Thanksgiving

I posted this on Thanksgiving in 2019. I think it bears re-posting. Have a good day with your friends.


(the following are a few thoughts that went through my mind this Thanksgiving as I was snowed in. Since I was by myself I had time to write them down)

On this Thanksgiving day I want to acknowledge the gentle people. I think of the many native peoples who were erased from this earth [1], or enslaved. I think of visionaries and geniuses who were killed or imprisoned because they thought differently. I also think of women, who did not have access to education and, in too many places on this planet, still don’t. It also brings to my mind the many recluses and hermits who walked into the woods and mountains, to get away from humanity.

For millennia a brutish man could be very successful. This kind of man would offer a sense of security to a mate and could therefore pass on his genes. Because there was always a war, there was always an opportunity for a man of strength to become a hero. Those heroes might have been much more brave than they were intelligent, they were brutal, even psychopathic, but they were considered heroes nonetheless. The bully has been a pretty successful model of a human, at least in terms of Natural Selection. The gentle people paid the price, all over the world. Our genetic programming does not favor the gentle people and in many cases their DNA was lost to humanity. I fear that if human DNA was programmed by Gods, it was a junior God’s first project and he or she didn’t have a lot of experience and very little foresight.

Humans are this planet’s most powerful and utterly dominant predator. Now our survival will depend on turning bullies into gentle people. Can the competitor become a collaborator? We believe that we are better now, more civilized and less violent, but in truth we have only exchanged the physicality of swords and fists for the power of computers, the internet, and social media. The bullying is now done with a keyboard. Instead of practicing sword fighting or aiming a gun at a target, we aim zeros and ones at each other. The effect is worse. Nobody sees the wounds, there is no smell of blood. The victims live to suffer another day. The old bully wore a uniform and carried weapons, the new bully weaponizes words and monetizes data. The old-fashioned bully took his chance in a fight that he might, albeit rarely, loose. There was always that slim possibility that his victim might get the upper hand. Bullying by keyboard involves no such risk of bodily harm. Anyone can do it.

We CAN revolt against natural selection. The planet will heat up, millions of species will be erased. We need to change OURSELVES. We need to grow, despite our programming and against our programming! The great human hack of the 21st century… to become a new species, homo sapiens 2.0.


[1] Estimates, of course, vary greatly, but up to 100 million people lived in the Americas before the Europeans arrived… 90% of them were killed. While most died from the viruses the Europeans brought with them, many of them died in the most carelessly cruel way. And that’s just the Americas…

Tattoo + Music

Monday afternoon I was walking home after a very late lunch. Is a meal eaten at 1630 a late lunch or perhaps an early dinner? I noticed a poster of a tattooed arm on a wall. The text was: 

A Tattoo is a lifetime mark. Have it done by a Tattoo artist.

Aside from the fact that the sales pitch was obviously directed towards tourists, because English, I understood the sentiment. 

My mind immediately wondered how long it would take until a robot can give you any tattoo you want? It would have a searchable data base of tattoos – probably easily obtained by going through Instagram posts – and would be able to adapt any photo you might give it.

Then I changed Have it done by a Tattoo artist to Listen to Music by Real Musicians, in my mind.

We have sayings like You are what you eat to show that we should be mindful of what we put into our body. In computer science there is the term GIGOgarbage in, garbage out

Music is a type of food. Some music sticks around in your body for much longer than food does. Some music seems to ferment and develop and it can change us fundamentally. Perhaps we will need an *Organic* sticker for music, now that AI has already produced as many songs as humans have ever created. *Made by Humans* or *Human Music*? What would you suggest?

I don’t usually listen to pop music. It’s not part of my diet. ;-) But sometimes it sure can make you smile: as the sales person at El Corte Ingles was writing up the vacuum I wanted to purchase, I noticed that she was soundlessly mouthing words… and they seemed to be in English! Then I got the connection: a pop song was playing on the store’s sound system. I recognized the song but could not tell you what it is called or who recorded it. Eighties, maybe??? The song and her lips were in sync. I had to smile, because I had that experience with Sweet dreams are made of this just a few days ago, when I heard the song waft through an open window and started singing along, realizing that I knew most of the words. 

The Speed of History

Hers was a walking discipline, like the practices of the peripatetic dervishes. It proceeded at the speed of footsteps, which is the speed of history, and at that speed, on those long walks which are the science’s method, connections and correspondences appear. Strange symmetries appear between separated buildings as if some urban continental drift has taken place. Streets follow ancient, atavistic needs.

from The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

Of course I am going to love that… 😄

Connections and correspondences indeed appear at the speed of footsteps. Anything faster than footsteps and we might miss this door mat, so thin that it looks like a red filter hovering above the stones. Everything lines up and it is clear that the mat has not been moved in a very long time.

I think I should put together a slideshow that contains only the most basic and mundane subject matter. No grand vista, nothing amazing… just simple things that caught my eye.

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