Thursday, December 29, 2005

fishing, Naomi Klein, diagnostics

I know listening to other people's dreams can be sometimes tedious. With notable exceptions though, I recall explaining to someone in the bush about how I had dreamed that I was an old man in a seniors golf tournament when they looked at me without pause and said: big deal last night I dreamed I was a giant lobster-man. There's always a bigger fish or booleanly expressed: if n then n+1. With the preceding caveat then, last night I dreamed that Naomi Klein and I were wining and dining (there's a joke in there about me dining and she whining) Anyway, after a lovely romantic evening I looked her full in the eyes and meant to say something forward and romantic but what came out was: I hate your books. The dream evaporated. Those who can't resist the merry-go-round of analysis will I'm sure dizzy themselves over the interpretive possibilities. And speaking of psychology, I'm becoming convinced that I've accidentally discovered a crucial variable in the diagnosis of schizophrenia. My radiators make the most peculiar noise that sounds like people whispering and mumbling. When I have my headphones on quietly, I periodically freeze and tilt my head (you know like how cats do when they're on a mission and then suddenly stop) to listen to what sounds like someone talking in the next room, only to re-realize that its the radiator. How many lithium-pumped souls could have been saved with forced-air heating I guess we'll never know. Perhaps the New England Journal of Medicine will finally be ready to discuss my honorarium. Until then may the fog be with you.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

robot ponies

Christmas Eve, 2053
Underneath every little girl's tree:
A robot pony.
Comb their soft and luscious nylon fur.
Listen close, hear their clockwork hearts whir.
Robot ponies.
They feed on plastic bags cut up like lettuce
Right out of your hand. Things get out of hand
Unless you use one of 20 pre-set functions
To make them understand, make them understand:
You know best. You know best ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wheels,reinventing. See also: shag carpet

In 1974, the basement of our house was called the rumpus room, an architectural term I have not heard since. The foundation of the rumpus room was a cobalt blue shag carpet that was so thick, that there was a plastic shag rake to smooth it out with before company came over. I remember that it had no windows in it and was always dark. On Saturday mornings I could be found engaged with lego watching the cartoon spiderman. You know the psychedelic one that prunes young synapses into attenuating for the absurd. I recall thinking that it would be nice to have daylight somehow brought into that room. I imagined how simple it would be to have some kind of mirrored tube that would carry the light into the rumpus room. Two years later fiber optic transmission was a reality and another potential patent died amongst a pile of half-chewed lego bricks. As trite as this memory is there is a lesson here. As I scan ahead over the next week at my impending decision over whether to go out for another contract, I am reminded about my lost opportunity of patenting fiber optics. It is reassuring that the most profound lost opportunities are outside the domain of our mental calculus and therefore I am beyond weighing them. And hence, I am free to consider only whether I want to go or not. The myriad of semi tangible and ephemeral considerations of the 'what if' variety can be plucked from their thistled garden and flung directly to the compost heap. The illusion that I can predict the consequences that I am weighing has turned to into a wisp of smoke that quickly exits through a crack in the sash. Rational criteria for choice is but the last desperate gasp of a consciousness drowning in its own necessity for rationality within choice. And so we construct elaborate mechanisms for making discriminations, we construct schema for differentiating. These elegant semantic obelisks pay tribute to the triumph of the rational mind and yet that rational mind is as absent as any other god. We consider all sides with our sophisticated logic and fuzzy intuition in a frantic quest for clarity and as we regurgitate this litany of variables onto the balance scales and watch one side tip down, we are no longer capable of recognizing the entire exercise as the great work of fiction that it is. It is too demanding of our humility to imagine that there is very often no rational criteria for choice. Yes we may have preferences so elaborately defined that we mistake them for truths, but truth and preference are the great trickster twins that have vexed thought since thought began. And so, what of the future? What of my future? I'll tell you tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

back from the land

Well, after spending a month doing oil and gas exploration, I can't believe that gas only costs 90 cents a litre! I'm very exhausted, 16 hour days and no days off for 24 days has left me rather heaped. Heavy deadlines, demanding production schedules mean that work is pretty much all encompassing. I'm part of a two man team that takes a line on a map from some geologists office and puts it on the ground. We survey out down to the inch where the blasting points and geophone positions will be. This involves bypassing power lines, gaslines, oil pipelines, wells, allowances for foundations and a million other details which must be sorted out on the ground. So I've been doing everything from phoning landowners and getting permission to access their land, gps places to avoid, using metal detectors to locate pipelines, using a laser transit and prism mirror to locate blasting points, producing maps of seismic lines, hacking through bush with an axe to make sight lines for survey equipment, and drinking coffee all evening sorting and producing the tonnes of red tape that our job demands. Our team is about the sixth iteration of subcontractor so everything I do has to go be recorded and sent to a million different places. Fastidious accuracy is a satan to me since if I place a blasting point next to a fiber optic trunk line and blow it to smitherenes, claiming I didn't know it was there wouldn't save me from being lible for the millions of dollars in damages. Trying to keep your wits about you on little sleep in the cold can sometimes be a challenge, as is dealing with the contractors that are impatiently waiting for me to finish the line.
But, on the plus side, it pays quite a bit of money and I did add two sights to my Extraordinary Nature Moments catalogue. I was quading through a frozen, sparsely treed black spruce bog about 30 minutes after sunset and I came up a small knoll about 6 feet above the surrounding plain. When I allowed my eyes to glance away from the trail I was following, I discovered that there was an impenetrable layer of dense fog about two feet above the ground and perfectly flat. Every twenty meters or so a 5 foot tree poked through it. A vision of Elysium with a boreal flavour perhaps but really breath taking. The other sight was a sundog that was so bright it was almost as powerfull as the sun itself. It was so bright it was as painful to look at as mean ol mister yellow face himself. It really felt like I was on Tatooine or some other planet with a binary star system. Incredibly off putting actually to have what relly seemed like two suns! It lasted with that intesity for about 2 minutes before fading into a regular faintish sundog. I must have been in some climatic super-alignment or something.
So home for the holidays for at least a week. The next contract starts at the end of december somewhere on the NWT/BC/AB border and will be at least 60 days straight. I'm not sure if I'm up for it or not but I'm going to just enjoy some rest before I consider the future. And to be honest, I won't actually consider the future, I will appear (to myself) to be weighing the facts and performing somekind of mental calculus but actually these machinations are a facade for what will likely be a snap decision.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

flux part II

well, I'm off this thursday into the great unknown. I'm doing seismic exploration in the Canadian Wilderlands. I think first stop is some Uranium exploration in Southern Alberta. I will be gone till about the end of December, then home for a short spell. I'm looking forward to it as its new and different, and setting my will against the onslught of a Canadian winter will be a new experience. I'm unsure of the internet situation wherever I get to but hopefully I can provide some updates of my experience. Once again, I leave on short notice so goodbye to all, see you in '06!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

pop culture and other unmentionables

Well, everyone's doing it so I thought I'd weigh in on this one. While I find it difficult to disentangle qualitative merit from sentiment, there is a distinct difference in the time periods we are discussing. The difference is the mode of cultural dissemination. Its tempting for me to notice that recent pop music has a more visual quality to it. Of course the early eighties had a visual component with the advent of the music video, but one only needs to look at how much money was spent on videos to realize how much more important it has become. It is not at all uncommon to spends millions attaching an image to a song/band. Couple this with the importance (from the industry's perspective) of getting music on a movie soundtrack, with the emergence of commercial advertising as a new medium for emerging music and other new outlets for image, and one realizes that image is undeniably become more important.
Captain Orange notes the importance of music in identity formation. If we then note that recent music has a more visual component to it, and the power of images in identity formation is strong, then its a small jump to support Swept's argument that recent pop music can generate a similar appetite among youth as earlier pop music, without relying strictly on its musical component.
I think this argument is important because it shows that in the abstract, declining musical merit could be cruched by its image facet and that this was more difficult to do once upon a time (though it would be foolish to think that image was never important). This allows us to avoid disentangling ephemeral aesthetic issues from sentiment.
If I were pushed into making an objective assay of pop through the decades, I would suggest that any song that allows itself to be hummed with ease will linger on and meme itself into an extended cultural shelf-life that transcends its role as an accompaniment to self-customization.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I just finished Silverlock by John Myers Myers. This book is really wonderfull and surely I will make it my QE 16 pick. I just finished tracking down the near thousands of literary references contained in the book. My thoughts of Myers's literary knowledge approaches awe.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fallacious derivation of self worth

All too often in this culture, and perhaps others, self worth is defined and derived from externally donated sources. It seems to be defined in terms of skills, position and status, personal characteristics and social roles. This strategy is immediately effective until circumstances change that alter those skills, status, or perceived characteristics. For example, changing jobs that make ones skills obsolete, changing friends that see one in a different way. Under these circumstances, the source of self worth evaporates setting in motion a cyclical problem where one is having to replace these previously prided characteristics with new ones at a time when they are most difficult to appreciate. This process is a fool's errand. Self worth, if the term is to mean anything, is derived from being. One has value because one is. This forms a foundation that is impervious to the ephemeral tide of circumstance.
And yet, in the often tempestuous din of identity formation, the bulk of identity is derived externally for us guided by accident and flimsy intention. Throughout this process, the currency of fallacious value is the validation we receive externally. Yet validation, though apparently necessary, does not fully penetrate the mire of character, achievement, skill, and all the other imagined extensions of being. Because it never fully penetrates to the core of being, no amount of validation ever seems to be enough and thus a never ending pursuit of validation serves only to stymie. Effort, futility, false presentation and other chasing of the wind thus dominate the human pathology.
Worth derived from being rather than the effects of being, is one the penetrates from the inside out. It is stormproof, it is not bound to changing circumstances and fickle external reflections. It forms the foundation from which positive and fruitful evaluation can take place. It forms a sanctum of peace and stability in which one can recharge for a minute before returning once more to the brink. When worth is derrived from being, it is divorced from individuality and the ego that often tempts false worth. But the effects of being are flashy and easily seen while being itself is so omnipresent it is practically hidden from one's attenuation. To hack through the lianas of the obvious attributes of self to finally arrive at the unadulterated self is the path towards freedom from doubt.

Monday, October 17, 2005


I will be returning to Saskatoon on wed oct 19. And so I am searching for a place to live again (I renew my objections to this loathesome task!) Alas, the price one pays for being adventurous! Oh well, it has been a lovely couple of months here but the end has amicably come. "Not too soon for me to see the stars of home " said a Romulan Captain once. You all shall see me when you least suspect, I expect.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

see two posts ago for explanation

OK I'm getting too carried away with this but I'm tired and laughing myself into hysterics. From the tangled mind of google, prognosticator and greatest life consellor among the wise, here is what Tracy needs:

Tracy needs to withdraw VA bid
Tracy needs wins to get back in title battle
Tracy needs to make the most of these cycles
Tracy needs to step off the soapbox and tell stories
Tracy needs the Dodgers
Tracy needs to be gently coaxed through the process
Tracy needs affordable housing
Tracy needs an additional water supply to meet water demand
Tracy needs to be taken to task a little
Tracy needs to testify against Big Boy.

There you have it miss Thompson. Its a big list but I'm confidant you can handle it. I would talk to a lawyer before you testify against "Big Boy" though.

oh, blessed google! How I cut & paste you with joy

well, I just had to find out what Aja needs, so here it is curtesy google:

AJA needs to be forced by ProIO Control Panel
Aja needs to go to town on your nerves.
AJA needs educational policies.
Aja needs to stop whining about being stronger and writing songs
Aja needs a serious reality check
Aja needs to start school somewhere
Aja needs you

dave needs

I was reading a blog (smutzie or something(linked from starcat)) and they encouraged me to google my name needs and then cut and paste all the matching results, so here it is. Life has direction! As it turns out, I need:

Dave needs plywood
Dave needs some advice
Dave needs a vacation
Dave needs a kidney
Dave needs to work one of these into his live appearances
Dave needs to get back into form and get his hair cut
Dave needs to understand the seriousness of his position

Not sure what to do with the plywood.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

scarce resources

I've been reading LOTR to Aja at night. We're almost finished book one and its been very enjoyable although it is surprisingly exhausting. Its difficult for me to actually force myself to pronounce all the proper nouns that when I'm reading in my head, I just look at as a block or symbol more than I actually sound out the name and "say" it in my head. I guess I discovered that I'm a lazy reader, or perhaps this is normal, I'm not sure. Anyway, I've also noticed that some of the good dialogue is ten times better when spoken aloud with the gusto it deserves. I'm not really doing seperate voices but I'm trying to say the dialogue with the correct emotion which takes some doing on the fly. If I recall, a few regular readers have also read the trilogy aloud. I would be interested in their recollections of the process.
Fantastic turn of fate: one of Aja's friends has to get ride of her roomate or her cat (one is allergic to the other) and based on contribution towards rent, the cat is now installed in our home until the end of the school year. Its really wonderfull as I absolutly adore cats. He's quite pretty, older and docile and has already quared off with me in a battle for my computer chair. Indeed life is a continuous struggle for scarce resources.

Friday, October 07, 2005

semantic imortality

(I) was thinking that nobody dies anymore. They die of something. Over the last hundred years or so, we have catelogued most every kind of death into a nomenclature of problems and diseases. So what? Well, I wonder what this has done to the way we think about death. Of course we hardly do that anyway but listen: Once upon a time people died of old age (and probably a colourful variety of fancifully named maladies) which perhaps has an air of naturalness to it (whatever that means and feel free to remove the value from this valur-laden term.) Because we generally know why people die, death is transforming from a vague naturalness to a problem-which as we know, problems can be fixed, or by extension problems should be fixed. I'm not advocating anything here I'm just observing. Of course most everyone would chose to be cured of what ails them if they can, I just think there may be an emerging cultural meme that is subtly altering our most abstract thoughts about the endtime. Which led me to wonder that if someday cancer, heart disease, and say a couple other biggies are no longer a problem, will we still without question throw the vast resources of heath care research and spending at whatever kills us now that cancer and heart disease are not dropping us? Also I wonder if we have somehow vaguely substituted the inevitability of death with the glimmering hope that a 'problem' offers. In other words, the mighty sword of modernity may not stave off death but its chances are better against a disease. Are we substituting the inevitable for something less inevitable? Okay, I'm rambling around something here and as always, I'm not sure what it is yet because I don't feel particularly eloquent at the moment. Anyway, another not-really thought out idea, but its what I'm thinking about at the moment.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

complexity & non-synthetic models Part II:peculiarities

(I) couldn't sleep last night. I was tossing and turning as I considered my answer of 200Gb/cm3. Its a real curiosity that the scale of the units actually determines the answer sort of. This is kind of unique. If one is determining a density, the mass per volume ratio will always be the same regardless if one uses say cm3 or m3 because the mass will change accordingly. However in this calcaulation, this is not the case. This is owing to the peculiar fact that reality has different ratios of surface area to volume. The larger the volume, the smaller the ratio of surface area to volume. This ratio follows a parabolic curve where at say km3 its a small ratio getting larger and then smaller again at the mm3 scale. This is due of course to the more non-stuff that a large(km3) volume contains. The question that arises is: does the non-stuff in reality contain information?
For example, let us suppose that we hold a coffee cup at a distance D such that it occupies 10 degrees of vision. We can calculate the information that is contained by the cup but if we stray to say 11 degrees, we are looking through nothing but eventually our eye falls on something behind the nothing, say like the wall in front of me. In this sense, there is no such thing as nothing as far as the visual field is concerned. Does this mean that one no longer need concern themselves with scale issues of surface area to volume ratios? I think the answer is yes because what emerges here is the peculiar notion that the information in the visual field is actually a 2 dimensional field that is wrapped around a 3 dimensional matrix. Put another way, it is a 2 dimensional construct that folds in upon itself. But says the mathematician, you still have the same problem, clearly cm3 of a flat table top folds less than say a m3 of say jungle where the surface area to volume is much higher.
This problem can be encapsulated by T (time.) At any discrete value of T, the visual field can be considered entirely 2 dimensional like a picture. Remembering the coffee cup where essentially there was no discrimination between stuff and non stuff. At discrete values of T, the visual field's unfolded componants contribute no information. Our brain interprets this data into a 3d representation. During interaction (interaction implies T1,T2,Tn) with stuff, we experience the 2d visual field folded in on itself but that is while T= T1+Tn. The value of 200 GB/cm3 then is only valid at the cm3 scale. If we wish to make a calculation that is valid at any scale, we must change cm3 to cm2 and then multiply by T. In this way one is capturing the 2d world streatched over the 3d matrix. Additionaly, T respresents minimum disernable quanta of time which is problematic if not outright existentially impossible. However, its also a potential since visual data at T1 may in fact be the same as T2 so we need not tie ourselves in a knot about time but instead use as a value the saccade rate. Putting all this together, we have now closely translated how the 2d visual field unfolds itself from its pan dimensional state without the problem of a high variance in surface to volume ratios. I was thinking of this in bed so I havn't done the math yet to see what this new answer is. I hope this silly thought experiment and this silly update is good for a laugh if not a strange idea or two.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

complexity & non-synthetic modeling

(I've) been thinking much about eukaryotic evolution lately. Discovered that I left among the many important titles, Dan Dennett and so I shelled out for another copy and re-read it. This time around I found myself nearly paralyzed with the awe of representation. A common sight around the house was me in a rocking chair, book in lap staring out into space trying to come to terms with my own representation of the world. It looks so real and its hard not to think that your looking through the 'thickness of reality' as opposed to an elaborate and mysterious series of internal? representations of near perfect correspondence (from a subjective, utility perspective). Anyway, this attempt of internal phenomenology produced an overload of awe which at least has born some interesting thought fruit.
For example: I naturally began to be awed at the evolution of our brain and I got thinking that (a la Braitenberg) determining operations from behaviors is really hard and I wondered what kind of computing power would be required to make a synthetic evolutionary model? I knew that it would require a computing scale far beyond that which is attainable for decades. I wondered though how much information would have to be available to make such a model work? Which led me to the most curious question:
How much information does reality contain? in say GB/cm3 (on average)
I worked on this problem for the better part of a week and wrote about 15 pages of thought-clarifying drivel in attempting to solve the problem. Just sorting out the assumptions is quite trying. Of the many interesting sub-problems that emerged from this was the following. Lets say that we're using par example: a cup of coffee. If we try to describe the visual information and reduce it to bits we discover that volume is irrelevant since we don't experience the inside of anything (except if we pick it up in which case its density contributes to the possible experiences we can have but that forms part of the interactive data) As far as the visual world goes, all the information is a summation of surface areas. How curious that reality is 3D, we represent it 3D, and yet the information that describes it is 2D! I don't know why this intrigues me so much but it does. Anyway, after calculating the info inherent to any object plus the object -generated info (ex in different light the object appears different and therefore has info generating capacity), also considering the resolution of the eye(.12mm/.10 degree) determines the scale surface area resolution, plus the colour and hue maximum discriminations, also considering contributing information in tactile interaction both directly (temperature conductivity, texture) and indirectly, plus a bunch of other stuff, I have arrived at the following:

Reality contains on average, 200 GB/cm3 of information(as it pertains to potential human interaction, excluding man-made artifacts, at a given time T)

(what a truly absurd but cool statement!!)

Those wishing to challenge this figure are most welcome to present their own calculations and/or inquire about the methodology not included for brevity.

So the upshot of this was that if we take this number and multiply it by the size of the habitable environment and times the population of eukaryotic life over the 50 million iterations of its evolutionary history, and you've got a number that is bigger than the number of particles in the known universe. Which means that as a computational science problem, an accurate and complete model of eukaryotic evolution is impossible (of course.) Which made me appreciate the 'computing power of nature.' If we imagine evolutionary history as a design solution to a massive computational science problem, we see that problems with information scale impossibilities can be solved by using the massive information contained in things rather than the paltry information generated by virtual things. Very Douglas Adam-sish. I was then just beginning to imagine how one could take advantage of the information and complexity scale advantages of having a computer interact with hunks of stuff when the limit of the thinkable had been breached and my head shut off.

Well, that's what I was thinking about in the Penny last week. Hope anyone who waded through this will have an interesting thought or two about something or other.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


well, my colonization period is in full swing. I had a short interview at the Canadian Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. They're looking for someone to manage and implement their experiments. It would involve "running the rats" and some histology. He seemed less concerned than me that I have no formal training in immunal histology. I supposed they want someone who is fastidious and used to a research environment which I do have. In any case, It doesn't start till the end of the month so I will know in a couple of weeks.
I've mapped out my immediate surroundings now. The downtown streets are perilously wide, giving the downtown a lonely and slightly lifeless feel to them, Jane Jacobs would certainly be at odds with the designers. I've been cooking well since arriving. Aja's typical table-d'hote is commensurate with my usual apathetic culinary efforts and so I've been putting extra effort into the evening repast. Curiously, I've rather enjoyed the pursuit, a surprising discovery.
I found my new coffee shop/thinking place. Its called "the penny" and contains all social classes, sensational blends, a giant 4mX4m map of the earth, and the best damn ginger snap for a hundered miles. The Penny will likely be the epicenter of my new writing project: Design a religion/way/system of practice/etc for a godless meaningless world. Why design this? Because I am a being whose brain has evolved to seek patterns and order. It therefore becomes necessary to carefully circumsribe that which can be ordered from that which contains no order whatsoever.
I've been playing a curious game today. Its called: "sneak-will". Stare at two objects on the table and then try to observe yourself deciding to choose one to pick up. As you engage in continued repetitions, attempt to experience the present with more temporal width as you observe your decision. Winning conditions are realized when you stop playing.
bye for now

Monday, September 05, 2005

all things in flux

greetings and apologies one and all. Apologies to those I did not see during my brief stay in saskatoon. I returned to town and had my usual hibernation/ sleep recovery/ cultural assimilation time which was followed by a flurry of activity orbiting the gas giant that is living in town (getting an apartment, securing employment, etc.) It would seem though that these preparations were premature. I've said it before that if I ever learn to smell the unexpected, I'd really have an ace up my sleeve. Well the unexpected snuck up on me, odour-free as usual. I found myself enamoured with one miss Aja Mason. She's a neuroscience major, hellcat, and all-around force to be reckoned with. And so it seemed to both of us that being together was the will of the force, (damn mitaclorians!) So without caring much for the absurdity of it all, I've packed up the universe and injected it in Lethbridge. My haste in this process driven partially by the fact that any time to think rationally about the choice would lead me to Newton's second law of motion. Doing what you want sometimes requires you not not think at all.

And so, here I am in a beautiful loft suite with arched ceilings, a vast kitchen and quite honestly the most wonderful space I've ever lived in. I would post some pictures but I seem to have left my camera behind somewhere. I'm going to the university this week to apply for a position in one of the labs so hopefully I will have good news for my next entry.

The city is quite dramatic, the Oldman river slices through town leaving a wake of semi-arid badlands carved on each side with the university on the opposite side that I'm on. The valley in town is a minerologists dream- ammonites litter the ground for those with patience to hunt for them. Also, the mountains are viewable on a fine day. I hope to do some mountain biking which the terrain supports in spades. I think I may also turn in my no automobile paradigm so that we can spend weekends in the mountains climbing and skiing. My excitment here is brimming and all the more so when there's someone I adore to share it with.

I hope all are well, next update in a couple of days...

ps I spent Saskatchewan's 100th birthday by moving to Alberta, I feel so mainstream!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

ownership is fleeting

well Todat I bought my own copy of house of leaves. I had it in my possesion for about 15 seconds before I lent it out. I can only wonder where the book may travel in my absence. I leave town tuesday morning early so best wishes to all for the summer. I may get a chance to update this blog over the summer so try it once a month or so until August. Farwell...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

q tuesday

well, A pleasant QT hosted at chez Vin & Chantelle. Wee January is a delight toddling about unnerving Chantelle by insisting that a pentagon has only two sides. And of course by being a very cute little two-year-old. A hearty repast followed a brief exchange of rapsheets on house of leaves. I certainly walked away from the book with a more broad message than Vin, who's take on the book is more focused than mine. I hope I can squeeze in one more QT to hear what Mike and James have to say about it. Oh ya, and we watched a couple episodes of Frazier on DVD (holy crap that show is well written.)

Wow, I can't seem to sleep at all of late! No amount of good fresh spring air and exercise and coffee can seem to put me to sleep. Its almost as if the coffee is keeping me awake! I think I must do some research on coffee and see if my crackpot theory holds any water. I suspect I'm unharnessing some nervousness about the summer. I've been getting pretty substantial electrical shocks off everything for the last three days. Really quite peculiar. Today I had the brief sensation that I'd woken up in an X-files episode. After shocking myself on a banana I thought I could here the morose monologue of Fox Moulder behind me. Then I got a shock off the doorknob, my apartment railing, my bikelock, the door to the lab and finally the stray cat that hangs out in the seed cleaning room. Feeling perplexed, I excused myself to the lavatory and got shocked on my sheepish exit. Must get to the bottom of this.


I guess there are advantages to sleeplessness. A snowstorm fit for a Norse myth is exploding outside right now. Bleery eyesight and a thimble of sherry I'm wrapped in a blanket, admiring the tempest. A drowsy waypoint on my way to sleep.

Monday, April 25, 2005

simple things

I enjoyed my last day off today. I played golf today with a couple friends. What simple creatures we are sometimes to marvel at a little white ball struck high into the air seeking its target. A beautiful saskatchewan spring day, sandhill cranes, canada geese, leaves in various degrees of green, peace and quiet, truly a swell day. It seemed a shame that we needed the excuse of a game to go for an all day walk in the country.

Currently reading D. Dennett's collection of essays Brainstorms. Many of the ideas ended up in Consciousness Explained but its a good read anyway.

Friday, April 22, 2005

the end

Well, I just finished house of leaves. Now what?

a thousand terrible things coming this way

Well this marks my last real weekend in town for a while. Next weekend will be moving & cleaning (I renew my objection to this loathsome pair!) I'm nearing the (end) of house of leaves and will no doubt finish my first of many readings this weekend. I'm thankful to leave behind a few things in town here. Jackasses playing crap music out the windows of their cars, engines revving at red lights, the roar of an engine to fill an otherwise blank soul. I will miss lazy saturday coffee and good conversation though. And so I'm off to enjoy what can be enjoyed in our fair city.

Monday, April 18, 2005

from a certain perspective, life is kinda sappy

well, It was a foul weekend. I found myself late in the week in a mood that did not allow me to cut my fellow man some slack (although I did play some fun hackey-sack with good company). Every overheard tidbit of conversation seemed to be accompanied by the foul reek of ignorance, tepid self-absorbed small little worlds, where nothing of consequence matters. Where the mindless banality of unexamined lives dotted on the dribble that made up the day. Where the majesty and mystery of the world around them was heeded and understood no more than the white noise between incoherent radio personalities. I could have gone on in this vein for hours a couple of days ago but I have spun myself out (but I foreshadow). Anyway, my consuming thought for this period was a remembered exasperated comment from faded on QNY15 who lamented "?what the hell to do people think about all day!" I revisit this theme periodically. When I get like this I feel cursed to be wondrous of the world. I feel condemned to wonder about things. To lie awake at night and ponder why things are not like something else. And it seems (when I'm in this mood) that the further down the path of enquiry one travels, the more you have less in common with everyone else. This is a tired theme, I know. I for one am tired of it. However: On saturday night I went to an oboe recital. The oboe being one of my favorite instruments, I suspected that I would gain some temporary relief from my malaise. I sat in a menonite church waiting for the concert to begin. I noticed the stained glass windows. One panel had a grape motif and I commented to a friend that it was an ironic image. It was a reference to the Dionysian mysteries that christianity literalized. To the christian, the window was a symbol. Of course to the historian, it was a symbol of a literal version of a symbol. Those who have read my QNY pick will unpack my meaning here. Anyway, this pane of glass reinforced my cynicism. Until the music started. The sound of the oboe erased all my petty, inward dialogue and returned my to some baseline, default level of contentment. Until I casually glanced across the pews where my eye caught the sight of a beautiful little chinese girl. She must have been three or so. She I caught her in the act of straining her head to get a better look at what was happening. The expression on her face was pure wonder and total appreciation. As though she were a glass vase with liquid music being poured in. Her whole body was perfectly still. I don't know if anyone in the audience absorbed the music the way she did, but the sight of it coupled with the music made my throat choke up. For the first time in quite a few days, I felt like I do fit in with this world after all. Perhaps this story is a little sappy but its what happened to me over the last few days and I am endeavouring to free my thoughts from the prison of what I think others will think. So sappy or not, there it is.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

symphony book sale

went to symphony book sale in confed mall and made off with a number of swell books. Brainstorming by Denett, a wonderful edition of Candide, some chinese lit, some Edward DeBono, Jane Austin and a lushly illustrated book of ancient maps. In other book news I'm on chapter 3 of House of Leaves. So far I've laughed a bit and got pretty scared once. I suspect that soon enough I won't be able to "shut up about it" as cap'n orange would say.
Spent my day at work building a house on a piece of property I've seen for sale on the riverbank. Unfortunately, even in my head I went over budget and had no money left to furnish the inside. I've begun to think recently that I could make good use of a bit more money. My recent endeavors to own a home have led me to this conclusion. It strikes me as a terribly askew that one has to devote so much energy just to have a place to lay your head down somewhere. Housing is certainly one instance where our capitalist economy leaves much to be desired. It seems like a colossal waste of the inestimable gift of time to devote to procuring funds to own a home. Its a comment on our level of prosperity that people apparently get used to spending half there life's fortune on a home. In light of these ill dealt cards, today is day one of thinking about ways I might make a little more money in order to not spend years paying a bank double the asking price of a modest house.

also just came back from a walk in the snowstorm that's currently swallowing the city. I think I prefer a world with weather.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

what I thought about at work today

Today I was imagining that for some reason, everywhere on earth and for the last 100,00 years, it was warm and sunny during the day and rain at 8pm every night- without exception. The daily warming and nightly shower were exactly the same every day. I was wondering how that would have changed the way we think? Would we think differently without a constant change in weather? How would that have altered the undulations of culture over the teeming centuries? I thought that it would have a tremendous effect on the development of our culture and enjoyed passing the day away concocting new cultural variants based on this. Comments and scenarios are most welcome.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

tell me something good

scene 1: a sparsely furnished, poorly painted living room. All colours in bad taste and generally uncomfortably warm. Wind howls. The sound of a thousand terrible things looms in the distance. I sit in my red chair, my only piece of furniture, and stare at a pile of books on the floor. A reminder that I used to know things. And I sat there thinking of the profound. Curious how I recognize something as profound or as an epiphany. Its a distinct sensation. It almost has a feeling, although its like trying to think of a taste. Its interesting I thought, that somehow, something triggers this sensation. Its as though we're wired to recognize profound things. What's going on here? I can figure out lots of different things, but only specific figuring outs trigger this sensation. I wonder if the recognition of something profound involves tying together a whole bunch of ideas and linking them together with a common thread? Or when I get that sensation, am I really thinking of anything at all? Is it just when one thinks kind of abstractly one can capture an idea better because one is not being specific. Is the sensation of the profound just a slight of hand that my brain is playing with me?
Perhaps there's some meta purpose at work here. Perhaps in a futile attempt to detach myself from my own mortality and the inherent meaninglessness that mortality generates, my brain is predisposed to thinking of "larger than life" ideas, concepts and patterns in the world, such that I can free ride on the immortality of the universe around me. (awkward run-on sentence -1) So in fact, the recognition of the profound is actually the brief denial of mortality by recognizing the immortality of other things and attaching oneself to them. Of course on the surface the content of a profound thing resembles nothing that I've just spoken of.

scene 2: a cluttered bedroom, booster juice cups arranged carelessly at the foot of a stylish office chair, wires, boxes with buttons and sliders adorn the table like the cockpit of the space shuttle. They are reminders that I have hobbies. I'm sipping a glass of Corban's select medium sherry, listening to ltj bukem, and typing at my computer, defiant of my lack of any good reason for doing so. There is a strange noise behind me. I turn to discover that the narration of the past is quickly emerging towards the present as I find myself typing out exactly what's

Monday, April 04, 2005

Finery! Silks! and the Ephemeral Corpse

After having an argument for several hours over Straw Dogs, Geof concludes that Gray doesn't prove his thesis. Geof contends that I prefer the thesis rather than defer to it on logical grounds. After having a few hours to consider it, I think that Gray's argument is one based on a prima facie premise. Either that principle resonates with the reader or no evidence in the world will convince you. The value in the book for me is that Gray gives a lucid voice to the notions that percolate in my head.
For me, the search for meaning became a lamentation before the crucified body of created necessity. When the body is laid to rest, it resurrects and we follow like disciples, till finally necessity of meaning becomes a monolithic leviathan that we can doubt no less easy than doubt our very being. In the absence of a Cartesian doubt, we dissect the rotting corpse only to discover not that the emperor has no clothes, but that he has no body! Clothes-yes. Finery! Silks! Purple and pearls but a body of not even ephemeral quality. It is this revelation that mutes the witness and melts the gospel. And the necessity of miracles disappear like a limp on the stage of a faith healer.
What then of meaning? Well. It is easier to want there to be a blue key, than to search for a blue key that was never forged. Action becomes clarified and what meaning I parcel out to myself becomes true.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

another one bites the dust

Well, as much as I loathe commenting on current "events" I really must express my deep sadness over the death of the pope. I'm joking of course, what saddens me is that he will be replaced by another pope. I tell ya, these popes are like cockroaches for trying to get rid of them. Perhaps both cockroaches and popes came on the same ship to italy so many years ago. Thank goodness for the cleanliness of our modern exchange of goods. I doubt with the strict rules of hygiene, Canada could ever see a papal infestation like that which has taken up its foul and filthy roost in italy. And yet life goes on. The church plays its games and we play ours. The battle does not go to the strong nor bread to the wise or speed to the diligent but time and fate happen to peon and pious alike. Nothing more to see here folks. Move along.

Friday, April 01, 2005

one of these things is not like the other

most music isn't very good
most pants do not fit me
most numbers are not 8

Place your bets:

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

a million years of evolution

So I'm reading geof's pick and I stumble across channel decorrelation. (pp. 84, hack #26) This is a sensory technique that prefers independent data over correlated data. Its the reason why (in addition to neuron fatigue) we ignore so much sensory information because constant levels of input only provide correlation (or indicate perhaps that something is wrong much like a silent watch with no minute hand-difficult to know if it works!)
Anyway, it inspired a couple of thoughts:

1 if the brain has adapted to operate under rule 1: ignore constant sensory data because it doesn't provide independent data; then the following conundrum exists. Our macro nature tends toward constancy and predictability, (for obvious evolutionary reasons) yet brain adaptation suggests that this is not the best way for gathering information. I'm making a leap from micro to macro here but I think the statement is intuitive. If through our experiences we learn about our nature, then limiting our experiences through constancy causes an inner channel correlation, which leads nowhere. This perhaps obvious thought though lead me to a better thought:

2 an interesting program would be to take advantage of all the techniques of brain adaptation and evolution and apply them at the macro level in one's day to day life.

As I read further through the Stafford and Webb book, I will think about this and perhaps sketch out a small program.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I was having a conversation the other day when the opportunity to embark on a conversation gambit arose. When challenged to define intelligence, I thought that in light of Jaynes, Dennet, et. al; there was a reason that intelligence was so hard to define. The reason is that there is no such thing. What passes for the catch-all word intelligence, is really just a set of skills, all of which are learned unconsciously. I thought that it was the facade of the Cartesian Theater that propagated the notion of a 'homunculus' driven intelligence that directs and manages the 'skills'. As I further explored this gambit I became further convinced that there is no 'skill manager' that we ambitiously call intelligence.
So the next iteration of the problem of course is to quantize the homunculus into skills. This is where the work lies. It seemed at first glance that a large part of what we call intelligence, or at least the part that is most visible, is merely oral or written skills (enter Dr. Jaynes.) The next largest part is merely the rate at which one acquires skills. This last portion seems to me to be where an interesting discussion can flourish. Additionally, there are interesting grey areas of abstract problem solving where identifying an unconscious skill becomes occluded.
Questions and comments are most welcome. Paradoxes illuminated or revealed shall also be considered.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005