Friday, July 11, 2008

We Interrupt This Program...


From the Wikipedia entry on Terence McKenna...

Terence McKenna grew up in Paonia, Colorado. He was introduced to geology through his uncle and developed a hobby of solitary fossil hunting in the arroyos near his home. From this he developed a deep artistic and scientific appreciation of nature.

At age 16, McKenna moved to, and attended high school in, Los Altos, California. He was introduced to psychedelics through The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley and Village Voice. One of his early experiences with them came through morning glory seeds (containing LSA), which he claimed showed him "that there was something there worth pursuing."

After graduating from high school, McKenna enrolled in U.C. Berkeley. He moved to San Francisco during the Summer Of Love before his classes began, and was introduced to cannabis by Barry Melton in 1965 and tried LSD soon later.

As a freshman at UC Berkeley McKenna participated in the Tussman Experimental College, a short-lived two-year program on the Berkeley campus. He graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Conservation. One of McKenna's most widely-promulgated ideas is known as Novelty theory. It predicts the ebb and flow of novelty in the universe as an inherent quality of time. McKenna developed the theory in the mid-1970s after his experiences in the Amazon at La Chorrera led him to closely study the King Wen sequence of the I-Ching. Novelty theory involves ontology, extropy, and eschatology.

The theory proposes that the universe is an engine designed for the production and conservation of novelty. Novelty, in this context, can be thought of as newness, or extropy (a term coined by Max More meaning the opposite of entropy). According to McKenna, when novelty is graphed over time, a fractal waveform known as "timewave zero" or simply the "timewave" results. The graph shows at what time periods, but never at what locations, novelty increases or decreases.

Considered by some to represent a model of history's most important events, the universal algorithm has also been extrapolated to be a model for future events. McKenna admitted to the expectation of a "singularity of novelty", and that he and his colleagues projected many hundreds of years into the future to find when this singularity (runaway "newness" or extropy) could occur. The graph of extropy had many enormous fluctuations over the last 25,000 years, but amazingly, it hit an asymptote at exactly December 22, 2012. In other words, entropy (or habituation) no longer exists after that date. It is impossible to define that state. The technological singularity concept parallels this, only at a date roughly three decades later. According to leading expert Ray Kurzweil), another concept called cultural singularity (essentially cultural dissolution, or language dissolution), parallels this as well. Terence claimed to have no knowledge of the Mayan calendar, which ends one day before the Timewave graph does: December 21, 2012. This is likely to be true as Mckenna's timewave theory was published in The Invisible Landscape 12 years before the book which brought the Mayan calendar into public consciousness; José Argüelles's The Mayan Factor.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Are We A Nation of Thieves?

A few hours after I paid my June phone bill online, my land line went dead. It must have been in the wee hours of July 5th, a Saturday. A couple of friends were kind enough to lodge a 100 report on my behalf and I called Hamdan, my Telekom contact in Kuala Kubu Bharu, who said a technical team from Rawang would be sent up to sort out the problem on Sunday. So I had to monitor the Kelana Jaya Stadium Protes Event from a cybercafe in KKB. Sunday came and went. Still no phone service! I called up Hamdan again and he said the Rawang crew had inspected the equipment and everything was working fine. So how come I still had no service? Hamdan went up to take a look and called me with the bad news: "Thieves have stolen a section of the cable near the bridge!" This is the third time this has happened. The first couple of times it took nearly two weeks to get my land line up again - because right after one section of cable was replaced, the same gang struck again and stole another cable section! To make matters worse, the Telekom techies used the wrong type of cable (one that didn't support Streamyx) and so they had to do the job all over again. Each time this sort of breakdown happens, I add another entry to Mahathir's long list of crimes against Malaysians.

Why Mahathir? He's the Bloody Nincompoop who privatized (read, piratized) our essential telephony, electricity, water, and train services by handing them on a silver platter to his Umno cronies who swiftly proceeded to make them even more inefficient - and, in the case of Telekom, the privatization exercise included the creation of a whole slew of private limited Bumi companies owned and operated by former Telekom employees who were given exclusive contracts to supply components, install wiring, and undertake cable replacement. That in itself need not be a problem. However, these crony companies have a very different attitude to service than your typical Chinaman run auto workshop. If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, chances are you'll be rescued by a roadside workshop who will tell you in 15 minutes what part needs replacing and then proceed to phone a parts supplier in the nearest town. Within an hour a guy on motorbike will arrive with the required part and within another 30 minutes your car will be on the move again. Now, if only Telekom Malaysia and its associated suppliers had this sort of work ethic!

Instead, the technical team from Rawang that supposedly checked the equipment on Sunday saw that the relay switches were functioning fine and didn't even bother making a test call on the line. Then they would have known it was dead and perhaps would have discovered that a cable section was missing. Instead they turned around and went home, believing their job was done. So on Monday did they get the problem fixed? Of course not! What they did was send a team out to Shah Alam to obtain the replacement cable from their store. That's right, that took an entire day to accomplish. Hopefully, today, they will manage to get the cable replaced and my phone line will be working again. But with Telekom Malaysia on the job, one can never assume anything. Betul TM = Tak Malu. It must be obvious to anyone with half a brain that in Malaysia mono-ethnic companies simply don't work - especially if they're in high-pressure businesses like airlines, commuter train and telco services.

Why is the crime rate so high in Malaysia? Just look at our so-called leaders in the Barisan Nasional. All they have done in the last 25 years is steal from the Rakyat - whether it's Petronas revenues or submarine deals or even Chinese New Year decorations, they grab whatever they can any chance they get. Right after the March 8th election results came in, Umno stste governments began looting their offices of computers, printers, fax machines, even furniture - while furiously shredding whatever evidence might incriminate them. Even their wives quickly stole state money intended for charities. Have the police been around to investigate these Umno wives? Crime has become part of the national culture! Now, no thanks to Najib, murder may become the Malaysian way to cover up corrupt deals and politically embarrassing liaisons. Am I being unfair to prejudge the man? Hey, just read those chubby pink lips!

(Photo courtesy of Tian Chua)