Maybe I'm back?

Looking for alternatives to my current online presences. Hopefully the spam is not as bad as it once was.

Task #1: clear out friends and feeds that are no longer relevant a decade later. If you're still here and want me to know it, comment here.

Is it possible that everyone who bought The Secret is a total moron?

Peter Birkenhead, a Salon writer, speculated about the stupidity of people who bought The Secret (mostly in the context of lambasting Oprah's endorsements of it) and an acquaintance of mine quipped, "Does the author really think that the all the millions of people who have bought The Secret are total morons?" To which I replied:

Well, "moron" used to be the clinical term for people whose IQ fell in the range of 51-70 (e.g., a 20-year-old with the intellectual capacity of a 12-year-old). Given that IQ is a normal distribution (bell curve), and allowing that "total moron" would be a more restrictive category than "moron", therefore mathematically defining it as the third standard deviation below normal, we find that in a world of 6 billion people, there are 16.2 million "total morons."

Since there are only 5.75 million copies of The Secret in print (counting the publisher's 1 March reorder of 2 million copies), it is entirely mathematically possible that "all the millions of people who have bought The Secret are total morons". However, since I know at least a few demonstrated non-morons who've at least read, if not bought, the book, it's clear that, if Birkenhead does believe this, he is wrong.

This episode has been brought to you by the numbers 'n' and 'p', and the letter 'σ'. ;-P

Quote of the Day

With thanks to sagemichael for the pointer.
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.

Whitehead, Alfred North (1978-07-01). "Chapter I: Fact and Form, Section I", Process and Reality (Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927-28) (Amazon), Corrected pbk. ed. 1985, New York: The Free Press, 39. LCC BD511.W5 1978. ISBN 0-02-934570-7.

Rumble rumble

If I'd been one bus earlier tonight, as originally planned, I'd've felt this one, an order of magnitude stronger than the last. I did feel my office rumble a couple times today, but that happens often enough that it's no doubt caused by large trucks heading for I-680.
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    BART train passing
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The camera does, in fact, lie

Ever wonder what those airbrushed models looked like before they were photoshopped into the unattainable ideal of so-called beauty?

Wonder no more.

While these are fairly Safe For Work unless your boss is really uptight, you pornhounds should be interested to note that the retoucher has worked for Cheri, Genesis, High Society, and Swank, which are so not SFW, and also Penthouse, which these days, sadly, nearly is; in print anyway.
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    shocked shocked
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What time is it? What time is. What time.... What?

It was occurring to me last night, while watching The Seventh Seal at the Castro in the wake of reading Orson Scott Card's "Ender Quartet", that free will is an illusion in the same way the Buddhists describe phenomenal existence as an illusion—not that it doesn't exist, but more that it doesn't exist the way that we think it does. In the end, however, we can never do anything other than exactly what we do. Where's the choice? It simply looks like a choice because we perceive things linearly, in time. Once you collapse the time illusion, choice, cause and effect, and therefore karma, all become meaningless, in a way. And yet, here we are, stuck in time, trying to figure out what choice will let us escape, and what to have for dinner.

(EDIT) Note that "free will" above is intended in the philosophical sense, and is to be distinguished from True Will.

Quote of the Day

A take on the Book of Genesis which I had not previously considered.
It has often been argued, in fact, that mankind lost the happiness characteristic of his fellow-animals when he acquired self-consciousness. This is in fact the meaning of the legend of "The Fall." We have become as gods, knowing good and evil, and the price is that we live by labour, and—"In his eyes foreknowledge of death."

Crowley, Aleister [1922] (1970). "A Heroin Heroine", Diary of a Drug Fiend, 7th American edition printing, 1985, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 71-72. ISBN 0-87728-146-7.

This is particularly interesting to me in that I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the dichotomy of good and evil, and whether this has any existence at all outside the mind; i.e., I begin to suspect that, as the Bard puts it in the mouth of Hamlet, "there is nothing either good / or bad but thinking makes it so." (II:ii) To do otherwise, so far as I can tell, requires a reification of opinion that I find philosophically untenable.

Oh yeah, I can cook

We've started a tradition in the house of having Family Dinner on Sunday nights, as a sort of bonding thing, and making sure we all manage to get together once a week, and to reduce some expenses. We cycle through the four adults, each taking a turn at making something for everyone.

Yesterday was my turn, and I decided to start out fairly easy: Spaghetti and meatballs, with salad & garlic toast. Made the sauce ("gravy" for the pretentiously Italian-American) from scratch using the one "family recipe" I ever learned. At the last minute, though, I realized I only had the edited version from when I was on the Tsa-lung diet (no garlic, no onions, basicaly cooking for one) following my third Palyul retreat, so I had to call Mom for some help remembering ratios. She, of course, didn't have it handy, but at least we managed to come up with some ballpark figures from which I could guesstimate.

Surprisingly, despite the 11th-hour prep and the lack of practice—this is the first time I've cooked anything complicated enough to need a recipe in over a year—it turned out rather well. Got plenty of compliments, nearly everone wanted seconds, and there were virtually no left-overs apart from another serving or two of sauce, which will be handy when next I have time to cook for me.

Nicest of all: the cook doesn't clean. :)
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