"We consider the man who avoids politics not as minding his own business, but as having no business"- Pericles,(c. 495 – 429 BC) Athenian leader qouted(broadly) from Thucydides The Histories.
The classical Greeks referred to such people as idiots. I was listening to streeters about the Harper government's proroguing parliament. This means that the issue of Canada abandoning its responsibility regarding Afghan detainees, explaining the mismanagement of the climate change and environmental portfolios and ongoing issues with nuclear plants, mis-allocation of stimulus funds and so on, wil not be discussed. Many people didn't care, and said they didn't care about politics.
And they wonder why "their lunches get eaten" by politicians. Of course, creating apathy works well for hyper-partisan political parties. Their core votes, everyone else becomes discouraged and stays home. Idiots.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
"We consider the man who avoids politics not as minding his own business, but as having no business"- Pericles,(c. 495 – 429 BC) Athenian leader qouted(broadly) from Thucydides The Histories.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Go see it.
The critical response that I have read tend to say it is a good, perhaps great film, with a rather pedestrian story. Comparisons have been made to Dances With Wolves, among other films.
I think most people writing in the mainstream press have missed two direct literary influences; Ursula K. Le Guin's novel The Word For World Is Forest and those of Frank Herbert's WorShip(Destination:Void) series. The more complex cultural treatment of colonialisation by Le Guin disappears in Avatar. For one, Le Guin's natives are not the statuesque Nav'i from Cameron's film. In The Word For World Is Forest the Astheans are small and green and spend long periods in a dream state, which angers the humans enslaving them. They are appealing like Ewoks from the Star Wars series- not the "noble savage" archetype that it seems Cameron and his audience more easily embrace. A more recent example of a post-colonial archetype of alien are the "prawns" from District 9. These aliens are generally not attractive or easily understood by the humans in the film. I hope Cameron can insert a more equivocal and nuanced treatment of an alien culture and it's response to colonialisation into the sequels to Avatar.
Frank Herbert's imaginary world of Pandora is far more strange and frightening than the jungle world presented in Cameron's film. That is not to say that Cameron's Pandora is not a fully conceived, plausible planet. It is truly strange and beautiful, and worth paying extra to see in Imax 3-D. Cameron's imagination has conceived a planet that a person might well want to live in, despite it's dangers. However, Herbert's world is truly strange because it is imagined as a place humans would not want to live in. His characters, after all, are hijacked there. Herbert's Pandora is inimical to human life and disturbing to human senses.
Therein lies the difficulty of translating these works to the cinema. An audience must face an unpleasant visual experience to realise Herbert's Pandora and faces the even more difficult challenge of facing a very different psychology on the part of Le Guin's Athsheans, her humanoid natives from The Word For World Is Forest.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I read this article on the success of the BIXI bicycle system in Montreal. Rene Bruemmer sardonically bemoaned that the streets were now crowded with other cyclists, not just him.
Some of the comments indicate that people didn't get the irony. How is it that we can decode that? Is it something in our psyche?
Friday, December 25, 2009
A duck is a different beast from a turkey. It is smaller, and much fattier. My internet research indicates that you need to render the fat from the bird in order to get a crispy skin. As usual, I ordered my bird fresh from Boucherie Notre-Dame, and picked it up mid-afternoon Christmas eve. I hope it will be as succesful as my turkeys were this year.
So I am going to steam the bird for about 75 minutes in the roasting pan on the stove top. I placed a round baking pan in the roasting pan then put the roasting grill on top of that. I added about 5 cm of water in the pan, then put it on a burner to boil. When the water reached a boil, I placed the duck on the roasting grill, with the bird just suspended over the boiling water. That should melt the fat off of the bird, and ready it for roasting. I cross-hatched the breasts with a knife to help the fat escape.
The giblets were removed from the bird, boiled, and thrown out, and the broth saved for gravy.
Stuffing was as per my thanksgiving 2009 recipe, but with Toulouse sausage. I prepared it in the morning, so it is already at room temperature. The sausages were cooked at lunch time, with some used for brunch.This way the meat hasn't been hanging around for long at room temperature.
The bird went into the steaming pot at 14:17...
it exited around 15:30... It was stuffed loosely then put in the oven at 35oF for about an hour. 9 mins per pound with a 6-7 pound bird.
I basted in a little, but most of the fat was rendered, so there was little in the way of pan drippings.
At the 30 minute mark, I added potatos and carrots.In retrospect, I should have added them at the beginning.
Final result was moist, rich without being greasy and the skin was crispy. I served it with asparagus lightly poached in the microwave, the root vegetables and stuffing.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
So Dimitri Soudas, chief public relations officer for Prime Minister Stephen Harper lambasts Steven Guilbeault, cofounder of Quebec-based Equiterre, for critiquing the government's very limited policies for dealing with climate change. He also blamed Guibeault for the prank of disseminating fake news releases suggesting the government will actually propose bold and useful changes to fuel consumption and support of developing nations to lower their carbon emissions. Cost about $1.25 a day per Canadian. And could have broken the deadlock between the developed and developing nations. It could have shown leadership.
Soudas said that the criticism of government environmental policy was anti-Canadian. I think that line deserves Soudas' firing.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
which they don't care about, what else will the government lie about?
Politically, Stephen Harper's government doesn't care much about the abuse of Afghan detainees, captured by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. Since the abuse occurred after the Canadians turned the prisoners over to Afghan government forces, there is not much connection to be made between the fate of the Conservative's government and that of a few people far, far away. Realistically, the government is also aware that the segment of the population that votes for them has little sympathy for the insurgents shooting at, wounding and killing our troops, our people serving in Afghanistan.
There are three reasons why those folks who generally support the Conservatives should care:
1. Many of those picked up were accused of being insurgents- and the NDS, the Afghan security agency that has been accused of abuse, says themselves that some of the people sent to them were not insurgents. Of course, this is after the prisoners were beaten, just to be certain. How would you like to be stopped for a broken headlight, then thrown in jail as a suspected terrorist, then tortured, then released because it was all a mistake? If that is OK, then what are we doing in Afghanistan? Why are our people risking their lives if our government condones this behavior on the part of Afghanistan?
2. The second reason is that many legal experts say that knowingly handing over prisoners to the possibility of torture contravenes the Geneva Convention. This would place the senior staff officers as well as the government ministers in charge in a sticky legal predicament. Again, if we really don't care about the Geneva Convention, an important legal precedent, then why are we in Afghanistan to bring about rule of law? Will the government try to blame more junior personnel for this problem- a classic approach that reveals just who really supports the troops?
3. The final reason that we should care about this issue, is the government will not reveal the truth. That has to be peeled away, bit by bit, all the while the government denying, blaming the messenger and impugning the critics. Yet this issue would not have really affected their voting public. If the government feels it has to lie about this issue, what else will they lie about?
The government's approach has been to blame civil servants for bad news- they fired the head of the Nuclear regulatory commission for closing down the Chalk River nuclear reactor. A few months later, it had to be closed down again. They pilloried the Federal Elections commissioner, their own appointee, for refusing to break the federal elections law.
Oconnor, Bernier and now Mackay all have proven incompetent in the foreign affairs or defense portfolios. But this seems irrelevant to the government, as foreigners do not vote in Canadian elections. It seems ridiculous that the current government wants to bring rule of law and good government to another country, when they seem indifferent to either here in Canada. That is why their supporters should be looking at the Afghan prisoner issue, if torture isn't a good enough reason.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
So on the basis of my Thanksgiving turkey from earlier this fall, I have been commissioned to roast one for my friend Receptionista Montréal, whose birthday roughly coincides with American thanksgiving(her family are from L'etats Unis). She has been having big feasts for years, with sometimes upwards of a hundred people. This year is relatively small at 40 persons.
I bought two fresh birds from Boucherie Notre-Dame. I ordered them Wednesday and it was fresh from the butcher's cold room this morning.This is more expensive, but eliminates the need to thaw. I delivered one to Receptionista and the other to my fridge. I will be interested in comparing the two, as she is much more experienced at this than I am.
Stuffing: 425 grams of plain bread crumbs, a small onion, a few cloves of garlic, 1 and 1/2 chorizo sausage, cranberries, savoury, nutmeg, cup of vermouth and 2 cups of water and the zest of a lemon.
Cook sausages and set aside. Saute chopped onion until translucent, add garlic, nutmeg and savoury. Add vermouth and water and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat, add lemon and breadcrumbs. Transfer to a non-reactive(glass or ceramic) bowl. Let everything chill in fridge over night( putting hot stuffing directly in the bird will promote food poisoning). Mix in sausage and cranberries and stuff bird.
Gravy: I sauted the giblets and neck in olive oil and lots of garlic. I added savoury to the pan, then a little black pepper and fleur de sel (sea salt). I then added a cup of red wine and a cup of cold water and boiled it slowly to a reduction. I combined this reduction with pan drippings to make the gravy.
Start: 11:40- 67C/375 F- Bird goes in, loosely tented with foil, in a commercial foil tin supported on a cookie sheet. At 20lbs, the bird is too big for my big roasting pan.
First basting check: 12:40pm(T+60mins) Looking good, but not much in the way of fluids yet. I bast the bird with olive oil, return the tented foil and pack the bird back inside the oven. I lowered the temperature to 325F. A quick synthesis of internet sites indicates 375 is too hot. I lower the temperature to 67C/325F.
Second basting check:13:18 (T+1:39) lots of fluids, so I bast with them. There is a debate as to the need or efficacy of basting. Next time, I may start the bird tented, then cover in pot, to retain juices without basting, then open and bast for the last 45 mins to get the nice dark golden finish.
Third basting:13:50(T+2:12) More fluid, and the odour of roasting bird is present. I try to get fluids into the stuffing, to add to flavour and to get a hot center, cooking the bird well from the inside, as well as adding to juiciness.
Fourth Basting:14:17(T+2:39) added some Fleur de Sel and black pepper. I am afraid the bird may be roasting too fast. My original estimate called for 6.7 hours at 20 mins per pound. However, other charts indicate a 4 1/2 hour time. I might lower the temperature if this seems likely. If i finish at 17:00, I can let the bird rest in the car while I head over to the venue Receptionista rented.
Fifth Basting:14:48(T+3:10) A quick review of the National Turkey Federation website suggests it will take 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours to cook a 20 to 24 pound stuffed turkey. So estimate 5 hours, plus 30 minutes rest in covered pan. I lowered the temperature to a hair above 300F. The bird can rest in the car on the way to its destiny.
Sixth Basting: 15:20(T+3:41) Still juicy, and I have photos to document this phase of the cooking.
Seventh Basting: 15:47(T+ 4:08H) Bird progressing nicely. It smells like a roast turkey- I hope it will be done at 17:15- ready to be served at 18:00.
Eight Basting:16:18(T+4:39) Continuing at 300F. I debated adding some brown sugar to the pan drippings, to aid in caramelising the exterior of the bird. It is browning-up nicely, however, so I'll leave it as-is.
Ninth Basting: 16:41 (T+ 5:02) Juices from the meatiest part of the leg are running clear- this bird is a go! I popped it in for one more cycle whilst I reduce some of the juices I extracted from the pan, combined with the giblet/red wine concoction I did earlier. I'll add a little thickener, then pack kid and turkey into the car and over to Il Motore.
Last post: 17:00 (T+ 5:21 ) I started the gravy, intending to add the remaining pan drippings so as not to waste them, or invite spillage on the trip over.
In the photo: Just out of the oven...
It was cooked just right- the thighs were just cooked, the breast juicy and tender. The exterior was a golden brown. Receptionista fielded a lot of compliments because it was assumed she did both birds. I am a little proud my turkey compared favourably to her wonderful turkey.
And Lake of Stew showed up and played, lured to the party by Bob, Receptionista's beloved hubby.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
says Minister John Baird. This ignores Richard Colvins' testimony that the Canadian government permitted policies that allowed it to feign ignorance that this was going on. Despite Mr. Colvin's obvious competence and the confidance the government has shown( He was second in command of the embassy in Afghanistan and most recently Charge D'affaires for Intelligence in the Washington embassy) Minister Peter McKay questions his sincerity and competence.
This is a far cry from the spirit of government's Accountability act, which was supposed to protect and promote whistle blowers. Of course, this government fired the bureaucrat who originally shut down Chalk River as unsafe(Chalk River was reopened then shut down again, this time for a couple of years worth of repairs).
The ability of this government to spin is based on the principle that you only have to fool 38% of the people at elections to win. The dearth of effective policies coupled with a depraved emphasis on PR suggests it will take a truly horrendous show of misfeance or malfeance to get these charlatans out of office.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I posted recently, as a FaceBook status, that the experience of grad school is made smoother by having a certificate in office techniques and technology (I haven't got one). Being able to type, manage paper files, and keep the IT stuff working smoothly is a boon to what amounts to maintaining a private research office.
The other important elements were a taste for reading(5 hours a day is a minimum), a good laptop(with good back up system so an HD crash doesn't eat your work) and an Eames Lounge chair, like the picture here. A classic of modern design, this lounge chair was designed by Charles and Ray Eames. Mine isn't as good a replica, because it doesn't have the cast aluminum feet of the image, but it has the comfort. I can read and type in comfort. Two hours last night were great, reading, sipping a beer and thinking about my work.
My copy was a kind gift, and needs reupholstering, but it is so comfortable. I have wanted one since I was eight years old. I saw a picture back then in a book on home decoration, and fell in love with it. It is one of the few times I have been so impressed with an object.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
After being in and out of school, since I was 5 years old, and working as a teacher in some capacity or other for most of the last decade, I assert;
Education will benefit you; A particular college diploma, not so much. What's the difference?
If you are willing to work and really want to know, if you are truly curious about what you are studying and like spending time with other people who 'geek on' your area of study, you will benefit from the opportunities. If you have those qualities, your success will reflect on your efforts, regardless of your educational credentials.
"Most college courses teach few useful job skills; their main function is to signal to employers that students are smart, hard-working, and conformist. The upshot: Going to college is a lot like standing up at a concert to see better. Selfishly speaking, it works, but from a social point of view, we shouldn't encourage it."When BA's were rare, and demanding, they signaled a useful set of liberal arts skills; reading, writing, critical thinking. They also typically involved a high degree of collegiality- team building- as well as intellectual discipline and motivation. However, the calibre of students is declining because those qualities are assumed, institutionally, and not intrinsically developed. However, anyone who reads a large number of student essays knows those qualities are lacking in about half of the students.
-Bryan Caplan, associate professor of economics at George Mason University
"Research shows that there generally is a negative relationship between state support for higher education and economic growth. Sending marginal students to four-year degree programs, only to drop out, is a waste of human and financial resources, and lowers the quality of life for those involved".
- Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University
Skilled trades pay as well or better than all but a few jobs supplied by a BA education. A BA is, after all, really preparation for grad school. It was supposed to mark a stage in education, that would lead to the holder to write books that would be read by high school graduates, so they could learn something without having to devote the time to research. Of course those were the days when public high schools imposed discipline, and their graduates could perform higher maths, read Latin, speak intelligently about history and geography in both their own language and another modern language. The article that got me blogging this morning, "Are Too Many Students Going To College?" seems to overemphasise the necessity of a college education and assume that high school would achieve little.
"Rather than proclaiming College for All, we should be stressing High School Completion for All, emphasizing that such completion requires either college readiness or readiness for sustained employment—or for the combination of the two that has become so common."
- W. Norton Grubb, professor of policy, organization, measurement, and evaluation at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Education
I am happy to have sacrificed the money, time and energy I have into my education. Probably in the same way as in Buddhist countries, people leave their jobs for a time, don the robes of a monk, and walk around begging, praying and meditating. It may benefit their minds and souls, but it is not a good way to make money.
"Employers are accelerating their offshoring, part-timing, and temping of as many white-collar jobs as possible. That results in ever more unemployed and underemployed B.A.'s. Meanwhile, there's a shortage of tradespeople to take the Obama infrastructure-rebuilding jobs. And you and I have a hard time getting a reliable plumber even if we're willing to pay $80 an hour—more than many professors make."I guess much of the problem in framing this debate is that educators, social scientists and policy analysts are typically college educated, so it is difficult for them to conceive that trades people, small business owners and those educated other than in four year colleges could be happy and/or prosperous.
-Marty Nemko, career counselor based in Oakland, Calif.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Montreal- Health care providers in Montreal are reporting an increase in irate behavior and paranoia as side effects of the vaccinations against the H1N1 "swine" flu.
" Its very disturbing" says public health nurse Marie-Claude Baguette "normal people are demanding to see the 'space aliens ' who make the vaccine". Other reports include people who have claimed to glimpsed American president Barack Obama eating a poutine while chanting magic incantations over a batch of vaccine at an H1N1 clinic in Hochelaga-Maisoneuve. Requests for a response as to Mr. Obama's whereabouts were not immediately returned by his press secretary.
Typically, reported symptoms are an increasingly loud voice, hectoring demands as to " Who came up with this system" and " Do you know who I am?". A sullen silence may follow along with general peevishness. Attempted cue jumping has also been attributed to H1N1 vaccination.
On the positive signs, recovery is imminent when the afflicted person says"Maybe I should have paid more attention in science class."
-Between Adam's Ears
A Short History of Conspiracy
Richard Hofstadter; Conspiracy Denier
Sunday, November 01, 2009
A friend of mine told me I should(as should all MA's) read promiscuously; That is to say, not only course-related or even discipline-related literature. So I am thinking about the social response to evolutionary pressures.
Darwin saw that overproduction and limited resources create a struggle for existence in which some organisms will succeed and most will not. He also recognized that organisms in populations differ from one another in terms of many traits that tend to be passed on from parent to offspring. Darwin's brilliant insight was to combine these two factors and to realize that success in the struggle for existence would not be determined by chance, but instead would be biased by some of the heritable differences that exist among organisms. Specifically, he noted that some individuals happen to possess traits that make them slightly better suited to a particular environment, meaning that they are more likely to survive than individuals with less well suited traits. As a result, organisms with these traits will, on average, leave more offspring than their competitors.
-T. Ryan Gregory "Understanding Natural Selection: Essential Concepts and Common Misconceptions" Published online: 9 April 2009 http://www.springerlink.com/content/2331741806807x22/fulltext.html
Gregory, a biologist at U. of Guelph, made me think about how certain behavioral traits have different evolutionary advantages. And how these same traits might yield attitudes resistant to how evolution works, or a least as how
Recent economic theory looks at how notions of fairness channel our decision-making process. Thus if you offer people two buttons, one which gives themselves fifty cents and a stranger fifty cents and the other button gives themselves a dollar but a stranger gets four dollars, many if not most people press the first button. This seems to be a hard wired response for fairness, that has also been found in Chimpanzees and other anthropoids.
Classical economic theory expects people to press button two, because the reward for the button presser is twice that of button one. Now, evolutionary theory describes how individuals don't matter, as long as someone gets to reproduce. This idea is appalling to people who seem hardwired for fairness. Why should Jack have kids and not me? Why should his genotype be more evolutionarily successful. It's not fair, from that perspective.
Of course, our responses are more nuanced and generally less reflective. As social creatures, much of our ability to survive and reproduce is predicated on traits of cooperation and trust. Societies that lack that seem to be less successful than others. The biggest strongest, most dominant male is likely to be assassinated by a group of friendly males, if the 'alpha's' leadership starts getting in the way. The neo-nazi idea of a single genotype as being the best is both foolish spacially, because many different people successfully have children who in turn reproduce, and it is foolish temporally, because different strategies for survival and reproduction are successful at different times. The diversity of people offers a diversity of strategies to cope with a constantly changing environment. The facial features of the Inuit are more resistant to snow glare and frostbite. The diversity of hair colours among northern Europeans arose from women trying to attract mates during a period in the last ice age that killed off a lot of men. Apparently, blonds and redheads are declining in numbers because hair colour no longer confers an evolutionary advantage.
So the survival of the fittest is proven by one's ability to pass on one's genes. That idea appalls others who tend to see themselves as equal to others. So much resistance to evolutionary theory may lie in a trait that helps humans reproduce and survive. The natural process that we refer to and theorise as 'evolution' doesn't care (at the risk of ascribing agency to a natural process) any more than oxygen cares if we breathe it in as O2 and out as CO2. The fact that we care arises from evolution.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
So it occurred to me that the range of consumer choice represents a
desire to change not the product but one's own life. If my brand of
coffee represents me then symbolically, changing brands represents
changing my life.
Obviously, this change is insignificant, if I wished to improve my
family relationships or my job prospects and so on. To believe that a
change of brand will change one's life is irrational. However, it
seems to me that this constitutes a desire for magic. Work, effort and
reflection are not needed- just a consumer incantation.
As with all magic spells, if a consumer ritual fails to effect the
desired change, then another attempt might work. The failure was
improper recitation. The wrong brand of ketchup and life is a failure.
If only I could choose the right ketchup, car, jacket and shoes.
Posted by adamvs at 31.10.09
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
According to The Canadian Press, Sen. Leo Housakos, a recent Harper appointee( I thought Mr. Harper would not appoint Senators on principle) worked for BPR engineering while sitting in the Senate, and resigned his position shortly after BPR received a large contract based on the stimulus package.
Housakos has also been linked to the Construction industry kickback scandal in Quebec.
After declaring an end to "cheque book" politics it seems the Conservatives are again bribing taxpayers with their own money. By attaching signs to every bit of maintenance they hope to appear active- of course all this advertising costs money. But they don't mind as it evades election laws that limit how much political party's can spend. Remember the "in and out" scandal?
Now revelations are surfacing that the stimulus package is overwhelming being distributed where it will best serve Tory election interests.
Stay tuned for more...
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Mr. Obama's nobel peace prize has aroused vitriolic criticism and dismissal from Conservative critics. Especially those on the American right and from Al Queda & Islamic conservative groups. Who would have thought they would agree on something? Perhaps it is because both of them would rather fight than think, destroy rather than mature.
It took Mr. W. Bush eight years to fail in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is still at large. The US deficit was created in 4 years after Mr. Clinton took eight years to create a surplus after huge deficits under Mr. Reagan and the first Mr. Bush. Medicare as we Canadians know it as well as the Norwegians, French, British and so on know it took a generation to introduce. Expecting Mr. Obama to deliver it all in less than a year is unreasonable. It bespeaks of an adolescent impatience and sense of entitlement that US citizens will have to outgrow if they want to prosper in the long run.
This immaturity, this adolescent bombast plays out in both in the bomb-throwing medieval-ism of the Islamic radical right, and their preening, jingoistic confreres of the American far right. They truly need each other as a rationale for their inherently destructive impulses; Their immunity to maturity. It speaks to who they are, that they criticize together.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
It often helps to return to the sources of what we think about, so we can determine how far and how well we have gone. So...
What is True, Good and Beautiful were the classical conceptions of philosophical questions. I would rephrase them tentatively as: Why is there something rather than nothing? How can we know this? How can we evaluate it's relevance to us?
Obviously, we ourselves are included in the set of things that comprise that something. The language we use to ask these questions also comprise part of that something, as does the methods of knowing that we use to ask that fundamental question of why there is something rather than nothing.
Philosophy is the ungainly attempt to tackle questions that come naturally to children, using methods that come naturally to lawyers.I think Prof. Hills' was being sardonic, but there is a useful approach in his functional definition. The questions are often very simple, but the logic required to precisely structure the question as well as provide criteria to propose and evaluate an answer are torturous.
My broadest question is what does it mean, if anything, that we are here now, looking/sensing/perceiving all this stuff and reacting to it. Why do Joe Pass and Oscar Peterson make me feel good when they play "Caravan"? What does it mean that my consciousness reacts to these apparent perceptions? What does it say about this universe that I can experience these phenomena and then express them? Why can my perceptions apparently err?
These are questions so vast that they seem to defy answers, so they must be analyzed, or deconstructed into questions narrow and sharply defined so the answer has some chance of remaining valid.
Does aesthetic experience some how touch "reality" in the noumenal(Kantian), Dionysian(Nietzschean) or phenomenological (Merleau-Pontian) senses? That question arose from some logical problems I had with Emmanual Kant when I studied him with Gerry LaVallee over twenty years ago. My questions were not original, as I learned later, because Arthur Schopenhauer had asked them and provided his answers in 1500 pages or so. My questions were creative, I think, because I had never read or encountered Schopenhauer's thought prior to ten years after I raised my questions about Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.
Now I'm asking a very specific question, set in very defined temporal(because I am doing Art History) and spatial locus. Can the relationship between linear perspective and the feeling we often call immersion better be defined as "Ekstasos" when we consider games such as Prince of Persia juxtaposed with Piranesi's Carceri drawings?
With sure harmonies and assertive sonic dynamics For Those About To
Love offered transcendent neo-psychodelic power pop. A romantic
character conveyed by their interwoven vocal harmonies confirms an
elegant lyricism. The interplay of guitar/bass/drum aggression with
complex vocal arrangements and electronics culminated in an ecstatic
Valerie Jodoin-Keaton, the group's keyboardist, and lone female
vocalist notes the group's taste for Pink Floyd.
They will launch their new record at La Sala Rossa on October 27, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
1. We are epiphenomena to quantum events-and Friedrich Nietzsche's
philosophy strives to find ways to live and thrive in that knowledge.
The illusion of truth is revealed ironically through art. The
Dionysian principle sublimating the individual into the raw stuff of
life is hidden by the orderly process of the Apollonian principle that
hides Being(my word, not Nietzsche's) from our direct view.
2. The history of automobile design recapitulates Marshall MacLuhan's
oft qouted "the medium is the message". Early cars were derived from
carts and horsedrawn carriages. Now their design is drawn from over a
century's worth of design history, as well as other influences that
reflected popular tastes, art movements and the capabilities of
available technologies for design and production.
Posted by adamvs at 28.9.09
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
So I was reading this article, about the general improvement of gastronomy in the U.S.A and I reflected on this little snippet:
"the foods of Mediterranean Provence (based on olive oil, the fresh fruits of the earth and sea, and the general habit of going to the market with a string bag every day)"
I like going to the market everyday, choosing the food based on freshness, my culinary mood, and knowing that it wont succumb to freezer burn, or reduce to compost because I bought too much, and had it sit in the fridge too long.
This afternoon, when I pick up my son from daycare, I'll choose vegetable from the little farmers' market that sets up shop in his school yard on Friday afternoons. It is an experiment, but a valuable one. I hope it is successful, because it gives a chance for parents to make grocery shopping an activity, rather than a chore, followed by the chore of cooking and sadly, the chore of eating. Instead, we'll pick stuff together, play in the park for a few minutes, and he'll help me by bringing utensils, cutting up vegetables( as appropriate for his strength and dexterity). Then we sit and eat together.
It is a ritual I try to maintain, because it seems healthy, and grounding. It takes food to be more than fuel, because we are more than machines, even if I do refer to us as "meaning machines", as Prof. Deb Roy refers to both AIs and people.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud reveals the fundamentally bullying attitude of the Conservative government, and their inability to take effective responsibility or even say they are sorry.
The fact that Mohamud is black only emphasises that the current government sees Canadians as "Us and them" and only Conservative party supporters, of the correct ethnicity, creed and regional location are really citizens deserving of treatment as such.
Over-reacting to a declining crime rate, under reacting to the economic downturn(spent us into a deficit without achieving anything), under-reacting to the environmental and climate change issues facing us, and our children and their children, wasting our taxes by stymieing their own government by playing childish political games in Parliamentary committees(where the heavy lifting of government policy takes place) , leaves me wondering why they bother even pretending to govern.
Vote out these losers before they waste anymore of our money. I want a government, not a self-licking ice cream cone of second-rate public relations flacks bent only on power at any cost- and failing at that, to boot.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
I bought an acer Aspire One about a year ago, so I could have a really portable laptop. Mostly, I use macs, but a new Macbook wasn't affordable at that time, so the linux-based replaced an old G4 ibook.
Here are some really useful links for tweaking the Aspire one. Remeber that these involve monkeying withe the computers operating system. Check the warnings in the following links and prepare to reinstall the system if things go badly. You precede from here on in at your own risk.
The Road to Elysium blog offers Acer Aspire One tricks and tips, including my favourite, disabling the proprietary Acer desktop and replacing it with a more flexible style. I'm using KFce4, with is packaged with the Aspire One when you get it.
A slightly less intrusive set of changes are to be found at Register Hardware. That blog provides Ten Tweaks for a new Acer Aspire One.
Monday, July 27, 2009
The recession- apparently its over according to the bank of Canada, and several business people that I talk to alot- had some very specific victims. The North American "big three" are now the big one Ford, although Honda, Toyota and Mazda all make their vehicles here. None the less, many people are out of work, and unlikely to get such high paying jobs to replace the assembly-line work. Here in Quebec, it seems marketing departments have been drastically reduced in scope. Anecdotally, the marketing industry seems to have been hit harder than other areas. And oddly enough this seems reasonable as marketing I am going to argue, is the primary commodity of our age.
Marketing is the theory, and sales are the practice. That is why marketing departments get cut. They provide rationales for what price should be charged for a product, how a company should advertise and even design their products or organise their services. when a company ceases to sell, by definition, the marketing department guessed wrong. A friend of mine, who has a marketing degree from a prestigious business school, often smiles and says that half of all advertising money is wasted but nobody knows which half that is. My guess is that by the same token, half of all money spent on marketing is wasted. The sales department actually generates revenue so the culprits can be evaluated down to the last cent, while the marketing department generates projections (guesses?), rationales and analysis.
And so having searched through sources such as Statistics Canada, the Canadian Marketing Association, it looks like slightly less than one half of revenue in canada goes to marketing. this suggests that my assessment of the mid-nineties was correct. The biggest industry in the world is marketing. Not food, metals, or even oil and energy, but figuring out how to get people to give you money in exchange for something else.
I have been thinking about how to "monetize' my knowledge. Instead of dreaming of being a rock star, or some such high glamour activity I have been asking myself " where do people spend most of their money?" and how can I get in on it? North american's spend a lot on automobiles, so being a mechanic and opening a garage might be a good place- however, I don't love cars and my training is as ateacher and philosopher. Most everyone likes to live in a nice house, so building, repairing and renovation could be good- but I do that already, and I want to do something else. I don't want to work for a company as such. i have always done better as self-employed or contract. Education is a mugs game. Like heaven, everybody wants it but nobody wants to pay the price to get there. But marketing, hmmmm. Buying into the biggest industry in the world.
Posted by adamvs at 27.7.09
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Is culture an evolutionary development or is evolution a cultural construction? In so far as our culture developed thev theory of evolution to describe things like fossils and more recently DNA sequences, yes evolution is culturally constructed. However, given that organisms change and adapt to an ever changing environment it seems a valid hypothesis that culture has evolved out of biological imperatives.
Apparently whales have culture. These cultures offer different approaches to coping with environmental challenges as do other adaptations.
Friday, July 03, 2009
So I built this child's patio bench out of wood scraps Anton had retrieved from a fence building job I worked on in May. At the end of the day , I said he could take home the scraps of 2 x 6 tamarack he had been building into castles and cars and what not. The pile was not inconsiderable. After the lumber scraps sat on our back deck for 6 weeks, I asked him if I could make a bench for him using his wood scraps. He agreed and after an hour and 45 minutes, there it was.
Tamarack naturally resists decay so it makes for good outdoor furniture. I cut the pieces to reflect my son's dimensions. With a little more material, I could have made a similar low seat suitable for an adult. The bencsh will seat two 5 year olds, or 1 adult(but imperfectly). The design reflected some of the scraps were very short; none were over 31 inches long.
One feature of many juvenile arch villains is that they "Wish to destroy the World!" I always wondered why these characters would do such a thing. After all, it sort of renders them rather dead, too. The typical world destrying arch villain never seemed suicidal- on the contrary, they obviously placed a huge value on themselves. The early James Bond arch villains had big plans, but they wanted to do things like contaminate the US gold supply, a la Goldfinger. This would ruin the world economy, and vastly increase Goldfinger's assets in terms of the gold he owned. An implausible plan, but a recognisable motivation. Greed, simply put and driven by megalomania.
An essay on writing, and forgive me if i don't remember the author's name, said that all characters act feeling justified. All characters have a reason for their actions. The eessay went on to point out these reasons didn't have to be, good, reasonable or even rational. The character merely had to believe they had a reason for their actions. I'll compare two real life characters, even though both have been critised and lauded by other for their actions. Mother Theresa devotes her life to the poor. It is true that Christopher Hitchens wrote a highly critical essay, characterising her as a hypocrit. Be that as it may, I will continue assuming that her enunciated mission, to aid the poorest of the poor, stems from a desire to help the weak. She had a reason. Even if it was really a self-serving ploy to get into heaven, she had a reason.
Inn the same way, the 9/11 hijackers didn't set out to commit evil- they argued that the US was so corrupt it was worth terrorising millions of people, and killing themselves and thousands of others. As I noted , such reasons need not be reasonable, or even rational. But irrational hatred of a perceived injustice is a reason.
In fiction, a character may have an enunciated reason. In Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Supremacy, aging super agent Jason Bourne must confront a fictionalised carlos the jackal, loosely based on the real life terrorist/mercenary assasin. Carlos' reason for hunting down and killing Bourne is to prove that he, carlos, is the greatest assasin of all. All though the character has little depth beyond a vaguely portrayed narcissism, he does have a reason, and ludlum hints that that reason arises from motivations Carlos may not even recognise in himself. Through out the story, however, Carlos committs murder and mayhem without remorse. He does not see his actions as evil, but as neccesary or even desirable. The injury he causes are as acceptable to his character as, say, a store clerk making a customer wait while the clerk does a price check. The fact that in the case of the store clerk most people understand the neccessity of price checks, most people are appalled by the brutality and injury caused by terrorists such as the fictional carlos the jackal and the real life terrorists associated with the Al Queda network or any other of a long list of terror organisations.
These characters become unbelievable when they wake and decide to commit atrocities for no other reason than to commit atrocities. But these characters become believable when we read or watch them justifying their greed, for example or their hate. "The US prevented my country from offering me the opportunities I so richly deserve" "My greatness is diminuated by that fraud Bourne". The believability of a well motivated( that is to say one of believable motivation) fictional character suggests in turn that attributing evil as the motivation for a criminal, a terrorist or a wrong doer will lead us to misunderstand the situation.
Failing to understand that much of the support for Al Queda stemmed from a belief within the Muslim world that the USA intended to corrupt and destroy them lead to successful recruiting drives after the ill-advised invasion of Iraq. Recognising that that sentiment was fomented by clerics looking for power and embraced by spoilt young men without opportunities in their often medieval societies(Most of the 9/11 hi jackers were university educated Saudi's, who had not found suitable employment) would have lead to more fruitful security policies.
perhaps more generally, understanding that everyone acts with a reason, good, bad or irrational, we can better examine our own choices, as well as consider our own underlying motivations as well as those of others. This is not to deny responsibility for our actions, but to consider our actions in light of our ethical and practical responsibilities.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Philosophers ask "why?" William James argued that philosophical questions were live, meaning they had more than one possible answer, momentous, meaning how your answered them would changer your life significantly, and forced, meaning even with out a conscious decision, you have chosen.
So why not philosophise?
Artists assert why not? Let's try this- let's experiment with that. Let's see what happens. Also, this is what I want to say, or paint or do or think.
WHY BLOG? Because you, dear reader, are reading it, and I wanted to write it, even if you didn't want to read or even write these thoughts, although I am glad you did.
In short, why not? Assert meaning, don't merely state your case. Live it, for as long as you can. embrace those possibilities- those are not permanent.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Here is a handy little book review by Francis Fukuyama. He is discussing the book Shop Class as Soulcraft, written by Matthew B. Crawford. Crawford owns and operates a motorcycle repairshop but has a Phd from Chicago.
"most forms of real knowledge, including self-knowledge, come from the effort to struggle with and master the brute reality of material objects — loosening a bolt without stripping its threads, or backing a semi rig into a loading dock."It feels oddly appropriate as I divide my time between the aptly named headspace of a Grad student- essays, much reading and discussion with colleagues both junior, peer and senior- and my work as carpenter/ handyman. I installed a couple of hundred metres of 2 by 6 fence boards yesterday but started my day reading an essay by Seb Franklin on avante garde art practice and digital games, published in Ctheory.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Yes you who are reading this page. You know who you are. You know why you visit.
You can leave a message, as response.
But what will I say in return to your comment? That depends- my view is that you should write nothing that you've haven't the courage to say to someone's face. But leaving a note, perhaps with a question, why not?
It would only be a question, just a question. So, ask me, mysterious visitor- you are one of... several that drop by.
Shyness is still charming when most can make their subtlest intimacies a matter of public record, and don't understand the difference between fame and honour on the one hand, and notoriety and vulgarity on the other.
So say "hello". I don't bite unless asked(or provoked).
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Richard Posner a supreme court judge published this assessment of why the current financial crisis could not have been avoided. My reading of his argument is that it is an appeal to ignorance which is one of the informal fallacies you learn in a first year critical thinking class. Perhaps that is why we are in a mess. A lawyer(not an economist or even a business person) with enormous power and prestige can make economic pronouncements- and people listen.
(BTW Lawyers only have to make persuasive arguments- Philosophers have to make convincing ones.)
Friday, April 03, 2009
I read today that researchers have developed a robot, which rejoices in the name 'Adam', that can develop and test hypotheses . Although this constitutes a breakthrough in machine intelligence, " Will Bridewell, an artificial intelligence researcher at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, says Adam is operating only at the level of a graduate student".
A little humiliating, but what does that say about BA's?
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
So I've been hearing this song, Carina, usually late at night, on CBC Radio Two. Mis-hearing it really. It comes from the oddly timeless music of James Hunter.
The name sounds longer when I'm drifting in and out of sleep.
Now baby tell me true
Do I stand a chance with you?
Now, don't make me wait too long
Ok, it's not post-rock in the sense of Trail of Dead, for example. But at first I thought it was an oldie, then after hearing it a few times, its anachronistic elements bring it into a post-modern context.
And its un-ironic romance appeals to me.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I graduated from elementary school into a recession. It didn't really effect me, nor did the recession of '81 when I graduated from high school. The recession of '91- Mulroney and Tories did that- arrived as I was finishing university and starting out in the film and TV business. I dropped out of grad school just as the Dot com bubble fizzled in 2000.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I saw a brief presentation yesterday by a computer science Phd, which asked the provocative question, Which is smarter a baby or a computer. The presentation was more an invitation for non-specialists to think about the problem. There were chemists, theologians, a professor from the design department and your truly wearing the duel hats of philosophy and art history.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
So last Sunday's dinner was Red Snapper. The boy had requested a fish, so this is my first attempt at preparing a whole fish. We selected a fresh looking, bright red fish ('Vivaneau' en Québec) and had him cleaned by the fishmonger at the local grocery.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
"Two statistics tell the story. A first-year teacher makes $38,411. A first-year Montreal bus driver makes $44,336."- Henry Aubin
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Coincidently, the Great Emancipator and arguably the most significant scientist of the Nineteenth century share a birthday, February 12, 1809. Compared to many other thinkers of that age, a combination of pragmatism and commitment to their ideas made them figures whose influence has grown.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I ran across this article The End of Solitude and a few salient qoutes struck me.
You are terrified of being bored... It took me years to discover — and my nervous system will never fully adjust to this idea; I still have to fight against boredom, am permanently damaged in this respect — that having nothing to do doesn't have to be a bad thing. The alternative to boredom is what Whitman called idleness: a passive receptivity to the world.
We lost the ability to be still, our capacity for idleness... capacity for solitude.
And losing solitude, what have [WE] lost? First, the propensity for introspection, that examination of the self that the Puritans, and the Romantics, and the modernists (and Socrates, for that matter) placed at the center of spiritual life — of wisdom, of conduct.
Friday, January 16, 2009
So the recent cold snap has caused Anton's school to close today due to a broken water main. So what to do but Arrrh! Be Pirates! who make origami animals! Arrh! That be a frog and that be a bird! Shivver me timbers, alright.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
What is "swing" - that quality that makes music danceable?
"The basic rhythmic unit in jazz is the quarter note. That’s usually what defines the "beat," what you tap your feet to. Melodies are superimposed over the beat, and are often made up of eighth notes, which, in classical music, are exactly one half as long as quarter notes. However, the jazz musician would play those notes alternately long and short, with the long note on the beat, and the short note off the beat...Friburg found the ratio between the notes varied with the tempo. In slow pieces the long eighth notes were extremely long, and the short notes were clipped so short they were almost 16th notes. But at faster tempos the notes were practically even. Only at a medium-fast tempo of about 200 beats per minute did the drummers use the 2-to-1 ratio. (Of course, there were variations caused by the drummers’ styles and the group with whom they played, but the basic principle held true across the board.)...Friburg found that, instead of synchronizing with each other on the beat, as classical musicians do, jazz musicians unconsciously synchronize on the off-beats, the short eighth notes of the swing pattern."- Edward Willet