Saturday, September 25, 2010

IIT homecoming this weekend.

Went to two IIT alumni events this weekend. Friday night was a networking session held at the on-campus hang-out, the Bog. Met two current IIT students named Chuck and Steve, and we talked about a number of things including photography. Also met another current student, Aisha (can't recall exact spelling). She is an architecture student and a member of the student group, Student Organization for Alumni Relations. Also met a student who was very interested in my thoughts about whether anything had changed on the IIT campus since I was a student. His name began with a P. I said campus was not changed in any way--it's identical. They had nice appetizers.

Today, Saturday, they had a lot of alumni events. I took a trolley tour of campus and learned so many things that IIT is doing to improve its physical identity, and also that the public housing to the south is gone and classy condominiums, and a Starbucks up in its place. This is good news.

Then I attended a lecture by the university archivist about the students and campus of the 1950s. I learned a lot about activities of the military on campus.

Then I had a burger and dog, compliments of IIT. Yum!! Thank you very much.

Enjoyed homecoming very much and looking forward to next year.

Still to come...a lecture by Susan Solomon, IIT grad and Nobel Peace Prize winner, on October 13.

Recent update: I couldn't go to the lecture by Ms. Solomon because I had to go to a class as a judge of election. They discourage rescheduling those.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not a life to emulate

Would I recommend the sort of life I have had to today's Yale students?

There are so many reasons not to. I am poor. I am mentally ill. New Haven's last official words to me were stay away. My blog is unpopular. Most of my family has disowned me. This is a deep and dark cavern to explore in looking for signs of do not enter.

There is no "BUT". I may have a life of substance in terms of accomplishments (now the but) but they are all resting on the slimmest footing and the most vulnerable chemistry, that of DNA, with respect to permanence. I will not succumb to a tendency to poetry in the interest of selling what I have not enjoyed. My life is not one to inspire imitation or succession. It has been a tedious existence. Little romance. Day after day of hunger and cold. Refuge in the unappealing arms of Social Security Disability. By any measure it is a tragedy.

Life itself has been an irritant.


There is a possibility the reason is that as a freshman at Yale I mused about my choice of a direction in life among all those I had seen and heard about, the lives of Yale alumni, and I came to a general but murky conclusion that the best way I could use my Yale education, were I to complete it, was to seek no reward but yet work, and do this in the company of the poor of America. I had no skills for it. I had no ideas to make it concrete and actionable. I only had a desire to admit myself into company which at the time I would have blushed to think of as fellows of the same kind. And for this choice there remains no reward. That keeps me in the company. It doesn't make me happy. I have never disowned my appetite for pleasure. I have learned to live with various levels of poverty, both in terms of money and in terms of logistics. I have no ashram to offer those interested in me, whether as a place to live or as a house to provide brief respite. I have not extended anyone's spiritual empire. I have not written anything pointing the way. These disqualify me for that one office which I can otherwise claim with reason, that of successor to Moses. So perhaps I shall ultimately disengage myself from that claim, and go entirely sui generis. Great. Another vanity.

Such as it is, it is a warning to all but those who disregard them, not to follow me.



Utility to the wise.
Utility to the population.

Which is the greater value?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Islam today.

It might serve understanding of current global politics if I say something about my role in it all.

First, there is the matter of my advice to certain bodies of power in the United States, given at some time in the past--perhaps a few years ago. It was a time of great feelings of instability between the motives due to a sense of violation, on the one hand, and the motives of historic compassion among peoples of the Christian faith, on the other. I sensed at that time that the real danger was not in the actual forces at play, but in these feelings of instability. With that sense in my forethoughts, I issued an advisory to certain powers which had been following my work and progress, to the effect that it was my view that those with the responsibility of defining policy at a high level of authority needed to make a decision of whether they would stand as opponents to Islam in an absolute way because of its association with the new global terrorist threats, even though this association did not necessarily justify identifying the one with the other, or, rather than that, taking some other stance. I intended no hint of personal favoratism in such a decision, and I believe none was taken. As a result, certain powers moved quietly toward a more robust position of opposition to all of Islam than had been given serious consideration before my advice was given. I have no position on whether this position of opposition is valid or invalid. I consider it a religious matter and I am not devoted to any religious partisanship so such matters strike far from my most fervent desires.

I have instead of a position on the relationship between Islam and Christianity a position on the relationship between religion and science. It is that, in my view, science yields results which have greater validity than any results of religious endeavor. The sphere of human life, as that of all life, is greater than any religious crystalization of principles can ever gather together. Instead, religious principles are crafted so that the considerations which science takes as necessary, that of proof and consistency, can be safely discounted and belief substituted for them, with what has been historically a fairly good improvement over what went on before any of the religions were conceived. Such a method, that of religion, is suitable for promulgation and reflective consideration of broadly based principles which go beyond what science can currently provide on a more objective basis, and this is helpful. But I would suggest that there is merit in applying what Jesus said, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Render unto God what is God's." to science and religion. This would disengage religion from the question of evolution, an incendiary suggestion admittedly, but something which I think Jesus might have found to have great practicality were he living today. It would also tend to allow all religions to stabilize their growth against other developments, including other religions, and take some satisfaction in being allowed some significant credit for their beneficence, while at the same time take some humility to heart in the face of such massive blessings from science that have accompanied the gradual loosening of the hold of religion on the universal scope of mankind's enterprises.

Let this be read as the thought of a deeply modest scientist who formerly engaged one or two religions as an adherent, to one or other degree of faithfulness.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yale Club event last night.

Last night I went to a Yale Alumni event at Piece Brewery and Pizzaria on North Avenue. There was no cost so I could attend. They had all the beer and pizza you could eat.

I talked to Robin Walsh Schoewe, a Yale Club of Chicago board member. She was an economics student in the class of 1985 and has done a lot of banking work. One of her three children will be applying to Yale this year. Good luck on that!

I also talked to Rich Blond, a lay priest at the Episcopal Church of the Atonement, which I once attended when I was still religious. Rich is about fifteen years before me in age. We talked about budgeting, and about some of the people we knew in common at Atonement.

I noticed across the street from Piece there was a bicycle shop, Rapid Transit Cycles, that I had been referred to as a place to let my girlfriend, Crystal Newell, try out a recliner. Crystal declined the invitation.

It was a great evening.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Humor in a modern biblical figure.

One of the most important qualities of any modern day biblical figure is a sense of humor. Anticipation of a biblical figure has concentrated on a successor to Jesus. Such a figure would have little room for a sense of humor. Jesus had none. Thus there is no ground on which to build one, for anyone taking him as a predecessor.

I am no Christ. Jesus is not my predecessor and I don't often look to him for inspiration. On the other hand Moses is my predecessor and I often look to him for inspiration. I try not to picture him as Charlton Heston. I find that hard to do. It might seem tempting to point to him and say everyone should respect me the way the audience of his film is led to respect him. This is a hazardous route. If I am a successor worthy of the name then there should be ample validation in the record as supplemented by my own telling of my life story. And here is where the sense of humor earns its keep. So much sacrifice and relentless misfortune needs a balancing theme. It is an immediate restorer of peace to think that humor is a deep part of my own approach to life, not taking myself too seriously and accentuating my peerfulness. This way my friends throughout my life can enjoy each one a stake in the transcendence I have carved out of the misfortune, as my good friends and comrades at all the many stages of the story, and as assessors, going forward, of the many ironies and absurdities of it all.

The nine videos in the sidebar go far in one direction and the moments of humor are well distributed throughout. It is this aspect that I rely on to remind me of the responsibility I have to keep the whole thing light. It is surely a sign of success to be able to laugh at the ridiculousness of one's own attempts at standing out from people one needs as brothers and equals. It is admittedly a laughter on a deep level, but such is the nature of the thing and the place where the humorous side emerges in my thinking. On that I can rely with freedom to be zealous, where my own humor gets its biggest boost.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

God, homosexuality, and the problem of H. sapiens.

Homosexuality is one of those things like war and poverty that men have looked at uncomprehendingly since the beginning.

It is my feeling that my own language, based on sixteen characters I cannot share because I haven't the stamina to research how to get a computer to produce them, is responsible for certain positions I have taken on the frontiers of civilization, one of them my position that homosexuality is best eliminated, with as much care as possible not to cause the individual comfort of these people to be encroached on. That homosexuality is a sign of a dysfunctional civilization, even a dysfunctional species, is easy to see for those who also see that there is no God. Unfortunately there are billions of people who don't see that about God, and this makes it a demanding task to have a reasonable discussion about homosexuality, even speaking alone as a writer does.

So here is my position:

This species is subject to universal substitution of sufficiency, as a valid motive of comment, for progress in argument. If a comment has some way in which it can be taken immediately as sufficiently motivated, with a threshold of sufficiency on the order of what allows people to remain unmoved, to fit where it does into a discussion, then that comment is justifiable under the universal consensus of the species. Thus outfitted, the members of this species propagate their status gotten by the generosity of others far away and perhaps long ago, without having to do any Goddam thing of their own to progress beyond war, poverty, and homosexuality. As a state of species motivation, this amounts to an enormous bulk of material precious to each person that commands attention only because some or other rule of order allows it, and thus the beast is so arrayed for being out at pasture.

The species is proud of its self-image. It associates that image with God. In fact, there is no argument in it. Modern appliances in a civilization that has no argument preventing the occurrence of war and panic seems to me what we expect of children. "Don't worry about learning how to earn a living now. It's time to play and have fun. Worry about earning a living when you're older."

The argument is harder than this. So far I have dealt in plausibilities. These are closer to argument than sufficiency, but still not as argumentative as what the best science demands. I am not arguing with a prototypical individual, but with what I can make out to be a statistical description of the whole population, without depending on the existence of some who agree with me. Those who agree with me will have their battles but until progress is made in the discussion with the whole population there is no solace from being not alone.

Truth is fine. Navigating points of argument is considerably wider in scope. It cannot be done by professing commitment to truth. What is in common with all H. sapiens? What frequency are its other characteristics, not in common? Those who have seen the greatest variation in these characteristics are confined by the things in common. There knowledge is blocked.

Let me rest. Call it be-ers block.

On the quoting and attribution of my work.

I am under the impression that what I publish in this or my other blogs cannot be borrowed or used by others without attribution in a form that is legally prescribed. I am not familiar with those legal provisions but I find it in my interest to learn what they are.

I am not a lawyer. Legal research is not one of my studied abilities. Therefore I must make the best use I can of what occurs to me to be sound ethical practice. As a writer, I know that there are written sources of information about the law which I can make use of to improve the legal standing of this that occurs to me as ethical. On a zero budget I can do no better than this, it seems to me. A legal opinion by a lawyer would cost money that is not nearly reachable by my budget. (It is my experience that they ask for a retainer before performing any work and these are on the order of $500. That is not something I can foresee being raisable by me for the indefinite future.)

Toward starting a discussion of this matter, and in keeping with what I have just said, I now wish to introduce a quote regarding sharing when sharing is being encouraged. It is a quote from Wikipedia's Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, regarding use of material on Wikipedia.

Before giving the quote I must state that I do so because it bears on the topic of use of someone else's material, not because I consider it legally applicable to my blogs, which I may or may not do according to my study of the document from which the quote comes, or the quote itself. There are differences between Wikipedia and my blogs. I give the quote because there seem to be some similarities, and, as a person of less than legal qualifications, I am induced to give it in the sense of a useful beginning to my discussion, which itself may prove to be short and small in detail since I am not able to know how much there is a need for me to engage a thorough discussion here of the law.

Here is the quote:

"* Attribution—You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work.)
"* Share Alike—If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license."

Now this calls up considerable substance which I cannot comment to. What is a "similar or compatible license"? What, indeed, is a "license" altogether?

And as I say, this passage may or may not have some relevance to my blogs. But like Wikipedia, I would be pleased if my work were influential, and influential work is quoted by others. Wikipedia may object to my attributing such a view to them, and if so I will admit that it is only a personal reflection based on what I have seen, and not to be construed as something I propose as fact.

But I offer the quote as an example of what has been said by a source which seems to be widely considered reliable in matters stemming from being influential and quoted, about its own position on the matter of others using its work.

Without knowing the law, I must stop at merely saying that if anyone quotes my blogs, it would be my preference that they annotate the material as a quote and attribute it to me in the sense of my blogs. Also, I would prefer that the magnitude of the material quoted be limited. It is my understanding that both of these preferences have a solid legal footing.

Let the reader take heed of these matters and know that they are something on which I have an opinion, with significant implications in terms of the elements here discussed in so brief a manner, but not in that lacking an interest by legal authorities.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Comedy is an angle, not a position, and comics are ambush acrobats withouot knowledge of anything between them and their target.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Clarification of my position on homosexuality.

Let me clarify my position on homosexuality. Two points: 1) It is very poignant. These people are to be granted no less comfort through their own effort than anyone else. This is an individual right. 2) It is unfortunate, and needs to be ended. Beyond comfort, I don't see any rights stemming from a perversion of the cultural provisions for procreation. Gay couples are an abuse of those provisions. I don't care whether religions condemn them or not. It's impossible for gays to contribute to the sexual equation. I don't know why it happens. I wish I did. It would help form understandable policy. As it is my policy will be considered contrary to many people's conception of rights. There is too much about homosexuality we don't see that would probably raise objections if we did. It seems they are using the closet to produce a secret institution. Obviously we have to find a different solution than the closet. They should be assured of due comfort as individuals and not forced into hiding by discrimination as individuals. But the cultural provisions for couples are more important than the Constitution provides. Either legal opinions must confront this fact or the Constitution must be amended to state it explicitly, and if that doesn't work, then it's time for another revolution. I will not sit idly by and watch this species go to the dogs.