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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What made the Herring - red and dead?

TRUTH. Suppose Truth is a red herring. Sans the fish-wife, just the fish, of dubious provenance and well-passed its prime. We are holding something that smells, and that has a sell-by date that expired somewhere at the threshhold of the origin of language. When we tried to talk about it, it died.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Arts will fill the circle of the senses

Art used to fill the senses. In the village, you carved wood, you felt the grain and edge, and smelled the wood, and heard its crack and yawl. You smelled the food you cooked, you heard what you were creating, dipping, painting, playing.

Now, in the city "modern" art is in a sealed box. It is on the wall, walled off. The orchestra is "on stage" or in a pit. No interaction. The audience is a specialty.

In the future, as we are individualizing and interacting with art again by computers, the media are going to become MORE "traditional" in the sense that they will fill the senses once again. Pieces will smoke, smell, and sound you in the lobby, the interactive hallway, the kitchen midden of our lives. The courtyard of the future, still within cities, still urbanic, will be richer. Art will fill the senses, again.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

C S Lewis ReDoubt

I always start with A Grief Portrayed, one of the finest books written about mourning. Lewis lost a long-awaited and spirited spouse to bone cancer, and Shadowland gripped Lewis' last years. I am not a biographer -- and there are already more than five -- but you see the two sides of Lewis' mind already established -- bipedaling the desire to imagine and feel "Joy" (Narnia, Perelandria), and his responsibility to the God of residual dogma (Allegory of Love, Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity)-- before he came to be seduced by a married woman named Joy. And she dies. And he is CS Lewis, left to dry alive, not to die, and unable to return to privately priggish common room hearty bachelor life. He emerges, he does not emerge, he is living the Problem of Pain inside, and in trying to cling to a personal faith in the shadow of a personal insult to the entire continent of his belief, he finds his faith has no hands. He now KNEW that conversion was not real, and was not a means of joy in a real world.

He is left with the quest, living the questions. And here is where the believer and the nonbeliever meet -- in the realm of the imaginery, where everything important takes place, or doesn't. Where shared ritual unfolds, where the layers of allegory story each onion, and the petals of metaphor open up each rose.

Who knows what CS Lewis believed in his final hour, the author of magic Narnia slipping into the final resting Wardrobe. We cannot express enough gratitude for a man who gave us fairy tales and faith, and most comforting for those of us who escape into imagination, a permanent bed of doubt.

Why People Hate Lawyers.

Lawyers are formidable people.
I’ve always wondered why this is so.

Is it because a Bar Exam weeds out those who are thick as bricks, or plain stupid?

Is it because the Bar organization is powerful? Helping its members?

Is it because we are rich?

You know why. We may be the smartest profession with the biggest mouth, but we are not the only smart people on the planet, and many lawyers get stuck in perspective. The Bar is not a unified priesthood protecting its members from public inquiry. And most lawyers are not in the richest echelon of society. In fact lawyers are peculiarly despised by the rich, for their dependence, if nothing else.

The reason lawyers are formidable, is primarily because we listen to our opponents.

Like no other professional, we are the ones who have adversaries paid to play "enemy" to our ally, and who pay close attention to everything we do and say. No one else has this tool, this engine of criticism built into the work.

Politicians ignore criticism and attack their opponents no matter what they say.
If the Naziis had been capable of listening to their opponents, and learned something, we would be speaking German.

Artists want to express themselves, they are bored by dialogue, the interchange. No one created art in disintermediation, or by committee.

If religious people get into trouble, do they canvas other religions? They try to listen only to God, and to keep from hearing the Devil, and if they hear him they don’t listen and think it pious not to.

And that is what makes us formidable. We listen to what the adversary is saying, knowing that they are listening to us and will try to strip us naked in public if we cannot support what we are saying.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Carbon - nanotechnology

1. TUNGSTEN and CARBON - as light filaments. Surely it is not just the heat that makes a tungsten or carbon diode glow, but the voltage and current itself. So carbon should come out ahead eventually in a light per volt contest. If we can build a carbon filament out of nanotubes--by weaving and bonding the filaments with the right amount of radiation -- we may have a tough and brilliant lightbulb.

2. Carbon nanotubes are lightweight, stronger than steel, stiff as diamonds, and way better conductors of electricity and heat than any other known materials. This is carbon we are talking about. Thank you Sumio Iijima (NEC lab in Tokyo 1991). Picture chicken wire rolled into cylinders with an average diameter of a nanometer, or the approximate width of a DNA molecule. Now, how do we coerce these tubes, only a few micrometers long, into fiber? It took chemists 50+ years to make carbon-based polyethylene into usable material. It appears that nanotubes can be bonded together to unitize without congealing or losing strength by irradiating the line. Still, how do we get the line -- how do we "weave" the fiber? This is where I think we have to look at centrifuge or natural "spinning" effects. Not just chemistry.

Sources of Power

1. PLANTS. Are we exploring synthetic photosynthesis? Plants convert sunlight into sugar in a remarkably efficient manner, and using a variety of leaf macro-structures. Can a solar cell be developed out of protein instead of silicon?

2. BACTERIA. I still think the bacteria which glow inside aqueous cells inside animal/piscine hosts could be adopted and adapted to live in synthetic environments which need low level light. Consider the new materials -- for example, synthetic peptides developed by Shuguang Zhang (MIT). If we imbed the cells in plant hosts, we would have trees that provide shade in daylight and moonlight at night.

3. PROTEIN. Photosynthetic proteins from spinach and Rhodobacter sphaeroides imbedded in a peptide cell membrane on a silicon surface coated with indium tin oxide and an organic semiconductor topped with a silver electrode, create a current. Marc Baldo (MIT 2004). The beauty of this is the sandwich could be manufactured in a continous assembly line--a complex film. Even without solar cells, could be protein-based electronic devices. Protein may not degrade and could be self-repairing or replenishing.

4. NATURE. Solar energy collection and conversion has been optimized over a very long time by nature. We seem to understand this, yet we are so obsessed with burning carbon fuels we seem to overlook the model Nature presents. Nothing in Nature is burning fossil fuel for its energy source. Why do we?