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 #2 Southern Spring 2003


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 Tuesday 2 September 2003  Wed 10/9   Sat 20/09  


 Wed 1 Oct  Sat 11/10  Sun 19/10  


 Mon 2 Nov   Thur 6 Nov  Sun 16 Nov  

 home education or home based learning, my birthday


 Work in progress -  
This page edited with Namo WebEditor v2.03.


 Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is.......
Well a local crow [Australian raven] has started bringing its food to our birdbath and leaving it there to fester. Don't know why, maybe it's an instinct for storing food in a place where ants won't get at it. Then again it could be a way of softening tough fibres, although I found a sausage there yesterday which must have come from some dog's food bowl or been scavenged from an open rubbish bin. The sausage would surely have been soft enough for a raven to eat. Maybe the soaking allows yeasts and bacteria to grow which taste good to the bird.

 Last time this happened it took ages of persistent cleaning out of the birdbath, and chasing the crow away to make it stop.

 Tuesday 2nd Sept 2003 

Fate seems to be conspiring against me again. I carefully collected some definitions of Qualia from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , and The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy made up a text file then sent it to work for some lunch time reading. [I call this a life, though many others may not ;-] I printed some of it out which I brought home. I took this out of my bag to read a bit while having tea but got interrupted. Then went to pick up Gwyneth from Tai kwon do, where Lewis had gone also to watch. Had to use the neighbours' car because our van is having the power steering fixed [at great expense]. Got back, sat down and watched TheBill, which is now just a silly British soap. Found that everything on the kitchen table is 'tidied' away and my reading matter on qualia has disappeared, completely!

The repair to the van's power steering is something I can't bear to think about. Bob from work says we shouldn't have done anything about it, just every so often top up the fluid which is leaking out causing the mechanism to growl very loudly. Glenda was worried about it failing some time when she is half way to or from Narrogin on a trip to see her parents. She would not be able to turn the steering wheel without the power steering. The cost will be hundreds of dollars. And this just when Gwyneth needs a new computer for her studies.

Sam C. at work has put in his resignation. He has been acting team manager for a few months now, but wants to try selling real estate. Good luck to him I say. He is 39 and wants to make a change before getting totally stuck in a rut at**del**.  Food for thought.

As a way of breaking out of my comfort zone I am going to start attending the Toastmasters meetings at work each pay week. It will be an effort but I have to start making a few changes. Navigate page

  Wed 10 Sept  

A fairly hum-drum week so far. I am coming down with the sore throat which half the people at work seem to have. There were 10 folks absent today. Maybe I should have been number 11. Seemed to survive OK though it was a strain to talk. Went to a Toastmasters [Exchequer] meeting. Mostly women there, seemed all very relaxed and civilised. I will try the other crowd next week. Rumour has it they are more formal in their goings on. I am betting there are more men - proportionally - in that group.

There was a power cut at home first thing this morning, and it seems to have thrown our Billion modem out of kilter again. I am amazed Lewis never noticed anything during the day. He has been sick though and obviously slept most of the day. Phoned Eric at Arachnet who decided that our modem seems to be particularly sensitive, so said they would replace it. I will do this tomorrow first thing I think.

Still reading through the Qualia articles. Whilst they seem very well written, I am amazed and somewhat disappointed at how prone 'philosophers' are towards argumentation as opposed to scientific experimentation. Is it a case of 'Those that can, do science, those that can't, talk philosophy' ?  I stick to my theory that philosophy must be love of wisdom first and formost, otherwise it degenerates into academic waffle and the modern equivlent of mediaeval scholasticism.

I think I have decided to take down the Gendesigner genealogy pages and replace them with the simpler format of what is generated by PAF. There is just no easy way to edit the Gendesigner pages, the whole set of html pages plus gif files has to be recreated. I am sure the developers could have created an editing tool if they had wanted to, but their website is no longer extant. Navigate page  

  Sat 20 Sept  

I have become a victim of what some Perth doctors are calling the 'hundred day cough'. Along with half the rest of Perth people young and old. This time last week I couldn't speak above a whisper and my larynx has been itchy and gluggy since then. Most of the rest of my little tribe have had it or are getting it. Half the staff in the **deleted** client contact centre have had it. For many people it seems to come, go after 10 days or so like a normal cold, and then come back again. My brother in law who is a GP says that it seems to come back on some people as many as three times, hence the 'hundred day' epithet.

Have been reading and re-reading the articles on qualia mentioned above [2nd Sept] - on the bus to work actually because not up to riding my bike as normal. The only clear thing that comes out of both the articles to me is that qualia are properties of the brain. This much I knew before. Philosophers have difficulty with this to the extent that they deny that the mind is what the brain does.

I guess the other thing that comes to me from reading  "philosophers' " ruminations on qualia is that they seem to make terribly heavy weather of the subject when really the main problem is that we are each ultimately manifestations of unique processes. That is, your subjectivity is the manifestation of the model of self in your brain. I can never access that, and vice versa. So it is simply obvious that we can never know absolutely what it is like to experience things as another does. I get the impression that it is simply this uniqueness which is the main problem, but it is being confused with the fact that 'I really do experience things', 'I really do feel like I am seeing and hearing the world'. Navigate page

 Wed 1st Oct   [very early AM once again, I really must go something about getting more sleep.]

For centuries people have been saying that 'Procrastination is the Thief of Time'. That was only because they had never come across television. When we were first married and for several years after, Glenda and I did not have a television. I think our marriage and our personal lives benefitted because of this. Then we had a telly for a while, given to us by my mother in law. When that conked out, Glenda acquired a colour monitor from a garage sale and we used it to view videos only. This worked for a few years because Glenda didn't know how to set the VCR to picking up TV signals and the kids never found out - too young to realise it at the time. Surreptitious me was able to sneek a look at free to air TV when the others were asleep   It was just a few years ago that this idyllic situation changed when Glenda once again got a bargain priced TV and VCR from a garage sale. Since then the true Thief of Time, the Light of the Western World, the one-eyed god, has been illuminating our lounge room and irradiating our minds with the world according to Hollywood and the commercial propaganda which is its true reason for existence.

PM same day. Spoke to Phil, a colleague at work, who went on at length about how TV is 'dumbing down' the populace. As he sees it, our society is following the US Americans in accepting ever more superficial, short and stereotyped program content on TV. There is a vicious circle involved in which people develop ever shorter attention spans as a result of watching TV programs designed to cater to this very phenomenon. He reckons a substantial contributor is the failure to read books. Phil gets distressed by just how gormless and without-it are some of the people who ring our office with*** enquiries. I tell him to always remember: "The people who ring us are not a representative sample of the population!" Myself, I hope this really is true. Navigate page

 Sat 11 Oct  very early [ie up far too late]

Life is insidiously stressful at the moment. Doing new stuff at work -*** - requires concentration and a steady situation but we are forever being changed about by those in charge of the phone system nationally. Domestically there are money worries, but what's new about that, demands by the kids for my time, and all manner of maintenance about house and garden. The van is beginning to sound like it needs a tune up too.

I am have been thinking about generating summaries of my ideas in different languages, possibly in the form of web pages with parallel English and other lanuage text in tables. KISS. I believe I could produce readable, albeit far from perfect, versions in Indonesian, French and German. Mandarin will present a problem in that I do not [yet] have a Chinese word proscessor. Pin yin is a possibility but not likely to reach or impress many people I think.  Why bother? Well not many people have responded to this site which makes me think that native speakers of English are more concerned either with consumer life-style issues and/or ready made religion. It would be nice to get a non-anglo perspective on my ideas.

 Many times I start to feel despondent about the usefulness of this web site of mine. Then I come across some manifestation of publicly funded idiocy or asinine complacency and I realise once again that it has to be done. I guess a major direction I need to go in now is to gather examples demonstating how pushing for compassion, democracy, ethics and scientific method can save vast amounts of money. Examples abound:
in education, failure to adequately fund and support the needs of children who are distressed by the bureaucratic organisation of school and classroom leads to far greater amounts of money being spent later on supporting, feeding, counseling, and possibly incarcerating those who 'fell through the cracks'; in public health;
failure to address the need for exercise - ie through provision of bicycle commuting facilities - is leading to rampant, wide scale obesity which will cost vast amounts for future medical treatments;
failure to address environmental problems now will cost us billions in the future;
failure to adequately monitor investment funds is leading to the desctruction [or pillaging] of the life savings of thousands of people who will have to be supported at public expense in the future;
failure to revamp the insurance industry and control the powers of marauding lawyers is leading to the destruction of medical services and the destruction of social capital. I could really get going here but it is time to go to bed.

 And for something completely different: through a subscription to Diatrope - diatrope@lists.webexhibits.org - I came across a web site about string theory which is at NOVA, a USA public broadcasting organisation. It is good fun; it has Flash media animated diagrams to explain various point about string [or superstring] theory. Navigate page

 Sun 19 Oct  

Well here we go again, a whole week later. Does this mean that nothing has happened in my life in the meantime? No, at least not in my opinion. I guess there will be a swag of extrovert, 'can-do' maniacs who think I should get-a-life....... like theirs I suppose. I guess they would believe that Alice in Wonderland's Red Queen is the paradigm for a worthy life, rather than a caricature. In fact I heard some guru on the radio yesterday morning saying that the only way to stay in business, indeed to be in business, and the only way that the USA [he was a Yank] is going to stay on top vis a vis its economic relationship with China is to be like the Red Queen. He was dead set serious too. I thought when I heard him, and I still think, that he is advocating a form of terminal madness. As I understand it the current, big, technical problem with China's economic relationships with the rest of the world and a big thing which impinges on China internally is that the yuan [AKA 'ren min bi'] is tied to the US dollar and is not allowed to float. What the economic guru did not mention, and seemed not to understand or care about at all, is the fact that China is not a democracy but a corrupt dictatorship.

Perhaps it is better to think of China as a whole set of inter-penetrating and competing corrupt dictatorships. As the USSR was apparently a tripod like system in which the Communist party, Military and the KGB strove with each other for over-arching power and formed shifting alliances so as to prevent either of the other power hierarchies from attaining absolute power, so China must have some similar situation. The lack of democracy, the lack of accountability, means that corruption will be rife and that China's apparent economic miracle hides within itself many seeds of self destruction. Navigate page

Monday 2 November  - Tomorrow is Melbourne Cup Day.  Australia will go mad. This is a good thing.

We had a visit chez nous from Joe M. the Superintendent, or whatever, for our local Education Dept. administrative region. He seems a nice enough guy and is quite sympathetic to the enterprise of home based learning which most people want to call home schooling. Methinks these two distinct noun phrases summarise a very deep philosophical and practical difference. I think the lack of options for home based learning, the lack of real moral and practical support by governments, keeps public schools over filled with unhappy kids and is now resulting in large numbers of children being drugged - quite literally - with Ritalin and whatever in order to render them compliant and apparently obedient within the bureaucratic system. We do not know what is going to be the long term effects on all these children arising out of the long term use of these drugs. In the past, order was maintained in classrooms by dint of corporal punishment or the threats of its use.

Of the current school system I can say: "It's just not good enough!" This is yet another aspect of modern society about which I must say this. I have come to the conclusion that this is what I must say. To remain silent when those words really should be uttered will be failure on my part. What pleases me now is that my philosophy of compassion, democracy, ethics, and scientific method  really is a most useful set of tools for working out what can and should be done to improve things. As I said to Joe M. "the cup is half full" and we need to say so. I am not sure how much he will remember of the exchange however.

In the last week I have sent some posts to Mind & Brain at Yahoo Groups [NB: anyone reading this and wanting to join will need to register, which costs nothing except some of their time, and for finding the group, Google will be better than the Yahoo Groups search function because the latter is totally dysfunctional as far as I can see.]  Anyway, the posts are about Qualia  and Information & Meaning. I may put them as footnotes in my Consciousness-3 page, but I reckon my
 'Brains and Consciousness: Another summary of what I think about how and why
we are aware of being here
 on that page is already very good, if I say so myself!    

At work the Season has closed once again and the phones are dying down. At the end of this week we will say good bye to the non on-going [buzz word to replace 'Temps', a gratuitous innovation if ever I saw one]. The rest of us will all be sorry to see them go. It seems such a waste to have trained them for six weeks, then used and developed their skills for about 4 months and now to toss them aside. Such is the way of Economic Rationalism.

  Thur 6 Nov very early  -  My birthday! - Ho hum!

This is the 52nd. Well life goes on. Better go to bed so I can wake up and enjoy it!  At work they expect me to provide a cake. This is a long standing tradition at**del**. And there is always some bugger who keeps track of who's birthday is next and when.

I'll have more to write tonight. I have been reading some stuff at work about writing web based stuff for **del** professionals. Apparently the key thought is that people - especially busy professional types, do not read web pages, they just scan them.  Lazy bastards! that's what I say. You cannot just 'scan' philosophy, you have to read it and think about it! Anyway, the story is that all people not just humouless **del** agents and ***del** are like this. Well it's just not good enough! Meanwhile I have to think about reformatting and reconstructing my best pages! Life is cruel! As for you. Well if you are reading this right now, it means you are abnormal, weird even. But never mind, I love you anyway! Navigate page 

 Sun 16 Nov  

Life has been busy lately. Banal, pedestrian and very, very normal, sort of. Replete with domestic and work stresses. Nothing Earth shattering, but just one damned thing after another. The kids need attention and that's fine. Glenda thinks up things for me to do [like spreading 3 metre3 of blue metal over the drive way for this weekend] and that's fine too. At work I have moved back to **del** area and also spent the last week preparing and then delivering 2 sessions of **del** training.

  Navigate page 

   part 3 Summer 03-04  

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