Scatalogical Future

5:26:00 PM

I'll prognosticate for a moment: Wars and social movements aside, the greatest challenge facing the individual will be, if not already is, the act of choice. That is, the other day I was engaged in that blessed act of taking a dump in the comfort of my home's john. I had to change the roll of toilet paper, and from my throne, I reached beside the commode and grabbed an open bag of Charmin - the dual ply, giant roll variety.

Not having prepared for my sojourn on the pooper, I was left wanting for something to read. Behold! The plastic wrapping of the Charmin spoke volumes, and announced clearly the problem of our era: choice, or more precisely, too many of them.

The wrapper had a small table unraveling Charmin's full collection of TP: Charmin Basic regular, big, giant or mega roll; Charmin Ultra regular, big, giant or mega roll; Charmin Plus with Lotion for the aching anus, also in regular, big, giant or mega roll; “Charmin® Wildflower Fresh [which] provides a light scent that your whole family will love. And the scent is on the tube, not the tissue,” also in regular, big, giant or mega roll In short, Charmin brand offers a total of 20 varieties of TP suitable to wipe 20 different assholes with 20 different needs. And, that's just one brand ...

As your average "crappy" consumer, I have to wonder what sort of ass wipe would be perfect for my buttocks. Since the smallest package of Charmin comes in four rolls, a scientific, methodical approach of comparison might take a good year to sample all that Charmin has to offer: a year to know, exactly, what my butt will responds to.

A recent analysis by Psychologist Barry Schwartz in “The Paradox if Choice” (20:22 min. video) concluded that too much of it results in anxiety. That is, that the modern American consumer is, at heart, not overly concerned with the existential problem of a sure death, but more precisely the existentialist dilemma of free will and choice. The land of plenty comes with its own bag of problems, and even a good, universal healthcare system will not override the need for Prozac and Xanax.

If we can prognosticate, a yet unexplored field of academics or enterprise is waiting to unfold. It has its roots in Library Science and current search engine technologies. It plays out in the research done by modern mathematician, Luis von Ahn (video 51: 31), an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, who manages to unwittingly get players for a childish online game to be pawns in a search engine's efforts to categorize and find relevance for photographs and other media. While they play, their choices help search engines get better.

This research speaks of a time that some call "The Singularity," where technology will define us rather than the other way around; a technological environment where we cooperatively work with computer systems to achieve a hybrid AI. Brains become the operating system for anthro-computing networks.

It is, if I may, the dawning of a new era, and its shamans or priests or wise elders will be those who can appraise the wealth of information, the one hundred thousand voices clamoring over the mass of channels, and will be an able guide through the dense forest of ideas. The new guru will point the way with a careful word about the journey, lauding certain destinations and viewpoints worthy of internalizing and cautioning against those information sources bent, unwittingly, in leading you astray. In short, the new sage will save your bandwidth and baptize your hard drive with righteous data as you walk through the valley of digital overload.

Here's the challenge: you want to know about training your dog. So you type "dog training" into Google. Here are your options:

Raw information:



Here are your videos:



Here’s dog training in the newspapers:



Here are your newsgroups or people discussing the subject openly:


Here are your books and supplies:



Where would be a good place to begin? And this is only from Google ...

* * *

I was trying to be a smart aleck. My best friend polluted my MySpace account with an inane, ten-minute video. The video depicts a white collar worker dreaming of a burger for his lunch break. While trying to exit the corporate building in search of his lunch, he finds that no amount of descent via elevator, stairs, and so forth lead him to the ground level. After years of fruitless attempts to leave the building, he eventually throws himself off of it only to find that heaven was the worst possible scenario - he's aggrieved to find himself floating angelically over the globe.

It was terrible acting and a bland premise, in short, a waste of time to watch. Regardless, I was compelled to post the video, presumably wasting the time of any of my MySpace friends, else I'd probably run the risk of alienating my best friend and his sincere attempts to throw humor my way.

Well, there's no dearth of bad student films listed in YouTube, so a half an hour of searching yielded a five-minute flick that was really, really bad: a rendition of Romeo and Juliette acted out by three ninjas in a forest. Feeling clever at my find, I polluted his MySpace account with this ultra-cheese, and felt myself vindicated.

But again, I spent a good hour reviewing and evaluating films for their cheese factor, and again I was struck by the sheer wealth of choices out there. In the end, after a good half-dozen bad student films, I was sure that I could find another, more hideous response to my best friend. But when it comes right down to it, I simply said to myself the ninja movie was bad enough. I left that one to carry my message, and went to bed fitfully shortly after my posting, compulsively dwelling on the notion that, surely, there were many more bad films to evaluate. I got what I wanted, but was left, ultimately, unsatisfied that I had succeeded in my goal of finding "the absolute worst."

-------

Regardless of my mild dissatisfaction, I did spend some of my time in service to my fellow humanity. That is, my little hour of searching and viewing, if I cared to share my experience, could be of use to those who are aiming at a similar tasks; and believe me, with the advent of the Internet it quickly becomes clear that someone out there, always, has had the same idea that I've decided on. I could, if I were inclined, spare someone else the laborious task of seeing tons of videos, and if they respect my judgment, they could just elect to come to the same conclusions that I reached without expending the effort and time.

For instance, here are two videos that were part of my search results. Both were listed as comedies and fell under the search rubric of "bad student films". One is funny and one is not. One is worth five minutes of your time, while the other is best left shelved in YouTube's server. I leave it up to you to judge:

all your commandments are belong to me with sound
Abstract:
my final exam at film schoolfeaturing Jesus and Moses (more).
Category Comedy



Passion of a Troubled Artist
Abstract:
MAURICE NIEDAMIRE has just finished the script to his second film, "MYSTIC SANDS OF ETERNITY" -- a period piece set in the deserts of ancient Arabia. The film will be shot entirely in Chico, California, and promises to be the biggest project NIEDAMIRE has undertaken, to date. (more)
Category Comedy



By the way, these two examples were selected since they both, believe it or not, venture to use or express something by way of "spiritual," "mystical," or "deep insight" within their comedy.

The director of the first film claims, "what follows isn't exactly the morality but rather how i came up with the idea.

1 it illustrates the co-opting of fundamental jewish texts by christianity (both are great prophets so they are jealous of each other).

2 at the time of the exam there was a controversy going on in france about the muhammad cartoons so i thought why not? originally i tought of having muhammad step in at the end instead of god but i dropped the idea becusae there was no popular culture representation of muhammad (hence i couldn't spoof it, see item 3)

3 because they're known characters it's easier to get an empathic reaction from the viewer. (i toyed with the idea of having freund and nietzsche instead of you know who but i decided otherwise since nietzsche's face wasn't as famous as freund and its trademark cigar)."

Now that's pretty deep, and its abstract seems to support the religious overtones. Whether that came accross is left up to the viewer to determin.

But what's more to the point: their abstracts or descriptions are ultimately misleading if, by chance, what you were searching for happened to be a viewing that not only made you laugh but also made you think.

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Since my purchase of an iPod, I've taken the overwhelming amount of broadcasts offered with calm resignation. That is, in a perfect world I would have time to sedulously sift through every TV broadcast, every audiobook, every podcast and every musician offered by it that fell squarely within the ken of my interest. I have but a handful of intellectual or personal interests when it comes to securing entertaining media that fills up my idle moments. That is, I don't want to know EVERYTHING. I don't want to discover what ALL podcasts or the things iTues has to offer. I only want to know about the things that I like to know about, and even that isn't really a lot of subjects. And, even with that as a limiting factor, I still don't have enough time to sample even a fraction of that small slice that I'm interested in.

Jake Cline, the music columnist and freelance editor of the Miami New Times, said. " Yes, the wide world of podcasts can be a frightening place. There is way too much to even sift through. I started listening to just the ones that seemed interesting (maybe 1% of the podcasts I saw), and I had suddenly lost five or six days worth of free time. "

Some years ago, I spent an afternoon with my friend David Aquilla "Quil" Lawrence, a war correspondent for the BBC. He's an avid reader, but even he admitted to me that afternoon that his thirst for knowledge of good literature will never be quaffed. He told me that he had made a pact with a friend of his to only read those books and authors who had been lauded as great works of literature by having received the Noel Prize in Literature.

Herman Melville and "Moby Dick" (my recent audiobook purchase from the iTunes store) was not given the Nobel Prize. Neither was Dostoyevski, Homer, or Cervantes. Does that mean that Quil will have to skip these classics of literature in his pleasure reading? If I know him well enough, he's not so militant as to overlook these authors, and will likely leave the book-burning to the despots he reports about overseas. But, here's yet another example where, though he will likely be an authority when it comes to those who have received the Noble Prize in Literature, his body of knowledge will surely leave out some very laudable books.

That's certainly a prospect we all face in one shape or form. I suppose that the only answer to this dilemma is that of what civilization has been continuously marching towards: specialization and division of labor. For what it's worth, I am and will be exposing myself naturally to the podcasts that interest me: specifically those that address spirituality, religion, metaphysics, philosophy, and technotheology. Even that is a bit too broad.

But, rather than simply grow as a person under the sway of the vibrant ideas I come across, I am wont to share observations and insights as to what I have seen on this journey. That is, if my judgments have any weight, someone else might travel along with me here on Podgnosticast. They may elect to embark and disembark and any point. My fate is sealed, so to speak, to endure the endless jibber-jabber of "The Meaning of Life." It's in my nature. But for those who merely want to be tourist, it would give me no greater joy than to give anyone who asks a little tour. Enjoy.

Edited By: Geektastic

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