Friday, January 31, 2014


In matters of economics, one grail, is predicting the behavior of people.  And as you can imagine it is a minefield, which to better grasp, it's a field that is often divided. One division is called Choice, which itself is a word rife with the sort of controversy well exemplified by a Professor of Medieval Chinese Poetry who dismissed the translation "birds in thick fog wallow" with the words "I never knew birds could wallow."  Clearly a walking stick wielding fuddy-duddy. However, within economics, Choice is so broad ranging an area it can bring all discussion to a halt until terms are defined with the precision of an eyelash.  And here one atom in the gigantic molecule of Choice, is the word Preference.

And I would go on to explain how recent experimental data from the cathedral of economics suggests that Preferences in us people when given the choice of three types of peanut butter, might be unstable, particularly over time, accords with my own definition of  randomness. But I find that I have become so aggravated by a Professor of Medieval Chinese Poetry's  "I never knew birds could wallow" that I find myself quite unable to gather the necessary cohesion to continue. So I think it sufficient to say that while I am fan of peanut butter, the sad fact is that Peter Pan, Skippy and Jif will never ever pass my lips because they are so horribly named. I am told that years ago in Canada, Skippy peanut Butter was called Squirrel peanut butter. Nor does this seem to influence my preference.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Walking Stick

Today I gathered my information, certificate of birth, citizenship papers, w-something or others, receipts of various kinds, telephone number, spouse's date of birth, year and place of marriage, driving license, home address and other ancillaries which experience suggests are sometimes required by a person who becomes tongue tied and dangerously  neurotic when in the presence of authority. These things in place, I thoroughly emptied the bladder and took the big road to Town, and half way there I realized that I had forgotten, my winter coat, my gloves, a routing number, my mother's maiden name, my father's full name, my spouse's social security number. So I had to turn around.

 I have in the course of my life been subject to a number of interactions with authority. The most memorable, an agent of state in the Zagreb Railway station who took an unnatural joy from the strip search. Then there was the dole office in the city of Cardiff,  it's bonhomie and free wheel turned barbaric under Margaret Thatcher.  The Salvation Army flop house, which required the lord's prayer before I got my cut of bread and soup. And here I have to admit I succumbed.  Then there was a remarkably pompous asshole who arrested me, and in the traffic on the way to Police Station, he spent his time telling me how all he really wanted to do was join the contingent that protects diplomats.  An odd apology, I still think.  Quite worrying in fact.  All of which means I was well girded by dark expectations for my trip into Town, none of which transpired.  Yes Indeed, hand me a walking stick, I am now a retired person.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


There are some who might suggest that a calendar is the single most influential tool in the bucket of tools our species has collected over time.  Then if you ask someone to draw a line of their own twelve month calendar, so that the line goes up for contentment and down for discontentment, you will find that there are people in this world who see the Januarys and Februarys of our northern  hemisphere as places of contentment.

Oddly enough I have a memory that I begin to think has got to be either a false memory, or some sort of a dementia. Sometime last summer, probably while bent double picking Beans, and the struggle to get blood to stop pooling in my head because I had spotted the soft fat child of a bean Beetle,  I think I remember visualizing the line of my own calendar and seeing points of high contentment through the months of January and February.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I'd argue the men and women of the weather service have given up and gone home when they announce "Special Weather Statement is in effect until further notice."  But for some of us, the phrase "until further notice," once it has inched through the cerebellum into the mingle and cocktails of the hippocampus finds itself confronted by an outraged citizen from forty odd years ago who still wears his school uniform. 

 "Until further notice"  might well try to claim he's all about keeping the pets indoors, wearing a sensible coat while smoking a cigarette or taking trash to the end of the lane. And he might go on to politely mention how wool retains its insulation value long after it gets damp, making it the sensible choice.  But all the school uniform hears is "Latin detention until further notice."

Monday, January 27, 2014


The dream is, and some of it has come true, that machines can be persuaded to learn for themselves.  This way for a considerable amount of money I can buy a thermostat that spends time learning my habits, my comings and goings, and once it has thoroughly digested them, the thermostat will apparently save up to 20% of the heating bill without me having to do anything more than decide what clothes will make me look most dashing in the grocery aisle.

Systems Neuroscience is an understanding from the biology of mammals that has been applied to mathematics inculcated into technical devices so they might learn. And here, there appears to be absolutely no quarrel with applying  the word "neuron" to the pathways of mathematics as practiced by a technical device. I do not see banners or hear the clash of ego. I do however see soft bodies, things not forged in a furnace, and I remember we mammals are more closely related to Fungi than we are to Bacteria. Nor am I that certain that any creature on earth actually does think for itself, which is a perspective on learning worth bearing in mind when attempting to define intelligent.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

White Dove Tossing

Well I guess there is a lesson learned, somewhere, somehow and by someone.

Me, I never have tossed White Dove from an upstairs window to entertain the multitude.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

B equals Good

The gentle, I'd best call them, will look at the facts and attempt to see honesty.  Then after a bit the gentle develop a maturity, which enables them to look at the facts, wonder at the source, the methodology, and after doing that they come away with a mood that generally speaking is not a gentle one.

Some of us get to a point where we do not believe anything we are told.  Instead we see the world of people as a maneuvering of idea.  I say X because I want B. More often, my wanting B, means you can't have B.  Which is an analysis of us people which sees the relationships between us people as 'power relationships.' And here, it's the truly dunce-headed that claim B equals good.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Some of us have been stuck indoors for really far too long.  Horizons shallowed, staring at the wall.  I guess I am fortunate to have done away with a great majority of my brain cells, because those that remain are more easily corralled, told to sit down, wear their socks and behave themselves.

Others, however, have not been lobotomized, and I don't envy their recklessness during these days, weeks and might even be months of maneuvering by demonic forces determined to relocate the north pole to somewhere in Kentucky. Incidentally, as the Crow flies,  the distance from Perth in Australia to Zanzibar City on the island of Pemba is a rather awkward 5217 miles. But, as the Crow flies,  the distance from Key West in Florida to Vancouver in British Columbia is almost exactly 2800 miles. Then if you transpose the maps, you'll find that all of the USA would fit in the Indian Ocean, except Hawaii which lands very close to the panhandle of Namibia.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Time on Earth

There is a debate about the extent to which modern Germany is defined by the holocaust and in the same vein modern USA is defined by slavery, Russia by the gulag,  Mongols by the slaughter of  Chinese Peasants and the list can be kind of long.  It's difficult to think of Germany without also thinking about the holocaust, and it's difficult to think of the USA without also thinking about slavery, and on into the history of time.  The things come together in a mind in the way that clouds and sky produce what might be called  an emotional weather. A full blown rain storm, sometimes. Or sunny. And for the sake of non-partisanship, amongst the English the legacy of colonies is a moderate drizzle, it's Lion and chained Unicorn hung up like sun hats brought out now and then for pomp.

 You can call emotional weather myths if you like. Not because they don't contain droplets of fact, but because of the lingering nature of the scars the sins of the father hand down to generations of children without them every actually being stated and yet informing so much in the day to day and the this and that and whatever it is people think it is they are doing with their time on earth.  And if you want to feel better about it, you can become all high and mighty and decide what is right and wrong, and you can go on to make some kind of a statement that goes something like "children should not be blamed. for the horrible deeds of their parent."  And then you can completely dive off the high board into the Cancun swimming pool and start talking about "socio-economic group" instead of  "class." Then if you actually want to go insane you'll look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I am God."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


"Frosty wind made moan."  You often think the hymn might have been written by someone in his cups back when Samuel Pepys was walking around.  Actually it was written toward the end of the nineteenth century, only about a hundred and forty years ago. Always wondered about the 'made moan' part.  One of those things that sticks to a mind.  And, when as a puerile delinquent we'd be asked to shut up and listen to the choir sing "In the Bleak Mid-Winter," there were those amongst us who would yawn.

All very well suggesting 'moan' had to rhyme with 'stone,' but that sort of thinking is very destructive, completely lacking any sort of empathy toward a poet and their phrase. One of the books the poet wrote was a devotional to the apocalypse, called "The Face of the Deep."  And it goes on for 550 odd passionate pages. Incidentally the message to Thyatira, in Revelations,  was castigating the angel for his tolerance and easy going approach to "The Word," which back in those days was not the way to prepare for the rapture.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


If a person is looking to express meaning, the first question is, "What tools do I use?"   Then what a mind does, is to look around and try to determine how others might have expressed meaning. This way traditions are born.  Call them patterns if you like, or chains.

 The other side of this, falls into that area that might be called, "Why even bother." And here a well rounded cynic, might suggest that it's not about an expression of meaning, it's more like an expression of self. Which of course is why Cats can't help but purr.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fakir, Monk and Yogi

Ouspensky, and I think his mentor's name was  something like Gueirdjiff, had a following in the United States.  The idea that somehow there was a fourth route to higher awareness that did not require complete and total abandonment of self.  And no bones made about it, because the fourth way according to it's promoters was more like a short cut, when put beside the Fakir, the Monk and the Yogi.  For your interest. The Fakir seeks enlightenment though physical exercise and posture, the more painful the better.  The Monk seeks enlightenment through terrible struggle with belief. And the Yogi seeks enlightenment through controlling thought processes.

 Those spiritualists who followed the fourth way, when in company with Ouspensky found themselves engaged in an attempt to bring body and mind together through a cocktail of physical and mental activities that were more sociable than they were like the isolation of sitting on a bed of nails. Gueirdjiff's final unfinished book was to be titled, "Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I AM.'" Interesting to remember that amongst his odd jobs, Gueirdjiff would dye Sparrows yellow and sell them as Canaries.  Enough to make any one take a step back in his passage toward enlightenment through the fourth way.  I first read Ouspensky's "Tertium Organum, A Key to the Enigma's of the World" forty odd years ago. And I have to report that not a great deal of progress has been made. But I live in hope.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The I Word.

If I think of life as a structure-less  X in our universe. I can think of X as "a striving for structure." Within the Human enterprise, and I don't mean the business of business is business, I mean all the way back to the bubbling stew, I can think of X as having become overly confined by structure. Tension X, I'll call it.  Or for the sake or brevity TX.  Luckily, or unluckily for us we have a playground within, which is loosely referred to as imagination. And in this place we can do all sorts of things without every actually having to give these things structure.

One sadness in my own life is a dislike of the word 'imagination.'  It all probably goes back to Disney and a half baked Rabbit cartoon whose character had clearly  been over indulged as a baby Rabbit, or had access to massive quantities of medical marihuana, or more likely a Rabbit aunt in the pharmaceutical industry. I see his little deranged face and sickly sweetness and floppy ears every time I see the word imagination and my toes curl. So I am going to think of 'imagination' as Tension X and maybe it will serve me better.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Sledgehammer Solution

A good part of the words I read and hear, compose rhapsodies to an understanding of our world which must be shared, because only when it is thoroughly shared will there be a harmony.  Then there is the argument which suggests that our understanding of the world can never be shared, because, despite rumor to the contrary and like it or not, harmony already exists.  And here, those who compose rhapsodies to understanding are seen as not much better than wing-dings in the firmament or 'cry babies' or '48% of the population' or 'food stamp recipients' or 'rightwing lunatics,' and the list becomes rather endless.

 I guess that somewhere between these poles lies the reason I'd rather slit my wrists than watch the 'Academy Awards' or 'Miss Universe' or 'The Grammies' or 'The State of the Union Address' or 'The Winter Olympics' or 'The Super Bowl' or 'Television Programs That Require An Endless Back Story When You Just Want To Know Who Dunnit and Don't Really Give A Damn If The Lead Detective Had An Unhappy Childhood Or Has Been Divorced Eight Times.' And this list too could go on to fill several pages.  However I could dramatically reduce it were I to take a sledgehammer to the television set.

Friday, January 17, 2014


You can make a red dye from the roots of Lady's Bedstraw.  It's a kind of Beetroot red color.  I have heard somewhere that you can make a number of colors from the flowers of Saint John's Wort, depending upon how long the flower has been blooming.  And there is something called Dyer's Woodruff, which has dye in her name. Then there is the root of the Madder, which if you know how to do it, dyes wool red, and which if taken internally can result in birth defect and miscarriage in us people. I do know that dyes rendered from plants very often require things like chalk and heat and mumbling and stirring for just long enough, otherwise things can go wrong, and you're up before the magistrate explaining yourself.

 Either way, the stand of Saint John's Wort that for so long graced the Post Office before it was cut into, dug up and disposed of by what I can only think of as Barbarians, is making an attempt.  It's creeping rhizomes, near ubiquitous Yellow Daylilies, must not have been fully extirpated.  In one way this  resurgence of Saint John's Wort gives me a sense of joy, but in another way it reminds me of the fever I felt when one day it was all apparently gone.  And I have spent far too many hours wondering why any one would want the plant removed.  My only sensible conclusion is that somewhere it was deemed a hazard by the powerful, concerned that a child on antidepressant medication might pick up a leaf, chew on it, succumb to serotonin syndrome and flop about for a while before dying in the Post Office car park, near the trash can that also serves as an ashtray.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Proton As Personality Type.

You have to reckon that personality types, as defined by behavioral psychologists employed by organizations motivated by profit, predate Gilgamesh. That perhaps indeed these personality types, go back one hundred thousand odd years to that time when we all lived in the tropics.  I say this because I cannot believe that of the however many billion there are of us now and have been, we can all be slotted into a  five category structure.  The Conscientious.  The Agreeable.  The Neurotic.  The Open to Experience.  The Extraverted.   And worth noting here, that for me at least I find it useful to add a sixth category which I have named after The Proton -that which repulses the nucleus of  an atom- and which oddly enough I can often apply to any one of the above five personality types.

I have found that while engaged in interactions within pretty much every social structure beyond that which exists between a gardener and his good looking shovel there is a tendency I will call "Lusting For The Concrete." Which might give an explanation for just five categories of personality, otherwise we'd have to get lost in the billions of possible categories, which can bring a mind to its knees.  And here it's tempting to again go on to suggest that life actually lies in opposition to laws suggested by the language of physics, of thermo-dynamics and cousin entropy that thrill some of us with the idea of structure-less-ness.  Which could be why I feel a need, or a neurotic desire perhaps, to reduce PWMQ to FF, where I can think of it as a Fifth Force in physics. Sadly, the other forces from physics have been very  poorly named. The Strong Force. The Electromagnetic Force. The Weak Force.  And Gravity.  So it's all very exciting. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Attempting to define C is often considered "not useful."  One preference amongst the "not useful" crowd is to replace C by tapping into ideas within words that can be verified.  As an example "aware." "If I poke it with a stick, will it react." If it does react then safe to say "it's aware." If it doesn't react then safe to say "it's not aware," or possibly "dead." And of course there are much subtler ways of testing "aware" than the stick poking test.

 As well there are subset words that can be arranged around "aware" all of which while being qualities of "aware" cleave to an hierarchy of "awareness."  In the PWMQ shift, this ladder if awareness is W, rather than M.  And if you happen to be thinking about stuff don't fall for the often quoted idea that Descartes dismissed the world of other creatures as being without 'awareness.'  If you want to know why, he was looking to M for his definition of psychology, and the consequence of his thinking about life lacked Charm.

Friday, January 10, 2014


With respect to W, the addition of the word 'politics' to its definition will produce argument.  But the point about W is that place in imagination which can conceptualize surrender.  And if instead of  'surrender' you need to use the word  'reason' then go ahead, be youthful.

And there are others who might suggest that P, instead of being just "thinking about stuff," should be, "thinking about stuff in a reasonable way."   And if that's your sense of the fundamental problem,  then go ahead, escape into M.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

PWMQ Shift

P equals "fundamental problem."  W equals "a virtue."  M equals "what is it and what is it like."  There was  time when P was considered a "Love of W."  And M is more recently called "science."  For my part I am going to define P as "thinking about stuff."  I am going to define W as "thinking about stuff in a political way."  And I am going to define M as "mathematics."   This way I can reduce philosophy, wisdom and metaphysics to quantities both  the Cedar Mockingbird and I might understand.  Which is another way of saying, I wish to embark upon  what I will call a "Q shift," because I don't like the word 'paradigm,' it's a word that has too much of a fashion quality, like "shark attack"  or  "blowing bubbles during a Polar Vortex."

Interesting that the early Christian Church pretty quickly followed the Ancient Greeks and the less romantic Romans to  put W into the category of "Prudence."  Along with Justice, Temperance and Courage.  And more than likely this particular division of 'Virtues' predates writing things down.  So it's possible to argue that W is as much about "competition" or "how to get a socially acceptable satisfaction from winning," as it is to do with anything else.  So what might my reward be from a PWMQ shift.  I could say bight lights and a Chinese take away in Cancun.  Or I could think of it as an underlayment over which I have no control.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


The plant people, will argue that intelligence is primarily "an ability to solve problems."  The animal people will argue that without neurons there is no intelligence and the word "intelligence" cannot be associated with anything that plants might or might not do.  In general "structure" has what I will call "centeredness," more like something around which purpose is built than a particular point on the diagram.  More like a possibility bumbling together, rather than something preordained.  And how I wish I could demonstrate this, rather than just think it.

Indeed the longer I go round and around through the sleepless hours, the more persuaded I am to believe that life is a property of matter, rather than a thing all by itself.  What we experience through consciousness is no more than an attempt to grasp meaning through 'a particular structure.'  And while every word needs its shared definition I ask myself what might the meaning of "meaning" be. If you look around you'll find "meaning" associated with "conveying a particular idea."   And I guess  "the ability to solve problems" depends upon "a particular structure."  Or not, as the case maybe.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


The PV, as we are learning to call whatever it is that's happening outside, is still with us.  It's a little like having a truly obnoxious neighbor who has taken to standing outside the window staring in. And when he is not doing that he has a high power binocular trained upon us. Watching our every move. Taking notes on the number of clothing layers, choice of footwear and probably he laughs jolly when one of us wears our wooly hat inside. And he has a keen eye for both "irritable" and "nice" reactions to his attention.

I have to think that I am not the first to have made this observation.  But my question to others is, how, when and why did the gift giving emerge.  I'd like to try to think of it as an act of contrition on the part of PV's everywhere.  But so far as I can tell, it's not the PV that actually does the gift giving. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Colder Than Normal

It's a Polar Vortex, I've been told.  And  to our west thunder snow has been reported.  A Polar Vortex, sometimes called a Mignogno Cyclone by those who are not afraid to pronounce things, is like a hurricane whose center should be near Baffin Island, or up there somewhere, not down here. Thunder snow is when thunder and lightning and snowlakes, all happen at the same time.  This means a person could freeze to death and then be struck by lightning.  Which is obviously a plot by wild angels to stymie the proper order of things.

 As for the Hexagonal Cylinder, I have not yet made an attempt to spot one, because the Polar Vortex  has turned me into a cat. I am able to stare out the window, I am able to conceptualize the mechanics of  a door handle by gazing serenely in its direction, I have taken an interest in wooly slippers, I have become acutely aware of  temperature gradients between where I am now and the kitchen, and I have been overcome by a conviction that to correctly observe Hexagonal Cylinders I need to find a pool of sunshine and fall into a deep sleep.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I'm told, the structure of a snowflake has a relationship with both temperature and humidity. There is bounty of observation and some argument in this area of what that relationship might be.  The one I like, basically suggests that between the freezing point and around twenty three degrees Fahrenheit, snowflakes take on a pattern  described as "Plates and Stars." Then about twenty degrees Fahrenheit, snowflakes, no matter the humidity, take on a cylindrical form.  When temperatures fall below minus five degrees Fahrenheit snowflakes give up on any attempt at predictability. They can be either "Plates and Stars" or cylindrical. 

The only thing all snowflakes have in common is that, "white snow flakes show forth six-petalled flowers."  Or what later observers preferred to think of as the "hexagonal morphology of ice crystal formation."  I am also told that on several occasions members of my own species have gone to the expense of making ice crystals in space. Their theory being that perhaps in space it might be possible to understand better how and why six-petalled ice flowers come into being.  Either way, sometime this evening, there is a chance we might see both hexagonal cylinders  and "Plates and Stars."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Oh Dear

Oh dear, the ghost of pompous must be exorcised from me. I have entered my opinions in one too many places and no good blaming the shut-in of cold weather with its vague forecast of "low around minus three Fahrenheit." I must declare myself an un-socialized being whose grasp of basic communication is woefully lacking.  I'm a Bumble Borer amongst Butterflies.

I might sometimes be smitten with an idea of living in a town as a Velvet Ant.  I see myself greeting the busy street, a brisk six legged walk to a smoke filled den where coffee is served, and I'll have my two and six ready, exact change. Sneer at the latte, insist upon a table cloth, sting someone for no good reason.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Easy enough to dream of Palm Trees and Parrots. Huddle by the stove, try not to think about the curves of supply and demand upon heating costs.  A seduction from the Dismal Science. Thomas Carlyle in a satirical moment. But maybe he was just depressed by the finality of reading Malthus. Which might have caused him to say something like, "silence is golden." Although I think probably his actual phrase was something like, "silence can be more eloquent than words." Which is the sort of thing one comes up with when it's bloody cold outside.

My own interest in Thomas Carlyle, extends beyond his description of economics as a dismal science.  He is one of the people on my list of people who died in February.  Now if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, dying in February makes good sense.  But if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, dying in February is terribly unfair, because it means you don't get the taste of March into your final thoughts.  And I wonder whether our ancestors ever gave this consideration when they chose to leave the Equatorial regions of our planet.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tufted Cedars

Big excitement here in the belly.  There is a possibility of  "Snow on Tufted Cedar" sometime in the next few hours. And I have been charged with the responsibility of recording the event.  Which means that a majority of my day will be spent keenly anticipating something that might not happen. I have the coat, the woolly hat, the rubber boots and the fierce grin.  But because the room where I sleep is currently working through  it's own life crisis, it seems to have swallowed, and I am beginning to believe has completely digested, one rather critical part of the several parts that comprise what I refer to as "The Camera."

 The point about words in sentences, as an alternative record of "Snow on Tufted Cedar" is the number of them required to even begin to get close to a description of the event. This challenge reminds me a little of the Ancients who were quite able to  pass down experience, however transient that experience might have been. Celtic craftsmen in metal work, mastered techniques that to this day remain mysterious. Yet the Romans, who I have always disliked for their victory over Carthage, record how primitive the conquered Britons were. A deduction Roman historians took from an absence of any kind of written word or alphabet.   Which means I think that should the room where I sleep continue to willfully subordinate my own needs, then "Snow on Tufted Cedar" is all that need be uttered.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rampant Nescience

A time comes when you can't remember things.  So when looking into the past, mirrors cloud, and not much can be relied upon.  My own view is that such mistiness should not interfere with the inventions of memory, and here I'd like to try to recall the first time I heard the phrase "very intelligent."  Nor, and on this you can trust me, was this a phrase directed at me. I can distinctly remember thinking, "What's that got to do with anything!"  And because the "he" who was "very intelligent" sat smug as a snail, yet totally without the charm of eye stalks, I chose to devolve into what I will call "Rampant Nescience," a deliberate unchecked ignorance.  You can call it an antagonistic reaction, if you wish to, but I'd rather think of it as a reaction to "not knowing the Latin for table."  An entirely limbic response in me, because I could feel the flow of emotion, hunting down solace.

Older now, I understand that past moment as an attempt to train me, form my young mind, make me useful.  Think of it as "patriot" if you wish to, a dialectic, a give and take in the great unknown. And all very sensible had I chosen obedience. "Once more over the hill, my friends."  And we all know what doing the same thing over and over again is symptomatic of.  But quite clearly rampant nescience still runs true in me, because recently I have decided that I am more like plant than like a person.  So join me on a truly frigid first day of a new year, as we revel in the brilliant expression "The Fetishization of Neurons."  Not my phrase, it belongs to Stefano Mancuso. And because I cannot insult him with "very intelligent," I think when the weather improves, my better tribute, is to dig a small temple to him. Over there, just beyond Saint Teresa of Avila.