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Beyond Pandora

Beyond simple curiosity, this is Thinking Too Much. If you're interested in philosophy and/or wild theories, you've come to the right place.

Location: Australia

Paddling somewhere between a mad scientist and an organisational artist. Indecisive, inconsistent and often incoherent.

Saturday, April 30, 2005


For the last few days, I've been reevaluating my course at uni, and once again trying to decide what it is that I want from life.
I realised at first that I was actually more interested in the science behind electronics than the devices themselves. It shows, because I'm actually trying out stuff at home to do with Physics and Maths, though I should (also) be pulling things apart to see how they work. I'm unsure whether that is a good or bad sign, but it does mean I am considering changing to a double degree - Microelectronic Engineering / Science (Physics).
The unsurity worries me, though. It means I don't know what I'm aiming for. So I took a look at other career areas, and tried to rate them, honing in on what it is I want from a career in the process.

First of all, I want the work I do to be important - something that will benefit people directly (e.g, a doctor or teacher), or indirectly (e.g, research work, or scientist). Secondly, I want to have an intellectually stimulating and creative career - if I can conceivably be replaced by a robot or a computer, then it isn't worth it.
Despite how much I love the creative arts, I don't consider them to be important to society beyond the message they impart. Actors, for example, are not really known for changing the world for the better.
Also, not so interested in merely designing things. Architecture, visual arts/graphics, I.T. - not really areas of progress, more like areas of applied creativity.
With the list of career areas not yet ruled out, there was definitely less interest in the more direct services - doctors, lawyers, teachers, social services. Though I don't idealise these careers any less, I doubt my own success in carrying out such people-oriented jobs.

I realised then that what I had left fell under the rough category of 'Information' - and that hit it for me. What I want is to discover and learn about important things, and make sure that people know about them. This covers my interest in science, in engineering, in media, in performing and creative arts, and the information I consider important would definitely relate to law, health, environment, schooling...
I believe I've found my target. And even though I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do about it or how I'm going to get there, I've found what I was looking for - direction.

(And, in the spirit of reimaging, I had my hair cut :) Now I can see!)

Saturday, April 23, 2005


(written a while ago)
I have no luck with transport.

Every time I've tried to catch a ferry, I've ended up going the wrong way down the river - and usually not realising until the last stop.

On the first day of university, I missed the bus and had to walk. 20 minutes or so along a highway, and then 10 minutes of solid UP. Somehow I managed to get to the lecture on time.

After a particularly draining day, I hopped on the bus home... when my mind came back to reality, it was to realise that I'd just missed both the stops closest to my house, and had to take the quarter-hour walk back the way I'd come.

Recently I needed to catch a train home from Cleveland at about 9pm, switching to the Beenleigh line at Park Road. What actually happened was I spent an hour doing nothing on the Cleveland train, got off at Park Road and waited twenty minutes or so, then boarded the next train - only to realise it was the train back to cleveland. I got off at the very next stop, had to wait ten minutes for the next train back from Beenleigh, and then, back at Park Road, found that I'd missed the train to Beenleigh and so had to wait another twenty minutes for the next train. Which I did manage to catch. Of course, there is also the fifteen-twenty minute walk from the station to my house...

Last week I needed to get into the city, and after taking some unexpected turns I realised I had mistaken the last number of the bus route, and I was headed to the valley. I got off close to the river, and then realised I should have continued on to Southbank and made the next trip from there. Instead I took a bus to Elisabeth street, hoping I'd be able to remember which way was Queen Street Mall, only to find (to my relief) that the bus stopped at the edge of Queen Street.

Just tonight I needed to get to Sunnybank Plaza to return some DVDs.
I had attempted this before, but that had been on Easter Saturday, and having been misinformed, I'd planned by the Public Holiday schedule instead of the Saturday schedule. Realising this at the bus stop, and faced with the prospect of having to wait 40 minutes, I decided to walk. I'd been there before by bus, and it hadn't taken that long, so I'd be fine.
There was a lot of false assumptions that day. For instance, I'd assumed that Sunnybank Plaza was only a suburb away. I'd assumed that it would only take half an hour at most to get there. I'd assumed that I would be able to get to Sunnybank, return the DVDs, and get home, before it was time to leave home in order to get to the train station, to catch a train to Central Station, to catch a train to the airport, to catch a plane to Rockhampton for the holidays.
... Fortunately I chose the right time to give up and go back home. The DVDs would have to wait until after the holidays.

Anyway, THIS time (tonight), I boarded the right bus and got to Sunnybank just fine. I returned the DVDs, and then wandered around outside Sunnybank Plaza, gradually coming to the realisation that I had no idea how to get home. The last two times I had been here had been with my brother. We had caught buses back both times, and the bus stop had been close by a video arcade (one that was part of a larger shopping complex but you could see it from the street). I spent at least half an hour circling the shopping complex, finding that none of the bus stations named any bus routes I go by. Determined not to use my phone unless absolutely necessary, I started in the direction of home - by foot.
After perhaps a block or two, the bus stops showed a route I catch frequently, but having grounded myself in the rhythm of walking, I continued on, stopping briefly at each bus stop to check the current time against the time the next bus arrived, and deciding if I'd make it to the next stop before the bus arrived. 15 minutes... 8 minutes... 4 minutes... 2 minutes... and then I lost the gamble - the bus passed me. But by that time, if I boarded the bus, it would be dropping me off in the same street anyway.
So I'd walked 3-4 suburbs in 45 minutes to an hour, running on a small carton of milk tea I'd bought back in Sunnybank. It was nice in a way, but you'd imagine there'd be more time to think during that monotony. Instead I found myself running through various melodies over and over again. Has anyone else noticed that people sing to themselves when they're alone outside at night?
Anyway, the worst twist to the tale that night was that it turns out there is at least one DVD that hadn't been in the pile that I grabbed (the girls downstairs must still have it).
Which means another trip sometime in the future to look forward to. :)

All I can say is, it's a good thing I like walking!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Eyes In The Back of Your Head

I've been doing waaay too much Physics lately, and thinking about things in really basic but weird ways; please bear with me.

This is a description of the way we move with regard to sight:

You can see what is ahead of you. It is fairly solid, and predictable. You cannot see what is behind you, but you can guess at what is there based on what you remember. However, walking backwards is a bad idea, because you cannot adapt to things that are in your path until you've passed them. You'll end up tripping over, or getting stuck, and you won't arrive at your destination quickly or safely, if you even end up in the right place at all. It is simply not sensible to walk backwards.

Imagine if we had eyes in the back of our heads instead of the front, but still walked the same way. It would be the same as above, wouldn't it? Just 'forward' and 'backward' would be reversed:

You can see what is behind you. It is fairly solid, and predictable. You cannot see what is ahead of you, but you can guess at what is there based on what you remember. However, walking forwards is a bad idea, because you cannot adapt to things that are in your path until you've passed them. You'll end up tripping over, or getting stuck, and you won't arrive at your destination quickly or safely, if you even end up in the right place at all. It is simply not sensible to walk forwards.

Okay, now re-read the last paragraph, but instead of the idea of moving through space, take it as moving through time.


Kinda scary, huh?

Moving forward in time (i.e., living) is like walking backwards. But unlike physical movement, where there are infinite directions, distances and choices, temporal/time-wise movement has no direction (and no choice); only magnitude - how long it takes. So there is no 'turning around' to face future instead of past. Not only are we walking backwards, but we are being forced to walk backwards.

You can see what is in your past. It doesn't change. You cannot see what is in your future, but you can guess at what is coming up based on what you know of the world. However, moving into the future is a bad idea, because your knowledge of the world is not perfect, and you cannot avoid the things that you don't know about. There will constantly be things that you didn't expect, and that stop you from going where you thought you were headed. Things will happen that you have to adapt to after they have happened. You won't meet your goals as easily or as quickly as you planned, perhaps not even in the way you planned. Maybe you will decide to change your goals, as unexpected opportunities arise. Maybe you will be forced to change your goals, if something big enough blows your chances. And none of this you can predict. IT IS NOT SENSIBLE TO LIVE FORWARDS!


So I say... if we managed to evolve eyesight, we'd damn well better evolve precognition!

(And then I wonder... maybe that's what we're doing?)