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Artifical Intelligence generated High Phantasy

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A friend, David Wilson, said to me recently "I was imagining an AI that could be trained to 'continue the Great Work' once one has departed this earth."This got me thinking because I'd thought it had already been done. David Cope has written a program which creates music in the style of Bach for years. Now he's even selling the tracks on Amazon: You can sample the audio here. Some of you will say: "This is clearly computer created because..." I'd answer: "Bollocks. If you did not know it was created by a program you'd never guess. You are like people who know good wine by the label and not by the taste. Fuck off you idiots." But that's just me, after a few whiskeys.Anyway. There are also computer generated images, I'm still selling a few copies of Gliftex every month. It does not use AI and has a fairly simple model of how to create a visual pattern. (There are three components Form, Colour Scheme, and Interpretation). But …

A Spectre Is Haunting Texas

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I listened to the LibriVox.Org audio book of "The Big Time" by Fritz Leiber. I had been searching for "A Spectre Is Haunting Texas" by the same bloke, but found "The Big Time". I was amazed at how well it has stood the test of time (published in 1958), and how well it was read by Karen Savage.
LibriVox is "the acoustical liberation of books in the public domain", and has tons of good stuff to listen to."The Big Time" is really a strange and gripping story.
I'd been looking for "A Spectre Is Haunting Texas" by Fritz Leiber as a nostalgia trip. In my early teens I read a lot of Science Fiction, and the title of this book has stuck in my mind. I didn't remember much about the novel, except that I'd enjoyed it and that it featured a human used to living in space and so in need of an artificial motorized exoskeleton for his trip to Earth.That cover, is it tacky or good artwork? In the book the "spectre" is actua…

To Die Well, Final Exit, Natural Causes, Il Gattopardo, The Illusion Of Control.

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I've just finished reading "Il Gattopardo" by Tomasi Di Lampedusa. It's brilliant. I won't spoil the plot for you, but there is a description of a death, from inside the dying person, which struck me as calm and restful. If I could die like that (sometime in the future) I'd sign up now. Because I'm worried about Alzheimer's and incapacity, loss of control, ending up in a care-home bored out of my wits. I read "To Die Well" (years ago) and "Final Exit" (this year), practical guides to self deliverance.
The two books tell you kill yourself in a humane way, and give lots of other practical advice. Ideally of course I'll die in my sleep or in a 1 victim car crash, a vigorous alert 90 years old.  But just in case. I've read the books and taken notes. I have no idea if I have the courage required.And still on this topic, "Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer&q…

The Moon, Venus, Orion and astrology

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I got up early this morning to an astounding sight: The Moon, Venus and Orion all there together. The photo doesn't do the scene justice, it was magnificent and cheered me up no end. Here's a quick guide to the above photo.
 And here is the crescent Moon above Venus, closer up: The names of the constellation reminded me of a book I read a few months ago, "A Scheme of Heaven: Astrology and the Birth of Science" by Alexander Boxer. It is a brilliant book. There was even a laugh out loud moment, which as a far as I can remember goes like this, reported in a contemporary diary, set in an Italian court in the 1500s:Courtier: "You know astrology is rubbish? It does not work!"Court Astrologer, shrugs shoulders, nods and replies: "But a man has to make a living!"(Strangely, even two modern day astrologers gave the book five stars (as I did). Apparently they had not read the book. Maybe they looked at the illustrations, and guessed what the text said. But they…

Stratton School rugby Biggleswade 1975

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Stratton School rugby Biggleswade 1975








Stratton School Biggleswade 1975

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This is the sports pavilion, rarely used...


...except by pupils who smoked. My whole family smoked, so I didn't, but I stayed with my friends company as they puffed away.
Which has reminded me that there were two common rooms at Stratton School, the one for non-smoking teachers and the one for smoking teachers. The corridor near the later teacher's common room was always full of the smell of tabaco and smoke.

What is this cloud of unknowing?

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Sometimes, between a morning of programming and an afternoon of programming I have thirty minutes of complete rest, horizontal, eyes closed.
Programming is an art and a craft, so problems swirl around in the brain, unless you distract it. I need the "distraction" to get the most out of my half an hour.

Somehow I've come to merge two religious phrases into one.

The first is from Buddhism: "What is this?" It is a question which you are supposed to ask yourself intently and honestly. As far as I can tell "this" has never been specified. But oddly enough it does concentrate the mind.
The second is from a 14th century work called "The Cloud of Unknowing". In that book it is suggested that you forget a rational or logical or even religiously proscribed way of thinking of God, and just try to pierce the cloud of unknowing (of what God is) with...what...love?
Anyway, together the two phrases form a single question:
What is this cloud of unknowing?
And as…