Friday, December 30, 2005

New photos page

Here are the rest of the hometown photos. Go to stobblehouse home page and go to
Karrebæksminde Deux medium - large
(select medium or large images).
As you can see from the large images especially, the quality is pretty amazing from a camera you can have in your breast pocket. The Fujifilm F10 especially has much better low-light capabilities than other compact digicams. If the performance of this chip will spread to other cameras, big and small, it will change the field.

Spaceman

"What are you doing, Charlie Brown?"
"I'm a poor, lonesome cowboy."
"Why are you so lonesome, Charlie Brown?"
"Because all the other kids are playing Spaceman."
From Peanuts by Schulz

A New Year's Story

A New Year's Story
By Eolake Stobblehouse

I had a dream I was chased by a horrible, half-dead monster through a big house. The house was mine, but much more complex. I was getting away from the monster, but I was still afraid, and I could still smell its rotten stench of death. I thought maybe that is just because the monster is dying.

I caught glimpses of somebody ahead of me, always disappearing. It seemed to be a beautiful woman, and she was glowing. Maybe she even had wings, I could not be sure. I followed her as best I could, and I was tired.

I went past big windows showing the world outside, and it was stormy. Big bat-winged things haunted the people, and the sun was under the horizon, but rising. And the air was clearer than it had been.

I almost caught up with the beautiful woman, and she went through a door I had not remembered. I followed her.

It was a glowing landscape, and I could not see it clearly yet, for my eyes had not evolved to see such energy. It felt like something amazing, something wonderful.

I sat down patiently and tried to evolve faster.

The end

Fate or not

Zeppellina said...
I have never believed that life is pre-determined.
Circumstances happen, and what comes next is determined often by our individual reactions to them.
I think we have the ability to decide how other people view us by the way we respond to them, and this often again changes what can happen next.
Creative people often suffer from self doubt, and, depending on their individual personalities, can adapt this self doubt into a destructive force in their lives.
I have many artist friends, some are victims, and unfortunately, will always be, and some are survivors.
Those who are victims have made themseves that way, as they have wrapped their problems around themselves like a comfort blanket, and wear their status as victim like a badge. When someone acts like a victim, others immediately treat them this way, and so it continues.
It`s a self-destruct switch which has been turned on.
Everybody out there has had really bad times in their life, artists and non artists.
It`s the ability to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down which is the major difference.
I have an artist friend right now who I know will be more than likely, dead this year. He is beyond help, and it is a tragedy. Everyone has tried to help at every juncture, and all help has been rejected.
When he dies, as he will, there will be only a small band of us there to say goodbye. His work will be forgotten, as will he.
It is a tragedy beyond all reason.
But no-one will glamourise his life, it is just too dirty, smelly vomit ridden and beatings ridden.
He is just a poor soul who switched on his self-destruct switch and wrapped his suffering around himself like a blanket.
And I, for one, will miss him, it was a wasted life for one with such talent.
---
Yes, quite so.
I think it may be a while before mainstream humanity lets go of the idea that we are helpless in the winds of the Universe. For it is a very beautiful idea. Poets have made it so over the ages, I am not sure why.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Karrebæksminde photo


I visited the ole homestead over Christmas, and took some pictures (with the excellent compact-digicam Fujifilm F10), and this is one of the best results.
Fetch a large version (1000 pixels wide) or a very large version (1600 pixels)
It is the view from my sister's house. The church was one of the visual stable points of my childhood, and for many years I believed that churches always looked like that, they are that design, and white. Also (not visible in this picture) next to the church is a wonderful old windmill, and I also believed as a kid that a church and a windmill belonged together. Two things in close proximity are perceived as a unit.
By the way, my dad was the house painter master of the town, and he once renovated the whole church outside and inside, including the gilding of the clock and painting and marbling of the benches inside.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Living with uncertainty

It seems to me that there are periods in the development of a person or a species where uncertainty is inevitable, and you gotta live with it.
When you are changing from a great world view to a completely different world view, and they are incompatible, then there is a period in the middle where everything is swimming, when you have lost the old, comfortable moorings in your reality, and you have not yet found the new ones. And it is very unpleasant.
And I think it is very important to learn to live with it. To say "OK, so I can't find the bottom with my feet at the moment, and the water is choppy and cold, and I don't know when things will change... but it will be all right soon, it always is."
Because the alternatives are either to never let go of the old moorings, meaning you never progress, or to panic, and you drown. So just relax and keep swimming.

MONSTER LEGACY COLLECTION

I am a big fan of the classic monsters and monster movies. Interestingly, I am so without having seen any of them, practically! I mainly know them from later movies, from comic books, and from books. (I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, for instance.)
So I jumped at the chance when I found out of a great opportunity to get a whole bunch of the most classic monster movies at once on DVD, and even at a excellent price. It has three or four Frankenstein movies, and the same for Dracula and Wolf Man. And it has a couple of interesting documentaries. It also has small busts of those three gentlemen, in surprisingly fine quality. This is the MONSTER LEGACY COLLECTION.
The link above leads to Amazon USA. If you can get it, I recommend the UK edition, which has four extra films, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, and The Invisible Man. It is not quite as easy to find, but I found it at Blah DVD.

I don't know why I, like many people, have such an affinity for monsters. They just be weally weally cool.
What is a monster? Is it an evil creature or person? Is it a deformed creature/person? Is it something inhuman? I am not sure what the basic of it is.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Story of Civilization


I have just (on eBay because for some odd reason it seems to be out of print) bought The Story of Civilization by Will & Ariel Durant. It is eleven volumes.
It'd surprise the heck out of me if I actually ever will have read all eleven volumes. But I'd like to. And at least I'll have an excellent place to look up periods and people as I get interested in them, like Leonardo da Vinci. Will Durant is the best guide. He had such a love of life and respect and understanding for great people.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Amazon reviews

I buy a ton of books and DVDs, and whenever I hear of a new title, the first thing I do is go to Amazon and read a handful of reviews. With a little experience, that can make the "success rate" of buying very high indeed.

One hitch to it is that old classics usually have much better reviews than recent hits, because only those who are really interested actually find them and buy them!
The same is true for genre products. For instance I bought a couple of horror films and was disappointed. Then I realized that all those five-star reviews came from people who love horror, and I only have a passing interest.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Immortality

"The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever."
-- Anatole France

OK, that is good and funny.
But I don't think it is true. I never heard any normal say anything like: 'I really wish I was immortal.' I think only very extraordinary people have wishes like that. The normal person just wants a slightly better pay check, and for his parents to bug him less.

Further, I think most of those really extraordinary persons who might wish for something like immortality could probably put it to good use.

Personally I do believe we are immortal. But the death-cycle does break your concentration, doesn't it? It would be rather cool to have a 10,000 year life cycle under the same name and beingness.
Of course the real fun would be only if many others were the same. I'd love to run into Leonardo da Vinci in Amsterdam or whatever and say: "Leo! How are you doing, old pal? I haven't seen you for, gee, it must be 90 years!"

Monday, December 05, 2005

About wishes

My friend Foye had this comment to the Mind Over Matter article:
"Now to my really pessimistic comment: If the concentrated wishes, prayers, and longings of humanity indeed help shape events and configurations, then it's no wonder the world blunders along as it does, considering bell curve of the general level of human development."

... It is an interesting observation. I don't really consider it 'pessimistic', because it is an observation about the past/present, not about the future.
It is indeed true that if these things work like they say, then the planet Earth is in such a bad shape because most people wish it to be. No, strike that, it is because they expect it to be!
And therein lies the optimism. It is not because people really want to be miserable. It is because they believe they have no other choice. They can change it as soon as they change their minds.
Further, it is already going in the right direction. If you read the media, you'll think that the Earth is going to hell in a handbasket, fast. But more and more scientists have looked beyond that expectation and propaganda, and looked at the facts themselves, and have come to a startling observation: The planet is getting better, not worse. Economics are moving up on a long trend, poverty is falling, pollution is falling, etc.
In other words, we are not fighting against the tide, we are going with it. It is getting easier and easier.
Cheer up. Even if it is a lie, it'll do you a world of good. :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

New article

Aaaaaall right, here is the promised article about Mind-Over-Matter, I hope you enjoy. (This may be one of the most important things I could every write about.)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

What The Bleep Do We Know?

I am working on my article on Mind Over Matter. In the meantime, get the What The Bleep Do We Know DVD. Really.

Giggle

You know the different terms for flock, like a "murder of crows", or a "gaggle of geese"...
Well, I coined a couple:
A "giggle of schoolgirls".
A "hassle of boys".
An "obstruction of pensioners".
A "distraction of stewardesses".

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Howard Bloom

Listen to an excellent radio interview with Howard Bloom.
He talks about how a do-good approach can earn far more money than a "bottom line" approach. And how western civilization will not die, and does not deserve to, how it is the only system that has ever uplifted the poor for real.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Great comedy shows

I am a fan of many of the obvious shows (Keeping Up Appearances, Arrested Development), but maybe I should point out some good shows I have on DVD which I think more people should hear about.

Wonderfalls
Quirky comedy from Niagara Falls

The Tick
Great superhero comedy

Game On
Nice britcom, three young people in one apartment, the girl is nice.

Vicar of Dibley
Very cute britcom, from when female vicars were a novelty in the UK.

Black Books
Very funny British show of a curmudgeonly owner of a small bookstore and his friends. Again a fan of the girl, a very unusual face, but gorgeous.

Spaced
Far out UK comedy of several friends. Full of wild ideas and parodies of movies. Great stuff.

League of Gentlemen
Another British phenomenon. Indescribably weird and wonderful.

Dead Like Me
A wonderful funny/deep show (US). Season one was excellent, and amazingly season two even surpassed it, to everybody's surprise. It is about people who, after they die, are recruited as "Grim Reapers", whose job it is to collect the souls of people just before they die. How do you make such a thing funny? Watch it and learn.

Greg The Bunny
Another one which is so seminal it is hard to compare. Really excellent.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Seinfeld

I am watching Seinfeld on DVD. I like Seinfeld. Seinfeld is funny. I like short sentences.

It took me a looooong while to get to like Seinfeld though. Why? Because all the characters are such despicable people! It took me a while to realize it, because nobody on the show realizes it.
OK, maybe Kramer is not a bad person, but he is so eccentric that, while hilarious, he is not really a character you can identify with.

Not only do the characters not have any love, affection, or empathy for anybody else (contrast it with Friends), but the main thing that grates my nerves still (even while I enjoy the show) is how small-minded they are. ALL of their concerns and problems and conversations are about these tiny, minuscule issues that any sane person would not even notice, or so it seems to me.

It became clear that a lot of this personality came from Larry David, who co-created the show with Jerry Seinfeld. This is clear from his show Curb Your Enthusiasm, and from various interviews. Jason Alexander, who played George, said that at one early time he went to Larry and said: "Not only would this not ever happen to anybody, but if it did, nobody would react that way!" And Larry said: "What do you mean? This happened to me, and that is exactly how I reacted!"
And Rob Reiner, who is a friend of Larry David's, calls him "Curmudgeonly, misanthropic, and dyspeptic"!

Now for a while I thought I had wrapped it up. But I got to thinking, if this is all Larry's personality on the show, where is Jerry's? Where is the kindness and large-mindedness that should be there in contrast?
Then I saw the episode in season five where Jerry on the show offers some pie to a date, and she refuses. And Jerry not only gets upset, but can't talk about anything else for days. Why did she refuse the pie!
I was just thinking, who the f**k cares?? She didn't want any pie! Who would even think twice about that??
And it turns out that the writers of that episode got the idea from Jerry Seinfeld in real life. It really happened, he really got upset, and he really could not stop talking about it. So Seinfeld is almost as weird as Larry, and that is why the show is like it is!

Thank god these people have a sense of humor, otherwise they would be insufferable!
But how do they function in life? How do they handle actual problems, if total trivia has them in a knot of negative emotions?

Another characteristic of the characters on the show (and the real people they obviously represent) is that they can never communicate anything directly. They have a tiny problem with somebody, or they need to find out something, and it never occurs to them to just ask directly. For example, it is clear that not even in real life did it occur to Jerry to simply ask the girl why she did not want any pie. A simple, direct question, what could be easier? Instead he seems to prefer to be upset for days.
Again, how the hell do they function in life, much less get to the successful positions they have? Very weird.

... I do have to admit though, watching more interviews and so on, I am starting to warm a bit to Larry David. There is a sort of... precision in what the man does, and what he says and the way he speaks that I admire. I like precision. And I think he does too, for 1) he is good at golf. And 2) he has said that when he makes appointments, he is likely to say 14.43 or 14.41 instead of round numbers. Which I admit is taking it a bit too far, you should not take anything, not even precision, farther than the point where it actually matters. But anyway.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Artificial intelligence Art

This totally rules. Watch a complex computer-generated watercolor "cityscape" (or other things) grow slowly on your screen.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"We like the Moon"

I just wanted to share a thing that has always put me in stitches whenever I see/hear it. The song/graphics "We Like The Moon" by the Spongemonkeys.
Warning: the song starts as soon as you click on the link, not work safe.

Google

Have you seen you can make a personalized home page on Google now? It works brilliantly, for me better than RSS feeds (I never check those).
One of the things it showed me was this article:
Who's Afraid of Google? Everyone.
As soon as somebody gains power, the knee-jerk reaction of a big percentage of mankind is always fear.
As indicated by hundreds of things, google.org amongst them, Google is a huge force for good on this planet. So it threatens some business interests, deal with it.
I'd like to publicly say Thank You to Sergey Brin and Larry Page for doing the brilliant work they are.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

More motti

By popular request, more examples of my motti.

Don't let others steal your time.

Appreciate yourself as well as you do your best friends.

In the end, your only judges are yourself and the Universe.

Conflict is almost always a waste of time and energy.

Your belief in yourself, your desires, and your perceptions is of paramount importance.

Friday, November 18, 2005

New eBay scam

This is the first time I have fallen for an email scam!
I got a mail informing me that I had an "unpaid item dispute" on eBay. I logged on via the link in the email, and my login failed. So I changed it. Then it turned out there was no dispute at all. So I got suspicious and checked the source code of the email. Quite so: the links in the email did not lead to eBay.com at all, but to a different site! So maybe they now have my login to eBay, I don't know. (I logged in on the right site and changed it again.) But something strange is going on.
Because this mail did not ask for me to enter any information, I did not follow my own rule: Always look at the source code of a mail which talks about your account on eBay, Amazon, or Paypal. You can see where the links really lead.
Or else, don't log into a web site from a link in a mail, do it from their home page.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Book

I warmly recommend the book Shortcut To A Miracle.
Maybe I'll write an article about Mind over Matter.

Motti

I am becoming more relaxed in life. It's great.
"Let's see how it goes" is the newest of my motti.

"Motti" of course is plural of "motto". It just seems obvious to me. Feel free to use it. :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ugress

How about some excellent music? For free?
Go here:
Ugress.com
I particularly recommend the song "Decepticons". It is one of my favorite songs ever.

About enemies

You have exactly the enemies you think you need.
Eolake Stobblehouse

There is a very good interview with U2's Bono in November's Rolling Stone. He says: "Your enemies define you, so make them interesting." I say: No! No, no, no. If you do that you'll fall in love with them, and you'll never get rid of them.
Who needs enemies? Enemies are only good for two things: 1) making your life interesting if you don't have the imagination to do so yourself. 2) Stopping you in the areas where you believe you need stopping.
And in the end, all that is really boring. It is like saying you "need" to be ill or to wear a ball and chain. Don't you have stuff to do?

You have exactly the enemies you think you need.
Eolake Stobblehouse

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Just Don't, a story

I was just reminded of my old short-short story Just Don't, which was published in the prestigeous anthology L Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future, vol V.
Most of you probably don't know it, so I "reprint" it herewith.
You can find more stories, art, etc on my site.

JUST DON'T
By Eolake Stobblehouse

One fine day on Planet Earth, I was sitting in my own comfortable home in my own comfortable chair in my own comfortable body. And just as I had leisurely turned a page in my book, and was about to leisurely take a sip of my coffee, the doorbell rang.

I raised my body, squinting at the sunshine outside, and went to the door.

Having opened it, I found myself looking at a spaceman. I knew immediately that he was a spaceman from his different looks and his suit.

Now, I was quite dumbfounded. I had a funny feeling in my stomach, and didn't know what to make of the situation. But this spaceman seemed quite as cheerful as any sergeant handling civilians.

He looked up from his clipboard, said, "Follow me, please," and turned around.

I hesitated, looking back into my comfortable home, and then stumbled after him. "Hey," I asked. "What gives? What's happening?"

"Oh," he said, "they are going to give you guys another treatment. Some of you are regaining your memories."

"What memories!?"

"Don't think about it," he said.

The end

A $35,000 digicam


So you think the Nikon D2x is a fantastic camera? (It is, I have one.) Take a gander at a $35,000 digital camera!
This is the most amazing, beautiful, and impractical thing I have heard of.
So it's either this or the Mercedes for Christmas. Hm, decisions, decisions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Crop Circles

We don't know much about crop circles. In the early nineties it was "exposed" (oddly enough in all the major newspapers on the same day...) that they were frauds, merely man-made. But that exposure has since been exposed itself, the people who supposedly made the formations could not explain how they did it, or indeed replicate it.
And since then, "crop circles" have grown wildly beyond mere circles and become amazingly complex and huge mathematical works of art appearing mysteriously in crops around the world, though mostly in England.

They are often hundreds of feet across, and contains hundreds of elements, precisely aligned after complex mathematics. And they appear usually in one short summer night. They have no footprints in them. And they often have strange magnetic phenomena within the formation.

Me, I don't know who makes them. Aliens? Spirits? Humans with secret technology? In any case they are really beautiful and compelling, and a strong witness that there is more under the heavens than we know.

Steve Alexander (Temporary Temples) is perhaps the best photographer of this phenomenon. He publishes a beautiful booklet every year with pictures of the circles. The books are really high quality, warmly recommended.
Steve does not normally give out high-rez versions of his pictures, but with my legendary charm and a promise of a link on this blog, I talked him into letting me share a few with you. They are big files, but worth the download. Enjoy.

Crop Circle Silbury Hill 2005
Crop Circle West Kennet 2004
Crop Circle West Kennet 2004 B
Crop Circle Windmill Hill 2004

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Education

A reader has challenged me to write about education. I said I was not the most obvious person to do so, since I don't have any!
At least not a formal one. I didn't finish 12th grade, and I have never seen the inside of a university. (Do they really have all that mahogany?)
Yet I have an excellent life, financially and spiritually.

I won't say formal education is worthless. It is very valuable for a traditional life and craft. For learning how to be a dentist or an engineer, you won't get around it, so far as I know.

At the same time it is a fact that a very high percentage of the very most successful people in the world did not get a formal education. This is because to be successful takes education, but the kind of spirit and persistence it takes to be uniquely successful is not something anybody can teach you. At least not somebody who works in the education system. The same goes for achieving original and groundbreaking ideas and executing them. As a matter of fact, if there is a big downside to formal education, it is that it tends to kill originality by its very nature. (It can only teach you how others are doing things.)

I think I can say one thing for sure: your most important education is the one you give yourself.
You should be reading at least three books at once at any time: one on how to improve your craft. One on a craft or area you would like to go into. And one which talks about your relationship with the universe and beyond.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wallace and Gromit

Since the advent of video and DVDs, I don't go to the movies often. (For one thing I like to be able to take breaks.) But I went with a friend last night to see Wallace and Gromit: The Curse Of The Wererabbit.
I warmly recommend it. It has even better production values than Chicken Run, and to my taste it is even more entertaining and has more soul. In fact, it is the first animated movie outside Pixar I would put in the same class as Toy Story II and The Incredibles. It is just hilarious.
It has it all: suspence, humor, mystery, action, and even romance (in a big-hair, big-toothed sort of British way).
Stobblehouse sez: Way Cool.

Friday, November 04, 2005

David Pogue again

Go to:
http://nytimes.com/circuits/
and click on
Video: David Pogue's Review of the New BlackBerry
I have been a fan (and I like to think a friend) of David's for nigh ten years*. He is the clearest and most entertaining tech writer I know, and for sure the funniest. When he started doing videos for the NYT site, it was clear that these talents translated well into moving pictures. I have told David that he is destined for TV. I know that if I was a network executive, I would be stumbling all over my furniture on my way to the phone to call him.
Hm... of course it would be bad for his international audience like me if he were to leave the NYT, for any TV show would surely not be shown outside the US.... Hey, TV executive: break a leg!

*I started reading his excellent Mac For Dummies a couple of weeks before I actually got my first Macintosh, in early 1996. How time streams.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Soul of Money

I have added a book to the book list of my well-received money article. (Warning: if you stray beyond that page, you'll be faced with nudity. Some like it, some don't.)
The book is The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, and it is a wonderful insight into how we can reach sufficiency in life, both on personal levels and globally. Warmly recommended, like the others.

Intelligent Design

Currently in New Scientist, there are articles illuminating the currently raging battle in the USA about whether to teach children Darwin or Creationism (read: Christianity).

My reaction is: Those are the options? We are either naked apes or created things?

Having thus offended everybody, let me present some thoughts.
How about we:
*Are eternal beings, and are co-creators of the universe.
*Have infinite potential.
*Rule ourselves, but not each other.
*Are meat creatures, but only by choice, and the choice could be anything.
*Answer only to ourselves.

We don't know much yet. I know I am certainly confused. But maybe we are part in a game as old as time, and maybe at the same time the game is just getting started.

Note: this post has some very thoughtful comments, do read them.

Finnegans Wake

"Sir Tristram, violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea, had passencore rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer's rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all's fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface."
-- Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
(I just thought I'd give you a random sample of one of the most academically celebrated and studied novels of all time. What that proves, I'll leave up to you. :)

Retirement

"My dad is turning 90 and still works full time as an engineer"
(From a blog comment)

Wow, that is very cool.
I think retirement is waaay overrated. Especially that of healthy, functional people. Not only has it a tendency to lead to depression and reduced health, it will also have a severe impact on the western economy when the baby boomers want to retire at once.

When retirement was institutionalized in the early twentieth, people were worn out at 65 and lived maybe three years after that. Today life expectance goes twenty or thirty years beyond. That is not retirement, that is a looong vacation!

Update:
Thanks guys for the great comments on this posting.
I think we all should work towards being able to do stuff we love all our lives (at least some of the time), instead of hoping to have time and money for it after we "retire". Who knows what happens? My uncle worked hard all his life (he laid bricks), and then died three months after retiring.
I think it would be much wiser not to set a fixed date to suddenly stop working (which should be a pleasurable activity after all), but instead mix work and play all our lives, and scale down work gradually if the energy wanes in our late years.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Emotions and Importance

I realized recently that for most people (everybody?), what triggers their emotions the most is also what must be the most important. They don't differentiate between the two things.
This explains many things, like:
Why the 3,000 dead in 9/11 were far more 'important' than the 5,000 killed every month by mistakes in the health care system.
Why being able to buy good things for your family is far more 'important' than working for a company which is ethical or which treats you with respect. Or starting a career which is what you want.
Why getting junk food that makes you feel good is far more 'important' than being strong and healthy in the future. (Guilty here sometimes.)

I am guessing we all operate that way, and the differences between people are mainly how big a perspective you have on life (how big are the things that affects your emotions), and how accurate your perceptions are.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Numbers and killings

If you read my post from Sep 17 named The State, you'll see the theme for which I just found this brilliant quote (thanks to Carter):

How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness? One man must not kill. If he does, it is murder.... But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is not murder. It is just, necessary, commendable, and right. Only get people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent. But how many does it take?
--Adin Ballou, The Non-Resistant, 5 February 1845

---
By the way, Ballou's question is surely retorical, meant to illustrate that it is still wrong no matter how many people agree that it isn't. And I couldn't agree more.
But if we take the question to mean: how many does it take to ease the mind of the group that it is OK to kill? ... then I think the answer is simple: the majority.
If you have a group of ten men, and nine of them agree that Billy has to be lynched, then there is no problem. If only three of them thinks so, and they do it, then they are "wrong" in the eyes of the group, and must be punished.
If you have a very narrow majority, then you have strife, as witnessed in the USA currently.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sunrise

The sun is coming up under the horizon, I can feel it. It is dawn for mankind and the universe.
- Stobblehouse

The Law of Jante

Expanding on the ego posting:
It is pretty OK to have a big ego in the USA. People with huge egos are often admired, at least if they are also high achievers, just look at Bill Gates, Muhamad Ali, and Donald Trump.
It is much less OK in the UK.
And it is even less OK in Scandinavia (I am from Denmark), which is a very civilized, egalitarian, and socialistic society. This was actually a contributing reason to me moving out from Denmark, which I otherwise love dearly. (That and the taxes which go up to almost 70% for high earners, something which is obviously just another aspect of the same mentality.)
The Danes themselves recognize this as The Law Of Jante. Don't poke your head above the crowd! Read a great little essay about it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Modesty

Be modest if you want, going around claiming that you're really not all that great.

But don't be surprised if others (and yourself) one day start to believe you.

---
It seems that some people consider it a serious flaw for somebody to not be modest. I don't get that.
Seriously: if Joe Blow thinks Joe Blow is great, and he really is great, then it is just an accurate assesment, no? And if Joe Blow thinks Joe Blow is great, and he really is nothing special, then it is a charming conceipt which does nobody any harm.

I believe a low self esteem is one of the most common and most damaging social disorders we have in the modern world.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Perceptions

If you can't trust your own perceptions, what can you trust?
Any evidence you will ever get of anything comes through your perceptions.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pink Lady

The Pink Lady, a 60-foot tall drawing of a nude woman which mysteriously appeared overnight on a sheer rock cliff above a tunnel on Malibu Canyon Road.
A story of human folly if I ever heard one.
And sadness, such a delightful work of art it was.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Space Glass

Thanks to Zeppelina for pointing out the article on the awesome properties of... (drumroll) SPACE GLASS!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Little Lost Kid

I am watching yet another of those movies where somebody who was adopted as a baby is desperate to find his birth parents, to feel "whole".
Am I am the only one who is always thinking "who cares?!"
I had no more in common with my parents than with so many people, despite growing up with them. So what makes anybody think that finding your "real" parents who you haven't seen your whole life will be any different than meeting two total strangers? I don't get it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Despotism?

Interesting old educational film about the indicators of democracy and despotism.
Thanks to William Gibson.

About glass

I broke a glass jar on my kitchen floor, and while I was trying to locate and neutralize the hundreds of small, invisible, razor-sharp fragments, I wondered: why is it that we still use glass? It is so friggin' dangerous! It breaks very easily indeed, and the resulting fragments have some of the sharpest edges found anywhere.
Show me anybody who has not been cut by glass at least a couple times, including most children.
I realize it may not be practical to get rid of all glass objects, but surely most of them. In most countries they don't recycle glass bottles and jars, so why not use plastic? It is cheaper, less bulky, weighs a lot less, and does not cut anybody.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Anansi Boys

I have just finished Neil Gaiman's very new and really nice book Anansi Boys, and I'll quote him from the postscript:

"... I'd like to go on record grumbling about the current complexities of the copyright system, which means that you're quoting four words of a song and you have the publishers suddenly saying, 'OK, we'd like two thousand dollars for that, please.'
And you're going, 'You must be joking,' and have to rewrite a line or two in the book instead."

... I couldn't agree more. Although I don't think it is so much "complexities" in the copyright system as probably simply big corporations these days being very, very greedy and over-possesive and super-protectionist.
I've noticed it happens in films too. Film producers wants a character to sing a verse from a song, and it can't happen because the copyright owners of the song wants a lot of money for it! I am sure it happens also with art work seen in the background of films and all kinds of things.
It is ridiculous, people, OK? If we don't let the other kids play with our toys, just a little bit, then all of us will be stuck with only our own toys and we will all be poorer for it.

... Oh, and the book is good too. Although I think Neil Gaiman is not the strongest in the world regarding creating suspense/plot in a book (he usually fakes it by hinting at a great conflict ahead which never really appears*), he is great at quirky humor and equally quirky characters, and lots of, uh, quirky ideas and concepts kicking about. I recommend his books American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Coraline, as well as his comics, not the least Sandman.

*This may get challenged, so I better support it:
1) the storyline in the The Sandman where Morpheus went to hell to confront Lucifer. It was made very clear that there would be a frightful battle... which never happened.
2) The predicted apocopalyptic war in American Gods, which also failed to materialize in the end.
3) It is hinted a few times in Anansi Boys that things would become really bad in the end. Also never happened, except briefly.

I am not complaining, I don't need battles. It is just an observation.
I think though that Anansi boys (the first half only) needs something to make you read the story, like what is the essential problem the character has to solve... it is not at all clear. Suspense, in the classic definition: you don't know what will happen, but you do care.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Smile

A smile lifts your mood. Even a fake smile. Try plastering a big fake smile on your face for two minutes straight, and see what happens. (Maybe you should be alone, so nobody calls the police.)

Friends

I am having a relaxed month in October. In a good way.
(Most of the time. Actually on Sunday I had some ideas and produced some stuff which will be great for my business. Very cool.)
Right now I am rewatching Friends on DVD. I love that show. I suspect that many of the intelligentsia looks down their nose on it because it was the most popular show ever. But they are missing out, for it really was brilliant as well. Very damn funny, and very warm, and actually had tons of subtleties too.
I am waiting with baited breath for what will replace Friends and Frasier. Will and Grace can't carry the burden alone.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Great Galactic Grid

Have you heard that NASA in cooperation with the US gov and the European Union has established the future replacement for the World Wide Web?
It is called the "Great Galactic Grid", and obviously for the foreseeable future it will be limited to this solar system (unless we are contacted soon), but if they have learned anything from the Internet, it is that it pays to think big, early!

The GGG will be backwards compatible with the WWW, fortunately. Of course it is still early in the game, since we don't yet have any functional colonies on the other planets, but in order to help funding the development they let you buy domains for $500 each, which gives you nothing but bragging rights and something to tell your great-grandchildren when they live on Mars.

I purchased domains for three of my existing web sites:
GGG.stobblehouse.com
(my personal site)
GGG.DOMAI.com
(artistic nude photography)
GGG.maccreator.com
(for artists and Mac users)

You can pay for your domains at:
http://NASA.gov/GGG/purchase.html

---
... OK, I better come clean: this was partly a joke. I invented the Great Galactic Grid (in mid-2004).

But I also fervently hope it comes to reality during this century. If and when it does, remember who invented the term. :)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Optical mice irritation

When Optical mice first came out, the big line was "finally a mouse that works on any surface!" And what did I find? For the first time ever, after I got an optical mouse, I actually had to use mouse mats! Because they just don't work well on wooden desks. You'd think it would be the perfect surface for them, because all the wood grain would give the optical sensor something to track. But the cursor on the screen moves very erratically with them. They actually work better with a sheet of white paper, which is very weird. I have tried many different mice and many different desks.
It must have something to do with the slight surface unevenness of the table (what you can feel rather than what you can see). This also makes no sense, because why would that disturb an *optical* system?
Does anybody else know about this?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Work and riches


"I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves." -- Bruce Grocott

Another good joke... but unfortunately it perpetuates the myth that most rich people are lazy. Books such as The Millionaire Next Door documents that the great bulk of rich people work very hard indeed, and spend little. Which is how they became rich in the first place.

Shakespeare and monkeys

"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." -- Robert Wilensky, speech at a 1996 conference

... This is a good joke (as far as I can determine, aimed at the quality of writing on the Net. Well, it was many years ago. :) -- but it also holds the key to an important truth I considered a while ago, which tells us about mathematical complexity, as well as the power of creativity... to wit: not only will a million monkeys NOT produce Shakespeare's works, or even just Hamlet, they will not only produce one straight sentence.
This can be proven, at least subjectively, by a simple Google search. Type in a simple sentence which is not a common expression, put it in quotes and Google it. Odds are it will not be found in all the 5 Billion pages on the web.
Examples:
"I went to my sister's and got drunk."
"Blue is a bad color for airplanes."
"Autumn is nice for Caucasians."
"I can see empty sky from my window."
... Google goes 'did not match any documents' to all of them.

Think about this. Despite the fact that the "million monkeys" are not hammering at the keyboard at random, but in fact writing in English most of them, they won't even produce a random sentence. And then consider the fact that each time you add a single letter, this gets twenty-six times less likely! It then becomes clear that not even a trillion trillion trillion monkeys hammering away for all the age of the universe would produce "Hamlet". (And if they did, how anybody know?)

The original monkey premise is actually a dig at creativity: "anybody could do what Shakespeare did, heck, a bunch of monkeys could do it if you gave them time enough."
Never has less true words been spoken. Nobody but Shakespeare could write Hamlet. Nobody but van Gogh could make Sunflowers. Nobody but Lennon could write Across the Universe.
An act of creation is divine, literally.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Only listen to half

I found a mortgage at a incredibly low interest.
But I don't need it, for I am now a millionaire due to the stock trading tips I get in the mail.

I can get Viagra at half price.
But I don't need it, because my manhood is now like a cucumber, and without surgery too!

I have a Rolex these days.
But I don't wear it, for everybody now has a top-quality replica.

Morale: if you read your spam, only listen to half.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Quality And The Art Of Purpose Maintenance

New article of mine:
Quality And The Art Of Purpose Maintenance

It has been a while since I wrote anything like this, so I'd be interested in hearing if you find it helpful.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Google Local

Have you ever used Google Local to find something in your own neighborhood?

I don't know how the heck they have collected and organized all that data!
If you select 'View Larger Map', you get a map as big as your window and screen can handle (which is big in the case of my Apple 30-inch screen), and if you zoom in to max, you'll be amazed at the detail. I almost expect that if I put in a new flower bed in the garden, it will be on the map tomorrow.
Not to mention of course that they can find all the local businesses somehow.

I don't know which countries they have covered so far, but it works fine for UK, you just replace .com with .co.uk

Taboos

I am told that in Mormon areas like Salt Lake City, the teenagers don't have sex much. This is generally because they don't believe that oral sex is "sex". (Clinton is not alone.) They are quite serious about this. Probably even anal sex is not "sex". Of course they have a lot of "non-sex".

Whereas where I grew up, in Denmark in the seventies, none of us, practically, had any sex, oral or otherwise. And Denmark is perhaps the most liberal and permissive country in the world.

Does this give anybody pause for thought? That perhaps the more rules and suppression there is about something, the more it flourishes?

Not to mention: if it has to be hidden, then kids don't know anything about protecting themselves from pregnancies and sexually transmitted deceases.

Friday, September 23, 2005

About parties

"You have to go out," people tell me occasionally.
"Why?" I say. "'Out' is just like 'in', only without the comfort and the things I need."

What I don't get it that by "out" or "fun", people generally mean clubs and pubs and parties. In other words, noisy, crowded places where you can't hear each other talk, so you have to ingest alcohol or other drugs to pass the time. Big woop. Sure, that's how I want to spend my time and money. Not.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Alice in Wonderland

The British Library has posted an extraordinary online version of the original hand-written and self-illustrated manuscript for Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol, a.k.a. Charles Dodgson.

Please note the 'enlarge' feature, it allows you to really enjoy Dodgson's drawings, which I find very talented. Not smoothly skilled like a professional artist's, but they have a lot of graphic power.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Battlestar Galactica


"It is not enough to live; you have to have something to live for."
-- Commander Adama, Battlestar Galactica

I am an SF fan since four decades, and Battlestar Galactica (2003) is the first SF TV series I have really liked.
You could say a lot about it, but basically it is the first SF TV series I have seen where the acting is top notch, and the physics are not highly doubtful. Not to mention the plot is gripping, and the special effects are very convincing. In short it is a quantum leap forward in realism.
The pathos of it is extraordinary too. This is not your father's television, get ready for some trauma.
So, if you have ever liked the literature of SF, but found Star Trek to be just embarrassing, then give this a shot.
Start with the mini series (which is what I've seen so far), it seems it sets up the whole thing.

Monday, September 19, 2005

iMac Tangerine

I bought an old iMac from 1999, the tangerine one, almost the same as my third Mac.
I did it mostly for fun and nostalgia and aesthetics, I loved those "gumdrop" iMacs so much.
But I don't have a good space for it, and to be frank and to my surprise, I think that time has actually already run from that colored/translucent design which was so revolutionary at the time. (It was imitated by absolutely everybody -- and not just in the computer business, I saw hair care products imitating it!)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"Content"

Have you ever considered the oddity of the term "content" for web sites?
It is like a publisher planning a book, making the covers and the pages, planning the ad campaign, and then at the last moment saying: "oh yes, and we also need some content for the thing, better canvas some writers."
Thoughts and creations have become afterthoughts to networks and media. How "Microsoft" can you get?

The state

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." -- Voltaire

... It does not make sense to me that the state is allowed to do things that individuals may not. The state is just the collective will of the people. But apparently this collective will, having the ultimate power, decides that it is above the usual rules guiding men. It can imprison men and call it "justice". It can steal and call it "taxes". It can murder and call it "war".

People say that people who take the law in their own hands are vigilantes and criminals. Only the state may handle justice. But there is nothing holy about the state, it is just a large group mind. It is just a five hundred million pound gorilla. ("Where does a five hundred pound gorilla sit in a bus? - Wherever it wants.")

Brotherly advice

The best -- and the only -- life advice ever given to me by my older brother, who died when I was fifteen, was "take good care of your teeth, kiddo," offered as a sincere advice about the one thing you must be sure to do in this life, in his view.
It is perhaps not profound, but on the other hand it is a lot better and more constructive than a lot of the bullshit you may hear from some people. Like "live fast, die young." Or "you can't trust anybody but yourself." Or "don't stick your head above the crowd." Or any of the endless anti-life equations that the older generations will use to try and keep the younger ones from overtaking them, or whatever their subconscious rational may be.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Smells like Victory

I have this odd feeling.
Like a big warm wind of victory.
Like the Universe in general, and humanity specifically, has all led up to this point in Time and Space.
Like this is it. And we have really won. We just don't know it yet.

iPod Nano and David Pogue

If you have not seen David Pogue's videos on technology for NYT, do so now. Please. [You need to register, but it is worth it.] David, who also writes columns and books about technology and music, is one of the funniest and most informative writers in the world. I would say he is in a league of his own, but maybe there is some guy sitting in Bombay and doing it as well, what do I know?

I just got my own iPod Nano today. Apple is also in a league of their own. I would not have imagined they could top the iPod, but they did. In David's words: Rock on, dude.

Gibson on drugs

All any drug amounts to is tweaking the incoming data. And you have to be really self-centered or pathetic to be satisfied with simply tweaking the incoming data.
-- William Gibson

Recreational drugs are essentially a wank, and a wank is okay, but you really should know that it's just a wank.
-- William Gibson

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Boredom

I suspect our biggest enemy is boredom. Not in itself, but because it will cause you to pull in problems. We sometimes wish we did not have those problems, but by golly, they are better than being bored!
In my view the wiser course of action is to recognize this before it happens, and then stave off the boredom not with problems, but with greater challenges. Or perhaps just look at all the great things in your life with a fresh eye.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Speakers and Bradshaw Bear






So, I got the speakers for my new high fidelity setup. All is being played from the Mac, in near-CD quality (I can't hear the difference anyway). And due to iTunes, I can shuffle and arrange several thousand songs any way I want to, instead of messing around with CDs.
The speakers are from DesignE.co.uk, and I am one of the first people in the world to get a set (the sixteenth buyer according to a highly placed source in the company), they are brand spanking new. These guys break new ground in speaker designs. Real solid wood for one thing, for another the spherical design which helps both sound and looks, and I think they were the first to use that.
Click on the images for larger versions.
The bear in the picture I have had and loved for a decade. He was recently named Bradshaw Bear by my friend Jade, pictured here.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A new painting I bought



Here is a painting I bought recently. I rarely buy original art (I don't have the space for it yet), but this one I had to have. I post two different photos of it because parts of it are made of metal plate, and reacts to different light in different ways. It is a very bold and very cool picture. It is 70x90 centimeters.

Friday, September 09, 2005

New iPod & my new amp

David Pogue wrote:
"On the downside, the Rokr's phone functions use the same software design as Motorola's Razr phone, which is, ahem, not nearly as universally adored as the Razr's physical design."

No kidding! I bought a Razr V3 last month. (My even smaller Erikson was flaking out. I loved that phone.) And it is just gorgeous. But the "Hello Moto" (groan) team should be re-evaluated.

[You need a registration to read NYT columns. But Pogue's column alone is worth it.]

The new phone: USB 1.1??! Come on. I thought the reason that Steve did not mention that it was USB 2 was because that was "so duh" as Madonna would have put it.

I am glad to get the new iPod Nano instead. I rarely use my full iPod. And I used the shuffle a lot for a while, but the lack of navigation and playlists became a hurdle. I think the Nano will do the trick. I love audio books. (I listened to all the Hitchhiker's Guide books on the Shuffle.) And I love gadgets so small I can't feel them in my pocket.


Musical Fidelity amp

Oh, by the way, I am setting up my iMac G5 as a high fidelity center with a Musical Fidelity X80 amp (gorgeous piece of technology. And it has just been discontinued, so I got it half price. It fits perfectly under the stand of the iMac) and Design E speakers. It will be so great, especially for music DVDs.

You should watch Steve Jobs' presentation over Quicktime. I always love those.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

William Gibson

I have not have the patience to read much fiction for a while, but I just started re-reading William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition". Damn, nobody writes like Gibson. Every sentence is a little work of poetry, and yet somehow they all line up and tell a story. Warmly recommended.

One reason I love SF more than what academics normally consider fine literature, is that not only does it not fear technology, but also it usually has highly capable characters. Whereas "fine literature" usually has characters who accomplishes nothing except to polish their neuroses.

Actually Pattern Recogntion is not even SF, but it feels like it.

... Another reason I love Gibson: He has apparently approximately the same priorities as I have myself. There is very little romance or sex in his stories. But a lot of art and creation. Several of his books have at their core a trek to find an important artist. Visuals and designs and aesthetics in general are very important too. I really like that.

Fashion and Style

I find it a sad comment on the world that in most people's mind, "fashion" and "style" are synonymous. To me they are almost more like opposites. After all, fashion is taking directions from overpaid designers and big brands as to what to wear. And style is making your own look and your own decisions.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Decency?

If I see the embedded graphic in my email once more:
"Dear Homeowner: you have been pre-approved..."
I will puke up my lungs.

My message to spammers: Dear Sirs, have you no decency?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Chick Flick for men

Alternative headlines:
Like Frasier, only not funny
or:
Dysfunctional people talking

Review of the movie "Sideways"

Have you ever seen Anywhere But Here with Natalie Portman and Susan Sarandon? That may be the ultimate "chick flick" outside of Ingmar Bergman. Two hours of a mother and a daughter arguing. Yum.

"Sideways" is like that. Only with men. Puzzling.
It is well done, and the start is promising, very quirky. But it soon started to try my patience, and by the middle of the film I was thinking "OK, but what is it about?!"

The issue with this kind of film is that the characters have no external problems. They only have the problems in their own heads. And it does not make for very exciting story telling. You keep yelling at them: "Just make up your mind!" or "Get off your butt!"

Sure, we may all have our problems in our heads, but other people's silly neuroses just aren't very interesting.

Don't get me wrong, I don't demand a lot of action, just a story. For instance one of my all-time favorite movies is Postcards From The Edge, and that is a very talky movie. But it has a story, and the dialogue is fabulous, quirky, and very funny.

If you tend to like French cinema, you'll surely love Sideways, so go for it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

color



I've suddenly at the tender age of mumble mumble become interested in home decoration. Who woulda thunk it?

I recently acquired a couple of gorgeous items, to wit the vase and bowl pictured here. Not cheap items, but what with some success and no smoking or drinking, I can afford it. :)
My home is already largely in dark blue and yellow/orange, so they fit well. But the intensity of the colors of the glace in real life has to be seen. Gorgeous.

"The Wire"

I have now watched the cop show The Wire on DVD, the first season.
It is very engaging, and very realistic, and rather unusual.
One example: they don't use music to tell you what to feel about the scene. (I didn't even notice until it was mentioned in the commentaries.) I am pleased about that, for I get irritated when a show or film plays "scary" or "romatic" music to manipulate you. It just lacks subtlety. Not so on The Wire.
The show is based to a very high degree on the experiences of police in Baltimore. One of the co-writers was a cop for 20 years.
Just see if you can watch several episodes without using the F-word all the time and pronouncing "all right" like "a-ight". :)
I am much more of a comedy fan than a thriller-fan (or whatever), but this one is recommended.