Friday, January 3, 2014

It Wasn't Syzygy

I find, that as I get older, that the opinions of fewer people matter to me.


I picked up Belladonna after her Gray's Anatomy marathon.  I passed through town on the way home.  It is not the most direct way home but it is the best plowed way.  While stopped at the corner of Knight Street and Main, waiting for a light to turn, Belladonna heard two pedestrians conversing.

One of them directed the comment at us, "Hey, dumb ass, don't you know you can turn right on red?"

It tainted the entire rest of Belladonna's evening.  She wanted to jump out of the car and pound them into grease spots on the pavement.  She talked about it the rest of the drive home.  She was snappish at Kubota with predictable results.

The "protector" effect

I once had a social conversation with a Magistrate (really, we were at a beach) regarding the mortality rate of dogs during deer season.  One of the comments he made was to the effect that few dogs get shot by the landowner.  The person who kills dogs is often a guest.

The Magistrate seemed to think it was a combination of the guest not having to think about the repercussions of offing the neighbor's dog -and- the guest is acting from a misguided sense of "protecting" the owner's property.  Misguided because there are few things that will initiate a neighborhood sh_tstorm faster than shooting a member of the family.

I wonder if part of Belladonna's distress was because she felt she needed to protect me.

It Wasn't Syzygy

It Wasn't Syzygy was a short story written by Theodore Sturgeon.  The premise was that there are about one hundred human beings in the world at a time.  The rest of the population are empty shells.  They exist as 2 dimensional cardboard characters when in the glow of the "real" human beings.  They become wraiths, mere whisps of smoke when beyond the reach of their luminescence.

The story is told from the perspective of a shell.  He believes he is one of the hundred as he basks in the glow of Gloria.  He nearly ceases to exist after Gloria moves on and he struggles to understand his demotion to the netherworld of almost-being.

The Remnant

The idea that only a small number of people really matter is not new.  Consider Abraham who negotiates with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah if he can find 10 just men.

Remnant theology focuses on the idea that catastrophes will decimate communities.  Those that remain true to the ideals of the community and survive are the remnant, the seed of what comes next in the unfolding of God's plan.

Charles Hugh Smith contends that 4% was the old standard of remnant but the new standard could be 4% of 4%.  Part of his reasoning is that technology makes it so one event can cast an incredibly long shadow.  Consider Rodney King.  Consider Phil Robertson.


The reasons I have for narrowing my list of "important people" is that I am lazy.  I realize that signal-to-noise ratio matters.

Why should I listen to the nattering of 100 ditto-heads when I can tap one signal?  Why should I waste time winnowing through 100 sets of dying echos when I can hear it once in high fidelity?

Observations vs Editorializing

People register between one-hundredth to one-quarter of the information that is embedded in a scene.  The ability to register information is directly related to our understanding of cause-and-effect.  We do not notice details unless we suspect they are potential causes for subsequent events.

It does not make sense, does it?  An event happens and then we cast about in our immediate, short term memory for those juxtapositions that our world-view informs us were important.  There is a huge amount of opportunity for bad remembering.

Observations may be crap but the speculation and editorializing is an order of magnitude worse.  Nobody shares driving advice more freely than the guy with two DUI.  The person with no visible means of income can explain the economy and tell you about great investment opportunities with great enthusiasm and certainty.

Signal-to-Noise revisited

I don't have a very long blog roll.  The writers listed are people who DO things.  They are people who give much evidence of reaching their own conclusions.  They are adults who pack their own parachute, make their own choices and fully own the consequences...for good or bad.

It bothers me that I have no "thinking liberals (lower case "l")"  on my blog list.  Accurate triangulation requires separation of the optics.  This lack of separation diminishes my signal content.

I will be very grateful to anybody who can recommend a blog by a "thinking liberal, lower case "l"".

Back to Belladonna

We may have to re-watch Shrek

Listen, little donkey. Take a look at me. What am I?
(looks all the way up at Shrek) Uh ...really tall?
No! I'm an ogre! You know. "Grab your torch and pitchforks." Doesn't that bother you?


Really, really.


Man, I like you. What's you name?

Uh, Shrek.

Shrek? Well, you know what I like about myou, Shrek? You got that kind of 
I-don't-care-what-nobody-thinks-of-me thing. I like that. I respect that, 
Shrek. You all right.


For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think.


Example... uh... ogres are like onions!
[holds up an onion, which Donkey sniffs

Oh, you both have LAYERS. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions. What about cake? Everybody loves cake! 

I don't care what everyone else likes! Ogres are not like cakes.

You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious!

NO! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story! Bye-bye! See ya later. 

Parfait's gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!

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