Quantum

A human is a quantum particle. When watched the human remains a constant, never changing. When unobserved the human shifts direction and state, never the exact same quantum particle twice. It throws off energy and matter as part of its existence, and no amount of measurement will ever accurately assign the value of the quantum human. There will always be something lost just in making the attempt to measure it.

Texas Standard – It Took This Houston Family Two Years And Legal Action To Gain Special Education For Their Son – January 26, 2021

(Justice delayed is justice denied. Education delayed is education denied)

Do not destroy the quantum human particle. Nurture it. Let it grow and change and create its value unobserved when possible. Let it become what it’s unknown state of being wants it to be. Only then will its true value be realized.

breathe in. breathe out. move on.

Is This It?

In the cool light of an impending winter’s day, watching as the world economy spirals down the drain of the Coronavirus pandemic; as the various nations of the world including the vassal states of my own country flex their muscles to assert their dominance, and lastly in light of the naked insanity of our president and his supporters, is it completely reasonable to ask the question:

Is this it? Is this the end of us?

The question could be answered in a number of ways. Parsing the question, it depends on what you mean by the word us. The human race will continue on, and the world will continue spinning just like it always has. In that sense the answer is no. No, it is not the end of us. Some form of government will continue. Other nations will take over our leadership role. This process has already started and will continue whether we want it to or not.

A different take would be to observe that every empire in history has fallen. They rise, and then they fall. We watched the Soviet Union dissolve before our very eyes just over thirty years ago. This could be the point in time where the empire that the United States maintains falls apart.

Maybe our empire should fall apart. Maybe we shouldn’t have an empire in the first place? I’ve been warning people for years that the US is one major crisis away from ceasing to exist. Some people laughed when I first proposed this problem back in the day, the problem that the United States is a paper tiger.

A paper tiger in that, the American people don’t want an empire. They never have wanted one. The federal government in Washington D.C. established one anyway. They did it in our name, at the urging of power brokers of previous generations. Stealing the lands of our neighbors and putting native peoples to the sword in a fair approximation of England or France or any other empire-building nation of previous generations.

We have built a military that is unrivaled in the modern world, spending blood and treasure at a phenomenal rate to the benefit of our corporate masters and even to the benefit of the assembly line workers that build all the armaments that we currently deploy. We can, with pinpoint precision, remove any threat that we recognize as a threat with that military. We can do this and we have done this, right up to this point in history.

We are the wealthiest, most powerful nation in recorded human history. How can we just cease to exist?

…and here we are laid low by a virus, the simplest form of life on this planet. Life so simple that it barely qualifies as life in the first place. It is a little bit of replicating code that has evolved to use the larger bits of life around it to make more of itself without ever knowing what it was doing. It just does what it does, and we can’t stop it.

We can’t stop it. Not with jet planes or nuclear weapons or all the money in the world can we stop it. We can’t stop it unless we accept that we have to stop it, and then make that the thing we need to do now instead of building jet planes and nuclear missiles. This is the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes, bigger than the crash that happened in 2008 that we still haven’t recovered from. It is possible that we are living through the greatest crisis in recorded human history, when our children’s children look back at this time through the lens of history.

The future of the United States as a political entity is a small thing compared to the effect that a pandemic can have on the human psyche. In the end that is really all that matters. Unless we can grasp the threat we face right now and answer that threat. Unless we put aside the petty dictators and their Trumpismo’s and focus on the real threat, the fear that this virus inspires in us all and the impact that its continued existence unchecked in the world represents, then the United States will be done for in spite of its globe-spanning military presence and its corporate reach.

…and just maybe, in the end, that is the way that it ought to be.

Featured image: IFLScience How Long Do We Have Left Before The Universe Is Destroyed?

Still Alive Old Friend

Still, old friend. You’ve managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target.

Kirk to Khan. Me to 2020

This thought occurred to me when Chadwick Boseman (November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020) (Wikipedia) died from complications of cancer back in August. The man was so amazing on screen. Now imagine being that amazing while all the time knowing what was eating you alive from inside. The treatments. The pain.

…And still. Some of the best performances ever recorded on film by anyone. I am in awe of him and so many other people out there who strive and achieve against such great odds. It inspires me to keep going. To not give up.

Kirk to Spock. It’s two hours. Are you ready?

Wrath of Khan (the real movie)

How Are You?

I never say “I’m fine” When asked this question. Well okay, almost never. Even when I was reasonably healthy I hated the “How are you?” and “I’m fine” responses. It is all so meaningless. Just say hello.

Just say hello, because you don’t really care how I’m doing. I can prove this general assertion. If someone launches into a list of their illnesses when asked “how are you?” it is demonstrably seen as a breach of manners. They don’t really care and the mannerly response to this feigned interest in the other person’s health is the discardable reply “I’m fine.” This allows the real conversation to commence.

So why ask? When I’m asked this question as part of a greeting I try to give “fair to middling” as my response. Why? Because it evades the question and makes a mutual joke out of the feigned interest in my health. Unless that person is my doctor or a fellow chronic illness sufferer, I assume the question is just an assumption of familiarity that does not exist. If we were familiar, they would know not to ask me that question unless they wanted to talk for an hour.


The Wife took me to task for this beef of mine.

…one thing I find highly annoying is your beef presumption that the person who asks how you are doing is just babbling meaninglessly. That is the utmost arrogance. Yes it is part of polite conversation but it is intended as a conversation starter and can be as short or as long as you chose. How often have you seen me ask that question without wanting the real answer? That’s probably why so many people talk to me and though yes they do sometimes give me more that I wanted, it starts connections. Just something more to chew on.

She is allowed to give me beef in return because I have been forced to wait on her for half an hour to an hour while she talks to clerks and cashiers, fully engaged in a total stranger’s complaints and whims, and I’ve done this more times that I can count. I’ve gone out to the car on more than one occasion. Gone out to the car, gotten in the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking space. Started to drive off. This is the only way to get her to come out to the car so we can leave on some errand that can’t wait for a spontaneous conversation to end.

When I go into a convenience store, it is inconvenient to talk to the cashier for a half-hour when all I needed was a doughnut and something to drink. A five minute excursion, tops, when it is just me. When she’s along, pack a lunch to eat in the parking lot waiting on her to finish her conversation. She is on the other end of the spectrum from the average person when it comes to conversation. An anomaly. An outlier. The exception that proves the rule.

Chronic illness sufferers know this to be true. No one wants to hear about your pain. A good portion of the time even the people you pay to care don’t care about your pain. This fact is demonstrated to us repeatedly until we learn to shut up about what is bothering us. Just say hello. It’s not too much to ask.

Relatability

Carl Sagan always used to say that when he was trying to explain something to someone, he would go back to that time when he didn’t understand it, and then he would retrace his thought steps so that he could make it absolutely clear, and that’s one of the infinite number of things I learned from him.

Ann Druyan

hat/tip to SGU #787. I found an alternative version of the quote here.

John Lewis

Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light. That is why forgiveness and compassion must become more important principles in public life.

John Lewis

hat/tip to:

brainpickings.org
nytimes.com
ABC NewsBarack Obama’s eulogy for Rep. John Lewis – Jul 30, 2020

Imposter Syndrome

Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things.  And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name*. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

Neil Gaiman

hat/tip to Eric Buck

The Meaning of Design

If you don’t stretch you won’t know where the edge is. I was constantly stretching into areas that I didn’t know very much about.

Designers don’t just look, but they see. They don’t just hear, but they listen. And they don’t just touch, but they feel. To design is to attempt to make a world a better place.

Sara Little Turnbull
The Mask – Throughline – May 14, 2020

Fallibility

At first I did blame him. You should say there is no loyalty if someone commits crime, but if someone didn’t, then you should not lie about people. Then one day I was so angry when they told me that a detainee lied about me. When I was tortured, I did not blame them anymore, because I was saying, “Wow. This is one way for Allah to show me that I am a weak person too.”

Mohamedou Slahi

Not weakness. Fallibility. Choosing life over death isn’t a weakness. He lied to save himself. He’s human.

Radiolab – The Other Latif: Episode 4 – February 25, 2020

This is episode four in a series from WNYC and Radiolab. Like most of my long-term listening podcasts, I’ve listened to every episode, even some that aren’t on the current podcast list. Since they don’t link the other episodes in the series, I will link them here.

If the only other person that had my name that I could find on Google had been a detainee at Guantanamo, I would have wanted to understand that RAnthony the way that Latif wants to understand this guy. There is a American football player who uses RAnthony the way I do. I wondered who that guy was who was more popular than me.

In the first four episodes we discover just how little evidence existed for why we took him prisoner in the first place. In episode five we go into the Upside Down (is it a movie reference instead of a Stranger Things reference? I wonder) and discover the other side of Abdul Latif Nassir. What did we do to him? What have we done to him in the eighteen years we have kept him locked up. Locked up without trial. Without charges. Without a justifiable reason other than that we wanted to hide away what we had done to him, and to the other detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

There will be an episode six as well.

Mailed to Freedom

“I felt my eyes swelling as though they would burst from their sockets, and the veins on my temples were dreadfully distended with pressure of blood upon my head,” Brown wrote. “I felt a cold sweat coming over me that seemed to be warning that death was about to terminate my earthly miseries.”

Washington Post – Henry ‘Box’ Brown

…he then turned his escape into an act that he made a fortune with.