Monday, December 15, 2008


"There's no data on the future.
That's what makes it interesting."

Don Derosby of GBN

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Awareness and the sense of self that ensues appear, contrary to expectations, to be very discontinuous. Our consciousness is attention-driven and we know how flickering is attentiveness. Even time flow is actually grasped by tiny blocks of varying size or weight - most certainly related to our short term memory capacity. Emotions ebb and flow, ideas change (hopefully!), wakefulness varies, and dreams, when we can remember them, are the best if exagerated example of that discontinuity of the self. This discontinuity is actually what allows paradoxical behavior/belief systems, lies and hypocrisy, religious scientists, makeover sex and things like that. It also accounts for broken resolutions and promises, forgotten intent and decisions and elastic sincerity. Of course I've been Michel all day today, but I certainly don't feel now like I felt this morning, and that change throughout the day has not been a continuum. Maybe someone with so-called perfect recall can pinpoint the switching that occured in his awareness, I'm not very good with memory but I can remember many points today where I became something else than I was just moments before. Knowledge about this aspect of awareness is useful when making plans.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Human Being

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." -
Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More clips of the event at YouTube.

The Embryo Of War.

This very funny clip of priests of different christian denominations fighting it out in the streets of Jerusalem is probably humorous because of the huge contrast between the (supposedly holy) costumes and the (violent) posturing and attitudes.

But it also underlines how faction wars begin. It could be just an accidental aggravation during one of these street fights that will start ill feelings, needs for retaliation and things like that. And Bam! you have a religious war.

Now that's all we need, Catholic and Orthodox nations at war, Greece and Turkey now united, supported by Russia, at war with Italy, supported by Europe and the USA. There must be something in these people's "books" that tells them how wrong their differences are, at least something to the effect that they are somewhat brothers. Mmmm... don't these two read the same book?

Actually I think they choose to overlook the good advice and let instead their hurt feelings guide their actions, oblivious to the real consequences. Revenge, retaliation, restitution of justice, all suddenly seem more real, important, urgent, than their religious and moral pretense , than those virtues they claim ownership upon.

And war becomes part of the sacred fantasy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Using the above ZuneCard you can listen to some of the music I like.

Music is Art.

It is one of the things we do to ourselves, as humans, to exercise our imagination and to provoke emotions. For the performers it promotes creativity - an abilty that can be used in other fields as well - and for the enjoyers, it is interpreted immediately and it can mark memories.

I greatly enjoy listening to music, it's a way to control or influence my moods, and to stimulate memories when I listen to older songs. I'm mostly interested in new music however, stuff that reflects our current condition, stuff from all over the world and from all genres.

I'm even interested in religious music, as, beyond its insidious propaganda, it also reflects the big existential puzzle humans have had to deal with as their self-awareness emerged.

Music is important, like litterature and visual arts. It is something that we do to ourselves - so better be aware of what it actually does to you, that we leave for posterity - and mark our collective memories with, that we use to try to understand the world and ourselves.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Devil

The French poet Beaudelaire said: "The devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!".

A) The devil exists and indeed all atheists are his intruments. And there is Good and Evil, while health and madness are just consequences of the actions of these forces. Human society needs to be saved from Evil, protected from the devil's hidden influence. Fighting him in one's individual life - one of the believer's duty - will prove difficult however, because if the poet is right, we might not see him coming.

B) The devil does not exist, all moral issues rest on the shoulder of the beholder, human society adheres to the principles of individual responsibility, and it is mental health that is the real issue behind criminal behavior. Maintaining and enforcing sanity are matters of scientific research and poetry remains in the realm of imagination.

The blame for our collective soggy condition is not to be wasted on imaginary foes but should be focused on our own misundertsanding of the real situation.

As Woody Allen once wrote:

"We stand today at a crossroads:
One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness.
The other leads to total extinction.
Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the right choice."

Monday, October 27, 2008


In an attempt to reconcile Darwin and faith , a christian theologist presents a god that is continuously engaged in the creative process through undirected natural selection (Scientific American, Nov 2008).

Why do we absolutely require an intent behind everything? Does something like a universe necessarily abslolutely require an intent to be and become?

I think it comes from our survival instincts (the animal again) when we need to predict what our predator will do next. For this we have learned to imagine intent, and now there's even a part of our brain that's been identified, closely related to the empathy centers, as active when we try to find a meaning to something, and I'm pretty sure this brain area lights up when religious people think of and/or relate to god, and the creation of the universe.

In Other News

There is apparently an increase in the numbers of biology teachers that promote creationism as a valid hypothesis... I'd love to hear their own personal compromise between this idea of intent and what the whole of science seems to be revealing, that the universe just grew.

As I said in the first post of this blog, " I have now come to the conclusion that pretending, teaching or preaching anything else (than up-to-date scientific knowledge) is dangerous." and I might add, should be fought.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Disintegrating Moon

It must have been quite an impact! It happened during the new moon so it was not seen by anyone. But now the moon is disintegrating. Fragments should begin to fall on us in a day or two. Impact on the tides will be catastrophic. Earth's orbit will change. Nowhere to flee.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ignorance Is Fear

"When disease in a small village on the edge of the rain forest can travel to an international travel hub within the incubation period of virtually any known disease of concern, this kind of policy endangers everyone, including all US citizens."

The kind of policy mentionned in the above quote is the ban on U.S.-made vaccine exports towards certain "threatening" countries for fear that the vaccines be turned into chemical weapons. A spectacularly innate bureaucratic decision basted in ignorance; scientific ignorance, lack of or wrong knowledge, and ignorance of potential consequences.

Just one example that shows how ignorance can hurt. How ignorance allows fear to foster pure danger, danger for all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Death: Loosing The Self

We are going to die, one day.

Hard fact to accept, ingest and digest. First because we never like to think about our own termination, the consequences appear too unpleasant. And it is something we cannot really conceive of. Those who have been through the experience do not talk about it, in fact we can never tell what happens when we die. The living understand the death of someone else, their grief, loss, the sudden absence of personality and the decaying of the body, the biology of death we can map and understand.

But the subjective experience of the loss of self, is most probably impossible to grasp, not enough time to build an idea. And no means of communicating it to someone else, after the fact.

There's also the difficulty of giving meaning to the apparent futility of death when considered coldly, outside the reassuring fantasies of cults and religions. I think it is the hardest path to thread. From the angle of our genes however, it's another matter. Death becomes actually the price we pay for having sex, we must die but our genes will survive.

Death is necessary for the continuation of other lives, of Life itself. Small consolation, but the only one available right now from observation.

I strongly recommend viewing the five parts of this documentary : not always easy to watch as someone has accepted that his own death be filmed and some cold hard facts about physical and mental death are difficult to integrate. But I think we should get to know as much as possible about the only absolute certainty we can entertain: we will die, one day, and our self will dissolve into nothing.

There are no proofs of an afterlife.
Is ignorance really bliss?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sense of Humor

No sense of humor.

Because of the sacred nature of religious beliefs (mild or accute) the
beholders will rarely allow any kind of jokes about faith. About their own faith. Some of the more sincere won't even laugh at jokes about other faiths. Some seriously addicted people are sometimes able to see their own condition in a humorous way, they can laugh at their sorry selves. Not those addicted to religious faith.

So, even if I enjoy it immensely myself, I don't think faith-humor is a successful strategy to convince the religious of the folly of their fantasies. Those who believe will still think it is "sacrilegeous". And they will refuse to see the funny side revealed in the joke.

Catholics are against abortions.
Catholics are against homosexuals.
But, I can't think of anyone who has less abortions than homosexuals! --

- George Carlin

Most passionately religious people would benefit from seeing their own system of beliefs as they see the other ones around them in the world. How are Allah, Yahveh, Thor and Jupiter erroneous and God rigtheous?

And for those who forgot, let's remember that atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Studying real evolution through artificial means.

Darwin-at-Home, a project harnessing individual computers has been used to study how artificial (virtual/digital) creatures can evolve. Evolution: that's how the actual living things have become more complex, sophisticated, adapted - through minute changes from generation to generation, over time.

In this video, we see artificial creatures who have evolved (from various initial object shapes) the ability to walk. In this case of course, there were gods involved: the researchers who initiated the project. As some mildly religious persons will say, God laid out the rules and told us to procreate and populate this universe under our our free will and our own responsibility.

My own opinion is that the evolution process is an entirely probabilistic affair, with the help of the brute force of an extremely high number of random interactions between components.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mathematics, Truth and Doubt

Mathematics is the only religion that can prove it's a religion.


Truth: If you get it wrong you'll get crunched, in an evolutionary world. Truth is important in a sort of deeply ingrained way. This plant is toxic, fire is dangerous but it keeps you safe, Earth rotates around a star, there are truths all over that we need to hold for true if we want to live. Most life is not advanced enough not to abide by nothing but seeking the truth about the world they are seing.

But we are sophisticated primates, humans, and in the worldviews we've been having for a while now there are these surrogate peceptual objects that we hold in our minds to study later, and we do have imagination, memories and imagination. That's how we needed to invent doubt. The most efficient tool to gather truth.

We should spread doubt.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

God's doing?

Beautiful little clip showing undoubtebly God's doing.

There is this invisible magical being, all-powerful, handling every little detail of existence, from the molecular reactions to the grand scale of biomass, in a personal concerned manner.

Of course...

Michel is 100

That would be me.

I worked for many years in the graphics arts business in TV and cinema as a designer and then as a digital effects coordinator and specialist. I directed more than a few shots. I was fun because I liked arts, artists, the many creative processes, the fantasy and anarchy that still peeks around in these circles.

Then the local production industry collapsed, and a well paid experienced specialist like me was out of a job.

I recycled in high-end call centers, and more recently, found a much more interesting job, doing deep medical interviews with all sorts of people. An enlightening anthropological experience if there was one. Not to mention the immense compassion arising in me for some of my fellow human primates.

I have had a priviledged middle-class childhood, raised by considerate and liberal light catholic parents - my other mostly, with all my primary schooling and half my high-school occuring in religious-controlled institutions. Again I've been lucky enough to have implanted in me, very early, the impulse to think for myself and not believe everything I hear, thanks Dad. I've also enjoyed good health all my life, and had lots of fun abusing some of it.

But I recently was struck with a serious illness: Myelo Displastic Syndrome, a precursor to Leukemia, Carl Sagan died of this a while back.

It was pure luck that it was discovered, but I spent a year thinking life was going to end in eighteen months - an interesting shift in perspective. Then I was lucky enough to stumble upon an hemato-oncologist who cared, and managed to have access to a compatible - and very anonymously generous - bone marrrow stem cell donor. Receiving that gift was pure hell. It involved two months of isolation, two bouts of chemotherapy, the knowledge that it could collapse anytime, annoying side effects and much much more. Pure hell.

But I think I will survive, and I can now, after one hundred days, statistically hope that there won't be too many acute or chronic GVH effects - Graft Versus Host problems. You see, in the case of ordinary organ grafts, it is your immune system that will not recognize as "you" and fight the strange organ, it must be restrained if you want to keep your precious addition.

In my case, it is the immune system that has been replaced, (bone marrow stem cells produce white blood cells and neutrophils that fight external invaders) and it is my whole being which is to be rejected, or hopefully eventually adopted. Restraining my brand new immune system becomes of paramount importance, and I'll be busy at it for quite a while.

But so far so good.

And I don't think any god or other imaginaring beings or magic coincidences or non-natural circumstances had a play in any of this. Lots of luck and the practical knowledge and compassion of some of my fellow primates are what helped me stay alive on this planet for a little while more.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Jacques passed away on Wednesday September 17 2008 at ten in the evening. He was 76.

He was a witty man, a philosopher, an artist, an interested listener and a good teller of tales. A man of charm and culture who genuinely liked people.

He was my wife's father and was dearly loved by all his family.

I've known Jacques longer than I have known my own Dad, and I know he loved me like a son. Jacques will be missed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Solar Art


Made from scientific recordings of the sun's activity.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Harboring a fear of atheists.

As a friend said about a fierce catholic opponent of atheism: "He is one of those people who will not listen to corrections either, but keeps flogging away at the same prejudicial notions -- that atheism promotes immorality, that all atheists are radical reductionists, that only a God could explain the universe, that atheism is obviously intellectually bankrupt and so on."

A barrage of justifications to keep his fear from overwhelming him. Fear of emptyness.

These poor people don't seem to notice that atheists love their kids dearly, are generally good citizens, contribute some of the brightest minds on Earth, and are totally capable of empathy and compassion. Even with scared idiots.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We Are Animals

Primates to be more precise.

Being probably the smartest of animals has allowed us to take over the world. We are so successful we could indeed be lead to believe that the world was made for us, and that we would therefore have a purpose higher than our animal condition.

But we are still nothing but animals, and we don't even have the exclusivity of self-awareness and communication anymore. Sometimes the human polish is rather thin, showing through with all sort of very instinctual behavior, that won't sustain scrutiny for reason. In many ways we are not different from our dogs: we live, we love, we feed, we die. And we depend upon our fellow human animals for sustenance. Most of us would perish in isolation, as a pack, we rule the planet. We are that kind of animal.

This top-of-the-food-chain position will not always be all that comfortable as, collectively, we're bound to find out pretty soon when - not because of evil but because of carelessness - the system collapses.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The End Of The World?

The End of the World

Well not quite, as events like these may have happened repeatedly in our past. A god's way of regulating us?

More probably a random cataclysm that doesn't quite eradicate possibilities of organic evolution, showing to me at least, the resilience of the laws that govern matter. Do these laws require a maintainer, some sort of life force to withold them, to keep them operational? If God pulls its attention back, will gravity cease to function?

Or did life only appeared after the last such planet-conditionning? And could thereford be completely wiped by the next event? But, like the inevitable individual death, the actual end of the planetary world is something to consider.

But is it a useful perspective to contemplate? Isn't the thought that God has something better in mind for us much more reassuring? Does thinking about meaningless death help living a better life, than submitting to the will of a god?


Some use the same data on the scale of reality to prove the existence of a creator.

I don't feel the need to introduce anything supernatural in this equation. I just think things are, manipulated dynamically by all the forces acting together, towards greater entropy. There doesn't seem to be the necessity for intent, to explain our fancy primate presence, but I suspect conscious lifeforms are bound to happen, once in a while, anywhere else in this vast pool of galaxies . I'm convinced that awareness is commonly raised in exceptionnally proper craddles, most probably all over the universe.

The bad news is that there's not much of all this that'll give a shit about my personal life, the good news is that I can do what I want as nothing will come for me if I don't do good. Nothing other than my fellow people.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Huge. If you trust the measurers, that is.

The scale of the universe alone should inspire humility in any observant primate. Even though we're giants relative to our constituent particles, we, the whole biosphere in fact, are nothing but thin growth on the surface of a small ball in this spectacular universe of gas clouds and stars.

For some reason, that perspective might be difficult to hold. Again, maybe a question of not enough meaning for our subjective existence, a difficulty in finding significance with life in this worldview.

New paradigm - that awareness, the appearance of organic beings seemingly doted with consciousness, is an emergeance, a refinement a flowering in the life cycle of certain planets. Subject to weathering and expected decay, of course.

The universe hasn't been put out there for us, and we should'nt worry about any kind of retribution or justice from what is basically an indifferent reality.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Better Worldview

What is the better worldview?

The one that brings all the answers and the fatherly presence of a personal god? Or the one more unsettling view where significance and meaning must be constructed, and where death is terminal?

I guess its a matter that's only resolved towards the end of one's existence.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


We are stardust, that's all the religion I need. And it's not an issue of faith, it is poetry, the thoughts and concepts that describe my own tiny bioslot in the megascale of entire reality.

This knowledge on our local star was acquired, measured and re-measured by sophisticated observations, the assumptions based on these facts are most probably accurate, and the emotions it procures are authentic and moving. That's why I chose that worldview, because I trusted what I learnt from it: that we are stardust.

For some however, this is not even an issue. This is all the fabrication of an atheist conspiracy, and as their book says, the universe has been created, is six thousand years old, and the sun has been placed where it is for our convenience.

The problem is that many of these people did not choose to hold this fantasy worldview, it was drilled in their imagination and awareness by relentless rituals readings and preachings, as well as negative and positive reinforcements by other victims of the same delusions.

But which is the better worldview?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Pat Condell
Is a funny, courageous man, I wouldn't want to receive his hate mail, but he's worth listening to.

Here's an interesting page at PsyBlog on how magic techniques can help psychologists and other researchers in the field of consciousness science.

A Pat Condell monologue asking the question Why does faith require respect , really just a little bit of schock therapy.

A very interesting blog on neurological sciences, with a staunch scientific approach, and a wide field of interests. Published by Steven Novella.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Proper Use Of Fantasy

Tales of fiction and fantasy are very useful, of course, as they probably have been throughtout the history of human awareness. Perhaps as social simulators, to help grasp complex social situations or as a fuel to curiosity, stories have always been the mainstay of cultural transmission between generations. No problem with fiction.

Strong beliefs in legends is another matter.

And, when fantasy provides its answers to the most fundamental questions, twists the perceptions into delusions, or makes an enemy of every non-believer, there's something very wrong. Misuse. Storytelling should be used for inspiration, practice grounds, acquiring patterns and models, behavioral simulator, whatever, anything but for faith.

I don't think there's any one book that should be taken at face value. There is no tale that can encapsulate all the answers to the big philosophical and scientific questions, they are not known yet. And in some ways they might never be. So we're going to have to wing it, as we go along, and for this I suggest reading a lot of science, fiction and fantasy.

And as Scrubious Pip would say, "Think for yourselves!"

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I say that beliefs in magic and the supernatural are dangerous, because they keep verifyable knowledge from taking hold; religions and fables were meant to be placeholders until the time came when our intuition and dilligence would replace them with more detailed observations and finer facts. Not to promote ignorance.

These beliefs are also dangerous because they cast their holders against one another. Every other, different belief is a menace to theirs. Some believers will not hesitate to go the extra legnth to ensure integrity, stability and perennity for their precious worldview. Segregation, war, jihad, genocide, or just plain hatred.

It goes to show how flimsy these edifices are!

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Living without hope? And it gets better as I don't think human life has any specific meaning in the grand and even in the small scheme of things. My own personal life has the meaning of what I have done so far and what I will do in the future, if any. I'm an ordinary guy though, with not much influence.

Come to think of it, all I am internally is memories and imagination - which, on close scrutiny, do not harbor any significance other than for my friends and my close ones, those who know me. And I expect that when I pass away, all that will remain of me is the memories I have left with others.

Here's reason enough to be fair and kind to people.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Atheism is dry?

Not so much if you consider that I believe in Science, in the ways it acquires knowledge and in all the marvels it constantly reveals. I gape at the universe and at the fancy apes that call themselves humans, at the quasi-unfathomable scale of everything, and at the existence of organic awareness.

So many more mysteries to unravel, observations to engage in, knowledge to refine and adjust, that I would never consider my predicament as dry.

My only complaint will be: not enough time.


The reader should know that I don't believe in reincarnation or life after death, in fact I don't believe in magic of any kind, in imaginary invisible beings, in cosmic consciousness, worse, I don't even believe I have a soul.

Rather dry? You can say that again. That's probably why I enjoy so much SciFi and Fantasy fiction litterature.

I think I am the expression of particular genes through the process of evolution. I don't think there is any predestination other than my given qualities at birth, which in the probabilistic chaos that is modern living, doesn't amount to much.

I believe I emerged in an indifferent universe, and that the only compassion I'll ever find will come from the heart of my fellow humans and a few other higher animals. I count on no omnipotent personal invisible god to witness or evaluate my actions. I'm on my own.

When my time is up I'll simply stop being in all my dimensions, under the all-prevailing influence of entropy, having contributed to the the courageous process of the complexification of organic life.

Stiff but alas true, methinks.

And I have now come to the conclusion that pretending, teaching or preaching anything else is dangerous.