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15.1.10

 

 

ASTOUNDING BREAKTHROUGH

Back in the 60s when I was 19 and working in Cambridge as a lab technician in chromatography development, we used to get some of our test results analysed by a remote computer. At the terminal in the electronics lab we'd first make a punched tape of our results, then we'd dial the computer, type in a few identity codes, run the tape, wait a few seconds, and hey-presto back came the analysis. The computer, in London, belonged to GEIS (General Electric Information Systems) and I wondered what more it might be capable of.

Around this time I was taken-in by what turned out to be a simple Xerox copier - which in those days was a hunking great monstrosity almost as big as a mini-car. When I inquired of someone where they'd got a big stack of papers containing info on all kinds of intriguing technical issues, they replied, nonchalantly, 'Xerox, up in admin.' And I thought: 'At last, someone's invented The Internet' (even if it was called Xerox)! A few days later, to my immense disappointment, I discovered what Xerox actually was.

30-years on... and finally, tarrah... The Internet at last arrives!

As a kind-of reversal of that Xerox misunderstanding, back in the 80s I was fooling around with a model 'B' BBC computer. (I'd bought it cheap off an acquaintance who decided to get the higher-grade 'A' model instead.) And I had these colours sweeping across the screen in arcs, each partially covering the previous one: red, blue, green, yellow... a bit like those Venn diagrams where one disc overlaps and covers part of another....

What more needs to be said? Bill Gates (I imagine) did precisely this AND something in his head cried 'Eureka! Windows!' My brain, on the other hand, saw something interesting here certainly - I remember it well - but then dropped it like one drops many an everyday toy, and thought no more about it - which explains why Bill Gates is a multibillionaire and I'm hovering around near the breadline.

NOW - in January 2010 (a few days ago) - I saw a TV show about Chaos Theory. I read about this some years ago, and have several books - one big one by Mandelbrot himself - and I've even done some of the calculations (which are simple enough) to create my own weird patterns. But the presenter of this TV show illustrated how Chaos Theory plays a crucial part in living and natural systems... in fact, it demonstrates a fundamental law of physics, a principle as much of the macro universe as of the micro... and basic to everything that changes and evolves. I think early pioneers called it 'Morphogenesis'. Its use in analysing weather systems is well known, though perhaps it shows itself most conspicuously of all in the evolution of life itself.

Well, the detail here that was new and of most interest to me was as follows: a software outfit, namely: NaturalMotion.com - whose principal function is 3D computer games animation - was using Chaos Theory (as it applies to evolution) for generating self-learning (ie, evolving) virtual brains. And these 'brains' were controlling avatars... so at first stumbling and failing, the avatars begin to improve and succeed of their own accord, eventually learning to walk, then run and leap and interact with one another in their virtual world both smoothly and naturally.

What struck me here - like a brick in the face (as it must surely have struck those professionals who operate this outfit, and just as Bill Gates had maybe been struck by those sweeping 'Windows' of colour) - was that this is precisely what's required for creating an authentically functioning android - which, so far as I'm aware, has yet to come into existence. All that's needed is an interface to link this kind-of self-evolving software to a mechanical device, or an assemblage thereof (ie, an android body). It matters not how primitive or simple the mechanical device(s), so long as it's durable and consistent.

It seems to me that this development, this process, is profoundly more significant, and has far more potential, than any number of personal-computer 'Eurekas'. THIS, conversely, solves EVERYTHING!

In one swift, blinding sweep, it consigns to oblivion all those bungling, hopeless, futile Babbage-style efforts at making an authentic robot - which, over several decades now, so many engineers around the world have struggled in vain to create. The making of an android that learns-from-failure, spontaneously and progressively improves, becomes naturally smooth-walking and physically/mechanically autonomous in the real word of bumps and hills and gravity, is finally in sight.... All it needs now is for someone to get to it!

Although software designed to evolve of itself is not a new concept - in fact, I heard mention of it some years ago - this specific application is new - at least, it is to me. And if you want to know why this could be so amazing and significant, see my story 'Alex' where I spell-out one probable angle (as I see it) on how human society might be transformed, revolutionised even, simply by the introduction of physically adroit androids... because so much in our lives depends on logistics and sheer physical movement.

It might be tempting to parallel the potential of this development with changes in society after the introduction of computers a couple of decades ago... except with androids it's physical, which means tomorrow's society will change by many orders of magnitude more - so that to us, I suspect, this new society will be virtually unrecognisable - it would be like stepping into a completely new world.

Solve the population problem too and at last you have freedom for all humanity: freedom from work for everyone, and freedom for that 95% of us who perpetually through the ages are victim to the dominant 5% - those instigators of war, repression & control that has been the curse of human existence since prehistoric times, their unquenchable primitive trait of striving to dominate the rest of us will be assailed at last!

Welcome to the Android revolution - and we will be slaves no more!

(This item is a follow-up from April 09 below)

 

 

12th Jan 10 - on survival
21st Dec 09 - K Fix-up
10th Dec .. -- Kobenhavn
5th   Dec .. -- Perpetual war
16th Nov .. -- Imagination or...
21st Oct .. --- When to be born
11th Oct .. -- Them
5th   Oct .. -- Idling
31st  Jul .. --- Blog???
8-17th Jun -- SPAIN.(pix!)
27th May.. -- Difficulty
12th Apr .. -- 2-billion seconds
10th Apr .. -- General blabber
3rd   Apr .. -- ditto
14th Mar .. -- pic
27th Feb .. --- perennial PEST
23rd Feb .. --- more blabber
7th   Feb .. --- ditto

 

 

 

 

12.1.10

 

ON SURVIVAL

Entered on youtube as ‘The most IMPORTANT video you’ll ever see’ Dr. Albert A. Bartlett presents ‘Arithmetic, Population and Energy’

Quoted in the last of these 8, ~9-minute lectures is H L Mencken’s self-evident yet CRUCIAL statement:

…it is in the nature of the human species to reject what is true but unpleasant and to embrace what is obviously false but comforting.” 

CRUCIAL because it is the key trait, probably, that will lead to our near-downfall as a species…. and probably too, I'd wager, sometime in the next millennium.

BUT maybe (I like to think), also highly probable, small populations will survive and emerge triumphant with the technology and wherewithal to continue to develop indefinitely in contentment, freedom, knowledge and understanding…. wiser, at last (what hope!), and finally geared to adapt to reality instead of myth... providing the biosphere holds-out!

 

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21.12.09

Copenhagen fix-up

So the corporate plutocrats win. What's new? And the world can go to hell!

While acknowledging that Zionist aims stand behind most major wars... see item at: wsws.org

here's an extract:

'...In the final analysis, it was the antagonistic interests of the major economic powers—in particular, the US, China, and the European Union—that prevented any agreement. The two weeks of disputes in Copenhagen had more to do with strategic interests, commercial conflicts and competitive rivalries than with how to rescue the world’s climate and environment.

'The leading industrialized countries addressed the issue of their CO2 emissions entirely from the standpoint of the economic and strategic interests of their respective ruling classes. In fact, the geostrategic questions behind the discussions in the Danish capital are the same as those that resulted in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and numerous other international conflicts...'

21.12.09

 

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10.12.09

 

Köbenhavn

(Or Copenhagen - will it be a fix?)

& other Climate-Change debates

HAVING been incontrovertibly aware of the destruction-of-the-biosphere problem since 1971 when I was briefly connected with the pioneering work of Jim Lovelock (of 'Gaia' renown) - and I'm one who likes to question everything (more-or-less), not just take something as read - what has always puzzled me more than anything is how anyone could possibly think that the human impact on the planet, the biosphere in particular, can be nil or insignificant.

►►►

IMAGINE for a moment sitting in space, and imagine that the 85-million barrels of oil we burn each day is burning in one spot.

85 million barrels a day is almost 1,000 barrels/second... A barrel is ~35 gallons (or ~160 litres).

So if you set a fire going and feed it with 35,000 gallons of oil every second, permanently, day in day out, year in year out, and you sit there in space watching the continual outpouring of smoke with all its noxious gasses and heat... would you be able to confidently say to yourself: "No, I don't reckon that's going to affect the atmosphere."?

That's how it looked to me back in 1971 when I glanced into MIT's special report commissioned from scientists around the world: the 'S.C.E.P Report' (Study of Critical Environmental Problems). How, I wondered, could anyone believe that such a continual assalt on the biosphere would fail to have some effect?

Yet even now people like Nigel (ignoramus) Lawson voice doubts, even now when colossal glaciers, until recently predicted to remain intact until 2050 at the earliest, are falling apart and melting and sea levels are swamping the Maldives.... and so on.

Of course, those with big investments in the hydrocarbon industry - like with the tobacco industry back in the 60s - will feign denial probably til they can no longer breathe (such is the determination in capitalist mentality).

But for the rest of us, how could we ever be so blind or void of imaginative facility? The truth is: if we don't soon wake-up and stop them: all those with vested interests in: the OIL - hence WAR & MILITARY - industries, the airlines & meat industry in particular, ships, cars, power plants, deforestation... everything! If we don't stop them... WHAT THEN?

---------------

The notion of burning that 35,000 gallons of oil every second is an obvious construct, but it is simplistic and misleading. The actual situation is fare worse. For instance, a gallon of oil's worth of carbon when released creates a much greater volume and weight of CO2 (the O2 is taken from the atmosphere). And atmospheric CO2 is a major factor in climate change. All this, and I haven't even mentioned coal...

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5.12.09

 

PERPETUAL WAR

In his 1996 'Palimpsest' (ie, an original script that has been written-over), in the chapter 'Guatemala', Gore Vidal describes how in 1954, when he was in that country, the capital was bombed by the US because the democratic government supported a strike at the US United Fruit Company for better working conditions of workers who were being cruelly exploited. Vidal adds that he later discovered to his horror how a 'kindly' favourite uncle back in the US, who together with politician/corporate friends owned interests in United Fruit, had been key to that devastating attack - which led to the overthrow of the government in favour of a US supported Fascist dictator.

This came immediately to mind when I recently learned of Obama's self-contradictory speech at West Point announcing his escalation of the Afghanistan war (together with the blatant lie that the US had never fought a war against a democracy). Today, I see, efforts to drag Europe deeper into the US imperialist mire continue apace.

And I realise - not from reading the scripts of embattled and well-experienced commentators, nor the babble of softy-lefty namby-pamby pacifists, but from my own common sense - that regardless of what any of those single-minded military nutters blurt, this truly is Vietnam over again: a thrust for imperialist leverage over China, Russia, the East in general... and this time the pillage of vast mineral wealth too. What's more to the point (and for several reasons): IT CAN'T WORK!

They must know this, or at least suspect it - as they force Obama into this huge folly against his will, his original policies, his pledges, his better judgment, etc. Doubtless, they reflect that their side can only gain, if not domination in the region, perhaps the oil and/or pipelines, and if not the oil, then regardless of everything else the arms industries and the whole colossal military complex and culture will receive hundreds of billions of dollars... enriching and further empowering them. And what's more - the icing on their cake - they'll probably destroy the credibility of their hapless stooge president into the bargain, paving the way for the return of the neocons (meaning no-chance for the climate, healthcare for the poor... and much more).

I wonder if Obama was able to secure any trade-offs from his controllers in the 3-month delay (tussle?) prior to the West Point speech? I mean concessions, maybe, on CLIMATE - for NOW he's to (more appropriately) attend the END of the Copenhagen summit. Can one believe that the Western corporate establishment would make a concession? Not really... not unless it was a matter of complete indifference to them, which the climate argument is definitely not - even if they are destined to eventually lose it... and even if it means us all going to hell in the process.

What to do? If you're a selfish capitalist then invest in the big arms manufacturers and make a killing in more ways than one. If you oppose the direction of our sham-democratic 'leaders', then you can't vote them out (they're cloned to support the Establishment), so either vote for fringe parties or withhold your vote - and engage in whatever kind of civil disobedience or opposition you can cook-up. What else? Oh, and just live....

-----

In case anyone actually reads this, I'd like to just clarify that in no way could I ever speak in favour of those religious nuts we call 'Taliban', but using force to topple them can only be counterproductive. Reflect on how us Brits would have reacted if Hitler's mob had actually succeeded in invading - would the Nazis have ever been able to subdue our resistance? Of course not! And reflect too on the human truth of that wise old tale 'The Wind and the Sun'. Certainly, the religious nuts can be beaten; but never by force. Remember that brilliant obeservation of Colin Wilson's I'm so fond of quoting: '...the instruments required in this new existence are not weapons and tools, but intellect and imagination.'

(When it comes to dreams of world domination that obviously inhabit the brains of those corporate maniacs we're up against, then I reckon it was extremely apt of those geniuses who write the animation 'Family Guy' to have Stewie, the 'intellectual' baby, frequently nurturing similar aims - for such dreams certainly belong in that primitive phase of development. Which means to still cling to them when no longer a baby is a clear sign of insanity... lethal insanity - globally lethal.)

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16.11.09

 

Imagination & Foresight

...or simple

...Extrapolation?

"Those who talk about the future are scoundrels. It is the present that matters. To evoke one's posterity is to make a speech to maggots." (from Céline’s  Journey to the End of the Night)

Whenever I muse to other people on how I see things developing as time presses relentlessly on, I get strange startled looks and brief vigorous head shakes in response. 'No!' they say, 'That'll NEVER happen.'

I first did this when I was just a little kid, and soon learned better than to do my musing out loud. I discovered to my dismay that startling people with 'big' or 'progressive' ideas can evoke hostility and even aggression. Whether the issue concerned some technological device like TVs, calculators or robots, or involved some aspect of social change, was entirely irrelevant. Very few people, I found, responded either with interest or, if not with accord, then with rational challenge.

One can usually discern who's likely to concur and who's likely to repudiate some prediction or other - maybe according to an individual's perception of how extravagant that prediction might be. But it's always struck me as extremely odd that what evokes repudiation should also evoke antagonism.

Way back in the 60s I was ridiculed for suggesting there would come a time when colour TVs would be used for security, when flat-screen TVs would exist, when lathes and milling machines would be computer controlled, when calculators would cost less than a fiver, and so on... many things, and many more since. All simple obvious developments.

And in the 50s most people would have dismissed without thought the suggestion that within 5-decades ordinary people virtually anywhere in the world would posses a device scarcely bigger than a credit-card with which they could instantly connect with and see one another. Back then the suggestion would have been considered ludicrous, the musings of a madman, as was the idea that within a decade or so people would land on the moon.

Yet now I'd say that within the next 5-years mobile phones will not merely have 'intelligence' so they recognise their owner's speech and grammar, but will contain software for translating that speech into any language according to the recipient - who, if within close proximity, will be linked via bluetooth so avoiding network costs. Douglas Adams' Babel-fish, nothing! But what kind of reception, I wonder, might this tediously-obvious extrapolation have provoked back in the 50s? Even now, I'd wager, there are people who'd like to clock me one for voicing such a wild thought.

What is it though that causes so many people to not simply reject what are such obvious likely developments, but to feel personally offended by the mere mention of them - or at least to react as if they're offended? Why 'the crowd' so reacts is a great mystery to me - myself I approach technological predictions with interest and fascination - that is, precisely the opposite of 'the crowd': to me, gazing into that fabulous oracle provides a tremendous cerebral experience.

There are millions of people who would wholeheartedly agree. But nearly everyone around me - not only now, but all my life - has belonged to that mysterious 'crowd'. Rod is a fine exception, as is anyone who's into Sci-Fi or who works in some industry or research dept or other that's constantly pushing at frontiers.

One day, maybe within the next 50-years, people will be living on the moon, rudimentary androids will be wandering the streets, printing will virtually cease, and cars will be electric, driverless and will whisk you from Hastings to London in 20-mins, to Paris in an hour, Rome or Madrid in 2-hours and Athens or Istanbul in less than 3... all this will, as ever, be mere stepping-stones to far greater things... but these are the kind of possibilities, I contend, that are already easily within sight. Am I crazy or what? (Actually, I'm scarcely off the starting block... but something tells me it's time to stop! And maybe Céline's right anyway?)...

* * * * *

Musing further, deeper and wilder.. continue to: When to be Born ▼ ▼ :

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21.10.09

 

When to be born?

For some curious reason – which will probably emerge in this discourse - when to be born is something I increasingly reflect on these days. I know well the pointlessness of it, but it's a fine thing to muse on, I feel, because the 1950s, for instance, were so abysmally primitive compared with now... who doesn't know it? But that's when my childhood took place. They were my crucial formative years. The '60s were better but still agonisingly backward. And the grey mush of the next 40 years to the present has seen massive improvements, but only a minuscule fraction of what there could and will be. If only, instead of 1949, I could have forwarded my birth to 2949.

But then imagine 949 - that's 117-years before the battle of Hastings. The changes in society/technology between then and now are massive, but are doubtless negligible compared with what will transpire between now and 2949.

Or imagine 1849 (a mere 160-years ago) when Dostoyevsky was 28, Dickens 37, Babbage 57 (with 21 more years for constructing his mad calculating machines), and Transistors had 99-years to go before emerging onto the scene and rendering Babbage's efforts superfluous.

Not long ago the world consisted of many different countries, more or less isolated except for trade. Now, despite hostility engendered by the brutal ever-extending arm of western imperialism, the world is becoming more like a single entity: almost everywhere elites live a computerised 21st C lifestyle, while everyone else has to labour tirelessly to survive - or at least to live above subsistence. (I mean the world, not just the west with its idle middle class). But gradually, the internet - as catalyst - is connecting people according more to outlook than location, so that where you are, as well as what you are (ethnically), is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

One thing that will continue a while yet, probably, is Fascism (corporatism) - sparing, as ever, with its socialist (freedom-seeking) opponents to win ultimate global stability. But it will all be settled well before 2949 - if not, and if the world of humankind still exists as more than scattered survival units, it will probably have evolved into a somewhat weirder scenario than that portrayed in Aldiss's - or Kubrick's (finalised & filmed by Spielberg when Kubrick died) - 'AI'.

Considering the path of technology, I'd take the gamble anyday and leap forward a millennium. A mere dream, alas, but one that presents (almost?) inconceivable possibilities. I can only envy my equivalent of that future time - who'll doubtless enjoy options of lifestyle ranging from that of the elite of ancient Greece to that of a space-travelling whiz-kid (like 'Star-Trek' with a 'Dark Star' crew) - and with slaves far superior to any human or to what we in 2009 can even begin to imagine… and with numerous other (presently unimaginable) impressive aspects too.

Curiously, I've never sought wealth, fame nor anything much - but if leaping into the future was possible I'd make every effort. Forget Zen, Love, The Moment, Nature... because unless one is content to exist as a hermit, with no firm connection with the rest of humankind, then these become insignificant against the potential from a new age of androids, universal ease (ie, freedom from work) and an informed and universal free-for-all philosophy of life: especially to be free from the rule of those maniacs always among us whose sole aim in life is to control, enslave and exploit other people and dictate how they should live - an age-old gripe if ever there was, which by 2949 will finally at long last have become history!

Compare just today's freedom-of-expression (artistic and otherwise - dross an' all) with that of the 1950s - then leapfrog ahead another 6-decades, and on... etc: literature, painting, sculpture, music, animation, every kind of art imaginable.... No-one could argue that this is not progress.

If politics is forced into a similar fate, then total progress will become fact. Elementary steps are already happening. Although education, formal and otherwise, remains the Establishment's principal propaganda machine, less and less of us are believing in it. The usual media these days has lost its monopoly as well as many of its ever reducing gullible victims. Thanks to the internet, alternatives abound. See, for instance, Medialens 'NEWSPEAK'. Though their grip on power at present remains firm, empire-seeking militarists are a diminishing breed; ultimately, they’ll be defeated by their inability to adapt as much as inherent blindness.

Either way, as I say, it'll all be settled by 2949!

I wonder if birds have dreams of walking?

Sometime between now and 2949 people will start to live more according to their inner nature - which we all share. At present we live in constant opposition to it. This means nearly everything about society as it is now will be turned on its head.

In 2949 the 20th and 21st Centuries will be regarded as part of a protracted age of barbarism, greed, wanton destruction and general irrationality and ignorance. In 2949 our era will appear as alien and absurd as living in a cave with flint axes appears to us now.

Children, as ever, are born with clear minds - as they will be in 2949 (though probably they’ll be genetically selected for whatever is then thought desirable). Virtually all our failings and troubles and wars, the horrors and devastation we or our fellow humans inflict on one another is the result of filling children’s heads with trash. They are not born with this, they are infected by parents and teachers and so on. Only us adults sow the seeds. And predominately, by far, these seeds are of ignorance. Then we complain (or are astonished) when we see the inevitable consequences. In myriad forms, which we hear every day, these consist of killing, plundering, starving, destitution, disease, pollution of 80-million barrels of oil a day burning-up the atmosphere, rip-offs, scams.... Most of us turn away from all this - we only see mobile phones, TVs, ipods, well-stacked superstores, dividends and other income, and stupendous opulence.

A few days ago on TV was a programme about the tycoon Warren Buffet, worth $40bn. His aim in life, apart from remaining contented with his impressively modest lifestyle, has been to squeeze the maximum from investments. Now, at the same time, he is to give away most of his gains.

What, I wonder, is the point?

First he promotes a low wage economy - keeping his employees as close to the breadline as possible so his profits are maximised - then he chucks these ill-gotten gains at the big pharmaceuticals who in response ship vast amounts of anti-malarial, or anti-HIV drugs to Africa.

If Africa had not been perennially violated by western corporate plunder, precisely by individuals like Buffet, then it would require no handouts. It would be as able to look after its own as most western countries – perhaps excluding the USA where there is only sporadic health care for the poor.

The entire system needs turning 'Upside Down' - as Eduardo Galeano so astutely observes in his 1998 tome of that title. I can’t help but see poor old Galeano as I see poor old Babbage as he slaved away pointlessly, trying to cut corners in time. Both these figures know what’s required – and have a vision of how simple the problem is to fix – but neither (like me also) can (or could in Babbage’s case) see quite how to make it happen. Yet I've no doubt there is – will be – a very simple solution.... which will evolve from whatever turns out to be the social equivalent of the Transistor (if only someone would hurry up and invent it).

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11.10.09

 

Who'd want to appear like them?

By 'them' I mean all those closet traditionalists out there, those pathetic fakes who at some critical moment crawl from the woodwork and expose themselves. The response from the usual old farts is astonished (if subdued) adulation, while from disappointed lefties comes horrified (if also subdued) rebuke. This seems not to trouble them. Principally, I'm talking here about those famed individuals we all know about through the various media: actors, comedians, presenters, politicians...etc, etc. These days the 'adulation' and 'rebuke' have dwindled, respectively, to: smug approval, or reluctant acceptance, of the inevitable.

So these twisters entertain or otherwise perform, and behind it all lies this subtle patronising propaganda. But why are so many of them so bloody conservative - not necessarily politically, I quickly add, though they're usually that too - but why are they so consistently mired in this regressive traditional mindset? However outrageous or extreme (ie, Ross), however maverick or wayward (ie, Galloway), they still somehow turn out to oppose genuine revolt. It's my guess they've received a visit (or memo) from MI5 or its gentler equivalent. After all, many of them were processed through one or other of the most celebrated English universities.

I once heard Galloway denounce out-of-hand the suggestion that 9/11 might have been 'an inside job'. Might have been? A mere glance at surface facts shows Mossad (with CIA complicity) as the culprit - where else a motive? Or Cleese, apparently on the fringe yet rooted like an oak in the quagmire of mind-numbing tradition. Hislop the same.... who'd imagine an editor of 'Private Eye' presenting TV shows that attempt to bolster the Establishment or return the Church and religion to its pedestal of (brutal) respectability? The list goes on.

Is Jeremy Hardy an exception? Or Peter Tatchel? I guess there's a fair chance he's true to his image. Who else? Michael Moore? There aren't many. Maybe an outsider politician or two like Chris Smith, Michael Meacher or Clare Short. Genuine non-conformist exceptions, ready to ditch traditional loyalties to a corrupt Establishment, are rare indeed.

It's a shameful fact that when it comes to it virtually everyone turns out to be a conformist. Is that pathetic or what? What happened to imagination? They might be treading the 'path-of-least-resistance' but it leads precisely nowhere - like marking-time. Presumably, the deceit of those in the limelight is motivated by the expected enhancement of status in the eyes of 'progressive' youth. Their off-stage pretences are all part of the act... they might even create the impression of siding (if marginally) with anarchy... But when it comes to the crunch, rest assured, they steadfastly uphold tradition, rules, the Establishment status quo.

Most of those I'm onto here are from the middle class, so I guess all this stands to reason; what else would anyone expect? Well, a bit less deceit for a start! It's not as if they're presenting an advertisement... or maybe it is... because isn't all advertising a kind of propaganda? Failure to expect deceit from anyone in the media could be interpreted as a symptom of stupendous naivete.... or misplaced optimism. Which means the true position should be tacitly understood in the first place - I confess to some naivete here, unless it's just wishfull-thinking, though nor can I deny holding suspicions for many years about these characters... ever since 'cheerful, humorous, friendly' old guy Arthur Askey (who's Arthur Askey?) revealed his hand as a hardened Fascist.

At first, this struck me as being so incongruent that it took a while to sink in. My thick juvenile head wasn't quite ready to assimilate such bold paradox. But once I'd acclimatised to hard reality out there, I began to see evidence of the same kind of contradictions everywhere - not least in many illustrious personalities.

For contemporary examples of consequences (rather than individuals), how about a few sequences from Mike Moore's latest production: 'Capitalism - A Love Story' (I've yet to witness this 'masterpiece', though I can guess the tone and content)? Or how about a few reflections on prisons and why they're bursting at the seams, or tax and income, and on how we proletariat are kept enslaved and crushed by fabricated debt so that people like them (those I'm attacking here) and their 'Establishment' cohorts can continue to enjoy all the advantages of great wealth: fabulous homes, cars, holidays, an easy life and 'a raving good time' which they occasionally swap for (or embellish with) the 'hassle' of perpetuating their insidious propaganda?

In 1997 some people expected Blair to lead a crusade against the elite-classes (of which, unknown to many due to the high art of propaganda, he was a key member and apologist) and to an extent reverse their perennial City scam that creams the lifeblood from us riff raff. A few knew different: Gore Vidal for one (he wrote about it before May 1997). And perhaps anyone could be forgiven for expecting that the Tories and those they traditionally represented would for once become sidelined, if only by a margin. As it turned out, Blair and his mob were even more efficient than those before them at keeping the masses sweating. Middle-class investors were on cloud-9.

And I haven't even mentioned the war(s): Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Yet there's infinitely more besides: Global warming is virtually ignored... the M25 is still jammed every day; Heathrow and Gatwick still run at maximum; supermarkets, banks and other commerce still massively rips us all off... etc, etc. The government, local authorities.... crippling (to the poor) council-tax, should I mention sport, religion, the many other aspects to great media-propaganda swindle....? The list goes on ad infinitum....

STOP! (I tell myself). Revert to the familiar placid slacking mode. OK, but it feels good to vent a little steam... Now the sun's shining again, and life goes on. And lucky me can avoid most of the menace I cite. The only thing I'd like to know is: do I appear (as I rest here in relative luxury) in any way like those fakes? That is, they who appear to rebel, or to hover on the verge of doing so, while actually, surreptitiously, conforming with a vengeance. As I say, and although in many ways I'm an incorrigible hypocrite - one who has opted for a life on-the-cheap: of simple idling, musing, drifting and pestering (like now) - I'm also a true and solid dissenter and can't ever imagine becoming like them..... Never!

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5.10.09

 

IDLING

As anyone who drops-in on this mad weird site will have noticed, 2009 has so far been its least productive (and my most idle) year.

Ever since starting to write here - until 2009 - I've made the effort now-&-then to shove aside my lifelong propensity for idling and instead hammer out some ridiculous story, controversial attack or other nutty article for the sheer joy of it... hoping I might just stir or annoy someone to the point where they react with a rebuff or counter-attack.

Alas, not a single response - nothing. Just total, uninterrupted silence. The Great Void has spoken - as any Great Void might. This silence is what really promted my temporary return to the indulgence of IDLING. Consequently it's been my most relaxed and pleasant year for ages... loads of the usual fabularse cliff walks and sea-swimming, but also visiting: ie, France, Spain, Lake District, the West Country: Bristol, Gloucester, etc..... plus other versions of slacking and lolling about.

Although my circumstances over the past couple of decades were to some extent planned and worked-towards, I still consider myself exceptionally fortunate to be in a position to so indulge. Most people in the world are suffering some kind of horror or deprivation, while a minuscule fraction are submerged in untold wealth (as here in the US - the UK, and the world, are doubtless close behind). It is precisely the latter - the superrich elite - who perpetuate the conditions of the former, as well as instigate wars and genocides in their insane effort to expand their influence and empire.

But what the hell can I do about any of it? Answer: Absolutely nowt. I help a few friends now and then when they need it, and maintain a few connections. Otherwise, why should I not take advantage of fortunate (planned) circumstances? No-one is deprived if I do, no-one is cheated, no-one is bothered. Fine.

I have several thousand books, a massive TV, a car and like most people (in the industrialised world, at any rate) the internet. I have maybe 3-decades left to enjoy these and a few other great benefits our ancestors never knew.

There's no way I intend selling-off any of that precious time - as many people even when they're loaded insanely do (invariably to the elite). NO WAY! That time will vanish soon enough.... like the last 3-decades have. And as I fade out I guess I'll reflect with some envy on the new generation of kids and the far greater benefits they'll enjoy, things I can't even begin to imagine - just as my grandparents wouldn't have envisaged what we have now: the transport, information & communications, medicine, architecture, freedom of artistic expression... nor, maybe, the untold horrors (driven by the greed of those billionaire elites), though I guess WW1 was horrific enough. If only harebrained kids in search of adventure would stop hiring themselves as mercenaries-on-the-cheap to the terrorist state Britain has become! GOOD-LUCK SPAIN >>>>

 

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31.7.09

 

This is an updated update. But is it also a BLOG?

Having just returned from 10-days at my sister's near Stroud and the Lake District for an old friend's weird 'surprise' birthday event, I find two letters from Mike Foster MP. Both are fairly substantial: one headed 'Climate Change - the road to Copenhagen' (17.7.09), the other 'Tackling Crime & Disorder' (24.7.09) - then via email yesterday I receive his reply to my recent communiqué - (all now transferred to this site). I'll write and upload my new reply shortly... I can envision a somewhat philosophical response which might take a bit of thought - ie, referring to the MP's reply: what, precisely, does 'our own interests' mean, who is 'our' and what 'interests'? Who in the UN was bamboozled into 'signing-up' by the US bully-boys of the time (2001) - because very few members have opted to take any kind of an active part? Likewise for NATO, many members have opted for merely token involvement, knowing the reprisals for refusing yet seeing the futility and injustice of a lost cause (never mind the slaughter and long-lasting repercussions).

I failed to mention in the 'communiqué' that in addition to imperial aims as defined in the first link there, the chief motivation is, (surprise, surprise) pressure from Israel: that little rogue state that has created such disproportionate bedlam, genocide and destruction for almost the entire Middle East, and a hell-on-Earth for their immediate and most persecuted neighbours, Palestine, which like any imprisoned and pillaged victim seeks freedom and justice: at least restoration of conditions that existed before its aggressor was established in its present absurd location back in the 1940s.

Apparently, I read today (and it fits snugly into the 'BIG Jigsaw'), the principal reason - alongside extending the empire (which they surely must see, as history and reality unambiguously reveal, is impossible in that region) - the principal reason the US/UK continue to occupy Afghanistan is not so much to expand the empire - though that's certainly a reason - or merely to engineer a few lucrative pipelines, but because it provides an alternative base to Iraq from where they can maintain pressure on Iran to toe the West's unbalanced nuclear-proliferation line. Since they're scheduled to exit Iraq, their ubiquitous Zionist masters demand this repositioning. Is that not logic or what? (End of - shudder - BLOG!)

 

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8 & 17.6.09

 

In case anyone's interested... ( click 'ere f ' pix) ...below are a few details of a recent trip to Spain & back. Good travel writing means perceptive observations and an ability to attractively present them. I'm really not capable of that - at least not to a level that could qualify me as any kind of a travel writer - even so, here roughly (and doubtless failing to convey the fabulous experience it was) is a very summarised account of the trip:

We set out on a fine Friday morning - 25th April 09, about 11.o'clock. I'd booked our sailing for 14.00. A steady pleasant drive to Dover got us there easily an hour early - and perchance onto the 13.00 ferry. France (and Spain) are an hour ahead, but it was late afternoon by the time we were driving through lush French countryside, the little lanes and villages of Normandy - wondering when to start looking for a campsite. We stopped at Berck, a few miles south of Boulogne. A great swarm of commuter cars were headed inland as we entered Berck clear of holdups and traffic. After spotting a good site, we booked in, pitched the tent and then wandered around the area - there was a huge beach like Camber in the UK.

In the morning expecting to take a good run along that beach, we find a massive weird-kite flying display and loads of little tent-kiosks all set out along the promenade - selling different foods and drinks and various crafts and clothes and so on.

After an hour or two, we left there on the D940, for Abbeville next stop. A very decent little place Abbeville. We walked around, took a snack by the river at the edge of the town, then continued on our way, taking the D901 to Beauvais then the D1001, joining the N1 just south of Chambly. From there we headed straight into Paris - St Denis & into Clichy where there's a YHA hostel. We signed in for 2-nights, then scouted the area - or I did: it was Henry Miller territory, after all!

Next day we rode the tube into the centre and began a massive wonder around, seeing all the main sights: Eiffel Tower, Louvre (outside only), Luxembourg Gardens, Notre Dame cathedral, the Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, and various other impressive structures and gardens. So by teatime we were pretty knackered . A great day though, and we didn't miss much. It was Stewart's wish to visit Paris, not mine - not when it was me who had to do the driving. But then, he was having to navigate, so maybe his task was the more testing.

The drive out of Paris Monday morning was as expected: through massive jams, but with the sun shining it was amazingly pleasant being almost all along by the river - the outside perimeter from Clichy across a bridge and along the north-west ringroad. Taking our exist to Versailles - we were soon passing the huge ornate gold-ornamented Palace. Stewart had no wish to stop, so we continued on towards N10 and to the south.

Later, just north of Poitiers we passed 'Futurescope' with its weird massive structures, then towards the end of the day we hit rain and stopped at dusk at a little campsite near Ruffec off the N10. Next morning, still raining - and no charge (the campsite operator obviouly had no wish to brave the rain) - we continued south to the end of N10. Well dry by now, we followed D33 to D933, through St Palais to stop mid-afternoon at the picturesque little town St Jean Pied-de-Port. Gave the tent a good dry-out while wandering around town, by the river, etc. I had the notion that if we stopped as close to the Pyrenees as possible then we could enjoy it all the more for setting out alert and fresh in the morning.

And we weren't disappointed. This section of the trip was pretty sensational, a good steady zigzagging climb through fabulous scenery - virtually no traffic, a few walkers, a bit of drizzle at times, great views. Throughout the whole journey we stopped frequently at attractive locations, or for a snack, a walk-around, sometimes at a supermarket or garage. There's a great weird pleasure, I find, in 'living-out-of-a-box' and camping, 'roughing-it' (as I call it). The most valuable sensations of life tend to get severely muted, I reckon, by the (monotony) of everyday comforts and luxuries, of easy-cafes and restaurants and a comfortable bed, which we become so acclimatised to and are so unwilling to relinquish.

By lunchtime we were on the N135 heading down into a vast beautiful desert, and towards Pamplona. Then N121 and N232 to Zaragoza, and A23 to Teruel. And what a vibrant little place Teruel is. I could have spent a week there. But after a visit to the tourist office - located amidst a maze of little streets & alleys all with shops and courtyards - we struck out west for Albarracin. The latter part of the drive reminded me of Zion park in the US. Albarracin is a quaint little town, all steps and alleys, mostly built into rock on a steep hillside. I got the impression that it had remained unchanged for centuries, maybe even millennia? A place unique in my experience. We camped at an fine site nearby, just beyond the more recently built part of town - and Stewart, not entirely convinced that 'living-out-of-a-box' was the ideal condition, got a super-hospitable taste of the local cuisine in the campsite bar.

From there the scenery was even more amazing because it wound through the narrow backroads of rural Spain, wild desolate and magnificent, huge undulations taking us through gorges and canyons and valleys as red and parched as Ayers Rock, winding along dusty farm-track roads, occasionally along by fast-flowing streams... what I'd imagined real Spain to be. This terrain continued until we decided it might be a better idea to head for the east coast towards Valencia, and on more substantial roads. It was, after all, to Alicante where we were aiming...

So we hit E901 at Utiel and headed straight for Valencia, where we went south on E15. After leaving E15 around (I think) Algemesi we drove through Alzira, Xativa and eventually Alcoi where we stopped for petrol. The guy running the garage insisted we should take the A7 and not N340 as I'd planned. I was bloody glad I didn't heed his advice - which would have been fine for someone intent on getting to Alicante fast and without hassle - because the N340 was pretty sensational, and the long smooth decline into Alicante, coasting several miles with spectaclar views ahead, was worth any amount of tough-driving.

We found excellent accommodation at the centrally located Bahai Hotel right across the road from the sea (and free-at-weekends carpark). It was Friday evening: we'd been on the road a week.

For €55/night - two sharing - we got continental breakfast and internet. Curiously, the excellent friendly staff were unaware that Bahai was a kind-of universal benign religion.

A day and half later - and after as many dips in the med as I could get, as well as climbing to the two main high-spots and taking a tram along the coast to return on foot along the fine shoreline there - we were making tracks to Murcia (pronounced: Murthia). From where we continued to Mula to visit some old friends who moved there several years back and who'd been expecting us for abouit a week (they said, when we eventually turned up after searching for maybe an hour!).

And there we remained for week, getting to know Mula and its suburbs and bars and markets and little streets, the endless lemon and orange groves, winding lanes to and beyond the castle.... etc.

Returning gave an almost laid-back sense of drifting, because it was first to well-famed Benidorm where we headed.

 

 

To be continued (29.6.09)

 

 

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27.5.09

On Difficulty

My recent trip to Spain went via Paris and avoided main motorways, yet was mostly free of traffic (from Versailles almost to Biarritz on N1, across the western Pyrenees etc... sensational but maybe boring to read about so I won't elaborate).

The point is, the whole journey was simple, the simplest holiday possible (apart, I guess, from staying at home). Everything flowed like clockwork. Not that anything was especially predictable, nor that I'd ever taken that route before - in fact I'd never been to southern France or Spain before - but expectations were met (or exceeded); that is, there were no unexpected difficulties. Any difficulties that did occur - such as in locating a campsite before dusk - turned out to be less difficult than imagined. So the whole experience was positive and rejuvenating.

Kids, having little experience, expect things to be hard (and if their confidence is low, often don't even try something), so an escapade that turns out easier than expected can be truly exhilarating. This has always happened for me when travelling - I expect difficulties (or half-expect them) - yet they rarely materialise.

In contrast to this, the other day I was trying to work a mobile phone - two mobile phones in fact on different days. And both times they failed to perform as I expected. Now when I was a kid I'd have investigated this because I'd have blamed my lack of experience and would be keen to learn something new. But being old, and familiar (so I thought) with at least the basics of a mobile phone, I blamed the phones - and still blame them: in one case for lack of clear instruction (icons, option lists, etc. even nothing useful on the net), and in the other a complete failure to function (or at least, inconsistency: sometimes working, sometimes not - clearly a technical fault: a duff switch!).

What I'm getting at here is that how difficult a task is depends on one's expectation - of how difficult it's likely to be. I'm in the process of installing a new gas fire in a new section of wall. This is a hard and duff job, but so far it has presented no difficulty... in fact it's turning out easier than I'd anticipated: I know precisely what needs to be done and am quite capable of doing it. And so long as no unexpected problem occurs then I'll rate the difficulty level at zero. And even if some weird snag does arise, then because expectations are flexible for an unfamiliar task, then I still may not rate it as 'difficult'.

But regarding those mobile phones, they were definitely annoying me. They were a real bloody menace: inconsistent, unpredictable, and not even any kind of an intellectual challenge either - because there was no sense or logic there, and one would at least expect some logic with an electronic device! So the phones were far more difficult than anything I've had to face recently, even this computer - which doesn't always obey the laws of logic, nor the broadband which for some inexplicable reason occasionally fails - such is the (un)reliability of the service provider.

A few months back I constructed a conservatory - a dining area on the front of the kitchen here that fills what was a wasted space, a sunken courtyard. It's an excellent high-&-bright addition to the house. But although putting it together was hard work, it wasn't difficult - except where the instructions were lousy and one had to fathom how to fix something by resorting to common sense (which isn't always appropriate to an unfamiliar job).

When failing to make sense of a task that I reckon should be simple, I'm inclined to announce rhetorically: "Why is everything so difficult?" As a kid, such a question wouldn't have occurred to me because I expected things to be difficult: new tasks are usually difficult, it's a fact of life. And in those days compared to now, technology was relatively primitive: TVs suffered from interference or an oversensitive vertical hold... phones crackled and fizzed... cars failed to start... etc. I would never complain if a radio I'd built failed to work straight away because that was expected. It would have been a near miracle if it had worked first off - like to my amazement a central-heating boiler I once installed did.

Nowadays, the expectation is that a device should function instantly and simply - which means the concept of something being difficult has taken on a new meaning - or it has for me. Now was that difficult to understand or what?

 

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16.5.09 We're Back. See: pix  

23.4.09

 

Last note for about a month

Off touring France and Spain by car... So to Dover...

 

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12.4.09

Sunday (& Monday...)

TWO BILLION SECONDS - and counting...

I guess with all these weird photos of me scattered around the site I must seem a bit self-obsessed... to say the least! Maybe I am... between various other obsessions like charging about the countryside, idling, or even writing mad stories of which, sadly, few have materialised of late.

Well, I'm now more than two billion seconds old, or in more familiar terms: > 60... and since these days 60 is the new 40, then if I'm to be 40 again I suppose I should try to live up to it - that is, be as physical as 20-years back... which means charging about like a teen again - because that's what I used to do in almost every spare moment back then. GREAT (and I don't meant that sarcastically).

Oddly, I did less charging about in the 1960s than I do now already. In those days ... and never miss the chance for a nostalgic reflection (it has almost the same power as a long forgotten scent to launch one back half-a-century even)... in those days life beyond day-prison (ie, school or work) was all about larking & having fun, which included science & technology & gadgets & the prospect of a fabulous future... or that was how I saw it.

The new world of computers and suchlike was in its infancy.... I remember visiting an open-day at one of the universities in Cambridge and seeing a green CRT monitor on which was playing a jerky animation of a landing lunar module. That was supposed to represent the spearhead of technology in the late 60s.

I can't help recalling here the sad case of Charles Babbage (1791-1871) who's 'calculator' stands like some weird surreal mechanical dinosaur in London's Science Museum - it is a monument to the folly of trying too hard to cut corners in time. Constructing - let alone designing - this 'calculator' would surely have tried anyone's patience and dexterity to the limit. It is an austere-looking steel contraption of serried gears, levers and all kinds of mechanical bits assembled into a unit that occupies about as much space as a large saloon car. And what could it do? Very little, really. Though at the time I suppose it might have impressed a few people. But it wasn't of much practical use.

Then in 1948 along comes Bill Shockley with the first ever transistor - at the time he probably had no more interest in calculators than the makers of mechanical calculators had in transistors - though the massive 'experimental' thermionic-valve calculators of the 40s were quickly superseded, and the far smaller transistor equivalents were soon small enough to go in your pocket. As well as simple arithmetic, these could soon perform operations that would probably have astounded poor old Babbage - whose whole lifetime was spent attempting to achieve what in less than a decade evolved like clockwork once Shockley's little three-pronged invention came into being.

Sadly, many technologies still appear today as primitive and stuck as was Babbage's 'calculator'. Where, for instance, is all that leisure time we were promised from the 'burgeoning' technical advances? Or where are all the ubiquitous domestic robots that were supposed to relieve us of those tiresom chores of everyday living - and which Asimov (and others) so enticingly predicted?

James May recently scoured the planet for these in a TV documentary. What he revealed was, from any practical view, scarcely more capable than what existed 5-decades ago. What a monumental letdown!

The BIG mistake everyone makes is that they think the solution is in the hardware: the mechanics, the motors, gears and joints and structure... the architecture and appearance and so on. The finished product 'must' resemble, at least vaguely, that cumbersome yet outstandingly ubiquitous android (which now seems to have emanated from the collective unconscious) as depicted in the classic 50s masterpiece 'Forbidden Planet'... or perhaps those more elegant versions portrayed in films like 'I Robot'. But they're all wrong, these 'Babbage-like android innovators' who James May visited... clearly, I contend, they should be inspired rather more by the strange apparitions of 'AI' - Kubick's impressive interpretation of Aldiss's 'Supertoys' - in which a faceless, half-mangled, one-legged android can get about as ably as an intelligent spastic (or otherwise disabled human): with difficulty, perhaps, but with a certain amount of success.

Just as political commentators tiredly reiterate 'It's the economy, Stupid!', my particular phrase for eternal reiteration would be: 'It's the software, Stupid!' But all these so-called experts in automatonics seem, like Babbage, to concentrate exclusively on mechanics and appearance, on simulating authentic mannerisms and suchlike... and as for me with this website, perhaps, prefer to show 'nice' images and renditions while failing to address the sole crucial issue: the quality of the software, (or, in the case of this website, the text).

So what the world needs is a kind-of Shockley for software. Then we might get somewhere - some lateral invention from someone who maybe couldn't give a stuff for robotics or computers but who's project opens a whole new angle on the issue, suggesting new possibilities for software insead of hardware. It could even come from a psychologist or neurologist... who knows? Perhaps it already exists and just needs some genius to make the link? Either way, it'll be too late for me as I head with a vague sense of disappointment into my third billion of seconds, or sixth (or should that be fourth?) decade. (back to Jan 10)

(this is all 'to the ether', of course,...just another self-indulgence.... because I'm bloody certain no-one reads any of this tosh I write anyway.... it's as if I'm alone on the planet so far as this website's concerned. But no matter - it keeps the old brain-box alive... so on I go... and on... etc)... OK?

 

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10.4.09

Every now and then (maybe once a fortnight or month) I read through some story or item on this site to see whether it still looks as good as when I wrote it. This can be many months, even years, after having written it. Somehow, from the new distance in time, I can see the writing from a more objective view than is possible within, say, a month or two of writing. And surprisingly often I'm reasonably contented with what I find - and feel no real need to dive back in and edit.

Yesterday, I read through a section of what had appeared at the time, and even a week or so after writing it, a truly well-written non-fiction travel article. Then, just one or two paragraphs before the end, I discover the most maudlin, sentimental sick-making tosh that only an amateur could generate (not tosh, I should add, in what it was saying, but in how it was being said).

How had I not realised this? Why was I blind to it before? In fact, I recall now that it seemed rather good, almost impressive. Maybe that's the key? Anything that looks 'impressive' should alert suspicion? I can only put this great lapse down to a catastrophic failure of my (Hemingway's) 'shit-detector'... probably any artist's most indispensable asset - alongside (for writers) Dostoyevsky's 'ability to CUT', and Eudora Welty's advice that a new 'story' should be shoved in a drawer for several months before being taken out, revised and finally released into the world.

Such is the need always - at least where amateurs are concerned - for an independent editor. On this site there is only myself to both write AND edit. So tosh will inevitably slip through and if for some reason I don't get around to checking an article, then a few hapless readers will doubtless stumble on these gaffes, shake their head in scorn (or pity?) and leave the site - at least, that's what I tend to do upon unearthing obvious tosh... but then I'm probably not so patient or tolerant as most?

Now for a wander in the sun - head out for the cliffs and beach... anyone got some decent chocolate? I mean that really bitter stuff... maybe like Willie 'Wonka' reputedly makes (that chocolate-making guy on TV whose hair style I share until around April each year and whose choc bars I've never seen because there's neither a Selfridges nor a Waitrose around here)

 

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3.4.09

The absence of updates recently has been due to the construction of a conservatory that nicely extends the front of the house, the kitchen at any rate, and creates a respectable dining and sitting area that gets the sun after midday - just as the back extension begins to lose the sun after midday (losing it entirely at about 16.00). So now to attend to the outside front... lay a few slabs and maybe plant a few shrubs. This all sounds extremely prissy and conventional... I'm beginning to worry about myself: am I starting to go senile already? Is this weird 'conformity' a sign of the onset of Al Zymer's (whoever he was... nice-one Al)?

Next update soon - when the outside is fixed-up before the rain!

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14.3.09

Fairlight

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27.2.09

- A Perennial Pest -

Text below restored despite negative verdict of quality-control editor (ie, me)

Inauthentic nicked image

Not this one!

The cat I'm about to tell you of is not the one in the picture. It's a dominant cat, and sometimes a menace. It belongs to the neighbour - which means I can't mistreat it... or be seen to mistreat it. Not that I'd want to; generally speaking I like cats... I've always admired their independence and talent for affection... besides which they're just nice to have around: even when they're asleep they radiate a warming presence, a kind-of Zen presence - unique to independent creatures, including people if they're truly autonomous (which I wish I was, and sometimes am, briefly - pity it's unsustainable).

But this cat sometimes sits on the fence outside my kitchen window and watches me. I used to think it was taking-in my every quirk and error. And I'm sure it is, but not in the way a human might. Its presence, in contrast, is surely non-judgmental, and therefore calming and restful. I'm convinced that, (in contrast to straightforward curiosity) if it's assessing anything, then it is the ambience I create, the position I hold on the invisible line that goes from Zen at one end to zero-Zen at the other. For why else would it watch so attentively, except for pure entertainment as I fiddle and fumble haphazardly about in my kitchen? Is it a cat, I wonder, with a weird sense of humour?


Summer is another issue. In summer it's not unknown for this cat to creep stealthily into my lounge through the open patio door while I'm writing some weirdo story or other. Eyeing me as it goes (unaware that I too can see beyond 180-degrees without moving a muscle) it stalks an inevitable bee-line for the hall. Once there it bowls up the stairs, and before I with some handy probe can reach even the first step, it dives under a bed where it feigns dead - and like a corpse, if left will create its characteristic stench (and some stench!).


So I keep the hall door well shut. Which doesn't deter this cat from a surreptitious (so it seems to think) tour and inspection of the lounge... until I get up; upon which it will freeze, brace itself, and peering up at me will seem to say: "I'm not going easily." And I will seem to reply, "Either way, you're going pal." Gently at first, I grab and lift. It stops abruptly a few centimetres high. With all the strength its claws can generate, it is griping the carpet. An excellent mechanism, I reflect, should I wish to lift a difficult carpet. I let go my audacious trespasser, which stares up at me and seems now to say: 'I win... you bastard.'
The contest is not over. I recall that famous old yarn 'The Wind and the Sun', and calmly slide the patio door shut. Briefly alarmed, the cat moves towards the door. I open it very slowly, temptingly. It poises at the widening gap, then hops out. Instead of closing the door, I slide it full open again in the safe knowledge that the cat won't return - at least, not for a while. Unfazed, the cat sits on the patio licking its paws. If it was human I'd say it was calculating, awaiting my exit from the scene. But non-bicarmel creatures are incapable of deceit.

From experience, though, I can't be certain the cat won't re-enter the lounge that same day, but the probability is low. I take a chance. I can always repeat the door closing ploy. But tomorrow... that's another day!

 

 

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23.2.09

Ever since starting to write this site my intention has been that it should provoke as well as please. Responses from my good friend Rod who inaugurated the site have shown this aim has occasionally materilised. Rod's best responses are when he delights at a story, and when he forces me to re-think some notion I've explored in one of my non-fiction articles. Sometimes he says nothing for ages, other times he might comment on several issues at once. Either way, I write stuff (or fail to write stuff) as the drift takes me. Being an inveterate idler is my default condition, which is very fine for anyone who has no sense of guilt at doing nothing much useful in the world - which means it's almost very fine for me. True, I go about these days, as for a long while now (most of my life, in fact), being superficially pleasant and friendly, and outwardly cheerful or sympathetic as various circumstances require (for greatest contentment all round - which means, crucially, minimum hassle). But I truly take as much pleasure in flexing and swerving with the flow, whether I'm in the company of big-shots, winos or fellow idlers (or aspiring idlers), as I do in provoking philosophic discord. The world is pretty solid with paradox, after all. But still, for some peculiar reason - perhaps akin to one or maybe two that George Orwell elucidates in his little essay 'Why I Write' - I like to think that it isn't just Rod who reads these indulgencies of mine (the weirdo stories, the glimpses at people whose work I admire, the outpouring of what I guess too often appears as bigoted political venom), but other people too who've stumbled on this web-address... probably in one of the several strange locations I've placed it.

Who doesn't know the net is awash with vast untold archives of brilliant (and abysmal) material against which any library looks inadequate and triflingly insignificant? Virtually everything you want to know is there, accessible in seconds. And yet, for reasons (as I say) I can't quite fathom, I feel inclined to add to it. Maybe this relates to the drive to procreate, to leave behind some trace or other of one's otherwise pointless existence? Pointless, that is, not so much to me as to everyone else. Anyhow, this could be my sole meagre contribution - as meagre, I suppose, as if I was pressing-out studs for throw-away-shoes which soon will be rotting in some non-descript landfill.... But the stories etc, Rod assures me, will live on, to remain here for aeons to come - probably, I imagine, like some virtual 'never-to-be-seen-again' clot, all ten megabytes of it, festering beneath a vast trillion terabyte ocean of garbled and utterly redundant data - not even dross. Good!

I reflect, too, how I'd truly like to send emails to all the 27 people I once knew who clicked on my name on 'friendsreunited' - to see the answer to the little quip I shoved there to tempt them... But I'm an idler and a sluggard, so although I'd love to correspond (or meet again even) any or all those old friends and acquaintances, something deep in my brain responds to the notion with a sigh: that to make such an effort would involve Work and Hassle and doing things that prevent the doing of other things which in the immediacy of the moment I much prefer to do. Excuses? But excuses for what? For being bone-idle, or for not really caring that much whether or not I ever communicate with (or see) any of those fine people again, however much some other part of my brain would like to? The problem (excuse?) is: there's only so much time, only so much energy an idler like me can generate, only so much other-directed effort. By 'so much' I actually mean 'NOT so much'. In the great temporal infinity that spreads away behind and before us, this microscopic interval we are in here and now is a mere flash, a series of micro-flashes, or sparks. And those 27 people are the sparks, the gleams - at least, they are as I remember them: the best, the positives, even if the occasional negative hovers close. But there's no time, never enough time. So forward, wiser, happy to have learned something, to have awoken to how incredibly valuable every second is (so why am I sitting writing this?), and that nothing, NOTHING compares with being a kid - in your head at least... and to dream it too...

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7.2.09

I'm in the process of attempting to 'modernise' this site - not easy for an inveterate idler - but it should gradually improve (in various aspects of appearance) over the weeks... I've noticed recently that the format of many articles has gone weird: micro- or massive text, shifts in symmetry and scales, etc. These anomalies should get ironed-out in time... And maybe soon, just maybe, there'll be some NEW stories and articles?

Phil

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