The White Whale Laughs Last
“Movies are about telling the same lies over and over again,” Michael says at one point. “You know, good beats evil, things happen for a reason, attractive people are interesting.”
- Grand Theft Auto V Is a Return to the Comedy of Violence
Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?
- Tim Leary
The only way really to understand your position and its worth is to understand the opposite. That doesn’t mean the crazy guy on the radio who is spewing hate, it means the decent human truths of all the people who feel the need to listen to that guy. You are connected to those people.
- Joss Whedon’s commencement address at Wesleyan University. (via Fresser)
His essential claim is that there is no great gulf between nonliving, unconscious gizmos like computers and light switches, on the one hand, and the human brain, on the other. Our strong feeling that there’s something special and inexplicable about consciousness is largely an illusion. It will fade as science advances, like the illusion that the Earth is the center of the universe and everything revolves around us. Biologists used to believe that living things are made of some special material, some elan vital that sets us apart from the stuff of rocks and minerals. Now that we know about DNA, we no longer need an elan vital. Someday we won’t need consciousness either. There’s no metaphysical difference between your body and your mind, or between your laptop and your necktop, so to speak.
- Is the Brain No Different From a Light Switch? The Uncomfortable Ideas of the Philosopher Daniel Dennett
Mochizuki has reported all this progress for years, but where is he going? This “inter-universal geometer,” this possible genius, may have found the key that would redefine number theory as we know it. He has, perhaps, charted a new path into the dark unknown of mathematics. But for now, his footsteps are untraceable. Wherever he is going, he seems to be travelling alone.
- The Paradox of the Proof
before
You lose people and then you find them and then you lose them again. That's all I know. I can't show you where to go. I can only hold on to you as long as I can before I lose you.
The title of this article was written by Mark V. Shaney. Mark was a member of a UseNet News group called net.singles, a users group chock full of dating tips, lonely heart chatter, frank discussions of sexual problems and high tech missionary gospel about the sins of premarital smut-typing. Mr Shaney was a little goofy but he was always there. He chimed in with poetic opinions on romantic empathy: “As I’ve commented before, really relating to someone involves standing next to impossible.” And he had a great Groucho Marx sense of humor: “One morning I shot an elephant in my arms and kissed him. So it was too small for a pill? Well, it was too small for a while.” And his idea of a good closing was: “Oh, sorry. Nevermind. I am afraid of it becoming another island in a nice suit.” _–_–_–_-Mark

Who is Mark V. Shaney? Some people on the Net thought he was smart and sensitive, some thought he was on drugs, many had him pegged as just another nut. But they never guessed that Mark V. Shaney was lines of code written by rob and brucee running on a Bell Labs computer. Mark Shaney program read all the messages in the group and spit messages back into the Net. The human net.singles didn’t catch the pesky little binary corespondent because of all the real nuts in this users group who were misdirecting -real honest to goodness damaged flesh and blood neural-nets spewing crazy flames all the time. And what if – “I spent an interesting evening recently with a grain of salt” was signed “Bob Dylan?” No one thought old Bobby was a program when he wrote – “He screams back you’re a cow, give me some milk or else go home.”
- I Spent an Interesting Evening Recently with a Grain of Salt via Fresser via Dan Catt
You gotta walk that lonesome valley,
You gotta walk it by yourself,
Nobody here can walk it for you,
You gotta walk it by yourself.
- Lonesome Valley by Woody Guthrie
This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a "posthuman" stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.
- Are you living in a computer simulation - Nick Bostrom
Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.
- The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent, The New York Times
But with Spanner, Google discarded the NTP in favor of its own timing-keeping mechanism. It’s called the TrueTime API. “We wanted something that we were confident in,” Fikes says. “It’s a time reference that’s owned by Google.”
- Inside Google Spanner, the Largest Single Database on Earth, Wired
Does Alexander know that DMT already exists in the brain as a neurotransmitter? Did his brain experience a surge of DMT release during his coma? This is pure speculation, of course, but it is a far more credible hypothesis than that his cortex “shut down,” freeing his soul to travel to another dimension.
- This Must Be Heaven by Sam Harris, Newsweek
But what too few people fail to note when they start with the Xenu talk or fallaciously claim that it's a pillar of the Church is that the majority of practicing Scientologists don't know the Xenu story. The Xenu story doesn’t come until the ultra-secret OT 3, which comes well after you’ve gone clear, which requires tens of thousands of dollars of auditing and courses and can take decades.
- Scientology and Me, Part Two: What Scientologists Actually Believe, The Hairpin
The weird idea that the titans of investment banking are the smartest people on the planet continues to persist, even among people who ought to know better.
- Financiers Still Aren’t Rocket Scientists, Science Blogs
Schizophrenia Man
One of the hardest challenges with life is dealing with the schizophrenia of the nature of human culture, which is at once an illusion, and also the most powerful, and real, force in a human's life, juxtaposed against the greater reality of the natural world. The physical forces which humor are attempts to manipulate them, but ultimately are always more powerful.

On the one hand, the urge is to walk away from the illusion of human culture, but that also means eschewing the protection it provides against the natural world. Man is a fragile beast, made even more fragile by the evolution of culture. So the trick then, is how to find the seam between those two worlds where they are working together. Not a small feat.
What's my place in it all? #questionsevenmymomcantanswer
- Lena Dunham
Breaking Habits Hurts
Of the many weakness of the 'human system', one is that breaking habits is hard to do. It physically hurts. So once a unhealthy habit is in place, even if it is causing harm to the individual, its still very difficult to change. Which, in a culture that is built to benefit from bad habits, leads problems.
Fan death is a widely held belief in South Korea that an electric fan left running overnight in a closed room can cause the death of those sleeping inside. All fans sold in South Korea come with an automatic timer that turns the fan off after a certain number of minutes. Scientific consensus holds that fan death is a myth.
- Fan death - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (via Fresser)
This too shall pass. View the full archive.