Reporting from UC

August 31, 2006

Well, I haven’t been creating much as of late. Lots of consuming though. I’m in major read mode now. Lots and lots of reading. I love it. Now I just need to find the right creative outlet so that I don’t get constipated (yes, that’s right, I’m making the comparison between creation and defecation!).

Oh wait, this blog! Hehehe. Man, I really wanted to make a vblog called, “What I Really Learned In Ursinus.” But I still don’t have my mac back, and therefore I have no camera. But don’t worry, the moment I get that thing back, we’ll have some humorous little stories to tell.

And just in case you forgot what I look like, I’ve included a jpeg of myself for your viewing pleasure. I had to remind myself to smile though. Wow, that shows how much I’m in my head right now (no, I’m not unhappy, I just have kind of disembodied myself the past few days, so I forgot to make my outward appearance more socially polite during the first picture I took. :) ).

Ursinus 8.31.06

Sweet, Sweet Math in Music

August 31, 2006

So, I had this idea about a month ago of making up a song solely based on Morse code of some text. I mean, the dots and dashes could be quarter notes and whole notes, eighth notes and quarter notes, whatever. It would work.

And apparently it does. In a recent article from Wired magazine, Wired highlights artist Mahanthappa on his marvelous new album, Codebook. In it, Mahanthappa uses math to formulate the notes and rhythms of his songs. One of them, Play It Again Sam, has a section where all the musicians play their names in Morse Code. Aw yeah.

Jazz is fun. Math jazz is just awesome. Check out the article for all the sweet, sweet details.

Namaste.

Check out this video from YouTube. It’s a skit from Monty Python.

If you get it, there’s no explanation necessary. If you don’t get it, no explanation will help.

Namaste.

I think that CIE is going to give me tons of great material for my blog. I mean, tons of it. Which makes perfect sense, because CIE stands for “Common Intellectual Experience.” And my blog is nothing if not common, and only slightly intellectual.

Anyway, lets talk about laws. More importantly, moral laws. Why do we do what we do? Why do we label one thing bad and one thing good? Simple question, right?

What are our options? The most prevalent answer is, “Well, duh, God gave us the laws as written down in our sacred texts. He told someone to do something, so we do it. ‘Nuff said.”

Option two: we someone have an innate moral goodness in us. As the one question on an AP Bio test said, “Humans are inherently perfect and do not need to evolve anymore.” In other words, all men are angels.

Option three: men are both good and bad. Our moral norms result from years of psycho-social-biological evolution. Things like altruism, the golden rule, and love result out of the evolutionary process itself because they lend an advantage to humanity. They just MAKE SENSE.

Option four: there is a general trend towards complexity in the universe. For this complexity to occur, humans must move beyond “red in tooth and claw” and begin to follow written down codes of conduct and laws. We act better because it’s in the very nature of the universe for this to happen (eventually). Every time we help someone out that can’t return the favor, we act in accordance with some kosmic principle.

Now, you can pick and choose out of those options. Let me just say I lean towards some mix of option three and four. Option one makes no sense, unless you believe in a higher power that writes malevolent writs on stone tablets. Couldn’t he just MAKE us do what he wants? “But God works in mysterious ways!” In that case, better to just take him out of the picture. Not to say he doesn’t exist. Just to say that he doesn’t add anything to the discussion.

Option two makes a little sense, except for the obvious fact that humans do horrible things. We rape. We pillage. We steal. We cheat on tests. We are NOT angels. We are NOT the apex of evolution. To hold the view that humans are somehow non-animal is folly. We aren’t a blank slate to write the greatness of the future on (wouldn’t that greatness come from the past anyway?). We have billions of years of evolutionary history hardwired into our biology.

Three makes sense from a physicalist view. Yes, we do have laws. But someone had to write those laws down (if we take God out of the picture). So, how did that person come up with the laws. Doesn’t it make sense that most of us originally followed these laws anyway, and that someone wrote them down so that EVERYONE (even the lowest common denominator) would follow the laws. Not to say that these laws don’t evolve. What’s okay in ancient Mesopatamia is NOT okay in 21st century America.

Add a dash of theory four in and you have a teleological theory saying that we move towards higher levels of “goodness.” Not that we’ll ever be perfect, but that we strive towards perfection. Why? Because that’s the way the universe is going. Despite the second law of thermodynamics, we find quarks to atoms to molecules to macromolecules to cells to organisms to humans to families to cities to civilizations. If that’s not teleological, then I don’t know what is.

I just had to get this all out. When the CIE teacher asked mw why I thought I was moral, I said, “Because I feel good when I do good and feel bad when I do bad.” Then she asked, “Well, why do you feel that way?” I replied, sheepishly, “Because that’s how we evolved.” I felt like that was a lame explanation. So here’s the real McCoy. My real explanation. The one I would have liked to give, given the time.

Thanks for reading.

Namaste.

I know that you’ve woken up and found yourself within a world a questions, where the answers come and go. And I know you don’t want sit around and hear no asinine suggestions when the truth just can’t be told. But if I may, I got a thing or two to say. Although the answers are not clear, there’s not a thing that you should fear, because the answers to it all whether things rise or when they fall, you’ll find the truth remains the same and that truth is that God is change. Hey you! You can talk about talk about talk about it, but you can’t control your destiny. I think that God is testing me. Hey you! You can talk about it talk about it talk about it, but you can’t control your destiny. You just might fail successfully. I’m alone. And I thought God created you for me. How could it be that it can’t be? So alone. And I don’t know what to do with myself. And I don’t know what I’m gonna do. Hey you! I thought that you were my destiny. I thought we were meant to be. Don’t I know what’s best for me? Hey you! I thought you were my destiny. Girl, I thought were meant to be. Can’t I choose what’s best for me? Hey you! You can talk about talk about talk about it, but you can’t control your destiny. I think that God is testing me. Hey you! You can talk about it talk about it talk about it, but you can’t control your destiny. You just might fail successfully. You can’t control your destiny. You can’t control your destiny. You can’t control.

Stink Of Zen

August 27, 2006

I feel that feeling I inevitably feel when I feel like I’m not getting anything done. Blah.

Good thing orientation is over and school is starting. Otherwise, more blah. And blah = bad.

Just act happy. Act enlightened. Act blissful.

Namaste.

I suppose at some point I should ask myself why I’m here. You know, here at college. Where I (well, my parents :) ) pay 20k+ dollars per year for me to get an “education.” Whatever that means.

So far, I don’t feel like this is college. I don’t know how I expected “college” to feel like. But it wasn’t this. This just feels like an extended stay away from home. Even after my first “college party” (dude, I was only there for 2 minutes), I don’t get it.

Maybe after class starts. That’s tomorrow. Maybe then I’ll feel like I’m at college. Or maybe that’ll never happen. Maybe in this interconnected digital age, nothing ever feels any different. When I have the ability to talk to anyone at the push of a button, or to relive any moment with the click of the mouse. Maybe modern technology really destroys the illusion of time and difference. It’s all really just the same thing. Over and over again. Really.

Yeah, or maybe I’m just being disillusioned. Negative. Pessimistic. None of that!

I’m still not completely sure about this college thing. Maybe it’ll come to me with time. Just gotta go with the flow until then.

And until then, namaste.

I promised you a commentary on a play I saw two days ago, and since I find myself in a lull between dinner and not going to parties (to be fair, I did visit both the Freshman dance and the XC party), I have the time to contemplate this whopper.

So, first let me say that the school makes all the activities here at Ursinus optional, so I went to the “rape play” of my own free will. To be honest, I looked forward to a night of stereotypes and feminist bullshit. I got my fill of both, though to the credit of the actors, they did an excellent job of shoveling it out. And the general moral, that rape is a heinous crime, of course holds true. Unfortunately, whoever wrote the play decided to steep this simple moral in incorrect facts and assumptions.

(A quick note. I’m doing this for fun. Though I do really believe most of what I’m saying, the vitriolic, sarcastic tone is just for fun. Come on, give a white middle class male a break. :) )

The first thing about the play that bit me in the ass the repitition of the statistic that “one in four women will be raped.” Okay, cool. And 97% of statistics are all made up. I mean, context matters. Majorly. Especially when it comes to random dangerous numbers derived via statistics. Numbers don’t lie. People do though. So, during a Q&A session, I asked one of the actors, “Is that 1 in 4 statistic for women in the US or in the world?” She replied, though she had to do it in character, “I’m pretty sure it’s in the US. I found it in some of the literature given to me after the rape.” Okay, cool. That clears it up a little bit.

Then, using the internet (I love the internet), I did a little research. Googling “one in four women raped,” I came across this little nugget. In this article, the author makes the claim that this 27% number came about via spurious means. Yeah, I figured as much. You can read the article for all the info, but basically some 3000 college women were interviewed in 1982 and asked about their rape experiences. Then the researches, not knowing what to do with all the numbers they got, clumped similar (though really different) categories together. So, not only is this info 24 years old, the overarching principle behind the statistic is flawed.

There’s my math qualm with the presentation. Now time for my science qualm. During the presentation, the “rapist” comments that “asking a man not to have sex with someone dressed like that and flirting like that and kissing like that is like asking a lion not to hunt down a three legged antelope.” His friend, a non-rapist, comments later, “I hate that bullshit comment. The one about [quote]. We’re not animals. We have a choice.”

Okay, I understand that a lot of people like to make the distinction between humans and non-human animals by labeling us humans and them animals. But we’re still animals, even if we’re human animals. I realize this sounds like a minor difference in words, but I think it’s important. We ignore this fact at our own risk. If evolutionary biology has taught us one thing, it’s that we both transcend and INCLUDE our animalistic qualities. As Michael Shermer states in his book The Science of Good and Evil, we have both virture and vice, good and evil. To try and ignore our baser nature is simply denial. At the same time, to put it on a pedastal is also folly.

Okay, one more point of contention. Understandably, in the play, the female friend of the rape victim makes very clear to the raped women, “None of this is your fault. You’re a victim.” Noone wants to be told it’s their fault that something horrible happened to them, especially immediately after the event. But taking up the mentality of “none of this is my fault” doesn’t empower the victim. And it certainly doesn’t do any good for the rapist. It creates a dichotomy between the “good” rape victim and the “bad” rapist. Yes, in a lot of cases, the rape victim is totally free from fault. But in this play, this was “acquaintance rape.” In other words, the rapist and rape victim knew each other and in fact had sex before. To absolve the woman, who followed willingly the man into his room for “wine for a special occasion.” and condemn the man, who honestly thought the woman wanted to have sex, is just bad ethics and bad logic.

That’s my two cents on the rape play. This probably won’t make much sense to you unless you saw the play. But maybe it’ll shed some light on my thoughts on this issue. It’s not something I’ve really thought about before. And not something I’ve ever really spoken on. So now you know.

Namaste.

UC Orientation

August 26, 2006

These past two days have been interesting. Ursinus is doing its damndest to entertain us (man, I just realized that “They,” the new Man here, might start reading this at any moment so I have to watch what I say… and if you are reading… I love you Guys!), and they’re doing a pretty good job. Lots of comedians to get us laughing (I’m going to have to start going to comedy shows / clubs more often), some dances to get us “socializing” (more like awkwardly looking at each other) and such.

Hm, this had a point, but it fell off. I don’t know why. Oh well, maybe I’ll come up with something a little later. Oh, yeah, I do want to talk about the Rape Play we saw two days ago. But I’ll save that for a little later. Let the suspense build.

Namaste.

XC Camp is Over = Yay!!

August 26, 2006

Well, I’m still here to talk about the end of XC camp, so I must be alive. Or maybe I’m undead. I don’t know which.

Anyway you cut it, cross country camp was (literally) kick ass. I felt my ass kicked several times. But I kept getting back on (except for that one time I tried to quit, but apparently [fortuitously] that e-mail got lost in the aether of cyberspace). And I’m so glad I did. I’m in better shape today than I’ve probably been since 10th grade when I ran constantly. Amazing how much a lot of work in one week can do. I mean, I ran for 75 minutes today. I’ve never done that before. Never. Admittedly, I was running REALLY slow, but still, it felt so awesome.

Now I remember how much fun running can be. You just have to be in shape for it to work out. Unfortunately, the out of shape part is incredibly unfun. So, definitely staying in shape for the next four years, especially if I stay with XC. No need to experience this week in the same way again. And if there’s one thing I can do, it’s keep with a well ingrained habit.

Hehehe, and I now can say I’m an “athlete.” Yeah buddy. I even have a “Ursinus Cross Country” t-shirt. How insane is that? Dave Darmon, an athlete. A new label to add to my wall of labels. It feel liberating someone.

I’ll keep you updated on how XC goes through this year. Not that you’ll want me to. But I will anyway. :)

I’ll post more in the next two days. I have most of today off (other than a dinner at 7 and a semiformal at 8:30) and all of tomorrow off (unless I decide to go to a Catholic Mass, which, oh yeah, I’m not Catholic anymore!).

I hope everyone’s enjoying college. Almost everyone’s gone now. Chi’s empty of the best class ever. I hope it doesn’t collapse into some sort of black hole.

Peace.