How a vegan ingeniously declutters rooms

Subtitled: Picking up a disorderly living space through areal topology, using vectors learned in high-school physics, and a little game- theory (to fun it up).

Areal Topology — a hokey term for tying multiple rooms together

bib.lebowski

Why, Mr. Bill, do you invite us to your silly moments? Our time is valuable, my friend; in other words, what’s in it for us?

Nothing, of course. You simply remind me of nastyish overlords I’ve met, demons exorcised and ilk like that.

Get over yourself and get on with it, so that we might get out of here.

There’s a mathedness to my madness though. Chunks and bits of physics too. I’ve written much computer code in my life and times. Not a single iota do I kid you: I enjoy sporting my code-monkey T-shirt.

There’s a right way and a wrong way of doing things, Bill.

No. There isn’t. Control freaks vex the frack out of me. They really do. Out damned control freaks!

We’re already gone.

At the end of this lesson you should be able to pick up the clutter — with confidence, self-reliance and vigor.

I’ve heard that it takes 9 and a half days to slip into a good habit. Rome wasn’t sacked in a day. How many sacks did it take to hold all that plunder?

rome.sacking

Stage stuff. To borrow a programming term, set up some working storage areas large enough to fill two armloads.

Scan a room. Do you see things that do not belong, such as a dirty fork on a coffee table. Create staging areas as you maneuver the mess. Stage bathroom items, stage bedroom items. All the room is a stage.

Advice: freak thee not out! Don’t spend hours sorting, stacking and reflecting on woeful banes and sisyphusian rock-rolls. Mere seconds suffice to load two arms. Beware and Be Aware: there is a time penalty for breaking dishes. You can count on a plate dropping its gooey contents, such as non-dairy okra dip, upon the very rug that ties your room together.

Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons025158.jpg/Photo via Conde Nast

Place your gathered kitchen articles on the kitchen counter, in the sink, or into the garbage. A hint: dog-lapped plates are not cleaned plates. No they are not.

Another hint for the newbie: never leave a room empty-handed. Perhaps you have found a toothbrush in the kitchen. Might there be other bathroom-bound articles in your midst?

Advanced students will process items discovered in passing. Kick objects to the general area of destination — or kick things backward with your heel.

Are you in the bathroom? Books read are books to shelve, to repurpose, to gift or to donate.  By the bye, bathrooms make great cleaning areas. While you ponder a crossword clue and the squares on a grid, pick up tissues that end up everywhere, all day long even.

PSA: defunding the EPA is a criminally insane act.

Perhaps you kicked a pair of socks to the door jamb earlier on. You might be carrying items of clothing draped on your arm that are destined for the laundry. Bring those clothes together with open arms and deposit them in the appropriate receptacle.

An aside: I once brought along a book to read at the laundromat. Having started a washing cycle, I found my book bobbing about with the suds.

Let’s say that a sleeping moggie prevented you from making the bed. Make the bed, you big lazy, then toss more dirty laundry into hamper. Find books on the night-table that belong someplace: such as a donation box, a fund-raiser tote or on the sofa.

unmade bed

PSA: clothes you never wear are wearable at critical care areas, such as battered-women shelters. Beware of hoarding for hoarding’s sake. Random acts of kindness reward everyone in a civil society, such as the society we are currently not living in. Old towels are needed at animal-rescue facilities. Do not allow the stuff you own to own you, palindromically speaking.

Sort your library by standing on the shoulders of a giant. Here is a bookmark I give to the dear reader(s) who has (have) patiently plowed through the words above. How to sort your library.

PSA: Refrain from eating Meatables®

Thanks for reading.

Post Script: 24 vacuum tube varieties for audio applications.  Handle with caution should you discover any of these while decluttering 🙂

vacuum.tubes.for.audio

 

Post Script 2: Vacuum Tubes and High Fashion:

vacuum.tube.radio.hat

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Patterns in Language

Regular expressions. are powerful metamathematical tools, advanced techniques for matching patterns in a text or multiple texts — something fun and something useful. They are concise chunks of cryptic characters that can search a single text or multiple texts for precise patterns. Select an input file, do one thing or very many things to the file, then drop the resulting text into an output file.

regex-to-fa

Stephen Cole Kleene is the mathematician and philosopher who introduced the concept of the regular expression. He worked with Alan Turing and other pioneering types who were intensely active in the 1930’s. Their understanding of a mathematical maneuver called recursion; that led to breakthrough tools in logic — decisions made at superhuman speed and using the processing speed and memory to process words and numbers thrown together and called data. However, beware of the sorcerer’s apprentice phenomenon. Just bewaring.

recursion

An example: look for successive occurrences of WTF (upper or lower case) and substitute “what the fart”.

Through recursion you can stop, go backward a certain of characters, query the findings. Do something with it. Once you become familiar with the meta characters and the syntax, you can do a lot of useful things or destroy many useful things. So save the original file in a safe place and know where your output file ends up.

 

When I was a freelance translator I maintained a translation memory database that kept track of all my translations so that I might be reminded of earlier translations. The software I used was called SDL Trados; however, that was over ten years ago.

Here is one example of how I used regular expression code to insert a carriage return and linefeed whenever a blank space appeared in the original German. Essentially this created records that were one word long — the number of records was the number of words in the text. Then I queried my database for finds. A lot faster than the technique I used when learning German — looking up the words in a large-ass dictionary that I still have on the bottom shelf over there.

mastering.regular.expressions

The same Unix tools developed in the 1960’s remain in the electrons flowing from my screen to yours. They remind me of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Three Laws

Hoping this is somewhat illuminating, or mildly amusing 🙂

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Now for something incompletely different, something inspired by Hariod Brawn’s comment below. It’s an article on The Sound (And Taste) Of Music by Layla Eplett — she brings a platter to the conversation and complements Mariano Sigman’s TED Talk:

 

SoundTasteofMusic
Layla Eplett

Thanks for reading this postscript 🙂

Nothing, or a Useful Pot?

Hariod Brawn has asked me to write my take on “nothing happening” and “nothingness”. So it is my every privilege to respond with something on nothing. For all and each, with sheer gratitude for simply being in the company of my readers.

Hello in there. Hello.

hello-in-there

Critics of composer John Cage are legion. His best known work 4′ 33″ is a quite quiet piece. Audiences chime in with coughs, traffic noise, sound absent upon the stage. Movements end with a drop of the piano-key lid, they begin upon opening the lid.

 

The most common objection to 4′ 33″:

“Why, anyone can do that.”

Cage’s reply:

“No one had before I did.”

Nothing doing, or doing nothing.

cage-against-the-machine

 

You may know of the Zen koan on the cup full and the cup empty. Some good nothing there.

That reminds me of something. Reading literature in original language is a way to avoid the lie of translation. All translations are variations on untruth. Poetry is highly susceptible to mistranslation. Reading Rilke in the original German is worth the effort.

Languages are subtle windows into culture. Deliberate mistranslation is a bludgeoning tool for propagandists.

Perhaps I digress.

“Yes.”

Oh well.

“Death to America” is a deliberate mistranslation from Farsi, inexcusable ignorance of ancient and marvelous Persian culture. The proper translation is “Down with America,” but the word “death” suggests “jihad” and feeds Islamophobia. Bomb ’em. 

Now, back to nothing.

Well, almost.

Die Unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende quite accurately tells the universal tale of a nihilist threat: das Nicht (The Nothing). This tale is nothing like that empty cup or the useful pot. Milne wrote about a wonderful birthday present that Piglet gifted Eeyore: “The Useful Pot.”

useful-pot

Emptiness can be wonderful. It can be horrible. Another fantasy by Ende: Momo. A tale of time thieves who deviously steal hours at a time from unsuspecting, innocent hardworking people.  Give us the time of your life and we will invest it for you. Momo is a homeless waif who lends her time freely and with gratitude. A most rare quality.

michael-ende-momo-copy1

I proclaim that we are all existential, and by “all” I mean all sentient beings. We all exist, but some of us are exploited. To the victors go the history books — sometimes those victors also build expedient death camps for tasty or despised fellow sentients. Truth is not something generated by majority rule.

Do I again digress?

“Yes.”

Oh Well.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

Living Backward in Time with 20/20 Vision

Fifty years ago I learned about having a wizard for a tutor.

once.and.future.king

A touchstone work is one you return to throughout your life for the simple reason that its ring is ever true, it illuminates your contrived and contorted life rather than darkening it.

Merlyn had a skill that made him a profoundly wise teacher: the ability to live life from the future into the past. When you live life backward in time you meet the people who live lives forward into the future: you and I. People look to the past for better choices, being raised in different families in different schools.

going.back.to.a.simplier.time

Were that Franklin Roosevelt had died from his polio in childhood. Reconnect the dots: fractals snap that way, but if you proceed from the future-as-history into the past-as-future?

Alternate histories in science fiction are fractals of life, roads not taken in a panorama of maybes. Setting out one way, becoming derailed or re-railed. Hindsight might be gift or torture.

Henry_II,_Plantagenet_Empire
Randall Garret’s “Lord Darcy” series:

The Angevin Empire in 1172, before the point of divergence of Randall Garrett‘s “Lord Darcy” series.

Let me live my life backward. Let me celebrate my first birthday one year in the past. It would take me from 1947 to 1946. I would become an adult in 1926, the present moment would be in the year 1879.

And the best thing for  being sad?

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.  Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn–pure science, the only purity there is.  You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics–why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it  is time to learn to plough.”

(Merlyn, advising the young King Arthur in T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, Berkeley Medallion Edition, July, 1966, page 183.)

 

 

 

Xenophobia and the Church Militant

Al Kresta

The über orthodox Al Kresta owns the drive-time slot on Ave Maria Communications (he is also their CEO). His scholarly tones suggest intellectual curiosity, unfortunately that curiosity seems to cast suspicion on  “the stranger” or “the other.”
kresta.in.the.afternoon
 I’m in the Kresta in the Afternoon audience, but not singing with the choir. Al gives me an opportunity to refresh my understanding of logical fallacies, and to remind me that half-truths lead to full-blown lies. I call a partial truth a bold challenges, a euphemism I once overheard in a marketing campaign. how much misinformation can be included in an ad for the king’s latest attire before the clever ruse is noticed.
Open minds threaten xenophobia and racism.
A couple years ago Kresta announced an upcoming panel to definitively answer the question “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?”  He decided to bring people with different ideas to the table to balance the views expressed. As a seeker of truth Kresta would weigh opposing views to see if that mighty question might find a true and everlasting answer.
Big but: Kresta stacked the panel.
robert-spencer-jihad-watch-did-muhammad-exist
comment unnecessary
The American Muslim published an article on the debate. An excerpt:
 
“He will certainly be in over his head, and this “featured debate” will simply be used as an opportunity to humiliate the American Muslim community. Shadid Lewis may mean well, but participating in this very public event without the tools to deal with someone like Robert Spencer is at the very least unwise. And, the fact that Spencer, Kresta, Ave Maria, et al are framing this as a debate between scholars, when that is clearly not the case makes it clear that they have an agenda.”
From my article “The Jailer Mentality and Alternate Histories” published here.
“…those who brood much on the remote past or future, or stare long at the night sky, are less likely than others to be ardent or orthodox partisans.”
Arsalan Iftikhar approaches Islamophobia from a different perspective.

RNS-IFTIKHAR-QANDA

Rod Serling’s “The Monsters are due on Maple Street” gives us some insight into this phenomenon.
Thanks for reading.

A Free Palestine

Is Occupation better than Independence?

free.palestine.end.apartheid

Honest reporting and genuine research relies upon listening to others, hearing repugnant points of view, bearing them.

Stepping onto the dark side does not lead to a more gentle peaceful world for anyone or any one.

Slavery is not freedom. Occupation is not a blessing.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.47.50 PM

 

It’s the thing you think you know, the thing that reassures you but keeps you ignorant.

Gaza needs what Greece is getting” was written on the anniversary of the 2014 War on Gaza. How did Gaza become the world’s largest open air prison?

gazavillages.refugees.nakba
Refugee genesis and exodus.

Occupation is not freedom: not for the occupied and not for the occupier. Prison is not paradise.

From H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956), born in Baltimore, died in Baltimore, wrote for the Baltimore Sun:

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer offered advice on when you must speak out.

Silence-in-the-face-of-evil

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Tolstoy, Schumacher, Climate Change & Veganism

Personal integrity requires living ethically. Climate change threatens the livability of this planet for countless species. Veganism is not Shmeeganism.

knee.deep.in.the.big.muddy

Pete Seeger let us know where we stand politically! I call it a metaphor for this election year and a perspective from the Smothers Brothers Show in 1967. I had a Pat Paulsen bumper sticker on my ’63 Corvair in 1968.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy

And the big fool says to push on!

Veganism is still a minority constituent of the body politic. But it’s good idea to stand on the side of truth.

Throwing a snowball on the Senate floor is as helpful for understanding the significance of two (2) Celsius degrees as an answer from genesis by ken ham.

Meanwhile Steve Inskeep throws softballs on NPR. Disclosure: Inskeep has been in my craw since replacing the inimitable Bob Edwards on Morning Edition. Just saying.

Celebrating ignorance and arrogance is exceptionally American. Global economies based on the trillion-dollar solutions of fossil-fuels, slave-labor, misogyny, ultra high-tech weapon systems and private prisons drive critical thinkers into exile. Intentionally.

Gross is our domestic product. Strength is our ignorance.

I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.

Leo Tolstoy had his pulse on humanity. Select anything he wrote and discover splendid presence and prescience, including veganism and anarchism. Quotes

leotolstoy

The Long Failure of Western Arms

  • Tolstoy: Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence (1886)

Yes. If it’s a good idea Tolstoy wrote about it from 1828 to 1910. He stopped writing by dint of death: a century plus six years.  

E.F. Schumacher offered the planet some important advice in 1973, roundly and soundly dismissed at the time, but I sense a resurgence, at least a spirit of hope.

From Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative, a perspective on E.F.

2016efschumacher3

Thanks for reading.

 

Epictetus 55 – 135 C.E.

I mentioned touchstones in a previous post, I now touch another one: Epictetus, usually noted as a stoic philosopher. But that is a bit procrustean; there is much room for subtlety here. I am directing your attention to Epictetus’ timeless contribution to a more civil society. Those familiar with the serenity prayer will find a beacon. Blaze an internet trail for more.

 

 


 

 

 
Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them.


He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.


If thy brother wrongs thee, remember not so much his wrong-doing, but more than ever that he is thy brother.


The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.


There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.


To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.


We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

 

Nice People Explained: Bertrand Russel

I first read Bertrand Russell’s essay collection Why I am not a Christian In the early 70’s. One essay that affected me in particular, and that still intrigues me is Russell’s “Nice People.”

Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forum excerpt:

— Quote from: “Mike Foster” —I’ve been reading Why I Am Not A Christian, And Other Essays by Bertrand Russell. In it, he launches a fairly sarcastic – even scathing – attack on ‘nice people’ in a c1931 essay called . . .’Nice People’! He talks about people who think they are nice as often indirectly selfish, unappreciative, aloof, deceptive and inclined to exercise power indirectly through gossip etc.

It’s been a few years since this essay was published, but I am quite humbled at its timeliness. A great touchstone indeed.

Bertrand Russell

“Nice People” rather reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s bombastic apologist in Gulliver’s Travels. Swift’s finely pompous character is merrily describing the land of his birth. His pride at its prowess is figuratively exceptional: sufficient to pop his vest buttons, had he been wearing a vest. Let’s imagine they are gold buttons to polish the metaphor. So he extols the virtue of his beloved British Empire at considerable length. Russell waits, as did Swift, until the very end of his writing before telling us the salient distinguishing feature of these very nicely described Nice People. Unfortunately they have nasty minds.

Nice people may also be found among those affecting membership in “The Silent Majority.”

Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad

Me and the Grandmas
Martha Stephens’ New Book

Martha Stephens has presented us a gift: Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad. March 2015 from Peace Works Publishing. I am conflicted when approaching Amazon.com due to their treatment of workers, but I patronize Amazon for their community rewards, and I like their look inside feature. After looking inside you can learn about Martha’s other trail-blazing books and read reviews. The Grandmas includes “a garden of hope and repose.” Here you meet fellow denizens of an old golf path, sapiens and otherwise as the memoir taps wars of the writer’s childhood past and shows her compassion for victims of perpetual war. She gives the victims a voice. We are all complicit in this business, and yes it is a business. Then Martha returns to a regard for magnificent teachers who sustain us.

Kindle tells me that I have now read 40%: 60% remain to read, so I jump back in…”Shelley was returning the next day to Cold Spring, Kentucky, so we caught just that one glimpse…” Part II when Kindle tells me 0% remaining.

(Edited June 27 17:00)