Friday 15th January 2010

i have this recurring dream

where the world is divided down an artificial political line and all anyone cares about is the latest gadget and they all read celebrity mags and they're all filled with vitriol and all the food contains high fructose corn syrup and the corporations have the power and rush limbaugh talks and government grows more opaque and china holds all the aces because the deck was made in china and every day increasingly feels like the punch line to machiavelli's joke, and i'm so happy until i wake up.


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Wednesday 23rd December 2009

the space between

okay, seriously. a lot of the time i complain that i have no idea what's going on, and most of the time it's hyperbole or for dramatic effect or whatever. usually.

lately though, i feel like there's this whole separate universe being played out around me and i'm utterly not a part of it. as though there's a club with a secret entrance code, a code which everyone knows except me, and i'm standing at the entrance struggling to understand why no one let me in on the secret.

tonight, as chelsey and i were discussing how to divvy up amongst my coworkers the cookies she had made, we discovered that there were not enough gift bags to hold all the groups of cookies we wanted to distribute. no big deal, right? we'll just put some of the cookies in nice simple plastic bags and hand them out that way, because it's christmas, and they're cookies, dig?

no. dear me, no. such a thing is not conscionably done.

you see, it's the small things that matter. the cookies need the gift bags. worthless without them. it's not the making of the cookies that matters, not the time it spent with mixing bowl or oven, it's the wrapping of the cookies that matters. it's not the words that you say, it's the tone of voice in which you say them. it's not the thing itself, it's the framing and the context and the gist of the thing. it's this parallel world of undercurrents and subterfuge and small all-important para-things that completely fails to resonate with me, to which i have absolutely no sensitivity.

this is why i fucking hate christmas. do you hear me? hate it hate it, with swear words for emphasis. it's not enough that i think well of you, or that i want nice things for you. it is expected that i spend time in thinking about something you secretly want, that i go out and get it for you, and that i wrap it up and put a bow on it, and turn what would be (at any other time of the year) a gesture of goodwill and potentially unexpected awesomeness into just another thing that is done for its own sake. we've turned what might have once been called the spirit of christmas into a fat lot of empty, expected gestures.

a bit unexpected, admittedly, coming from a guy who prides himself on being mindful of the little things.


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Thursday 19th November 2009

these are the things that are broken

ordered list, i choose you:

  1. the car thing that's supposed to save the world. you see, those awesome batteries occasionally die. and apparently they're awesomely expensive. but i have some good news! i just paid a bunch of money to someone to basically let me keep using what i had already paid for.
  2. the iphone. though at&t doesn't know it's an iphone, and that's kind of at the root of the problem. in order to avoid allowing them to ream you on the data plan you have to perform some digital magic, among other steps. but this magic has certain side effects, including people can't call you. ask your doctor if ultrasn0w is right for you—i should have.
  3. the roof. it has holes. in it.
  4. the stereo of my other vehicle. a long time ago i turned the ignition in my truck a certain number of clicks so i could listen to the radio or whatever, but went one click too far, and then back a click, all in rapid succession, and this let the magic smoke out of the shiny lights of the faceplate. and magic smoke, as any scientist will tell you, is hard to put back in a device after it has escaped.
  5. the nail of my left index finger. and now every time i use it it's like the terrorists won their war against the kittens.
  6. the dog. i've made clear my thoughts on the matter of sub-sentient life forms. they exude smelly substances and totally ignorant of this fact. they whine for attention. and not one of them has a job.
  7. the internet. conservapedia.com will eventually become skynet.
  8. my liver. and i have the other items in this list to blame.

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Friday 13th November 2009

discretion

i beg you to follow me again down the rabbit-hole of my thoughtcrime. in this episode, i argue that at some point far in our future, original creative endeavor will have been exhausted simply because it's all been done.

to illustrate what i mean, take a piano. any piano. then pick a key on that piano and hit it with some amount of force, and hold the note for an arbitrary amount of time. there, you've composed a bit of music. a very simplistic bit of music, but it'll serve.

now repeat the experiment above, but this time adding another tone—either in parallel or in series—again arbitrarily. the complexity of our musical composition has increased by some factor due to the larger number of options (number of piano keys, plus the volume and duration of the incremental tone) we have added with the additional strike.

continue in this manner, evaluating with each additional strike of the keys whether the piece (a) continues to build toward, or (b) has achieved a "sufficiently artistic" (definition t.b.d.) end. if neither, alter something about what you've done or add a new note. if (a), repeat. if (b), halt. see? it's an algorithm.

you must agree with me that there is some theoretical maximum human endurance for absorption—four hours? ish?—of a single musical work, no matter its beauty, and given the limits of the number of keys available on a standard piano (most have just the eighty-eight), of human fingers both in quantity (most have just the ten) and in key-striking speed measured in notes per second (fifty at a sprint? shot in the dark). also, we must assume that to human ears there is neither an uncountably infinite spectrum of volumes (you can't tell the difference between 76.393 dB and 76.394 dB no matter who you are, you pretentious audiophile) nor an uncountably infinite spectrum of tone durations (ibid., 38.08 ms and 38.09 ms).

if you grant me my assumptions, it follows that the theoretical number of works of music that can be composed is countable, which is to say, given a sufficiently long amount of time and a sufficiently large amount of humans willing to slog through them, we'll write them all. sooner or later, any interesting tune you can hum will have already been composed, and you'll be in violation of someone's copyright.


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Wednesday 24th June 2009

compromise

what did the iphone cost me? oh, not much. just some dollars, and the chin-scarf i got in greece. i could tell the wife wanted to do a little happy-dance around the ashes of my departed facial locks but bless her, she restrained herself.

[aside]


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Sunday 14th June 2009

self-sacrifice

the idea of using an internet-enabled device to list and sell itself on ebay seems really sad to me. do you think your iphone or whatever is aware at some level of the depth of your betrayal? i do, and this is how it makes me feel.


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Tuesday 26th May 2009

effing airports

today started yesterday at eighteen o'clock (going by the clock at home) in a bedbug-infested athens hostel, and didn't end till just now.

there will be more later, obviously. for now i'm too tired even to


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