Monday, July 16, 2018

Sisyphus's Paradox of Choice

What they never told you about Sisyphus is that he had more than one boulder, and each one he liked to roll up the hill for different reasons, some he liked the gentle wobble, and almost playful demeanor from the stone itself. Others, were so smooth from countless years rolling them, some, even, were pebbles...

So the biggest thing about him rolling those boulders that made it unbearable wasn't the boulder rolling itself, that was a blast. got his lungs pumping.

Nah, it was the fact he had to sit there and decide which goddamned boulder he was gonna roll up THIS time.

So many hours of potentially happy boulder rolling, destroyed by too many happy boulders.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Free Will, Sin, Hell and Entropy (writing prompt)

4 years later, he's still here. 
I have a thought process that's formulating a concept of a demiurge/creator god who creates the concept of Free Will as it pertains to fairly common interpretation of a creator god and why "he" sends "his" creations to hell.  What is it that ties this deity's hands?

I have a feeling that this relates to entropy as the origin of choice, without entropy there is only unity/eternity itself. 

Once entropy enters the picture, all things break down, all choice requires an opposite.  I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this, but it's in the back of my head and I need to sit down and formulate this a little better.

Being at work and tired doesn't help making a post though.  So later...

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Manipulation of text in space/time and its application to reading comprehension and retention...

I have a few hypotheses I want to try soon.

1) Perspective scrolling reading: Imagine a long wall that stretches infinitely.  On this wall is written text.  Each word stands alone (that is, not "wrapped" with words above or below).  In that sense it is linear like a word stream in a sentence.  Take that wall, change your perpective so that the wall is to your left, and you have a 3D perspective view so that the wall recededs into the distance.  The first word of the text is to your left. Now, the wall is attached to a scrolling device (literal Scroll!)  The first word moves towards you in the Z-Axis, and then flies past and the second word approaches (with the third word, etc... on the wall continuing to recede in the distance, growing and then disappearing as the wall scrolls past you)

Question : How fast can the scrolling get before your lose your ability to comprehend?  Is this easier or worse then seeing a whole plane of words on the screen like a paragraph presents.

2) Dual Perspective Scrolling Reading: Now - add another wall to your right, and do something like the following options:

A) Alternate words: The first word is on the left, the next word is on the right and so on and so forth, such that all odd-numbered words in the sentences are on the left and all the even or on the right.

Question: Will alternating words lead to an ability to read and comprehend faster than single scrolling?

B) Clustering Words: Can you, instead, group words, not linearlly, but as a grouping in the sentence such that the whole cluster is displayed in some manner that it is quickly grasped by the mind?  This sentence/cluster of meaning (in this sense we are dealing with semantic clusters - it may be that the tradtional concepts of "sentence structure" based on linearity aren't quite the same when put forth in this method.  I am literally picturing a cluster of words, but still giving the same meaning as a line of words).
Question: Can these clusters present a dense aggregate of information such that the concept may be grokked much more rapidly than linear text, and higher than scrolling linearity (that is to say - can the amount of clusters presented per unit of time convey as much or more information then the single word streams?)

C) Left/Right brain streaming. Can one take the dichotomy of Left-Brain->Concrete / Right->Abstract (as potentially faulty as that categorization may be), and systematize words under these concepts in such a manner that when presenting to the user, the Concrete Words show up on the right hand side, while the left hand side displays more Abstract Concepts.  We are going back away from the clustering concept presented in section B and back towards a more linear concept of streaming like in A - however instead of alternating words, you're alternating the supposed mental processing of language.

Question: Will presenting these words in such a manner lead to any change in processing?  I hypothesize it won't but it would be interesting to test.  A test would have to mix it such that some people receive inversions (i.e. creative would be presented to the left side, as opposed to the right side).

3) Non-Perspective-Scrolling Word Clustering over Time: What happens if instead one stops the streaming metaphor and re-orients to the screen face on as if one is back to watching TV or something.  The plan is now perpendicular to you.  Instead of words streaming by, clusters flash on the screen.  The same sort of clusters as before.  Either perhaps a cluster of X words or a cluster of sentences or some other method.

Question: Can doing clustering in such a way improve reading efficiency compared to sentences flashing on the screen? How long must these clusters stay on the screen? Can this type of clustering lead to better comprehension and retention of information, the same or less?

Monday, September 08, 2014

I just saw this Vice documentary regarding Donetsk.  It certainly makes the Western Propaganda less clear and the situation more ambiguous.

I initially sided with the "fascists" claim (like - way before Russia got involved), but then saw that they're not your typical "fascists" in general, and sided with a democratic Europe and started to question how much of the Maidan movement was really fascist.  Then Russia got involved and I saw what appeared to be a straight up territorial claim, and expansionist motives (which I still don't necessarily doubt), but...

That clip really shows it is indeed more messy and complex and there's more than just 2 sides to the story and each side has both positive and negative aspects and both noble and not-so-noble causes behind them.

What caught my eye upon seeing the "Swedish Neo-Nazis" going to Ukraine makes me feel like we're watching the boundaries of post-colonial/imperialism start to fade...  We're truly entering the Post-WWII phase of Global Civilization.

We have IS(I(S/L)) with their international support from countries both democratic and non-democratic flocking to the middle east.  Now we see this (perhaps it's not a vast movement, this "Neo-Nazis in Ukraine" thing - I don't know).  But certainly there's a strange mix of events happening in the world that represent various splinterings of a fragile cohesiveness that ruled the globe for 60 years or so.

Sometimes I see shit an really feel apocalyptic about it all, other times it just seems like it's the same ol' same ol'...

I've posted this idea in other forums I think, but it's even stronger seeing this Swedish NeoNazi thing...

We have Democratic/Western States whether full neo-con/neo-liberal or social democracy in nature, who are traditional allies and have enough in common to maintain this alliance, tenuous it may be at times.

Then you have authoritarian states who have a desire to critique western states (and in particular the US as a proxy for all the West - primarily due to its own outsized influence in the world) - when you have people like Russia, China and N. Korea criticizing the US on "human rights" grounds...

So that's the East/West-Authoritarian/Democracy split.

Then you have 3rd world anti-imperialist states that have thrown in their lot with the authoritarian mold (Iran, for example).

Then you have non-state actors like ISIS/Maidan movement/Arab Spring/Occupy Wall Street, some more violent than others, all attempting to address this "New World Order" -- One could make the argument that OWS is really a continuation of the anti-globalization protests that rocked Seattle in 1999 and all that's followed since.

Add in the National Security State which is sort of a layer over all states, and is the aspect of the Western Democracies that the Eastern Authoritarian Regimes both appeal to in support of their own policies and use as an instrument of critique of hypocrisy when they need to attack the West.   The revelations about the NSA and its role in targeting: Nation-States, Corporate Interests, Individuals and Ideologically Formed Non-State Entitities add to this appearance of a growing trend.

Militarization of the US Police apparatus in the name of War on Drugs, War on Terror, War on Your Mom...

We witness the dissolving of the democratic nation state as it flails and starts to use more authoritarian means of control.  First - a surreptitious mode of control, but slowly revealing itself more and more.

The rise of left-right factions, the growth of popular fascism in Eastern Europe in general, the rise of militant Islam as a shockforce for certain anti-colonial/re-imperialization/conquest of their original native homelands (the caliphate)...

It seems the socialism of Castro and Chavez is slowly fading out, the leftists have run into a dead end.

The tolerant liberal democracies must come face to face with an Islamic Militancy that even al-Qaeda and other hardliners oppose (either strategically or ideologically; though mostly strategically, IIUC).  We have the Sunni/Shia factions, where the US is finally taking the side of the Shia after a long period of absolute refusal to co-operate...  And we can't forget Syria itself as a sort of nexus of these factions (ISIS, Authoritarian State, Shia/Alawites vs Sunni).  You have the Kurds and Kurdistan as an issue at play.  Scotland wants to break away from the UK, polls indicating a new slim majority growing every day.  What about other breakaway regions?  This isn't even touching things like North/South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and the conflict there between Islamic radicals and the Christian population - and hardly anyone is discussing the Congo right now, where the Christians have become the vengeful force attacking innocent Muslims; or of course, the Rohingya in Myanmar, or Kashmir and the continued antagonism between Pakistan and India over that province which has recently increased then decreased due to a flood.

Speaking of non-state entities and ebola... You have actors who have allegiances to certain strains of "pure" thought in the Western Democracies - Anti-vaxxers/Homeopathers/Global Warming Denialists who form another faction being torn away by allegiance to the current nation-state via conspiracists like Alex Jones.

In a world falling apart, people are seeking refuge in purity, in a past they knew or desire to believe to be "pure"...

Terence McKenna said:

History is ending because the dominator culture has led the human species into a blind alley, and as the inevitable chaostrophie approaches, people look for metaphors and answers. Every time a culture gets into trouble it casts itself back into the past looking for the last sane moment it ever knew.


And I think this makes a lot of sense, it explains the retreat to fundamentalism and a search for what a society thinks is "The Golden Age".  It's not that wars or diseases are new - are even that this is a more dangerous scary time, necessarily, but we sense a foreboding direction to humanity right now, as if we're on the cusp of a radical change that will ultimately disrupt the nice point of stability we've held onto for most of our lives...

So it's a huge tangled web, varied interests, competing with each other, and alliances forming between former enemies...  Tenuous friendships breaking apart...  Everyone keeping a watch, a glaring eye towards "the other" and towards the situation on the ground as it is.  Off to GMOFB now...

Friday, February 28, 2014

Some thoughts on Democracy and Alternatives

I originally posted this comment in a Metafilter thread, but thought it beared enough interesting points to post separately, here...

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Occasionally I think Libertarian Fascism is the way to go.

No, I'm not being facetious (well, not totally, at least). I think there has to be some way to combine Fascism (the idea of multiple units of social organization, a sort of collectivist vision) with Libertarianism. I mean this in the same way that Libertarian Socialism (as mentioned upthread) exists. I have seen a couple mentions online to the idea, but nothing fully fleshed out.

I don't know if "Class War" is the answer. In my heart, I'm a socialist, I think Marx has a lot of insight, but I don't know how we can push anything socialist in this current state.

A friend of mine thinks we need to let Capital go global and fully dominate the entire planet, let it all be free-market capitalism, and then the Marxist Revolution will inevitably occur (as the inevitable Hegelian process of synthesis happens). He thinks all these revolutions calling themselves Marxists were premature. Certainly, if you follow that the "successful" "Communist" revolutions were in feudal societies of some sort, and not fully developed capitalist countries, then perhaps my friend is right.

I do doubt democracy. I don't know the answer. Well, certainly the current form of Representative Democracy is broken. I don't know if it's merely our voting system, or the actual structure of government (division between national/regional sections and representation upstream), the influence of money (which is obviously a huge factor, but not the only one, I think)... I mean, absolute 100% public funding is really the way to go.

But how would you guarantee there is no astroturfing paid by a shit ton of corps to help the poor spread bullshit lines in forums everywhere to push their message? I think this is the hardest thing, verification that there is no political message or spending outside of the official channels, and that's why they say "money=speech" because it's less about the principle and more about the reality of enforcing such a thing and confirming whether an opinion is merely a legitimate opinion of some schmuck on the internet (flawed as that opinion may be) or a paid for opinion piece from Koch Industries.

The fact is, our current system is built upon a foundation of Mercantilist quasi-feudalism with an ideology that still goes back to the days of feudal societies. Yes, Mercantilism and Capitalism certainly devolved power, but the limit there has been to let those who benefitied to attempt to keep their fiefdoms in check. So far, we've been good at breaking down those barriers... The Progressives are happy and believe that means Democracy is good and right, because, hey, people can vote, but forgetting that these other institutions need to be dealt with, and ultimately, the foundation is rotten. We are still a feudalistic society, based upon Rentier Capitalism... We still carry the contradictions of Feudalism into the modern Technological Capitalist stage of history (vs the Industrial phase which we've offshored).

Just like Capitalism isn't a mere natural state of economics and trade, neither is Democracy a natural state of voting. There is an underlying architecture to these things, and in this architecture are implicit (at the very least) assumptions regarding the very definition of Democracy itself, which excludes other forms of being considered Democracy.

Bourgeois Liberal Democracy is predicated upon self-interest, and an atomistic, individualistic principle of "Every Man a King", while the reality is quite different. Some kingdoms have a lot more wealth than other kingdoms, and they've used that wealth to sustain systemic control over other lesser lords, a fealty is demanded.

The alternatives that seem popular is merely more of the same feudalistic concepts (as espoused in modern American Libertarianism), more kingship... Without ever asking what it means to BE a King (and in our more enlightened era: a Queen).

Does the answer come from mere evolution within the system? Chipping away from the outside? At the edges? Does it come from partaking in it? Refusal to participate? Building alternatives below the radar?

We talk about the National Security State in other threads... At some point if any potential alternative rises up, we end up dealing with the same problems anywhere else, the National Security State will do what it must to maintain its hegemony over the populace using whatever means necessary: Propaganda, Education, Laws, Policing, Military.

We build up national myths surrounding our forms of government, and competing ideologies struggle within this form, some more restrictive of more direct forms of democracy and some less restrictive. Many times people are inconsistent in their approach to democracy: They love it when it works for them, but love to restrict their opponents when they can.

Democracy is a framework that is set, not in stone, but by its foundation in history, by evolving social mores, by the media and educational landscape of the populace inside of it.

Democracy is a field of battle, fought by humans, who have particular visions of the world embedded in them via historical constructs of social information sharing, of which, institutional information is part. Democracy is a form of institutionalism as are all socio-political forms of organization. If you cannot step outside the particular institution to critique it, and accept it as a sort of "invisible hand" a "natural state" and accept the implicit assumptions of its architecture, you will be forever enslaved by these assumptions.