October 32nd, Part 3: Personal Reality

Continued from Part 2

After hearing Carrie tell the story of Alex, the alien who became US President in this reality with an October 32nd, I sat there stunned for several minutes. Both at the radical shift in my entire concept of the universe — and at her amazingly concise summary of such an extraordinary series of events!

“Did you really just figure all that out while you were watching TV?” I asked.

She actually blushed when I said that. I couldn’t help noticing this made her several notches more attractive than I had initially thought. Read the rest of this entry »


October 32nd, Part 1: The Day that Never Was

Maybe I drank too much.

Okay, yeah, I definitely did drink too much. I woke up with the mother of all hangovers. But that still isn’t enough to explain what happened.

Maybe it was the witch. But of course, she couldn’t have really been a witch. Just a sexy redhead in a store-bought witch’s costume. Perhaps she cast a spell on me, but that’s hardly unusual at a sorority Halloween party. She didn’t even take me back to her room or feed me a potion. I’ve gone over it in my mind a hundred times, and I still can’t find any way to pin it on her.

Still, there’s no denying Something must have happened. Even if nobody believes it but me.

I woke up in my rumpled bed; severely hung over, as mentioned before. My roommate was gone for the weekend, so I stumbled over to our kitchenette for a glass of water. I remember wondering whether a Bloody Mary might help, then realizing we were out of tomato juice.

It took a while for my fogged brain to figure out what was funny about our calendar. I remember thinking that I should probably flip it over to November. But then I corrected myself, as October obviously wasn’t over. Yesterday was Saturday, October 31st. Today was Sunday.

October 32nd.

Once my brain grasped the incongruity of what I was seeing, my first thought was the same as yours: one of my buddies must be gaslighting me. I padded back to the bedroom on bare feet and strapped on my Apple watch. I punched in the passcode to unlock it and checked the date.

October 32nd.

I scrolled through and changed the watch face, to make sure it wasn’t just a photo. But no, the watch really believed it was October 32nd. I checked my phone and laptop, and they both said the exact same thing.

Still, I’m just a lowly PoliSci major. How the hell do I know what hackers over in CompSci might be able to pull off? Jeremy, for example. He was a whiz with all these Apple gadgets. I could totally imagine him pulling a stunt like this, just to show he could.

We don’t have a TV, so I try to remember where I might be able to go buy a newspaper. I consider checking the web, but figure whoever hacked my computer probably installed some widget to make the browser rewrite all the dates.

Then I remember the TV in the basement of the Student Union. Its never used at this hour of Sunday morning, and I doubt Jeremy even knows it exists. I could just turn on the Weather Channel and get confirmation of today’s date.

In the back of my mind, part of me is wondering why I am so obsessed with disproving this date hack. But the rest of me tells that part to shut up. I shower, change, and stuff some dry Cheerios into my belly. Need to remember to buy some milk.

The quad is mostly empty, just scattered groups of well-dressed kids heading off to church together. I consider asking one of them what the date is, but I don’t want to come across as nutty as Ebenezer Scrooge.

I finally make it to the Union, and climb down the deserted stairs to the basement. Nobody seems to be there, but I can hear noise coming from the TV. Good; it is so rarely used, I was afraid it may have broken down or simply been scrapped.

It seems to be tuned to one of those 24-hour news channels. Which is fine, they probably have a running ticker with the date and time, right? I can just confirm the correct date, laugh at the cleverness and perversity of my friends, then get on with my life.

Except that’s not what happens.

As I enter the lounge, I receive two shocks. Make that three.

First, as you have no doubt guessed, I see the aforementioned ticker, and damn if it doesn’t also say October 32nd.

Second, the room isn’t empty. There’s a petite blonde sitting in the back corner, almost hidden behind an overstuffed sofa. She has some sort of journal in her lap, and appears to be scribbling furiously while glancing up at the screen.

The big shock, though, is what is happening on the screen.

“Holy shit!” says I.

“Oh, thank God,” responds the girl in back, glancing up at me. “You see it too! I was afraid I was the only one.”

I nod absently to acknowledge her, unable to tear my eyes off the TV. It is a scene from the White House. It looks like an ordinary press briefing. The usual crowd of correspondents are pestering the President with their questions.

But not the President I remember. The suit is the same: conservative navy blue pinstripe, double-breasted. Even the tie seems familiar: diagonal stripes, thick blue, thin red, white edging.

But the being wearing them, deftly answering questions as if nothing unusual is happening, is an alien. An honest-to-God, green-skinned, tentacled, bug-eyed alien.

To Be Continued


Beyond Personal Freedom

Freedom was the rallying cry of the American Revolution. And that vision of Freedom is truly God’s gift to the world.

But the worm in that apple of Freedom was always the word “personal…”

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Ultimate Harmony

The ultimate purpose and measure of mental, emotional, and spiritual health is a Harmonious Self, where each Part relates constructively to the Other.

The ultimate purpose and measure of political, economic, and cultural health is a similarly Harmonious Society.

The ultimate purpose and measure of parenting, education and religion is our ability to become Harmonious Selves who co-construct more Harmonious Societies. Read the rest of this entry »


Online Reconciliation Circles

Online Reconciliation Circles are a novel format for modeling constructive dialogue on difficult topics. The goal is to provide a safe place to explore better approaches to polarizing issues, starting with systemic racism.

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THS-IPA: A Game-Theoretic Model of Transformation

This is my first attempt to articulate a coherent theoretical model of transformation, based on my dialogues with Prof. Agnis Stibe on Transforming Human Systems.

The Instigator-Population-Agents (IPA) model describes the dynamics of how an Instigator spreads behavior across a particular Population of Agents. While most commonly used for leaders attempting to transform a group of people, the model should also be applicable to individuals (via the society of mind interpretation), social animals, and even some computational systems.

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Retrospective Roundtable: THE GREAT DECENTRALIZATION OF 2020

Making of a Revolutionary Ruckus

April 1st, 2040 AD

By Ernest Prabhakar and Colin Keeler

INTRODUCTIONS

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7/31-8/2/2020 American Resilience UnParty UnConvention

https://www.runtheworld.today

We, as citizens of these United States, in the shadow of COVID-19, believe the most urgent and important virtue we can aspire to as a people is Resilience.

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TB 2019-07-12-1500: The Purpose of Mass Education

Around the world, we invest enormous quantities of Financial, Human, and Social Capital in education. Why?  What do we hope to get from it? How can we measure that? Whom can we trust to give us honest answers, rather than merely promote a particular agenda?

In particular, is the purpose of higher education to:

1.  Learn the hard technical skills necessary to land a job
2.  Develop the soft “human” skills necessary for a meaningful career
3. Cultivate the habits of mind necessary for a fulfilling life

And if there is more than one purpose, how do we balance or integrate them in terms of curriculum and funding?

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Truth Bowl: Beyond Polarized Debate

Truth Bowl is a structured dialogue, halfway between competitive debate and a panel discussion, designed to model and train people in “productive disagreement.” TRUTH is sometimes interpreted as the acronym “Teaching Respectful Understanding Through Hospitality.”

Two Panelists compete in front of a Jury to address a Challenge, composed of a Question and an Objective. Members of the Jury award panelists Points for clarity and thoughtfully addressing disagreements. At the end of each Round, the Jury rewards the panelist who most helped them comprehend the Challenge with the title “Domaĝanto” (Esperanto for “Question Tamer”).

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