synthetic zero


August 31, 2005

Just to highlight a link from my Belgravia Dispatch reference in my last post... I like to visit conservative blogs to see how the other side lives --- many of them remain in bizarre denial about what is going on, but others had the foresight to see the disaster coming before it hit, like The Cunning Realist:

Is anyone actually going to think about the absurdity of the "flypaper" mantra after today, or are people going to accept it as mindlessly as it will no doubt continue to be spoken? It is heartening to see right-of-center clear thinkers like Greg Djerejian dissect and reject it based on pragmatism in this piece. But has anyone thought about why we're justified in using another nation as flypaper in the first place, even if it was a viable, effective strategy? What gives us the right to use a sovereign nation as a catch basin for carnage so we can go on blissfully consuming and merrily flipping real estate here? Instead of flypaper, this should be called the "Night of the Living Dead Nation" strategy---using the undead, zombie-like carcass of a failed state for our own benefit. Beyond the sheer selfish immorality of it, has anyone thought about the potential for blowback? How would you feel if we were invaded by the Chinese on a false pretense, and they stated openly that their strategy was to attract and fight the scum of the earth in the streets of New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago so they did not have to fight in Beijing?


August 27, 2005


Belgravia Dispatch argues that the "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here" theory is ludicrous. Note that he voted for Bush and continues to think that was a good idea, but has been increasingly negative about him in recent months. I wish he'd face reality and realize he ought to have gone along with his fellow realists in predicting disaster from this war from the beginning.

Meanwhile, it is worth re-reading the words of conservative realist John Mearsheimer (who voted for Bush in 2000 but Kerry in 2004), and who opposed the war for precisely the reasons I did, almost to a T, and who has been proven correct in nearly every respect, sadly, just as I and many others have. This is a situation where I really wish I had been proven wrong.

Wonkette describes the Hitchens-Jon Stewart matchup last night perfectly: "Have never seen Hitch rattled like this. Really. Stirring. Go, Jon." Hitchens has begun to remind me of the Spanish Inquisition sketch from Monty Python with his "four ways a country loses its sovereignty" inanity. "Nobody Expects an Invasion of Iraq! The Two Reasons for War With Iraq are meaningless symbolism, imaginary threats, attacks against his own people when he was our ally over a decade ago, no, I meant, er, the Three Reasons for War With Iraq are... er ..."

August 25, 2005

Driving down FDR on a fool's errand (I was on my way to the office to deliver a CD for someone to use tomorrow morning --- but found the keycards do not work in the middle of the night. Oh well), I found myself using the time in transit to stop thinking, stop building my world, stop filling it with meanings derived from time, from the past to the present to the future, which obscures more than it reveals ... instead, I simply let myself be, felt the road whooshing past, the Tarkovsky-like tunnels and roads flow past in ever-growing and shrinking perspective. I realized, as I was driving, how much of our worlds we constantly prop up with our thinking. The body is much more present at such moments --- breathing, time, space, all open and alive with possibility. It's good to stop, even at 60 miles per hour speeding past Manhattan; speeding past, yet perfectly still.

August 21, 2005

Saw Broken Flowers tonight; I love both Jarmusch and Murray. The film doesn't lead to any sort of conclusion or solution --- a cute way to approach failed love. Or is love that ends really failed? It usually feels that way, but perhaps love only sometimes is meant to last.

Before the film or even the previews, the theater was filled with a video presentation which we later find out is called "Screenvision". It seems an absurd name. Perhaps the wave of the future will be strangely redundant names, like "TV-Vision", "Robot Machine", or "The Corporation Company". Let's set a trend.

Thoughts about power versus information: I think we tend to think of power as primarily a matter of the application of force. But let's think about this a bit more carefully --- the real objective of the application of force is to convince the other side to stop attacking you (or even perhaps to get them to cooperate with you). In other words, force is just a means to a political end. Thus, applying force when you don't have a clear political case for what you're doing, i.e., doing so in a way that will fail to convince the other side to stop fighting you --- that is a doomed strategy. This is the main reason why, for example, the war in Afghanistan was relatively successful (though we may not be following up on it well), and why the Iraq operation was doomed from the start. Without a clear political justification for war, your opponent won't stop fighting even if it is a losing battle for them on military grounds. Moral authority, in other words, is a form of power in and of itself.

But this reminds me of a different point --- people forget that one way to use power is to be willing to give up small things in order to preserve the big things. If you focus on trying to win on everything, even minor things, you may well end up losing the things that really matter to you.

August 16, 2005 (part b)

My friend Asha writes this on her livejournal (which is private, unlike the blog I linked to, but I think I can safely quote this):

Type "(your name) is" with the quotes, into Google and then search. Then pick out your favorite responses. Copy, then repost your responses.
Here are mine:
mitsu is crazy

Mitsu is a designated industrial zone in an agricultural district

my Mitsu is over 18, and showing her age

mitsu is the very bright picture

Mitsu is just great

mitsu is dead

Mitsu is the daughter of the Imperior

Mitsu is only 14 years old

Mitsu is not going out of business

Mitsu is in highschool and has your typical thoughts, aspirations

"Mitsu" is widely recognized as quality

Mitsu is still dead as far as I see it

Mitsu is spending just $25 million

Mitsu is trying to recover from multiple blows

mitsu is looking at a fashion phone

mitsu is Media Engine

Mitsu is a fresh new CD filled with fresh new music

Mitsu is a reclusive and pessimistic scholar and writer

Mitsu is incredibly humble about his talent

Mitsu is a warrior, and is accepted as one


August 16, 2005

Have you noticed that music videos these days suck? I mean, turn on MTV, and it's another retread rap video with sexy black girls and guys with bling and big cars and BORING. (I'm not opposed to sexy girls or bling, it's just that these videos are just formulaic repeats.) Or it's an alt-rock band with a vaguely angsty look in dark surroundings, etc. It's not that the videos are all different from the old days and I can't deal with how things have changed --- it's that they seem to have decided to take all the ideas from 1980 - 2000, suck the life out of them, and repackage them minus any sense of creativity or fun. Contrast this to, say, this inspired video from the year 2001. Why can't they make videos like they did way back in 2001?

August 15, 2005

Lightning struck right outside the window --- literally flashCRACK, nearly simultaneously --- must have been no more than one block away. Exhilirating. Louder than any lightning I have ever heard or seen before. Killed my DSL modem (via the phone line), but luckily I have a spare.

Been thinking about Japan and the war --- particularly, what happened during World War II. The way the militarists twisted the samurai code into something nearly unrecognizable, and how the Japanese went along with it, for the most part --- scary. In many ways feudal Japan was one of the most stable, advanced feudal societies in history, yet the Japanese military committed horrific crimes during the war. Many former samurai, including my own family, opposed the militarists --- yet the militarists held sway in Japan via coercion, assassination, and other means. One possible reason is that Japan had a mythology of the superman --- the idea that there were a class of people, samurai, who had once ruled Japan and who had an almost mythological sense of superiority to the average person, combining spiritual and martial qualities. My family's class, in other words. And there was some truth to the myth; a well-trained samurai was indeed a fearsome warrior, yet also cultured. But the problem with the notion of the superman ruler (even and perhaps even more so if this notion has some small basis in fact) is that people may not develop a sufficient sense of self-reliance, they may not have enough distrust of government. The strategy of the Founding Fathers in the United States was different: to assume that men are inherently flawed, that tyrants could come to power, and to purposefully structure the government to check and restrain their worst impulses. In other words, assume that power attracts unscrupulous and base people, and design your government with that worst case in mind.

If that is a better strategy, what point is there to the superman? The great sage, the great warrior, etc.? Perhaps the time for such people is past. Perhaps these people ought to find some other role, less in the forefront, perhaps more behind the scenes. Or perhaps such people need to simply bide their time, over generations, perhaps, until they are needed again, and then fade back into the background.

August 9, 2005

In the quantum domain, information can be negative. "In short, after I tell you negative information, you will know less."

August 5, 2005

Khaela writes a really beautiful entry about shit (and other things). In particular, shit inside of us. I really love this post. I wrote this to her in response:

We all have shit inside us, and it's the rare few who actually realize that.  I think most people think of themselves as these smooth bags, filled with foam, or something.  Something light and maybe chewy, but certainly not black and oozing.