Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Anatomy of a Sye TenB Debate

If you don't know what it's like to actually have to go through a debate with Sye, let me fill you in.

It goes a little something like this.....

NOTE1: (you can see my actual debate on the post below this "My Debate with Sye TenB", and listen to the video at the same time. It's a wonderfull experience. Or, to increase your experience even more, you can try going HERE, in which case you won't get the video, but the feel is the same.)

NOTE2: (Yes, that's Sye in the light purple berret trying to avoid defining and arguing for his premise. And yes, that's logic as a horde of people chasing him down as he crashes and burnes, and finally seeks refuge on a mountain top.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Systemic Truth vs. Absolute Truth

UPDATE 3/6/10:

I'm reworking this post for various reasons.

In the meantime, the thread arguments can be found --->HERE<--- Which still contain the essence of what was being stated in this post, with some more added.

You can also go --->HERE, "On the Invalidity of Absolute Truth"<---

Zen and Training Wheels

About a year ago now I taught my daughter how to ride her bike. Actually I take that back, I didn’t really teach her anything. I suppose you could say I tried to teach her about balance, I even had her get off her bike and stand on one foot, “see, that’s balance”. I told her to keep her head strait, her shoulders strait, I put my finger on forehead and demonstrated that where-ever I pushed her head, her body would follow; this was supposed to somehow demonstrate that the head follows the body.

Of course my daughter didn’t get any of these things, she simply continued to cry and I continued to hold her seat while we went back and forth in the school parking lot. Finally I submitted to the fact that no amount of my talking was going to open the gate to some great understanding about bike riding, she was simply going to have to figure it out for herself. You see, you can’t head out to Barnes & Nobel, pick up a good book on bike riding techniques and expect to A.) understand and B.) proceed to go out afterwards and get er’ done.

Of course once she got it, completely on her own by the way, she understood everything I was trying to tell her about balance, keeping her head and shoulders strait and whatever other garbage I was flinging at her. The path to God is paved in much the same way, except for the fact that the journey will take a whole hell of lot more out of you then the couple weeks it may take you to ride the bike. The bottom line however is simple, no-one can tell you how it’s done, no-one can demonstrate for you the techniques, when you are hungry I cannot eat for you. You have to find your path to understanding balance, all I can do (in this circumstance as a father) is open the proper doors such that there are as few obstacles as possible on your trip up the mountain. Once again, if you are hungry all I can do at best is set the food before you, you have to put it in your mouth.

One can not expect to open up a textbook on God (lets say the Bible) and expect to find God there. You cannot expect to open up the pages of D.T. Suzuki and be walking with the Masters. God is simply nowhere there to be found. I will say though, that once you do find God then you will most certainly understand what Suzuki is saying, you’ll understand what St. Paul was saying, you’ll understand why Jesus died on the cross and you’ll understand what Confucius said when he stated, “when I was 15 I studied hard, and when I was 30, I knew where to stand.”

It is a common saying in Zen:
Before Zen, the mountains were mountains, during Zen the mountains were not mountains, and after Zen the mountains were mountains again.

There comes a time when you leave your child behind and begin living. And there comes a time when you begin living that you start thinking about living and what it means to live; it is in this circumstance most often that the mountains are no longer mountains. A monk approached the Zen Master Joshu and said, “Teach me master”, to which the master responded, “have you eaten your rice pudding?”, the monk replied, “yes I’ve eaten,” and the Master responded, “don’t you think you should wash your bowl.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Love the F*** Word

“Grammatically, “f**k” can be anything. It can be a noun (“That was one screaming f**k I got last night!”); or a verb (“I f**ked the shit out of that bitch all night long!”); it can be an adjective (“She says he’s a virtual f**king machine!”); it can be an adverb (“That’s one f**king bad haircut you got today at the mall.); it need not even have sexual connotation (“That’s a lot of f**king crap you’ve got there!”). It can mean something good (“I really got f**ked last night!”); or, it can mean something bad (“I really got f**ked last night!”); it makes for a great interjection (“F**k! I can’t find my keys!). It also functions well as an interruption (“Outf**kingrageous!” or “I underf**kingestimated what an ass-hole you can be!”). This tells us nothing about the etymology of the word; it is just a commentary on the impressive range of usages the word has acquired over time. To cover all the theories on the history of this word would be to write its own book, which I’m sure has been done, and probably done badly. It would be hard—if even possible—to do it well.

The Dictionary of American Slang (1960) gives as the primary meaning of the word: “[taboo] To Cheat, trick, take advantage of, deceive, or treat someone unfairly.” It goes on to offer this as an explanation of the relationships between fraud and sex: “All slang meanings of ‘f**k’ and all ‘f**k’ expressions, of course, derive consciously or unconsciously from the old and standard but taboo ‘f**k’ = sexual intercourse. All slang meanings and expressions were widely used in W.W. II military units, became part of the slang vocabulary of many veterans, and spread from them to students and friends. This coupling with the lessening of moral standards and taboos, including linguistic taboos, during and after the war, has contributed to…” blah, blah, blah. To tell you the truth, I have no idea what any of that just meant!

From the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Edition (2005) we learn that “f**k” came into the English language by slipping through the Indo-European back door and surfacing as the Germanic word fuk. It goes on to explain that the word took its derivation from the classical Latin root pug, from the verb pugnare, which means “to fight”—generally with one’s fists, scrapping it out in the dirt, as it were (which can’t help but put one in mind of the old Lennon/McCartney song Why Don’t We Do It in the Road). This is an interesting theory, and we might give it some (though cautious) credence. At the very least, they are correct in that the root of the word “f**k” is classical, but it’s not Latin, nor pugnacious in any way.
The simple truth is that “f**k”—obviously one of the oldest words in the language—if not the world—dates back to nearly the birth of writing, back when our ancestors were barely up on their feet, still hunting and gathering. It comes from the Greek verb φυω (say: “foo-owe”), and its Greek root is phu. It’s an agricultural term. It means, literally, to plant seeds—what a farmer does—dropping seeds into a furrow of soil. When adopted by the Romans, its Latin root changed from phu to fu, and the noun fututio soon became part of Roman vernacular.”
The “Old In Out”

Fututio is an example of what linguists refer to as a “frequentative.” That is, a word that describes repeated action—which is the nature of dropping seeds into a furrow, one after another, after another. It’s also a big part of the act of “f**king”—if you’re doing it right! It takes often considerable repetition to get those seeds to spurt out. Soon, the Roman elegiac poets got hold of the word at a time when erotic love poetry was all the rage in Rome, and fututio became a metaphor for planting a “particular” kind of “seed” in a “specific” kind of “furrow.” This literary debauchery—what the American Dictionary of Slang calls “linguistic tabooism”—began with Catullus in the first century b.c. and then was taken up by his successors, Propertius, Tibullus and Ovid. When it came to elegy, Ovid was king. Among the many books of poetry that Ovid wrote was one called the Ars Amatoria or the Art of Love, a poem whose main theme is how to pick up chicks in ancient Rome. It’s really a scream, but it, and others like it that came from Ovid’s stylus, were considered too vulgar and ultimately offensive to the emperor Augustus (who was certainly not one to preach about promiscuity given his own reputation!), so he had poor Ovid—who at the time was already in his mid fifties—exiled to an army camp on the southern Steppes of Russia by the shores of the Black Sea, where he would spend the rest of his life. You could say this about Augustus—he really f**ked Ovid!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

(My Boy) Zen & the Childs Mind

I love this picture of my son. It's completely candid, he has no idea I'm there let alone taking a picture. Of course he was just sitting there playing but he looked up for just a second (there was noise or something off in the distance) and I got the shot.

Without knowing any of that though, the picture gives off this idea of meditation, focus, peace, and serenity (for me anyway). You have no idea what's going on. In his head he's perhaps simply in the middle of enjoying the pail of sand he has there, and the piece of chalk he has between his legs when his focus is jolted by something.

I tend to believe that children embody the essence of Zen because they are untainted by the intellect. A child at play is thoughtless outside his/her current actions; they are completely wrapped up in life for life’s sake. At some point in life we realize that we lost something so we run off in search for God. I tend to believe that what we eventually find is not God, but that Child; who somehow knew what life was all about…

Monday, July 07, 2008

Death and Tomorrow

Man1 – “What happens when you die?”
Man2 – “Hm, let me ask you this. What’s going to happen tomorrow?”
Man1 – “I don’t know?”
Man2 – “Well why not?”
Man1 – “I have a good idea what may happen tomorrow, but I don’t have any definite plans, anything could happen in between.”
Man2 – “With all your vast experience you cannot even predict tomorrow. How can one predict the happenings in death?”
Man1 – “But is there a heaven or a hell?”
Man2 – “I don’t suppose it matters much.”
Man1 – “But if there is, shouldn’t you do what is necessary to avoid the latter?”
Man2 – “Does one not prepare today what is necessary for tomorrow?”
Man1 – “Not necessarily.”
Man2 – “Do you not prepare your bed for sleep – your dishes for a meal – your equipment for the work?”
Man1 – “I guess I do those things, but how do I know what is right and what is wrong?”
Man2 – “If your sins leave a consequence for tomorrow, do you not try to avoid it?”
Man1 – “I don’t understand?”
Man2 – “Kill a man today, and suffer the consequences tomorrow. Do not leave yourself to suffer in death what one does not leave himself to suffer in life. What happens in death happens in death, these things we do not know. One should not ask such questions....." "If ones only worry is suffering in hell, then he lives on the hope to repent the following day. However if one understands Zen in the morning, it will be well with him if he dies in the evening."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

On Selfishness

There are not many words in the English language that I dislike more then this one; mostly because, I question its authenticity.

First, how is selfishness judged? I would suggest that we do so objectively. We look at a person’s acts, and if they seem to benefit only themselves in the face of others, we consider it selfish. That seems rather unfair to me. Does the object truly match what’s going on in the subject? I’m not convinced.

What about the things that we consider selfless, what are the natures of these acts? I suppose donating to charity would be considered selfless, or perhaps giving your time to another for a given reason, (this can come in many forms). Lets simply say selfless is the donating of yourself in one way shape or form to the benefit of someone or something else. I question what lies at the bottom of a self less act, for example:
One chooses to donate to charity – why? I can think of a couple reasons, 1.) it makes the person feel good, 2.) Social pressure, 3.) Moral obligation…..
If it makes you feel good to donate your time and money, how is that a selfless act? Are you not servicing your own desire to feel good inside and therefore being selfish? If you bow to social pressure are you not servicing that felt obligation in order to relieve whatever tension it causes internal, and again, is that not selfish? Many people LOVE nonprofit work, in many cases they feel good about themselves that they’re making a difference, again, selfish. Simply because someone is benefiting from your acts does not necessarily mean you aren’t servicing internal desires and pressures.

So we judge people by calling them selfish if they don’t happen to feel good about giving money and time. We say you’re selfish if you feel no need to relieve social obligations (perhaps some are more sensitive to social pressure then others, or perhaps they never learned to be sensitive to it – this doesn’t make one a bad person. The fact that one does not feel good is simply unfortunate, in the end we’re all equally selfish, and we all equally service our internal needs and emotions. One man is cheap, yet another man is giving, but I say they’re both equally selfish. As people however, we like the ones that benefit us the most, and that makes us selfish.

The bottom line, selfishness is a term we use to point out what we don’t like in other peoples actions. It’s judgmental, hypocritical and just plain wrong. Although “wrong” is another word I have a problem with.

A short anecdote from my kids:
My kids are no different then anyone else. When they’re playing with they’re toys they often times observe the other with something that they suddenly decide they want, so they take it. Immediately following this the other begins crying, so you step in and say share, and make them give the toy back for a short period of time. The funny thing is, the toy they took is often times one they just put down because they were bored with, or something they never play with anyway. I often wonder if what’s going on in they’re heads isn’t, “Hm, it looks like he’s really having fun with that, that must mean I can have fun with it too, I want it,” or perhaps, “He’s having fun with that, I’m going to ruin it.” Children don’t have that idea of social obligation, politeness, so on. They don’t have the burden of needing to service those needs, so they do what they please regardless of the crying sibling who just lost a toy – afterall, now they’re having a blast.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

P. 1. Quality, Wives & Furniture Moving

I work in a custom manufacturing environment; for the sake of this topic, we simply make customized widgets based on specified customer needs. There is a base/standard widget of course, which all customized product is derived from. So for example a customer may want to change feature A, B, C, D…… so on.

Within a manufacturing environment today there this idea of “Continuous Improvement”; what this essentially entails is continuous changing of a process for the sake of added quality and productivity bonuses. The interesting thing about this whole process is the salaries paid to the individuals (continuous improvement engineers) and the manner in which they attribute the improved quality and productivity.

For example: An engineer may decide to change the flow of a line or workstation due to a given quality problem (lets say that the standard widget was seeing manufacturing issues with feature “A” every 100000 per million, or 10%). So the eng. Gets the operator/assembler some new tools, re-organizes the workstation and like magic, quality gets better, not to mention increased productivity from that cell/work area. The engineer proclaims that the additions and changes he made improved quality as a direct result of specific things he did. This tool helped fix this, moving the manufacturing line in this manner helped improve that. This is all vary vague I know, but simple enough.

I say, this is strait bullshit on the part of the engineer, yet it is scooped up heartily by manufacturing managers and the like. The fact of the matter is, no one really knows what’s going on, although they think they do.

Wives and furniture moving:
Like most wives I suspect, mine likes to rearrange our furniture from time to time. I suppose she simply gets bored of it after a while, and the change adds a new freshness to the house. I can’t rightly disagree with this I guess, as funny things tend to happen to me the weeks following the move. Like the birth of a new man I become tidier, picking up after myself where ever I leave a mess. The change tends to awaken in me a sense of the way things were when first moved in I suppose. Having the changed perspective of the television on another wall, the smell of pledge and some fresh pictures of the children tell me we need to keep this neat.

It never lasts though, as time passes by the freshness that once was passes and we (mostly me) fall back into my usual patterns of untidiness.

The Hawthorne Effect:
After thinking over these things I came upon this study, which was done at a plant called Hawthorne Works. In effect the study entailed going into a manufacturing facility and making mundane changes; perhaps it was dimming the lights, brightening the lights, shortening the work day, and then changing it back. It didn’t matter whether the change was positive or negative per se, any change would increase productivity and quality.

The conclusion was essentially that, A.) People felt that they were being treated special, B.) They had a supervisor who cared, C.) Perhaps they’re being watched.

The vary act of paying attention to individuals, changing they’re environment, is a refocus and an added freshness. This has great psychological impact on an individual and they simply, most often unconsciously, do a better job. Or in my case, keep my messes cleaned up.

So back to my manufacturing environment:
The engineer is doing nothing but paying attention, or in the least giving the impression that attention is paid. You could hire a good babysitter and back patter for far less then $80,000 a year. I could even send my wife over to move some furniture around I suppose.

The issue at hand isn't so much that there's something wrong with the process of doing something, but that we're dealing with people. of course people, unlike machines, get bored, lazy, and psychologicaly battered in the repitition of the day to day. In manufacturing we're carefull not to deal with and blame people. It's always stated that there's something wrong with the "system", and when that's dealt with and improvement is seen we all feel justified that it isn't the people.......

P.2. The System in the Woods, Memory and Intuition

I once remarked to my boss after he stated that we needed to make some changes to our system due to failing quality, "So was there a guy just wandering through the woods one day when he tripped on a System?"........ TO BE CONTINUED

Friday, July 04, 2008

M. Ward, O'Brien


We’ve all slowly evolved into the cold isolation of tiny boxes, where in some cases days are spent peering out it’s portholes into the world outside. Sweat and stain fill a pile of cloths and linen which lay secretly tucked away in a wicker container somewhere in a corner. Stale beer and the smell of smoke fill another room, along with a depressive essence that somehow remains; it lingers heavily on the wrists and tugs down at your spine.

The scatterings of books, writings, disjointed thoughts and musings of useless ideologies fill a hollow space in a cramped room. A lifeless wall of light creates a vacuum that will soon absorb the sole for countless hours. The beginnings of a sort of social prostitution are on the horizon, an a-personal mental self loathing and intellectual masturbation are taking place; enough that, even in this instance one feels a hint of guilt when it’s all over.


Walk into a room of people and begin blathering on about the nature of metaphysics and it will soon become clear that perhaps you should have first broke the ice with idol chat about the weather. This sort of social prostitution doesn’t work out so well if you have to look a man in the eye. Better you hide out then, run away to your little corner.


Computer monitors have become a substitute for living. They receive our opinions without regard to content or social order and structure. They allow us to call other men idiots and revel in our own might before even knowing the passions of another. Our thoughts are often times dispassionate and are not necessarily a reflection of our love for life, family, and meaning.

I imagine the field of cyberspace is much like a playground full of children; where in this case children often brush off small talk and social pleasantries. They are interested only in what worth you can bring to them in the form of excitement, and if one does not have anything to offer then you become ridiculed and ignored. You end up occupying a small pile of dirt in the far corner of a field, kicking a can and pretending to be self amused.


There is an unassuming fuel and food station in a small town of 585 people where old men come to gather in the morning. Stepping in pie-eyed and wiping the grease from you’re forehead there they sit. They’re farmers, everyday they come to talk over they’re toiling, exchange hardships, and laugh about meaninglessness. It makes you smile to see them there, in that moment they may as well be Godless because of course, God is the last thing on they’re minds. They smile, wave, say howdy, and you quickly grab your gallon of milk and cigarettes and get the fuck out there; you go home then, back to your pile of dirt.


Man is a lover, he is a fighter, he has a brow that was meant to sweat and hands that were meant to grab hold of life, not just tap on it. His legs were meant to run and be free and his nose to smell the freshness of untainted air. His arms were meant to hold those that he loves, to feed them, and to bring them up. So step away from your dirt piles and mingle amongst the peoples, speak of meaningless things and engage in meaningless games. This is you’re lot in life.