Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

so you think you're an anarchist?

Hmmm, Bilderberg in Switzerland . . . Alex Jones wants a protest, of course:

And, of course, Europeans don't know Alex Jones, but I find some of their responses puzzling. Two from this forum:

1. "I don't know who Alex Jones is, but he asks me to protest against a group that came up with the ideas for the EU and the carbon tax. I like the EU and the carbon tax ideas... but I like his line 'in the remote village of St. Moritz'."

Um, yes, remote to the rest of the world, though I know the Swiss hate to think globally. And, um, the point is not the policies, but their source. Agreeable policies laid down by an authoritarian force is the way all dictatorships arise (Hitler, Mussolini, Quaddaffi, . . . ). Maybe the Swiss are just so ready for slavery, they don't care if they have any say in their own domestic affairs (um, so why resist the Euro? Do you even know your own country's policies?).

2. "Someone has to be in charge, so why not our elected people taking advice from a group of unelected experts?

If you are British, do you remember Prime Minister Edward Heath twisting the Queen's arm and making her sign up for the EU? She wasn't elected either. Did you protest at that? No.

Haven't the IMF and World Bank been "lending" money to the elected governments of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland ? Did you protest at that? No.

Has the world changed since President W. Bush went to Evian? A friend of mine is a Swiss union leader, her son is an anarchist. They both went to Geneva to protest, and were both beaten up by the Geneva police, both requiring hospital treatment. Did that change anything? No.

Sorry I won't be going. Save yourself the train fares and watch it on TV."

Um, so I don't protest either. And I also don't think it changes anything in general. But the attitude here seems to be, let it all slide. Other people are in control, deal with that. Seems unacceptable to me. I may not believe in protests, but I'm not a fatalist. And I may think those who protest are naive, but I'm not going to ridicule them for getting beat up.

And why the fuck are we fighting in Libya?

Um, cause if we don't oust Quaddaffi, then we "lose"? WTF?!?!?!?

Monday, June 6, 2011

on inception

Lucid dreams can sometimes produce the illusion of reality. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), for example, was based on a series of articles about young men who experienced terrifying dreams, refused to go to sleep, and later died in their sleep. For them, the terror of their dreams became so real it killed them.

More recently, Inception (2010) used a similar setup (entering the dreams of others) in order to explore the possibility of an idea being implanted in one's subconsciousness while one was asleep and dreaming (the "inception" of the title). In this more focused investigation, it is argued that dreams within dreams ("deeper levels" of dreaming) provide access to deeper levels of the subconscious, and thus facilitate the planting of a new idea.

I've experienced dreams within dreams on several occasions, and there are two features of the phenomenon which Inception certainly got right: 1. the dream within a dream tends to be more surreal / bizarre / "unrealistic"; 2. after waking from it, there is a feeling of reality, one has just woken up, which may then be subverted by further dream weirdness. This is a feature which has been exploited to great effect in a variety of places in popular culture—not just the aforementioned movies, but also genre pieces such as Neil Gaiman's Sandman (e.g. the character trapped in an eternal sequence of nightmare wakings at the end of issue #1).

But there is a weakness with the dream within dream approach to inception—if one does succeed in convincing oneself that one is awake, then whatever is remembered of the levels of dreaming that had occurred is judged a part of dream land.

Compare this with another phenomenon: dreaming about dreams. Suppose for example, one experiences a rather vivid and lucid dream, which closely adheres to an actual event, changing it in relatively small respects. Then suppose, as sometime happens, after brief awakening, one dreams a more surreal and bizarre dream, a subconscious response to the incidents of the earlier one. When one awakes from the second dream, the certainty that one is in fact awake, and that the preceding events were in fact dreamed, is not evidence against the reality of the previous dream (in the way it is when dreams are embedded). In fact, if the second dream was sufficiently vivid, one can become uncertain about whether the incidents which inspired it were produced by reality or a previous dream . . .

Of course, the effect depends crucially on the plausibility of the first dream. The essential point here is just that arbitrarily plausible embedded dreams receive an evidential refutation which arbitrarily plausible dream-inspiring dreams do not. Suggestion for a future inception technique?

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Eating is the only form of professionalism most people ever attain.

~ Don Delillo (1985) White Noise

Wednesday, June 1, 2011