Posted by: Jim | September 10, 2008

Why I Get Up In The Morning

Someone recently commented that I seem very unhappy lately. Their comment was promptly deleted because it was way off topic and irrelevant to the topic being discussed.  But the comment did give me pause for thought.

I don’t think I’m an unhappy person, but my obsessive analysis of the world’s situation makes me unhappy. And it makes me angry, which is an emotion that some define as “love disappointed.” 

As corny as it sounds, I do love the world. I’m filled with awe at everything going on around me.

And today … an awesome thing happened. The “On” switch was flipped on the largest machine ever built. It’s a $9 billion dollar machine, so it might also be the most expensive machine ever built.

And it’s goal? It’s not a war machine or the latest, biggest SUV, or some rich guy’s fantasy. The goal was  mostly curiosity.

Scientists are trying to figure out the essence of matter. And despite the costs, despite the ignorant protests, CERN scientists sallied forth to build their great, whimsical beast. Today they fired a proton at 99.999998% of the speed of light through a 17-miles-in-circumference ring at sub-space temperatures (that’s really cold) only for that proton to smash into another one that had been fired around the other direction.

They might not learn anything. But the fact that they’re trying is the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in awhile. In a few years, they might get enough data to determine the essence of anti-matter, and maybe even how the universe was created.

In a day when the majority of Americans think the world was made by god in a puff of smoke 10,000 years ago, it’s nice to know that there are a few people out there who are willing to find out the truth.

That’s why I get up in the morning.

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Responses

  1. Ignore the OT posters, Jim, there’s a pathology in them wandering by and slinging crap your way.

    On another related note, Apple announced a new Nano this week and some new colours for their products! And Wired readers still gobbled this up with hundreds of comments in a week where history was not the story of Mr Jobs’ latest attempt to glorify Apple stock.

    I guess there is a difference between science and technology, Wired is for people who often can’t see the difference, who don’t look past their own consumer needs. For these people, a feature enhancement to the iPhone is more important than the collider! Because it is about them, rather than the totality of humanity.

    I am in the camp that prefers the big sweep these days. Go on collider, do something amazing!

  2. I think the collider is wicked cool, and even cooler is the fact that we have not been devoured by black holes that some felt it might accidentally create. Yay science!

  3. Jim

    I made the comment about you appearing unhappy and I was quite disappointed to see it censored. As for it being offtopic….your cast of regular posters take extreme joy pretending to be whitty as they turn into bullies posting in this blog. Now that might be off topic as many of their posts are simply to belittle others with opposing opinions. My post was a comment that related to your previous post in which you mentioned happiness. My thought was simple in that the vast majority of your posts are negative in nature. You seem focused on finding things that you believe wrong in the world or with others. Negativity will wear a person out. Nice to see something posted that you feel good about.

  4. I think what Bubba’s saying, Jim, is that you need to drink some nice Republican Kool-Aid. And why not — all evidence indicates that it’s happy-juice.

    …or maybe I’m just being “whitty.”

  5. I guess a blog about what you feel good about, rather than that which concerns you, would be…

    Well, maybe just pictures of titties each day…

    Or maybe that’s just me.

  6. Chuck, you absolutely slay me. Don’t you know we all drink the kool-aid? 😀 Those outside of the Golden State are convinced that it is manufactured, refined, and distributed in and from ‘fornia. Liberals drink the more virulent strain – it explains why there are more arrests at ‘public gatherings,’ like political conventions and PETA rallies, and it also explains why the big vein in their heads pops out.

    Conservatives drink the strain that makes the world seem like the nice place that it is (yes, with as much of the bad stuff in it, stuff that has been going on for millenia), as Jim mentioned in this very post. Jimmy, too much kool-aid for you? Never mix the two…you get blandness. Kinda like Ron Paul.

    I’d never bet against Stephen Hawking, and I don’t care if you have a particle named after you. You know, lefties, you complain an awful lot about how government spends so much money in the wrong places. I haven’t yet heard a peep about a $9 billion machine qualifying as necessary for humankind’s advancement. Maybe Higgs also drinks the bad kool-aid.

    Jim, you know I’m a scientist as well, and I love watching science unfold before our very eyes. Can you please comment on how this fits into the big picture? The moon, and even Mars are much worthier tasks to take on IMHO.

  7. We’re getting off-topic here, but I want to mention (again) that I feel Bubbagut is right in his indictment of many commenters here. While there is a lot of good debate, some people tend to start off every post with “You’re so stupid.” The fact you say it in a funny way doesn’t mean that the language hasn’t become tiresome. As much as I’ve tried to explain that it prevents dialog from happening, people do it anyway. I’ve given up trying to change people’s behavior, and their continued use of that language probably indicates they have given up trying to dialog. So the bullying continues, as does the lack of dialog. So be it.

    Now on to my happiness. I’m a generally happy guy throughout the day, but happiness does not motivate me to write in my blog. What motivates me is the stuff that pisses me off! So a lot of my posts seem vitriolic, but that’s not the whole picture of Jim’s life–it’s only the slice that you see. You are right that negativity can wear a person out, but I have a lot more to go before that happens. I don’t think you are trying to invalidate my message on the basis of general unhappiness or negativity. If you do that, you would invalidate Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Jesus’s teachings, the messages that lead to the abolition of slavery, The Civil Rights movement, am I getting my point across?

  8. I’m sure I’m one of the “You’re so stupid” people (but funny!), so I want to explain why I take that stance. I’m all for dialogue and debate, but I honestly don’t think that’s possible with most of the conservative posers (typo, but I’m keeping it) you get here, Toad in particular. They’re not at all interested in rational discourse or open to examining their own positions, they’re just here to bray the Faux News talking points du jour and make fun of liberals. I’ve said before that I think you give Toad too much credit when you take his criticisms seriously, and I say that because he isn’t receptive to any criticisms you might have, he’s merely trying to control your behavior.

    I admire your lofty goals and your attempts to rise above the noise, but I just think you’re wasting your time. I give “the opposition” exactly as much respect as I think they deserve. If I felt they were open to intelligent debate, I guarantee you my attitude would be radically different.

  9. Good guess, Chuck! And my assumption of your position (that dialog is not possible) was apparently correct. My position is that I try to create a context for dialog all the time so that I am never the guilty one. But to each his own.

    Other than that, you almost always manage to slip in a bit of on-topic content so you almost never get censored. Hehe.

  10. Oh I didn’t see Todd’s question!
    “… I love watching science unfold before our very eyes. Can you please comment on how this fits into the big picture? The moon, and even Mars are much worthier tasks to take on IMHO.”

    The potential discoveries here have a bigger impact than finding water on Mars. Inner-space is just as vast as outer space. This machine will *probably* help us confirm the “standard model” of the universe. Or not. Having a correct model of the universe will be the equivalent to mapping the human genome. Probably moreso. It will help us find a grand unification theory, understand gravity better, etc.

    OR … (and this is what I think is most likely) it will produce results so puzzling that all the physicists will go back to the drawing board. Hawking is betting that we don’t find the Higgs Boson and I bet he’s right.

  11. “I’ve given up trying to change people’s behavior, and their continued use of that language probably indicates they have given up trying to dialog. So the bullying continues, as does the lack of dialog. So be it.”

    I think, for me, reading your posts has become secondary to the endless cognitive dissonance caused by Todd’s comments. One part of me, the part that knows better, always wants to pass on by, do nothing, keep schtum, but then, there’s the part of me that is highly allergic to anybody tinkering so hard with the plain truth of things, to somebody who conflates being critical with being liberal (and therefore wrong), to somebody who, to my mind, calls the entire business of having bother to be educated and to be responsive to stimuli into question. Then I have to respond, not to defend my own views (that are not, as I have repeatedly taken pains to point out, de facto liberal, etc), but to defend reason itself.

    This, I believe, is the source of such vehemence in the Todd-slaps administered by me, Bri, and others. What use are our brains and our capacity for reason if somebody keeps confounding things with positions that evidence no particular effort to understand anything, that don’t go far beyond the hick cops in Superman II, when Zod and his henchman (and henchwoman), land in front of their prowler…

    “Who are they?”
    “No idea, but by the looks of them, I’ll bet you ten bucks they’re from L.A. …”

    My bottom line is that myself, Bri, Chuck, etc, don’t constitute some bloc, in terms of our worldview, we’re not a bunch of stormtroopers, but Todd unites us in a defense of reason.

    Lastly, I was thinking on the Todd perspective, and the guy above with the “write something good” (that seems to be an extension of the “why talk about Hiroshima, let’s talk about all the good America does” meme), and the thing that occurred to me was that, for me, and certainly for Jim, there is no unified easy picture of what the US is, for Jim, his understanding of his country is a work in progress, something he assembles for himself. This involves critical thinking and evaluating what’s reported (and what might not receive the attention it deserves).

    For Bri, he is settled, not in a rut, but in a particular worldview, an account of how most people behave that doesn’t expect any meaningful progress. He may regard the notion of human progress, ie: in terms of people’s characters improving, as something of a joke in and of itself. Liars lie, thieves steal, bullies bully, and that’s the story for all time. (I’m in general agreement with this view).

    For Todd and the ‘write happy’ guy, they seem to have an existing unified picture of the US, its place in the world, its proud history, and of their own identity in relation to this. So, any exploration on Jim’s part, necessarily conflicts with this, not just because of the content, but by the very notion of disturbing their worldview, (uncritical, patriotic, America the Great) one that tends towards regarding criticism of America as, at the least, unnecessary, at worst, as Unamerican.

    Sorry to go on. I am still of the mind that if Todd’s comments were removed, something else would be happening here. I don’t wake up in the morning anxious to defend reason from attack or to get worked up into a frenzy. It happens when I read Todd’s comments. Take away the stimulus and the response vanishes.

    However, it seems that freedom means Todd is free to cause his dissonance and to make fun of, in his superior way, the educated positions of Jim, myself, and others, and not with any substance, but simply with a superior tone of “You libruls…” etc, or “You Californians…” etc, ie: some easy categorisation that negates whatever you say. Todd’s tactics are tough to nullify because the views of others are always immediately disqualified by virtue of some fact of their geography or of the source they quote, as if Jim would find some supporting quote for a rational position on Fox News, etc, or would suffer some road-to-Damascus conversion if he lived in Wyoming for six months.

    Whatever. There is my twopence.

  12. Reasonable assessments, and I think accurate. It would be interesting to see what would have developed on this site if it weren’t a flame-fest most of the time. I’m actually not sure it would have much readership. The comments are far more compelling than I am.

    Knowing how to think … therein lies the rub. Any man who can’t think still believes he can.

    You can read about “how to think” in places like this: http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/kingch/How_to_Think.htm

    But there’s more to it than mere book learning …

  13. But Jim, you seem so unhappy lately…

    * * *

  14. Nice to see this article on ‘how to think’ from the Georgetown U Website….Indeed. 🙂

  15. Jim,

    I agree with Chuck that you give Todd too much credit. I say you not only give him too much credit, but that you hold him to a more lenient standard than that to which you hold your other posters. You want good dialog and debate, and you chide folks for calling names and making fun. Yet you consistently allow Todd to substitute unsupported assertion (and reassertion ad nauseum) for argument, and ad hominem attack for reasoned counterpoint.

    Subjecting an idiot to ridicule for his idiotic and consistently unsupported positions certainly qualifies as personal attack, but it is not ad hominem. Ad hominem is the attempt to discredit an argument by discrediting a person, which is what Todd does (weakly, for sure, and generally by way of stereotype). Your other posters either attack Todd personally because there is no argument, or do so in addition to discrediting whatever feeble argument is offered. Which side is really preventing debate? If you want to raise the level of discourse you need to address the quality and nature of argument being made, with no double standard.

    Respectfully,

    S

  16. And, like Kingfelix, at some point I recognized that “reading your posts [had become] secondary to the endless cognitive dissonance caused by Todd’s comments”. So much so that I don’t often click into comments. Even making fun of him has taken on the quality of hunting dairy cows with a high power scope (apologies to P. J. O’Rourke). [yawwwwnnnn]

  17. I understand totally, and realize you are right that I’ve used a double-standard. But consider why. If I censor the ONLY conservative commentor, how does that look?

    I may completely alter this blog after reading this string. I attempted to create a place were reasonable discourse can take place and I have mostly failed in that regard. We just haven’t had a reasonable contingent to represent the Right.

    I am working on a second creative project, that will be converted into a web page in the near future. Once that happens I may focus my attentions entirely on that web page (not a blog).

    Until then, I will take my hands off comments, and make it a free-for-all. Say whatever you want, however you want, to whomever you want.

  18. Yes, right, how would that look? There’s the rub, eh? By the way, my post is not advocacy for the censorship of Todd. I’m a laissez-faire man myself. Let the fray continue.

    And, no, you (italicized, if I could) haven’t failed. It’s a good blog, with plenty of reasonable dialog.

  19. Agreed with the Curmudgeon that any lack of dialogue can’t be placed at Jim’s feet. You’ve had one side dialoging (albeit snarkily at times), and the other side… not. He provided the forum; he’s not responsible for the opinions expressed.

    As far as how censoring the ONLY conservative would look… I think in this case it would show some sensibility. Consider the conservative’s message. Would you set a monkey free in your art studio with a diaper-load of feces and a brush?

  20. Jim,
    You have not failed in attempting to create a place where reasonable discourse can take place. You have a good blog and have laid down the rules of response. Kudo’s for that.

  21. Ha! A diaper-load of feces. Good one. And Jim will appreciate the inside-joke value of that (between him, myself, and his ex-girlfriend. It was one wacky night that I couldn’t begin to describe and won’t for the sake of discretion anyway — and no, it was not in any way sexual).

    And, um, excuse me, Jimbo, but I could swear I’ve seen a few other right-wing commenters on here. Namely BubbaBut and to a lesser degree (because he sometimes makes sense and because he thinks — as I do — that basically BOTH sides are usually full of shit), Venjanz. He’s more Conservative than me though, so I put him in that category — though since he can form a complete sentence and makes me laugh only when he’s actually TRYING to, I won’t lump him in with Toad and Bubba. I can deal with a Conservative; I can’t deal with a RETARDED Conservative.

    * * *


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