Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Never Thought I'd Say This, But...

...Shame on you, NOVA!

Tonight, while watching NOVA's special on "Hunting The Hidden Dimension" (a special on fractals), I was treated to a sneak peek of next week's program. This was what I was treated to:

(Announcer's Voice): "Six million years ago, what set our ancestors on the path from this to this?"

Doesn't seem bad, right? Except for the video which rolled as the narrator spoke those words.

The first "this" was a picture of a chimpanzee; the second "this" was a picture of a baby (human).

Call me picky, but I have a hard enough time debating creationists when they say we couldn't possibly have evolved from monkeys or apes, or especially chimpanzees (because why would there still be chimpanzees if we evolved from them?).* When a respected SCIENCE PROGRAM like NOVA barfs it up like that, I have no patience or tolerance for it. No excuses.

I went to NOVA's site to re-watch the preview, so I could write a nice complaint to them, but astonishingly, the preview on the site is different from the one they showed on TV, although pretty damn close. It's explained a little better and more clearly, but not much. And most people will see the TV version instead of the website version. So I say again to you, NOVA producers, "For shame!"

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

They will have to stay after school and bang out the chalk board erasers.

Shit. They use what now? Smart Boards? Well, they can stay after school and reboot them or something.

*We evolved from a common ancestor. Whole 'nother thang.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don't Rush Me! I'm Getting Old As Fast As I Can.

Tick           (decade)
                                    Tick                (more decades)          
Tock                    (epochs)

The clock in my office: I notice it only when
out of its reach and
I don't hear its inexorable ticking.

And tocking.

I could measure my birthdays in minutes, but
I don't want to.
I'd be too tempted to ask myself,
"How many minutes do I have left?"

I don't want to know.

If Roy Batty couldn't know, then
why should I know?


Thomas Hobbes, there are times when I wish you weren't so damn right.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Advice From a Famous Person

From an original post to Studio 30 Plus on my blog there.

I once heard a smart man talk about fame.
He spoke of why we shouldn't bother seeking it. He asked young people to name the four Beatles. Most couldn't.
But forty years ago nearly everyone in the world knew who they were. They were possibly the most famous people alive in 1970.
In less than the passing of a single generation, most people in the world can't name more than one of them, if even one. If ever there was a perfect example of how fleeting fame is, that is it.
I see so many people who simply want to be famous, for any reason. Mostly, they choose behaviors that make them notorious instead.
Of course, we confuse notoriety with fame. We confuse infamy with fame. Do you know the difference?
Or care?
If you seek fame for its own purpose, then how is that different from seeking notoriety, or infamy? Seeking fame is no different than a child who behaves in a certain way in order to get attention, other than the degree of self-awareness and age of the person seeking the attention.
Astounding is the degree to which people will go to get attention, regardless of the impact on other people, or the world around them. In this, little has changed over the course of human history – perhaps just the scope of the “audience”.
In 1300 A.D., a fame-seeker would generally never be famous beyond his own town (skipping the obvious politicians and warriors). In 2011, a fame-seeker can be seen by a billion people around the world in the time it takes to upload a video to the internets. No filters, no forethought. Simple-minded actions can go out to the world in the blink of an eye. I need give no examples. You know so many already.
Andy Warhol was right and wrong. Everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, he said. He was right in that we can be seen by the world. He was wrong to call it fame. It is most definitely not fame. It is less than a passing thought in most cases. However, his point of the brevity of the notoriety is what has always been so accurate.
So why seek the attention of the world for mere  seconds? What purpose? Does it fill a void in your soul? Does it make daddy come back to mommy, or erase the memory of him beating you when you were six? Does the brief infamy replace any need you have for longer than the time it takes for peoples' attention to be diverted to the next big thing? Being famous does not equal being loved. It will not help the world. It will not help you. It will only make you smaller than you ever imagined.
My advice: be the most famous and beloved person to one other person in the world. Be a mentor  to the child who has never seen an adult of good character. Want to be a father or a mother? Then make sure what you really want is to be a human being who has decided to commit yourself to creating life, and who will dedicate yourself to shaping that life into someone who will leave the world a better place. 

Be kind to someone who can do nothing for you in return.

The strength of character needed to achieve this kind of fame will be contagious, and will build a world we would much rather live in than the one we do live in now. And it lasts forever.