Tuesday, 20 March 2018

#478 Life as a pool table - part 1

This weekend, snow returned to the capital. The thermostat was clearly broken. I'd spent most of last week in two layers and some of it in one. One or two little insects had ventured out above ground, Now they were wishing they hadn't. Winter was ongoing. Lectures were ongoing. The job search was ongoing. It was all just a big continuum.

Recent family matters had inspired my sister and I to engage in some creative writing although the dust hadn't settled enough for our efforts to be shared. I decided instead to use my writing time this week to run through a thought experiment that I'd started at times in the past but had never properly articulated. I called it "Life as a pool table".

The experiment was meant to represent, in terms easy to understand, how conscious thought could arise out of unconscious processes. I'd first thought of it while watching some of Dan Dennett's videos years ago. I tried reading his book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back but found it hard going and wondered if it might be possible to explain some of the concepts in a more accessible way. A pool table seemed like as good an analogy as any.

Life as a pool table - part 1

The concept of death
Imagine trillions of balls on a very large piece of slate.
They've been formed from sticky bits of dust and are blown around on the slate by the wind.
The piece of slate contains some holes and is located over a pit of fire.
Some of the balls fall down the holes and disintegrate in the fire.
This gives us the concept of death.

The concept of growth
Some of the balls bump into each other and get stuck together.
The newly formed combinations of balls are larger. This gives us the concept of growth.

The concept of survival
The balls that combine are large enough not to fall down a hole if they roll over one.
This gives us the concept of survival.

To be continued

Monday, 19 March 2018

#477 Wheeeeeton!!!

Looking at writers' blogs felt futile. Surely they'd save their best for print. I was desperate though in case that wasn't clear from yesterday's Arseblog post. Desperate to find a blog I actually wanted to read.

Blatherings was interesting. Just because its author, Debbie, had been writing it since 1997. That was insane. You could literally go back and find posts she'd written about Furbees. Furbees. That was twenty years ago, man. This thing was like a time capsule. She updated it properly too, there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts. Insane.

I also loved Will Wheaton's Exile blog which had wangled its way onto a list of writer's blogs just like he wangled his way onto Big Bang Theory. Clearly no-one could resist his irresistible irresistibleness. I was fairly sure it was the real him. I felt sad that he hadn't updated it, then I realised what an exile blog was. His real blog was at Will Wheaton dot net. OK. I still had no idea what the exile blog was but I was relieved to have found the main one.

In some ways, Will's blog was exactly what I was looking for. A regularly updated personal blog that didn't have a clear theme and showed a flawed side to its author. The flawed side was important. Not because it was unusual. Everyone had flaws but with some people they were more visible and Will's screamed at you the instant you laid eyes on his site. It was put together in such an overtly crappy way that if he wasn't a celebrity, no-one ever would have followed him.

But they did follow him. He had dozens of comments on every post and after skimming through a couple of the posts, I could see why. Will's blog was real. He wrote it to convey real thoughts he was having. It wasn't shiny. It wasn't dull. It wasn't informative. It was just... him. Will Wheaton. Writing about his experiences. The ones he felt brave enough to write about in public.

I knew I'd find a blog like that eventually. I never thought it would be written by a celebrity.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

#476 Arseblog

The Horribly Happy Hooker, for its energy and passion, looked dead in the water. No recent posts. No trace of the author on social media. It was almost like she wanted to remain anonymous. Fortunately, HHH wasn't the only Irish blogger in town. And by town, I meant the world. Enter Arseblog, the Emerald Isle's lighthearted written commentary on all things Arsenal.

I normally avoided hovering my mouse cursor within a five centimeter radius of a football link for fear of accidentally clicking it but the quest to find blogs with real soul demanded peeking into every nook and cranny. Reluctantly, I held my nose and entered this particular cranny, to see what the fuss was about.

Supposedly Arseblog was highly respected among the club's supporters. It had plenty to offer them. Daily posts. A team of columnists. A weekly Arsecast. I wasn't about to start reading or listening to anyone talking about football so I checked out their St. Patrick's Day post instead.

The word "disgraceful" came to mind. It was like Lee Evans had emptied out the contents of his waste paper bin and stuck together the worst ten percent of the jokes he'd thrown away. Worse, it had been written in the name of St. Patrick yet the entire post made no real reference to him whatsoever. 

Unlike the Happy Hooker, who wrote authentically but had to hide her true identity, Arseblog had no shame in churning out low-grade babble. Had the St. Patrick's Day piece been funny or educational, it might have been worth examining one or two other posts. Since it was neither, Arseblog definitely wasn't making it anywhere near my favourites list.