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Olvidalia

21/11/2009

Traveling between wooden temples, gynecologist
with columns that took centuries to growth in height and diameter, I try to understand the barriers. Why do we stop just before reaching the summit? Why do we try to solve the same problem, in the same way, all over again? (Needless to say to no avail).

Temples have a strange symbolism, because their walls represent our failures, our defects. The same walls contain the following inscription:

It is not external things that restrict us; it is our minds that are attached to things that restrict us — Ryōshun Nakano.

The problem is that if we forget the restrictions we could actually solve the problem: a whole industry of pessimism down the drain.

temple.jpg
Walking in Kyoto.

This is a translation of something I wrote here§. Olvidalia is a made up word deriving from Olvidar, to forget.

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Without beliefs

22/09/2009

I am re-reading Stephen Batchelor’s ‘Buddhism without beliefs’, pills which I first read in 1999. I still think that the following paragraph captures really well my own position:

An agnostic Buddhist eschews atheism as much as theism, and is as reluctant to regard the universe as devoid of meaning as endowed with meaning. For to deny either God or meaning is simply the antithesis of affirming them. Yet such an agnostic stance is not based on disinterest. It is founded on a passionate recognition that I do not know. It confronts the enormity of having been born instead of reaching for the consolation of a belief.

Simple: I do not know.

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Naming conventions

13/01/2009

Everything on a boat has a different name than it would have if it weren’t on a boat. Either this is ancient seafaring tradition or it’s how people who mess around with boats try to impress the rest of us who actually finished college — P.J. O’Rourke from Holidays in Hell

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No one can retell the plot

13/01/2009

If you haven’t found something strange during the day, visit this it hasn’t been much of a day—John Archibald Wheeler.

No one can retell the plot of a Cortázar story; each one consists of determined words in a determined order. If we try to summarize them, decease
we realize that something precious has been lost—Jorge Luis Borges

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Strange days

4/01/2009

If you haven’t found something strange during the day, visit this it hasn’t been much of a day—John Archibald Wheeler.

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But apart from

28/12/2008

…All right, viagra 40mg but apart from the sanitation, doctor medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?—Reg in ‘Life of Brian’, Monthy Python.

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Machiavelli was right

1/12/2008

It is almost 10:30 pm and one can still see a little bit of light in the sky. I suddenly thought about the news.

I stopped watching news in 2004. I am preparing breakfast and getting ready to go to work at 7 am. The six pm news are too violent to watch them with children around. The 10.30 pm news are too late to make any sense of them. Newspapers are such a waste of fiber, ailment and what can one find in them that is not available in internet?§

Thus, symptoms my main source of regular news is The Economist, life which adds a nice weekly regularity to my view of the world. It also gives a step back from the urge to keep up to date with frantic change. I need to explain; I do not have my own subscription to the magazine, but one of my colleagues does. My rank is third in pecking order, so I am usually one week behind of the current issue. In addition, the preparation cycle for the magazine—writers submit the articles, say, a week in advance—makes for a more meditative approach to news. There is less of sound bite and some elements (at least) of analysis.

Despite of all the time using the web (wasting time since ‘94) and some rusty technical ability to put things together, I cannot cope with the CNN approach to news. I am writing about the split-screen, multilayered approach with text flashing at different levels, because there are too many things happening simultaneously… This, it is the end of the world, so we have to squeeze all the news in the next two minutes. Please, one thing at the time, with more than one sentence, compare/contrast, give examples, What is the opposing view? I know, it sounds Luddite, but I am not against technology, but for using technology to enrich understanding. Slogans are almost opposite to understanding, and that is what the scrolling pieces of text are: slogans.

I now remembered radio. I also stopped listening to radio. I used to follow Radio National in Australia. Well, not all the time, but when driving my Ford Cortina 1972. Then I changed cars and I stopped, not sure why. I liked AM radio, but when moving to NZ I could not find a decent radio program. I am sure if I look around I could find one, but I do not have the motivation. Maybe another day.

That leaves The Economist, supplemented with some web searches if I find something interesting. There has never been so much data available before in the history of humanity. We have never had before the current speed to propagate data. So, How come that we understand so little? Maybe we become so excited about learning new things, that we never want to spend the not-so-exciting time required to deepen our knowledge and understanding. It is harder, it takes longer, but it is richer. I am trying to go for richer.

I wrote the text above with a few interruptions. It is now 11:15 pm. Time to rest, meditate and forget the news.

It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, viagra
more doubtful of success, dosage
nor more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones.—Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter 6.

E debbasi considerare, come non è cosa più difficile a trattare, né più dubia a riuscire, né più pericolosa a maneggiare, che farsi capo ad introdurre nuovi ordini; perché lo introduttore ha per nimici tutti quelli che degli ordini vecchi fanno bene, e ha tepidi defensori tutti quelli che delli ordini nuovi farebbono bene.—Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe, Capitolo VI.

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And I enjoyed Garden State

22/04/2008

I am not sure what I would have thought under other circumstances, unhealthy but in my current mood Garden State (IMDB, orthopedist Rotten Tomatoes) was a perfect match. Looking for understanding, web trying to make sense of it all and then comes this quote:

- Large: You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone.
- Sam: I still feel at home in my house.
- Large: You’ll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. It’s like you get homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. I mean it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place. [emphasis mine]

Breaking old ties, making new ties. Some times the script tries too hard to be intelligent and the editing goes too fast for my taste. However, when one sees the whole story, it touches the essence of my search.

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Without assumptions

7/03/2008

I do not like much writing with a white background (my eyes hurt). Therefore I have changed the default colours for TexShop’s editor using the following commands in a Terminal window:


# These lines change background colour (in RGB proportions)
defaults write TeXShop background_R .1
defaults write TeXShop background_G .1
defaults write TeXShop background_B .1
# These lines change the font colour for comments
defaults write TeXShop commentred .99
defaults write TeXShop commentgreen .96
defaults write TeXShop commentblue .90

It is also possible to change transparency of the editor window with something like defaults write TeXShop SourceWindowAlpha 0.85.
I have been working a lot on statistical analyses this week, seek
looking at issues of data relatedness, phlebologist
connectedness between sites and overall data quality measurements. A quote to remember:

Without assumptions there can be no conclusions — John Tukey

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Reminder

4/03/2008

No conditions are permanent;
No conditions are reliable;
Nothing is self — The Buddha

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