Friday, January 29, 2010

Where do all the Ducks go?

So I don't really care about all this. It just seems so phoney. He was just a guy who died and I know that he had family who loved him but I did read some stuff about him and all those sexy girls he used to hang around with and I thought that maybe he wasn't as happy as all that. Not that I care of course. I'm sorry if you loved him.

Some of the jocks used to say that I owed my life to him but I don't know about that at all. Pheobe liked him a lot because she says she was more like him than I was and that all the time the professors and the shrinks were saying that he was just me, he was really writing about Pheobes. And because my little sister is like the most unphoney girl in the world, I like to think that I should believe her. I hope she doesn't end up like me. She might be more like Ally I suppose but he's dead so we'll never know. All that noise in my head just sort of stopped the other day, like he was making it all happen - like he was sending it from him to me, through the air. I can't work out how that would happen but then I never really did like science. Oh I could write down things alright but when it came to all those numbers they used to just dance around in front of my eyes and wouldn't stay still. It's as if numbers are the bad cousins of letters because I like letters and they go where I say. Like that essay I wrote on Ally's baseball mitt. It all sort of just flowed out like I couldn't stop and I didn't know how to stop and there were all these tears just coming out, the first for ages.

Today it seems that these words are all that I have left, like I'm fading away. I'll have nothing to do after they've gone; I'll just sort of sit in front of the TV watching goddamn game shows and eating those crappy snacks that we have lying around. There are only a few pages left in the notebook now, a few pages until I run into the messy lists at the back, those numbers of girls that you promised to call, and someone's mother who said we must visit in some really fake way that made it quite clear that you'd better not turn up because she really didn't mean it. She'd be at the door looking like she was all smiles and behind her back you know she was signalling to the maid - because they always have maids to go and get some cheapskate stuff because it was obvious she didn't really like you. And then her daughter would smile at me in her own fake way and I'd have to suddenly remember that I had to be somewhere else - to meet the guys or bring them something they really needed and I'd run off and I'd never look back because I hated to see how their fake smiles all turned to real ones once I'd gone.

When I went back to see Pheobe all those days ago when I was in the middle of all that bad stuff, I thought about how I'd like to just hide away in the apartment, looking out of the window when the lights were off with the distant light of the streets all that way below. And I could look up at the Pennsylvania Hotel with all those floors going off into the distant sky, into the fog and think about the people up there. It's quite quiet in our place - you can sometimes hear the traffic below but they built the windows all thick and that blocks out the sound and with that and being so high up it is really quiet. But up in the Penn the rooms must be so quiet that you cannot hear anything. I went up there once with a girl and her mother who had a suite up there and even with the window open it was quiet. The window didn't open all the way because they had stopped it just so as no one could suddenly decide to jump out and funnily enough when I thought about that I wanted to jump out myself just to see what it would be like to float down to the pavement. I was fine before but the thought that someone might want to jump out made me want to jump out and I had to go all tense to stop myself going over to look out of the window and see if I could take out the nail that stopped it opening. And the girl and her mother - like the ones I talked about before looked all anxious because it was as if they could see what was up with me and how tense I'd gottten all of a sudden. Anyway, I wish I could stay at home in the quiet with Phoebe looking after me and I'd look up the Penn and see if I could see anyone at the window looking out as if they were fiddling with the windows and then maybe I could stop them. I don't know how I'd do it. I could shout at them or maybe call the goddamn fire brigade or something but then all they could do would be to come around with one of those sheets they hold out in stupid phoney comedy movies where they have to stretch it so people can jump out of windows if there is a fire or something. But that wouldn't work for someone so high would it and by the time they had driven round here - there's still loads of traffic even in the middle of the goddamn night - the person would have jumped and floated past me and hit the floor. I wouldn't want to look but I would have to like all the other idiots who would stand around looking at the mess and asking why they did it. And I'd know why they did it because I've been up there and wanted to do it and not wanted to do it. It would be so difficult. I always want to go to the edge of something and I always feel as if I want to jump off.

It's not that I'm sad or anything. The doc says I am but I'm not at all really. I just have this sort of naturally sad face and the wanting to jump off things is not because I'm sad but because of this strange thing in my head. It's not sadness - I'm really happy I am - but it's just that I cannot seem to get my body to do what my mind wants. I could be happy at home with Pheobes and with my parents not knowing I was there, and she would bring me food and little things she had bought and I would teach her things I knew from school, though to tell you the truth she probably knows more than me and of course if I was here secretly then I wouldn't be going to school and I wouldn't be learning new things so she would get better than me. Then she would go off and get a job or more likely get married and leave and I would be on my own unless I went and lived secretly at her new house but then I'd have to put up with the phoney guy she had married. They are always phoney. The girls - all those girls I have the numbers for - are brilliant when they're on their own but get them with their goddamn mothers and their businessmen fathers, they all work on Wall Street and make loads of money that they are forever splashing around on big expensive things that no one really needs. Anyway, get them away from their parents because their parents are teaching them how to be phoney and grown-up and they will marry you because you have a good job and you look good in a suit and tie.

I hope Phoebe stays away from them. We could go and live together and look after each other and we would never get married because they love you for a bit and then it all turns into dressing for parties and dressing for dinner and going to special places along the coast where they have guards to keep out anyone who doesn't spend so many dollars on their dressing up.

Anyway I suppose this guy - the one they say is me - wasn't a phoney at all - he went away like I want to do - and he had all that money and he could hide away up in the mountains and anytime he felt lonely he'd have all these girls - well they were women but they were younger than him and they'd come up the lonely road to the lonely man and they'd be happy for a few months like I suppose I would be if I married one of the girls if their parents got killed or something and they lived with an elder brother or something like that. Anyway he'd look out of the windows at night and he wouldn't have the Pennsylvania Hotel to look at and so he wouldn't have any worries about people dropping out of the windows. It would all be mountains and complete darkness apart from the storm lantern on the roof over the stoop. I'd love to live like that. Maybe he was me. I can see that house in my head so maybe he is writing everything I think. That's stupid isn't it. Maybe we are all just imaginings of other people. But what if the people who imagine us are just the thoughts of other people? Where does it all stop? Maybe he's my imagining and I'm his like a big circle. I love thinking about this - it seems real but don't go thinking about it too much because it makes your goddamn head hurt like a punch. This man who died must have loved making me hurt if he is making it all happen because I got beat up a lot. I'm a little guy really. Not so little that I look like a kid but short enough to get beaten up by almost everyone else a school.

So maybe I won't get hurt anymore now he's gone and I won't want to jump out of windows or feel like screaming at all the phoney parents of the girls I know for being so fake and for being so out of touch with what the rest of the world is really like. They just like spending money, other people's if they can get it and they do get it like thieves they are but sort of legal thieves pretending that they really care about you and then just running off with all your dollars to go and pay for some scheme on the other side of the world. And they come back in their tropical kits just to let you know they've been around the world and they laugh about how funny all the people were there. I hate all that and I hate that this is all that my parents want me to be. I don't want to learn about money or science - it just doesn't interest me - I want to learn about writing and how the great writers got to know about all that stuff they write about. Because I won't be going around the world or falling in love with really beautiful sophisticated women so I won't get to know anything kind of strange or different from what I do know, you know - just bumming around town so my parents don't know I'm here. Because none of you would want to read about that would you. I'll just have to make it up like my dead friend does. Or did because he's dead and can't write any more.

That's made me want to cry. I wasn't that bothered before because he's just a guy you know but now it made me think of all the other dead people and all the people who died today and all the people who will die tomorrow and where they all go when they are dead. You walk around the city and you can't spit for hitting live people and yet when they die where to they all fit. It's like there's no room for all those still dead people. Ally is there somewhere out with all of them and I even know where he is because I was there when we put him there but it's like I don't know either. There are two of him like there are two of every goddamn one of us - the real bits of us - the skin and flesh and all that and then there is the rest of us - the bits that make you have a fake smile at someone you don't like but don't want to offend or anything. I might call that a soul I suppose, the funny thinking bits inside. My thinking bit is running away with itself. I want to stand aside and take my body by the neck and shake it to make it slow down. Pheobe always says I think too much and today it is just too much altogether. Maybe I won't stop now he's dead. Maybe I'll just keep on going faster and faster. He was not the engine - he was the brake and now there is no brake so I will keep running and running and thinking and thinking and wondering when it will all stop. Even when I'm asleep I dream at high speed - there are lions after me - strange noises that I know are just cats outside or foghorns in the docks but they speed up my brain until I start seeing bright lights and I want to lie down or throw myself out of the window.

I don't have much more space now. I am so close to all those numbers but I don't want to see some of them because they worry me about what is going to happen. Some of the girls are nice I suppose but they all don't like talking to me know since the little problem at Christmas. And now it's snowing and it is so cold and the lake will freeze again I suppose. Then all the old questions will come back and I will have to answer them all again. Pheobe says that the real problem is not that I think too much though she says I do that as well but that I just don't know how to stop.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kaitei Shōnen Marin

Marine Boy is probably the first cartoon I remember so it's nice to hear that delightful theme tune once again. The animation looks quite good for a throwaway kids show but when you are six, the quality doesn't seem to matter. Avatar is basically an animation which has gone to extremes of reality and while I think it may be jaw-dropping at the start, it must just be more of the same after a while. I stand to be corrected as I know that it's a special sort of 3D as well so we might get to see it.

So what other nostalgia can I find out there. How about this B-side from OMD - Julia's Song which was on an earlier album but re-recorded I think for the flip of Talking Loud and Clear. And though I know it all came out of a single computer (maybe not the bass but you never know) - they even talked about being able to manipulate single notes of the playback - but it has a warm feel to it even if the lyrics are nonsense - thank you Julia. Turn it up loud and live back in the emotional eighties.

Back to Dawkins last night. I've read so much of it since last time that I cannot pick out a particular theme but all of it has been interesting enough to keep me going beyond RD's snide asides. I would prefer the book to be a straight run-through of the issues rather than having to put up with the mad staring eyes and "See! Do You SEE! Juts look! Go on! Tell me what you cannot see!" rants. Having said that there is great clarity in his descriptions, nothing of any obscure complexity and quite a lot unfamiliar to me. The mathematical transformation of the shells of crustaceans and mammal skeletons seems like something try in my enoesque quest.

Oh - and biomorphs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fizzing With Ideas in Brain One

I finally got to finish watching last Friday's Arena which finally got around to a bit of intellectual navel gazing with a look at the very broad work of Brian Eno, the creator of the Arena Theme tune - Another Green World though it threw me by not starting with the music but instead used some sawing guitar-based composition which might or might not have been Brain One. No need to worry though for it popped up again at the end over a rolling landscape very much reminiscent of an ambient album.

It is just impossible to categorise the man or his work. He is involved in so much and has the time and resources (Do you mean cash? Ed.) to indulge all those ideas that spin around under that professorial Bone Rain. I was inspired at many points to attempt to reproduce so many of the ideas on this very here Computorial Equipment - the five incommensurate loops of vocal parts that form the second track of Music For Airports, - the light art - the 77 Million Paintings , knowing that I would just be following. So out came my software version of Oblique Strategies to try and select something new but still Enoesque to work on. Not got anything yet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It Doesn't Feel Like the Future

In the spirit of all that "Where is my Robot?" guff, I was thinking about what it actually meant to be in 2010 - a full ten years beyond all those Blue-Peter boundaries when we discovered that the future of 2000 was not actually very different from the time when we all first thought about it. It is of course because, like the way people we know and meet everyday do not seem to age, we are blind to the slow changes. While we don't have hover cars and personal robots, we do have technology that would have seemed far-further-fetched had someone mentioned it in the 60s. The cars we do have, have computers to maximise fuel economy, radios which search for travel news, and all sorts of little bits and pieces to make them work better and feel better to the passengers. Most houses have access to digital information at rates of transfer that still cannot be comprehended. Just as the distances that separate stars are so far that we don't have the apparatus to think about them, the amount of information which squirts between all those little black boxes every day is outside our ability to reference it with real-world terms. Even if you shrink the time period down to bring the data volumes to a recognisable figure, the time taken is now just too small for your brain to handle.

The future is just the present having caught up with you.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Impossible Frog

For what I think is the first time ever, I have actually completed a large section of a video game. Actually to tell the truth, while it was me who pressed the buttons, waggled the joysticks and waved the controllers, it was my son who worked out what to do, which red buttons to stand on, which walls to slide and which objects to move where. Still, we jumped on those Jawas, stupefied those Stormtroopers and Tarried with TIE Fighters until all that was left was a long trench and a hole about the size of a Womprat. We bulls eyed that in no time and returned for Smoked Kippers before breakfast. Or is that the wrong show? Anyway, much cheering, many fist-bumps and lots of dancing occurred all to the sound of the Cantina Band. We are going back to Tatooine tomorrow 'cos we need R2D2 to get us into the movies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Drystone Walls and Ovist Fireflies

God: Unavailable for comment.

Listening to Kristin Hersh downloads.

I was reading the follow-up comments article to the article I mentioned on Wednesday on why God allows natural disasters and while none of the comments have swung me away from my own beliefs (and I think you know what those are), the mention of the Devil by some responders raised an intellectual point and here is my note on it :

God is explained out if there is only a benevolent God but with a benevolent God and a Malevolent Devil it becomes a "two-body problem". However this is still additional complexity that increases entities. This two-body problem is much more fitted to eastern religions.

At this point I was interrupted and my closure on this thought is lost to me.

Dawkins is still in the middle of a rant about the existence of intermediate fossils of various hominids and while I am as frustrated as he is with those who he calls "history deniers" who stubbornly ask for physical evidence of intermediate fossils, the steam coming from his ears while ranting about it is slightly distracting. However it will have to be a lot worse before I give up on this. The bottom line is that the continuous requests for physical evidence are easily answered but are just ignored though narrow mindedness. It is frustrating that so many people have no real idea of the history and science that has had to go before in order for our supposedly enlightened society to exist. Certain sections of Western Civilization are desperately trying to drag the world back into the dim and uncertain era of superstition and anti-intellectualism. I would really like to put in a list of ten organisations here but I am such a wuss as to be worried about the replies I might receive. If you think you may be from one of these groups then boiled sweet to the first one of you who responds.

See RD's anger has rubbed off on me. A much more restrained scientific viewpoint was evident in the first part of Jim Al-Khalili's programme about the history of Chemistry on BBC4. Plenty of explosions and bright lights (all under the strict conditions demanded by Health and Safety of course) but not done as a Gee-Whizz-isn't-chemistry-brilliant? puff like some might have done. It presented the facts soberly but engagingly leaving me wanting more, knowing that next week will be Dalton. I tell you BBC4 is a jewel, a shining star in the heart of the media-ocrity that constitutes most of cultural life today. And Wallender. What has happened to the last few notes of his ringtone by the way?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Really Spoiling Us

(From the Light Sabre Room)

Well two mentions of Pykrete in a fortnight. The piles of compressed snow that were scooped up by the tractor two weeks ago are still occupying a few car park spaces here. They are very grubby which makes me think that they have picked up quite a lot of stuff that isn't water which is rendering them almost indestructible. Enough of this wittering.

I didn't read much yesterday. Both children were out which gave me a chance to use the newly-acquired Wii on my own. They clubbed together at the weekend to get The Complete Lego Star Wars Saga and a fine thing it is. Not only do you get to wield a light sabre, the remote buzzes like the real thing and so is the closest you can get to the real feeling of one. All those mock-ups have some sort of light-up solid at the front which adjusts the swing as if it were a sword or baseball bat. Not so with a Wii remote. All very enjoyable. I'm not really sure about the comedy interludes with Obi Wan as dork though. Onto Level Four.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pain is Our Best Friend or My Polarised World View

After my argument yesterday that we should not engage creationists because they do not accept scientific method, I read this article with the rather stark title of "Why does God allow natural disasters?" which made for an interesting few minutes without actually answering the question but of course that is what philosophy is for - providing us with the intellectual background to make up our own minds. This sparked the idea that a Creationist would have the same idea as me and refuse to debate with evolutionists because the have no truck with faith. Faith trumps all for a creationist and anything else is just noise as is anything else other than scientific method and logical analysis to an evolutionist. We are as usual talking about spherical chickens in a vacuum and leaving to room for the muddied battlefield between the two trenches.

And back to Dawkins who seemed like an excited child quoting this from Peter Medawar :
Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheapdailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.
... which seems perfectly true to me though a little dismissive as a general statement. I've not been educated to any level comparative to a lot of hallowed humanities celebrities but I can put together a few logical facts to get a picture of the world and also to get an idea of its size. This is an old theme of mine but so much disagreement is to do with the perception amongst a great deal of people that the world is distorted in favour of their own local experience like our field of vision is only sharp in a tiny part of our retina in order not to overload the brain.

Back to the actual meaningful content of the book. We seem to be in proper zoological investigation mode at the moment with the snarky comments at a minimum and proper reference to experiment and fossil evidence. The current chapter is to do with so-called missing links, a phrase which has now been spun into "gaps in the fossil record". Dawkins states that Evolution could be disproved by a single fossil of a classification at odds with the rock layer in which it is found and that this has never occurred. This seems like a challenge issued in extreme belligerence. He also says that we should surprised that we actually have so many fossils to demonstrate the progression of changes over geological time and that we do not need what he likens to video evidence to back up the forensic evidence of experiment and intellectual progress in describing evolution. We should not get hung-up about the lack of links.


Delay for some anger-dispersion after stumbling accidentally on this.

And finally if your phone is equipped to handle more complex ring tones than the soundtrack to pong, you might like to consider this.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Aristotle and the Axolotl Lose Their Bottle

BBC 4 seems to be going for a heavy science kick at the moment. Chaos Last week, Chemistry this week and Aristotle at the weekend. And with the Dawkins Evolution book as well I am feeling very improved at the moment. Daughter has obviously had too much of book-learning as she was reading Captain Underpants last night. Obviously she has finished all the various Doctor Who media purchased and received over the last few weeks.

Anyway, the Dawkins book is currently describing an experiment involving pure strains of cloned bacteria divided into 12 "tribes" and maintained over many thousands of generations in order to provide a basis and snapshots for evolution occurring over measurable timescales. readers were warned not to embark on the section late at night and indeed it was detailed but nothing we couldn't handle. Went to sleep happy and tired in mind. However, my last thought before going to sleep was that Dawkins mentioned all this to crow at how Creationists do not like this experiment because it disproves some basic tenets of their arguments (how new information arises in the genes I think is one of them). I think that the arguments against evolution are usually so facile and anti-intellectual (faith-based would be the riposte I am sure) that there seems little point in arguing this detail. The yah-boo-sucks style that occasionally surfaces in the book detracts from the subtle progression through the various arguments towards the inescapable hammering on the skull with a velvet-covered brick which is surely going to happen before the end. Let's just not bother arguing any of it. We are right and they are wrong. There is no centre ground really. Well maybe there is some but rather than a grey morass of mud laid out between the two factions, there is a rickety suspension bridge with enough room for two people to pass one another. The best we can hope for is a meeting at some point with a handshake and a mutual exchange of papers. Young Earth Creationism is without any scientific proof and ..... - there I go again - being bothered to argue the point. It is just wrong and obviously wrong.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My God! It's Full of Speech!

You OK?

Maybe - not sure if I want to talk to you.


You said it would be OK and now it's just a mess ... all of it fallen apart like ... my head is so full ... I can't think of anything. You might as well have killed us all.

That's just being over-dramatic. No one died today - it was not even close. We're writing a book not fighting a war. We were arguing over where to put the punctuation marks - the chords - nothing about violence. Ow! What was that for?

You mentioned violence and I just thought it needed some. And now the look on your face is just so funny.

Thanks for that. I was going to ask if we were cool but now I think that you should ask me that.

Well - are we?


Probably but I'm not sure why we should be.


I wish it would carry on raining like this for ever. I love it like this, all the noise, white noise is it? Well anyway, all this sound - it seems to blot out everything else, all those damned songs in my head and all the little pinches of embarrassing conversation I had over the last few days. Sod it - I can't even remember what we said that made you come out here to apologise.

I didn't apologise.

I think you did.

I think YOU just said you couldn't remember what it was.

I lied. I lie a lot. I might have lied that I like the rain.

I know you do. I can tell.

You cannot. You cannot tell anything about other people. All the non-spoken stuff just goes overs your head. You are missing something - a body-language/speech stress gene, the ability to work out how other people think. You don't imagine that any of us can think differently to you.

That's normal for everybody surely?

No it's bloody not. You're a freak.


I do know what YOU think. I can tell. I've known since we were kids.

We're still kids now.

You know what I mean. I know when you lie because of that thing with your ear and your hair. I know when you are sad but don't ask me to tell you how I know. It's some sort of Jedi thing - a field - an aura all of that new-age rubbish.

Yeah and I know you know because I can tell all the signs when you do know things or are embarrassed by something. Mum and dad think you're weird. Mum even got one of her old medical books out the other day but she thinks what you have is something new and not in the books yet.

That's horrible.


You and your mum have me down as some sort of medical specimen. I'll wake up tomorrow and you'll be both leaning over me with a gauze soaked in Chloroform ready to stuff me in a giant jar of formaldehyde.

You got us there. Roll over Napoleon. I'm going to knock you out.

You think I need to go to the docs?

Maybe! You have been getting weirder lately. Like something has happened. And I can't see what it is. But I'm not going to bother any more. It's your problem. Go away now I'm bored.

That's not fair. I know you are joking and yet when idiots at school say it I just get confused.

Just do what they say. If you treat everything as genuine rather than ironic or sarcastic of any of those stupid other 'ics' that make everything such a pain, you won't go wrong. Unless it's a teacher I suppose. ... I want to know when I'm going to die.

WHY DO YOU SAY THINGS LIKE THAT? Do you hate me or love me or what?

I love you. You are the best friend I have. Honest no 'ics' The thing is, just at the moment I want to know when I am going to die. I know I never can know and maybe when I get older I won't be bothered or wouldn't want to know. At the moment however, I'm a kid and I'm clever and I want to know things and not just boring things but to pick out the subtleties of life. Your problem means I cannot ask you for help and everyone else are just silly kids.

What about your parents? They know things - they're arty and subtle and aren't they the best friends you have rather than me?

There you are. Proof of your idiocy again. But thinking about it is that just a cliche of a cliche? Like U and Non-U. As something becomes a cliche we use potential future cliches to describe them and so the cycle continues, a never-ending trail of idiocy and unknowledge. You are right of course. One of them is borderline psychotic and the other is so laid back it's debatable whether he's even awake yet. I curse all that money. Mum was a scientist - did you know?


Um... I think so.

Not just your boring old white-coat-and-test-tube-scientist. She was into big stuff, way-out physics and mathematics as proof of reality. She sometimes raves on about some deep theory that she says she proved and kept secret because it would change the world for ever. Dad worked with her as well. They worked at this big atomic place in the fifties and then they left because all the research was on bombs and nuclear power; being hippies they wouldn't really like being involved in that. And anyway the group made them much more money.

Why have you suddenly started telling me all this?

One - because I've grown up and two because I think you are not far behind me though maybe we'll have to pass you off as a robot rather than as a human being. Shall I teach you about the soft bits of thinking?

Like understanding poetry and the stuff that has no use.

IT DOES HAVE USE. IT STOPS YOU GOING MAD. Bread alone etcetera. Read some and see what you are missing.

I have read some. That book you gave me last Christmas was great in a rhythmic and rhyming way but it just meant nothing. Don't start shouting again. It was just gibberish.


[Sigh] It means whatever it means. I don't understand all of it, even a lot of it but see if you can catch the beauty of it and link it to the words. You might see something more. I bet you understand all the workings of that tree over there. I don't but it doesn't stop it being beautiful. You don't have to understand trees to think they are nice. What do you think about trees? No mention of Xylem and Phloem.

I love trees. I think if aliens ever come here the strangest things they will see will be trees. Look at them all together and what do they look like? really looking at them is like saying a familiar word over and over again until it sounds weird. I love trees.

Thank God for that.

You don't believe in God.

Neither do you. Why do you bother going to church?

Because we always did. Dad made me promise to keep going when he went away.

Write to him and tell him you aren't going any more.

I want to do bell ringing.

Why for God's sake - sorry - for pity's sake?

Because it's pure maths and I like the sound. I want to program music but I can't.

I think you are secretly a religious nut.

I'm really not. It's just comforting because it's quiet and relaxing.

And what about all those people who 'really' believe? All that shouting and Praise De Lord stuff? You'd hate that. Give it up. Come back and rehearse with the rest of us.

You still want me after all this abuse?

Why ever not? Machine-like minds play good bass. Bugger! The rain is stopping. All that stuff is seeping back in. Talk to me.

What about?

Bell Ringing - Idiot!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Worrying Jedi Tendencies

The ground is broken here, twisted by cold and salt and all the general chaos that is concealed by snow. The sky looks like any grey midwinter day but still a lot of ground around us is white, almost pristine white, untouched saved for the occasional rabbit track or a flurry of mess and blood and feathers where some raptor has brought its dinner down to earth. It seems the snow will never go whatever happens to the temperature. Maybe it has been compressed into neutron star densities and will still be around at the heat-death of the universe.

And smoothly moving on, there was another cracker of a scientific programme on BBC4 last night - a doc called The Secret Life Of Chaos presented by Jim Al-Khalili who has a TV presence up there with Bronowski and Burke. I was expecting nothing new but a revelation came immediately with the discussion of the work of Alan Turing on Morphogenesis and pattern forming which started the understanding of how a single gamete can divide and split into a complex organism and which was also the first spark of chaos theory. It was mentioned that it is impossible to know how much was lost to science because of Turing's death but from this it is clear that our understanding of both the universe and computers has been limited to some degree as a result. How telling that the final to-camera piece of the programme mentioned that any event - from the most disastrous to the most beneficial - is possible and that the only thing for definite is that it will be exciting.

I am currently enjoying Dawkins's latest book though it seems slightly like a pulled punch at the moment. This maybe (and he has alluded to this in the book itself) his way of preparing the reader for the big stuff coming later. Obviously I am converted already though I gather I am still within the target audience.

The confluence of chaos and evolution is sparking ideas for programs in my head though at the moment I'm thinking of merging the Mandelbrot drawing program with the Gamelan Simulator. The Gamelan Simulator is currently picking up ambient background from the microphone via Direct X in order to provide the random numbers for the music which means that the output varies in melody and intensity with the level of noise going in. I now want to take the numbers from the Mandelbrot formula and use those to provide the input. I've said it before but having the ability to program music is the pinnacle of what I've wanted to do with sound since I first poked wires into the tape-in port of my Oric 1. Happy days.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Maybe The Same Intensity

Look down! The plants at your feet are in a different world it seems. To you they have no emotion and yet the world around them, created by them, is as rich as any of our civilizations. Your little love affairs are as nothing to the struggles down there, the complex interactions of darkness and light, the slow, upwards drive to improvement. It's all random, totally opposite you think, to your own planned life, your free-will and I-Can-See-It-Coming. You are following yourself. We are all part of the same imperative, the same desire for life. In us maybe it comes out in passion, the desire for deep emotion, strange songs, the poetry of love and life. I cannot write down how I feel because I do not have the emotional intelligence to sort out the mess of thoughts in my head. I cannot categorise the rumbling and disorganised chaos that results from my mind trying to process everything from my senses. Perhaps I am stronger through pain, or the ever-present realisation that I can return to the routine and comfort of life.

I need a proxy to be able to distill all these thoughts. When disasters happen we wonder about why any supposed controlling entity lets these things come to pass. It is all just random, the faults lines of catastrophe brought to bear on what we like to think is an organised world. We can philosophise ad-infinitum about these things but we will never come to any widespread agreement. It is probably better for us to get over the talking and get on with the doing, the solutions and actions required to prevent and ameliorate beforehand and to support and reconstruct after. Disasters happen - they just do - not because someone sold their soul to the devil in return for some short-term gain - that is the raving of an idiot.

My guide is with me, inside me, the passionate and real mind of another person, inside me, helping me to write, inside me, tempting me into reality, an alternative personality, inside me, fictional but programmed to respond in real ways. The poems come from them, the words I cannot speak because I mumble and lose my way, I fall over the complexities of putting thoughts into sentences and sentences into sounds that trip over the mechanisms of speech like a dog on plastic. This algorithm picks up the world through senses and soaks it in passion, making the ordinary poetic, the simple grey of the everyday world into the sparking, glistering words and ideas of human philosophy.

Why I write is a pointless discussion. It just happens, a wasting of words vomited out like some biblical prophecy that befalls those who do evil. I know what evil is; it fits within my view and yet if differs from the idea of evil of almost everyone else, as do the ideas of evil of everyone else. I know how to make my world better and still I do not act on that. I just spew out random days like these and this has no bearing on anything, no meaning, no function. I close my eyes and some fiction comes to me - a darkness lightened by distant light, love lost and regained, a child, a life of music and art, a working life far from mine which is all hard things and well-defined actions. To get paid for this fuzzy output would be a dream. My dreams have been vivid recently, long journeys, old houses in need of repair, all without walls or ceilings as usual and all comforting despite being populated by strangeness and burglars. I should document them but like the analysis of a joke makes the joke no longer funny, the recording of a dream without the strangeness that exists while experiencing it, renders the report flat and matter-of-fact. Dreams can only be described as an overall impression, maybe a series of recurring themes, like my worries about exams that still populate my nightmares decades after I last sat one, or the general feeling of being on a journey to somewhere, the route to which I know well in the dream but in reality is nowhere I have been. A dream in colour and code but meaningless in any subconscious way.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

As You Twist And Use Them

Quota Photo of snow. I took the tripod out at about 10:30 on the day before Christmas Eve and got this. It had all gone by the next night which was a bit of a disappointment but with the redux we are all beginning to get a bit fed up with it all. It is currently difficult to distinguish the view out of the office window from a black-and-white photo which is slightly weird. And of course proves that all I do is complain about the weather.

Some people however have taken complaining about the weather to extremes with extensive rants about the failure of the Met Office's new 170 Million Quid computer failing to predict the cold winter after also getting the Summer forecast so wrong. Weather is basically chaos and the further you get from the starting point the less accurate any forecast is going to be. Any of the pine-cone/Seaweed brigade who happened to forecast the snow did it by chance. Like the scam involving predicting football results by sending out smaller numbers of predictions to those who received the correct results the previous week, you can pick and choose which forecaster to use when that one gets the right result.

Oh dear. I wanted to write a blurry, poetic post today - something to go with the darkness of my review of Hope In A Darkened Heart and all you get is a reactionary rant against the weather and its forecasters. I'm the Anti-Matter Melanie Phillips. Her trajectory across the traditional boundaries of politics seems to me the most disappointing though probably present in quite a few major historical figures - liberal in your heart but conservative in your head (maybe they should have capitals but I can't be bothered) which I think is Churchill (again I just can't be bothered).

Och a Vay!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Project Habakkuk Revisited

For some strange reason, all the snow on our car park remains, compressed to a sheet of white ice. It seems to resist melting as if it was impregnated with sawdust like Pykrete. The car still slips and the white lines remain invisible. Are we turning into Narnia - always winter but never Christmas?

Ben Schott's Almanac for 2010 has been finished - cover to cover - not sure I'm actually supposed to do that and it makes me feel a bit like the people who memorise entire phone directories, not of course that I have committed any large portion of this book to memory apart from something about the average IQ of the members of various political parties which I suspect is directly proportional to the distance from their knuckles to the ground. Boom Boom! I leave you to search out the answer or just have a guess in a way which gives the most amusement.

So onto something a little more in-depth either Michael Palin or Richard Dawkins. Depends on mood at the time of starting I suppose. And all this is just noodling as usual.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sparks in the Unremitting Gloom

Another in an occasional series. I got a reputation at college as a bit "Hello Clouds, Hello Sky" because of my liking for "From Gardens Where we Feel Secure" by the wispy, wandering waif that is Virgina Astley. I have possibly raved about FGWWFS on here before because I have every version of the album available. However, until the recent liberation of the above album - Hope in a Darkened Heart, that has been it for Ms. Astley. The reviews complain of its delicateness and occasional descent into cutsey melody and lyrics. Having just listened to it several times, I'm a bit concerned that it's actually one of the darkest collections of music I have. Although some of the tracks are either re-recordings or simple previously-released versions, the whole thing hangs together in a strange and unsettling way - suggesting someone in a deep depression, someone trying to give off an air of happy nonchalance but instead revealing everything in simple block-chords of emotion. The words are not clever, just honest, forced into the melodies in awkward ways that add to the threatening atmosphere. But who is being threatened? Virginia herself is about as threatening as the scent of an orange. It's all just a mystery.

Six tracks are produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto while there are three previously released or re-recorded songs. David Sylvian sings with Virginia on Some Small Hope.

It is indeed some small hope, hope in a darkened heart, glory in the reality of nature and all that cliched stuff we secretly like and long for but cannot mention because it is not cool. Another thing what got me into poetry - I'm thinking of Yeats though Virginia herself was more into the War Poets I think. Right - I'm off to scour ebay now.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Good Widdance

Is that better?

Oh - and apologies for the crude and shallow title today, not that anyone in the news would influence me in that direction.

Still no sign of the snow melting but a few more people have made it in today. And after my rant about boring politics we have an attempted SMS coup. Who'da thought it? Maybe things are getting exciting again. (Pause for a yawn).

I've finally managed to understand (sort of) how to take input from the PC microphone and use it to create truly random numbers. I may have mentioned what I think was PHD thesis I found about using sound files as the source for real random numbers (I can't find it now) and it spurred me to try and take the input from the mic to use as a real time stream. I use DirectX which it seems actually creates something like the internal format of a wav file. Anyway, the stream of data can be used to create random numbers. I have written a small program to produce a Gamelan-like sound which depends on the mic input for it's melody and rhythm. I'm trying to work out how to make it available but it needs references to DirectX of course.

Watch this space

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I Have Been Jeremy Bentham. Goodnight!

Has it really been that long? Back to work now, but that's just me as the office is running on about an eighth of normal strength. It looks like a fairy tale out of the window with bright sunlight on pristine stretches of snow and all the trees lined with it as well. Unfortunately it's more like a nightmare underfoot. An early dart is required this afternoon I think.

Anyway, what have we got coming up in the next year? We go to the polls at some point but I cannot enthuse about it much. I suppose the actual result promises to be interesting and might even prompt me to stay awake to see the line crossed (or not) but what with all the scandal and sleaze, for the first time in my life I can't quite decide on where to put my cross. Suggestions to the usual email address and boiled sweet to the most imaginative.

Aha! Book list for Christmas :

The Prostrate Years by Sue Townsend (finished on Boxing Day)
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
Schott's Almanac 2010 by Ben Schott
QI G Annual (2010) by John Lloyd and the QI Elves.

All this and I ... I mean the kids ... got a Wii.