casual conversation

I have a test for you!

I will start with a statement, which you must come up with an appropriate response for in less than a second, otherwise you fail.

The statement will not lend itself to any particular response, and may or may not be a question.  If the statement is a question, there’s only a slim chance that the correct response is to actually answer the question.

For any statement I give you, there’s a particular set of acceptable responses, but you don’t know what they are.    If you choose outside of that set of responses, you fail.

Should you answer correctly, I’ll give you another statement, and you must again respond correctly, within the 1 second time limit, or you fail.

The test ends once you fail.  You can’t pass, because I’ll keep giving you questions until you fail.

If anything, you’ll lose more points the further you get before you fail, because, if you answered all the preceding questions correctly, then failing a statement further on means you deliberately chose to be obstreperous, and are not merely incompetent(the only two possibilities).

Really, the best outcome for you is to pretend you didn’t hear my statement, in which case you may escape a bad grade on a technicality, though, the incident will probably come back to haunt you, anyways.

hate

Hating categorically on a group of people is an emotional indulgence that denotes a lack of emotional and mental discipline and maturity.

To survive life comfortably, one should understand people as thoroughly as time permits.  Emotions cloud that understanding.  Emotions cause you to waste mental and physical effort better spent on more rational things.

Do not waste time; particularly in the present age, there is no time to waste.

I’m not sure there’s a knowledge-based route to understanding hate: the best lesson is to actually be hated, for non-personal reasons.  It’s tempting to hate back, but that would just be succumbing to human weakness.

You have to deeply empathize with the people that hate you for no particular reason, in order to understand the pointlessness of hate so deeply that you abandon it yourself.

It hurts. It hurts so much that, after awhile, you may notice your tolerance for physical pain becomes surprisingly high.

But pain in the best teacher.

voice

Sometimes, she spoke to those around her, and they said various things in response, but they didn’t quite seem to get what she was saying.

Then, one day, she realized that when she thought she was talking, she was actually barking.

While this revelation was somewhat startling in and of itself, what it implied was far more problematic: if she’d missed something so basic as the difference between barking and talking, then the task of communicating with humans was as out of reach to her as abstract algebra was to a donkey.

Perhaps it was a missing library of common psycho-linguistic symbols, or perhaps communication was happening on side-bands.  Perhaps it was some bit of magic she’d lost, or some bits of magic she’d never had.

The wading pool she stood in still looked like just a little wading pool.  She felt the hard plastic on her feet, and saw the brightly colored designs around the edges.

But sometimes, while she gazes at it, just before her eyes close to blink, she sees the ocean.

Not an awareness of the distance.  Only a frightening awareness that her perception of the distance was completely unreliable, and that important bits of the universe were actually unfolding in a manner totally beyond her senses.

Certainly, should one find that one has sleepwalked onto a battlefield between advanced alien species wielding weaponry of unimaginable complexity, perhaps it’s best, then, to cede the ground to the aliens, and attempt to find a quiet hole to hide in, for the remainder of your earthly existence.

humans

I don’t like to meddle in the affairs of humans.

I’ve discovered that even being friendly can turn them against you.  For example, if you start to make friends with someone, their existing friends may be dismayed.

So it’s probably best to befriend people who either have no other friends, have only acquaintances, or who do not presently have someone providing the particular functionality you may provide them with(at least, in the amount they require).

solitary mind

Individual Power

It is fairly easy to understand how someone primarily interested in solitary pursuits would become both better at them, and worse at social pursuits.

It is in everyone’s interest to appear as good as possible at everything one can, however.  Social people are just as keen to appear good at solitary pursuits as their less social cohorts.

However, social people are inherently superior at presenting themselves to people in whatever way is useful, in ways both conscious and unconscious.  If they can obtain the benefits of seeming good at things, without spending the time to actually be good at them, that’s a huge advantage.

But it’s not that it’s simply unfair, though: social skills have a rather large investment and maintenance cost, just like academic pursuits.  They seem to require many different areas of the brain to work together well, and this presumably requires vast amounts of time to both develop and maintain.

The Power of Civilization

In a world composed purely of social hierarchy, the situation for people not interested in social dominance is hopeless.

Civilizations, at the times and places in their lives where they advance, do so because they have some quirk about them that enables localized subversion of social hierarchy, such that a safe harbor exists for dedicated intellectuals.

As an example, the renaissance in Europe could be viewed as a competition between competing European heads of state over whose academics and artists produced the most powerful and interesting things.  The battlefield was sometimes figurative, and sometimes literal, as technological advancements, driven by the products of academia, took on ever more increasing importance in both warfare and economy.

Prior to the renaissance, the church at least provided a safe harbor for philosophers to spend their time deep in thought.  Perhaps an excessive amount of time was wasted trying to come up with proofs of the existence of god, but at least people were thinking about big things.

Any time non-competitive people have been given refuge to think in peace, their civilization has advanced.

The Conflict

It seems that, generally civilization is a sort of forced response to threats to survival.  Nothing much really matters, as long as no one is invading, and no one is starving.

That is the main resonance of civilization; rising in response to threats, falling in their absence.

The higher they rise, the harder they fall.  No one is in control of this process; it simply happens, and we are along for the ride.

To tie this all together, it is probably then in the best interest of academic individuals to align themselves with cultures that presently, and as far into the future as possible, must struggle, and have institutions that support that struggle, wherein safe harbor is given to those in purely academic pursuits.

If you are in a country where everything appears to be light and easy, and there seems to be no advantage to actually doing anything meaningful other than social posturing, it’s probably because that country is in economic free-fall.

excessive intellect

Reproduction always wins, in the long-run, over non-reproduction, regardless of the unsavory other traits which may be associated with particular bands of fecund individuals.

When your people become too smart and sophisticated for having children, you  die off.

Meanwhile, less sophisticated people are reproducing rapidly.  And there probably will come a time in their future when many of them will be killed off.  But that’s okay, because there will be a lot of smart ones surviving, and their survival prowess will then be evident to their potential mates.

The people who found children too tedious, as a whole, will have been marginalized by then.

I wish nature had better taste, but nature really, really doesn’t care.

appearances

I dress strange, and my overall appearance is certainly peculiar.

But it’s not exactly that I don’t care; I would certainly like an aesthetically-pleasing,  confidence-inspiring appearance, that would put the hearts and minds of those around me(during those unfortunate moments I have no choice but to subject them to me) at ease.

Though I’d prefer to simply be invisible.

However, my time is already heavily over-committed with other things either more important to me, or more interesting.  So I dress for maximal functionality and minimal upkeep.

I have to work as a programmer.  It really doesn’t matter what I look like for that, as long as I’m not either an HR or a safety hazard.  That takes a lot of time and focus.

I am also slowly learning Japanese.  That takes a huge amount of time, and I enjoy it quite a bit more than trying to maintain a wardrobe.

I am also maintaining and adding various computer-related skills that are not even in the same category as what I program for work, so that takes additional time and attention.

So I am a little embarrassing to myself.  But once I’ve crossed over into “extremely embarrassed”, I dissociate and feel no anxiety whatsoever, so it’s actually more comfortable to be really weird than a little weird.

So, I go for it.

Apologies, in advance…