… and the level after that.

Taking it to the next level, and the level after that.

Only a pretentious, pompous, self-satisfied ego-maniac would ever claim to live life by such a maxim. I certainly make no effort to engage in life so extraordinarily: I seldom even behave as if the notion of passionate engagement had ever even crossed my mind. But that is still somehow what I believe the purpose of life is.

I don’t think I could prove that life has meaning, but it seems to want to. I don’t give much credit to most people’s effort to comprehend or find meaning in life, but I still seek out my own meaning. I definitely spend more time trying to figure out what might be the true way to live right but seldom make any effort actually testing out or enjoying any of these theories with my limited remaining time on earth.

But here’s what I’ve figured out so far:

There are infinite levels of complexity in the universe. Each level is built upon and beyond the previous, in an accelerating ascension of increased detail and what appears to be a growth towards life, beauty, and further creation. The way the details of the solar system relate to the galaxy and to each planet is one example. The way blood flows through the patterns of veins, and the route rivers run into the sea, and the paths animals wear across savannas are all different detail levels of the same underlying structures of the universe we live in. (I should illustrate this point with some images…)

Order and systems are created out of the chaotic, independent agents of the simpler system, which itself of course contains unending complex systems tied together intricately. No system can fully describe or contain the actors of its component layers and their sometimes frantic thrashes-about are what create growth, variety, novelty, and fractal expansion of the systems to ever higher organic achievements. Rocks, heat, collisions, gas, and more raw elements eventually turned into single and multicellular organisms that became plants and animals and grew and covered the earth and turned more complicated and sophisticated all the while until humans came along with our insane brains and our ability to form language and communicate amazingly sophisticatedly and  develop complicated plans and theories and invent and plan so many never before possible levels of group cooperation and achievement. Most planets don’t even appear to get any life on them at all, it seems.

Given this, how can we not feel compelled to act up to our potential – which is that of the most sophisticated, intelligent, and capable life form yet created in the universe (so far as we know). We are the next level, and we alone as a species have the level of mental intelligence to take it to the level after that.

Which is why I’m so disappointed in myself and all of us.

 

A Year in Six Packs: 2007

Check out the video for a slide show of my drinking habits and tastes (in 2008). Not every six I drank at home is included, but most are. A few 4 packs snuck in there, but I left out all the 12 packs and cases for balance. Lots of IPAs this year, especially from big-shot local brewery Goose Island. I’m keeping track of my efforts for 2008 too, of course. Watching this reminds me that I need to score some more Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55.

Click to pause/play, scroll to scrub through, double-click to replay.

Listed in order of appearance:

Sprecher: Cream Soda

Goose Island: IPA

Dogfish Head: Raison D’Étre

New Belgium: Skinny Dip

Dogfish Head: 60 Minute IPA

New Belgium: Fat Tire

Virgil’s Root Beer

Goose Island: Honker’s Ale

DAB: Original

Shiner: Hefeweizen

Dogfish Head: 60 Minute IPA

Red Hook: Copper Hook – Spring Ale

Cerveza Imperial

Goose Island: IPA

Red Hook: IPA

Capital Brewery: Wisconsin Amber

Blue Moon

Heineken

Goose Island: IPA

Samuel Adams: Octoberfest

Sierra Nevada: Anniversary Ale

New Belgium: 2 Below

Pilsner Urquell

Pacifico

New Belgium: 2 Below

Goose Island: IPA

Goose Island: Honker’s Ale

Bodingtons

Brooklyn Brewery: Pennant Ale ’55

Newcastle Brown Ale

Goose Island: IPA

Brooklyn Brewery: Brooklyn Lager

Two Brothers: Domaine DuPage

Guinness Draught

Blue Point Brewing Company: Hoptical Illusion

Black and White Debates?

How about if the debates were filmed and broadcast in black and white?

I was just looking at some photos (here) from the first Presidential debates that made me realize that I really love Obama as a person, even though I still intend to vote for Ralph Nader on principal. Holy Jesus, I hope Obama is elected.

Anyhow, the set for the debate was ridiculous: blue walls, red carpets, weird neo-deco lecterns, and script font wall projections of the Constitution or some other document of Democracy (it was illegible). What the fuck is that? Some more cartoon imagery pretending to represent a falsely presupposed understanding of an unstated concept that doesn’t exist based on fallacious and illusory patriotic nostalgia, I guess.

So I thought, “wouldn’t it be dramatic and nice if they shot these debates in startling close-up under starkly lit black and white?” Especially appropriate, I thought, in a race where race is a central though unspoken issue. Like in the recent dramatization of Edward R Murrow, Good Night, and Good Luck. That’d be sweet, and it might help me suppress my gag reflex.

Also, on the issue of race: What the fuck, you racist hill-jack fucks!?!* Stop voting for causes that don’t benefit you. Just because most rich people in America are white doesn’t mean you’re on their team, idiot.

*Obviously, this statement only applies to certain people. Hopefully you can tell who you are. I love you.

Recent Books I've Read

I think I forget a lot of the books I read, but if I write them down I can check back.

I just finished the quick but sometimes funny Mike’s Election Guide 2008 that Michael Moore put together. Not too deep, but still probably pretty relevant in the context of this coming election. More than a few funny moments and unique perspectives. The last chunk was just brief recaps of Democratically winnable congressional races coming up.

Previous to that I read Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal. It had some nice recent-era history of liberal politics and made the cause of Universal Health Care seem imminently plausible and achievable. It’s great to read stuff like this, especially coming from a main-stream and well respected journalist. However, it did leave me feeling uncertain about how well I understand or could ever understand the perspective of the common man, voting citizen, TV viewer or what have you. Are people into this? Will they be easily tricked against their own interest? Who the fuck knows.

Before that I had read Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. Fucking eye-opener as usual. You know, you feel like you’re starting to get a good grasp on how the world works in all its nastiness, but I didn’t consider the breadth of the details that this book covered. That is pretty overwhelming, especially when described with the nonchalance that Chomsky must have developed over decades of studying more of the same in this sphere of geopolitics.

Thank God for Science!

Whew, a big flutter of chatter in the news last week about some recent scientific findings: the gases let off by shower curtains are bad! That’s right folks: those foul, chemical-smelling, plastic-manufactory odors that you smell when you open the package of a new plastic shower curtain are actually noxious gases. No shit! Thank you again science, I couldn’t have figured it out for myself. 

I do think the way news is reported these days is ridiculous in all its forms, and one of those is definitely the portrayal of really obvious things that have now become verified by science. I admit that there could be some use to it if it helps establish some legal boundaries or something to assist the greater good, but can’t science work on something more important?

How to get yourself elected

To me, these are the only acceptable positions on current political issues:

Gay Marriage.
Are you kidding me? Of course gay people can get married or do whatever they want and deserve full protection under the law. It’s called equality and if you don’t stand for it you are garbage. Moving on.

Iraq.
Totally fucked, we should pull out ASAP. That won’t fix it though, but nothing we can do will. For the next 20 years we need to give them mountains of cash to rebuild their infrastructure and provide basic services to the population. Can’t wait to find out which leader of a powerful religious sect we get to hand this cash over to, the current government stands no chance.

Universal Health Care.
It’s starting to sound like people are willing to pay lip service to this idea finally, but until we really implement a way for everyone in the US to get basic and free health service our claim to be civilized at all is laid bare. If we can stand by and let thousands of our fellow citizens die because they can’t pay enough to live we are immoral savages. A single payer system is the only way too, whatever is required to get there: anything else is just a smoke screen to not do the right thing in deference to the health care industry’s greed.

Immigration.

Space Program.

Environment.

 

Guess I never finished this, but better to post it for posterity than to wait around to work on it more later. For instance, I published this 6.5 years after I half wrote it.

Am I Entertained Yet?

I don’t think it’s too controversial to suggest that one of the main problems with our society here in the US is that the population is far too well entertained to care much about politics. Yet for someone who is quick to level that judgement on everyone else, I sure have a hell of a time not just whiling my time away on various forms of entertainment.

I don’t mean to suggest that I’d be writing my Congressman constantly if it weren’t for TV, but just flipping the switch to “active and productive participant in life” from “passive vessel to be filled with the best in electronic and multimedia diversions” is pretty tough.

Infinite Pause

Super Mario Bros. 3 Map I just discovered the best feature of the Virtual Console on the Nintendo Wii: you can leave games paused infinitely just by returning to the Wii Menu. Not such a big deal for the Super Nintendo and later games with Save functionality built-in, but this is huge for NES and other games where you have to play from start to finish in one sitting. It’s like turning the TV off and leaving the NES running all day while you’re at school.

I’ve just started playing through Super Mario Bros. 3, and because of this feature I think I’ll play through the entire game. Should be fun to beat every level instead of just grabbing those Warp Whistles all the time. I’ll let you know how it goes when I finish next year sometime.