The Stranger talks about the hopeless cycle of life in that way, where we should seek only happiness because life is temporal. Maybe. Perhaps happiness is all we should seek, and if being alone in a strange city might make me happy, shouldn't I try it? the ocean is infinite, many great bodies of water are. But there is a key difference in the ocean - not only is it infinite, but it's repetitive. The waves actually add something that, to me, makes the ocean mesmerizing while the sand that supports it and awaits it coming misses. Grains of sand are infinite in scope. The ocean is infinite in magic. It contains great creatures, and rises and falls, and can be angry and attack, and it can be blue and beautiful and calm. Sometimes, it seems as lonely as you are. Other times, as full of life. The ocean is also the great mirror then as we can find in it what we look for, what we feel, maybe at some level, at a certain point in time, what we are. The ocean then represents living life, the ongoing cycle of it, and grains of sand the ultimate eternal nature of life, or death.
Does this mean the apple represents hope, or rather more accurately probably the eternal end of happiness? Does that bring us back to the struggle of the Stranger, that hopeless cycle of life, the repetitive burden of it? We can never be happy, but we should continue trying anyhow?
How else do things fit together? This isn't quite there...
Right now, I'm concerned with the unofficial costs of the war that neither side are bringing up. This includes the long term ongoing costs of health care, especially for post traumatic stress, of our veterans. However, what about the costs to countries neighboring Iraq and their need to assume thousands of refugees? Think about how angry the immigration debate here is, and consider what it should be over there? Think about the long term effects to the effected countries (Iraq losing people and the countries forced to take them in). Ask yourself what our government is doing to support them? Neither political party is truly addressing this, and even if we pulled out tomorrow, there are residual costs, monetary and political, that are incalculable.
Neither party seems much interested in addressing this. The republicans don't really seem to care, and the democrats don't seem to be strong enough to stand up to the republicans. It's broken. The country, our country, needs to start over. Adding a 3rd political party won't help. It's larger than that. It's the entire psyche of America. I actually almost cried today in my car just thinking about it, all those lives. Whenever I get depressed about my life, I just feel stupid and insignificant because so many people have so many more problems than i do. But I think it's the powerlessness that really gets to me, because I don't know what to do. Sometimes it just feels like money and power steamroll everyone, and working toward change just proves how powerless I am. I am afraid of that feeling, and sometimes I think I just keep running from it.
Does that mean our political system is broken, or I am broken? I am afraid of being poor. I have never been poor, and I've never been rich but I'm afraid of that in a way too. My high school basketball coach once said, "Don't be afraid of success." It seemed a foolish thing to say to me then. It seems very profound to me now because now I understand it. Somehow, I can't imagine being anywhere other than the middle, and I'm not sure I want to be. Living in Honduras taught me a lot about who I am and how people who are poor struggle. They still laugh, they still enjoy their lives, but there is this quiet desperation of hopelessness that you can almost smell, you can definately feel it, that I never knew how to take. Do I owe them anything? Do I owe the world anything? The world doesn't owe me anything. Is it enough to donate money and move on? I feel like it's not. Is it worthwhile throwing myself into something, living in relative poverty, to fight a battle that cannot be won?
In the next 4 days I change my life. I'm not sure how yet, but I know i need to switch jobs or location, possibly both. I have an offer from my current company to move to San Francisco, which would keep my middle class and my life relatively easy. Hopefully in SF I would volunteer more and really get involved in something. But is that enough? Does it mean anything? If I move to DC and work for some NGO for human rights or against human trafficking, would I be happier?
I decided a few years back that happiness should be paramount to a person. It's my take on darwin I suppose. I think historically happiness has been through things, family, house, field, etc. For me, it is an interesting job and some financial flexibility. I realize those are things, but I generally don't get to caught up in having the best car, TV, clothes, etc. But I realize those are my choices, you can make your own. The issue I guess I need to resolve, in the next 4 days or the next year if i go to SF, is who am I really? What do I really want? How do I get there?
If i truly believe America is broken, shouldn't I work to fix it? Even if I know it can't be fixed, not in any significant way anyway. It's to big, to many rules, to much history. A violent revolution in America is infeasible, and small scale change is impractical, slow, and doomed to fail to the violence of money and greed. I truly believe that. Politicians, like most of us, watch out for their own. It's broken. Do I care? Where do I go next?
So I was sort of giggling about these things during my commute the other day and I just started listing all the interesting things I could think of about infinite. For something that's so big, I really didn't have much but I did remember a comment I read in a story once by, I think, Borges: All animals are immortal except man, because they do not understand death. That's not exact, but it's the general idea. Anyway, I was looking for that quote in my book then online, and I found another one: There is a concept which corrupts and upsets all others. I refer not to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite. This one is, according to this website, from The Avatars of the Tortoise, which I haven't read. But it's an interesting quote nonetheless.
Anyway, those are asides and not really where I was going with this, although I think an intelligent analysis of Borges comments on the infinite would be interesting. I was thinking about what other analogies or images we have of infinite. The first quote above basically says if you don't know death, you are immortal. That's very interesting, especially if you want to look into why so many cultures throughout time have had some type of religion and particularly a concept of some part of you living on in another world. Perhaps in our very nature is some desire to be connected to the infinite, and we develop that in our culture as religion. That's a complicated topic that I'm not going to get into here, but maybe another time. However, I will pose the following for you to think about, because I find it interesting. Religion, it could be argued, is some sort of ongoing collective cultural agreement so we can believe our lives will get better, even if it is another world. Let's steal from Marx so I sound smart and call this the Opium of the People argument. However, could it not also be argued that more intrinsically our brains are wired not to accept the temporal nature of our lives, and therefore cling to some connection the underlying universe which is infinite? In this argument, we all feel disconnected from each other, the world, the universe, eveything because we realize, at some, in a relatively near future, we will not be connected to it physically. We are temporal, but the energy around is not. Sure our bodies decompose into the earth and become beautiful roses or something, but that's not us, that's not our mind. Ultimately, most people do not accept that as sufficient. Is our mind seeking that connection through religion? That argument is different than the argument for a better life, it is seeking an eternal life. Those are, without doubt and without wandering to far off my path, not the same thing. I won't go into it. Like the famouse mathematician who said, I have a proof but it's too complicated for the margin so just take my word for it. In his case, we still believe his theory but we haven't actually proved it. Wish I could remember who that was, it's an intersting problem.
Babble babble babble. That's what that little aside was, pure babble babble. What I wanted to figure out, what i was thinking about that day in the car was this: what are the symbols of the infinite? Obviously, the mathematical sideways 8 is one. I think the apple is one, at least in judea-christian societies because it is the first fruit in the bible and, if you know your bible, is why we don't live forever and have knowledge, therefore, life sucks. That's the point of the bible by the way if you are to busy to read it. We ate of the tree of knowledge, we understood a few things, and now life sucks, but the new testament says we should try to be good anyway so we can get into heaven and have eternal life. Interesting. That's about it for that book. Anyway, I think the apple fits tightly into the christian concept of eternal life (because we were evicted from Eden we know life and will die, but can gain eternal life... without the apple, no death and no need for christianity. it might be interesting to note that without Judas, no crucifixion and no Jesus as saviour. they stole the same basic plot line 2 times in the same book in the same religion! and nobody cares. i can't be a christian just because of that).
Anyway, I think I have stated before the tomato is untrustworthy member of the fruit and veggie family (is it a fruit? is it a vegetable? Tomatos cannot, and I cannot state this clearly enough, be trusted with secrets!), but the infinite? I go with apple from the fruit family, without any option B. Other symbols include the ocean, the universe, death works, but then I couldn't think of anything. Star crossed lovers popped into my head, some sort of love that lasts forever, beyond death but I don't think that really works. That is a very short and depressing list for such an important issue. Thinkers, where are you?
There must be others, the concept of infinite should pass through everything we do. Hmm, I'll have to think about it again and let you know what I come up.
I have been trying to write a blog about our electoral system and why I think we need major overhaul, but I can't get it to make sense so I am stealing a blog idea from a friend. She was "tagged" and, instead of tagging others, just threw out the rules and her information. I'm copying her rules, which she copied from someone else, which I'm pasting because I'm lazy. And I agree, #1 isn't a rule but it's a good way to begin. Let's begin.
- All right, here are the rules.
- We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
- Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
- People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
- At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
- I don't like odd numbers unless they are factors of by 5. This means if I am watching TV or listening to the radio and the volume control has a number, it is on 26 or 28, but never 27. Even numbers just feel better, and don't even get me started on prime numbers. 88 feels especially nice and squishy, but it doesn't come up very often unfortunately. I don't know how anyone got married on 7/7/7 earlier this month, that number feels like a walking barefoot through a cactus patch. Then again, it is marriage...
- My favorite books are escapist (borges, marquez, tolkien), but my favorite movies are not (cool hand luke, taxi driver, casablanca). I don't know why this is, maybe because i use my imagination more with reading and enjoy the freedom, whereas with movies I don't buy into the movie unless it feels real. i don't know, I just realized this the other day and it sort of freaks me out.
- I don't believe in the american dream anymore. I don't want a house in the suburbs, I don't want to farm my land, and I don't want to compete to become richer than my neighbor. I think that competition between people and neighbors and cities and states and everything has consumed us and is destroying us. And we are pushing it on every country, and many are buying into it. It might be interesting to note and really consider how perhaps this is competitive nature is just our natural instincts coming out and it's actually darwinian, but that's too depressing for me to consider on this particular beautiful saturday afternoon. Shouldn't we be able to control that now for the good of all? I might drive across the country later this year, and my hope from that is to re-develop some sort of love of america and my fellow citizens.
- Although I strongly believe everyone has a right to their opinion, there are some opinions that I think would prevent us from being friends, and may even prevent me from acknowledging you if we passed each other on a street corner. As an example, I'm fine with your view on abortion because I think that is sufficiently complicated and gray. However, if you don't believe in legalizing gay marriage (or civil unions, I'm referring to the state recognized concept not the religious one), I don't think I could in good faith acknowledge you. If it doesn't effect you, and this doesn't doesn't, don't worry about it. I don't like the concept of 2 loud fat people sleeping together and birthing fat annoying children either, but that doesn't mean I believe I have a right to forbid it. The church is a private enterprise and has a right to forbid whatever they want in their buildings if they choose, but from a society standpoint, it should be legal. The only argument i have heard against this is basd on tradition and religion, and neither are valid. If you believe in tradition over modern reality, I guess you are amish or luddite and don't watch TV, radio, movies, and you won't read this either. That's not enough votes to stop this in an election or make a politician care. It's religious pandering on both sides who do not support this. My disgust also goes for not recognizing a clear separation of church and state. Somehow, I feel all those 3 issues are related. See number 4.
- My favorite food is mexican food, tortillas/beans/salsa/guacamole/etc, although pizza still comes in a close 2nd.
- I wish i could write like I used to, but i just don't feel it anymore. It used to be a great escape, now I generally just stare at my computer. I think that may have something to do with a larger life problem I am working through right now, and hope to have resolved in the next month.
- I'm shy and uncomfortable in big groups of people and parties, although I am generally ok in smaller groups (less than 2 people...). It took a lot of work, but I am finally fairly comfortable doing presentations and training sessions for work. I doubt I will ever get over it on a social level, though.
- If I could travel anywhere in the world right now, I would go to Machu Pichu. That place looks amazing. And I want to hike up there in a llama suit just because it would somehow feel more real. I also can't wait until the day when computers are smart enough so that the computer would know when you read llama suit in the last sentence and your computer would have made a llama sound and a llama smell would have come out of your speakers.
I don't really even know other people who blog, so I'm not tagging anyone else either. There is supposed to be some punishment for not doing that. Maybe I'll get run over by a gay marriage hating newlywed couple (who got married on July 7th of course) as they return back to their picket fence, dog, and 2.3 children in the suburbs. I'd probably deserve it too.
Anyway, I bought this book as part of my birthday present to myself (is that lame? not buying yourself a birthday present, but making part of it a book on probability?). After a bit of history of probability, they get to a point where they are talking about standard distribution, which makes sense since it is the standard after all, and they mentioned something about the standard deviation. If you had asked me to define the standard deviation before I was reading this, I would have said the smaller the standard deviation, the tighter the values around the mean. One standard deviation from the mean is approximately 32% (I think) of the values, so approx. 64% of the area under the standard bell curve is within 1 std dev of the mean.
However, and this is one of those interesting facts that really makes math interesting and makes me believe the universe might generally be annoyed with me for some reason and be generally entirely random, but maybe at some point it will love me and become orderly. The fact is this: on a standard bell curve, one standard deviation is the inflection point of the graph, meaning the point where the graph goes from convex to concave (or vice versa, depending if you are travelling up or down the graph. I can't remember which is which).
Now that is interesting. I guess if I had really thought about it, I might have figured that out, or just tossed out a "wouldn't it be interesting if the standard dev was related to the inflection point...". In my 2nd semester calculus in college, and stop me if you've heard this one, our professor used to say things like, "This is pretty straight forward, and you would figure this out if you were left on a desert island but we don't have time for that..." then he would put up some 8 blackboard proof showing the sky is blue because the arc of the curve under the water bubble in the sky reflects in such a way or some other crazy thing I would frankly not have figured out on a desert island. I think if I was left on a desert island, I would be the greatest coconut shooting basketball player in history, but that's another post. Anyway, his name was Prof. Mattock (Maddick, Matok, something like that), and he was great. I don't know if he is still teaching, but he should be. He was probably the 2nd best teacher I had in college.
Anyway, since I'm telling stories, I'm not sure how i got out of the introduction probability course without learning this. I didn't understand the entirity of the class, so maybe the inflection point/standard dev issue was mentioned between Chebyshev and Poisson distributions, I don't know. Anyway, it was one of those classes that wasn't required for graduation, but was required for almost every single major so everyone in the college had taken it, almost all of us from the same professor. The professor was a quirky little guy who had taught the class for a million years and liked to say things like, "If anyone comes up to you on the street and offers you a poisson distribution with a standard devition of 90%, run away!" He had a million examples like this, and the only thing i remember is that Poisson may have something to do with the odds of rare things happening to you that you don't want to happen (lightning strikes, things like that). It could probably work the other way (rare things happening to you that you do want to happen, like love), but he never talked about that. Glass is half full kind of guy I suppose, I can appreciate that. I think my strongest memory of the class is I took it with a bunch of friends, including upper classmen and one friend who took it pass/fail because everyone else was taking it. He only came to about 3 classes. He was sitting behind one class me making fun of people walking in, which is generally how he passed his time. People were filing in, and one classic nerd looking guy walks in with the periodic table of elements on his T-shirt. My friend starts laughing and points at him just as the teacher walks in (what are the odds?). So the teacher walks in, the class quiets down just as my friend continues pointing blurts out quite loudly because it had been loud a moment ago, "Look at the geek!" as he just keeps laughing and pointing and it's dead silent except for him and those of us near him laughing or trying not to laugh. Good times.
Anyway, the professor was quirky but I'm not sure how i got out of that class without understanding even that basic relationship. He was a good teacher too, but I think he passed away a few years back, which is sad.
Anyway, in general, at times like this, I'm happy I appreciate math and science because there is always more for me to learn and understand, and it generally fascinates me. However, sometimes I'm not really sure how I ever graduated. Hmmph.