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Are We Living in a Simulation?

[My column in the Sunday magazine.]

Back when I was a kid, the future was so much simpler, because we knew we were going to be space travelers. We'd live on orbiting space stations, rocket around the galaxy, but remain essentially the same people we'd always been, only with better ray-guns and, of course, snazzier wardrobes featuring silvery jumpsuits. Occasionally we'd be forced, like Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, to have coital relations with lascivious alien princesses. It was a future we could believe in.

But now I'm looking at the 50th anniversary issue of New Scientist, which is full of big thinkers making predictions about the next 50 years. They don't talk much about space. Their future is more radical and, literally, mind-blowing: What we call the mind will be just another thing to manipulate. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren won't be part of a clique at school; they'll be tapped into the "hive-mind" of the entire planet. They'll have Wikipedia brains. They'll be immortal, able to regenerate organs and limbs. At some point, "whole-body replacement will be routine," one professor predicts. Unstated is whether ordering up a new body will be like getting a beverage at Starbucks -- "I'd like a venti no-foam skim Scarlett Johansson with Naomi Watts on top."

And maybe we'll be little people with watermelon-size heads. Sydney Brenner, a Nobel laureate in medicine, writes of the possibility that humans will evolve into "small people with bodies sufficient to support the required amount of brain power." Of course, tiny people with huge heads have already appeared on our planet. They're called movie stars.

There are many predictions involving artificial intelligence. A common assumption is that the brain is essentially an elaborate machine, every process of which could be mimicked in a computer. There's a highly disturbing corollary: In theory, we can't tell whether our thoughts are coming from a meat-brain or from a computer program designed to think that it's a meat-brain.

Advancing this argument enthusiastically is Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, who argues that we are almost certainly -- right now -- living in a computer simulation. It's like being trapped in someone's computer game, only we don't realize it. Bostrom is extrapolating from the rate of advancement in computer processing power. He thinks that eventually some civilization will be able to create totally realistic "ancestor simulations," in which the simulated characters are conscious and experience the simulation as though it were real. For example, these characters might think they're living in the 21st century, but only because the computer geeks of the 9,937th century have designed it that way.

Bostrom then carries his argument to what he thinks is the logical conclusion, which is that eventually there will be so much computing power that the ancestor simulations will greatly outnumber the real (meat-based) civilizations. And thus, Bostrom writes, "You would have to assume that you are probably one of these simulated minds rather than one of the ones that are not simulated."

Are you following all this? Don't feel bad if you aren't -- it's possible that, in the simulation, you're programmed to remain befuddled.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Loftus, a University of California at Irvine professor and memory expert, warns that in the future we'll have mastered the art of implanting false memories. She writes that this technology could be abused by police, lawyers or advertisers. This is all distressingly close to the plot of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie "Total Recall." Indeed, when you combine the Loftus scenario with the Bostrom scenario, you realize that

the entire world as we perceive it might be a false memory, and that it might not even be your own false memory. In fact, it could be Arnold's. We might all be minor, utterly trivial characters in Arnold's false memory of being governor of California.

All I know is, if life is a dream, I hope it's mine. I don't want life to be, for example, Dick Cheney's dream, or Osama bin Laden's dream, or bin Laden's hairstylist's dream, or my cat Phoebe's dream.

Even in the real world, we are not the authors of our lives. We all arrived in the middle of an ongoing narrative, a program encoded by our families, our ancestors, the founders of our civilization. We do our best to play a role, follow a script and stay in character.

So is everything an illusion? I dunno. My head hurts at this point. All I know is that the world sure looks and feels like the real thing. I'll believe it's fake when it fails to boot one morning.

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 17, 2006; 8:27 AM ET
 
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Comments

Ahhh -- a Rough Draft about the possibility that life is but a dream. My work here is done.

A few months back I was reading a book by Paul Davies called "About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution." At one point Davies discusses the idea that everything could really be happening all at once, and any experience that we perceive as being our actual, present-moment reality could be merely a fragment of a whole -- a facet of a diamond -- that our consciousness happens to have zeroed in on. It's as though the entire Universe and everything that has ever happened in it -- and everything that *will* happen -- were a movie, with us choosing which scene of the movie, or even which frame, to re-play at any given "time." Another twist on the idea of the Observer, I guess.

[Davies explains it better than that -- and probably more accurately -- but that's the general gist. (I borrowed the book from the library so I don't have ready access to it to check -- or quote.)]

I think it was also Davies' book that discussed how young children develop a sense of self -- an "I" -- as well a capacity to create and store memories. (And if I understand correctly, these two processes occur hand-in-hand.) It seems there is no sense of "I" -- no ego -- until the child has collected a set of experiences and conceived of a timeline within which these experiences occur. Before this happens (at the age of, say, three years), the child essentially lives in the present moment, with no sense of past or future or of him- or herself as an individual.

But as Joel pointed out, thinking about these ideas for too long can make your head hurt. As for the question of whether Joel's dream is his own dream or the dream of Osama bin Laden, I'd have to say, Maybe both: We are all one, and we're dreaming this dream together. Perhaps it's not so much the dream itself that's the illusion, but our notion of ourselves as individual dreamers. [Head *really* hurtin' now.] And I don't think computers are responsible; I think *we* are doing this. [But you probably already knew that.]


http://www.amazon.com/About-Time-Einsteins-Unfinished-Revolution/dp/0684818221

Posted by: Dreamer | December 17, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

... JA, sounds like working up a clever excuse why you didn't get your wife that Christmas gift she's been hounding you for... "sorry honey, it wasn't written into the program, maybe next year".

Posted by: Miss Toronto | December 17, 2006 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I see there as being at least two types of possible simulations of life. In the first, the simulated entities are not told they are being simulated, and the simulation-masters stay in the background, hiding. In the second possibility, the sims ARE told, and the sim-masters freely communicate with them, and even allow themselves (the masters) to be persuaded of various points of argument: after all, no reason not to create a sim smart as oneself.

Posted by: Jumper | December 17, 2006 8:54 AM | Report abuse

In that case, the sim master would be Joel, and sims 'r us.

This is really good column.

Posted by: Yoki | December 17, 2006 9:00 AM | Report abuse

dmd, I'm sending good thoughts to you on your Dad's recovery.

Posted by: Yoki | December 17, 2006 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Re: are we Joel's sims by Yoki:

He taught us all we know, but he didn't teach us all HE knows.

Posted by: Jumper | December 17, 2006 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Star Trek, as Joel did in the kit, my LAPD--Gene Roddenberry--Jack Webb-Elvis Presley--Black Dahlia Aunt Carol passed away in the early evening yesterday in Arizona.

She had gone to her only surviving son's for Thanksgiving and never made it back to California. During the holiday, her persistent comments about shortness of breath led the family straight to a doctor. She needed heart surgery--three valves, I believe, and her chances of making out of the surgery were 50/50. She agreed to the procedure, but on the morning she was scheduled for the operation, she had a heart-to-heart with the surgery nurse, who told her of the pain that she would be in and the long recovery time at her age. Aunt Carol changed her mind and received hospice counseling and care.

I have such good memories of Aunt Carol. Her death is the end of an era, in my mind, in Los Angeles. There will be no service, the family has been requested not to send flowers. Aunt Carol is member of the Neptune Society, as was Aunt Carl (her husband), who passed two years ago, and my father before them. I will call my cousin today and at least offer to help with writing her obituary, if he desires. I hope that he wishes to honor her career.

I don't need the Boodle group hug, but since I had written about Carol on the Boodle on more than one occasion, I shall mention her passing. At 88, she had simply come to the end of her life cycle. With my mother's long, slow decline into Alzheimer's, Carol was very much like a surrogate mom to me during the last five years.

She lived long and prospered.

Posted by: Loomis | December 17, 2006 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, sorry to hear of your loss, and thank you for sharing your Aunts story with us.

Posted by: dmd | December 17, 2006 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, a life well lived. Its good to know that she was at peace.

Posted by: dr | December 17, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Does this mean "The Matrix" may actually be a docudrama? Or was it was a failed attempt by renegade sims to plant an infinite loop or some other logic bomb in our programming?

In other news: Descartes wants his royalty check.

Also... congratulations Boodlers (and Joel, too). Time magazine has chosen "You" as the Person of the Year.

Linky here: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1569514,00.html

And my "dang hippie" blurb about it here: http://www.danghippie.com/

Posted by: martooni | December 17, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

dmd and dr,
Thanks. dmd, please, please be concerned about your own dad's heart attack. A heart attack is to the heart what a boiling teapot is to water--as we learned in dietetics. Aunt Carol swam about a mile a day-well into her 80s, and of course, genetics also plays a significant role.

Posted by: Loomis | December 17, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Since you don't want soppy, Loomis, how about a little Latin? (I assume she was your mother's sister?)

Ave sed numsque vale, Matertera Carola

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 11:11 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Nusquam

"Ave sed numsquam vale, Matertera Carola."

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

dmd, keep us posted. loomis, condolences.

Joel, that "whole-body replacement" technology can't happen soon enough, as far as I'm concerned. The one I've got now was apparently manufactured on a Monday after a three-day weekend; if there was a lemon law for people I'd be the poster boy.

Meanwhile, I suppose this is floating around the Web somewhere, but a friend just e-mailed it to my wife, and I thought it was very funny, so here goes:

CHRISTMAS CAROLS FOR THE DISTURBED

* 1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

* 2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are

* 3. Dementia --- I Think I'll Be Home for Christmas

* 4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

* 5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets
and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees
and.....

* 6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus Is Coming to Town to Get Me

* 7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an
Open Fire

* 8. Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm
Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

* 9. Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oo oh look at the
Froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?

* 10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder --- Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle,Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Back to the topic of the kit, futurology. I have two deeply profound thoughts: (1) futurology prredictions may be fun to read about, but in the past couple hundred years of predicting the future, no one's ever come close. Not even within a country mile. From Nostradamus to those great cover stories in Popular Mechanics in the 1950s and 1960s of people with flying automobiles and kitchens that cook everything for us (take that! Food NetworkTV chefs: didn't you guys get the memo? You're supposedd to be obsolete. Yeah, I'm tawkin' a you, Mario, Bobby, Giada, Rachel! There's s'posed ta be a gizmo in the wall of my kitchen that either produces pill food, or else meals better than you guys can cook [depending on which 1950s magazines you once read].) There's supposed to be giant zeppelin airliners and world peace and the messiah is way overdue about eight times. Guy needs to get a freakin' datebook or at least a good wristwatch with a date function. Or a PDA.

Deeply profound thought no. 2: How come the ray guns on Star Wars suck? Didja ever notice those Imperial Stormtrooper Boyguards who one assumes are the creme de la creme to be picked as Imperial bodyguards for Darth and the other top brass can't hit squat? What kinda fording bodyguard is that? Can't hit a 7-foot-tall shaggy sasquatch wannabe Wookie, fer cryin' out loud? In a galaxy long, long ago and far, far away, there are apparently no NRA classes in marksmanship.

Or maybe that's actually a good thing: the future of Mankind is total military ineptitude. Perhaps I have deeply misunderstood the Iraqi War from the git-go.

{And while we're at it, somebody explain to me lightsabers. What kind of super advanced civilization favors hand-to-hand combat with flashlights that make a noise like my Black and Decker cordless drill makes when the 1" spade bit binds up in a piece of knotty pine?}

Sorry, Joel, but I've just never had much faith in those "50 geniuses predict the future" thumbsucker expos. Oops, gotta run: on the Food Channel, Giada's making cleavage-infused veal marsala.

Sorry that's all the deep profundity I can muster here in paradise, where it is a yucky 85 and sunny, the babes are already lining the swimming pool, I have a 1:30 appointment to have my hair cut (pretty much the only part of my entire whole-body replacement I'm willing to keep more or less as I inherited it, because from the scalp line down it ain't exactly Patrick McDreamy).

Perhaps after my mid-afternoon mojito I may raise my profundity level a tad. New Orleans is favored by 9 1/2 freakin' points over the Redskins. Lemme see some Nobel laureates do some future predictions about the outcome of that sucker. Sheesh. bc, who ya got in the Giants-Iggles game?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 17, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I like this column because it builds nicely on the Copernican Principle Joel wrote about earlier:

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/achenblog/2006/05/termite_hindguts_and_the_coper.html

The underlying concept of both columns is that the most rational interpretation of our existence is the one that is statistically most likely. We aren't special enough to be located in the Gaussian tail. Except, of course, that we might be. Just as some people really were born in the statistically implausible third century, our reality might still actually be based on flesh.

But I guess it is kind of a moot point. In either case we need to worry about viruses. (Note to ultimate master of the universe: Please be sure to update Norton Reality Protection Services.)

And, speaking of flesh, any column that contains the phrase "Scarlett Johansson with Naomi Watts on top" is clearly one for the ages.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 17, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Loomis, you're getting a boodle hug from me. Your aunt Carol sounds like a smart woman. I hope I have her dignity and understanding when it's my time. I'm sorry for your loss. Point us toward that obituary when it's published, will you?

And you, too, dmd. Hope your dad does well and that you and the family get through all of this in decent shape.

Aw shucks... boodle hugs for everyone.

Posted by: TBG | December 17, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Mudge I agree enthusiastically that our track record for futurism is pretty poor. Even when we have gotten it sorta kinda right (like Verne) I suspect there was a lot of luck involved. Postulate enough crazy futures and one is bound to be close. The problem is that the only way we can reasonably predict the future is extrapolation, which is based on the implicit assumption that the future will be fundamentally like the present - just more so. And, of course, it usually 'taint so.

Still, I would put money on the notion that biology will become more of a prescriptive science, and that them computer thingies are not, in fact, a passing fad. I just don't know what those statements fully imply.

And as for Ray Guns, Joel did a "Why Things Are" article on this around '95 or so. I remember because, in a teeny-tiny, indescribably insignificant, I ha'lped.

And I am very sorry for your loss Linda.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 17, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

SCC: insignificant way (It was so small it didn't even deserve a complete sentence.)

Now We've Got Cookies To Bake!!

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 17, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

With apologies to Dreamer, I'm afraid I don't have much patience for the whole "life is a dream" thing, nevermind being a sim. Don't get me wrong, I've read enough Carlos Castenada and dropped enough acid to want to believe, but even with my romantic nature I still can't buy it. Walk in front of a bus or fall from a tall building and you're a hurtin' puppy, whether you believe in the bus or not.

But that doesn't mean I don't believe your mind can help rebuild your body, or even communicate with someone at a distance through some sort of quantum entanglement. I've experienced enough weirdness myself to give that the benefit of the doubt.

We're certainly following a script, either of our own or someone else's making. That's the basis of social conservatism's angst, that some people (Mary Cheney and Heather Poe for instance) aren't following the "right" script. They just don't like the fact that we're not lacking for scripts, including ones where evil dictators (Pinochet) live the good life and get off, and others in which really nice people are poor and sick. I *have* had the experience of creating my own script, literally creating the future up to and including a friendly lady in fur, lingerie and not much else in the local bar on my 29th birthday. Unfortunately that seems to take an awful lot of grace to keep going for a significant period of time, we and we fall back into our "agreed upon" conventioanl scripts all too easily. Maybe it's a learnable skill, maybe it's just passing through a particularly friendly cloud of quantum reality at the right point in time and space.

When it comes to Time, given how little we understand it wouldn't bother me a bit to believe everything's all happening at the same time, somewhere, somehow. What the heck, I still act like I'm 17 half the time, does the chronological age of my body matter then? (Alright, don't answer that.) But then I'm a fan of Vonnegut's Tralfamadorians too. :-)

I do think it will be possible to re-grow limbs and organs in the next 20-50 years. No question. Unless someone believes God doesn't like that, and keeps us from funding the research based on their religious beliefs. Oh, wait...

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 17, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Brought to you as an Achenblog exclusive (I'm not linking it from the Tropicfan site), here is the article that RD Padouk was referring to:

http://tropicfan.com/WTA%20-%20Ray%20Guns%20Prison%20Labor%20Cardboard.htm

I was supposed to be baking cookies, too, RD, but I was so inspired by being named Person of the Year, based on my contributions to cyberspace (the Time article was so complimentary about my blogging activities!) that I chose virtual service over the real world kind (the cookies will still get done, later today).

Posted by: kbertocci | December 17, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

That's great kbertocci! I provided information that led to the phrase "beam of particles." That's about it. Of course, that is, like, the key phrase in the whole column.

I have concluded that all knowledge can be found on the Achenblog.


And congratulations on that whole, you know, Person Of The Year thing...

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 17, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I want to know where the little shoulder fins are on the clothes we were supposed to be wearing by now.

Posted by: TBG | December 17, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Error Flynn's comment reminds me that in a sense everyone's test of reality involves death; it seems like our definition of reality of necessity contains the idea. In colloquial terms, when the "the princess and the prince discuss what's real and what is not," some wag responds by saying "If this here rock hit you in the head hard enough, it'd kill you - how real is that?"

Of course Dylan would refrain "there are no truths outside the gates of Eden."

Posted by: Jumper | December 17, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

IN THE FUTURE...
all food will be sold one bite at a time. You will go to the
grocery store and purchase however many prepackaged mouthfuls as you desire
of whatever kind of food you want. Each bite of food will be slightly
smaller than an actual bite you might want. It will have a cardboard cover
with a photograph of the type of food on it. The actual bite of food in the
package will not look like the photograph on the cardboard envelope.
Inside, each bite of food will be encased in a plastic envelope made of
something like Kevlar. There will be no instructions on how to open it on
the package. The package will have the word "handy" printed on the
cardboard. Most people will use tinsnips or garden pruning scissors to open
the plastic packages. Each package will be irradiated and sterile. Each
package will have an expiration date. Each package will have the nutrition
information printed on it.

Each package will take approximately 10 seconds to open if several packages
are laid out beforehand and assembly-line techniques used by the consumer in
a food preparation area. The food in each package will weigh 44.5% of the total
purchased weight. Each packaged bite of purchased food will be enclosed in
a single bag before leaving the grocery store. Each bag will be of gossamer
thickness and will often split open in the parking lot, spilling the
mouthfuls of purchased food paks on the pavement. The gossamer final bags
will be difficult to open and only experienced grocery employees will be
able to handle them. Each of the numerous bags will be looped on the
consumer's separate fingers for transport to the parking lot.

Posted by: Jumper | December 17, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I think I have some of those "bites" in my freezer right now. Aren't you describing Healthy Choice dinners, Jumper?

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong, I love Mexico, but if I hafta eat lunch one more time while Ricky Martin sings "She Bangs, I'm gonna effing go postale on somebody's guacamole, everybody unnerstand me on that?

AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

(Another scream of angst from paradise. Please return to your cookie-baking and Sunday afternoon worship at the Church of the NFL [a wholly-owned --or perhaps that should be holy-owned --subsidiary of FSM, Inc.].)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 17, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

LOL yer 2:07, Wilbrod.

Yikes, the Redskins are up 13-7 over the Saints!!! That's terrific! That's gonna make our last-two-minute come-from-ahead loss all that much more bitter!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 17, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I have finally found a biological theory of football obsession in that crazy book entitled "Why things are Volume II."

"A while back I asked a researcher why guys watch so much football on TV. She floated a theory: In prehistoric time, men spent a lot of times in the bushes, watching animals, They watched wildebeests, let's say. They figured out which wildebeest was the slowest, then ran out and stabbed it.
Hence, Monday Night Football."

Is this the same researcher who told Newt that men are biologically programmed to hunt giraffes?

I guess only the author knows. Or maybe, heck, Newt actually read this book and misremembered it as "giraffes."

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

They ran out of material after the 80s enormous shoulder-pad fad, TBG!

Posted by: Yoki | December 17, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

>everyone's test of reality involves death

Jumper, that reminds me of Richard Pryor's "The Ultimate Test".

"The ultimate test i'... can your @ss survive dyin'? So far as we know, ain't nobody passed the ultimate tes'... that's why they call it The Ultimate Tes'."

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 17, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Richard Pryor. He could say the plain truth and make it dead funny.


Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Mudge thanks for posting the Christmas titles, perfect thing to make me laugh today, that and miss reading one of your posts and thinking you were going to go postal WITH guacamole which was a funny visual.

Just came back from seeing Dad, he is as always upbeat, chipper and looking on the bright side (work is slow right now so the timing was quite good). He is anxious to be out of the hospital - he actually drove there thinking they would just check a few things and he could go home. So far it seems no major heart damage - and are awaiting the angiogram. He is quite a guy and I had a delightful visit laughing and listening to him, he is an engineer and naturally is most interested in all the gizmos and how they work.

Thanks for the kind thoughts is been a tough weekend, one daughter sick all Friday night, a birthday party and Dads illness but there is always the humour here to lift the spirits.

On topic one brother did his university degree in independent study - his degree was in Future. People would always ask us what it ment - we really didn't know but had fun making up possibilities - go figure he could even earn a graduate degree in it combined with public policy.

Posted by: dmd | December 17, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

The *body* doesn't survive death, but what about the mind?

Think about what happens when you have a dream at night about getting hit by a bus. You "die" in the dream -- or, your "dream body" dies -- but then you wake up safely in your bed, thinking, Phew, it was only a dream. Maybe the same sort of thing happens when we die.

Posted by: Dreamer | December 17, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Yello -- I guess my being as old (or older) than your dad has one advantage, a knowledge of a few really old books.

Don't you buy newer editions of those old ones, that you can handle and read? I remember a great deal of "Wine of the Dreamers." Thought I still had it, but find just three McDonald's, "Please Write for Details," "The Houseguests" and "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything."

There was another sort of sci-fi back at the start of his career, "Ballroom of the Skies." I don't remember it at all, and reading the blurb in Amazon provided no enlightenment.

Posted by: nellie | December 17, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream), play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. I actually got to see a production at the Oregon Shaekespeare Festival. Miguel de Unamuno and Jorge Luis Borges, not to mention Goya, sort of kept the theme going.

Meanwhile, I don't think I'm going to find out that I'm a not-to-successful character about to be killed off by my novelist (that movie didn't seem to do very well. Or did it?)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 17, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Last night's trip to Edaville was very successful as a Christmas spirit booster. It is an amusement park built around cranberry bogs with a narrow gauge train that goes around the park bordering the bogs and a large pond. We stood in line for the carousel for 10 minutes, the train for about 30 minutes but the clincher was standing in line for 45 minutes for a 2 1/2 minute ride on a flying Dumbo elephant. It would have been nice to have a simulated me standing in that line. We would have just left and gone to see other things, but you know how it is with kids. The girls had a great time, they wolfed down fried dough and ran around through some of the lights and up to the gazebo and past all the little mechanical people displays. The weather was mildish and although it was very crowded, it was a happy feeling crowd. There were tons of light displays, frogs jumping from one pad to the next, angels, Frosty, Santa, trees, a little kid kicking a ball through the goal posts, serpents, dinosaurs, etc., so we're taking this all in on the train ride, looking from one side to the other, when the six year old says, "oh look, a bus!" In one of the parking lots we passed there was a school bus and with all the amazing lights, she gets excited over the same type bus she takes to kindergarten every day, priceless.

Loomis, sorry to hear about your aunt. Dmd, my best wishes to your dad for a speedy recovery.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 17, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The sports book room here must have 25 TVs, and they have satellite, so they get a bazillion channels. But not that Redskins game. Which the Skins won.

I'm telling ya, OSHA needs to shut this place down.

(While we're killing tiume until dinner, I'm watching the Iggles=Giants game on Fox, only they have two Spanish announcers, and I don't understand a word they're saying, which is pretty funny.

Although if one of them shouts, "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLL," we're going to have a problem.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 17, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Some help for the Spanish goalscoring terminology:

http://www.wordreference.com/es/translation.asp?tranword=goal&v=b

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes even with captioning on, I don't understand a word American football announcer say anyway. Their syntax becomes fractured and they interrupt each other and themselves as they become increasingly excited.

And even when I do, it's often on the level of "mindblowing, man." Only on speed.

They say one reason why we hate to see others make mistake is that we subconsciously mirror their action in our head, so when they make a mistake we feel we made that mistake, too, which kicks in our self-criticism faculties.

This unconscious mirroring is probably why those ex-football players always look ready to charge the screen when they're watching an intense play.

Their heartrate is probably so high in sympathy that it's lucky they can even work their jaws. Or unlucky, depending on your point of view.


Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, Mudge's mistake-finding detectors must be going off now. My bad and SCC.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I finally went back and read about your dad. I am thinking of you, and all your family, and keeping him in my prayers.

I'm still waiting for the self cleaning house I read about in a mid 60's Popular Science. Either that or Samantha's wiggly nose thing.

Posted by: dr | December 17, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, glad for the reporting today from the vacation gulag. I was afraid you'd never be heard from again, disappearing forever into paradise.

Linda, how can one grieve for an 88 year old person who lived a good and full life and reasonably chose not to extend that life with unnecessary and painful medical intervention? I am convinced that there are things in life worse than death, and artificial prolonging of life is one of them (see Schaivo, Terry). One grieves for the inability to see and interact with that person, but not for the person herself, who is freed from pain. Shalom.

Posted by: Slyness | December 17, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

>Think about what happens when you have a dream at night about getting hit by a bus.

This happens often to you?

Let's face it, if you REALLY believed it was all a dream you would have no reason not to walk off your 25th story balcony. (Please don't try to prove me wrong!)

What happens to your consciousness after death really doesn't matter if you think you're not really alive in the first place.

Maybe if you can get the bus to believe you're just a dream... but you're not gonna bet your life on it, are you? No, you're not. You know you're not, I know you're not. Because as interesting and tantalizing as it may be you don't REALLY, REALLY in your heart believe it to the extent of testing it.

Sorry, physical reality is a little too real to me. There are any number of different social realities which can change with the wind, but for the most part physical reality is not subjective. If it is, levitiate over the neighborhood for an hour. I mean really, I'll take almost any proof. Move a glass for me. I'm easy. But failing any proof whatsoever I'm gonna go with physical reality as we collectively experience it.

Your Mileage May Vary.

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 17, 2006 6:40 PM | Report abuse

One of the most interesting points Robert Wright makes in Nonzero is that the world would look exactly the same if it were populated by non-conscious humans. That helped me formulate my opinion about behaviorism. I have always been a Skinner apologist because I think he understands something very important about behavior: that you can ignore consciousness and still have meaningful results for your experiments.

But the big thing about the uber-consciousness is that almost by definition we can't perceive it, any more than a cell in our bodies could comprehend the bigger picture of the entire body. Each cell has its small part to play, to make the whole thing work. And of course you can choose what level you want to look at: from inside an individual cell, up to the multiverse. (Multiverse is my word of the week, brought home by my college sophomore offspring.)

Man, it is hard to cram these big ideas into compact paragraphs. I'm sure what I just wrote doesn't actually make sense. I guess I'll have to derive my self-esteem from the real-world cookies that did, in fact, get done this afternoon.

'Night, all.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 17, 2006 7:22 PM | Report abuse

>I guess I'll have to derive my self-esteem from the real-world cookies that did, in fact, get done this afternoon.

That's it! Say what you want about consciousness - you can eat the cookies.

Good night Charlie Brown.

Posted by: Error Flynn | December 17, 2006 7:47 PM | Report abuse

But I would imagine our individual cells know they're with friends, and that they are continually in chemical and physical rapport with each other.

But it's a good comparsion. pheromones are just being studied in humans; it is very easy for behavior to function without complete consciousness... as characterizes so much of my boodling.

But if you need a cookie or two, I'm not stopping ya!

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Take the blue pill, Joel.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 17, 2006 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I love the old John D. MacDonalds even before he got all curmudgeonly. 'Wine of the Dreamers' is available in all sorts of editions on the internet ranging in price from one buck (plus $3.50 S&H) to over $600. I need to pick up a reading copy of 'A Purple Place for Dying' as well, so maybe I can double down on the shipping. I picked up a jacketless copy of 'The Executioners' in Culpeper last week for just four bucks. I'm pretty sure I haven't read that one either, but I'll find out.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 17, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Yello... I love that bookstore in Culpeper. We try to get down to it every few months.

We took your blog's advice and visited Charmin's "Holiday Gift to New York City" yesterday. We weren't sure exactly where on Times Square to find it and then were suddenly hit with the obnoxious Charmin Song blasting out on the street. That's when we noticed the line.

We waited almost 15 minutes to use one of the 20 cleaned-after-each-use-by-a-human bathrooms. Then the kids insisted on posing for pictures in the blue-carpeted lounge.

I'd call it the #1 or #2 place in New York City!

Posted by: TBG | December 17, 2006 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Joel's column today made me once more wonder about yet another question that probably no one really cares about. It was Joel's references both to the "meat-brain" and to Star Trek that set it off. I've always assumed, having been raised by a scientist, that our consciousness is a product of the electrical field and connections made within the colloidial suspension Joel calls the "meat-brain." I recall Star Trek's Dr. McCoy disliked the transporter - and his reasons for so doing make me wonder about the nature of our "meat-brain" and its electrical field. McCoy believed when that "infernal machine" disassembled one, it did not simply reassemble one in another place -- it killed you in this place and created another person exactly like you in another place. Your atoms stayed in this place, now disassociated by the transporter which sampled your matter in order to replicate you using locally available matter elsewhere. No one including the copy could tell the difference, of course. But you, the "real" you, was dead. This new "you" wouldn't know that, and since things would go on as before, who cared? Bones did. So I've always wondered if anyone else also pondered whether the "real" you is unique to your "meat-brain" and its field and whether, should any attempt to transfer one's consciousness by transporter or other means actually work, the resulting transported consciousness could be anything but a simulacrum - never the real "you." Thus, throughout the history of science fiction and futorology, you see posited the transference of one's consciousness into computers, or into biological receptacles, clones, etc. The concern Bones had seems to me to be a valid philosophical question. Has anyone else pondered it? If no one, including the copy, can tell the difference, is there one? Are our minds inextricably tied to the exact matter of which our bodies are made? Or, if you will forgive me, is this all simply a matter of putting Descartes before the horse?

Posted by: WHF | December 17, 2006 9:36 PM | Report abuse

WHF-- look at identical twins. They are not completely identical down to their gene expression, just very similar, and it shows up in their personalities and thoughts.

And to answer your question, chaos theory says that even minute changes in the data input (say the exactness of the copy) can indeed have different outcomes.

If it was exact, and all aspects captured simulatenously, which is logically impossible due to Heisenberg's principle of uncertainity, which prohibits being able to track the exact movement AND location of submolecular particle by our present understanding of particle physics, which is that by definition to perceive something is to collide with it-- i.e. photons must bounce off the particles, atoms, etc., and even if energy was not traded by the photon and the particle in the process, momentum would be, like in a game of pool.

So basically, what you postulate by "copying", yes it will not work exactly. It cannot, given the rules of this universe as we know it.

It would seem inevitable in attempting to copy the electromagnetic field/meat-brain that countless tiny "mutations" would creep in as electrons were recreated in different positions than before. Whether the body would self-correct those or drift off on an unique direction cannot be known without the original for comparsion, and even that-- well that's overwhelmed by the sheer fact the two people couldn't be in the same location.

They'd be both themselves and they'd also be in the sudden situation of having identical twins that up to X minutes had the exact same mememories etc. as themselves, so the tests would have to center on memory recall, cognition, and other exercises.

Would there be any statistically important difference in the testing? I doubt it.

I doubt the transporter worked as Bones felt as it did. In any case, it was just a magic wand device to save money on shuttlepod special effects and create a lot of dramatic exits.

Besides if you watch ST:NG, especially the episode where Barclay is terrified of the transporter, you learn that the body in fact retains consciousness throughout the transport, although it is very brief normally. He was convinced he saw something when he transported, and he freaked out and finally tracked down the cause.

There was also an episode on Deep Space Nine where an engineer basically had been stuck in an transporter for a while and risked his signal/accuracy of his meat-brain degrading as the transporter cycled/lost power/memory to other functions.

Star Trek: Don't believe in its science, okay? Except tricorders. We do have the foundations of medical tricorder technology already, if we put it all together.


Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 9:54 PM | Report abuse

But then, it can be argued that Time destroys and creates the universe anew between every moment, so again, we're talking about the universe as we understand it. We don't know why Planck's limit exists or why the universe is not infinitely divisible or the speed of light infinite, and so on.

Philosophically, I would say that the new person is a continuation of the consciousness, not the same consciousness.

I know I'm not the same person I was this morning, let 20 years ago, but I am definitely a continuation of that person that I was. And I think I need to continue to bed, my toes want to be transported underneath a warm comforter.


Posted by: Wilbrod | December 17, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse


And I want a nice bedtime story, too! And not about people splitting apart, thank you. That gives me a headache.

If you want to know about true Cynic philosophy, here's an old dog saying:

"The smell is from you and tells about you, but it's not you yourself.
Yet if I follow it long enough, it becomes stronger and becomes you again."

And that's deep. You know?


Posted by: Wilbrodog | December 17, 2006 10:05 PM | Report abuse

yellojkt -- as long as it is John D. McDonald night, do you know the name of the book where a young girl jumps headfirst into a dingy and drifts up to Florida where she is taken in by a mentally slow guy who lives alone --- lots of description of the ocean, Florida, burning under the tropical sun, etc. I think the guy who finds her was a veteran who had been wounded. The boat she landed in (and sailed in) was something like the "Munuquita." And I later read that was the name of a real McDonald boat.

Posted by: nellie | December 17, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

This is the same B.S. we got all excited about in the dorm when we smoked a lot of dope and there weren't any girls around. The cure is just three words: Occam's razor, dude.

Posted by: david | December 17, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. What an interesting topic this kit. I had a hard time following the thinking on this, but did laugh at that last line, JA. Sounds like the computer has already got you, and I suspect us too.

Loomis, sorry about your aunt. And dmd, I hope your dad does okay, I will say a prayer for him and your family.

I left the Xmas dinner yesterday with a sore throat, and still have it this morning. It seems everytime I go out among people I pick up something, and it's usually something I don't want. Enjoyed the dinner as much as one can with a three-year old that's spilling, crying, trying to stand in the chair, all that.

As to the kit, we all realize that we are on the same road, no matter what it is we do in this life. And no matter what the future holds, we will all have the same outcome. Death. The Holy Scriptures state that we will stand before the judgement seat, and be judged by the Great Judge, Christ. So I guess my question is, what about those that don't believe? Can one be really sure that there is nothing after death?

All I know and believe is that the Scriptures tell us that Christ died, and He arose the third day. I'm counting on it.

Have a great day, folks. We are so close to Christmas and the end of another year. I am so glad that I met each of you, and that I get to talk to you each day. Thank you for all the kind words and deeds. Looking forward to the New Year with great expectations, and all of it includes my friends here. Remember, God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Morning, Mudge, and Error Flynn. And Nani.
What are you doing, Slyness. I have not read the article on the Graham family fiasco, what gives there?

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 18, 2006 5:02 AM | Report abuse

The Achenblog is a diagnostic and repair subroutine to identify, repair or delete damaged or corrupted units.
Think about it.
.
.
.
.
OK stop
Not like that.
Just remember what happened to [censored]
OMG

Posted by: Boko999 | December 18, 2006 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Happy Monday, Cassandra! (It's my LAST working Monday!)

The deal with the Grahams is that Billy's wife Ruth has prepared a burial plot in the mountains near where they live, but son Franklin wants them to be buried in Charlotte on the grounds of the Graham Library, which is to be a tourist attraction. No question in my mind that her wishes should be honored but the family is squabbling about it. Billy can't make up his mind. Sad, sad, sad.

Posted by: slyness | December 18, 2006 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Slyness enjoy your last day, and then have a wonderful holiday season.

Posted by: dmd | December 18, 2006 7:26 AM | Report abuse

My Travis McGee/JDM knowledge is very rusty and that is why I'm trying to refresh it. The Muñequita is the smaller faster boat Travis uses when he isn't on The Busted Flush, so it is probably one of the Travis McGee stories, although the Muñequita is also in 'The Last One Left'.

If we are going to engage in rank solipsism all day, I need to be mentally in the right state. Who's carryin'?

I'm also several boodles late so I prettied it up and put it on my blog. Here's my take on l'affaire McEwan:

http://livebythefoma.blogspot.com/2006/12/plagiarism-police-mcewan-vs-andrews.html

It's the first of a planned three part series, so stay tuned all week.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 18, 2006 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Nellie,

Based on the summaries on this website:

http://home.earthlink.net/~rufener/

the book you remember may be 'Darker Than Amber'. A girl gets thrown off a bridge and rescued by McGee, who is a veteran (Korean, but that gets murkier as the series gets longer).

Posted by: yellojkt | December 18, 2006 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Loomis and dmd, I'm thinking about you today.

I've had a good busy weekend, visiting friends and family, and preparing for next weekend's holidays.

Mudge, you wouldn't believe me now if I told you who I had in the Iggles - Giants game except to tell you that after the first meeting between those two teams this season, the Iggles obviously have the Giants number. I also think Reid is a better coach than Coughlin, FWIW.

I, too, was pleasntly surprised by Washington's defeat of NO, and believe that the game would not even have been as close as it was if Saunders would swallow his pride and call fewer sweeps, reverses, and receiver screens (that every other team expects), and went with more runs up the gut. Washington is most effective going straight ahead, not running around in the backfield like some Division II schhol.

Anyway, more thoughts on time and the nature of reality later, but I would point out that those that suffer "mental illnesses" such as schizophrenia can have a radically different reality than most other people. They process information from their perceptions of reality that substantiate their views and thinking.

Ah, have to put a child on the school bus then drive to work. More later, folks.

bc

Posted by: bc | December 18, 2006 8:16 AM | Report abuse

My kids are begging me to get them a dog. They claim that it would make a great Christmas present and they would be perfectly happy if a dog was the only gift under the tree.

My 4 year old has specs, "I don't want a fake dog. I want one that poops on the curb!"

My wife is in on it. she takes the kids to the pound to look over all the cats and dogs on death row. This turns me into The Big Fat Meanie because I'm the one who says "NO! NO! NO!" I refuse to even go to the pound as I was warned by my brother-in-law about this high pressure sales tactic.

I know how kids are. If we get a dog, the first week the children will fight over who gets to hold the leash during the daily walk. After 6 weeks, they will point to the other kid and say "It's his turn!" I've asked the wife & kids every night for the last 2 weeks if they would go for a walk with me. My 4 year old is the only one that has accepted the offer. The other 3 kids made up a buch of lame excuses.

Humph! they all want a puppy, but no one wants to go for a walk. Maybe it's me?

then last night a friend of mine called. He has a plane ticket to visit his nephew over the holidays...
and a big, black and white, extra fluffy dog. Yes, my back yard is fenced. Score!

thanks Wilbrod and Yoki for all the canine advice. I'll BoodlePop it for a refresher course.

Posted by: Pat | December 18, 2006 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Just saw this article about the 10 stories that went under the radar this year - quite interesting.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3652&page=0

Posted by: dmd | December 18, 2006 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Greetings and Salutations from the Year 2107. I don't know how long I can maintain this wormhole, so I shall have to make this message quick.

Life in 2107 is one of extremes and contradictions. Although the natural environment has been decimated, nature has come back strong. Squirrels, raccoons, and those insidious feral rabbits have developed fire, gang warfare, and home-owner associations. Mankind has retreated to well defended, though tastefully decorated, high rises where we spend most of our time plugged into the brainnet.

The brainnet is the ubiquitous virtual reality environment in which we interact with each other through our favorite historical characters. I mean, you haven't really lived until you have gone white water rafting with Genghis Kahn and Sir Isaac Newton. It is also the mechanism through which we manipulate the robotic avatars who do most of the actual work. And since most everything we value is contained within the brainnet, even that isn't too demanding.

Because of the brainnet, geography has become meaningless. Fighting over physical land has become silly since what really matters is RAM. Philosophical and religious disagreements are practically nonexistent since those of conflicting opinions simply switch to different carrier frequencies.

There are times when we get nostalgic about the past. About the ozone layer, and stationary beachfront property. But at times like this we look back upon that great 21st century artifact: The Codix Achenblog. We read the words of Joel Achenbach, We contemplate the responses thereof. We attempt to get a sense of the nature of that age, and the people who populated it.

And, by doing so, we start to feel a whole lot better about ourselves.

Posted by: RD Padouk (Mark 7) | December 18, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Note to TBG: Don't look for the obit. The current situation is similar to this now-decades-old story I did for the Tahoe Tribune:

Cleo Jenkins was the man caught behind he cake. And no one knew he was there.

Jenkins was one of four showroom captains at Harrah's who were invited to roll out the multi-tiered cake last December [1979] during the showroom's 20th anniversary celebration.

On stage were Sammy Davis Jr., Red Skelton, Nevada Gov. Robert List, the chairman of the board of Harrah's and the president of Harrah's. The four captains, who each had either 19 or 20 years of service in the showroom, pushed the cake on stage for the cutting ceremony, but somehow Jenkins got caught behind the giant confection.

My cousin would see this type of man as a simple waiter. I saw a life's story.

I spoke to Cousin Bill yesterday and offered my condolences, as well as help, if he wanted it, to write Aunt Carol's obituary.

Bill wore the LAPD Special Forces Homicide Detective badge. I think he sees his mother's job as purely secretarial. He sees her resume; I see her anecdotes. He thinks her obit should run in the small Vista, Calif. paper and a magazine for retired LAPD; I see her years of service within LAPD as worthy of the Los Angeles Times.

We had an argument a year ago about a poem I wrote about Laura Bush's trip to the Middle East. He e-mailed and asked how I came to receive the White House briefings. I laughed pretty hard. I e-mailed back and said that I had no special connections to the White House press corps or Scott McClellan, but simply read the Washington Post and New York Times every day.

I can't write the obit without his help because Aunt Carol had many great-grandchildren and I'm missing several other small facts, so the situation goes nowhere. I truly wish it were otherwise, for the sake of story.

Posted by: Loomis | December 18, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Slyness, congrats on your Final Monday. I am green with envy (and some guacamole I may have smeared on my shirt).

Oh, sure, for most of you guys it's back to the old grindstone for another work week, but down here in the 9th circle of hell it's much worse: my wife and I both have 10 a.m. appointments for massages, and then she'd got a manicure and pedicure, while I have a mojitocure. Then we go into town for a grueling afternoon of shopping, followed by an early dinner at Perico's. But first, a quick dip in the pool.

Good thing I'm a guy's guy, and can tough it out.

There's three stories on the WaPo home page that arroused my curmudgeonly ire, but I'll just have to deal with them later, perhaps after dinner when I may be a bit more mellow.

I suppose somewhere in Warshington the federal gummint is getting along without me, but somehow I just really don't give a rat's patoot.

Everyone have a nice day.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 18, 2006 10:15 AM | Report abuse

dmd,
The foreign policy links that you bring to the Boodle are fascinating. I found Doug Farah's blog this weekend and felt that I'd hit paydirt (placer gravels of good to strong profitability).

Did anyone catch kb's oblique reference to the Time magazine 2006 Person of the Year? It's "You."

Finishing Farah's book. Then it's on to Gary Bowersox's (have met and spoken with him) "The Gem Hunter." The Northern Alliance and Taliban and emeralds. The late WSJ reporter Danny Pearl and tanzanite. West Africa and conflict diamonds. The utterly, utterly clueless CIA. This precious gem side of the story as good as "Fiasco" and Rajiv's "The Emerald City."

Posted by: Loomis | December 18, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Please feel free to continue posting on ancestor simulations, but fyi, I have posted that French & Indian War story as a new kit.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 18, 2006 10:21 AM | Report abuse

'mudge,
These constant updates on the horrors you are experiencing make me want to mount a Boodle Rescue Party and save you from these continued indignities.

At the risk of disclosing a spoiler, the award winning novel 'Darwinia' relates to Joel's worries about just being inside a grand simulation.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 18, 2006 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Linda, danghippie broke that news about the Time Person of the year yesterday morning:

====
Also... congratulations Boodlers (and Joel, too). Time magazine has chosen "You" as the Person of the Year.

Linky here: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1569514,00.html

And my "dang hippie" blurb about it here: http://www.danghippie.com/

Posted by: martooni | December 17, 2006 10:44 AM
=========

Posted by: kbertocci | December 18, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

My thoughts and an imaginary hug to the two of you, LindaLoo and dmd. I had one of these ahha moments last night, re4garding about the only hold over holiday traditions that my siblings and I have. We all used to get together at my uncle's house and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. The annual challenge involved the commute my Aunt and Uncle had to make from Peawaukee (Wi.) to Palatine (Ill.), especially if there was snow. Grandma would come over from the nursing home and after a drink or two would spontaneously break into song, usually Jingle Bells. The children qwould be banished to the basement until we opened gifts. We are having our hold over gathering this Saturday at our place. I think it provides a measure of comfort in the absence of all that have passed on. I like to think that this slice of life is universally visible by our relatives.

Best wishes to you, Slyness, on the occaision of your new life.

Posted by: jack | December 18, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, boodlers! Just coming out of the haze of taking care of our 2-year-old (who had strep throat). And now it sounds like her Daddy's getting sick. As for me, as soon as the strep culture test came back on Thursday, I started popping Penecillin (left over from having my wisdom teeth removed earlier this year). I'm just fine!

Drink a margarita for me, Mudge, and ask for Patron in it! :-)

Interesting that the WaPo's top headline is the Episcopal Church split. My family has been Episcopal for generations, and I just got off the phone with my mother. Apparently when my grandparents lived in the D.C. area (when my mother was small), they attended Truro. And my grandparents had one of the pews in the reconstructed chapel dedicated to my great-grandparents. My mother was saying how disappointing the split is because she knows my grandparents wouldn't have voted for something like that. And neither she nor I ever will. I just hope that when the dust from the inevitable lawsuits settle, the Episcopal Church USA ends up with the property.

Posted by: PLS | December 18, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

You know, I've received a few emails from the future myself:

http://www.10thcircle.com/10/?p=97

And one that made me think of the universe as a sophisticated computer running a program, including scam spam email (note the first comment):

http://www.10thcircle.com/10/?p=126

And finally, the one year anniversary of the Boodle, as told from 50 years in the future:

http://www.10thcircle.com/10/?p=65

I'll be fun to think about the future if we can ever find out way out of the Holodeck, and can stop playing Ender's Game for a minute.

bc

Posted by: bc | December 18, 2006 10:34 AM | Report abuse

How do you know but that every bird that cuts the airy way is an immense world of delight, closed to your senses five?

Posted by: W. Blake | December 18, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

if you like the 'living in a simulation' subject, you may also like the wiki about Simulism at http://www.simulism.org

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Posted by: Armon | December 30, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting to think we might be living in a computer simulation: there's no way if we could ever tell if it was true, and we could never be certain of anything.

I've got a blog about this subject: http://www.ipod.org.uk/reality/reality_big_brother.asp

Posted by: Andrew Thomas | January 2, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

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