Archive for June, 2012

Suicide Packed

Friday, June 29th, 2012

We all know the warning against painting ourselves into the corner. In simple terms it means don’t get yourself into a situation that you can’t get out of if you can avoid it, but more specifically it means to think about the consequences of what you’re doing and try to avoid the ones that are undesirable.

But when you’ve already laid down the paint, there’s nothing to do but try to find some way to get out of the corner without messing things up.

According to God, that’s what led to suicide being raised to the level of mortal sin in the Catholic teachings. They had done such a good job of telling people how wonderful Heaven was, how it was a paradise where your every whim was fulfilled beyond your expectations, that they began to fear their true believers would find ways to try and gain early admission. Now one thing that pretty much all religions have in common is that they’re always trying to increase their numbers. They want market share. And having their followers start to kill themselves is bad for that in two ways… First, when someone has killed themself, they may still technically be one of your followers, but they don’t contribute much. Second it makes it harder to get new members. I mean think about it, if you were considering changing religions (or getting one for the first time), would you look for one where people are killing themselves or would you look for one where they weren’t? I think the answer’s pretty clear.

A Special Message

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I’m in the midst of a week of spending all of my non-working, waking hours, sitting in the dark. I’ve been attending Frameline, San Francisco’s International LGBT Film Festival. I’ve been steeping in documentaries about the struggles of queers the world over, in love stories of an alternative nature, and in meditations on what it means to be gay.

In that spirit I’ve got a message from God to everyone about the difference between natural rights and “special” rights.

Natural rights are those rights that support living in our natural state. “Special” rights are rights that support living with things we choose or which are chosen for us before we are able to choose.

God and I would just like to make this clear: Gay rights are not special, religious rights are special.

That’s why freedom of religion is mentioned in the constitution and freedom to love, even to love someone of the same sex, is not

A Civil Life

Friday, June 15th, 2012

I sometimes feel guilty at not having been an active participant in the great civil rights struggles from which I’ve clearly benefited. It’s why I wish I could believe that the Occupy Wall Street movement is something more than just an unorganized circus; so I could contribute in some way without feeling like I’m wasting my time.

God tells me I’m fooling myself, that I would still find some excuse to not take part. He says I’m too lazy and selfish, and I don’t really disagree.

And what are some of those benefits that I’ve accrued? Well, in the early twentieth century, workers were killed by government and business thugs as they fought for safe working conditions and a shorter work week, leading eventually to today’s standard forty hours. In the sixties, part of the struggle was just to not have to drown our inner selves in an ocean of conformist mediocrity, and that certainly made my life better. Another part of that mid-century civil rights movement was for the right of mixed race couples to marry, which helped pave the way for today’s struggle for gay marriage. It makes me feel almost guilty for not having a boyfriend, for not having someone who would make the gay marriage fight really my own, not just figuratively my own.

In 1969, when the hippies gave us the Summer of Love and Judy Garland gave us the Stonewall Riots, I was only nine. I was too young to take part, and now it feels like I’m too old for the fight for marriage. So what’s my point? I’m not sure I have one. And I suppose then that that’s the point. I’ve happily ridden along on the shoulders of giants, I’ve gone down roads that are wide and clearly marked, blazed no trails of my own, made no mark upon the world. Thousands of souls made it possible for me to live a comfortable, almost hedonistic life.

So to all of them, “Thanks.”


Friday, June 8th, 2012

Humans are a cooperative species. That is the very essence and basis of society.

We’re not unique in this. In fact we’re not even the most extreme example. Take bees for instance; you never see a bee strike out on it’s own, off to live a solitary existence free to wander from flower to flower and never you mind about going back to the hive. But you do see people that live alone, interacting with society only enough to meet their physical needs. Sometimes people manage to do this even while living within a city.

According to God, one of the prime contributors to society is empathy. We have an inborn habit of imagining each other’s feelings, be it happiness or pain. We get a “contact high” from being around someone exuberant. We cry at sad movies.

I say ouch on behalf of inanimate objects.

It’s an involuntary thing. I’ll see a minor accident, or even just a particularly nastily crumbled fender and wince. I’ll be putting on an old shirt and the seam of the armpit will tear, and I’ll say ouch. It’s a little thing but it’s part of the glue that holds us together. It’s part of why we enjoy cartoons where “things” come alive, we already imagine them alive, so there’s a sort of “I knew it” aspect to watching these shows. So empathy is the basis of anthropomorphication. We even carry this up to the grandest of scales, we empathize with the entire universe and call that God, and instead of saying “ouch” we say that we sin.

The Logs Have It

Friday, June 1st, 2012

So after God and I had discussed, as some physicists propose, the possibility that the universe we live in is a three-dimensional projection of a two-dimensional description, we decided to take this dimensional duality and use it to inform our take on another universal description. It didn’t originate with the movie The Matrix, but that film and its sequels did a lot to popularize the notion that the universe we live in is actually just a computer simulation.

Certainly computer sims have come a long way towards being able to portray the world around us, pathetically short of the reality mind you, but getting close enough to whet the imagination with the potential. I pointed out that for all the touting of 3D graphics, the actual display of them is 2D. Even 3D movies are merely two slightly different 2D images displayed in a way that engages our stereoscopic view of the world. We don’t get to change our focal depth the way we would with something that actually was presented to us in three dimensions. But my point was that a computer’s presentation of a 2D image, calculated from a description of three dimensions, matches fairly well to the notion of the universe as a holographic projection.

God then pointed out that the very language we use to effect our transfer into cyberspace, such as it currently is, confuses the interpretation of the space as being either 2D or 3D. She suggested that if the universe really were a 3D projection from a 2D description that maybe our subconscious knowledge of this would inform our choice of terms and lead to that very confusion. When we “log in” to a computer system, it suggests that the cyberspace we are entering is three-dimensional, that it is a space we enter into the inside of. When we “log on” however, we just admit to a surface. Cyberspace is then like that two-dimensional plane that holds the description of the holographic universe just at the edge of a black hole, just outside its event horizon.

So maybe Timothy Leary was anticipating what the physicists have enshrined as String Theory, when he told us to “turn on, tune in and drop out.” We might suppose the “tune in” part was like the tuning of a guitar; we tune the guitar to match the frequencies of our musical scale, but we tune ourselves to match the oscillating strings that make up the universe. Then maybe the new catch phrase could be “log in or log out” meaning that we can choose to join the universe-as-simulation or to separate ourselves from it and by making it a conscious choice, we make the universe our own.

And when it becomes our own, maybe it’s 2D when we log “on”, and maybe it’s 3D when we log “in.” Or maybe it’s just that English speakers like having more than one way to say things.