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Showing posts from 2021

Winter skies seem to offer more infinity

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 I don't know why but Winter skies seem to offer more infinity (compared with Summer skies). Maybe because I find heat oppressive, and I find the cold clean.

Ivan 2017

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I would not have put it like this but...

 "Conceptual artists have twisted themselves so much that their contortions leave them able to look up their own assholes. They claim to they see diamonds when all they actually see is their own shit." - Ann Fonsweer She certainly has a way with words.

Status quo bias

 It's later than you think.

Dead Man's Tools

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Anne Tyler is great at describing all sorts of humanity, including (in "A Patchwork Planet"), old men who leave their tools to surviving friends and relatives.  Old men who imagine, before they die, that their precious collection of useful objects will be gratefully received by other people. And then she goes on to say that the tools are usually ignored, then taken to the dump. I don't intend to die any time soon, but I think about that occasionally when I look at my collection of stuff. "He'd like that spanner!" I think. And "He'd like that power drill". And so on. Anne Tyler, even if she has never never met me, has my type down to a tee.

Not connected

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 I was using my soldering iron and unplugged it before I left the room. I stepped outside the door and thought: "Have I really unplugged it?" I stepped back in again and saw at a glance that I had:    And then I wondered when how had the concept of "unconnected" gotten into my brain, and how could I at a glance see that the soldering iron was unconnected. Somewhere in my brain the concept of unconnected was recognized as being active when shapes from my eyes we transmitted and interpreted.

No blame no praise

 Sometimes nasty evil behaviour is excused by the fact that the nasty evil person has been brought up in an environment which produced that behaviour. That could be so, I cannot judge.  But there is a corollary of this which is hardly ever mentioned by the excusers. That is that extremely good people are also simply a result of their circumstance and upbringing . If there is no blame, there can be no praise.

Curses!

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More than 300 years ago, Spinoza was excommunicated by the Amsterdam Jewish community.  I wonder if Spinoza (being on the whole a logical clear thinker) was amused by the phrasing: "Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up; cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in." I'm a programmer so this has always struck me as odd. Once he is cursed by day and cursed by night you have covered all the possibilities. Any one of the three curses above covers all of Spinoza's life. I suppose religion is theater (and not logic or sense) and so needs theatrical curses (not logical ones).

The first day of Summer is, happily, the start of the descent into darkness.

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 June the 20th (or 21st depending on the year) is the first day of Summer. But is also the Summer solstice, or longest day of the year. Here in Northern Italy the maximum daily temperature will continue to rise till the middle of August. I prefer the cold, and dislike muchly the hot and humid Milan Summers. The Summer solstice gives me a little boost. I take comfort from knowing that from the 20th onwards the Sun will be shining less and less each day. And you notice this descent into darkness by the strangeness of the early morning light, which arrives later every morning. The light feels gentler and the air feels cooler, at least in the mornings.   And so we trick ourselves into thinking everything is going to be alright.

The Promised Neverland

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I've mentioned before that I like manga .  But my daughter introduced me to an anime which I think will remain with me till I die. There is a particular scene which, well, shocked me with its force. The anime is "The Promised Neverland " and if you see the images from it you imagine it is a such a sweet thing: But by the time I got to the end of the first episode I realised it was much darker... ...but much much darker than I could have imagined.   No spoilers, but you, full adult, watch it and see what I mean. And don't let any small children watch it.   (I watched it on Netflix, and the scene which remains with me is towards the end of the first series.)

The twittering of the birds and prime numbers and...

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As you walk through the park early one morning and hear the twittering of the birds and notice the greenness of the plants... ...it can be depressing to remember that all life is struggling. The tweets of the birds are (sometimes) saying "fuck off, this is my territory", and just because they are high pitched does not mean they are sweet, it just means they are small creatures. And the plants have fought through their evolution to beat competitors for light and water. Not that the songs of the birds are not amazing to listen to, and forms of the plants and animals are not wonderful to look at. But. Still. What counteracts these depressing thoughts? Well the fact that the universe exists and the fact that we are conscious. Those are the two main miracles. (And strange things like prime numbers, integration and differentiation.)

2021-05-25

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What Science Fiction predicted

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Arthur C. Clarke's First Law: "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong." I was reminded of that law when I saw this...   Starship prototype SN9 during its flight test at Boca Chica, Texas, in January 2021   ...and this...     Artist's impression of the Moon landing vehicle is based on SpaceX's Starship design  Both images reminded me of 1950s Science Fiction book and magazine covers. Vertically landing rockets were scoffed at by scientists and engineers because of the huge processing power and exact control required to keep a rocket balancing on its "tail". When I saw this...  ... (these are landing , not taking off) I was amazed. And here are the covers of 1950s magazines...      One cover even got the shape right:        

The unexpected consequences of solar panels (on my roof).

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 When I decided to put solar panels on my roof it was because I hate the heat of the Northern Italian Summer. And I saw thousands of roofs around me which just absorbed the energy during the day and gave it back to the air during the night. Such a waste of easily capture-able energy! The unexpected consequence was the pleasure I got monitoring the energy captured. The WEB interface to the data from the panels is a wonder. I can see how it is doing real-time: It was only 10 in the morning when I made this screenshot, but by midday it can be up to 2500 watts. I can see how it has been doing during the week: In the image above it is interesting to see how the cloud cover reduces the energy produced. By the time we get to July and August the curves will be smooth and uninterrupted. You can see how the month is going: Since they have been installed the panels have generated almost 2MWh of energy. And every time I check on how my panels are doing I get a warm fuzzy feeling of contentment. Pr

It's an Athema!

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"I, regress" and "McLevy"

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"I Regress", Dark and surreal comedy in which a twisted hypnotherapist takes unsuspecting clients on disturbing journeys through their subconscious. Starring Matt Berry   and   "McLevy", Siobhan Redmond and Brian Cox, inspired by the real-life memoirs of one of Scotland’s first policemen, James McLevy prowls the dark streets of 1860s Edinburgh bringing criminals to justice, with the assistance of Constable Mulholland.

The advantages of being an amateur artist.

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 I heard a podcast, which I cannot find now, about how Spotify models the sort of songs that are created. For short pop songs, many of which are only 2 minutes long, the song writer and/or performer gets almost immediate feedback about how well the song is doing, and they can change the music. Slower beat, less plays, less income, so let's up the beat. Some song writers are trapped in a disagreeable loop of constant modification in order to earn enough money to live on. (To see how poorly streaming pays songwriters listen to " The Price Of Song " a BBC Podcast in the " Seriously... " series. )  Anyway, musicians chasing more plays reminded me of a disagreement I had with a friend about one of my drawings...  He said that there are certain rules in art which need to be respected, one of them is balance, and my drawing was not balanced. I was amazed at this assertion, as if art must be made for decorative purposes.    That criticism, together with what Spotify is

Whole Body Flossing With Eels

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Yasuaki Shimizu and what happens in Ulster.

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 Two happy discoveries last week.  What Happens In Ulster is a very entertaining mockumentary crime podcast written by Marc McElroy, and starring Diona Doherty. I have to admit I binged on it.  And then I stumbled across a new version of Bach's Goldberg Variations, transcribed by Yasuaki Shimizu for five saxophones and four contra basses.  I've had the versions by Gould and Richter for years... ...and brilliant they are, but Shimizu's version is a whole new fresh rich sound.

Death and alcohol, alcohol and death, the message of the Rubaiyat

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 I was recently given, as a present, a copy of the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". A lovely volume.  It is a long time since I'd read the whole poem, but this time it struck me that almost every page is about death and alcohol. Fitzgerald, the translator who brought the poem to the West, decided to try to transmit the spirit of the poem, rather than make a literal translation. I can't read ancient Persian, so the only thing I have to go on is the translation. And the Art Nouveau illustrations (mostly by Renè Bull). Come fill the cup... the Bird of Time has but a little way to flutter . There you go, alcohol and death. And as the cock crew those who stood before the Tavern shouted "Open then the door! You know how little while we have to stay and once departed may return no more!" Oh oh! More alcohol and death. And how come Persia of 600 years ago is full of 1920s Hollywood actors? Want some more death and alcohol? Never fear: Ah make the most of what we may ye

Visualization of the letters of the alphabet as a means of timing exercises designed to strengthen the back.

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 Many years ago my back was so painful sometimes I had to roll out of bed, I couldn't "get up", I had to "roll up". My doctor recommended a physiotherapist who taught me some exercises to do, and since then I've had very little back trouble. But. The exercises require you to, for example, "repeat 5 times and hold for a count of 15 at each repetition". And I as I got to do the exercises automatically, my mind would wander and I'd forget how many repeats I'd done and how long I'd been holding the position. The problem was the mixing up of the numbers.  So I solved that problem by counting the exercises with numbers and the "hold for" with letters. So if I had to hold for 10, I'd "count" from a to j . And instead of saying the letters I'd visualize them. Seemed like more fun. But I found to my surprise that some letters were hard to visualize. The first 6 are a doddle, but for the life of me I could not easily

2021-02-20

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When The Dog Dies, Robin and Wendy's Wet Weekends

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 In this post : For Reasons Beyond My Control I listed a few of my favourite comedy shows, but I'd forgotten two. The first is "When The Dog Dies", written by Ian Davidson and Peter Vincent, with Ronnie Corbett and Liza Tarbuck.  You'd imagine a quiet gentle comedy, and it sounds like that initially, but the deep grasping nastiness of Ronnie's children and the sexiness of his lodger (Liza Tarbuck, always half dressed or in tight leather it seems) gives an edge to the comedy.  Then there's "Robin And Wendy's Wet Weekends":  It is written by and stars Kay Stonham and Simon Greenall. It is about Robin and Wendy Mayfield, a childless couple from Stevenage. Robin is obsessed with Mayfield, the model village he has built in their garage. Again it sounds like a "gentle comedy" but involves (for example), adulterous sex with a dying man in a hospital.  

Nature beats mythology

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What strikes me about these monsters from ancient legend, Cerberus... ...Medusa... ...Pegasus...    ...is that they are all made up of bits of animals (or animals/people with unusual numbers of parts). It is as if they did not have the imagination to conceive of a completely new being. The same lack of imagination applies to old books on demonology. Demons are also combinations of parts of different animals. A man with a beak for a mouth, a tail and wings. and often horns borrowed from goats. And here are images of Satan's little helpers (again bits of normal animals stuck together in a human format):     That is why I can't watch Star Trek. I'd like to watch it, to relax with a bit of science fiction, but every F€$£ing alien is simply and clearly a man or woman with heavy makeup on. You can forgive this in the 1960s (and I did). But these days the makeup has become heavier. And the "aliens" remain human: ...the artistry and craft is there, but the imagination i