Significance of human action

It’s not an unknown fact that humans have their craniums filled with a grey gooey substance that allows them to take independent decisions. If you’re unaware of this fact, you shouldn’t be reading this. If someone else is making you understand this, tell them to find a better way to spend their time, they will appreciate it. Elaborating on independent decisions: humans take information in, process it and take some action, like thinking more on the topic, or eating, or going out. That’s barring some specimens that do nothing with the information, like vegetate in front of their boob-tubes. The actions they take are independent of anything or anyone else. Obviously, some humans are of the persuaded variety, or some are physically incapable of acting on their decisions. Even then, the decisions they take are by themselves. The decisions occur in their own brains, not in someone else’s.

We humans like to think we’re the only ones with this capability. Future discoveries aside, there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise. I haven’t seen a whale, which is believed to be a highly intelligent animal, carry on a conversation with a human, or another whale for that matter. Cute little whistling sounds don’t count. Our 1 year old babies do that a lot. Believe me we’ve tried. We’ve even sung to the whales, and they still keep beaching themselves. Maybe they’re an order of magnitude more intelligent than us and we keep missing the point. That’s a subject for another discussion.

Because of our ability to dwell on, manipulate and act according to abstract ideas, we have managed to change how we live, where we live, who we live with, what we eat etc.
We can visualize concepts in our heads. Some concepts are horrifically out of this world, and can’t be manifested into physical actions. Some of us try really hard to produce reproducible results out of the concepts though. Take artists. Take Dali. A melting clock that still keeps clicking? Take musicians. Beethoven, who became deaf later in life and still composed music. Some of us barely act on it, never bothering to even jot it down, for preservation, distribution, whatever. Some of us just live through it, produce ten children, and die. Whatever we do with it, we have proof of this particular ability of humans. It’s everywhere – our societies, our cities and villages, our homes, our cultures, our wars, our peace times, our history, our education, our families. You can’t run away from the fact that we’re doomed to be concept modelers, thinkers and environment-changers.

This brings me to the central point of my discussion, our families. We don’t know our origins. We have theories of evolution, galactic seeding, creation etc. Some of them are almost proven; some of them are acts of faith. I’d like to think we’re nowhere near finding out, it gives us yet another reason for being. Maybe we never will find out. Apart from that, evolution is the generally agreed upon theory on how we have become what we’ve become and the route nature has given us to do that is via offspring. We pass on genetically coded information to the next generation, which pass it on to the next, to the next, ad infinitum. The information mutates, adjusts according to circumstance, and gets refined as it’s passed along. We, as humanity, become conduits for the information, knowingly or unknowingly.
This type of information has been called “memes�? among many other things. We as humanity, as animals, as part of the ecosystem, become conduits for meme propagation. There are other major memes that have been named, like religion, politics, male/female domination etc. That’s again a subject for another discussion. The point is we don’t know where the evolution meme is taking us. We can only guess. We do guess that’s what all the science-fiction writers excel at, guessing our futures. If we do know that we are carriers of this meme, and we don’t know where it’s taking us, it’s fairly easy to extrapolate that we’re being manipulated by this meme, by something or someone or some higher process we don’t know about. I’m not alluding to God, just an abstract thingy that’s somewhere beyond our field of perception. By that token, it can be extrapolated, probably barely, that we don’t have too much control over our destinies. All you fate-believers out there, you’re probably rejoicing. But hold on a sec, we have something that can change the playing field a little – our capacity for independent thought and action.

I’m not saying we stop children just to stop propagation of the meme. Hell, I wouldn’t want to stop having sex. What we can do is make sure whatever abstract concepts we come up with, we try and manifest them into physical objects as much as possible. Books, buildings, CDs, music, artificial food, space stations, space ships – anything that’s not part of evolution; anything that can withstand our dying out. You know we’ve come pretty close to blasting our egoistic asses to hell a lot of times in the past. Build things, create poems, and record them. Create rockets, even if to blast that loud neighbor that you really hate right out of his instrument filled garage. I’m not condoning that by the way. Create robots that are as intelligent as us. Create a whole new ecosystem somewhere out there in the backyard of our galaxy. Create whole new worlds. If you can’t create them, write them down, record the ideas. Maybe our hated-meme carrying children will one day find a way to act on them.

That’s the significance of human action. Our actions will survive us, not our children. So go out and do something. Try and paint that picture that you’ve always imagined, even if it’s your nightmare. Join the X-prize space race and build that space plane you’ve been dreaming about. Build a sculpture. Heck, go build that floating island-nation with its own laws and regulations. Leave something behind other than tire-marks, when you’ve fulfilled your role of being a throwaway tire for the big old meme tractor.

Advertisements

Happiness as commodity

If there was a way to commoditize happiness, wouldn’t it sell well? If you can sell cat litter over the internet, there’s no question about happiness. I think I’ve hit on a brilliant idea here. First off, we would start off by going door to door, hawking our cans of happiness. Skeptics abound, but we have really good salespeople here on earth. Some of them have even succeeded in selling life-insurance to twenty something couples. Twice.

Then we can progress to strip-mall based outlets. The fitness people have done it, and the stores that sell just tires. I’m sure we can do it. Who cares about one more billboard advertising happiness. If they’re happy using the happiness we sell, all these billboards and the drab personality-bereft shopping malls won’t really matter, will it? Look at the car dealerships. We buy cars from them even though we loathe the very thought of having to enter another one ever again. We tolerate their audacious presences, lots after lots after lots along our commute roads. Happiness will sell. We’ll even franchise happiness depots. Yes, Happiness Depot, now that’s a good name.

Market economy is amazing. It is the great stabilizer of all things saleable. No question about it. Pretty soon, they’ll be imitators popping up. Then the Japanese will come up with a whole new product line, probably called Emotions Unlimited or something very similar. Before you know it, there’ll be high-school kids creating potent mixtures of shame, a bit of anxiety, a bit of grief, and a whole lot of anger, on the cheap. $20 bucks a pop. Damn, I’ve hit on a great idea here. Only once in a while does an idea become a tradition bound for the history books. This one’s definitely going to be remembered eons from now, just like the lard-laden fries and burgers from bred to order cows. We’ll worry about the competition when we get there. By then we should have enough money to squash out all the other startups, or buy them out, or litigate them all the way back to their Silicon Valley cubicles. Or we could just hire one of the big six to do the entire strategizing for us, just like Enron.

Now that we have the logistics of the marketing and the business plan all sorted out, let’s think about how we’re actually going to come up with the product happiness itself. I could always just sell the idea and leave the product engineering to an anonymous idea house in Taiwan. But, no, not this time. I forgot it’s not the late 90s any more.

Now all you geneticists out there, I know you’re reading this. We’ll get you your stem cells, just figure out the chemical basis for happiness. I know you’ve already started on it. What’s Prozac doing anyway, was it something to do with dopamine? Which among other things, is also found to be a building block for love? I forget. I’m not an expert in these things. Get your creative juices flowing, get cranking, and I’ll make sure you’ll get a cut of the pie, a condo in downtown Paris, a piece of the bank in dazzling Cayman, or even a permanent suite at the Moon Hotel. Aren’t the Chinese building one up there?

The River

To think back upon the time I last visited the river
Makes me weep with sorrow over not having gone there
Again and laugh with joy at all the fun I had with it.
To you the reader, the river is just another artifact
Of nature’s working. To me, it’s everything.

It is the giver and taker of life; it is the one that fills
My heart with an overwhelming sense of belonging
And the one that makes me repent.
It is the one that makes me look forward to the ocean
That it flows towards, where I’ve never been.
It is the one that washes me of all the filth that
I’ve waded through, and the one that chides me
For being the indecisive spoilt brat that I am.

The river is pure energy, it lets me draw mine from it.
The river is sudsy boiling laughter drawing
Prankful critters along it’s sides
And flowers that entangle with it borrowing
Colors from it and giving their fragrance back.

I get the feeling the river sometimes yearns for me
I blindly follow the broken trails from wherever I am
Show up at its banks confused, surprised and hurt
Yet calmly elated, expectantly looking forward
To tangle with it and bring out the foam again.

I get the feeling, it’s play with the critters
And the burden of flotsam it carries from points
Long past, and the exchange of scents and non-scents
Tires it so, makes it sad and heavy.
For I can see, it’s not flowing like it should
Towards that great big blue ocean it longs for.

It is then that I give back what I can to the river
I have borrowed, it has given. I will give it will take.
I swim in it and stare at the wonder it
Carries in it’s depths. I caress the treasures that I find.
Wipe grit of the gems, and put them back to glow again.

It is a symbiotic relationship that I have with the river
It knows it, I know it. Sometimes I call for it and it
Comes flooding through and takes me in it’s embrace.
No wonder the river yearns for me.
No wonder I yearn for the river.

Yet I always remember the ocean, the great big
Void down the path. The sense that I get from the
River is that it’s the place of all beginnings
And no endings. It’s the place where everything belongs.
It flows towards it no matter how winding the path.
I get the feeling, the river wants me with it when we
Enter the ocean, together yet apart, yet entwined for ever.
I look forward to that moment when I can finally swim
Along with the river, in the bowels of the ocean
Because the river never swims, it just flows. It cannot yet swim.

All this makes me wonder why I’m not always in the river
Always bathed in the mutual delight that we give each other
All the dirt that I carry from my travels beyond time
and all the other things that float on it along it’s length
Come to the back of my mind.
Yet I still wonder, we could float through time together
And still get dirty, and still water the plants along the way
And still make all the tiny critters happy.
I wonder, and it makes me sad.

Would it not be even more disastrous,
The tragedy to put to shame all tragedies
If, before we went to the ocean together
The river dried out or I got lost
In my frequent meanderings among the stars
Never to come back again?

But then again, I’m not that far from the river, even now.
It can come cover me with it’s shiny wetness
Whenever it wants.
I think I want to go take a dip right now.

-by dédé(08/12/04)

fire-hydrants and dog piss

Ever wonder why most dogs go after fire-hydrants to relieve themselves? Yeah, me too. For the life of me, couldn’t figure out why. Probably never can. Now there’s a thought, become a dog psychiatrist. Defend your thesis on why dogs prefer fire-hydrants!

That’s not what I’m writing this about though. Dog piss has got to have some corrosive qualities to it. It can’t be that different from human piss. After all, we’re all carbon-based life forms, and mammals at that. We eat similar kinds of food.

So, here’s my chain of thought, if dog-piss has corrosive qualities, even a miniscule amount, what effect does it have on fire-hydrants? Most hydrants are made from iron, which is very very corrosive, as you all may have noticed. Especially in an abundance of air, warmth and acids. Dog-piss.

If thousands of dogs descend upon the fire-hydrants around your city along the years, the bases of the hydrants have got to give way. Pretty soon, they should topple. I wonder if there are studies done to figure out the money costing the cities in the long term due to dog-piss toppling fire-hydrants.

It’s gonna be one hell of a project, you know. You could even use the magic of modern statistics to show trends like, future dog population growth, or the average health of dogs in a given area, or how dog-piss contaminated water is fire retardant.. (that one’s a stretch, but if you could find an area with enough toppled or corroded fire-hydrants, it’s possible that the water in the pipes under them have dog-piss content, and if a house were to burn down in that area, our fine firemen would be spraying dog-piss over the water.)

Or you could extrapolate that dogs are the third most intelligent species on earth after mice and dolphins but before humans. Use that extrapolation to figure out that all along, dogs have been playing with us. They’re here to figure out what effect do dog-piss corroded fire-hydrants have on the major human population in concentrated areas. Whichever dog wrote that thesis is probably dancing with glee, glaring their canines right about now, because it has proof that humans have finally caught on to their little secret. We’re thinking about the relationship between fire-hydrants and dog-piss and trying to figure out where it all fits in the order of the universe, like we always do. An example of that proof is right here, me. Poor, retarded, disgusted, surprised, angry me.

Damn dog-piss.

persistent optimism

The persistent optimism of this young man from my old country never ceases to amaze me. He pings me on yahoo messenger every once in a while. I have never answered his probes. I simply get too many pings, mostly from spammers. He does not introduce himself, never has.

His profile has a picture and a few words describing himself as a business man of handicrafts. From his profile, I assume that he is looking for outlets to sell traditional nepali handicrafts.

My profile has a list of interests included on it and includes “Nepal” among other things. There is nothing in my profile that suggests that I have anything to do with Nepal other than have an interest in it. There are other countries in the list.
It makes me assume that this young man is trying to gauge interest for the wares that he sells. He’s using the internet as a tool to reach across vast distances for his marketing. In doing so, he has completely leap-frogged other older technologies such as print or radio media.

His drive has led him to keep pinging me once in a while, in case I turn out to be a good lead, even though I’ve shown no interest. These are all assumptions of course. I could be totally wrong. He could just be someone who happens to have been given my yahoo ID by someone we both know or some other silly co-incidence.

This series of thought reminds me of myself when I was younger and I felt I could rule the world, and nothing was going to sop me. Mere disinterest on my affairs from other people were simply nuisances, not show stoppers. Back then, I always had the hope that I would get my big break from some stranger who had similar interests as mine.

I wish I could help this young man out. Unfortunately, I do not have the time, and even more unfortunately, I do not share his avvid interest in traditional handicrafts.

His yahoo ID is hcrafts6. Maybe you will find someone after all. Good luck.

Our Bonnie Song

The other day i walked with my bonnie
laughing and crying we stayed
she jabbed me, i jabbed her
and we both said

Bring back, bring back
oh, bring back my bonnie to me

The other night we danced together
and shared the same cigarette
and the wine, over and over
and we said

Bring back, bring back
oh, bring back my bonnie to me

We looked at tall buildings
the funny men with pointed hats
we made jokes only we understood
silently listened to a tired guy say

Bring back, bring back
oh, bring back my bonnie to me

I rode the train to the city
she rode the train to the village
we met friends who were all singing
the strange song that kept saying

Bring back, bring back
oh, bring back my bonnie to me

The park dogs bark in the background
some girl pretends to be a crow
all of the sounds, all of nature
start throbbing in the background, saying

Bring back, bring back
bring back my bonnie to me

The bonnie says shhhh, and stops
my voice comes to life on its own
out comes a sound i never heard
but what i meant to say was

Bring back, bring back
bring back my bonnie to me

My bonnie lies right next to me
but i still cry, and look back
and keep on singing to myself
to sleep, saying

Bring back, bring back
oh bring back my bonnie to me

If you do find my bonnie lost in her ways
and if you do find me lost in mine,
send us back to where we began
so we may never have to sing

Bring back, bring back
bring back my bonnie to me.

-by Tram Zack (08/01/2004)

recurring revelations

“Recurring revlelations�? is not a phrase. It’s an oxymoron. A stereotypical one, but still an oxymoron.

I am most probably not the only one who hits upon a bright idea, maybe something like a clever cure for lung cancer, goes about it for a couple of days, perhaps weeks, even months, then forgets about it.

He hits upon the idea again years later, conveniently thinking he’s thought of a way of making some gene think it’s a cure for lung cancer and then proceeds to forget about it again.

Only to hit upon another bright idea ten years later about how to extract mitochondiral DNA and stuff it into nuclear DNA, realizing that a gene that happens to deter lung cancer sits in the mitochondria which happens to burn out faster than it’s cousin cell-matter. Then forgets about it because of one reason or another, again.

And all along he’s thinking, de ja vu.

Touche!

Maybe all along, he’s never gotten over the fact that , he has lung cancer, or his dad had long cancer, or his grandmom had long cancer, or maybe
his dog.

Who knows who had lung cancer. Someone obviously did though. And probably a million other people like him had someone who had lung cancer, and some of those people thought the exact same thing that he did and actually followed up on it and did create a cure for long cancer.

Or did come up with a way to extract the mitochondrial DNA safely. They just happened to work at it, or came up with the idea a little before he did.

He just didn’t realize he was following the trend.

Touche!

BTW, I know of no one close enough to me who has lung cancer. That’s just an an example. You get the idea.