synthetic zero


November 23, 2004

Some people seem to have been worried that I was depressed or despondent with my talk of death last week; but no, actually, I have long thought of death as just another aspect of life, and in fact I was quite happy to relate my story of my attempt at a "last message" before I died. I still feel, oddly, this tinge of death in the air, but I don't really know why. Perhaps we shall find out soon enough.

I've been in Los Angeles helping my friend Miranda July with her movie, she was reshooting some scenes. It was fun to see her, and Emily Bulfin, and other members of the crew... though everyone was so busy it was impossible to socialize much. Still, there's an indefinable strong sense of camaraderie on sets, for some reason. I don't know why, but my area with the laptops became kind of a gathering place after the day was out. I like those moments of spontaneous congregating.

The recount scene in Ohio heats up.

November 15, 2004

As I was driving to Boston on Saturday at 5am (long story) I felt curiously dead... it was dark, the flakes were coming down and I seemed to be moving forward into a void. I thought, if I died right then of a brain hemmorhage or something no one would know anything of my last thoughts or experiences that eerie morning. I thought to try to write a note in my Palm (they could find it after the crash), but it was too difficult to do so ... then I thought of a voice memo, but my phone's voice memo function wasn't working. I tried to leave myself a voicemail but the system only seemed to want to let me listen to messages. I thought of calling Sue, but I thought she was probably sleeping. So I decided to text message Heather Anne with a brief note about my strange state of mind. I figured, if I did die that night, that text message would have more significance. As it happens, however, I am alive, so the text message now only serves as a weird record of my odd state of mind.

I have, however, been having an increasing sense of an imminent end to my life... with concomitant thoughts of "what have I really accomplished"? I have a sense of renewed urgency regarding various projects: make a short film, make an interactive artwork, work on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, work on the problem of truth as it relates to the self-referential "inclusion" paradoxes (a la Godel's Theorem, Russell's Paradox, etc.), work on a meta-programming language, etc. I actually think these projects are all related... in particular the notion of truth. I believe that, following Gregory Bateson, the problem with logic as it has traditionally been conceived of is that it tends to assume that truth values are flat, i.e., one can sort of "assign" them to statements, or "discover" them as though they are true or false before one attempts to verify them --- however, this assumption leads to the various self-referential paradoxes noted above. I believe it is better to think of "truth" as being in some sense more closely related to the process by which one attempts to check the truth, i.e., that it is a dynamic quality to a set of relationships that involve, and in some sense create, a sense of time. I.e., one calls something "true" because you've checked to see if it is true, and the "truth" of the statement and the checking (or the possibilities of checking) are not separable. This relates also the quantum issue: what one does not observe doesn't exist --- states do not exist a priori but only exist to the extent that one attempts to verify them.

I feel a bit guilty for having predicted a Kerry win prior to the election --- it's strange, because intuitively I felt there would be some problems with that prediction, but I was swayed by the analysis showing undecideds and independents going for Kerry (which they did, as exit polls indicated, in fact, but somehow this wasn't enough to tip the balance --- or was it?) There seems, however, to be increasing evidence of voter fraud on a large scale. For example: possible fraud in North Carolina, more problems in Florida, etc. Could Kerry have actually won this election? It's hard to say, but the stories are increasingly disturbing.

November 11, 2004

Khaela writes an inspiring message about the election:

I'm not gonna try and smooth it over.
It's bad.


I don't know what exactly to say about it, or to do about it.
It feels like there's practically nothing that I can do about it.

Here's the only thing that I can think of so far:
a. don't pretend that it's not as bad as it is.
b. don't just quit thinking about it.
c. don't move to France or Canada.

Just know it. We have another four years of a president that I don't like, don't trust, and actually feel a fear for in my body. It feels bad.
But, I'm, uh, gonna keep feeling it. I think it's what I need to do.


Does it matter?
Under it all, my deepest hunch is, um (whispered under the sheets), "yes. It matters."
Get this: I think that we don't have to worry about it all right this second.
Just stay alert and tuned in. Just feel it.


doesn't mean:

dying under the weight of it
shouting or talking in angry voices about how much of a goon that man is
yelling in the streets

it might mean:

Knowing that it's wrong.
It's wrong.
Confidently and very calmly hanging onto this understanding.
Having the facts gracefully on hand inside of my mind.


We are going to figure it out. We will have to pull ourselves together and be a lot smarter, and more healthy, and effective, and in touch with the force than we have been. It sucks a little bit, because we will have to work harder, and probably give up some of the things that we liked. Laziness? The luxury of getting to trust that everything will be okay, even if we just coast along and do nothing in particular to make it so? Um, getting to sort of trust our leaders a little bit?

There will be sacrifices. I can deal. I figure out how to, little by little. But the main thing is don't lose your sensations, your sensitivity, your sense that it matters.

Once they get that out of you, they really have you.

This song has been going through my head for a couple of weeks:

ah-ah ah-ah-ah
Johnny's in America
Low techs at the wheel
Ah-ah-ah-ah ah-ah ah-ah-ah
Noone needs anyone
They don't even just pretend
Ah-ah-ah-ah ah-ah ah-ah-ah
Johnny's in America

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't
I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't
I'm afraid of Americans

Johnny's in America
Ah-ah-ah-ah ah-ah ah-ah-ah
Johnny wants a brain
Johnny wants to suck on a Coke
Johnny wants a woman
Johnny wants to think of a joke
Ah-ah-ah-ah ah-ah ah-ah-ah
Johnny's in America
Ah-ah-ah-ah ah-ah ah-ah-ah

One would like to hope this isn't the end of America as those of us who believed in it thought of it. But, it is possible it is. But I hope America can be saved, I am willing to try to save it.

November 8, 2004

It's not clear to me that fraud could have contributed enough to a 3.5 million vote loss, but perhaps it could have contributed to an electoral college loss. Some relevant links:

Vote auditing guide from Democratic Underground

Surprising patterns in the Florida election

Black Box Voting is devoted to voting fairness

I am now thinking that perhaps my sense that things aren't as dark as they might otherwise be comes from the distinct possibility that Bush will crash and burn in his second term and the American people will finally wake up. Though the crash could obviously cause a lot of harm, the waking up might be able to salvage things for us. I had originally thought the damage done in Bush's first term would be irreversible --- now I am not so sure. The closeness of the election might bode well for us --- at least people might feel strongly enough to organize against this President.

Natalie sends me these maps of free versus slave states/territories and how they compare to the electoral college map.

November 3, 2004 (part 3)

Speaking of Canada: http://www.marryanamerican.ca/

November 3, 2004 (part 2)

When Bush "won" in 2000 I thought it was a very dark day for America and the world. For most of this election season I also thought that we were doomed if Bush won a second term. However, around about the time John Kerry started to attack the president more forcefully on the war in Iraq, I began to become more hopeful. I don't know why, but I remain relatively hopeful even now, though I don't know why I should be. Perhaps it is because the attacks Kerry made on the President will eventually have their effect, even if it might not be immediate.

Of course, this could simply mean this is the end of American dominance --- the beginning of the destruction of the United States as we know it. Civilizations rise and fall, and we were due to fall eventually. Perhaps that's as it should be, though it seems a damn shame, and the U.S. will wreak a lot of havoc on its way down, if that's the way it is going to go.

But, there's always Canada.

November 3, 2004

Looks like Kerry has lost, despite the high turnout. Strangely, the exit polls showed Kerry up by a few points, but the actual results appear to show it going for Bush 51%-49%. My projection has Bush winning Ohio by around 90,000 votes. Perhaps there's something wrong with my methodology, but I don't think so --- I've done a little cross-checking. Apparently Bush counties went more strongly for Bush this year than in 2000.

We've lost, most likely.

November 2, 2004

Two factors in Kerry's favor today: high turnout and undecideds tend to break for the challenger. Both seem to be going his way, so a tied race at the end in the polls seems to indicate a definitive Kerry win. However, the wild card is still the shenanigans in Florida: if Ohio goes for Bush, Florida would be the deciding state, again, and they're so close there that some voter suppression, fraudulent electronic voting machines, etc., might be enough to put Bush over the top. But here's to hoping the other factors will trump the potential for fraud.

John Zogby was on the Daily Show and flatly predicted a Kerry win last Friday. I hope he's right. My intuition that Kerry was a shoo-in has been less strong in recent weeks, but, rationally, the objective factors still appear to be in his favor. If there is a lot of acrimony about the election, however, it will damage his ability to govern, so I hope the result is relatively definitive.