March 19th, 2008

Apollo 4 on column of fire

Barack Obama and Alfred Korzybski

From the website of Trinity United Church of Christ, pastor Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. (

Basic education for all Blacks should include Mathematics, Science, Logic, General Semantics, Participative Politics, Economics and Finance, and the Care and Nurture of Black minds.

Boldface mine.

So Barack Obama was formed in an environment influenced by the work of Alfred Korzyski. It occurred to me to check, because of the way Obama works, by making little changes in people, and his generally contemplative affect.

I may have misjudged Barack Obama’s ‘mental’ age; he may be fully 46 years old. His speechwriters aren't, however.
Apollo 4 on column of fire

Exactly the speech I expected

I have been struck by the way people, such as callers to talk shows, have expressed that they were ‘shocked’ by Obama’s speech yesterday, that they had not expected such forthrightness at all. I chuckle, because Obama gave exactly the speech I expected of him. :)

What I said of the Ohio sham ‘debate’: Hillary Clinton seemed to be treating it like a boxing match, at a key point throwing an attempted ‘knock-out punch’ when Barack Obama ‘denounced’ but did not ‘reject’ Louis Farrakhan; Barack Obama, on the other hand, was simply answering the questions. Why shouldn’t he do similarly when giving such an important speech? My expectations of Obama were not pre-colored by expectations of what a ‘politician’ (a class term) would do, but were based on Obama’s past behavior.

(BTW there is a simple though powerful way to turn a class term into a name of some individual, which is to use a subscript or similar notation. For example: politician1 = Hillary Clinton, politician2 = Bill Clinton, politician3 = Barack Obama, politician4 = Silvio Berlusconi, and so on. Such a method, borrowed from mathematics, has several advantages, including that it explicitly includes the class term, and that it assigns an arbitrary order to the individuals.)
Apollo 4 on column of fire

A cute fact for the Star Trek-knowledgable

I just recalled that I have referred to ‘button-pushing speeches’ also as ‘E Plabnista’ speeches. How did Barack Obama begin his speech yesterday? Yes, indeed, he began as follows: ‘We the People, in order to form a more perfect union.’

See why I half-jokingly use Star Trek for my ethical examples? :)

But, more, this is the power that I said Obama was capable of applying, if only he would quit the E Plabnista.

(Thom Hartmann, returned from Darfur, just called Obama’s speech ‘stunning’. This is the word people are using.)
Apollo 4 on column of fire


New York Times editorial:
Mr. Obama had to address race and religion, the two most toxic subjects in politics. He was as powerful and frank as Mitt Romney was weak and calculating earlier this year in his attempt to persuade the religious right that his Mormonism is Christian enough for them.

I keep saying that Romney should have pretended he was Jewish! :) To the fundies Romney wished to please, Jews are like a quaint ancestor, but Mormons are heretics.
Apollo 4 on column of fire

John McCain’s health

I’m seriously concerned that John McCain is suffering from some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Yesterday we saw how Joseph Lieberman had to correct McCain, who was saying ludicrous things about Iran and al Qaeda—too ludicrous even for professional liar Joe Lieberman. But I have been concerned since, a few months ago, I think, McCain had Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin mixed together and confused in an eerily Reaganesque fashion—I mean the way Reagan, in his dementia, had his own identity confused with those of his movie roles. McCain was talking about Angela Merkel but called her Vladimir Putin and used masculine pronouns.

I’m really concerned that McCain has a serious brain condition.
Apollo 4 on column of fire

On nervous complexity and delays in reaction to stimuli

Nerve fibers are quite sluggish transmitters of signals. Therefore, an immensely complex nervous system such as that of a human being may need, for best functioning, to delay reactions to stimuli long enough for thorough processing. Otherwise the reaction, not making thorough use of the uniquely human nervous architecture, may resemble the reactions of an animal; and so we have such common expressions for undelayed reactions as ‘reptile brain’.

The mechanism of the unconditional reaction is, under ordinary
circumstances, almost automatic. It is evolved on the background of
general protoplasmic characteristics, combined with structural polarity,
symmetry[, etc.], and is not efficient enough for the survival of higher organisms.

Under more complex conditions, the adjustment for survival must be
more flexible: a similar direct stimulation must, under different conditions,
result in different reactions, or different stimuli, under other conditions,
produce similar reactions, resulting, ultimately, not only in direct responses
to stimuli, but also in the equally important holding in abeyance of the
reaction, or even the abolishing of it. Let us assume that the direct response
of a cat to a mouse would be clawing and chewing. If that given cat would
just claw and chew when the mouse was some distance away, I am afraid
such a cat would soon starve, for such an immediate response would not be a
survival response, and this characteristic could not become hereditary. The
cats which have survived and perpetuated their characteristics are, as a rule,
different. When they see, hear, or smell the mouse at a distance, they flatten
out, keep still, crouch[, etc.], and get ready, until they are in such a position that a
jump will procure the victim, and not merely frighten it away.

We see that, under more complex conditions, the nervous mechanism
must produce not only direct responses to the stimuli but also equally
important delays and temporal or permanent abolishments of these direct
responses to stimuli.

—Alfred Korzybski (1933)
band-aid tooth

My walk

Pictures from my walk today, taken with my cell phone. Click on the pic for bigger.

My shadow:

Panda bear:

Ice angler:

Ice angler, again:


Lake, again:

The other ice angler, distant and so very small in this picture:

I can’t vouch for the safety of that ice.