Grey Matter

Self Reference

Virge: "This is where I put thoughts, snippets of verse, memories of what has happened during the day etc. It is not a public outpouring of my deepest secrets. It is the stuff that I would discuss with anyone interested enough to ask. Since you are reading this journal, you fit this description."
Reader: "Aren't you worried that people you write about might read this?"
Virge: "I would be very pleased if they did. It would mean they were taking an interest in what I write."
Reader: "What? No sordid secrets? No juicy exposés?"
Virge: "Afraid not. Well, not unless you ask nicely."


"As you go through life make this your goal:
Watch the donut, not the hole.

Old songs like this are good for teaching certain approaches to life. Look at what you have rather than what you lack. Look at the positive not the negative. I know my glass has always been above half full. It's been filled pretty close to the brim, but never overflowing.
The subject of optimism is not what I wanted to write about. Watching the donut and not the hole is a form of systemic blindness. Most people look only at the obvious "thing" and not the space around that "thing". They look at a silhouette of a black vase and miss seeing the white faces.
When one listens to a politician, one should always listen to what he/she doesn't say as well as what was said. This seems to be impossible since there are an infinite number of things that are left unspoken. One can't take mental notes of all of them. However, there are usually a small number of things that need to be said. Omission of these can speak volumes.
Most people look for certainty in unscientific ways. When they search for proof, they only gather evidence that supports their case rather than searching for alternate or conflicting evidence. I have seen this thought pattern hundreds of times in applicants' answers to a clear thinking problem (one specifically designed to test how the applicant looks to prove a simple assertion). It's not just in religious groups where people value what they know so highly that they never search for ways to disprove it. It pervades our human thought processes and relationships. When people argue and get upset with one another, there are very few people I know who will start out assuming that the other person is completely justified and consistent in their thought processes.
Maybe ignoring the hole is the best way to think. Maybe focusing on the subject is the way to avoid suffering under the weight of unanswered questions. I don't think so. Creative solutions come from people who are prepared to say "What if this solution wasn't available? How would the problem-space look?"
I plan to keep looking at the whole - both the donut and the space it occupies. In life, you need to have some idea where your next donut is coming from.

Not so random problem:

What is the next number in the sequence:
1, 3, 7, 12, 18, 26, 35, 45, 56, 69, ...


There was no journal entry yesterday. I decided to finish reading HP5. I finished at about 3:45am this morning. I wasn't too worried about being zombied-out at work today because we are doing a stocktake. The amount of coherent thought required is a bare minimum. Unfortunately the amount of coherent thought available for writing a journal is just a little on the low-side.
I tried to watch the first Charlie's Angels movie on TV last night. I managed about 15 minutes before the cheesy superhero-mocking humour lost its sparkle and became too dull to make me endure the tired dialogue. I would probably have held out longer in hope of some kick-ass action scenes if not for the call of the book.

More than Words

Back on 9th June I raised the question of whether there was a name for a word that described itself. By sheer coincidence I came across the words "autological" and "heterological", discussed by Douglas Hofstadter in Gödel, Escher, Bach.
It is an interesting mental exercise to work out if the word "heterological" is heterological. This is Grelling's Paradox (a variant of Russell's Paradox) - an example of a strange loop in a self-referential system.
There is quite a good list at autological words.

It's finally my turn. The rest of the family have read the new HP book. I'm almost half-way through now.


Why should I bother making up silly new words and definitions when I can browse a dictionary to find words like this:
heteroousian: somebody with particular belief about God: in Christian theology, somebody who believes that God the Father and God the Son are not formed of the same substance.
What is God made of?


Leeching the free verse of flagellation
and absorbed isolation
palliates the pubescent teenangsters.
It swabs the swelling welts of resentment,
does nothing to staunch the emission -
nothing to disperse the odor of decay.

I lack the surgeon's courage to cut
so I shoo away the flies.


It's good to see the fun in fundamentalism. Browse Lil' Markie and listen to "Diary of an Unborn Child", then scroll through the album covers for such gems as:
"Pip Pip the Naughty Chicken" who wouldn't obey and ends up burning in Hell for all Eternity with Satan and all of Satan's disciples,
"The Game of Life" - a play-by-play commentary of the grid iron game between the forces of Good and Evil, and
Jimmy Swaggart's "Flying Missiles, Atomic Bombs and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ".

Mathematical Quotes:

I cannot do it without comp[u]ters.
- William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

How dare we speak of the laws of chance? Is not chance the antithesis of all law?
- Bertrand Russell, Calcul des probabilités.


Sometimes it seems that luck plays an inordinately large role in the success of a project. Sometimes I wonder whether I am a naturally lucky person, or whether other people get their fair share of it but fail to recognise it.
The kind of luck I experienced today was a convergence of ideas. I had a concept for a story. I had a main character. In the story, the main character had to have the means to kill a dangerous enemy. I had left that means on hold while I developed more of the main character's background. Today I realised that the hobby I had already given my main character provided (a) an effective means to dispose of the enemy and (b) a delightful allegory for the behaviour of the archenemy. How lucky is that?

Random Patents

Warning: some of the material contained in the following patent descriptions may offend.
Unicorns are no-longer mythical creatures
How touching
Improved "taste"
How to keep ahead


The "fairytale me" picture is now complete. Allow me to introduce Granthug, the King's Champion.

Granthug, the King's Champion

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