Stupid pointless dream

I was on a huge train, the sort of train that doesn’t exist in the real world; the inside looked like an old Victorian mansion, yet I somehow knew it was a train. The guy who owned the train was my great grandfather (I never knew or saw any of my real great grandfathers, so the character is completely made up), and he had grown very forgetful in his old age. One morning someone had cooked waffles and pancakes for breakfast. I was the last one to get up, and by that time most of the other members of the train had already eaten and were getting sick and passing out; it seemed the waffles and pancakes had been poisoned! (House influence?) For some reason, I ate some anyway, but I magically didn’t get sick.

Other members of the train blamed my great grandfather for the poisoning, and the police were called. I don’t know how the police make it onto a moving a train, but there must’ve been ways. But I knew my great grandfather was innocent; he was just forgetful, but he would never harm anyone.

Nevertheless, my great grandfather said he had a deep dark secret, he just couldn’t remember what it was. I tried questioning him, trying to find out his secret. Then I saw him on TV in old historical Nazi footage, and there he was! That was his secret: he had been a Nazi! I told him this, but he couldn’t remember whether it was true or not. But someone on the train suddenly discovered that my great grandfather’s American flag hanging on the wall was a Nazi flag on the other side!

Then I woke up, so I don’t know what happened next… but upon waking up I did realize that the notion of some old guy having secretly been a Nazi is horribly cliche. So… subconscious fail.

Mixed in there somewhere were two other random incidents: I got in a fight with one of the other passengers over seating issues, and I thought I could speak French with some French-speaking people, but they told me I was only speaking French-gibberish, which I thought was the same thing…

Philosophic dream…

I dreamt there was a woman making some sort of passionate political rant against capitalism or something. Whatever it was, I didn’t like it. But the rant itself didn’t bother me so much; what bothered me was the crowd standing around her, listening to her every word as if they were all experiencing profound epiphanies. I thought to myself: “How can these people be so blind? How can they believe this nonsense? I must stop this at once!” However, I didn’t feel like getting into some political argument or a shouting match. Fortunately I knew I had the power to fly. So I climbed a tall nearby wall, which would have been very dangerous to people who could not fly, and this instantly got some attention. Then I proclaimed to the people something like: “Stop listening to this woman, she speaks lies! Who are you going to believe? Her? Or someone who can fly?” I then stepped off the wall and floated in air. There were gasps of amazement and all who saw believed.

Afterwards, I met one person in the audience who was not impressed with my tactic. It was Foreman from House.

“You didn’t have to do it that way,” Foreman said. “It was manipulative.”

“I had to do it that way,” I replied. “Those people were too dumb to think for themselves. I wouldn’t have been able to use reason with them. They need to be manipulated. They need to see something powerful to associate their beliefs with.”

Foreman continued to disagree. And then I realized he was just acting. He was not really Foreman, he was just an actor playing Foreman. I was on the set of House, and I was supposed to be fixing the carpets. And for some reason my dog’s beds were there, for some reason I had given them to Foreman and Taub.

And then I woke up.

So some of that was nonsense, but the philosophical question remains… are some people too dumb to understand what you think is true through what you believe are rational arguments? If so, is it morally acceptable to manipulate them into agreeing with you? Especially if them not agreeing with you could have devastating effects?

Meaningless dream

I had a weird moment in a strange dream last night. It was a half-lucid dream. I knew I was dreaming, but I didn’t have any conscious control over the world.

There was an old woman in the dream, and I asked her: “If you’re dreaming, and you know it’s a dream, what does it mean?” And she thought for a moment, then said: “Nothing.”

Then I asked: “What about if you don’t know it’s a dream? Then what does it mean?” And she responded: “Everything.”

It’s kind of a paradox, isn’t it? If her words are true, then they shouldn’t mean anything, because I knew I was dreaming. But if they’re meaningless, then she was telling the truth, which means it wasn’t meaningless.

Earlier in the dream, I was discussing existentialism with two other guys who I thought were smarter than me. Then I realized that when you’re discussing existentialism with figments of your imagination, you usually have the upper hand.

The crime-twins problem

I had a weird dream the other night. (It was random and dream-like, like dreams often are, but for the purposes of this post I’ll pretend like it was more understandable than it really was; the gist of it is the same.) I was the judge of a no-jury court case. It involved a man who had stolen priceless paintings. All of his illegal activities of breaking and entering and stealing these paintings from a museum were all recorded by security cameras. His face could be seen very easily.

Unfortunately he had an identical twin brother. They were both sitting there in the court room before me, both claiming innocence, both with the same solid alibi of walking around a bookstore that night, which was also caught on camera. They both knew exactly what one of them was doing at the bookstore. I questioned them separately (I’m not sure if that’s really something a judge would do, but I did), and they both told the same story, which supported what was on camera.

There was no DNA evidence left behind by either man.

Lastly, I did not have the lie detecting skills of that guy in Lie to Me, so I couldn’t do anything very dramatic involving catching one of them in a lie or giving them the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

And in the dream I thought it was a riddle, as if there definitely was a way to solve the conundrum and I just had to figure it out.

But I woke up with the riddle unsolved.

Is there an answer? Or is that the perfect way to get out of a crime?

The dream made me wonder if DNA would really help such a case anyway. It might! According to this article from Scientific American:

The discovery of this genetic variation gives hope for an obscure but pressing issue in the case of a criminal suspect who is an identical twin. “If one twin is a suspect and the whereabouts of the other twin cannot be determined, then the jury is often left without the ability to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” in cases that rely on DNA evidence, says Frederick Bieber, a pathologist at Harvard Medical School.

“If the twin issue comes up in a criminal investigation it’s possible that if there are [copy number variants] that differ between the two twins that might help sort that out,” Bieber says.

Given that there are 80 pairs of identical twins in Virginia’s convicted offender database alone, this might not be as small an issue as it may sound. And such genetic variation also matters to the population at large.

Ha! Not a very original idea for a dream at all, I guess. Subconscious fail.

The price of your dreams

I was thinking about Shark Tank, that ABC show that we’re still not sure whether or not they’ll make a second season of, and I noticed one of the sharks had uploaded this pic to twitpic.  “Every dream has its price.”  How quotable.

Price can of course mean more than money.  There’s all the time it will take to pursue it, all the risks you’ll have to take, all the gambles, all the questioning yourself, all the uncertainty… dreaming dreams is a blissful business, but pursuing them is a nightmare.

My dream is to own a theme park.  Gah, where do I even start?  I don’t know.

And then you have people who say “you should be goal oriented!”  OK, if I want to own a theme park, what should be my first goal?  Get rich?

And then people say “forget the money, do what you love!”  But I can’t, I need money to do what I love!  Or doing what I love is leading me nowhere; I’m still miserable from having to go to work everyday and having too little time left to do what I love.

Is that the price of dreams?  Going mad because you don’t know how to pursue them?  Because you’re stuck at work or in school staring at the clock wanting to go home and work on something fun?

How do you make those times enjoyable?

How do you relax when you know you have so much work ahead?

Should you live in the present or be planning the future?  How do you do both and stay sane?

I don’t know.

Thus is the price of dreams.

When is my vacation?  Will I ever be alone?

Logic is illogical

It’s been very busy here.  In addition to having house guests (who left near the end of last week), someone quit at the place I work (a part-time job, still don’t have a full-time, and not really anxious for one), and I picked up a lot of additional hours that I’m still not quite used to.  My hours just about tripled.  I don’t mind at all the extra money this will bring in, but I have to get used to the new schedule.  This week it’s been a bit exhaustive, but hopefully I’ll get used to it and get into the groove of things.

I finished reading Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique last week, and posted some quotes on my Book Quotes blog.  ‘Twas a good book, I recommend it… I’d like to buy it in paperback if/when it comes out.

I’m now reading Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Michael Hecht.  I read somewhere (maybe on the author’s website?) that the author originally wanted to call the book “A History of Atheism” or something.  That’s basically what it is, the history of the questioning of religion, or doubting it.  That said, it’s not a book of “why atheism is correct” or “why religion is correct” … it doesn’t really seem to make any religious judgments itself, it’s more a “history of religious philosophy” book.  For someone like me who doesn’t know much about history, or religious history for that matter, it’s very educational.

So far, I’ve only read the first two chapters (which are the first 85 pages), and there seem to be qutie a few philosophers of old who questioned how we can really know anything or what the point is of questioning things is when answers cannot be obtained.

But maybe how we humans understand logic in the first place is fundamentally flawed in a way we can do nothing about.

So often we think in terms of cause and effect, an event and a reason for it, a “why?” for everything.

For many things, this seems logical.  Something happens, we ask “why?”, we come up with a reason, and that’s that.  The trouble is, we can always keep asking “why?” again.  And again.  Ad infinitum.  This usually leads us to some point where we can go no further, a point where we have to say “I don’t know” and that’s that.  But even if we could come up with answer, what would be the point?  We would just ask “why?” again, and it would have to go on forever.  Every event would have to have an infinite number of causes, going backwards for eternity.  If it goes on forever, then isn’t that the same as there being no answer at all?  There can be no end point.

One could cheat, and go in circles.  “Why are you the boss?”  “Because I tell people what to do!”  “Why?”  “Because I’m the boss!”  Of course, such circular logic is considered a logical fallacy.  But real logic isn’t always much more helpful, even though it seems to make more sense to the mind.  But if logic isn’t circular, is it linear?  A line that goes on forever?  That’s just as useless as a circle!  In fact, just about every shape logic could be in is useless.  (Well, depending on what you’re using it for.)  The whole cause and effect, one thing from another, dominoes of logic . . . ultimately I think it’s a flawed way of looking at the universe, of trying to discover truth.  But right now I have no earthly (or heavenly or hellish) idea of what it could be replaced with.

I’m sure these are not new thoughts for the world, but . . . well, there it is.  Logic is illogical!  Don’t ask me why!  Let me know if you have heard of any philosophers who have had similar thoughts, as I should very much like to read about them.  There’s gotta be someone out there, some form of thought I haven’t heard of yet…

On an unphilosophical note, I had a weird dream a few nights ago.  Near the end of it, a bunch of people gave me a bunch of presents, and it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas or anything.  Being quite astounded at my good fortune, I thought “this must be a dream!  I’m going to wake myself up!” and with some strange mysterious semi-lucid mental process, I awoke myself.  It was like my uncontrollable subconscious willingly giving control back to the my real conscious self.  It was a really strange strange experience.

I call the blog “Blather” so I can blather ya know!

That’s all for now.  Oh, in case you missed it, I posted a YouTube video a few days ago right here.  It’s a piece I’m hoping will be on my first album, which I’m hoping will be finished this year.

Don’t know much about marketing


I had a weird dream the other night in which I was in a used bookstore and was looking for some good books but I couldn’t find any. My siblings, on the other hand, were finding tons of books, some of them even finding books that I myself wanted, but they wouldn’t tell me where they found them. Finally I came upon the musical score for Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, only to open it up and find it was an arrangement for two tubas. What a horrible nightmare.

In other news, my parents came back from my uncle’s with a wonderful surprise: a foosball table! Yay! It’s what I’ve always wanted! So if you ever want to play foosball… get your own foosball table.

I am almost finished reading a boring book called The Marketing Gurus. It’s basically a summary of a bunch of other marketing books. Unfortunately most of the books it summarizes must be horrible. They’re repetitive and spend a lot of time making blatantly obvious points, “be honest in your advertising” and “know about your customers” … if you can’t figure that stuff out on your own, you’re a fool. I guess books on marketing are like books on writing fiction; there are some good ones out there, but most of them are just a waste of bundled paper. Some of the books it summarizes are a bit out-of-date as well, with little or no mention of the Internet.

Anyway, there’s one chapter that states that you should first find a niche, then create a product for that niche.

You don’t need passion … you don’t need a lot of creativity

I blogged about something similar in my Stuff I Found blog. This concept of finding a niche first and not needing passion seems backwards to me. I guess if you can pull it off, good for you, but I can easily imagine most people being unsuccessful at it; passion can be hard to fake. Although, now I kind of want to try it. But I don’t think I will, as it also seems much harder. Seems like you need even more creativity to find a worthy niche. It’d be easier to just think about what product I myself would want and then make that product, if I can afford it. For example, a blog in which I blather would be great. Oh look, here it is!

For a good and up-to-date resource on marketing, I highly suggest the podcast Marketing Over Coffee. Even if you know very little about marketing (like me), these hosts are quite thought provoking, and they don’t just state the blatantly obvious. The podcast also makes me want to eat donuts.