Monday, 29 August 2016

The Body Problem: withstanding the test of time

Presentism is the philosophy that no time exists but the present, that the past ceases to exist as soon as it is no longer the present, and that the future has yet to exist until such time as it becomes the present. For a long time I believed this concept without having a name for it. It is a tautology once made necessary by the unknowable, which makes the impossibility of time travel logical in the converse simple fashion that a mortal human's incomprehension of infinity makes room for all sorts of assumptions by default of their invisibility, including the Creator personified and a place beyond temporality where He and his chosen can hang.

Contrasting this with Eternalism, which says that the past & future exist such that time travel is theoretically possible, still the human would require a lifespan of such length that the acceleration necessary could be gradual enough to be withstood by the human host — assuming traveling near the speed of light is the most plausible way for flesh to reach the future more quickly than the standard speed of time.

To my limited way of understanding, Presentism matches neatly with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, one of several attempts to explain the observable vs. non-observable aspect of quantum behavior being at odds with itself, whereby the non-existent future corresponds to a particle before it is measurably observed and the non-existent past to the same after this measurement has taken place.

(Constructing the previous sentence brought to mind something I stumble over trying to get my head around movement in time and our expressions for it, and how it puts on the tip of my tongue a notion regarding a certain semantical sameness of the future & the past.)

What then matches neatly with Eternalism? Enter Everett's many worlds interpretation. This typically gets explained by way of the implication that any possible past exists in its own parallel universe. One might argue that this lines up more accurately with the philosophy of the Growing Block Universe, wherein only the the existence of the future is forbidden, but this is one point where I cannot let go of the future.

It seems to me that when one discusses the existence of an infinite number of parallel universes, there is one factor I have yet to encounter that makes sense, if only by misconstrued default: For every quantum split there would be an occurrence of a comparable split at some point earlier, meaning the alternate realities that result in your being a history teacher in one world and an investment banker in another would not necessarily have matching timelines. In this sense, then, the decisive turn of events in World A that resulted in your attending Brown University may have in turn been the result of your having been born a few minutes earlier than in World B.

If we extrapolate from this an infinite number of anything's opening the door to every version imaginable and then some, then there are several simulations of World A happening at every point along the timeline of the meta-verse — if such a meta-timeline exists.

And this brings us back to the question of time travel, or if indeed it might be more feasible to hop into the parallel universe identical in every way to your own save for its having occurred minutes, months, or millennia earlier or later than the one you are living in now.

Friday, 12 August 2016

The really gross domestic product of the Image Nation



Wow. At first I simply noted to myself that, in this attempt to parody multiple American clichés, on a meta level Christoph Waltz is doing a real-time self-parody of the actor who's become a multi-millionaire and, money never being enough, uses his talent to sell some culture infecting piece of crap and the toxic behavior that goes along with it for a sum of money he for a long time now doesn't need in the least:  The Sellout.

Sticking around for the whole ad, however, it's hard to imagine a more offensive premise than the one threading its way through this body waste. Given we're talking about advertising, that's saying a lot.

Relevant here is that Waltz is depicting himself throughout all the costume changes. Whenever he appears in some garb, it's to make a point in answer to his previously posed question, "What has that tireless ambition ever got you, America?"

The few bits that stick out most are when, dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier, the actor remarks, "You built your own country from nothing."  Given the erudite Austrian actor's, in all likelihood, knowledge of historical genocide, it is hard to imagine that the fate of the Native American did not at least briefly come to mind before he heard the word "Cut!" and moved on to the next scene. And it didn't strike me that he was referring to slaves and their awe inspiring co-production work.

When he reacts to his own assertion that "Yes, you're responsible for modern democracy," not with a roll of the eyes but an ostensibly earnest concession, "Well, that's kind of a big one," it forgoes the opportunity to be a parody of the American who actually believes his own bullshit and moves into the realm of Christoph Waltz' actually believing himself that, "Sure, you're the greatest, most influential nation in the world... where dreams come true."

Influential dreams or infectious nightmares, the satire of the sellout, whose self-destruction is only preceded by its would-be destruction of everyone else. Embodying phony values flowing forever outward towards stores some people have no choice but to get lost in.
h/t to South Korea and multinational corporations


Being a theater guy, Waltz is probably aware of Harold Pinter. Here he gives the best Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech that I'm aware of, and it was for the prize for literature, not peace. It is germane to the above, laying waste to the advertised bullet points.  Would that more people were receptive to these truths – or that they were greater worthy of self-evident status. Unfortunately the images of advertising rule the realness of the lies they tell.  Even when we don't believe what's being told.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Trump wrecklessly employs Clintonian rhetoric to co-opt SCotUS argument

Evidence of the more extremely qualified nature of Hillary Clinton comes by way of her so-called opponent (aka candidate who in spite of any estimable future reality could become president):
"If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know."

The allusion to the conceivable murder of an adversary by gun is clear, just as was candidate Clinton's original, which came the last time she was in the running for the same office when she justified remaining in the Democratic race by reminding those li$tening that her husband in 1992 hadn't captured the nomination until June in California, adding, "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."


Nevertheless, her shot was so much more skillfully put.  First, she employed the passive voice, avoiding the appearance of having called upon potential perpetrators discretely.  This aptitude for language in politics is crucial to executing the power of the office they seek, while maintaining control of its requisite chaos.  Why, Trump doesn't even know what the passive voice is.

Second, unlike Trump, she was not referring to the potential of a resentful element taking the law into its own hands to prevent their paranoid fantasy's coming to life, but simply reminding a few influential friends with benefits along with her party's shakers that, in addition to being within easy electoral reach of her primary opponent, one of the many ways said opponent could falter might be exiting through the kitchen door before the dirty dishes had been cleared.

By comparison, Donald Trump's reference to "Second Amendment people" is so unsophisticated as to qualify the use of the word "dangerous" to describe it.  Given his one-time status as Clinton family friend with benefits, one wonders how he could be so sloppy.  He certainly doesn't come off as presidential.

Again, Clinton uses the language to signal those who help manage strict order and underwrite the American project, while Trump manages to use it to get his detractors as worked up as his supporters — for yucks or shocks or who knows what the hell for.  Clinton's comment was about the deadly serious issue of seizing the nomination for President.  Trump has long had the nomination wrapped up, and still he doesn't seem to take anything seriously enough to get the occasional good press.  All he does is scare supporters away.  Puzzling, to say the least.

What if Donald Trump were called upon to justify his prior vote for an unpopular war, or having supported a putatively pernicious trade agreement or seemingly creepy crime bill?

Not only is he not in the possession of foresight to have a non-apology issued through his spouse, he certainly does not have the capacity to start the next war, let alone does he have the ability to parse the language just so in order to give the Congress the cover needed to close the deal on the next trade agreement.

Can you seriously imagine him surrounding himself with the right people to effectively evolve the definition of threats to democracy and eliminate them with extreme prejudice in a way that is sustainable?

I'm sorry, it's not enough to appear racist when you're so gauche.  On his watch the war on terror would be over before you could say Shoah!  In a Commander in Chief, we need someone at the helm who can make the nation's wars also the next president's responsibility.

Anyway, given the volume and sources of cash the Clinton campaign has been receiving, she must be doing something better than he is.  One can only hope that Trump's attempt to steal the Democratic party's final trump card, the SCotUS argument, backfires.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Exit LEBOWSKI

The Don desires yond someday Melania
Shall seeth to survive on h'r allowance,
Which is ample. But if 't be true the
Lady doest not, 'tis h'r problem— not his.


David Huddleston 1930—2016

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sue aside.. .

I think under certain circumstances the taking of one's own life is the bravest thing a person can do. I also think that under the same circumstances that deciding not to take one's own life is the bravest thing a person can do. This is not a contradiction. Both are equally brave in that simply having faced the decision and decided one way or the other* is the boldest behavior, in a heroic sense.

I say this now because I have had friends who have been reckoned to've ended their own lives. Oddly, it seems to me, there were not only loved ones of the deceased with the fixed inclination toward ruling out the possibility, I suppose sometimes out of denial, but there were others, as well, who seemed set in the belief that it was surely suicide, not only those who felt they were facing the truth, as each case may be, but with a titillating taste of morbid reassurance.

Now, I am not heroic. If I had had over the course of time a foolproof means to end it all, I doubt I'd be here. The fear of failure, however, a resulting disability, or of being caught, has governed any such thoughts. In this sense I have never really made a decision to go on living so much as *reached a default position. I'll bet you anything that there are a billion more like me.

Now I guess one surefire method would be to climb to the top of somewhere quite high and leap to the glorious death afforded one who gets to feel that rush all the way down. But being rabidly opposed to bombing people, I cannot help fear that last act's ending as hypocrisy from on high.

Regarding living in a heroic sense, if I were truly bold I would risk being thought utterly mad and climb to the top of somewhere quite high and scream to everyone what I really think. And I'd never stop.