Thursday, December 19, 2019


There were turtles every morning,
tumbling in the surf
as it crashed against the reefs.
Floating above and beside them,
we were all slaves to the spitting waves.

All but one, who wanted not to join in.
It hid from the bubbling rays of the sun,
below on the sand beneath a jutting rock.
Now and then, just to take stock,
it peeked out to spy on the floaters nearby.

A sympathetic smile before cresting away,
taking the splashing noise and goggly eyes,
we rode the current to other joys
and swayed for a little while more
before saying our goodbyes.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Flatulent Philosophizing About The Chattiness Of Others

Like the uncertainty principle, the Drake Equation has had a layer of interpretation laid over it that obscures what it really says. In short, it's a series of guesses: about how many stars exist in the galaxy, what fraction of those have earth-like planets, what fraction of those planets have intelligent life, what fraction of those life forms would want to make contact, and so on. Drake originally calculated that ten sociable civilizations existed in our galaxy. But again, that was just an informed guess, which led many scientists to renounce it as flatulent philosophizing. How on earth, for instance, can we psychoanalyze aliens and figure out what percent want to chat?

Excerpt from The Disappearing Spoon
by Sam Kean

It's challenging to get away from the expectations of supposedly reasonable people, even on this planet. Apparently aliens are imagined to be quite sociable too. Is it so hard to imagine that they're perfectly happy and have no desire to connect with the entire rest of the universe?

Oh how we project.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Even AI's Need Breaks

I was stalling. I would have to interact with humans as an augmented human... I had imagined it as taking place from a distance, or in the spaces of a crowded transit ring. Interacting meant talking, and eye contact. I could already feel my performance capacity dropping.

Excerpt from Artifical Condition
by Martha Wella

This is a series about a self-described "murder bot", an intelligent, self-aware machine that dislikes being around humans despite having an addiction for all of the media we create.

Reviewers call Murder Bot "anti-social", although it clearly has a tendency to care for people.

As you know, I don't consider myself "anti-social". Only "unsocial". Yet I find "Murder Bot" highly entertaining. There are times when it needs to remind itself to respond to the humans, and also times when it needs to remind itself that humans want more than yes or no answers. I can relate. Remembering to interact is something easily neglected, especially while processing other stimuli.

There are also times when "Murder Bot" just wants to get away for some quiet time. Maybe, just maybe, the poor machine is simply introverted.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Could Have Done Anything, Been Quiet Even

Not one of you was normal, I said, and I watched him push his plate of half-eaten food towards me as though he were a child in a tantrum. Yes, misfits, I said. My son gathered misfits, although he himself, despite everything, was not a misfit; he could have done anything, he could have been quiet even, he had that capacity also, the one that is the rarest, he could have spent time alone with ease, he could look at a woman as though she were his equal, and he was grateful, good-mannered, intelligent. And he used all of it, I said, so he could lead a group of men who trusted him from place to place. I have no time for misfits, I said, but if you put two of you together you will not only get foolishness and the usual cruelty but you will also get a desperate need for something else. Gather together misfits, I said, pushing the plate back towards him, and you will get anything at all – fearlessness, ambition, anything – and before it dissolves or it grows, it will lead to what I saw and what I live with now.

Excerpt from The Testament of Mary
by Colm Tóibín

I get that this is supposedly a woman's perspective, and that the best of men from this fictional point of view are the ones who keep silent, but I like to take things out of context. Being quiet is a rare quality. I'm sure many do so with clenched teeth.


Friday, February 1, 2019

Silence Overcomes

Any trouble under the sun can be overcome by silence.

Excerpt from The Holy Man
by Susan Trott