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al burns

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Love & Wine [Jun. 24th, 2010|07:09 pm]
al burns
Give someone a bottle of wine, and show them the price tag first. Hopefully they'll enjoy drinking the wine. However, if you'd replaced the price tag with something higher, they'd have thought that it tasted better, even though it's the same bottle of wine. (I'm too lazy to cite the experiment that proves this).

What if this is all that attraction is? It's the difference in price tag of an individual. What if we're just chasing after something empty? I could go into a bar with all of my friends, and see an unattractive woman; all my friends tell me how beautiful she is, describing all the best aspects of her. What would I think of her?

I'm lost when it comes to judging people. Maybe there are just people who are kind & cooperative, and people who aren't. Maybe that's all that really matters.
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(no subject) [Mar. 2nd, 2010|05:59 pm]
al burns
"A Passing Being"

A moment's time, it let's me know I'm real
A mind now stirs inside my matter head
I know there is a Me, because I feel
Though soon another may know this instead
For who will wake tomorrow in my bed?

Perhaps a stranger stepped into my skin
And no one saw the change before their eyes
My vessel stayed the same, though not within
And thoughts of my eternal soul are lies
Throughout my life, my self constantly dies

Tomorrow's death is not my death tonight
This blood may bleed, though not when it is mine
Tomorrow's pain is not this evening's plight
Though I'll invest, if I wish to be kind
And past mistakes, it was not I who sinned

In just a moment I may go away
And though a moment is not very long
A moment is all I have to enjoy
A moment's time, and then I will be gone
I hope that those who take my place are strong
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(no subject) [Nov. 21st, 2009|04:08 am]
al burns
Ghosts are only there if we see them.
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(no subject) [Nov. 11th, 2009|04:03 am]
al burns
"Brain Damage"

I got a hole in my head
I think I might just be dead
My death might be due to
All the blood I have bled

I got a thought in my brain
I think I might not be sane
Am I dreaming or waking?
Well it all feels the same

I got a fever so high
About a hundred and five
And I'm looking so dead
I might be buried alive

I got a memory of you
That I keep running through
I've got the world to remember
And nothing to do

I got a thorn in my heart
Which is why it won't start
It used to pump blood
Now it's pinned by a dart

You got a beautiful face
But it's gonna go to waste
I'd sure like to see it
But that won't be the case
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(no subject) [Feb. 27th, 2009|12:42 am]
al burns
Sometimes I dream about myself being disciplined, and succeeding at everything that I want to succeed at. I don't want too much really, just to live up to my potential.

Sometimes I dream about myself being burned out, and losing grasp of everything.

I don't even know why I still think about things. I've run over everything so many times in my mind that there can't be anything else left to discover.

Sometimes I don't return the love people give me. I can see it in their body language, timid and reserved, when I don't want them to be. Sometimes I don't call people out for mistreating me. I can see that in people as well -- they are overconfident, assuming that we're on good terms. These problems are my doing.

I need to start thinking about all the space between what I do and what I should be doing -- the space between what I want and what will make me happy.
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Your Path [Sep. 9th, 2008|11:41 pm]
al burns
I want to rule over you
And give you what you need
My love will cover you
You'll live how you want to
Unless you'd rather bleed
Then you should be freed

In truth, a life of leisure
Tends to grow quite bleak
Though I can give you pleasure
We all need pain for measure
I'd give you all you seek
But leave you poor and weak

Come with me to rest
You won't waste too much time
Just to catch your breath
Before you leave my breast
To walk your path, not mine
Which makes it so sublime


Posting online is like praying. You speak, but no one speaks back, and you wonder if they're really listening.
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(no subject) [Aug. 24th, 2008|09:49 pm]
al burns
[tunes |Lyle Lovette - If I had a Boat]

In "The Selfish Gene" Richard Dawkins describes a hypothetical situation: there are three types of birds in a population, the sucker, the cheat, and the grudger. The birds tend to get parasites on them, and need another bird to peck off the parasites. If a bird is regularly groomed then it has a large advantage, and if it does not have to use the energy to clean another bird it has a slight advantage. The suckers clean everyone, the the cheat doesn't clean anyone, and the grudger cleans someone until it is obvious that they are not reciprocating, and then stops. Richard Dawkins simulates this scenario on a computer, and this is what he finds:
"The first thing that happens is a dramatic crash in the population of suckers as the cheats ruthlessly exploit them. The cheats enjoy a soaring population explosion, reaching their peak just as the last sucker perishes. But the cheats still have the grudgers to reckon with. During the precipitous decline of the suckers, the grudgers have been slowly decreasing in numbers, taking a battering from the prospering cheats, but just managing to hold their own. After the last sucker has gone and the cheats can no longer get away with selfish exploitation so easily, the grudgers slowly begin to increase at the cheats' expense. Steadily their population rise gathers momentum. It accelerates steeply, the cheat population crashes to near extinction, and then levels out as they enjoy the privileges of rarity and the comparative freedom from grudges which this brings. However, slowly and inexorably the cheats are driven out of existance, and the grudgers are left in sole possession. Paradoxically, the presence of the suckers actually endangered the grudgers early on in the story because they were responsible for the temporary prosperity of the cheats."
After Dawkins published "The Selfish Gene" Robert Axelrod held a competition to find the best strategy for the prisoner's dilemma, and after multiple competitions the winning strategy was consistently the "Tit for Tat" strategy. In the example above, Tit for Tat would always groom others in it's first encounter with them, and then on future encounters it would reciprocate what happened on previous encounters. This means that the Tit for Tat bird would remember the last thing that the other bird did, and do that. The Tit for Tat bird would groom the suckers and the grudgers, and would groom the cheats on the initial encounter but not during any following encounters. This would allow other birds to make mistakes, and to still tend towards cooperation with Tit for Tat and create a positive relationship. The Tit for Tat bird would never benefit more from a relationship than the other bird in the relationship: it starts by giving, and after that reciprocates the other bird, and therefore cannot have cheated the other bird more than the other bird has cheated it. The interesting thing is that it doesn't have to cheat anyone more than they can cheat it to become successful. It doesn't succeed in a society by creating relationships where it has the advantage, but simply by consistently creating healthy relationships.
Axelrod describes a few lessons to be learned from these simulations. First, Axelrod says not to be the first to cheat. Cheating can harm the relationship, and lead to less cooperation. It is best if people trust you not to take advantage of them, so that they do not mind putting energy into making you happy as they know that effort will be reciprocated. The second thing that Axelrod says to take away from the experiment is that it's not a good strategy to be jealous of any individual. If any bird has a cooperative relationship with another bird, and wants to be better than that other bird, then the only way to do so would be to stop grooming the other bird, which would almost certainly lead to the other bird stopping grooming him (suckers aren't too common). The point of the relationship in the first place was that it was mutually beneficial, and so the two birds lower their success in society, even if the first bird to stop grooming did receive more out of the relationship than the other did.
I think of this often in terms of socializing. We've all heard the term, "Nice guys finish last," and tend to use it to justify a cynical view of the world. But what do the nice guys deserve? It's important to define the term "nice" so for this situation we will represent it with the sucker strategy. What do the suckers deserve?
The suckers do finish last, because their population crashes first. The cheats survive off the suckers, and the grudgers have trouble against the cheats thriving off of the suckers. Since the suckers are fueling the cheats, are they responsible for the actions of the cheats?
I think about this often in terms of the ideal actions in a situation. Of course, if any one person conflicts with too many people it's too great a sacrifice. However, I feel that some people believe you shouldn't have conflict with anyone, which isn't plausible. The golden rule is not a sustainable strategy as it is easily exploited, and it is harmful to those who do have sustainable strategies (such as the grudgers and the "Tit for Tat" birds).
It's interesting to think that self-defense is also defending the community, because it's making an aggressive strategy less sustainable.
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(no subject) [Jul. 28th, 2008|08:44 am]
al burns
Sometimes I like to read about Maslow's description of a self-actualized person. There's debate over Maslow's hierarchy of needs, whether or not it's really scientific. I think that it's vaguely accurate, but not completely scientific. I still like to read about it though.
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(no subject) [Jul. 10th, 2008|10:07 pm]
al burns
I had to restock the drawers at the hospital today, and when I went into one of the rooms it was very busy. Most of the areas I restock are slow areas where people are resting or talking, but this room is where they take babies for emergency operations. I only poked my head in a little bit, but I could see a little baby on a towel and the backs of a group of people.
I took the crate of supplies back to the logistics area, and explained to someone why I didn't drop it off. He talked about the room a bit, and it bothered me. I won't repeat what he said.
I walked back to the room about an hour later to see if I could restock it. A man was walking out (a doctor), and I asked him, "Can I restock now?" He replied, "I dunno, can you?"
In retrospect, it was the whole "can I"/"may I" contrast that I think he was looking for, but between the strange people who work there, the fact that I haven't had to use "may I" in a while, and the mood that that room set, I missed it, and instead stumbled through asking the same question again a second time. He replied, "Yeah kid, go ahead."
The way he said that to me wasn't really condescending, and actually seemed somewhat kind, but he called me "kid." No one has called me "kid" in a long time. I think that most people look at me and think that I'm capable of dealing with serious issues, but that doctor probably had a much different idea of a serious issue than a layman's. When I think about this, it really hits me how much I respect his work. When I think about how I'm a "kid" I think about how my life right now is mostly preparation and play. I suppose that I mean something to some people now, but not the way that I will if I'm able to grow up to be like that doctor. Right now I'm not the savior that he is, and everything that I don't want to see is conveniently concealed by a set of double doors.
I've been trying to find a major in a while. I don't think that I want to be a doctor, but I do know that when I grow up I want to know that my actions are having a positive effect on others, and that I'm fighting a war for a cause that I love. I think that the reason that the doctor has made me think so much is simply because his job is the least trivial situation imaginable. No one can argue that his work isn't important.
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(no subject) [Jun. 25th, 2008|06:49 pm]
al burns
It's frustrating to deal with aggressive, uncooperative people. All I can think is, "If you tried to be cooperative we'd both be better off." It's refreshing to be with people who don't necessarily want to succeed more than anyone else, so long as they succeed. I think that that's why envy corrupts people: to gage your success upon the success of another is a flawed measurement, because you can become more successful compared to the point of reference simply by making the person who is the point of reference less successful. The irony is that the attack generally requires that you devote some time and energy, not to mention the opportunity cost, which is the possibility of a friendship.
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(no subject) [May. 23rd, 2008|12:37 am]
al burns
Sometimes I feel like I live in an artificial world, and if I entered the real world I'd never survive.
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Poem: "Built on Sand" [May. 12th, 2008|03:05 am]
al burns
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(no subject) [Apr. 27th, 2008|08:46 pm]
al burns
So when will people be home from college?
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(no subject) [Apr. 8th, 2008|02:59 am]
al burns
[tunes |white stripes - the air near my fingers]

It's funny how easy it is to take for granted everything that's going well in your life. I was kind of angry earlier tonight, but I'm not anymore.
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(no subject) [Apr. 6th, 2008|01:58 am]
al burns
[tunes |here i stand, head in hand, turn my face to the wall]

I always get weird around finals, because I have finals, which are stressful, and then I go home, which is stressful. Stress! Aah!
I never know how things will be once I get settled. How will summer be once I get settled? I don't know!
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(no subject) [Mar. 29th, 2008|12:54 am]
al burns
I really need to get myself organized. I have finals soon, and for me summer starts on the 14th of April. Strange, because it was snowing today.
I need to re-think and record my goals, clean my room, organize my journals and adjust everything until it all makes sense. Make sense, dammit. I have to write everything down on paper for it to make sense.
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(no subject) [Feb. 19th, 2008|06:39 pm]
al burns

My soul must be ill
For I have a weak will
And I seek a cheap thrill

I cannot find
Any guilt in my mind
My acts aren't confined

I'm not concerned
For virtues unlearned
And damnation earned

In a world of sinners
The givers aren't winners
They're fools or beginners
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(no subject) [Feb. 16th, 2008|01:41 am]
al burns
[tunes |Wilco]

I haven't been behaving well. Alright, but not well.
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"my wanting heart" and "nobody knows but me" [Feb. 3rd, 2008|03:20 am]
al burns
a couple of poems

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(no subject) [Jan. 27th, 2008|01:24 pm]
al burns
Sometimes I wonder if I should be more hedonistic.
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