This is Soho by Takeo, my Japanese best friend in New York.
The term “technological singularity” was originally coined by Vinge, who made an analogy between the breakdown in our ability to predict what would happen after the development of superintelligence and the breakdown of the predictive ability of modern physics at the space-time singularity beyond the event horizon of a black hole.
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again."
— Ellen Bass, “The Thing Is” (via youngfolksociety)
Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
What do you desire?
What makes you itch?
What sort of a situation would you like?
I do this often in vocational guidance of students… They come to me and say, ‘We’re getting out of college and we haven’t the faintest idea what we want to do.” So I always ask the question, “What would you like to do if money were no object?”
How would you really enjoy spending your life?
Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of eduational system crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says I’d like to live an out of doors life and ride horses.
When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do I will say to him, “You do that… And forget the money.” Because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing! Which is stupid!
Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
And after all, if you do really like what it is you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually become a master of it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much. Somebody is interested in everything. And anything you can be interested in you can find others interested in.
But it is absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on spending your time doing things that you don’t like and to teach your children to follow in the same track! See what we are doing, is we’re bring up children, educating them, to live the same sort of lives we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children, to bring up their children to do the same thing!
Therefore it is so important to consider this question, “What do I desire?”
Entelechy, from the Greek entelecheia means “that which turns potential into reality.”
Jesuit scientist Teilhard de Chardin provided the definition I needed for “that which turns.” He said “Entelechy is inside of you, like the butterfly is inside of the caterpillar… it is the entelechy of an acorn to be an oak tree, of a baby to be a grown-up, of a popcorn kernel to be a fully popped entity, and of you and me to be God only knows what.”
Ultimatley, Chardin and others have landed on entelechy as “what we are coded to be.” However, what we could become is conditional or situational. The code needs to be read and deciphered just like popcorn needs sufficient heat to pop.
In the case of entelechy, however, the conditions or situations needed are our own to create, find, or maximize. “That which turns” is our own belief in the merits of becoming what we can be. Leaving it up to fate, not embracing the quest to self-actualize our own potential, or getting complacent in our own cocoon means that we never turn our possibilities into realities.
So Aristotle was right. The elements can all be there, circling and just waiting to be pulled together. And Liebniz had it right, too, even if his dry description was not inspiring enough to propel me forward. And the Vitalists got the part about self-determination. Now, I see it. It is all coded, waiting for “that which turns” to bring the possibilities inside of me to reality. And the “that which turns” is none other than… me. -
— Felicia Day
I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with. Tell me why you loved them, then tell me why they loved you. Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through. Tell me what the word “home” means to you and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mothers name just by the way you describe your bed room when you were 8. See, I wanna know the first time you felt the weight of hate and if that day still trembles beneath your bones. Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain or bounce in the bellies of snow? And if you were to build a snowman, would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms? Or would you leave the snowman armless for the sake of being harmless to the tree? And if you would, would you notice how that tree weeps for you because your snowman has no arms to hug you every time you kiss him on the cheek? Do you kiss your friends on the cheek? Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad, even if it makes your lover mad? Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain? See, I wanna know what you think of your first name. And if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mothers joy when she spoke it for the very first time. I want you tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind. Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel. Tell me—knowing I often picture Gandhi at ten years old beating up little boys at school. If you were walking by a chemical plant, where smoke stacks were filling the sky with dark, black clouds, would you holler, “Poison! Poison! Poison!” really loud or would whisper, “That cloud looks like a fish, and that cloud looks like a fairy”? Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin? Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea? And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me, how would you explain the miracle of my life to me? See, I wanna know if you believe in any god, or if you believe in many gods. Or better yet, what gods believe in you. And for all the times you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself, have the prayers you’ve asked come true? And if they didn’t did you feel denied? And if you felt denied, denied by whom? I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror on a day you’re feeling good. I wanna know what you see in the mirror on a day a day you’re feeling bad. I wanna know the first person who ever taught you your beauty could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass. If you ever reach enlightenment, will you remember how to laugh? Have you ever been a song? Would you think less of me if I told you I have lived my entire life a little off key and I’m not nearly as smart as my poetry I just plagiarized the thoughts of the people around me who have learned the wisdom of silence. Do you believe that concrete perpetuates violence? And if you do I want you to tell me of a meadow where my skateboard will soar. See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living. I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving. And if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes. I wanna know if you bleed sometimes through other people’s wounds. And if you dream sometimes that this life is just a balloon that if you wanted to you could pop—but you never would because you’d never want it to stop. If a tree fell in the forest, and you were the only one there to hear it, if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound, would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness? And lastly, let me ask you this: if you and I went for a walk, and the entire walk we didn’t talk, do you think eventually we’d kiss? No way. That’s askin’ too much—after all, this is only our first date.
Aaron H. Swartz, one of our our most vigorous champions of open access and copyright reform,committed suicide in New York City on Friday at the age of 26.
He was a pioneer and a renegade, part of the team that built Reddit as well as the widely-used RSS protocol. But he first began making headlines for a coding exploit that he undertook in September of 2010, when he used MIT’s servers to scrape and download some two million academic articles stored by the online catalog JSTOR using a program named keepgrabbing.py. Per copyright law, it may have been illegal or, as some argue, “inconsiderate”: these articles were meant only to be available to MIT affiliates, not to the wider world that Swartz believed deserved better access to the world’s information.
MIT didn’t press charges and neither did JSTOR. The government, however, decided to throw the book at Swartz, eventually hitting him with 13 separate charges and threatening to send him to prison for decades. According to his mother, Swartz was depressed about the court case and possibility of years in prison. He’d contemplated suicide in the past and, for unknown reasons, followed through this time.
Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard legal expert who has also condemned copyright law for killing creativity and academic freedom, calls this the “prosecutor as bully” scenario. Lessig, founder of Creative Commons and a friend and long-time defender of Aaron, posted his own reaction to the suicide with that headline, and makes no apologies in drawing a connection to Swartz’s continued legal prosecution:
Aaron had literally done nothing in his life “to make money.” He was fortunate Reddit turned out as it did, but from his work building the RSS standard, to his work architecting Creative Commons, to his work liberating public records, to his work building a free public library, to his work supporting Change Congress / FixCongressFirst / Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress, Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good. He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today, driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call bullying…
Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.
One word, and endless tears.
Just days before his death, Swartz’s vision was vindicated, in a small way. JSTOR announced it would be making thousands of articles—a tiny portion of its database—free to registered users for the first time ever.
Our lives are the sum of our memories — How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by losing ourselves in our Blackberries, our iPhones, by not paying attention to the human being across from us who is talking with us, by being so lazy that we’re not willing to process deeply? - Joshua Foer, TED
To the city you’re always yearning,
New York is tackiness on the gravel of the meatpacking district, it’s cool kidz on Bedford, it’s yuppie parents in Prospect Park, it’s characters out of Woody Allen’s imagination in the Upper West Side, it’s Dominicans in Washington Heights, it’s Hasidic Jews in Borough Park, it’s Asian groceries and Polish bars, it’s Italians — the real ones and the Jersey Shore ones — it’s movie stars, fashion stars, homeless, junkies, it’s tourists, it’s commuters, it’s generations of New Yorkers.
New York is neighborhood. It’s having your deli, your coffee place, your laundromat and, if you’re lucky, your late night eatery in one block. It’s drinking coffee on your stoop.
New York is museums, it’s street art, it’s music, it’s theater. It’s being constantly nostalgic about past decades. E.B. White said it best in his book Here is New York when he wrote, “In New York you feel the vibrations of great times.” New York is Patti Smith, Henry James, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan, Jackson Pollock, Frank O’Hara, Hector Lavoe, Washington Irving, Andy Warhol, Billie Holiday, Jack Kerouac, The Ramones and other greatest.
New York is having everything to chose from and never having enough time to do anything. It’s being surrounded by people and feeling lonely. It’s also finding out you don’t need other people’s company, you just need the city.
New York is where the eastern European deli owner will never say a word to you despite the fact that you buy coffee from him every morning. But it’s where the eastern European deli owner will one day tell you “Hey, it’s nice to see you again” after you’ve moved out of your neighborhood and haven’t seen him in six months. After that, every coffee in the world will be tasteless to you.
New York is where you’ll probably live at least once (if not more) in an apartment where you’ll have occasional visits from mice. But New York is where you’ll learn to overlook the rodent situation because it’s never about the mice, it’s about the fact that you managed to score an apartment in a first floor walk up with windows and exposed brick in a prime location.
New York is finding comfort in the small things, like knowing your neighbor never picks up his subscription to the Sunday New York Times.
One day, New York will be the place you’re no longer in, but the place you won’t seem to be able to shake off your head.
New York is the place you’ll try to explain to everyone back home to no avail. You’ll find there aren’t enough words in your vocabulary. New York is not something you see, it’s something you feel. It’s a state of mind and hence hard to describe.
You’ll go back home and reminisce about the city. People will tell you New York will always be there. But you know better. The city will withstand — as it always has — but the city you left behind, you left for good. The city won’t miss you because you were merely a spec in its being and when you go back (and you will since the city is always calling) you’ll go back to a different New York. The city never stops and already, only a few months later, you know it’s changed: that’s it’s nature. New York is unapologetic and doesn’t wait for anyone. It’s a city that creates and a city that happens. New York doesn’t need anything or anyone and perhaps that’s exactly why you still crave it so much, because of it’s idyllic unattainability.
— Monique Duval