Godless arrogance

You don’t believe in gods? Fine, there are a lot of gods I don’t believe in either.  Just don’t be a donkey about it.

The Economist has an article about the Pew poll (what an ironic name in this context) about religious knowledge. Shockingly, this poll showed that members of the Christian majority knew a lot less about the minorities than the minorities knew about them and each other. Who would have thought it? Next we will learn that black kids know the name of more white Presidents than white kids know of black Presidents!

Now, the really funny part is not this piece of non-news, but the excited crowing by the official atheists about their 0.4 point lead over the Jews and 0.6 point lead over the Mormons. Evidently this finally vindicates their claim of mental superiority. I see a different pattern though.

Rather, the sudden loud braying of the atheists (not only when asked to comment on this article, but also on Facebook and other social media) compared with the silence of the Jews and Mormons (who probably feel ashamed that they were not able to answer all the questions). I think this reveals something profound about what makes people atheists in the first place. But first a little detour to Norway.

Here, some 75% of adults are atheists. (More among the young, and the proportion is rising as the last generation of “Christians by default” are dying from natural causes.) Do you think they would do much better than the American Christians? Hopefully a little, given that our educational system is better. But nothing like the American atheists, because in America, atheists are people who actually bother. In Norway, it is the default.  Conversely, the questions are trivially easy for me, a Christian in an atheist country.

But the arrogance of the outspoken atheists is much the same here in Norway as in the USA. It is their calling card, so to speak. As well it should be, because the only reason for atheism is a gargantuan arrogance.

It is roughly comparable to a deaf person being convinced and preaching that music does not exist. Sound, sure. You can feel the house vibrating when you turn up the stereo. But music? Ridiculous superstition. It is easy to prove, because people who claim to be musical – or even to be musicians – cannot disagree on which music is best. Furthermore, they are unable to describe it in any logical way that makes sense to an outsider.  In other words, it is all in their head.

Now, agnosticism is not only a perfectly valid point of view, but it is the only perfectly valid point of view unless you have firsthand experience with higher reality. Which is somewhat but only somewhat voluntary. You can pray and meditate like crazy and depending on who you are, you may never ever experience anything more than you would if you wrote letters to Santa Claus and put them in the fireplace. Such is the fate of some people, and others do experience unusual things but prefer to write them off as mental phenomena. Which sometimes they are, no doubt.  Under those circumstances, agnosticism is understandable. In fact, religion is not understandable then, but it still sometimes happens.  It could be a leap of faith, or it could be that you have the hots for some religious person, or your business partners are religious, or you’ll get burned on the stake if you don’t convert. (OK, probably not recently. Shot more likely these days, by the Taliban.)

Anyway, the outrageous part is the absolute faith in that which cannot be seen, namely the non-existence of God, gods, angels, high spirits or whatever. To just ignore the entire theosphere and tell religious people to mind their own business is one thing. The absolute conviction is what takes an unimaginable amount of arrogance. This is why arrogance is the prime virtue of atheism, kind of like compassion is for Buddhism.

But am I not equally arrogant in writing off Zeus, Poseidon and Athena? No, not at all. The fact that Bach is far superior to the Rolling Stones and that rap is the anti-music is based on direct observation and repeatable experience. This is entirely different from the reductio ex nihil of the spiritually deaf and mute. “There is no god and I am its prophet!”  Why the hell do they even bother? Secular frustration?

Oh wait, they want to liberate us. Good luck with that. As long as you do it by giving Bibles to the children, I’m not going to stop you. (As opposed to the Lenin, Stalin and Mao method of atheist liberation.) I actually agree that people who have read the Bible and are not horrified either by the Bible or themselves have probably not truly read it in the first place. Which of the two outcomes, though, I believe that depends on your level of arrogance.

Sugar love

Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar, since this was written under the (heavy (syrup)) influence of “Sugar Baby Love” in Japanese on YouTube. ^_^

If I were to eat a pastry all at once (or over the course of six hours or less) I would get horribly sick the next day. I would probably survive, but I am not entirely sure. I have not tried that much fat since the purgatory weeks in 2005 when I found out I no longer tolerated fat. So I eat one pastry over three days for breakfast, when I have had no other fat for a long time.

Sugar, though… sugar is my friend. I love sugar, and sugar loves me! Candy, sweets, desserts (without cream), sugar-filled chocolates, sugar-laden beverages… I can snack on these all through the workday. I automatically stop when I feel sweet enough, usually, but a while later I start again. Evidently my body mops up sugar from the bloodstream at a ferocious rate when there is too much of it: I used a blood sugar tester for diabetics for a while to observe my own blood sugar, since both my parents had diabetes and at least one grandparent as well. However, after a while I stopped. My body does not seem to care how much carbs I throw at it. After a while it is back to the baseline it has in the morning. Conversely, I can go all day without falling below that level, if I for some reason cannot eat. It is like a mutant power, even my doctor was baffled that it did not seem to matter much whether I had eaten or fasted before a test. So, I seem to be the Chosen One of the Sugar, or something. Or perhaps it is paying reparations for my parents?

And of course, you don’t actually get fat from sugar. Not a typo, I mean you and not only me. Humans suck monumentally at converting table sugar to fat, though we can slowly transform fructose into fat in the liver. What we do is burn the sugar instead of fat, and store the fat in more or less sexy places depending on our hormones. Evidently there is some destruction of fat though, even for me, because despite my partial pastries and nightly noodles, my weight remains constant (after shrinking for some months after I moved).

I must admit, fat really satisfies in a way sugar can not. Sugar is temporary, but fat is until death do you part. Well, that is often the case at least. I have read that most people put on a pound each Christmas season and never takes it back off until their final illness, if any. But I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore. And if I did, it would be with my sugar. ^_^

Life Divine… or not

Unfortunately, it is not something we can get to by just dreaming about it.

I bought a book again. Despite my earlier criticism of the Kindle, I did buy the Kindle edition. At least it was 55% off, but truly they ought to be 75% off. After all, you can get half the price of a used book back from a used-book store, if it is treated reasonably well. And before that, you can lend it to your friends, if they treat it reasonably well. (And they should, if they want to be your friends!)

Anyway, it was a heavy tome, so if we add the cost of shipping it to Norway, I came pretty close to saving my 75%.  Keep moving in this direction, Amazon!

The book this time was The Life Divine, by none less than Sri Aurobindo himself. He is like the Teilhard de Chardin of Hinduism, except with a name I can spell. OK, Teilhard probably did not have a history as freedom fighter before turning to metaphysics, but they are both famous for integrating evolution in religion. Or perhaps the other way around.

(On a lighter note, I seem to have named my first spacefaring race in Spore “Bindo” in honor of him, last year (?) when I played that. Spore is a game of guided evolution, based on the assumption that nature has an innate drive toward sentience and that a cosmos filled with intelligent and creative life is unavoidable. I am sure Sri Aurobindo would have agreed, though he would surely not had time to play it himself. Neither have I, these days, although my reasons are less admirable.)

The book is said to be 1100 pages, although it is obviously many more on my mobile phone. The prose is heavy, even to me. (I am not sure if it is heavier than mine, or just heavy in a different way.) Then again he was not a native English speaker, but came from India. Perhaps we foreigners tend to go wild in the language’s immense vocabulary? Luckily I have been assured that the book contains many repetitions, though I have not come to them yet. Repetitions as in saying the same things over in a slightly different way. Apart from that, I suppose we don’t have that much in common, Sri Aurobindo and I.

The thought has struck me that this is a book that would have been nice to have in my bookshelf.  If nothing else, there is a good chance that my heirs would find it in my bookshelf after my passing (may it yet be far off) and thinking to themselves: “A thick book about The Life Divine? Surely Uncle Magnus must have passed on to a better place, then, having had such interests in his later years!” And they would feel comforted.

Unfortunately, their comfort would be somewhat exaggerated. Even reading The Life Divine is none too easy, but living one is still much further off. And it is still too early to say for sure whether this book will help me toward that goal. But even should it do so, that alone will not be enough.

I am obviously not talking about good vs evil here.  And certainly not spirit vs matter. I am happy to see already in the second chapter of the book, Aurobindo establishes that matter and spirit are different in degree rather than being opposites. This is also the Biblical doctrine: All creation comes from the same One, who also in the end will be All in All.  For this reason, we pray: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” rather than “Please let us escape this goddamn material world and flee to your spiritual Heaven”.

I was about to apply the usual disclaimers, but I don’t think even I should add disclaimers to the Lord’s Prayer…

It is when it comes to the details that it becomes hard to pray “Thy will be done”. But then again that has never been easy. It was, by all accounts, not easy for Jesus either. But then Jesus presumably did not have a Jesus, while we have.

In any case, the idea for which Aurobindo is famous is not so much theological as just logical.  Seeing how matter gave rise to life, and life to mind, we must assume that mind will give rise to supermind, a higher consciousness. Since there have already been some people with a higher consciousness, they can be seen as harbingers or forerunners for the rest of us.

(I wrote vaguely about this in my “Next Big Thing” series of essays, probably my most important writing in this blog. Or it would have been important if others had not said it better before me, but at the time I had no knowledge of that. And this is its value. It is the notes of an explorer, not of a parrot.)

(Ironically, the more I learn about esoteric matters, the harder it becomes to come up with an original thought that I have not already seen elsewhere. But then again, re-inventing the wheel is overrated, especially if you can get a rounder wheel from someone else for free!)


My own life is certainly not divine these days. I wake up morning after morning filled with lust, so that it is difficult to not look twice at the women I see on the bus or in the city, and I had to suspend my fiction project as I kept imagining embarrassing things about the main character.

I am not convinced that this is coincidence.  It seems to me that in the world of the mind, much like in physics, any action leads to an opposite reaction. So by taking an interest in the higher mind, perhaps I indirectly vitalize the lower mind. The totality of the psyche has a great inertia, I believe.

Then again, your psyche may vary.

Ignorant geniuses

Footsteps that disclose a higher world, from the family-friendly anime Kimi ni Todoke (Reaching You).  Unfortunately I am not good at reaching you in the way I describe today, but I hope you will still be able to dig out something worthwhile!

Synchronicity is fun! Regular readers may remember my recent entry on diversity of ignorance, inspired almost completely by a short essay by Bjørn Stærk. This was on Tuesday 21. The same day, seemingly out of the blue, a regular reader on the One Cosmos blog recommends the book The Intellectual Life by Sertillanges. Two days later, and probably as a result of the comment, Robert Godwin pulls out a quote from Sertillanges’ book:

“Contact with writers of genius procures us the immediate advantage of lifting us to a higher plane,” which confers “benefit on us even before teaching us anything. They set the tone for us; they accustom us to the air of the mountaintops. We were moving in a lower region; they bring us at one stroke into their own atmosphere”.

This was eerily familiar to me, because Ryuho Okawa (the would-be savior from Venus) recommends exactly the same in at least one of his books. Probably The Laws of Happiness, but possibly one or more of the others where he brings up the connection between wisdom and reading. Okawa uses the expression “high spirit” where Sertillanges uses “genius”, but perhaps we should bear in mind that the Japanese word for genius starts with the kanji for Heaven.  Also in ancient Europe, genius was assumed to be a helper spirit that followed certain families, rather than just a measure of high IQ as it is used today.

(I think this needs another paragraph, because I got it wrong when I was young. I thought genius was simply a high IQ, nothing else. I assumed that quantity gradually shifted into quality. I suppose in a way it does at the other end of the scale, at least. However, I have later found that it is possible to have a high IQ and a tediously mundane spirit. The current theory, according to Science Illustrated, is that geniuses lack a kind of “filter” so they observe more of what goes on around them. This is not purely a good thing, it can cause problems as well.  I don’t know that it is even so simple. Today’s science puts its pride in never having to resort to spirits to explain anything, but for humans (or at least some of us) our spirit is a pretty big part of life.  During the night,  you can explain many things without mentioning the sun. In daylight, somewhat fewer.)

Back on track!  The important part is that genius can be transferred, at least to some extent. As Sertillanges and Okawa both insist, exposure to this kind of thinking has a chance to change our own way of thinking.  Not the content, mind you, but the very form of our thinking.

You can say that we have a capacity for understanding the knowledge that is given us by life, books, teachers or whatever.  We have a memory to store it, but we also interact with it and process it, consciously or not.  Like a liquid takes the form of the container, so also knowledge is formed by the vessel. Now, what happens when we come into contact with true genius / high spirits? Not only a pouring of more knowledge into our vessel, say I, but a change of the container itself.  We are expanded, new directions of knowledge or understanding open up.

Another metaphor which several people (including me) have experienced in a dream, is finding doors in their home that lead to new rooms or whole wings or storeys of the house that they had never known about.  So, you don’t just bring more stuff into the same living quarters: The place itself is expanded. (Though in those dreams, there are usually already things there.)

Do you see what I mean?  There is ordinary transfer of information, and there is transfer of capacity for information. Any parrot can do the first, but who is capable of the second?  Who can touch your mind and expand it in new directions?  These rare and precious moments change our lives.

The reason why I enjoy reading Bjørn Stærk, Robert “Gagdad” Godwin and Ryuho Okawa is precisely this that they repeatedly unlock new rooms of the mind. The factual content may be more disputable.

This gets even more pronounced when you get to the geniuses of the past. The knowledge in society at that time was not just fairly small, but much of it was Just Plain Wrong. The gender of your children does not depend on which testicle the semen comes from, even though Aristotle is undoubtedly a genius in numerous ways.  And Plato may have been more than a bit off with his idea of women as communal property. The cosmology of Moses was extremely simplified, to say the least.  Even relatively modern writers are children of their time to an almost shocking degree when it comes to the facts they assume and the acceptance of some values in their society.

This is where we have to keep the baby and the bathwater apart.  We have to be able to throw out the false facts and the misunderstandings that are often embedded deep in the thought, and still retain the vibrant spirit of the genius, the heartbeat that can quicken our own and throw open the doors of perception.

Another doctor visit

Fetched from my LiveJournal, because I am that lazy!

The last two nights, whenever I laid down on my left side, I had a crushing pain in the center of my chest, with some of the pain protruding toward my back. I normally sleep on my left side, although I move to other positions briefly during the night. When I slept on my back, propped up with a couple pillows, I had no pain.

Yesterday after I came home I did not eat for the rest of the day, to make sure it was not that. (But usually problems with a full stomach only show up when I sleep on my right side. Acid reflux, and not in the good way.)

At work today, I was plagued with bouts of shivering and extreme tiredness. I called my regular physician center (local clinic) and when I mentioned the nightly chest pain, they asked me to come in at once for a check. I only had time to throw on my jacket and tie my shoelaces before hurrying to the bus.

Of course, when I laid down on the observation bench, trying my best to emulate the position I sleep at night, there was no pain at all. I noticed that the bench was a lot harder. If the pain returns, I may try to find a harder surface and see. Though I am not sure that will fix the sleepiness during daytime, at least for the first couple weeks…

There was as usual nothing wrong with my heart. I told the doctor as much. My familiy is basically immune to heart problems, except for a certain slowness of the heart as we grow older. (Then again, my family is prone to age-related diabetes, and I have so far not the faintest hint of it, so perhaps I should not rely entirely on genotype…)

The doctor thought it must be something muscular that bothered me. That’s pretty vague. It is certainly unlike any of the back pains I have had from lifting badly or sleeping weirdly or playing roughly. Then again my legs and arms and back have been stiff ever since I bought the latest book, just before this problem set on, so who knows.

She ordered a bunch of blood tests that would, she said, reveal whether my internal organs worked as they should. I expressed amazement that I lived in an age where you could find out such things just from a blood test. I did not voice my suspicion that doctors use blood tests much like their predecessors used leeches, to make people feel better by having blood drawn from them. It worked for generations, so why not? Seriously though, I thought that was still 10 years in the future, to check up on liver and pancreas and the gang just with a couple vials of blood. I must have missed a couple issues of Science Illustrated.

The doctor was an intern, I think you call them in English. (American?) They have taken their exams but have to work with some supervision for a while at various locations. She looked underage. Am I really old enough to think that about my doctors? Oh well, at least she should be updated with the newest science (and without some of the old mistakes).

It is kind of embarrassing if it turns out to have been nothing dramatic this time either, but it beats the alternative. I want to work till I am 75 or 80 after all, like my ancestors!

The next day

Last night, I went to bed at a reasonable time, wanting to get the early bus to work. That was not to happen.  When I laid down, my chest began to hurt. Not heart hurt, but perhaps lung hurt:  It was also harder to breathe, and my breathing out ended with a high, thin note. It reminded me of my asthma, and I found it impossible to sleep.

I got up and took some asthma medicine that I had bought earlier this year. I am not sure how much it helped, or that it was even necessary.  I associate asthma with certain death, but actually many people have it for years or decades, although they do have shorter life expectancy.  My pulse was in normal range, which it would presumably not have been if I actually was lacking oxygen. Still, one thing following another, I had bouts of pretty bad coughing, leaving my throat sore.  Some three hours passed, though they were not wasted.  Eventually I started playing my copy of The Laws of Eternity, the movie that had first introduced me to Happy Science.  I got as far as to the Hell of the Bloody Pond before I became very sleepy. Stopping the movie, I fell asleep in my chair immediately.  An hour or so later I woke up and went to bed, and slept without any further problems.

I took the later bus to work, but even then I had slept so little, I expected to have to nap repeatedly. That did not happen, however. I napped not once at all, and was not horribly sleepy either. Perhaps that will come tomorrow. I guess it depends on the work too.


I sometimes wonder whether working is really the best I can do for humankind. But in the end, I always decide that yes, it is.  If not, someone else would have to do this work, and other people would have to give me money anyway.  If there was a lot of unemployment in Norway, perhaps I would feel differently, but the opposite is true.  We lack qualified workers still, even while the world is in a “shadow recession”, where the recession has ended but the jobs have not come back.  So I am not taking the job of someone who needs it more than I do.

And I don’t have a very strong faith that I would do something more worthwhile if I were not at work.  I don’t notice myself being awesome each weekend, for instance. My work is probably a better expression of love for mankind, for all its failing, than teaming up with other imaginary heroes in City of Heroes.  Perhaps not better than keeping up my journal, but I don’t think it is the work that is the greatest threat to that…


On my way to work, I overheard a seemingly normal young man telling someone that he studied marketing. I was filled with pity for him. It must be terrible to get into such a demonic field at such a young age.  There are of course forms of marketing that are simple and honest, but they are not common in this time and age, nor do I believe they require much education. The thrust of advertising is distinctly demonic, a work of tempting and manipulating people to inflame their greed and their desire, to divert their soul from the Infinite to an infinite number of finite things.  Humans will do the heavy lifting themselves, due to our nature in this regard, but there is still a strong effort to inflame the delusions of the material world, to make people think that happiness comes from outside them.

Don’t try being demonic at home, kids!


Den Gode Kraften (The Good Force), autobiography by Joralf Gjerstad.

Yesterday I received a book in the mail. This is in itself noteworthy, for I do not habitually buy books, especially not physical books. If I do, it is usually because they are of a religious nature and so I expect to read them several times over the years to come. But this book was exceptional in that it was written in Norwegian. I cannot tell how many years it has been since last I bought a Norwegian book. Even in the rare case when I buy a book by a Norwegian author, I usually buy the English translation, since it is considerably cheaper. After all, the total number of Norwegian speakers in the world is less than a single large city in the USA, so economy of scale comes into play. In addition, Norwegians generally have lots of money and are used to paying prices that would shock people from most other nations. So this book, admittedly in hardcover, set me back approximately $60.

The book is an autobiography by a Norwegian psychic and healer. Actually, it is his second autobiography. He has always done his psychic readings and healings for free, so I don’t begrudge him if he gets a dollar from the price. I have heard about him occasionally through the last few years, but what caused me to order the book was a newspaper headline where he was said to chastise the Norwegian Princess who offers to teach people (for a price) to communicate with the dead. “SnÃ¥samannen”, as he’s usually called, said this was impossible and dangerous to try.

The man says that the power comes from God, the Creator, and not from himself. According to those who know him, he has fed himself and his family through ordinary work for all these years (he is now quite old) while healing and helping people on his free time. He is, from what I can see, a fairly mainstream Christian. So this should be pretty edifying literature, or at least mostly harmless.

My work commute is where I do most of my book reading these days. So today I brought the book, and read it for the duration of the trip, approximately 45 min. When I got off the bus, I noticed that my legs were stiff. Actually, my arms were stiff as well, and I felt cold and a little dizzy and sleepy. This continued to varying degrees through the workday. I also had some gut pains, but that is not uncommon. Overall, I have felt half-sick throughout the entire workday and am still not entirely well now that I have come home.

Carl Gustaf Jung used the phrase “synchronicity” about “meaningful coincidences”.  I am looking for a word for the opposite. Not just meaningless coincidences, which many people seem to have lots of, but coincidences that seem opposite to what one would expect.  Because it is a remarkable coincidence indeed to feel like the onset of a bad flu after 45 minutes of reading about a humble healer belonging to (supposedly) one’s own religion. I did not notice anything in the morning as I got up or when I hurried to the bus.

I am not drawing any conclusions from this. Moses specifically forbids taking omens from the things around us, which is what most people use “synchronicity” for. But it is certainly a story I want to write down for the future, if any.

Diversity of ignorance

It may not have turned out the way I planned when I was 12, but at least I got this part right!

Once again, Bjørn Stærk has an astounding little entry in his blog. When thinking of this man, to my mind comes the expression from the Book of Daniel, chapter 5, verse 11: “…illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him.”  (In all fairness, the wisdom of the gods at that time was perhaps less impressive than we might wish for in a god today.)  There is, to once again reference the book of Daniel, “a high spirit in him”.  This despite the fact that he is not religious in the traditional sense. I am not sure if I have any part in that lack of religion: We have had communication since many years ago, and he may be one of those who picked up my habit of meditation, which is more transformative than I knew at that time.

Be that as it may, you should make a habit of keeping track of this man. Even when I am gone, he is likely to continue to illuminate the world, for he is many years my junior, and yet in some ways ahead of me.

Trying to be ignorant about different things than everyone else is a short and concise argument for diversity of knowledge.  He does not belabor the point that we today have an astounding diversity of knowledge in our work, and that a shared knowledge base in our free time may help retain social cohesion. I largely agree with him: There is if anything less diversity in the freetime of the non-knowledge workers, so it seems to me.

I remember when I was about 12 years old, I decided to learn unusual things, so that my future wife and I together would cover a large spectrum of knowledge.  I don’t think this decision has contributed much to me still being single nearly 40 years later — there are too many other reasons for that — but it may have contributed to my happiness. Some familiarity with mainstream knowledge is bound to seep in even from basic socialization, so even alone I have some of that spread of insight that I aimed for. And I love it.

But go read at Bearstrong.net, there is indeed light and insight like the wisdom of small gods. Although he has diversified out of writing only that, it is still a good place to graze.

Is the PC finally good enough?

In Japan, “games you can only play on PC” is sometimes used as an euphemism for what we call adult games. But there are many others. The PC has really stood the test of time as a gaming platform, among other uses.

I still have my first Personal Computer – it is stowed away on a shelf at work. It is a Goldstar AT compatible with a 286 processor running at a whopping 10 MHz. (I don’t remember if that was with or without the turbo mode… possible it was 12 MHz with turbo.) I also had the foresight to get a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive in addition to the standard 5.25″.

I don’t have the receipt, but I believe the Goldstar cost me in excess of 17,000 Norwegian kroner, a bit under $3000. It was in that price range, at least it was below 20,000. Finally an affordable computer!

Perhaps needless to say, but that was the most expensive personal computer I have ever bought. And even though inflation has been low for all these years, it has not been zero. $3000 was quite a bit more in the 1980s than it is today. In particular, income was lower for everyone… especially here in Norway. (American workers have, by and large, the same income today as they had in the late 1990s. Sucks to be them, but then they had a glory time behind them, so they are still ahead of most of Europe even today. But not of Norway.) I still find it hard to believe that I shelled out that much money for a computer back when money was tight. I probably had to borrow most of it. But then I was a real enthusiast, back in those days.

I have been through many generations of personal computers since then. Some of them I replaced because they broke down, completely (in a couple cases) or partly (usually the CD-ROM or floppy first, then the main cooling fan). But usually the true reason was that there was some new game that would run unbearably slowly, if at all, on my current machine.  In the case of The Sims and later The Sims 2, the original game might run decently on my existing hardware, but then came an expansion pack and it ran more slowly, then another expansion pack and now it ran so slowly it was hardly fun anymore.  So I got a new computer and it would run like water, until a couple years and twice that many expansion packs later.

I actually named my last single-core desktop computer “Oblivion”, because I bought it specifically to run that game. It was like a slideshow on the previous computer, which was two years old.  The named proved to be painfully prescient, for dual-core machines took over the market mere months later. The computer itself had to be repaired twice, but when it melted down the last time, North Corporation had recently gone belly-up. Oblivion indeed. By now I think I could repair it myself by replacing the power supply with a new and stronger. The computer still has a 10 000 rpm Raptor disk in it, after all. But the truth is that I now have two desktop computers that are better than it in virtually every way.

The next desktop was Terra, my current beast of burden. In the meantime I had a Dell dual-core laptop for my laptopping needs (or wants, rather). It was somewhat short-lived (Dell, after all) but it opened my eyes to the benefits of having two cores.  So, two cores good, four cores better, right?  I bought one of the new quad-core computers from Intel.  I skimped on the video card and splurged on the CPU, because processing power is the limiting factor in The Sims games.  It was only after I got it that I found out that The Sims 2 only uses one core, no matter how many there are.  (The Sims 3 however uses them all.)  Even with one core, though, it was faster than the Oblivion machine. This was in November 2007.  And it is still fast enough for all my Simming needs (or wants, again).

We are getting to the point, finally! The computer I had before Oblivion is named “ITL2004” in my network, implying that it was bought in 2004. The Oblivion computer was bought in March or April 2006. Terrra was bought in November 2007.  Yet now we are seeing the final months of 2010, and it is still not obsolete.  Sure, there is a new Sims 3 expansion pack coming out in October… but I can run the current expansion while two of the four cores are occupied with folding proteins. Actually, those two cores have done that pretty much day and night since the computer was new.  If I got a new machine with six cores (“hexa-core”, though the name is less used), four of them would be folding proteins anyway.  You can actually get up to 12 cores in a single PC now, although these tend to be expensive. And unsurprisingly, sales to the home market remain low.

I am probably not the only person who suddenly realizes this.  Sales of desktop computers are tumbling.  Due to the rate of progress known as “Moore’s Law”, you get twice as much bang for the buck every 18 months. (Actually, this time seems to be shrinking, as predicted by Ray Kurzweil and others: The acceleration of accelerating technology is accelerating.) But whereas we would in the past buy a twice as good computers for the same price, now we buy good enough computers for half price. Or wait another year and a half and buy them for a quarter of the price.  For many users, a small and cheap “netbook” is good enough these days. Or even an iPad, although these have real limitations compared to a notebook PC.

You may think that it is the economy:  People can’t afford to buy new computers unless these are really cheap, and then software developers don’t make games or other software that needs those powerful machines, since people don’t have them. That would have been a reasonable theory except for the lead time.  The Sims 3 was designed during the last frenzied years of the boom. It seems highly unlikely that EA’s game developers, unlike almost everyone else, saw what was coming.  Well, they may have been reading the Chaos Node, but I seriously doubt it.

Rather, I think we have reached a plateau in software development. It is basically no longer feasible to create a project so large that the current computers cannot run it easily.  The obvious exception being projects that involve many people, like corporate databases and such.  But the personal computer, in the more or less literal sense, may have reached the end of the road.  Not in defeat, but in victory.  Crossed the finish line.

But I may be wrong. Betting against human ingenuity is often a losing proposition…

Tales from the Mothhouse

What’s the REAL reason for my lack of sleep? Not the wisdom of Solomon, I dare say.

When I woke up this morning, I was so sleepy that I could barely stand on my feet without supporting myself. There is a reason for this.

Do you remember before I moved here to Riverview, I used to call it the Moth-house? This was because the tiny village is called Møll, a Norwegian word that translates directly as “Moth”.

Little did I know that toward the end of the summer, I would have a genuine moth infestation in the house. I am not sure they are clothes moths, and in any case, even at the height of the swarming they probably did not weigh more together than a handkerchief.  Still, there has been a steady appearance of small winged creatures in the house. They are quite tame, even when I swat one away, it seems to think it is a play and soon comes back, dancing past my head following its invisible dream.

Just lately, the weather has turned chilly.  Not as in winter by far, but compared to summer.  It went so far that I turned on the space heater in my bedroom, albeit at the lowest level.

Even that was tragically too much for one of the surviving moths, who may have sought to warm itself in the sudden chill.  By the time I arrived to sleep, the smell of roasted chitin filled the room. It is amazing how much a roasted insect can smell.  It is also a quite unpleasant smell.  So much so that I kept waking up.  Eventually I gave up and went to the spare bedroom, where I went to sleep on the old and worn rubber foam mattress.  I used to sleep on it, on the floor, every night for four years before I moved here.  I thought nothing of it at the time.  But clearly my body has been quick to get used to luxury, as is the human nature.  I did sleep, repeatedly, but not as deeply as I would have wished, and I woke up early.

On the bright side, the stars were visible through the large window when I went to sleep. That was quite enjoyable.  I am tempted to switch bedrooms – the one I use now has a smaller and lower window near the bed.

Even after my morning meditation, I fell asleep again, and woke up horribly tired.  All because of a moth. Or because I did not consider that this might happen.  Such is life.  I wonder if even the wisdom of Solomon could have prevented this one.  Then again Solomon, having several hundred wives, probably did not need a space heater.  I still question his wisdom in that one regard though.

Surprisingly, I had no extreme difficulties staying awake through the day.  No more than usual, I would say. Once again, I doubt that would have been the case even with a few dozen wives, but I may be overly optimistic about married life, having never tried it myself. Your spouse may vary, as may your moths.