3 May 2010

I turned 30 and my warranty expired

Todays post is different. It is not about any of the usual subjects I relay here, but about growing old, growing up, growing wary and fearing not only the future of me and my family, but growing wary of humans out of touch with reality, the political rot of the societies we create, and what power and resources together can do to harm our statistics and the people within them. And I want to give Love a brief mention, too.

(I also post this somewhat different topic because my work computer is a bit temperamental after I performed a Ubuntu upgrade, so I'm on our other computer today)

"I turned 30 and my warranty expired"

I'm actually quite a bit older than that, but not quite yet 40, but the sentiment still stands out as a sore thumb. My brain, as it matured and gained a platform of consistency, so did other parts of my body mature to their natural consequences. Slowly I'm feeling age creep up on me, a dodgy knee, faltering memory, eyes and neck trouble, difficulties sleeping. 

We all know the physical constraints of growing older. But I notice more and more the inner-space effects. And no, I'm not getting old and bitter as the old stereotype will have it. No, I'm turning sad and lonely. 

Such a statement, for me, have so many levels it is a bit hard to know where to begin, but let's begin with the simple and obvious ones. I am Norwegian, my wife is Australian. Where do we live? If either of us came from some country that is statistically worse off than the other, the choice would be easier. If I came from the slums somewhere in Nigeria and she from, say, England or Germany, that's not a choice; it would be a better life for us in Europe, for our children, no question. Even if we have to abandon family in Nigeria, everybody would understand to some extent. Opportunities and security for a raising family beats out war and poverty every time. But Norway and Australia?

Both countries are rated as some of the absolute best countries in the world to live in. And by that alone there are proponents for each family on both sides that can't understand the struggle to actually choose one side. We've so far lived twice in each country as a family with small children, and there's pro's and con's to each side in all aspects of our lives. It's painful to have to make a choice.

Less obvious

Since we are a family, we are a tightly knit group of people who love each other. We stand by each other, support each other, and generally try to make the best of our situations, however they come at us. And we are the best of friends.

But I used to have other friends as well, include a few best friends to whom I was very close. We currently live in (and I suspect for the immediate to intermediate time) Australia. When I moved here all my friends and family were left behind. We moved to a new area. Australians are hard to befriend in any meaningful way. So I quite often feel alone, outside of the family space. All my interests and passions, especially those I do not share with my wife, are hard to deal with ; my strong passion for baroque music. My deep love of science. Love of food. Bibliophelia and meta data. Geekery. Internet life. Knowledge management. Philosophy (ethics and otherwise). Inventions! Engineering! 

Of course we make up for that in the things we do share, and this is still quite a lot to keep me sane and reasonably happy, and it helps to share these passions with her and the kids (to the level they understand). But I could use a smidgen of intellectual interest in these ignorant marshes we live.

Even less obvious

World events affect me. Some affect me because they are world events, but the ones affecting the most are the world events that other people around me don't know or care about. Living in an intellectual desert makes you conservative about the academic nurture you seek out. I feel somewhat ashamed in normal talks with people to reveal any hint of knowing stuff, even stuff that's not really all that controversy or hard or uncommon.

What to do when you're aching to tell the world the wonders of the universe, and no one around your really cares to listen? You start making silly plans ;
  • Making a documentary about beach ecology and geology. I've got fact checking and research done, but I'm waiting to buy a HD camera (that can also do underwater shots) for my birthday. I'm going to channel my inner deGrasse Tyson.
  • Plan to teach your children about the speed of light; an applicable model of air and space travel, and gee, what's the point of all of that? And see the whole "Cosmos" series by St. Sagan.
  • Plan to travel to the middle of the desert, looking for minerals, metals and / or interesting biology
But they are somewhat silly plans. They might happen, but the odds are against me, mostly due to work and family attire. It's not that I don't want to do these things, heavens know I do, but time is limited, and well, I need to make better priorities.

Where should we live? Where is the best place for our family to live? Should we choose easy life, rich life, busy life, interesting life? Should we sacrifice our complacent sheltered lives for richer experiences in doing good in other countries? Should we apply our collective strengths to make somewhere else who do care about bigger issues a better place for all who live there? Should we risk the personal safety of the now for a idealistic future of others?

Not obvious at all

I feel a disconnection between myself and the society we live in. I am not satisfied in having a safe life in a protected environment with the latency of science penetration lower than what's livable. There are so many topics to discuss, so many issues to sort out.

Politics suck. And I used to be a politician, so I know quite well how rotten the discourse of democracy can get when agendas are played at different levels of the game. Don't get me wrong; I love democracy - the process. I just hate the people who usually enter into it. And I hate the way the cult of personalities distorts, disrupts and corrupts the ideals laid out. And most of all, I hate how people in general have no friggin' clue about the implications of epistemology in politics, how their own ignorance of science and facts is having an adverse affect on societal progression.

Yes, I like progressive thoughts and actions, not for the sake of just progression, but for the ideal of not falling into staleness and for always question the status quo; what can we do better? Even the best of things can be improved. I'm no fan of "if it works, don't fix it!"


That's a word I hate to the fullness of my person. I don't have a problem with being cautious, but there's a thin line between cautious and conservative, one which I see society fail all too often. Most often it's done in a way to appease popular opinion. But popular opinion is, by its very definition, only popular and only an opinion. Why are we chasing this rather than necessary facts?

Back to less obvious

Politics in general is an attempt by the populous to reach an agreeable direction of channeled progression, but I've always held that for this to work you need to populous to also care about, study, and be able to argue with logic about the issues at hand, without falling into the pit of bias and the fear of change.

Change is the key to the universe and all that is within it; all things change, over various kinds of time scales. Rock and metal change over longer time of millions of years than one-celled animals and viruses that have time scales of hours or even minutes, and then there's everything in between. The scale in which you view the universe is a fascinating exercise in trying to understand the world around you, and by carefully understanding the context of those scales you can get a pretty amazing overview of the scope and direction of huge topics like life, evolution, geology and cosmology, and perhaps get a better understanding of your place in the cosmos.

Back to obvious

My place in the cosmos is that of insignificance. Well, I know the physical outlook, but as a human sentient being who would like the world to be my oyster, I can not only understand my insignificance but appreciate it, love it, live it. There's great power in knowing you are invisible; it allows you to see clearer that which you love.

My family comes first; they are my pillar, the platform on which I base my life, so much is clear. And as a unit it doesn't matter what the cosmos throw our way as our strength and love is in that unit. It's a self-sufficient ecosystem of family ebb and flow. Politics flow over, through and around us. People do the same. Society is the sand on our beach, tumbling around, always shifting and changing.

There's nothing so important as to embrace change. And in this light I view the progressive nature of the human endeavor; humans fighting change every chance they get. Poverty and despair is as much a result of this as is the unbalanced resource management, the political systems and the populous scientific interest and literacy.

And that is they key to my disjointedness from society, as well as the thing that keeps me going; my family. No matter where we are, no matter what friends we accumulate, we are together.

And even if it is obvious, it's not really that obvious.


  1. Alexander,

    Enjoyed your heart-felt post. I wish the best to you and yours.

    I also caught your conversation with your Christian friend.

    Let me recommend a more stimulating Christian debate-partner, if I may:

    I'm sure you won't agree with everything that he says, but there is no doubt that Dr. Hart is quite the intellectual. I really enjoyed his book, which is from Yale University press:


    In full disclosure, I am a Christian (one who enjoys reading scientific and atheist literature [as well as philosophy, history, anthropology, linguistics, etc.])

    And I also have a family I dearly love (4 boys under the age of 7) - and am thankful to have come from a family that had meant everything to me.

    My best from America,


  2. Thanks for the comments, Nathan, and thanks for the book recommendation. I have actually read that book, and, umm, I wasn't impressed. Maybe I'll write a more extended piece about it on my philosophy blog when I get the chance (which, according to my own calculations, will be in about 3-4 years or so ...)