Friday, October 19, 2007

Yes, I know?

I'm afraid I don't know very much, despite the advantages I've had in education and experience. I've learned a lot of names of things and read a lot of books, but the things I feel I know best aren't the things my head has learned. They are the things my heart has learned. I trust my reason most of the time, but I probably trust my feelings more when it comes to knowledge of things that reason or science hasn't yet proven.

It is said that man's distinct advantage over other animals is language, yet many animals have complex communication skills like us (whales, dolphins, even ants and bees, for example). It is also said that man alone can reason. Well, maybe. We can try to confirm our hunches and to avoid known fallacies through Greek logic, inductive and deductive (and I don't think whales and dolphins, ants and bees have had the pleasure). But what is invented by man to try to organize our thoughts logically is, well, still invented by man, isn't it. It's not really knowing.

The Eastern mind relies much less on rational thought and much more on intuitive grasp, on perceptive rather than reasoned truth. In that sense, Zen and Tao are much closer to what I mean by "knowing" things with my heart, or "trusting my feelings." As creatures we can reason, but we can also feel. Surely there is a function for each faculty as part of our biological and survival equipment; neither ought to be totally suppressed by the other.

But again it is said, reason must ultimately be the master over feeling, for the latter can mislead. Our feelings are after all based on our perceptions, which can be faulty--even dead wrong. To follow our feelings blindly can lead to disastrous actions. Well, maybe that's true. Many's the time I've found out my "take" on a situation was really wrong, especially when I thought I knew someone's intentions or motives but totally misread them. And the most insidious thing about strong feelings is that they tend to be self-justifying: "I feel so strongly that such and such is true, so it surely must be so." That's when reason and evidence needs to assert itself. Feelings are the result of what we interpret to be true, not the evidence, and not the cause. But reason, similarly, can be incomplete or faulted. It is at least limited, for all our faith in it. I suspect we as creatures simply cannot really Know much of anything, absolutely.

Since neither reason nor feelings are totally reliable all the time. I guess each has to be tempered with the other, and if reasons can't always be found for feeling a certain way, it doesn't mean they don't exist, only that they're not yet discovered. Similarly, if reasons or evidence for a certain conclusion aren't supported with the feelings of the heart, it doesn't mean that the heart's response isn't valid, only that caution is needed. The important thing, I think, is to try to keep the mind--and the heart--open to change, and to recognize that what we think we know isn't always the full story. We all see through a glass darkly. And when we close the circle on truth and don't permit change, that's when we get into trouble.

Monday, October 08, 2007

and on the seventh day...

Even God got to rest after creating the world for six days. Not me. I've been going nonstop for nearly two weeks now trying to reconfigure and reinstall tons of hardware and software on these blankety-blank computers trying to fight every verschnizle the hackers and their corporate counterparts throw at me in their ever-more-Byzantine OS's.

It began when my cams server went down and I couldn't get a reinstall to fix it, even after reinstalling Windows. So I went deeper to a clean reformat as is my wont, foolish though it may be. And the further I scrubbed the hard drive clean, the more problems I created. Since that time I have simultaneously tried to piece that functionality together on three different machines, all with the same negative results.

So far I've bought a new cheap-o E-Machines desktop, failed to get past the Vista blockages, failed to get my video capture program to run, and taken it back. I've also tried to resurrect the old Dell by reinstalling XP and still failed to make my program run. Tried a new video capture card and many reinstallations, user forum advice, attempted fixes from far and wide, to no avail.

Ah, the hapless consumers. We're caught in the middle of a war of cataclysmic proportions. The virus-creators and trojan-mutators vs. the frantic attempts to keep them out of our computers by the security police, aka hardware and software engineers.

How much operating system code is commandeered for this battle, I wonder? It's got to be over half the total, and every new version that comes out ups the ante. What's it all for? So one side or the other can play "gotcha!"? Is it really all about security, or is it maybe about ego as well? Who's da Ubergeek? It all reminds me of the endless military weapons escalation, the perfect armor-piercing bullet, cyber-speaking, vs. the perfect tank armor to stop it.

I've never been able to understand what is the "rush" for some sick mind who's compelled to design a computer virus. There's no money motive, usually, but the perp must get something out of it. Is it just a sophisticated version of cow-tipping, window-soaping, or other juvenilia of less technological days? Is it just for the private chortle? Maybe it's just for the sake of the game; I can defeat your best attempts to stop me. Oh no you can't.

Of course in the middle of all the fuss, I lost my access to my school email. It seems they glitzed up the website and moved some things around, and in the process required that we all reset our passwords. And how did they notify us what they were doing? With emails, of course. And who couldn't get the word because he couldn't access his email? I think it's called Catch-22. It's also called the modern world.