Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tibetan monk on long distance pilgrimage...

...prostrating his way over one year and eight months at the rate of six kilometres a day. Sherab Gyaltsen is on his way to the Buddhist pilgrimage centre of Bodh Gaya where according to tradition the Buddha reached enlightenment under a peepul tree. This extreme endurance test is part of the traditional Tibetan Buddhist path of purification. In sixteen days Sherab's journey will be complete.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cosmic DNA...by Gaffer R...



Never give up. Never surrender.

Why didn't they create all of the DNA? Well, I suppose it's because
the premise of the hypothesis is that those Galactic Tourists didn't
start from zero, but rather, upon finding some "primitive" life form(s) on
the beach, decided to take a dip in the gene pool. Was it an in-vitro
affair, or was it merely an impromptu holiday romance?

Did they expect us to find out? Who knows. There is that Immaculate
Conception story wots been making the rounds for 2000 years. Nobody's solved
that one yet. It does rather feel like a Cosmic Jerry Springer Show. Today's
Eternal Topic, "Who my baby daddy?"
Perhaps we need to ask the mice?

Crossword puzzle? If so, it's one of those with all of the squares, but none
of the clues!

Vulcans? If it was, then they must have been here for a long, long time.
Vulcans only get amorous once every seven years, don'tchya know!
Ponfar...how logical is that?

Since it appears that resistance was indeed futile, if it was the Borg then
they were definitely fertile. At least it wasn't the Tribbles. And thank Dog
it wasn't the Vogons!!!! Then again, after attending more than my fair share
of autonomous-anarchist-activist-subcultural performances, I wouldn't be a
bit surprised if it weren't the Vogons after all! Holy Xenu, Batman! Oh
wait, that's from another fairy-tale!

I have problems with apostrophes, too. Seems that the key only works after
much viscious tapping. One must be firm in these matters.

Albert Swine? He always was such a pig...or was it a prig? Anal probes, you
say? First people need to get over their anal/cranial inversion afflictions!
Talk about stretching...
Make it so, Number 1.

-- GafferR

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Laplace's demon...


...an environmental ethic for a dyslexic demon et tout le monde...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Spinozaville...


...My son is Cardiff born and Cardiff bred. So when he's gone will he be Cardiff dead? Ask the Cheshire cat and go down the rabbit hole. They say that Nomen ist omen so I decided that if Spinoza is right and Deus sive natura then I should be able to google deus and get the answer. I must add that I am tring this Turing test on Soma's Apple with a bladder full of H2O and philosopher's stones. Mushroom urine is considered divine by shamans as it is the ultimate Darwinist Turing test. So what defines you? Where you are born, where you will die or what goes on in between? In Sanskrit lalita( the dance) is sacred and as Lalita sahasranama is a sahasranama (a thousand names) of Lalita Devi or the Divine Mother, in the form of God's Power or Shakti,The goddess of bliss, an epithet for Parvati, entomologically "Lalita" means "She Who Plays" . The practitioner of tantra is free to choose his or her deity and essentially to personify it and give it passion. The dark matter. The Gothic, messy stuff that leaves a mess on the bedsheets in the morning. For me the deity is feminine and has a compassionate face. I call her Tara, which in Sanskrit means star and in its root also means tree. Tara or Arya Tara, also known as Jetsun Dolma in Tibetan, is a female Buddha typically associated with Buddhist tantra practice as preserved in Tibetan Buddhism. She is the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. Tara is a tantric deity whose practice is used by practitioners of Vajrayana to develop certain inner qualities and understand outer, inner and secret teachings about compassion and emptiness. So for me god is a woman, a star and a tree. Dea sive natura. She has a sister called Kali. She's the Gothic messy one who is a bitch when she wants to be. She is a proud lioness who defends her cubs, which of course she has to as the lion is a proud predator who will kill the cubs that are not his.

As Darwin rightly says, "This...is one long argument, it may be convenient to the reader to have the leading facts and inferences briefly recapitulated.
That many and grave objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with modification through natural selection, I do not deny. I have endeavoured to give to them their full force. Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts should have been perfected not by means superior to, though a"...and this was the moment when Apple or some ISP failed the Turing test as the computer crashed along with the rest of the Darwin quote and everything I wrote in the last few hours. I feel like T.E. Lawrence at Reading Station. So thanks for the memory, or in this case as Alan Watts would say the forgettory! ...

"That many and grave objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with modification through natural selection, I do not deny. I have endeavoured to give to them their full force. Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs and instincts should have been perfected not by means superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor. Nevertheless, this difficulty, though appearing to our imagination insuperably great, cannot be considered real if we admit the following propositions, namely, -- that gradations in the perfection of any organ or instinct, which we may consider, either do now exist or could have existed, each good of its kind, -- that all organs and instincts are, in ever so slight a degree, variable, -- and, lastly, that there is a struggle for existence leading to the preservation of each profitable deviation of structure or instinct. The truth of these propositions cannot, I think, be disputed." concluded Darwin and from where I'm sitting in Amsterdam this Sunday after this minor creative meltdown I must confess he does have a point. Natural selection has opted for Plan B...the human memory bank.

As for Spinoza? He was driven away from the city of his birth because of his beliefs and went to live in Den Haag (the Hague) where he died on the 21st of February, 1677. Like my son he was a Sagittarian. Spinoza argued (at least according to Wikipedia) that God and Nature were two names for the same reality, namely the single substance (meaning "to stand beneath" rather than "matter") that underlies the universe and of which all lesser "entities" are actually modes or modifications. The argument for this single substance runs as follows:
Substance exists and cannot be dependent on anything else for its existence.
No two substances can share the same nature or attribute.
Proof: Two distinct substances can be differentiated either by some difference in their natures or by the some difference in one of their alterable states of being. If they have different natures, then the original proposition is granted and the proof is complete. If, however, they are distinguished only by their states of being, then, considering the substances in themselves, there is no difference between the substances and they are identical. "That is, there cannot be several such substances but only one." [2]
A substance can only be caused by something similar to itself (something that shares its attribute).
Substance cannot be caused.
Proof: Something can only be caused by something which is similar to itself, in other words something that shares its attribute. But according to premise 2, no two substances can share an attribute. Therefore substance cannot be caused.
Substance is infinite.
Proof: If substance were not infinite, it would be finite and limited by something. But to be limited by something is to be dependent on it. However, substance cannot be dependent on anything else (premise 1), therefore substance is infinite.
Conclusion: There can only be one substance.
Proof: If there were two infinite substances, they would limit each other. But this would act as a restraint, and they would be dependent on each other. But they cannot be dependent on each other (premise 1), therefore there cannot be two substances,
For Spinoza, as for Einstein Gott wuerfelt nicht so even if Nietzsche is right and Gott ist tot what you see is what you get. The original draft (Plan A) got silly and funny at this point somewhere but it is now daylight and the Gothic mood is fading. Dracula must return to bed and the undead are in photophobic shock. Et moi? Je ne sais pas. Je crois, mais la connaissance est perdu. Rudolf Steiner a réalisé la synthèse entre l'empirisme et le rationalisme en mettant à jour le rôle primordial de l'activité de la pensée. Le penser permet d'associer une perception (externe ou interne) à un concept, pour arriver à la connaissance de l'objet. Il résout ainsi l'opposition fondamentale entre le moi et le monde en montrant le lien qui se fait entre ces deux pôles dans la conscience humaine. Nonsense, gibberish? Ask Rigmor. The underground train to TraLaLaLaLand is standing on Platform 42. Does something in the Amsterdanm air attract rationalists? After all the Dutch claim that god made the earth but the Dutch made Holland. In Wales we say that you can take the boy out of Wales but you can't take Wales out of the boy. As I am typing this I'm talking to Gene on a mobile phone. He is in a psychiatric prison where he has been for the last ten months (sic) having been diagnosed with schizophrenia. It seems that the doctors in Spinozaville have not heard that this a diagnosis that the medical profession does not agree upon.


" In his book Schizophrenia - The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry, psychiatry professor Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., says "There is, in short, no such thing as schizophrenia" (Syracuse University Press, 1988, p. 191). In the Epilogue of their book Schizophrenia - Medical Diagnosis or Moral Verdict?, Theodore R. Sarbin, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz who spent three years working in mental hospitals, and James C. Mancuso, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the State University of New York at Albany, say: "We have come to the end of our journey. Among other things, we have tried to establish that the schizophrenia model of unwanted conduct lacks credibility. The analysis directs us ineluctably to the conclusion that schizophrenia is a myth" (Pergamon Press, 1980, p. 221). In his book Against Therapy, published in 1988, Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D., a psychoanalyst, says "There is a heightened awareness of the dangers inherent in labeling somebody with a disease category like schizophrenia, and many people are beginning to realize that there is no such entity" (Atheneum, p. 2). Rather than being a bona-fide disease, so-called schizophrenia is a nonspecific category which includes almost everything a human being can do, think, or feel that is greatly disliked by other people or by the so-called schizophrenics themselves. There are few so-called mental illnesses that have not at one time or another been called schizophrenia. Because schizophrenia is a term that covers just about everything a person can think or do which people greatly dislike, it is hard to define objectively. Typically, definitions of schizophrenia are vague or inconsistent with each other." says Lawrence Stevens, J.D. of Antipsychiatry.org


Medicine like evolution is one long argument. It won't be over till the fat lady sings...and the gaffer's disconnected her so, like it or not, we are in for the long haul. Am I a determinist? Categorically no. When I was younger I used to work for the City Farm in Cardiff and I will never forget what the boss said when (in 1973) I asked her how we could save the planet she replied, "We have to get the science right." I have spent most of my life since trying to do just that. If I have any expertise it is in critical care on the edge of life and death. I also know a fair bit about Diabetes mellitus and stroke therapy and rehabilitation and my last professional post was in oncology, mostly breast and lung cancer. We were a hospice in all but name and part of the Universitaet Tuebingen's teaching hospital. So I do know something about fate and human dignity. Born free yet everywhere in chains. La condition humaine.


This posting is for Manon, a fine Dutch philosopher and student of Spinoza. I hope my Damasio tip will be of help to her in the search for a determinist ethic. Tonight I met a guy from Den Haag and we drank the mushroom tea together. Arno brought much needed synchronicity to this meagre attempt at self organisation. Lzi inspired as always, and Dunja cooked a divine meal, as always. I am at the end of the day an optimist, a dysfunctional Pangloss in this, the best of all possible worlds. But I do believe it is time for us to appreciate our garden, this creation and all its wonder and I agree with E.O. Wilson. "The moment has come to stress that there is a dangerous trap in sociobiology, one which can be avoided only by constant vigilance. The trap is the naturalistic fallacy of ethics which uncritically concludes that what is, should be. The ‘what is’ in human nature is to a large extent the heritage of a Pleistocene hunter-gatherer existence. When any genetic bias is demonstrated, it cannot be used to justify a continuing practice in present and future societies." You have been warned Caveat emptor!



Copyright Leighton Cooke (2007)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Paradox by Amsteractive...burning trees...


...After a few technical hitches our first Amsteractive short film is up on the net. It is about the tradition of burning the Christmas trees on the Museumplein on January 7 and asks a simple question. At a time of climate change and worries over carbon emissions does this send out the right message? Would it not make more sense to plant the trees somewhere or at least to use them as biofuel?


Joe at audiophobia did a great editing job. Richard as usual was the superglue that held the thread of the project together when the technology let us down. It is amazing how many hours work go into a three minute film. Thanks to everyone who helped.

Monday, January 08, 2007

No sweat!...


...Sweatfree.org (Pakistan. Artist: Janet Essley. Photo: Paul Woolery}
Cool site against sweatshops.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Amsteractive...

...fills the confused space created by my Blogger beta double ID. A local blog for local people. The first few Amsteractive days have been fun but the clock is the wrong way round and my caffene level is at an all time high. The Amsteractive team have been great and I also want to thank Lzi for the impetus to get the idea up and running. Community is at the centre of this project and as Amsterdam is a small world city, people tend to get to know each other over time. I think all the bicycles help. Getting around is more sociable here with cycle paths everywhere. I've really got to love this city with its quirky way of doing things. An Amsterdammer is always an individual and the city is always ready to surprise you. A small note to visitors though. The cycle lanes are for bicycles not for standing on to take pictures, unless you want to learn some useful Dutch slang. If you have any Amsterdam news or projects please email us at amsteractive@gmail.com