Monday, February 28, 2005

Monday, The Anti-Friday

Jay & Dread's One Liners:
"It's funny how things outta left field come outta the right brain."

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Attributed in its entirety to:
Neal Stephenson
The System of the World,
Vol. III of The Baroque Cycle

"Against those windows he made a perfect Fopp-silhouette, like something snipped out of black paper by an ingenious miniaturist on the Pont-Neuf. From the high-styled ringlets of this periwig down to the bows on his shoes, back up the curves of his well-muscled calves and the perfectly cut skirts of his coat, traveled the eyes of Jack. He wore a scabbard and a small-sword, and Jack thought of flattening him with a swing of the mighty chain, and snatching the weapon. But this would boot him nothing and so to think of it was idle. Jack snapped out of this hyper-violent reverie, and tried to make conversation.
. . .
"'All right, " said Jack, "I knew we'd get around to this, and I am ready for it. You are a tedious and obvious bloke, Mr. White. So I need only ask myself, what's the most tedious and obvious plan that a man could devise? Why, to have me done away with. Not much of a threat, as one month from to-day, I've an appointment with Mr. Jack Ketch at Tyburn Cross; and there is no way you could murder me here that could be worse than how he'll carry it off there. So you are powerless to issue threats. You must, therefore, offer inducements.'"



Coffee in the morning
Listening to the birds
They scratch their beaks
And I my pen
Growing light declares another day
And I find myself not at the end
What yesterday holds
I give away
What tomorrow binds
Is yet in fray

I like a canvass with lines
I like it in the sun
Writing what happened
And what’s just begun
It doesn’t matter if this is good
I’m writing because I should

The wakeful hours are a mix of dreams
Water, Ice and Steam
Transformation knows an unrecognizable truth
This changes as the knots are loose

A slip knot is happy
Like slippery feet
That carry giggles over the ice
Not like walt disney’s frozen ponds
But more the shinning sidewalk,
Mailman’s bane
Without subversive salt
The sane straight concrete world of men made slick
Allowing a dangerous glee

I don’t ask for time
I have plenty
I don’t ask for clarity
I have too much
But love
Willing the beauty
Displaying the dragon’s teeth
Turning the telescope backwards
And pointing to what we thought we heard
In the crunching, clicking, stalking darkness outside
It’s a box of candy for your bowl

Tonight my dreams will remake today
Alter my memories
Planting needles in my hay
Shinning spikes
Warm in the dryness
Making secret plans
For the empty river bed

The late morning shadow approaches
And I stay ahead
With my expiring coffee
The coolness, stillness, encroaches
Threatening to numb my fingers into lead

Tonight my dreams will find me ready
My pillow soft
My head heavy
And in the dark
I’ll dream of flying through suns
The worlds below in desperate shadow
My ship their blip
My dream their unknown monster
Casting ripples in the starlight
From the darkmatter unseen sideways somewhere

From the deep
On the bottom
At the lowest depth
Where pressures encase
Push and prolong death
There are harder creatures than we
And these monsters look up at us
Our faces backlit and smiling free
In the loosely pack water we call air
And they think,
What soft creatures they must be
What free lives they must see
Why would they spend the day
Staring down at us?

Between depth
From one fathom to the next
Places make their people
And their habits in their nests

And I think this is nonsense
But I don’t mind
Like the fisherman making his 98th cast
It is the last fish he caught
And the next he’ll bring to our loose, windy world
That he holds in respect
Lazily grinning, thinking
Trophies are for fools

I just like to hunt the Wumpas

Perhaps we and everything
Are but shadows cast by some steady nova
Thoughts floating up and around
As bubbles blown from the soul
Pipe in its mouth, gurgling beneath our bathtubs
They way things are seen from without
Are perhaps created solely from within

How can a nose be
Cold in the sunlight
This is February
How can a mind be
Alone in the crowd
This is tributary

The Mobb runs together eventually
From drop to pond to sea
Will you share a river with me?
Not Joan nor Johnny
But only on this balcony
Where in the night may we meet
Some fathoms separating
The ocean from my feet
With what name do you favor your shadow?
What waves of the sea do you watch and believe?

I hear a rumbling in the garage next door
I park on the street
And so feel like a whore
I hear a bird in the bush next to me
I sing not so sweet
And so feel like a flea

Animate and still
Like sunlight crossing my window sill
We clean our windows and so feel free
But it is a lie
A conjugation key

Cigarettes in my hand
Burn like a fuse
Because for fun
My body I use

Yoda knew the truth about grammar
It’s only the tree in the forest falling
Just a glamour the ears of men bridging

And so I liken my self in pitiful analogy
That is I
As I see
The mix continues its swirling stir
Pieces, particles, and their attractive blur
One for you
One for me
In this malformed soliloquy

I scratch the skin under my clothes
A rippling relief demarking my fingers and me
What matters is only that I fill these pages
These days
Like water in the lungs
Rhyming badly
And worn down evolutionarily

Too many adverbs
Too many lys
Foul the soup
And force the motions off their stoop
The street interrupts my footpath
Never joining
Conjoining at last

First the message is named hello
And they wave their hands from below
A lonely lighthouse loves
What ships cross the invisible waves
And then streak, then strike,
The light flashes on their course
The rocks or blackness
Guess which is worse

And soon this coffee morning
The sunlight will wink out behind
This house that looms over me
Making my warm spot here
Ancient history

Glad hands start the beginnings
Of an afternoon fire
For this now
For this year
For this yarn
For me
For a time far short of eternity
But forever means little to the mortal being
It’s enough to be here scratching myself
And writing bad poetry

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Friday, February 25, 2005

Well, A Solution to "Hello!" At Last

the answer is (drummmmmm roll):

which is a different personal picture posting program that perfectly performs my priorities pronto

(I alliterate when I'm happy.)

So, let the era of vision begin; let the new day dawn and cast its invigorating glory upon our mortal retinas... Baby, we've got pics!

Mimas Blues

Mimas Blues, originally uploaded by helskel.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dad! Welcome To The Information Superhighway (please, no littering)

I just wanted to give a shout out to my dad,
who finds himself near some Internet access this weekend.

Hi Dad!
pinch that granddaughter of yours for me

Hi Sis! Hi Rocrac!

and here's another:
***Jay & Dread's One Liners***
"You know what Mars needs? Global Warming.
You know what humans are good at? Setting stuff on fire for drill
and smoking up the joint. Seems like a match made in the heavens to me."

(ok, that's more than one line.)

Hello--- "Hello!" sucks


Rant time.

"Hello!" is the only program a blogger on Blogspot may use to post pictures.

"Hello!" works for shit.

I know. 'Such language!'
But I think 'works for shit' most accurately portrays the functionality of "Hello!"

A picture is worth a thousands words.
And with the assistance of "Hello!"
I'd just better keep typing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

More Editorial!

A dear friend commented that my previous post needed more editorial.


How about I post the thoughts of someone else? Without their knowledge?

The Drive to Discover
By James Cameron
I have a confession to make. I made the movie Titanic because I thought I could talk the studio into letting me dive and film the real ship, 12,500 feet down in the North Atlantic. I was an avid wreck diver, and it was the ultimate shipwreck. Making the movie itself was actually secondary in my mind. So when I proposed the movie, I pitched the Titanic dives as a marketing hook - and the studio bought it. I figured, if I got killed, it would be before all the sets were built and the actors hired, so the studio wouldn't be out much. My crew and I built our own deep-ocean 35-mm camera system, designed to withstand 10,000 psi of ambient pressure, and in September 1995, we made 12 dives to the wreck using two Russian Mir submersibles. We brought along Snoop Dog, a remotely operated vehicle we had built, which maneuvered around the wreck, getting footage. The plan was to fake the interior shots later, because it was too dangerous for Snoop to go inside. But on the last dive, my curiosity overcame my judgment and we piloted it down the grand staircase to explore B deck and D deck. I'll never forget the thrill and wonder of discovery, watching the video monitor inside that cramped and freezing submersible more than 2 miles down, as the ROV's lights revealed fully preserved woodwork, gold-plated chandeliers, even a marble fireplace. Some of the Titanic's elegance still remained, hidden deep in the wreck.
I was hooked, infected by the deep-sea-exploration virus. After the success of the movie, I found myself less interested in Hollywood filmmaking and more interested in the challenges of deep-ocean photography and exploration. We returned to the Titanic site in 2001 with our digital 3-D camera system to capture stereo images of the wreck. We also used fiberoptic-spooling bots to survey the ship, giving marine archaeologists their first view ever inside. (No one had bothered to photograph the ship in 1912 because they didn't expect it to sink on its maiden voyage; all those pictures you've seen are actually of the sister ship, the Olympic.) The resulting film, Ghosts of the Abyss, was the first Imax 3-D film to be shot digitally.
Since then we have made four more deep-ocean expeditions, including a trip to explore the wreck of the German battleship Bismarck, 16,000 feet down in the North Atlantic, as well as numerous dives at hydrothermal vent sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the East Pacific Rise. In the last three years, I've spent seven months at sea and gone on 41 deep-submersible dives. I have a wife and four children. Some might question the risks, but I've made my peace with it.
Whenever explorers go into hostile realms, whether in space or in the sea, we live or die by our machines. A big part of the appeal is the engineering challenge - pitting the intelligence and creativity of the team against the implacable elements. There is no more quintessentially human act than to use our consciousness to adapt ourselves to environments in which we could not otherwise survive. It's what we do better than any other species on Earth. Still, there is always that moment when the hatch is closing and a microsecond's thought says, "Maybe this is the last time I'll see daylight." I always say the same thing to those gathered outside as I enter the sub: "See you in the sunshine." It has become a lucky touchstone, a little prayer that we will return safely from the eternal darkness. It's important to acknowledge that the ocean is capricious, that it can give the most remarkable gifts, but it can also take away without warning.
These dives have taught me one overwhelming truth: There is so much we don't know. On every dive I see something I never could have imagined. A diaphanous jellyfish 7 feet across. A pink octopus with wings on its head. Blind shrimp swarming inches from water hot enough to melt lead. Once in a while I see and film something no one else has ever seen, and those are moments of profound satisfaction. Nothing the artifice of Hollywood has to offer can compete with the thrill of something this exciting and 100 percent real.
There are still untold mysteries down there in the dark, enough to fill a hundred years of exploration. Certainly enough to intrigue and compel me for the rest of my life. But of course the truly infinite frontier is in the other direction.
Space is a vacuum. There is, by definition, nothing there. When we talk about exploring space, we really mean exploring the objects careening around in space - planets, moons, the occasional comet. So space is a hurdle, an ocean that must be crossed to reach a destination. Unfortunately, for three-quarters of the space age it has been treated as a destination in and of itself.
The last time humans crossed space to a destination was the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. In the 32 years since, no man has seen, with his own eyes, Earth as that beautiful, solitary blue sphere, and - reality check - no woman has ever seen it at all. We've been only to low Earth orbit since 1972, and from that altitude of 220 miles, looking at the 7,900-mile-diameter Earth is like peering at a basketball with your cheek pressed against it. Yes, you'll see curvature, but you're not seeing the whole thing. We've spent 32 years "exploring space" in low Earth orbit. Exploring nothing. To stay in orbit you have to go 17,000 mph, or Mach 25. So we've spent three decades going nowhere fast.
It's taken people a long time to wake up to this fact, but we finally have. Now Exploration with a capital E is in the air again, in what will hopefully become some kind of renaissance. Eleven billion hits to NASA's Web site during the Spirit and Opportunity rovers' exploration of Mars is an astounding groundswell of support. NASA is still blinking in surprise, trying to figure out why people love the rovers yet care less about the construction of the International Space Station than a new interchange outside Cleveland. It is only now sinking in that one is exploration and the other is, well construction.
As we mourned the Columbia astronauts, they were frequently referred to in media as "explorers." The real tragedy of that accident is that they were not explorers. They were boldly going where hundreds had gone before. They were researchers working in a lab that happened to be in orbit. Did their research have value? Of course, but only in the sense that all science has value. Was it worth the price they paid? Not by a light-year. Did they die in vain? Only if we don't learn and take to heart a lesson - not that foam can peel off the external tank and damage the reinforced carbon leading edge of the wing, or even that NASA culture needs to change. But that even after four decades of technical progress, travel to and from space is inherently dangerous, so only go there for a good reason.
In my mind, there is only one reason good enough, and that's exploration. That means going somewhere, not in circles. But actually going somewhere, like the moon or Mars, is considered too risky and expensive. Those high school touchdowns scored by Neil and Buzz and the others are trophies that have been gathering dust, but we still fantasize that we are the same team we were then. The reality is that we have become risk averse, willing to coast on the momentum of past accomplishments. If we study the problem, build tools and systems, and so on for the next 50 years, we can jolly ourselves along that we are still those clever Americans who put a man on the moon back when was that again?
If the next step is to send humans to Mars, then we must reexamine our culture of averting risk and assigning blame. We don't need any miracle breakthroughs in technology. The techniques are well understood. Sure, it takes money, but distributed over time it doesn't require any more than we're spending now. What is lacking is the will, the mandate, and the sense of purpose.
Something interesting is happening right now as you're reading this. NASA is scrambling, under presidential orders, to prepare for a renewed vision of human exploration beyond Earth. They've generated a plan, and it's a good one. I've sat on the NASA Advisory Council for the past 18 months, which is surely the most interesting period since the Apollo days. NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe has fundamentally reorganized the agency. NASA is figuring out post-shuttle solutions to get people into orbit, how to do the heavy lifting to get big payloads (like interplanetary vehicles) up there, and all the other critical tasks to create human exploration space-systems architecture.
The public understandably asks how this will be paid for. The answer comes with some good news and some bad. The bad news is that space shuttle operations and space station construction and operations (in other words, current human spaceflight) is sucking up about $8 billion of NASA's $15 billion annual budget. The good news is that when the shuttle is retired (2010) and the space station completes its mission (2014), $8 billion a year will be freed up without adding a dime to the NASA budget. Over time, one funding wedge tapers, and the other widens. From 2014 to 2024, you've got a cool $80 bil to send folks to Mars.
The problem is that government projects are subject to bloat. Fortunately, the other recent change is that the private sector has started to really flex its muscle in space. Burt Rutan's flights to win the Ansari X Prize are a milestone in human spaceflight. Does Rutan's technology work for real exploration beyond Earth's orbit? Not directly. But it demonstrates that small companies like Rutan's Scaled Composites, Elon Musk's SpaceX, and Bigelow Aerospace can have a place at the table of human spaceflight in the future. One of the strongest recommendations of the Aldridge Commission, the presidential panel convened to review NASA's exploration plan, is that private enterprise should be made an integral part of the solution.
Everybody talks about the cost of going to space. But what about the cost of not going? Where would our economy be if the space race of the '60s had not happened? What if we hadn't been forced to come up with more-powerful computing to calculate trajectories on the fly while guys were on the far side of the moon in titanium cans? Where will we be in 20 years if we don't do something that captures the public imagination and inspires kids to give a damn about science and engineering again? What if we become Rome, blinded by the image of our own superiority while other younger, more vigorous cultures supplant us?
You may be asking: Shouldn't we solve our problems here on Earth before we go into space? There will never be a time when all people are satisfied, when all wrongs are addressed. We live better, more luxuriously, and longer now than at any other time in history. Cook, da Gama, and Magellan left behind shores wracked by death, disease, and social injustice - but they went, and their societies benefited. Our problems must be solved, but not at the expense of exploration.
Exploration is not a luxury. It defines us as a civilization. It directly or indirectly benefits every member of society. It yields an inspirational dividend whose impact on our self-image, confidence, and economic and geopolitical stature is immeasurable.
So, as the ones paying the tax bills, we have to shout out that we want this! Our shout has to be loud enough that in the mind of the politician, that fear-based processing algorithm, the fear of going becomes less than the fear of not going.
What are we waiting for? Let's go.


The Path Becomes Clearer By Running Into The Guardrails


I went to the Colo.Sci.Cafe meeting at the Wynkoop last night.
subject: Neanderthals

It was a pretty good meeting. The speakers were aware of their speaking time for once, and the beer was tasty as usual. I bet you want to see my notes (random collection of quotes from the lectern and around our table of listeners).


Too bad, you have no choice:

Where are the Neanderthals?

"You may as well not talk to me. You're on the wrong side."
(tapping his right ear)
"I don't have the reading material!"
-older couple sitting next to us

"If I keep turning around, I'm going to get dizzy and fall down."

Neanderthal: large FACES, large NOSES, protruding lower face;

adapting to glacial, cold environments;

they were capable individuals, effective hunters;

fossils show same injury patterns as rodeo riders, ie. they got close to large animals;

not much evidence for art, though they did color some things;

did bury their dead, at least once in a while;

maintained injured (though... no evidence of caring for leg injuries...if you couldn't walk, you were done) and old people, ie. some individuals survived their teeth;

less likely to think about things;

coexisted in Europe with homo sapiens for approximately 10,000 years
"One wouldn't think genocide would take ten thousand years."
(That was the most revealing comment of the night in my opinion...
we humans get so good at things.)

"Get another beer."

"Twin studies in India, ya know, a billion people, a lot of twins"

"I don't know much about the brain."

Executive Functions: sophisticated decisions, one gene's difference

Strangers at a table
10 people
4 conversations

Neanderthals were laconic (look it up),
lacked skill of thinking in the subjunctive
or affecting themselves with personal ornamentation.

"typical objects"

"suite of behaviors"

"As I understand it, but you can correct me."
-host of Colo.Sci.Cafe

Two stage change for modern humans; brains took a bit longer to sophisticate.

Ice ages and the brain
Environment and change
Analogy and thought experiments
(Reflective qualities of consciousness, episodic thinking, time travel in your head)

After the meeting, over more beer, we wondered:
Was Humor an emergent property of consciousness?
-Irony is paradox
-Humor is the realization of irony
-To laugh at a paradox is to hold what should or normally happens in your head, along side the inappropriate, opposite something that shouldn't or wouldn't normally happen
-The brain experiences tension from holding such conflicting scenarios
-The release of such tension is Laughter

They say the ability to play and joke is a sign of intelligence in animals (otters, dogs, etc.).
Maybe getting the joke was one of our first steps toward consciousness?

Ok, enough heavy, random crap for ya?


And no, I don't know what this blog is about either.

the following is something I'll try to end most every post with...

***Jay & Dread's One-Liners***

"When THEY control flint, we're fucked."