234 With Age Comes Wisdom

Johnny English: with age comes wisdom

It’s true! I can vouch for that!

By the way, the photo is from the movie Johnny English Reborn starring Mr. Bean, or Rowan Atkinson. The movie is below (my) average on the whole but has one shining moment redeeming the whole “failure”.

This post also signals my return to blog-writing.

New sister blog!

This blog is no more than a collection of rants about my life. Rants about one’s life is unpopular and dangerous, so I dropped it for almost a year. Now I have started a new blog: https://scientificrants.wordpress.com/ . In this blog, I will rant about anything but my life. (The targeted audience is broader than this site.) Everyone is welcome!

231 Fight Club

If you watch the movie Fight Club, you would be amazed by the idea that a small crack in one’s life can lead to an full-fledged anarchy. It’s not just capitalism, not just consumerism. It is, mentioned in the film, civilization that Jack (the protagonist) wants to reject (makes me think of Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents). As my taste becomes darker and darker, I am increasingly fascinated by the power of destruction that seems to originate from prolonged sub-optimal life (the life in which you will never say “nothing is better than living”). I want to find out more.

One source is the original novel of Fight Club. Yes, the film was adapted from the novel with the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. A rather short and fragmented novel. Stylish. It feels like E.M.Cioran in action. I have also read his another novel, Haunted, featuring a character, Saint Gut-Free, an abnormally skinny man who lost part of his lower intestine in a masturbation accident. The first story of the novel actually details that masturbation accident, and it is not even among the most thrilling and disturbing stories in the book.

What is the agenda behind all those self-destruction? Is it just a protest against consumerism? Is it even relevant? There is one line in the movie saying (or maybe very similar)

“What you have to consider, is the possibility that God doesn’t like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that can happen.”

The movie never tells what that worst thing is, but the novel gives out some hints.

(Remember, I entertain the notion of God in a broader framework than just Christianity. In fact, I think Christianity makes freely talking about God difficult.)

See this line:

“What you have to understand, is your father was your model for God.”

I think this is probably true even for non-Christian.

“If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?”

Or if your father falls short of a role model. But this really depends. It could be that your mother is your personal god.

“What you end up doing, is you spend your life searching for a father and God.”

OK. But what is the worst thing than God hating you?

“How Tyler saw it was that getting God’s attention for being bad was better than getting no attention at all. Maybe because God’ hate is better than His indifference. … Unless we get God’s attention, we have no hope of damnation or redemption”

“Which is worse, hell or nothing?”

“Only if we’re caught and punished can we be saved.”

God’s Indifference. Indifference! THIS is the answer. You may be surprised to find that this indifference has been treated even in atheist’s framework: the philosophy of Albert Camus. This indifference is a key component of the notion the world is absurd. And the awareness of the absurd can lead to anything…

[share]Did The Internet Kill Boredom?

source: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/04/did-the-internet-kill-boredom.html

by Zoë Pollock

Clay Shirky wonders:

I remember, as a child, being bored. I grew up in a particularly boring place and so I was bored pretty frequently. But when the Internet came along it was like, “That’s it for being bored! Thank God! You’re awake at four in the morning? So are thousands of other people!” It was only later that I realized the value of being bored was actually pretty high.

Being bored is a kind of diagnostic for the gap between what you might be interested in and your current environment. But now it is an act of significant discipline to say, “I’m going to stare out the window. I’m going to schedule some time to stare out the window.”

Nicholas Carr nods:

The pain of boredom is a spur to action, but because it’s pain we’re happy to avoid it. Gadgetry means never having to feel that pain, or that spur. The web expands to fill all boredom. That’s dangerous for everyone, but particularly so for kids, who, without boredom’s spur, may never discover what in themselves or in their surroundings is most deeply engaging to them.

a paper bird

Anyone who possesses even mildly the geek’s temperament will remember what happened in Egypt just after midnight on January 28, 2011, The Night Mubarak Turned It All Off. The following graph captures it:

In a matter of minutes, Web access across a country of 80 million shrank to almost nothing, as every major Internet service provider (ISP) shut down like a po-mo version of the end of Atlas Shrugged. But that steep cliff has to be understood against this graph, too:

That’s the growth in Internet usage from its first introduction in Egypt in 1993.   From 2004 on — the same time political dissent was multiplying — it took off almost exponentially. By 2010 it had reached a quarter of the population. This year, Internet penetration is estimated to hit 30%.

The regime was very slow to waken to the potential threat that blogs, social networks, email and…

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335 About WO’s story

The old readers of my blog may know that I wrote some short stories featuring a fictional character oddly named “WO”. See https://samuelandjw.wordpress.com/category/%E5%8B%89%E5%BC%BA%E5%83%8F%E5%B0%8F%E8%AF%B4/.

The story is set in a secondary school and for a long time I have great troubles designing non-trivial plots. The focus is intended to revolve around some trivial and interesting experiences, normal school life. Now the story is being rewritten in a much darker tone, featuring another character named “YC”, who commits suicide during the course of an examination. I finished the first piece of the reworked series in mid-Feburary, and submitted it to a mainland-student-run magazine SSLN. I didn’t expect it to be accepted at all, since the whole story gravitates to a suicide. Besides, though I am satisfied with the plot, the story was poorly written. Anyway, in the short run I have no intention to rewrite it again and I will post it soon.

An Interesting Excerpt

For example, the General Social Survey requests respondents to name up to six individuals with whom they discuss “important matters.” The assumption is that people discuss matters that are important to them with people who are important to them … However, a recent study by Bearman and Parigi (2004) shows that when people are asked about the so-called “important matters” they are discussing, they respond with just about every topic imaginable, including many that most of us wouldn’t consider important at all. Even worse, some topics are discussed with family members, some with close friends, some with coworkers, and others with complete strangers. … Bearman and Parigi also find that some 20% of respondents name no one at all. One might assume that these individuals are “social isolates” — people with no one to talk to — yet nearly 40% of these isolates are married! It is possible that these findings reveal significant patterns of behavior in contemporary social life — perhaps many people, even married people, really do not have anyone to talk to, or anything important to talk about.

— from Structure and Dynamics of Networks