Why does Banksy make me cry? (interlude)

Waterloo Bridge, London 2004

By Dominic Robinson from Bristol, UK – Banksy Girl and Heart Balloon, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73570221

Sometimes we need to remember their are heroes who fight as they can, when they can, to try and save humanity. We listen to them less and less frequently now. Why?

Because we don’t hear about them. Our world view is carefully curated. The Social Dilemma outlines this better than I could ever hope. And no it doesn’t matter how enlightened you may think you are. Grow Up. (digression over)

Banksy has been and continues to be one of those heroes. The picture above always gets to me. For years I never saw the lettering. All I saw was the loss of the balloon, which for me was tied to my idealisms, my dreams.

But there are letters, and there always is hope. Never forget.

Be Well…dcd

Oct 11 2027 when email disappears…

I have a number of long term bets with various people. One of those bets is email will disappear by 2027. Six years is not a long time. But all things considered, email, not email addresses, will be basically gone by then. We can see it in how Virtual meetings, Teams, Slacks etc. are taking over the world. The only thing we use email for, is authorizing or connecting apps to us.

There was a time when having an email address was rare and people thought, what would I do with that? Likewise today we send messages through Facebook messenger, Slack channels, texts, or links in various apps. Don’t email me.

In six years time I suspect it will even be less. By that time our notifications will come primarily from the apps we are connected to, not the addresses we use. DM messaging will be the go to, not emails. For many people that is the way it is now.

The courts and governments will of course drag behind the rest. But banks, are already ahead of the curve. Why invest someone’s time to look and an email and process. If someone wants to send someone money, just direct transfer it. It makes sense. The people we pay bills to, want the money direct deposited, it saves them the administration of processing cheques or emails.

Emails for me are just becoming an alert service, this Twitch streamer is on, Oh Rogue Wave is live on Instagram, new Tweet from Andy Mckee.

Hopefully we will all be spending less time on email. Not so that I win a bet, so that all of us have more productive and fulfilling lives. Lives with real work in them. And not the mindless shuffle of papers, electronic or otherwise.

The random babble continues.

Stay tuned for Part Three of the Tribute to Utopia, the British series, mindless made-up conspiracy blogs of long titles in the near future.

Be Well…dcd

Hate in the time of COVID

A slight diversion from the land of conspiracy. Sorry.

The number one by-product of the World Wide Pandemic is hate. I’m not going to site any study or any personal experience. I will challenge you to look at your-self and disprove the claim. We all see it, we all experience it, some more than others.

Some more than others.

And if you don’t see that…look at who puts forth the most hate. What groups are investing in spreading hate? What good could that money do for the world.

“Love thy neighbour” has died and is arguably the greatest victim of the world wide pandemic after the deaths of so many souls.

We also see the rich getting richer. How can anyone be getting richer off the suffering and the death of others. Yet here we are, the rich getting richer.

All of this is self evident. A statement of the obvious. I hate it. I hate COVID and what it has done to all of us. What it has done to me.

In battles, throughout history, it is the foot soldier, the boots on the ground, the volunteers who turn the war into a victory. Each soldier, regardless of race, creed, color or gender deciding to make a difference. To fight the good fight for a better world.

Courage comes from our heart. A soldier fights for those they love. Who do you love? How far do you love? When do you stop? When does hate stop you? When does your hate stop you? When has my hate stopped me?

My weapons are what I have at hand, my money, my time. And trying not to become victim to my own hate. What are your weapons? Will you fight?

Be Well…dcd

Laundry…

On the bed I see a shirt with a small stain on it. The blotch won’t come out, no matter what is tried. It’s a work shirt, simple, blue with a fine checked pattern, just enough to break out of being solid blue. I’ve had it for years. I don’t want to throw it out. There is nothing wrong with it, in my opinion.

But

We live, or at least I live, in a society where you can’t wear a shirt like that to work. Makes you look sloppy, dirty. Throw it out. We do that, we throw things out when they aren’t perfect. We judge others by how close they are to a misplaced concept of perfection.

Why?

How did I get programmed to throw things, anything, out when it is no longer pristine? The black shirts that aren’t pitch black, but faded black. Into the homeless shelter donation bag. Small hole in a dress shirt, can’t be worn. Scandalous!

I’ve noticed the same thing about fruit. When I was a younger man, it was common for me to cut out the bruised part of an apple. It happened regularly. A bad spot on a banana, just remove it and eat the rest, not a big deal.

Now, we complain about any blemish, on anything. We expect, no we demand faultless fruit. The right color green on our salads.

Its only a matter of time before we start doing this with people. Oh wait…

Amos Garret, a legendary guitarist, once said, ‘Don’t hide the mistake in your solo, play it loud, play it proud.’ or words to that effect. Those words have hung with me over the years. We are a people of mistakes. Our mistakes, as many before me have said, define who you are, who I am.

I don’t want to be an endless consumer. The slave of mindless consumerism can be fixed. Some would call it adopting simplicity. I call it doing the laundry. The mending of an ideal from my youth I lost along the way.

Be Well…dcd

Some thoughts on why I’ve wanted to be a monk at various times in my life, another entry in the long blog titles series.

At various times in my life I’ve wanted to be a monk. Specifically to be left completely alone with my thoughts, to contemplate, to just be. I suspect many people have wanted this, just to be left alone.

When Iris Eyes Are Smiling…

Thought One: Why can’t we just be nice to one another? Really, why can’t we be good people, all of us? Fundamentally I don’t understand why people are evil, mean or abusive. It is a great weakness in my writing. It’s hard for me to understand and put myself in that place. I am referring not to a reaction state, as in when someone hits you and you want to hit them back. There are evil people, people who do mean things because that is their nature. People who believe they are better than others.

Where does this come from?

This thought can overwhelm my soul and drive me to the solace of solitude.

Thought Too: I enjoy peace, the place of the tranquil soul on still water. I am sure others, perhaps even you have experienced moments of tranquility. When you the turbulence of your mind becomes the flat still water of peace. I long for this when wanting to be a monk. The place of being in the still moment of nothingness. A place to remain forever. In my youth it was easier to find this place. As I have aged, my tolerance for people intruding on my peace has become nill. In fact I become quite upset. The once still pool of deep waters has become a shallow puddle, easily disturbed, muddied by the merest infringement on it’s edges. The isolation of the monk calls to me, assuring me the monastery can protect me from this.

Thought Three: It’s a lot of work to cultivate the peace desired in my life. I need to book a time, find a space, hope that no one is going to interrupt me. Do I have the tools I want to use ready, a coffee, some music and notepad. A monk is again protected by the abby. There is less struggle to create the sacred space needed for contemplation.

Some people will say I need to learn to meditate, I am not going to argue, but the point of this rambling writing is not just a an injection of daily meditation but a life of solitude and peace.

Living a life were the interruptions of life are birdsong and kettles boiling to make coffee, a dream, a hope.

Be Well… dcd

A small reflection on a typo and AI’s.

This week an interesting discourse occurred in my time working remotely; a colleague and I jested on the nature of AI.

He developed his position through asking questions, seeking my answer to be guided by the semantics of his enquiry. In essence leading me to expound his thoughts on AI by the words he used in the questions themselves.

I of course played along, redefined his words in my reply. It was a wonderful exchange with each of trying to pin the other through words..

The exchange was conducted of an instant messenger app. Given my notorious inability to spell words correctly, some errors transpired.

Cat hunting a mouse.

“AI exists in an amorous state, not tied by hardware or data registers” is what I typed. Of course I meant to type ‘amorphous’, but, it does raise an interesting point, are AI’s amourous? And if they are, what is amour to them?

Amour is generally defined as an illicit love affair. What is illicit to an AI? More, what is an illicit love affair to an AI?

Generally I think perceive AI as being defined in human terms and values. It wraps around the argument of can we truly know the ‘Other’. Our discourse on AI is based around the interaction with humans and human data. But would an AI interact with a human or humanity. Would they define us as sentient? How would they define sentience? This leads to a long rabbit hole that is best left for another day or perhaps a short story. Who can say?

The question of an illicit love affair implies there may be genuine love affairs, a binary assumption. But are AI’s binary? It could be argued AI’s data is at it’s root, only binary in expression. But does this ensure AI’s only live in a binary state? No. And I think this can be demonstrated easily enough.

Most AI discussions centre around the dealing of complex decisions with multiple outcomes with some mechanism to deal with these outcomes. If AI’s are dealing with multiple outcomes, why would they leave themselves to binary expression of what ever they define themselves as? Data is data, except when it’s Commander Data, then it’s another discussion. (What? You didn’t think I would take the chance to get Star Trek involved?)

Or is it?

The first season of Picard, and I certainly hope there is a second season, leaves us with a number of transitions.

Warning, there may be spoilers below concerning Season 1 of Picard. You have been warned.

For the sake of this discussion, let us say the only intersection between humans and AI is data. We need data for what we do. Essentially over the last 10-20 years we have become data producers. Texts, selfies, games, more games and more devices. More bandwidth. More data paths, for the information we generate to travel on.

What do you suppose AI’s consume for an energy source? Data? Perhaps. If that is true, data is their food, and we just farmers for AI. If I was an AI and wanted to increase my food source exponentially, what would I do? The single largest increase in internet usage is occurring right now in the world. As we all stay at home to help save lives our data consumption and output has sky rocketed.

While the quality of our internet is degraded, it’s still working. Funny how we are running out of everything, but the internet is still working. The increases are staggering. There no longer is difference between weekend and weekday internet traffic, it’s always maxed out. So if I was an AI, I would engineer a situation that would cause more food production for me. Force my farmers to stay in one place and generate data. A side effect of us all staying home is a massive decrease in pollution, one of the biggest enemies of electronics. Now, Picard, one of the largest sources of data is the human brain, if only the AI could have direct access to that amount of data. And with the end of season 1 of Picard they are one step closer to gaining access to it.

A rambling discussion, a conspiracy theory and love in the time of COVID.

Be Well…dcd

Just A Quote Today.

“YOUTH” 
Samuel Ullman

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

There’s my coffee!

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.

The poem is from:

https://www.uab.edu/ullmanmuseum/

I was exposed to the poem by a James Clear newsletter, He can be found at https://jamesclear.com/ He is the author of Atomic Habits. But that is topic for another day.

Be Well…dcd

The Long Blog Post Titles Installment of: Courage and Encouragement in the age of COVID-19.

She’s 83, has lupus, may be a little too right wing for me. Attended the creation of the drink known as the ‘Ceaser’. Knows what the word rationing means. Old school rationing. The kind where they saved the tin foil from cigarette packs (cuz everybody smoked back then) to help the war effort. A Canadian. Created a drive through for a ladies clothing store one year when the roads were too icy. But that’s a story for another day.

Oh, and she’s my mom.

Yes, that is a ceaser.



One day last week at approximately 4:00 PM, along with the rest of the condo owners on the third floor, she swung open her door to the hallway and practised safe social distancing – happy hour. That my friends is courage. The courage to change, yet again, at 83 years young.

It is this adaptability to the situation we are all in, all over the world that saves live.

This courage is framed with two words, creativity and continuity.

Happy hour is a tradition humans have shared in various forms since I suspect the first rotten apple got turned into sour mash. Maintaining happy hour within the bounds of COVID-19 and social distancing is the continuity. The person does not ask the world to revolve around their beliefs, rather an unspoken social contract evolves around our beliefs conforming, yes that’s right conforming, to the common good. To everyone’s good.

Ask not what your society can do for you, but what you can do for your society, for your neighbour. An adapted quote from not a current president.

Be creative, in finding the way of who you are during this time of physical restrictions. Being confined with yourself is daunting. Ask other people what they are doing. See if they have any good ideas. Do not let the anger of the day be your prison. Hate seeks to consume the creativity of this world, a creativity that discovers ways to save more people.

One of the kindest ways to help a struggling author, or society is to encourage. Find the honest path, the true words to help others in their struggle. I have found my soul cannot battle the demons and their minions that assail us as we come to terms with COVID-19. But I recognize the good in others and tell them what it is. Honest, not exaggerated, compliment.

I can encourage the good, the best of people. Whether this is someone singing from their balcony, or clapping for the care workers of all services who are striving each day to get everyone through this battle or simply remembering your Friday coffee group and sending them a text or instagram DM. All of this is encouragement.

This blog is supposed to be about writing. Spend some time writing your future by showing courage and encourage where you are, to yourself and to others.

Be Well…dcd

There are always more anomalies than you planned for – j.townsend 2019

In the mythical world of earth I am a character working in information technology at a company. We recently moved into a new building. Therefore for the last two weeks, I’ve done nothing but work and discover anomalie s . Anomalies require two immediate steps be taken, one is a prompt work around solution to allow the business to function and two, a report sent to allow for the issue to be resolved. Step one requires creative out of the box thinking. Step two requires accurate details to permit the swift resolution. Those of you who have been in this position know that “swift” can sometimes mean 6 or 7 weeks.

The third aspect of this process is the pristine perfect work, your work, your pride, is often compromised to get people working. And unless you do my job it is beyond difficult to experience the ruination of your own work because of others. Such is my situation. Instead of an impeccable server room with neat cables, I have what amounts to a rats nest of chaos. In fact I doubt whether rats would live there.

Random Cat Picture!

The astute reader will identify this as a metaphor for the writing process. And as someone who is going to send out three manuscripts this year into the chaos of slush piles, I have a lot of pain ahead of me. A writer fulfills all these roles, from owner to architect to finish carpenter to accountant to receptionist to IT guy. (PS – IT people hate being called “IT Guy”)

The result is the next several blogs will deal with aspects of anomalies that have corresponded to events in the new building. It’ll be fun, we’ll laugh, we’ll cry and I might get my sanity back. Hopefully I will get my writing mojo back.

Topics include, More phones than places to plug them in: Bridging your main character until you flesh them out making them a better character and thereby making your story better.

Why is it so cold in the building: Building heat in your story that is consistent with your characters. Not just a tussle in the bedroom.

Dealing with false accusations: How to get the enemy to aid your cause without compromising your values.

All of this will be from my limited perspective as a writer. Join me on the mythical adventure into the real world of my writing.

******

More than ever this year, be good to people. Recognize kindness, take time to honestly praise people in front of others. Hate surrounds us, destroying the soul of society do not aid in the destruction.

Be well…dcd

I’m not as good as I think I am…

This is not a downer, woe is me blog. If you’re looking for one of those, keep looking. This about me acknowledging to be a writer and have the good habits of writers, I need to follow the hacks that others use. I am not above them. I need to do, what I tell others to do. This is should not surprise anyone.

As a result, this will be a short blog, were I trick myself into writing more.

pour-01

And now, a short diversion. The year is 1976. I’m in grade 11. At this point in my life I play a tremendous number of sports. A group of traveling athletes came to our high school in rural Alberta. A chance to see National football players was unheard of at that time. I was one of the fortunate ones chosen to compete in a little head to head action in a variety of sports.

All three of the men were currently playing in the NFL. The one I remember was the Center for the Minnesota Vikings. He was a big man. By Big I mean walls got out of his way and said sorry. (They were Canadian Walls). In the three on three basketball competition. We mistakenly thought we could leave him unguarded on the perimeter. Yea, that was a dumb idea. He was nothing but net from the outside. We also foolishly thought we stood a chance in any of the competitions… Ah the stupidity of youth. And in thinking we could win, I foolishly tried to draw a charging call on Mr.Big. It was a great idea.

Somehow I saw what the play was going to be. So I set up where Mr.Big was going to drive the lane. Arms crossed in front of me protecting the family jewels, ready to draw the charge. Mr.Big caught the ball spun and drove the lane to the basket. When he turned, imagine his shock to see me standing there. But it was too late he barrelled into skinny high school smart ass.

I will attempt to relate what I think happen in mirco pieces of time between him seeing me and his contact with me.

First, I believe he understood, well before I did, what was going to happen. Secondly, he tried to drop the ball and grab me to prevent what occurred. Lastly, he felt pain for me. Sorrow, regret. The last he thing he wanted to do, was hurt anyone.

What happened next was simple physics. Force = mass x acceleration. He hit me square in the chest with his shoulder and I launched off the ground like a Saturn V rocket heading to the moon. (Further evidence would show that the circumference of one of his thighs corresponded to my waist.)

Well, I would have reached the moon, but the polite wall didn’t believe in getting out of the way of idiots and therefore it prevented me being the first Canadian in space. In the nano second before I let the wall catch me, I heard the sound of silence. The entire gym inhaled and held their breath. Even the athletes. I could see all three of them, the fear in their eyes that they just a killed a Canadian High School student.

My mother often said, “You can’t hurt a Dear male by hitting them in the head.” Once again Mother was right.

To this day I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why I wasn’t hurt. But I know you can’t fly through the air and get stopped by cinder block wall and not be hurt. I know from first hand experience. But on that day, in that place, I was fine. I don’t offer an explanation.

What is the lesson I learned? It took me years to figure out what I learned.

I was wrong, is what I have come to understand. The outcome of the game was never in doubt. My drawing the charge wouldn’t have won the game. But to see the pain and hurt in those grown men’s eye’s as I flew threw the air with the greatest of ease, I don’t need to see again. Even if I was in the right.

Be Well…dcd