the age of micro-wars or the ghost of battles past

The drivers behind micro protests in the last century used to be PETA, greenpeace, EFF, ACLU. Now it’s the likes of students on myspace, unemployed youth with cellphones, motorcyclists using aol, bloggers with commentaries as swords. Anyone can start the ball rolling, millions of potential Che Guevaras out there.

Here’s an article that tries to look at the other side of connectedness:

One of the baseline assumptions of U.S. foreign policy is that “connectedness” is a good thing. Linkage to the global economy fosters the growth of democracy and free markets, the theory goes, and that in turn creates the conditions for stability and security. But if that’s true, why is an increasingly “connected” world such a mess?


some links to protests and micro-insurgencies:

On March 1, 2006, South Central Farm was served with an eviction notice by the sheriff’s office. It stated that the farmers had to evacuate the premises by 03/06/2006. On the morning of March 3rd, protesters stood outside City Hall, in the rain, in downtown Los Angeles and showed their support for the farmers.


Riot police clashed with protestors yesterday as an estimated 220,000-450,000 students marched in cities across France. 420 protestors were reportedly arrested and 18 police officers injured.


Nearly 40,000 students from across Southern California staged walkouts to protest proposed immigration legislation Monday, blocking traffic on four freeways and leaving educators concerned about how much longer the issue will disrupt schools.


An effort to stop radical anti-gay protesters from disrupting soldiers’ funerals is hung up in the Illinois Senate, as proponents wrestle with union concerns that the law could be used to curtail legitimate labor protests by cemetery workers.


Several hundred people have protested in northern Afghanistan against a decision to dismiss a case against a man who converted to Christianity.


A Colorado school is in upheaval following the suspension of a teacher who was recorded comparing President Bush’s rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler.


On Tuesday, we stood and turned our backs on attorney general Alberto Gonzales. The country’s highest-ranking lawyer came to our school — Georgetown University Law Center — to convince the American public that the government’s wiretapping program is legal. As America’s future lawyers, we stood to oppose the Bush administration’s bulldozing of our constitutional protections in the name of the war on terror. We stood inspired by the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

.. and so it goes.


the god particle

I recently watched a new documentary about the neutrino particle on NOVA titled the ghost particle. Apparently the neutrino has been misbehaving. Or so it seems to us. It doesn’t fit the standard model perfectly, it has mass and it has alibis. Scientists have now stopped trying to figure out how or why it doesn’t fit the standard model and starting to poke it to show more of its colors. There will come a time, after enough poking around and seeing the neutrino do it’s dance, when we will have a different model showing how the neutrino fits in. And it won’t be just because of the neutrino. The standard model doesn’t account for gravitational interaction either.

The argument is, we as humans are always trying to see where the buck stops, who’s in control, what’s the explanation for all this, and so it goes. Therefore, we come up with a theory for how things fit in. Various religions have their own theories. Science has it’s quest for the ultimate Grand Unified Theory. Philosophers have straddled both science and religion and who knows what else to come up their own grand philosophies. There’s even a favorite of mine, the chaos theory with ties into fractal geometry and duality.

Yes sir, we’d like to believe that there’s an end of the line. We sorta think there was a beginning of the line although we may argue amongst each other about what or where exactly that was.

I’m not a scientist, I haven’t been trained as one. I’m not much of a theologist either. I, like many of you out there, am a bit confused. Therefore, to swim through the confusion and keep my head above water, I have also come up with my own way of figuring things out. I am perfecting my own philosophy. And like everybody else with their theories, I am ready to argue for my theories any time. In fact, I’ll probably jump to an occasion to spout my theories to anyone who’s willing to listen, and for that matter, to those who aren’t.

Sadly, the jumping-to-occasion phenomenon, applies to all. To scientists and theologians alike. Imagine a hundred people with hundreds variations of some dozen core theories. Multiply that by 70 million. That’s how many we are. That’s how many variations we get and that’s how many possible arguments we have. Quite a few of us, most of us in fact, will let go of our theories or stop arguing about it in the face of a stronger and more opinionated few. Most of us even follow their lead. Some theories become so strong in their hold among the people, that they become memes that survive through generations of people and civilizations and arguments and wars and destruction. The major religions are memes. Even science is a meme. The idea that there is a provable, repeatable explanation of how we come to be and the belief in that idea.

My question, a strand of my own philosophy, is this: will we ever stop? will we continue formulating and propagating memes to an unseeable generation in the future. Or is there so much unpredictability that the quantification of that “so much” is itself unpredictable. Are things changing and reformulating so much that there is no one god particle? The god particle at any instant is liable to transform into something else entirely.

Situations and circumstances may change but the underlying diversity, unpredictability and un-oneness of things is the only meme that’s stable. Our human society will be chaotic. A seething mass of unpredictable societal behaviour. There will never be one religion, one way of government, one morality, one grand unified theory, one god, one god particle or one ring to rule them all.

That gives me a little bit of comfort. It allows me to believe that anything is possible and that everything is a hack. The whole freaking universe is one big hack. Hack away, believe in your hacks and smile. Have a little fun. That’s what we’ve been doing after all.

update: the large hadron collider is coming online soon in geneva.

update: the god particle has been found.

birthday notches are passe

Something that my aunt said recently while visiting made me think about the concepts of time and space as different cultures currently understand it.

She saw my chin-hawk (a mohawk on the chin 🙂 ), and said that I had had grown older (and looked it too). Besides the fact that I had definitely grown older and that I hadn’t seen her in person in like 14 years, a token bunch of my facial hair definitely made me look older.

Getting older in my culture, and probably other cultures, is also associated with getting wiser, like good old confucius. With his belly hanging out proudly, stroking his beard and dispensing nuggets of packaged self-inflating wisdom. Unwrap and apply at will.

Days, then months, then years go by. Children are begot, and their children. Passage of time is marked by birthdays, anniversarsies, dates of accomplishment. We’re leaving our notches in the tree-trunk of time. Or so we think. The notches don’t exist, or are quietly wiped away. Nobody remembers your birthday after you’re gone. Even birthdays of famous people are approximations made common belief.

I personally like the atemporal concept of time that apparently the Hopi Indians have. There is no one-way arrow of time moving from the past to the future. Instead it’s like a big ole jello-ball containing all events, past present and future and even space in one whole appetizing piece of fluidity. My problem is going to be digesting that concept. I’m afraid it’s going to give me indigestion, I’m afraid my entire being will reject it. Probably cause “my entire being” has been shaped from day one to fit into this arrow of time, marked by my birthday notches. The Hopi’s apparently have no words for past, present and future, or even a here and there in the spatial sense of the word. It’s one big whole everything occuring simultaneously everywhere. It’s mind bending. I’m already getting stomach cramps.

Imagine the connotations of living in such culture, world-wide. I’m sure some of our newer branches of sciences that we deal with, quantum physics, relativity would have come much more further along. Or maybe, we wouldn’t need to explore those concepts using mathematics of today, cause we automatically grokk it. It’s part of our being, just like birth and death are certainties of today.

I’ll need another way to measure my finiteness. Wait, measure is the wrong term here. I need to understand my finiteness, be one with the large lump of jell-o.

I hate jell-o.

Some interesting reading about Hopi indians, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, Minkowski space and the time-space continuum:

..etc etc etc..
yeah, go google it..

two-facedness of organizations.

I’ve heard about Penn and Taylor and their Showtime show Bullshit. I’ve seen posters advertising their show. I didn’t know what their show was about until I came across some postings about their show on PETA, yes that animal-rights organization. I believe it’s released on DVD as their second season. I’ve been wanting to post something about this for a while. I just didn’t have the motivation till now.

The show tries to call bullshit on tried and tested or popularly held beliefs, sorta like a contemporary occam’s razor for cultural trends. I may not agree with everything they show. Their interviews are with selected individuals chosen to support the byline of the show. Not that that’s different from how a lot of other shows are done. All hail to them. But even with that lens of skepticism, the show on PETA struck some chords in me.

To quote

Between 1998 and 2003, PETA put to death over 10,000 dogs, cats, and other creatures that the group publicly calls “companion animals.�? Not counting those that PETA held only temporarily — for spaying or neutering — the group killed over 85 percent of the animals it took in during 2003.

This site has some numbers on PETA’s dirty little secret.

There was even a times square billboard put up by the Center for Cultural Freedom (the name of that organization by the way, is all red flags, suggestive of a lobby group).

I’m not saying PETA is bad. What they’re trying to do is a worthy cause. But because it involves people, who come in all shapes and sizes and with varying motives, like every other large organization, they can have skeletons in their closet. You should watch that show, do your research and make up your own mind.

The larger question is, does every large organization have two faces?

the blank white walls

Someone who’s been in my room many times commented that my walls were still blank. I haven’t found the right stuff I retorted back.

Then I started thinking back on when I had my walls covered with posters or paintings or any smidgen of decoration. I went back, and back and back till I got to the time I was in high-school!
I had posters of 80s pop stars in my bedroom. I haven’t had anything else since then. I have changed rooms a gazillion times. Granted I’ve had stuff on my home-office walls.. but nothing in my bedroom. I always thought I’d fill up the walls with something I like when I find them.

Jesus, it’s been fifteen fucking years. I should’ve honed my skills on selecting the stuff I like, or for that matter, knowing what I like. It’s all confusing, now that I’m thinking about it. Ok, I like certain artists – Warhol, Kandinsky, Lichtenstein, Mondrian. I like certain types of scenery – Rio de Janeiro, Bora Bora, the South China Sea islands, Antartica ice shelf (?). I like certain types of portraits – gothic, androids etc. I like certain types of sculpture – organic shapes, mathematical sculpture. And so it goes.

What do I choose? Should I just pick a couple and stick with them. Should I pick some, keep them a while and rotate? These are the conundrums I face right now. And mind you, the problem may seem small, until you realize that it’s not just my bedroom walls that are white and blank. It’s my life as I see it right now. They’re blank and ready to be filled in with bits and pieces of joy and wonder. And I have lots of things to choose from. I just have to figure out how to go about choosing them.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one with thoughts like this. Mind you, they’re not life-threatening, but, they are essential. The blank white walls need to come down. Maybe I’ll start with my room.

Update: Thanks, but not soliciting sympathy. This is just a snapshot of the reflective types of thought that go through my mind.

life imitates art imitates life

Oscar Wilde once said Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life. I beg to differ. I think it’s more of a vicious circle (or a glorious circle, depending on how you look at it.) It’s an equal-opportunity borrowing situation. Life imitates art. Simultaneously art imitates life. Each feeds into the other, each repetition coming up with more complexity in the process.

Take movies for example. A certain movie may come up with a novel way of robbing a bank. The story writer did not come up with it in a vacuum. (S)he has access to volumes of prior art both fictional and biographical to base or build up the story on. (S)he just added a twist to it, albeit a novel one never encountered my anyone else before. Someone with a bank-robbin-itch sees the movie, thinks it’s a brilliant idea. Then (s)he proceeds to add a few of their own twists to it, maybe as simple as using different numbers of people, or something more advanced like adding a new technique to opening up the safe. The bank then proceeds to get robbed. (S)he may or may not end up getting caught. The story about the robbery then proceeds to get published. Thereby being consumed into the creative minds of millions of other people. Some of whom may be movie script-writers.

The movie “Firewall” was just released. I just read about a real-life robbery apparently inspired by the movie. I don’t know particulars about the actual robbery. What I am certain of is that someone will create another movie or a book, picking up particulars about that robbery and add details of their own. It would be fun to have this tracked and look at the results, like 20 years down the line. Maybe a good use of the cross-reference engine that I’ve been thinking about creating. More on that later.

This doesn’t just apply to movies though. It applies to all kinds of art. You just have to sit down and think through the art pieces you really like, read up on the history of that art or the biography of the artist. Eventually, I’m sure, you’ll find a link to something in real life that the art was inspired by. And eventually, you’ll find a link to something in real life that the art inspired. And so it goes.