Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Return to Essays

For a year now, I've been only writing on my travel blog. Things have returned to the Ordinary, so I plan to return to writing essays on random topics of my interest. Most of my thinking in the past few months has leaned towards the philosophical. I've been reading a lot of Wikipedia entries on various philosophers and theirs ideas in an effort to introduce myself to the field.

I've haven't really done a whole lot of reading on the subject, in terms of the philosophers' works themselves. Wikipedia has been a great tool for giving me a reading list. I would like to start with at least on enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant, and then move into more modern philosophical ideas, including Pragmatists, Logical Positivists, and perhaps some Nietzsche and other Existentialists.

All of this is in an effort to start defining a personal philosophy. I've always had a set of loose ideas under which I operate, but perhaps it's time to start formalisation. This is sort of exercise should, perhaps, be done every decade or so. I'm closing in on my thirtieth birthday, and so I think it is time to reevaluate my values.

Essays may lean much more philosophically as this exploration and formalisation proceeds. Or, as usual, I may just be full of crap.

We'll see.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Great Opinion on Blogging

John Richards, DJ of the Morning Show, Audio Oasis, and other things on KEXP opened up the KEXP blog with a great blurb about blogging.

If I hear the word "blog" one more time I'm going to vomit but blogit, I'm going to blogity blog blog right bloggin now! I actually heard a commercial the other day where the guy is saying something like "man, I'm on line blogging all the time and when I need a break...." You can SEE the company president saying to his staff "Now LISTEN, I keep hearing about this wacky blog thing out there and I want to make sure we're hip to that vibe man." Then you can see the people making the commercial rolling their eyes at the copy they have to come up with. I feel for you. Hang in there....the commercial still blows though. Anyway, where was I....or yeah! KEXP Blogga Bloggggggg Bloggidy Blog Blog......Blog.

Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lure of the Eye

For anyone who owns a Mac PowerBook of a more recent incarnation, there is a little white LED on the front, set into the button for opening the laptop screen. This little white light pulses in slow, methodical time when the laptop is sleeping.

It calls.

It is like a siren's song, drawing in the user towards that button.

"Open me," it sings. "I have access to information both interesting and obscure. I can give you knowledge of the world, or entertainments you would only dream of. All you have to do is open the lid."

Wake the Eye, is all it is asking.

It is a vile temptress, a distracter of man, reducing him again to a quivering sieve of information. Like it's sister, Television, that information is fleeting against the brain. It tickles it, teases it, and lulls it into a sense of learning. But the information is fickle. It leaves as easily as it came.

And the user is left hollow. He awakes from the distraction as if from a dream. The information fades back into the Æther from whence it came.

But the Eye sleeps.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tension Paper

I am a big fan of Lost. I really thought that it was a great show in its first season. It generated a great amount of tension, really did a superb job of drawing the viewer into the characters, and gave one a lot to think about, in terms of where they were going. Well written television, in my opinion.

Which is what lead me to doing a little bit of thinking about why Lost sucks this season.

The last four episodes of the first season were one long, tension-increasing build-up to...something - opening the hatch, showdown with the others, something, anything, sharing a coke with the polar bears, I don't know. What we end up with on the start of the second season was just a rapid deflation of the tension.

So, psychologically, we were kind of left with a sense of "what the fuck just happened here?". The first season actually started out with a surprising amount of tension ("Hey, we just crashed on a deserted island. OMG, we're fucked."). That's what grabbed hold of me, anyway. It's like the first chapter of a NY Times best seller: there's usually a really great first chapter that grabs your attention from page one. If not, you probably wouldn't read the book (this is true of most good books, actually - unless you know the author and know that they're going to get you somewhere really cool).

So this season, they decided to kind of drop the tension and start from scratch of creating a whole new set of tension, while leaving the first seasons set of tensions rather disappointingly unresolved. That's what my whole theory here boils down to: we're all still waiting for season one's tension resolution.

I think that's why I still hold out a little hope for the series. If they can do a good job of getting back to resolving some of those other problems, the show will get back on track. They have enough open ended things. The really should have stuck with closing those, neatly, maybe with a double stich.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


We are a product of our times. In today's modern times we spend so much of our time wanting more things, needed more money, bigger houses, more, more, more. What happened to the pursuit of intellect, or honor or justice, even? When were they lost?

When one reads about the great men and women of the past, they have one thing in common: most were voracious readers. The devoured knowledge, absorbed it. Look at the likes of Hamilton, Roosevelt, Churchill. These men were great intellects, as well as great leaders.

Are the great men and woman today of equal caliber? I'd say no. Those in power are not the type who have mastered these talents. They all are men of opportunity and staying power. The wait for their reward through years of loyalty, not talent. It's toadyism at it's worst.

The[1] difference between the times probably has everything to do with it. Intellectualism was of great importance. People read more wrote more, self-entertained more, discussed ideas in an open manner. Many of the great men since the Age of Enlightenment were great due to this extensive interest in knowledge.

Then again, are those of us who watch TV and enjoy the entertainments of this modern age merely the plebians, the groundlings, the unwashed masses of the day? What does that do for our significance in the world? There was certainly the fair share of people in the days of greats who were much less intellectually capable.

These were the sorts of people that the masters of the French or Russian revolutions grabbed onto, using the mob mentality to satisfy their own designs. For a more recent example, we can look at the post-9/11 America. Fear of terrorism on such a grand scale was used to railroad some very sketchy legislation through.

How do we combat this use of the mob? Education. Information. Not through the media, but through teachers, parents, and mentors. Given the way that TV seems to affect the brain, we really should start to try and remove it. Or perhaps change it. Due to the rise of Tivo, advertisement driven TV may be on the way out. It'll have to be more subtle, but perhaps that will allow some of the dumbing down of the populace to be removed.

This is more of a rant[2] than I usually go for, but I'm generally bothered by the course of government in the US these days. I think what bothers me more is the general apathy of the populace. We need to become more active in how our country is run, and the best way to do that is through education, information, and open dialogues.

Happily, it's a midterm election year. I think people are starting to get angry enough to enact some change.

[1] Funny how one can get stuck mid-sentence. Actually, this isn't really mid-sentence, is it? It's more of the first word. But it is a word that implies start to anything. The rest of the sentence needs to be formed in the mind before is placed to keyboard. Even in free-writing (and free-writing in my sense of the concept is simply writing about a topic and trying to stay on topic - which I'm obviously not doing) each sentence may only be thought of right after the completion of the last one. Anyway, back to that sentence...

[2] So as you can see, this is much less coherent than usual. Sometimes, you just gotta rant...