Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cryptic

Puzzling and ambiguous.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Alcohol

Drinking alone is seen as a bad thing.
Drinking with others seems like a laugh.
If drinking alone is a bad thing then drinking for the taste is not a valid reason.
So why is it acceptable to get drugged up so long as there are others around you doing the same?

I suspect it's all just conditioned.

Still a fine Rioja is damn nice to drink. I just can't seem to justify drinking it on my own.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pontarfynach

This is a story of how Pontarfynach (Devil's Bridge) came to be. Anyone claiming it was the monks of Strata Florida is not telling you the whole truth. This story starts in a small cottage on the side of the Pumlumon mountain range.

Esyllt's father swung open the weakly hung door of their two roomed cottage and let forth his demand upon her, "Esyllt, one of our cows has gone missing in the hills again, can you go find her. It's almost milking time and we don't want the wolves to get her."

"Certainly," Esyllt replied obediently. She was still concerned about the argument that the two of them had had that morning. She was only too happy to have a chance to lift the dark cloud which still lingered over them.

Not knowing how long she might be gone, she picked up her brown wool shawl and wrapped it tight around her long wavy brown hair. She first of all wandered to the pen which kept their cattle to see which cow was missing. It was the one that she expected to be missing; that cow always seemed to like to go up high in the mountains. As she sighed she realised that it at least made it easier to try to find the beast. She set off up the path, following the river, knowing well that cows never stray far from fresh water.

After more distance than she really cared for, particularly as she knew her supper was awaiting her return, the path along the river became steeper. As the river cascaded down from pool to pool, the path had to wind wildly from side to side to be able to even attempt to follow the reverse path of the river. After a large sinuous series of bends to surmount a large waterfall Esyllt finally laid her eyes on her prize.

The bovine creature stood on the over side a gorge, slowly chewing the cud. Esyllt thought she felt the eyes of the cow mocking her across the bubbling white foam which separated them. She bend down as close as she dare to the harsh edge of the gorge and tried to coax the animal to move. It stood deadly still, not budging an inch closer to the edge of the gorge hanging over the ranging torrent below, but also not edging any further away. Esyllt supposed that the cow must have crossed lower down when the water was less fierce, but that a storm further up the hills had swollen the river so that it was no longer passable. The cow must have found high and dry land on the edge of this gorge.

She turned around to try to find a better location for crossing and was surprised to find an old man hunched over and enveloped by the folds of a long dark coat.

"You seem to be in some trouble?" the old man asked.

"Yes, my cow is stuck on the other side of the gorge and I fear that it is impossible to cross over such a steep gorge. To attempt would certainly be disastrous."

The old man pointed to the cart of rocks behind him, "My horse and I were traveling to a village not far from here with this stone. However I'd be happy to build a bridge for you with only one small condition for allowing you safe passage over it."

"Surely it would not be a small condition for such a grand piece of work?"

"I am old and have made more than enough money in my very long life, I would be more than happy to help such a distressed and fine young woman such as yourself."

Esyllt thought about this for a few moments. That cow was important to her father and her and it would need to be a large condition for it not to be worth making if it ensured the safe return of the cow. She made up her mind with ease. She was now interested what the condition was so asked straight out: "What condition would a crafts man place on such a feat of construction?"

"I only wish to own the soul of the first living creature to cross the bridge."

Esyllt thought over this cost and decided that it was not too great a cost to ask for being able to eat through the winter. She nodded in agreement and spoke words confirming and thanking the old man.

She felt she must excuse the man to start his work and explained as much. "I shall leave you to your hard toil and return with some food from my cottage to sate your hunger from your work."

"Thank you," he responded, "you are a most kind girl." With that Esyllt turned away and set off home.

When she arrived home she bundled a loaf of bread into a cloth and covered with her coat before setting off. As she opened the door to leave her noise roused her dog from where he had been resting by the fire and he decided that it was time to follow his mistress. He started to yap at her heels as she set off back up the path down which she had just come.

After another hour of walking she found herself turning the last corner to face the man once again. He had done as he'd said and had build a sturdy bridge across the small gorge. She walked up to the edge of the bridge and turned to the man.

"Thank you sir for your work. Your craftmanship exceeds your generosity, this must be the strongest bridge I have ever seen."

He dipped his head as he replied, "You flatter me too much, I'm just trying to help you. You should retrieve your cow before night closes in upon us."

She nodded and produced the cloth bound bread from where she'd been keeping it dry under her clothes. She tore off a chunk and threw it across the gorge so that it landed just in front of the cow. The dog sensed that a fun game of catch was just beginning and bounded across the bridge to eat the bread in one large gulp. He turned around and faced Esyllt panting, waiting for more bread to be thrown.

Esyllt did not throw any bread though and instead turned to the old man. "There you go," she said, pointing at her dog, "you may have Ceris' soul." As she said this she felt the ground start to rumble. She would have sworn that she could see steam rising from the edge of the old mans clothes.

"You know that is not what I mean," rumbled a voice from under the cloak of the old man. It sounded far lower and wholly changed from when he last had spoken.

Esyllt turned back to face Ceris and slapped her leg. "Come here Ceris," she chimed. When she looked back she saw that the bridge builder and his cart had disappeared as quickly as they have arrived. All that was left in the air was a faint smell of brimstone, confirming exactly what she had suspected all along.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

For Kirsten

By the gods I would will the whole world to be slain
  if it allowed me but one glimpse of thy beauty again.
Thoughts of thou everywhere, leaving my mind riddled,
  filled with those images that lead me to be addled.
Yet with the lucidity of a child I see the world anew
  an oxymoron of clarity and confusion from missing you.
When together all seems boundless, we revel in freedom
  from any of my fear and pain you provide a sanctum.
Inside the walls of this temple none but us can encroach
  within here all our feelings are beyond reproach.
At your altar I worship, focusing all my will through awe
  a lone gift I do place, a gift I decree never to withdraw.
A single red rose, the beauty blossom to time so brittle,
  a glowing, dying token which time doth slowly whittle.
Dew drops chasing down its stem rest on the tip of a thorn
  hanging like our tears, suspended until we suffer lovelorn.
Time framing beauty with edges only heightens every sense,
  acknowledging these limits makes all the emotions intense.
Memories try to trap the warm light of the doomed devotion;
  but only ever capture a side of the never ending emotion.
Between us we share experiences that will last for a lifetime,
  for happiness is everlasting and our moments, sublime.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Emotion to sentence part 1

Love is when you start caring about someone else more than yourself.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Burnt Bridges

To burn bridges to stop temptation does not help defeat it. Strength of mind does not come from one destructive act. One moment of fortitude giving an irreversible action doesn't give you freedom.

Deliverance comes not from being forced but from choice.

If you fear being control by possessions, do not give up all possessions. If you are worried about appearing wrong, don't hide in situations where you can never be wrong.

Burning bridges leaves only ashes and there is always the ford to cross the river.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Creed point 479

I believe in choice.
I believe in weighing up quality of life against the sanctity of life.
I believe in euthanasia.

Does that mean that I should believe that in some cases that suicide is a 'good death'; an end to suffering.

If death is a valid exit from terminal physical illness, logically death must be a valid exit from terminal extreme mental illness.

The writing of the words (with HTML tags added to demonstrate) offer the resolution: euthanasia for physical suffering is about shortening an already shortened life, this is where it differs from suicide.

That just raises more issues though:
  • Why does an already shortened life mean it's acceptable to shorten it further?
  • Is it even the case that euthanasia is only used when life has already been shortened by an illness?
  • Is the separation between a physical illness and a mental illness in the cognitive ability of the patient?
  • Don't the mentally ill have moments of lucidness?
  • Why is it perfectly acceptable, if not even sometimes the recommended or desired choice, to put an animal down?
  • Animals still feel pain, they exhibit self awareness, they exhibit compassion, how are they so different from us; particularly when they are not the ones making the choice?
  • Is the difference because we can build pyramids and animals never do?
  • I've not even fleetingly touched upon the fact that the world containing more than one person and that our actions affect others as much as they affect us.

The above is why I will never be a law maker, I'm too open to suggestions, too scared to try to cage an idea or draw a line. Perhaps I should take the easy line and praise the sanctity of life above all else.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hopefully this'll be the last

Jen (who used to have a blog, but then she got a life) sent me a link to this article as well as commenting on my last post on this subject.

I think (with the help of everyone's comments) I've decided where I lie on this issue. I appreciate that the world isn't black and white, I know that moral values are very much shades of grey and slide into each other. This idea doesn't stop me from believing strongly in an ideal. When choosing to reinforce this ideal I have to weigh up the situation and choose to act accordingly. I think I'll use eating as an analogy as I feel that the right of people to be treated with respect and dignity is as important as sustenance.

Every time I eat I might get food poisoning and die; this doesn't stop me from eating food. However I don't eat whatever is closest to hand when I'm hungry. I think this sums up the idea of when to intervene (eat) and when to not.

If I go to defend someone I might get stabbed and die, stopping me from doing further work to make the world more like I think it should be. I might not though and given that I still strongly believe that this sort of behavior is what vindicates further racist actions and so when appropriate I will still take action. While I know very little change in the world will come about, mountains are not built in one wheelbarrow load.

So I'm satisfied that while not doing anything might not have been the morally right thing to do, given the situation it is understandable to choose either option.

I will not, however, live in a state of fear that I might get stabbed and so not try to do right. That article describes how someone got stabbed while stopping an assault: yes there is always danger in all actions we do, but irrational fear of what might happen shouldn't stop us acting. If we get ourselves into a position where we don't act solely due to a disproportionate fear of reprisals upon us then we have started falling down a slippery slope.

We won't wake up one day to find a racist society to have sprung up over night: we'll wake up to find ourselves part of a racist society which has slowly grown over decades.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A play of three acts

I want to see it, I hope it's there.
I don't want to face it; not for fear,
but because it might not exist.



Hoping to see a box holding nothing.
Silence cloaked blackness; my freedom,
encased in a sweet nulling void.



Dreams of slipping and losing myself,
nothing shall I leave; my last tear,
climbs off a slowly sinking ship.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's time to grow some sharper teeth.

This is my follow up to this.

In response to...

Jon: Who cares? I care about people and the right for them to live as people with respect.

Kirsten: I would have done the same thing with or without you there. I was not suggesting I weigh in, just that I should have shown support to the people who were being harassed. In my mind silence in this case is complicity. What's to bet that the man thinks he was only saying what everyone else around him was thinking but too scared to say; after all if this wasn't the case then we'd have interrupted him surely?

Hane: It's not really a matter of danger or of having a resolution to the problem, it's a matter of showing where my thoughts lie: of showing where my votes lie. I'm not suggesting that anything would have come of me going up and saying something. There probably would have been lots of shouting of abuse. However it's the little steps which scale mountains. We won't affectively fight racism by holding festivals of world music in Trafalgar Square; we won't fight it by locking up those who rant and rave about it; we'll fight it by saying the little things and doing the smallest of actions which are the things which actually change memes.

It might be possible that trying to find some identity for myself was one of the things motivating me to think I should have done something, but that's different from the assertiveness which you suggest. My motivation was one of attempting to project some of my beliefs onto others in the world so that they can at least attempt to understand them a little more. This is very different from wanting to be the assertive hero.



Having said all that I also feel I should mention that this guy was almost body checking the two men that he was hurling abuse at. How do we know he didn't follow one of them home on the train and then assault him? How do we know he didn't go home but along the way burnt down the house of someone else who he thought was 'poison'? How do we know he didn't go home via the orphanage and spend 2 hours reading bed time stories to the children?

We don't. All I know is that I saw something which I believe is the symptom and cause of some of the deeper streaks of violence and hatred from people to other people. Having seen and registered all this, knowing all of this, believing all of this I still did nothing!

Would it have been different if it had been two women who the man was insulting? What if it was two women that he was harassing with lewd sexual comments? This would have exactly the same borderline legality to it, leaves people feeling bad and rejected, has just as much possibility to turn more physical, yet would you still just walk by? Would you all still come up with the same excuses you've given me? Are you all just trying to justify times when you've turned blind eyes to events even though they've been so against your set of beliefs?

I know this post is full of questions and anger. I know that there isn't really any resolution, particularly for something in the past between people I'll never see again. I know that heroes are only people who have done foolish acts yet managed to survive. I know all this yet I still worry.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dancing with the devil

I have dined with the pale one,
I've taken tea with him as well.
I've felt the warm trickle
as my arm leads me to my hell.
The twilight helps remove my fun,
it's all left to me by the night.
The path before me doth fold away;
will he nibble or will he bite?

Red skin flashes,
yellow fires ablaze.

I find myself in a single shard.

Dazed and lost I gaze at me,
wishing for the warm sun of day.
If only I'd never offered my hand
and danced with the devil.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mouse

Blue aura eminating from evil spirit cushion;
the truth disolves into the meaning of words.
Sitting alone in a wicker basket, soon to be lost,
never to have eyes look upon it once more.
Oh to be the gift that is lost in translation.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hither and dither

Yesterday is why I should give up drugs,
tomorrow is why I never will.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Airports

Sometimes I like to go to airports. Actually I really like going to airports. But I don't like it when I have to get a plane. Instead I really like it when my parents want me to pick them up from one of their many trips around the world. Be it India, Italy, Spain or the US of A, I will always aim to be there about 20 minutes early.

This 20 minutes is dual purpose. It allows them to get in early and head off out of the airport early as well and so get back to that proper English cup of tea just a little bit sooner. However I don't do it just for them. It allows me time to sit there, recover from the drive, maybe grab a coffee and maybe read a few pages of a book. But after a while I won't be able to resist anymore. I just have to watch all the people coming off the planes.

It's just a simple facts, airport arrival lounges are one of the happiest places which I know of which is full of people. Where else can you see young couples embracing after weeks of not seeing each other. If you cast your eye a bit to the left you can see the man in a suit, clearly back from a one day business trip, offering to help an elderly lady with the bag she is struggling to get onto the trolley. A small child grips her dad's hand tighter and moves closer to his legs so that she can get past the man in the suit. Groups of stag and hen night party goes are laughing about all the antics of the past 48 hours. A middle age inventor carries a borrow briefcase and is wearing his only suit; he's hoping that this will be the trip where he gets the backing he needs.

And all of this is to be found in just one place. One small concentrated spot of general happiness. There might be two hundred people shouting, but I always feel so calm there. On top of this the thing which always brings a grin to my face though is how unintentional this all is, it's just how it's all come together.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tradition for it's own sake

or how I learned to love the man.



It being the 19th of February it is a scant 5 days since the day of St. Valentine. For no particular reason my thoughts have recently been focused in the direction of problems with this festival. While it brings many people much happiness it also brings many people much stress and much anger flows with it. The reasons which are normally cited are ones of commercialism and why do you just have to treat your SO specially on just one day of the year. The latter is usually followed by the question of why shouldn't every day be like valentines day. Well these are all interesting comments, and should possibly be followed by cries of BAH humbug, but this might be followed by visitation by spirits, so is probably best avoided.

Back to the topic at hand, why should we celebrate in the way and at the time dictated by the commercial overlords which rule our lives. To fight against these commercial overlords may well be a worthy cause, but to do it just for one day of a year seems a little bit like directing your effort poorly. The fact that commercialism is intensified at Valentine's day only goes to show that the real reason for it, the bond between people, is strong. The same is true of Christmas; although most of what we see in the physical world is commercial rubbish, it is in no way the most important aspect. The feelings of those around us are by far the most important aspect of both of these special days. The feelings of the one you might be treating specially is what it's really all about.

So what of treating this person specially, surely they should be the shining star in your life, blotting out all other lights all of the time. Putting aside practical considerations of how this could be done while still leading a life with a healthy balance, surely this is the ideal. Here I wish to lead by use of an analogy, which while analogies are as flawed as they are useful, I use one here to eliminate a good couple of paragraphs work. Now that I am earning in a full time job I easily earn enough to afford to have someone cook for me every night. Within the grasps of my money filled fist I have the opportunity for a washing up free world with no need to cook, so why do I foolishly still cook for myself. If I did then the great feeling of going out for a meal with friends would get diluted down to being only a small smile at the edge of my face when I paid the bill every night. Living is about contrasts, life needs ups and downs to give us something to calibrate against. If we lived forever would we appreciate life nearly as much as we do (or at least should).

Hopefully I've convinced you, at least particularly, that having moments of very special treatment surrounded by special treatment is a good idea. So why should we choose the 14th day of the second month for this; after all any other day is just as good. Tradition has to rear it's ugly head here. Yes it is tradition to do special things on this day, for no good reason (although 9 months later is during early winter with large food stocks and nothing to do, but that's no longer relevant to life). However is no good reason a good enough reason to not do something and to change from tradition? "Sorry darling, but I'm going to do something really special for you on the 10th of June as I see no reason why it should be on the 14th of February" This line of reasoning strikes me as the sort of reasoning that leads to me moving my cheese from the second shelf in my fridge to the third; there is no reason to have it on the second, but no reason isn't a reason to change to another thing with no reason. The final issue I shall tackle is that of if your fridge has no cheese in it at all.

Having spent several Valentines days at the bottom of bottles, full of plastic and poisons or just being self destructive in a multitude of other ways I learn something. The days spent recovering and being reminded of that day made me realise something; clearly I have far more to my life than just not having a significant other. So instead of moping around trying to punish myself in some twisted way I grasped what I did have. I had the ability to do what I want, to be as reckless as I want (for better or worse) and to not have to plan how I can best express in physical reality what I feel to the depths of my emotions: I had my freedom, it was just the world and I. The world gave me good friends.

So what did we do, we decided to gather. We formed our own ritual. We drank beer, we ate pizza, we watched kung-fu films, we stayed up late, we had fun. In poker you can get dealt hands from which you are unlikely to win, but you can still enjoy the betting and the playing of the game. I've never been more bored at a poker game than when I decided I would always fold unless I had a very large chance of winning. You sometimes get a good hand, you sometimes get a bad hand, but you can still enjoy playing the hand, no matter what it is.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sofa

Inspired by a DFS sofa advert but dedicated to the sofa I am on right now.


Happy times do flow
when you are close to me,
I make your life real.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Haiku time again

Beautiful maiden
dancing across every thought
until I see her

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ode to drugs

Written while drinking coffee today at work. I failed in my coffee free day!


Tea takes the edge off coffee
and cola takes the edge off tea.
Caffine is what I must desire,
as life takes the edge off me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

99 words

This is actually a summary of my novel in 99 words. Contractions count as one word, right? By the end of this year this shall be expressed in 200,000 words. I'm sure of it as I'm already about 3% there!


The future spread before her; she pauses, unsure of where this ledge hangs over. Seeing things she shouldn't know, hearing things she can't change; she needs to find the way to use all she knows. She visits a manor house, a kind old man tells her what she needed to know, but didn't want to hear. Throwing all she holds dear away she searches for what she wishes is real. In the end she is alone in an ice house, crying while on the cold floor. An old friend speaks to her, it is finally time to step forward.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Intelligent Design vs. Evolution

I've been listening to some discussions on intelligent design vs. evolution. I'm quite ashamed of the people involved though, so I've not taken part. They either seem to be very stuck in their ways (on both sides) convinced that they are right, or to just argue about some abstract thing which doesn't really relate to the discussion but that they can have a civilised debate on. It just seems sad to me that they have to either run away from the discussion or stand firm and attack each other.

Anyway one of the big points seems to be if ID follows the scientific method and seems to revolve, at least in part, around if it's falsifiable or not (and that scientific theories should be falsifiable). Issue which haven't been drawn in are the offering an explanation of something which hasn't previously been explained by evolution but is by ID or visa versa and the issue of simplicity of theories.

I wanted to get people into a discussion about the whole idea of missing links being missing, so you don't see half animals very much in fossils. Now clearly this is a problem with evolution if we expect things to be going at a gradual rate, but if sudden changes in the environment cause more rapid natural selection then the half whale half bear creature would only be around for a few 10,000 years, so is unlikely to be captured in the fossil. After all the earth is a big place and it's very difficult to get fossils.

This then brings me back to the idea I had about ID: so it's about a designer manipulating the genes to design things (at least I think that's what it is, if I'm wrong please someone mention it). I assume this means the designer causes the genes to mutate, as I can't really see any other way it could be justified as there is LOTS of evidence for genes. So how can we easily separate one mutation which is brought about by the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curve of energy and one which is brought about by a designer? But then I'm clearly having this influenced by my own ideas about how the universe happens, so perhaps both sides would totally disagree with me.

It also strikes me that the proponents of evolution sometimes accuse the ID supporters of bringing in religion through the back door; but how can we be sure they are doing that? Is it a viral meme at work (which to be honest, religion is!), is it through some fear of evolution or is it done truly to get people to be more open minded (and maybe more vulnerable to certain memes, sorry but I can't help being sinister!).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The phlogiston theory of combustion

I found this interesting article today and thought I should post it here.

It's a history of a brief period of the 18th century when some alchemy was becoming more like modern chemisty. It's a really interesting read if you think in a modern chemistry mindset and it's a real challenge to set your mind to work like it did for those early scientists.

If you're not of a modern chemistry mindset then it might not be nearly as fun or interesting, but it doesn't go into complex detail so you might find it interesting for a different reason to me.

Anyway a good exercise for scientists to try shifting their paradigm and not to bring with the shift any thoughts of: "well they were so silly in those days, this is such an quaint idea".

Go on, I dare you!