Restoring Some Links

I put back an old post today. In the event that I ever get famous, Deepfakes may be something I have to worry about. Women have to worry about a whole different class of stalker issues than men. It is the main reason I use so many different online handles — that, and to separate my personal and professional opinions. I believe my employers will thank me for my discretion.

My Halloween costume last night was to go as a resistance fighter. I went to a small club in SE Portland known as the Hawthorne Hideaway. The band I was planning to see had been cancelled, but I didn’t mind since there was another act in their place: three young men, two of them in drag. Their music was intellectual, I guess — but still punk. The only thing about them that was annoying was that they kept urging the audience to sing along. They had a song that was pretty much a direct fuck you at our current mayor. That was the only thing political about them.

I went by myself. The great thing about punk shows is you don’t have to have a date or a clique to attend. You can just show up.

Anyway, back to my costume:

I was wearing Ukrainian colors. Some may consider it poor taste to dress up in costume for a cause that real people are dying for. All I can say is that at the time it felt right. Normally I abhor violence — although I love a good action movie or kung fu sequence. Nevertheless, the archetype of the soldier has some appeal. We have all had times in our life when we’ve had to fight for something.

I will tell you what drew me to this costume idea: it was absolutely one of the scariest, most ghoulish stories I have ever heard. This came from Volodymyr Agafonkin, a Ukrainian citizen and the creator of Leaflet, the open source Javascript mapping library that we used to build Givingmap.org. The story concerns sunflower seeds:

A woman confronted a Russian soldier and offered him some sunflower seeds. He eagerly accepted. Then she told him,

“Carry those seeds in your pockets so that when you die, sunflowers will sprout from Ukrainian soil, and something good will come of your time here.”

Wow.

That one stayed with me.

Inspiring Thought for the Morning

“God is the only creature capable of loving everything.”

That is my definition, anyway. Even if it is only a personal theory, I find it comforting. It is so hard to love other people (friends, neighbors, family) sometimes. We often fall short.

If you are new to this blog, I will share a little bit about myself:

I am 45 years old, divorced and a contract employee at a large and well-known corporation. I was an English major in college and a journalist in my 20s. I wish I could write full-time, but content myself with amateur blogging and the occasional self-published work. Got to make a living, ya know?

Actually I love what I do (coding and design) nearly as much as writing. I am lucky that way, although perhaps not in every way. I recently survived a multi-year ordeal of severe fibroids with anemia. You can read more about that experience here. I am blessed that surgery was able to resolve the problem. It has been amazing to have enough energy to hike and exercise again. The unfortunate consequence of the surgery is that I am now unable to have children. It’s ok, in the long run. I could have had kids in my twenties, but instead I prioritized writing this book. My husband later left me for another woman. I blamed his betrayal, in part, upon my long absences and travel while researching the subject matter.

<HINT>The book is about Christianity.</HINT> So I guess you could say I have some issues with God as a result.

God and I are working through those, I hope. Kind of hard to love God when you know that God is only a construct in your head — a limited way to express a living force beyond our knowledge or comprehension.

That’s all for today, folks. Thanks for reading.

About Deism

Hey, I found my old spirituality blog. Looks like the entire site was archived by the Wayback Machine. I should probably write a crawler and try to make my own archive, but… too many other projects I’m procrastinating on.

Anyway, this summarizes where I’m at right now. Only downside of being a Deist is that there isn’t a built-in community. Perhaps I’ll find one or build one in time.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2021 [Edited]

About Deism

Religion is a practice. Belief is a frame of mind.

I believe that there is a conscious and compassionate force beyond the scope of human rational inquiry at work in our daily lives. This belief is based mostly on personal experience, and on the firsthand accounts of others. I choose not to further define this Higher Power because whatever attributes I assign would almost certainly be wrong. My definition of deism is less passive than that of the 18th Century Enlightenment. It seems most likely to me that God is a meta layer of reality, both nervous system and DNA, a manifestation of conscious information. Not a watchmaker, but rather the gears, the numbers, the hands, the wearer, the manufacturer, and the construct of 4D spacetime itself.

Photo taken 12.28.2021.

Of course, our reality could also be a simulation. In theory, the odds that we are inhabiting a simulation are fifty-fifty.

But this isn’t a “just so” story. I’m not claiming any authority or special revelation.

And no, I don’t know what happens after we die.

In 2015 I did have something happen to me that cannot be explained by science. It wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t an answered prayer. It’s not the face of Jesus on a pancake, or anything like that. It was just something that happened outside of continuity. Something we had no rational explanation for. It had both symbolic and personal relevance. There was another witness. We took a picture with my camera phone.

The picture wouldn’t convince you if I showed you, though. You could just say that we made the whole thing up. Anyway, I’m not trying to convert anyone.

I don’t have any particular agenda, not at this point in my life.

Be a good person. Live according to your conscience. Know that fear is largely imaginary, a pernicious delusion. Love is real but not easy to find. Distrust simple answers and the wisdom of crowds.

That is my practice. That is how I try to live my life.

Oldies but Goodies

Full disclosure — I have a lot of blogs. Medium, Substack, WordPress.com… this site, my startup site. That’s probably not the complete list but it’s what I can think of offhand. These sites are separate for a number of different reasons, the two most important being:

(1) Branding/messaging
(2) Privacy

Why do I lump brand and message together? Because once you have established a brand (be it “the brand of you” or be it a new venture you hope to sell for somewhere at the fashionable end of the neighborhood of seven figures) you have to stay on-message.

For instance, I recently took down one of my earliest posts on lotusrose.substack.com. The reason was that it was an opinion piece masquerading as fact. It made a very broad (and in my view, plausible) assertion but provided no hard evidence to back it up. This doesn’t measure up to my own standards for objective, fact-based journalism.

Lotus Rose is a journalism site, focused on sustainable and socially responsible investing strategies for retail and day traders. The articles are based on my own experience and online research. I provide citations and believe that the work stands on its own merits. While future predictions (such as the value of the Dow at the end of 2023) cannot be evaluated as true or false, any other information cited should have a source, whether or not it is made public. My memory is crap so I make a lot of notes and copy-and-paste a lot of links. This served me well as a journalist for American City Business Journals in the early 2000s, when I published several hundred print and online articles for ACBJ and other publications (including numerous features and covers). I have clips on everything from banking to restaurant reviews. I don’t recall ever receiving a single complaint about the facts, much less any situation that required a retraction.

Writing will always be my first love. (Sorry BWT, you came along 13 years too late.) Too bad the work didn’t pay a little better, or that is what I would still be doing.

Objectivity may be hard to come by — a mythical island of truth, an invisible city shimmering on the horizon of an ocean of uninformed groupthink — but facts are as real as any other construct we can assemble from the abstract building blocks of language.

What is my definition of a fact? Something you can evaluate as a Boolean statement.

i.e. Imagine a hypothetical function, truth(x) that evaluates the truth or falsehood of a variable. The variable may be a string, an integer, a real number, or the product of another function. Because the output type is defined as Boolean, it will always return a value of either true or false.

Now imagine that you have a sophisticated AI text reader that can parse the value of short statements (we will say up to 1000 characters in length). The task of this AI is to evaluate the statement described in the fact as either true or false. Empty, null, and undefined values will also be counted as false. Keep in mind; the function can be wrong or right in its assessments, just as newspapers and police eyewitnesses may be right or wrong about their facts. The important thing is that this function will always return a value of either yes or no (true or false).

This is my definition of a fact. It can itself be expressed as a fact:

The paragraphs below provide a rigorous definition and test for the term “fact”:

What is my definition of a fact? Something you can evaluate as a Boolean statement.

i.e. Imagine a hypothetical function, is_factual(var) that evaluates the truth or falsehood of a variable. The variable type is defined as a string. Because the output type is defined as Boolean, it will always return a value of either true or false.

Now imagine that you have a sophisticated AI text reader that can parse the value of short statements (we will say up to 1000 characters in length). The task of this AI is to evaluate the statement described in the fact as either true or false. Empty, null, and undefined values will be counted as false. Keep in mind; the function can be wrong or right in its assessments, just as newspapers and police eyewitnesses may be right or wrong about their facts. The important thing is that this function will always return a value of either yes or no (true or false).

(weighing in at 982 characters)

Anyway, it’s possible I will re-post that earlier article on this, or another, site. I haven’t really decided yet.

I have this week off from my day job, because I am recovering from surgery. It went well.

I will be posting more about the outcome, but I want to wait until everything has healed and I am completely out of the woods. I do claim to be superstitious (and that is a fact). Looking back on the previous two decades, tempting fate seems to be something I excel at. In the meantime, I will be reposting a few other older blog posts that seem to fit better here than anywhere else.

Trigger Warning: One or two of these may address the topic of religion…