Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A Whale of a Tale

This is a story from a long time ago... well, in internet terms that is.  There was a story on the news about a whale who had lost its way and found itself stuck in a river.  Humans spent a few weeks trying desperately to lead the whale out of the river, back to the ocean where it belonged and where they assumed it really wanted to be.  It fought them at every turn, like it was drive to go the wrong way.  Though, just now looking for the story, it appears to be a common story, which I think goes on to prove my point...


There was endless speculation on the news about how the whale got there.  Well, not so much How, but Why/What.  What caused it to get lost?  Why did it end up so far from home?  What could we do to fix the problem?  What did we do to cause the problem?  Was there too much electromagnetic distortion in the air which messed up its internal navigation system?  Some sound we were making that attracted the whale, making it think there were more of its kind up the river?  Did we pollute too much causing it to run in the wrong direction?  Every question had the underlying assumption that Humans were the cause and therefore Humans had the responsibility to rectify the situation.  The story bothered me.

I've often wondered what first alien contact would be like.  Would they land here, come out and greet us as equals, or give us great technological advances?  Solve all of our problems?  Or would we go out there and meet them amongst the stars?  In this second case, we might be ahead of them and we could help them advance, or they might look at us as peers and share what they have learned!  It will be such a glorious day, just the thought of it would keep me awake at night.

Then I read something that changed my view - if there were any aliens nearby, we would be more separated by time than space; they would be millions or billions of years ahead of us.  It would be like us meet worms and trying to teach them technology - just wouldn't happen.

Hence, why the whale story bothered me.  The most likely case if we meet aliens, it would be like how we treat these great whale explorers.  They are the Magellans of their species, every other whale knows their names and cheers them to push the boundaries and explore uncharted waters!  Then Humans come along, and Humans obviously know what is going on, so Humans try so hard to "fix" the situation and put the whale back where it belongs.

So, I think when we of this planet meet an alien race, they will be as smug as the Humans (probably a billion years more smug), and feel that they would be helping out by sending the Human ship back to its planet, because it is obvious that they didn't know what they were getting into and just got lost, probably due to some advanced alien signaling system that caught their eye or they saw as an invitation to go into space.  And the aliens will be happy when they confine all of us to this planet, for our own protection, because they do not want us to beach ourselves on their shores.

The Edward

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Nicolas Cage Effect

First off, in my real life, I sell myself off as a programmer, mostly because it would be too hard to self my real skills most any other way.  But I often find that people do not really think of programmers as real people, but merely as interchangeable cogs in a semantic way.  Here is my latest way to explain it:

Image you are a producer or director of movies.  A hot new script has landed on your lap - it is a recently found Shakespearean play and you own the rights!  Who is the first person you think to cast in it?  Nicolas Cage?  Probably not - probably a well known Shakespearean actor, even if you had to dig one up.

A second hot script lands on your lap - this one is an action movie with a quirky main character...  Nicolas Cage and you have a blockbuster on your hands, my friend.

So, say you have Nic's contract in your hot little hands, what do you do with him?  You know he is the only one for certain roles - you can see it in your mind's eye.  If you image casting him in other less Nic-like movies, you can also image not being successful in the movie industry and being drummed out of town like a common pygmy.  If you casted Nic in the Shakespearean movie and it bombed, would you blame Nic?  No, he is an expert at being Nicolas Cage in movies, so you would be the fool for miscasting.

Now, apply this to programmers.  I'm an expert in my field.  People see my resume and want me on their team.  Once hired, they try to cast me as a generic programmer, "It is code, why can not any programmer knock any piece of code out of the park, monkey boy?  And being a name in the industry, we expect you to excel at any piece of code we throw at you - you are The Edward!"  But really, it is the Nicolas Cage Effect.

Just because one is very good at something, extrapolating that something out to the most generic definition just screams of General Semantic errors.  It is like call certain things "junk food", the word "food" is there, so therefore I can use it as a substitute for the general class of foods.  If you are looking for Nicolas Cage and need Nicolas Cage and use him in a Nicolas Cage kind of way, I smell the sound of success!  If not...  doom!

The Edward

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

More than you can imagine...

There is a song that I enjoy listening to (adding my list of favorite videos on the right side of this blog got me thinking about music) called Less Talk More Rokk by Freezepop.  Very cool song that was featured in Guitar Hero.  Every time I hear the song though, I have to laugh because of this line "We're dancing like we've never danced before."

I'm never quite sure what they mean in that line:  1) the music was so motivating that the skill level displayed in their dancing had so far exceeded their past performances that it was worthy of mentioning, or 2) the music was so kick-ass that it stunned them, frying their brains to the point that their motions were that of someone trying to dance for the first time in their lives ever only to flail around looking like idiots.  I picture the second one, hence the laugh... though, since I already had stated that I laughed, the second one was probably implied.  Or maybe I was laughing at the dual nature of the sentence, in general?

Which leads to having more fun than you can imagine.  Does this new sentence imply that I am having so much fun that it is overwhelming to others, or that everyone else would perceive me as having a small amount of fun but your lack of imagination is so great is it more than you could possibly fit into your head?

Today is the greatest day of your life!  It implies that today will be better than any other day you have experienced so far.  But most people also assume it implies better than any future days as well, hence "best".  But, it could also mean not only will today be the best so far, you will also die today, therefore making it the best, not just "the best so far."

I hope all your dreams come true!

The Edward

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wrong Map

I started reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" the other day, something I've put off for 20-ish years, and found something interesting.  Lately, I've become very frustrated with aspects of my Life, but I couldn't come up with a "Why".  The more I ventured out, the more I saw what was wrong with The World, so the more I wanted to stay inside and avoid it.  But within the first few chapters of the book, the author talked about inward vs outward focus, which caused me to change the way I see the world - I realized that I had the wrong map!  And all it took was someone outside of me to tell me that!

As I am fond of thinking of saying, "The map is not the territory."  I would look around me all day long and ask myself "Why?", though usually with more exclamation points.  "Why did that person cut me off on the highway, couldn't they see that if they made some minor change, all of us could have gotten to our destinations faster?"  "Why did that person just do X, when clearly doing Y would have helped not only themselves, but everyone else involved?", would be a good summary.  Why, why, why - that was my day.  I wasn't get any answers, and it was getting very frustrating, because I love answers.  I mean, who doesn't?  Answers tell us everything!

After reading the part of the book I've read so far, I understood the source of my frustration - the wrong map.  In my mind, I had a Perfect Map.  If everyone behaved logically and for the best interest of all involved, things would go this way or that, but things didn't go that way.  As perfect as I thought my map was, it didn't show me reality, only what I wanted reality to be - my perfect version of it.  Kind of the point of this blog - things I do not understand about the world around me, because I couldn't match it to a place on my map.  My map was like an RPG vs real life - very clean and pristine vs dirty and ugly, kind of how I view The World vs the world.

When driving down the streets to "work", I used to notice all of the idiotic maneuvers of cars around me, because my map had these events highlighted as Points of Interest.  People who were rude to me, people who cut me off in line, the power going out in my house, my furnace not work - all of these things were labelled on my map as "Come See the Exciting Roadside Dinner - everything you want to see is right here!  Now with Extra Gravy!"

So, now I see The World differently!  I realize that there are two ways to go from here:  1) change my map to better match reality, or 2) get a bulldozer and take reality to task, remold the world to be what my map says it should be.  All of these choices that I suddenly have!

So far, I've been trying out step one - removing things from my map, change it to better match my surroundings, etc, and it has been working.  I can drive to work and still be happy.  The question is, will I continue down this path, or try out path two - I do love a good experiment...

The Edward

Friday, October 21, 2011

Today is a good day to...

I, like you, am a fan of Star Trek.  Not quite sure why, since realistically, they all sucked.  Sure, there are parts of each one that are okay, but overall, after 40+ years of it, how many really quality movies or episodes are there?  The one with the gaseous blob?  The one with the cheesy, heavy handed story?  The one that defies a logically consistent Universe?  The one where they go warp ten and turn into giant lizards but are saved because one of the women happened to be pregnant and the unborn baby had the cure?  Nah, just kidding, they all rock!  That's why we are all fans!

There is that Klingon saying that appears in a lot of episodes, "Today is a good day to die."  It implies that one has lived life to the fullest each and every day, all affairs are in order, didn't leave the oven on by accident this morning, I think I locked the front door, but did I let the cat out...  Well, you know what the saying really means.  But, what if it really was just a mistranslation?  With that wonderful segue:

Today is a good day to buy.  The Klingons were actually a renown race of shoppers, always willing to buy whatever was on sale that day.  The saying was to inform people that even though they valued the dollar, they know that "the economy" is defined as "the motion of money", so the best way for everyone to get rich and have a better standard of living was to buy.  Everyday.

Today is a good day to pry.  Sure, people hate nosy neighbors, but why?  Because they have something to hide, that's why!  Who knows what kind of insidious schemes they are planning to launch against proud, Klingon Warriors!  So, be sure to pry into your neighbors affairs as much as possible, every day perhaps, until you can find all of the dirt worth knowing about your neighbors.  Root through trashcans, payoff housekeepers, talk to their kids' friends - who knows what you will find!  Probably something that will save the world, so get crackin', for all are sakes!

Today is a good day to fry.  Wow, that one really hits home, so I'm guessing that is the most correct translation.  Every day is indeed a day to eat fried foods.  As we all know, evolution makes us crave that which makes us stronger, live longer.  If not, then we would all be dead by now.  And if we are religious people, what kind of god would make food that tastes so good without it being good for us?  Fried food, god's gift to man!  Evolution's answer to long life!

So go forth and live by the Klingon motto!  But, just to play it safe on which one they really mean, take a neighbor out for some tasty fried chicken and grill them.

The Edward

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Order

I realized something the other day.  I was finally able to put together a coherent picture of what I value in life, and I was at peace.

People who "know" me "know" that I like Chaos.  Hang around me and you will see that I sprinkle Chaos here and there for no apparent reason.  I like seeing things change in Chaotic ways.  I remember when I got my first and only speeding ticket, I was so happy that I laughed the whole way home, because my life had suddenly changed in a way that I couldn't predict.

But a friend once said to me that I didn't love Chaos, that it was all a sham.  Well, I thought that was odd, because I believe she was the one that said I reminded her of Loki.  She went on to say that if I loved Chaos, then I would love children, because they are bundles of Chaos.  That was indeed a puzzler for me, something that sat in the back of my mind for six-ish years now...  then I had the aforementioned realization!  She was right, I do not love Chaos, but love Order - I had just confused the two.

What I love is the appearance of Chaos.

It was once said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", which is something that I hold to be true.  My realization is that the same can be said about Order - "Any sufficiently advanced Order is indistinguishable from Chaos", and that is what I love.

There is this commercial that I love to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QctBJj3Ilhk  From the outside viewer all of the events appear Chaotic, but from the point of view of a really insightful person it is actually a very Ordered set of events.

All of this matches my actual World View - what I think of the gods people call "trickster gods", like Loki, is that people view them from the wrong point of view.  They are not evil or Chaotic, but so very Ordered that it is beyond the scope of normal Humans like us to understand.  There is a SciFi novel I read a long time ago in which there were a group of people that lived thousands of years and they would do things that would seem random to normal people, but for them had payoffs hundreds of years in the future.  I loved that story and have modeled my life around it.

Summary:  Chaos is not what you think, it is probably just Order with a depth outside of your level of experience.  And that is how I view Chaos, something that I do not understand, but somewhere, some being does and to him it appears as Order.

The Edward

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Power

When I was a kid, my brother and I read a lot of comic books.  I'm not sure if he read them for the same reason I did - they were prescribed for me.  The reading coach recommended them to my parents as a way to get me to start reading, in hopes of overcoming a problem, but that is too real world for this blog.  The important part, as always, is the comic books.

I read Richie Rich, The Archies, etc.  My brother read them as well, but he also read War-based comic books, which I didn't care for.  Every so often he pointed out interesting stories to me, by interesting I of course mean weird - even then, he knew I like unusual stuff... some people never change.

At the time, we both remembered every book we owned by the covers.  We could recall every story we had read, even though we had hundreds of books.  But after all of these years, there is only one story that really has stuck with me and it was one that my brother told me about from one of his War comics.  It was a story that changed my life.

The story was about a troop of men, they were supposed to pick up this one guy and transport him home.  He was a person who, when people heard his name, trembled in fear.  When they arrived at the spot to get him, they were shocked to find that he was dressed not in military gear, but in loose flowing clothes and only carrying two knifes, no guns or any real weapons.  He looked so passive and weak, that they didn't believe it was the person they were looking for.

They took him on the boat to take him home, but during the trip he was distant, never really talked with anyone.  They troop started making fun of him - they would pick on him, yet he never fought back.  They couldn't believe they were spending their time taking this loser home when they had a War to be fighting, and they were disheartened that this most feared person looked like a "queer".

The boat stops to take care of one last thing before going home and the whole troop gets captured.  They are facing overwhelming odds and knew they were all going to die or face a lifetime of torture.  Then the lone solider they were escorting snaps out of it and wields his knifes like an insane killing machine.  He slaughters all of enemies and when he gets to the last one on the edge of a cliff, the grabs him and jumps off the cliff taking the last enemy with him.  He saved the troop, killed all of the enemies, and killed himself in the process.

The troop was in shock (as was I - "Why did he have to die?", I asked).  They end up getting back to the base where they were to take the lone solider and there they hear his story.  He had become so good at killing that he went "insane" - he realized that there was no pointing killing, because no one could stand in his way.  He wasn't fighting the enemy, he was just slaughtering them like animals.  He changed his clothes, changed his look, and dropped out of this world mentally in hopes of not being challenged ever again.  When he had to give it up, he decided he would rather die than go back to his old life, so he did.

And that is my tale of Power.  Power so great that it has nothing to push against.  Power without equal leads to madness.

The Edward

PS  There was another story that has stuck with me as well, from a Richie Rich story.  I do not remember the details of the story other than one panel, but that one panel had a very powerful message for me as well.  Next time (or the time after next).