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Nov. 4th, 2012

i-ching star

Vectors and other lines to follow

Two excerpts I wanted to share with you:

The Khazars has masons who cut and mounted enormous pieces of rock salt on the paths of the winds. On the path of each of the forty Khazar winds (half of which were fresh, half sweet) an arrangements of saline marble was built, and when the annual seasonal winds reappeared, people would gather at these sites to hear which of the masons had composed the most beautiful song. For, as they caressed the rocks, slipped through their crevices, and skirted their tops, the winds always played a different tune, until the marble and the masons disappeared forever, washed away by the rains, whipped by the glances of passers-by, and licked by the tongues of rams and bulls.
- "Music Masons", from The Green Book of The Khazar Dictionary by Milorad Pavic


...Before we learned to tell stories we learned to track. The first letter of the first word of the first recorded story was written -"printed" - not by us, by by an animal. These signs and symbols left in mud, sand, leaves, and snow represent proto-alphabets. Often smeared, fragmented, and confused by weather, time and other animals, these cryptograms were life-and-death exercises in abstract thinking. This skill, the reading of tracks in order to procure food, or identify the presence of a dangerous animal, may in fact be "the oldest profession." Like our own text, these "early works" are linear and continuous with their own punctuation and grammar. Plot, tense, gender, age, health, relationships, and emotional states can all be determined from these durable records. In this sense, The Jungle Book is our story, too: just as Mowgli was schooled by wild animals, so in many ways were we... An individual track may have its own accent or diacritical marks that distinguish the intent of a foot, or even a single step, from the others. On an active game trail, as in one of Tolstoy's novels, multiple plots and characters can overlap with daunting subtlety, pathos, or hair-raising drama. Deciphering these palimpsests can be more difficult than reading crossed letters from the Victorian era, and harder to follow than the most obscure experimental fiction.
- from The Tiger by John Vaillant

Apr. 4th, 2012


keeper of the gate

after 31 months we are almost down to the last bit of school. rumour is that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it is only the light from the crack beneath the gate. banging my head on the wall won't make the keeper of the gate open up any sooner.

Mar. 22nd, 2012

i-ching star

instances of "social hacking" recently observed

At the end of the work day it almost impossible to get onto the "down" elevator, as it is packed full of people. The only way to go down is to go up, which makes sense since what goes up must come down. Lately I began to notice that coworkers on my floor now pushed the "up" button at the end of the day, instead. The elevator would arrive from below, already populated by others from the lower floors. On one of my trips on one of these contraflow elevators, I have noted the following: as the elevator ascends, it fills to capacity. By the time it arrives at the top floors, it is already full of people. The people on the top floors seem to be used to or at least expecting this, so they are adept at squeezing on...

The building's sociological stratification is in a state of tumult; the people near the bottom, sick of being the last ones to squeeze on the packed elevator to go home, have upended the normal order of operations. Maybe it started with one or two people who started the conspiracy but soon their numbers swelled and in a matter of months the conspiracy became a revolution, and now we are kind of stuck this way, until the elevators are fixed.

The elevators at my office building are perpetually under maintenance. There is a sign that states "elevators will be modernized in 2 years" but there is no starting date noted on the sign. From my extensive experience riding these elevators, I would venture to say that, despite a host of other mechanical problems, and regardless of the details of how the elevators are programmed, for an hour at the end of the day, the original function of the elevators been subverted and there is really nothing preventing this epidemic from spreading to elevators, like a socially-engineered human-ware version of Stuxnet for elevators.

Recently other instances of social hacking have impacted my environment. If my hypothesis is correct, the Burning Man Lottery system also fell prey to creative liberties with the rules. Likewise, I think the recent vote to strike by the City's inside workers was "socially hacked" by a proportionally larger demographic of younger part-timers. But before you know it, you sound like a conspiracy nut.

I know that elevator talk is banal and in some circles is only slightly preferred to elevator music. Nonetheless I hope you found my discoveries were amusing and novel, if not unparalleled in the history of the universe.

Mar. 4th, 2012

i-ching star

the senseless repetitions of history were all for naught if you find meaning in this

"Like characters in a story that keeps changing, we find ourselves playing roles that others appear to have invented for us, in plots whose roots and consequences escape us. We declare ourselves Roman or Carthaginian, but our notion of what Rome and Carthage are is either too restricted to too ambitious to be useful beyond the shorthand of a label. Vague and heated patriotic feelings, murky reasons of emotion and faith, lead us to defend or attack a border or a banner whose shape and colour keep shifting, and even when declaring allegiance to one place, we seem to be always moving away from it, toward a nostalgic image of what we believe that place once was or might one day be. Nationalities, ethnicities, tribal, and religious filiations imply geographical and political definitions of some kind, and yet, partly because of our nomad nature and partly due to the fluctuations of history, our geography is less grounded in a physical than in a phantom landscape. Home is always an imaginary place." - The Screens of Hal, The City of Words, Alberto Manguel

“That history should have imitated history was already sufficiently marvelous; that history should imitate literature is inconceivable.” - Theme of the Traitor and the Hero, Jorge Luis Borges 

Dec. 1st, 2011

it's full of stars!

how to live in a world without a memory

"A world without memory is a world of the present. The past exists only in books, in documents. In order to know himself, each person carries his own Book of Life, which is filled with the history of his life. By reading its pages daily, he can relearn the identity of his parents, whether he was born high or born low, whether he did well or did poorly in school, whether he has accomplished anything in his life. Without his Book of Life, a person is a snapshot, a two-dimensional image, a ghost...
...Some have stopped reading altogether. They have abandoned the past. The have decided that it matters not if yesterday they were rich or poor, educated or ignorant, proud or humble, in love or empty-heated-no more than it matters how a soft wind gets into their hair. Such people look you directly in the eye and grip your hand firmly. Such people walk with the limber stride of their youth. Such people have learned how to live in a world without memory."
- from "20 May 1905" in Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

Oct. 21st, 2011



an interesting day: airing a theory of Complaint, the search for an ideal sewage pumps, an effort for water conservation, putting in the final piece into a puzzle that will take another month to complete, researching similarities between microorganisms found in marine beds and in sewage plants, flashing signs of magic, a social science histogram, a discussion on time travel.

Oct. 20th, 2011


variations on a theme

three definitions:
  1. procrastinating: hating what you're doing while you're doing it
  2. productipating: being extremely productive at all the things other than the thing you're supposed to be doing
  3. producturbating: being extremely productive at being self-indulgent

three statements that cause a lot more trouble than you would think at first:
  1. i like to feel helpful
  2. i am curious, tell me more
  3. i am collaborative by nature

Oct. 12th, 2011


Unseen City

RC Harris, a water plant at the beaches, was featured a while ago in torontoist.com. My favourite bits are the descriptions:
- the plant as "a factory in the land of Oz"
- the running taps in the lab as "a surrealist sculptural meditation on the implacability of water"
- the pumps as " round, teal things, each as tall as a man, that crouch like snails on an orange-tiled floor"
Check out the photos as well!

Unseen City: The RC Harris Water Treatment Plant<br />

Oct. 7th, 2011



Incidentally, I was delighted to read that the 2011 Nobel prize for chemistry went to Dan Schectman for his work on quasicrystals. Quasicrystals are amazing constructions, if you wish to amuse yourself for many hours:

*Quasicrystal: A quasicrystal is a structure that is ordered but not periodic. A quasicrystalline pattern can continuously fill all available space, but it lacks translational symmetry.
*Girih tiles: Girih tiles (جيرة) are a set of five tiles that were used in the creation of tiling patterns for decoration of buildings in Islamic architecture.
*Tessellation: A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps.

Sep. 2nd, 2011


Self-Regulation of the Indomitable Spirit

"Of all professionals, we engineers must be free to think, to imagine and to contribue to a world of ever-expanding possibilities. This is our nature this is what we have been educated to do; this is our job!" - David Adams, PEO President

- Emily

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