April 8, 2014
March 13, 2014
We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born.
Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922–October 21, 1969) .
Its his birthday today. There is a tribute on brainpickings.org
. Very good piece it was too. He was speaking about Sunyata, Śūnyatā, (Sanskrit, also shunyata; Pali: suññatā), in Buddhism, translated into English as emptiness, voidness, openness, spaciousness, vacuity, is a Buddhist concept which has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. In Theravada Buddhism, suññatā often refers to the not-self (Pāli: anatta, Sanskrit: anātman) Suññatā is also often used to refer to a meditative state or experience.
The emptiness of space will not crumble as it is no existant thing. It has no beginning and no ending. It only is.
For more on Buddhism please visit my Jnanabodhi.com site
February 15, 2014
Great new book out from Storm! Must Read! Click on the picture to buy.
Fantasy meets Reality in Cyberspace, in a world where our online and offline experiences, friendships and even, our identities are excitingly entangled. Avatars are extensions of us, leading lives parallel to our own dull everyday existence. There are no limits to our Virtual Lives and we are free to live in any World we choose. Having a Virtual Life sets you free to dream and some dreams do come true.
Storm and Dude are partners. In spite of the fiercely opposing time zones, they meet and fall in love on the dance floor of the Junkyard Blues Club in the Virtual World of Second Life. They begin collecting breedable cats and their Second Life gets very crowded, so together they open Not Another Kitten, a Cat Shop in Cyberspace. Then the Cat Shop meets the University and both Worlds collide with laughter.
Meet the Divine Penny, the Italian-speaking Siamese cat, with the delicate chocolate paws, and find out if Professor Poppett’s poodle recovers from ‘indoor barking syndrome’. Go on an adventure in the alligator infested bayou to hunt for the Golden Kitten and find out why love always wins the day.
Quite an achievment. Started as a blog and became a book. Well done Storm very proud of you!
February 11, 2014
Distribution of income in the United States has been the subject of study by scholars and institutions. Data from a number of sources indicate that income inequality has grown significantly since the early 1970s, after several decades of stability. While inequality has risen among most developed countries, and especially English-speaking ones, it is highest in the United States.
Studies indicate the source of the widening gap (sometimes called the Great Divergence) has not been gender inequality, which has declined in the US over the last several decades, nor inequality between black and white Americans, which has stagnated during that time, nor has the gap between the poor and middle class been the major cause—though it has grown. Most of the growth has been between the middle class and top earners, with the disparity becoming more extreme the further one goes up in the income distribution. Upward redistribution of income is responsible for about 43% of the projected Social Security shortfall over the next 75 years. The Brookings Institution said in 2013 that income inequality was increasing and becoming permanent, reducing social mobility in the US.
A 2011 study by the CBO found that the top earning 1 percent of households gained about 275% after federal taxes and income transfers over a period between 1979 and 2007, compared to a gain of just under 40% for the 60 percent in the middle of America’s income distribution. Other sources find that the trend has continued since then. In spite of this data, only 42% of Americans think inequality has increased in the past ten years. Income inequality is not uniform among the states; as measured by the Gini coefficient: after tax income inequality in 2009 was greatest in Texas and lowest in Maine.
Scholars and others differ as to the causes, solutions, and the significance of the trend, which in 2011 helped ignite the “Occupy” protest movement. Education and increased demand for skilled labor are often cited as causes, some have emphasized the importance of public policy; others believe the cause(s) of inequality’s rise are not well understood. Inequality has been described both as irrelevant in the face of economic opportunity (or social mobility) in America, and as a cause of the decline in that opportunity.
Wealth inequality in the United States, also known as the “wealth gap”, refers to the unequal distribution of assets among residents of the United States. Wealth includes the values of homes, automobiles, personal valuables, businesses, savings, and investments. The top 10% wealthiest possess 80% of all financial assets. Although different from income inequality, the two are related.
A 2011 study found that US citizens across the political spectrum dramatically underestimate the current US wealth inequality and would prefer a far more egalitarian distribution of wealth. Wealth inequality in the U.S. is worse than in most developed countries other than Switzerland and Denmark.
Wealth is usually not used for daily expenditures or factored into household budgets, but combined with income it comprises the family’s total opportunity “to secure a desired stature and standard of living, or pass their class status along to one’s children”. Moreover, “wealth provides for both short- and long-term financial security, bestows social prestige, and contributes to political power, and can be used to produce more wealth.” Hence, wealth possesses a psychological element that awards people the feeling of agency, or the ability to act. The accumulation of wealth grants more options and eliminates restrictions about how one can live life. Dennis Gilbert asserts that the standard of living of the working and middle classes is dependent upon income and wages, while the rich tend to rely on wealth, distinguishing them from the vast majority of Americans.
January 28, 2014
Taken from eCollege.me
A heady mix of MOOCs the good brain bad brain led me to Oliver Sachs “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat” (in the library) a very interesting study that makes you think about how perception dictates some behaviours. Then Critical Thinking and Philosophy opened up the can of worms about free will. I made a post :
It has been said that we are “creatures of habit”. If we are presented with a situation that requires a response this response is dependent on the cumulative responses we have had in the past. If we are “successful” in responding to a situation we are more likely to choose it. It could be said to be predetermined. If however the past creates a situation that is novel how we react is indeterminate. We can predict behaviour to a certain probability but never 100%. Kilgore Trout ( Kurt Vonnegut Breakfast of Champions Chapter ” And now it can be told” ) was created because his behaviour as a human being was totally unpredictable so fascinated the Creator. He had free will. My point is that the past may create the present and the present creates an indeterminate future because we cannot safely i.e. 100%, predict the response to the present therefore the future cannot be predicted. We have free will to respond to the present in any way we choose. This is my vision. Y A H O O !!
Which is saying that the past determines the present but every present moment is unique and how we respond to that moment can be unique so the future is indeterminate. Therefore we have free will, though often given stimulus response our responses are limited admittedly.
January 2, 2014
November 6, 2013
I’ve started an online course a Massive Open Online Course. #edcmooc Its title is E-learning and Digital Cultures and there appears to be over a hundred participants a good proportion well educated to degree level. We evaluated several videos this week and so far a lively discussion has ensued through threaded comments. (see eCollege.me).
My first comment was:
Very dangerous to give a machine total sway over the way we do things. I still see (or want to see) Technology as a tool. I don’t see it as deterministic. It is my axe head, my flint. These shaped society but did not determine it. The printing press is another technology that shaped society and its attractive to ascribe god like powers to it. It was its use that transformed society, it was not worshipped as a god. To suggest that society is technologically driven, in my view, leaves out the serendipity of the second video. We are so much more than the sum of our media.
The third video in the series is below:
My comment was as follows to what is found and what is lost thread:
While its a horrible thought in my view the little bird should have died after banging into the window (not an uncommon occurrence, The figures reported for bird strikes against windows are astonishing. It is often said that between 100 million and a billion birds die in the US each year after striking windows ref: BBC however this was done through extrapolation not fact!. ) as the natural is being sacrificed and ignored in favour of the technological. (see climate change) This is not new as city dwelling has had these problems ( lack of interaction with the natural) since inception. Seen as metaphor the natural is excluded, by choice (?) in favour of the technological; the natural has the power to interrupt the technological (e.g.bird in the machine) and the human agent is oblivious to nature until forced to react (frown) when banged in front of his face. the female has no problem with being unconnected as she has her mobile. The journey into space may provide “The Big Picture” but this does not translate into viewing the minutiae which are ignored.Digital education has no final goal where we are all digitally educated, learning is open ended. It is also a process, a very efficient one whereby we can interact quite promptly. It is interactive distance learning. What is missing? For me very little, a pint in the student union bar? Where it is so advanced is this ability to interact, a natural occurrence. Being talked to by lecturer, writing assignments and asking questions is standard fare. Seminars may work through the Google hangout? ( sorry no experience) What we have by writing here is a multi threaded argument whereby we can choose (or not), to respond.. Choice is expanded. Time is elongated. Pace is self regulated. I completed two Microsoft certified professional courses entirely online (Moodle) at my own pace. This is a four / five week technologically based course yet so far the “human” touch has not been ignored. We have videos of everyone. I feel quite at home.”He is happy whom circumstance suit his temper but he is more excellent who suits his temper to any circumstance”
I also came across this picture, updated Sistine chapel:
I tweeted it. #edcmooc
October 28, 2013
Multitasking what a wonderful skill, something we all do with varying degrees of success. I love the joy of doing it well. Second life hosting makes one quite adept with instant messaging, group and local chat. Holding the skein of many threads and responding to them all. Its like dancing in formation and indeed you dance at the same time. I also grab a tune, paste it into YouTube, grab the link paste it into my converter to mp3 and download it and no one notices coz it happens so fast. I love multitasking…maybe
Some people hate it, it seems. “When you are with me you must give me 100% of your attention or I will walk away” and they do this while multitasking themselves. Odd. Our brains, our neuronal pathways are a perfect example of multitasking. Just imagine ” Stop thinking I want to breathe” or ” I’m drinking tea stop talking and listening to music ” Ha! Bit extreme that but you catch my drift! However:
Because the brain cannot fully focus when multitasking, people take longer to complete tasks and are predisposed to error. When people attempt to complete many tasks at one time, “or [alternate] rapidly between them, errors go way up and it takes far longer—often double the time or more—to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially,” states Meyer.This is largely because “the brain is compelled to restart and refocus”. A study by Meyer and David Kieras found that in the interim between each exchange, the brain makes no progress whatsoever. Therefore, multitasking people not only perform each task less suitably, but lose time in the process…..
Oh dear so it seems multitasking is not a good thing at the awareness level? My mother used to do it. She would read a book, knit a fairisle sweater and watch TV all at the same time cognitively processing all three at the same time. She could recall the book and TV and I ended up with a beautiful sweater.
Treating consciousness as awareness or attention greatly underestimates it, ignoring the temporary levels of organization associated with higher intellectual function (syntax, planning, logic, music). The tasks that require consciousness tend to be the ones that demand a lot of resources. Routine tasks can be handled on the back burner but dealing with ambiguity, groping around offline, generating creative choices, and performing precision movements may temporarily require substantial allocations of neocortex………..
In Buddhism mindfulness training is where you concentrate on the action that you are performing ” In walking there is only walking, in sitting there is only sitting” I am listening to music, thinking about this post and typing at the same time. I always work to music. However perhaps this isn’t a good thing……
I think multitasking is a fact of life these days. I think it is an evolution of the digital life we lead. I notice my cats in second life come up to me and “demand” attention to the exclusion of all else. As does my real life cat. I can attend to my cat and do other things.
Do one thing and do it well? Do several things and do them all well? Is this possible? Switching our attention very quickly from one thing to another. What I have noticed is that there is a threshold effect. The music playing in the background lifts me to a threshold of experience and I function at a “higher” level.
Clearly I am very confused.
Multitasking or not, please leave your thoughts in comments:
Meanwhile back on the ranch:
Brain Pickings advice which I don’t do coz I don’t sleep too well….
Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.
Most importantly, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?
I don’t sleep very well. I have to knock myself out with drugs.
Maybe I should stop trying to multitask………………. Help please! What you think?
October 26, 2013
I took down the previous post due to objections. No one saw it except a good friend of mine and my partner. Here it is abridged. Its a shame people don’t leave comments. What are they frightened of?
Thought I better revamp my site. The old site is here I still have my commitment to poverty and I am still working on being extraordinary: feeling alone. I realise that we all are alone when it comes down to it. “Be thou an island unto thyself O Ananda” The Buddha’s last words to his chief disciple.
Loneliness – sabishisa or sabi, is profoundly important for haiku. Sometimes arising out of our well known solitary sadness, it is a state of empathy, of interpenetration, with all things. Loneliness is actually sought by the haiku poet so that he may be open to sabi. One of Basho’s haiku is addressed to a mountain bird, always heard in the distance, whose cry augurs rain:
Not sure if I like this theme but as usual I have no one to ask if its ok. So I can only persist in my folly. What the fuck I’ll keep trying. I will never give up in trying to make the world better than when I left it. I am a voice crying in the wilderness. No one hears, no one listens. Sigh.
So eCollege is looking good very proud of that site. I have high hopes of it. Its very sophisticated and has many features especially being mobile friendly. I will be pushing it shortly on LinkedIn through the RSA. It looks very good in my second life profile. I need to come up with lesson plans; they are there still haven’t got them down yet. I will ask for requirements I think. People should have Microsoft Design and Web. I will teach how to get a self hosted web site up and running. I can train people up and then “Train the trainers” so it is self perpetuating.
If you want to help please fill out the form below and we can get started. You can Skype me dude.starship ask for eCollege details and we can do something. The Internet is now part of our lives ever thought you should be a part of its?
October 23, 2013
Been having a troublesome day so……..
I thought I would cheer myself up with some Art. I am more ignorant of Art than I care to mention but I know what I like. Perhaps the most famous paintings I have seen were in the Uffizi gallery in Florence my favourite city in Europe. Of note there is Botticelli’s Venus on a Half Shell:
Florence is so beautiful, the square with the statue of David ie wonderful. To sit in the square in an outdoor café, a little stoned, sipping Campari Sodas. Yes sipping because the point is to be with the ambiance without breaking the bank. to be smartly dressed is a must otherwise you will be given a table inside. You have to look cool. You should look like one of The Beautiful People, aging perhaps but aging gracefully. The fact we were camping on the side of hill 5 miles outside town need not be mentioned. The thing is wherever you go you have to blend in. Myself with my 25 year old slim, leggy Japanese wife (well she won’t read this but one of the reasons I married her not because her dad was a millionaire, nor that she had an IQ off the scale but because John Lennon had a Japanese wife; the coolest man ever. ) blended.
Oh dear aren’t I awful. Ooops. Back to Art. You do realise that all Art is generally available on the ‘net? So there is no excuse. Of course, if you must and the fact you are a technophile, you can make it a technology. So I love Kandinsky and below is a slider of his work.
Unfortunately this site doesn’t support Hi Slider so here is a replacement:
Here is a video of the eCollege site you can see the slider in action.
I know how to
be buy a computer. Probably I got used to people ignoring the box that did all the work but calling the monitor the computer, anyway I bought my first proper computer in 1994. It cost a fortune because i spent half the total price on a 17 inch monitor. You see you spend all your time in front of your monitor, the fastest and biggest computer need not be viewed through a 15 inch monitor. I have a 22 inch wide screen monitor and I run at resolution of 1920 x 1080. Makes sense to me. I live in front of my computer as my environment is not conducive to perambulations. You might find my graphics a tad large but to me they are normal. For example my signature is 36pt.
But to me its ok. A signature should be a tad flamboyant. I have said in Essential Free Graphics how important it is to have a good graphics program without spending months or years on Adobe Photoshop. All my stuff comes from Expression Design from Microsoft. The studio was selling a good few hundred euro but I don’t know why they stopped selling it but now its free. It does the job.
I created :
I did it all except for photoshopping the background of Penny the cat. you can get the rest of the story Not Another Kitten dot com. ” Tails from The Kitten Shop” a damn good read.
See? (I can do small!!!!)