Lazy Luddite Log

27.6.06

Quota

I have been looking over saved messages in my yahoo account and coming across old 'signature' quotes I had appended to my messages in the past. Now (ever since I got this blog) my sig is simply a link to Lazy Luddite Log but before that I would have quotes at the end of my messages and only change the quote every several months. For interest sake I will put all those past sig quotes here...


I don't know what it is I'm looking for
And until it's found I won't be sure

- From 'On the Shoreline' by Genesis


Abiline (adjective):
Descriptive of the pleasing coolness
on the reverse side of the pillow.

- From 'The Deeper Meaning of Liff'
by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd


And he that breaks a thing to find out
what it is has left the path of wisdom.

- Gandalf the Grey in 'Lord of the Rings'


A society that will trade a little liberty for a
little order will lose both, and deserve neither.

- Thomas Jefferson


They all have some significance to me in one way or another. The Genesis line resonated with me at a time in which I felt like life was some kind of maze in which I was lost (this feeling returns from time-to-time). Naturally it works better as part of the overall song.

The redefining of Abiline is important to me as it says to me that there are things for which we lack words but still all share as experiences. Till the moment I had read 'Meaning of Liff' I had never known that anyone but me turns over pillows in the hope of finding that ellusive coolness.

One of my favourite bits of Lord of the Rings (which is omitted from the movies) is an argument between Gandalf and Saruman in which this line seems particularly significant. It seems overly cautious a philosophy but in the context of the story makes perfect sense.

And finally I was using the Jefferson quote during a time in which governments were responding to international terrorism by curbing the rights of those they serve. It was intended to be a comment on the danger of such action. At the time a surprising number of friends (who I can only assume are with me on objecting to governments using terrorism as a justification for limiting civil rights) expressed reservations about me using that quote. I wonder why. Seems a fine statement to me even if it may overstate the case.

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20.6.06

Arguments from Design

It has been bloody cold lately. I am reliably informed that cold is an absence of heat. But it definitely feels to me as if it is something with an independent quality of its own. Indeed it feels more like there is something there in the cold than in milder temperatures. I suppose it is hardly surprising for an animal intended to live comfortably between the temperatures of 10 and 40 degrees Celsius to notice temperatures that exceed that safe range.

Hold on - did I say "intended"? I am convinced of the arguments of evolution so will correct that to "suited" as in "suited to living comfortably...". Thinking of things as having a purpose seems to come naturally to us as animals suited to purposeful behaviour. I deliberately make things happen so it can make sense for me to think that anything that happens must have someone to make it happen. This is a simplistic restating of the Argument from Design. It is much older than just the current 'Intelligent Design' movement (think Thomas Aquinas). If well phrased it can be philosophically seductive. The late-night discussions that arise from it can be fascinating. And contemplating it while standing alone by the ocean or in the mountains can be moving. But it is a shoddy justification for letting someone indoctrinate children at taxpayer expense.

Even if one accepts the arguments of Intelligent Design all it gives us is an intelligent designer rather than any particular intelligent designer. It may be the one God of the Christians and Muslims or the multi-faceted divine plethora of the Hindus or even that crazy monster thing promoted to amusing effect by the 'Pastafarians'. But the motivation of those involved in promoting Intelligent Design is rarely if ever the acceptance of any and all religions but rather the imposition by stealth of one religion in particular.

Anyway my intention here is to propose two arguments from design just for the heck of it. One is frivolous while the other is (or so I think) profound. What do you think?

The Argument from Chocolate Ripple Cake

Take a bunch of chocolate biscuits. Array them in a long horizontal stack. Cover them liberally in cream. Put them in the fridge. Come back a few hours later and they have become cake! Just like that! I understand there is a mundane process involved but bugger that! Chocolate Ripple Cake is a bloody miracle! Mind you the one time I attempted to make one it was sort of crunchy - O Divine Chocolate Cake why have you forsaken me?

The Argument from Electric Guitar

Take a string (it can be made of catgut or plastic or anything) and vibrate it. It produces a note. So far so good. Now take a steel string and vibrate it in the presence of an electromagnet that responds to the vibration by producing an electrical signal that can then be converted by an amplifier into a sound. The sound produced by the amp is of the same note as that produced by the vibrating string. The same note! Did it have to be this way? There is a scientific explanation to be sure but I say once more: Did it have to be this way? The same note is produced rather than just a cacophony or nothing but static. It is as if this phenomenon always existed in some Platonic form and just needed to be discovered. Do electric guitars (as well as all those other instruments using steel moving parts and electromagnets) talk to us of a universal Prime Mover? A universal Prime Mover who loves riffs and licks? And are we listening? I think others have felt the way I do if you listen to a few songs. Take it away Jim Steinman!

And the Angels had guitars even before they had wings
If you hold onto a chorus you can get through the night

- 'Rock & Roll Dreams Come Through' sung by Meat Loaf
and written by Jim Steinman

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13.6.06

Wanderlust

Sometimes I want to be alone and do passive things. At other times I want to do active things in the company of others. I think these two combinations (passive while alone and active in company) are ones with which we are most familiar. But then there are also 'passive in company' and 'active while alone'. The former is things like sitting silently in the company of loved ones just whiling away the time. The latter is what I have been in the mood for a lot in recent weeks. I am yet to properly sate this desire however.

I want to walk paths I have never walked and turn corners to see things I have never seen. Even if it is just a neighbourhood I have never visited. I have half a mind to go jump on a V-Line bus to some secluded town and get a room at the local inn just for the heck of it. Normally if I felt this way I would then start pressuring particular friends to consider getting together to go away for a few days. But this time dammit I may just do it all by my lonesome. That way I can set my own pace and do my own thing. There is just one problem with all of this - Winter.

It is cold and frequently wet and that tends to disuade me from my inclination to go walkabout. Winter puts a dampner on almost everything. There is one thing that may still work however...

Port Campbell is a small township on the southern coast west of Melbourne (close to the Twelve Apostles). It is very much a tourist town now but its tiny windswept inlet facing open ocean puts me in mind of the smugglers coves in old tales. It is the kind of location that looks and feels right in Winter. Standing on the local jetty while waves that have rolled in directly from Antarctica (allow me some poetic licence) wash below my feet is a thrilling and sobering experience. I went there over a year ago with friends (six of us in two cars) and we stayed in one bunk room at the local YHA. I may however get a fuller sense of the locale if I went there alone. I can get a coach there one day and return ride the next day.

Of course now I have put this on my blog I will feel as if I have made a commitment to the world to go and do this rather than just contemplate it. Others will now ask me "so been to Port Campbell yet?" to which I will have to say "yes" lest they think me lame.

Update

Bugger. I have just visited the V-Line site and the coach to Port Campbell only operates Fridays. In other words I can stay there for a week or not at all (in other words "not at all"). It takes me back to the heady days of my conducting of a long-distance relationship between Melbourne and Glenrowan. How the rural kids can cope at all is a wonder to me. Can I delete this post in its entirity now?

Another Update

It is three or four months on from this post and I have since had some chances to get away from the big city and its attendent suburbs. There was one rehearsal camp but that is barely getting away from it in the sense that one is transported door-to-door from home to the campsite and then stuck there the whole time rehearsing. It is fun but hardly getting to experience much of another locale.

However just this weekend past (September ceding to October) I had a wonderful time with the lovely Anne in the picturesque and bigger-than-expected township of Warragul. Walks and restaurant food and a movie all during a warm crisp Spring weekend. I even got some party propaganda letterboxing into the old town during some lone time. Yay!

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6.6.06

A day in the food of...

As someone in his 30s I now give more consideration to what I eat than I once did. Back in the day I could have Hungry Jacks for lunch and Red Rooster for dinner and feel just fine. Now if I do the same thing I am left feeling somehow queezy. More generally I have become aware of all the calls in the media and mass culture for us to live more healthy lives. I only go some of the way to answering that call.

I lack the patience to monitor the calloric content or nutritional value of what I eat. I simply cannot be bothered. What I do try to do is observe some basic criteria in selecting food. These criteria include 'variety' and what follows is a description of what I eat in a standard day. Of course there is no such thing as a 'standard' day but I have deliberately chosen a work day because the routines of a working day imposes patterns onto other behaviours during such a day.

Breakfast: A bowl of muesli that is mostly oats but also has any or all of linseed, sunflower seed, almond, coconut, and sultana. This is partly submerged in soy milk (I honestly like some brands of this stuff). I also have a glass of orange juice on the side (I like it pulpy).

Morning Tea: 250ml of iced coffee flavoured milk (gotta have it).

Lunch: Four slices of toasted rye. One slice I have just with butter to savour that fantastic toasted rye taste. On the other slices I have Vegemite, Philadelphia light cream cheese, and peanut butter (salt-free sugar-free smooth - I have to be the only person in the world that likes smooth). I also have a mini-tub of apple puree and a glass of water (I drink water at other times if thirsty).

Afternoon Tea: 250ml of iced coffee flavoured milk (still gotta have it).

Dinner: A plate of kangaroo and macadamia stir fry on a bed of risoni (which is wheat pasta made to look like rice) with any or all of minced garlic, capsicum, carrot, baby corn, button mushrooms, bamboo shoots , sundried tomatos, pinenuts and chives. With this I have a glass of Bickfords lime cordial.


Notice how 'variety' comes into play with me having a different kind of cereal at each meal and so on. I think it is a pretty decent mix but as it is only a 'standard' day there is a lot that is hidden from this inventory.

I am lucky in that aspects of my life have forced healthy behaviours on me. As a public-transport using suburbanite I walk a lot every day (the weekly swim is more done to maintain that skill than in making me fit). I am also lucky to have a metabolism that keeps me relatively slim (I say 'relatively' because the customary slowing of my metabolism in the late 20s has turned a thin person into a merely 'slimish' one). However as that metabolism slows further over time I will have to make changes. Will I have to exercise more? If so I hope I can find ways that are passingly interesting (e.g. a lot more swimming). Will I have to cut back on food? But all the things I have listed (and many other things besides) are just so nice! Now I am feeling hungry...

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