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 #8 - Southern Autumn 2005


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   13 March  Sun 10 April Friday 13 May 25 May

 30 May

The Wings of Imagination. Elvis rocks in! Stephen Smith. Ernesto Sirolli and the hidden world
'Lemon Grass Thai restaurant' means 'long wait and sore bum'

Schapelle Corby - If she's innocent it's a travesty, and if she's guilty, our airport security is a disgrace and the minister should resign!


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 to part 9 Winter 2005 

 Monday 30 May ----- ooh, aahh, autumn's nearly over. But yesterday and the day before it was feeling like spring!

So the full might of Indonesian law has fallen on Schapelle Corby. The judges have said that they find her "Guilty beyond reasonable doubt!" I wonder how they did that? Are we ever going to see a write-up of their reasonings, an explanation of the forensic testing, fingerprint matching and so forth that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that she is guilty?

If she really is guilty - play devil's advocate here - then she is really a silly bitch who should have known better and could only by described as utterly stupid to think she could get away with it. Of course another deeply disturbing aspect - downright shocking and needing really urgent attention in fact - it the realisation that a stupid 28 year old could easily smuggle 4 kg of a random substance onto a domestic airline flight as ordinary personal baggage, and that 4 Kg would either be transferred to an international flight, or the domestic flight become an international flight and no questions asked, no extra checking.

In fact NO SNIFFER DOGS, NO CLOSE INSPECTION OF BAGGAGE [if it was a bugie board, why did it have a big extra bulge?] As if 11 September 2001 had never occurred. As if the Lockerbie bombing had never occurred. As if all the terrorism and bombings of the last several decades had never occurred? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? Why has the minister responsible for oversight of airline security not been forced to resign? IF A STUPID 28 YEAR OLD WOMAN CAN SMUGGLE 4KG OF MARIJUANA ONTO AN AIRCRAFT AT A MAJOR AIRPORT IN AUSTRALIA, THEN SURE AS HELL A 28 YEAR OLD PSYCHOPATH CAN GET 4KG OF HIGH EXPLOSIVES INTO AN AIRCRAFT JUST AS EASILY! So what does that say about airport security in Australia? IT'S USELESS, THAT'S WHAT!

On the other hand, if Schapelle Corby is actually innocent, THEN WHO PUT THE MARIJUANA INTO THE BAG? WHERE IS THE CLOSED CIRCUIT VIDEO SURVEILLANCE RECORDING? WHERE WERE THE SNIFFER DOGS? Did someone PAY to have the CC surveillance cameras turned off? Did someone take money to reorganise sniffer dog schedules?

THIS WHOLE SITUATION STINKS! If she really is guilty then where is the international police cooperation that will allow the source of the dope to be traced? Don't tell me our forensic scientists can't work out where it was grown.

I personally think it is more likely that she is innocent because I can't bear to think that a person who seems as articulate as her could be so studid. Plus the economics side of it doesn't seem to add up, unless she was really duped by someone who convinced her that the risks were minimal and the reward was going to be huge. I think the whole thing reflects really badly on the Australian government, and might reflect not so badly on the Indonesian system if one could be confident in the integrity and thoroughness of their investigations. However, given that just recently the number one suspect in a drug smuggling syndicate was shot dead in Jakarta while 'resisting arrest', and it just happens that he was going to be a key source of information concerning bigger players, maybe our confidence in the Indo system should not be too strong. Indonesia is not a democracy and is wracked by corruption.

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 Wednesday 25 May  - nearly the end of Autumn.

Oh well, the Psyche-D discussions about representations and 'direct perception' versus 'indirect perception' have gone on for about a month and a half now. I think most of the argumentation has been a bit superfluous actually. It seems nobody wants to be seen as a naive realist, which is fair enough, but the somewhat heavy handed pronouncements of the major players are not helpful.

Andrew Brook, Professor of Philosophy at Carleton University in Ottowa, Ontario, Canada, is utterly emphatic that perception gives us direct contact with the world. That perception seems to involve the creation of representations within the brain - but possibly only some of the time according to him - is not a problem for Prof. Brook. I have to confess that I do not really understand his position. My position has been, since 1989 when I first read Susan Blackmore's article in New Scientist, that the creation of representations of things IS perception, from which it follows that there is no perception without the creation of some kind of representation. To me the archetypal paradox of our experience as humans is precisely that whilst we ordinarily believe and act as if we are directly contacting through touch, directly seeing, smelling and hearing the things of the real world around us, the shocking reality is the experience as such is constructed.

Steven Lehar, Research Fellow in Ophthalmology, Harvard University, has the most extreme position: that our experience is what it is like to be a functionally isomorphic, volumetric, gestalt analogue representation of self in the world which is instantiated in the brain. He claims that it is not possible to explain how we 'see' a true 3D volumetric space around us without there being a representation of such a space, including scalable volumetric representation within our brain. Ie, if we could see just beyond the furthest things in our field of view, we would see the inside of our own skull. Steve maintains that the 'neuron doctrine' is not ablt to explain the facts of our perceptual experience. The neuron doctrine asserts that the important thing about brain activity is the firing of neuronal depolarisations and the propogation of these back and forth through the brain and that the patterns made by the firing of vast numbers of nerons is what makes up perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and the control of behaviour. Steve says the key concept [apart from realising that everything is modelled in analogue form in the brain] is harmonic reosnance.

Steve asserts that it is very feasble that electrochemical standing waves, based on capacitance of the cell membrane I guess, are able to embody every aspect of the subjective experience. I think it possible that the nodes of Ranvier in long axons and the intervening sheaths of oligodendrocites, provide a mechanism in which constructive and destuctive interference between electro static fields in adjacent neurons might provide a powerful structuring on the patterns of neuron firing.


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 Sunday 15 May

At last, some very interesting discussions going on at Psyche-D this last few weeks. Through a variety of threads it seems to be devolving into Steve Lehar versus just about everybody else.

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 Friday 13 May

Yesterday I went to lunch with some people from my current work team. The precipitating cause was a gift of two bottles of wine given to C., a technical specialist, for a presentation she had done for a bunch of accountants. She was told that if she took them home herself they would have to be entered in a register of perks. The bureaucratic workload involved made that a boring prospect. The alternative was that they be shared with a significant number of colleagues. Whatever. We went to Lemongrass Thai restaurant in Northbridge. Well ...... the food was good ..... when it finally arrived ... which was more than an hour after we entered the place. It was not crowded, not at all. When we arrived there, I think three tables had people at them so we made a fourth. It took at least ten minutes before someone came to take our orders. If it hadn't been for the two bottles of wine, which only six of us partook of because R. and A. didn't drink, it would have been frightfully boring. The red and white wines were passable, says yours truly who is definitely not a connoisseur. The others talked about various TV shows, Survivor, various seasons of American/Australian Idols, The Great Race - editions 1 & 2 [I think but how the hell should I know because I don't watch any of them :-]. All pretty deep stuff, huh. I would dearly love to have talked about Steve Lehar's cartoon epistemology and theoretical analysis of the geometry and location of human experience. But nobody else would have been interested, except perhaps R.

After waiting about three quarters of an hour I had the temerity to ask the waitress if it was going to be long before we were served. The others laughed and said: 'You'll regret it!' Yours will be thrown in the bin/be spat in/go cold in the corner, etc. Well I guess it was probably not a mere accident of coincidence that mine took at least five more minutes to come, heh! Meanwhile C. had gone out and bought another bottle of wine at the bottleshop on the corner of Lake St. Just as well, I reckon that bottle had twice as much alcohol as the first bottles even though it said 14% whereas the other two said 13% & 13.5% respectively. [So the first lot was watered-down rejects is my guess :-] And one thing which made the waiting more irksome than need be is that the seats of the chairs were not flat ie not parallel with the floor. They were lower at the back so that if you leaned back your body tends to tip right back but there is no lumbar support. The initial feeling of insecurity cause by leaning back is allayed by looking at the tubular steel back legs of the chairs which go out way beyond one's centre of gravity therefore they are not able to tip over backwards. But the lack of lumbar support meant that I had to sit forward on the front edge of the not flat seat for a whole hour before even getting any food. Like I said above, the food was quite nice and very reasonably priced but nobody is going to drag me back there until I can be reassured that the chairs have been replaced and the management has acknowledged in public that they are too slow and have employed an extra cook to help the comatose chef they have already.

Jose Monserrat Neto has proposed that he and I collaborate on some webpages addressing various issues to do with consciousness studies, etc. I have agreed, I think it is a great idea, and will certainly be good if we can get one or two other people involved also. I am wary of having too many people in an unmoderated free for all though.

In similar vain, I propose the term CPI meaning careful phenomenological investigation.  This is apropos of seeing/sensing/sussing out implications of Steve Lehar's explanation of consciousness. Steve has been stoutly defending his view point on Psyche-D for the last month or so and doing a very good job of it as far as I can see. I reckon I can help out with alternative terminology and my own down-home plain English slant on things.

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 Mon 9 May  very early

Egad! 'tis a month already. So much has happened and yet it is very hard to make time to do this.

A summary
  • Glenda and I took the youngest girls down south for a holiday of just over a week on the south coast. We stayed at Peaceful Bay - in a cabin in the leasehold area [worst cabin in best street :-] - and it was marvelous. The weather was really good every day except one day in which it p*ssed down all day. The trip was great! More about that another day.
  • There has been a lot of writing on the Psyche-D on the general theme of direct perception versus indirect perception or, as I would prefer to describe it: naive realism vs sophisticated realism. I use the word realism to mean I believe there really is a 'real world' out there. I tend to think that is what most other people mean by it also, although most people I know have not got a handle on the true depth of paradox concerning our experience. A problem is that some of my postings to Psych-D have either got lost or the moderator just decided to dice them. I have tried resubmitting them to see what happens. I shall be very disappointed if the moderator is simply rejecting them on some arbitrary basis.
  • Jose Monserrat Neto is suggesting that he and I collaborate on a description of consciousness type website or discussion. It sounds interesting but I am not sure how much work is involved!  
  • I did my back a week ago, causing the lumbar area to go into spasms and this has taken a while to fix itself. I rely mostly on ibuprofen as an analgesic and anti inflammatory. It works well.

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 Sun 10 April

What of note has happened since 13 March?

  • I finished the proof reading of Jose's Wings of Imagination. It took a fair while actually in competition with work and domestic responsibilities, and with the need to keep up with the consciousness discussion groups. If I could confine myself to just lurking with the last mentioned that would be OK. Hopefully he will put the corrected version at the link below.
  • My sister Gaynor has become a grandmother. This happened a week ago and I was very remiss in sending congratulations, etc. Anyway the boy is called Elvis, and he rocked in very early morning on 1st of April and, no, it wasn't a joke. We all hope the best for Elvis and his mother Chloe. Chloe has moved around a lot in her lifetime and I think most of us hope that she will settle down a bit now. One of the banes of my childhood was the way our family moved around a lot and I would not wish it on any child unless there was a very strong need for it and also the child could maintain good and strong communicating relationships with many people. The latter was not my experience.
  • Our 11 year old is now getting drum lessons. She seems to be enjoying the experience and the teacher is impressed by her aptitude. Glenda is impressed by the teacher who is very relaxed and encouraging of Al. This is good because Al's experience of music teaching at school is of a bossy and critical, blind women who yells at her for not making the right sounds with a recorder and not being able to read the music. Al just freezes up when faced with anger or authoritarian criticism. The school music teacher's blindness means that she cannot read body language - obviously - and if the pupil is afraid to speak the women will not hear the child's emotional state. A bad combination all round. Al says she hates the recorder and I can relate to that, and so can thousands of other people.
  • I met Stephen Smith our local federal member of parliament on Friday evening at a 40th birthday party for one of our neighbours. The party was at a Catholic church hall in Bassendean, with a cast of up to a hundred I think. Stephen Smith is on the opposition [Labor Party] front bench. I don't know what his portfolio is [duh] but I took the opportunity to ask him to remember me to Kevin Rudd who is usually the opposition foreign affairs person. I studied Mandarin with Kevin at ANU in the late '70s.

    Stephen Smith impressed me with his insight into current affairs in China, which he had visited recently, and with his ability to put his thoughts clearly and succinctly into words. I put in my 2¢ about China [needs to become a democratic federation ie 'United States of China'] putting this in terms of my philosophy of CDES. 'Well they've got scientific method, one out of four, plenty of room for improvement.' We agreed that there is probably plenty of stuff going on quietly, and out of the official limelight, but that corruption is endemic and the divide between the relatively freer markets and openness of some major centres is contrasting very strongly with rural areas.
  • I heard a very interesting item on the ABC Radio National Life Matters program the other day. It was about Ernesto Sirolli:

    Founder and CEO, Sirolli Institute International. Sirolli has developed a concept he calls "Enterprise Facilitation", in which local government and community development organisations work directly with locals to (hopefully) turn ideas into viable businesses. He spoke about the genesis of his ideas, his experiences in a range of countries - from Africa to Australia - and how best to apply them. He was speaking at the recent Second Regional Economies Conference in Mandurah, Western Australia.

    He gave examples of his experiences in facilitation. He showed clearly how innovation and development can only be fostered in new areas, such as economically disadvantaged rural and coastal towns, if the ideas come from within, from local people with practical knowhow and a passionate commitment to their own project. He gave examples of what he means by 'local people' and this does not mean the 'big fish' in the little pond. For example local dignitaries such as the mayor and organisers of the local chambers of commerce may have no idea whatever about the creative ideas and economic potential contained in the dreams of local workers, housewives, and unemployed people.

    One thing that particularly impressed me was his passionate assertion about 'the hidden world' out there. He is referring to ordinary people, most of us who never make the news or the magazine articles, and the dreams and hopes that ordinary people hold in their hearts. He points out that people with ideas they would really love to develop if only they had the resources, are not going to blab about them in public meetings; they naturally fear that somebody else will steal their ideas. People will only reveal their dreams and secret hopes to those whom they trust. Therefore, if you really want to help such people you have to gain their trust, which means first of all listening, and being sincere and trustworthy.
    Ernesto Sirolli's Enterprise Facilitation process seems to have enormous potential, and I thoroughly recommend listening to the ABC archived story - although the link from the Sirolli web site did not work 10 April.

    What inspired me above and beyond the implications about economic development, is the overall concept of the hidden world. This is the world of face to face communication between persons who trust each other or who are building trust. It it the other end of the spectrum from mass media and is the ultimate source and real embodiment of culture.

    It is what people like Paulo Freire are referring to when they say to 'Have faith in the people' as opposed to having faith in a disembodied spirit or some symbol of nationalist fervor.


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 Sun 13 March 2005 - Autumn now.

The season is changing, getting a bit cooler, but more humid, and life goes on. The family is well, by and large, although Glenda is very tired a lot of the time, and often in pronounced discomfort although she rarely mentions it. She exhibits a stoic toughness, like her mother, and indeed her mother's mother before her. Tough and eccentric, all of 'em.

Jose Monserrat Neto who occasionally posts messages on JCS-online [a moderated Yahoo discussion group requiring registration for access] asked me to proof read the English language version of an essay he has written called The Wings of Imagination - the missing link in the origin of consciousness? He is putting together ideas from A Damasio, C Castoriadis and M Donald, none of whom I have read in the original, in order to look at consciousness and its evolution as being in fact the evolution of the capacity of creative imagination. I think it is quite good.

My efforts in this particular exercise have been slowed by the need to respond to some rather long winded solipsists. If I could do all this stuff in the middle of the day when I am wide awake it would be far easier than doing it a midnight, like when I am writing this. Staying up too late after midnight is not good for one's memory I find.

Sometimes I think the solipsists or whatever they want to call themselves are really bone headed. These are the people who keep saying things like: 'only consciousness is real', 'everything is consciousness', and 'nothing can be known apart from consciousness', and 'everything we know is first in consciousness so science and the whole world will only really make sense when we take on the realisation that reality IS consciousness', and so on and on and on. They keep objecting when I say things like: even though all our experience is actually what it is like to be the brain's model of self in the world, there has to be a world beyond our consciousness which is the real world, it is what our consciousness is ABOUT. They take great exception to this quite basic and easy idea and, seemingly, want us all to stop talking about the 'real world'.

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