Nearly 1000

I'm looking ahead to my 1000th post on EK. I have a plan. (Of course it is a cunning and devious plan - that goes without saying.) I will write a song/poem/filk that mentions the most prominent EK characters and their quirks, but in a friendly way. Not a piss-take. I gathered a list of members last night, expecting to get about 20-30 regular posters. I was shocked. I gathered a list of 80 names without even trying. I knew EK was a busy board, but I hadn't realised just how many names I had come to know.


If I sit quietly here at home I can just make out the whispered conversation of the Gods of Oz:
Bruces (god of culture-free entertainment): "Oi Steves! We've started."
Steves (god of mindless outdoor activities): "Started what, Bruces?"
Bruces: "You know - the plan to give that sod a quiet life and then dump all the bad crap on him at once."
Steves: "Oh yeah. Sounded neat. How's he coping?"
Bruces: "First we gave 'im the eye infection. That's always a laugh - make 'em itch so much that they have to rub. Then when they rub it makes the eyes worse and spreads the infection. The red eyes come up a flamin' treat mate."
Steves: "But he has sick leave from work, Bruces. He'll just stay home and rest them."
Bruces: "We know Steves. We know. That's when we started plan B. While he's at home, we get his boss to sack two of his engineers. Crikey Steves, ya should've seen his face when his boss rings up and says who got the axe."
Steves: "Cor Bruces. You are a right bastard. We thought we were being cruel when we started crippling his favorite football team."
Bruces: "Nah, that'd never work. You have to hit 'em where it hurts. Now the sod has to try to get his projects going with a team of angry disillusioned engineers. They've just seen a decade and a half of quiet reliable service to a company dismissed with a payout and a handshake. The sucker's on a hiding to nothing now. He's completely powerless."

Pig - reworked

I've reworked the story of Pig. This time with a return to the original ironic ending.
I also posted it on EK, specifically asking for criticism. I've no idea what that will educe - probably close to nothing. I've been less than loquacious in the EK library for a while now, so it would be a fair cop.


I went to the doctor this morning. It seems that I have viral conjunctivitis not bacterial conjunctivitis (or was that the other way round?). I'm on a different bottle of antibiotic eye-drops. Let's hope I can see properly by this afternoon so I can meet with some business process consultants scheduled to visit.

La Mancha

Last night we went out to see Terry Gilliam's Lost in La Mancha (sans kids who had been abducted by a school music camp). This is a "making of" documentary for a film that disintegrated before it could be completed. It provided some insight into the difficulties of making a huge-concept film on a very tight budget. I wasn't expecting knuckle-whitening action, but I did feel the documentary whimpered out towards the end. There was no critical decision point hinging the destiny of the participants. It just got worse and worse till all could see that the film was not going to be made.

While watching the discussion of project schedules I couldn't help being reminded of a particular project at work. The La Mancha crew were forced to work with an extremely tight schedule with absolutely no room for error or mishap. With a film production as with a technical project there are too many things that can and will go wrong. If you have no contingency, you will fail. It's not a case of hoping to be lucky. It's not just a case of allowing a little extra time for the unknown creative parts. Problems occur in the parts of the project that should be routine. There are humans involved.

Sunday Blahhh

This morning did not start well. I went to bed very early last night because my eyes were blurry and sore. Having slept for too long, I woke with a headache. By 11am I was feeling almost normal.

Last night I felt inspired to write but my eyes wouldn't cooperate. This morning writing was something that seemed foreign. I went out and took some photos instead.

My topic was Urban Suspense - inspired by all the suspended cables around town.

How I lost my soul (continued)

What if a soul did have a supernatural backup of my memories? It seems silly to think that a non-physical "magical" entity should keep an exact duplication of an extremely complex and somewhat error-prone system. The human brain is robust but far from error-free. If my soul corrects my memories as it stores duplicates of them, or doesn't mimic the way my memories fade and change slightly with time, then it cannot be me. Any life that uses those pristine memories would fail to understand most of the things that its previous host had ever done. It wouldn't understand the person it had become, so most of the memories would be useless - events without a personal context in which to frame them. Any soul that outlives my physical body and keeps my memories has to take with it a copy of my flawed memories and blindspots.

Maybe my soul will continue only as a stream of consciousness with no memories at all or with jumbles of incomprehensible memories. This soul would have to start again on another plane of existence or with a new earthly incarnation. Without the benefit of preserved learning and understanding from its previous life it has no concept of self, no communication, no frame of reference. It can't think in terms of "Wonderful! A whole new life to enjoy!" if the being it has become can't remember its previous incarnation. The only solace provided by this idea of soul is that it stops you having to think about what it must be like to not exist at all. But it really is just as hard to think of what it would be like to know nothing and understand nothing.

Life beyond death with only jumbled incomprehensible memories has at least some correlation with reincarnationist ideas. (It's when you hear about a person having memories of a past life as a mollusc that you have to question the source of the jumbled memories.) Religions that promise punishment for the souls of those who have disobeyed really require a soul to have a fair memory of a past life. Imagine enduring punishment as a soul with no clue of what you'd done to deserve it. Once a being has no knowledge or understanding of past sins what is the point of punishment? It can't be a corrective tool. How can a being change its ways when it can't remember them? Such punishment can only be for the vindictive pleasure of the punisher.

I lost my soul when I realised it didn't make sense.


I'm back at work. My left eye is well on the road to recovery (don't think too much about having an eye on the road). My right eye is infected but improving. Hopefully it will be feeling normal by the end of today.

How I lost my soul

Discussions on the subject of reincarnation made me start thinking about memory. A hundred years ago memory used to be mysterious stuff that could be described as being part of a non-physical soul - because scientists couldn't explain it in physical terms. Now that human memory can be described as biological structures and interconnections of neurons (even though the mechanisms for learning are still not well understood), why should we think that the soul would keep a supernatural backup of the biological memories? How can you remember things that happened in a past life when the memories of that life were stored in biological wet-ware? How and when does a spiritual backup memory get implanted in a new human brain?

I look at the history of human understanding of nature and can see a parallel in our understanding of mind. When nature was all a mystery we believed that gods made everything happen. They made the sun rise and the grass grow. They were actively involved in the on-going maintenance of the universe. When the mechanistic nature of some natural processes were discovered, we reassigned the roles of gods. They were responsible for creation of a fully working universe and a lot of seemingly-random events. As we learnt more about nature and discovered more about how things had come to be over the past millions of years we decided gods were responsible for the architecture that made all the natural processes possible, and occasional inexplicable events. This trend has got to the stage where most scientists expect there is a natural explanation for any observable event. The need for any god in an explanation has disappeared.

What about soul or spirit? (I'm prepared to mix these terms because both are poorly defined and virtually impossible to distinguish.) Some ancients believed there was a body-spirit segregation. The spirit contained knowledge and intelligence. It was the supernatural part that would live on after the body had decayed. A more prevalent belief today is that there is a body-mind-spirit segregation. We can assign knowledge and intelligence to mind, and assign our spirit the role of consciousness, self-awareness, supernatural-awareness and life beyond the grave. Hidden underneath this belief is the idea that when our spirit lives on, it will take with us our values, beliefs, intelligence and memories - the things that we think of as being "us". But now science has shown us how our brains' biochemistry explains our memories and our intelligence. The need for spirit as a supernatural explanation is disappearing. The list of functions that will live on after death is getting smaller and smaller.

My behaviour is part hard-wired and part learnt. I have reactions and perceptions that have been shown to be inherent to a human without training. I have behaviours that have been learnt or conditioned by my upbringing. The way I perceive things in the world around me is based on the neural connections made in my brain over many years of life. My skills as a pianist are based on neural connections formed by long hours of practice. My imagination and creativity are attributable to my ability to mix and match ideas from a huge associative memory repository - all residing in my biological brain. If I have a soul and it doesn't have a complete spiritual copy of these memories, then how can my soul retain my values? How can my soul be me? If someone could reprogram your brain so that you lost all your memories and all the acquired skills that made you unique, but made you a completely happy person, would you want it done? I know I wouldn't.

To be continued.

The One

After seeing Reloaded a second time (Reloaded reloaded?) WifeOfVirge suggested I filk the song One from A Chorus Line. This turned out to be harder than I expected. Why? Because the original lyrics from A Chorus Line fit the matrix theme a little too well already. e.g.
(Lyrics: Edward Kleban)
One singular sensation
Every little step he takes.
One thrilling combination
Every move that he makes.
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do;
You know you'll never be lonely with you know who.
One moment in his presence
And you can forget the rest.
For the guy is second best to none, son.
Ooooh! Sigh! Give him your attention.
Do...I...really have to mention
He's the One?

Here is where I got to with the filk:
One matrix simulation
till a tiny pill he takes.
One causal aberration
Every choice that he makes.
He hates that oracle telling him what he'll do
It's just another excuse to try more kung fu.
One, burdened with a purpose
but he never can tell why
'cause he thinks he's just a guy who's fun, hun.
Oooh! He's... frocked up like a priest now,
Do... we... understand this geek tao?
He's the one!

I even entertained the idea of singing it but there are always some questions best left unanswered.

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