Coming to terms with being human.


Taking a Dump in the Ocean

A young nonprofit group, Oceana, believes that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines pollutes the ocean. Specifically, they don’t treat their sewage properly. As part of a campaign to help Royal Caribbean clean up its act, Oceana started a Google AdWords account.
Soon after the ad went up, Google cancelled that account. The letter Oceana received from Google actually specified that Google does not accept ads that are against Royal Caribbean.
What kind of sucking up is that? I know that R.C. has a large ad account with Google, since I saw a sponsored link with their name on it. Still, they can’t be paying too much since Holland America and Carnival both come up more often on a “cruise” search.
Anyway, censoring is not my cup of tea, which is why I posted the links. You should post them to.

Why? Because the ocean takes a beating. When I was in the Marine Corps, I had trash duty on a Navy ship. Trash duty is when all the accumulated crap from a voyage is dumped into the middle of the ocean. They actually instructed us on which materials to weigh down so it wouldn’t be found floating in the waves. You know, milk jugs and the like. Actually, Oceana should take on the U.S. Navy. But they would probably get thrown into prison by the Bush administration.


Other People are More Creative Than Me

Experimentation is pure wholesome goodness, unless you’re cloning Hitler. I love it when people attempt to adapt old media into new forms. Whether it’s Scott McCloud working on new comic forms or um, well…other people doing things, new is fun, fun, fun.
So here is 253. It’s an interactive novel. A novel novel, if you will.

Honestly, I can't believe I just wrote that novel novel line.


I Don’t Have a Feminine Side…and Neither Do You

I just got back from a Sex and Relationships seminar. It’s a good thing to receive new perspectives, especially about marriage relationships. Marriage is the sort of thing that two people create out of whole cloth. Everything is new.
The thing is that the cloth we are using is called human psychology and everyone is using the same sheet (OK, I’m dropping the imagery now). Point being, the problems and joys of the marriage relationship are not new. Everyone deals with the same things, but we forget it. This fact, however, is not why I am writing.
The subject is “relationship” books. Entire shelves are devoted to recent pop-psychology wastes of time like “Men are from Mars…”. Most of these books boil down to a Yin/Yang dichotomy of football watching guys and Sex in the City-wannabe girls miscommunicating their true feelings. If perpetuating sex based stereotypes is the point of this market, then God bless ‘em cause it’s working.

Pandering to the Masses

Why is it working? Because they are right. At least, they are right more than fifty percent of the time. There are a lot of studies out there that confirm differences in the basic temperaments of individuals. You’ve seen the extroversion/introversion tests on sites like Emode. These tests are based on real science, even if they get twisted into “What breed of dog are you”. And the thing is, the American population is much more extroverted than introverted. The other either/or temperament indicators are also loaded in non-fifty-fifty relationships, and many of them follow gender lines.
So what happens is this. A half-wit author writes a book that is helpful, in part, for sixty percent of each sex. The other forty percent buy the book because it’s on the best sellers list. These people are wasting their time but since they can see the scenarios in the book play out in other people’s lives, they figure the book is worth while.
Then comes the feminine side. If men are supposed to be A, and women are B, then what are the poor readers who don’t fit their category. Maybe the introspective and compassionate male is just, “showing his feminine side”. That’s right, because women have the lock on feelings. That’s why they’re so good at shredding their friends like a pack of jackals in the teen years. No, feeling, much like rational thought, is spread among the whole of the human species. The compassionate man is showing his masculine side, because that’s the only side he has.

And a Plea

Could we please stop accepting this relationship porn? The comparison is just. These books are filled with air-brushed, silicon boosted, facsimiles of real human relationships. At least demand references to actual scientific studies. When, Men are Weeds, Women are Roses, uses, Women are Dreamers, Guys are Schemers, as its main source, well…that’s just pop-psych incest.

But Fearless Ranter, What Should We Do?

Create fake book covers. Think up the most inane or insensitive fake titles you can. Get your graphic artist friend (we all have one nowadays) to make professional looking covers. Go to Borders. Mayhem ensues.

OK, so this is a barely thought out argument written in ten minutes. Well, so is the Constitution and look were that got us. Rally my people. Rise!


Not to be Missed

As any Blogdex lurker already knows, Steven Wolfram has posted all of, A New Kind of Science, online. In hardback, this tome is near fifty dollars, so free is a good deal. Not to mention that the book weighs ten pounds.
A New Kind of Science is Wolfram's attempt to change the present scientific thought process. Any attempt to subvert the dominant paradigm is worth acknowledging and Wolfram is a particularly interesting case.
Wolfram is somewhat of a mythological figure in mathematics/science. He has had a successful life and is now either changing the face of science or certifying himself as a hubris choked crackpot. In either case a big free science book is a good thing. Check it out before he gets jailed for distributing his own book over the web.

The Stuff of Inspiration

As you know, I love cafes. So once again I sat alone at a small table in Lestat's drinking a double breve and reading a book on philosophy. An older patron came over to me and asked about the title of my book. I was rereading sections of Freedom Evolves by Dennett. The curious patron had assumed that the book was about the growth of civilization over time. It is not. No, Freedom Evolves covers a Darwinian perspective on human consciousness and neuroscience's application to the "free" will problem.
So we bantered and the man took a seat at a table near me. I watched him lean over a stack of paper, writing intensely. Ten minutes later, smiling, he leaned over to get my attention. It seems that my new acquaintance is a writer. Although his book is essentially finished, the lead paragraph has been bothering him for months. The title of Dennett's book inspired a new approach to the paragraph. The author had completed his book.

So if you ever read The Potbelly Syndrome, know that you are one degree removed from the event that inspired it's opening.

A Note
The spell check believes Lestat's should be replaced with lactates.