Merry Christmas

What a year. With pandemics, racial unrest, a slew of natural disasters, and a bizarre seemingly unending election, it seems like 2020 was determined to be uniquely remembered in the history books. Well, it succeeded. People who are old enough can reportedly just say “1968” to each other, and the meaning is clear. For the rest of our lives, it seems like we’ll be able to say “2020” to each other and it will invoke a host of similar feelings.

It’s also been a year of personal challenges for me. Some of it pandemic related. I lost a couple of relatives and an old friend to the virus, and watched as a number of others got sick, most with only mild cases, but a few who were debilitated for weeks and months. And I’ve had a couple of my own health challenges, minor ones to be sure, but exacerbated by the pandemic situation. And it’s been a year of career ups and downs, and struggling to decide whether it’s time to retire and move on to the next phase of life.

As I’ve noted before, it was also a time of change for the blog. I was forced to switch themes earlier this year, something that I let distract me and consume far more time than it should have. And more recently I’ve had to get used to this new editor. (I mostly am used to it now, but there remain things about it that drive me crazy.) I’ve noticed a number of prominent bloggers go through similar transitions. In a misery-loves-company sort of way, it’s a relief to know others found it as aggravating as I did.

According to the site stats, there were 106 posts between last year’s Christmas post and this one. Not as much as last year, but still a decent run. And the shorter post style seems to be working, even though I have to constantly be on guard against blathering on for far longer. And together we put down 4,123 comments so far in 2020.

As always, my online friends and our discussions of consciousness, AI, space, science fiction, physics, and many other topics have been a desperately needed escape. Most of us seem to share a hunger for wonder, tempered with a healthy dose of skepticism, with some interesting disagreements on where the borders lie. I’m grateful to all of you for the many intelligent and mind expanding conversations we’ve had.

Along those lines and related to Christmas, maybe I’ve been underestimating the dangers of AI after all: The ghost of Christmas yet to come: how an AI ‘SantaNet’ might end up destroying the world. Clearly the danger of Christmaspocalypse is worse than I imagined.

Whatever Christmas means to you, I hope you and your friends and family are safe and enjoying this holiday season, and look forward to all the conversations we’ll have in 2021.

Merry Christmas!

26 thoughts on “Merry Christmas

  1. Unfortunately, me thinks this is a trend…

    Will be nice to have a different flavored news cycle, though.

    And ’tis a worthy and traditional time for reflection. May the Universe shift its gaze to elsewhere in the cosmos; leave us to recuperate, for a time, at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope not on the trend, but I suppose we’ll find out.

      On the universe shifting its gaze, I like it! Kind of the opposite of the old Chinese curse: May we live in boring times for a while. Or at least times that are only interesting for reasons other than disaster.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s certainly unfortunate how bad things have been for so many this year. It always seems like the least fortunate tend to take the brunt of such circumstances. My hope for improvement ultimately lies with progress in philosophy (or meta science?), which should in turn help our mental and behavioral sciences finally get on the right track. I suspect that associated understandings should teach us how to more effectively lead our lives as well as structure our societies. (In a theoretical sense, how might we effectively do that when we exist as things which science admittedly hasn’t been able to grasp?) In the mean time humanity should continue placing its hopes in an assortment of standard moral notions such as “It is better to give than to receive”. Ha!

    Running this blog must be quite rewarding for you Mike. Otherwise I doubt you’d give it the time you do. Furthermore this seems to be one of those happy occasions where you’re able give others like me even more back than we give you. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wishing a great holiday, Mike! Have much enjoyed reading your blog this year, as usual. We see the world very differently, which leads me from time to time to wonder about why I’m drawn to visit here. The answer I’ve settled on is your sincerity. I never doubt that you are sincere and thoughtful in your positions. There’s never an ulterior motive, and there’s never a sense of I told you so, which makes for a nice exchange even when we disagree on certain things. Also I do greatly enjoy the topics. Reading here provides a digest version of views and topics I don’t think I’d have the bandwidth to discover otherwise. So thank you for providing that. I did not realize you’d lost both old friends and family this year. I’m sorry to hear that and join you in hoping for something better in ’21!

    Best–
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Michael. That makes my morning. Thank you so much!

      In truth, I wish I lived up to your description on a consistent basis. But to some degree, I’m a tit-for-tat kind of guy. I exhibit many of the characteristics you describe to you because you yourself embody them. Put another way, you’re sincerity and thoughtfulness makes it easy for me to be in the same mode. And for that, I’m always grateful.

      Like

  4. I discovered your excellent, thought-provoking blog just a few months ago and found it covering all the issues and questions that have been on my mind for a long time too.

    My best thanks for your great blogging! I wish you continuing success and look forward to seeing hopefully many more posts from you. And I hope that I will be through with my feedbacks well in time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Most of us seem to share a hunger for wonder”. Well I certainly do but it is all too difficult to come by. And scepticism all too often kicks in. Perhaps over a festival such as Christmas many of are able to push aside scepticism and let our imaginations run a little. I watched Simon Russel Beale’s program on the origins of Christmas music which made me feel a lot better. Sorry to hear about your ups and downs. Human life eh?

    Liked by 1 person

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