal, for another hundred years or more. Not least because it might favour those who are currently adapted to scavenging and living on very little (the poor) over those who are used to having everything served to them and done for them (the rich(er)).

Of course it would be better still if it underwent a genuine non-violent psycho-spiritual global revolution, (for everyone, I mean) but of these three possible paths, which are more likely?

Pictures of Sad Horse Masters

John Campbell of Pictures for Sad Children and other things, has reviewed Horse Master, a more or less text based game/art/? If you knew in your viscera that beneath the Google+Amazon internet(tm) where information is bleached, irradiated, frozen, cut into regular sized chunks and sold back to us for a profit, lies another IN(nt)ER-net where information (word / number / link) is played with, exposed, shared, magnified, face-painted, eroticised and given away to all, you will probably find the above rewarding. You may also find it mildly disturbing.

In case you missed it while exploraturbating the above, you may also enjoy the (free as in both speech and beer) Twine system for creating such games yourself.

Is this the real life?

Lately it feels like reality is gradually unhinging. Events have a kind of fictional or surreal quality. The shenanigans of Rob Ford, soon to be ex-mayor of Toronto. Anadarko trying to drill for deep sea oil off the coast of clean-green-new-zealand. The ongoing persecution of increasing numbers of whistle-blowers and protesters by both the former first and second worlds, co-incident with both USAmerica’s and Russia’s backward slides to cold war paranoia, secrecy and dogmatic ideologies (but with both seemingly adopting an amalgam of both poles) The National party selling off NZ’s public assets like they’re going out of style. And smaller scale horror stories and bizarrities in the news every day. And what’s going on with me and with my friends?

Petition: Amazon, stop carrying books which advocate child abuse

The Petition

I don’t know whether a web petition does any good but at least this is raising some awareness. You may remember the case where a couple in USAmerica were convicted of beating and starving (and freezing) their adopted daughter to death while following the “advice” of a book called “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl. For details of the barbaric practices this book advocates, see here, for example. Trigger Warning: child abuse/torture descriptions.

This and a couple of other books along the same lines are available at Indeed, “To Train Up A Child” is also available in eBook format for Kindle. I see no literary or historical merit in these books. I see the potential for too many confused “parents” to use these kinds of books for both inspiration and justification for their abuse. I would like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to stop selling them.

Dead Animal

I trust that even those of my friends and relatives who regularly cook and eat the flesh of dead animals will understand my cold fury and bitter sadness at this story: US TV presenter blasted over smiling photo with lion she ‘stalked and killed’ (-> NZ Herald). More exactly, I’m glad she has received a great deal of negative criticism and it is her actions which raise my ire. I hope she gets eaten by a lion, bear or alligator, and soon. Whether or not it’d be justice, it’d certainly be fair. I hope, dear reader, you will forgive me this lapse in my stated position of non-violence.

Last Stand

It was the central paradox of human behaviour and, by direct correlation, all of human history. Each time humanity achieved a peak, it seemed that some pathological instinct moved it immediately to seek an abyss into which to hurl itself. Shortly after the human walked erect and organised himself into tribal groups, he hit upon the concept of warfare. Simultaneously with the discovery of fission energy, humanity began to contemplate nuclear planetary annihilation. The discovery of the Mahler drive took the species to the stars, but once it was there, it courted extinction by engaging in the disastrous Thousand Years War with the Draan Hives.
Thus it was, in the supposedly divine moment when human metaphysics freed the core psyche from the limitations of the corporeal organism, humans developed almost insurmountable problems regarding the exact nature of reality.
-Pressdra Vishnaria, “The Human Comedy, Volume 14: The Damaged Perception”

When searching for a nutshell summation of humanity in its final days, we really have to look no farther than the writings of Vendocine: “As usual, man was busily entangling himself in his ambiguities. This time, however, he tripped, fell, and cracked his head.”
-Pressdra Vishnaria, “The Human Comedy, Volume 15: You’re Dead and I’m Not”

-Mick Farren, “Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys, The” (->Amazon)