42 (Thousand?) Year Old Observation

The fate of all mankind, I see, is in the hands of fools.


Special Prayer

Protect me from knowing what I don't need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don't know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know about the things that I decided not to know about. Amen.
― Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless


Save the Planet!

We're so self-important. So self-important. Everybody's going to save something now. "Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails." And the greatest arrogance of all: Save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet, we don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven't learned how to care for one another, we're gonna save the fucking planet?
    I'm getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit. I'm tired of fucking Earth Day, I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren't enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world save for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don't give a shit about the planet. They don't care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don't. Not in the abstract they don't. You know what they're interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They're worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn't impress me.
    Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We've been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we've only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we're a threat? That somehow we're gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that's just a-floatin' around the sun?
    The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles... hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages... And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet... The planet... The planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE!
    We're going away. Pack your shit, folks. We're going away. And we won't leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet'll be here and we'll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet'll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.
    You wanna know how the planet's doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet's doing. You wanna know if the planet's all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. Or how about those people in Kilowaia, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room.
    The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we're gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, 'cause that's what it does. It's a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it's true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, "Why are we here?" Plastic... Asshole.
    So, the plastic is here, our job is done, we can be phased out now. And I think that's begun. Don't you think that's already started? I think, to be fair, the planet sees us as a mild threat. Something to be dealt with. And the planet can defend itself in an organized, collective way, the way a beehive or an ant colony can. A collective defense mechanism. The planet will think of something. What would you do if you were the planet? How would you defend yourself against this troublesome, pesky species? Let's see... Viruses. Viruses might be good. They seem vulnerable to viruses. And, uh... Viruses are tricky, always mutating and forming new strains whenever a vaccine is developed. Perhaps, this first virus could be one that compromises the immune system of these creatures. Perhaps a human immunodeficiency virus, making them vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases and infections that might come along. And maybe it could be spread sexually, making them a little reluctant to engage in the act of reproduction.
    Well, that's a poetic note. And it's a start. And I can dream, can't I? See I don't worry about the little things: bees, trees, whales, snails. I think we're part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. Know what I call it? The Big Electron. The Big Electron... Whoooa. Whoooa. Whoooa. It doesn't punish, it doesn't reward, it doesn't judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while.
    RIP, George Carlin.


Click Here for a Video Tutorial on How to Write a Book

Am I the only one disgruntled with the way web content is slowly being converted to dumb, slow, flashy videos not worth their length in a torture chamber?



How is it that every book I read by Charles Stross is better than the last one? Do people have no limits?!

Also, is it a bit of Douglas Adams-style misanthropic humor I'm sensing in Singularity Sky (which I've just begun to read but already love, as happened with Accelerando)?


This is the State of the Art?

During an Internet outage at my cousin's a few weeks ago, I got bored and decided to try using (or rather, setting up) my iPhone. I know language conventions dictate that the name of a Cool, New gadget preceded by a possessive adjective (e.g. "my iPhone") implies the speaker is already using said gadget, probably to desocialize and blow up virtual animals using other virtual animals--but I'm not one for conventions. Oh, no. If anything, the rest of this post will prove that.

So I tear its cellophane packaging and open the box inside, trying not to think about how much this has just cost me, if I ever decide to sell the thing. I turn it on, select a language and a region, and see a screen asking me to choose a Wi-Fi connection. Oops. Luckily, there's an alternative: "Set up using iTunes." I take out the USB cable, connect the phone to my MacBook Pro and get ready to watch whatever choreography they have planned together. No such luck: "Please upgrade your iTunes..."

At this time, I'm pondering the nature of this device I paid an honest man's salary for. Is it a mobile telephone? If so, why is it asking for an Internet connection (or, weirdly, an obscure piece of PC software as an alternative?) I had always thought that mobile phones were supposed to make wireless connections, not use them. Maybe I am getting old or falling behind the current technology but in either case, there's nothing I can do right now. I repack and put everything away, and go back to telepathically fixing the Internet connection by means of watching the blinking lights on the front panel of the DSL modem.

A few days later, when I've willed the Internet back into existence, I decide to try again. I pass through the same steps, and then the Wi-Fi one, with ease. But it's not long before the phone asks for a SIM card. Apparently, it has just remembered that it is a phone, after all. And there's a problem: It doesn't recognize the SIM cards in use by all the other mobile phones in existence. Swear, repack, put away...

...and fast forward two weeks, to when I'm back home and near a shop subsidized by my preferred GSM carrier. I go there and buy the special SIM card, return home, put it in. After struggling to set up a Wi-Fi connection (turns out I am behind the current technology, after all) I set out to try setting up my phone once again. After the familiar steps, it asks me for my Apple ID which I'm too happy to supply--I've snagged this Really Cool username, you see: "aib". And which it immediately asks me to change. To an e-mail address. Not sure what this mandatory change is for or what the phone is going to do to my Apple account afterwards, I opt to go back and apply for a new one. It turns out to be the better option, because now I can sign up for this thing called "iCloud e-mail address." Even though "aib" is taken--damn.

A few unimpeding steps later, I'm greeted with what I've learned to recognize as the "home screen" of the iPhone. Finally! I immediately go to "settings" and start customizing my phone. I see a "Twitter" option somewhere and try to turn it on, but the action takes me to the App Store payment settings page. I hadn't realized that the Twitter integration application cost money. Oh, well. I go back to the home screen, where there's an alert waiting for me: "Something About This free iBook application! Get it now?" Despite my feelings about eBooks (and what I suspect iBooks to be) and tempted by the lack of a monetary cost, I tap the "get" button which forwards me to some App Store page.

On the App Store page which reminds me that iBook Something is free, I tap the "install" button (which might've actually read "FREE", I'm not sure) and what comes up next is a surprise: The App Store payment options page, once again. "None" (meaning no payment option) is already selected, but I'm not allowed to proceed. Which means my phone is already asking me for my credit card information...

I give up and postpone the whole ordeal indefinitely, preferably to be retaken at a time in my life when I'm sufficiently happy as to not feel defensive towards my own telephone.



In the last few days, I've drastically cut down on smoking [rolling tobacco, Adıyaman]. This is my third attempt, first without the help of general anesthesia. I'm experiencing a new high, something that's much more fun than smoking itself or even that first, buzzy cigarette you have after a short break. I hope it's the quitting (or cutting down, I'm not sure what's the final goal here) and not something else wrong with me.

I've actually started feeling the blood flow to my extremities and other appendages. It's a weird, peaceful -- almost meditative -- and healthy feeling. (Oh gods, I hope it's not an illness.) It's what feels like would be the opposite of numbing, like when you warm up after coming in from playing out in the snow. I like to attribute it to O2 replacing CO and CO2 in my blood.



The Grizzly Bear is huge and wild;
He has devoured the infant child.
The infant child is not aware.
It has been eaten by the bear.
A.E. Housman, Infant Innocence

Robert Charles Wilson's Spin is the best sci-fi book I've read in a while. It's hard to say what captivated me, but I remember the I-must-go-back-to-reading-it feeling from before: From when I was reading Anathem.