Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Henri Cartier-Bresson

For the world is movement, and you cannot be stationary in your attitude toward something that is moving.

Winston Churchill

When I am abroad, I always make it a rule to never criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.

Winston Churchill

It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

Tallulah Bankhead

Here’s a rule I recommend. Never practice two vices at once.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Destined for greatness or infamy?

This kid is either destined for greatness or infamy. Only time will tell.

Mark Twain

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The safest memories are in the brains of people who cannot remember.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I can't stop staring at this

Maybe it is the fact that I really haven't been able to keep food or liquid in me for the last three days, but this really messed with my head.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Emillie Hoyt is Missing

My sister is missing.

I don't talk about my sister much. That's not to say that she isn't in my thoughts, it is just something that I don't feel very comfortable talking about. It is such a complex and emotional subject that I have trouble thinking about it let alone speaking or writing about it. I think all of us who know her play the "what if" game with ourselves. What if I'd done this... What if I'd said that... What if I'd been there for her more... maybe things would be different. I don't know

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dr. Cox (Scrubs)

Dr. Cox: Lady, people aren't chocolates. D'you know what they are mostly? Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling. But I don't find them half as annoying as I find naive bobble-headed optimists who walk around vomiting sunshine.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Life is like being at the dentist.
You always think that the worst is still to come,
yet it is already over.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Steven Weinberg

The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tilt Shift Video

From the time I first saw examples of tilt shift photography I was fascinated by the effect. The notion that giant buildings could be turned into miniature replicas with just a camera lens made me chuckle. Below are the first few videos of this that I've seen:

Bathtub III from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Bathtub II from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Beached from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Groucho Marx

It isn't necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tom Hanks

I'm glad I didn't have to fight in any war. I'm glad I didn't have to pick up a gun. I'm glad I didn't get killed or kill somebody. I hope my kids enjoy the same lack of manhood.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Red State Update

Sweet lord in heaven yes. I've just found Red State Update. How can you not love somebody who says:
I shouldn't have wrestle with the concept of irony while listening to Merle Haggard.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Clinton/Harriet Tubman

If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop.
Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

(Some dispute the authenticity of the quote, but I still like the sentiment)

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have no need for religion, I have a conscience.

Penn Jillette

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o, and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

Mark Twain

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Isaac Asimov

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul.

So, back in 2001 Bush said of Vladimir Putin, "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul.", implying that Putin was a decent guy.  After recent events in Georgia I suspect that Bush might need glasses.  I can only hope that we don't get pulled into this mess any time soon. 

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Václav Havel

Keep the company of those who seek the truth, and run from those who have found it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Baltasar Gracian

Do pleasant things yourself, but unpleasant things through others.

Author's Note:
Please don't confuse my posting this quote as my support for its sentiment.

What if every citizen were this brave?

I have to express some amount of solidarity with the four folks in Iowa who attempted to perform a citizen's arrest of Karl Rove last week.  The four accuse him of "election fraud; conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States in the time before the Iraq war; and treason, sedition and subversive activities for fraudulent acts leading to the deaths of 300,000 Iraqi civilians and 4,000 U.S. Military personnel".  These principled folks are awefully brave and have in effect opened them selves up to potential kidnapping charges.  It is a litmus test of the health of our nation who will be brought to justice, the cynical apparatchik or the principled individuals who took a stand against him.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why fight fair when you can use nunchucks?

Guernica in 3D

I just ran across this 3D rendering of Picasso's Guernica. I've seen this piece of art hundreds of times, but it is interesting how adding the third dimension has changed my perception. Maybe it is just the fact that I'd never been able to see it this close up.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Cider House Rules

The free time that I once had available for reading is now much smaller and perilously close to the time when I fall over into bed, so I've taken to listening to books from Audible while at work. For the past week or so I've been listening to The Cider House Rules. I have a membership and get two new books a month for a fairly reasonable price. Unfortunately this rate is slightly faster than I can listen to them. The reason for that is that I refuse to get the abridged version of books. Most books come in abridged and unabridged versions. I feel guilty enough for not actually reading the book that I at least want to hear the whole thing.

So here I am, sitting at work, choked up by this silly audio book.

Henry S. Haskins

The time to stop talking is when the other person nods his head affirmatively but says nothing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Alan Turing

I'd like to wish a belated Happy Birthday to Alan Turing. Yesterday would have been his 96th birthday. As one of the fathers of the modern computer, you have him to thank for the fact that you can read this. As one of the unsung heroes of World War II it is also quite possible that you have him to thank for the fact that you aren't reading this in German as well.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Robertson Davies

Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.

Aldous Huxley

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pork and Beans

Weezer has gone ahead and summarized all of the internet in just three minutes and eighteen seconds. You are now free turn turn off your computer and go outside.

William Pitt

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reverend Richard DeYoung II

God is everywhere -- His uncanny resemblance to seemingly random events is merely a test of faith.

Albert Einstein

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Peaches and The Moldy Peaches

It makes me sad that the hype machine doesn't know the different between Peaches, The Moldy Peaches and Peaches and Herb. Can't a guy listed to horrible techno punk without having to wade through "Reunited" and "Anyone Else But You". By the way, have The Moldy Peaches recorded a song other than "Anyone Else But You"?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pixies Ballet

It makes me feel old to think that most of the dancers weren't even born when the song was released. Via [Boing Boing]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Edward Lorenz

I'm really sad to hear that Edward Lorenz passed away a few days ago. Edward Lorenz, Benoit Mandelbrot and Alan Turing are probably the people who have influenced my career the most. For those who don't know, Lorenz was first to describe the Butterfly Effect.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Don't worry your pretty little head about it baby.

It ain't none of your concern.

When you get a chance head on over and catch some more of "The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time".

I miss The State.

Visions of OcTrees dancing in his head

Ever go to bed thinking about something just to have it fill your dreams the whole night. Tonight, for me it was visions of the mighty OcTree that occupied my dreams. Each tree following an ever more constraining infinite regress into tinier and tinier bounding cubes. I guess it is better than squirrels. I'm sure you people must think I'm weird.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Friedrich Nietzsche

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.

Walt Whitman

Do I contradict myself?/ Very well then I contradict myself,/ (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Fever Dream Weekend

In my life, I've had any number of lost weekends. You know the ones where on Monday morning you get up and say to yourself I don't really have a clear picture of what happened over the last couple of days, but at least I don't have any broken bones and I'm not in jail. The ones where you sit there and try to piece the flashes of memory into a coherent time line. This past weekend was one of those. Sadly there was no debauchery to report, I was laid up hard by something that I can only describe as the viral equivalent of a Mac Truck.

I have what some would call a maddening inability to sleep more than about eight hours in a day. Every once in a while I will go over that, but on most mornings the internal alarm goes off after about seven hours of sleep and I have to get out of bed. This weekend is the shining exception that proves the rule. I think I must have slept an extra 20 hours over the weekend. Sadly it was not restful sleep. It was that sweaty fitful sleep you get when your body is throwing hay makers at some foreign invader.

Actually the last 10 days have not been banner ones for my immune system. I suspect it all started sometime early last week when my allergies went haywire. I had an attack so bad that my eyes swelled up and were so irritated that it looked like I'd been on the loosing end of a fist fight. Just as I was getting my allergies back under control with the magic cocktail of zyrtec/patenol/flonase I started to develop a cough. I discounted the cough and the accompanying aches and general feeling of malaise as the after effects of the conniption my body was throwing over the tree pollen that has kicked up lately.

Sadly it was not. Just as I got the allergies under control and my eyes no longer looked like they'd been borrowed from a stoner zombie in a dust storm, the fever hit. Sometime Saturday morning, I remember saying to myself, I hope this doesn't get any worse. Oh my was I in for a surprise Sweats, fever, body aches, a headache, coughing fits, sore throat and a general feeling of exhaustion.

It is now late Monday evening and here is what I know. I wasn't asleep the whole time. In fact I was awake for much of it. I managed to finish The Golden Compass. Yes. Now I understand why Catholics are pissed. I managed to make two trips to Sonic. For some reason the ice just sounded good. I ate an entire box of pop sickles in a day. Probably the best part of the whole ordeal was managing to not cough long enough for my daughter to fall asleep next to me. Until now I'd never have considered holding her while I slept or sleeping next to her, for fear of rolling over onto her tiny little body and smothering her. She is big enough now that there is no way that could happen. Watching her sleep there next to me was heart wrenching in a good way. After watching her sleep for about twenty minutes I picked her up and put her in her own bed and managed to get some very restful sleep myself.

I appear to be over the main effects of whatever I had and am now trying to get over the longer lasting effects. Right now the worst of which are a horrible cough and a throat so sore that I'm currently coughing up blood. I feel so happy to be alive.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Aneurin Bevan

Fascism is not in itself a new order of society. It is the future refusing to be born.

Aneurin Bevan

Stand not too near the rich man lest he destroy thee - and not too far away lest he forget thee.

Aneurin Bevan

It is an axiom, enforced by all the experience of the ages, that they who rule industrially will rule politically.

Aneurin Bevan

Virtue is its own punishment.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


If you haven't noticed, I am up late. I should be working, but I've hit a stumbling point. I'm sure we all remember those points in school when we said, "When am I ever going to use this?" and felt smug and self satisfied about only spending enough time studying to pass the test. Once again, I've been bitten by the shortsightedness of my younger self. Right now, if I could, I'd be beating the 23 year old me about the head and shoulders for not paying better attention in Vector Calculus class. Yeah yeah, I know nobody will ever need this again. That's what I thought and I was right for about 11 years. Now that decision has come back to haunt me. The 3D application that I'm writing is suffering from a gimbal lock problem and the best way to fix it is with some fancy matrix math and Quaternions. Baby Jesus please help me. I can't figure this out for the life of me and I don't know if there is much chance tonight. I am fading fast. The only source of caffeine in the house is a bag of chocolate covered cranberries that I threw in the trash because I couldn't stop eating them. Damn you chocolate covered cranberries and your yummy goodness.

Jumping the Sharks

Originally uploaded by iammonkeyboy
This is a picture of Riley after he landed a massive jump on his scooter. He was jumping the sharks (rocks) on the sidewalk.

Who wants a squish?

Originally uploaded by iammonkeyboy
Picture of Lola taken in the Sears parking lot of Columbia MO. We'd had a flat tire on the way to St. Louis and in this picture she'd just eaten.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What's a girl to do? Run!! There's a creepy BMX bunny rabbit doing tricks right behind you.

More creepy bunny videos.... Tell me that bunny on the right doesn't look like Frank from Donnie Darko. It is stuff like this that will forever doom me to crazy dreams of rodents.

While I'm thinking about it, I should pull up the Donnie Darko Soundtrack and listen to it. If I don't, I will be singing Mad World all night long.

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Mad World
Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me
(via pownce)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

By now many of you will know that Sir Arthur C. Clarke has died. For those of you who don't know who Clarke was, let me put it this way, with the possible exception of Werner von Braun he did more for ushering in the age of space flight than any other person. He is credited with inventing the communications satellite. But probably more important is the fact that his fiction is the source of inspiration for so many scientists, astronauts and engineers today. This is a fact that he was aware of. In his address to congress he even said so, "I'm sure we would not have had men on the Moon if it had not been for Wells and Verne and the people who write about this and made people think about it. I'm rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books." While it might sound like great hubris for someone to say this, I don't really think he was a man of great ego. From everything I've read, Clarke seemed to be a man of insight, willing to state his point, taking pride in his role as a founding father of the space age, but not being so egotistical to think that he did anything more than plant the seed in some young minds and suggest a direction. In my standard fashion, I'd rather let the man words do the speaking. Here are a few quotes from Clarke that I think sum him up well.
It may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of stars.
At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved - if it can be achieved at all - within the next few hundred years.
There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.
A hundred years ago, the electric telegraph made possible - indeed, inevitable - the United States of America. The communications satellite will make equally inevitable a United Nations of Earth; let us hope that the transition period will not be equally bloody.

This last quote may disturb a few people. Just know that Clarke is not speaking in the New World Order sense of a United Nations of Earth. He just saw the potential of man and recognized the uniting factor that the new frontier of space might have for us. I find the hope and love that he had for humanity to be refreshing. Sadly he is gone.

Here is a last message.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Random Mind Vomit

So here is just a bunch of random things

I had an odd sense of deja vu this morning as I got out of my parked car on the way into work. I was greeted with the combined smells of pipe tobacco, rain and an engine that is running just on the rich side. The combination of tobacco, rainwater and uncombusted gasoline triggered memories of my father. He didn't smell like that, but those three scents had the effect of bringing him to mind. Interestingly, it wasn't a specific memory, more an intense feeling of being in the presence of someone.

Motherfucking cunt pussy licking tit fuck bitch face?

On Friday I noticed that my bank account balance was about $11,000 larger than when I last looked. The gubment finally got around sending us our tax refund. I know that money isn't everything, but to be able to pay down some debts was killer.

In the same vein, I have a credit monitoring service. It reported recently that I had a new negative entry on my credit report. Even worse, it dropped my score by about 70 points. What is the real kick in the pants is that it is a collection notice for $18. Somebody decided to ruin my credit for $18. Still trying to figure out what to do about that.

This little game sucked up about thirty minutes of my time.

I wish this didn't sound like half of the meetings I have to go to at work:

And just when I was about to start making my own biodegradable laundry soap I come across this gem:

Which in turn makes me believe that descendants of this robot will probably be what will inherit the earth once we screw up and put a gun turret on the top of it.

To quote space cadet, "ALL HAIL MATTE BLACK METAL MASTER". I would also like to add my hearty welcome to our new machine overlords.

George Carlin

There's no present. There's only the immediate future and the recent past.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Andre Gide

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TED - It's alive!!!!

I love how he barely stifles the maniacal laugh and rubbing his hands together. Actually I find his approach very interesting. The notion that the cell is merely a biological computer and the chromosomal molecules that inhabit the cell are the software has very interesting implications to the future of humanity. Many have asked if this is right. Are we playing god? Craig answers this question very well, "We aren't playing." People's knee jerk reaction to this statement is of course, "WTF??!?!?! HE THINKS HE IS GOD!!!!! INFIDEL!!! BURN THE WITCH! ARGLEBARGL BLAH BLAH BLAH JESUS" The problem is that this is a very unsubtle interpretation of his words. Yes there is a bit of hubris there. The guy has led a team that has taken the first steps to creating life. You can see the pride in his face. It is unmistakable. The thing that I think people are missing is the framing he puts around this talk. Our population is growing at an exponential rate. We are facing several crises with regards to our planet. We are running out of energy resources. We are polluting the environment and believe it or not, we are on the verge of starvation. The technology he is describing has the ability to address each of these. I, for one, can't wait to see what he does.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Thomas Jefferson

I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I see what you did there.

So rather than spend time keeping track of two different blogs that nobody reads, I decided to combine this one and the other one down to one. I've moved all of the quotes over to this blog and they are just tagged with Quote. You are free to go now.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mark Twain

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Monday, March 03, 2008

How I know she is my daughter

Yeah yeah. Stories of other people's children are insipid. This is your opportunity to go kiss off.

Today I had my daughter demonstrate two things to me. First that she can roll over and back. Second that she is truly my daughter. Not only did she roll over, but while on her belly with her diapered butt pointed right at me, she dropped ass and then rolled back over onto her back and laughed. I can ask for no better proof that she is the fruit of my loins.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I don't even know if i can enjoy this sham election now that I know who's going to win.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

A Legacy for W?

I had this article passed to me today. In it Bob Geldof recounts his time traveling with and interviewing President Bush. In it Geldof is surprisingly charitable with Bush over his policies in Africa. He even points out that Bush's policies (or at least the continuation of Clinton's policies) has had a fairly large impact in the whole of Africa. That is not to say that he gives Bush a pass on everything else. Geldof pointedly contrasts the humanity of Bush's African policy with the inhumanity of the Iraq war. I think in all, this is probably the most generous evaluation of Bush that I've seen to date, that wasn't given by sycophant.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Has the logjam broken?

So I finally finished "I am a Strange Loop". I'd been working my way through it for a while. Don't get me wrong, it is a very fascinating book, but when you only read at bedtime and you only read three or four pages before you fall asleep, you aren't going to be known as the most prodigious reader.

I've now started in on a couple of new books. Usually when I finish one book, I start reading a few at once. The one that holds my attention the best is the one that I stick with. It would appear that "The End of America: Letter to a Young Patriot" by Naomi Wolf has won the battle this time. While I know that it won't help to dispel my image as a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, this book does have some very interesting points. Wolf makes some parallels between the gradual slide into fascism seen by other countries and recent events in our own.

Yes, I know that nearly any parallel drawn between Nazi Germany in polite discussion is almost guaranteed to trigger people's nut case reflex and is more likely to get your point written off as paranoia than get it listened to. Having said that I find myself drawn to Wolf's points. I think Wolf realized this as well and went out of her way to draw relevant examples from the histories of other repressive regimes. When someone connects the dots like this it starts to get a little scary. The problem is that we all have to decide for ourselves if she is really drawing us an accurate picture or if the dots she connects are no more tangible than the dots that we draw in the nights sky to create the constellations. I'm inclined to believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Maybe closer to Wolf's side of the middle though.

In other news, it would appear that the bureaucratic logjam that has surrounded my main project at work seems to have broken in the last couple of days. This has some good and bad consequences. On the good side we will be able to begin the work of making some much needed improvements to the system. On the bad side, the research work that we'd been working on while nobody was looking will get put on hold. Fortunately we'd gotten far enough in our research to produce results and I think that I will be able to parley those results into continued research in this direction.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

TED - Apes that write

If this doesn't make you expand what it means to be a person, you are dead on the inside.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

TED - Fractals in interesting places.

This one appeals to the math nerd in me.

TED - Stew

Stew is a musician. I just got a chuckle out of this.

TED - Should this guy be the next Secretary of Defense?

This one is both insightful and scary. People actually think this way? At first, I wanted to call him a warmonger but on second thought I'm not actually sure. He has obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the subject and I wonder how different things would bee if his plan structure had been adopted prior to our war with Iraq.


Very recently I start seeing a lot of fascinating talks given by some very interesting individuals. It turns out that the majority of the talks were given at a yearly convention called TED. Rather than reiterate what their website already says very well, I will just link to it. I'm going to also post a few of my favorite so far. If you get bored or sick of these... Sorry.

I Am A Strange Loop

For a while I've been reading "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter. In this book the author sets out to define what a human soul is without just saying, "It is the part of you that lives on after you die." Why would anyone want to do this? Good question. I think it is a question that he is drawn to for any number of reasons but I suspect it has a lot to do with what seems to be a recurring theme in my thoughts. It is probably no surprise to many/most of you that I am an Atheist/Agnostic/Humanist/etc. From what I can gather Hofstadter falls in this same category. For me not having someone tell me that I have a soul and I that it is on loan from God leaves a big gap in explaining what the hell I am doing here and what I should do next. Hofstadter doesn't really go into the what I should do next, but he does take an interesting swing at trying to figure out what the hell we are doing here.

What is fascinating is how he eventually comes to the point of saying that we don't really have a soul and our concept of identity (our "I" itself) is merely an illusion or at best a convenient shorthand for the collection of chaos that we perceive as ourselves. That we are in effect just a very fascinating pattern of atoms that has become organized enough to perceive the pattern in itself. I find that idea to be both awesome and scary. Awesome to think about the amazingly complex collection of patterns that must go into making the "I" that we speak of when we make the statement "cogito ergo sum". Do I really need to need to go into why it is scary? Hey if the thought that you are a figment of your own imagination doesn't scare you, then you've got bigger existential balls that I do. Rather than ramble on and on, let me leave you with one of the passage with which he finishes the book.

You and I are mirages who perceive themselves, and the sole magical machinery behind the scenes is perception -- the triggering, by huge flows of raw data, of a tiny set of symbols that stand for abstract regularities in the world. When perception at arbitrarily high levels of abstraction enters the world of physics and when feedback loops galore come into play, then "which" eventually turns into "who". What would once have been brusquely labeled "mechanical" and reflexively discarded as a candidate for consciousness has to be reconsidered.

We human beings are macroscopic structures in a universe whose laws reside at the microscopic level. As survival-seeking beings, we are driven to seek efficient explanations that make reference only to entities at our own level. We therefore draw conceptual boundaries around entities that we easily perceive, and in so doing we carve out what seems to us to be reality. The "I" we create for each of us is a quintessential example of such a perceived or invented reality, and it does such a good job of explaining our behavior that it becomes the hub around which the rest of the world seems to rotate. But this "I" notion is just a shorthand for a vast mass of seething and churning of which we are necessarily unaware.

Sometimes, when my leg goes to sleep (as we put it in English) and I feel a thousand pins and needles tingling inside it, I say to myself, "Aha! So this is what being alive really is! I'm getting a rare glimpse of how complex I truly am!" (In French, on says that one has "ants in one's leg", and the cartoon character Dennis the Menace once remarked that he had "ginger ale in his leg" -- two unforgettable metaphors for this odd yet universal sensation.) Of course we can never com close to experiencing the full tingling complexity of what we truly are, since we have, to take just one typical example, six billion trillion (that is, six thousand million million million) copies of the hemoglobin molecule rushing about helter-skelter through our veins at all moments, and in each second of our lives, 400 trillion of them are destroyed while another 400 trillion are created. Numbers like these are way beyond human comprehension.

But our own unfathomability is a lucky thing for us! Just as we might shrivel up and die if we could truly grasp how minuscule we are in comparison to the vast universe we live in, so we might also explode in fear and shock if we were privy to the unimaginably frantic goings-on inside our bodies. We live in a state of blessed ignorance, but it is also a state of marvelous enlightenment, for it involves floating in a universe of mid-level categories of our won creation -- categories that function incredibly well as survival enhancers.

Have you ever heard nihilism expressed in such gentle and human terms? If you get a chance I'd recomend this book. Even if you know you will never agree with his viewpoint, there are some very striking and poignant moments to be found inside.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Oh no!!! The Squirrels are comming for me.

So I'm a pretty heavy sleeper. I don't often remember dreams and when I do they are usually only very vague flashes. Last night was an exception.

You know those times when you jerk awake because your body feels like it is falling? That's not really what is happening in your dreams. You are actually being attacked by rabid squirrels.

Last night I dreamt that I was walking through a yard somewhere. As I walked I approached a tree. In the branch of the tree was a cute little squirrel. As I approached the branch, the squirrel jumped down and ran toward me. Just as the clearly rabid squirrel reached me I jerked awake. I was then left disoriented and checking the sheets of the bed for squirrels.

So there you have it. Categorical proof that when you jerk awake from sleep you are actually being attacked by squirrels in your dreams. If you talk to J. you will find that I do this quite often and it isn't always squirrels but for now I'm convinced that it is the squirrels that wake me up at night.

Friday, January 25, 2008


To accuse others for one's own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one's education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one's education is complete.


Only the educated are free.


It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.


If you seek truth you will not seek victory by dishonorable means, and if you find truth you will become invincible.


First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.


Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stephen Hawking

Life would be tragic if it weren't funny

Stephen Hawking

The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.

Stephen Hawking

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.

Stephen Hawking

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Huang Po

The foolish reject what they see and not what they think; the wise reject what they think and not what they see.

George Bernard Shaw

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.

Albert Einstein

It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. … Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

Sir Francis Bacon

They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.

Mario Andretti

If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

George Carlin

Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money.

George Carlin

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.


One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.


Prejudices are what fools use for reason.


Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.

Mark Twain

The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.

Mark Twain

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

Friedrich Nietzsche

A casual stroll through a lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reverend Richard DeYoung II

May all your broken resolutions be easily forgotten and all of your revenges sweet and thorough.