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Thursday, September 27, 2001

Do minds play dice?
Unpredictability may be built into our brains. Neurophysiologists have found that clusters of nerve cells respond to the same stimulus differently each time, as randomly as heads or tails. The implications of this are far reaching, but I can't say I'm all that suprised. It makes evolutionary sense, in that you can evade (or even launch) attacks better by jumping from side to side. It makes sociological sense, in that a person's environment and upbringing do not necessarily dictate how they will act in the future (the most glaring examples are criminals; surely, their childhood must have been traumatic in order for them to commit such heinous acts). It even makes sense creatively, in that "randomness results in new kinds of behaviour and combinations of ideas, which are essential to the process of discovery".
Posted by Mark on September 27, 2001 at 06:56 PM .: link :.

Monday, September 24, 2001

Disgruntled, Freakish Reflections™ on Recent Events
Well, I suppose I've been avoiding this long enough. I'm having a really hard time articulating how the recent tragedies have affected me, and I really don't have much to say. Its not because I don't care, or that I haven't thought about it; its that I don't know about it - and you know what? No one really knows about it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you should keep in mind that just about everything you hear is pure speculation, including what you are reading right now. The world is a delicate place, and bad things are going to happen. That much seems clear. A military strike is unavoidable, and it looks like it will be happening soon. I'm glad to see that we're not rushing into this; that there seems to be some strategy involved. But I can't help but feeling that we may be counter-productive in the long term. Still, I feel some sort of display of force is necessary, and I'll support anything short of nuclear war (which is just insane). I like the way Bush is handling things as well. I'm curious to see how he will be percieved 20 years from now (which, of course, depends on the pending "war on terrorism"), because right now, he doesn't seem like the inspirational type (though his speech the other night was quite good). Some other random thoughts:
  • My confidence in the media has been steadily dwindling for quite some time now. Their bias is so utterly blatant, yet they won't let reporters wear a red, white, and blue ribbon for the sake of "objectivity". The media has completely avoided asking the question "Why?", while at the same time reporting that Palestinians are celebrating in the streets. The media knew how that would affect the American public; that's why they showed the now-infamous video. Yet, according to many other sources, the celebrations were small isolated incidents, and some doubt that the celebration was even related to the WTC tragedy(German link: Stern Magazine). How much should we be trusting the media? Not very much. Most of the time, they are speculating just as much as everyone else.
  • Those who are critical of America's foreign policy are, in some ways, right to do so, and I support their right to free speech. I don't think they are unamerican at all. But, in all honesty, I think its in bad taste, especially if you think we're going to do something about it. Consider this great example: "a man drives his wife to the store and gets into a traffic accident where she's killed. As he sits on the ground next to his car sobbing, you don't walk up to him and say "You know, this wouldn't have happened if you'd been driving slower." Even if that was true, that is not the time for that message. A true friend knows when to speak and when to shut up."
  • U.S.S. Clueless - the personal weblog of Steven Den Beste has some thoughtful, intelligent, and properly enraged commentary on the attacks and our impending response. Of particluar note are some of his essays, including: What are we fighting for?and Theres no such thing as a 'civilian' (this is also where I got the above story about the car crash) I do wonder how he views his article on Theory and Practice of Terrorism now (considering that he wrote it before the attacks, and that the article seems to imply that any military response is giving the terrorists what they want)...
  • Red Cross relief funds and such:
So, to summarize, take everyone's opinion with a grain of salt and try not to rush to hasty conclusions. No one knows as much about this as they think. I hope our response is exacting, measured, and absolutely, brutally, conclusive. Well, that's that. I'll be returning to my normal posting shortly. Stay tuned.
Posted by Mark on September 24, 2001 at 11:52 PM .: link :.

Monday, September 10, 2001

Wasting Time
I Play Too Much Solitaire, and it's Putting Me in a Time Warp by Douglas Coupland : Why do I choose to waste time playing solitaire? And why will I, in all likelihood, cheerfully continue to waste thousands more hours playing solitaire? These are questions Coupland, and no doubt, millions of others, have pondered. Interestingly enough, I find that this spills over into much more than solitaire. What of my thousands of NHL 98 or Unreal Tournament games? Or the countless hours spent trolling the net? Time wasted? Perhaps. Will I continue to waste it? Undoubtedly. Why? I have no idea. Coupland's father used to play solitaire all the time, and now, thanks to a computer, he still plays almost every day. When asked why, he replies:
"That's easy. Every time I press the key and it deals me a new round, I get this immense burst of satisfaction knowing that I didn't have to shuffle the cards and deal them myself. Its payback time for all the hours I ever wasted in my life shuffling and dealing cards."
Which brings me to the thought that maybe we aren't really wasting time at all. Maybe we just need to realize that the past is gone, whether we like it or not. By the way, I found Coupland's site insightful and fun, though I'm a bit annoyed at the use of Flash (is it really necessary to put a full text article into flash? It sure as hell makes it difficult to pull quotes!)
Posted by Mark on September 10, 2001 at 11:15 AM .: link :.

Sunday, September 09, 2001

Ambitious Fanfic?
35 years ago yesterday, the first episode of Star Trek debuted on NBC...and here we are three-and-a-half decades later with nine movies, five hundred odd hours of TV episodes and another new movie and TV series forthcoming. Enter Star Trek: Renaissance, the first virtual Star Trek series. The creators of Renaissance intend to produce professionally formatted and written teleplays for a Star Trek "virtual" TV series, complete with new characters and a new Enterprise set 25 years after the adventures of Captain Picard. And, incredibly, they want to produce a full season worth of episodes. They plan to "air" a new episode each week, not counting "re-run" weeks when they're on hiatus. And they want it to kick ass. But is all that time and effort invested into creating Renaissance worth it? To be perfectly honest, I'm not so sure. I've only really liked the "Next Generation" and maybe some of the movies, but after taking a look at the first "episode" of Renaissance, I think it could be interesting... [via coming attractions]
Posted by Mark on September 09, 2001 at 11:29 AM .: link :.

Thursday, September 06, 2001

Third Eye Open
There has been a press release regarding a string quartet tribute to Tool which sounds rather interesting. "This concept, inspired by the complex compositions and unique sound of Tool, delivers dramatic interpretations of the best of the band. This album takes the band's rhythmic guitars, assault-rifle drums, wide-ranging, multiple-octave vocals and turns them into aggressive string playing, deep and percussive cello, and vigorous yet delicate vocalizations on violin." I have long been a fan of the Finnish Apocalyptica, who played some of Metallica's greatest hits with their cellos (then later went on to arrange their own cello-driven heavy metal with their latest album, Cult), so I'm sure I'll enjoy this tribute to Tool...
Posted by Mark on September 06, 2001 at 01:01 PM .: link :.

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