The Market of Truth & Faction

“Fooling people only requires telling them what they want to hear, over and over again. People love to hear how right they are.”

—Stan Beeman, in The Americans.

The market for truth is a small one. On the scale of the universe, it is true that we are insignificant. On that level, we don’t factor into truth at all.

But, this is true of truth more generally. The truth is that on every level above the personal, the immediate environments of our day-to-day existence, our lives are of no consequence.

But, we want to believe we matter. We want to be powerful, famous and wealthy. We want agency in a world where most of what we think or do is irrelevant and worthless.

The only way to achieve that goal of relevance and worth is to believe in anything other than the truth. Our ego wants to place itself as the center of the universe, like the earth in Medieval times, and believe that the music of the spheres is playing for us. But, it’s a lullaby, lulling us into a sleep of self.

Fractions of the truth, leads to fragmented minds and to faction. The Other becomes a defining factor in maintaining significance, despite the truth. Faction is integral to dissatisfaction. But, it’s all an illusion built on the desire for significance, which is built on someone else’s insignificance.

All of it is a temple of suffering, the cornerstone of which is our rejection of our own insignificance. What would happen if we were able to accept this truth?

Technosignatures

“‘Technosignatures refer to any evidence of technology that could be remotely detectable, specifically through the tools of astronomy,’ explained Jacob Haqq-Misra, an astrobiologist and senior research investigator at Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, in an email interview with The Debrief. ‘Radio signals are one example of a technosignature but not the only one. Other examples are city lights, surface modifications (cities and large-scale deployment of solar panels), changes in the atmosphere (greenhouse gases like CO2 as well as industrial byproducts like CFCs and NO2), free-floating spacecraft, megastructures (i.e, Dyson spheres/swarms), and other possibilities.’

Hunting for otherworldly technology is no longer science fiction. In 2018, NASA hosted a workshop on the subject of technosignatures, and a report was developed concluding that the study of possible alien technology was an important step for future NASA missions. Today, astronomers, astrobiologists, and other scientists gather online to talk about their work and progress on the subject. The idea of systematically searching for signs of industrial or space-faring civilizations was once laughed out of the room, but now the topic is gaining rock-star cachet and serious popularity within the field of astrobiology.”

-MJ Banias, “Meet The Scientists Hunting for Alien Technology Through ‘Technosignatures’.” The Debrief. December 28, 2020.

Capitol Crimes

“The only good thing I can think of about the tsunami of stupid that crashed into Capitol Hill on Tuesday is that so many of those idiots posed for pictures or appeared in videos that show them committing one or more crimes. In most cases, they are easily identifiable in these images, often because they posted the evidence against them to their personal social media accounts. As we have discussed many times before, that is a very stupid thing to do. So it isn’t too surprising that it happened so often the other day.

[Precedes to cite some of the applicable statutes] …there’s also the federal Anti-Riot Act (18 U.S.C. § 2101, up to five years), and I feel pretty confident in saying that the rioters violated that one. See 18 U.S.C. § 2102 (defining “riot”). Under federal law, it only takes three people to constitute a riot (in California and many other states, it only takes two), so that isn’t an issue.

And those are just some of the crimes they committed simply by being part of the riot.” [Then, lists examples.]

-Kevin Underhill, “Dear Idiots: Please Keep Posting Pictures of You Committing Federal Crimes.” LoweringTheBar.net. January 8, 2021

Minorities vs. Majorities

“Today, as then, public opinion is the omnipresent tyrant; today, as then, the majority represents a mass of cowards, willing to accept him who mirrors its own soul and mind poverty. That accounts for the unprecedented rise of a man like [Teddy] Roosevelt. He embodies the very worst element of mob psychology. A politician, he knows that the majority cares little for ideals or integrity. What it craves is display. It matters not whether that be a dog show, a prize fight, the lynching of a ‘nigger,’ the rounding up of some petty offender, the marriage exposition of an heiress, or the acrobatic stunts of an ex-president. The more hideous the mental contortions, the greater the delight and bravos of the mass. Thus, poor in ideals and vulgar of soul, Roosevelt continues to be the man of the hour. On the other hand, men towering high above such political pygmies, men of refinement, of culture, of ability, are jeered into silence as mollycoddles. It is absurd to claim that ours is the era of individualism. Ours is merely a more poignant repetition of the phenomenon of all history: every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass. Today, as ever, the few are misunderstood, hounded, imprisoned, tortured, and killed.”

-Emma Goldman, “Minorities Versus Majorities.” Anarchism and Other Essays. 1911.

Mr. Boop

“A Life Embellished webcomic about the titular Alec Boop (nee Robbins) and his life being married to Betty Boop. Claimed to be based on Alec Robbins real life, and posted on his twitter account, the webcomic features Alec meeting (and usually having sex with) characters from various media, including Family Guy, The Sopranos and even Homestuck.

Extremely NSFW.

Has a spin-off flash game, Mr. Boop and the Curse of the Dinner Party/

TV Tropes, s.v. “Mr. Boop,” (accessed January 6, 2021), https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Webcomic/MrBoop

Sounds weird. Then, you go to the Mr. Boop website and see that Geocities aesthetic, and you wonder: Am I going to go deeper into this? Not today. Bookmarking for later (maybe).

Intrinsic Values Test

“To develop this test, we investigated what philosophers and psychologists have said about what humans fundamentally value, and then conducted two studies of our own, collecting and statistically analyzing the intrinsic values of 500 people in the U.S. Taking this test will help you:

1. Figure out your most important intrinsic values.

2. Discover what your unique intrinsic values say about you.

3. Understand why intrinsic values are so important.

An intrinsic value is something you value for its own sake.

Put another way, an intrinsic value is something you would still value even if you got absolutely nothing else from it. Sometimes intrinsic values are referred to as ‘terminal values,’ because they reflect the end points in our value system that all our other values are aiming at. Non-intrinsic values are sometimes called ‘instrumental values,’ because we only care about them as a means to achieve other ends.”

Intrinsic Values Test

My top value: I have agency and can make choices for myself. Surprising no one.

Centers and Peripheries

How do you define something? A few weeks ago I was reading about how the Voyager 2 was at the outer boundry of the heliosphere, or our solar system. There were quite a few articles talking about the sun’s movement relative to the center of the galaxy, the force of the sun’s energy on the interstellar medium, and so forth.

But, it made me think of a comment from Larry Wall, the creator of the programming language called Perl, that communities are defined by their centers, not their peripheries.

It occurred to me that there is a pattern. In the case of Perl, it is one language in a galaxy of other programming languages. The interstellar medium could be analogous to the problems programming languages address. You could probably extend the analogy of solar systems and programming languages and their communities in other ways.

But, I start thinking about how this pattern applies more generally to definitions. All of these relationships between sun and galaxy, interstellar medium, planets, Earth all help to define the sun and it’s behavior. However, context matters. The role of gravitational forces from the galaxy is not typically a useful distinction when discussing the sun’s impact on Earth.

Which brings me to a larger point about how we define things, their relationships, what we know and what we don’t. Every light casts a shadow. And what can shadow know of light or light know of shadow? One only exists where the other is not, yet it is also true that we all live in the penumbra, a place of both shadow and light, but a place, arguably, that knows both, yet doesn’t know either.

Everything we know, we know only in part. There’s always something missing. But, like the galaxy’s pull on the sun, in many instances, what we don’t know has little impact on our lived experience.