Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Do All the Memes

This post will be next to meaningless for anyone who doesn't know much about Fire Emblem 8 or internet memes. That is to say, my little brother may possibly enjoy this post.

I finally decided to try my hand at exploiting one of my favourite memes, which is appropriately known as the "X all the Y" or "X all the things" meme...

First we have L'Arachel:
Then we have Ephraim:

Next is Lyon:

And last but not least, Innes:
One must really appreciate the creativity and artistic prowess that goes into making these things.

Though this isn't really a quote, I found this meme about Naruto that made me laugh hard. Because, you know, I need glasses and my little brother may have the least blind eyes of the family. Plus, the bags under my eyes are about as large as Itachi's...

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Questions of a Universal Sort

I feel like a preschooler who understands just enough to understand that they don't really understand much. Or like a fish in a glass bowl that can see just enough to know that something else is out there but can never figure out what.

Convention says there are four dimensions - length, width, height, and time. But why is time such an odd-man out? It seems strange to talk about three different spatial dimensions but only one of time. What if time also travels sideways and up and down? Then there would be six dimensions. And what if we take into account the imaginary plane with all six of these dimensions, like we do in electronics? The square root of negative one isn't just hypothetical; it's actually used in practical calculations. So we could hypothetically have twelve different dimensions - or would that count as just seven?

Superstring theory counts ten dimensions and M-theory counts up eleven, one of which is called supergravity. Bosonic string theory goes all the way up to twenty-six. So are the physicists who work on these theories discovering something or making something up? Are they inventing the math to express it, or discovering it?

However many dimensions exist, spacetime has been collapsed into one coherent continuum. Do other continuums exist? And does either space or time supersede the other? Are the non-conventional dimensions a part of spacetime? How do they relate? Can we exist within time while time itself exists within an eternal moment? Is time just a point of view? I almost think it must be, because it's nonsense to say that time "started" to exist. And by the way, if whatever is outside of time is infinite, then where and when is time? Is there such as thing as "nowhere, nowhen"?

Can we learn to cross all the dimensions? We can cross three of them pretty well already, but are stuck in a one-way current of the fourth. Quantum entanglement seems to have found a way to rise above location and time, but personally I'd rather not have my photons split in two in order to become transdimensional, however incredible such a state might be. At least, I'd rather not until I'm quite sure that splitting one's own photons is perfectly safe. But if there is such a thing as a transdimensional being... what sort of names might we already be calling them? And to what dimensions are they subject?

If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? If "nothing" is a lack of "anything" and describes most of our universe, how can this nothingness expand? Is there a nothing-squared that exists beyond the furthest reaches of nothing? What is nothing like? How can we even talk about the existence of nothing? Can nothing truly exist on its own without the comparison of something? The matter of the universe can't be just expanding into the same nothingness that already exists (or that doesn't exist, as the case may be), because in the infinite nothingness of an edgeless universe there is no such thing as location. So at some point there must be something less than nothing, because the only other option is to keep adding dimensions infinitely.

Are there parallel universes? How many? Do these universes cluster like galaxies? Do the clusters cluster? And is there a whole other level of these cluster clusters that never clusters or interacts with us in any form whatsoever beyond being under the control of the same God? How many universes exist? As Chris Anderson says, all we know is that the answer is somewhere between zero and infinity.

And come on, really - if existence is so huge and so complex, how could we ever believe that it all centres around us? How many other races and forms of life exist? What rules apply to them? Do they know about us?

Isn't it ironic that what we call a black hole is actually the furthest thing from a hole that we can imagine? A black hole is actually the most dense thing that exists - unless we assume that the entire universe was at one point a singularity. And time slows down after the event horizon? How can time ever cease to be anything but one second per second? And can a second ever truly pass?

If, to cross the room and touch the wall, I first have to cross half the room, and then half the distance left, and then half of that and half of that, I will never ever reach the end of the room and touch the wall. But I can cross the room and touch the wall.

If, to come home from work I must first work half a shift, then half of what's left, then half of that and half of that, then my shift will never be over and I will never leave. But my shift does finish and I come home from work.

So there must be a smallest minimum unit of spacetime, beyond which nothing can get smaller, or else everything would be in flux and though everything could be approached, nothing would ever be reached. A smallest unit, though - really? Instead of existing in a fluid, continuous way like we've always believed, we're progressing in a choppy, instantaneously changing sort of way? Like an animation? And if we look close enough, we'll pixelate?

Some physicists say yes, and that this pixelation is evidence that the universe isn't real, but a projection. That we're like Sims in a computer program or a greater entity's dream. That we only think we're sentient, whatever that means. That The Matrix and Inception aren't really all that crazy. But what would a real universe look like? Would it continue to get smaller for all of eternity? Plato would say that the real universe is where we'd find the forms.

It's mind-boggling! It makes my brain do somersaults. In glee. There is so much to try to understand, and such a pitiful hope that I will ever succeed (by the standard human measurement of "ever"), and yet it sure is fun to try!

"Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." J. B. S. Haldane

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Fun with Provincial Politics

It's provincial election time and the door knockers are out in full force. While I've been excited to vote in every election since I've become eligible to vote, I've never been much involved with the campaigning itself. During the last mayoral race, my sister and I spent the night before the vote browsing websites, reading newspapers, and emailing friends who were involved in a desperate attempt to make a good last-minute decision. It's important to be informed when you're deciding how to vote. It's even more important when you're also telling your parents how to vote.

My sister is a poli-sci undergrad and has many highly opinionated political friends. One of them is working with our Wildrose candidate on his campaign. We'll call him Kay. He's hardcore - sleeping in the office, showering in the candidate's home, doing all the jobs he fears to leave to volunteers. My sister invited him over for a snack (I guess she was worried that in his hardcoredness he might forget to eat). He seemed so eager for someone to come out door knocking with him (everyone else is old, he lamented) that I agreed to go the following day. I mean, my sister had already let him put a Wildrose lawn sign outside our house, so I figured I was more or less committed.

But shortly after he finished his snack, put his chocolate milk in our fridge and left, the PC incumbent knocked on the door. "Hi," he said. Seeing as I had just been researching him on the internet (I should probably know a bit about the guy I'm trying to oust from office), I recognized his face and called my more politically savvy sister over.

The PC incumbent, who we'll call Dee, asked why we were supporting the Wildrose.

"Well," said my sister, "The Wildrose candidate, Jay, is kind of a personal friend."

"Are there any policies that have affected your decision?"

"The education thing," my sister said.

"You know that's been scrapped, right?" said Dee.

"It'll come back," said my sister.

"I don't think so," said Dee. Then he turned to me. "How are you going to vote? Can I put one of my signs up next to the Wildrose one?"

"Um, we'll think about it, thanks," we said.

At this point, Rachel wandered by, so Dee asked her how she was going to vote. "I can't vote," she said. "I'm from Quebec."

"But you could vote here."

"I'd rather vote in Quebec. A conservative vote counts more there."

"If you had a Swiss grandparent you could vote in Switzerland," said Dee.

"Well, be that as it may, I can't vote in both Quebec and Alberta," said Rachel.

"I think you can," said Dee, turning around to his two young volunteers who were standing meekly at the bottom of our steps. "Can't she?" They shrugged. "You know," said Dee, "Sometimes there are varying opinions in one household. I'm not trying to change your mind, but would any of you like a PC sign?"

"No thanks," we said, so he put one on the boulevard in front of our house, instead.

Then my sister texted Kay to tell him that the PC incumbent had just been by to talk with us about Switzerland and about putting up a second sign. "You should have kept him talking as long as possible so he couldn't visit other houses!" Kay exclaimed. "Why didn't you offer him the rest of my chocolate milk?"

The next day, Kay swung by and put a second Wildrose sign on our lawn while my sister was napping.

Door knocking was kind of fun. "I hear that Dee stopped by your place yesterday," said Kay.

"Yes," I replied. "But he only wanted to rebut whatever we said. Like, he said the education thing was scrapped."

"You know that was re-introduced the other day, right?" he replied. And so began our evening of door knocking. It was kind of fun. "I have the best job in the world!" crowed Kay.

I enjoyed the way that Jay deferred to Kay despite the generational age gap and social status gap between them. A few times it almost felt like we were babysitting. Jay clearly respects and trusts that Kay knows what he is talking about.

"It's busy for you now, isn't it?" a constituent would say to Jay.
"Kay lets me have Mondays off from door knocking," Jay replied half-jokingly.
"For now," Kay clarified with a smirk.

"Here's some money for you," a constituent would say to Jay.
"Give all the money to me, Jay," Kay would say.
"Well, ok," he agreed.

Come an argument among the volunteers, one volunteer would complain that there was too much walking. The second volunteer would complain that there was too much walking. Jay would hem and haw and like a good diplomat let someone else make the unpopular decision he wanted to make himself. "What would your advice be, Kay?" he asked.

"Let's forget the cars entirely and just walk," Kay replied.

"Let's do it," Jay agreed. But I think they've had to reevaluate since, for fear of the other volunteers turning against them. We were generally worried that Jay may get sucked into one of the houses and be unable to extricate himself without a rescue as it was (we actually lost him and had to double-back a couple times to find him). It would be even worse if you had no volunteers to come rescue you.

So I've been door knocking, my sister has been door knocking, our unable-to-vote basement dweller wants to go door knocking and we have two Wildrose signs on our property. Now all we need is a giant banner with the smiling face of our candidate hung over the garage to greet Mom and Dad when they get back from Hawaii. At least they won't be confused about who we're supposed to support this election.

Apparently this is the tactic for getting a lawn sign on the property of new immigrants:

Door knocker: So, either you can donate to the party, or I can give you a free sign!
New immigrant: Well, uh, free sign, then, please.

"If you can't convince them, confuse them!" Harry S. Truman

P.S. Just so I don't get sued for libel, I should state that I may have trimmed the conversations down for size, and I'm sure I don't remember the exact wording. But the gist is pretty much accurate.