Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Has it ever occurred to you how astonishing the culture of Western society really is? Industrialized nations provide their citizens with unprecedented safety, health, and comfort. Average life spans increased fifty percent in the last century. Yet modern people live in abject fear. They are afraid of strangers, of disease, of crime, of the environment. They are afraid of the homes they live in, the food they eat, the technology that surrounds them. They are in a particular panic over things they can't even see--germs, chemicals, additives, pollutants. They are timid, nervous, fretful, and depressed.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
- April 2, 2001: the day I ran into The Missus during a fire drill and decided to make her The Missus
- May 21, 2004: the day I made The Missus The Missus
- March 2, 1993: the day she (not The Missus) waved me across and then ran me over
- August 12, 1994: the day John Kruk said $13,000 a game wasn't enough
Saturday, June 27, 2009
- contributory negligence and assumption of the risk as absolute bars to recovery are alive and well in the Old Line State
- the Model Penal Code and it's four mental states are frowned upon in favor of the classic triumvirate of specific intent, malice, and general intent
- Daubert and its progeny are laughed at in favor of the classic "general acceptance" test
- judges wear powdered wigs and lawyers wear formal attire in court and trill their R's
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
If you want to think of it that way, a human being is actually a giant swarm. Or more precisely, it's a swarm of swarms, because each organ---blood, liver, kidneys---is a separate swarm. What we refer to as a "body" is really the combination of all these organ swarms.
We think our bodies are solid, but that's only because we can't see what is going on at the cellular level. If you could enlarge the human body, blow it up to a vast size, you would see that it was literally nothing but a swirling mass of cells and atoms, clustered together into smaller swirls of cells and atoms.
Who cares? Well, it turns out a lot of processing occurs at the level of the organs. Human behavior is determined in many places. The control of our behavior is not located in our brains. It's all over our bodies.
So you could argue that "swarm intelligence" rules human beings, too. Balance is controlled by the cerebellar swarm, and rarely comes to consciousness. Other processing occurs in the spinal cord, the stomach, the intestine. A lot of vision takes place in the eyeballs, long before the brain is involved.Stay with me now.
So there's an argument that the whole structure of consciousness, and the human sense of self-control and purposefulness, is a user illusion. We don't have conscious control over ourselves at all. We just think we do.
Just because human beings went around thinking of themselves as "I" didn't mean it was true.Could this explain why psychology is a two-way mirror? It seems like we can always look at our friends and neighbors and pick out their problems (and solutions), but we can never figure our own out. Maybe that's because our consciousness is spread across our billions of cells, the vast majority of which are too busy digesting, oxygenating, or doing whatever to pay attention to the deeper questions of life.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
Think about other great movies. The Godfather tells us an old story about love and family within the Italian mob. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest forced us to ponder who the really crazy ones are and what we're doing about it. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind asked questions as old as the human race about the inevitability of life. What did Slumdog teach us?
That honesty is the best policy? Awesome. Ten Things I Hate About You, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, and a hundred other non-classics tackle that same weighty issue.
But maybe my real beef with the movie is its troubling social darwinism. Which slumdog wins 20 million rupees and which slumdog died alone in a bathtub full of cash? And which slumdog has been begging for so long he can identify your alms by smell (since he can't see)? And what about all those other slumdogs whom Javed made homeless? Those unglorified stories, juxtaposed as they are with Jamal's, stink of Victorian theories on life and fairness, that the downtrodden are downtrodden for a reason.
No thanks. I'll take Yes Man and the questions it makes me ask myself over another movie telling me life really is fair.
Sent from my iPod