Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Found Poetry 4

Found Poetry 4

The new world must be [unintelligible] w/ care
Shoot Vern
Deal with it

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The primary difference between my personality and my mother’s is that I consider a wide range of things to be fungible, while she apparently for every normal human activity has a checklist of necessary conditions for its occurrence. For instance, staying as long as possible at a friend’s house who is leaving for several months is a worthwhile and fulfilling activity only if my shit is not on the bedroom floor. For instance, when I am rushing back and forth trying to both leave for work five minutes ago and pack the car full of the work clothes I will need in the new place I am moving to after work that night in order to not have to live with concerns like this, it is wise and prudent and not a distraction to stop and drink a glass of milk.

Of course, the philosopher/mathematician in me cannot help but point out that if you define your terms correctly, then it is a trivial matter to make a system where every possible commodity is fungible the exact same as a system where many things are necessary: you just set the value of the supposedly “necessary” commodities high enough that it’s not practically possible for a fair exchange involving these goods to occur (it’s not quite that simple, you need to make sure that your necessary commodities are inexchangeable with “necessary” commodities which are actually less “necessary”, but this is simple: rank your necessary goods into tiers of exchangeability, and then (this is what I think is easiest), when assigning values to goods, assign them using a base-x system, where x is the greatest amount consumable of any good whatsoever multiplied by the greatest number of goods in any tier. Then assign your tiers successively greater digit places.

For instance, say that Sally is a being that is so short-lived that she can only consume 10 of any good. She also believes that consuming schnozzles to be worthless unless she has also consumed whutzits. In a universe where these are the only consumable goods, we can calculate Sally’s happiness as 10w + s, where w is the number of whutzits Sally has consumed and s is the number of schnozzles she has consumed. In other words, the Sally that has two schnozzles but no whutzits has a happiness of 2 – and any Sally that has a whutzit, trivially, will be happier.

(The only other further wrinkle that I can think of is that some goods can be thought of as necessary in some situations and not others. If you must deal with this, just define “good” to mean “state of the world” and that solves the problem neatly: For instance, if a whutzit without a schnozzle is also a worthless thing, then you just change the equation to be something like 100000…0x10 + 10000…0x1 + … 1000…0y10 + 100…0y1 + + s, where x1 is the number of situations Sally exists and has at least one whutzit and only one schnozzle, x2 is the number of situations Sally exists and has at least one whutzit and two schnozzles, blah blah blah. Those are subscripts - you get what I mean.))

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Philosophical Game

Alright, here's a thought experiment/game:

There are 50 of "you" in a room. How do you catch someone's attention?

Here's how my thought process went:

(Come to think of it, after re-reading the question, I think the more obvious interpretation is that you're trying to make yourself stand out in a crowd of people very similar in type to you - how does one hipster band stand out at SXSW? etc. But I think I like it better as a question when there are 50 copies of the same person standing around)

Immediately I considered the odds - the odds of simply catching attention when there's 49 other people with the exact same task are miniscule, so you've got to do something extreme risk-reward: something that has a high probability of working, but only if the person whose attention you're trying to catch is the right type of person. The idea being that, if you're in a room with 49 other people, if you're screaming at the top of your lungs you'll at least be noticed - if the person rewards quiet behavior, you're competing with 49 other people...

I then consider the fact that, since it's a room of me's, there's gonna be 49 people doing the exact same thing, so this would mean there's a room of 50 screaming people almost immediately, which would mean that the optimal "make yourself stand out" strategy is to not make yourself stand out, i.e., stand quiet and not do anything; I then realize that every one of the 50 of me is going to come to this exact conclusion, so if this logic worked out then everyone would be fluctuating between screaming/violence and silence/inaction, which is obviously an impossibility theorem on the strategy being the optimal one; then I realize (the obvious) that whatever I can think of to do, 49 other people will also be doing. The first part of this thought-chain takes about 10 seconds, the next 20 seconds is spent going over my logic and trying to figure a way out of it, a way out that no other me could possibly think of (?)...and then it hits me in a flash:

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Since starting blogging last year, I now find it nearly impossible to not keep up a running commentary on what's happening in my life, assumedly because my subconscious mind just wants to write another blog entry. Examples:

"I am now finding it impossible to remember the three running threads of narration that were occuring in my head only five minutes ago. I find this extremely annoying."
"I like cheese."

Imagine if you were connected by the hip to a sports announcer. Now imagine that the sportscaster's teleprompter was the twitter account of a 23-year old unemployed layabout who finds it ironic and interesting to note that he is not, in general, ironic and interesting. That is my life. Whoop!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Electric Kool-Aid

I do not think that I would sell you down the river to Wal Mart, but to find a better job in the area it may be opportune to be in the area to look for a better situation. The Time Warner people are headquartered in Richlands and they run an advertisment on their website encouraging folks to apply for work with their company. I have no idea how much they might pay. There is a firm on top of Poplar Gap which, I believe, is one of those outfits where you get to take idiotic phone calls and then look up the answers to questions like that posed in the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and pass them along to people who are sitting on a park bench somewhere in their bathrobe, talking to you on a cell phone while making lewd gestures to old ladies across the street in a home for retired political activists. In short, I don't know, but I'll look. There's always applying for several pounds of money in scholarship awards and attacking the Law School. Or the Pharmacy School. Wanna get in the drug business? If you try the dime bag business and fail you might still be able to practice the monastic life in San Quentin for about three centuries.

- my grandfather, Ron Cole

The Fall of Troy

At dinner, my uncle said this: "You're living my life." The same uncle who, at that same dinner, told us that he had his dream job and that he loves it, same uncle who said his happiest years were rearing his kids, same uncle who has six cars and a multi-million dollar house.

I've come back from Bhutan. I was not living his life currently; whoever's life it was, it was on pause. I was on sabbatical. My uncle wanted to go run with the bulls in Pamplona. He wanted to drive the Baja 1000. Neither of us were doing anything to re-engage that life over there. It's gathering dust.

Then I did some research. To join the Baja 1000, you have to pay a $2075 fee for cars. One of the entry categories is VW buggy. As of 2 hours ago, you could buy a 1963 Beetle off of ebay for $2551. Other info obtained online says that it would take approx. $3-5000 to make such a buggy pass inspection for the race. My mother's boyfriend knows cars, could teach me how the engine on one of those things works, and how to repair it - and once I learned, I could do these things: on a 1963 Beetle there's no electronics and all that jazz that you can't deal with without a shop and a mechanical degree.

I think we can do this.

My uncle's also offered me a job. The description doesn't matter - it makes me money. Money that I can save up to help me fund the things I want to do. I want to:

Go to Princeton Reunions.
Go to Burning Man.
Complete the Baja 1000.
Learn to fight.
Chess-box on top of Devil's Tower.
Go to the Amazon with Chong to learn to be a shaman.
Farm my grandmother's farm.
Build a house on that farm.

Suburbia, the office, the modern hell is only hell if it is a prison or a goal in itself. I'm just using society as a tool to get the resources I need to do the things I want, to achieve the transcendence I want. I don't want to stop, to end being young anytime before I'm 73 and can be an old codger with a cane, a shotgun, a porch, and a bottle of Jack Daniels, and I can bore the shit out of my grandkids and flirt with the old ladies. I want to bring about my vision, Kinaci's vision, Chong's vision, Pinto's vision, Jack's vision. I want to keep living my uncle's life. He can come along too if he wants.

Now, the caveats: I know if I keep up my endless wandering, it will be a while till I can integrate properly. I know I will never be rich. I know I was not happy in Bhutan. The last time I was happy, I was living with Jilli in an apartment, working a white-collar job, making a thousand bucks a week, and inviting friends over for dinner parties and to watch movies (and various things the internet is not privy to).

That sucks.

The goal of life is not to be happy. Buddhism is wrong because it teaches us to cease attachment because that attachment causes suffering. I want to suffer. I want to be attached to things. Attaching yourself to things, striving, becoming something beyond what you were is what it is to be human. It is ignoble to be happy. It is not natural, not right, it is a giving up. When you ask a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" does she say, "I want to be happy!"? When you dream of a perfect life, do you ever consider a bed and an i.v. of demerol? When we point to a life and say, "This was a great man," does anyone ever say, "But was he happy?"? I have never wanted to be happy. My purpose has never been to be happy.

I just want to be better.

It's the same with men, as with horses and dogs
Nothing wants to die.

- Tom Waits, The Fall of Troy