I designed a t-shirt and a mug

You can add/change text, and change some of the details.*

They're not great, more like a first try. I don't expect any sales. But if you buy one I will get a percentage!

*The unique part is the pattern I designed (not for the blog originally). You can even get rid of that.


I Borg to differ

The optimistic scifi show Star Trek, the Next Generation is not guaranteed to be on TV forever. If you have never watched it, I recommend the "I, Borg" episode.

It's not too geeky1 and contains the great line
"Resistance is not futile?"

The episode's underlying philosophy is still relevant today.

At the bottom of this post is a plot summary. I want to focus on the part that is not spot-on. I want to comment on the idea that self-contradictory ideas make minds self-destruct. Because they don't.

Here in the West2 contradictory ideas are introduced and internalized every single day. Does anyone self-destruct after watching the TV news?
Well, a few people.


The very least contradictory ideas [as 'memes'] are doing is turning some modern minds into MC Escher drawings like this

from here

This building might even be evidence:

from here (more)

In my opinion, these days it is the Escherized that are crying on the inside, and not our clowns so much. This cartoon might be annoying
but it might be right.


The most political I want to get is to say that I think some do not stop at the Escher state (wondering why the metaphorical 'up' stairs seem like 'down' stairs). I think some go all the way to stupid. Internalized contradictions can be like blows to the head.

I find I am not smart enough. Maybe it's the contradictions I've internalized! But I don't even know if the happy events at the end of "I Borg" show the way.


As promised, a summary of the plot
the Borg
They are totalitarians, intent on assimilating the entire universe to be part of their collective. As the story begins, this is a tangible, likely threat to the humans and to the entire galaxy.

To be made into a Borg is a fate worse than death. Not only does each not have their own thoughts, they do not even have names. They endure tubes stucks into their bodies, connecting them to the hive.

Worse, every scrap of knowledge that there might be a better way has been sucked from them. They don't know what they don't know.

In the episode
A single Borg is captured and the question of what do with him arises. The fate of the galaxy is at stake.

The Enterprise's galaxy-class engineer Geordi comes up with a plan to introduce a self-contradictory idea into the individual Borg, and then return him to the hive! Geordi's idea is that -forced to internalize a paradoxical geometric shape- the entire collective with go insane and self-destruct!!

Ultimately this is not done.
Instead there is a life-affirming plot device, brilliantly written and perfectly played..


  • Among Star Trek geeks it's regarded, but not ranked at the very top

  • I will explain what 'the West' really means in an upcoming post

  • As George Orwell pointed out to the world, Geordi-type plans wouldn't work. If you managed to get the attention of the real equivalent of an obedient bureaucrat from the novel 1984, introducing a paradoxical geometric figure to him or her would be like handing a bottle of glue to a habitual sniffer.

[edited 2007-02-20]


the hands in a manga Futurama, w 3 Simpsons links

An artist called Spacecowboy has done a drawing, colored with markers, of what the cast of Futurama would be like if rendered as manga.

-Futurama- as manga, by Spacecowboy
big image at link

Click to the wallpaper-sized image and notice how the artist rendered the hands of each character differently.


The drawing of the hands that way reminds me of the MLK quote:
"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."

now for 3 Simpsons references

The artist's 'The Simpsonzu' and 'Dysfunctional Neighbour Totoro' remind me of a famous Matthew Diffee cartoon
mocking t-shirts like these.

For further reading I recommend the WaPo article subtitled 'What Makes a Cartoon New Yorker-Worthy?'. It includes a short profile of Diffee (it will only be available for free for little while longer).


5-part cosmologies, as presented to kids through the ages

  • Millenia ago in some places in China kids were taught the universe was made of up 5 elements

    Wood + Fire + Earth + Metal + Water

    Their lessons were aided by associating corresponding animals 1

    dragon + bird + unicorn + tiger + tortoise

  • around 1608 in England, a playwright called Shakespeare wrote 2
    [man to his infant son]
    Thou hast as chiding a nativity
    As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make,
    To herald thee from the womb

    (From Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
    They are in peril in a storm on the open seas,
    and the infant's mother has just died.)

  • Just recently in Orlando, Florida children were taken to the following ceremony:

I guess there are only so many ways one can represent the harmony of nature.

even sillier addition

Pretend that the break-dancing means something. Pretend that when the legs kick a cycle is passed. Maybe the left legs create the classic Chinese 'generating' cycle!

earth + bares + metal + collects + water + nourishes + wood + feeds + fire + creates + earth

Bear + bares + Shark + collects + Turtle + nourishes + Alligator + feeds + Tiger + creates + Bear

and maybe the other leg is the 'overcoming' cycle

wood + parts + earth + absorbs + water + quenches + fire + melts + metal + chops + wood

Neither the animals nor the order match exactly.

  1. there were other similar sets
  2. Forget the myth you were taught in school, likely this play was completed by the friends of Edward De Vere after his death, in preperation for the publication in the First Folio that would retain his famous pseudonym. [related post]