Thursday, May 28
Wednesday, May 27
0. Learn, accept, and embrace the second law of thermodynamics. See the entire universe in terms of entropy. This is possibly the most important concept of all, or it's right there with a few of the other heavies. Potentials being tapped and not refilled except at the cost of tapping another potential, energy states endlessly dropping, no free lunch ever, everything trying to average out into a grey useless, random, informationless landfill. The universe runs on batteries, essentially, draining over time. No perpetual motion machines, no way out of the slow slide from order to disorder. Get used to it, because everything else lives within this idea, even localized process, such as life, which seem to buck the trend and create structure and complexity. Rest assured, a greater amount of complexity is lost elsewhere in a closed system (an assumption) to account for it. No free lunches!
1. Learn to interpret, present, and think in graphs. Just simple x,y plot graphs. But get them down cold. When you ask a scientist something, especially a physicist, the first thing she'll do is grab a napkin and draw a graph (just the +,+ region) and then a plot, and maybe tell you what x and y represent. You have to think that way automatically. Read lots of basic Feynman (his undergrad stuff) for practice.
2. Learn the concepts of calculus (approaching limits, the value of one dependent variable as the other goes to infinity or goes to zero, approximation to an nth degree) - essentially, the idea of finding the area under a curve with non-curved "tools." Just grasp it and make it part of your thinking. "I can approximate as close as needed to for my purposes but never get that last bit accounted for..." Like Achilles racing the Tortoise, the concept of diminishing returns, the half-life of a cesium atom, the forever-tightening definition of pi. Pick your favorite metaphor. Just remember it's a grainy world, and tools are grainy, and nothing in the real world is Euclidean or Platonic. The world seems to be discrete in every way we know how to measure, yet our models of it assume continuity at the lowest levels of time and space. What is real? Analog vs. digital. Think of these things, understand the difference.
3. Learn conceptually about non-linear systems: Fractal mathematics (qv. Cantor, Mandelbrot), chaos, complexity, emergence, autonomous synchronization, 'anti-entropy' (life?), and all the other ways of seeing and interpreting the vast floods of data you will be inundated with. Our brains are good at finding order where there is none, good at yelling that a thing is irrational or even miraculous when it's simply very improbable. Improbable things happen all the time. Don't get caught up too much in any of these still poorly-understood disciplines on your first pass, just understand the currents that moves our matter/energy + time around, pull it apart, and reassemble it again. Build up a great muscle-memory feel for what these currents are as they manifest themselves all around you in the pine cone of a tree, the shape of a shoreline, the architectural layout of many tribal villages in Africa, clouds, the shell of the chambered nautilus. Study a fern for an entire day sometime when the weather's nice - bring a good lunch and hours of Indian ragas on your iPod and stay with that fern till you Get It. I'm serious. Stay as long as you need to. Again, simply develop the habit of looking at the world with new eyes. Be able to talk meaningfully about how reality as we currently model and try to understand it is shaped by these forces, these recurring themes, in reality. Entropy eroding structure while self-organization constructs it again seemingly against the odds; systems so complex that a full analysis is beyond the information/computing ceiling in which we work (our universe). One can ask, is something which spirals into infinite complexity even a 'thing' anymore once it has crossed that boundary where it could never be described even in theory given all the computing power of our universe? Or does it lose its nature entirely like a star or an astronaut crossing an event horizon and falling into a black hole, recycled in a way but not in such a way that entropy does not again increase. Don't try to answer that one yet, but this is how you should be thinking almost all the time, day and night, about everything around you. You need to begin to fit things into your web or hierarchy or whatever umbrella mind-crutch you use to keep it all cobbled together and making sense relationally. Me, I'm an Ouroboros guy.
4. Don't think about chance (or determinism) too much, nor infinity, though you will need to use them often enough, especially in imprecise statistical analyses of an existence that doesn't quite live up to Plato's ideals. Whereas you should learn the concepts of #2 and #3 intimately and develop a good intuitive feel for how they work out in the real world but don't necessarily have to be brilliant at applying them practically just yet, #4 is different. Don't try to understand the concepts of infinity or singularities or time (or life or death while we're at it), just learn to use them as tools for solving practical problems. Otherwise you could go mad, for real. Mathematicians have one of the highest suicide rates of any occupation in the academic world, and perhaps in the world at large. I'm not sure of the statistics but I know they're up there. Here are some cautionary tales supporting that statement. History is littered with the broken minds of men who though they could pull the mathematical sword from the stone. Don't be chivalrous unless your only goal is to be a brilliant martyr. If you intend to do anything which survives, you and your faculties must survive. Don't go jumping into rabbit holes. It's way sunnier out here, trust me.
5. Learn to think in terms of orders of magnitude, rough but meaningful approximations that get you in the right ballpark, rather than worry about the digits coming out precisely. Back of the envelope thinking, in other works. It's ok to think that maybe Jupiter is 3 times as far away from the Sun as is the Earth (it's actually 5), but to think it was 30 times farther away would demonstrate a lack of understanding on your part that is more fundamental. Likewise, when talking about large distances, after a certain number of light-years it all seems to mean the same thing - really, really far. But you can't think that way. It's been said that if an atom were blown up to the size of a football stadium, the nucleus would be the size of a marble. And the closest nucleus away (if the atoms were part of a solid) would be in the stadium right next door. That's how much empty space "solids" contain. Liquids and gasses are even more rarefied. Also, human beings seem to be just about in the middle of the size spectrum - take all those atoms that make you up and that's about the same number of you - your body - that it would take to fill up the sun were it hollow. But of course or sun isn't the biggest star there is (have a look). And even the largest star known is many orders of magnitude smaller than any galaxy, and the distance between galaxies on average is something proportionately like a pea in Los Angeles would be from a pea in Manhattan. But even galaxies form superclusters, which tend to make a filamentary web shape with lots of holes of basically nothing within them (some postulate dark matter, whatever it may be, causes the visible galaxies to form that way). And what is the distance between superclusters? So you see what I mean. The "gigantic" Sun is not not even close to the same level of gigantic as are some stars, and so on. If you were a galaxy, the stars which made up your body would be not much bigger than the size of quarks, the smallest things known. And yet there are trillion of galaxies. It's all very mind-blowing, but get used to it and get your ballpark figures straight. A trillion isn't anything like a million, anymore than a million is like one. The cosmos is so vast and empty, and the microworld so minuscule and empty, that there is really nothing in the universe at all, when you add it all up. The matter that's there would be rounded off to zero in most calculations. It's simply not significant compared to the amount of nothingness that exists. In fact, intergalactic space contains a million times fewer particles that does the best vacuum yet created in an Earth lab. And even the solar system, which looked as though it were brimming over with interesting things on the poster tacked to the wall in your elementary school, is so rarefied that if you suddenly appeared at a completely random place within it, you'd likely be in an area millions of times more sterile than a Class 5 Clean Room, the kind the government uses to handle weapons-grade anthrax. And contrary to the common picture many people have that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is a wild and woolly place teeming with rubble, the fact is if you collected all that matter and made it into a ball, it would be smaller than the moon. And if you were standing on almost any of the asteroids in that belt, you'd be able to see the Sun (of course), Jupiter as a very bright object, Mars and the Earth and Saturn as somewhat fainter objects, and, get this, you almost certainly couldn't with your naked eye even see another asteroid anywhere near you. Even if they glowed of their own accord and weren't as dim as they are, the distance between the average rock in that belt would prohibit you from forming any conclusion other than that you were alone in that orbit. So, getting back to the point, scale, in terms of size, temperature, age, and other attributes is extremely importantly to grasp, but only in a relative way, such that 99% of the time no one cares if you're off by what you might think is a huge amount, if you're in the correct magnitude (power of ten). Your brain has evolved to deal with precise quantities and distances. You need to forget about all that if you're going to have a shot at even beginning to understanding the universe. Getting correct within a factor of ten is usually close enough when you're talking cosmology or particle physics. So, practice your powers of ten. Express yourself in powers of ten in science, and in the metric system, because it's easier in the long run that way, not to mention that if you want to publish anything and not just be an armchair polymath, you'll be required to do so. Watch the old Charles and Ray Eames film showing a steady camera pull away from a human-scale Earth steadily outward by factors of ten, until the galactic superclusters themselves are shown (animated of course), and if you can, try to pay attention to the scale at which each type of object (a star, a solar system, a galaxy) exist. 10^?. If you can remember those scales, you'll have a big leg up. Now the film plunges down back to earth and this time keeps on going, into the subatomic work, which is sort of a mirror image of the pullout, except that each order of magnitude is expressed as 10^-n where n is increasing by one each time. You'll see that, indeed, we live at roughly the "middle" of the size scale in the universe when considered logarithmically like this. The take home message is to leave your calculator in the drawer for now and try to intuitively grasp all the different scales you've seen. Not just us and then "really big" and "really small," but huge leaps of big and small going in both ways for quite some time.
6. Don't worry about the three spatial dimensions. You know enough about them intuitively. For now, think of the universe consisting of 2 fundamental things: a) matter/energy, and b) time. Next, consider information. Information can be represented by the precise state of matter and energy over time, and so is a derived rather than fundamental property. Be aware that unlike in mathematics, in the physical world not all things are solvable, simply because there is not enough informational room, enough computational power, even in the whole of the universe. If we bring the quantum theory's many-worlds interpretation into play, we can perhaps salvage enough such power and storage in one unique world-line, but only at the expense of many others. Some speculations are not sustainable, like God, or like a holographic universal simulacrum designed to fool us by some higher intelligence. It becomes a problem of recursion and endless regress, for who is to construct the constructors? That is going against Occam's law and making things more complex than they need to be to achieve the same thing. For now just think of information capacity as a fundamental property of all closed systems. How much information can such a system store and how much power can it bring to bear on itself in terms of actual physical processes? This isn't just a thought game after all; at least, we must assume it's not, or why do anything? This is actually where I've been stuck for years, being unconvinced that what I am experiencing is real. The ability of a given region of space to store information is a ceiling which is as unbreachable as the second law, though it may be that space is very complex, with many hidden dimensions, or it may be holographic or fractal, in which case things get weird. But if the room to store data is limited in some way, then you must remember that information can only be compressed so much before it becomes lossy. The most basic system of all is a 2-bit system, on or off, black or white, yea or nay. You can arrange it many clever ways, but not infinitely cleverly; there is a minimum amount of matter/energy + time which much exist per unit of information, and it is quantifiable and infrangible (probably). By the way whenever I say something is absolutely, fundamentally true, like the fact that entropy always increases over time (the second law), you should mentally put a "(probably)" at the end. That is because none of us is God and everything we think we know and have achieved has been done with bodies ostensibly evolved for something completely different, and it would be the sheerest act of hubris to ever assume we had reached the fundamental truth about anything. That's why if you're honest with yourself, and bright enough to think about it correctly, you can be nothing other than an agnostic, which is to say, to "be" nothing. Don't believe anything, just experience it, and try to make sense of it if you want.
7. Learn to express yourself precisely. Use the correct word for what it is you mean to say, and try to observe Occam's razor in your speech and your thoughts, even as you would in your scientific inquiries. In a related vein, take at least one formal logic class (or read the textbook) and learn to reason formally and precisely. Learn to spot logical fallacies; practice every day in every conversation, even though you don't have to speak up every time and let the person know that what they just said is spurious, make a note of it in your head. Rationality and precision allow you to construct watertight proofs, which allows you to design good experiments to test theories, and most importantly to do the proper analysis when the results are in. Always be one hundred percent honest. The facts don't lie. To paraphrase Feynman, no matter how beautiful or elegant a theory is, if the facts contradict it, or any part of it no matter how small (in a repeatably demonstrable way), then it's wrong. Hold yourself to the same rigorous standards you hold the world to, or authors or scientists to. Ethics and morality is more important than truth in the real world where we all live and have to get along with one another, so be impeccably ethical in addition to being precise and curious. Polymaths should not use their growing understanding of the interwoven nature of reality as a club with which to bludgeon others; that is despicable. Learn about Zen Buddhism and Taoism and Confucianism. Ignore anything supernatural in them - that stuff was invariably tacked on later. Concentrate on the philosophies. Be a gentleman or gentlewoman. Do good things because you can, and it will make your life qualitatively better, not because there's some reason you have to. Look for balance in your life as you hoover up facts and assemble them into your ever-growing model of understanding. Be humane, love animals and get out into nature as often as possible. Have hobbies like photography or rock collecting or birdwatching, whatever you find fascinating. It's ok to indulge in these things because they too give you knowledge, in a hands-on way much different from what you get while reading or listening. First-hand experience is vital. Learn about the way the ecosystem works by feeling yourself to be a part of it, not isolated in a room somewhere staring at a screen or a page or a person learning about it vicariously. Get your hands dirty. Go on a fossil dig. Go see foreign cultures. Broaden your mind, just be aware that you can't narrow it again once you do. Thomas Jefferson once said, "traveling makes you wiser but less happy." I think that's basically true. The world can be pretty sobering, if not outright depressing in many cases. This is like looking into math too much: If you have a history of depression or a fragile makeup, maybe it's best not to be too ambitious. Of course, only you can determine that.
8. Listen to people you get warm fuzzies about (intellectually) with breathless attention. Absorb all you can that is already known and expounded by the current leaders in every subfield in which you have interest provided that you have a hunch those people know what they're talking about. (I will provide a great resource for you to do this in an upcming post.) Human beings are social creatures, so be as social as you can be in the right circles. Don't reinvent the wheel. Climb up on the shoulders of all the giants who have come before you and left their mark, and you will see further. But don't take everyone at face value either. Many longstanding commonsense ideas are wrong. Challenge these ideas, no matter the pedigree of the person who proposed them, if you feel this to be the case. Einstein had the nerve to challenge Newton, after all, and Einstein was right to do so. And Bohr and Heisenberg challenged Einstein, and they were right to do so. No one is a god, no matter how brilliant they are. You must stick to your guns and your reason. Reduce a conundrum to its most elementary constituents and find the solution using adequate and well-designed experiments and impeccable reasoning, and go where that takes you. Cheerfully admit you're wrong when you are, but don't be afraid to conclude everyone else is wrong either, if that is truly what you find (and keep finding through repeated experiments). Maybe you just discovered some new truth! Old "truths" are being overturned all the time, it's not a big deal. That's how science moves forward. Just remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Expect hostility from the old guard, the mainstream. If you're getting lots of resistance, it probably means you're onto something.
9. Read about the history of science, and read the groundbreaking works in the original, once you are able to. The power of an idea tends to dilute the further removed from the idea the author is at, kinda like the gospels. The best of all would be to have "The Gospel of Jesus," right? But we don't have that. Next best would be to have eyewitness accounts in their original from his apostles, but we don't have those either. The best we get in Biblical study is maybe third or fourth generation accounts written 30 to 100 years after the alleged crucifixion, and to compound matters, these accounts were translated and transcribed so many times prior to the invention of the printing press that they're about as accurate as the last person in a game of "telephone" (in America) or "Chinese whispers" (in Britain). In other words, not very accurate at all. So while popular accounts are fun and by all means, you should read the better ones, eventually you'll have to get to the source itself, if it still exists (and in the modern sciences, they all still exist, which is fortunate), and tough it out. Read Galileo in English translation if you don't speak Italian and Newton's Principia in translation if you don't read Latin. Or even better, learn Latin and Greek. Read all of Darwin for sure; he wrote in English so you've no excuse not to. Read Einstein, Gödel, Cantor, Mendel, Watson, Pascal, Maxwell, Kant, Wigner, Euclid, and so on. And don't neglect your right brain: Go to art galleries, read about art, have opinions about art and argue them with others. Participate in athletics. Read as much history as you can, about anything. Pay attentions to how the same patterns repeat themselves in so many unrelated aspects of life. Read fantasy and (especially) sci-fi. A lot of great ideas which bore practical fruit started life as science fiction, whether from Jules Verne, HG Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, or others. Read sociology and psychology. Learn about anatomy and physiology. Read the most current ideas about consciousness and neuroscience. Read Spinoza and Luria and Damasio. Read Hofstadter and Penrose and Hawkins and Dennet. Read the Greeks! All of them! Read Herodotus, Tacitus, Pliny the Elder, Josephus, and all the other ancient historians, but read them skeptically and remember whose pay they were in. Read about warfare and politics and philosophy (don't get bogged down though), and ancient civilizations, especially Egypt. Study Egypt very carefully: It's where nearly every aspect of our culture and what wisdom we have came from. Before Egypt humans were just smart animals. Something special happened there. Do your own writing too. Make a blog and pour your ideas onto it or create whatever it is you find interesting. Learn a programming or scripting language - why not? It will demystify the Web a bit and one more piece of the puzzle will slide down and lock in. Explain things to others to be sure you understand them yourself. Allow others to ask you questions and see if you can answer them to their satisfaction. Meditate. Sleep and eat well. Stay positive if you can, or you won't want to do any of this. Hang out with children, they see the world with fresh eyes and say surprising things that may lead you in new directions. Volunteer, both to help your community and your soul. Get into gardening or tai-chi or walk or swim every morning. The body is the temple in which the mind lives. Don't destroy the temple.
Good luck. This is just the briefest overview and is probably overwhelming. But if it's compelling as well - if you think you've just found some place on the web that is talking about exactly what you've been wrestling with on your own - then stick around awhile. I'll return to this subject. I'll break down each portion in more detail and recommend certain books and lectures and resources. You realize that the further you want to go, the more alone you will be, and soon there will be no one to guide you. Loneliness is the price of genius. But if you want it that badly, I can offer some help and point the way to certain things. I would like to write a lengthy book assimilating virtually ALL that I know into one cohesive, explicable whole. I've been a data collector for decades seemingly for that purpose. So stick around and watch what happens, or contribute if you feel that compulsion. I know I'm not alone in trying to make sense of it all.
On your shining desires
Reasons there are none
Cried the whiskey-laden brain
When all is said and done
It amounts to just the same
There in your starry eyes lie hopes
That have been betrayed
The cause of your desire
Can also lead to your demise
When all is said and done
It will be you who pays the price
As countless fools are often loathe to testify
It's an illusion of life
The whole cause of our demise.
Sail to the stars
On your shining desires
Lucretia waits in vain
For the child of her dreams
Within her aching womb
There burns a funeral pyre
There in your starry eyes lie hopes
That have been betrayed
The prize that you claim
Can never be yours to take
Like castles in Spain
Hope is all that will remain
Abstain from the fool's paradise
It's an illusion of life
The whole cause of our desire.
Contemplate the world
And its traitors to the soul
The forces of derision
And their legions manifold
Usurpers of the crown
All pretenders to the throne
Your world is linked in chains
All in one, one in all.
(©1985 Brendan Perry)
Sunday, May 24
Your vagrancy's a familiar tale
Fraught with danger
The lives you led were judged profane.
Hatred enfolds us,
Inculcates the minds with its heresy.
Laymen scold us,
Clemency arrives to set you free.
Although Xavier has prayed
That life-giving waters may rain
Down on the souls of Man
To cure them of their ways.
These were the sins of Xavier's past,
Hung like jewels in the forest of veils
Deep in the heart where the mysteries emerge
Eve bears the stigma of original sin.
Freedom's so hard when we are all bound by laws
Etched in the seam of nature's own hand
Unseen by all those who fail
In their pursuit of faith.
And as the night turns into day
Will the sun illuminate your way?
Or will the nightmares come home to stay.
Xavier's love lies in chains.
These were the sins of Xavier's past,
Hung like jewels in the forest of veils...
(©1986 Brendan Perry)
Wednesday, May 20
|3150 BC||Menes - Dynasty 0|
|2920 BC||Dynasty 1|
|2770 BC||Dynasty 2|
|2649 BC||3rd dynasty|
|2649 - 2630 BC||Sanakhte|
|2630 - 2611 BC||Djoser|
|2649 - 2643 BC||Sekhemkhet|
|2643 - 2637 BC||Khaba|
|2637 - 2613 BC||Huni|
|2613 - 2589 BC||Sneferu|
|2589 - 2566 BC||Khufu (Cheops)|
|2566 - 2558 BC||Djedefre|
|2558 - 2532 BC||Khafre (Chephren)|
|2532 - 2504 BC||Menkaure (Mycerinus)|
|2504 - 2500 BC||Shepseskaf|
|2498 - 2491 BC||Userkaf|
|2491 - 2477 BC||Sahure|
|2477 - 2467 BC||Nefeirrkare|
|2467 - 2460 BC||Sheseskare|
|2460 - 2453 BC||Neferefre|
|2453 - 2422 BC||Niuserre|
|2422 - 2414 BC||Menkauhor|
|2414 - 2375 BC||Djedkare|
|2375 - 2345 BC||Wenis/Unas|
|2345 - 2333 BC||Teti|
|2332 - 2283 BC||Pepi I|
|2283 - 2278 BC||Merenre|
|2278 - 2184 BC||Pepi|
|2200 BC||First Intermediate Period|
|2181 - 2160 BC||Dynasties 7 & 8|
|2160 - 2040 BC||Dynasties 9 & 10|
|2134 - 2117 BC||Intef I|
|2117 - 2069 BC||Intef II|
|2069 - 2060 BC||Intef III|
|2060 - 2010 BC||Mentuhotep I|
|2050 BC||Middle Kingdom|
|2010 - 1998 BC||Mentuhotep II|
|1997 - 1991 BC||Mentuhotep III|
|1991 - 1962 BC||Amenemhet I|
|1971 - 1926 BC||Senusret I|
|1929 - 1895 BC||Amenemhet II|
|1897 - 1878 BC||Senusret II|
|1878 - 1841 BC||Senusret III|
|1842 - 1797 BC||Amenemhet IV|
|1800 BC||Second Intermediate Period|
|1798 - 1786 BC||Amenemhet IV|
|1785 - 1782 BC||Sobeknefru|
|1782 - 1778 BC||Wegaf|
|1760 BC||Ameny Intef IV|
|1750 BC||Sobekhotep II|
|1745 BC||Sobekhotep III|
|1741 - 1730 BC||Neferhotep I|
|1730 - 1720 BC||Sobekhotep IV|
|1570 BC||Early New Kingdom|
|1570 - 1546 BC||Ahmose I|
|1551 - 1524 BC||Amenhotep I|
|1524 - 1518 BC||Tuthmosis I|
|1518 - 1504 BC||Tuthmosis II|
|1504 - 1450 BC||Tuthmosis III|
|1498 - 1483 BC||Hateshepsut|
|1453 - 1419 BC||Amenhotep II|
|1419 - 1386 BC||Tuthmosis IV|
|1386 - 1349 BC||Amenhotep III|
|1370 BC||Armana Revolution|
|1350 - 1334 BC||Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten)|
|1336 - 1334 BC||Smenkhkare|
|1334 - 1325 BC||Tutankhamun|
|1325 - 1321 BC||Ay|
|1321 - 1293 BC||Horemheb|
|1300 BC||Later New Kingdom|
|1293 - 1291 BC||Ramesses I|
|1291 - 1278 BC||Seti I|
|1279 - 1212 BC||Ramesses II|
|1212 - 1202 BC||Merneptah|
|1202 - 1199 BC||Amenmesses|
|1199 - 1193 BC||Seti II|
|1193 - 1187 BC||Siptah|
|1187 - 1185 BC||Twosret|
|1185 - 1182 BC||Setnakhte|
|1182 - 1151 BC||Ramesses III|
|1151 - 1145 BC||Ramesses IV|
|1145 - 1141 BC||Ramesses V|
|1141 - 1133 BC||Ramesses VI|
|1133 - 1126 BC||Ramesses VII|
|1133 - 1126 BC||Ramesses VIII|
|1126 - 1108 BC||Ramesses IX|
|1108 - 1098 BC||Ramesses X|
|1098 - 1070 BC||Ramesses XI|
|1080 - 1074 BC||Herihor|
|1074 - 1070 BC||Piankh|
|1070 - 1032 BC||Pinedjem I|
|1069 - 1043 BC||Smendes I|
|1054 - 1046 BC||Masaherta|
|1045 - 992 BC||Menkheperre|
|1043 - 1039 BC||Amenemnisu|
|1039 - 991 BC||Psusennes I|
|993 - 984 BC||Amenemope|
|992 - 990 BC||Smendes II|
|990 - 969 BC||Pinedjem II|
|984 - 978 BC||Osorkon the Elder|
|978 - 959 BC||Siamun|
|969 - 945 BC||Psusennes III|
|959 - 945 BC||Psusennes II|
|945 - 924 BC||Sheshonq I|
|924 - 889 BC||Osorkon I|
|890 BC||Shesonq II|
|889 - 874 BC||Takelot I|
|874 - 850 BC||Osorkon II|
|870 - 860 BC||Harsiese|
|850 - 825 BC||Takelot II|
|825 - 773 BC||Sheshonq III|
|818 - 793 BC||Pedibastet|
|793 - 787 BC||Sheshonq IV|
|787 - 759 BC||Osorkon III|
|773 - 767 BC||Pami|
|767 - 730 BC||Sheshonq V|
|764 - 757 BC||Takelot III|
|757 - 754 BC||Rudamon|
|754 - 715 BC||Iuput|
|747 - 716 BC||Piankhi|
|730 - 715 BC||Osorkon IV|
|727 - 720 BC||Tefnakht|
|720 - 715 BC||Bakenrenef|
|716 - 702 BC||Shabaka|
|702 - 690 BC||Shebitku|
|690 - 664 BC||Tirhakah/Taharqa|
|664 - 656 BC||Tanatumun|
|664 - 610 BC||Psamtik I|
|610 - 595 BC||Nekau|
|595 - 589 BC||Psamtik II|
|589 - 570 BC||Wahibre|
|58 - 55 BC||Berenice IV|
|570 - 526 BC||Ahmose II|
|526 - 525 BC||Psamtik III|
|525 - 522 BC||Cambyses II|
|521 - 486 BC||Darius I|
|51 - 30 BC||Cleopatra VII|
|485 - 465 BC||Xerxes|
|465 - 424 BC||Artaxerxes|
|423 - 405 BC||Darius II|
|405 - 359 BC||Artaxerxes II|
|404 - 399 BC||Amyrtaeus|
|399 - 393 BC||Nefaarud I|
|393 -380 BC||Hakor|
|380 - 362 BC||Nakhtnebef|
|362 - 360 BC||Djedhor|
|360 - 343 BC||Nakhthoreb|
|343 - 338 BC||Artaxerxes III|
|338 - 336 BC||Arses|
|336 - 332 BC||Darius III|
|332 - 323 BC||Alexander the Great|
|323 - 317 BC||Philip Arrhidaeus|
|317 - 305 BC||Alexander IV|
|305 - 282 BC||Ptolemy I|
|285 - 246 BC||Ptolemy II|
|246 - 222 BC||Ptolemy III|
Tuesday, May 19
Note, the version of 'Crescent' on the second playlist below, featuring songs from Dead Can Dance, is from DCD's concert in The Hague. Apparently Brendan was fiddling with it all through the tour; the version found on the "Best of North Amercia" CD from the same tour is markedly different lyrically, and I think clearly superior. If this song does make it onto Perry's forthcoming album Ark, you can be pretty sure it will be a bit different from even that later version.
He seems to be like one of those kids who can't stop adding legos on and taking other parts off, or an oil painter who doesn't know when the painting is 'finished' and never really ends up satisfied. I've seen this happen with almost all the songs off his first album, and well as with many DCD tracks. They're different depending on which year you hear them. When I saw Brendan playing solo about ten years ago, he did an incredible version of 'In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated' with about half the lyrics altered, a slightly slowed down cadence, and it seemed to me different guitar tunings than the LP version, although I'm no expert when it comes to guitar tuning. I do have a good ear though, I think. He also changed several songs slightly from the "Toward the Within" concert (which I only saw on VHS) and their 'reunion' tour in 2005, which I was lucky enough to see in person. For example: "I'm in love with a Canadian girl" - rather than "American."
Lisa tends to stick to her vocal melodies very closely, but pitches them up or down occasionally live, and of course the band (and thus she) sometimes modify the tempos of her songs, though again, not to the extent of Perry's. One of my favourite songs of his (with DCD) is 'Black Sun' off the Aion LP, but the recording on that and all DCD albums before Into The Labyrinth is pretty muddy. The live version of that song from 2005 on the other hand sounds terrific, but I don't like the sped-up tempo and Brendan's vocals quite as much. Grr! They need a completely remastered set of CDs - Maybe 4AD will do this for them. Especially on their eponymous first album: That album is a virtual masterpiece buried under shoddy recording (reflecting their non-status in the business and lack of money for good studio work, one would assume) and is almost painful to listen to because it could've sounded so much better. I still listen to it from time to time, as it's markedly more Joy Division-y than anything else they went on to do, but I just wish it didn't sound like it was recorded onto a cassette tape. I'd happily buy it again if was remastered.
That reminds me to blog about the art of remastering. It's not simple, and it's not usually done right. Most of the time, "remastering" old material to make it sound louder, clearer, and more expansive fails, introducing unwanted digital reverb, destroying the sound stage†, and messing around with the delicate balance of instruments and overdubs that already exist on the master tapes. Case in point: Johnny Marr recently released a CD of Smiths songs (including some live versions they had stored away), and Morrissey (by fax of course) approved of it and gave it the name "The Sound of the Smiths." It makes me wonder if Morrissey can even hear anymore. And as great a guitar player as Johnny is, don't let him in at the mixing board! That album has way too much dynamic compression and a very spacious, airy feel to it, whilst the voice and guitar are brought to the fore. Sounds ok on paper, except that the intimacy of a very tightly integrated rhythm section provided by Joyce and Rourke gave the Smiths their trademark sound (think of the bouncing bassline in 'Pretty Girls Make Graves,' for instance); Johnny's jangling guitar arpeggios and Morrissey's broken-hearted winking and crooning all sounded much better when it felt like you were in a very small room with them, which the original releases conveyed much better than this awful 'remastered' album does. It tries to bring a a perfectly good 1980s sound into the 2000s, with disastrous results, in my opinion.
So the technical side of remastering will be something I'd like to touch on at some point soon. I'm no studio technician, but I read a lot about how this stuff is done on audiophile message boards (like audioasylum, stereophile, and many others) and just happen to know quite a bit about remastering specifically, as I've been reading about the upcoming remastering (the first since CDs were introduced) of the entire Beatles catalogue, and people hopes and fears regarding the final product. I'd be lost if you asked me a lot of other sound engineering questions. I do know that if were in charge of some great act and had a formidable body of work, I would only allow two people to remaster any of it: David Gilmour of Pink Floyd or Alan Parsons, studio engineer extraordinaire - he was the unchanging piece in the constantly changing Alan Parsons Project group, getting his chops down before that with the Floyd on albums like Dark Side of the Moon. Pink Floyd remasters always sound perfect. To get back to the beginning, I think Brendan Perry could do a good job scrubbing the layers of dirt of his old band's old songs, but it would be quite a project. It's like a delicate fossil - you need to use a tiny brush and etcher to do the job, not a jackhammer.
Oh, and I'd let George Martin too remix and remaster anything of mine he wanted.
†From Wikipedia: “Soundstage also refers to the depth and richness of an audio recording (usually referring to the playback process). According to audiophiles, the quality of the playback is very much dependent on how one is able to pick out different instruments, voices, vocal parts, etc. exactly where they are located on an imaginary 2D or 3D field. This can enhance not only the listener's involvement in the recording but also their overall perception of the stage.”
The river is deep and the road is long
Daylight comes and I want to go home.
Awoke this morning
To find my people's tongues were tied.
And in my dreams
They were given books to poison their minds.
The river is deep and the mountain high
How long before the other side?
We are their mortar,
Their building bricks and their clay.
Their gold teeth mirror
Both our joys and our pain.
The river is deep and the ocean wide
Who will show us how to read the signs?
The earth is our mother,
She taught us to embrace the light.
Now the lord is master
She suffers an eternal night.
You blocked up my ears
You plucked out my eyes
You cut out my tongue
You fed me with lies
Sunday, May 17
Living grows round us like a skin
to shut away the outer desolation.
For if we clearly marked the furthest deep
we should be dead long years before the grave.
But turning around within the homely shell
of worry, discontent, and narrow joy,
we grow and flourish and rarely see
the outside dark that would confound our eyes.
Some break the shell.
I think that there are those who push their
fingers through the brittle walls and
make a hole...and through this cruel slit
stare out across the cinders of the world.
With naked eyes they look both out and in,
knowing themselves, and too much else beside.
Molly Drake, mother of Nick,
Tuesday, May 12
Well I'm off to La Gran Manzana once again. See you all later in the week. If there are people who lurk on this blog, why not step out once in awhile and participate in a conversation, or start one up? I'll try to start thinking up more interesting topics to spur some debate. I frequently get what seem at the time to be good ideas in my dreams or in the shower or while out walking, but by the time I sit at my computer and prepare to write them out, they seem trivial, or repetitive, or self-referential, or some other synonym of the word dumb.
But I do have a list of legitimately interesting topics (I think they are, at least), and I will try to work some of these in one or twice a week. I don't want to turn this place into Philosophy 101 or Learn Some Interesting Useless Fact 1A, so I'll just keep the variety going, maybe put up a new playlist once a week or thereabouts which you can listen to or turn off (pause) if it's not your thing. I'll try to think of some interesting quizzes which might appeal to many types of people, too.
All of this because I love you!!
Well, and I crave attention because my self-esteem is badly eroded and I need validation in the form of people reacting to things I write, which makes me feel like I matter just a tiny bit in this world. If my plane goes down or something *knock knock* just remember this one thing... Ah crap, I forgot. Oh well. Just have fun without me, and don't bother crying or anything, I'll still be around, just in a different form.
And only a few people even post as it is, so no real loss. Except to them I guess. That's a bummer, why do people have to suffer in life? What is the purpose of suffering? I could explain it all in terms of my theories (distilled and selected from other's of course) about the organization of what we probably naively call "life" (as if there were a life/nonlife duality to the existence), natural selection between competing bits making up this life structure at all scales, and so on, but that's only describing why suffering and joy exist, not what they feel bad and feel good, in a subjective way. Is that the only way to motivate elements of the puzzle. There HAS to be real feelings, which in turn necessitates consciousness arises from materialism? This is a sticky subject to get through. It's probably the second hardest problem in philosophy: What is consciousness and what are feelings and why do they feel the way they do? What IS that experience? Read Antonio Damasio for more on this topic; Daniel Dennett for a strict materialist's view of consciousness, and Oliver Sacks, EO Wilson, and Doug Hofstadter (once again) for other topics such as self-organization, self-reference, emergent properties of dynamic systems, and human neurology, especially neuropathy.
I hope Jackson doesn't miss me too much. I'm sure he'll be fine, he sleep most of the time anyway. Days must seem really short to a cat. They already only live around 15 years or so on average, and then they sleep during almost the whole thing. And when they're not sleeping, they're eating or turding, or looking for booty. That's all their lives consist of.
Wait a sec, that's all MY life consists of...
In the words of Eddie Izzard, "Ciao."
Yeah, I have something
That afflicts me
And all the angels in heaven
Would cry if they knew
But not you
It's May, I might
Go for a walk
In the middle of the night
We should talk
Somehow get through.
Sunday, May 10
WHAT INFORMATION WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN NEXT?
Sysop offers options:
1. GAME THEORY
3. GRACE NOTES
Please enter a choice (1-4):
Saturday, May 9
Point guard - Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
Shooting guard - Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers
Small forward - LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Power forward - Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Center - Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Guard - Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Guard - Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat
Guard - Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets
Forward - Dirk Nowitzky, Dallas Mavericks
Forward - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Forward - Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Center - Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
It's awfully tough to leave out Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Brandon Roy, Pau Gasol, Andre Iguadala and so many other good players, but there's only twelve spots. In the end I think the team I picked, if all healthy and playing to their normal abilities, would be just as good as anything anyone else could come up with. They have size, strength, shooting, passing, handles, and heart.
I'm definitely rock solid in my starting five. You could make an argument for maybe someone to take Garnett's spot, since he was injured much of the year, but like I said this presumes he's healthy, so I'll take him - he's tough on both ends of the floor and a gamer.
The reserve players is where I could see a lot of disagreement. I think I went heavy on point guards and probably need a shooting guard like Ray Allen in there, but then again, who do I replace? Maybe Chris Paul, although he was #3 in the MVP voting amongst all players last year behind Kobe and LeBron! And Wade had an MVP-type season this year on a team than wasn't very good. Chauncey billups might even push out Deron Williams at point guard the way he's been playing lately. And Nash, a 2-time MVP, didn't make the squad at all! So there's just no room for a shooting specialist like Ray Allen or Joe Johnson. Sorry. No Tony Parker either, that's how crazy this team his, and no Ginobili or Carlos Boozer. I'd have to make a secondary and tertiary team to get ALL the real stars on board.
The league seems as talented as it's ever been right now, top to bottom. It's always had great stars, whether it's Kobe and LeBron now, Jordan and Hakeem and Malone in the 90s, Bird and Magic in the 80, Kareem and Dr. J in the 70s...and so on. What's gotten better in the modern era of the sport is the DEPTH of talent. Nowadays teams are chock-full of talent at almost every position, so that when say Derek Fisher missed a game for a suspension, Jordan Farmar could step in and they didn't miss much, and Shannon Brown was waiting behind him, arguably just as good or better than Farmar. So I think there was more of a dropoff in the older eras after the big stars; you had a lot of "gym rats" filling the role player spots. Big unathletic brutes for size in the paint or cagey guards who played well within the team system but didn't really stand out.
Today's athletes are so well conditioned from such an early aged, and have the best diets, therapists, doctors, trainers, and everything else than money can buy, and after you get past the superstars, there's really not much of a drop off in talent, just a smooth decline. That's why it's so hard to make a list like this, of only twelve guys. I think Kobe and LeBron are certainly head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league, and Howard is getting to be, but after that there is a DEEP talent pool... also due to the steady influx of foreign players. The whole world is a broad talent base to pick from, and the NBA has never looked as talented as it probably is right now.
Not saying it's more entertaining (I still love my 80s 'Showtime' Lakers), just played at a higher level, like soccer or any sport really. Modern athletes just benefit more from modern technology, even if genetics don't change.
And ok, maybe I would put Ray Allen on the bench and take out CP3. I don't need 4 point guards. Still, ouch. ...Consider Allen on the bench instead of Chris Paul. Now let me publish before I change my mind.
I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.
What's another word for "thesaurus"?
When I was a kid, we had a quicksand box in the backyard. I was an only child ...eventually.
I bought some batteries, but they weren't included. So I had to buy them again.
I have a switch in my apartment that doesn't do anything. Every once in a while I turn it on and off. One day I got a call from a guy in France who said, "Cut it out!"
I replaced the headlights on my car with strobe lights. Now it looks like I'm the only one moving.
I wrote a song, but I can't read music. Every time I hear a new song on the radio, I think "Hey, maybe I wrote that."
I went to a general store, but they wouldn't let me buy anything specific.
I spilled spot remover on my dog. Now he's gone.
I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time.
I have a hobby. I have the world's largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you've seen some of it.
I Xeroxed a mirror. Now I have an extra Xerox machine.
Last week I forgot how to ride a bicycle.
I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wakeup letter.
My girlfriend's weird. One day she asked me, "If you could know how and when you were going to die, would you want to know?" I said, "No." She said, "Okay, forget it."
I went for a walk last night and she asked me how long I was going to be gone. I said, "The whole time."
My buddy got busted for counterfeiting. He was making pennies. They caught him because he was putting the heads and tails on the wrong sides.
There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't live there?
Did Washington just flash a quarter for his ID?
I just got skylights put in my place. The people who live above me are furious.
Imagine if birds were tickled by feathers.
I'm a peripheral visionary.
Ballerinas are always on their toes. Why don't they just get taller ballerinas?
The other day, I went to a tourist information booth and asked, "Tell me about some of the people who were here last year."
Why in a country of free speech, are there phone bills?
All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.
I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.
OK, so what's the speed of dark?
How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
Shin: a device for finding furniture in the dark.
I intend to live forever - so far, so good.
Join the Army, meet interesting people, kill them.
If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.
Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.
Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7th of your life.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
Change is inevitable....except from vending machines.
A fool and his money are soon partying.
Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.
Drugs may lead to nowhere, but at least it's the scenic route.
Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
Borrow money from pessimists-they don't expect it back.
99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
Cross country skiing is great if you live in a small country.
"Did you sleep well?" "No, I made a couple of mistakes."
I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.
When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, "Well, what do you need?"
A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths.
I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.
The sun never sets on the British Empire. But it rises every morning. The sky must get awfully crowded.
I was in the grocery store. I saw a sign that said "pet supplies." So I did.
Smoking cures weight problems! ...eventually.
Yesterday I told a chicken to cross the road. It said, "what for?"
I took a course in speed waiting. Now I can wait an hour in only ten minutes.
If you had a million Shakespeares, could they write like a monkey?
I rented a lottery ticket. I won a million dollars. But I had to give it back.
I went to San Francisco. I found someone's heart.
I washed a sock. Then I put it in the dryer. When I took it out, it was gone.
Last week I forgot how to ride a bicycle.
I got food poisoning today. I don't know when I'll use it.
When I turned two I was really anxious, because I'd doubled my age in a year. I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I'm six I'll be ninety.
Even snakes are afraid of snakes.
I can't stop thinking like this.
If a word in the dictionary were mis-spelled, how would we know?
If God dropped acid, would he see people?
I wrote a few children's books...not on purpose.
I saw a bank that said "24 Hour Banking," but I don't have that much time.
I went to this restaurant last night that was set up like a big buffet in the shape of an Ouija board. You'd think about what kind of food you want, and the table would move across the floor to it.
I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, "Hey, the sign says you're open 24 hours." He said, "Yes, but not in a row."
There was a power outage at a department store yesterday. Twenty people were trapped on the escalators.
Today I dialed a wrong number... The other person said, "Hello?" and I said, "Hello, could I speak to Joey?"... They said, "Uh... I don't think so...he's only 2 months old." I said, "I'll wait."
All the plants in my house are dead - I shot them last night.
I have a microwave fireplace in my house...The other night I laid down in front of the fire for the evening in two minutes.
A cop stopped me for speeding. He said, "Why were you going so fast?" I said, "See this thing my foot is on? It's called an accelerator. When you push down on it, it sends more gas to the engine. The whole car just takes right off."
I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day because that means it's going to be up all night.
I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.
I was going to tape some records onto a cassette, but I got the wires backwards. I erased all of the records.
I bought a dog the other day...I named him Stay. It's fun to call him..."Come here, Stay! Come here, Stay!" He went insane.
Someone sent me a postcard picture of the earth. On the back it said, "Wish you were here."
Last night I played a blank tape at full blast. The mime next door went nuts.
If a person with multiple personalities threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?
If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
Why don't they just make mouse-flavored cat food?
Isn't Disney World a people trap operated by a mouse?
How come 'abbreviated' is such a long word?
If olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?
I went for a walk last night and my kids asked me how long I'd be gone. I said, "The whole time."
How come you don't ever hear about gruntled employees?
After eating, do amphibians need to wait an hour before getting OUT of the water?
If you're sending someone some Styrofoam, what do you pack it in?
Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny?
Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have an "s" in it?
If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
Why do you press harder on a remote-control when you know the battery's dead?
Why are they called buildings, when they're already finished? Shouldn't they be called builts?
Why are they called apart-ments, when they're all stuck together?
Why do banks charge you a "non-sufficient funds fee" on money they already know you don't have?
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, do the other trees make fun of it?
Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?
Do fish get cramps after eating?
Why are there 5 syllables in the word "monosyllabic?"
Why do they call it the Department of Interior when they are in charge of everything outdoors?
Why do scientists call it research when looking for something new?
If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?
How come Superman could stop bullets with his chest, but always ducked when someone threw a gun at him?
If "con" is the opposite of "pro," then what is the opposite of progress?
Why is it lemon juice contains mostly artificial ingredients but dishwashing liquid contains real lemons?
Why buy a product that it takes 2000 flushes to get rid of?
Why do we wait until a pig is dead to "cure" it?
Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?
Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
What would happen if you mixed glue and teflon together? Would the Universe implode?
Do Roman paramedics refer to IVs as "4s"?
What do little birdies see when they get knocked unconscious?
Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard? No, I'm serious this time.
I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
War doesn't determine who's right, just who's left.
If you can't hear me, it's because I'm in parentheses.
If toast always lands butter-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happen if you strap toast on the back of a cat and drop it?
I want to get a tattoo of myself on my entire body, only 2" taller.
I made wine out of raisins so I wouldn't have to wait for it to age.
I woke up this morning and couldn't find my socks, so I called information. She said they were behind the couch. She was right.
Right now I'm having amnesia and deja-vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.
I had some eyeglasses. I was walking down the street when suddenly the prescription ran out.
I was in the first submarine. Instead of a periscope, they had a kaleidoscope. I told the captain, "We're surrounded."
My friend has a baby. I'm recording all the noises he makes so later I can ask him what he meant.
I went to the eye doctor and found out I needed glasses for reading. So, I got some flip-up contact lenses.
Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?
I filled out an application that said, "In Case Of Emergency Notify". I wrote "Doctor"... What's my mother going to do?
and lastly and best of all...
I saw a man with a wooden leg, and a real foot.
All jokes except one (which I made up) courtesy of Stephen Wright.
- ► 2010 (289)
- Why do we drink cow's milk?
- As though you needed more proof...
- So you want to be a polymath
- New Dan Brown book
- Cardinal Sin
- The Pharoahs of Egypt
- Note, the version of 'Crescent' on the second play...
- Song of the dispossessed
- The Shell. Living grows round us like a skin to...
- New York City?
- War tattoo Fix me Yeah, I have something That aff...
- Edvard Munch.
- Sysop asks: WHAT INFORMATION WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEA...
- Try out this mix.
- Rare sports post.
- The wit and wisdom of Stephen Wright.
- Life is good.
- New US Dollar Bill
- Oldie but goodie Dido video.
- Tidbits for an early Thursday.
- An always-interesting site.
- Swine Flue (H1N1)
- Speaking of Herzog...
- Other great directors?
- Who is the best director ever?
- Björk Guðmundsdóttir.
- Bowie, Shirley, Shirley, Monty, 13, Tim, Monty, Mo...
- Shirley Manson.
- David Lynch.
- Emily Mortimer
- Serious stuff.
- After depressing posts, you have to put up girl pi...
- That look in my eyes...
- Je suis toujours le même
- Kenwood, California
- More Stina.
- ▼ May (44)
- ► 2008 (226)
- ► 2007 (536)
- ► 2006 (600)