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Pen, tablet, heaven and hell are all in thee

5/10/2005

Another bombing, troche another massacre. More killing and maiming innocent people in the name of religion, politics, big ideas or small ones.

Flashback: twelve years of Catholic school listening about good and evil, some times as abstract concepts, some times personified in strange caricatures. Then in 1982 I came across The Rubaiyat, by Omar Khayyam and read:

Pen, tablet, heaven and hell I looked to see
Above the skies, from all eternity;
At last the master sage instructed me,
‘Pen, tablet, heaven and hell are all in thee’.

There are a few bad people amongst us, walking with hell inside them. As John Quiggin pointed out, this is a time for solidarity with Indonesian people.

Filed in language, politics, quotes No Comments

Baffle me too

22/09/2005

I finally decided to upgrade my old trusty Koss UR-20 el cheapo headphones for something a bit more expensive—although still ultra cheap for audiophile standards: Sennheiser PX 100. They seem to be one of the best cheap headsets and they are very comfortable. I will throw away the Sony earbuds and use my Yepp with the Sennheiser.

Almost simultaneously I bought a couple of nice CD in ‘Music without frontiers’, order which is my favourite music shop in Hobart. I was looking for another Piazzolla CD but this time live. Stephan did not have any live concerts—I think I will have to order The Laussane concert, although see this page for corrections on the names of tracks—but he had The rough dancer and the cyclical night -Tango apasionado. This album is good, but not of the same stature as Tango Zero or La Camorra. If you like Jorge Luis Borges’s writings, as I do, you may be interested in this Borgessian connection with Piazzolla.

Cover of Nois 4’s Gente

The other CD I bought was Nóis 4’s Gente (the BBC has a review and Daniella Thompson has another one). This recording is a nice exploration of Brasilian music including classics and new songs by Nóis 4. My favourite track is still ‘Influência do Jackson’, although this is the type of album that grows in me with each time that I listen to it, so I expect that the ‘favourite track title’ will keep changing hands.

When reading the newspaper and driving around this little island, thumb one comes across many times with ‘best practice’ (mostly in the news) and ‘Save X’ or ‘No to Y’ (mostly in bumber stickers). They come often enough to become worn down clichés.

Best practice does not necessarily mean ‘good practice’. As an example, noun
until not long ago corporal punishment was considered best practice from a pedagogical point of view. Now it is neither considered best nor good, but an abhorrent practice. When used in environmental discussion, best practice is a catch all phrase (normally used by government) that really means we think it is good, it is done in other places and nobody has complained too much about it.

Have you ever wondered how come that there are so many things that need to be ‘saved’? Saved from what or from who? No is a very interesting word, because it means opposition and negation and it does not propose anything. If I say NO to something it seems that I do not need to be pro anything. I have met quite a few people in the environmental discussion in Tasmania that oppose forestry activity not necessarily because of the environmental effects—which are much more marked in agriculture, for example—but because is conducted by big corporations (as oppossed to many farmers). When asked ‘How would you provide all the goods and services without corporations?’ they produce very weak responses, because they have not thought the issue through, because they are against X rather than pro Y.

And going back to past elections and weasels

I have to acknowledge that I voted for Mark Latham in the 2004 federal election. In spite of Latham’s lack of coherence and a pathetic forest policy, I could not bring myself to stomach the Liberals’ policies towards refugees. As it should be clear to the reader by now, Labor and Latham had their bottoms kicked.

Back to almost the present, last week the ABC broadcasted Andrew Denton’s ‘Enough Rope’ program, after a short lived legal battle with News Limited. In the interview Latham showed to be a real psycho: he was accusing almost everybody else of acting like, mmh, Mark Latham. As Matthew 7:3 said ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’ or—if you are a King James person—‘And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’ or—to add a Spanish touch—‘viendo la paja en el ojo ajeno pero no la viga en el propio’.

He showed complete disregard for his party colleagues, particularly Kim Beazley, the current leader of the opposition. What I find disturbing is not that he despises politicians (don’t we all do?) but that knowing the status of the party, the moral quality of his colleagues and the lack of conviction in their policies he still decided to present himself as potential prime minister material supported by that kind of people. Note to self: do not ever forget the level of stupidity reigning in the Labor party.

I was reading Things that baffle me posted by Gail Armstrong, about it
mostly nodding in agreement, but sometimes completely disagreeing. So, I came up with my own list of baffling things.

Furry toilet seat covers, instant coffee, instant juice—in fact almost anything ‘instant’, Chihuahua dogs, drug addictions, people using ‘affect’ instead of ‘effect’ (or vice versa), email spam, $1,000 shoes, car stereos more expensive than my car, bad wine, rich kid environmentalism, totalitarian ideologies, beer + ice, people who misspell my name (L-U-I-S, easy), mimes, one-ply toilet paper, fat women in hipsters, rap, hip-hop and related music.

Things that baffle her but do not baffle me: trigonometry, black & white photos in art books, and socks + sandals (that I love).

Filed in language, miscellanea No Comments

Weasel words and elections

21/09/2005

I finally decided to upgrade my old trusty Koss UR-20 el cheapo headphones for something a bit more expensive—although still ultra cheap for audiophile standards: Sennheiser PX 100. They seem to be one of the best cheap headsets and they are very comfortable. I will throw away the Sony earbuds and use my Yepp with the Sennheiser.

Almost simultaneously I bought a couple of nice CD in ‘Music without frontiers’, order which is my favourite music shop in Hobart. I was looking for another Piazzolla CD but this time live. Stephan did not have any live concerts—I think I will have to order The Laussane concert, although see this page for corrections on the names of tracks—but he had The rough dancer and the cyclical night -Tango apasionado. This album is good, but not of the same stature as Tango Zero or La Camorra. If you like Jorge Luis Borges’s writings, as I do, you may be interested in this Borgessian connection with Piazzolla.

Cover of Nois 4’s Gente

The other CD I bought was Nóis 4’s Gente (the BBC has a review and Daniella Thompson has another one). This recording is a nice exploration of Brasilian music including classics and new songs by Nóis 4. My favourite track is still ‘Influência do Jackson’, although this is the type of album that grows in me with each time that I listen to it, so I expect that the ‘favourite track title’ will keep changing hands.

When reading the newspaper and driving around this little island, thumb one comes across many times with ‘best practice’ (mostly in the news) and ‘Save X’ or ‘No to Y’ (mostly in bumber stickers). They come often enough to become worn down clichés.

Best practice does not necessarily mean ‘good practice’. As an example, noun
until not long ago corporal punishment was considered best practice from a pedagogical point of view. Now it is neither considered best nor good, but an abhorrent practice. When used in environmental discussion, best practice is a catch all phrase (normally used by government) that really means we think it is good, it is done in other places and nobody has complained too much about it.

Have you ever wondered how come that there are so many things that need to be ‘saved’? Saved from what or from who? No is a very interesting word, because it means opposition and negation and it does not propose anything. If I say NO to something it seems that I do not need to be pro anything. I have met quite a few people in the environmental discussion in Tasmania that oppose forestry activity not necessarily because of the environmental effects—which are much more marked in agriculture, for example—but because is conducted by big corporations (as oppossed to many farmers). When asked ‘How would you provide all the goods and services without corporations?’ they produce very weak responses, because they have not thought the issue through, because they are against X rather than pro Y.

And going back to past elections and weasels

I have to acknowledge that I voted for Mark Latham in the 2004 federal election. In spite of Latham’s lack of coherence and a pathetic forest policy, I could not bring myself to stomach the Liberals’ policies towards refugees. As it should be clear to the reader by now, Labor and Latham had their bottoms kicked.

Back to almost the present, last week the ABC broadcasted Andrew Denton’s ‘Enough Rope’ program, after a short lived legal battle with News Limited. In the interview Latham showed to be a real psycho: he was accusing almost everybody else of acting like, mmh, Mark Latham. As Matthew 7:3 said ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’ or—if you are a King James person—‘And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’ or—to add a Spanish touch—‘viendo la paja en el ojo ajeno pero no la viga en el propio’.

He showed complete disregard for his party colleagues, particularly Kim Beazley, the current leader of the opposition. What I find disturbing is not that he despises politicians (don’t we all do?) but that knowing the status of the party, the moral quality of his colleagues and the lack of conviction in their policies he still decided to present himself as potential prime minister material supported by that kind of people. Note to self: do not ever forget the level of stupidity reigning in the Labor party.

Filed in language, politics No Comments

About a name and language

3/03/2005

Some times Orlando appears in this web log and people ask why did you choose that name? Well, seek Orlando has the advantage that is spelled the same (and with similar pronunciation) in English and Spanish. No, doctor I do not have any relatives with that name and did not know anybody with the name.

Orlando and Luis, <a href="http://viagragenericonline.net" title="sildenafil" style="text-decoration:none;color:#676c6c">order</a>  Mount Nelson, Tasmania’ /></p>
<h3>Other Orlandos</h3>
<p>There is <a href="http://tonyorlandoonline.com/">Tony Orlando</a>, but I didn’t know about his existence before Orlando was born. More popular is Orlando in Shakespeare’s <a href="http://william-shakespeare.classic-literature.co.uk/as-you-like-it/">As you like it</a> play. Funnily enough, the most well known Orlandos these days are <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0089217/" title="link to IMDB database">Orlando Bloom</a> (Legolas in the Lord of the rings movie) and Orlando, the city where <a href="http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/index">Disney World</a> is located. I say funnily because I am not interested in any of these two. Orlando is related to Orly and seems to be related to Rolando and Rowland.</p>
<p>I am writing this in Rotorua (New Zealand), where English and Maori meet in a big way. Maoris are often surprised by my pronunciation of Maori words, that appears to sound very well. Vowels in Maori are quite close to Spanish, so it is not really a reflection of my language skills, but just another linguistic accident.</p>
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						<div class="post"  id="post-109">
				<h2><a href="http://quantum.uncronopio.org/2005/01/05/bello-barrio/" rel="bookmark" title="Bello barrio">Bello barrio</a></h2>
				<span class="date">5/01/2005</span>
				<div class="entry">
					<p>My previous post makes reference to a poem by <a href="http://www.mauricioredoles.cl">Mauricio Redolés</a>. It is difficult to explain the beauty of some of Mauricio’s  writings, <a href="http://buy-canadian-cialis.com/" style="text-decoration:none;color:#676c6c">seek</a>  particularly when you hear him singing (it’s crap). It is hard to find his poems in the web, <a href="http://buycialis-online24h.net/" style="text-decoration:none;color:#676c6c">hemorrhoids</a>  so here there is one — I know, in Spanish, although I have tried to include as many links as possible in English — that I find particularly interesting. This is a transcription from a reading, so most probably the verses are a bit off.</p>
<blockquote><p>
Bello barrio (Mauricio Redolés 1987)</p>
<p>Descubrí un bello barrio en <a href="http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/south_america/santiago/" title="link to Lonely Planet">Santiago de Chile</a><br />
Es un bello barrio en que los camaradas no han desaparecido aún y los bares son color anilina que puede leerse al revés igual.</p>
<p>Descubrí un bello barrio de luces antiguas y gente amable<br />
Las mujeres son bellas ánimas aún más que una madre, atraviesan las calles en aeroplano.</p>
<p>Y hay avisos, y hay avisos, y hay avisos, y hay avisos antiguos envueltos en gasa y paños sencillos</p>
<p>Y el blues vive en la sangre y aún no ha llegado la hora de los asesinatos<br />
Es más aún, la banda de asesinos todavía es tramitada en las fronteras del Polo Sur.</p>
<p>Descubrí un bello frágil barrio al suroeste de Santiago de Chile<br />
Su belleza es tal que aún mi hermano tiene el rostro recompuesto antes de la fiebre verde y los fierrazos.</p>
<p>Es bello, porque parece ser <a href="http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/europe/london/" title="link to Lonely Planet">Londres</a> 1956 por <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethnal_Green" title="link to Wikipedia">Bethnal Green</a><br />
O <a href="http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/south_america/buenos_aires/" title="link to Lonely Planet">Buenos Aires</a> 1950, con equipos de fútbol y barras de emigrantes<br />
y <a href="http://centralentertainment.com/gato/">Gato Barbieri</a> es chico, con olor a chocolate y naranjas</p>
<p>Hay arreglos de guitarra imaginativos y tengo amores con una muchacha que es casi de este barrio.</p>
<p>Hay la alegría de esa utopía que nos negó este siglo</p>
<p>Ven a vivir esta fragilidad peligrosa de corromperse</p>
<p>Aquí nadie discrimina a los negros porque todos somos negros<br />
Aquí nadie discrimina a los obreros porque todos somos obreros<br />
Aquí nadie discrimina a las mujeres porque todos somos mujeres<br />
Aquí nadie discrimina a los <a href=chicanos porque todos somos chicanos
Aquí nadie discrimina a los comunistas porque todos somos comunistas
Aquí nadie discrimina a los chilenos porque todos somos chilenos
Aquí nadie discrimina a los cabros chicos porque todos somos cabros chicos
Aquí nadie discrimina a los rockeros porque todos somos rockeros
Aquí nadie discrimina a los punkies porque todos somos punkies
Aquí nadie discrimina a los mapuches porque todos somos mapuches
Aquí nadie discrimina a los hindúes porque todos somos hindúes

Ven a vivir esta fragilidad peligrosa de corromperse

Bello barrio, bello barrio, bello barrio, bello barrio bello

En que los cines dan las películas del Guatón Ruiz
Y la música de Los Jaivas no ha sido destruida a hachazos

Bello barrio con b larga y a corta, en que el proyecto cultural no ha sido culeado,
ni tampoco nos borraron los murales
que anuncian la venida del afamado grupo chicano de rock Los Lobos
y la emigración de viejos chipriotas y hermanas negras traen la comida y la música que nadie les pisoteará
Porque acá nadie discrimina a los chipriotas porque todos somos chipriotas
Y en donde tú vas con tu sueño y la ternura viva en los labios
Porque acá nadie discrimina a los que van con su sueño y la ternura viva en los labios.

Bello barrio en que los dinamitados aún tienen los dedos pegados a las manos y el páncreas dentro de su cuerpo y van por ahí tranquilos
Más tranquilos que son esos

Barrio donde existen horas que después no fuerán necesarias
Barrio de lluvia y gotas como estufa y hay una sinceridad de panadería que me pone nostálgico y sureño
Y la guerra no está ni en las historietas del kiosco
Porque en esas historietas vienen sólo colores y gritos de gozo

Iba un hombre mitad pez y mitad hombre y todos lo quieren y le preguntan:
¿Cuál es tu nombre amigo?
Y él ríe con sus ojos anaranjados de pez

Barrio donde ese loco de Miraflores y Merced salió hace cincuenta siglos, la mañana en que el tiempo ajeno fue el tiempo

Ven a vivir esta fragilidad peligrosa de corromperse

Barrio con cuadernos de hojas verdes y gruesas
donde el lápiz conversa con el cuaderno al escribir y son amigos

Barrio donde Soledad Fariña pinta su primer libro
Barrio donde Téllez organiza un primer tucaneo

Descubrí un bello barrio en que el oxigeno es bello y puedo llorar cuando escribo

Descubrí un bello barrio donde nadie discrimina a los allanados porque todos nos hemos hallado

Ven a vivir esta fragilidad peligrosa de corromperse

Barrio donde los misterios son misterios bellos y entretenidos
Barrio donde las chimeneas echan oxígeno y la gente puede perder un paraguas, pero nadie le devuelve una metralleta, conchetumadre

Barrio en que en la tele aún sale el Perro Olivares y Cortázar y Arlen Siu y Víctor Jara y Roque Dalton y John Lennon. Están posibles con la posibilidad que vivieron

Barrio en donde los accidentes son accidentales

Acá el presente no ha acontecido, es más aún, las balas que desgarrarán los tiernos pezones de los desaparecidos aún son plomo en lejanas minas de un continente aún no descubierto

Ven a vivir esta fragilidad peligrosa de corromperse

En donde las librerías de viejos están llenas de obras que luego la memoria tendrá que someter a la fantasía
Barrio en donde los poetas aún dialogan con la muerte, de madrugada, bebiendo pisco y no se han enemistado con ella

Acá el futuro se vive en su pasado, noticias vulgares en radios vulgares

Ven a vivir esta fragilidad peligrosa de corromperse

Se llega por recorridos de micros inexistentes
Se llega por calles subterráneas
Ven a esta bella barriada a encender el ultimo fuego
amor

Bello Barrio certainly reminds me of Barrio Bellavista, where I used to live with my parents in Dardignac Street.

Filed in language, music 3 Comments

Holy coincidence Batman!

4/01/2005

Just before Christmas I contacted Dorian (then in Colorado, sanitary USA) about some questions I had on the simulation of breeding strategies. He pointed out that Ric and him had done some work on the area, and that I should contact Ric to get some examples.

I wrote to Ric (supposedly in New Zealand) and he replied from Switzerland, where he is on sabbatical. That would not be coincidental at all if he were not sharing an office with Yongjun, who used to work with me as a postdoc. Yongjun called me two days ago from Zurich and we had a chat about a paper that we need to finish.

Almost at the same time I was contacted by Gustavo (from Mexico), with whom I went to high school while living in Argentina. As far as I know, Gustavo has no relationship whatsoever with genetics — apart from his own genes, of course — but hardly ever write to me, even in Christmas time.

Coincidence (from Latin co-incidere, to co-occur) is somewhat related in meaning to one of my favorite words: serendipity. Incidentally, the ‘holy’ part of the title is a contribution from that classic 1966 TV show: Batman; the one with Adam West, the best Batman ever…

I have to acknowledge, Christmas always makes me feel ‘nostálgico y sureño’ (with thanks to Mauricio Redolés — or in this old siteBello Barrio, 1987).

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Lively conversation and internet communities

9/12/2004

We had some wonderful conversations with Peter in Wakefield, and New Zealand (map). We were talking about the links between optimism and optimum and later Peter was telling me about the relationship between adventious events and religion. Then he mentioned the connection between Chrestos (sense auspicious, good) and Christianity. The word chrestos sounded familiar to me, when I remembered the word chrestomathy (a selection of literary passages).

Luis, Orlando and Peter in Pitfure House, Wakefield, NZ

While we were talking about the etymology of these words I mentioned that I thought there was a name for words of mixed etymology. I could not remember the word, and the closest I have got is to macaronic (yes, it sounds like pasta). Do you know the word I was thinking of? If you do, please contact me using this form. This is just another case of loganamnosis.

Sadly, my problems to find the word relate to the disappearance of The Agora (following the link you may get a ‘page not found’ error message). It is hard to create a vibrant internet community and it is so easy to destroy it. First it was the electronic implosion where there were thousands of posts lost. Then another minor implosion and then total disappearance. A real shame.

P.S. 2004-12-10. The Agora seems to be working again…

Filed in language, orlando, web No Comments

The virtue of selfishness

19/11/2004

This morning I finished reading Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’, allergist a 1943 novel about the battle between individualism and collectivism. I bought the second edition (1947) of the book three weeks ago in a second-hand bookshop. A sticker showed that the book had been sitting on a shelve since July 2001.

The story is compelling, illness although the dialogues are sometimes a bit artificial, cure particularly when Rand is pushing the philosophical (and ideological) aspects of her thought. For example, Ellsworth Toohey’s final conversation with Peter Keating reminded me of a villain confessing his abject plans to Batman: a long and detailed explanation, although Keating is no Batman but a beaten man.

Nevertheless, I tend to agree with Rand’s diagnostic: second-handers have condemned creators, and their ideals for centuries. As Howard Roark (the protagonist) puts it in his trial:

No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body. But the second-hander has used altruism as a weapon of exploitation and reversed the base of mankind’s moral principles. Men have been taught every precept that destroys the creator. Men have been taught dependence as a virtue.

Men have been taught that the ego is synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egotist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are functions of the self.

A man thinks and works alone. A man cannot rob, exploit or rule — alone. Robbery, exploitation and ruling presuppose victims. They imply dependence. They are the province of the second-hander.

I did enjoy the book and will go back to the second-hand bookshop to look for Atlas shrugged. By the way, the title of this post comes from a book of essays I am reading at the moment. As with any philosophy, I will treat Ayn Rand’s objectivism with a pinch of salt: it has valuable ideas, but it is not the ‘one size fits all’ solution for all the problems of the world.

Filed in books, language, politics 1 Comment

Is nature overrated?

10/09/2004

This was the question I asked — tongue in cheek, herbal almost a year ago — in The Agora. How come that I bought a bottle of ‘organic water’ in this web +tasmania&ie=UTF8&z=12&iwloc=addr&om=1″>Scamander (north-eastern Tasmania), doctor or the high prices for crappy ‘organic tomatoes’ (small, full of blemishes and tasting no different from a normal one), or the resistance against GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) in many parts of the world?

I have participated in a few discussions about GMO and some people have a visceral reaction against them, because they are unnatural. Well, plastics, planes, cars, computers are unnatural and we happily interact with them in a day to day basis. People eat varieties of crops and fruits that are the result of mutations induced through radiation exposure, but they will complain against GMO plants. People complain against cloning, but they will buy apple or rose varieties that are, in fact, a clone. What does make a chimera, clone or GMO so different from a ‘natural’ organism?

Similar issues arise with the distinction between native and exotic animals, for example. Of course exotic animals must be native to somewhere in the planet. A related distinction is often made between ‘cute and furry’ and ugly animals. Thusly, people complain about poisoning a possum, but will happily eat a beef steak or a chicken burger, poison a spider (normally native) or squash an insect (probably native too).

I have no answer for this situation, but my sense of curiosity makes me wonder about the differential treatment given to living organisms based mostly on cultural codes.

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Cultural familiarity

8/07/2004

Any time management book worth its salt will tell you that you must make the most of commuting time. Well, sovaldi at least that is the theory if you spend a reasonable amount of time moving from point A to point B. Living in Hobart and spending between 12 (no traffic) to 20 (lots of traffic) minutes going from home to work there is no much that one can do with commutes (particularly if I am not travelling alone). However, viagra there is radio. I do not mean FM-greatest-hits stations but old fashioned AM Radio National. (Digression: I am quite geeky about gadgets and things like that, but concerning media I like AM mono radio. I believe this is a vestige of driving my Ford Cortina 1972 — that I sold in 2002 — which only had AM radio.)

Yesterday the program was an interview to Chilean writer Isabel Allende, of ‘The house of the spirits’ fame. Actually, I think that most of her books are rehashing ‘The house of the spirits’, but that has nothing to do with this comment. She was talking about feeling at home in a culture, and how she never felt that in the USA. However, despite of living many years outside Chile, she feels culturally at home every time she visits the country. She would understand every reference, body language, expression, etc. This did not mean that she felt like returning home for good; she didn’t. It was just the relaxation that comes with familiarity.

Isabel Allende’s explanation got me thinking. Yes, going back to my country of birth presented the familiarity (although I grew up in three Latin American countries). However, it was only familiarity with the old aspects of the culture. I would miss many references to newer events and TV programs, and TV really permeates any modern culture! Familiarity did not translate into ‘I want to stay here’, though. It was more like ‘I know this, but I want to go back home’. In Australia I feel familiarity with the newer aspects of culture, but when people talk about the ‘Whitlam era’ is like they were talking about ancient Egypt (in Egyptian). I have only lived under Howard’s era; yes, it sounds pathetic, but I didn’t choose him as Prime Minister.

It might well be that, having grown up in many different places and then moved to other countries as an adult, I am destined to have only partial familiarity with many cultures. It is a strange, sometimes difficult, sometimes really enjoyable destiny.

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