Imagine shooting a film of your life using two cameras. One is set to a permanent closeup of you. The other one is set to the widest possible angle, covering the span of the entire universe, although still focused on you. There are reasons why we can’t fathom the entire nature of existence.1
No one is perfect—no one can be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. And everyone sees everyone else make mistakes. And everyone sees everyone else seeing everyone else make mistakes. Everybody is always watching you watch other people. YouTube, MySpace, and reality television haven’t changed any of that; they‘ve just made it more overt. It’s always been there.
But what happens when you consciously commit yourself to being imperfect? Is it laziness? Or is it a slip from one rung of the ladder to a new low? That is, what happens when you see a little injustice—nothing big or earth-shattering, nothing life-destroying—and let it slide? What happens then?
This happens all the time. People see other people making these little mistakes, and for one reason or another, consciously let it go (as opposed to the mistakes no one notices). Little choices spiral outward and affect other choices, which affect more people. Butterfly effect. Boom. This chain of cause and effect is what makes the universe work.
So now take free will away. Remove it from the equation (as it is, after all, just a fancy illusion). What happens to injustice then? Aside from the fact that it becomes all too easy to succumb to moral relativism, how can one prevent or right these injustices if they are just predestined events in the inexorable chain of cause and effect?
But that’s not the problem. It may seem like a quandary, but it’s just a complicated facade to disguise the true issue: significance (or lack thereof). When you strip away the “injustice” from the little thing, paint it grey like the rest, it becomes even more insignificant. Our actions are insignificant. Or is it really?
Throughout human existence we have looked up into the sky and pondered our place in something so vast and incomprehensible. And we keep on running into this wall, this towering monstrosity, the knowledge that we are a single planet orbiting one in a trillion stars in one galaxy in one small corner of the universe. It does seem a tad insignificant, but only because we’re taking ourselves out of context. And if you take something out of context, then you lose the ability to interpret it properly. Comparing a Coca-Cola can and a North African weeping turtle (which aside from being nonexistent is not as tasty, I hope, but is probably more nutritious…) doesn’t do much, because they’re so different that it’s hard to find a common frame of reference. Unless you’re in marketing, don’t try it.
So back again we come to the little things, especially the wrong things. The ones that we know are wrong, deep down with every fibre of our being, yet we let them happen anyway. They are such contradictions because they are so infuriating and so wonderful at the same time. I love them but I hate them because they are that one step away from perfection, but simultaneously a tribute to the greatest part of being human: being flawed.
I actually have no clue what I’m trying to say here. The clock just hit 1 AM and I think I’ll go to bed, but still … I don’t know. The burden of trying to be perfect is heavy enough as it is to take the small things too seriously. So don’t take it upon yourself to shoulder all that responsibility. It’s heavy and icky and probably won’t match the furniture anyway, so you’ll have to take it to a weird-smelling interior decorator and get it upholstered and repaired at great expense to you, all the while knowing that by doing this you’ve destroyed what it was in a vain attempt to make it something it can never hope to be.
Besides, you’ll end up with bad posture.
- [ 1 ] Panasonic just doesn’t make a big enough lens.
Yesterday I took it upon myself to try and fix my wireless in Kubuntu (as it was broken). It eventually boiled down to plugging in an ethernet cable and upgrading to Edgy. Once I did this, KNetworkManager decided it would work again.
With wireless working I was much more amenable to playing with Kubuntu. The next step was to get Firefox up to snuff—however, this proved to be a harder task than I first thought it would be. Several of my extensions did not seem to install properly, and they caused Firefox to behave oddly. I finally managed to bludgeon them into working, with the unfortunate exception of ColorZilla, which apparently does not work with Ubuntu. Suffice it to say that after that frustration, I finally have Firefox working. I‘m keeping my bookmarks synced amongst Windows, Kubuntu, and my USB drive with Google Browser Sync.
My printer is still working without any problems! That means less frustration for me. And I have no trouble accessing our desktop from my computer, although I’ve yet to get the desktop to be able to see this computer while it’s in Kubuntu. But one step at a time. DVDs and music appear to be working properly too.
I can’t play the DRMed m4p files I bought from the iTunes Music Store, of course, but that’s not Kubuntu’s fault (I’m just lazy, and the music store is so easy to use… ). It’s not a big deal, since I have plenty of mp3s to play while in Kubuntu (or I can just listen on my iPod), although I wouldn’t object if Apple actually made a Linux version of iTunes.
So everything seems to be going well—or at least, nothing has exploded yet.
If you were thinking of buying Star Trek: Legacy, let me save you the time: don’t. I am not overreacting. In the short time I played the game I found it to be utterly dissatisfactory. Firstly, there is no intro scene, no exciting opening cinematic, except for an overly-long one for the developer, Mad Doc. Secondly, the mouse behaves with jerky movements on the menu, making any action twice as hard to execute. In missions (which can’t be saved while in progress) the controls are confusing, the graphics are lacklustre, and any good things were siphoned from Star Trek: Starfleet Command III. There is no coherent tutorial, just a series of hint screens that inconveniently disrupt gameplay during the mission—so I have no idea what I‘m doing. Incidentally, there’s nothing to indicate that the game is paused after I press “Pause” except the fact that the Romulans stopped shooting at me.
Civilization IV, on the other hand, looks exciting. I only tried out the tutorial before I packed it in and wrote this. It seems like a cool combination of turn-based strategy game, like Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, and Age of Empires. I love both games, so although I’ve never played a Civilization game I am really keen on beginning this one.
Interesting observation about packaging. Star Trek: Legacy comes in a huge box with one DVD-ROM disc. The box, however, has a bunch of flaps for multiple discs. Tell me, does this make any sense? Why give me all this extra plastic? You could have shipped it in a single case! And then it goes and takes up 5 GB of storage. Now compare this to Civilization IV. It has three CD-ROM discs, one of which is filled with instruction manuals and doesn’t actually pertain to gameplay. It takes up only 1.7 GB of space, and each disc comes in an envelope instead of being housed in a huge plastic waste of space.
So to recap: Star Trek: Legacy was so poorly executed in every respect, from gameplay to packaging, that it isn’t worth much of a thought other than the fact that apparently the Star Trek franchise is ailing in more ways than one. Civilization IV, on the other hand, is good.
I’m going to go to bed now, since I might want to go see if there are Boxing Day deals tomorrow. Maybe. If I’m awake.
I just watched Stargate SG-1’s 200th episode, “200”, and it was simply incredible!
With ten years and (now) over 200 episodes under its belt, Stargate SG-1 has crossed the threshold from science fiction series to phenomenon. Part of the key to its success was that it has never taken itself too seriously; the show makes references to pop culture and even itself in semi-fourth-wall breaking moments. The 200th episode takes this and delivers it a hundredfold. It’s a gift to the fans, of course, those who have been with the show from its inception right to the present.
The show ended with a really poignant quote, however, of Isaac Asimov:
Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today—but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.
And that’s basically why I love to read and write science fiction.
So Stargate SG-1 remains cancelled. Or sort of. The issue is more that Sci-Fi, the channel which airs Stargate SG-1, isn’t renewing it. There are rumours MGM, which produces the show, will take it elsewhere to continue it. I’m not sure if I’m so keen on that. Honestly, 10 years is enough for me. I would rather that Stargate SG-1 ends on such a high note than continue for another two or three years, slowly decaying until eventually it fades away.
It’s very interesting to look at the people I admire and then ask myself why I admire them. What did they do, or say, to put them in that column? Often it’s because I think what they say is so eloquent, so much more intelligent than anything I could say, and that’s how they win me over to their side.
And of course, that’s probably it. Part of the way we strengthen our own convictions is by latching on to someone who shares them and saying, “Right on!” every time that person makes a good point for our side of the argument.
But too often, we lose sight of the other side. We start to brand our opponents “idiots” or “stupid” for arguing for the other side. We fail to acknowledge that many of those people are just as, if not sometimes more, intelligent as some of the people on our side.
I originally intended to make this a short list of people with whom I disagree on one issue or another but are nonetheless very smart. Ironically, I had trouble trying to come up with such a list. Those people exist, but I just can’t bring them to mind right now. Who are some people who you think are pretty smart, even though they are on the other side of your debate?
Here’s to keeping an open mind, and trying once and awhile to look at things from a different point of view. Here’s to all the people out there who debate against me. You’re pretty smart and all, but hey, I respectfully disagree.
Note that f(x) must be the same over this interval. Silly me.
(My only consolation is that not only did my two classmates fail to spot this, but the student teacher was the one who tried to do this with different functions and led us into the incorrect solution. )
The Ninth Doctor’s catchphrase was “Fantastic!”, but I think that the Tenth prefers to say variations of “That’s brilliant!” I really like the Tenth Doctor; David Tennant is doing a brilliant job at portraying his character, and the writers have done a smashing job with the plot.
I just finished watching “The Impossible Planet” tonight (yes, I know the CBC is behind on the shows…). Wow. Part of the reason I love the Doctor, of course, is because he’s one of the last action heroes on TV who is fun for the entire family. He doesn’t swear and spit as he shoots a massive laser gun into the hordes of rampaging aliens. In fact, when the chips are down, he is usually seen admiring the work of his enemy and attaching adjectives like “brilliant” and “stupendous” to things.
Like in tonight’s episode, the Doctor and Rose end up beyond the range of the TARDIS’ knowledge—smack on a base on a planet that is orbiting a black hole (as opposed to being ripped apart by its gravity). And the Doctor, upon hearing the story of why this ship full of humans came to the planet, hugged the captain. He even warned him—“I’m going to hug you now.” He hugged the captain because he just loves the human spirit of exploration. And watching the Doctor’s admiration for adventure, especially when it comes to beating the odds, is quite enjoyable.
Of course now I can’t wait until next week’s episode to find out how Rose and the Doctor get out of this one… (no spoilers!!)
Last updated Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 1:07 PM