"Love makes us poets and the approach of death should make us philosophers."
Coming to grips with mortality- this is the biggest personal issue that every one of us will have to deal with.
It can be especially difficult for people who don't believe that there's an afterlife waiting for them.
To contemplate the end of our selves in this world is frightening; to not convince yourself that there is life after this world requires a special kind of bravery. I'm writing this comic to try to share the thoughts that have allowed me to understand and accept the situation.
"Kirk, it's your birthday, do not be obsessed with death [...] At least not until the project is finished."
--Rob Baum, co-worker
Every once in a while, I'll have a sleepless night, suddenly aware of how temporary I am, trying to accept the smallness of my place in this world, overwhelmed by the weirdness of being.
Other days I'll be unable to fully focus on the tasks at hand, obsessing about how everything I'm looking at is impermanent, and that my viewpoint will be extinguished someday.
Sometimes I'll start playing the numbers game: if I lived to be 80, I have just under 30,000 days, just over 4,000 weeks- and I've lived through a number of those already!
(One odd little math trick I stumbled on during one of my existential anxiety attacks- if I have the three score and ten years allocated to me by the bible, that's ten weeks for every day of a single year.)
I had a series of that kind of "attack" in the spring of the year 2000, but over the course of months, I started to feel better. I'm sure that it wasn't entirely an intellectual crisis, but one with its roots in disturbances in the neurochemcal stew of my brain.
There seems to be a definite correlation between these attacks and stress at work, for example, just like there was when I went through my Y2K anxiety phase. (What can I say? There seemed to be the potential for a lot more difficulties than emerged...)
Beyond that, I've come up with some quotes, ideas and philosophies, ways of looking at the situation-- without compromising my intellectual integrity-- that comfort me and allow me to deal with the world as it relates to me.
"We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."
--Dr. Mark Vonnegut, M.D.
I'm hoping that by making an online comic with these thoughts, I might help a few people who might be having the same anxieties. (I've read essays about the personal sharing that can occur on the web as the key to the next step in our cultural evolution; I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it is the most accessible universally-available publishing medium ever.)
I'm also creating this as a resource for my future self, a place to come back to when I again feel my anxieties rise. (If I started to think in these anxious terms when I was 25, what's going to be like when I'm in my 40s? My 70s?)
I've targeted this page at skeptics for a reason. If you have faith, real faith, in a solid Abrahamic religious doctrine, you should be able to find your solace in your conception of the afterlife.
I don't mean to dismiss this as an easy task: our animal nature leaves us with instinctive fear that even the most spiritually trusting may find difficult to overcome. (One thing I find sad is that I'm afraid to bring up my fears of death with some of the people I love the most, because I don't accept their answer of trusting in God.)
Also, for the believer, having a comforting philosophy might be a reverse form of Pascal's Wager, a comfort in times of doubt.
Lifespan And Our Perception of Time
"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different."
Life can seem all too short.
Compared to the length of the universe, it's an eyeblink.
But compared to some other things we consider really long lasting: republics and empires, many buildings-- most of us don't do so bad.
My grandmother, who died at the age of 82 in 2001, witnessed over a third of the history of the United States...
sure that's just a fraction, and yes the USA is a young country, but consider all the change that she has seen: it is a huge expanse of time.
Time is largely subjective. I have a reasonable shot at living longer than my grandmother, and experiencing even more change in the world.
In the book "Faster", Gleick mentions how our perception of time is really a measure of rate of change, driven by the length of time between 'interesting' events.
This can lead to some unfortunate results: since, in general, every decade of our life has much less change (in the form of development and maturation) than the one before,
by some estimates the second half of our life might seem to go by twice as the first, with the second quarter going twice as fast as the first quarter, etc.
This might be so. I haven't lived long enough to refute it.
But I think that if I manage to fill my life with changes: learning, reading, thinking- and keeping track of those changes, I might help to modify my perception.
I think I'm helped by my journal (an ongoing collection of quotes and bon mots, and then a private "dear diary" journal I keep on my website) as well as my poor memory.
My inability to clearly recall things from as short as a week ago- but being reminded by them by the entries in my journal- helps me realize how full of life those ten thousand minutes were, and how full the next ten thousand will be.
So much can happen in a minute, if only we stay alert to the wonder around us!
How Money Got Weird. Sometimes I think the commies were right. Or at least... that there's good capitalism that is a fantastic engine for getting stuff done, and bad capitalism that's nothing but fancy pants ways of shuffling money around...
"But what is all this fear of and opposition to oblivion? What is the matter with the soft darkness, the dreamless sleep?"
I read a very good book: Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained.
One of the things the work made me realize is that I'm not always as conscious as I think I am.
My inner voice, literally the voice in my head that I used to identify as "me", is often silent--
the systems that are always buzzing my head don't always marshal themselves up into a distinct speech pattern.
In fact, I'm running on autopilot most of the time-- the pandemonium that makes up my mind isn't always- as a 'group', or at least on the level that makes itself known to itself as a whole- aware of what it's up to.
The book makes a very good case for a view of the mind as this series of competing/co-operating systems
(and argues very strongly against the idea of some 'inner-self' where the self and thinking 'really' happens, serviced by all the outer processes of subconsciousness and perception),
sometimes using language as a framework,
sometimes using other methods of imitating our sense-impressions to take advantage of our specialized perception systems.
My own introspection goes further, (though of course one of the points of the book is that we should take our own internal observations with a large grain of salt,) and says that I'm not always aware of what's going on.
If I desire to, I can think metathoughts- thoughts about my thoughts- and metametathoughts, and metametametathoughts, and so on all the way up-- that's what consciousness is all about.
But I usually don't.
And, like all you other mammals out there, I sleep.
Perchance to dream-- but only sometimes.
Sometimes I'm "out like a light". Well, not completely-- I'm sure that some one could hook up some sensors to my head, and clearly see a fair amount of happy neurochemical humming and bopping, even when I'm in deepest of deep sleep.
But not to me-- I may not be dead to the world (as long as the world has sufficiently sensitive instruments) but I'm dead to myself.
So what's the point? It's like Poe said: "Sleep... those little slices of death; O how I loathe them!"
He was expressing a frustration with having to spend so much of his life in a comatose state.
And he has a point: sleep seems to make our finite lifespans even more finite.
And yet-- and yet, it's a safe way of practicing for what we all will finally come to.
Yes, the idea of "death as sleep" is hardly new, but I hope by pointing out how it won't be a totally new experience,
how even when we're awake and about we aren't necessarily awake in the ways we find most important to our sense of selves,that I can make the lack of our selves in the universe less frightening--
especially given the fact that, by definition, we won't be there to be scared at that time.
http://www.ij.org/about/4058 -- wow, fuck civil forfeiture abuse. that is a travesty. Averaging about 3 incidents a year? Damn.
Heh, love that the new iOS app is physical greeting cards. Reminds me of "Tim Cook: I'm Thinking Printers"
My favorite iOS 5 feature gets no mention: splittable screens for iPad, so you can thumb type while holding it...
"The urge to be top dog is a bad urge. Inevitable tragedy. A sensible person seeks to be at peace, to read books, know the neighbors, take walks, enjoy his portion, live to be eighty, and wind up fat and happy although a little wistful when the first coronary walks up and slugs him in the chest." --Garrison Keillor, "It Could Be Worse"
"But I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn't frighten me."
There's an old chestnut of a story, where there's a powerful King (some say Solomon)
He is searching for an artifact-or may just a bit of wisdom- that would make a sad man happy and a happy man sad.
One of his servants brings back a ring inscribed with "This too shall pass."
The Universe won't last forever.
Nothing is forever, except for the fact that... nothing is forever.
Does this scare you? It shouldn't. By the definition of the universe, the nature of being, nothing can be more natural, more fundamental to everything.
But of course it scares us.
As creatures who live only a few levels beyond our instincts, we like things to be consistent.
Stasis might be boring, but predictablity is safer than chaos.
And we want to extend that desire for predictability for as long as we can imagine, which is forever.
It's not just our instincts that tell us to hope for eternity: our culture and religion do as well.
I blame my years of faith for leading me to expect things-- anything-- to be able to last forever and ever, world without end, Amen.
Without that mythology, I might be more able to accept the universe that science-
(thoughtful, peer-reviewed, testable-hypothesis science, our very best way of knowing things about the world-) tells us that it probably is.
"The gods refuse to answer. They refuse because they do not know." --W.A. Dwiggins. A striking quote, but I'm wondering if the orignal question was "What typeface shall I use"...What's the best counter to being "Privilege Denying Dude"? Privilege acknowledging seems obnoxious. Do you have to become a campaigner?
Ugh, Steve Jobless.
"The past resembles the future as water resembles water"
--Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406)
Here's another change of perspective I found useful: I used to place no value on the past.
Now, I see that to have a realistic appreciation of my life, I can't be so casual about disregarding an ever growing part of it!
Time is past, present, and future.
Besides the standard advice of being in the moment, and appreciating the time at hand, people need to learn to value their own past experience,
to see the days gone by as little precious items that we peruse and enjoy in and of themselves.
(Not that you should 'live in the past' either while you still have plenty of living in front of you.)
Our optimistic natures cause us to always look to the future, to make up for the shortcomings of the past, to have a chance to accomplish the things we've always wanted to do.
But our pasts live on, in our selves, and we need to treat ourselves with the respect we deserve.
Finding The Point
" 'Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies-- 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.' "
--Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
I suppose one risk of over-rationalizing death is failing to appreciate life.
When you manage to stop fearing the idea of dying, you had better make damn sure you appreciate why you're living-
doubly so if you're a skeptic without a Deity telling you taking your own life is wrong.
I can't tell you why life is worth living, or what the point of life is,
though I suspect part of the point is to figure out what the point is.
I do think life is better than death because it's interesting; that alone is a start of a reason to keep dancing.
Avogadro's Number: About # of graphite atoms in a pencil led. Or in grapefruits, Volume of THE EARTH. Mind blown. Atoms are so so so tiny.
Paraphrase of Steve Jobs paraphrasing a song: "Weíre all just renting time here on planet Earth.Ē Any idea what song?
Sometimes when I read technical concepts that seem to have poor power/weight ratios, but maybe I'm just dumb, I think of EJBs circa 2000AD
http://www.townienews.com/site/archive/john-lackeys-2011-red-sox-recap/ - I find this weird Red Sox "John Lackey" parody weirdly compelling. Whut-Ev-Uh!
- I find this weird Red Sox "John Lackey" parody weirdly compelling. Whut-Ev-Uh!
A nice passage from Garrison Keillor's "Church Organist" in the collection "Life Among the Lutherans":
A man and woman look at each other across the breakfast table and realize it's been a long time since they've had bad feelings for about each other, these two who've gone through rough patches when big arguments could come up suddenly out of nowhere that left them emotionally drained and sorrowful for days, and now it feel as if they've turned a corner and found something easy, a simple pleasure in each other, in their domestic arrangements, in their mutual life, in lying in bed and rubbing her back, in walking into the bathroom and she turns naked and beautiful and looks at you without alarm. It's so easy when it's easy. You come to this time unaware of it, and gradually it dawns on you that you don't covet anything anymore, you're not ambitious for yourself anymore, you enjoy the success of other people and are happy for them, and you see so often how unable they are to be happy about their own success, but that's not your problem. You've come to this sweet time of life.
Bonjour, bonjour, Our most hardworking son, As they say in France, whence We Have lately come. C'est bon. We hope that you Can visit it today, a side trip as you roll. As though that's possible; oh, well. Make Us a star! Roll Us up a katamari full of things.
We have no Royal Gift, so take your pick of things You roll up while on Earth, Our pee-wee son. You have three minutes, by Our watch, to make a star To grace the graceless sky. Make haste! Lest We Grow disenchanted with the way you roll. Should you create too small a ball, We will berate you.
Our sky, our lonely, empty sky, cries out to you (To Us, to be precise. But you will do) for things! What are you waiting for? Roll, Princeling, roll! We delegate this task to you, Our only son. Create a stylish katamari, one that We Would not be too ashamed to make a star.
It takes ten thousand things to make a star. What sort of things? We'll leave that up to you But make them shiny! Shiny! Yes. We Have no use for boring, ugly things. A sparkly, stylish katamari, princely son Is what We need. To Earth! It's time! Let's roll!
Oooh, look! So many things. Well? Roll Them up! You'll need a lot to make a star Worthy of the King of Cosmos' son. Roll coins, and lobsters, plants and fish. You Must be quick! Get bicycles, and other things That add girth fast. Get houses! Ships! We
Hear the clock tick on, and We Will come down to inspect your roll In ten! Quick - roll up cities! Roll up seas! More things On top of more. Roll up the Earth! Roll up a star! Roll up the Moon, the sun, the sky, and you May yet be adjudged fit to be Our son.
And what is this, most laggard son? So small. And dull. We Are displeased. We told you you should do your best to roll A katamari fit to form a brilliant star! Not this pathetic lump of misbegotten things.
--This sestina captures the very idiosyncratic voice of the "King of All Cosmos" in the Katamari Damacy games...
Facile observation: you see more MacBooks in Boston, but more PC laptops on the commuter rail.
ENDI Tank Battle for iOS is excellent -- like a BattleTanx lite, great quick hit, perfect controls. Best student game I've seen in a while.
"It's sad how Wile E. Coyote is remembered for his violence, and not for his brilliantly realistic paintings of tunnels." --http://twitter.com/rolldiggityhttp://kirkdev.blogspot.com - I am starting a UI/UX dev blog, jQuery/DHTML5, etc. Mostly for my own future reference, but others might dig it.
NY Times was to polite to print slogan "Suck for Luck", where some NFL fans team want to throw the season for #1 draft choice QB Andrew Luck
"Good interface design is as transparent as possible, because I donít want to have to think about it. I just want to write, or do whatever else Iím doing, and not have to think about whatever Iím doing it on." --William Gibson on http://william.gibson.usesthis.com/"Love is not blind - it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less." --Rabbi Julius GordonFirst reference to the video game "flip" magazine that was part of Dynamite I've found: it was called "Arcade"The most relaxing song in the world, according to science!
http://www.ferryhalim.com/orisinal/ man I had forgotten how simple and beautiful the orisinal games were.
There is a sense amongst my generation that Michael Winslow's best performing days are behind him. (You'll remember Winslow as Officer Sound Effects from Police Academy.) After all, we live in the age of the beatboxing flautist. You might change your tune after watching Winslow do Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love. The first 28 seconds are like, oh, I've heard this before yawn zzzzzzzzzz WHOA, WHERE THE HELL DID THAT GUITAR NOISE COME FROM??!
"It's ironic that the 53% don't think they're part of the 99%, when it's being bad at math that got us where we are today in the first place." --http://twitter.com/whatdoiknow"If tickling is illegal only criminals will hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee" --http://twitter.com/rstevens"I can't complain, but sometimes I still do." --Joe WalshGeneration X is used to disappointments. Generation X knows you didnít even read the whole thing. (via Amber)"Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending." --Lemony Snicket with 13 observations on Occupy Wall Street
Recently at my job we changed workspaces. Our new space is these kind of odd angled semicubes (all triangles and hexagons) Here's mine!
One neat bit of furniture in the new space is this round table...
Except it's not just a table, it's has a pad of (also round) paper embedded into the top! I drew some Alien Bills....
It's been a LONG time since I'd drawn with pencils. I think when I was a kid I was traumatized in Sunday School when they gave us god-awful #3 pencils to try and write on glossy-ish sunday school activity book paper. But now I kind of dig it, especially if the pencil is nice and sharp. Ink fits my way of simplifying the world into simple shapes and sharp borders, but with pencil it seemed more natural to be a bit more loose.
In my dream, "Cornflower Blue" seemed like the ultimate band name, but "Testing Testing 123" came in a close second.
"But if you want forgiveness for being a computer, don't put rocks in the snowballs." --David Sudnow, "Pilgrim in the Microworld"
So a few days ago I put in one little entry (beebash)
to the 2012 IGF Pirate Kart, 300-odd games by 100-odd game makers. (In retrospect I should have added a few more, since all the entries are getting at least a bit of attention.)
So the IGF is a big event for Indie Gamers. Glorious Trainwrecks has a big tradition of making Pirate Karts, just big honkin' compilations of small goofy games. It's fun watching the IGF fans try to figure out what to make of this super-inclusive project. Auntie Pixelante provides a bit of context, also I started a Glorious Trainwrecks discussion about the coverage its been getting.
I love the logo they made for this, which is just a take off of the IGF's "i" logo but with a goofy skull and crossbones.
http://www.sea-monkey.com/ -- "The first story ever about "the sea-monkey farm"" is just a dumb kids book, sans sea-monkeys. What a rip.
http://jordanmechner.com/ the original Prince of Persia game journals have got me using PaperDesk, super nifty iPad text/image game journaling/rambling/doodling.
I remember wanting the functionality of PaperDesk as my "dream app" for Palm, but I haven't used it much since I bought it.
--The closed Geauga Lake as seen from the air. Spooky how they left the space needle thing about 2/3 of the way up. Very melancholy for me to see this, since the layout of the place is still kind of ingrained in me. While the park was always in the shadow of Cedar Point, it was a ton of fun.
Across the lake was a Sea World, which I always thought was a bit weird a thing for Cleveland to have.
I found this video while following up on some video about Randall Park Mall -- for a short time it was the biggest mall in the world, it was the go-to spot when I was in high school, and now it's closed, closed, closed.
"Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses." --German Proverbhttp://madebymany.com/blog/apples-aesthetic-dichotomy Would love to hear Jony Ives talk about Apple's "infantile kitsch" skeuomorphic UI. Does he dig it? Hate it?
--an interactive animation of alien bill -- mouse to treat him like a marionette, mousebutton to change his size. (probably won't work in IE) I might start making better title screens on games I decide to polish a bit...
http://twolivesleft.com/Codify/ -- programming iPad on the iPad. This excites me. (Lua, a language I would know if I had taken this one other job...)
According to reviews of Codify, though, maybe they haven't got the "share your work" thing down- that might run afoul of Apple's VM policies.
"You can tell a lot about people by what books they use to prop up their monitors." --http://twitter.com/dan_schmidt"Walking in this weather is like being hit in the face with a cold wet steak. But not in the good way" "OK, that last part was weird."
"Beef-witted" is a 400-year-old insult that still holds up pretty well.
Codify for iPad reminds me of PocketC for Palm way back when. Former is slicker, but the latter was more amazing, given the hardware... especially fun since I laptops weren't nearly as common back then, so "programming anywhere" was more of a rarity.
Man, long day at work, and the typos are getting stupid and numerous. .head() instead of .hide() ? Time to go home.
"I like how the Google auto-suggest for 'duran' is another 'duran'"
"OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW." --The final words of Steve Jobs, as reported in his sister's touching eulogy for him."You donít have to believe everything you think." --Chris Hardwick in this Wired bit on Self-Help for Nerds"Don't worry about this stuff. Just remember my motto: 'Every day is the first day of what's left of your life.'" --Statler (of "and Waldorf" fame)