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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 3 March 2003
A letter by Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) to The Observer (England) Sunday January 26, 2003:
I'm really excited by George Bush's latest reason for bombing Iraq: he's running out of patience. And so am I!
For some time now I've been really pissed off with Mr Johnson, who lives a couple of doors down the street. Well, him and Mr Patel, who runs the health food shop. They both give me queer looks, and I'm sure Mr Johnson is planning something nasty for me, but so far I haven't been able to discover what. I've been round to his place a few times to see what he's up to, but he's got everything well hidden. That's how devious he is.
As for Mr Patel, don't ask me how I know, I just know - from very good sources - that he is, in reality, a Mass Murderer. I have leafleted the street telling them that if we don't act first, he'll pick us off one by one.
Some of my neighbours say, if I've got proof, why don't I go to the police? But that's simply ridiculous. The police will say that they need evidence of a crime with which to charge my neighbours. They'll come up with endless red tape and quibbling about the rights and wrongs of a pre-emptive strike and all the while Mr Johnson will be finalising his plans to do terrible things to me, while Mr Patel will be secretly murdering people. Since I'm the only one in the street with a decent range of automatic firearms, I reckon it's up to me to keep the peace. But until recently that's been a little difficult. Now, however, George W. Bush has made it clear that all I need to do is run out of patience, and then I can wade in and do whatever I want!
The pain from the pinched nerve is dramatically lessened by standing up and eliminated by lying down. Consequently, The Git spent most of yesterday in bed. Meanwhile, the keyboard and mouse are set upon boxes so that he can type standing up. But that aggravates the lower back pain from the osteo-arthritis.
Thought for the day:
The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.
Roy Buchanan -- You're Not Alone
Tuesday 4 March 2003
Much to The Git's puzzlement, there is no pharmacy on campus, so he braved yesterday without analgesics. The standard lecture theatre seats are the worst for correct back posture and the pain becomes quite fierce about halfway through each 50 minute lecture. Fortunately, there's plenty of recovery time except for the double journalism lecture in the afternoon. Recovery entails walking about and discovering tutorial times, visiting Lee at the Uni Bar to rearrange the time for fixing her and her husband's computer on Wednesday and thinking...
Today, there is but one lecture, so in the interests of regaining fitness, The Git has decided to stay home on this day and Thursdays. The lecture is history and is the worst lecture to miss as this school/lecturer apparently believes that posting lecture notes and sound files on the intranet will encourage students to skip lectures. There are cassette tapes available at the library to listen to, but that of course means missing out on any slides and overheads shown. Still, one of The Git's friends passed history without the benefit of vision, so it should not prevent passing the examination.
The wet, cool weather that commenced Friday continued through today and promises to remain with us for the next few days. Of course, this is ideal weather for growing weeds and they are taking full advantage. Hopefully, a break in the weather will occur on Thursday and allow the weeding of the recently planted out brassicas and lettuces.
The Git has been enjoying very much reading Robert Dessaix's Speaking Their Minds, a book based upon a series of radio interviews with some of Australia's leading public intellectuals. The first interview is with Robert Manne who, like The Git is somewhat of a conservative, and also not of The Right as is so often the assumption.
There was a time when the claims of individuals against the community, tradition, government or conformity were strong. The sixties represented that kind of absolute break-out of radical individualism on all sorts of levels, both against conformity and against tradition -- and at that time I was, in regard to the sixties revolutions, a feeble fellow-traveller. At this particular moment in the culture I think radical individualism, both in the economy and in private lives, is the problem. As you've sensed from my writing, I would now like the balance to be redressed.
As far as my criteria for making judgments are concerned, I don't have criteria in general -- indeed, that's not the way I think about anything. I take it issue by issue, looking for something like 'the social good'. In each case I try to argue it through, to think of the kinds of considerations one should keep in mind, the consistency of the arguments people put for this or that point of view, and so on. But, to be honest, I very much rely on moral instinct -- a dangerous approach, I know, but one I don't think I can avoid.
To The Git this is analogous to the various geometries, each internally self-consistent, but based on different axioms. Plane triangles always add up to 180°, triangles on a sphere always sum to more than 180° and so on. Underlying these geometries is fundamental mathematics. Philosophies/ideologies differ in the initial assumptions, but all are based on a consistent, human morality, difficult as that is to define.
Two computerish problems have The Git scratching his head. The first relates to CorelDRAW! Suite, an old favourite that is exhibiting bizarre behaviours under WinXP. I use PhotoPaint to edit two pictures of The House of Steel, correcting blemishes in the scans and altering the contrast, brightness and intensity to print on the Epson Stylus Pro XL. Printing the images from PhotoPaint works fine. When the pictures are imported into CorelDRAW!, they print without the brightness, contrast and intensity changes! Piffle!
And the problem is solved. Converting the images from RGB to CMYK preserves the changes. Working with colour certainly adds a new dimension for things to go wrong.
The other issue is that while editing the images, at the original position of the clone tool icon, an image of the tool icon remains throughout the editing session. Possibly, this calls for an updated video driver, but The Git is more inclined to return to Win2k and its snappier performance.
The other computerish problem is some unreliability in remaining connected to my ISP. The Git misses DingoBlue. He misses having 40kbps dialup!
A computerish problem that doesn't have The Git scratching his head is the slowness of the university computer network. The PC he attempted to log on at seemed to take forever to authenticate with the Novell server, so he gave up in disgust. It's quicker in the small hours from home via the 28.8kbps dialup! Why isn't he scratching his head? Because fixing it's not his problem and that's a Very Good Thing!
Thought for the day:
Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the of the inquiring constructive mind.
Paul Simon -- One Trick Pony
Thursday 6 March 2003
What is the world coming to? The Git slept almost twelve hours this night past! Must be all the standing up to keep the pain from the pinched nerve at bay. Disappointingly, the problem is likely due to the lecture theatre seats and The Git's penchant for sitting at the front, rather than whiplash from looking at the pretty, young girls. The seats make it all but impossible to sit erect. Stuffing my jacket between the small of my back and the back of the seat made my stomach protrude far enough to prevent using the little table thingy. Tomorrow, following friend Jill Harrison's advice, The Git will sit toward the back of lectures, so that he is looking down toward the projection screen, rather than upward.
Finding places at the university where it's possible to work while standing is proving difficult. Tomorrow, it's time to speak with the disability officer. The admission of being disabled is irksome...
On the good news front, Thomas's primary school principle and one-time teacher is now driving us to and from the campus. Peter has refused monetary compensation and for that we are truly grateful. Peter and The Git have always enjoyed their occasional conversations over the last twelve years or so and are enjoying this opportunity to its fullest.
The subject of the first philosophy tutorial was one close to The Git's heart and mind for many long years: Descarte's question about whether we can know if we are dreaming or not. When The Git was a tadpole, he used to awake, dreaming that he was covered in white worms. To relieve this distress, he went to his mother who used to take him to the toilet and throw the worms into the bowl and flush them away. The Git remembered these events quite clearly and discussed them with his mother. Clearly, the white worms were dream-stuff that was occurring while he was sufficiently awake to be aware of what his mother was doing. Ever since, that blurriness between "reality" and "dream" has remained, reinforced by reading such as Chuang Tsu's dreaming he was a butterfly dreaming that it was Chuang Tsu.
The leader of the tute has a method for determining whether one is dreaming, or not. Jump off a high building. If you die, it was reality. If you survive it was a dream. The Git suspects it's better to remain unsure.
The weather has returned to fine, sunny and mild to warm. The weeds in the garden are about to meet their doom! The ones competing directly with the crops at least. The hoe I use is one fashioned after Eliot Coleman's design. In Australia, Gundaroo Tiller is the place to get them and other fine garden tools.
Thought for the day:
The excitement, the true excitement, was always in starting again. Nothing's worse than an accomplished task, a realized dream.
Kevin Coyne -- Sanity Stomp
Saturday 8 March 2003
Fortunately for The Git's deteriorating body, Monday is a public holiday, so there are three days in which to recuperate from his complete change in lifestyle. Perhaps that's an exaggeration. He is quite used to feeling compelled to push both body and mind close to their limits. He has reached some tentative conclusions about the hallowed halls of academe.
The first is that one of the primary purposes of the university, perhaps the most important, is to allow the youngsters in our society to form reproductive partnerships. This is hardly original, or even particularly interesting. The second is that almost everyone there is a devotee of a particular branch of learning to such an extent that they cannot view the world except in the terms of that learning. Paraphrased: to a hammer, everything else is a nail.
As a long time polymath, this amuses The Git no end. Perhaps most amusing of all are the feminists who argue that middle class white males have spent most of history thinking up ways to oppress women (people like Voltaire, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, René Déscartes and so forth). The Git can just imagine Mary Somerville saying: "That bastard Leibnitz discovered calculus just to oppress me!"
Could it be that the feminists are people so lacking in intellectual curiosity, that they cannot imagine that anyone else could be motivated by that pursuit? Or is The Git so blind to his own motives that he cannot see how his being the cook for the household and growing the vegetables, building The House of Steel and so forth oppresses SWMBO? Maybe She only expresses a preference for The Git's cooking and growing plants for their physical beauty because She is oppressed. Or completely stupid!
No, on balance, The Git and Mrs Git seem to have managed a workable arrangement where mostly we get what we want out of life. The Git has never thought Mrs Git stupid, as the feminists seem to. Impossible to understand because our mental processes are so different, yes. Stupid -- never!
Thought for the day:
Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
Jefferson Starship -- Modern Times
Sunday 9 March 2003
Thought for the day:
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