Midterms

As we (in the US) inch closer to the Midterms, it is our responsibility as citizens to disallow the politicians of their seemingly incurable appetite to ignore those issues that truly make a difference in our quality of life.

Those issues are different for each of us. Don’t be afraid, don’t blow it off, don’t forget, Vote!

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It’s a fake!

I have concluded that “trust” is an illusion. A comforting story that we tell ourselves in order to cope with the actual state of being – complete and total uncertainty. Perhaps it is overly pessimistic to think in these terms, but you truly cannot even rely on the ground beneath your feet, given earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, etc. Yes, these things are quite appropriately called “disasters” and are infrequent, nevertheless, they do happen.

More to the point, “trust” between people is the most glaring of illusions. Unless science develops a way to read each and every electrical signal in someone’s brain, knowing, for a fact, that individual’s true thoughts and intentions is never going to be possible.

This is complicated even more by the tendency people have to operate by desire, or whim, rather than careful consideration of consequences and repercussions. Now, there are sets of consequences, and unique consequences. A unique consequence might be stubbing a toe due to a lack of attentiveness while on the way to the bathroom at 5am. A set of consequences might be additionally falling over, hitting your head, then being late to work, or even worse, in the emergency room and unable to pay the bill.

Regardless of what someone tells you, or what they might indicate, until the act is completed, you can never truly be sure what they will do, or how they will behave.

Pain, in contrast to “trust”…that is a certainty. At some point, in every person’s life, there will be pain, perhaps minor, maybe gargantuan. The true measure of the soul, though, seems to be how one reacts to this pain. Do you turn it into suffering, or do you strive to make things as good as they can be, or at the very least, as bearable as they need to be in order to live with some modicum of sanity.

Whatever the case, betrayal causes needless pain, pain that can be easily avoided by making intentions fully clear and explicit. But without those explicit intentions, there is never really anything that deserves the word “trust”.

Puerto Rico

There have barely been whispers about PR since the news of the hurricane covered the papers, web, and cable. However, anyone who pays attention knows that there was recently a studied published by Harvard that suggests over 4500 people died as a result of the Maria, and the aftermath. Even if this number is double the accurate figures, it’s still astronomical when compared to the official numbers.

The lack of coverage in favor of more petty and inconsequential drivel is not a symptom of the culture at large, if anything, it is the cause. Giving people a steady diet of crap that ignores people in need, serious, severe, actual suffering is the literal recipe to create apathetic and increasingly narcissistic individuals.

This is not a claim of moral superiority, this is a cry for help. Not help for me, but help for those in need…the homeless, the veterans, the victims of natural disasters, abused children and spouses. Let the social and political fools beg and plead for your attention, do not give it to them willingly, do not surrender your will, or your conscience

Careful, careful

When discussing ideas, one must be sure not to discuss ideas that find their roots in superstition and faith with the hope or expectation of a rational or logical conclusion.

There is no reason to expect some that refers to themselves as a “believer” to want to have that belief questioned, or at the very least examined by an “outsider”, a “non-believer”. I try to be very careful with this word “believe”, as it seems to assume acceptance without verification…only slightly different than “faith”. Perhaps the distinction is something only I find important, or bother to distinguish. At any rate, I will elaborate below.

I was discussing a myriad of things with a colleague last week. Topics from sports, to chess, to career goals….the topic of belief tiptoed its way into the conversation. I, having enjoyed only a few adult beverages, made a statement that I now regret; “Lilith was Adam’s first wife.” This seemingly innocuous aside lead to a two hour discussion about religious texts which ended in me attempting to explain why I do not have a “belief system”…I failed. Perhaps it was the beers, perhaps it was my exhaustion from the week, or perhaps it was the intractable nature of my colleague’s belief that seems grounded in a personal experience that he says shaped his entire world view. During the discussion I tried to elicit an explanation from him as to why his accepted religious texts were more correct, or the only correct ones, given the sheer volume of religious texts that exist in the world. His statement was fairly predictable “because it’s true.”

Not only do I regret that at times the discussion was contentious, I regret that I involved myself in a discussion where the outcome was not only so painfully predictable, but one that was at its core, completely pointless.

Travel Map

I travel for work. I recently tried to figure out everywhere I’ve been and thought I’d post a little map. I might make updates whenever I happen to remember.

Key: Blue = a week or more; Gold = months or years (lived there)

I know it’s a fairly low-rent map, but hey, it works. Also, it doesn’t include overseas locations, which I might add at some point.

Black Panther Alphabet

What I have to say is completely unrelated to the writing, acting, or production value of the movie. All of which I enjoyed. But as a connoisseur of writing systems, I feel as though I should at least give my views on this one aspect of what was, in fact, a great movie.

David Peterson has already covered the fact that the real world language Xhosa is used for Wakanda. So I will leave that alone, except to say that Xhosa has clicks and other features that many languages lack.

Wakandan is an alphabet designed by production designer, Hannah Beachler, for use in the 2018 film Black Panther. It is based on Nsibidi, a system of symbols used in southeastern Nigeria between about 400 and 1400 AD. In the film the script is used to transliterate English text in the credits and other on-screen text. Other symbols that appear on clothes, wall hangings, and other elements in the film, were inspired by Nsibidi, cave drawings and graffiti in Los Angeles.”

So, the geography is all wrong. Based on the Marvel Wiki’s map, and the earliest mention of Wakanda’s location, it’s toward the East and centrally situated between north and south. Relatively far from Nigeria where the Nsibidi script originates.

Now, to the style of the script. I realize the aesthetics for this movie were kept broad, in a sort of Pan-African style, but the entry here talks about “Nsibidi, a system of symbols used in southeastern Nigeria”, which has a modern alphabet and expanded symbols which are sometimes still used. The Xhosa language, spoken in the film has 10 vowels and over 60 consonants. This means that the simple 26 letter cipher-bet used is wholly insufficient. Aesthetically, the script created for the film does not exactly resemble the actual Nsibidi system, never mind the fact that the Nsibidi system is an ideography. By comparison, if I made a fictional Dragon character from a region somewhere in Southeast China, and had them use something that resembles the Tibetan alphabet…that might be as bad as this.

It’s cases such as these that I wish people would simply say that they made something they thought looked good for the project, or matched the aesthetic they were hoping for, rather than loosely tying it to something so different in so many ways. The script isn’t even appealing aesthetically. It’s far too block-ish to fit the overall style of the film, and whoever thought it needed upper and lower case letters needs to spend a day reading about how rare those are in natural writing.

Omyatloko presentation

I’ve been editing a new omyatloko (.pdf) presentation page to go along with the new glyphs and radical system. I would like any and all feedback that any one might have. Thank you.