Ephemerides

A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

A Sturm's Eye View

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 15 January 2001

Today was cool and windy with just enough rain to be an annoyance. Tony and I worked on The House of Steel for an hour or so before deciding it was better to wait for another day. The forecast indicates the weather to improve by late afternoon/early evening.

Thomas arrived home after an unpleasant night. His friend threw up in the tent, so they moved outdoors. Then the extreme heat was replaced by wind and rain, forcing them back inside. The weather change was later at home and I slept little, so we both spent a significant portion of the day asleep. 

Thought for the day:

Life would be tolerable but for its amusements.

George Bernard Shaw


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Tuesday 16 January 2001

A long day on The House of Steel. It's more fun now that it's taking shape. But there are also logistical problems that I didn't anticipate. Like, the steel beams aren't exactly straight. And welding angle iron on a beam warps both the angle iron and the beam while they're being welded together. Heat expands metal. I was very pleased with myself when I laid out where the piers go that the building was within 1% of square. Now it's shimming here and tugging there to pull everything into shape. All interacting so that the end result is an approximation of the original concept. But it's a house, not a piano. It doesn't need to be accurate within a millimetre.

Building a real house sure is different to building one with toy blocks. 

Thought for the day:

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

John Lennon


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Wednesday 17 January 2001

A bit of a shock this morning. Half a world away, my new friend Tom Syroid writes about an accidental injury to his son, Landon: "It was an accident, of course. But a still feel responsible. I broke my son." Tom and Landon were playing vigorously as fathers and sons have done from time immemorial. Why not? It's fun. And as happens from time to time, there was a completely unintended consequence and it stopped being fun. It hurt. The fun was temporary. The hurt is temporary. A full life contains both pleasure and pain; we could hardly be able to understand the one without the other.

There are those among us who would remove all risk. A world with no sharp or hot objects, no flights of stairs, or cliffs; no mountains to climb. No love, lest you feel hate. No pleasure, only the pain of boredom.

Thought for the day:

There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.

Joseph Addison


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Thursday 18 January 2001

"The most merciful thing in the world... is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but someday the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality... That we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

Thus wrote H P Lovecraft early in the last century. It was a time of great optimism: infant mortality had significantly declined, agriculture had dramatically improved yields, factories produced material goods for the hoi polloi that hitherto only the rich could afford, the telegraph and telephone provided instantaneous communication and personal transport could get you to anywhere on the planet in a matter of weeks. Science and its companion technology promised economic liberation for all.

A century later and Lovecraft's dark vision would appear to be well on the way to being fulfilled.

Christian fundamentalists preach the literal, contradiction-free truth of the Bible: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." -- Luke 14:26. Sorry, but I prefer: "Honour thy father and thy mother..."-- Exodus 20:12 and "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart..." -- Ecclesiastes 9:7.

Global warming doomsayers exhort me to ignore the consistent satellite, radio sonde, USA and polar temperature records. Only the temperature records of the Third World and computer models that can't backcast count. "The world is about to drown and suffer massive species extinctions. Don't tell me that it's only huge cities sinking under their own weight and that the photographic record shows the deserts are shrinking!"

Big Bang cosmologists explain away the structured clustering of galaxies the laws of physics demand would take twice as long as the universe has existed by telling me that the laws of physics are different now than they were 15 billion years ago. "Of course we don't publish papers by plasma physicists explaining that structure with the equations of classical physics. They're only glorified electricians! And they don't even believe in The End of the Universe."

Science writers cheerlessly tell us there's nothing significant left to discover. John Horgan says: "Well, first of all, all these great scientists in the past have helped us create a kind of map of all of reality from the very small scale of quarks and electrons right out to the edge of the universe, to the galaxies and quasars that we can see there through our telescopes...  My argument is basically that in the future, we will be filling in details within this framework, that scientists have already created with all these different theories, and there won't be any great revolutions analogous to the theory of evolution or to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity or to quantum mechanics."

Artificial Intelligence enthusiast Ray Kurzweil predicts the end of humanity by the end of this century. "There is no longer any clear distinction between humans and computers". Imagine the stampede to give up the experience of having an erect penis or a wet vagina, childbirth, playing with a child and a puppy, hugging a friend, drinking chardonnay and eating a perfectly cooked roast of mutton with Dutch cream potatoes smothered in freshly made aioli...  to become part of a SimCity running on Microsoft Windows 2099. 

ROFLMAO!

Thought for the day:

It takes a very unusual mind to undertake analysis of the obvious.

Alfred North Whitehead


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Friday 19 January 2001

Yesterday I purchased a second hand laptop, a Toshiba Satellite Pro 400CS. It's a P75 with 16 MB of RAM, CD drive and an 800 MB hard disk. It came with a Xircom NIC and modem. Just enough grunt for Windows 95 and Office 95. I will be selling the Intel iStation and the Orb 2.2 GB removable hard drive, so I will end up with some spare dollars left over. The iStation won't let me control which ports to open so that Thomas can play his Internet games. That annoys me as it has an excellent firewall. The Orb has not been particularly useful, especially since I purchased the tape drive. The chap who found the laptop for me is buying the iStation so I only need to find a buyer for the barely used Orb.

I downloaded all the drivers for the laptop from Toshiba's website. I'll burn a custom CD with those files, Win95 OSR2 and Office 95 essentials if that will all fit on one CD. Then make a duplicate. The Toshiba came with its manuals, but the disks were missing. Following that I will do a clean install.

That makes seven computers now at the Electronic Cottage. A bit of overkill really. Anybody need an old Olivetti XT Quaderno (A5 form factor) with a German keyboard? One of the hinges for the screen was broken when I took it as a trade in on an old machine. I glued it back in place, but you need to prop the lid as there's no longer enough friction for it to stay up by itself.

One nice thing about the Toshiba will be that I can burn a CD with my favourite music in MP3 format. The internal speakers are crap, but my Philips headphones work well enough.

No profundity today!

Thought for the day:

Pure Spirit, one hundred degrees proof -- that's a drink that only the most hardened contemplation-guzzlers indulge in. Bodhisattvas dilute their Nirvana with equal parts of love and work.

Aldous Huxley


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Saturday 20 January 2001

Went shopping for paint for the exposed steel poles and beams in The House of Steel today. In the afternoon we met with distant relatives by marriage who just purchased an apartment in Hobart. Brian and Margaret have visited Hobart on many occasions from Sydney for conferences and love it. Brian works in the finance industry and Margaret teaches computer programming. We walked to a local wine bar and coffee shop in Battery Point where everyone had coffee and scones with cream and jam. Except me. I had a glass of Andrew Hood's Pinot Gris. Delicious with an aroma of fresh peaches. Truly magnificent! Oh, and Margaret drank Lady Grey tea. I was tempted to order some fresh oysters to go with the wine, but as the waitress was too stupid to ask if I wanted anything else to eat when I declined the scones, I didn't bother.

If you read this when you are back in Sydney, Margaret, I hope you enjoyed your evening at the Opera House listening to Verdi's Requiem. It's one of my favourites. I particularly like the Telarc recording of Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony.

Thought for the day:

Taste is only to be educated by contemplation, not of the tolerably good but of the truly excellent. I therefore show you only the best works; and when you are grounded in these, you will have a standard for the rest, which you will know how to value, without overrating them.

Goethe


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Sunday 21 January 2001

Marguerite and Thomas painted the poles and beams of The House of Steel with primer while I made 20 CDs of Garry Paige's music for distribution to radio stations since Festival appear disinterested in doing anything with Jimmy Little's recording of In a Field in France. When I finished, I took over from Thomas who was finding the heat a little too much to take. Garry, Nerelle and their daughter Scarlet arrived with a bottle of wine. Much to Scarlet's disgust, Garry and I got nostalgic and listened to old songs that made us nostalgic for more. A boozy evening. Jimmy Reed, Charlie Mingus, Thelonius Monk, Billie Holliday...

Thought for the day:

Music should never be harmless.

Robbie Robertson


 

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Jonathan Sturm 2001

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Jonathan Sturm 2001