Friday, 25 September 2015

The web of the ages of life

I remember the time that I was told that there are just [insert random number between 1 and 30] types of story. This was interesting to me as I planned to become a writer, (once I had something worth writing about.) After a little more research I realised two things, that are relevant to that:
  1. We all pigeonhole things to understand them through generalised groupings
  2. You can cut a cake up into as many sized slices as you want
That said, I think that it could be beneficial to discussions about the stages in life to have names for the emotional periods in ones life, (and that of others.)

"He is going through a pre-rebound funk" to describe the time between being dumped and no longer wanting to see the other person, seems a little heavy.

What and That and When have four letters. Who, Yes, How have three and No and It have just two. These are important words and I feel that the fewer the letter the more important the word is, (the to an it is how.)

If we look at human life, the first division that I met was 3: The riddle of the sphinx.

"What walks on four legs in the morning,
two in the afternoon,
and three in the evening?"

The three ages of man is a nice riddle, but not very helpful for my purposes. So maybe a need a larger number: How about 7?

Seven turns up a lot from the middle ages right up until the end of the Renaissance. We had seven celestial bodies, (Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn); Seven days of the week.

Shakespeare divided life into:
  1.    Infancy
  2.    Childhood
  3.    The lover
  4.    The soldier
  5.    The justice
  6.    Old age
  7.    Mental dementia and death
Which is interesting as a start. In English we now have the term teenagers, (which is surprisingly new.) Now I want to add "the 27 club". Then when I look at  Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie I notice that as well as being horrendously, humongously talented they both went through a period of depression. This seems to be linked with a period when the nihilistic realisation strikes and gains a more dominant position; The individual fails to keep their balanced perspective of  the positive aspects of life.
This could be seen as a huge disrespect for the amazing chance that we each have, to be living, but at the time Churchill's black dog bites and the fantasy of death seems preferable.

There is that half-done moment, when you realise that you have, (statistically) used up half of your time on earth. (I haven't got to the, "Almost" stage where you start to report that you are, "almost 90" that seems to happen to people when they feel old, (or are under ten, "I'm five and a half."

"I hit the bottom when I reached the top." This may be a cliché but is quite understandable. You have a goal, you focus on that goal and during the journey to the top you are working so hard that you don't have time to moap... but once you get there you have time to look about and think. Thinking: Bad!

Though I have often, (far too often) met individuals that I felt should resign from life I would have to agree with Dylan Thomas, "Do not go gentle into that good night", or as I put it, "do not go quietly into that dark night." I don't want to stigmatise suicide or euthanasia any more than I would want to glorify them. I feel that we each own our lives and if we want to end them we should be able to. This does not take into account the debt that we own to humanity, (here I'm using humanity to generalise our respective societies into a whole - but obviously we act locally.)

Individual development is not linear, it is a web. We each learn the same lessons, but it could be in any order. There are some things that seem to depend upon others, (writing demands language).

If I listen to Eddie Izzard about his own personal development, (and it should be noted that we listen to him because he is talented and has worked very hard in one aspect of his life, namely the professional part - but usually I feel that that gives an individual no access to talk on other topics, except in his case that is patently not true. I may not fully agree with his politics, but I would be offended if you did not listen to him.) "Where was I?"
He highlights that we must learn to be strong to achieve positively in life. This will enable us to be honest with others about ourselves; Which will, in turn help us become more fulfilled individuals and give more back to society. That is why it is in the interest of us all to accept each other for who we are, and more importantly accept ourselves.

I would campaign to alter society to encourage everyone to do exactly what they want, as long as it does not negatively impact others, (but for that to happen we would need language and words to inform others that their behaviour is undesirable in a way that would not be responded to. It is no good if the meekest observant person can not highlight opportunities for improvement.) Additionally, it is becoming more and more clear that our subjective lives are best judged by others and the worst judge is ourselves. That said there are somethings that I would want implemented: No shouting in public places, no littering, (but absolutes are hard to implement and are sometimes more destructive.) These are the things that matter to me, NOT which religion you are part of.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Satanic Guidelines

I was once told that the gist of the satanic religion was to take the seven deadly sins of Catholicism and turn them into virtues. Setting aside the truth of this for a moment I want to talk about OCD, ADD and narcissism.

Somewhere around 2004 I noticed selfish people. Mostly I had avoided them but we all go through phases of experimentation in our lives. It was about then that I saw OCD, (meaning Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from the DSM-4 medical book) being used both as an explanation and a substitute for, "Its a pet peeve of mine" and "I'm not going to apologise because I'm like that"; the latter of which boils down to, "I didn't ask to be born".

Now we have the song Sail, by AWOLNATION - which I really like, and then the last straw, (that lead to this entry) was the use of the term narcissism as a positive self description of a character in a television series, (The Blacklist.)

Have we really run out of superlatives? Do we have to abuse domain specific terms in this way? Well I (unironically) think its totally gay.

Friday, 7 August 2015

The opportunity cost of W.I.G.S.

I've just watched a few episodes of and so far really liked it.

It seems that the WIGS acronym may stand for: Where It Gets Social but before I found that as a URI hint in the site FAQ I expected it would be Women In Great Situations. If you watch WIGS:Lauren s01e01 then you are going to have to stretch Great to mean Huge Heavy Horrible. nononon not the episode - that was great (such a fan of Jennifer Beals and anything for which she stands.) I want to fire world leaders so that each of her characters can have their own country to run. Lets face it, Dr. Carolyn Tyler would make a better president than anyone currently running. (Even Alex Owens could improve your counties over-all fitness.)  I seem to Beals off track.

WIGS:Jan s01e01..03 seems to be a massively self-indulgent-pillow-hugging-sqee-fest. Who wouldn't want the attention of a hot actor that is currently hanging on the wall of your apartment? I'm wondering if it will get to a deeper message. I'm scared that it is going to go sour or explore a 50shades power imbalance, (who am I kidding - it will probably be more realistic ;-)

Talking of messages: I'm an unashamed non-ironic fan of Sutton Foster Bunheads, Younger. I feel like I'm hanging out with my friend and at the same time she is 100% protected by a thin layer of plastic and the whole of the Internet. I love her energy, the insanely fast dialog that she is able to deliver, (for science: I wonder if that makes her a karma-sutra level kisser? Liza would "totes be squicked" by me, just after she googled squicked ;-). Sure Younger is a Comedy of Errors but at its core it is the sort of material that could be one of the chapters in WIGS. A woman's struggle with finding her deserved place in the workforce when she is ready willing and able... (does s01e12 equate to twelve nights, I mean The Twelfth Night? manic over analysis is silly-fun ;-)

What do we deserve? Nothing. Nada. Zip. It does not matter if I'm the best butcher in Christendom; if everyone converts to being Vegan I don't DESERVE to be a butcher. We should support others, (think long spoons in heaven), but the whole concept of deserve is philosophically flawed.

So lets talk about opportunity cost. Everyone has them.. ALL of the time. Every second of your life has an opportunity cost. [That reminds me - I meant to blog about standard time increments as being meaningful: i.e. a month is the time it takes to get used to certain things...] You are sat reading this and you could be learning a sonnet that will impress someone at a poetry-slam := that will improve your life in ways that you can't possibly imagine. Seriously learn some poetry. (Rather than vidangering your brain with vacuous activities or narcotic distractions, upload some word chains.)
  Children are a huge HUGE (is it too early for a circular reference?) deal. Turns out that they are like a car. Even the cheap ones are expensive. You don't need a licence and everyone is FAR worse at driving than they think they are. If you crash your car into someone then you ruin two lives and society has agreed to punish you. If you have a child and you suck at parenting, (how many people are naturally talented at the same thing? We might each be good at something, but its a different thing) then its like you have already crashed.. but your punishment comes from your family. If you think you want to be a parent, try babysitting teenagers for a weekend and just reject every idiotic, (that means everything) that they suggest or request. Saying NO over and over really gets tiring... which is why we a programmed to LOOOOOOOOOOOVE babies. Which is, I submit, mother natures most impressive trick: getting us to love incontinent vomit machines that cause insomnia and rob you of your sex-drive. Its the most powerful form of hypnosis that I've ever seen. (Sadly this is advice that can not survive genetically - those that are wise enough to know won't pass on that genius genetically and the morons carry on breading ;-) [There are exceptions - I've notified each of the ones that I know of by kindly banging on your door in the middle of the night and eating your delicious soup - again thanks for taking me in.] There is hope! I hope - I have two nieces that give me hope that humanity isn't totally lost - but that's a lot for two young women to carry. [Though P's daughter and N's daughter prevent me from crossing H1N1 with H5N1 and sneezing on humanity.]

Agh, I Bealsed myself again. Where was I? oh yes Opportunity cost. So you are in your late twenties and realise that "30 is the new 20" is just wrong. You hear the biological clock ticking in your dreams. You grab the nearest fertile match for your genitals and make a baby. Or you have been together so long that the social pressure of all of your friends starting to pop-out sprogs wears you down like an over used condom, (they are SINGLE use people!)
  Turns out that you are the best mother in the world. Your goddess of a daughter turns 18 and leaves home. You want to go back to work because you realise that you no longer recognise the man that lives with you, (what where you thinking? Simple: you weren't! There should be laws to support vulnerable girls like you from your younger self! I image the court-cases that older women will bring against their younger selves when time-travel becomes common place.)
   It sucks - you spent a good chunk of your life raising a vulnerable fetus into a future valuable member of society. Surely you deserve something for that? An award? A trophy? Turns out its your ex that has the trophy called Sophie and you win... a loathing of your own body. [Masturbation, I'll let you take it from there.]

Lets fast-forward to the last 10 years of your life. Now lets use that time-travel to go back and convince your younger self that Vince is the worst sort of vice and that literally anyone else would be better. Your younger self literally understand your ironic use of literally and at the same time rejects this old woman trying to be hip. Your younger judgement causes a fissure in time and both futures pop into existence. You see another version of yourself in the mirror. She is old and wise like you, but rather than the lines on your thighs, she has them on her face - (yes from laughing - stop being ageist!) The mirror melts and you realise that the third woman is also you, but for the time-line where you were convinced not to have children. She is there for the same reason - to change the past. She brags about the adventures that she has had and the people that she has both met and been. Then all bravado falls away as she sobbingly begs your younger self to get knocked up as soon as possible. (Yeah, your other older self is also trying to truth-it unfiltered to get through.) You are shocked and appalled. Sure you love your daughter but why would the free version of yourself want that burden? Well it turns out that having someone in the next generation to look after you when you are lame half-blind deaf and your reality has be superseded by an alien planet called "future earth". You come from the past and are not prepared for this strange future world. You need someone to translate for you and look after you and, she says, despite having the money to pay someone to look after her, (which you don't) the one thing that is missing in her life is the love of a child. At that moment you realise that the scales balance. By having a child, (don't be sloppy or greedy now) you moved some of the misery of your old-age to your middle-age. By having a child you spear out the challenges of life and most importantly you pushed this down to when you were younger and better able to cope with them, (though it didn't feel like it at the time.) You catch the look of your other older-self and in that moment you just shatter: your compassion and sadness gapes as your face does its time-laps drying grape impression. It gets hard to breath between gasps and yous hug to support yousrselves. [sic.]

Slowly the two of your find some sort of composure and realise that your younger self is still there. She doesn't know which of you she wants to be and none of yous is a financial analyst or a psychologist. No one can tally the finical or emotional merit of either path. (Someone else can try.) Younger you invites you both to eat the most comforting and unhealthy food that is known from your past. You both agree that young you is already full of wisdom and you walk off, together.


So what's the point? None of us can walk both paths, so we will never know. I'm one of the people that loved The Alchemist and hated Veronika Decides to Die, (maybe because the first was self-congratulatory and the latter held no surprises for me.) My point is, like the Alchemist I know that how ever clear or opaque the point is, the message has to already exist within the reader; and not just in the "I know" or the "its fine" part of the brain, but in the heart where it can be felt. Seeds can be planted, (check out some of the more tricky word-salads from hypnosis) but even then they can take a lot of attention to grow, and grow well. So, like  make of this as you can.

I have so many stories and it makes me a little sad that I haven't taken the time necessary to grow them in order to share them. That is why I liked W.I.G.S. stories that are getting told. It will have meaning for someone, (just a VDtD did for one of my friends.. no really I hated that book.)

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Social anthrapology

Social interactions can be generalised to:

Familiarity with character-of-usual behaviour in relation to mutually enjoyed topic, producing social satisfaction.

As well as our brains searching to satisfy our quota of necessary misery, I feel that the brain, (mine included) requires some level of social satisfaction. It is a game of sorts, that we are driven to play, (so there must be some benefit, (or is there?) This can be acquired by a shared experience with a friend, but looking at the success of television, it is clear that it can be acquired from a television program, and even a consistent video-blog channel.

How many people feel that Sir David Attenborough would be a preferred relation, (a surrogate grandfather?)  Before television the same was found with the radio, and before that stories in books. We can probably extent the idea back to seanchaithe of Ireland, the bards of Wales or the troubadours of France.

So what benefit is there? By watching our group we can detect social infractions, (someone else taking unfair advantage of a situation.)

The down side, is that the constant vigilance punishes us. Judging that the driver in the car ahead of us has just failed to avail themselves of an opportunity to enter a roundabout, or that they have left their indicator on for the last ten minutes, (or worse - not indicated at all) produces anxiety, (and in many a stream of insulting expletives.)

It seems, [citation needed] that we are finding more and more links between, "stress" and ill health. (I air-quote stress because mostly I see it more as, "an individual not accepting a situation" or an opportunity to learn more about one's own capabilities. [See: How to make life harder for yourself, Roche, D.A.O'G. 1998].)

I would like to see the design of a double-blind meditation experiment, but if the practitioners are really trying to calm their mind and not think about anything, then I do not see how we construct a control group.

(Unlike homoeopathic-placebos which are being tested quite nicely by those that, "swear by them" and their not-so-blindly-hippy partners who take the little sugar-pills just to fit in - this will lead to a rather nicely testable group of people that can demonstrate how much belief or intention affect the effect of these placebos. )

I like social anthropology tests because it can take something like, the belief that some divine justice applies to everyone, even if they don't believe in it, and apply it to both the faithful and the certain.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Best kitchen grater ever!

V slicer grater
It was ugly and orange and didn't look like it would do very well: The Börner "V slicer" Twin-Grater (or combi-grater) from the 1980ies was the best I've every used. I am yet to try the new white one Börner-V-2010-Twin-Grater

Most cheap plastic version of professional kitchen equipment is just waiting to take up space in a car-boot sale, (or your recycling.)

I usually check Nisbets for anything that I need. ( Lakeland Plastics if they have it.)

Saturday, 28 March 2015

You must be wrong about my denial

"Would you like a mint?" Is not a question.

The opponents of reductionism are falling into the easy trap of attacking the proponent or their poor grasp of reductionism.

Lets talk about simplicity. Binary. One and Zero. Any system that is founded on binary should be fairly simple. The first attack is that such a system could never cover the nuance and subtle complexxxity of human existence. Once you get to shodan level in the board game weiqi I would expect you to see that this is false.
2^20 is over a million. Calculate all of the branches of English Peg-solitaire and we find that huge complexity can be encompassed by simple rules.

Why is denial a part of human psyche? It is a powerful tool that enables an individual to select branches of possibility within the hugely complex web of choices in a day. It, (and crying) are bridges over the chasm of incompatible or conflicting demands.

... but if someone offers you a mint, you say thank you and you take it. (You don't have to eat it.) Then you go home and wash all of your clothes and yourself. Why do we do this? Because denial of personal hygiene is fine in a hunter-gather society, but unacceptably selfish in a modern urban environment. The only thing worse is rudeness, but we need a system of euphemistic communication to protect civility. This is true because it is more selfish than smelling bad to impose your demands upon someone else, because we may be in denial about our own motivation.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Global social contract?

Most thinking people seem to have no problem with the idea of an implied social contract. Is there now an implied global social contract?

A declaration of human Responsibilities

1. You must limit yourself to acceptable behaviour, and limit and minimise your impact upon our shared home, (Earth+) and its occupants. tl;dr: Leave it better than you found it.
2. You are responsible for what you think from the age of majority; It is acceptable not to know, but your ignorance is no defence: Learn to be the best version of you that you can be.

Could you come up with a better contract? Does one exist?

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