Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Wave Function

From moment to moment we are both particle and wave. I've never had exactly this thought before. I'm not high or drunk but perhaps sliding between whatever is and is not.

There are times of crystal clarity and you wonder how and when and then, can you ever go back to earth and be an earthling.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Darwin Sunset

The sun was the first god, his power, majesty and light intimating the true god of the big bang. He is a light so bright that he provides our life across 93 million miles of emptiness. He rules the day, giving us colors even after he sets. The moon rules the night, though she demurely veils and unveils herself slowly, showing all only when the sun is in his deepest slumber.

While it is remarkable enough that the sun gives us just enough but not too little or too much, how much more beyond understanding is it that the sun and moon appear to us the exact same size, each ruling in its realm, each at times covering the other to show us even more. But all is in motion. The moon recedes from the mother, born from earth but like every daughter eventually going her way. The sun, burning through crushing matter, will one day reach out and swallow us, leaving all that went before in ashes. But here and now, everything is perfect, for us.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Something wonderful happened today. We have daily morning briefings from our Joint Operations Center. At the end, we usually have presentations from the various sections of our UN mission. They ALWAYS include PowerPoint. And it often seems they spend as much time -- more even -- on silly effects than content. I had to ask recently that they at least do them in colors we can read from. Today, someone got up and apologized for not having PowerPoint and then proceeded to talk to us. In response, I actually paid attention to the speaker and his speaking. In so doing, I realized how much is lost when we eye the slides instead. I remembered how often I wished the speaker would just hurry up to keep up with my reading speed. This is not communication. Listening to a human being address me as a human being is communication. We convey so much more meaning face to face than can jump off a slide presentation. PowerPoint should really be banned or limited to those who treat it as one part of communication and not the communication itself. PowerPoint presentations are as ubiquitous as plastic cups and bags, littering and spoiling our human interaction as the plastic litters our environment.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Why do people, certainly guys, take so fundamentally to computer games? What does it tap and what did people do with that part of themselves before the computer age. Was TV a transitional mode, a passive way of preparing for the shift from attentiveness in the real world to attention to the unreal?

Walking through the woods of Washington DC one winter day, I wondered what Indians would have done during that season. Certainly they would have been warm in their houses while it was cold outside. They would have told stories, sang songs and maybe played games. These stories, songs and games were communal things, passed down over generations, played communally and adding to the cohesiveness of the community. Game software is communal too in that it is created by and part of a context supported by a community and the Internet allows multi-play. But we generally interact with computer games in a solitary way.

Yet we play. Can it be as simple as an urge or need to hunt? Testing oneself against the environment, to damage it or win victory? If this is true, one conclusion to draw might be that it is advantageous for men and boys to play games for recreation. It channels what may be a dangerous, anti-social part of ourselves into safer outlets (since we, as a society, don’t earn our living hunting anymore). In Freudian terms, at least for males, these games – including ones that you don’t actually kill things (like puzzle games) because the urge to do violence may diminish with age as boys become old men – provide for sublimation in the service of culture. And maybe in this age of virtual rather than actual interaction, computer games also provide a service for civilization in providing expertise in interaction via computer that goes well beyond the keyboard or the linear?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lost Human Time

With everything we know today about human prehistory, seems safe to say we have been around for a long time, in our terms. A couple of million years evolving into Homo. Then some 150-200 thousand years ago, some crucial mutations occurred and the consciousness of a very capable ape – homo erectus/neanderthalis – was able to climb to the next level -- Homo sapiens sapiens (us). Over the next thousands of years language evolved gradually giving consciousness the tools to understand and master the world. Eventually those groups with the most capable languages established local supremacy. 8000-9000 years ago, people began farming in the Crescent. 7500 years ago it came together in Sumer where language became writing and farming became agriculture and both together became empire. Sumer lasted 15 centuries. People like us hunted in Europe for 30 thousand years before the first farmers. Think about the centuries of fully human life lost to us. What was that like? What might have risen, been lived and then disappeared lost in the mists of the past?

Monday, May 25, 2009


What kind of world would we want to live in if we couldn’t know for sure our place in it ahead of time? Presumably, we would not want a world where we might be born in the wrong place, the wrong nationality or the wrong sex. We would probably define as a just world one that we would not regret being born into. John Rawls suggested this approach.

We can take this in three directions: 1. We can use it to design a model world that we would not mind being born into wherever. Odds being what you would feel comfortable in terms of number of chambers loaded before pressing trigger. 2. We can use this standard to judge the actual world we live in. 3. We can talk about why a person or people in general would be satisfied (or not) with their actual place in the actual world. Here we can also talk about why reason – and the need for others – should take us into a concern with justice for others even if pleased with our own situation. This last seems a call to action.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Writing is better than speaking because the individual letters can be directed in their flow much more precisely than words rushing out of our mouths. Speech is more autonomic, less conscious. It must originate from within our reptilian brain. Writing is very much a conscious activity. It allows us to be more ourself.

E-mail is in between. Its writing that can flow more like speech because we can use all those shortcuts, such as LOL and leaving out punctuation etc. So we need to me a bit more careful too.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

There is a Ghost in the Machine

Fascinating to think that all the minutia of our mental activity is governed so strictly by physical matter and biology. It must be so. We are at base material objects descending from the Big Bang.

Consciousness however is not reducible to mental activity. Consciousness is pure awareness. Through consciousness we can be aware of our mind -- physical processes become thoughts, feelings, emotions, dreams, visions, sensing. The good bit about this is that awareness continues. In the beginning was awareness. It also means that higher processing speeds are possible.

Consciousness is not quantized. Nor is it digital but “analog.” Physical reality and time are quantum.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Prosthetic Gods

Our technology has begun in earnest creating a “prosthetic god” in the form of the Internet/globalized economy that we experience as a force over and above us. We feel the need to gain control -- or in some cases, to free or protect ourselves -- from this power. We have become like the ancients confronting a fickle fate we barely understand. Our mobile devices help us intercede with these new “gods” and we pray through them incessantly.

The best way to do work through this dependency -- to bring the gods to ground -- is to ensure that we pay attention to everywhere that there is no love and to try to fill them somehow. The absence of love we know as evil. The Christian philosophers understood this: God the father was the prime mover; god the spirit was the mind reaching toward the good through reason and science, Christ was the necessary element of love in the universe.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Trees are great fingers of live earth reaching for the sky and sun.

Spring is the blood returning to the fingers.