Friday, April 30, 2004

Beta Testing Gmail

Because everyone seems to be worried about the ads tied to free email in Gmail, I thought I'd put in a few buzz words to find out, and guess what? It picked up my address from the sig file. This is what I put in, and I got tourist information for Cardiff...

Amazon books

William Burroughs

Neurolinguistic programming


Lord of the Rings



What will Google make of that?

Toby Philpott

Cardiff Libraries CMT

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Living, working and sleeping in the library...

I was much amused by the story of the guy who lived in the library at NYU, as a way to economize and get to stay in school.

They found his blog so the truth is out, but they have been very civilized about it and re-housed him for free.

Monday, April 26, 2004

And talking of change...

Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One. But only if, deep down, the light bulb is willing to change.

How Real is Real?

On my ebay ID page I have a picture of me reading a book with this title, back in 1986 (when I was 40!) It is a great book about communication and reality - not dry, but funny and thought-provoking.

I also recommend The Situation is Hopeless, but Not Serious (The Pursuit of Unhappiness)
It was from this book (and various texts of R.D.Laing) that I developed my resistance to the Catch-22 of the 'Be Spontaneous' command, i.e.

'The author finally unsheathes the most powerful weapon of all in his armamentarium, the "Be Spontaneous" Paradox. It's use is demonstrated below by two unhappiness experts: "Do you love me?"
"If you really loved me, you'd say so without my asking you."

Any request or command for a spontaneous act will cause other persons to be unable to perform the act spontaneously. Whether it's to: "Go to sleep", "Show me you love me", "Be happy", or even "Do a good job", the mere gracing of their ears with the request will make it difficult or impossible for them to perform as requested. This is the reason why actors before a stage performance are told to "Break a leg". Since breaking a leg can only happen spontaneously, it will not happen on command, and the actors are not stuck in the exquisite "Be Spontaneous" paradox of being wished to "Perform well tonight". Even the simple request by a photographer to "Smile" will evoke a faked or posed smile in place of a genuine one. True unhappiness enthusiasts are experts at the "Be Spontaneous" paradox. '

Paul Watzlawick doesn't seem to be around in his website much, but there is one page still active.

Happy Landings...

good to hear that Rachel and Keili have arrived safely back - and good to hear about all the news.

And who knew that Mr Copeland might now be into bellydancing.... I guess it's the 'coming thing''s always good to be on the wave...

Saturday, April 24, 2004

R.H.Blyth and the Zen Classics

When I lived in London, I used to go to the Camden Library a lot. It was very well stocked, and at the Holborn branch they had a complete set of R.H.Blyth's Haiku books (the four seasons) as well as his Zen in English Literature book. Wonderful, dry witty stuff - not the new age approach to oriental culture.

On the Web, this seems to be the quote from him which is most often remembered:

"Thus we see that the all important thing is not killing or giving life, drinking or not drinking, living in the town or the country, being unlucky or lucky, winning or losing. It is how we win, how we lose, how we live or die, finally, how we choose."

So I'll stick in a bit of his translation, too:


There is nothing difficult about the Great Way,
But, avoid choosing!
Only when you neither love nor hate,
Does it appear in all clarity.

A hair's breadth of deviation from it,
And deep gulf is set between heaven and earth.
If you want to get hold of what it looks like,
Do not be anti- or pro- anything.

The conflict of longing and loathing, --
This is the disease of the mind.
Not knowing the profound meaning of things,
We disturb our peace of mind to no purpose.

John Lilly crossed my mind today

I was much interested in Lilly's work. I have never swum with dolphins, but his books about dolphin research (done as if they were at least as smart as us, if not more so - rather than 'dumb animals') kept my spirits up throughoout the 1970s.

That such a smart brain might believe that something could be learned from taking LSD, rather than just lost, was helpful, too. Although I must admit his experiments with 'Vitamin K' (what he shyly called ketamine at the time) did seem to have taken him into some far out places. And he was putting implants into monkey brains when he started out, having survived a Catholic upbringing, and was into a high protein (meat) diet - so he wasn't entirely a 'nice man' or hippie guru....

"In the province of connected minds, what the network believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the network's mind there are no limits."

The Times they are a'changing

Cardiff Library has added an electronic newspaper search (for members only) to the website. There are various papers in digital form for the last ten years, but there is also The Times archive, going back a couple of hundred years. As a test I checked my family out. I found a tv listing for me working with Justin Case and Peter Wear in 1980; I found three theatre reviews which mentioned my mum favourably from the 50s; I found the actual listing for my dad's tv puppets in 1932. That was in the radio listings, and actually says that between 11-11.30 there will be a "Television broadcast by the Baird process (vision); A.R.Philpott;Rosemary Reynolds (dancer);Jack Crosbie (cartoons);Cyril Smith (accompanist) (Sound on 395.9m)"

Friday, April 23, 2004

Virus theme perpetuates itself

Following the theme of the blog I have actually left out one obvious link, and that is to Richard Dawkins' comment that religion is (or resembles) a virus. I hasten to point out that this is not to do with denying a sense of mystery at the root of universe, or even of mystical experiences - more to do with the passing on (unchanged) of arbitrary beliefs and rituals by society's institutions.

Memes - viruses of the mind

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

More on the Blog's title

These are Laurie Anderson's words to 'Language is a Virus' on Home of the Brave.

"Paradise Is exactly like
Where you are right now
Only much much
I saw this guy on the train
And he seemed to gave gotten stuck
In one of those abstract trances.
And he was going: "Ugh...Ugh...Ugh..."
And Fred said: "I think he's in some kind of pain.
I think it's a pain cry." And I said:
"Pain cry? Then language is a virus."
Language! It's a virus!
Language! It's a virus!
Well I was talking to a friend
And I was saying: I wanted you.
And I was looking for you.
But I couldn't find you.
I couldn't find you.
And he said: Hey!
Are you talking to me? Or are you just practicing
For one of those performances of yours?
Language! It's a virus!
Language! It's a virus!
He said: I had to write that letter to your mother.
And I had to tell the judge that it was you.
And I had to sell the car and go to Florida.
Because that's just my way of saying (It's a charm.)
That I love you.
And I (It's a job.) Had to call you at the crack of dawn (Why?)
And list the times that I've been wrong.
Cause that's just my way of saying
That I'm sorry. (It's a job.)
Language! It's a virus!
Language! It's a virus!
Paradise Is exactly like
Where you are right now
Only much much (It's a shipwreck,)
Better. (It's a job.)
You know? I don't believe there's such a thing as TV.
I mean - They just keep showing you The same pictures over and over.
And when they talk they just make sounds
That more or less synch up With their lips.
That's what I think!
Language! It's a virus!
Language! It's a virus!
Language! It's a virus!
Well I dreamed there was an island
That rose up from the sea.
And everybody on the island
Was somebody from TV.
And there was a beautiful view
But nobody could see.
Cause everybody on the island
Was saying: Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!
Because they all lived on an island
That rose up from the sea.
And everybody on the island
Was somebody from TV.
And there was a beautiful view
But nobody could see.
Cause everybody on the island
Was saying: Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Why? Paradise is exactly like
Where you are right now
Only much much better. "

Does that help?

Here's a neat spin-off

I mentioned Gmail (Google's new webmail concept) on April 5th. Now, as a regular blogger, I have been invited to test Google's new email concept in beta.

Far out!

If you want to help me test it you can write to me at

A lot more words to go with what is below

I have grabbed a larger chunk from RAW's book, from the section on language as a conspiracy:

Language as a mind-control device has been discussed by such philosophers as Vico (18th century), Stirner and Nietzsche (19th century), and Wittgenstein (lOth century). The most radical scientific critics of language in our time include Count Alfred Korzybski and Dr. Richard Bandler.

Korzybski, who grew up in a house where four languages were spoken (Polish, Russian, French, German) and learned English much later, observed that the words we use influence our perceptions and conceptions of the world-e.g., even in the same language, a book may be called "realistic" by one reader and "pornographic" by another, and each will tend to perceive/conceive the book that way more and more automatically if they repeat their label ( "realistic" or "pornographic") over and over. This underlies the mechanism of hypnosis, as Dr. Bandler discovered later. It also explains why you won't make much progress preaching radical equality to somebody who continually uses the word "nigger," or defending the first amendment to somebody who keeps saying "smut" (or "sexism").

But Korzybski made a more radical discovery, namely, that our perceptions/conceptions (reality-tunnels) are also shaped the structure of the language we use. A Native American, African, a Chinese, etc. - anyone using a non-Indo-Europe, language structure - will live in a different universe than those who only know Indo-European. Considering mathematics a language, Korzybski also claimed that the mathematically literate live in a different semantic system than those who only know verbal structures.
From these starting points, Korzybski arrived at a devastating diagnosis of most of our culture's habitual linguistic structures (which he called neurolinguistic structures because they act as the software with which our nervous systems, including our brains, process data). Our worst habit, he thought, lay in the constant assumption of identity implied in most uses of the verb "is. " Such sentences as "The photon is a wave," "The photon is a particle," "Beethoven is better than Mozart," "The thing I saw was a spaceship," would become, in Korzybski's system, "The photon behaved like a wave when measured with this experimental apparatus," "The photon behaved like a particle when measured with this different apparatus," "Beethoven seems better than Mozart to me," "The thing I saw seemed like a spaceship to me. "
English including "is" and its cognates ("was," "be," "will be," etc.) appears as E in the writing of some of Korzybski's students, and English without "is" and its cognates appears as E' (pronounced E-prime.)

I keep forgetting how shocking this blog's title might seem...

Here's a quote from "Everything is Under Control" by Robert Anton Wilson

Novelist William S. Burroughs, who studied general semantics with Korzybski, has developed these notions into the surrealist theme of language as an invading virus, found in most of his novels. This virus, according to Burroughs, creates our thoughts, feelings, and sense impressions. Without the virus metaphor, Korzybski would agree, and so would Dr. Richard Bandler.
Dr. Bandler, out of the study of Korzybski and the verbal structures used by Dr. Milton Erickson (often considered the hypnotist of his time), developed Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), which shows how verbal structures create the world we think we live in…….

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Magic Words

I came across a paper copy of Magic Words by Nalungiaq - a poem both Mick and I loved a lot - we found it in "Shaking the Pumpkin" Ed:Jerome Rothenburg (Doubleday/Anchor) but I see it has escaped to the Web:

Follow your Bliss!

I was always a great fan of Joseph Campbell. I read the Hero with a Thousand Faces in Crete; I worked my way through all four volumes of Masks of God; I have read smaller works like Myths To Live By. He suffered poverty and unemployment and simply retreated into studying all the great myths and legends, which he said were sufficient to pull him through. I remember an interview with a Macrobiotic magazine, who wanted to steer him towards diet, and he said his diet of books was his only yoga.

I mention this because I am digging back through old notes about the four elements, which originally led me to study astrology for a couple of years. Nothing to do with predictions, and cosmic influences, I hasten to add! I was fascinated by such a complex and ancient system of description of cycles - life cycles, planetary cycles - the measure of time, and the qualities of different times and seasons; and of psychological types, as well as phases of life. It was a rich source of myth - and it was story-telling that I was investigating.

I find it sad that people do not understand how myths can be 'truer' and more resonant than simple historical events.

It's worth looking at the 2003 Blavatsky Lecture if you are interested in myths and mystical experience (rather than dogma, whether religious or New Age).

"Every occultist worth his or her salt is a romantic, be they aware of this or not. Whether they be called William Blake, Eliphas Levi, or Mme. Blavatsky, and before them Valentinus, Basilides, and Ammonius Saccus, all such persons were primarily concerned not with passing on factual information but with engendering that majestic sense of wonder that one glimpses to a minor degree in sunsets, grand landscapes, fairy tales, and hoary legends, and to a major degree in great art and in the experience of the 'wholly other' in ecstasies of the spirit.
Mystics and Gnostics speak the language of myth, not of cold logic or scientific fact. Yet it must be remembered that some such persons have the misfortune to live in an age that has an inadequate appreciation of myth. The author of The Secret Doctrine belonged in this category. There was no word in the dictionary of nineteenth century intellectuals for 'psychological model of the cosmos'; C. G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, and their fellows had not come upon the scene yet to rehabilitate myth and symbol. What was H.P. Blavatsky to do?"

"Myth was the favourite and universal method of teaching in archaic times. [3]
Fairy tales do not exclusively belong to nurseries; all mankind - except those few who in all ages have comprehended their hidden meaning, and tried to open the eyes of the superstitious - have listened to such tales in one shape or other, and after transforming them into sacred symbols, called the product Religion. [4]
There are few myths in any religious system but have an historical as well as a scientific foundation. Myths ... are now found to be fables just in proportion as we misunderstand them; truths, in proportion as they were once understood. [5]" Isis Unveiled HPB

And in Joseph Campbell's last interview, with Bill Moyers, you'll find the Star Wars link which brings it all full circle:

"Moyers also finds the perfect hook for a global audience, examining Campbell's admiration of George Lucas's Star Wars saga as a popular tapestry of ancient myths, and Lucas himself is interviewed in a DVD bonus segment ("I'm not creating a new myth," he says, "but telling old myths in a new way"). Campbell's seemingly endless well of knowledge reaches a simple conclusion: we need myths to survive like we need oxygen to breathe, as a life force with which to understand our existence--past, present, and future."

Friday, April 16, 2004

It makes you wonder...

I just watched some martial arts demos on Eurosport. It's strange - I love physical prowess, but this weird mixture just puzzles me. If Bruce Lee wasn't just special effects then why does the grand final involve the bigger guy kicking the smaller guy around and winning on 'points'?

All the Wu Shu guys come on in Las Vegas glitter and fanny around with 'real swords' and other weapons (only one drop) - and it IS astounding (like good circus) but it's just show biz. And the 'breaking skills of Karate'? Well, at Oval House circus workshops in the 1970s people showed me how to break a slab of concrete on my chest while lying on a bed of nails (and hey, I ain't spiritual, it's physics) - hell, back in the early 60s (at my magic club) I broke a pole hanging on paper loops hanging off open razors (it's physics). We did walking on broken glass (not my kind of macho act) and all that jazz.

I am sure these guys are sincere, and they certainly are extremely fit, but as a show it has uneasy echoes of sado-masochistic stuff that appealed to Yukio Mishima. Isn't this Marine life entertainment (setting your balls on fire in the shower)?

So, I am not denying the skill, just the spiritual bullshit. Some people do fire-walking and get religion. Others do fire-walking and get a living. The first guy (in Mexico) who taught me to eat fire said I just needed to believe him it was going to be OK the FIRST TIME. I did, I did it, and it fed me for the following decade.

Like that dare that made me run my finger through a candle flame when I was a kid.

I've seen strong men acts you wouldn't believe. Bending 6" nails with hands; tearing a telephone directory in half (I managed it a couple of times after I was shown a few tricks); tearing a pack of cards in half (same principles, but I couldn't do it). I've seen a guy bend a long strip of metal stuck into his larynx...(nice physics and a lot of chutzpah).

I'm not putting it down - it's dangerous (don't try this at home) but not a lot of it is 'spiritual' unless I misunderstood.

And then the Shaolin Monks came on. They're good. I mean, they are astounding. Same quibbles hold as all of the above, but they are REALLY good at it. But so are a lot of my circus friends and freaks.


Here's Bob again:

Too much of nothing
Can turn a man into a liar,
It can cause one man to sleep on nails
And another man to eat fire.
Ev'rybody's doin' somethin',
I heard it in a dream,
But when there's too much of nothing,
It just makes a fella mean.

Or, in terms of - passing our time down here - should it be:

Ev'rybody's building the big ships and the boats,
Some are building monuments,
Others, jotting down notes,
Ev'rybody's in despair,
Ev'ry girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Waving to Keili

Hi - found your posts in 'Spooking The Herd' and gave brief reply. Sorry to hear the back is still bad, and glad you have been updating your corrupted models - I keep on working on that stuff, too.

I also feel better about the surprising copy of Word Virus, with Masonic bookmarks, that just appeared on my desktop in a puff of yellow smoke.

Ah, spring!

Lovely sunny day, and a day when it would be better working for a circus than a library. I could be out there, drinking coffee in the sun, tightening the rigging with my shirt off, doing a bit of warming up and practising.

Hey ho, instead I will go into a sealed, air-conditioned room with permanent background hum, and fluorescent lights. Today it may feel like a prison.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Conflicting impressions

I have a lot of trouble matching up my sensibilities to the world. I can end up in an all-nighter arguing about the best way to manipulate your resources within the UK, so as to be able to retire to a country cottage with roses around the door - (I doubt it is easy, or even possible for me) - and at the same time defending what I might do if I ever get to be 'old' without a 'pension' - and then I go read a book like "A Mathematician Plays the Market" (which shows a rational maths person getting drawn into the feeding frenzy and irrational beliefs about easy money) - and finally open my email from the Open Democracy site about the appalling plight of people in Falluja - right this moment in present time - which makes even a dribbling retirement in a bed-sit on an inadequate pension sound like luxury. Because we are not living in a war zone.

To tell people they shouldn't make plans because the world is a random and terrible place, that humans are unpredictable and (often) untrustworthy is seen as talking down the future - as though just trying to be accurate creates a negative self-fulfilling prophecy...

There's a grain of truth in it, of course, but as our modern market is all about confidence and faith I suppose people really do believe they can 'wish' it into an upward spiralling self-fulfilling prophecy. That's the wonderful illusion for the innumerate that is the basis of chain letters, pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes

PS (added later): the cover story for New Scientist this week turns out to be about how the human belief factor is more important in the stock market than rational decision making.... spooky.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Beautiful Thoughts

Sorry about the irascible rant (cor, look at dem fancy words...) anyway, I thought I would pass on this nicer piece - found chalked up on the Wall Newspaper outside Shakespeare and Co in Paris - a message from Sylvia Beach:

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about the little shops of the Latin Quarter 'with their shop windows filled with old books and etchings where nobody seemed to enter and the proprietor could be seen reading peacefully, indifferent to worldly success. Beside him lies a dog, or perhaps a cat. I wish sometimes to buy such a shop window for myself and sit beside it with a dog for twenty years.'
Rilke's statement was echoed by Anäis Nin when she told me she would like to lead the life I lead in a bookstore on the banks of the Seine River in Paris.

Oh dear - more late night rants

I do wish people wouldn't project their own fear of poverty, old age, sickness, loneliness and death onto me. (I have enough fears of my own, but I deal with them my own way). After all, Buddha left quite a few tips, after his encounter with these inevitable aspects of life. Check it out, seriously.. Or just try the cartoon version, for the Self in a hurry.

"What'll you do when you get old with no pension?" 'Probably die in humiliating circumstances'

"How can you joke about dying?" 'It gets easier when you turn 50 and lose a few friends.'

"How can you live without money?" 'How can you live with it?'

"I wish you'd stop claiming to be old" (say people almost 20 years younger) - being old isn't even an excuse for having less energy and enthusiasm these days - I suppose I should be dyeing my hair, and going down to the gym every day to 'keep in trim'.

How ghastly - even old age is no longer an acceptable reason to let yourself go, and to stop caring what other people think. Boy, do I envy those old guys sitting around in a taverna in some Greek village, playing backgammon without an ambition in the world; with no sense of adventures left undone; no sense of opportunities missed; feeling no need to compete with the next generation of Adonis's.

So, I will be cutting my hair short (boyish) and shaving off my grey beard for the Spring (pre-puberty look) and rushing around chivvying the hungover youth to 'get up and DO something' (and that's just this morning, when we were supposed to go rowing at 10 a.m. apparently... It's 9.06 right now, and these young things - in their 40s - don't look ready for it yet, after a night of drinking....)

And some young thing in a pub, the other day, told me my beard looked 'distinguished', and asked if I was a 'lecturer'.

'More like a lecherer' chuckled my drinking companion.

Wayang Golek - Javanese puppets

Vonny and Lance answered in no time to my query about a puppet someone I know is in the process of restoring.

I found them with a little searching in Google - and my previous knowledge of puppets - and my Dad's Dictionary of Puppets, etc. Their site looked the best informed, and displayed the highest quality of work, so I am very grateful to them for taking the time to enlighten me.

For future reference, if you have similar enquiries, they run a forum, which is probably the better way to approach a puzzle like this.

This particular character is one of the monkeys - an Anggada. Go look at the pictures of the other characters, too, and video clips, etc.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Took these off the front page...

but I'll park them here...these are a few other pages which don't link in yet - like My Heroes; the start of an index page for the site; a page for my favourite photos; also hanging around are my defunct Lyric of the Day page; a hoax UFO site that Keili and I whipped up; a picture of a decade of earth time bodged up for my birthday, from one of the cards I made to remind myself of the 8-circuit Leary Theory of the brain; a start on Belief Systems,

W.C.Fields and the Martian Brothers

I found this obituary about The Great Man, by J.B.Priestley in 1947 - fits many clowns:

I saw him long before he found his way to Hollywood, before 1914, when he was touring the halls in England with his juggling and trick billiard table act. He was very funny even then, and I seem to remember him balancing a number of cigar boxes and staring with horror at a peculiar box, in the middle of the pile, that wobbled strangely, as if some evil influence were at work. All his confidence, which you guessed from the first to be a desperate bluff, vanished at the sight of this one diabolical box, which began to threaten him with the nightmare of hostile and rebellious things.
And this, I fancy, was the secret of his huge and enchanting drollery though, oddly enough, it seems to have been missed - that he moved, warily in spite of a hastily assumed air of nonchalant confidence, through a world in which even inanimate objects were hostile, rebellious, menacing, never to be trusted. He had to be able to juggle with things, to be infinitely more dexterous than you or I need be, to find it possible to handle them at all. They were not, you see, his things, these commonplace objects of ours. He did not belong to this world, but had arrived from some other and easier planet.
All the truly great clowns - and Fields was undoubtedly one of them have the same transient look. They are not men of this world being funny. They are serious personages - perhaps musicians like Grock, ambassadors with attendants like the Fratellini, or hopeful inventor-promoters like Fields - who have, through some blunder on the part of a celestial Thomas Cook, landed from the other side of Arcturus on the wrong planet. They make the best of a bad business, but what is easy for us - merely picking up a bag of golf clubs or moving a chair - is horribly difficult for them. Things, that give us no trouble offer them obstacles and traps, for nothing here is on their side.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Backgammon - and other wonderful stuff

14 of us got together and played today. The Cardiff contingent came and went, and Alf won again.

Luke came in second, as a late entry from Somerset, and Tim came third.

I guess I am happy at 5th out of 14.....

And thanks for everything, Sephton - who knew that "It's been through a hippie" would become a guarantee of quality....

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


Ah well - Julien Temple's movie about Coleridge and Wordsworth was on the tv, and I have video'd it, although I only got to watch a little. Spring is in the air, and love and delirium hold sway.

For those of you who don't know the immediate connection, Coleridge spent some time in the Somerset village where I have spent some of my happiest hours. I still visit there, I have lived there.

My friend Mick had some delirious times writing there, when we lived in the same house. We always had a soft spot for Sam Coleridge, even though I can't honestly say I could quote him much.
"Here's Julien Temple in an interview: "Coleridge was exploring the territory of the mind a hundred years before Freud. He took amazing leaps. He was much more than just the first junky of letters, he was a very modern thinker. And a lot of the concepts that are key to our world were his concepts. Psychosomatic is his word, the suspension of disbelief is his phrase, for example."
The best I could say is that he feels like a real person - and the gap between the 18th Century and the 20th Century seemed to seeing Julien portraying Coleridge having flash-forwards (to Hinckley Point power station and oil-slicked seabirds) as Mick and I then had flashes backwards seems completely appropriate to me.

Perhaps it's time to break out a new molecule - what have you got? Salvia Divinorum? Somewhere I have the quote to show that Coleridge wasn't just into exotic Opium - I'll dig it out for you - meanwhile - to lovers everywhere - peace and passion - reason is not everything - being sensible isn't all it's cracked up to be....Sam also used to take hemp for his rheumatism.....(medicinal uses in the 18th Century)

And men who feel things too much, and get emotional and crazy, like the Romantic Poets, may appear to be just self-indulgent, self-pitying 'pillocks' to our brisk, hard, present sensibility, but I wouldn't trade my inner self for anyone else's:

People tell me it's a sin
To know and feel too much within.
I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring.
She was born in spring, but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

Simple Twist of Fate Bob Dylan

Copyright © 1974 Ram's Horn Music

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

More head-banging with Norton Security

I really don't know why I stick to this product, unless it's 'better the devil you know, than McAfee's slowing down your internet connection'.

I should have just subscribed for new virus definitions, and stayed with the 2003 version which worked fine... started playing with the 2004 upgrade, and the reviews (most of them) from suddenly seem all too true. Grrrr!

Anyway - just like last year, I am going to have to uninstall/reinstall, and I remember what a pain that was to do cleanly. Surely I shouldn't be fiddling around in the registry in this day and age?

Why am I telling you this? Well, I have to tell someone, as I get reduced to tears of frustration by this kind of design. As for the Help Pages at Symantec, they have to have been designed by Kafka - the tree diagram behind it all must look hilarious. To install this you have to first uninstall that, to uninstall that you will need to check out these pages, these pages say you will need to do this, then this, then this, then this - now after those four things I have completely forgotten why I was doing them ah yes, you had to do them before doing that, what was that again? ah yes, tell you what, as I am getting lost here I will print out the pages as I go - now I have a bunch of cross-referenced paper, all I have to do is remember the order in which these things MUST be done OR ELSE. Or else, what? Back to the loop.....

It should go up as an example 'help site' of how NOT to treat people when they are already one of the less literate reviewers said (although whether he was just young, dyslexic or simply apoplectic with rage and unable to type is hard to tell) - while you are unplugged from the Internet trying to figure this out, you are certainly safe.....

Monday, April 05, 2004

Well, well, well....

Paul and I were talking just the other day about why Google didn't offer an email service, and - guess what? - it's in Beta.

It's free (relevant ad-based) and they are going to offer 1Gb of storage (!) and allow 10Mb messages - serious competition to Yahoo and Hotmail.

For details - go look at

Who are your parents, really?

Well, anyone who has spoken to me knows how proud I am of my parents, even though they didn't apparently do much of what is expected of parents in our culture...

My dad's theosophical interests are the most obviously unusual - and led me to being a vegetarian from birth, and (rather than an atheist/agnostic) never contaminated by odd religious beliefs - just because they were traditional, simply encouraged in that natural pantheism/animism of the child - I still apologise to snails if I step on them, I say good morning to all the sparrows who sing me to work - yup, I am crazy.

Anyway - when I talk about my humanist/agnostic mum I usually explain about how her most valued beliefs came from her deep study of Shakepeare and The Greeks. She wasn't wrong in pointing out that (say) Freud was just interpreting their insights, more a literary critic than a scientist, and that there was 'nothing new under the sun'. (Think Oedipius, Dionysus, Hamlet, etc). And Jung mined astrology and alchemy and such for his insights. Of course, Sheila (being a Stoic) was a bit disappointed when she found out I was from the Cynic school, and Diogenes was my hero, but hey...

I remembered a book I'd inherited (lost in the great flood) and despaired of tracking it down - it was one she had received as a prize when at school. It suggested that Shakespeare's "The Tempest" was a model of Initiation. I had told someone about it the other day. I put the Tempest and Initiation in Google and was ASTOUNDED that it found a review of it in one go! Even better, there is a copy in the library I work in!

You may find other relevant material about the Perennial Philosophy in this ebook.


Reminder to self

I have spent more than I earn this month, so I am leaving this reminder to go back to visit the Impermanent Press after payday, to pick up a copy of MFU, a couple of Robert Anton Wilson tapes, and maybe the Philip K Dick book (doesn't that wet your appetite for a visit?)


Ah well, I said it was a note to myself.....

And don't forget this warning from the Guns & Dope party

Warning: All email may now be read by law enforcement agencies,
as NONE is PRIVATE since the passage of the USA/Patriot Act.
Remember the Miranda warnings:
You do not have to send email.
Anything you email may be used against you in a military tribunal.
You have the right to have an attorney present while composing email.
If you cannot afford a full-time attorney, you're fucked.

Guns&Dope website

Sunday, April 04, 2004


Although I tinker with my front page, rather than leave it as a familiar welcome, there are bits I obviously never look at. When adding a link to Douglas Harding's Headless Way I noticed that I had got Tranquility Base spelled with two 'l's. I have no idea how long it has been like that - and apologies to anyone else (like me) with a proof-reader's eye, to whom misprints and misspellings are physically uncomfortable.

In my own defence, I can only say that Front Page (a template of which is what I am using for this lazy website) spell checks in US English, and I can only assume I believed it one day, instead of sticking to my guns. (We argue a lot -- about traveling, and modeling, and organising, etc)...I almost accept the z for s these days, but I hate those double 'l's.

hey ho so it goes.

And I guess all my dyslexic friends really don't care....nor my US friends, come to that.

The Beauty of Indifference

I have been reading a lot about Marcel Duchamp recently, which is fascinating stuff. He seems to have had a wonderful detached attitude which I recognise (I am not claiming to be as talented, intelligent, attractive, or intriguing). He seems to have kept his life to a bare minimum - considering property and belongings as encumbrances - it's possible he saw close relationships that way, too.

Of course, nowadays, when we think we know what 'normal' human beings are (or should be) we have a definition for everyone, so perhaps he had a tendency to Aspergers Syndrome (high functioning autism - one distinguishing characteristic -feeling like an alien on this planet....) Who can tell, certainly not me.

When I first came across Marchand du Sel (salt seller) I was delighted. And he often reminded me of my dad, too, with that enigmatic, knowing smile - and the chess.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Hey Phew Wow

I have stumbled through these few days rather....didn't really recover from the cold before coming back into work...but it has been kind of fun doing end-of-the-year statistics....even though it is easy to end up cross-eyed with spreadsheets and data and draft notes and reports.

It's also quite easy to get in a logic tangle while defining parameters for queries (We need a total for items which were added to stock between 1 April 2003 and 31 March 2004 which ARE books but ARE NOT children's books, have been borrowed at least five times AND are currently available....)

Ah, the dogsbody work backstage at the library, but it's worth it:

Even the most misfitting child
Who's chanced upon the library's worth
Sits with the genius of the Earth
And turns the key to the whole world.
Ted Hughes July 1997

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Notes for an autobiography - still thinking 'book'

Well, I know this is a great sprawling mess of a website, but it just grew.

I like books - I like skimming through, going to the Index at the back, the Contents at the front, chapter listings, etc. Speed reading and browsing non-fiction is a skill (and a pleasure) in itself, and I guess I haven't really adapted to the new medium entirely...

Julie has a new job (Hooray!) but has something quite seriously wrong with one of her feet (Boo!)

I am having a crash course in Excel, while Paul M shows me how to gather and display end of year statistics for the library...
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