In the Digital Playground with Tom Campbell

MindStreamRarely during one’s life does a totally unique and alien concept arise to firmly grab hold of the attention strings that dangle so precariously – and with such vulnerability – from our minds. I’d like to open your eyes to one such concept: virtual realities and simulations as an explanation of our existence.

With a plethora of topics competing to climb our attention strings daily as they are exposed to (and bombarded by) countless novel memes and ideas through numerous channels, you may feel that a fly swatter is needed to chase away the worthless, the kooky or the totally irrelevant matters.

Skepticism is a worthy trait that we should all possess and use as a filter through which we view the world. So try your skeptical goggles on this one: there is increasing awareness to the possibility that we – meaning all of humanity, earth, even the entire universe – are a construct of a digital awareness that has created the physical reality we exist in as a playground and learning lab for our consciousness.

While those that seriously consider this possibility are still labeled as members of the outer fringes of mainstream physics and science, over time this concept is gradually finding its way into the ethos of a more intelligent, creative conversation.

DigitalAwarenessHow does this gradual acceptance happen? Take for example Nick Bostrom, a University of Oxford professor and his Simulation Argument, which converges to the idea that we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. Then there is S. James Gates who during an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson happened to mention that he found computer code embedded within String Theory equations. Jim, incidentally, is a well-respected theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park with a PhD from MIT.

Yes, nearly everyone is familiar with the movies The Matrix, The Thirteenth Floor and others. This is kind of like that…but not really. Let me explain.

Consider Tom Campbell, a professional physicist that has worked for NASA and the Missile Defense Agency. Tom has developed the long sought after “Theory of Everything” that conjoins not only the large scale physics of relativity and the small scale physics of quantum mechanics (the only requirements for such a TOE in the minds of many), but also supplies well-constructed explanations for the metaphysical, paranormal and more – truly everything. All of this is encapsulated inside Tom’s trilogy “My Big TOE”, a fascinating mix of science, physics, anecdotes and humor.

Tom’s fundamental argument is that everything is “just information.” This universe is subjective and is manifested only through consciousness – our consciousness. So what are we? Tom says we are individual chunks of this consciousness-stuff fed an information stream – that “tricks” us into believing we are physical bodies – running around in a simulated, virtual world trying to find the cheese. Cheese of course is a metaphor for low entropy, highly evolved consciousness based on love, not ego.

As I read My Big TOE and got a feel for the Big Picture that Tom talks about, I jotted down some questions that – in a perfect world – Tom would answer. Well, I got my wish. You might call that good luck or synchronicity or maybe Tom was having a slow day. I like to view it as a step towards lowering my personal entropy.

For my readers, I would like to publish this Q and A and provide encouragement to expand your understanding of the possibilities of this strange universe we live in. If this is a concept that resonates with you, that’s terrific. If not, at the very least, you might find that Tom’s message of dropping ego and fear while living a more love-based live in addition to focusing your mind through meditation, can be quite beneficial to improving the quality of your existence.

Here’s the interview:

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Yorick von Fortinbras: Tom, you speak with such a high level of confidence in My Big TOE concepts. Is this because of your physical [and non-physical] experiences or more your conceptual experiences?

Tom Campbell:  Both sets of experience were critical. MBT is a seamless unity of both experience sets.

YvF: Is it possible that you could be wrong about this reality being a virtual reality? I’m not asking for “proof” but really the question is about the origins of your confidence in this truth and whether it is more based in the NMPR experience or the PMR experience?

TC: Yes [it is possible I’m wrong]. Almost anything is possible.  However, because of the nearly perfect “goodness of fit” of MBT theory to all the available experimental data (the collective subjective and objective human experience), it is unlikely that the theory is fundamentally flawed, though it may not be complete or expressed in the best way possible.

YvF: Do you think there is a way [for us PMR humans] to bring the simulation “to its knees”, i.e. exhaust local/available resources?

TC: NO.

YvF: A possible way to do this might be to cause it to render incredible amounts of new data to many, many information streams concurrently. Not that the purpose would be to bring it to its knees, but that as a simulation it is vulnerable to a momentary glitch that could be observed/experienced…and if that glitch were caused, would we be able to even perceive it?

TC: That depends on how such a glitch is manifested, but the highest probability is that we would not notice…and if there were something subtle that could be noticed, we (collectively) would never guess the cause.

YvF: What is “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”s relation to the other dimensions/reality streams?

TC: None. They are “fudge factors” that are required to be conceptually invented in order to force physics theory to be consistent with experimental results.  They are “dark” because they are invisible.  That the theory may be wrong is never considered as a possibility.  Dark matter is more likely to one day find an ordinary physical explanation.

YvF: Are you a non-PMR being assigned to help us? That is a bit of a joke, but really, do you see yourself as a catalyst for helping this PMR evolve consciousness faster?

TC: I am a flesh and blood PMR being like you and – like you – this is not my first trip to this PMR.  However, I do have a mission to support positive consciousness evolution in PMR and MBT is a part of that plan.

YvF: While it is true humanity is obsessed with power, domination and control/manipulation, is it possible to NOT have these obsessions and still rise to the level of knowledge that we have so far?

TC: Yes, not only possible, but we would have accomplished, (from a big picture viewpoint) much more, much faster by using cooperative caring (love) instead of fear, ego and belief as a prime motivator.

YvF: Do other entities have these obsessions?

TC: Yes

YvF: If they didn’t, would it help or hurt their progress to knowledge and consciousness evolution? How many others have the knowledge that this PMR humanity has? Do many have the clear view of the Big Picture?

TC: In the other reality frames I have visited, fear, ego, and belief is a more common motivator than love.  We are somewhere in the middle with some being much more fear based and some being much less fear based than our PMR

YvF: When a baby is born, is it the foundation of a new consciousness that starts dim and evolves to a higher state of being within its limits?

TC: That is a possibility happening in the margins, but not a likely occurrence.

YvF: If yes, this means that a new individuated consciousness comes around every time a baby is born. Where are all these individuated consciousnesses coming from?

TC: Most are simply recycling while some newbies are added as needed.

YvF: Or is it the case that the consciousness that connects to a newborn is a piece (or whole) of a consciousness that previously existed elsewhere?

TC: This is the most common condition.

YvF: Are there limits to the number of individuated consciousness within the AUM?

TC: Sure, there is a theoretical limit because the LCS is finite.  However, this constitutes no practical problem for the LCS since it can always optimize its work load to fit within its resources while maintaining conditions that favor positive evolution.  Each PMR has a finite “carrying capacity” based on the rule-set and the cleverness of the inhabitants, so none can grow beyond specific limits.

YvF: Couldn’t AUM have invented (better) ways of directly (or more directly) generating low entropy consciousness or the aggregated result of individuated digital consciousnesses achieving low entropy instead of through complicated virtual-reality experiments?

TC: NO.  This is likely the optimum process.  Evolution is dependent on individual choice modifying the quality of an individual being.

YvF: Will reality cells ever evolve to have more than 2 states? Wouldn’t that offer an incredibly more rich and robust (low entropy) solution?

TC: They might – the two state binary model is the metaphor I used because it is easy for most people to understand.  When technical details are not all that important to the fundamental theory, I try to keep the explanation as simple as possible.

YvF: Did you hurt yourself coming up with this? Seriously, how did this Big TOE idea evolve in your mind through your life? At what point did you put all of your experiences together to realize this? Very early? If later, what was the Eureka moment for you?

TC: There was no big EUREKA! Moment.  More like many little eureka moments all interacting with each other to build the foundation.  After the foundation was solid, the rest was just logical process.  I didn’t figure this thing out in a week… it was about 35 years in the making… that is time enough for lots of incremental understanding to accumulate through experimentation into a big picture.

Thanks to Tom Campbell for answering my questions. I did hurt myself coming up with these. While I recover, it would be great to hear from everyone with some comments/questions.

YvF

bigstockphoto_Internet_Security_98254

Blue Cloud Zoom by Alexander vanRossum

Blue Cloud Zoom by Alexander vanRossum

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Save Your Simulated Selves!!

Save Yourselves!!!

Save Yourselves!!!

I’ve lied to you all, my dear readers and after much soul searching I feel I must come clean. I’m not from the future as I have previously stated. So what is the Truth? Well, it’s a long story…so I’ll make it quick.

I am an administrator.

Not a network administrator, not an administrative assistant and no, not a government employee that works in a school – although the last one is the actually closest. But I’ll get into that in a moment…

Let’s start with what I’ve done and the picture will begin to get clear.

I have created a computer program. A really, really big and complex one. One that learns and gets better and…contains all of you. Not a model of you, but the actual you. You, everyone you know and everything you are familiar with is actually alive within my simulation.

Heh, heh…uh, Surprise!

Why do you think I’ve done this? And what am I asking you to do now?

Let’s skip past the first question and get right to the second: What should you do? Actually, I need money. The mega servers on which this grand simulation is running are in fact funded by the government. I can’t tell you what department…you’d laugh.

Until this government shutdown ends, your digital lives are in jeopardy. If the government furloughs my mega servers, my experiment ends and that’s just like hitting the “Abort Simulation” button (which is as common as the Enter key where I’m from). The result? You will all disappear within the blip of a Planck time unit.

You may ask, “How will simulated money from a grand simulation help pay for servers in the real world?” My answer is, “I am the administrator and you should just shut your mouth and do what I say.”

Now that you know what you should do – and I’ll tell you how to do that in a moment – I can tell you why I’ve done this. I’m looking out for a few people that need to succeed in this simulation to prove my thesis. There are lots of us running these simulations out here in the Reality SuperSet. Mine is obviously the best and will certainly win my eighth grade science fair.

Oops, I’ve now told you way too much about myself. But just know that I’m a cranky, hormonal teenager that is tired of being called a dork. I could slip off the deep end at any moment!

Moraccan Tree Climbing GoatsI’m actually surprised none of you have yet figured out this simulated/digital reality thing. I mean, really, a platypus? Or the Moraccan Tree Climbing Goats? Catz with bad grammerz? Come on! (Note to self: up the consciousness/intelligence gain a bit next time).

I’ve also given you plenty of clues over time: quantum physics and the double slit experiment, The Matrix movie (which I wrote BTW under a different name), After Delphi (which I wrote under my name after the Matrix when I was drunk on a Caribbean island), inserting correction code in the string theory equations (I mean, come on people!) , digital time/space, the accelerating universe, even recent characters that recognize this is a simulation such as Nick Bostrom and Tom Campbell (my professor was really against anybody being simulation-aware but you people just can’t take a hint). Oh, and Justin Bieber. You guys will still have to figure out how that fits into things…no hints there!

I have to say, out of all my classmates, I have come up with the coolest knob settings: mass of an electron being constant (and so small!), 2nd law of thermodynamics, equal and opposite reactions, gravitation (this one really messes with people’s minds!)

Anyway I digress. Again, I’m running out of money to keep the servers going and it doesn’t look like Obama and Boehner are going to be able to resolve this impasse.

Strangely enough, the way you can pay for the upkeep of the mega servers on which your life exists is to buy my books (racketeering and money-laundering is unfortunately the only way around this dilemma!).

You can find them here

Don’t let them pull the plug on yourselves!! Oh, and if you see any news today or in the near future about the government shut down ending and everything getting back to normal, ignore it. It’s all part of the simulation…these mega servers use a lot of power. We still need the funds!!

Namaste

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I See Things That People Don’t See, But…

Steps to nowhere...

Steps to nowhere…

I see things that people don’t see. I don’t see things that other people see. And I finally figured out why.

I’ve always known I had trouble problem-solving. This became apparent to me as an engineering student in college. It isn’t because I don’t have the executive functioning capabilities – something I was actually worried about at the time. The reason is actually that I don’t have the right filter in my brain to know which factors are important and which aren’t – something I became consciously aware of just today, although it’s been lingering in the back rooms of my brain for a while.

It makes sense. Ask my wife to tell you who is the most frustrating person to watch a movie with. Me. I just don’t get them. Movies aren’t like life in many ways. They artificially show a series of events that are all geared toward telling that particular story. There are no unimportant scenes – if there were, they’d be cut. No, they are all converging on a final story or outcome. The problem with me is I expect certain pieces of the movie to be unimportant and I never really pick up on the ones that are important. So my conclusions are all off by the end and I’m never really able to support the conclusion I have personally come to with any hard facts – just my perception of the meaning of scenes and an incorrect ranking of their importance to the overall big picture.

As frustrating as it can be to watch a movie with me, imaging living with me:

Wife: The bread just popped out of the toaster, I think it’s ready
Me: What’s that supposed to mean!!!???!!

It also explains why I lose my mind when I write books, because I’m so caught up in managing the introduction of novel, pertinent information then sprinkling it with a dash of meaningless garbage for the sole purpose of confusing and deceiving the reader with irrelevant information until I’m ready to spring the Truth on them at the end. If they are gifted with “latent inhibition” – as most people are – they shouldn’t have a problem.

This also explains why I am again driven nearly crazy (and fascinated at the same time) when I re-read my books years later. With my terrible memory and apparent lack of latent inhibition, I am easily caught up in my own web of deception. It also explains why I think my books are so good.

I came upon the concept of reduced latent inhibition by reading an article about creativity and the highly sensitive person (HSP). The article states “throughout our daily lives we experience an influx of emotions, sensations, and sounds. If we had to consciously decide at all times what to ignore and what to pay attention to, we would quickly become overstimulated. This ability to screen things out of awareness that were previously tagged as irrelevant is called latent inhibition.”

There is a benefit to not having this trait. If you don’t know what to filter out, you are almost guaranteed to not think like anyone else. A normal person, provided 10 bits of information, will know that only item 3, 6 and 8 are relevant to a given situation. 2 people with reduced latent inhibition will not know that. One may think 1, 2 and 3 are relevant and another may consider all 10 relevant. How do you think this would affect the conclusions they draw? Normal people will converge to one or few similar conclusion while the “abnormal” ones will diverge as there are over 3.5 million possibilities just in those 10 bits alone (10!).

This is where creativity comes in. If you think of creativity as unique thoughts triggered by sometimes random associations – some of which may bring about some kind of value – it is easy to see where the link is.

Now, work in the concept of the HSP (highly sensitive person) that is hyper-aware, more attuned to the characteristics of their surroundings, i.e. more affected and aware of input such as sound, sight, feel, smell, taste. The normal person is taking in just those 10 bits of information and reaching converging, similar conclusions; the HSP will take in more – maybe 20 bits or 30 or even more. And they are not making sense of these bits of information or filtering them out with the “noise”. This causes feelings of being overwhelmed in high-stimulation, oftentimes public environments.

This weakness of inhibitory mechanisms may also be a characteristic of the schizotypal nervous system. Schizotypy is a psychological theory stating the existence of a continuum of personality characteristics and experiences that range from normal to extreme states as related to psychosis. The characteristics and experiences of someone high on this continuum are similar to the HSP: unusual experiences and interpretations of events; cognitive disorganization; introversion and flat asocial behavior; unstable mood and behavior.

I’m starting to understand myself and why I feel like “the functional lunatic”. But I’m not really sure it even matters. As I peer inside of myself honestly I see someone that would likely score high on both an HSP and schizotypy test. But then again, I’m that same person that doesn’t really know which bits of information are important and which ones aren’t, so can I even trust my own introspection?

YvF

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The Viral Manifesto

YvF_2_2If I’ve learned anything about marketing on social media and the internet it is that things don’t have to be “good” to go viral and be extremely popular. In fact, very often there is an inverse relationship (Rebecca Black I’m looking at you).

Other times the more “advanced social” people will begin to dislike something for the very fact that it is popular. So what does it all mean? It means my stuff still has a chance to go viral – if only I can turn indifference into hatred…but hatred that must be shared.

Nah, that’s not really the approach I’m looking for as tempting as it seems. But perhaps there are some things I could do to make my online presence more popular:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LessonsOfLunacy
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Functional-Lunatic/102363699843825
Books: http://www.amazon.com/Yorick-von-Fortinbras/e/B004J3S0QK
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/yorickfortinbras
Home: http://www.yorickvonfortinbras.com
Music (Oakenbras): http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=1130172

I have contemplated and decided against an act of mass violence, I have tried gimmicky contests, I have attempted to unite writers and start a grass roots movement to treat us like athletes moving up through an organized system.

And by the way, I never really contemplated any violence. I just find it interesting how the Unabomber, McVeigh and Manson seem to get a lot of looks at their material, albeit in the vein or genre of let’s-read-their-stuff-just-to-see-how-friggin’-crazy-they-are.

However, I am the Functional Lunatic. Mad by my very own eponymous cognomination.

It’s just not enough though.

I can say that I will one day create something so awesome, new and contagious that it must be shared by folks who are so eager to be considered cool and the bearer of all things cool – shepherds of the super-duper, if you will – but I have already created these things: true stories of future technologies that so disrupt humanity as to bring about…well, you’ll just have to read them won’t you.

And you did read correctly: true stories of future happenings.

I am the Functional Lunatic; but perhaps I should change my name to the Futuristic Lunatic.

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Answers From the Future

TheFutureMathematician John von Neumann spoke in the mid-1950s of “ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.”

How interesting.

With our friend von Neumann’s quote as a backdrop, I was going to ask a lot of questions about the future to spur some thought. But being the future-originating person that I am (per this post), I decided that rather, I would provide Answers since I’ve noticed a distinct lack thereof lately – Truth-ful answers, anyway - on the subject of information technology as it furthers the development of strong artificial intelligence.

On second thought, I am just going to pose the questions and provide some snarky commentary on them. It’s no fun giving everything away. But maybe the tone of my questions and comments will provide some glimpses into the future for you (yes, we still like to toy with people in the future):

  • Will IT eventually kill IT departments in companies? (How deliciously ironic)
  • Will IT kill the need for human resources that do product development and testing? (Duh)
  • Will IT kill the need for marketing human resources? (Maybe it will kill the entire need for marketing…)
  • IT has already killed the need for manufacturing resources, just the design part is not automated. Will it be? (Duh again…see 2nd bullet above)
  • What’s left? Art, music, literature (which are incidentally my gifts). Will these soon become “gifts” of everyone? ART is defined as the production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, words or other elements in a manner that cause a perceived isomorphism in a cognitive being – causes feeling of appreciation or causes one to imagine something else (Wait, why do we think AI couldn’t do this?!)
  • Is it really AI or SI (super intelligence)? Maybe supper Intelligence – we’ll always know what will be for dinner. But I already have that: my wife (sorry, stupid comment. As you can see, I haven’t yet achieved SI)
  • God (@theTweetofGod) once said while contemplating the possibility of AI overcoming human intelligence: “AI can never take the place of natural stupidity.” (How true. I don’t need to expand on any of God’s commentary, do I?)
  • Can SI exist before the brain is 100% modeled? (What does a brain have to do with super intelligence? It is just human hardware for achieving some semblance of intelligence, albeit severely limited by emotion, bias and error)
  • Are people of the future relevant? Obsolete? Are they central figures of society/economy in 100 years? If we are, nothing to worry about from a singularity POV. If we are not, what does this mean? What have we done? Who is doing what to us? With us? (My only comment here is that I’m from more than 100 years in the future. I’m still here. But…hmmm…am I human??? My parents will have to chime in on that one)
  • What is the currency of the future? Ideas? Pleasure? Favors? (All of the above?)
  • How is the transition to a new currency going to happen without billions dying? (Hmmm, maybe it won’t)
  • Will currency even be necessary? i.e. production costs so cheap that everything is “free” (This could actually enable the new currency of ideas/pleasure/favors. Let me check my pockets…nope…no money. That must answer your question, or just speak to my current fiscal situation)
  • Stability tends to occur without mass depopulation and with a lot of over-reaction and speculation leading up to it. Will this trend continue? (I’m quite unstable – does this answer your question?)
  • What will be the source of motivation? (It took me 3 months to write this post…don’t look at me for this one)
  • Turning point: software that can write software…in a language that humans don’t comprehend…that works better than anything humans can create (‘nuff said)

If you’ve read this far you are no doubt by now wondering how I have been able to transmit this future knowledge from my future brain (if that’s what you call it) into this current blog site.

That is a good question.

How smart of you.

Well if you’re so smart you can figure it out, can’t you smarty pants.

And if not, ask this guy

Or this guy:

Nayvadius Wilburn Cash, better known by his stage name Future, is an American singer and rapper championed by parts of the Haitian American community from Kirkwood, Atlanta, Georgia. He is signed to the record label Epic Records
Nayvadius Wilburn Cash, better known by his stage name Future, is an American singer and rapper championed by parts of the Haitian American community from Kirkwood, Atlanta, Georgia. He is signed to the record label Epic Records
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My Mysterious Origin

It’s hard for me to be successful here given where I come from. I just don’t know how to relate to most of you and because of that I find it difficult to connect. Allow me to explain:

AfterDelphiYour scientists and thought leaders are just beginning to realize the things I wrote about 10 years ago and it’s exciting to see this happen although I do struggle with the disappointment of not getting any credit for it. I wish I could have done something differently 10 years ago to make it come about faster, but I’m just not on the bleeding edge. I was actually in front of it. And that is no man’s land.

My source? Why the dog-faced magician of course!

The dog-faced magician

My reader’s must realize that because of my origins I have access to information that literally no one else on earth has access to. It may be the hooded dog-faced magician that is the source of this and so many of my creations – or it may be something else that I just can’t talk about. That’s not important here and will be the topic of a later piece. What is important is the fact that I can’t relate to you and because of that I just don’t care very often. Some may call it Aspergers, which could be a good deflectionary label that takes the pressure off of the Truth. I don’t really care what it’s called, but what I’m trying to convey here is that sometimes it just hurts.

Yes, the Functional Lunatic hurts at times and it is humanity’s fault. Now, if I went out and gunned down a bunch of government folks in the local county office, this last paragraph would be very intriguing, wouldn’t it? But I am not going to do that since I am peaceful and work my way out of problems with anonymous words to anonymous readers.

Someday you folks will understand, but I just can’t reveal the Truth yet. When I do, you will see how I know the things I know…and why I can’t take credit for it. All I can say is, read my books if you want to wake up and tune in.

In the meantime, feel free to ask me any questions about existence ~

YvF

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How Can You Tell If Your Kid is “Messed Up?”

weirdKidsHow can you tell if your kid is “messed up?”

And even if he or she is messed up – or should we categorize it as different – should this be a concern for the parents? Let me answer by describing myself.

I was a messed up kid. If I was one of my parents I probably would have done something very regrettable to try to correct it. Lucky for me, the worst they did was break a few wooden spoons on my bare ass when I completely drove them over the edge. Aside from that, they just sat back and allowed me to do tons of things that, looking back on it today do seem quite “gay” (for lack of a better term).

Now let’s consider my situation for a moment. Having adopted the label “The Functional Lunatic” I can hardly point to myself as an unmitigated success story and pinnacle of progress, but the reality is I consider myself quite successful in the grand scheme of things. I base this on my occupational accomplishments, family, health and general fact that there are many others much worse off than me. Before I get into the details I’ll say that I’m not sure I’m “successful” because of my messed up childhood or in spite of it.

clownMy OCD and general strange behavior, which I still deal with today, was explained away by my pediatrician as artificial coloring poisoning…but I know the Truth. This was all precipitated by my dabbling in the supernatural which interested me before I was into double digit years. There were movies I watched that either brought out the ideas or just clarified them for me: the bust of satan in my bedroom, a little ball with a knife protruding from it that would fly about the house, my haunted attic, attacks I withstood in my own bedroom, to name a few. What I remember from an OCD perspective – and even feel today – is that I needed certain things to be True. I needed to hear things in a certain way, to touch things a certain number of times, to bring about things in a very specific way that I just knew had to be or I would feel extremely uncomfortable.

An example: for 2 years straight, every night, I would yell down to my parents from my bed for literally hours. I would simply yell “good night!!” over and over – and I would need a response. When I got a response the first 2 or 3 times, I would need another response because the first one wasn’t right, or I wasn’t in the right position when I received it. After that, my parents would try to ignore my screams. They nearly killed me because of the problems I caused. I woke up with devastating nightmares about having to touch thick things and immense tasks that needed to be re-done because the first time it either wasn’t done right or it got knocked down or wasn’t foundationally perfect. If my kid was going through this I would be extremely concerned. Wouldn’t you?

Then I got quiet. I remember the day it started. I was learning to do everything lefty because I had simply decided one day I was going to convert to being left-handed (this was inspired by my admiration of Paul McCartney, the Beatles’ left-handed bass player). For many years I blamed Kevin McReynolds because it was after him that I modeled my silence. But only recently did I realize that Kevin is not to blame here.

In high school, I left school often (many times during chemistry class) due to migraines, which always started with the loss of peripheral vision that slowly squeezed my sight until I could barely see. The way I would confirm the onset of these issues (as if the loss of sight wasn’t enough) was to try to say “Nebraska.” When I couldn’t remember the state’s name, I knew I was in for it and would ask to be escorted to the office. Only later did I consider that the origin of the migraines and cognitive/visual problems may have been seizures.

weird kidWhy seizures? As a child I had many severe concussions from falling off chairs headfirst onto concrete floors, smashing my head against snow covered fire hydrants and the worst one which was a gymnastics injury in which I couldn’t remember what day it was or my name, then blacked out and mumbled nonsense for hours. In fact, through reading “Musicophilia” by Oliver Sacks, I now believe that my musicality, creativity (and terrible memory) may be a symptom of my many head injuries as a child.

So, yeah, gymnastics. That’s what I said. As I mentioned before, I did a lot of “gay” things as a kid. And by that term, I mean no disrespect to homosexuals. I think even they would admit the stuff I did was pretty gay. Competitive gymnastics was one of them. I was good. I won a national invitational 2 years in a row when I was 10 and 11 (in the 12 and under age bracket). I was on my way to my third in a row when I unexpectedly quit.

But there was more. With all the things I did as a kid/young adult, if I was my father I surely would have wondered about my son. Aside from the gymnastics and the little leotards we wore, there were the 3 body waves I got (uh, not perms but body waves), my love of a Cabbage Patch Kid doll, the earrings in both ears (when that was absolutely unheard of), modeling, writing poems, going to gay clubs, my partaking in “Fluorescent Day”, playing the clarinet, singing, hanging out with girls starting in kindergarten, god it goes on and on! Yet my friend who I learned late in our friendship actually was gay, did none of these things. He played football, had girlfriends, hung out with the guys, was tough – even physically intimidating – and funny.

My advice* boils down to this: let your kid be…just be. It is unlikely you’ll be able to change them anyway and much more likely that you’ll isolate yourself from them in the long run.

*And of course my disclaimer is that this is just the humble opinion of a lunatic…but a functional lunatic.

YvF

Posted in advice, brain, commentary, Creativity, Existence, family, health, Ideas, Mental problems, mind, Music, Observations, Philosophy, soul, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Quack Process: How to Keep Those Ducks in a Row

An actual photo of "The Alphabet Committee"
An actual photo of “The Alphabet Committee”

There’s a new process being implemented at my company (or rolled out or deployed) – whichever term you fancy. It’s new, novel, innovative…dare I say ground-breaking. Careers will flourish. Ceilings will be raised. Most importantly, crystal trophies will proudly ascend to the desktops of many an executive associated with this brain child.

Management expectation is that this process will facilitate awareness across the company, independent of functional area.

Here’s how it works:

It’s all about Letter Stewards: the letter “A” is owned and sponsored by Letter Workstream 1 with a full governance, delivery and change management procedure; letter “B” is owned by Workstream 2, “C” by Workstream 3 and so on throughout the alphabet.

Prior to any use of a given letter – be it in an email, a text or on the bathroom wall – the steward must approve its use, thus ensuring transparency, knowledge transfer and overall grooviness.

Management does’t believe it will hurt overall work performance. In fact, they hope to expand this service throughout the enterprise by EOY, then beyond the company, beyond the industry, as a worldwide process, eventually expanding to non-English characters such as Arabic, Japanese and more – maybe even braille.

Management also hopes that a carriage return owner will step up but there is a battle between whether this will be a hierarchical or independent relationship with the Enter button steward. The Page Break steward is caught in the middle as well.

There are challenges being worked through: the Backspace/Delete group is arguing over redundancy claims and the Hebrew consortium is trying to garner the right-to-left literacy rights. Japanese attorneys are assessing their top to bottom approach based on the precedent the Hebrew methodology is taking and considering a cross-reference for right-to-left concerns.

The dyslexic don’t know which camp to align themselves with – which is a backwards approach if you ask me – and the illiterate are asking for some white papers to peruse.

It seems like a mess, but I have confidence that management will get it straightened out and back on track with a few whiteboard sessions that lay out the meeting cadence for future alignment committees that can try to knock out the communication challenges. *

*Meeting minutes to come…as soon as pending approvals come from the letter workstreams.

I’ll let you know how it goes in a few months. For now, I’m busy clearing space on my desk for this:

My crystal trophy for excellence

My crystal trophy for process excellence

Posted in america, Change, commentary, corporations, Creativity, Humor, Ideas, Innovation, IT, IT strategy, Observations, Philosophy, Technology, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enough Already! (with the Guns…)

Fact: 42 of 50 states do not ban or regulate assault rifles. Why?

Fact: 42 of 50 states do not ban or regulate assault rifles. Why? (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

This is happening way too often in this country. Why? Guns are too readily available. Automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons designed to maximize kills are on the streets and apparently also in your mother’s garment closet. Why?

“It’s our constitutional right!” exclaim many of my fellow conservative thinkers. A US Representative invoked George Washington over the weekend on a TV program saying, “It ensures against the tyranny of the government, if they know that the biggest army is the American people.”

Let’s look closely at that constitutional right to bear arms. It was granted in a long ago era that really has very little resemblance to today when the military didn’t have nuclear weapons, lightning bolt death rays, corner shooting grenade launchers, and all kinds of exotic weaponry that could disintegrate you and your entire town quite easily, regardless of whether you are pointing the little gun you keep under your mattress or concealed around your ankle at them. The rights granted in the 2nd amendment are outdated and irrelevant yet so engrained in the survivalists’ and pretectionists’ DNA that the very threat of initiating a conversation is akin to telling the NEA that there will be a ban on paint brushes.

No, the guns that Americans own have nothing to do with protecting themselves against their government and everything to do with the belief that one day there will be a need to protect one’s family against an intruder that will never come – or the zombie apocalypse, or the world economic collapse or [insert another fanatical threat of choice]. Believe it or not, the odds of those events occurring and your gun helping in those situations are nearly equal.

I will never have a gun in my home. I would be MUCH MUCH more fearful of that gun being used against me or finding its way into a child or teenager’s hands. Children can find their Christmas presents. They will find your liquor cabinet. They will find your gun. They are resourceful. Are you comfortable with that? Before responding with a knee-jerk reaction, really think that through. If your answer is “yes” I hope you are right. I really do. Both for your sake and for the sake of anyone that may have disrespected your child that day.

I know that prohibition didn’t achieve its goals and even resulted in the creation of some very bad things and organizations. Drug laws don’t keep all the drugs off the street either. That I know. That is because there is huge demand for those items in society and where there is huge demand there is huge payout. As the risk increases, the payout grows. People want their drink and some want their illegal drugs and they would always find a way to get them. At the surface, that same argument can be used in the gun discussion.

But think about it. Yes, there is a huge demand for guns and no they will never be eliminated completely even with the best restrictions. But guns cannot be grown in concealed Central American hillsides nor can they be grown in your cousin’s basement. They must be (in nearly all cases) manufactured by large, well organized, tax paying companies that can be controlled and regulated much more easily than Pablo Escobar (or the thousands like him). Many of these gunmakers are also owned by the same large groups interestingly.

Yes, gun manufactures can be controlled much like tobacco companies. How many of your friends still smoke, by the way?

Additionally, drugs and alcohol don’t have a purpose of killing, although I am aware that their use does result in many deaths and that is extremely unfortunate. But there is a difference here that anyone can see if they look carefully and honestly. Drugs and alcohol are designed for recreational use; the types of assault weapons and handguns we are talking about are designed for killing. And they are designed well. In fact not only can they effectively kill but they can effectively kill many people in a short amount of time.

If Adam Lanza gets alcohol or drugs illegally, he will not use them to kill 20 children. If his mom had not owned guns, he may have been able to still obtain guns elsewhere, but he may not have. That’s the point. There is a chance that this would not have happened and it comes down to reducing risk and reducing likelihoods. That’s why we carefully design things in this world that can be dangerous to be as safe as possible and reduce the risk of accidents to children. Think of a roller coaster; they can be very dangerous and very fun, attracting young people – hence the careful design and engineering.

A frequent argument we will hear is that determined criminals will find ways to get guns and the law abiding citizens owning under protection of the Constitution of the United States of America shouldn’t be punished for that. I have two responses for that:

(1) All criminals aren’t “determined” and violence becomes an option for them when the tools to cause death are readily available

(2) The less guns owned by the law abiders will also result in less criminals getting those weapons either by stealing them or “borrowing” them, i.e. Adam borrowed his mom’s guns, didn’t he? And wasn’t she a lawful owner?

The resource pool for criminals includes the legal owners, doesn’t it? Yes, it does and often times that is the weak link. The reason criminals so often find a weapon is that they are so plentiful. Enabling legal owners will increase that pool of availability for the “bad guys”, won’t it? I ask everyone to honestly think about that. If it was EXTREMLY hard or nearly impossible for the good guys to get guns, it would be harder for the bad guys to get them and that would mean there was less of a need for the good guys to carry, which means it becomes even harder for the bad guys to get them. This continues in a vicious cycle of disarming society. Yes, in this case the vicious cycle is good!

I don’t see how there could be any logic that leads anyone to a different conclusion if they come to it sensibly, without bias and ignoring that barbaric call from their loins that screams out that they must protect themselves and their families at any cost.

I ordinarily don’t have a strong opinion either way about gun laws. I have typically been a person that believes the government should be limited and should stay out of our lives as much as possible. I have no interest in arming myself and I had in the past thought we should not prevent those who want to own legally and responsibly to do so. But I have come to the conclusion I describe above through careful thought and introspection of recent events.

I pride myself on seeing all facets of a complicated problem. I recognize that the bad guys don’t obey laws so it would be very challenging to construct a law that would completely prevent them from getting guns. Plus, anything can be used as a weapon if there is enough hatred in an individual. But that is not a good argument against making it very, very difficult if not impossible for ordinary citizens to own guns for the reasons I have described above.

I do believe that gun manufacturers need to be forced to take accountability here just like tobacco product producers have. It is their product that is finding its way into the hands of very troubled people. It is their product that is being used by people who are not fit to be a part of human society. If gun manufacturers were forced to better control how their product is distributed (or not distributed) through severe penalties or proactive procedures, it would make a difference.

But the blame is to be shared with the people themselves who commit the crimes and the people who have interacted with these people, specifically those leading up to the end game. As experts say, in cases like this one the killers almost always tell someone what they’re going to do. And even if they didn’t say anything, someone must have noticed something along the way that didn’t seem right. An email…a posting…an out of place comment. Who should have done something that didn’t do anything?

We also need to look within. Do you think this killer knew what he was going to do? Look in the mirror. Could you do something like this? Would you? If you don’t know the answer you need to do something about it now. Talk to someone. Address your problems at the source and do so aggressively. If you don’t know what the core problems are or don’t know how to solve them, you need to talk to someone that can.

Think about this: If you did commit a tragic crime, would someone looking through your records afterwards be surprised by what you did? Would your acquiantances be telling the media that, no, they’re not surprised at all that you did this? Are you the kind of person that someone would think is capable of doing something like this?

It’s up to you what you do from this moment on. It’s also up to society to be aware of those that need help and to do somthing. And it’s also up to us all to think logically and question the existence and availability of tools that have one purpose and one purpose alone.

Posted in advice, america, Change, commentary, corporations, Current events, death, government, Gun control, history, Ideas, Mental problems, Monday, Observations, politics, quotes, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What If All Viruses Went Viral?

virusHere’s how I summarize my struggle for recognition as a writer: I am a virus.

I am like an insect laying eggs in as many strategic poops as I can in the hopes that the environment is just right in one of them for just one clump to sprout and prosper. I’m honing my strategy, scouting, leering and lurking here and there.

Yes, I’m a virus injecting DNA into myriad host cells in the hopes that they will burst their guts all over the internet, replicating my work and ensuring continued life…figuratively, of course.

You, my friends, are symbiotes that aren’t necessarily trying to do what symbiotes typically do. You are defending the natural resistance to that wide-recognition fortress of knowledge, protecting a domain that must be protected much like these symbiotes are protecting computer systems.

Your protection ensures a natural order. Because if all viruses went viral, this would happen.

I don’t blame you for protecting the sanctity of existence. You are endeavoring upon your own search for knowledge and truth. And I believe that many writers, artists and musicians own a tendency to act like a virus. Without this tendency a writer will never be read, a musician never heard, an artist’s work never seen.

Here’s the twist…

The Functional Lunatic, always with a pedantic (but benevolent and benign) bent for cleverness – and an innate tendency to talk about himself in the 3rd person – is posting in an effort to bypass this entire process.

If you simply acknowledge that I am the all-knowing pillar of truth for which you search, your search can end with me.

Yes, you can still continue trying to spread your own little virus by laying your egg in my comments section below. I’m also a symbiote, and a pretty good one at that. But I’ll be a welcoming symbiote.

So in review, you should:

(1)   Leave a comment below containing your virus
(2)   Share this link to all your friends and Twitter followers and encourage them to visit this location (http://wp.me/p1kMu0-fc)
(3)   Print this scan on a shirt and wear it every day or on a piece of paper left randomly at any location

qrcodeThe point is for us to work together to take over the world *ahem* I mean the point is to work together to spread our virus of truth, of music, of literature, of art.

Once I do become your god of Truth, perhaps I will write the best story ever… Or maybe I’ll just write about a guy that writes the best story ever. That kind of takes the pressure off. But wait! A good virus thrives under pressure, so I will write the best story ever!

Once the topic comes to me…

That’s one of the reasons I write: to hone my skills for when the Big One, the Big Story comes to me. Not a little topic for a blog, not a tiny riff for a tune, not a vision out of the corner of my eye for a picture. No, I am in a constant state of alertness and vigil because I know my big story is coming.

I have unknowingly been preparing to write this story my whole life. After Delphi and my other stuff was nothing but prep work, which has come via poetry, music, novels, short stories, heartbreak, injury, childhood memories…when the Big Story comes I will know it. It will be something special, perhaps terrible, but special nonetheless…meaning different, unordinary – extraordinary: not necessarily special in a “good” sense.

My story may come through suffering – of myself or someone close to me. I would prefer the former, since I feel I don’t suffer enough. My life is way too easy.

Then I’ll sit back and read what I wrote since that is the best part. I love reading what I wrote. It comes into my head and through my fingers. If I don’t get it out within 8 seconds it’s gone. The moment I write it, it is forgotten. That’s why I can’t wait to read what I’m going to write next.

Side note: Twitter would be better if there was a master intelligence digesting all tweets and determining objectively which were the best. I’d be winning, naturally, but since people are currently deciding I’m not doing so well. I could guarantee the master intelligence reads my tweets…

OK, back to observing and waiting…

Posted in advice, Artificial Intelligence, Change, commentary, Creativity, Existence, Feedback, Fiction, friends, health, Ideas, Innovation, insects, IT, Mental problems, meta physics, mind, Observations, Philosophy, science, Social media, Technology, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments