Thursday, November 19, 2009

I usually rant about god & the church, but it gets boring because fewer people disagree and it's like preaching to the choir (if you will). So this post is a story my daughter told me to write down concerning an incident when my friend Joe was a feral hippy.

This is the famous story of how Joe came to be legend and completely bamfoogled the entire Phoenix Off Road Racing Club (I think that's who they were).

Around 1974-5 Joe drove down to the New Orelans Mardigras in his '59 vw bus. It was in fair condition when he started, but somewhat less on the way back. Somewhere in Arizona Joe decided to take a short cut up toward Las Vegas following his road map, which was unfortunately (or not) out of date, and the road submerged & disappeared into a lake which had developed since the map was printed. So Joe found himself on a dirt road in the wide wild desert, about 30 miles from the highway, & 50 miles from where he turned off. Joe was disinclined to drive all the way back to the turnoff by the way he came, though it appeared to be the only option since his map was useless.

To resolve the issue, Joe camped overnight in a ravine, had rabbit stew w/stroganoff sauce & listened to the wind & coyotes to help decide the only possible choice. The next morning he heard a car coming up the road but didn't go out to look, a little later another & another. So Joe ventured back up to the road & saw orange streamers hanging from the sagebrush & dune buggies roaring past. This was the very excuse he needed to not go back to the highway, because these guys were heading the direction he wanted & they had to know where they were going, so Joe followed them. If anyone ever tells you that ignorance is not bliss, direct them to this story.

The road was well marked & there were even trucks parked at side roads to point the way & keep people from getting lost, but by the time Joe passed, there had been maybe 15 or 20 buggies through ahead of him & the dirt road was so well rutted that it was easy to follow, so when the station guides came out and waived, Joe just waived back as he drove by.

Before now, it hadn't occurred to him that this might be a test of skill & endurance, but as the landscape became more lunar, and Joe began to notice expensive buggies parked off the road with drivers either working on their engines or setting in the shade drinking beer, he realized it was a contest of Man Against Nature!, & A Race To The Finish! Fortunately, (as a hippy) Joe was a veteran VW driver, and unlike many of those newer dune buggies, his ‘59 bus was stock w/ almost 12 inches of clearance, and a low gear that will climb trees. Also, Joe knew his busses' heart very well, so that even with a slipping clutch, bad compression and 200 lbs. overweight, he followed the ruts down sandy creek beds, across winding rocky slopes, & up a couple of short hills that would make sky divers swoon with bliss. The tops of some of those hills couldn't be seen from below, but by the time Joe got to them, he figured they couldn't be worse than what he'd already seen on the course, & he'd also driven through that much on & off for years anyway. Joe didn't pause to contemplate though because he would have become stuck in the sand & needed the momentum, so he persevered like a Republican w/ a hot stock tip. The whole course seemed about 1/2 hour from leaving the road, but it was late afternoon by the time it was over.

When Joe finally arrived at the rally camp in his painted hippy bus with the bubble on the roof, he got looks of disbelief from people with $10k chromed buggies. When Joe told them about the compression, clutch, & weight overload, the guy who set up the course was genuinely angry that Joe had finished & implied that Joe was lieing about his car’s condition. Joe told him he was welcome to check the engine if he was in doubt. The organizer stomped off in a fit. But others laughed and were genuinely good guys who gave Joe beer. Joe felt somewhat creeped out there though, because they were all upper middle class competition car enthusiasts, & neither they nor he could believe the other could survive whithout some kind of real life. Joe felt like a Dust Bowl refugee, and they acted like they'd discovered Sasquach, but all & all, it was a pretty good day.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The sumptuous pattern of a peacock's tail, the bronze-green armor of a pineapple, the sensuous curves of an orchid ... No! These are not the work of blind evolution but of an intelligent gay designer.
If you're at a social function and a benediction is said and the God invoked is not your own, it's a good idea to mutter, roll your eyes, and smirk, so your God will know that you're not taken in by some false God. (Dan Liebert)

When women are sinners in the eyes of extremists (Alaa Al-Aswany)

Natural selection in action: Jerks vs Gentlemen (eurekalert)

"Brain Waves"

When I was a kid, there were occasions when I heard people say (and do) things that they would never have said, for example my 7th grade teacher wrote something on the blackboard with her back turned while saying "Now I know somebody like (me) will raise their hand and say Teacher that's wrong ..", thinking that was my cue, I told her that it was wrong. Her cynicism overflowed and she berated me in front of the class. For years I wondered why she set me up, and why other kids didn't hear it. Now it seems a part of the brain called the angular gyrus has a role in anticipating what our eye will see, based on memory, it also anticipates where a thrown ball will be so it can be caught, and the same may hold true for audio and social events as well. Popular psychoanalysis ordains that, based on current scientific theory, my internal dialog provided the communication by (apparently correct) interpretation of her social cueing.[1] Hmm, maybe. Or I may have picked up ... BRAIN WAVES ...

About that time I had a spate of undramatic out of body experiences, I rose up above the roof and observed the surrounding country from a stationary position. It was interesting at first but became boring & kind of weird. It was discovered accidentally by sleeping on my arm till it lost feeling, so I laid on my back thinking about when the feeling would return. pretty soon I found I could move my finger tips but they weren't where I thought they should be. That was interesting (sort of) so I practiced pretending my arms and legs were in different positions till it was believable, then I'd have to look to verify where they actually were. I thought that was a fun game though nobody but me could play. Pretty soon I could disassociate from my body & I floated up through the roof. Nobody ever told me I could travel, so I didn't.

OK so the theory here is that the same gizmo (angular gyrus) provides spacial orientation and reference points, when information is lacking, by referencing previous memory. I can believe that, because about 1975 I bought a book on astral projection and tried it. It worked ok, but the environment around me at the time sucked, and when I tried to get people interested, they decided I was nuts, or an evil witch (meh!). But the book said how to move around, mainly to places I remembered, but also to places I'd never been, years before I ever went there (an Akido workshop in San Francisco about 1980). According to the angular gyrus literature, that should not be possible, though it may be an independent effect, like déjà vu, which is said to be a false memory, but not in my experience. There's more to it than that, maybe like a dormant ability which needs exercise.

I tested the brain wave theory several times with perhaps questionable success, (since I was both subject and object), to see if I could influence other people by mentally telling them what to do when they were unaware of me. Once when a guy was talking on the phone in a phone booth across the street at night. In the dark, he was probably unaware of me, because he couldn't see me, and was focussed on talking on the phone. I mentally asked/told him to raise his right hand over his head. He held the phone in that hand so he would have had to plan ahead and switch hands w/ the phone. It would have been a reaction instead of spontaneously (somehow) becoming me (?). He switched phone hands, and raised his right hand. That I could subconsciously anticipate by reading his body language that he would do that (and fool myself into claiming responsibility) seems unimaginative.

Another time there was a group of kids standing around in a parking lot. I was on a park hillside about 80 yards away sitting on a log among the trees. I worried that one of them was selling drugs and mentally asked them to play recess games instead. They formed a circle and started kicking a ball back and forth. When they did, I became intensely self conscious for intruding. They stopped playing. Some looked around and spied me, they pointed me out to the others, some left, some waved, some mocked me. I waved back, (why did they care if I was sitting on that log?) They seemed to understand that too. We pretended to mind our own business.

1) does the angular gyrus cause modeling
2) are we really seperate
world shattering propositions (probably) coming soon!

Culture Is More Important Than Genes To Altruistic Behavior In Large-scale Societies This could explain how people tolerate repression and belief in a selfish god.

1: Stories Synchronize Brains (