hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
Sheep may be marched without protest to slaughter, even though they can look ahead and see the results at the end of the line, but people have an instinctive sympathy for others and will fight to save them, not only for humane considerations but because they can see that they, themselves, may be the next victims.

Abraham Lincoln once said that freedom seldom means the same thing to a wolf that it means to a lamb. If a shelter is built to protect the lambs, the wolves howl that the lambs have lost their freedom. Of course, public programs and collective bargaining restrict some kinds of freedom, but they may safeguard or create other kinds of freedom of greater importance.

--Walter Buckingham, "Automation" in 1986 Encyclopedia Americana

Quote of the Moment

Thursday, January 19th, 2017 07:22 pm
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
"I can tell you all I have learned in a lifetime of study in just three laws of history. And here they are:

“First, whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

“Second, the mills of the gods grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small.

“Third, the bee fertilizes the flower that it robs.”

About ten days later we took a stroll along Riverside Drive in New York City. Evidently he had been giving further thought to my question. At any rate, he said he would like to add a fourth law to his laws of history:

“When it gets dark enough you can see the stars.”


--from “Charles Beard, The Public Man” by George S. Counts.




(For a history of that last law, see Quote Investigator.)

hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
A victim of the cancerous disease of egotism, he failed to realize that wealth always comes as a result of the commonwealth. He talked as though he could plow the fields and build the barns alone. He failed to realize that he was an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead had contributed. When an individual or a nation overlooks this interdependence, we find a tragic foolishness....

In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

--Martin Luther King, Jr., "The Man Who Was a Fool"
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
The habit of narration, of crafting something miraculous out of the commonplace, was hard to break. Narration came naturally after a time spent in the company of talking scarecrows or disappearing cats; it was, in its own way, a method of keeping oneself grounded, connected to the thin thread of continuity that ran through all lives, no matter how strange they might become. Narrate the impossible things, turn them into a story, and they could be controlled.

--Seanan McGuire, Every Heart a Doorway


~~~~~~~~~~~~


He was, he once confessed, an actor, and he learned to play the part of the Führer--how to talk, to stand, to move, to perform. Everything in his public life, and often in his private life as he came to believe his own publicity, was stage-managed. Even the war. He wanted to play the role of a general, and when he tried writing his own script of World War Two, he bombed.

By design rather than as a by-product of his image-building, out of the cult of personality grew his cult of celebrity. He knew no other way to become dictator than by performing. Fame was more important to him than governing, although in his mind they became one and the same thing. Culture and art became politics. Even suicide was a macabre element to his celebrity, his legend and his sense of immortality, which were all irrevocably connected to the final act of his life-long drama; he would write his own ending.

--Michael Munn, Hitler and the Nazi Cult of Film and Fame


~~~~~~~~~~~~


We are who we are, no matter how that might conflict with who we think we are. Our suggestibility to manipulations, whether positive or negative, is fundamental to being human. And what looks like magic is often just our own frightened, malleable brains casting about for a way to explain what's going on around us. We are, all of us, storytellers, and the most powerful story we have is the one we tell ourselves.

--Erik Vance, Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal

Quote of the Moment

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 09:04 am
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
As a child of the 1970s in California, I was constantly told, "You create your own reality." But I lived in a home I did not design, breathed air I did not pollute, went to public schools I did not vote to underfund, rushed home as soon as the last bell rang to avoid the flasher who skulked in the yard across the street, ate off beautiful antique dishes I neither made nor worked for, and slept soundly between soft sheets.

I did not create my own reality.

"Ah, but that's because you hadn't yet taken responsibility for your own life," the New Agers would insist, sipping their bee pollen tonics and adjusting their crystal pendants.

Back then, as now, I understood their point: that which we water grows. But I also understood that most of them were privileged and narcissistic.

You create your own reality, they said. It's an idea that can be potent and empowering: if I can dream it, I can make it happen. But the belief has a dark side, too. Cancer patients are made to feel that they brought their illness upon themselves because of their own negative thinking. Underemployed workers are sent to career counseling, where they're taught that their real problem is their own sorry view of themselves. And I guess that folks living and dying through wars can assume that they're just not good enough at visualizing world peace.


--from Ariel Gore's book Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness

Time for 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016 11:37 am
hummingwolf: Mathemagical animation made out of string. (Incredible String Thing)
Welcome to Big-Time Television: All day and every day making tomorrow seem like yesterday.

Now, remember when we said there was no future? Well, this is it.

Right! Next up, more of the same.

--Blank Reg, in the Max Headroom episode "Body Banks"



Everyone has a time machine. Everyone is a time machine. It's just that most people's machines are broken. The strangest and hardest kind of time travel is the unaided kind. People get stuck, people get looped. People get trapped. But we are all time machines. We are all perfectly engineered time machines, technologically equipped to allow the inside user, the traveler riding inside each of us, to experience time travel, and loss, and understanding. We are universal time machines manufactured to the most exacting specifications possible. Every single one of us.

--from Charles Yu's novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe



I wish that I could be an outlaw
Riding from the laws of time
An old vigilante against the seasons
That I can't help but rewind
I'd always keep my revolver
Steady and fast at my side
And I'd rob a train bound for glory
If I thought I needed a ride

--from Jeff Black's song "Same Old River"

QOTM

Thursday, August 21st, 2014 12:13 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)


You create the world by your belief in it, so it's important to believe this: There really is a path. It takes you not back to your old life but onward to the new one.


--Laurence Gonzales in Surviving Survival

QOTM

Friday, July 25th, 2014 07:16 pm
hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
Three quotes from Eric Hoffer's The Passionate State of Mind:



237
The world leans on us. When we sag, the whole world seems to droop.



216
Add a few drops of venom to a half truth and you have an absolute truth.



210
The hardest thing to cope with is not selfishness or vanity or deceitfulness, but sheer stupidity. One needs the talents of an animal trainer to deal with the stupid.



I was going to say something like, "All three of these are altogether too relevant to things going on in my life right now." Then I remembered certain recent news stories and various commentaries about them, so I'll just go with: All three of these are altogether too relevant.


Edit: It turns out that Eric Hoffer was born July 25, 1902. If I'd known it was his 112th birthday, I might have posted more!
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
One thing that puzzled me was, how do microbes always seem to show up in extreme environments ready to carpe diem? When new hydrothermal vents open on the cold, dark, ocean floor, where do the hyperthermophiles come from? Are they floating in some dormant state waiting for a gush of boiling sulfuric acid to wake them up or are they already down in plumbing systems below the seafloor in the crust and do they just happen to be ejected through new vents? What about the bacteria, archaea, and fungi colonizing the Titanic? How did they find the Titanic when it took us more than 70 years using secret navy technologies? Were the iron-loving microbes already at work on the new steel before the ship set sail? Were they already present in the ocean scratching out a meager existence from molecules in the bottom sediments? [Charles] Pellegrino pondered whether microbes from the toilets on the Titanic and the throats of passengers survived and mingled. When I posed the question to [Roy] Cullimore he quoted Dutch microbiologist Baas Becking:

"Everything is everywhere. The environment selects."



--from Tim Friend's book The Third Domain: The Untold Story of Archaea and the Future of Biotechnology

QOTM

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 09:01 am
hummingwolf: A heart curve and a cosine curve fell in love. (Heart 3)


"Genius is the error in the system."

--Paul Klee

QOTM

Saturday, March 9th, 2013 09:13 pm
hummingwolf: Mathemagical animation made out of string. (Incredible String Thing)
"Has it occurred to you that the lust for certainty may be a sin?"


--John Habgood, then-Archbishop of York
hummingwolf: (My world is askew!)
From Patrick Nielsen Hayden:
The Motion Picture Association of America, chief sponsor and financier of SOPA and PIPA, addresses Wikipedia, Reddit, and other major sites going dark tomorrow, accusing them of “abuse of power.” “It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.” In related news, the mutilated body of Irony was found washed up against a pier in the East River. She was pronounced dead at the scene."

QotM

Friday, January 6th, 2012 08:58 pm
hummingwolf: Mathemagical animation made out of string. (Incredible String Thing)
Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.

--attributed to Václav Havel


"Think of the Hebrew word for question, she'elah," he [Elie Wiesel] continued. "There is 'el (God) in she'elah. God is in the question. But to give the answer? Keep asking the question."

Is this not also the lesson of the book of Job? Job's friends are trying to answer for God against Job's accusations, but they are ultimately scolded because they did not "speak rightly" to or about God. Job, after all, is the only one who has insisted on maintaining his questions against all answers.

--from Timothy Beal's book The Rise and Fall of the Bible


Spinning around in a spiraling circle
Upwards and upwards, not reaching the top
Higher and higher, the path keeps ascending
But somewhere the circle stops.

--from Sheila Chandra's song "Question the Answer"
hummingwolf: (two)
There seems to be some reason to quote this every other week and a quick search for it in my own journal didn't turn it up, so it's about time for me to post this passage here.


I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme--whose highest real claim is to reasonable prudence--the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.

--C.S. Lewis, from the essay "A Reply to Professor Haldane," as printed in On Stories And Other Essays on Literature
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
Leaked: US government strategy to prevent leaks.

Also in U.S. news: We have snow in 49 states including Hawaii. Today, Florida is feeling left out. (Link via [livejournal.com profile] yasminke.)

In more serious weather news: You can donate to the flood relief appeal here.

Unrelated to current news: After I'd finished reading Why We Read What We Read, I looked around on the net for what other people had to say and was amused to find that someone back in 2009 read the book as part of a Dewey Decimal Challenge--a challenge that isn't much different from my little New Year's resolution. Anyway, unlike me, the blogger actually interviewed the authors, Lisa Adams and John Heath.

Speaking of books I've read recently, have a quote from Jedediah Berry's Manual of Detection: "To glide with sock-swaddled feet over a world of glossy planes: that would be a wondrous thing! But Unwin's apartment was smallish at best, and the world is unkind to the shoeless and frolicsome."

~~~~~

You know how you can look at a word and look at a word and after a while it stops looking like a word? It doesn't take long to get to that stage when the word is "miscellany."

~~~~~

Saturday: Spent afternoon and evening with Mad Science folks. Entertaining conversations and tasty food as usual, occasionally accompanied by the shoeless and frolicsome antics of cats. It was good to spend time with friends & friendly people. We were saddened by the news from Arizona.

Sunday: Not much happened that I recall, though I did go out walking far enough to buy some groceries. Spent most of the day resting so I'd have the energy to get up early for an appointment on Monday. Shortly after I went to bed, I saw, heard, and felt an explosion which part of me knew was the product of my sleeping brain while another, smaller part of me thought it could be an actual emergency. Stupid brain.

Monday: For a change of pace, I actually would have made it to my morning appointment on time if my lungs hadn't decided that they didn't want to work properly. I still don't know what the blazes was going on there. Spent most of the day resting. Also spent a good part of the day crying, as I'd made the mistake of contemplating my probable future on a day when my body was seriously misbehaving itself. I went to bed early and got ten hours of sleep, which seems to have helped.

Tuesday: Much better day than Monday. I walked tuna half miles, picked up a prescription, did some light grocery shopping, came home and took out the trash, did a load of laundry, and spent entirely too much time on the internet. The sky spat sleet at me while I was walking home, but that only made me laugh. I feel like I could use more sleep now, so I'll probably be going to bed early again. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
hummingwolf: (My world is askew!)
From a TechCrunch piece entitled "Can Anything Stop The Facebook Juggernaut?":
As usual, William Gibson put it best: “Facebook feels like a mall. Twitter feels like the street.” (Which I suppose makes Zynga the mall’s arcade.) It’s one thing to shop there occasionally, but quite another to be a full-fledged mallrat—and according to the stats, that’s what we have collectively become. I want to believe that eventually we’ll wake up, and grow up, and realize that new and interesting things mostly happen elsewhere.

And so, I speculate hopefully: what if Facebook is the new LiveJournal?

You might not remember LiveJournal, a now-moribund social-blogging site...

QOTM

Friday, March 5th, 2010 03:29 pm
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
Because I've been reminded of this by recent discussions in other journals (especially [livejournal.com profile] nellorat's), here's Dorothy L. Sayers, from her 1941 book Mind of the Maker, in the "Problem Picture" chapter (in which she is discussing both theology and detective stories):

2. The detective problem is completely soluble: no loose ends or unsatisfactory enigmas are left anywhere. The solution provides for everything and every question that is asked is answered. We are not left with a balance of probabilities in favor of one conclusion or another; nor does the fixing of the crime on the butler involve the detective in fresh enigmas connected with the cook. Such uncertainties may appear to arise in the course of the story, but they are all cleared up in the end by the discovering of the complete solution. It should not be necessary to point out here that this happy result proceeds from the simple fact that the author has been careful not to ask the questions that the solution will not answer.

Now, our tendency to look for this kind of complete solution without lacunae or compensatory drawbacks badly distorts our view of a number of activities in real life. Medicine is a good example. We are inclined to think of health in terms of disease and cure. Here on the one hand is (we think) one definite disease, and there, on the other hand, should be the one, definite and complete "cure." Apply the cure to the disease, and the result ought to be an exact "solution" of the "problem" presented. If the physician cannot name the disease on sight and immediately produce the prescribed cure, we feel resentfully that the man does not know his business.

In the same way, there used to be a firmly-rooted belief that to every poison there existed "the antidote"--a benevolent drug which would exactly reverse, each by each, the effects of the original poison and restore the body to the status quo ante. There are in fact, I believe, only two drugs which are complementary in this way, atropine and physostigmine (incidentally, neither of them is "benevolent"--both are deadly poisons). With other drugs which are used to counteract one another, the reversal of the effects is only partial, or is rather a counteraction of the symptoms than a healing of the mischief done to the organs. In most cases, the usefulness of the curative drug is only to hold off or mitigate the effects of the poison until the body can summon its physical resources to cure itself. In certain instances, one disease can be got rid of only at the cost of contracting another, as in the malaria treatment of syphilis. Or the treatment demanded by--let us say--a diseased condition of the lungs may be impossible for one particular patient, because his constitution could not stand its violent effects upon the heart.

We have, perhaps, abandoned the superstitious belief in antidotes; but we continue to hug the delusion that all ill-health is caused by some single, definite disease, for which there ought to be a single, definite and complete cure without unfortunate after-effects. We think of our illness as a kind of cross-word of which the answer is known to somebody: the complete solution must be there, somewhere; it is the doctor's business to discover and apply it.

But the physician is not solving a cross-word: he is performing a delicate, adventurous, and experimental creative act, of which the patient's body is the material, and to which the creative co-operation of the patient's will is necessary. He is not rediscovering a state of health, temporarily obscured; he is remaking it, or rather, helping it to remake itself. This may indeed be looked upon as a problem; but it is not the same kind of problem as that presented by those in the algebra-book: "If a cistern is filled by pipes A and B in 25 and 32 minutes respectively"; and the answer is not likely to be so precise or to cover all the conditions so satisfactorily.

The patient's best way to health and peace of mind is to enter with understanding into the nature of the physician's task. If he does so, he will not only be better placed to co-operate creatively with him, but he will be relieved from the mental misery of impatience and frustration.

QOTM

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 02:07 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Heart 2)
Fear is the junk food of the soul, while love languishes in the vegetable aisle. One's easy to sell and quickly consumed, while the other actually nourishes you. To a grocer who's just interested in selling anything to keep the store ticking over, putting the junk food out front is the obvious move.

--Kit Whitfield, in a comment on this page

(Note: I haven't seen In Great Waters yet, but I loved Benighted.)

QOTM

Monday, July 20th, 2009 11:56 pm
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world. In other words, I can only recommend perspective and distance. Awareness of all the most dangerous kinds of vanity, both in others and in ourselves. A good mind. A modest certainty about the meaning of things. Gratitude for the gift of life and the courage to take responsibility for it. Vigilance of spirit.


--Václav Havel upon receiving the Open Society Prize awarded by Central European University (24 June 1999)

Seen in an article somewhere, then located on Wikiquote (along with many other good words).

Armistice Day

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 08:22 am
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Turquoise & peach 1)
From "Armistice Day 1918", the Prologue to Savage Peace: Hope and Fear in America, 1919 by Ann Hagedorn:

Somewhere beyond the mist and the misery on that November morning, six men met in a railcar to end a war. News of the truce moved through the trenches on the trembling lips of soldiers waiting for the screams of flying shells to cease before they believed what they were told. Some heard it first from their captains who distributed strips of paper that read: "Cease firing on all fronts. 11/11/11. Gen. John J. Pershing." Others would never know. They were the unlucky ones killed in the fragile hours before 11 A.M., before the fighting abruptly stopped. The silence, so unfamiliar, was almost as unsettling as the sounds, as if a giant hand suddenly lay across this land of rotting flesh to hush the din of battle. Silence. Prayers. Tears. Then came the roar of cheering and the popping of bonfires piled high with captured ammunition and anything that could burn. The madness was ending, or so it seemed. And fear was giving way to hope.

"One minute we was killing people," a soldier later said, "and then the world was at peace for the first time in four years. It seemed like five minutes of silence and then one of us said, 'Why don't we go home?'"

"I shall never forget the sensation," wrote an officer who climbed out of the trenches when he saw rockets signaling the cease-fire. Onto the open, unprotected ground, he walked toward the front lines of battle. The sun shining on his vulnerability, he moved tentatively, as if the earth beneath each foot might cave in. First he saw German helmets and caps vaulting into a distant haze and then beyond a ridge he saw German soldiers dancing a universal jig of joy. "We stood in a dazed silence unable to believe that at last the fighting was over."
hummingwolf: (My world is askew!)
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

--John McCain, from his article "Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American," in the September/October 2008 issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. You gotta love the timing. (Link via [livejournal.com profile] supergee, fount of many links.)

In other news, we're on a road to nowhere. Well, noted fiscal conservative Sarah Palin backed a $26 million road to nowhere--it leads to the water's edge, where the infamous Bridge to Nowhere would have been. Some perverse part of me wants to see that road when they've finished with it.

~~~~~

In news unrelated to the presidential race, I have locally-grown apples and I'm not afraid to eat them.

QOTM

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 12:41 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
"...and you have nothing to say about it? What are you thinking?"

"That I don't know who to believe, you or Nguyen."

"You believe the one you trust," Cohen said.

"And why the hell should I trust you?"

He shrugged. "There's no should about it. You either do or you don't. You have a lot to learn about life if you think people have to earn your trust."

"You can't talk your way around this one, Cohen."

He shook his head and went on as if she hadn't spoken. "You don't trust people because they're a sure bet or even a good risk. You trust them because the risk that you'll lose them is worse than the risk that they'll hurt you. That took me a few centuries to learn, Catherine, but I did learn it. And you'd better catch on faster than I did. The way things are going right now, I don't think you have a century to spare."


--Chris Moriarty, Spin State

Armistice Day

Sunday, November 11th, 2007 06:37 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Turquoise & peach 1)
From "Armistice Day 1918", the Prologue to Savage Peace: Hope and Fear in America, 1919 by Ann Hagedorn:

Somewhere beyond the mist and the misery on that November morning, six men met in a railcar to end a war. News of the truce moved through the trenches on the trembling lips of soldiers waiting for the screams of flying shells to cease before they believed what they were told. Some heard it first from their captains who distributed strips of paper that read: "Cease firing on all fronts. 11/11/11. Gen. John J. Pershing." Others would never know. They were the unlucky ones killed in the fragile hours before 11 A.M., before the fighting abruptly stopped. The silence, so unfamiliar, was almost as unsettling as the sounds, as if a giant hand suddenly lay across this land of rotting flesh to hush the din of battle. Silence. Prayers. Tears. Then came the roar of cheering and the popping of bonfires piled high with captured ammunition and anything that could burn. The madness was ending, or so it seemed. And fear was giving way to hope.

"One minute we was killing people," a soldier later said, "and then the world was at peace for the first time in four years. It seemed like five minutes of silence and then one of us said, 'Why don't we go home?'"

"I shall never forget the sensation," wrote an officer who climbed out of the trenches when he saw rockets signaling the cease-fire. Onto the open, unprotected ground, he walked toward the front lines of battle. The sun shining on his vulnerability, he moved tentatively, as if the earth beneath each foot might cave in. First he saw German helmets and caps vaulting into a distant haze and then beyond a ridge he saw German soldiers dancing a universal jig of joy. "We stood in a dazed silence unable to believe that at last the fighting was over."


Thank you to all veterans out there, living and dead. May you one day see the time when at last the fighting is over.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Kaleidoscope (purple & white))
For a while now, I've been wondering why I've felt disinclined to write anything here. My mood's been good, my energy's been up, and while my life hasn't been terribly exciting, neither has it been as boring as at other times when posts were frequent. So I sat and thought and realized: I'm waiting.

Word of the Day: The Spanish verb "esperar" means both "to wait" and "to hope."

Waiting to find out if the latest dose of the latest medication will actually do what all previous treatments have failed to do: Enable me to get out and live something resembling the thing I think of when thinking about "a life." Waiting to find out what kind of person I am when all the symptoms go away. Hoping that person is someone I'd like.

Book Quote of the Day: From one of the books I was reading last week:
<Why are you doing this?> she asked warily.

<I'm interested in you. Not like Cohen is. In a more theoretical way. I want to see what you turn into.>

<Right now I'm afraid I'm turning into a bad person.>

He appeared to pause and consider this. The pause was faked, of course; designed to make the exchange feel natural at organic processing speeds. But it was the thought that counted. <You're falling into the identity myth. That's the problem with nonfunctional nomenclature. Names encourage people to harbor the illusion that there's identity beyond interface. That you can be good or bad apart from the effect of your actions on the world.>

<Good intentions have to count for something,> Li protested.

<Good intentions are just a fairy tale humans tell themselves so they can sleep at night.>

<But some actions have unpredictable effects.>

<What do you expect? Life is an intervention in a complex adaptive system.>

<So you're saying you can't know whether you're a good or bad person?>

<Not once you exceed the CAS's Lyapunov time. At that point you have to wait until you can take a final measurement of the end state of the entire universe.> A note of impatience slipped into his affective sets. <What do you want from me, a physics lesson?>

--Chris Moriarty, Spin Control

Today's Purchases: Package of almonds, two bottles of magnesium, lamb, cabbage, potato, and an onion.

Last Meal Eaten: Lamb, cabbage, potato, and onion all fried up together, followed by a glass of grape juice.

Now Wearing: Glasses that keep threatening to fall apart; cartoon T-shirt (featuring Tigger, Pooh, and Eeyore) spattered with oil from the meal mentioned above; jeans other people would consider a good fit (meaning I think they're too tight); white socks; orange, silver, and white running shoes; and boring underwear.

Miles Walked So Far: More than tuna half, but heart. And if you understood the preceding sentence fragment, you might want to look into decluttering your brain. Will probably walk more around sunset if energy levels allow.

Song of the Day: "Oxygen" (Nik Kershaw), for some reason. I've got versions on CD by both Petula Clark & Richard Page, so those are on repeat now. Have never quite understood why this is Nik's most-covered non-hit song, though, even if it is taking over my brain today.

Randomish Bits

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 09:44 am
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
From last week: Photo Gallery: Giant Prehistoric Penguins Found. Link via [livejournal.com profile] mysticpenguin, unsurprisingly.

~~~~~

Here's something you don't often hear me say in July: Yesterday was another in a string of beautiful days: not too hot, not too humid, sunshine during the day to bring clarity to a world of green, little fluffy clouds providing fuel for the fires of sunset.

~~~~~

Health note: Stuff, possibly slightly TMI )

~~~~~

Quote of the moment:

There is no arriving on the living path of Wisdom. There is only this step, and this step, and this step. There is no perfection on Wisdom's path, there is only perfecting. One step is not superior to another other, only more thoughtful, compassionate, just, and wise.

With every step there is something to do. Large or small, complex or simple, each moment offers you an opportunity to act. Do what you can with each opportunity. Give when giving is what is required. Take when taking is what is appropriate. There is no right action for every step, only a right action at every step. Even if your path takes you into the realms of falsehood and chaos, you can act for Wisdom and order. It matters less where you step than it does what you do when you get there.

--Rabbi Rami Shapiro commenting on Proverbs 3:27-31 in The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature

~~~~~

I have more to say. There is always more to say, but there aren't always words to say it with.

I can tell you that I want some Swiss cheese, but that fact really isn't very interesting at all.

Morning

Thursday, January 18th, 2007 10:10 am
hummingwolf: (two)
All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

(via [livejournal.com profile] _metanoia_ in [livejournal.com profile] catholic_quotes)

4

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled.
Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!
Blunt the sharpness,
Untangle the knot,
Soften the glare,
Merge with dust.
Oh, hidden deep but ever present!
I do not know from whence it comes.
It is the forefather of the gods.

(via [livejournal.com profile] daily_tao)

(no subject)

Sunday, August 13th, 2006 11:07 am
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
People become what they focus on.

I need to stop thinking so much about human stupidity, then. (No, not talking about anything LJ-related; just bureaucrap and other General Life Stuff.) I need to deal with it as best as possible, yes; but I need very much not to let it eat my brain. My poor brain has been abused enough lately, thank you very much.

Hmm... this may not be the best mood in which to read Mark Twain.

Speaking of good ol' Sam Clemens, though, here's something I meant to mention a while back: While I remembered that the fine sport of Babelfishing was prefigured by the classic "The Jumping Frog: In English, Then in French, Then Clawed Back Into a Civilized Language Once More by Patient, Unremunerated Toil", I had completely forgotten that Twain also wrote a prophetic homage to MegaHAL. Mark Twain and Markov models really do belong together, and the proof is found in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

Poor Will Shakespeare )

Quote of the Day

Thursday, April 27th, 2006 03:45 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Kaleidoscope (purple & white))
This one seems appropriate for LJ:

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen


([livejournal.com profile] _metanoia_ has been posting Nouwen quotes regularly over on [livejournal.com profile] catholic_quotes. This may be the main reason why I keep the community on my reading list even though I'm not Catholic.)

Quote of the Moment

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006 06:42 pm
hummingwolf: animation of green and gold fractal, number of iterations increasing with time (Iterations in green and gold)
Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts and gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first questions. Social stagnation results not from lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions.

Σ

Animals can learn, but it is not by learning that they become dogs, cats, or horses. Only man has to learn to become what he is supposed to be.

Σ

Due to the imperfection of man's instincts, there is a pause of faltering and groping between his perception and action. A shrinking of the pause results in some degree of dehumanization. This is as true of highly trained specialists and dogmatic true believers as of the mentally deficient.

Both iron discipline and blind faith strive to eliminate the pause before action, while the discipline that humanizes and civilizes aims at widening the interval between impulse and execution.

Art humanizes because the artist must grope and feel his way, and he never ceases to learn.

--Eric Hoffer

(no subject)

Sunday, March 12th, 2006 10:31 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Kaleidoscope (purple & white))
You associate happiness with children and believe that misery is a sign of maturity. When bad things happen to the good person you want yourself to be, you consider it validation, proof you are truly an adult now that you endure things you never imagined when you were a kid. You see your life as significant when you find yourself screwing it up so royally that you rival anyone in the history books. You do things to hurt yourself just to prove you are no longer an infant, and you rationalize dragging others down into your pit and inflicting them with your wounds by saying they should have been mature enough to know what was coming, the way you did, the way you know it every single time you twist that knife in your own sullied flesh. You call your attitude "world-weariness" or (God help us) the "wisdom of age" when what you're really talking about is the result of willfully making the same damn mistakes over and over. This, to you, is what it means to grow up: Melancholy punctuated by the occasional tragedy. If it must all be self-inflicted, that is the price you willingly pay just to avoid being seen (by yourself or others) as a deluded (happy) child.

If any of the above sounds like you, please smack yourself now so I won't have to.

~~~

Lately I've been insanely tired, brain filled with fog. Didn't want to talk to people, though some kind of nonverbal companionship would have been welcome. It's one of those times when I really miss having a pet. Since online interaction tends to consist of words of some sort, I've been staying away more than usual.

Then today, in the middle of the day, I had some time of terrible clarity, terrible because what I was seeing and sensing were those webs we weave around ourselves and others, tendrils creeping out to try to twist and turn people as we will, threads in a net of manipulation and deceit. (I tugged a little on a few threads, just to see if I still knew how. I'm hoping I can find a pair of scissors.) Yeah, it was exactly the sort of clarity that can inspire bad song lyrics and worse philosophizing. I was very much of a misanthrope this afternoon, at least till I gave up and took a nap.

The thing that gets me about the ways people screw up their lives and the lives of people around them is that, while we may often legitimately claim confusion as an excuse, so much of the time we act knowing exactly what we are doing, act with that terrible clarity. We see our contributions to the web we're trapped in. Do spiders ever trap and eat themselves from the inside out the way people do?


From today's [livejournal.com profile] catholic_quotes:
Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.

- Richard M. Nixon

Nixon wasn't any more Catholic than I am, but he probably had some Catholics on his enemies list.
hummingwolf: Snowflake-like kaleidoscope images (Kaleidocoolth)
For the folks who think that the only ways to approach the Bible are a "conservative" approach with a strict fundamentalist literalism or a "liberal" conviction that it can't teach them anything at all, here's a bit few pages of self-consciously conservative non-fundamentalist C.S. Lewis.

Only for those interested )
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this!
--King Lear, 3.4

If'n you like Shakespeare, see Winter Fool, Summer Queen: Shakespeare's Folklore and the English Holiday Cycle.

The Role of a Lifetime

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005 10:22 am
hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
In this world, we all have our troubles. Every single one of us has moments, or months, or years, where we feel we are suffering--must suffer--will continue to suffer more than we can possibly bear. For the biblically literate, the story of Job is the obvious comparison. Poor Job! Calamity after calamity, misery upon misery, all piled on top of this innocent man! He never knew the reason--he was blamed for asking the question--and totally blameless, he endured so much. How could he stand it? He was just like meee!

Who here is familiar with Archibald MacLeish's J.B.: A Play in Verse? It's a modern retelling of the book of Job. Wait, no, that's not quite it: "my J.B. is not a reconstruction of the Book of Job--not, at least, a reconstruction of the kind presently familiar in which the discovery of the model is part of the adventure. My play is put in motion by two broken-down actors who believe, themselves, that the play is the Book of Job and that one of them is acting God and the other, Satan. When J.B. and his family appear however it is not out of the bible that they come."

When we read this play aloud in twelfth-grade English, the teacher wanted each role to be performed by a single person for consistency's sake. So she began to describe each part, great and small, and asked who in the class wanted to read it. When she came to one particular role and began to delineate it, suddenly her eyes grew wide and you could practically see the big light bulb popping on over her head as she turned to me and asked "Do you want to play this part?"

Now, for which role in the story of Job could I have been such an obvious choice?Extended Quote )

(no subject)

Thursday, September 30th, 2004 12:05 pm
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
In Donald A. Norman's book Emotional Design, there's some discussion of why human designers might want to create intelligent machines with something like human emotion.
The component failure should be detected at the visceral level and used to trigger an alert: in essence, the system would become "anxious." The result of this increased anxiety should be to cause the machine to act more conservatively, perhaps slowing down or postponing non-critical jobs. In other words, why shouldn't machines behave like people who have become anxious? They would be cautious even while attempting to remove the cause of anxiety. With people, behavior becomes more focused until the cause and an appropriate response are determined. Whatever the response for machine systems, some change in normal behavior is required.

Animals and humans have developed sophisticated mechanisms for surviving in an unpredictable, dynamic world, coupling the appraisals and evaluations of affect to methods for modulating the overall system. The result is increased robustness and error tolerance. Our artificial systems would do well to learn from their example.
Yesterday afternoon I went to see a psychiatrist, in part because my rheumatologist suggested a newish drug which he thought Medicaid would be more likely to pay for if it was prescribed by a psychiatrist. The new doctor did write a prescription for the rheumy's recommended drug, as well as a new prescription for Ritalin (which I've taken off & on for somewhere between eight years and a decade). After hearing a bit about my life as it is now, he also tried to convince me to take several more drugs, based on the fact that I'm clearly anxious and not sleeping all that well. The man was rather insistent.

During the appointment there was an uncomfortable argument going on in my mind as I tried to decide whether I should tell him that maybe the best treatment for the anxiety of someone who's worried about ending up homeless within a very short time period would be to figure out how to help that person find a home

or tell him that he really needs to change the medication for his own ADHD because he was acting very much like a ferret on crack.

The more reasonable part of my brain won, and I did tell him that I'd rather not take a bunch of new drugs when I've got an anxiety-provoking situation to deal with. He wasn't convinced. I guess there's just so much you can say to a crack-addled ferret.

A friend thought last night that I was pretty anti-drug. I'm not against drugs. I do take Ritalin and am grateful for the help it gives me in dealing with the cognitive problems that go along with fibromyalgia. What I am against is a culture where a person can say "Hi, I'm very upset right now because I'm afraid I'm going to end up on the streets and I need to find a place to live quickly and I don't know where to turn," a doctor can say "Here, take this pill to wipe your anxiety away," and the doctor's response is considered a helpful one. Of course I don't expect a doctor to help me find a place to live. But I do think they should recognize that not every emotion is a disease in need of a cure.

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