News Digest, 14th of October 2012

A few years ago, I installed a couple of ultrasonic buzzers in our attics to keep out animals.  The first year, it was quieter than usual — fewer bumps in the middle of the night by our furry friends.  Then, this year, I discovered a family of raccoons had taken up residence in the attic.

Call it affirmation of survival of the fittest except, in this case, it is a family of deaf raccoons that discovered a place to live peaceably under the roof of our house.

I found out that fact last night by opening the attic door and shouting at the raccons to be quiet.  The baby raccoons kept chasing each other until one of them must have smelled me and turned, catching the attention of the other two who turned and froze, too.

Waving my arms and making aggressive charging motions scared them off into the unreachable corners.

Well, at least there’ll be no more screaming at the top of my lungs and confirming to my neighbours that the crazy man next door is trying to commune with the dead again.

In robot news, more from the analysis of Heidegger’s Being and Time by Hubert L. Dreyfus…

“2. Comportment is adaptable and copes with the situation in a variety of ways. Carpenters do not hammer like robots.  Even in typing, which seems most reflex-like and automatic, the expert does not return to the home keys but strikes the next key from wherever the hand and fingers are at the time.  In such coping one responds on the basis of a vast past experience of what has happened in previous situations, or, more exactly, one’s comportment manifests dispositions that have been shaped by a vast amount of previous dealings, so that in most cases when we exercise these dispositions everything works the way it should.”

“4. If something goes wrong, people and higher animals are startled. Mechanisms and insects are never startled. People are startled because their activity is directed into the future even when they are not pursuing conscious goals.  Dasein is always ahead of itself.”

In other words, our actions/thoughts are based purely on the past while focused on the future.  No wonder we have no idea what we’re doing in the present moment.

In business news, UPS made a hostile bid for the company Space Exploration Technologies Corp, commonly known as SpaceX, now that SpaceX has demonstrated its near-Earth-orbit package delivery service is reliable.

Experts expect FedEx to make a competitive bid to prevent UPS from expanding its reaches to “infinity and beyond,” with FedEx merely wanting to “be there before there are customers to be there,” mainly the Earth-to-Moon route that international transportation corporations are watering at the mouth to sink their teeth into.

The UPS CEO denied that Felix Baumgartner would be vice president of dropoff service for the new SpaceX division, if their bid is accepted.

The bicycle messenger union has opened negotiations for a stratospheric drop and parachute deployment training center that could provide pinpoint hand-delivery of packages to customers in remote locations via sky-high balloon or dirigible.

Pickup of the delivery person is a major sticking point in the negotiations at this time.

Do Corporations Feel Pain?

During my status as a member of the corporate world, I observed behaviours that are grouped under the heading, ETHICS (imagine big echo in a cavernous chamber: ethics-ics-ics-ics…).

During my status as a person contemplating the universe from the comforts of a cabin in a suburban forest, ethics have become meaningless.

Banks feel no pain when they pay fines for bad ethical behaviour.

Same for monoculture crop dominating corporations when they allow food prices to escalate due to poor seed/crop/farm management practices.

We know that being a politician is a life of questionable ethics to begin with.

These — all of the statements above — are meaningless statements in the ever-evolving global economy.

People of marginal moral behaviour are acting to stay ahead of societal/cultural curbs on borderline criminal activity.

What are ethics?  I do not know but I can guess.

Is it my duty to require those around me to conform to a specific set of characteristics in order to interact with me?

If a corporation is not a person and cannot feel pain (or any emotion tied to our species), how can I train, educate, convince or coerce the corporation to put my species first and profit second?

The people who run and/or work for corporations are responsible for the activities of the corporation.  They may convince themselves that phrases like “code of ethics” and “corporate citizen” protect themselves in the name of the corporation.

We may convince ourselves that the marketplace regulates corporate behaviour, if corporate citizens do not or government agencies cannot, due to lack of jurisdictional authority, for example.

While observing life on another planetary body, I laugh at the ways we’ve convinced ourselves we are an advanced civilisation because we’ve found/reinvented new methods to teach each other to conform to so-called standards of behaviour in the form of ethics and morals.

We are puppies chasing our tails, going ’round in circles, too dizzy to see what’s really going on in our quest to perpetuate the species.

When I run out of things to do on this planet but there’s no easy way to leave, what’s next to occupy my time?

Observing our behaviour in order to impress my father is no longer an option for me, personally.

This transition in my life is hard to describe in a blog entry without resorting to childish habits of lashing out in pain and anger.

Instead, I sleep long stretches of the day, not worrying about whether I wake up, happy to see sunshine, rain, clouds, heat and cold in equal measure.

To see the past, present and future as one has taken me to this point.

We live in one galaxy — there are thousands, millions, billions more galaxies to imagine how semi-autonomous beings like ourselves live.

We can imagine that other beings are more advanced than we and have solved (or not solved) ecological resource allocation issues, assuming a level of behaviour we call intelligence.

Every part/activity of the universe may be said to have had its moment to exist in a unique condition — hydrogen, helium, water, fission, igneous, comet, cupid, tree.

My life, no matter how long, is the briefest of time.

I exist in comparison to everything else that is distinct from the stimulus/response barrier that separates me in the moment from the rest of the universe.

I cannot see my breath.  I cannot see my skin cells dying.  I do not see the change in my brain’s set of neuronal pathways.

“I” is a limited observational machine, neither omniscient nor omnipresent.

Therefore, I do not know everything even if I can assemble a team of people and a large set of resources to compute probable futures based on possible pasts.

Words that are meaningless today: I, corporation, morals, ethics, time.

Without meaning, pain does not exist.

Without pain, we do not exist.

Existence is a made-up word.

The illusion of this blog entry ends now

Exploring the Impossible, or Not Needing Permission to be Myself

As a leader, as a writer, as a thinker, as a tinkerer, I perform many roles, just like we all do.

The chameleon, the pleaser, the hater, the lover, the fearful, the fearless, the wonderer, the doer, the wanderer, the sitter, the sane, the psychopath, the peacenik, the warmonger, the nothing, the everything…

Conscious of who I am, sometimes conscious of who I’m trying to be when I’m not trying to be anything.

Aware that censorship is an integral part of who we are but also part of us we don’t need to nurture in every situation.

Perfectly imperfect.

We pick and choose our personality traits.

I love my subculture for what it gives people but it doesn’t give me everything I want, need, desire, pine for, resist, admire, or other cultural symbols we call words which represent ideas or meme sets.

For instance, there is the “Jenn,” a set of states of energy that morphs into meme sets we can call the dance instructor, sibling, student, Scentsy sales consultant and propulsion specialist, to name but a few.

When my wife and I are taking lessons and Jenn is instructing, an image pops into my head, something like this:

We may hide behind our costumes and masks but we can’t hide the fact we’re members of the same species, with all that entails.

It doesn’t matter if we live somewhere between Erie and Pittsburgh, PA, or on the roof of a stone hut in the middle of a metropolis.

In the latest incarnation of a consistent, coherent set of states of energy as “self,” I wonder if there is a correlation between the concept of being an adult and reacting to socially-approved news outlets yelling for my attention.

Is it more or less grownup to see that being an adult reacting to advert-driven corporations wanting my reaction and thus my focus on products/services that companies want to sell, spending some of their labour/investment credit to buy space next to information reportedly “fresh” and worth my moments analysing their value, both news and parallel product/service placement, is not in my best interest?

We can look together at the statement “without advertising, nothing happens,” and stir up dust from old volumes of thoughts, burning our eyes, drying our mouths and making us cough up informed opinions on the matter.

Or we can move on.

Not only is the universe infinite from our point of view but so are our opinions.  The more I look, the more I see that spending [any of] my time reacting to the output of news outlets, which, when I was a kid, was the only official source of information, is severely limiting my definition of self.

Sure, I can pretend to be sane in saying that I join others in the public square of ideas, shaping the dialogue, sharing the concept of being an adult/grownup leader of people who may or may not care what I have to say but must follow the rules I set forth for their participation in culture at large, despite (or in spite of) their subcultural beliefs.

Or I cannot.

Neither is this an either/or proposition.

I exist somewhere in-between.

Return to the example of Jenn.

Is she just a dance instructor?  No, of course not.  There is no such thing as “just a dance instructor” anywhere in this universe.  We are not one-purpose robots designed to physically represent a simple algorithm with one input, one calculation (or state change) and one output.

We are not a set of infinite states of energy, either.

We are all somewhere past 0, between 1 and ∞ (infinity).

Thus, it is time for me to move on past this blog to a place where I don’t have to appear sane; that is, no longer writing one symbol/word after another into a coherent string of symbols you interpret as phrases that fit into the structure of a sentence that, together with other sentence-like symbol sets, builds into paragraphs and wraps a bow around a new concept or idea per blog entry, sometimes in reaction to official news headlines, sometimes in reaction to other blogs, sometimes in reaction to and observation of sets of states of energy (birds, plants, raccoons) in the surrounding environment.

I want to pretend to be the happy, insane hermit in the woods, doing nothing practical or useful to the casual observer.

It is my right, giving permission to myself to step off the narrow path of life we designate as subcultural normality, an average I no longer want to perpetuate.

My happiness is not your happiness.

Pleasing others’ idea of self at the expense of being myself is no longer worth the cost.

The chameleon wants to take off his disguise, discard his mask, his costume and let himself go into the realm of the impossible, or at least stretch as far as he can to reach the event horizon and dissolve the self, merging with whatever is there that seems infinitely improbable, although mathematically computable and definitely not profitable.

At least for a little while, as long as I can perpetuate the belief in the self’s ability to nurture its social needs from within the universe of impossible ideas the self contains, including other selves that form a self-enclosed social structure, the perpetual motion machine of self-independence, leaving space for interface with other selves when the need for food, clothing, and shelter arises.

Just like the rest of us.