The Occupy Wall Street movement.

Thousands of people at the Occupy Cal strike, listening to Robert Reich speak.

The most succinct descriptor I have for the Occupy movement is that I believe it is a necessary evil.

There are a lot of different ways that I can view this movement, and since its inception (and I don’t mean  I  N  C  E  P  T  I  O  N ) I have found it difficult to determine what my stance on it really is. So many conflicting perspectives. Idealist me likes the concepts of social reform and accountability, and progression towards socialism from capitalism. Pessimistic me is upset at the protesters because they are stupid and annoying and have a false sense of entitlement. Mathematician / computer scientist me would prefer if the movement were better organized and had a clearly defined purpose. Civil Engineer me realizes that despite how nice optimization of the movement would be, on such a large scale absolute optimization is unfeasible and the way it is now might be the best we can realistically expect. Nihilistic me says I don’t really care anyways. Humanist me says that maybe I should care more than I do.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, at heart, Occupy Wall Street (henceforth OWS) is about a clash of perspectives. I suppose that is what most protests and social movements are about. It is hard for one with power to understand the perspective of one without power, and vice versa. It is hard for one who is ignorant to understand how much they do not know. I believe that many protesters are ignorant. Not to say that supporting the protests makes you ignorant necessarily. Just that many protesters happen to be ignorant. And ignorance is not a good thing to have when you are putting on the line your time, energy, and possibly your safety and the safety of your criminal record. For these reasons I myself could never be a protester. I am too ignorant to believe strongly enough in OWS to protest for it. I would want to know all the facts and make sure that I truly believed in what I was protesting before taking any action. Let it be known, I am a coward, but an intelligent coward.

I could talk about OWS for hours, but I feel I’ve bored you enough as it is. I’ll get to the point. I wish it had better organization. I wish that it had a more clear direction that I could support – I might support a part of the movement, but then disagree with a bunch of other parts of it. I wish that it made a stronger attempt to change the way things are other than through complaining and civil disobedience. I wish the proponents of OWS were better educated, more well-informed, and less annoying to me. The fact is, the movement sucks. So much time and energy being used up on nothing. Few people in the movement really know what they want. But in the end, the force that OWS is fighting against is too powerful, and my expectations of OWS too high. It needs to lack focus in order to gain sufficient numbers of followers. Its followers need to be ignorant so that they aren’t like me – they need to be passionate without really knowing what they are getting into, or else they wouldn’t get into it. It is impossible to effectively organize such overwhelming numbers of people in a short period of time.

I think Robert Reich put it very well in his speech at the Occupy Cal strike (google it) – there is a general sense of moral outrage that we all have. We’re not all sure exactly why we have it, or exactly what we can do about it. But we know that it’s there, and we know that it doesn’t have to be that way. We know we have to change something somehow. Right now, we don’t know the what or the how, and we lack organization to work together and figure out what it is. But more than anything else, we need sheer energy, and OWS is gaining that. Eventually we can channel that energy into action, but we need the energy to be there first.

Sorry this post was so all over the place. It’s hard to compose my thoughts about this issue. It’s very big, and I can’t really handle it. That’s what she said.

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The importance of documentation.

I think this post might be a contender for “most boring title in history.”

I figured this subject would be appropriate to cover as my first topic because it directly relates to why I started this blog. Documentation, in its most general sense, is very important to me, and I feel that I do not have enough of it in my life.

The word documentation, insofar as I’ll use it here, encompasses quite a lot. Most generally, it is the organized storage of information for later use. As boring as the word is, with this definition you can see how it would be of utmost importance. Documentation can take on several different forms – papers, notes, pictures, videos, blog posts, email archives, chat logs, etc. This is what “documentation” means to me, and these are its forms. Now I will discuss its significance.

Documentation is our way of coping with the passage of time. If time did not pass, documentation would be meaningless- all information would be there, unchanging, forever. Communication would still be relevant, but I don’t care about that in this discussion. By taking information we have in the short term and recording it in some static, unchanging state, we effectively take a picture of time (whether literally or figuratively) – we capture a moment of information. In such a dynamic world as the one we live in, a moment of captured information can be very important indeed.

I started this blog due to the transient nature of my own thoughts. Every day countless thoughts flow through my head, but without documentation, they simply disappear after a time and I forget. Now the name of the blog might make more sense to you. Well, let’s be honest – it’s actually the name of my favorite Magic card (http://i.imgur.com/Dgwvf.jpg) but I figured it has a philosophical significance as well. Every thought, every image, every data point, every moment might be lost forever unless it is documented. Thus I have committed myself to be more diligent about writing down my thoughts. Since they are often very ripe for discussion, and since I love sharing ideas, I figured blog form would be optimal.

I think I will also try to take more pictures. Sometimes I feel that I take too many pictures, but whenever I look at them I’m reminded of how happy it makes me to see the people I love or the places I’ve been to, and recall how I once interacted with them. It’s a way of improving my own memory, through artificial means. Perhaps I have some inkling of what happened, but without the physical proof, I can’t be sure how much my memory has been distorted over time, and without the reminder I can’t be sure I’ll ever access that memory again.

This is why all documentation exists. If I had a perfect memory perhaps I would not care so much. But as it is, even if I have a vague recollection of how things happened, when I look back at words I wrote or pictures I’ve taken, I’m forced to take things as they really were, and that produces a shit ton of nostalgia. If you think about it, that is the essence of nostalgia – taking a memory at the back of your mind, which has been distorted over time and has lost short-term relevance, and bringing it to light once again. I think this is why we love nostalgia so much. We love remembering things because time and memory are so important. Without documentation, there would be no nostalgia. And what a sad day that would be.

So there you have it. Let the documentation begin.

The beginning.

Hello, world.

This is my official introduction into the world of blogging. I decided to start this for a few reasons. With this wordpress, I want to:

– Write about interesting ideas or thoughts I have. Without a social motivation to post, I never write them down and eventually forget them.

– Inform people about any interesting things that might happen in my life, should they wish to know.

– Make people think and perhaps spark meaningful discussion.

I may also end up posting pictures that I take or random things I find on the internet that I deem suitable. I will make my first real post soon.

I hope you all enjoy what I have to say.