Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Years Eve

Drawn with Isabella White

Cityscape - News Years Eve - click for full image

Evening

Sometimes the stars do no open up in the sky.
It is the earth which shines like a starry firmament.

Juan Ramon Jimenez

Magic Night

Citscape 7 - Magic Night - click to download full version

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oceans under threat

As temperatures rise and the carbon balance in the oceans change all of life in the oceans are under threat. I certainly didn't know that in one litre bottle of sea water there are 4 billion viruses and the viruses are useful in that they work to reduce the amount of carbon in the water. Whilst most of the living things in the sea are under threat jellyfish are one of the few that actually thrive on change and as we pollute the ocean mass swarms of jellyfish can arrive killing everything in their path.

I have been readin 'Ocean of life' by Callum Roberts and it makes sober reading. We are still reaking havoc to the oceans. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spil when they examined the risk assessments they found references to dangers to walruses and sea lions (!) It looks like they simply copied the risk assessments from oil rigs in the Artctic.

I had not realised the fragile balance that we have to cope with in the ocean and the risks that we are facing, this is certainly a worthwhile read.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Gogol

Happy is the man who after a long journey full of indignities and troubles arrives at home to kisses, he should be happy to have such a refuge. Gogol uses this idea to introduce his approach to literature. There is a universal approach to literature that thrills the old man and the 16 year old girls alike. This type of writer transcends wretched reality and flies like an eagle.

But what about the young man who goes on his travels and has no wife to return to, his sole pleasures are the 'lofty ecstatic laughter of working men'. This is the sort of writer who takes all that we see in front of our noses and presents it back to us as 'a pearl of creation'. This is how Gogol describes himself. He writes at length of how this type of writing is doomed to be misunderstood and criticised.

Happy is the traveller

You can read the text in the above document, it is not easy to read but considering this is as close to revolutionary as it gets (!) I think it is worth the effort.

Bureaucracy

"It is clear, in any event, that in any kind of organisation there is a constant pressure to escape from reality. This tendency corresponds to what popular sentiment calls 'bureaucratic tendencies'. Centralisation is one of the ways to achieve it; completely impersonal rules are another. Both permit escape from otherwise necessary adjustments." (From M. Crozier 'The Vicious Circle of Bureaucracy' 1963.)

Certainly a good way to think about bureaucracy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

He who takes me, gives himself to me, and is himself taken by the universe.

'The Eternal Feminine' written by Teilhard in Verzy, France on the frontline, 19-25 March 1918. The above is a line from this beautiful poem and I cannot help going back over it again and again.

When we participate in love we are 'taken' by the universe and when we try to capture it and use it for some negative purpose, it disintegrates and falls apart in our fingers. Could still be reading and re-reading for some time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Underground Man

Ross Macdonald has written a brilliant book. I am still reading it but the idea of a crime novel including a forestry service investigator (as a side line character to Lew Archer PI) on the trail of a murderer who may have started a forest fire in mid-50s california is just pure genius. I am only partly way through it but I am loving it. As far as I can see this pic below is the only pic of this 1973 edition, I like this cover the best.


Argo

Tony Mendez Argo - Spycast

I'm almost sure I posted about this, but this is an incredible story and I see it is now a film:

Argo

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Kafka and his precursors

By Borges.

"The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future."

I like this, it makes me more curious. It raises more questions than answers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Berdyaev

'It has become a banality to say that we live in a.time of historical crisis, that a whole epoch is ending, and a new one as yet without a name is beginning. Some are glad for this others sorry but all agree upon the fact. In reality what is happening is something deeper. We are witnessing a judgement on not one epoch in history but on history itself; and in this sense we live in an apocalyptic time.'

from Berdyaev 'The fate of man in the modern world' 1935



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Macdonald at Penguin Classics

Ross Macdonald is now on the Penguin Classics list! How wonderful. (Launched in July 2012)

Read this article about Macdonald - True Grit

Here is what they say about him:

This month everyone’s talking about Ross Macdonald, the don of hardboiled crime fiction joining the Penguin Modern Classics list in July. His series of novels about the fictional detective Lew Archer have long been admired by writers like William Goldman, Eudora Welty and John Lutz, who said of him: "No once since Macdonald has written with such poetic inevitability about people, their secret cares, their emotional scars, their sadness, cowardice, and courage. He reminded the rest of us of what was possible in our genre." It is this mastery and elevation of his genre into the realms of the literary that warrants Macdonald his place on the list; his subtle characterization, respect for fine prose and Byzantine, complex plotting set him apart from his fellow crime writers, and place him alongside denizens like Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler in the hardboiled hall of fame. Our favourite is The Underground Man, which sees Lew Archer unearthing a hidden history of failed marriages, runaway children, and a man's life consumed by a search for the father who abandoned him. A transfixing storyteller who marries the thrills of detective fiction with the sadness and loneliness of his criminals, warped by poverty and domestic anguish, Macdonald is noir at its most dazzling.
The five gripping stories include: The Underground Man, The Goodbye Look, The Chill, The Drowning Pool, and The Galton Case.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nature

"To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood."
from 'Nature' by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I approve!

Sweet tooth

For the past two weeks Radio 4 has been broadcasting 'Sweet tooth' as the Book at Bedtime. It is the story of a Cambridge graduate in mathematics who is hired by MI5 to spy on a novelist. Serena, the spy has the role of representing a literary foundation who present him with a grant. I really enjoyed the story.

Although the series has now stopped they have said on the website that it will be repeated in the future, You can find the website here. Unfortunately I think this link only works to those of us from the UK.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Changes in the nature of work

I have started to read 'Speaking to each other ... about society' by Richard Hoggart and he has a very interesting essay entitled 'Changes in working class life'. Written in 1960, the essay describes how the mills and factories of northern England are starting to suffer and work is becoming more specialised. I find it quite striking that 50 years later after all the changes that have happened we are still surprised when factories close and work is moved on across the globe.

Our education system is still struggling to cope with a system of work where skilled workers are at a premium. Even a skilled workforce is not immune to global change. 

I find it strange that no one is willing to forecast into the future that there will not be a place for unskilled work. Retail / service jobs are going to be reduced to a minimum. How are we going to cope?

I would like to see more emphasis on work that is primarily creative, work that cannot be reproduced elsewhere at a lower cost. This does not mean I am neglecting skilled work but we need to be creative with our skilled workers, we need to be strategic with the focus in our education system.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Still here

Sorry for no updates, I'm still here and more is coming soon ... If you are looking for something why not drop me a comment?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Congratulations

Hey all,

I had 518 page views on 2 August. That is a record! I have no idea why this happened, so if anybody knows - let me know!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

LSD may cure some addicts

This article in Scientific American Mind is very interesting. I know from reading John C. Lilly that therapists in the USA 1950s - mid 60s used strict guidelines to use LSD. They would actually give the drug and then stay with you to monitor the effects one on one. 

I would urge further research because this is based on research that was carried out whilst LSD was legal to use.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Churchill offered De Valera N. Ireland

To those unfamiliar with the situation in N. Ireland this may sound trivial. The war in N. Ireland is fought between those loyal to London who want to stay in the United Kingdom and those who want a united Ireland.

At the start of World War II Churchill was terrified at the idea that the Republic of Ireland might become invaded by the Germans, the Germans would then control strategically vital atlantic facing ports.

Churchill made an offer to De Valera that if the British were allowed to use the ports in Republic of Ireland that after the war he would give N. Ireland back to Ireland. This is from 'Battle of Britain' by James Holland. I was quite shocked.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cityscape V - You could not know the reason why

Unfortunately this is the last of the 'Cityscape' series. You might recognise this 'altered' street from Belfast. You can see the full image here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cityscape IV - Communication

You can see the full image here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cityscape III - Jumpers

You can see the full version here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cityscape II - Boxer

This incorporates a poem by Kenneth Koch. It is from a series called 'Poems by Ships at Sea':

Boxers

By the SS Oporto, Portuguese Line

Boxers sometimes try to stablize
The energy of their feet and their haunches
One topples! Knockout! Yet
He wasn't so hard hit. No it was I
Making a swerve or knocking back a wave
Unwitting. He gets up and tries to pit
His strength against a human force and mine.
I'll try, but can't do much, to let him win.

South Atlantic, off the coast near Swakopmuna (Walvis Bay), 1949

The full picture is here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cityscape I - Lighthouse


I started the 'cityscapes' project a few months ago. Some of them aren't really cityscapes but regardless of that, I had another look at them and decided they could be posted on this blog. You should look at the full size because some of them are quite detailed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kindle

I have eventually decided, well, I was given a Kindle - and what can you do, I have been using my knidle for about a week now and it is perhaps time to 'confess'.

Perhaps the best thng about having a kindle is that you can think about, decide and own a book within minutes. There is no doubt though that a kindle book is fundamentally different to the traditional book. Whilst you can't hold it or turn a page on the other hand you can bring 10 books with you on the bus and read them all. There are also free books available to download, a variety of classics, plus you can transfer in pdf books that you never got a chance to read before.

I'm a bit worried about the security aspect, basic things like leaving it down, dropping it etc. There isn't even a hole to add a strap. What happens when you go to the beach, old fashioned books still have their uses (!) Plus it is not very easy to lend a book or give it to a second hand bookshop.

I have been reading 'Steel boat, iron hearts' by Hans Goebeler. It is proving an admirable escape. It is the true story of life on U505, a german U-Boat. It is almost like Hans was sitting in front of me telling the story, and WWII from the german perspective is fascinating.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Voice

Violent Men part 1

This is an experiment. If you open the above link you will hear my voice (!) This is from a book called 'Violent Men' by Hans Toch. He has just explained that when police become nvolved in a violent incident, no matter what is going on, or how frail the victim is to other members of the public they percieve the police as an 'unfair intrusion' and often the victim as well as other witnesses attack the police whilst they are being rescused. This is what is happening in the incident I am reading, (in the background is the Foo Fighters).

Let me know if you want to know what happens next.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Trust

Anyway you look at it, the world is in a bleak situation. We are facing a potential 15 years of blame pointing and financial stagnation unless someone can diagnose the problem and suggest a way forward.

I would like to suggest that the problem is trust. We do not have the ability to trust what is being said by a bank, multinational organisation, anyone. Until we can establish basic accountability self interest is going to rule and the system is going to go into a steep downward spiral.

At the moment I don't have a solution but I would welcome any comments that you have ...

All reality is one

The idea that unites Teilhard and Whitehead is that there is one essential unity in all reality. When we get down to basics physics tell us that everything is made up of the same essential particles. The old idea of a three-fold view of the world - matter, mind and spirit is out and as we shall see God himself is to be found within this one reality.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Conversation pt 3

I have spent a frustrating day wading through a book trying to ignore science that is 40 or more years out of date. The problem with reading a book primarily on science and religion is that they are going to talk quite a bit about science (?) whilst I am trying to get to the little tentative bits where he explains about Whitehead and process philosophy.

On the plus side I do recognise now that some of the science I was taught 20 years ago was cutting edge science 40 years ago and in order to get in to a book it probably took the author another five years to study. I found that quite funny but completely irrelevant to what I was talking about yesterday. Hamilton is 'supposed' to be quite good on Whitehead' and I don't think that explanation will date itself quite the same as the science.

He has started to explain creativity and consciousness. I haven't quite managed to grasp everything yet so I'm probably not going to write about it. Sorry, the update really isn't that informative.

The idea of 'self-now' is quite liberating though and radical and I'm still thinking about it.

A big 'Hi' to all my readers, stick with me, this should be good.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Process philosophy - conversation pt 2

How do we find our personal identity? According to classical metaphysics it can be summarised thus:

'The world is many things I am one you are another.'

I think it could be said that this is how most of us start to approach this issue, it is the general view in society. We have a 'self' that persists throughout life from birth to death.

Process philosophy suggests a radical alternative:

'Our identity changes from a self to a series of successive 'self-now' each moment of self is a new actuality'

Process philosophy is influenced by quantum mechanics which sees the world as consistig not of things but of events.

Thus a persons consists of a series of momentary selves but they are connected and there is an element of permanence called personality.

But let us not let self-interest exaggerate the degree of permanence that we have. I think we can all understand the idea of being a new self in the 'now'.

The traditional view of the selfhas led to the idea there is only one person who matters - yourself, an attitude that has probably caused a lot of problems. The new idea also seeks to equalise, ourselves and others are a new identity in every moment, our past does not predict our future.


Conversation pt. 1

The readers of this blog are the few members of a community that I have and I would like to invite to participate and join the conversation. I have started reading 'The Living God and the Modern World' by Peter Hamilton and it has brought several issues into my mind. Although the book is essentially Christian, these are issues that we all face:

What is happening to us?

Do we have real conversations?

What about community?

Notice how when people want to make an important statement they say 'we are at a critical point' - the last twenty years have been a critical point! This is a critical point.

'Everything changes and in the end it remains the same' a wise man said this.

What is change, how can we get the best understanding and take the advantage out of change?

Teilhard said that evolution is not a fact it is a general condition. Process philosophy is about evolution, everything evolves and changes.

I would encourage you all to respond, I will try to keep this updated as much as possible.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Alvaro Mutis

Just started reading the above. Unusual, very well written, certainly looks like I am in for a very interesting read. This book won the Cervantes Prize in 2001.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Future of mankind depends on the saving power working in all of us


The prophets give the answer: nations are saved if there is a small minority, a group of people, who represent what the nation is called to be. They may be defeated, but their spirit will be a power of resistance against the evil spirits that are detrimental to the nation. The question of saving power in the nation is the question of whether there is a minority, even a small one, which is willing to resist the anxiety produced by propaganda, the conformity enforced by threat, the hatred stimulated by ignorance. The future of this country and its spiritual values is not dependent as much on atomic defence as on the influence such groups will have on the spirit in which the nation will think and act.
And this is true of mankind as a whole. Its future will be dependent on a saving group, embodied in one nation or crossing through all nations. There is saving power in mankind, but there is also the hidden will to self-destruction. It depends on every one of us which side will prevail. There is no divine promise that humanity will survive this or the next year. But it may depend on the saving power effective in you or me, whether it will survive. (It may depend on the amount of healing and liberating grace which works through any of us with respect to social justice, racial equality, and political wisdom.) Unless many of us say to ourselves: through the saving power working in me, mankind may be saved or lost – it will be lost.
 From p.98, Tillich, The Boundaries of our Being

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Teilhard in Google Earth

I have started the following new blog:

Teilhard in Google Earth

to chart the life and the places where Teilhard lived on Google Earth.

Easter morning

I was interested to read that the road to Emmaus story was actually about disciples who were 'fleeing the scene'. They wanted to get away. Tillich in 'The boundaries of our being' writes the following:

"How shall we think of these disciples? Our first reaction is probably the question - how could they forsake him whom they had called the Messiah, the Christ, the bringer of the new age, whom they had followed after leaving behind everything for his sake? But ... I admired the disciples! For it is they to who we owe the words of our text."

(p.84)

Pinhead

I am reading J. Edgar Hoover 'Official & Confidential' and Hoover was a nasty individual who seems to have spent most of his time snooping on other political figures - rather than catching criminals. There is one story that really got to me.

At the conclusion of the FBI academy course for new agents they had to meet Hoover and shake his hand. This was quite an occasion because if your hand was too sweaty of if you didn't look good he would fire you on the spot. One day after the induction Hoover walked out the door and said to the instructor - 'one of them is a pinhead - fire him'. Unfortunately he didn't know which one and when he measured their heads three of them had the same hat size. He fired all three!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Softy for Softy

Softy for Softy

This is a good essay by David Shields written under a pseudonym.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The way some people die

I have just finished my most recent Ross Macdonald book and it was a cracker! There is no book like it, it is crime fiction in the ultimate form - the peak, the best, totally awesome!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mary Ann in Autumn

As you may have noticed I have been reading the lastest book by Armistead Maupin. I have been pleasantly surprised, it is all I anticipated and more. You have everything you expect, the beautiful characters the 'shocking' lifestyles, all the sorts of things you would expect to come out of San Francisco. Add to that it is the end of a series and I haven't been able to read any of the others as yet but as normal I tend to read series backwards. For about 10 years I have been trying to read 'Tales of the City' but couldn't really get used to it.

Of course, the stories are a bit too neat, too crafted, skilfully crafted but too unnatural for me, I prefer a bit of chilled out non-directional story telling with loose ends and random surreallity but the story is really addictive and the characters are wonderful. He excels at adding pop culture - the snuggies, the politics, skype and facebook mentions. I might actually start reading backwards seriously, perhaps the first book just isn't hitting me at his peak. Actually there are some wonderful moments in this book, even if you are a bit freaked out by the characters, he has caught the spirit of the moment perfectly. Thoroughly recommended as a book of note!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thunderbird gmail problem

I have been searching for a solution to get my thunderbird working after I changed password. There are numerous web posts relating to the new upgrade but nothing worked - for two days! Until I realised I had a gmail specific password for thunderbird - !!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sorrow

From Hemingway 'Islands in the Stream':

"He thought that on the ship he could come to terms with his sorrow, not knowing, yet, that there are no terms to be made with sorrow. It can be cured by death and it can be blunted or anaesthetised by various things. Time is supposed to cure it, too. But if it is cured by anything less than death, the chances are that it was not true sorrow."
Just beginning to realise how good this Hemingway book is and the above quote is only one example of the almost constant amazing quotes that could be made and posted on this blog.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Obesity and the future of snacking

Pepsi

Hi,

This article from the New Yorker is fascinating reading. Pepsi wants to move its business to healthy eating, a fascinating insight into corporate strategy. Also just mind boggling how a soft drink company wants to move into the market for healthy eating.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MHChaos

Operation MHChaos

The reaction against the Vietnam War, by students and domestic groups inside america was a unique challenge to the intelligence community. I have read about the SDS, the Weathermen Underground and heard about the events that happened but I was skeptical that it could have been orchestrated by China or Vietnamese authorities.

Frank Rafalko is honest enough to admit that they were very close but they just didn't find anything and I think this only makes things more interesting. What really did happen, will we ever find out? Were naive students really capable of organising a terrorist campaign inside the USA without external help?

Rafalko was there doing the work and he gives his own perceptions.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Worlds worst jokes

Why did Frosty go live in the middle of the ocean?

Because snow man is an island.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The man Noah found favour in the eyes of God

In the Old Testament right after man started to live on the earth there was a problem. God didn't like his creation and he wanted to wipe them out. According to Tillich in 'The Eternal Now', this is the same problem that we have now, only it is man who has decided there is a problem and wants to wipe himself out, through which ever form of apocalypse is trendy at the moment - for Tillich it was nuclear. God took a risk, much the same as when we are creative, you take a risk and sometmes you decide to start again. Perhaps man today in planning the space race is subconsciously feeling the same fear - that it is time to start again in a different place.What is the message of God that we can bring for us today:

God saw promise in Noah and sent the rainbow to promise it would never happen again.

Tillich concludes that when we see ourselves as a tiny speck, in time and the universe this problem will always appear. The only answer is to find that God is outside time.

"Only the eternal can save us from the anxiety of being a meaningless bit of matter in a meaningless vortex of atoms and electrons. Only the eternal can give us the certainty that the earth, and with it, mankind, has not existed in vain."

Read the section here

Friday, January 06, 2012

Cold Steel

It is not very often that a book I finished 2 years ago will re-appear in my mind and it just shows how good a book it was. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have been mentioned at the time.

Cold Steel

The story of the merger of two huge steel companies and the drive and determination of an Indian entrepreneur, this was an awesome read, especially as the authors seem to have been in the very room where all the action was taking place. I would strongly recommend it - even if you are not a fan of business books.