Archive for February, 2007

Self, A Useful Abstraction

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Today in Zen, before Kenney kicked me out because she was covering material she covered in Religion in Japan, we talked about Non-Self, one of the most important ideas in Buddhism. As you know, after the Buddha came up with all that about suffering and how it was escapable, he became a selfless teacher. But selfless means more than altruistic. In this case, Non-Self.

I used the word abstraction in the title because I am a student of computer science and abstraction is what we do, more or less. Self is an abstraction, it takes a complex system, say the brain( reptile, and the other later bits), the body, and mind(the patterns in the brain) and makes it seem like it is one entity. I think that this is a useful thing. Thinking and being aware of all the connections of those subsystems takes a lot of time and energy, so it is simpler just to roll it into one idea.

The same is true of many things like cars, computers, skyscrapers, etc. (more…)

Look A Picture of Me on My Professor’s Blog

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

So there I was, reading about this presentation I went to by one of the business profs on his design and presentation blog(presentation zen), when I noticed I am in a photo of the presentation audience. It was a kinda weird sensation.

The presentation focused on design and presentation and zen. I know, big surprise for having a blog called ‘Presentation Zen.’ It highlighted problems people often have with presenting, especially with slides. You see, many people, when they make slides, use bullet points and lots of text and complex diagrams. Gar(the Professor)’s argues that is boring and not necessary anyway.

(more…)

Suffering, Etc.

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Another day of Zen.

I didn’t go to the last two classes because the teacher told me I should leave. I took Religion in Japan last semester and we covered basic Buddhism fairly well in that class. そして I already know a lot of what we are covering now for background in Zen.

Arguably, I could have skipped this lecture as well, but it was interesting. We went over the four noble truths(paraphrased):

  1. life is suffering
  2. suffering’s cause is desire
  3. suffering can be ended
  4. There is a way out

Buddhism sounds pretty bleak. But, it always seems that Buddhists like the Dali Lama are always smiling. And Thich Naht Han said be happy with the now, with the world. How does this jive with the idea of all is terrible and disgusting? (more…)

New Uses of The Internet, It is all in your hands

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

I know that this isn’t a new idea, but itsallinyourhands.com is a really neat implementation of the viewer decided plot line. It is sort of a choose your own story. Viewers vote on which way each plot point will go, will he skip the date and go for the sex bunny or will he go on the date with the shy girl. The viewer decide.

It looks to me like the shows on the site are very well put together. The editing is pretty good and the acting is not bad. This could turn into an interesting way of building an audience.

Marcus Zoeller Or Drinking Spain

Monday, February 19th, 2007

My friend Marcus has a blog. In it he talks about his experiences in Spain. He is cool, so I added him to my friends list.

Also, him, Grant Nelson and I  have gone to the ACM Programmers Competition a few times.

HOUSE BILL NO. 525:Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education Act

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Roger Koopman, a representative in the Montana State Legislature, introduced a bill this session entitled “AN ACT ENCOURAGING INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY IN THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM; URGING UNITS OF THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM TO PROVIDE AN ANNUAL REPORT; PROVIDING A ROLE FOR THE EDUCATION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT INTERIM COMMITTEE; AMENDING SECTION 5-5-224, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.” I read the bill and I think that it is not a good idea. It is too vague and adds another unnecessary burden on the system. It is a mostly symbolic gesture and does not have any meat to it. (more…)

Eisenhower, Zen?

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

This was on my quotation list today. I thought that it was a rather Zen thing to say. It follows from the idea that knowledge is an impediment to understanding. If you got a plan, you might be inclined to view it as a true thing, when in reality, it is just an idea. Clinging to it, you lose flexibility.

And, as anyone who has lost a game of chess can tell you, when you are out of choices, the game is over.

ハリー・ポッターが難しい or Reading is Hard

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

This weekend I read a 1/4 of harry potter in Japanese. Last semester, I had bought Eragon in Japanese, but that turned out to be a foolish endeavor. It was too hard, too many kanji, too little furigana(the small characters above kanji that tell the unenlightened how to read it). Harry is much much easier.

On the other hand, I still don’t understand about, oh, a third of the words the first time I see them. But, I can read the japanese because most of the kanji have furigana. And I have learned a few new words like mono-oki(物置) which means closet, more or less. (more…)

Molly Ivins, 62, Deceased.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

The first column I read by Molly Ivins was in highschool. Over the last few years, as I became more interested in politics, I found myself reading her columns more often. I liked her style. She got down to bid’ness and didn’t use flowery prose or tortous logic to get her point across.

During the summer, her columns started to come less frequently, I read she had relapsed into cancer. She was going through chemo and lost her hair. But she kept writing in the same fiery tone.

Suddenly, the columns stopped altogether. For two months, I checked common dreams everyday and read my op-ed columns, but none from her. I guess I had thought that she would get better, that the stubborn, take no quarter spirit would prevail over the cancer.

Then, last week, after not checking common dreams for a while, I read Maya Angelou’s essay.

I will miss that fiery spirit. I will miss that stubborn will that always spoke truth to power. I will miss the hope and the anger her writing made me feel. But, the mistakes and abuses she wrote about continue and it would not do justice to her memory to merely grieve.

 

Dogen Zen or Count All The Rice

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

For class today we read an essay by Dogen, one of the first Japanese Zen masters to study in China. At this point, I dont know much about him, but the essay was interesting.

It reminded me of something I read somewhere, that the best descriptions of Zen dont actually talk about Zen at all. This makes sense to me because I think that Zen practice-mindfulness and all that jazz, are better explained by talking about something else. What I mean by that is that Zen is difficult to explain directly.

Suppose I asked you what Zen means. Could you answer? I guess it would depend on what sort of thing you thought I was looking for. (more…)