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Journal 2021-09-12

I’ve only had the phrase “do you know who I am” said to me once – I couldn’t resist saying “nope” and didn’t work there much longer. Another time, some “head of” something or other in a bank went red with frustration, muttering indignantly about “no respect”. And I still remember the look of stunned shock by an interviewer when I stood up in the middle of an interview and walked out. But the truth is, I was engaging in the same nonsense as they were.

Random Thoughts

The point of any art is not to tell you anything, but to help you experience your own thoughts and feelings.

Don’t let people teach you to be tedious.

It is good to be unusual – usual is being shocked into comatosity by the system into which you are thrown.

The only certainty is an experience of now. From which all art and emotion flows.

I think fewer people can act realistically than sing well, even though people effortlessly perform their usual personality with mastery.

Music is the drama of dissonance, suspense and resolution.

The future soon becomes the past; far-off events that seem so important at the time, come and they go. The waiting is soon forgotten, as can be any pain, unless resurrected for a present story. Life is the locus of attention through which events pass.

The sudden moment of realisation radiates from any great art.

Art senses truth.

It is true that necessity is the mother of invention in the sense that comfortability dulls the need for new action, but the real secret to doing anything well is enjoying the process. The perfect combination then is enjoying being out of your comfort zone.

I get embarrassed if someone really likes something I’ve done – because I’ve become used to doing everything privately, and someone enjoying my stuff is like they’ve just rummaged through my secret things.

The benefit of privacy is you can devote attention to what inspires you, with no interference. The benefits of being public are gaining access to great help, talent, ideas, and expertise.

There is usually more wisdom to be gained from failure because it invites reappraisal of what is central, whereas success often distorts a person’s senses and self-understanding.

Wounds of the mind cling to the familiarity of sadness. Drip-fed addictions waste my skin away. My words are dead. Life is staring at a broken screen.

Strangeness is a release from popular conformity to the objectively dull.

Reality is far too big for a little me to see.

Silence calls.

Film, Music, Art, Games, Tech. All these can cross-pollinate.

Bringing life to words on a page is art.

My daily diary is a collage of screenshots, photos, and videos.

Lifting weights makes me feel hot, running helps me feel alive, but walking helps inspire me.

It is possible to define much that is essential to humanity’s flourishing with an inverse reading of Orwell’s 1984.

On the other side of the horizon is the horizon.

I enjoy programming and making things.

Learning turns on your version iteration loop.

The phone screen tries to zombify me and sometimes it wins.

Showbiz defaces art with its signature.

APIs are so sexy.

I originally became plant-based when I realised I didn’t want animals to suffer because of me. It was fascinating to hear all the trite justification slogans echoed back to me that I had once said, by people insisting I explain why.

If causality is as perceived then existence is impossible, for its chain can not begin from nothing.

I hope the panoplies of life extension companies flourish because my to-do list is about a couple of hundred years long.

Problems are opportunities to improve.

Questions are open journeys, answers are closed ends.

The melody is yearning, as the outsider stands out from the crowd, either to be ridiculed or crowned. I wanna bathe in your obsessions; I wanna hear it on your lips – no more searching for hidden tears, in a desert night eclipse.

Ponzi scheme valuations are priced by the cashflow of future investors rather than by the profitability of fundamentals.

Highlander 2, Jaws 3, The Matrix 4. Ka-ching!

The ability to view every point in time and space simultaneously would be kinda cool.

Art. Any Random Thought ~ Version 1000.0.

Different mental states verifiably affect heart rate and blood pressure.

The best way for me to memorise something is by speaking the words; the next best is handwriting or drawing; followed by typing, which has only marginal benefits. Going over something in my head is the least effective heuristic.

Ever wonder whether there are higher dimensions of reality that are inexplicable from our perspective?

Previous generations were so preoccupied with surviving, and information was so sparse, that there wasn’t much scope other than to accept the situation as given.

The enforced gaming aspects of social media—scoring social status points for likes, plays and follows—exacerbates social pressure and mental heath problems.

Zigzagging is a very strange aspect of human behaviour, evident in any trending market or social pattern.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a social platform where only high quality interesting content can be posted, by real non-bot people.

People are “of their time” if they adhere to contemporary popular thinking and behaviour. In an evolutionary process, that rule would hold true for people today, relative to future generations.

In a dystopian future, if AI and robotics meant ruling cliques didn’t need attendant servants or slaves in sweatshops anymore, there would be a clear incentive to trim the population of the have-nots.

He didn’t particularly notice passers by; large chunks of experience disappeared into the dim twilight of disinterest. Unwilling to engage, he withdrew internally from a dull, ugly system into a dull, ugly mental state.

Something of the times. A wisp, pleading to a teddy bear, please forgive me, forgive me, I’ve been insane. Flaming hot lo-fi, roaring and raging with heat straight out of the furnace into a dystopian lifeless void. A nightmare trapped in Armageddon. Winter is ending.

Articulacy and insightfulness are not necessarily correlated; in fact if the antenna is slightly mistuned then layer upon layer of skilful verbiage can bury the axioms needed for deeper understanding.

Political ideologies or “isms” are theories about society. The next stage should be testing a theory against data, then modifying initial opinions in the light of real-world evidence, so that we arrive at a conclusion that works best for the current time.

Party politics encourage perfidy and divisiveness. Why can’t elected representatives be independent and vote on an issue-by-issue basis, fully accountable and not beholden to party diktats?

People on the right are rhubarb from the ism-left perspective. People on the left are rhubarb from the ism-right perspective. Therefore everybody is rhubarb from the ism perspective.

There has to be a new norm of civility backed up by what is verifiably true.

Politicians can be public or corporate, but hopefully not both.

Don’t allow the tyranny of matching socks.

To hedge “disappointment risk” you could bet on the candidate you don’t want to win.

One of the best inadvertent compliments is “everything’s just a joke to you.”

If you woke up one morning and found you were all-powerful, having been inserted into the world of a well-known story, such as The Lord of the Rings, that is populated with sentient beings, would you intervene and change the story?

If scientific discovery within the next few decades is able to stop the ageing process, then in distant epochs some of the oldest beings of Earth could be alive now.

How would you treat people if this were your last day alive? I don’t want anyone to suffer. I forgive and ask to be forgiven. I love you. Thank you.

When you think you might die, your soul calls out for love and connection, as when you first came into the world.

A new day to live is precious.

The lower the compassion the quicker to condemn.

Tell a better story.

Looking forward to the day when a home machine can scan and fix you before you even know there is an issue.

I would quite like a feature where I could order food in nutritional quantities e.g. choose a meal, then stipulate the amount of calories and/or protein. The size of the served food portion would be the nearest measure to the request.

Teas to revitalise you: Rooibos, Matcha, Dandelion Root, Ginseng, Hibiscus, Beetroot with Ginger. Superfoods for seasoning: Turmeric, Apple Cider Vinegar.

It’s a catchy little headline that 10,000 hours of practice makes perfect, but in fact it’s long-term sustained quality rather than quantity that matters. A lot of bad training leads to poor or even negative results.

It would take a journey of about 10,000 miles to see our blue globe floating in space.

Let the mind wander constructively, responding if there is anything interesting created; or actively do a relaxed nothing and see what emerges. Overstimulation is for survival mode, fighting the fires and grinding over the line.

I first learnt to code when I was a kid using Basic on a ZX Spectrum 128. My first programs were algorithmic stories based on the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. Since then I have built up a large code library of useful functions and classes over the many years I’ve been programming.

School is typically a training in becoming a drone, with extra badges and gold stars for conforming to the set standards of assimilation into the machinery. The next life stage is to be oiled-up with the particular drugs of choice, to desensitize and negotiate the drone bot through the system, for the waiting skip at the end (unless not already fallen off into insanity).

The fact that you will soon be dead can be a helpful reminder that you are alive.

A challenging situation is probably not happening at this moment.

Hubris: “I can’t see anything therefore there isn’t anything.”

I try to stay away from the frenzy of news and online commentary because it mostly depicts further distortions of mischaracterised situations.

“Someone must do something about something” leads to nothing. The world is changed as you change.

Those of us alive are currently about 7% of the people who have ever lived. Current pop: 7.5 billion. Historic pop: 108 billion.

Anatomically modern humans have been around for at least 200,000 years, according to the fossil record.

Adults generally (despite the facades) are often lost in a mix of anxiety, depression, frustration, regret, vengeance, anger, fear and self-loathing; in varying stages of struggle and turmoil. Yet young children are joyous, loving, curious, imaginative, creative, alive – everything we as adults should be. Something happens along the way that drains the joy and implants the madness. If we are aware of what that is, can we become better adults?

Millennia are micro units in the cosmic timescale.

Given sufficient time, a little bit per day literally moves mountains.

The world is abundant with both beauty and pain.

The internet is an amplifier of the positive and the negative.

It’s difficult to determine what is fringe or mainstream in the siloed channels of the internet, e.g., 1 million of 100 million is a lot of people, but is tiny as a proportion.

The staple forms of entertainment for leisured ladies and gentlemen of recent prior centuries were playing the piano, reading literature and writing letters. Romantic intrigue also seemed to be a thing (or maybe I’m just getting my history lessons from Jane Austen).

The descent into disillusionment is usual but not necessary.

Inspiration likes to hide when called for, and pops up later when you’re looking the other way.

Delusion is an assertion of oneself over reality; an insistence that the world conforms to mental projections of personal perceptions, or how it “should be”. Openness to life is accepting uncertainty, and exploring with astonishment at what the universe reveals.

I don’t talk in my sleep (or so I’m told), but I do sometimes flicker a line from some dream dialogue when the channel switches to awake.

See past the external tags, to the human being. You are not your attributes or your situation.

A statement can seem false at surface level but true when drilled deeper.

What society says you should do won’t always work for you.

From a practical perspective, my real weakness is flittering about, instead of focusing on one interesting activity for a sustained period of time.

Surprisingly, the genre of music I listen to most often is classical, mainly played softly and soothingly in the background.

If an aggressive, shouty person appeals to the times, are they great because many people of the zeitgeist say so?

When walking in the countryside with headphones, I can catch glimpses, thoughts and ideas. When walking in the countryside without headphones, I allow moments to catch me.

All the colours and textures of life complete the canvas.

The shadow of death can push a person into life.

If you are alive, you can improve.

Journal 2021-09-05

I would gladly undertake all computer activities on my phone wherever I happen to be, if functionality were comparable. Wearing special sunglasses that project personal holographic images of keyboards and screen displays would be fine, but I would not fancy wearing anything that plonks on my head and prevents my vision beyond its pixels.

Journal 2021-08-28

Wandering around, passing people engrossed in a myriad of stories and situations, one line leapt out: “If we get rid of Bruno that actually frees up money for the London office.” What they were drinking would have probably cost Bruno’s wages for a week. They were smiling in satisfaction with the idea, not talking with solemnity about the gravity of the consequences; not in cold calculated indifference or even in vengeful triumph – no it was a base self-satisfied broadcasting of how they were in a position of power over another.

Journal 2021-08-01

It is possible to define much that is essential to humanity’s flourishing with an inverse reading of this passage from Orwell’s 1984:

“There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

Podcast #7

jabberwocky

– By lewis carroll
A Little Bit of Drama

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Journal 2021-07-10

Confirmation bias afflicts even the most objective thinkers. I am generally sceptical that people, especially in our current febrile state, have the wise nuanced answers to the big questions of society, philosophy and the human condition. I think we are usually wrong, despite the confidence and self-certainty of the protagonists, who are wrapped-up in the self-constructed “isms” and other ideological belief identities into which life is forced. But things always change. We are improving. It is better to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t know who I am” and to experience where reality turns on the journey.

The Outer View

Beneath a mountain of tedium,

In a dull ugly system,

In an empty ocean of shadows,

Is a silhouette of pure fire heat

Drifting in the dark.

All I wanted was the wind;

The wind murmured with anticipation,

The grass turned to icy grey,

A fine mist fell,

And with the mist came my sorrow

Cooling my body

With her thousand kisses,

Leaving me there.

I am surrounded by ice crystals

floating down through silence

into soft glowing snow.

The only sound is the pulse of my breathing.

As the sun sleeps,

how many hearts are dreaming,

when the world stands still.

Smart Money

The aim is for smart money help available to everyone.

Smart rules enable optimisations and automations of a person’s finances, all in one place from a single app – including saving, borrowing, payments, investments, and trading.

The community aspect enables performance measurement and sharing of the best Smart rules.

Approval Addiction

If you are indifferent to other people’s opinions about you:

You don’t need to pretend or hide anything;

You don’t need to worry about impressions or what was said;

You don’t need to conform to rigid or mistuned expectations;

You don’t need to be offended or hurt by words;

There is no need to show-off and chase false, empty priorities;

You break an addiction to the approval of others;

You break free from inhibitions;

You have freedom to be who you are.

Podcast #6

Dawn

– By Robert Walker
A Little Bit of Drama

Dead shadows dance in the night

yearning for the dawn. 

Cold and forgotten walking scars,

drained by decay,

wasted by time,

stretch out,

hungered and blurred,

to a spark ignited,

climbing,

rising from the ground. 

From the last depths,

rays of hope entwine in the sky,

kissing the hills;

breathing new life

and wonders layered in light. 

Naked with joy, a new day, a new world is born.

Journal 2021-02-28

I remember as a young kid once being reprimanded by a stranger in a shop because I said that I didn’t like some latest fad with clothes (bizarrely at the time there was a short-lived fashion of wearing patches of cartoon pictures on denim). The explanation given was that it is popular, so I am wrong for not liking it too. The fashion changed a few months later and no doubt she changed to what she was supposed to like – to behave how she was supposed to behave and to insist on others behaving that way too.

A Different Story (Gandalf The Great)

What would have happened if Gandalf had accepted Frodo’s offer of the One Ring?

Gandalf freezes, the shadow of the ring draws his hand nearer; and as the fire skips a beat, the ring falls into Gandalf’s pocket. “I shall keep the ring safe and unused. However if there is just cause to use it, I shall become the guarantor of peace,” announces Gandalf solemnly.

As night draws in, Gandalf looks back over the hills at the tiny flickering lights of the Shire. The wizard whispers to himself: “There is much to do. Much to do.” He notices the weight of his robes and the precious ring within.

Gandalf wanders, ruminating intensely upon the weaknesses of elves and men. He reasons that elves are incapable of comprehending the true power of the Ring, and would foolishly wish to destroy the golden future of Middle-earth. He knows that mere men are too easily corrupted by its power. Gandalf is absolutely resolved: he must keep the Master Ring his own secret, at all costs.

Gandalf sits on the crest of Weathertop. The days pass, the rain falls but Gandalf does not notice; he is lost in matters of deepest consequence. Then out of every corner of the darkness come the cries of The Nine: “The Ring. The Ring!”

Gandalf raises his staff and proclaims: “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor, your master, the Lord of the Ring!”

“The Ring. The Ring!” chant The Nine. As the Ring slides onto Gandalf’s finger, the sky erupts with lightning. “I am the bringer of light,” exclaims Gandalf in triumph.

Gandalf of Many Colours imprisons Saruman the Traitor and unifies elves and men against Sauron, destroying the Dark Lord and his Dark Tower of Mordor. Much rejoicing is had by all. Gandalf announces that there is much more to do – to the consternation of Aragorn, who is executed for treason, with all his followers, kinsfolk and other suspected spies of Elrond.

Gandalf later wears an imperial gown of black and proclaims himself the Lord High God of all Middle-earth. He anoints his Ringwraiths Lords of Middle-earth, as a temporary edict to ensure order while the new Great Age of Wisdom is being forged. He puts his vast prison camps of heretics and traitors to work, building a bigger more magnificent tower on the ruins of the Dark Tower, called The Great Tower of Unity – as a example of beauty and perfection to all. Gandalf sits at the top of the tower in his golden throne room and ever-watches, ensuring his subjects are forever obeying his great will.

Gandalf is regularly overcome with anger at the disloyalty and ingratitude of his subjects, which necessitates public demonstrations of his great power, much to the amusement of the uruk-hai. Transgressors of the laws of Gandalf are sent to Mordor to learn more of The Way of Gandalf – they are not seen again.

One day, as the Lord High God of all Middle-earth is amusing himself with the antics of his hobbit court jesters, he sips from a chalice of poisoned wine, carefully prepared by his servant Grima Wormtongue. He takes his last gasp as the Ring slips from his withered finger on to the finger of his murderer. The Great Tower of Unity is renamed The Dark Tower.

But Gandalf had foreseen and refused this fate, placing his hope instead on the unnoticed deeds of hobbits. “Will you not take the Ring?” says Frodo. “No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me!”

Speed Barriers

Galaxies are micro specks in the universe, yet the nearest galaxy to Earth is tens of thousands of light years away. This should make the ego feel silly, and the heart in awe at the unimaginable immensity of it all.

There are five stages in the human expansion story:

Intercontinental;

Interplanetary;

Interstellar;

Intergalactic;

Interuniversal?

To physically visit a planet at the intergalactic stage might be entirely irrelevant to any intelligent species that evolves to such a level to circumvent the speed of light – they may discover something fundamental to the nature of the universe that is completely incomprehensible to us, in our rudimentary stage of development.

Journal 2021-02-07

Where would I live if I could live anywhere? I am British; I owe my freedoms and opportunities in life to this country and I would never give up British citizenship; however, if I could live anywhere in the world, would I choose here? I think, yes, but only for the summer months. London is a magnificent city steeped in multifaceted layers of history, a true world hub for almost any interest or activity; the countryside and coasts can be beautiful, relaxing and even inspiring – but it is undoubtedly the months of perpetual darkness and dreariness that dampen its desirability.

Journal 2021-01-17

Job: employed at a financial markets brokerage firm.

Side-project: writing an algorithmic trading terminal. This may sound like a huge project but I have actually already written the back-end code – it’s just a case of placing a GUI on top. I will gradually iterate to a stand-alone FinTech App for people to optimise and automate their finances.

Music: recording a cappella versions of powerful old songs. Also putting lyrics to classical music.

Filming: have added some poems to the list of scenes I will be shooting.

First To 8

First To 8 is played on the same 8 by 8 standard board used for Chess or Checkers.

The aim of the game is to be the first player to get 8 pieces to the other side of the board.

It is arguably at a level of strategy difficulty between Checkers (the easiest) and Chess (the hardest).

Both players have 24 regular pieces, one player has one colour and the other player another colour.

Each player places their pieces on all the squares of the first three rows nearest to them.

The players decide who has the first move of the game. Each player then takes turns to move one of their pieces.

Any piece can move to 1 of 3 different squares if available: Forwards Diagonal Left, Forwards Vertically, or Forwards Diagonal Right.

“Forwards” is moving towards the opponent’s side of the board.

A movement is completed when the player removes their hand from the piece.

Only one piece can occupy any square of the board.

If before moving, a player’s piece is Diagonally Forwards adjacent to an opponent’s piece and there is an empty square in the same direction behind the opponent’s piece, the player’s piece must move to the empty square and remove the opponent’s piece from the board.

If after taking, there is a new opportunity to “take”, then the player must take again in the same move until no longer applicable – this is known as a “multi-take” and can take up to 3 of the opponent’s pieces.

A player can not take Vertically Forwards.

The player must take if the taking opportunity is noticed by the opponent.

If there is more than one opportunity to take then the player has the option to choose which piece to use for the taking move.

The other side of the board is the first row of squares nearest to the opponent.

A piece can not move when it has reached the other side of the board.

The end of the game is when one player has a piece on all 8 squares of the other side of the board – they are the First to 8 – or the end of the game is when one player can no longer move.

The winner is the player at the end of the game with the most pieces on the other side of the board.

The differences with Checkers are:

  • The aim is to move quickly to the the other side of the board – not like in Checkers which is to take all the opponent’s pieces.
  • Pieces can move vertically forwards as well as diagonally forwards.
  • Pieces can move on both square colours.
  • There are 24 pieces per player instead of 12.
  • A piece can not move when it has reached the other side of the board – there are no Kings like in Checkers.

All these differences require the players to adopt different tactics from Checkers.

Causality

Science fiction presents some baffling themes around causality; for example, the future is the past because events are synchronous in all places at the same time. The current everyday understanding of causality is equally bizarre, however, since a causal chain of events cannot lead back forever, without having a prime initiating point that is outside of these rules.

Dawn

Dead shadows dance in the night

yearning for the dawn;

Cold and forgotten walking scars,

drained by decay,

wasted by time,

stretch out,

hungered and blurred,

to a spark ignited,

climbing,

rising from the ground;

From the last depths,

rays of hope entwine in the sky,

kissing the hills,

breathing new life

and wonders layered in light. 

Naked with joy, a new day, a new world is born.

Perspective

The first stage of learning is being unconsciously incompetent: you don’t know what you’re not good at because you don’t know what you don’t know. Well-being skills can be learnt. One typical motif is that how you look at anything changes your experience; for example: anxiety can feel like pleasurable excitement, as the body in both mental modes vibrates in a similar state of high energy; or a difficult situation is your challenge to evolve and an opportunity for personal discovery; or peace of mind is your inner state of being, not the possession of external conditions. And so on, all empirically true but under-practiced.

Anger

Anger. What a silly thing.

Is it of any use? Nope, it unbalances you.

The orcs in the Lord of the Rings are driven by fury and are utterly useless at combat.

Energy from anger is polluted, destructive, counter-productive.

It can be used to instil fear, to incite others and to self-aggrandise – which is why it has been the emotion of choice by demagogues and sociopaths.

It is often learned as the default response to any frustration.

There is often anger at other people for not behaving as it is believed they should.

The reality however is that you have no real idea what has and is happening in the other person’s life you are judging.

The fact is you only ever see a tiny aspect of all the parts in motion.

Talkerism

In the world of work, a meeting without creating an output of value is a drain on energy and time. Incessant thinking is the perpetual meeting in the head; and if it is just going over and over the same issues without providing constructive insight, then it is pointless at best, destructive at worst. Outside this room of perpetual thinking is the freedom to notice and enjoy what is happening, instead of what you are imagining.

Journal 2020-11-20

Never ever put yourself down. 

Reasons:

  1. Some people will revel in doing it for you. For their sake as much as yours, don’t make the conditions easy for them.
  2. Don’t diminish life; whoever you are, you are amazing and unique.
  3. Faux modesty is dishonesty.
  4. Don’t insult other people’s good opinions.
  5. Be strong for others. 

 Some personal pep talk points:

  1. Be in a position to help.
  2. Your growth should enable others to grow too. 
  3. This isn’t a zero-sum game.
  4. Relative measurements are irrelevant.
  5. Have fun!