The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life     
. . . still studying and learning how to live
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Medicine ... Politics ... Web Site/Blog ...

I guess that I’m just not a Twitter person. I don’t have an account, and I hardly ever look at anyone else’s tweets. It’s kind of like Buffalo wings — lots of skin, sauce, bone and grease, but no meat. (Yes, I am a vegetarian, but I had some wings in the years prior to my conversion back in the mid-80s).

But I thought I’d give it a try here, just for the heck of it. Let’s see what I might say in a tweet about Jeb Bush:

WSJ sez Jeb is hanging out on Wall Street looking for cash. And probably finding some, probably finding a LOT. Just viewed some videos on Jeb and his lovely Mexican wife Columba. Smart, calm dude, friendly, no twangy accent. Looks like the Bush family is going to pull off the first presidential hat trick.

OK, that’s 310 characters — about twice the Twitter limit. I gather that  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:39 pm       Read Comments (11) / Leave a Comment
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Brain / Mind ... Web Site/Blog ...

I’m going to toot my own horn just a bit and put in a plug for my new, improved “Short Course on Consciousness“, found on my web site. I’ve spent the last 3 months doing some pretty intense reading to catch up on what’s been happening in the academic world and research community with regard to consciousness; i.e., the attempts to finally define the nature and functioning of our conscious awareness, i.e. the stuff that happens when we aren’t dead, asleep, under anesthesia, or otherwise out of it.

In some ways, consciousness seems pretty simple; and yet, when you really try to think about it and put it into context, it suddenly gets VERY complex. Around 1995, I got quite interested in the topic, given that a lot of new books and research papers were coming out on the subject. I read lots of stuff by philosophers, neuroscientists, computer experts, and psychologists about consciousness (none of that New Age “woo-woo” stuff for me, thank you), hoping to find a trenchant and powerfully incisive concept that would make it all fall in place.

Well, that concept never came along — or at least I didn’t stumble across it. So, after 2007, I moved on to other intellectual interests, mainly modern physics and cosmology. Not long ago, I looked at the web site pages on consciousness that I had put up back in 2006. They were very well  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:15 pm       Read Comments (3) / Leave a Comment
Monday, June 16, 2014
Web Site/Blog ...

I use stats for my blog, and I recently took a look at the worldwide breakdown of where my views originate (and presumably where my viewers live). Here is a partial breakdown covering the past year or so:

USA: 30.8%
United Kingdom: 13.3%
Canada: 11.2%
Australia & New Zealand: 8.0%
India: 5.5%
Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore: 5.0%

Is there any common thread here? Well, at least 72% of my traffic comes from former British Empire colonies (or in case of the Philippines, a former colony of a former colony). So, my blog is a British Empire phenomenon!!!! To the degree that a handful of hits a day could be said to reflect a “phenomenon” . . .

Nonetheless, Hail Britannia!!! Perhaps I should have a gin and tonic, that great British colonial drink, to celebrate!!!!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:22 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Technology ... Web Site/Blog ... Zen ...

I’ve been away lately from this obscure little corner of the “world wide web”, so I thought I’d check in tonight with a quick thought or two. [Correction upon posting: it’s gonna be more than two, and they won’t be all that quick after all – so I will split this essay and post it in three bits].

I’ve been involved in two projects over the past two weeks that have demanded most of my spare time. First, I promised my Zen group that I would set up a discussion forum for their web site. So I installed the phpBB machine on the host, and then started learning how it works and how to customize it for our particular needs. Turns out that phpBB is not as easy and cut-and-dried as they advertise. There are plenty of options, plenty of different features, and plenty of different ways to do things with it. I was surprised by just how complex the phpBB system is; on the plus side, it has a lot of capacity and functionality; on the con side, that makes it hard to set up and manage if you disagree in any way with the basic settings and design features. And it turns out that I have a lot of disagreements, based on what I know about the people who will be moderating and using this forum.

You might want to ask, so why didn’t you just use Facebook as a place for discussion and interaction? Well . . . to be honest, I have my problems with “the Book”. I’m an aging Baby Boomer, and I’m not sure that I like the way that site is set up and how it works. With Facebook, you don’t get as many design options as  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:30 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Web Site/Blog ...

I haven’t been blogging much lately, as I am trying to set up a new home computer (a Dell XPS8700 tower — yes, a very old school, totally non-mobile computing situation) with Windows 8.1. Win 8/8.1 is a terrible operating system, a real clunker. I paid for it, but sooner or later Microsoft will pay, one way or the other, for putting out such a monster. Win 8/8.1 tries to cover both worlds — the desktop world and the mobile world — and winds up combining the worst of both. I hope that MS does better with Windows 9 (already in development, supposedly for release early next year), and that my Win 8.1 becomes a curious anomaly, a clunky transitional footnote between the world-changing Windows95 to Windows 7 series, and some new, highly flexible and intuitive type of personal computer operating system. I’ll be stuck with an Edsel (one of the most famous clunker cars of all time; but you could also say “Corvair” here, to avoid picking on Ford). But there will be enough others in my boat to form a support community such that we will still get some use out of our misbegotten software investments. In every life, you are going to buy something that just doesn’t live up to your expectations; you do your best to make the best of it. (No complaints, though, about the Dell box; seems to be running OK . . . knock on wood).

I’ll be back in a few days with a big essay on modern scholarship regarding consciousness, cosmology, and the deepest nature of reality. And whether God has any part in all of this. I have some big thoughts brewing up, so stay tuned, more to come!! (Hopefully this weekend).

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:23 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Web Site/Blog ...

When I began this blog over ten years ago (Nov 11, 2002), I had modest goals in mind. If I could reach 5 people a day and share with them the various things that I have learned in this “classroom of life”, it would be great. I called myself “an eternal student of life”; unlike all those eternal student sites out there written by anxious or narcissistic graduate students, my own ‘classroom of life’ truly does go on and on, despite the fact that I was through with formal schooling many decades ago. The “eternal” part reflects a spiritual longing (although not at all a ‘certainty’) that my living and growing conscious experience will not in fact be completely ended when my body dies. But hopefully, I can deal with that issue another day.

Back here in the earthly realm, it turned out that my blog at first attracted more like 5 people a week. But I carried on with it, even though it was quite certain that my thoughts were never going to go viral and become another Huffington or DailyKos or Hot Air. I still liked it, even if no one else did (except my friend Mary, shout out to her given that she stuck with it thru thick and mostly thin). After I moved over to Word Press in April 2010, things picked up a little. I actually did reach about 5 viewers (about 8 to 10 page hits) per day for most of the week. But seldom did I significantly exceed that amount.

Within the past year, I actually did have one post that “went viral”, relatively speaking. For me, any post getting over 10 total views a day is “viral”. My one big hit was published on May 17 of this year, and it was in regard to a certain Dr. Chauncey Crandall, a cardiologist who  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:40 pm       Read Comments (3) / Leave a Comment
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Religion ... Web Site/Blog ...

Like most other people who use the internet for reading and research (even if my own research isn’t too important), I rely a lot on Wikipedia. In fact, I used to be a minor contributor; I started entries for one topic and greatly expanded two others. I haven’t stayed up with that, but I still go there a lot as to get a rough overview on an unfamiliar topic when needed.

The question is, how accurate and unbiased is a “crowd-sourced” library out there on the cloud? According to a short review on this topic, a 2005 article in Nature magazine said that Wikipedia is about as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica. Another article in “Reference Sources Review” (not a very popular and well known periodical, but it sounds authoritative nonetheless) said that the big Wiki is roughly 80% accurate versus 95% being the gold standard of professional publications. Not bad for what you don’t pay for, although I’d like to think that Britannica is closer to the 95% mark than Wikipedia’s 80% (given all you have to pay for a Britannica set or even its website and CD’s)(although you probably could still walk into a library and find a dusty copy of the Britannica ready on the reference shelf for your perusal)(but who goes to libraries anymore? I don’t, but I honestly do miss them; maybe when I retire . . . )

Up to now, I haven’t found any obvious mistakes on Wikipedia. My biggest complaint to date  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:57 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Personal Reflections ... Web Site/Blog ...

I usually develop ideas for this blog at odd moments throughout the day, and try to jot a line or two down on paper before I forget what inspired me. Later on I find some time to further develop that initial thought, usually while sitting in front of a keyboard and wanting to type something. Once I actually start typing, I start thinking more and more, and then more ideas come out. Thus, many of my blog entries start with short notions but become fairly long essays.

However, tonight I am going to avoid long essays and just put out a bit of the raw, untreated mental effluent that often becomes the feedstock for this blog. This is going to be quite Twitter-like, but that’s what the youth of America seem to want today. OK, here goes.

1.) So what about karma? Many if not most Buddhists believe that the goodness or badness of what you do in this life will affect some future person who will “reincarnate” something of your former being (even if they don’t have any memory of it).  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:16 pm       Read Comments (2) / Leave a Comment
Monday, April 12, 2010
Web Site/Blog ...

It looks like my blog has survived the Blogger FTP shutdown and is now safely in the hands of The proof is in the pudding, so grab a spoon and dig in. There may be a few additional changes, maybe even improvements. But what you see right now is pretty much what you will be getting.

All I can say is that WordPress is tough to hack around with. Blogger required a general level of familiarity with computer programming, but with its PHP and “themes” and “widgets” and “plug-ins” is up there on a whole ‘nuther level. It’s wonderful that so many techie kids today are willing to fiddle around and offer a wide variety of pre-packaged site designs and add-ons for free to the public. It’s one of those nice things that the Internet has brought about, another instance of “digital community building” (a virtual version of an old-fashioned barn-raising, perhaps).

But despite the thousands of themes and adjuncts available for a  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:41 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Web Site/Blog ...

The day of reckoning has finally come for this blog. Hopefully it will survive, and come back slightly the better for it. The bottom line is that I started writing this thing back in late 2002 using Blogger as my “engine” and a Yahoo Geocities account as my host. To get the updated blog files from Blogger to Geocities, I made use of Blogger’s FTP file transfer mechanism. This arrangement worked quite well for the past seven and a half years. But things change, and Blogger has decided to ditch the FTP service. They claim that almost all of their users chose to have their blogs “reside” on the Blogger server, subject to their formatting rules. There are only a few wack-o’s like me left who wanted to keep control of their blog’s formatting and content, by arranging for their own hosting once Blogger creates / updates the blog page for them.

So, despite some discontent out there in the “blog-o-sphere” about Blogger’s cold-hearted decision, Blogger is standing its ground (although they did give a one-month stay of execution, extending the deadline from March 31 to April 30). And why not, since Blogger owns the proverbial ground, lock stock and barrel. I mean, Blogger is a free service; those of us who took advantage of its offer to process our blogs and then send them to the server of our choice have no legal or moral standing to complain. In announcing the end of FTP, Blogger has graciously offered to transfer our blog files to its own free hosting service. I had thought about going along with that, but as noted, that would require some compromise with blog design (but relatively minor). My bigger concern is a haunting suspicion that this will put Blogger (owned by Google) in a better position to eventually demand payment for its services, or require ads on the free blog pages. There has to be some sort of long-run business plan encompassing this change.

Unfortunately, the available alternatives to Blogger are quite limited.  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:40 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
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