Science.

A friend asked me what my philosophical beliefs are, how I feel about alchemy and astrology and whether I think there is a God. He didn’t know this site existed and so I pointed him toward my Post Christianity post.

His reply was that he understood me to be an atheist but that he felt that the question had not been answered fully and followed with whether or not I thought “so called science” had all the answers.

It was not the first time I have heard the term used and not the first time it struck me as indicative of a foregone conclusion. It was however the first time it really struck me as an oxymoron. (noun, plural oxymora [ok-si-mawruh, –mohruh],oxymorons. Rhetoric. 1. a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous,seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”.)

It is an oxymoron because it implies uncertainty, that is to say it describes science as something that is unreliable or hit or miss in some sense, but science is – ( noun 1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws:). That is to say “so called science” is defined as unreliable knowledge. Knowledge is by definition a known quantity – hence, reliable.

The definition above relates to a single scientific discipline however, but in the context of our discussion it referred to the entirety of these disciplines in the same vein as the broader discussion going on globally – i.e. Science is the body of disciplines which encompass the study of the universe that surrounds us, from the very small to the very large, with branches such as physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, etc, all of which use mathematics to a great extent as a tool.

The “scientific method” – the method we employ in order to discover new science (knowledge) relies on experiments that can be independently performed by anyone with the means and inclination to do so, whose results are published for all to see and critique. This ensures that all conclusions are thoroughly verified and tested before they are accepted as truths. What’s more they are repeated to ensure that the results and therefore the conclusions of those results are reliable by means of standard deviation. This method has evolved to be more and more reliable over the past two centuries and the fact that you can read this text on an LCD screen is part of the tangible evidence of its’ reliability

So where’s the philosophy in all this Kirk? you’re going off on another rant.

Well, now the questions become “Does science as described above have all the answers?” and if “No”, “Is there any merit to Alchemy and Astrology, or even a religious philosophical system?”

Well the short answer to the first question is a simple “No”. Why? because we have only been at it for a very short time, and the universe is really big, and a lot is happening in it. Furthermore most of the time that we have been asking questions about it, our tools were limited to our own eyes and our mind, so one could say we have only been at it seriously since the Renaissance.
What’s more, there are unanswerable questions: “Is there a God?”. God is defined as a supernatural being that is to say, beyond nature, or above the plane of nature – the universe. If God exists we cannot measure it, if we could measure it (by implanted vision or talking or praying) that would imply its’ pertaining to the universe and thus not supernatural. Even if the interaction is one way say, from God to us, that still means it can be part of the universe and so a subject to its’ laws which again violates its’ supernatural definition. If a God does not exist, we have no, and will never have means of knowing this with any degree of certainty because of the nature of the definition.
There are also nonsensical questions: “What happened before the Big Bang?”. The Big Bang is an event which created the space-time continuum, so the question is equivalent to “What is south of the South Pole?” At the South Pole, all directions are North. Asking the question is like trying to divide by 0 – nonsense.

So we cannot conclusively answer the “Is there a God?” question, so let’s instead shift it to something that we could possibly tackle with a few more questions.

“Is it possible there is a God?” – “Yes” – it is certainly possible, if we define anything as being supernatural i.e. not beholden to the laws of the universe (known or not) then that concept is possible, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The issue with this is that God is defined as being the primal source, prime cause or the more archaic prime mover but even the question of “Is God there?” subordinates its existence to the concept of truth and the very idea that God is subordinate to anything makes the entire concept collapse making God’s existence more and more unlikely.

To conclude this answer, in my view, the existence of a God is irrelevant, and the pursuit of an answer to an unanswerable question is a waste of time.It is irrelevant because if it does exist, we cannot interact by definition and so it cannot communicate with us and vice versa, no communication results in no influence and thus no relevance – it would be nice to know, but we can’t, so why bother when our lifespans are limited? furthermore why dedicate our lives to something that is impossible to be sure of when we could instead pursue concepts that come with some benefit.

“Alright, what about Alchemy and Astrology, why are they pseudo-science”. We defined science as something that is known, rigorously. So, what makes a pseudo-science.

Alchemy is the process of transmuting a substance into another by way of chemical reaction and/or incantations, it was the precursor to the modern science of chemistry. While Alchemy was able to observe correlations between certain interactions (Vitriol transmutes metals into salts) and their effects, it could not explain the underlying mechanism that lead to those effects and so results were, understandably, unreliable. They thought they knew something because certain predictions came true, but they did not understand why or how so… pseudo-science. Eventually alchemists became chemists as the mechanisms of reactions became more and more understood making alchemy obsolete in its’ use to pursue facts about the natural world.

Astrology is the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of heavenly bodies on human affairs. Astrology relies on correlations between astronomical positions of planets and stars and human behavior and psychology (i.e. if Jupiter is in this constellation such and such will happen to you or your psychology). This is a fallacy. Correlation does not imply causation as shown here. Astrology has not produced a theory (read a system of proofs) by which the correlations it presents as fact come to be. They think they know something because certain predictions come true but they do not understand how or why so… pseudo-science.

 

As a rational being I try my best to base my decisions on the best approximation of truth that I can. Neither religion, alchemy or astrology provide anything close to the best approximation, let alone truth.

Leg pain – and a girl.

I tore a calf muscle about a couple of weeks ago. Football is quite physical, and being a goal keeper doesn’t quite shield you from injury. About a week later I realized it was more than just sore muscles and the doctor said I probably have a tear, rest your leg, use ice to cope with the swelling and if it hurts too much, paracetamol is enough of a painkiller.

One never quite realizes how debilitating injuries can be until they are faced with the fact. Walking is an adventure. When it doesn’t quite hurt and you become a little bit overconfident your muscle twitches in strange ways, the pain is instant and punishing of any such transgression. There is no real treatment, aside from the aforementioned rest and ice packs. Ice is interesting, cold things hurt, and then strangely they start to burn I found out.

Suffice to say I’ve been living with varying amounts of leg pain for the past fortnight. My colleagues at work have taken to calling me dr. House and I am awaiting the cane I was promised in order to help with my recuperation.

Today I went to work for the first time, not having moved much beyond my studio door for the past few days. I really didn’t know what to expect but my leg and I had a deal, I would behave if it would behave in return. The walk to the subway took longer than usual, but the deal was working. He grumbled and twitched a little bit as I went down the two flights of stairs, I relented and used the handrail.

We’re good pals, my legs and I, we’ve been places and done things that most people on the train probably haven’t, it’s part of what got us in this little squabble, but not her, she looked different from the rest as she was getting ready to board the train. Sure she was short, but that backpack can’t have been light. Her cheeks were flushed with the spring sun still glinting into her blue eyes as she walked into the train. I leaned over to check my leg for painful spots as I do every now and again when a pair of feet appeared next to me. Light brown leather shoes, gently wrapped around slender ankles, no stalkings or socks.

I leaned back and there she was holding onto the bar, well this is odd I’m in the handicapped spot, my leg is a mess but I should probably leave her my seat when she refuses someone else. She is exceedingly pretty with her short brown hair tied up like that.

We somehow both noticed the kids next to us talking about their driving tests rather coarsely at around the same time. I caught her peaking at their phone, and she caught me catching her, and we didn’t let go for a few seconds, until people had to get off at the next stop and she maneuvered to remain in the same place despite her enormous backpack.

I knew the next stop was the exchange, I hoped she was headed for the train station and not the airport and would linger on for another few minutes. I pushed myself to look again and there she was looking back blinking now and again, once for every new digit in my heart rate, and hers no doubt as she became flushed again.

The train stopped, the automatic voice said the words, the doors opened and without letting go of my eyes she smiled playfully and walked away. Should I stay or should I go? I should stay… safe travels subway girl.

Eating out.

I woke up at seven in the evening today. It had been a wonderful night. It was dark outside and I realised I didn’t have much of anything to eat around the house so I thought I’d pop outside for a breath of fresh air and some contemplation, on my own.

I have just moved here and I don’t really know the neighborhood very well but there is one place that I do like. It is unfortunately located within the food court of a large supermarket, one of the most stressful places for me.  But, I thought to myself, it’s fairly late in the evening, few people will be there, it will be interesting.

Now, I don’t live in what’s called the safest part of town, but it’s not too bad either, all that happened on the ten to fifteen minute walk there was that I saw a bum peeing on a grafittied up wall, practically within the focus of a streetlight – little Paris indeed. Few cars on the street, people trying to catch a bus home in almost dark stops and walking home with cheery little kids back from a trip to the colorful mall.

It looks like it’s finally warming up outside so I ended up undoing the zipper on my jacket only to wonder at the silhouette of my own shadow walking in front of me. What was once a short kid walking home from school in uniform with a square leather backpack is now a hooded anonymous figure beneath the streetlights of the big city with but a lit cigarette to ironically show that a living man hides within, no one knows who I am or where I am going, and that’s alright.

The place is almost empty by now, the few people I see are mopping the floor or closing down their stores, some turn their gaze to me as I let down my hood and head for the place I want to eat, ‘I might be a bit late’ I think to myself ‘but that’s alright too’. There are customers on the one table though so I ask the smartly dressed head waitress whether I can sit down for dinner or whether they are getting ready to close. She smiles with her eyes at my ingenuity and tells me they don’t close until midnight and encourages me to take a seat.

The place is closed off but large windows allow you to see into the middle of the food court. People finishing their meals and putting on jackets before they head for home, fast food workers bantering as they push along carts of supplies, somehow always with a smile as they chat among themselves. It’s a Sunday so their weekend is shot but somehow they still find ways to be cheerful, and you can tell it’s genuine, not a customer to fake it towards in sight.

Some of the restaurant staff are getting ready to leave as well and I overhear them asking one of the waitresses what’s wrong, she looks like she’s had a bad day, but she’s determined not to share the details and just tells them to stop asking. She brings me my beer and ashtray and tells me that my ‘Penne al salmone’ will be served shortly. I am now the only customer.

The food was excellent, light yet filling and full of Mediterranean aroma, complimented by the rugged but soft addition of smoked salmon. I was half way through my beer by the time it arrived, and open to culinary suggestions. I am really starting to like this place. I finish up my food and start typing away at a message with a piece of warm foccacia in my other hand and lay back. I take in the sights and sounds and can almost feel the air of content around me. Life seems to agree with people working here, at least in this snapshot. I wave and the head waitress brings me my check. ‘I’ll use my card please, and please may I have a pen?’, ‘A pen?’ she smiles ‘Yes, please’

I was going to write it on the back of the receipt but she brought a piece of paper too, which I thought was rather thoughtful ‘An excellent meal, thank you. A smile for the young lady whom no one knows what is wrong with’. I leave a customary tip, put on my jacket and pull up my hood, walk away to the sound of echoing giggles from what I counted to be everyone in the scene behind me.

February 2015.

This is a story. This music goes with it (opens new tab). Read it and call me crazy at your leisure.

I was feeling happy when I woke up this morning. I have a new job that I love, I think I might be falling in love, I’ve rediscovered an artist that I like, I can see that it’s sunny outside, my room’s a bit of a mess but that can be fixed when I come back from the doctors’, oh and I must remember to tie up my freshly sprouted bean stalks. Got stuff to do today, best get cracking.

Doctors’ appointments are interesting experiences. Mine said I should get more exercise than I already am because I work in an office and that exposes me to sedentarism, and I should quit smoking, he suggested a way I hadn’t thought of before, and I’m going to try it, wish me luck.

I took everything he said to heart, as I do, and I’m hopeful about the future but it’s still a bit of a downer coming back home. I walked up the corridor leading to my studio unlocked the door and slowly got out of my boots and jacket, and just crashed into bed fully clothed for a bit.

A second later I opened my eyes and noticed a brown patch on my yellow wall. Three blinks later and it had grown into a sketch of someone I thought I recognized, that can’t be right. Blink Blink. Now another sketch of a manga cartoon is superimposed on the first… I’m probably dreaming. Close your eyes it’ll go away.

When I next opened my eyes after what felt like a few minutes the sketches were gone but now a black spot was in the same place. I hadn’t noticed that before. Blink blink. It’s now a black and white sketch of someone else I once knew, the inner spaces are white, the contours are thick black strokes, and those voices – those weren’t there, I hadn’t noticed the walls of this new place are so thin. Bin… tan pis, I’m probably still dreaming, so let’s see what else gets drawn on the wall.

As I try to concentrate on the images, they get faster and faster, all different, people, cartoon characters all in faster and faster cadence, my heart rate soars and the voices are getting stronger and they are very close… this isn’t turning out quite the way I like, best go back to sleep.

I’m finally up. Hm those voices are still there. I get out of bed and realize there are people in my hallway. I’ve got the urge to tell them breaking and entering is a felony, but before I can open my mouth I notice the two cops standing in my bathroom door speaking to the other 5 people huddled around. What is going on? They’re all speaking Romanian and seem to be very interested in my bathroom… ‘What’s going on? Why are you all in my house?’. Nothing, it’s like I’m not there. I get right in the middle of them and try to listen to what they’re saying, but I can’t understand my own language. It’s like the words are blurred.

What’s happening?! I try to check the kitchen for signs of whatever it is that’s going on in my bathroom and notice that it’s dark outside… must’ve slept through the day, wouldn’t be the first time. The kitchen looks fine, grab my smokes from the counter and try to address the people in my doorway again ‘Please tell me who called the cops and why? I don’t intend to retaliate in any way, just take a look at me, it’s not like I could anyway’ Nothing. ‘Please, I just want to know what happened!’, nothing, why are they doing this? Why are they all in my house discussing my bathroom? I only now hear the water flowing in there, but it’s dark and the light’s not on, please don’t tell me the guy upstairs is flooding me.

I walk outside into the hallway but no one is there, all I can see is the reflections of the lamps on the floor and lights at each end of the corridor, all I can hear is Romanian being spoken and the echo of water flowing. Right, that’s it, I’m going to the police station to fix this.

The night is young at least, I have no Idea what time it is but Jupiter can’t have been up for more than a couple of hours. I stare at it ‘Hello old friend, at least you’re still there, oh no… no don’t do that’. It starts to move randomly around it’s spot, faster and faster it’s no longer a dot and starts to describe a sketched human shape flying in loops around it’s usual place. As I’m walking looking right at it, I step on a piece of almost frozen snow and it cracks. I’m startled… So i’m definitely not asleep, that proves it, and I probably wasn’t before. Those people were all in my house, all day, as I was sleeping, talking about my bathroom… That’s what those voices were… What is going on? WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Where am I? Oh look, those two were in my house earlier, quick, after them, they’re walking straight towards me. I hear her speaking. ‘Did you see how angry he was? I would be too if people barged into my house like that and didn’t speak to me… And the cops didn’t even look at him? can you imagine what was going on in his mind?’. Great they’re on my side. ‘Oh I’m so glad I caught up with you, can you tell me what happened? I’m starting to get a bit flippy’. She glances my way and looks me straight in the eye, but they just keep on walking and talking as if I wasn’t there.

‘NO’, I follow them, but I can’t get any closer, I’m running and they’re walking but I’m not closing the gap. It’s dark and I’m surrounded by tall desolate apartment blocks, there’s melting snow everywhere and they round a corner from the alley. I keep running but somehow the alley is a lot thinner now than it was before. The hedges on the sides are starting to scratch me and before I know it I’m stuck, in the middle of all this. Time to backtrack but it’s all the same. Now I’m lost and somehow I’m half naked from the waist down except my boots. I look up and Jupiter is still there, still drawing away at an animated cartoon of a sketched human shape playing around across the night sky as if on blueprint paper. I need to get home, regroup and figure this out… this can’t be happening, nothing makes any rational sense. I’m not entirely sure I have any reason left that would make sense of anything right now, I’m clearly losing it.

This isn’t the street I live on, I must be close by though, there’s the church. All I have to do is get there and from there it’s two minutes to my place. When did all these churches start getting built? I never noticed them before. Why are they all being built all over this block? They’re all in various stages of construction. Why is there a group of Franciscan nuns in the middle of a rundown Bucharest neighborhood walking around Orthodox building sites in the middle of the night? ‘Hello? Can you tell me what street this is? I’m trying to get to street X’ ‘Oh that’s right over there’. She points me toward a parallel street. She spoke a language I had never heard before, but somehow I understand her and take her advice. Now i’m close for sure.

There’s a cop car with the lights on parked close to my building, great maybe now they’ll tell me what happened, give me some explanation, but which one is it? I just moved here… They both look the same, why am i not cold even though it’s February and I’m wet from head to toe for some reason. The next thing I know I’m standing in front of my open doorway, the house is dark with an orange light filtering through the curtain from the streetlamps outside. The water is still on but no one is here. I’m dripping from my jacket, now I am cold and I can feel the exposure, my genitals are trying hard to get inside my abdomen, my legs are cold and wet and I’m thinking it can’t get much worse so I might as well try to get online and check the news, try to shed some light on what’s going on. On my way there I finally check the bathroom.

A series of metal pipes are fastened to the ceiling leading into glass tubes that spiral widely into a network of glass lab equipment, clear water is coming from the ceiling and it’s turning dark blue before it all drains into a massive glass vat where once filled it turns into a fine foam and vanishes. What is this for? Who put it here? Where is the water coming from? Why is it vanishing. I rush into the kitchen, fumble around for my ashtray and get out my smokes. I need a time out, I really do. I open it up and take one out without looking, but it’s flattened beyond use, and wet, and a leathery brown, it’s burst and wet, but it’s smoking already, how? I take a good look into my pack but they’re all in various stages of whatever happened to the first one. ‘No… please no…’ I’m naked, wet and cold… My place is completely trashed and I may or may not be in trouble with the police… I’m seeing things and my fucking beans are dead! I start to slide my back down the side of the counter and I feel like I’m about to completely break down into little pieces of what used to be me.

Skype calls and I wake up. The sun’s still up. I hadn’t noticed my bike was missing in the dream. Well… It’s definitely there now. Right, where was I? ah yes… I gotta clean up this mess

Ce mă macină…

De obicei nu scriu în română aici, aşa că poate ar trebui să mă prezint, şi, făcând asta să vă spun o poveste, una pe care ar trebui să o recunoaşteţi.

Am 28 de ani. Unii îmi spun că sunt bătrân, alţii că sunt tânăr, Eu ştiu doar că am fire albe şi în cap şi în barbă dar desenele animate încă mă mai fac să râd. Prima mea amintire este din ziua în care am priceput în sfârşit cum se pronunţă simbolul ‘g’ din cartea de poveşti mare şi verde pe care o folosea mama pe post de material didactic. Aveam 3 ani şi urma să merg pentru prima oară la cămin unde în prima zi am plâns de disperare că mama m-a lăsat acolo, am învăţat să mă leg singur la şireturi precum şi două lucruri esenţiale pentru supravieţuirea în comunitatea în care doar ce intrasem: doamna grasă se chema “tovarăşa” şi “toate cuburile de lemn sunt ale lui Alin” – mi-a zis Ionel, unul din noii mei prieteni de joacă, şi portavocea acestui Alin. Vedeţi voi, în grupa mijlocie de la căminul la care am fost, Alin era un soi de baron local, trebuia să ai mare grijă în relaţia cu ţâncul de patru ani pentru că alţii care voiau să se joace şi ei cu cuburile insuficiente pentru câţi copii eram, nefăcând diferenţa între bine şi rău, te-ar fi bătut crâncen la un ordin de-al lui Alin – doar doar le-o permite mai multe cuburi tip “poartă”. Când resursele sunt puţine e uşor să-i învrăjbeşti pe cei mici şi iată cum ia naştere corupţia.

Nu a trecut mult timp şi după o vacanţă de iarnă m-am întors la cămin. “Tovarăşa” ne-a spus ca de aici înainte se cheamă “Doamna”. A fost o vacanţă plină de evenimente – cutia mare cu un perete de sticlă de pe nişa bibliotecii se chema “televizor”. Mic şi îndoctrinabil ţopăiam pe canapea strigând “Ceauşescu România! Ceauşescu România!”. Am aflat peste ani că motivul pentru care tata nu era acasă a fost că plecase de fapt la Timişoara unde începuseră evenimentele din Decembrie 1989, nu din zel revolutionar ci pentru că fratele meu mai mare era acolo la un concurs de şah, şi totodată, în mare pericol.

Acum la 25 de ani după amintirile astea le privesc cumva de sus, în ansamblul lor. Au urmat zile negre pentru România, resursele puţine nu fac ca doar copiii de grădiniţă să fie manipulabili. După crima săvârşită împotriva a doi bătrâni fragili care nu mai erau nici un pericol pentru noul stabiliment, şi pe care poporul român ar fi meritat să îi vadă judecaţi riguros cu adevărat spre deosebire de linşaţi odios, puterea a căzut în mâinile FSN (Frontul Salvării Naţionale), un nou partid stat. S-a creat o stare de fapt pe care unii nu erau pregătiţi să o tolereze, sigur aceşti nemulţumiţi nu puteau fi decât nişte “golani” care în nerecunoştinţa lor de fascişti drogaţi au ocupat paşnic piaţa Universităţii.  Alin, scuze, Ion Iliescu îi denunţă ca atare şi îi cheamă la arme pe minerii din Valea Jiului, care, aliniaţi în spatele lui Ionel, zis Miron Cozma, descind asupra Bucureştiului înarmaţi cu bâte şi topoare făcând măcel printre tinerii din piaţă. Ion Iliescu iese la televizor din nou şi le mulţumeşte pentru devotamentul faţă de ţara care de pe acum se confundă cu personajele noului regim, cu promisiunea implicită că vor primi cuburi.

Sigur duşmanul din interior devin acum golanii intelectuali, o ţintă facilă având în vedere că terenul împotriva lor fusese pregătit bine în 40 de ani de comunism, aşa că “IMGB face ordine”, “noi muncim, noi nu gândim” şi “nu ne vindem ţara” devin titluri de glorie printre copiii grădiniţei noastre. Cele mai bune minţi ale societăţii îşi fac bagajele şi părăsesc ţara care aparent nu îi vrea.

Au trecut câţiva ani şi nucleul FSN-ului scindat după mineriade în mai multe partide este încă la putere sub forma PDSR (Partidul Democraţiei Sociale din România). Deşi aceşti lideri ai revoluţiei deţineau controlul total asupra instituţiilor statului în urma alegerilor din 1992, la 6 ani după Decembrie 1989, românii încă nu au un răspuns la întrebarea “Cine a tras în noi?” – până şi copiii de grădiniţă îşi pun întrebări când îşi văd familia măcelărită, nimeni nu plăteşte şi cumva tot nu au cuburi. Iese Emil Constantinescu în 1996 şi este ales pentru că promite un guvern de tehnocraţi care să pună ţara la cale. Guvernul Ciorbea trage concluzia crudă în adevărul său că va trebui să “strângem cureaua”, tot ce merge în pierdere trebuie închis dacă nu e de interes naţional sau restructurat. Locuri de muncă de la care muncitorii se aşteptau să iasă la pensie se evaporă iar în 1998 minerii îşi dau seama că încă nu şi-au primit cuburile promise cu ani în urmă şi pornesc pe jos spre Bucureşti. Într-o ironie a sorţii sunt opriţi la Posada de către forţele de ordine care acţionează decisiv salvând stabilitatea fragilă a unui stat aflat în spasmele unui tratament aşa zis, de şoc – aproape la fel de important ca în 1330.

Democraţia însă nu e matură şi guvernele cad unul după altul din pricina neînţelegerilor din interiorul alianţei CDR (Convenţia Democrată din România). În decursul celor patru ani de guvernare însă, România se aliniază din punct de vedere al politicii externe pe cursul aderării la Alianţa Nord Atlantică şi integrării europene – evităm astfel “calitatea” de membru CSI (Comunitatea Statelor Independente) formată din foste ţări membre URSS – e un moment istoric în care voinţa naţiunii şi-a spus cuvântul şi care rezonează până în zilele noastre – nimeni nu îşi permite să i se opună public. Cu toate acestea măsurile necesare pentru a putea fi acceptaţi ca şi candidaţi la aderare sunt aproape insuportabile, statul plăteşte sume fabuloase în plăţi compensatorii către noii şomeri şi nucleul CDR – Partidul Naţional Ţărănist Creştin şi Democrat intră în colaps şi se pulverizează. Emil Constantinescu nu candidează la preşedinţie şi ai mei au de ales între Ion Iliescu şi Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Doare tare însă tribunul nu este o opţiune.

Noua guvernare PDSR nu se poate opune noii politici externe în mod făţiş însă o poate întârzia. privatizările se fac într-un mod cel puţin discutabil de către guvernarea Năstase, şi vreau să dau ca exemplu doar uzinele Aro Câmpulung vândute firmei americane Cross Lander, de care nu am auzit de loc până sau de atunci, pe suma infimă de $180.000 în 2003, adică echivalentul a poate zece apartamente în Bucureşti. Deşi contractul prevedea investiţii de $2.000.000, noul proprietar a vândut practic uzina la fier vechi, transformând oraşul Câmpulung într-o localitate fantomă, şomerii nu primesc plăţi compensatorii nefiind disponibilizaţi de stat – fapt pentru care nimeni nu a plătit până în ziua de azi.

Adrian Năstase apare cu familia la emisiunea “Duminca în familie”, între două telenovele sud americane pe postul Antena 1 (sper că a început să se lege acum). Am 18 ani şi încep să îmi dau seama că se incearcă prezentarea stilului său de viaţă de înaltă societate ca fiind echivalentul unor noi standarde – un soi de Fernando Colunga (eroul masculin al telenovelei Usurpadora transmisă de acelaş post) al României, şi este declarat Românul Anului de către însuşi Mihai I, ultimul mare reper moral al neamului cade în mocirla corupţiei pentru a-şi recupera averea.

Tandemul Ion Iliescu/Adrian Năstase ia sfârşit în 2004 şi meciul la alegeri devine Adrian Năstase versus Traian Băsescu, ajuns candidat al alianţei D.A. (Dreptate şi Adevăr) în urma renunţării la candidatură de către Theodor Stolojan. Evenimentul este atât de teatral încât e aproape comic, însă Băsescu e mai carismatic decât platul Stolojan şi sunt de acord cu mutarea deşi poate nu cu mijloacele. Cu toate acestea alianţa DA are mult de muncă în a convinge electoratul că circul şi instabilitatea din perioada 1996-2000 nu se vor repeta. Întâmplarea face ca peste graniţă, la Kiev să aibă loc mari demonstraţii anti neo-comuniste – aşa numita Revoluţie Portocalie – Viktor Yanukovich demisionează în favoarea unui curent pro vestic şi idealurile acestei revoluţii paşnice sunt adoptate de dreapta din România – Băsescu este preşedinte însă răul a fost deja făcut. În 2004 aderă ca membrii cu drepturi depline ai Uniunii Europene: Estonia, Letonia, Lituania, Polonia, Republica Cehă, Slovacia, Ungaria, Slovenia şi Malta. România şi Bulgaria mai au de lucru mai ales la capitolul Combaterea Corupţiei – dosarul Aro e deja dat uitării după doar un an iar morţii din ’89 se întreabă în continuare după 14 ani “Cine a tras în noi?”

Prim ministru este Călin Popescu Tăriceanu – preşedinte al PNL (Partidul Naţional Liberal), aflat într-o postură mai puternică prin prisma acestui fapt decât predecesorii săi CDRisti, care nu deţineau control asupra partidelor lor, nefiind membrii cu funcţii de conducere ai formaţiunilor respective, îşi revendică dreptul de a-şi exercita puterea executivă în ciuda încercărilor lui Băsescu de a fi “preşedintele jucător” pe care l-a promis alegătorilor. Conflictul devine personal iar guvernarea Tăriceanu este profund marcată de această rivalitate. Cu toate acestea, România devine membră a Uniunii Europene la 1 Ianuarie 2007. Ne îmbrăţişăm în casă pentru că ne-am culcat simpli români şi ne-am trezit cetăţeni europeni a doua zi.

Evenimentul este umbrit de faptul că suntem totuşi încă sub lupă din pricina corupţiei – pe mânerul lupei-plici scrie “clauză de salvgardare”. Românilor nu le pasă însă – “în sfârşit au venit cuburile şi o să ni le dea” – tot de grădiniţă suntem însă am intrat la şcoală. Noi la grădiniţă am învăţat că numai intr-un singur mod se pot obţine cuburi aşa că, odată cu ridicarea vizelor pentru vestul Europei ne-am dus să luăm jucăriile altora, nerealizând ca între colţul de ruşine pe care îl cunoşteam şi nota scăzută la purtare există o diferentă fundamentală numită consecinţe. Descrierea României s-a extins ca urmare a comportamentului nostru în afara graniţelor de la “ţara săracă de la marginea Europei” la “ţara săracă de la marginea Europei… populată de hoţi”.

La această şcoală numită UE ni se predă faptul că un stat de drept membru al Uniunii trebuie să aibă în componenţa sa câteva instituţii independente fundamentale pentru bunul mers al lucrurilor. Sunt lecţii pe care doamnele profesoare Franţa şi Germania le-au învăţat şi ele la rândul lor prin lunga experienţă de la fondarea Consiliului Europei în 1949 şi până astăzi. Aceste instituţii se numesc la noi Curtea Constituţională, Agenţia Naţională pentru Integritate, Direcţia Naţională Anticorupţie şi Curtea de Conturi. De notat este faptul că acestea sunt instituţii ce ţin de Puterea Judiciară – unul din cei trei piloni ai statului democratic alături de Puterea Executivă (guvernul într-o republică parlamentară sau administraţia prezidenţială într-una prezidenţială) şi Puterea Legislativă.

Noi nu am avut de ales şi măcar pentru a primi o notă de trecere am implementat aceste instituţii, ele nu existau în grădiniţa tranziţiei, Puterea Juridică se subordona Puterii Executive ceea ce în perioadele 1990-1996, 2000-2004 şi 2008-2012 s-a confundat cu instituţia preşedintelui şi în cazul guvernărilor PDSR/PSD cu unicul partid important pe care se baza această putere – Justiţia era subordonată politicului. A se citi “dacă îi place lui Alin de tine, poţi să te joci cu cuburile şi să baţi pe cine vrei”. Cei care s-au folosit de această subordonare pentru propriul interes şi au subminat prin ramificaţiile economice şi sociale ale acţiunilor lor progresul poporului român trebuie să plătească,

Spre deosebire de perioadele 1990-1996, 2000-2004 însă, guvernările de dreapta 1996-2000 şi 2004-2012 nu au beneficiat de majorităţi covârşitoare, aşa numita linişte care ni se vinde acum ca un fapt benefic, în spatele careia se poate ascunde orice mârşăvie. Dimpotrivă, opoziţia puternică a încercat să scoată la iveală toate neajunsurile puterii şi invers. Aşadar, confruntarea politică deschisă şi mai ales echilibrată ca raport de forţe este deocamdată singurul mod pe care îl cunoaştem ca şi conducător la crearea instituţiilor unui stat de drept. Unde un “stat de drept” înseamnă un stat în care Puterea Judiciară este egală ca raport de forţe cu cea Executivă şi cea Legislativă. Cele trei trebuie să funcţioneze ca instrumente de control reciproce între ele fără a se abuza, iar când abuzurile au loc, ele să fie expuse public şi nu muşamalizate de dragul “liniştii”. Aşadar, orice încercare de schimbare a acestui raport de forţe dintre puterile separate dar egale ale statului constituie după părerea mea un atac la adresa lui, şi la adresa mea ca cetăţean al său cu drepturi egale asupra cuburilor pe care mi le asigură indiferent de toanele lui Alin (drepturile cetăţeneşti şi drepturile omului).

România este din nou pusă în faţa unei alegeri. Duminică fiecare Român cu drept de vot va hotărî dacă merge la vot sau nu. Este capital ca ei să se prezinte în număr cât mai mare. Astfel, orice fraudă din partea oricărei dintre părţi va avea o pondere mult mai mică decât în cazul unei prezenţe scăzute, vocea naţiunii se va face mai bine auzită.

Odată luată hotărârea de a vota suntem însă puşi în faţa alteia. Pentru mine Alin nu e o opţiune.

Airplanes, a cabbie and a metalhead – a story.

(Before you start reading I encourage you to click here (opens a new tab) it will add to the point I am trying to make and is genuinely good listening – headphones are advised)

 

A while ago I went to the Romanian Aviation Museum during an open museum night event in Bucharest. It was surreal. Rusty old MIGs and Yaks out in the yard and a few better looked after soviet era aircraft in the hangars, ’50s uniforms, old posters and a IAR 80 piston fighter that saw combat in World  War 2. No guides, you just strolled around and took in what and how you could – the atmosphere made complete by old black and white communist propaganda newsreels playing on the loudspeakers, cold breeze and dim lighting. I gained a new appreciation for the pre flybywire, laser/radar guided missle fighter pilot. These were young men just out of their teens who decided they wanted to make a living by strapping themselves to a jet engine surrounded by a paper thin tin can going five to six hundred kph while being shot at.

I thought about what it would have been like, just looking back through the engine exhausts through what would’ve been a twenty some foot long and twenty inch thick pipe filled of high velocity high temperature gas only separated from the pilot by maybe a few inches of airframe – it gave me chills, the wind notwithstanding. It made me think about how all these aircraft were designed on actual paper without the benefit of CAD and the effort that went into their conception and construction – the lengths people go to to destroy one another.

It got cold and we decided it was time to go so we called a cab and continued talking about what we had seen, we played War Thunder at the time so we had some very broad idea of the planes and could tell a MIG from a YAK without having to read the cards. As the cab eventually arrived the discussion shifted from aircraft to cold war politics and I explained to one of my friends why there were no American planes in the museum and shared what I knew about what was going on in ’50s and ’60s at which point the cab driver decided he had a clue and chimed in his views.

He was a well built guy in his 40s maybe, so he would’ve been born in the late 60s or early 70s, The revolution of 1989 probably marked the half way point in his life, in more ways than one. He seemed fairly confident in what he was talking about but his language was coarse and he honked at more than one girl on the street as we were driving along. Our discussion carried on (everyone lived a fair distance from the museum) and cold war politics gave way to EU talk. This guy had nothing but scorn about the fact that we were members, too much regulation, business (meaning petty crime) is much more difficult nowadays so he’s not doing as well as he used to be. This kind of nostalgia is fairly common, and not only among shady types, I often hear people say they’ve never lived worse. I sit and listen and feel perplexed, I try to remind people of things like the rampant inflation in the early 90’s to the tune of 300% in 1993 and that we make more money and enjoy better products these days. Meat is no longer regularly infested with all kinds of gut worms or who knows what else and, in general, food as an example, is much safer. People are so resistant to order and doing things by the book that they forget the alternative was years on end with no indoor heating and frequent power cuts, even after the fall of communism.

I let the cabbie know how I felt about some of these things and he seemed far from convinced even angry that this kid was telling him so bluntly that he was simply wrong on practically every point he tried to make. Left with no arguments he started to ask about me, where I was from what kind of music I listened to and eventually, inevitably how long it took to grow my beard, all aimed at trying to find some weakness he could exploit to regain face. I answered my favorite band is Iron Maiden and as expected he started telling me how much more of a fan he was than I could ever possibly know, how he’d been listening to metal since I was in diapers and the like, to which I answered that it was far more likely we had been aware of Maiden for about the same amount of time give the fact that I spent a lot of time in my older brother’s room when I was little. “Yeah well you know they’re nothing special, guitars and hair all commercial stuff they’re all alike” meaning in fact “there is no base for you to like them because you do not understand the workings of the real world therefor you are naive and I am not hence I win this one… kid”. I started explaining why Iron Maiden are not on par with Van Halen or KISS given the amount of political, moral and educational weight of their lyrics, not to mention superior music – that Maiden have been with me my entire life and that to this day I find that there is still a lot to discover beneath Eddie and the hair. Maiden are a band that has not stopped creating higher and higher quality albums (with the single flop of Virtual XI) since 1975. All of these albums have a central individual theme that ties into a world view which I agree with, a world view expressed in new in interesting ways with each new release – separated by years of work.

I say agree with and not subscribe to because my way of thinking is not so much influenced but rather in tune with the way they choose to express their ideas.

It is true that I am not able to recite band membership for every year of its’ existence or know the exact order of songs in every album, but that does not defeat the fact that I have what has so far been a lifelong appreciation for their music and message. A message put simply of disdain for religious dogma, war and exploitation on the one hand and a celebration of literature, freedom of thought and human dignity on the other. These are the reasons Iron Maiden is my favorite band.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was cycling in the park with a friend of a friend. I was wearing a Maiden shirt (don’t worry, I only have three) because it was the first that came to hand. We decided to stop and buy some water from a stand near the entrance and lo and behold this long haired dude and his gothqueen girlfriend were tending the place. “Oh look another Maiden shirt, that’s like what five today?”. I could almost hear “poser” coming out of her mouth, but maybe it was my imagination. I said:

‘yes it’s my favorite band!’

‘yeah well do you know what the gravestone sais’

‘Aici zace un om despre care nu se stie pre (sic) mult’ -I said without hesitation- ‘yes it’s in Romanian isn’t that neat?, It marks the grave of the Benjamin Breeg character in the album, nice touch’

‘yeah well I’ve seen them more times than you you know, six total’

I wanted to say something like “yeah well meanwhile Bruce Dickinson flies airliners for fun while you’re selling Cokes and snowcones to soccer moms in the park with your forty year old princess Bathory lookalike sidekick, go you fanboy” (see my post on why role models are stupid) but I thought better of it and just said ‘cool, I’ve seen them once, you win’

My friend and I went on our way and discussed the episode and agreed it’s probably people like that who make us not really want to have anything to do with fan clubs and the like.

Why people insist on this kind of oneupsmanship and dick measuring is beyond me. Is it more beneficial, on a personal level, to tattoo a band name onto your knuckles than to truly listen to what they have to say and judge not the surface but the depth of what they stand for, to realise whether indeed they stand for anything at all. Is it not better to take what is valuable and weigh them not by the minutia of their personal life but by their work and ideas? Are the latter not really the only way they can contribute to your person?

 

 

Cycling.

I learned to ride a bicycle when I was about eight years old. It wasn’t mine. A friend had gotten a brand new Chinese made BMX look alike. It was blue and everyone thought it was really cool. Everyone wanted to give it a go and my friend relished the power of choosing who could go and who couldn’t. Because turns were few and far between it took a couple of days before I could get those vital second and third pedal strokes in that really make you move, and balance was a huge issue. About a week later I managed to turn (on purpose!) although I couldn’t quite turn ‘around’ without a lot of space so I had to stop, clumsily and on occasion with the help of a wall or garage door, pick up the bike turn it around and then ride back to where everyone else was trading all sorts of trinkets to the owner to get a turn.

I really wanted a bike of my own at that point, everyone did, but it was decided it’s far too risky to let a child ride one of those contraptions anywhere near where cars are and then the fad kind of faded and I lost interest. The crucial thing was that I had learned to keep balance though, and not look at the pedals which meant that in a way I stopped fighting the bike for control and started adjusting to a new balance paradigm.

Ten years later I still hadn’t had a bike of my own and I hadn’t ridden one in years but I was visiting my brother in France. In the garage there were two bikes. I had to do it, I just had to. ‘Well can you ride?’ he said ‘Of course I can pff’ I said. I picked up the one that looked nicest and off I went downhill without checking the brakes or the handlebars and found myself speeding toward his neighbors’ parked cars. Still remembering how to do things I tried to turn away but the handlebars weren’t fixed to the fork very well and a 45 degree turn on the bars turned out to be a 5 degree turn on the wheel, the brakes didn’t work so here I was going 20km/h downhill fighting for control toward a very expensive Renault and no way of stopping. There was nothing to it, whatever I did I knew this was going to hurt so I decided that I had to fall, so I did. The road was fairly smooth though so nothing broke but I got the nastiest looking scratches all over the left side of my body, oh and there was a fairly loud noise. My brother came out running to see what had happened to me, I was already up and said something along the lines of ‘It’s just a flesh wound’ so he wouldn’t get too upset. The fact was it kind of hurt but I’d had worse things happen to me.

The next day I picked up the other bike, which was in far better condition technically and off I went to the park. I managed good speeds and even jumped off the crests of small mounds and never fell again… I also saw first hand that the French really do sometimes just stop and empty their bladders on the sidewalk eww.

It was only a couple of years ago that, as an adult earning my own living I decided to get a bike after having rented a 24kg proverbial truck in the park. I still have it, it’s not a Cube or a Trek, it’s a Decathlon brand Rockrider 5.1 I spent ~EUR300 on but it’s mine and I’ve ridden about 1800km on it to date.

Cycling is an immensely gratifying passtime and once you are passed the learning curve you realize that you become one with the bike when you are in the saddle. All you have to do is think about doing something and it happens, without your having to consciously go through the process of doing it, like walking – imagine what would happen if you had to think about raising your leg and putting it in front of the other taking care to shift your weight to the one on the ground each time you had to take a step. In this sense the bike becomes an extension of your body, it enhances what you can do without being invasive and the sense of achievement after a long ride is second to none that I have experienced.

That said, what prompted me to write this post is the fact that yesterday I took part in the Bucharest Critical Mass ride that happens every last Friday of the month with a friend. 200 cyclists on a grand tour of the city for a couple of hours with a small police escort. There was surprisingly little in the way of opposition from drivers although there were a couple of them who didn’t take too kindly to us slowpokes crossing the intersection. The sense for me was that people were curious as to what we were doing, and taxi drivers were especially courteous. There was camaraderie and respect, most people followed the guidelines and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend an evening.