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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lakes

Lakes of clouds gathered in the sky at night. They spoke rainbows in front of the moon.
They said: "Take the bread to the mountain, but do not light a fire. The light is the moon's to shine tonight"
I am on the mountain. I've eaten my bread. The lakes of clouds mumble rainbows in front of the moon. They say sadly:"And when the sun rises, the moon will take its light away with anyone who died today." And that's when I'll come down. And that's when I came down.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Adelboden (class edit)

Le dernier week-end nous sommes allés dans une ville dans des Alpes, appeléAdelboden. C'était un long week-end donc nous n'avons pas eu à revenir à la maison jusqu'à lundi. Adelboden est dans la partie allemande de la Suisse. Je pensais que je serais en mesure d'utiliser un peu d'allemand, mais ils ne parlent pas allemand. Ils parlent le suisse allemand. C'est très différent.

Il ya eu une grosse semaine de travail. J'apprends beaucoup de choses sur managmenet projet. Le problème avec cela, c'est que je suis au milieu de la gestion d'un projet /je suis en pleine gestion d'un projet. C'est un mauvais moment pour apprendre  ce sujet.

Les filles semblent apprécier leur nouvelle école. Mes enfants apprennent le français très rapidement.Elles apprennent beaucoup plus vite que moi.

Je viens de recevoir mon vélo . Je vais  l'envoyer  chez Le Cyclocampeur, près de l'hôtel. Certaines pièces étaient vieilles, donc j'ai dû passer près de 500 CHF pour obtenir de nouvelles pièces. Maintenant le vélo est en très bon état, et je suis impatient d'aller faire un tour.



Saturday, September 07, 2013

Cette semaine, semaine 4 (?)

Cette semaine, nous avons appliqué un appartement. Il est verz près de mon bureau. En outre, il est proche de l'école des filles. Je pense que nous pourrions être heureux de vivre dans ce quartier.

Ce soir, il ya un festival dans le parc (Robin parc). La communauté ici est diverse. Il ya des gens de partout dans le monde. Mais quand ils se réunissent pour organiser une fête, ils jouent tous la même musique (Fame, Tainted Love, etc.) Le calendrier des spectacles au Québec ce parti se poursuivra jusqu'à 2h du matin ce soir.

Je me suis inscrit en cours de français cette semaine. Je ne sais pas quand les classes seront encore, mais je dois y aller le matin, deux fois par semaine. Ils seront leçons privées, ce qui devrait aider à orienter les sujets. Je veux apprendre comment parler aux commerçants, et comment en parler à mes enfants. Il ya tellement de pâtisseries ici. Il est difficile, déchirante, d'avoir une maladie coeliaque dans la famille. Mais c'est la vie.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Suisse aujourd'hui

Il a été longtemps depuis que j'ai posté ici. Beaucoup de choses ont changé. Nous vivons maintenant dans un logement temporaire en Suisse. J'ai un nouvel emploi. Ma mère est de rester avec nous pour quelques semaines. Elle est là pour vous aider.

Cela a été une semaine difficile. Nous avons perdu mon oncle, mon oncle Mike.  C'est très triste nouvelles. Je ne peux écrire en français bébé, donc je ne suis pas vraiment en mesure d'exprimer beaucoup à ce sujet. J'ai un nouveau travail, il est donc difficile pour moi de prendre congé. Je dois continuer à travailler.

La semaine prochaine, je serai l'hôte d'un atelier avec un de mes collègues. Nous avons beaucoup de préparation que nous devons faire. Et au travail, il ya tant de choses nouvelles pour moi. J'apprends de nouvelles choses chaque jour.

Le pays est beau. Nous sommes venus en été, il est donc facile. Si nous étions venus en hiver, il aurait été très difficile. Mais en ce moment, c'est beau. C'est un beau moment de l'année en Suisse.

Nous serons ici pendant près de deux ans. Nous devons donc trouver un appartement pour vivre po et j'ai besoin de trouver une voiture à acheter. Il ya eu beaucoup de paperasse et d'enregistrement officiel du gouvernement.

En ce moment je vous écris cette entrée de journal en utilisant Google-translate pour m'aider à apprendre le français. J'espère que d'ici la fin de ce voyage, je serai en mesure de revenir et de corriger mon français. J'espère aussi que je n'aurai pas besoin d'utiliser Google traduction pour m'aider à créer le langage. Je veux apprendre, mais il est généralement difficile de trouver le temps.

Nous allons obtenir quelques leçons gratuites dans le cadre de l'accord avec l'entreprise, mais je pense que ce ne sera pas vraiment suffisant. La plupart du temps au travail je vais parler en anglais. Donc, c'est vraiment seulement le week-end et quand je suis dans les magasins que je dois connaître le français.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Similar to a cartoon dialectic about hope.

Similar to a cartoon dialectic about hope.

In your vioce: "Do I wish? I wish constantly. Wishes issue forth from me like rain at a wedding, bullets in battle, traffic in an Italian roundabout, plague after a flood, beach sand in children's shoes, hair in a drain, vomit from a college student (her friend holding back her hair), angels' blessings in a maternity ward, mushrooms in manure, dead people's votes for Vladimir Putin, numbers on spreadsheets, Halloween candy bullied off the weak by the strong, urine stained gentlemen's slacks at an opp shop, chop sticks played on public pianos, confetti, glitter, business meetings, rubbish by the roadside, like guavas in a verdant jungle.

And my wishes come true, a certain some of those I've sown. I have created a harvest of truth.

At dawn I yoke my mind to task, to scratch the itching back of sleepy yawning voids, to tease them to dream. It's they who unmatch socks, who hide money and toys in the couch, who read the racing form and place the winning bet. Their hands guide me, even in wishing."

In my voice:"Thank you, but.
Do you ever wonder if it can be full up, if you're wishing too much, if the void might get angry or tired or careless in listening? I ask because I have a confession. I wonder. I worry. The wonder flows from me like snot from a little boy's nose sitting in a shopping cart waiting for his Mum to select just the right yogurt. The worry drags me around like a dismembered torso behind a Mexican drug-gang's pickup truck. I'm full up, angry and tired and careless. "

In your voice: "Here let me help you. I'll do what I can. "I Wish you happy.""

In my voice:"I wonder if that'll work. I'm worried it won't, but I wish it would."

In your voice:"Ah, there's hope."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Part II : Longform day: Think of the children and all the dead people.




People die a lot. Every single person who ever lived, who isn't alive right now, died. And I wouldn't be the first person to think we owe them some respect. They delivered. As an aggregate, they delivered the present humanity. The people of the past, the unbroken chain of cultures, languages, families, etc. are quite specifically what enables you to be you. Without them, you would very likely die within three days - maybe 5. What the dear am I on about? 

A terrible thought experiment: Take 53 or 87 human babies. Raise them individually, alone in a productive forest. No language, nothing extra in the way of habits or technology that could be considered culture - maybe a few cuddles along the way just to keep them from being utterly delayed. Then at the age of 12, bring them all together and leave them alone, together as a group, a proto-tribe. Now consider the possible futures this tribe could create. 

But first, notice a couple of things about yourself. I feel terrible having written the above. I don't even like imagining this scenario. It feels uncomfortable, in humane. It might be the definition of inhumane. If performed in real life, taken word-for-word, this experiment would be considered a crime against humanity, a high crime. And that's something worth noticing. The "harm" done is entirely cultural. If someone asked you "Is the total deprivation of culture a crime?" you might not get such a visceral response. But when we tell the story of what that means, it quickly gets very personal. 

Also notice that we take it for granted that this is "wrong", the "wrong" way to bring up kids. And we're sure of that. People are so sure that their culture "knows" the correct way to bring up children that they will die fighting to protect that culture. I'm not talking "die to protect your family from immanent harm", I'm talking "die to protect the culture your family lives in from change". That happens a lot. 

The crazy thing about this certainty ("my culture has the correct answers") is that everyone knows, understands, agrees that other cultures maintain that they have the answer, and that they have not only the right to exist, but the responsibility to keep it all going. Ritual human sacrifice used to be common. Would we be willing to allow a human in a culture which practices ritual human sacrifice to judge the "right" or the "wrong" of our culture? Would we be willing to allow that person to judge the ethics of my thought experiment? 

Ok, so now that I've laboured the point that there are a lot of different ways to be human, let's get back to our kids. 

Without language, and taken beyond the magical 8th year, it's almost entirely impossible that this group would form a functioning language. They might get as far as some proto-language, grunts and maybe some rhythmic song, but even that would be pretty unlikely. What is likely? Well, they'd probably all die in the first 3 days, ok maybe 5. To be honest, I have a very difficult time predicting anything about these 53 or 87 kids. It's almost impossible to understand what it means to have a large group of humans without any language, without any culture. It's like trying to imagine a group of bonobos without any instincts. Even if we exclude predators and illness, accidental death and/or starvation can't be far away - not to mention just raw violence. 

Violence is one of the things we do have. The brain stem has a few tricks we don't need to learn. It would be these brain stem behaviours which would probably take over and drive any actions. But that begs the question of the rest of the brain; given a bunch of spare time, but bereft of any organised education, what would all that extra grey stuff being "doing"?

Keep in mind that at any point in recent human history or future we could manufacture a group of people like this. It would only take 15 years. In 15 years we could have an actual group of pre-language, pre-tools, pre-culture sapiens. Unethical? You bet (to you and me). Globally unethical?  I wonder. 

So that thought experiment is meant to show how deep and how wide is our dependance on our ancestors. Did they do everything right? Did they commit inhumane crimes? Should we wear a black armband looking back at their hubris or pride or ambition? No, yes, I don't know. The point is, as well or as poorly as they did it, they delivered. There's been a long and uninterrupted relay of "human" going on for a million years (see the recent find in Wonderwerk Cave, humans at least using, if not starting, fire a million years ago). That's heavy. A million. That's roughly five thousand times longer than Australia has been called Australia. And if you think about the type of change that's been made in the last 200 years; compared to a million years of using the same stone tools, 200 years is a blink. So for a million years people kept the fire of culture burning before language took off, writing developed and etc. 

That roughly means that every person is dependant upon (admittedly in a highly redundant and complex way) every human who has ever lived for sustaining at least that base of culture and possibly adding to it. Without this, we are not recognisable as any of the things we so value. I hope I have reduced your individualism just a little. I think individualism may have gotten out of hand in the last couple decades. I agree it's important that we strive to deliver liberty to individuals, but I don't agree that the liberty comes for free. 

Who cares? 

A tried and true individualist does not care all too much about the plight of the people of the future. They don't care to consider the importance of cohesion in the group. I'd point you to a somewhat brilliant talk by Bruce Sterling which boils down to "if your dead great-grandpa can do it better than you, don't do it. There's plenty of time to be doing it as good as him when you're dead, forever." So please stop "saving" water. You'll do it orders of magnitude better when you're dead. You will save so much water after you die, it's difficult to imagine. http://video.reboot.dk/video/486788/bruce-sterling-reboot-11  . The other side of what Sterling says is that there is an imperative on excellence. He asks us to use lots of resources in excellent ways, towards a betterment. So this is where the subjective weighs in heavily. As individuals we are asked to determine highly energetic paths towards "better", or at least to not be shy about using resources in an effort towards "progress". 

At this point I'll cut loose this argument, and fall back on stuff I've previously written about the importance of a common-human-goal being in alignment with the laws of the universe (entropy). Instead, I'll take up a prediction. 

Prediction so close to the coming singularity is a fools errand, or so you can read in many places. The very discipline of consideration of the future is going through a funk. You can read about it:


But I don't care about all that. I'm prepared, again, to take a punt. And I do it for a couple reasons. One reason is that I want to get on record before it happens, so I can say "see, told you so." The other reason is to compare and contrast in a way that Bellah does between "axial vs modern", the here-and-now vs the ever-after, today vs any significant version-roll of tomorrow. So where we can see the difference between caveman and classical man, then followed by a difference in "modern" man, what is the core difference future man will obtain? And if I can say what it is, why isn't it here now. 

Language. That's the word. It's the idea which defines so much of what Bellah chronicles. Key components of the consideration of language are written vs. spoken. There is a big difference between pre-linguistic and linguistic cultures. There's an arguably bigger difference between spoken-language and written-language cultures. And in both cases, there are long periods of time of transition; long periods where the full leverage of the innovation had not been realized or had not reached a certain critical mass (written language died in ancient Greece at one point, only to be reborn after a long dark age). 

Now I'd like to note two pieces of trivia Bellah gives us about early reading and writing: 
1. Reading silently, alone, is a more recent invention than reading itself. For a long time, reading was always done aloud. 
2. Writing and reading pre-date "theory, analysis, criticism, formal logic, and fiction(?!)). People spent a long long time using writing only to count goats, and then moved to verbatim copy of spoken poetry much later. 

With those tid-bits in mind, consider computer programming. Well, we consider this linguistic activity "computer programming", but is that at all an accurate description of its potential? Or is naming this activity "computer programming" akin to calling writing "counting goats"? What I mean to say is that currently we've got a constrained interface (think clay tablet and sharp stick) to a potentially rich domain of communication, an extensive domain of idea. We're currently in a "just the tip" regime of intercourse with what I propose will develop into a fuller penetration into thought. 

There are currently several brain-computer interfaces in development. There is currently a great deal of research being done in the area of mapping "mind" to brain. In the next 20-50 years I propose the map will be complete enough to get an effective interface commercially available. What do I mean by effective? Well, today if you go into your browser and "search" for let's say an image of a red 1978 Ford Pinto Wagon, you can find it. That's amazing! It's incredible! But will you find the wagon you had in mind? Because, if you're searching for it, you probably have an image "in mind". With an "effective" interface to the computer, I propose that the image you have in mind will be available on the screen (and by "the screen" I probably mean any level of "real" just short of material you want it to be - for example you'd be able to experience getting in, smelling it, feeling it, driving it). An "effective" mind-computer interface will be bi-directional and multi-dimensional.

(update on brain to brain interface Nov 2014: http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/11/05/uw-study-shows-direct-brain-interface-between-humans/  : somewhat controversial because there are a lot of brain to brain interfaces, such as talking and reading - as you're doing now. )

So let's get some of the more trivial future-casting stuff out of the way. Yes you'd be able to do lots of cool immersive stuff derived from physical experiences in the world, modifying your reality towards some physical-cyber balance. Some people will get lost in the cyber, some people will reject it all violently. And then there will be a "normal" middle-ground. The normals will have their children, and their children will begin life having never known anything less than the ability to get inside the memory and processing power of whatever we call this, although it must be networked, so the network. Some within the normal range you'll find, either driven by competition or by distraction, parents putting kids on the network at younger and younger ages. When that age drifts under 8, we get a real possibility of a natural language being developed on the network, of the network. 

So now, instead of "consumers" of "apps" or browsers of the network you'll see a sort of natural-language expression emerge on the network. And this is where we get moving towards a full expression of the potential of what we've tipped open in the internet. Now the human minds become "valves" or guides to a wide and deep resource comprising memory, processor power, logic, and content. This is where my, your, pretty much anyone's imagination starts to fail. And this is that moment where we move into a "next" age. This would put us in the position of an average ancient Egyptian transported through time to today's downtown Cairo. 

So where I mentioned earlier about "reading silently" and the purpose to which writing was initially put, I'm suggesting that there will be a further extension of language beyond reading and writing in a spoken language. There will be an extension to what we call "programming" today, but where programming today is done to "count goats", a more linguistically natural activity will be used to conduct culture. What that culture becomes, what it looks like is well beyond our horizon, but I'm sure we can use previous age-transitions to guess (for what it's worth). 

Now that we've gotten this far out, let's look back. Initially we took 53 or 87 kids and didn't provide them with culture. And that was uncomfortable. Jump 90 years into my network future and suggest a thought experiment where we deprive 53 or 87 children of the network. Today to deprive your kids of TV or computers is looked at a bit sideways by many. What would it mean to prevent your kids from learning the language of their peers, of the network when that becomes a primary driver of cultural value? (and if you say that what you consider "virtual" could not become dominant to what you consider "physical", it's already happened. Aboriginal Australians have a notion of "dreamtime" as the primary reality.) It's difficult to get your head around if you're not born into it, but human culture has that funny attribute about it that at once defines "reality" while not actually being reality. So there's almost no use in getting hung up on this "physical/virtual" divide that's so popularly held. 

>>it's late,  the end.

Both the location and the velocity.

I read inspirational messages.
Poets re-drawing maps in vibrant colours, winning colours, winning poets. 
The direction is up. Eyes to the sky. Ruin flows from them, cleverly.


I read from trees, bare branches' fingers pointing in every direction say:

"I am here now, in the centre of the universe." Immanent majesty, location incarnate, satisfied wood, defenceless lumber, friendly critic offering shade, quiet and steadfast roots.
And then I read what I have written: Crossword hints, acrostic atrocities of assonance, loosely punctuated rafts of flotsam on a river well navigated by giants, the wisdom on Dixie cups and bottle tops lain flat and wet at the bottom of a birthday party rubbish bin, at best, the cookie crumbs and dandelions found pressed in an old copy of Slaughterhouse 5, picked from a stack on corner (a sign "Free boox" written in crayon above them).


In summary, a very true story: 
Riding in traffic on my morning commute, between Haberfield and Five Dock, I bump up a short tight hill to a light. I know time, and I know lights, so I punch a bit extra to try to keep this light sweet. But there's not much in there. I've been giving all week and this well looks dry. But barely standing, this 100 or maybe 200 year old guy - he might have been Greek, or maybe Italian- just yells out "GO! GO!" cheering me on. And not like the disen-y-gen-ous über-ironic cheering I usually get. This guy was cheering, for me. For me. He was cheering for me

With two words, his life story poured into me. His humanity and optimism, his energy, vitality given to me. And I lifted. I flew. He dies. I fly to see another day. He uses nothing  but his last-moments-seeing-extraordinary-things-ever to show me what I have, what I will have, what he has known, and where he will go. For a moment I thought back to him "GO! GO!", but it seemed so inappropriate, almost cruel. And so I thought of looking deeply into his eyes. I thought of knowing him, knowing where he is now, his path here. I wanted him to pass me him on. Then it occurred to me; he had passed me that baton. I did have it.


 It took seventeen or twenty seconds more for me to fully understand all he had told. And then a peloton of tears each bursting from my eyes with his energy "GO! GO!" - not ernest or ironic, but urgent and joyful, raced in my slipstream. 


 Him, I left on the other side of a red light. I'd squeaked through on amber. I was still going. I am still going. I am still in the race, in the present with trees. What I drop, a raft of flotsam, pressed flowers in a book, hints, atrocities and party rubbish, what I drop stay with him. They stay "then", and pile on like a wreath, more history to push, to pressurise the past, to make full, rolling-full the pages.

------------ end----------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------
"If he accepts this message in its full significance, man must at last wake out of his millenary dream and discover his total solitude, his fundamental isolation. He must realise that, like a gypsy, he lives on the boundary of an alien world; a world that is deaf to his music, and as indifferent to his hopes as it is to his sufferings or his crimes." Monod from Chance and Necessity p.160
 "The future is in constant retreat. The past stands perfectly still. The present rages on, foaming at tips, a tsunami of events." I just said that, just now to you here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

BRW Results 2012+

I've been doing this min-triathlon since 2004. Here is this year's number, with historical results for context. It was a good year:

 Year,  run,         bike,     swim,   total
2007 0:06:45 0:17:26 0:10:37 0:34:50
2008 0:05:33 0:15:52 0:10:47 0:32:22
2010 0:05:29 0:16:16 0:10:04 0:31:49
2011 0:06:07 0:17:11 0:11:42 0:35:00
2012 0:05:04 0:16:56 0:10:30 0:32:30

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest blogging

Check out my guest post over at atherapyforpain. Just a secret, some of the links fell out in the editing process. There were more.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A curious story for you to


The day
The night
The statement
The repetition
The obvious chemistry
The brief dream, a kiss
The keys near the phone
The moment of dust in light
The ivy growing over the window
The mute outside sounds of the street
The skinks in the sunny corner of the garden
The smell of tea and morning
The time between needs
The dripping taps
The beginnings
The end

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Long form day: Part I





Today might be the day, the day I actually get around to talking about what I'm on about. I should preface this by suggesting that this might be a book review. I'm currently reading: Robert Neelly Bellah's "Religion in Human Evolution: From the Palaeolithic to the Axial Age."  I believe this was a recommendation from http://marginalrevolution.com/ - an economics blog I highly recommend.



Something to notice about this title, while "Religion" is a sort of hang-your-hat-on-hook, the key features of the title are "evolution" and the timeframe - from half-a-million years ago to about 200BCE. So, we're not mostly talking about mono-theism. Mostly Bellah isn't talking about anything most people would recognise as their religion. Mostly he's talking about the evolution of social structures as they diverged from "animal" and went towards what we consider to be "civil society".



A few key points seem to be central to Bellah's message:

 1. Play is very very important.

 2. Ritual comes from play, and serves to stitch groups-larger-than-a-family together

 3. Ritual in pre-linguistic society hinges on rhythm (i.e. music) as the core of "shared experience" or unity.

 4. The locus of "power" drifts through time from locations (ubiety/plurality) to ubiquity (omnipotent/monolithic).



The key points I've drawn from the first half of Bellah's book (not done yet), which I'm interested in drawing out:

1. The point at which "other" is defined creates a cognitive space (which is essentially infinite in scope).

2. Pre-linguistic/pre-written cultures are very sensitive to group size. Larger group sizes are selected for when language enters.

3. The predominance of patriarchy rooted in both mortality and "lineage" problems.



 Bellah begins this epic adventure with children. He uses early childhood development to map a possible evolutionary echo of human development. It's not perfect, but for my purposes the historical accuracy question is irrelevant. You see, every time a child is born the child's consciousness moves from an embryonic non-interactive, non-introspective, manifold which channels sensory input towards something much more structured. That structure almost always eventuates in a meta-layer of shared experience that we all call "normal reality". But it's quite clear that this normal reality is a complex constructed illusion ( see Tor Noretranders' "The User Illusion" or the O'Reilly manual "Mind Hacks", or the 2.6lb "The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World" Iain McGilchrist).



What strikes me is that possibly hundreds of thousands of years prior to those books, people at some level noticed the illusory nature their perception was taking on. And they then leveraged that "space" open, and used it to maintain a structure which transcends "now", "self", "family", even transcends what we'd consider "normal reality". The image I find helpful is of two faces or masks looking at each other. The one face is the "self", the other face is the "self awareness". Now, between those two masks there must be some space, something which separates.



Recent neuroscience has actually located the seat of this mirror in what have been called "mirror neurons". These are neurons have been shown to fire in an echo of some "other's" perceived experience. For example, if I watch someone burn their hands, mirror neurons will fire in sympathy with a "burn" to the hands. My face will likely take on a similar contortion to that of the actual burn victim. And looking at cold people will make me feel cold. Looking at happy people will make me feel happy. This is the stock atheist answer to the "moral code" question.



So, in mirror neurons we have a seat for simple morals and ethics. But without the neuroscience, without any rational explanation, this very special capability (maybe not a uniquely human capability, but certainly uniquely amplified in humans - to share an experience, to share rhythm ), has been somehow expanded by people to a remarkable degree, infinite omniscience.



My simple observation is that once we "noticed" there was a space between ourselves and our awareness of ourselves, we've allowed that space to expand. And as that space expanded, so did the concept for the entity which inhabits that space. This is the feeling of the abyss, the feeling of an infinite, all-knowing, the unity. 



Observation number 2 is well related to observation 3. So keep that in mind. Observation 2 is that Pre-linguistic/pre-written cultures are very sensitive to group size. And larger group sizes are selected for when language enters.



When I say "sensitive" I'm talking about the ability to sustain both a population and a level of technology. I believe Jared Diamond covers this ground in Collapse (haven't read it yet). The example is usually the Tasmanian Aborigine. At some point in the past a population moves south from mainland Australia to Tasmania via a land-bridge. The bridge goes away, partitioning off that population from the mainland. Over the course of several hundred years the Tasmanian family groups lose technology, lose the ability to make certain tools, etc. and eventually end up living at a much lower technological level than their forbearers.



The process at play here is the idea of specialisation. In order to reliably transmit learned skills to offspring, because of all sorts of mortality issues, the group must be larger than a single "family". I'm not here concerned with how or why a group falls below a certain threshold. I just want to establish that the closer a group persists near that threshold, the higher the probability that they will fail. So bigger groups are selected for.



Point three is a semi-trivial argument for the persistence and prevalence of patrilineal societies which is related to the mechanism for "selection" of larger groups. If we accept that larger groups were selected for, we also have to accept an upward bound. For this we go to Dunbar's number. Dunbar said that the human brain could only handle about 150 active social members. And to some extent this 150 number does show up fairly reliably through tribal history, etc. It's not a hard number, but it gives us a bounded area - somewhere around 150, not 14 and not 60,000.



Once we establish the minimal (45) and maximal (150) group size, a little bit of network analysis may turn up some seeds for patriarchy. Please also take into account both, a high female mortality rate due to having children, and a high infant mortality rate. What jumps out here is that men - post-pubescent males are just as valuable as keepers of knowledge/story/law as they are sowers of seed. But women are a liability as keepers of knowledge because of their biological (li)ability to have children (and the mortality that comes along with that). It's key to remember here that a tribe of 40 women and 2 men could double in size in one year. The opposite tribe would be in spot of bother.



Another bit of network analysis comes along later in history, with the idea of agriculture and "property". Bellah goes into some depth considering early Hawai'ian hierarchy and the idea of "King" and "lineage". See the text for more detail than I'm willing to go into here, but in short - Hawai'ian commoners were prohibited from knowing/keeping a lineage. Only the King was allowed to maintain a lineage. The effect of this was that only a King could "inherit". The commoners were not allowed to pass-down, to own.

This idea of "lineage" and inheritance is less important post written language. We can keep records in detail and historical depth.

But consider a pre-written language culture with land ownership. The key attribute of ownership becomes lineage. Your name is your title to place. Now consider this same culture in which a man can have many wives (for biological reasons I covered earlier, it's debatable that this is selected for). All of a sudden "first born son" starts to make some sense. There is only one "man" in this scenario, and only one "son", both of whom could be expected to live longer than many of the wives. The complexity of the many women is effectively eliminated via patriarchy.



Something fairly interesting emerges (see Mad Men) as the underpinnings of patriarchy fall away. There's very little excuse (if any) left for patriarchy, but there are hordes of sub-systems which assume it. And they are evolved systems, so there's no conscious way to "replace" them. This results in a lot of the growing pains we've seen from the early 60's to present.



Similarly, the trajectory of neuroscience suggests a hollowing-out of space between the two masks. Maybe hollowing-out is not the correct analogy, but it seems to me that the idea of "super-natural" no longer has any real relevance. The idea of not-yet-discovered-as-natural seems a lot more likely.



Bellah makes a point of following the transit of poly-animism towards poly-theism towards mono-theism. This movement (I don't want to use the word "progression" because I don't see all of this as progress - it's more like wandering) suggests more movement. What might that look like? The interesting thing about a post-modern religious construct is that if it is to be "believed", it's always in contrast to non-belief. Bellah does a good job of re-constructing the cognitive substrate of a time when non-belief was not really possible. It's a fundamentally different state than what we find ourselves in now. Today it's as if we understand that not only is there space between the masks, but there are a great number of different ways to consider that space (and to some extent that this very novelty is exploitable - i.e. art).



Language, in many ways, more than science, has replaced religion. Specifically English, but the individual language is becoming less important as machine translation improves. So an artist in any region of the world with any world-view can create, and then that art can be consumed in an assumed shared-context. The art itself communicates the world-view, but the shared-language allows for a more located exchange. Pop and modern art, along with a shared language have the ability to "replace" much of evolutionary purpose of religion (shared orientation in the service of group). However, apart from the limited effort required to consume the art and the shared language, there's a level of commitment lacking here, faith.



Faith is a dirty word in some circles. But in those circles it's difficult to find the replacement. The current construct of faith is only required after "the fall". In the pre-historic religions, the tribal ways are just received (much in the same way the law is considered as given in modern civil society). Only the idea of an "other" way requires faith. This faith is used to signal group allegiance and provide a certain amount of security that transcends individual social contracts.



Bellah also makes a point that it's important that "morbidity" is avoided. This is couched in some other theories, but the main idea is that the same "self awareness" which gives rise to an exploitable space of creativity and knowledge, also gives rise to the knowledge that we will die. So, we are motivated primarily by the drive to continue living (i.e. fear of death, existential anxiety). That you and me don't tend to dwell on this idea terribly often is a product of a successful culture. I think if you ran the numbers you'd find that people who are more worried about death, die sooner.



So the space between objective reality, our sensory reception of that reality, and the reality we construct in our conscious/social mind is filled in with stories, narratives. Some of the stories are evolved over tens of thousands of years (archetypes), some of them are constructed consciously (as assuming a faith in adult life). But for the most part, these stories are engaged with in an honest and "faithful" way. And just to be a little more fine-grained about this, many of these stories I'm talking about are pre-language. These are the just-so stories we construct as aggregates of reflex actions (how to walk, why to walk, why to run, etc.)



So even post-fall, post-modern we engage naively or semi-non-self-consciously in a huge body of fictions. If you travel a lot, and get "culture shock", at least a component of that is the distance of the local group of stories from your own. I've had some very mild culture shock going from Australia to the US. But going from US to Japan, I've had some fairly dramatic culture shock. I'm suggesting that a good bit of these shocks are due to the necessity to re-assess the level "truth" in stories you didn't even know you were telling yourself. A very big difference between pre-modern (Newton) and now is that "religion" is now outside the set of stories which are assumed, the stories which we don't know we're telling. Now, we know. This puts a great deal of emphasis on "faith" and fellowship as external signals(see the early 2000's drive towards "authentic").



If there is a next instalment, I'll tackle my final points (Plato - forms), and natural language (programming).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Removed pending approval

I've removed this post because I've submitted it to something. Will check back once I get an acceptance/rejection letter.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Adam blogs the trip to Newnes here: http://atherapyforpain.com/.

I'll try to put together my own post when I get my legs back.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Plato's kitchen-garden feast.

Most things can't be pretended
away;
Not even things that were imagined
here.
Can't divide both sides by x to solve
for y;
Nor take the root to complete
the square.
One person can imagine a war,
The wishes of a billion people, for naught.
A billion more can love so far
from a lonely home that they forgot.
And one person can imagine they love another.
Like a toy, no, like a god, a mother.
That love to live between sky and ground.
A durable ghost, a blob, a mound
Of idea emotion plucked,
Noble savage, naked beast,
From a bristling vacuum sucked.
Take in what you have, the majesty imaginal. You have it. Give of yourself that kingly grace, that knightly space, damsel dream, the dragon's teeth.
My advice is strong:
A crusade a day.
Inhabit your station.
Your title, your way.
Say what you imagine, to be true.
As surgical as much the fool.
Bake brilliant your bread
As swords and coats
To be in soups and juices soaked.
Around this table, with words and fables
Bring forward to see that next garden tree
One so forbidden so as to be hidden
Behind fare apples of the naked Eve.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The old Push and Shove, from clay is made.


Let's list what's not delicate:
Electricity
Fire
Rocks
Water


What is?
You
Me
Whatever is ventured between.
China plate or fine.

But throw and slab and coil we must.

And when it breaks?
Get it wet again.
Score it.
Pinch it gently, to knit.
A bit more water. Smooth it. 
And again we become delicate, but useful. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Two Standard Deviations

The vast sinusoidal wave.
Living the averaging process, on the boil.
Two tails. One in the fire, one in the freezer.
Do the math, the many selections.
Find that drifting centre in a sea of time.
We lap, we sup, at opposite shores of average.
So special. So shining. So bright, translucent.

"10 to 15 minutes of noontime sun a day is recommended.
The alpha wavicles break a molecular bond to make vitamin D, which heals." It's one thing we need.

Another little something, and another, is something else.
A playful shove. Aw Shucks. I pulled your pigtails. Oh gee.
And those smallest of jokes hold the key to the core of your soul.

With the cups of my hands I whisper it into a corner, like an armpit, or a nape. And in pours unlocking, unfolding notes, downletting hair, and all in the sun for day to see we play the noise. Those outliers in the data. That which gets trimmed.

Curling hand over hand to plait the unruly. Washing shit off walls. Eating the dog's breakfast left on the table when the kids are in the bath. "I see Jesus on my toast." "Those clouds look like elephants." "Well done, painting a picture using error bars." (Artful in your own slop.) "..that's where you'll
find me. "

Monday, January 02, 2012

Going 10 rounds with devotional poetry
or
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī vs. God

The greedy conversation
Grappling in that erotic way
Feverish and outstanding
Trading fours
Giving as good as you get
Two poets, boxers punching themselves hard in the nose
Until they're just a little dead
That's strange action at a distance
Making love the real thing, not dreams
Leave the lights on
Heck, put a mirror up in a corner

Write Me a little something on that mirror before you go.
or on paper
Write Me a little something.
fold it
Write Me a little something.
drop it in a fountain, or a pocket
Write Me a little something, please today.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

laamsha.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/december/

so I walk downhill, follow off the ridge
walking only on this soft young death

looking up is ever green

as expected, walking down and looking up, I fall
into the cold water of the swimming hole

a real hand pulls me out
the headache now is from the icy water
I think; "this water followed me here
through the body of dead leaves and spines of fallen branches"

a small victory, I steam in found sunlight
not any place new
as some body new

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

If I were the coach of a rugby team, this is what I’d tell them at halftime if we were losing:

Make things great by being sure they are.
In your hand everymoment's bread, hew hollows
With Nigella's thumbs in, prise a steaming loaf gently.
Spread in there dollops of intention and your difference.
Toast to taste.
Then hamfistedly wrench the moment apart. Rend it.
At the risk of your own fingers, using all of your Neanderthal blood (we have it.), 
take the moment corporeally in your teeth. 
Do that thing to it. Eat that moment out. 
What runs down your chin, taste with your neck. 
What sounds you make make you who you are.
 We are all positive of a couple things when we eat loudly: 
              hungry comes before dead.
              eating is great. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Doctrine of Well Ordered Chaos










Give me a fact.



A tautology in fact.



A topology that tells me a geometry. (Riemann*)



Lead me around a surface elastic



smooth, smooth, (Hamilton*)



don't pinch or fold or twist.



poke no holes in me, please.(Perelman*)



I, this series of knotted giblets,



cannot have a conformal space rotated around me. (Gordon*)



"We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams", holding it all together (O'Shaughnessy).



Untie us, together, let our fictions free



to drift unopposed by forces



to accelerate



Untie us, together, send our forces free



in all directions, to Truth.















“He who studies but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not study is in great danger.” (Lunyu 2.15) Confucius



or "Study without thought is labour lost; thought without study is dangerous." (C.T.M.A.T.M. 135) Confucius



* Yes, currently readin "The Shape of Inner Space" Sing-Tung Yau and Steve Nadis

Friday, November 04, 2011

It's best if you don't write anything down.
If the world roundly says your poem, it's best.

It's best if there's no math about it, no recipe. If it's just one ingredient, it's best.

And what's better is when it's hot. There's a sizzle, smacking great pops. And what's better is when there's no time. It's like right now, again.

And yet. Off the map. Never did happen. Cold as forever space, that statue has only the flaw that it won't happen again.

Monday, October 24, 2011




I have a Dipping Bird on my desk which I point to now-and-again as a sort of Out of Office Assistant. Full credit to Matt Groening's Homer Simpson for showing me the full utility of employing a drinking bird in this way. Up until I saw the King-Size Homer episode, I hadn't imagined just how handy it could be as a "knowledge worker" to keep one of these guys around.

But at some point I realised that the bird is only made useful when I am not. So there's some 60% more utility I could be getting from this bird if I could figure out a job for it while I am attending to my key boards and mice clinking.

With my new drill-press, light on in the workshop, and just short of 10 minutes work I modified the birdfeet as seen in the pictures above. Now bird holds phone. 100% employment. 100% utility. Innovation is alive in the world. I believe this could be a $100,000 idea, but instead of patenting it, I share it here with the world. Copy! This informaiton wants to be free!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What did Andrew Bolt do?

He lied about facts, and then generated an opinion about those lies. Some excerpts from the 470 paragraph judgement:


"One of the positions that Mr Bolt claimed Ms Heiss had won as a “plum job” was a voluntary unpaid position. The other two positions were not reserved for Aboriginal people but were positions for which Aboriginal people were encouraged to apply. "


"The facts in question have not been proven to be true. To the contrary, in relation to most of the individuals concerned, the facts asserted in the Newspaper Articles that the people dealt with chose to identify as Aboriginal have been substantially proven to be untrue. Nine of the eighteen individuals named in the Newspaper Articles gave evidence. Each of them had been raised to identify as Aboriginal and had identified as such since childhood. None of them made a conscious or deliberate choice to identify as Aboriginal. "

"The deficiencies to which I have referred to so far, are material and constitute a significant distortion of the facts upon which a central part of the offensive imputations were based. On the basis of those deficiencies, I am satisfied that the offensive imputation was not a fair comment and that s 18D(c)(ii) is not available to exempt the offensive conduct from being rendered unlawful. "

"Mr Bolt wrote that Ms Cole was raised by her “English-Jewish” or “English” mother (1A-2; 2A-24). That statement is factually inaccurate because Ms Cole’s Aboriginal grandmother also raised Ms Cole and was highly influential in Ms Cole’s identification as an Aboriginal. He wrote that Ms Cole “rarely saw her part-Aboriginal father” (1A-3). That statement is factually incorrect. Ms Cole’s father was Aboriginal and had been a part of her life until she was six years old. Ms Cole later lived with her father for a year whilst growing up. "

"The documentary source upon which Mr Bolt relied for his statement that Ms Eatock only started to identify as Aboriginal “when she was 19 after attending a political rally” (1A-27), was in evidence. That source made an incorrect assertion as to when Ms Eatock began “publicly” identifying as Aboriginal. Mr Bolt repeated the error as to age (for which no complaint is made) but left out “publicly”. The absence of that word created the false impression that Ms Eatock had not identified as an Aboriginal person before she was 19 years old and only upon attending a political meeting. In his evidence, Mr Bolt was unimpressively dismissive of the significance of that omission. "


"As I have found, each of the nine individuals who gave evidence have either always identified as Aboriginal or have done so since their childhood. They all had a cultural upbringing which raised them to identify as Aboriginal. The fact that this is not disclosed to the reader of the Newspaper Articles in any meaningful way creates a distorted view of the circumstance in which the individuals exemplified in those articles identify as Aboriginal. "

"In my view, Mr Bolt was intent on arguing a case. He sought to do so persuasively. It would have been highly inconvenient to the case for which Mr Bolt was arguing for him to have set out facts demonstrating that the individuals whom he wrote about had been raised with an Aboriginal identity and enculturated as Aboriginal people. Those facts would have substantially undermined both the assertion that the individuals had made a choice to identify as Aboriginal and that they were not sufficiently Aboriginal to be genuinely so identifying. The way in which the Newspaper Articles emphasised the non-Aboriginal ancestry of each person serves to confirm my view. That view is further confirmed by factual errors made which served to belittle the Aboriginal connection of a number of the individuals dealt with, in circumstances where Mr Bolt failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the error in question. "


So then no less than opposition leader Mr. Abbott comes out to defend Bolt, and criticize the judiciary. This not two weeks after he, and his ilk, were scathing in their comments against the Prime Minister for doing what? Criticizing the judiciary for the judgement on the Immigration Act. Now, I'm not saying that a. we shouldn't be allowed to criticize the judiciary or b. that the judgement on the Immigration Act was in any way flawed. I'm saying it's a bit rich to only allow criticism of the judiciary when they go against you.

Gillard (and by extension Abbott and Howard) are on the wrong side of the law with their immigration policy. The whole discussion is has been a race to the bottom since Tampa. And Abbott now finds himself on the wrong side again in defending Bolt. I don't understand where this man's numbers come from, unless of course most Australians actually do side with Bolt's "we should all just be colour-blind" straw man.

Interestingly on last night's Gruen Nation you can get an insight to Liberal Party hack attitudes towards the blue-collar aspirational voters they've been so good at gathering under their right-wing (and I think this could easily be extended to the Republican party as well). Toby Ralph (whose client short-list topped by: Liberal Party and British American Tobacco - 'nuff said?) said something to the effect of: VB was shortened to VB because the people who drink it weren't able to spell Victoria Bitter. (old joke) But my reading is that he couched this statement in a more broad sentiment, which was consistent in its disrespect for a "class" of person.

I think this is where Ron Paul is cutting through. I think he's genuine in embracing the aspirational right. I don't think he's correct in his economics, but I think his genuine respect for sub-middle class America is both what's winning him votes and winning him bile from the status quo Republican Party. And ironically, this is where Malcolm Turnbull is so easily undone in Australia. He doesn't read as someone the sub-middle class could engage with. Aspirational tradies can engage with Abbott because he's uncomplicated, direct, dare I say simple. Turnbull comes off as toffee and private school, but I think he has more scope for the sort of economic skill required to lift all boats. Crazy world.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Written while sitting very still.

Everything in me runs:
the fawn looking back,
to both hunter's eyes on the front of his face,
the river above then below the ground,
and wind through rushes,
time through running odds
in elegant living play with flight.

Eventually the hunter fells.
Or the fawn will escape.
Seeds will blow on running wind.
And the river tills its single furrow
flooding wild ruin twice per year.

So, some things do happen.
Some parts do stop.
But always there are strides
of light-like fire in all directions,
licking wind, muscle waves, lolling tongue, padding feet,
sponging lungs,
none symbols, none metaphors,
all directly painful and real and now.

Over all these distractions, over cold cease and desist,
above the ground between strides,
I run.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Run Journal 2011

The City2Surf just happened last week, or the week before. I don't know, I didn't run it (this year). I'm working on running it next year - 5 years after I ran it last time (2007). In 2007 I cracked 60minutes. In 2002 I came in at around 61minutes. The difference? In 2007 I worked to get a preferred starting position. So, that's what I'm doing now.

I've lined up a couple races - there's one in Oct, and then one in Nov. For the Oct. race I need to run under 40min/10km to qualify for a preferred starting position in the Nov. race - and in that race I'd need to run a 34:59 to get in the really good group in the 2012 City2Surf. I have serious doubts about that happening, but something like a 48:00 or a 46:00 will get me in the next-best group, so whatever.

Today I did a negative-split session: 6km @ 4:30, down to 3:58. Eye opener. Taxing. Not impossible. But the goal (6 weeks from now) is to do 10KMs, all at 3:58. That's looking difficult. And a further month beyond that to chop it down to 3:29 - verging on biologically impossible. I'm not young.

I know I'm about 5kg above where I was for the City2Surf in 2002/2007, so assuming it's "easy" to drop those 5kg, I see some figures on the web like: "4.9 sec per kg per mile". Let's say 5 seconds, over 6 miles = just over half a minute off the total time. That's like saying I need to run a 35:30 10km right now. So weight-loss is not getting me from 3:58/km to 3:29/km, but it's not hurting. I think I'll also need to shave or grease something...(seems like that's always the sporting answer. Oh, and ice. Lot's of ice.)

I'm really enjoying running. It's something I did a lot for many years, and it's nice to get back to it. It's so much harder than riding. I'm amazed at how much harder it is. I doubt the body will allow me to do much more than train for these two 10k races before it starts breaking down. I don't plan on keeping it up straight through next year. I'll pick up again probably four or five months out from the City2Surf, train up for that, race, and then let it go for another 5 years.

Many other things I should be doing. I'm so easily distracted.
But one of the reasons I wanted to write this post, to document the effort, is that I can't find much in the way of records pre-internet of 10k times. I know I have some ribbons and t-shirts, but I don't have any hard data. What was my PB 10km back in the day? I don't know. I'm guessing somewhere around 36min, but I'm also guessing that time was from the Firecracker 10k - one of my favorite Santa Cruz races, but a very bad course to peg a PB to. It's just a giant hill-climb followed by a descent. What were my times on the Turkey Trots in the mid-80s? Don't know. Oops, probably should have written something down.

Update post Oct 10k:
I got in the top 20 with in 38min 37sec. That's about 3:45 per k. Happy with that, but it's a long long way from sub 35. So I'm leaving that alone for the time being.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I don't know if this is funny, or informative, or just real, but it would take so much set-up to explain that I might as well just point you to the paper. I've been reading this paper "Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity" by Scott Aaronson, and it struck me at one point that he provided a wonderful equation (that even I can read - given that I'd read all of the previous bits of the paper) that sort-of explains things like racial profiling, and general human discriminatory behaviour (and I don't mean only racial discrimination, I mean the act of creating groups upon which we then make generalizations). Anyway, read the paper. I got through it, and I probably don't have to say it again, but I didn't do me much math book learnin at school:



Wouldn't expect the above to mean much if you haven't read the paper. I'm just including it here so that I can find it again.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

3 minute fiction: Aug1 : the Cube

The Rubik's Cube can be very frustrating and may seem next to impossible to restore to its original configuration. However, once you know a few algorithms, it is very easy to solve. This has been a basic premise of science and mathematics as developed over the preceding several thousand years. But clear limitations have been revealed which suggest a new method may be required to attain a more full understanding of the world around us.

In this paper we will not suggest the form this method will take. Instead, we will chronicle a series of connections that we maintain are meaningful, but poorly developed by science. We will also propose a method of breeder reaction to further populate the solution-set of phenomenology which is not accounted for by current science.

Process:
The general family of the series is characterized by unquantifiability, intractability and /or unrecognizability. The core group who have traditionally plumbed these depths are known as "artists". We will employ the product of this group, "art", in order to provoke internal reactions. We will then register those reactions by creating our own “art” and feeding this back to the artist cohort. Thereby we hope to create a chain reaction which, when it transcends a certain threshold (critical mash) will become self sustaining, if not "runaway". We hope to contain the reaction by the use of attenuating walls in a breeder chamber (i.e. art gallery) and the concomitant noise of fuzzy logic provided by critics.

We have made several experiments outside of breeder chambers. That these experiments have gone unobserved by critics, they remain in an indeterminate super-state of being neither nothing, nor something. We will continue to monitor the progress of these “wild” experiments to determine if a sufficient reaction can be obtained to warrant further saturation. However, the observational determinism provided by the gallery provides enough value to maintain this as the focus of our efforts.

Ethics:
Through this process it is hoped new truths will be revealed. But we must also admit the considerable risks posed by this effort. Foremost is the hazard of "bad art", being that we are not currently qualified artists, the probability is high that what we create will be terrible and in need of safe disposal. We are currently finalizing arrangements with large hotel chains to safely display these pieces in safe “non-locations”.

The prospect of "good art" being created brings the hazard that one or many of us will become "artists" ourselves. We consider this a statistical outlier and a mere "moral hazard" at worst, risks we will leave to our parents and children to assume.

By far the least likely, but most considerable risk is that of a runaway reaction. We will leave the reader to consider the possible meaning of what we call “total art”. Initial calculations have revealed a startling relationship. We have accurately calculated that the probability of a “total art” reaction is exactly the same as the calculated probability of the existence of life. We use this result more as a high watermark of improbability than as any indication of a relationship. With the probability of “total art” being that low, we find it unnecessary to take further precautions, or pursue further discovery along this course.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

3minutefiction July24

Dear Cousin Jane,
From your letter you asked hows work I already told you, I don't "work". I just stand at the front of the shop and look pretty. That's what Grampa Frank always says too. So in my last letter I told you about the shop job and my smelly boss. But it's gotten better.

Smelly boss hired a boy named Adam to stock the shelves. Now it's not as boring at work anymore because we get to talk and stuff. He's pretty nice. He's a little bit cute, but I'm not going to marry him or anything.

It was really fun having you to visit early this summer. I hope we get to do that again next one. Or maybe I can come there. But Mom says it all depends on if they close the mine. Mom says if they close the mine then we might just come to live with you forever. I think that would be great. Don't you? But Mom says it wouldn't be great.

Our littlest cat Mr. Grumbles had kittens the other day. Grampa Frank says it's pretty exceptional that any Mr anything could have kittens. But we just named her before we knew she was a girl was all.

And then a funny thing happened. Well it was a little sad. Most of the kittens lived, so I think there are six. But one day an owl just swooped down out of nowhere and picked up one and just flew away. We were all sitting there and saw it and it gave us all a fright. We laughed on account of how quick it happened. And then Dad said "and then there were five. " Peter thought that was wicked, so now he keeps on saying that. Brothers are annoying. You're so lucky you don't have any. When I said to Peter that it was annoying because he keeps on saying that he said he was going to blow up one of the other kittens with and M80 and the he'd say "and then there were four. " But Dad heard him say that and hit him so hard with his work shovel that he fell down. And then at church the Pastor did a sirmen on how we should never just hurt things for fun. And he was looking right at Peter the whole time so Mom or Aunty Patty must have told.

Anyway that's about all from here. I can't wait to hear more about your acting job on a TV show. How did you even get it? But I guess it's easier to get one if you live near Hollywood anyway. So write back soon.

Love,
Mae

P.S. Thanks for sending those earings. They're beautiful. We had a meeting with Pastor and Mom was able to convince him that it was a good idea to pierce my ears and so he let us. It hurt a little, but Mom said "get used to it".

P.p.s. Peter is totally in love with you still. I caught him in my room smelling your last letter. Creep.

Take care. God Bless (I know you don't do that, but we do. So...)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trees Fly Kites at Night

Full moon rounding shadows on frosted field.
The stolen kites of summer's children branches wield.
Higher winter winds drive phantom midnight flying.
This captured delight, this silhouetted fun pulls my eye in.

Leafless branches raised to the air,
toking and teasing loops a dragon, threadbare.
Joyful arms silently begging a turn at the string.
Of a shadow play of play by the parents of puppets' wood I sing.

The last years' children, the next years' parents.
The trees of every year, stand
to capture when the string of youth's hope will break
and lessons of old will come to be the understanding
of those they teach.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Silverwater Loop

I'm not all writing and thinking. Have a look at these numbers taken on the same loop, same time of day:

June, 2010 :
15.29km
29.8 km/h average
41 km/h max best pace
159avg h.r.
180peak h.r.

Yesterday :
15.28km
30.5avg km/h
46.5 km/h max best pace
154avg h.r.
166peak h.r.

How to read these numbers:
Yesterday I managed over 30km/h average pace without going over 170bpm heartrate. To add to that, yesterday I was alone (no drafting), and on a much heavier bike with bigger tyres than in 2010. So, there's some real fitness gain being measured there.

I'm trying to get through winter at 100km/week. I'm on track for two weeks in a row. The measuring keeps it alive. Without the measuring, I'm pretty sure I'd get more bored and feel the cold more. Picking up the occasional "Cat6" race keeps things ticking as well. Cat6 six is when commuters fall into informal competition on their way to/from work. (see google: Cat6 +bikesnob )

update Feb 2012: strava.com membership is causing acceleration:
Feb 17 :
15.28km
32.5 avg km/h
(don't have the other details handy, but 32km/h was smokin')

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13 3minute fiction

Within days, the engagement was off. But who knows? The future is a
rock. It's dense and almost impenetrable. But we're put here with
tools, and we bash away at it. We get through it. And then, in the
midst of a bunch of dirt, a jewel will be uncovered. That's the way it
works.

We don't have a word for the work that happens at the coalface, the
present. Right now there's some entity working to parse vast amounts
of "hasn't happened yet" into piles of "just did" and "never will".
It's a huge job, and yet it happens effortlessly, constantly and
fluidly. There's never a hitch, never a hold-up. It doesn't tick. It
flows.

There is a word in !Kx'a, a language of the Khoisan, that resembles
the English word for procrastination, but with an important
difference. In English, there's almost no way to frame procrastinating
in a positive light. But often times in life, if we’re just patient
and calm, the work we thought we'd need to do resolves itself. This is
the meaning captured in the Kx'a language. Unfortunately it's totally
unpronounceable to English speakers, comprising an elaborate and
subtle combination of clicks and tongue rolls.

The Khoisan have a fable about this word which is beautifully told in
!Kx’a. It’s about two cheetah brothers. One is very calm and patient.
The other is very active and curious. It had been several days between
feeds and the active one keeps going out hunting, but coming back
having not caught anything. Angry with his brother, he calls him lazy
for not going out hunting. But the calm cheetah explains to his
brother that sometimes no amount of work will fill your stomach. The
only thing to do is to wait for the time to be right. At this point
the busy brother hears a sound in the grass, and immediately goes
hunting for the animal making the sound. But that animal is cobra. It
bites the cheetah and he dies. At that very moment, a baby impala
springs through the long grass, stumbles and breaks its leg, landing
within breath of the resting brother cheetah. In !Kx’a the name of the
calm brother cheetah is this special word.

Anthony made his way uptown to the 151st St. jeweller he'd bought the
ring from. He was buzzed in through several layers of security doors,
and landed in a seat opposite an elderly Jewish man.

"I'd like to return this, if I could." He placed the ring on a tray on
the table between them.
The jeweller picked it up and gave it a good looking over with his loop.
"What happened?"
"She called it off."
"What will you do?"
"I don't know."
"Would you like to know? Are you looking for something?"
"Well, I hadn't really, thought...ya, I guess. You mean like a job?"
"You seem like an honest boy. I'd like to keep you busy, keep you out
of trouble. I need someone to courier some diamonds from the
Democratic Republic. You'd travel business class, all expenses paid.
You go, you get the product and you bring it back. Do you have a valid
passport?"
"Ya, ya, I got a passport. We got them because we were planning to go
to Italy for our honeymoon."
"Of course we'll also pay you. There's a standard fee. It's generous.
More than this ring is worth. So?”
"Sure. When do I go?"
"Tomorrow, if we can get the paperwork in place."
"And Democratic Republic? What's that? Where's that?"
"Congo".

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

July 4 3minute fiction:


(probably best read in a sort of Monty Python'esq voice.)

Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi. (What Jove may do, is not permitted to a cow.) It is not permitted for a cow to play the piano. It is not permitted for the cow to tinker in the shop. The cow must not go to sleep before 9pm. All of these things Jove may do with impunity.

The cow must not copulate with abandon. The cow will only be done as the cow will have done by Jove, by Jove. All of these things to Jove only, are permitted.

The cow may be expected to work quietly at normal things. The cow may live in a box. The cow, upon getting too fat to fit in the box, will be put down. These things are permitted the cow. Jove allows these things.

The cow upon attempting to play the piano, will be put down.
The cow upon attempting to tinker, will be put down.
The cow upon attempting to stay thin and escape the box, will be put down.
These things are allowed by Jove, by Jove.

Jove may at will, do so many things not permitted the cow. Of these a list will follow which should not be considered complete:

Tinker
Invent
Vote
Live at liberty (forever) without fear of being put down.

Play:
Piano (as already mentioned)
Dominos
Hard to get
Rough
Act
D&D (forever) without fear of being put down.
Make:
Phone Calls
Pottery
Hay whilst the sun shines
Fun of others
Love
Perform:
Live shows
At a substandard level (forever) without fear of being put down
Acts of kindness and antipathy
CPR

All of these things, and things of their like should be considered forbidden the cow, but permitted Jove.

The cow should also expect to pay of their daily work a tax equal to half of the remaining amount left after tithing 10% to Jove. Jove shall be forgiven all tax.

The eternal life of Jove will be celebrated forever plus one day. The cow’s life shall be celebrated annually until death. At which time the cow is consumed, bodily. A loud belch should suffice to signal the final celebration of the cow’s life. Beyond that, some comments may be made in honor of the cow – such as, but not limited to:

What a nice cow.
A solid cow, that.
Great cow to have around for a while.
Wasn’t that a tasty steak, what?
If only every cow were as that one.
And the like…

Appropriate ways to celebrate Jove should be known as, but not limited to:

Parties in which someone ends up naked, covered in cake.
A burning of an unpopular tree.
The sacrifice of large amounts of money to a hopeless cause.
Hanging of images of Jove in inappropriate places. (e.g. planking)
Feast of a baked cow stuffed with a pig, stuffed with a turkey, stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken, to be known as :The Feast of Cigurucken.”

It is, of course, traditional to combine all of these fetes annually on Jove’s The Feast of Cigurucken day. What marks this day as special for so many is the exchanging of unwanted gifts. In recent times it has become fashionable to make gifts which at first appear to be desirable, but soon prove to be highly undesirable (such as, possibly a necklace with a beautiful silver locket. But the locket is impossible to open and contains a small prawn which over time achieves a hideous smell.) Lol.

These are, in short, that which is allowed Jove, but refused the cow.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Your Business

Turn it way down,
a little bit off the station.
Take it right down.
Let the universe hiss its om at you.
       You

Listen to your own gnashing nerves,
spike and alert.     Register

Take it right down,
slump out of your shell, slug.
Leave a trail.
       Perform

Right down there on the ground
E x i s t - exhale. 
Inhale.
       Only

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cuddle with me again.


Huny, funny, huny bear,
cuddle me warm funny bear.
Plenty of huny, plenty of warm.
Pleasant and soft, no fear of harm.
Swarms of bees, flowers and trees.
Cuddles and fun and plenty.

Now, times change, and you
a little less cuddle, a little less plenty.
A few fewer bees, no huny in trees.
A bear, claws and teeth, is hunting.

No longer a bear of that kind,
Times have changed, things have changed,
in my animal mind.
Fir around your muzzle stained,
blood, gristle and meat painted.
Times have changed, things have changed,
in my animal mind.

Huny, funny, huny bear,
cuddle me warm funny bear?
Plenty of huny, plenty of warm?
Pleasant and soft, no fear of harm?
Swarms of bees, flowers and trees?
Cuddles and fun and plenty?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More 3minutefictions


Really we are more like musicians or dancers, performing to order.” was the thought that went through Anthony’s head just before it hit the curb. He’d been out on a big night with the boys. Drank way too much. Mouth far too open. Words way too poorly chosen. The bottle that struck him in the jaw was full of beer. So now he tasted teeth. and blood and beer all mixed together with shards of glass, followed very quickly by nothing much.

The curb had cured him of all that had preceded it. It had cured mostly everyone, as Anthony had been a prick all night, even before the grog saturated his personality, making him a Technicolor dickhead.


He not only fancied himself a secret poet, but he was actually poetical. I mean, to have a genuine moment near the very face of death, to have only that moment to consider everything and to come out with something like “dancers, performing to order.” Who does that? Not normal people. Not his people.

The very last thing he saw were car headlights. They were turning sideways. Dazzling. Then he had a very clear image of the gutter. There were two candy wrappers in the gutter. One was a Mounds. One was an Almond Joy. There was a sheen of water in the gutter. And a very little tuft of grass growing in the expansion joint in the cement.

Then he heard that hollow sound of a coconut hitting concrete. It was the sound that pulled him back from thinking about his place in life, the existential machinations of fate. He was just starting to think something along the lines of “ouch, that’s gonna hurt.” when he totally lost consciousness.

For the next three days he was dead to the world. The doctors kept him in an induced coma, waiting for the swelling to subside. On day four he sort-of woke up.

But there were several unusual things about his re-awakening:

1: He was convinced that he was being held against his will on a cruise boat. He was also accompanied by a talking file cabinet.
2. Lucky for him the file cabinet could understand both German and English because Anthony could no longer speak or understand English. He could only speak and understand German.

This unusual set of symptoms garnered him some extraordinary attention from specialists. There was no name for it, well, no name for the file cabinet thing. Apparently there are a small number of people who acquire language or accents as a result of brain injury. It's called Dysprosody, or in the German: Überanderungendesprachcharaktersalsbegleiterscheinungaphasicherstörungen.

As time went on Anthony and Gunter( the name of the file cabinet, as it turned out) became good friends and even entered into a sexual relationship. Come to find out, a third articulation of his accident was that Anthony’s sexual orientation had also changed to something called file-cabinet-ophilia, or in the German: Aktenschrankliebe. As near as I can tell, German is the only language which has a word for this.

Anthony learned to be discrete with his disorder and landed himself a job at Office Works. He topped sales that year and became Sales-Staff Of The Year 2011. He'd managed an annual sales of office furniture that topped all other sales-staff combined in his region. What Office Works didn't know was that he'd had his friends come in to purchase furniture for him. He had been funnelling most of his earnings into buying a collection of file cabinets. They were quickly filling up the rooms, hallways, attic and basement of his house.

Gunter feigned non-jealousy (there is a word for feigned non-jealousy in German, but I don't know it.) But secretly , he was planning his revenge.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
another
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Rodrigo Rosenberg knew that he was about to die. He'd spent the previous day in a far corner of the garden. It was his favourite spot to settle in these later years. Not too much sun. Green. Ferns all around. Peace, tranquillity. It was a place to while away, to consider thoughtfully. Sparkles of flying insects tracing blurry arcs through the air. Down the garden was a place where a gentleman of a certain age could linger with bits of food on his chin, scratch himself periodically, belch, and fart to an appreciative audience. You could do all of this down the garden and retain your dignity. But as evening came, so came the cold. And with the cold some pain which Mr. Rosenberg wore just over his eyes. In the furrow of his brow.




We helped him back inside that night. We all knew what was going on. We knew where his head was at. And, what's more, he knew we knew. That night for dinner Mr. Rosenberg was treated to the finest grill of ground beef he could chew. He had a specially prepared dish of chocolate mousse for dessert and, oddly enough, some beer. He'd never been much for drink, but on this occasion, when offered, he was tempted toward a tipple.



It’s hard to measure or know what his life had meant. I’m not sure this is the type of thing he thought about down the garden, or in his chair. There was a wisdom in his eyes. It seems to me that there was a lot going on back there. There were things we never knew about – well, he never told us anyway. Where was he during the war? What were things like before he was adopted? Who were his great loves? He wasn’t the sort to portray that asking would yield much, so we never asked. He never volunteered. And so we’ll lose all that. And something of this old soul he’ll take to the grave. We’ll never know.



Stubborn? Recalcitrant? Sure. And somewhat messy, smelly, grumpy, forgetful too. But at the same time, selfless, affectionate and downright cuddly, the big galoof. It’s going to be a world with the gauzy filter off when he goes. Just the crisp lines of light, and the brittle reality of a house full of mildly neurotic post-moderns. With the passing of Mr. Rosenberg we’ll lose something of the time when barrels were made by hand, of oak, and rings of iron heated over a fire. And those barrels were filled with brandy. And that brandy was used to warm hearts and dislodge frozen people from their little caves of snow.



The next morning Mr. Rosenberg wandered out the back door slowly. He went down the garden and Mr. Rosenberg lay down amongst the ferns and died. He was as simple and elegant as his death. He was our faithful companion. He was a St. Bernard of the highest character. And he will be surely and painfully missed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'll have a poem published in Anatomy & Etymology in September. Keep an eye out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A concept and a play idea (you saw it here first)

I've been wondering for a while, something like mad libs, if there's a way to write a sort of story in superposition. So if you read the whole thing, the result is certain, but if you read only half of the words it implies one result, but the other half of the words, another result. You'd use something like a paper grate to mask half the words.



The other one is a play. First you go to a bunch of plays with a directional (parabolic) microphone and you tape all of those common settling-in conversations that people have when arriving as the audience. Then you transcribe the best of them into the bulk of the script. Then, on the day of the play, the stage is made to look exactly like the audience. You have a cast of several actors who are continually "arriving" settling and having a conversation - most of these conversations are from the script. But you also tape some of the settling-in conversations on the day. You select the best right before the play starts, quickly transcribe and feed the lines to the actors as they are walking down to their seats. So, some of the conversations are actual dialogue from the day, some are from previous plays, and maybe some are totally fictional. I think this would be very unsettling and entertaining for the audience. It might be illegal.

Monday, June 06, 2011

This was 3 minute fiction gone out of control. I let it bleed on an extra three or four hundred words. Should have been 600 words, but this ended up around 900. Oops. But I like what I ended up with, and there's some quoted poetry in there that aren't my words. And the sort of "polite" tone just requires more words to get the oldness right.

-=================================================-



"Well, Esther, how do you feel this week?" Margaret quipped sarcastically.

"Don't fuck with me deary. You know damn well I'm in hell." This reply was scratched out in death's own voice. "Oh, darling we'll be landing soon enough."



"Not soon enough. I'm dying here. My skin is crawling. I ache all over. Look at me! I'm dripping sweat! and I'm freezing! Soon enough was six hours ago! This is inhumane!" This short rant followed an arc of crescendo which traced out the emotions anger, then despair, then anguish. Esther was clearly starting to suffer from the long-haul flight. A sort of miscalculation had been made.



Both Esther and Margaret were long-time supplicants of a variously combined list of controlled substances, primarily opiates. And by "long-time" I mean close to half a century. Not junkies as such, but more veterinary assistants with a key to the cupboard.



They'd planned this trip to Australia for some time. Part of that plan was a scaling back of dependence. A measured and controlled ween of weeks which should have given them just the span they needed to complete the journey. With all questions of supply to be answered on the other side by some contacts obtained on the internet - the learning of which was a not uncomplicated bow to necessity.



But Esther had somewhat failed to curtail her dose in just that last week before departure, thereby giving up any and all benefit obtained in the hard work of the previous weeks. Lucky for her, Margaret had taken notice, and had by thrift and cunning, secreted a certain amount of grace on the plane (which she will now reveal to her dear friend.)



"Esther, I can't help but notice you're feeling poorly." She said in her usual falling tone of empathy. "I believe you may need to take your diabetes-medication." With this "diabetes medication" code-word said out loud Esther's demeanour took a noticeable turn. The colour returned to her cheeks. Awareness and presence returned to her eyes. Even her posture straightened, to the degree to which it was allowed by age.



"Why, I believe it was time for that some hours back dear." is what she said out loud. Left unsaid was a string of Anglo-Saxon profanities brandishing exclamation marks like pitchforks.



"But do note the altitude darling. Please follow the directions on the box." Margaret was concerned for her friend because they had a strict process for these things which they would need to deviate from on this day. You see, the pharmaceutical mixture in any given week was derived from a combination of x-ines and y-adrines made available in only the small amounts they could pilfer from the cupboards. On most occasions these mixtures left them thoroughly alive. But on a very few occasions an unfortunate confluence of events would see one or the other of them without a heartbeat.



Being that both of them were thoroughly versed in the medical treatment of all sorts of animals, human CPR wasn't a mystery. And a good result had been obtained on all previous events. But the airline toilets would not accommodate the both of them. So Esther would have to go it alone. This was a concern as Esther was seriously in debt, and the potential effect of altitude was entirely unclear to them.



Esther was, with some considerable jostling of shawls and seatbelts and pillows, out in the aisle. She had made herself available to what Margaret would provide. And Margaret did provide. She provided along with the traditional nod to Lord Byron - Don Juan Canto the first, and I quote: "

The sun, no doubt, is the prevailing reason;

But whatsoe'er the cause is, one may say,

And stand convicted of more truth than treason,"



This Margaret would usually say to Esther in close quarter, and to this Esther would reply. But Esther, had already turned and staggered her way toward the lavatory. Margaret completed the couplet under her breath, faltering and tailing off before the end.



Esther locked herself in the tiny room. She proceeded through her ceremony. She used that reason which only becomes available to the pathologically desperate to talk herself into just a very few millilitres extra - to tide her over until later. She also knew she'd need to dispose of any unused substance, as neither of them was up to lying to customs. The diabetes cover only goes so far.



With the deft confidence of years, she gave herself what she'd deemed she needed, and let slip from her mouth that answer which Margaret would never hear again:

"That there are months which nature grows more merry in,—

March has its hares, and May must have its heroine."



Esther slumped off into unconsciousness. The altitude and the dose had proven a bit too much.













A pronounced bit of turbulence and an accidental prick of the needle to nose from her lifeless hand brought her back. It took her a few moments to collect her thoughts and belongings into the order which she would present to the world. She made her way back to her seat, and was in a considerably better position to finish out the flight.



It wasn't until she'd settled that certain facts of life became clear to her. Margaret had passed, quietly and natural as a baby is born. Esther allowed herself this moment to remember: "



'T was on a summer's day—the sixth of June:—

I like to be particular in dates,

Not only of the age, and year, but moon;

They are a sort of post-house, where the Fates

Change horses, making history change its tune,

Then spur away o'er empires and o'er states,

Leaving at last not much besides chronology,

Excepting the post-obits of theology. "



and to this she added her own:

"with no cantos left to give me

alone I travel on to Sydney."