Someone Tell The Ark I Found His Beer Mug

To my friend The Ark: I found your favorite beer mug.  Looks like you smashed it somewhere in San Diego, must have been a crazy night!

 
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On a Labor Day excursion to San Diego, my girlfriend and I stopped by Balboa Park’s “Museum of Man”, a decidedly non-PC name for one of few museums dedicated to anthropology.  Among the mediocre exhibits on evolution and Mesoamerican culture containing mostly replicas and casts of artifacts, I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem.  Tucked into the gimmicky “Beerology” exhibit, undoubtedly set-up to draw visitors to the small and not-so-noteworthy museum, was an actual beer cup buried alongside Pharaoh Akhenaten in his tomb in Amarna.  We can pretty safely assume that the ‘first monotheist’ actually used this now gangrenous chalice to knock back his royal brewskies.  I know it’s pretty nerdy, but this unexpected encounter with an ancient man with whom I happen to have a slight fan-boy fascination made me a little giddy for a fleeting moment.  Anyways, I just thought I’d let the guy know his cup is waiting for him in SoCal if he wants to come pick it up sometime.

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Daily Show Sums Up America’s Biggest Problems

I’m usually not one to do a post like this, but this segment of The Daily Show just struck me as near genius. John Oliver, in Jon Stewart’s absence, teams with correspondent Jessica Williams to neatly sum up two of the biggest problems in America in a hilarious and deliciously ironic joke news segment that, as often happens on the show, is more relevant and topical than any other news show on the air.

If you’re short on time, I’d suggest the second video for the crux of the joke.

 

Support Independent Film!! and general weirdness!!!

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A good friend of mine and purveyor of alternate realities, the one and only Taylor Cohan, has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund an independent movie he is producing in New York City.  The movie tells the story of an awkward romance between two characters on the fringes of society who use one another in more ways than they realize.  The synopsis on the Kickstarter page goes like this…

Flushing Flush is a dramatic comedy about questionably autistic Eugene, and his happy ending masseuse Amy, and the unlikely bond formed between them when Eugene is fooled into helping Amy escape sex slavery.

The two have extremely distorted views of reality and are able to find comfort in one another. As their relationship grows, Amy regrets taking advantage of Eugene. She realizes that she has put him in serious danger and must make a big choice in order to find their happy ending…

If I know anything about the filmmaker (and I know alot more than I’d like to), I can tell you that this film is going to be an unsettling insight into a character that has a deeply distorted perspective of reality, and will have you questioning whether or not this person lies within some deeply buried part of your own personality.  Take a look at the teaser on the Kickstarter page and decide for yourself:

Flushing Flush Kickstarter

If that didn’t convince you, take a look at some of his other work, and that of his creative team:

Psychic Cheerleaders: Dawn of the New Age from Taylor Cohan on Vimeo.

Prom King from Taylor Cohan on Vimeo.

THE VIRGIN HEROD from Xander Robin on Vimeo.

Notice the man who’s falling apart is the man eating corn and sacrificing cheerleaders to Satan is the man who’s obsessed with dumplings and happy-endings from young asian masseuses.  Actor Michael Patrick puts his versatility to the test again with this new character, whom he’s bound to bring to life with unsettling believability.

If you’d like to support independent film or deeply disturbed individuals or both, please consider donating to the cause.  Any little bit helps, and there’s incentives for every donation, including Producer credits, a Blu-Ray of the final product, and even a short story about you written by the madman himself!

U.S. Healthcare is NOT a free market

“…the U.S. health care system doesn’t operate according to the standards of competition that govern other industries.”

If we Americans believe in the free market, why do we continuously let industries like healthcare and finance go unchecked by free market economics. Freedom in any form must be fought for, or did we forget that at some point?  It’s time to overthrow these economic tyrants and free these industries from authoritarianism.

The God of Solipsism

I’m bad at intros, so I’m just going to jump right into it.  This is an explanation of a theory I have that, in order for a solipsist to accept that the external world exists, he must believe in God.  Now this doesn’t have to be Yahweh, or any god in particular, it merely needs to serve the function that I am presenting.

If reality cannot be proven to be more than a construct of consciousness, then in order for the external world to exist independently of my consciousness, it must exist, in full, in some consciousness that is at a higher level than mine.  In this case, I am a figment of this higher consciousness’s imagination, as are all the people and beings that I encounter.

Another way to think of it: If I accept that the external world exists, then I must accept the existence of other minds, other minds that, like mine, cannot prove the existence of anything but their own minds.  So unless we are all actively constructing the universe collectively, than there is a mind outside the universe imagining the entirety of it.  Now there may be evidence of the former if we look at quantum mechanics in this light.  If we are all actively constructing the universe as we go, then the more we probe into the inner workings of the universe, the more we have to actively construct.  So you could see the anomalies and contradictions of quantum mechanics as our minds not being able to accurately construct all levels of the universe.  Since subatomic particles behave differently when they are being observed, this theory is entirely possible.  But if the latter is true, then we are simply pushing the bounds of what we can understand being figments of the imagined universe, and only God can fully understand it, if that.

This is not an original concept.  The illustration above represents one version of Hindu cosmology in which Brahma, sitting on a lotus flower that grows out of the navel of Vishnu, who rides on the back of a serpent in a primordial endless ocean (just ignore that part for now), dreams the universe.  Vedantic Hinduism claims that Brahma is all things, and that the universe we live in is Brahma’s dream, and the Atman (the individual self) is a manifestation of Brahma in his own dream.  Hinduism may be one of the oldest religions known to man, not to mention the oldest one still practiced today, yet even here we find the concept of solipsism giving rise to God (or Brahma).

Believe Everything (Believe Nothing)

I’ve started to notice in my online debates (I know, I’m so cool, right?) that I tend to send mixed messages as far as my actual viewpoint on the topic.  I somehow manage to defend and oppose both sides of the argument at the same time, which causes some confusion.  If I defend religion, or a religious person, in a debate, people assume that I am a religious person, at which point I have to clarify that I’m not really, but I’m interested in religion and religious debates.  In philosophical debates, I am often labelled as a solipsist because I pull the solipsism card alot.  People then go on to try to disprove solipsism to me, at which point I have to clarify that I’m not a solipsist really, but I think that solipsism is very possible, and so has to be taken into account when debating the nature of existence.  This has caused me to attempt to sit down and actually define my beliefs, which has been harder than it sounds.  It seems that most people (at least most bloggers) have a very well-defined set of beliefs that they defend in all of their posts and comments, so when they read something, they say something along the lines of ‘You are wrong or right for these reasons.’  But I find that most of my comments usually start with ‘I think…’ or ‘Maybe, but…’  or something along those lines.  I try to steer clear of asserting my opinions as facts, despite what my schoolteachers taught me about how to write an essay.  This may be my natural aversion to confrontation, as I find most blog debates quickly get heated, and then people just start animalistically defending their own point without actually debating the topic.  But the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to think that I just don’t truly believe that any one viewpoint is correct.  I have theories about the world and how it works, but I could be completely wrong, and I accept that fact.  I don’t think that just because something could be wrong, I should ignore that viewpoint entirely, as I could learn alot from considering it.  I don’t ‘believe’ in any one religion or religion in general, but I want to learn as much as I can about each one, because who knows where I’ll come across an answer to a question I have or a thought I may never have had before?  I’m not a solipsist, because I don’t deny the existence of objective reality, but I don’t think it can be entirely proven either, so I have to frame all of my assertions about objective reality through the lens that I may actually be talking about nothing.  I think that in order to consider all viewpoints, we can’t simply find the reason that one is wrong and then cast it out.  In order to gain anything from the viewpoint, we have to consider the implications that it makes about the world around us, and who knows, maybe we’ll learn something by doing so.  Just a thought, I’d love to hear yours below!!

10 Things Every Person Ever Has Thought or Said

Whenever I’m feeling lonely or like my life is insignificant, I like to think of the connections I have to people past and present.  There are certain undeniably universal aspects to everyone’s life, and if we can only keep these things in mind, we can remind ourselves that we are connected to everyone who has ever lived or ever will.  I’ve compiled a list of sentences that nearly every person has said or thought in some form, in some language, at some point in their lives.  Hopefully this will inspire you to feel the connection you have to all humans throughout time.

1. I’m hungy.

2. I’m thirsty

3. I’m horny.

4. Ouch.

5. Ahhhhhh!!!

6. Whoops.

7. Fuck it’s hot/cold!

8. I’m tired.

9. I wonder if [person] likes me.

10. I have to take a shit.

So there you go!  Hope that was inspiring.  Feel free to add to the list!

Pi is Overrated

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This morning, the wildly popular Facebook blog, I Fucking Love Science, posted the above image.  The blog, probably one of the most popular on Facebook, is getting a lot of attention recently due to the (somehow shocking?) revelation that it is run by a young woman.  It’s a wonderful blog that uses little-known scientific facts to blow people’s minds on a daily basis.  And though usually I enjoy their posts, I woke up to this one, and felt a little disappointed.  The image explains the nature of the irrational number Pi, and goes on to describe its magical wonder at having an infinite, non-repeating series of integers.  Though most of the information she gives is theoretically true, it really has more to do with the nature of infinity than the magic of the number pi, which really isn’t all that special.

To see why, let’s think about what pi actually is.  Pi is simply a number.  It’s the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter.  And while it is somewhat fascinating that every circle ever has this same ratio, it is more a result of the definition of a circle, than a miraculous coincidence.  As discussed in my post, The Limits of Languagescience and mathematics are simply the languages we use to understand the universe.  If we forget to think about them that way, then when these coincidences and patterns crop up, we assume they are miracles of the universe and attribute special meaning to them, when they are simply anomalies in our language system.  Take pi for example.  There is a constant number that exists that defines the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter, but because that number doesn’t fit nicely into our number system, we have to make up a symbol for it.  If we try to define that number using our numerical language, it yields the irrational number that the Facebook blog considers so magical, when it is really just a problem of translation. And, yes, it is true that in an infinite, non-repeating, random series of integers, theoretically every combination of integers will exist, but this is more a result of the series being infinite, than anything that has to do with pi specifically.

Another reason that pi is not special (sorry bud) is that there are literally an infinite amount of irrational numbers.  In fact, as Georg Cantor proved, and as can easily be seen, there are actually more irrational numbers than rational ones.  Once again, this goes back to how we define our numbers.  Numbers exist on a scale, much like wavelengths of light.  This scale can be, for lack of a better term, ‘zoomed in’ on to the nth degree (meaning infinitely).  So between any two integers, 3 and 4 for example, there are an infinite amount of numbers that we cannot fully represent using the number system that we’ve created, and each one of them translates into an infinite, non-repeating decimal that has the same characteristics of pi.

So yes, infinity as a concept is really something special, but it is simply that: a concept.  Though we can represent it and theorize about it and try to define its characteristics, it merely exists in our own minds.