Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas babies

People are so confident when they cite the decreasing social approbation of slavery as evidence of moral evolution, but, if we accept that life is a precious gift, and that incarnation is better than nothingness, then it naturally follows that a social system that encourages procreation is, in some essential way, superior to a social system that discourages procreation.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

As far as I can tell, Pynchon's novel

takes place in a universe where, at the moment when particle physics was being discovered, it turned out that the laws of physics were a couple of convolutions more complicated than the ones that people settled on. Working with string theory and the idea that there are an infinite number of laws of physics, Pynchon creates a more interesting place -- suggesting by counter-example that, as luck would have it, our particular universe is stuck with a particularly boring set of rules...

I generally avoid works of literature "hot off the presses": Bizarre conflations between the reading public and Poland aside, what kind of person deliberately walks into the jackbooted columns of a marketing "blitz"? New books pay for the advertising that nullifies the effects of the advertising for last year's literatry sensations, so, in a very real way, the extra expense of a new book drives down the prices of used books and I usually wait for a literary title to drop into the two dollar bin like ripe fruit, but I bought this one at an airport, when my mind was too soggy to work through the more ambitious reading that I had packed.

Further, I agree with Nabokov's comment that one cannot form an opinion about a serious novel before several readings: readers must know a novel well enough to hold its compositional elements before their eyes like a painting in order to asess that novel's success or failure. Some people are saying that "Against the Day" is a compositional nightmare, others are saying that it is a work of genius, but nobody other than Thomas Pynchon and his wife is sufficiently familiar with the book to form an intelligent opinion.

Nonetheless, I'm enjoying reading it, and it is quite consoling to think that, if we manage to destroy human life, there is plenty of other life on the planet, and if we manage to destroy the planet, there are plenty of other planets, and even if we manage to destroy the universe, there might just be plenty of other universes, too...

New wine for old trottels

A pleasant side effect of global climate change has been the abundance of marvelous new wines from ever-shifting lattitudes. New Zealand, Chile, Argenitina, Washington State, or Australia. Will Canadian Champagne be next? Antarctican Merlot? So, clearly, global climate change is not _all_ bad.

But it always cracks me up when rhetoric drunk people suggest that fighting Global Climate Change is important and "the stakes are the future of life on earth". Puh-leaze! Last time I checked, all sorts of life could do very well in all sorts of environments, and even the most apocalyptic radioactive nuclear winter models from my childhood did not manage to eradicate ants and beetles.

So the real concern, is, of course, one particularly self-assertive multicellular organism. And the marvelous thing about dialectics is that the universe is a self-correcting system and problems inevitably birth solutions. In fact, in this season of spirituality, let's ponder the odd linkage between the two primary issues confronting humanity: Is our civilization going to collapse because we are burning too many carbon based fuels? or will it collapse because we don't have enough carbon based fuels?

It seems a comedic set-piece for us to stand on the earth, a mere five miles above a red-hot burbling geothermal energy source, bathed the solar radiation from a proximitous star, and still wring our hands about an "energy crisis". What energy crisis? There is a "political crisis" -- a desparate effort to preserve an obsolete social hierarchy based on scarcity -- but the world is bursting with "energy".

After a couple glasses of Argentinian Malbec, I even believe that there is a high probability that a massively networked robotic technology will control the weather system and the tectonic plates to prevent many natural disasters. I also think that science guided by artificial intelligence software will lead to an almost infinite acceleration of knowledge and productivity, along with the complete obsolescence of a human economy based on scarcity. I believe that an army of robots will build free housing and prepare delicious meals for all people, who will spend their lives contemplating truth and beauty.

But, if it turns out that we can't meet the challenges -- well, the self-correcting universe will take care of that one, too, so there really isn't too much to worry about...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The real reason so many people deny the holocaust...

The best defense is a good offense.

When people deny that "the Germans killed 6 million Jews", they are absolutely correct. Killing on that scale would have been impossible without enthusiastic help from Croatians, Romanians, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Ukranians, Poles and French. By shifting the debate to the very existence of the Holocaust, non-German fascists have created a climate where energy is spent defending the obvious, rather than discovering the interesting, and the unexplored holocaustal contributions of different European countries pass into oblivion.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Iraq in perspective

The three-point plan for Iraq:

1. Kurdistan. The Sunnis put the kurds through Hell, so the Kurds should get their own state, as a client-State of the US, with the Western oil fields annexed to it, as reparations.

2. Greater Iran. The Sunnis put the Iranians through Hell, so the Iranians should get a loose political affiliation with the Shiite regions in the south.

3. Hell. The Sunnies should understand that, when you put another people through hell, there isn't much moral support when other people put you through hell. So, just like in The Man with No Name in "High Plains Drifter", we should rename the Sunni Triange "Hell", and only return with blasts whenever they seem to be emerging into some sort of social organization.

So this scenario has an inherent fairness: The Iranians are compensated for the Iran-Iraq war (where United States aid helped produce around a million extra casualties); the kurds are compensated for Sunni genocide; and the sunnis serve as a global object lesson for ethnic minorities not to exploit ethnic majorities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is it coming from God, or the other place?

In evaluating the quality of an thinker, the only significant question is whether their moral system drives them to concrete behaviors that negatively affect their interests. Is there anything more boring than seeing the chest-puffing primate drive for dominance wrap itself in intellectual clothing? On the surface, self-asserters have all the fun: They promote their interests and experience a giddy smirking pleasure at the moment when, after feeling the divine light trying to shine through the hole in their argument, they deliberately distract their interlocutors from following that hole to the light.

But, even without believing that Satanic behavior earns eternal Satanic company, every time a person ignores the divine light that contradicts their interests, their physical body ages and their face becomes slightly contorted. Observing this process, whether in "business" people, feminist intellectuals, or foreign policy wonks, is heart-wrenching.


is lot how I imagine the east block was ten years ago. The Serbians are in the process of emerging from a national nightmare, producing a city where, even on a dreary day, people are excited and happy to be alive. A general euphoria over the mundane is not a sustainable condition, and it is a privilege to observe it as a visitor.

Notes from travels

It turns out that some of the most hyperfeminine and attractive women are found in societies with ultra-masculine men. This is quite perplexing for American travelers, as the same societies that produce thuggish and brutal men also foster beguiling and wonderful women. As American men are stunned by the sheer attractiveness of foreign women, they should look into their hearts, and see that their own convoluted relationship with masculinity is balanced by an equally convoluted relationship with femininity among American women, and both have created a world where both men and women are passable employees, but neither group is a very acceptable spouse.