Feelings of absolute certainty and utter conviction are not rational deliberate conclusions; they are involuntary mental sensations generated by the brain. Like other powerful mental states such as love, anger and fear, they are extraordinarily difficult to dislodge through rational arguments. Just as it's nearly impossible to reason with someone who's enraged and combative, refuting or diminishing one's sense of certainty is extraordinarily difficult. Certainty is neither created by nor dispelled by reason.
As in his book, Burton has suggestions for how we can sort out some useful facts from our bundle of impressions, prejudices and preconceptions.
One of Michigan's two Art-O-Mats found a new home in Ann Arbor last night, at the mysterious and wonderful Libert Street Robot Supply and Repair, the storefront for 826michigan, a nonprofit tutoring and writing center for students ages 6 to 18. Follow the 826 link for more information about the 826 mission, which is also presently active in San Francisco, Brooklyn, Venice, Seattle, Chicago and Boston. It was a wild and noisy night, as the event coincided with the Rolling Sculpture Car Show. You can see some of the cars through the windows of the space. Take a spin with the 'bots, and see more after the bump~
The robot in the window displays faces of the young writers.
Just so you know, i would NEVER make a robot cry.
And here is the robot of the evening (with me in his mirror), Greeny.
See more mad 'bots after the jump`
While catching up on the speculation and angst about the theft of seven dolls from the NY Dolpa over the weekend (no links because they're all from the reg-required doll boards - if you visit Den of Angels you can't miss the news), i came across something unrelated, except in as much as it's related to everything about our species.
In a generally brilliant post on Den of Demons, LizzEGirlE, after comparing Mr. Shigeta's reality distortion field to that of Steve Jobs, said Pat Henry (editor in chief of FDQ and co-host of the Dolpa) was in her monkeysphere.
So i followed the link to this terrific piece, and thought, "oh, you mean Dunbar's number", which IS a pretty good explanation for just about any human behavior you might otherwise be unable to suss, even if the actual 'sphere' capacity humans have is still being debated . Who are we connected to, not so much in daily experience, but in our own minds? Why can't understandably saddened doll hobbyists see that there are no comparisons to be drawn between the pilferage of several thousand dollars worth of resin and the Tokyo stabbings? And why does a southern collector believe this wouldn't have happened in a 'safe' city like Atlanta? Why do so many Hillary Clinton supporters think Barack Obama is running for president solely to prevent a woman from doing so? Why does every big disaster story lead with the local angle, no matter how insignificant to the event?
What i most enjoyed about David Wong's piece was his what-do-we-do-about-it wrap-up. The skinny is, we can't fix how we're made, but we can train ourselves to be suspicious of simple answers, and compassionate toward what we perceive as hypocrisy in others. When he mocks human society for malfunctioning because its interdependence and reach exceeds the 150 (or 250) limit, i wonder, do we actually have just one circle, with Dunbar's small, medium and large spheres of relationship stability? Following Wong's hilarious examples, it reminds me that the edges of our circles of interest blend with those of many others... i suspect we humans shift between overlapping spheres of relationship, based on various equally important layers of allegiance and membership, all jostling for primacy. i'm suspicious of all theories-of-everything, but enjoy any practical tools for navigating a world with increasingly clashing worldviews.
Do you laze about on Sunday morning, listening to tedious pundits spinning their usual predictable spew? i confess that i often do. Instead of fuming and talking back to the television, here are some really inspiring words from Bill Moyers yesterday at the 2008 National Conference For Media Reform in Minneapolis. He sets the framework, and spells out why you should care about this conference, then take a spin through all the clips. i doubt you'll tire of the diverse messages, and funny Fox News footage where the conference is outed by Bill O'Reilly as the "craziest far left" people in America!
You are implored not to miss Lawrence Lessig's address on the connection between government corruption and media reform. He gives the tightest presentation i've seen yet on how we need to prioritize our fight to rescue our democracy. You can see more at Change Congress.
Another near miss, my brother alerted me to Make Magazine 13, which has a great piece by Gareth Branwyn on the rocketry of scientist/magickian Jack Parsons. As Keith knows, i'm kind of obsessed with Parsons, and this is a great introduction to the geeky side of Jack. Much of the research came from George Pendle's Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons, which is one of two Parsons bios. Like Aleister Crowley, he really needs to be viewed by more than one biographical perspective, so i'd also recommend the pseudonymous Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, for the big picture. Parson's own writings, Freedom Is A Two Edged Sword, is currently out of print, but you can read good samples around the web, like right here.
The coolest thing for me about Branwyn's article is the fantastic "Rocket Scientist of Satan!" comic book cover by friend of Clea's Cave and Dr. Strange superfan Howard Hallis. You can see this 2003 lenticular digital collage amusingly animated here. Prepare to wander his website for a while... and do not miss The Picture Of Everything.
- How was yours? If you unfortunately missed it, Here is a good assortment of After Action Reviews by people who actually did something. i had a pretty good time for not doing much worth blogging about. This convention just keeps getting better.
If you missed the fun, you can rectify this by keeping your eye on penguicon.org, where registration for Penguicon 6.0, tentatively set for April 18-20, 2008, will soon begin. See you there!