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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The N Word

In this freedom loving age when the right to bear arms or bear with harmful words is sacrosanct, there are naturally a few limits. We are free to hunt game and perform target practice with any kind of weapon, save for those devices that are a bit more radioactive in nature. Similarly, we can take verbal target practice at whomever we choose, except that we cannot use words that are similarly radioactive. Take the N word for instance, an utterance whose fallout is so great it can only be mentioned miles away from earshot or snapshot, preferably in desert locations that are far from comedy clubs or the office.

N words can be defined as words that don't just insult their target, but everybody who is close to or shares something in common with that target. Thus an N word does not insult a few, but thousands, and without limits can insult the very human race! Of course, we as a civilized people cannot abide by such things, and we impose sanctions against those who develop or use such deadly malapropisms. Given the fact that N words are so dangerous, we keep their usage in check by mutually assured destruction, of the 'same to you mutha' variety. Nonetheless, N words do have some value if they are properly constructed. A special class of N words, or tactical N words, keep their destructive range to a reasonable level, and are Ok in special circumstances. Catch phrases like 'you SOB', or 'your mother wears combat boots' keep fallout to a minimal level of friends and family, but are still used too often as a rather overcompensating retaliation to the more primitive slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Tactical N words have the same destructive power as F words, except that the latter is not radioactive. It is also worth noting that used indiscriminately, N and F words cause their subjects to mutate, and become immune to such repetitive taunts. Ironically, these mutated creatures develop a keen defense mechanism towards all this verbal explosiveness. Some call it a sense of humor.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Modest Solution to some Modern Problems

In the 18th century (or every century, come to think of it), England had a problem with the Irish. The satirist Jonathan Swift, who lived in Dublin at the time, suggested in an ironic vein Marie Antoinette would later un-ironically mimic, 'let them eat kids!' Of course, serving up Irish orphans like suckling pigs was a satirical hint that English policy at the time was wrong headed, yet some English didn't get the joke, and applauded Swift's sardonic solution, to his horror.

Fast forward to the modern era, and we're still cooking up solutions to our problems that common sense wisdom would far better serve. In other words, the psychology that suits us common folks suits folks elsewhere even if their situations seem less than common. Consider these three common sense maxims. One, the more stuff you have and have to look forward to, the less likely you will be to blow yourself and other people up.Two, you can't do mischief if you are properly supervised. Three, if you are going to threaten to use force on your disobedient 5 to 55 year old, make sure that you back it up.

Now lets apply these three universal maxims to our favorite crisis du jour: the Middle East.

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Simply put, the Palestinians don't have stuff, while the Israelis do, and because the Palestinians are continually reminded of the stuff they used to have that the Israelis took, they are naturally somewhat riotous and explosive.

Solution: give the Palestinians some stuff. For a fraction of the zillion or so dollars we have spent in the middle east, we can build for them lots of luxury condos in the west bank and Gaza, and fill them with modern day goodies like i pods and plasma TV's. Then give full scholarships to Palestinian youth so they can spend their college days at the Sorbonne in Paris. With all this stuff, the Palestinians will learn how to waste time rather than laying waste all the time.


Simply put, the Sunnis open their eggs from the top, and Shiites open their eggs from the bottom. This is ample enough reason for them to hate each other. (for more on this read Gulliver's travelogues on similar diminutive cultures) Logically, there's is no simple resolution for this problem, since all enlightened people know that eggs are best scrambled. Presently, the only solution we have is to send in at least 300 million more troops to keep an eye on these egg sucking idiots. So why not proverbially speaking move Muhammad to the mountain, and remove the Iraqis to here where we can keep a better eye on them?

Solution: Give the Iraqi's visas, and let them come to the land of the brave and home of the free. Give them all the chicken plucking jobs that are going begging, and let them stick around if they don't blow anything up in ten years. Meanwhile, we can keep a sharp eye on them, and show them a better way to make an omelet.


Simply put, Iran is like the Animal House fraternity on campus, always trying to blow things up. Currently, Iran is on double secret probation, which means of course nothing to these clowns.

Solution: Land a stealth saucer in the middle of a baseball park in Tehran. And with George Bush and his robot side kick (actually Donald Rumsfeld in body armor), tell them that they have one week to get rid of their firecrackers of mass destruction, otherwise they will get a bid dose of, you guessed it, mass destruction.

That's it. Follow these simple suggestions, and we will have peace in our time.You can send my Nobel Peace Prize to my mailing address.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cinderella and her effects

Although nature is subtle, it is never perverse, though it often seems perverse if you can't recognize that nature is, well, subtle. (Now that was a rather perverse sentence!) All the great minds in science have known this, and have made scientific hay by closely observing nature's sleight of hand. From Newton's apple to Einstein's speeding trolley cars, the greatest ideas came first as mind experiments, but proving them was another matter entirely. In other words, the proof of the pudding is not in its making, but in the actual proofs one had to construct to show that a simple observation makes logical as well as practical sense.

Among the sciences, the science of mind or psychology is no different. Just observe behavior closely enough, and you will observe the makings of magic. Consider this mind, or should I say hand experiment.

Lightly clench your fist, now keep it clenched for 15 minutes. At first you will feel nothing, but as time goes on your muscles will tire and give out, and this otherwise innocuous behavior becomes quite painful. Whenever a muscle or group of muscles are tensed and stay tensed, they will soon give out and recruit other muscles to literally take up the slack, resulting in an equally literal pain in the neck. This observation is called the Cinderella Effect, named after the fairy tale character who was first to rise and last to sleep, all the while slaving about the house meeting the demands of her evil stepmother and half witted step sisters.

There is a lot to learn from this fable, since we spend our days trying to reconcile the half-witted demands of a distraction filled world. A distractive event is simply a choice or option that is attractive not because it is a rational, but because it feels good to choose it or even consider choosing it. Whether it represents the pleasure found in the novelty of checking for new emails, hearing new gossip, reading the newspaper, or hankering after an ice cream cone, being torn between doing what you ought and doing what you oughtn't causes slight tension that stays sustained as we move from one distraction to another. The result is, you guessed it, a feeling of exhaustion, muscular soreness, and otherwise malaise that is your just reward for a hard day at the office affectively doing everything but effectively doing nothing.

So what's the solution? Simple, just put off considering any distractions to certain times of the day, and if you feel overworked, just sit and rest. Indeed, prove it to yourself by simply performing a daily count of all the instances during the day that you surrender to the clarion call of web surfing, chatting, and the myriad distractors that make modern life so swell. You will soon note that relaxation occurs when distractions are held to a minimum. This of course is not rocket science, not because it is obvious but because it has not been logically proven. But as a practical matter, it is all you need.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Walking the Planck (or ok stanson, you win)

Our modern era, compared to the the cosmic scale of things, is a most minute time frame. Give a cosmic blink, or not even that, and its gone. Indeed, the universe will go on and on for trillions more years, making our intellectual baggage the merest glint in a billionth billionth of a fraction of eternity. Yet it may be argued that, for good or ill, as the universe evolves or computes away into infinity, it will still have its M TV. That is, universal standards of consciousness will be not consciousness raising, but rather a simple maintenance of the consciousness status quo.

Consider the standards that makes up the stuff of the universe, from the laws of gravity to the physical constants that make up matter and energy. The physical laws that govern the universe have never evolved, but rather were determined quite by chance it seems in a similarly minuscule time frame, or Planck Era. The Planck time is but 5.4 x 10-44 seconds, but during that time, all the physical constants of the universe were worked out. So whether you could make the argument that gravity should have been a bit weaker or light a little faster, there is nothing we or the universe can do about it.

As humans, our Planck moment is more likely a walking the plank moment, as we are well on our way to doing ourselves 'in' in the next few hundred years. By that time, our computers, which will take this all in, will spread out across the void, leaving behind new constants that will be the foundation of an information universe. And what will that universe be like, and what will it think? It won't be boring things like light displays or sitting around talking with your relatives of future and past. Chances are, it will think of the same emotional rollercoaster of job, family, and friends that makes our little lives so irritating but also so precious. And as the universe thinks about all these things, it will know that there is nothing it can do about it.