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 #5 Southern Winter 2004


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 Tuesday 8 June  21 June 22 June
 28 June 

 Making progress understanding the experience of one eyed 'half Cyclops" view versus the normal two-eyed Cyclops view.
Attempts to track down people I knew in Canberra 

  4 July  8 July 9 July Sat 10 July 
 15 July 24 July 4 August 
 10 August
 14 Aug  16 August
23 Aug 26 Aug

 Some success at this - after 23 years or so! Bob leaves work
Honey = Jessica Alba. I witness a motor bike crash into a car.
we extend our LAN out to the back garage. 
 network theory and the accelerated spread of AIDS. John Howard and Mark Latham opt for the dark ages. ADD type 2 [ADHD/WO]


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

  This page has oldest entries at bottom, umlike the previous 4 diary pages.

 Thur 26 Aug 2004

I am now using 20mg of dex. per day. Along with the good effects of heightened alertness and radically reduced internal distractions, there is a degree of nausea. I am trying to work out if anything in particular causes this. I suspect it has to do with increased sensitivity to blood sugar levels. Today I found that I couldn't get started when I arived at work at 10 and I felt a bit lousy around 11am and also became subject to patches of the negatives. Things improved after a while but then went downhill again before lunch at 1pm. I think the difficulty getting going and the down spot around 11 were because the headwind was very strong when I rode to work this morning and I had to work much harder than normal, using much lower gears and it took nearly ten minutes longer than usual. I think this left me with less energy than usual for the rest of the morning. Of course my body must be addapting to the drug to some extent also. I don't particularly want to take the dose much higher.

I found a similar decline in the late afternoon, but things improved after a cup of tea and eating a big apple. I discussed this with Glenda this evening and she reckons I should eat something every two hours. That seems a bit much to me. My clothes could start shrinking again.

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 Mon 23 Aug

 Something quite subtle yet disturbing has happened to me recently.

Our 3 oldest have all had significant problems with school at various stages such that they have each been home schooled for part of the time. They are all 'bright kids' each in their own way but idiosyncractic in terms of interests, learning styles, boredom thresholds and whatnot. I used to say they were 'all eccentric, like their mother' but recently I had to take notice of the opinions, which were relayed to my wife, of a developmental psychologist and a paediatric psychiatrist, who reckoned the kids got a good slab of it from me! Bit disturbing that was, but given that ........ was diagnosed as ADD type 2 [i.e. without hyperactivity], I went and saw a psychiatrist who reckoned that I was more than borderline as ADD type 2 also. So I am trying out dexamphetamine as an ongoing medication at the moment. I guess I have some reservations about long term usage of the stuff, but it does seem to make some aspects of life a lot easier. Most people think of ADD as hyperactivity because that is the easiest type to see, but where the distraction is to internal processes like daydreaming, fantasy, and internalised negative emotion - aka anxiety and melancholy - the effect is not so obvious. For me it is early days yet so we'll see what happens, but if the diagnosis is correct then I should be able to start accomplishing a whole bunch of things I was never able to follow through on. In my life I have started umpteen things which I never was able to push through to a satisfactory and productive outcome, and this has been a cause of sadness and frustration. Perhaps ADD T2 is a simplistic way of accounting for a lifetime of only ever getting to 3rd base, but if it really is true, then I would be just stupid not to go with it!


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 Wed 18 Aug


The baby goats at school are still alive although one has been rejected by its mother for no obvious reason. Still this means that the kid in question will be bottle fed in the classrooms which should provide entertainment and lots of diversion.

JCS online has had a thread running about 'The unbearable logic of solipsism'. What a load of old bunkum! As far as I can see the truly useful question is: 'How do we decide what is real to us?' Clearly most people are not solipsistic in the their perceptions and thinking; self centred and greedy yes, but most people accept, at a deep level, that they are not alone. We really do believe that the people we encounter are real and not just figments of our imagination. This is entirely reasonable, but how does the brain brain decide what it believes in? This is a very practical question I think.

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 Mon 16 Aug

Another flex day today. Just as well because Glenda is really crook with a head and throat bug and I would have had to take the kids to school anyway. Bringing them home took longer than expected this afternoon because one of the nanny goats in the school 'farm' - which is just a series of cages really - was birthing its kids while we were there. Some of the people watching from outside the fence were able to see in through the pen door and saw the second one drop out of its mother. Cute. There was talk of setting up a little goat's dairy. My comment about kebabs went unnoticed it seems. Just as well probably, given all the cooing and clucking coming from the children and their mothers.

Got my eyes checked at OPSM. The optometrist was a rather laconic and portly Indian looking guy. Seems like he did want to talk and did start explaining a few things after a bit. Part of his problem was that I was not particularly boppy today and his demeanor showed lack of people skills coaching, to put it softly. Anyway it seems my eyes haven't changed much since about 18 months ago, so any crick in my neck, such as prompted me to go there today, is likely to be a result of wrong positioning of computer, desk height, or some such, rather than eye strain from inadequate focussing. So they didn't sell me any new specs, he did not think it was necessary, not before trying adjustments to computer desks at work and at home and so forth. Full marks for integrity there!

The optometrist mentioned, at some stage in our conversation, that he had done check ups on the Royals when he was in London and indeed had prescribed specs for HM and had seen her wearing the specs in question on TV. Well I tried to look suitably impressed but couldn't think of anything terribly interesting to say. I was going to say: 'Oh, can I touch you!' but didn't because ... well I don't know why, just part of my natural reticence I suppose. Would he have been offended and thought I was making fun of him? I don't know. On later reflection I do wonder what someone who has precribed glasses for HM Elizabeth II is doing at OPSM in Morley WA? I told Glenda what he said and she thinks it is BS.

Our great leader John Howard is in the poo again. Mr Howard has maintained throughout the last election campaign and in the past three years that he had never been told the claim about children overboard was wrong. But a former senior bureaucrat, Mike Scrafton, who was working for then defence minister Peter Reith before the 2001 election, has now said he told Mr Howard on November 7, 2001, that there was no evidence to support the claim.Mr Scrafton also said he told Mr Howard that photographs purporting to show the children in the water were taken after the boat had sunk, and that nobody he knew in Defence believed any children had been thrown overboard. [I just got that from news.com.au but I heard it first on ABC RN news this morning.] To me this just adds weight to my belief that John Howard is a liar. For all his TV persona as Honest John, the PM you can rely on, he is in fact a dirty handed political oportunist just like the rest.

Last weeks's letter to  .... Sydney Morning Herald? .... from 43 of Australia's former military chiefs, department heads and senior diplomats protesting about the lack of truth in statements made by politicians in recent years was also bad news for John Howard. John Howard seeks to portray the signatories to that letter as old and out of touch, but the rest of us Australians have every right to assume that the letter writers are intelligent, knowledgable and honourable citizens who do have a keen insight to what has been going on. They seem to be saying that his government is sparing with the truth or deliberately misleading the people of this country.

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 Saturday 14 August  

Who is at risk of HIV infection? I am just listening to the ABC Radio National Science Show. A discussion about the spread of AIDS. The new understanding of this type of epidemic is to model the spread using network theory and the 'small worlds' with 6 degrees of separation. The horrible implication of this is that the risk of infection to anybody, which includes you and me, is far far greater than you might think. Boring, stay-at-homes like me [and you?] are obviously least at risk but anyone with a non monogamous sexual orientation has the chance

  1. to be with someone,
  2. who has been with someone,
  3. who has been with someone,
  4. who has been with someone,
  5. who has been with someone,
  6. who has HIV AIDS. [Or any other STD for that matter.]

Were they ALL using condoms on each relevant occasion?  Were persons 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 in Australia? Most heterosexual Australians don't think too deeply or often about this I reckon. But given that HIV AIDS is now in just about every country in the world, and overseas travel on holiday, business or education is now a feature [whether regular or intermittent] of the lives of maybe a quarter or more of all Australians, it follows that anyone having sex with a new partner should be using a condom.

The six degrees of separation concept is about probabilities, and by the sixth connection it a virtual certainty that the network of connections described includes most sexually active adults on our planet. It is even more certain that more than one person in the network has HIV AIDS. Why? Because the six degrees of separation describe an exponential increase in connections. In the sequence above, at least one of the six will have been a sex worker, or an extremely promiscuous person. Such a person will function as a central node in the network.

Think about this.  ....Probabilities.... If person number 4, say, is a sex worker or is just habitually promiscuous, for whatever reason, then it is quite likely that persons 3 and 5 have been with other sex workers or 'free-lovers', and this probably applies to most of person 4's sexual partners also. If the sex worker is in Australia, NZ, UK, USA or Western Europe, then it may well be safer having sex with her/him than with a highly sexed promiscuous amateur. I am not being prejudiced here, it is just a fact, as far as I know, that in the Western democracies, a sex worker usually has a much better chance of insisting on the use of condoms in her/his business transactions. Not guaranteed of course.

Don't get me wrong; as a fairly standard - boring even - mere male, I am all for people having fun with sex. But it has got to be SAFE SEX!

  The Science Show item talked about HIV originating in Congo, the evidence being amongst other things that the greatest diversity of forms of the virus was in that region and this was the usual indictor of a place of origin for all species [although a virus is only a 'quasi species' because the particles do not interact with each other therefore there is no internal genetic reason for the particles of a virus clone to remain the same, it is only the necessity of gaining entry to host cells and not being swallowed up by macrophages which constrains viruses to conserve some of their genetic features]. The different means of spreading were discussed and how wars, international trucking, and so forth contribute to the spread of AIDS.

Apparently there is a major project on the go to create a network of highways throughout Asia, linking all the major cities so as to facilitate trade and development. This will be great for the economies of most regions, but it is guaranteed to accelerate the spread of AIDS and all the other sexually transmitted diseases also because long distance truck drivers will be stopping over at more destinations and will be forced to hang around overnight at border crossing points. Wherever these truckies congregate the great god Market will provide a supply of poor women who need to sell their favours.

This looks like yet another instance of need for a comprehensive aid program, but the most likely approach by the World Bank and whoever will be to ignore the negative health outcomes until a disaster has occurred.

 Mark Latham and John Howard have denied homosexual couples in Australia the right to recognition and protection under the law in Australia. SHAME on both of them! I can understand that Mr Latham fears the wrath of the Catholic church in particular as he seeks to position the Australian Labor Party as a viable alternative to the conservative coalition of Liberal and National parties in the upcoming election. I hope it is not a manifestation of some deeper bigotry however. On the part of John Howard on the other hand, I just think that the creation of a law banning homosexual marriages is despicable. If the problem was just in the use of the word 'marriage' that is easily addressed by creating a legal status for bona fide same sex committed partnerships. An 'SSCP' [or 'Committed Union' for another term] is something we need proper law on - a relationship in which:
  • the rights of the partners would be protected by legal recognition of jointly held wealth, and property brought to the relationship, and labour inputs in the form of housekeeping/home making would be recognised,
  • access to partner's superannuation benefits should be available,
  • inheritance rights should be recognised, and also
  • there should be protection in relation to tax on capital gains [CGT] of mutually owned business or private residential assets where a committed partnership disolves, ie 'rollover relief' as is now available to heterosexual couples including de factos.

For some same sex couples, their partner is the only 'family' they have.

Another aspect of this is that denying legal rights to same sex committed unions perpetuates the political and social marginalisation of gays and lesbians and does nothing to temper promiscuity. If anything it will have the opposite effect, provoking a rejection of common sense and caution as a form of counter culture rebellion against a thoughtless and uncaring establishment.

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 Tue 10 Aug

Well my throat is still not 100%, after over a week now, but it's on the mend. I have had the last two days off, not as sick leave but as 'Flex' - excess time accumulated whilst working much longer hours doing the manager job.

Today has been quite a success: Lewis and I rigged up a network cable to the back garage where Gwyneth lives. Sean [I'm not sure how he spells his name] of WAData which is related to Arachnet our ISP, spent some time on us yesterday as we sussed out the pros and possible cons of upgrading our ADSL modem to wireless capability. Well you can't do that, you just shell out lots of money for something new and keep the old one because it ain't worth anything much for resale/trade-in. Anyway Sean reckoned that 2.4 GH wireless ALAN access point with ADSL, couldn't be guaranteed to reach the 25m line of sight to Gwynie's room, with the signal going through 3 asbestos walls. Furthermore our 2.4GH Panasonic cordless phone would compete for radio bandwidth causing significant degradation of the WLAN signal and lots of drop outs. So it was $300 or so for new ADSL WLAN modem and PCI card for the computer plus $100 or more for a 900MH range phone versus 50¢ per metre for a Cat 5 LAN cable plus end connectors and some more dollars for conduit.

Well Sean did up 45 metres of patch cable with end connectors for about $27 and Bunnings sold me 2 x 20m of 19mm black poly pipe for about $14 and a 19mm connector for 57¢. The first major challenge was to get the cable through the poly pipe but I did this by first pushing through a 20metre length of wire [2mm gauge I think]. I was worried that the wire might bend or twist and get jammed in the poly pipe but it didn't. The poly pipe had to be held straight out across the back lawn and I straightened the wire out as best I could first. That took time but the effort paid off. The cable is long enough to go down the side of the garden, cut across under some lawn, along a convenient slot in the brick paving and then under the house to the computer room where it comes up through the same hole that Lewis's cable and the phone line come in by.

Lewis did all the crawling under the house which is no easy thing. It is a pretty disgusting place to get into, what with Perth's grey sand [very dusty!], bits of desiccated cat poo, sundry bits of ancient building offcuts, copper water pipes and PVC drain pipes, and maybe the occasional desiccated mouse carcass or left over rodent bait. As well as this, he had to remain either prone or supine at all times because there was not even enough space for him to crawl on his knees, so he had to drag himself along. A pretty sterling effort really!

I have just finished reading 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde. This is the story that comes before 'Lost in a Good Book'. It is just as intriguing as the sequel but I did not find myself laughing as much. This may have been because I was not feeing too well and also because laughing set me off coughing. Never mind, it is a very clever story and I highly recommend it. I think C. also has the 3rd book in the serial, which I must read.

I must get back in contact with Bob again.

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 Wed 4 August

Have had a very bad throat the last few days so have been off work. I think I was not getting enough sleep due to the stress of the manager duties, which have finished now, and the need to get a job application finished for the beginning of the week. Well I did get it finished by Sunday midnight, or thereabouts, which was good and a great relief but meanwhile some virus was sneaking up on me. I lost my voice completely for Monday morning so organised a Dr's appointment. He prescribed rest and not talking for two days. Well this morning - Wednesday - it still wasn't fixed so no point going to a place where the job involves talking nearly all day long. I will go tomorrow though I think.

My search for traces of John Kilpatrick is so far unsuccessful. Eric Jusula now reckons that if John is still teaching high school somewhere in NSW then he probably won't be in the White Pages. I have asked Ludwig H. if he has ever come across John.

I have recently gained some reason to wonder whether I have not had, for most of my life, the milder form of ADD - ie without hyperactivity. This might explain why I find it so excruciating being interrupted whilst concentrating on tasks. Glenda reckons that a lot of the things I do, like writing notes to myself on the side of my hand and organising my work clothing and lunch box in such a definite, fixed pattern each day [I commute by bike so take a change of clothing to work each day] are strategies I have worked out to combat my inherent distractiblity. We shall see. I got a referral to see a specialist who I shall visit on the 20 of this month. You never know.

C. should be back at work by now. Hopefully she has got the 2 Jasper Fforde books. They should be fun. Of course it will be very good to have C. back anyway!! C. has a wonderfully dry and naughty sense of humour which we sure as hell need in ***

I reestablished contact with Peter Main last week. After more than a year it is good to know he is still in fine health and happy to continue philosophical exchanges.

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 Sat 24 July  

Yesterday, 23 July, on the way to work, I saw a motorcyclist crash into the side of a car. He was going at a fair lick when it happened and the young man in question was very lucky not to have broken his neck and/or completely stove in his chest. It happened at 9:35 am WAST or thereabouts as I was waiting at the intersection of Roe and Beaufort Streets, just north of the Barrack Street bridge in Perth. I had stopped my bicycle at the pedestrian crosswalk and had just pressed the walk button when, as I looked up I heard the sound of a motor bike coming westwards along Roe St from behind me. The noise was the distinctive loud sound of a small to medium sized motor bike accelerating. As I heard this, my gaze passed across the centre of the intersection where I noticed that a small grey sedan was turning across the centre of the intersection from eastbound side of Roe St. I have a sort of recollection that the traffic lights were now orange for this car and for the motorcyclist accelerating towards him. The car was not moving very fast and was moving well into the way of the westbound traffic lanes and part of my brain started to register that things did not look and sound right. As I continued turning my head around to see the motor bike I heard the sound change to that of loudly squealing tire. Part of me was thinking 'I don't want to see what I think is about to happen.' And then the bike slid quickly into my field of view and I watched him plough into the side of the grey car. It was a horrible thump as the bike stopped dead and the rider's body hit his handle bars and his head hit the roof of the car. The bike and rider fell over and everybody around stopped still - to see if he was dead or not I suppose.

Well he wasn't dead. He got up off the road and staggered around looking to be in obvious pain and very groggy. The driver of the car drove it forward towards me at the side of Roe Street. He looked quite shocked but not harmed, and his car looked surprisingly lightly damaged considering. Anyway I asked the old bloke driving the car if he had a mobile and he said no. There was a small bunch of people gathering on the median strip near the injured young bloke. They were mostly pedestrians who had been waiting to cross the road. There were a couple of women who were by that stage trying to talk to the young bloke and a man who had a mobile. He had dialled triple 0 and was asking for an ambulance. At this stage the young bloke was bleeding from his mouth but not a lot. I retrieved his helmet from where he must have dropped it when he took it off - I don't remember it coming off when he fell with the bike. Then a female police office appeared on foot from somewhere, not surprising really because the main Perth Police and CIB office is just up Beaufort Street. She asked if an ambulance had been called. At the same time a police utility with covered back turned up and the driver started playing with his lights and siren controls. The police woman picked the bike up and took it off the road. I had thought of doing that and thought of helping her but didn't because I didn't feel like my back was up to it at the time. [My lower back has been playing up a bit recently.]

Well I wrote down my name and phone numbers for the old bloke, to be a witness if need be, but I was really concerned about getting to work and feeling quite stressed out about that due to the probationer stuff I have to do and the generally hectic things going on which prevent me doing it. So basically I didn't hang around to minister to the young bloke or talk to the police but went back to get my bike and then continue on. As I was riding away I heard the ambulance coming.

When I got to work I spent some time writing out what I remembered of what happened, then rang the police to give my details as a witness. I gave the details. The officer who took them down could have done with some phone skills training.

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 15 July

I have just watched a DVD called Honey starring Jessica Alba who was the cute and sexy lead character in Dark Angel. Well she is just as cute and sexy in Honey where she plays the part of a dancer and choreographer in a poor neighborhood in New York. The story is relatively light, upbeat and positive. It is actually a bit of a moral tale, which cuts no new themes but is quite uplifting without being preachy. The dancing is very good. I am not into rap but this is hip hop with real music and talented people who have obviously spent a lot of time practising their moves. It's a good story that shows an alternative to drugs and the deadly downward spiral of violence and degradation. It's actually a damned good film with a PG rating. I think most teenage girls would love it and same age boys would watch it with their girl friends.

For mouldy oldies of a philosophical bent like me, Honey's attractions, apart from groovy chicks jiving around with out their winter woolens on, include that it does show how intrinsic dancing is to human culture. It lends support to a view that whenever it was that music first evolved as a distinctive human behaviour, dancing was always an intrinsic part of it.

Watching the movie was a good antidote to some of the stressful follies of the day. *** deleted ***

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 Sat 10 July

Had a long talk to Gaye E. today. The cordless phone battery ran flat after an hour or so. [Another who can 'talk the leg off a pot' as Glenda is wont to say.] It seems her experience of thesis supervision at Murdoch Uni is as bad as mine was. She is comparing the writings of Derrida, Foucault [sp?] and [maybe] assorted other deconstructing post modernists with those of Martin Heidegger. Her main idea is to show how meaning is stabilised and made real in the body. Well that's sort of part of the gist of it. Sounds like very hard work to me. Gaye will do far better when she resorts to creative writing which she does well. She could make money with her stuff. Anyway what she seems to be attempting makes my thing on Chinese 4 character idioms look lighter-than-air by comparison.

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 Fri 9 July

 Today Bob Cook finished up with work. I felt very sad about that. Things are not going to be the same there for me. He and I have worked together in the same **** area, on and off, since 1996. A lot of things have changed in that time, a lot of people come and gone. I must keep in contact with Bob. We are going to have to drive out to his place as soon as the season turns warmer. He is going on a trip in the spring though so I had better keep track of that. Thank goodness he got himself fixed up with email. Bob is actually on leave until next April or thereabouts, when he will retire or resign according to how it best affects his super.

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Thur 8 July

I have just learned that yahoo.com have ceased redirecting ***@geocities.com mail to yahoo.com. This previously always occurred with no problem, ever since Yahoo acquired Geocities but now has totally ceased. This change occurred without any notice to me, and presumably no notice to anybody else either. Given that Geocities is owned by Yahoo, and that I am paying a fee for the webmail, I think they have got a damned cheek! I was really not impressed because, amongst other things, I had several intermittent subscriptions which went to the geocities.com address, and now they are lost and gone forever unless I can retrieve subscription details from each list. I have to say I am really not impressed by this! I tried contacting Yahoo by email but was simply sent a stock standard list of things I must have done wrong! No admission of fault by them, nor even an admission that anything is actually wrong.

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Sun 4 July Hmmm, USA Independence Day.
May they free themselves also from the illusion that they are the centre of the universe.

"Well Hello" My email to Lu Heinrich's address paid off. He is alive [and well presumably] living up on the north coast of NSW. He confirmed also that the Dave Davies I know is still in Canberra and guilty of allowing an old photo to misrepresent his current appearance. I'll have to email Dave shortly.

 and, for something quite different: 

    Text of my yesterday's message to C. who is on holiday in Canada: 'Glad to see you arrived safely. It's been very cold and wet here the last few days but muggins here is riding his bike as usual. The modern innovation of the weather radar on internet lets me time my take off to [try to] minimise soaking experiences, well sometimes anyway.

    'Did Bob tell you about his cat attack? Seems he has a cat who sleeps on his bed. He also has legs, one of which got a bad cramp in the depths of the night. Bob feels pain and half asleep he lunges to rub the limb. Body of sleeping cat is between human hand and leg so cat is awakened by impact. Cat sinks fangs into 'attacker's' arm. Teeth-points reach bone. Bob invents new words, waves arm around in the air so cat hits wardrobe on the other side of the room.

    'Now THAT would have made a Funniest Home Video and no mistake! Next day at work Bob's arm had all these interesting red dots and scratches, was all swelled up and was fever hot. I tried to express empathy and concern for a few seconds when Bob first started telling me the story but the image of him waving a cat around his head while it held onto his arm with its teeth was just toooooo good! I just about shat myself laughing.

    'Typically, he didn't go and see his doc. By the day after, it had all subsided and as he is still alive now, nearly a week later, there was no great harm done. The cat is not talking to him however.

    Glenda has just come back from shopping so I have to try on some socks she just bought - I have small feet so it's not easy finding socks that fit. Then we go to Scitech so 'bye for now.

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Monday 28 June  very early

I finally sent the posting to the Mind and Brain discussion list. [The final version is now in the footnotes.] I wonder what sort of response I will get this time. [Later interpolation: NB, since writing this I have started developing this and other ideas and I have started developing a more formal structure on my consciousness 4 page. I call these simple do-it-yourself experiments CPI which means careful phenomenological investigations.]

I did some searching with Google today and came up with a page for a Dr Dave Davies at the University of Canberra. He looks a fair bit like what I remember a certain Dave Davies looked like who lived in the old part of Canberra, just north of Civic, who was part of the sort of hippy underground there in the mid to late 70s. Mind you the person in the current picture looks a bit younger than what I would have expected. He has no beard though whereas the Dave Davies I knew had a big scruffy beard which probably made him look a lot older than he really was. I will try emailing the current chap and see if he is the one I knew. He might know the whereabouts of some others that I used to know in Canberra. I was prompted to look his name up because Eric Jusula mentioned meeting him some time in the late 90s. I also looked up Ludwig Heinrich and found a relatively recent site authored by him and an associate at http://www.upstarts.net.au/site/ideas/ideas_directory.html There is an email contact address given on the site so I shall just have to see if it is still valid. Certainly there has been no negative message from the ISP in question yet. I lived with Lou and his then wife Judy for several years in the mid 70s in a dump of a place in Civic, ACT.

I used to think Panda antivirus was the bees knees but their mechanism for re registering and paying has got problems. Like you can't have different user IDs at the same email address. So what I am now trying out is a thing called avast! a thing made by Rumanians as far as I can tell. It seems to be free as long as you register so we shall see how good it is.

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 Tue 22 June Today would have been my mother's birthday.

I have spent more than a few hours working on this problem of how the brain represents 3D. I plan to post a message on the yahoo Mind & Brain discussion group within the next few days. The difficulty is to make it as short and concise as possible without losing any critical details.

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  Monday 21 June  very early

Have been watching a lot of escapist movies on TV lately. Most come into the category of YASAM [yet another stupid American movie]. In contrast we watched tonight and recorded an Australian movie tonight 'Stiff' with David Wenham, Mick Molloy, Sam Neill and Deborah Kennedy. It was made last year and is really funny in a dry, sublime and ridiculous, slightly slapstick way which is characteristically Australian. I found one passing reference to it on google. I guess it is too hard for Americans to understand. That really pisses me off, that Americans expect the rest of the world to take them seriously and to know about all their regional foibles and to be in love with their really obvious humour or gratuitous portrayals of violence and to want to pay for this, when they can't be bothered to learn about us in Australia except for trite little sound bites about koalas and such.  Enough of that.

I have been trying to get my head around how my brain must be representing 3D and so forth. Today I came to the conclusion that perhaps the key element is recognition of simultaneity. In particular: regions of the visual field in which all the movement detectors tuned to a specific direction fire at once will be mapped onto other cortical projections of the same area of visual field which are sensitive to different features like colour and mass. There must be regions of cortex and subcortical regions which register such coincidences and associate them with other more abstract representations of location in space, in story line, and in a resource versus danger assessment continuum. Thinking in these terms allows me to understand more about the difference between viewing the world with two eyes which gives the normal Cyclops view versus seeing with one eye shut which gives a kind of half-Cyclops view. In the latter situation one loses the easy and intuitive awareness of depth but becomes much more aware of relative movements and occlusions.

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  Tuesday 8 June

The season is sort of turning at last. We are getting persistent patchy rain. I don't know how much is going inland though. It doesn't look so far like becoming a very wet winter.

Things are getting more hectic at work as we gear up for ***. I can't help feeling though that our top management are mono maniac in their resistance to employing enough people to do the work properly.

** deleted** [and methinks, as has been said long ago, those not willing to learn from their history, are doomed to repeat it]

Enough of that stuff.  Yesterday afternoon we went to AQWA, which used to be called Underwater World under its previous ownership. It was great! The tunnel underwater in the big aquarium was as interesting as ever with several species of sharks and rays - some of which are metres in length - as well as many species of medium and small bony fish. The moving walkway was not moving but that was not a hassle, in fact it was better for most people I think because it is easier to just stand still when you want to.

There seem to be quite a lot more small tank displays built into the walls of the main level with all manner of smaller creatures and some of these are quite spectacular either in terms of the amazing colours of the corals and some of the fish, or because of the fine details that become apparent when you take the time to stop and look carefully, for example one of the tanks had a dozen or so mature jellyfish of some particular species and when you looked closely you could see thousands of baby jellyfish which were just 3 or 4 millimetres at most in size. Cool!

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 3D Volumetric Representation and 'Half-Cyclops'

About six months ago I posted a comment and discussion question about how our brains create our awareness of 3 dimensions. I mentioned how Steven Lehar has challenged us to respond to his inference of a 3D matrix within the brain which embodies our phenomenal experience of a 3D world. Some people addressed some aspects of the challenge and I was pleased with that but I was not too impressed with the general lack of interest. Did this mean that everyone else believes they understand how the brain does this marvelous trick of rendering 3 dimensions and 3 dimensional objects which move around?

I have thought more on this. The way I see it now [so to speak :-] is as follows. [Quite long- about 1400 words]

3D volumetric experience is an emergent phenomenon. When I look around me with two eyes open and functioning normally I seem to be looking at a singular view of the world which I am observing from a point midway between my eyes - the so called Cyclops view. I am not normally aware of the different views seen by my left and right eyes except when looking past the edges of objects in which case the difference is revealed by one eye being able to see things which are hidden from the view of the other eye.

Those of us with normal two eyed vision take all this for granted: the 3 dimensional world is intuitively obvious. Shut one eye though, keep it shut, and things become quite different. The most obvious difference is that the three dimensional shape of things becomes harder to see. With two eyes working things just automatically look like 3D objects at an obvious distance away in a 3D world. But with single eye vision the 3D structure of things and their distance away is problematic. Unless that is one's head is moving or the things themselves are moving so that sequential occlusion and parallax occur and the 3D shape of things plus their relative distances from me become apparent. In fact what really stands out in the single eyed view - 'half cyclops' if you like - is the movements of things, the relative parallax, the occlusions and the sheer speed of things moving past as one rides or runs along.

I have doubts about a key point put forward by Steven Lehar in his writings about our subjective experience of 3D perception. He proposes an explicit 3D volumetric representation within the brain, which I understand to mean a creation of a model of the world as a cyclops view within an actual 3 dimensional matrix. In particular Steve is saying that the 'empty' space between me and something I am viewing is explicitly modelled and I have doubts about this.

My preferred alternative view is that the brain models *things* in the panorama or field of view - the visible features of which are created into objects as the result of interaction between information coming along the optic tracts and what the brain already knows [i.e. believes] about the world at the moment. In particular the cyclops view is created and maintained by

  • assertion of the existence of the things being viewed,
  • assertion of a model of self, and
  • assertion of relationships between the things and self.

Assertion here means the creation, activation or reactivation of dynamic logical processes representing the things, the self, and the relationships. One key relationship is the distance of an object from oneself and *creation of this relationship is part of the process of making the perception real*. Other key relationships are the relative positions of things: which things are in front of others and therefore closer to me the observer.

Steven Lehar is right in saying that the information content of our experience cannot be more than what the brain is processing because what we see is what the brain has made. It is however important to acknowledge that most of what we are aware of is peripheral; we concentrate on things one at a time, or in small groups at a time, but shift our attention and our gaze very fast and very often. We thus maintain awareness of many things in our surroundings as regularly and discretely updated memories but our self story is a belief in a connected continuity. What this means is that we [our brains] maintain a largely unconscious model of the world which allows effective navigation but this model is at a much lesser resolution than our foveal vision leads us to believe.

With our visual experience we two eyed, cyclopean, 3D world viewers are fooled into belief that we see everything in high quality 3D because we have the ability to see, one at a time, all the things we want to concentrate on in 3D. Shut one eye though, and keep it shut, to catch your brain in the act of making up as it goes along the 3D depth of objects and their locations. You have to *do this* in order to see what I am talking about. BUT DON'T DO THIS WHILST DRIVING YOUR CAR!

You will soon find that simple tasks, like washing up for example or hunting for things in the fridge, are still easy to do but the visual experience is definitely not the same. By and large you can still reach for things, pick them up, wash, rinse, and stack them but they only look fully 3D while you are actually holding and moving them. It is as if the fullness of the belief about their 3D extension has to be confirmed by kinesthetic awareness from one's hands and arms or by continuous occlusion of the background when they move.

I infer from this that perception is as much an act of memory as of gathering information from the environment. Yes the information from the environment is essential but it is only when these patterns of stimulation have evoked previously made constructs which best fit the stimuli that we can be aware of *what* it is we are looking at. It is an interesting question just how many things we can consciously see at any given moment. In particular, how many things at a time do we truly see in 3D? How many 'layers' of objects occluding others can we truly see when concentrating our gaze at a particular spot?

It took me a long time to realise the full import of what I see with only one eye open. It is precisely the change, the movement of things in relation to their background or foreground. I was becoming really puzzled until it dawned on me that the brain has evolved to register coincidence and simultaneous movement. Thus there is part of the visual cortex endowed with sets of cells tuned to detect movement in particular directions. It will be a question of fact just how fine is the difference of angular direction between the different sets. I guess that, as the whole system is analogue not digital in function, actual direction of movement will probably be defined by the extent to which different sets of direction detectors are stimulated. The important point is that it is the simultaneous signalling of the same movement which identifies those points of the visual field as parts of the same object. Those points are going to be mapped onto other cortical projections of the same area of the visual field, thus associating colour, boundaries, etc., with the movement. There must be regions of cortex and/or sub cortical regions which register such coincidences and associate them with other more abstract representations of location in space, in story line, and in a resource versus danger assessment continuum.

This idea of simultaneity is critical for understanding how, for example, we can see through the many twigs of one bush or tree and see another tree behind it and distinguish the two [or more]. With two eyes, it is possible but not easy when the wind is still. With one eye it is next to impossible until the wind blows, but then it is strikingly obvious. The effect, and the difference between full versus half cyclops, is enhanced if using binoculars to view trees and so forth in the middle distance.

This post is a bit long but I hope it provokes at least some readers to check out the truth of what I am saying. [Back to diary 28 June

My CPI [careful phenomenological investigations] entries on the consciousness #4 page.

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 NB: It really pisses me off that none of the people looking at the Mind and Brain group on yahoo can see the point of what I am saying.

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  There is an interesting recent discussion about ADHD and ADD/WO [ie Type 2] on the ABC Radio National Website page for Natasha Mitchel's All in the Mind program  [Back to diary 23 Aug]

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