Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lonely Lumberjack is perhaps a little less lonely

I saw him wheeling past me; leaning into his walker, barely an arm’s length away, on the other side of the cafe window where I sipped a fine coffee and nibbled an outrageously large and delicious donut following the collapse of far more humble plans. I downed the last morsels and set out to catch up to him but the old man is deceivingly quick.

It had probably been two years since I last spent any moment alone with him one on one. I’d left his apartment moments after a pair of snarling bigoted tirades aimed at two different minorities. Well, maybe not tirades. Let’s say… tiradettes.

For two years we’ve politely nodded, waved or smiled at group functions, and sometimes even briefly chatted. but given I was probably his second-closest male friend, and officially the executor of his will, there was always the elephant in the gymnasium. He does not make friends easily and maintains perhaps a trio at best. Often, in my more wakeful moments I have told myself I should at least explain the reasons for my aloofness and try to give him one more chance. I don’t need him to change his mind necessarily, but only to keep out of my face the product of his albeit-honest misperceptions which he gleaned in prison; viewing the worst possible behaviour from certain associations while succumbing to tribal illusions. I understand his view, and why it is natural and why certain logic escapes him. In ways he is very wise and in other ways very unwise, but I want no part of his prejudice. It is offensive to people I love more than he, and I don’t wish to feel unfaithful.

So I lingered in the neighbourhood, sitting on a bench, writing on an adorable onion-skin air-mail writing pad surely manufactured a half-century ago which I found in a dusty variety store across the street. Sure enough he eventually came rolling back and I called out to him.

He brought me up to his apartment. I was in financial decrepitude at the time and eagerly accepted a hearty pasta meal with plenty of meat in the sauce. I declined seconds but while washing up in the bathroom he slipped another bowl out undetected and I much enjoyed it again.

“Watch out for that [Theatre Guy],” he suddenly warned me. He’d no doubt seen us sitting together. “Never trust that ___ hole.”

So here it comes again. ‘Well, I’m on his circle.” I said. Well we’re already good friends, is what I wanted to say. Better friends than you and I. And furthermore, Theatre Guy is straight. And you’re a dumbass. Sometimes.

I don’t know why Mr. Lumberjack respects me so much. No man alive meets the rigid standards by which he judges men. Me especially I would think. Women meanwhile are sacred.

We met up again recently without incident and soon I will take him shopping for clothes again.

I don’t know if he understands why I cooled off with him. I’d previously warned him a couple times about bigoted conversation but he assumes I’m simply naive about it, and too generous in my appraisals. I wasn’t bothered by his words at the surprise pasta dinner; only disappointed. Perhaps we’ll be able to maintain an understanding going forward and remain friends.

Monday, July 16, 2018


I remember when there was no issue at cottages around the presence of cell phones. If there was an issue surrounding the wisdom of group solitude and its protection, the issue was whether to allow newspapers or not. How far we haven’t come.

I remember cottage vacations where sitting around telling stories all day and sitting around telling stories all evening by camp fire was the gold standard and the norm. Yes, cottage vacations were an escape but we couldn’t help but escape to something special. Because not much followed us .

For years now I have not glimpsed this magic. Cottage vacations, for most people it seems,, are almost entirely escape; from employment mostly. And so the wonders of technology allow them to escape from only what they choose and as long as they keep their noses close to their cell phones nothing precious will be missed out on.

For me there is nothing to escape. There is only opportunity: for sustained conversation. The kind that burrows deep and forges stronger connections between us and stirs up insights and revelation; the kind in which anecdotes lead to questions and answers which boil down to one thing: how do we live our lives better?

Still, I enjoy spending time with loved ones even if we don’t do it my way.

I shot a bit of video; too little to do much with it really, but Pen Pal really wanted to see it so I threw this together. I need much practicing at video and audio editing so that I can put some proper music videos out at some point. I need to give my songs some kind of life before I entirely forget how to play them. If I haven’t already. Here’s the latest effort:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mindcrack Diaries

Recreating the necessary equipmemt here at Fortress Mountain is too daunting. I have not enough obsidian to build a portal to the Nether; the Hell dimension to fetch the necessary blazing substance. Fetching the brewing stand and supplies for transport here would put the potentially-unique brewing stand at too much risk. I'm faced with the third option: return to Castle Minerva and prepare the potions and golden fruit there, and deliver them all here. That too runs huge risks. It is a valuable cargo to cart through the wilderness, but not as hard to replace as the brewing stand, and so this is what I must do. 

And so I depart soon, intending to follow the compass and mark the route with landmarks to such degree I can, and building hideaways and bunkies to revisit for nightly refuge during my return. And I must play it safe and  stay out of the dark and travel only by day. As for my newest treasures: Are these artifacts safer left here in the village or off shore in the Sea Hut?
Or on my person for the trek home? I've fenced the village off and lit it well. Logically they should be left here I think, though I have already packed them to go.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What else is new

Part Two: The good news!

1. Pen Pal and I seem to be crafting a very useful friendship. She is back in Germany and suffering from a rather spectacular form of hay fever and very much still grieving over the Liaison who was like a brother to her, and really not getting out much. For her sake I am looking forward to the end of hay fever season where I will then get aggressive about her making progress in certain areas of personal prosperity (which I think is her plan). Meanwhile she is on board with helping me with my own struggles around time management by trying to hold me accountable to my own intentions. I am so easily overcome by laziness, procrastination and the setting aside of projects when they become challenging, in favour of newer more accessible projects. Perhaps one day I’ll make you a list of all the projects I am supposedly working on! Few readers would make it to the end I think. It’s bloody ridiculous.  

2. One of my current projects is very important and I am doing a passable job of keeping up with it. I have a… client of sorts; an apprentice of sorts, who has an amazing mind but came to me with tales of emotional struggle and who I am now guiding through the program of personal evolution which I once concocted based on my own robust journey of discovery. This is something I attempted with Neo long ago but (quite knowingly) with a compromised method. Both of us were far too eager. The Client and I are not. We are proceeding methodically and I am approaching it entirely Socratically. I am only asking questions. I am selecting the most pertinent question one at a time as he puts together the products of his own valuable observations (for he has done extremely well in this area throughout his young life) in such an order as to make similar discoveries very attainable. This is very satisfying for me and key to the purpose in life which I interpret for myself.

3. I’ve been receiving plenty of very useful help from a dedicated dietitian on a monthly basis and from her team on a weekly basis. The approach is very useful in that it pursues health regardless of size; is not numerically oriented and looks hard at the approaches to good eating and good health and not just the obvious matter of food choices. Unfortunately health issues forced me to miss many of the team sessions recently and that program has almost run its course (perhaps I can get in on a future roster and make up the missed sessions) and also my lovely dietitian is going on maternity leave shortly. “Why are all my medical professionals so fertile!” I cried when she broke the news. I imagine ‘congratulations’ might have been more appropriate but oh well. I am hopeful her replacement will be as open-minded as she. We worked together very respectfully and effectively.

4. My volunteering with Circles has expanded much. I’m on two more circles as well as an official volunteer driver for Soul Man who has become an excellent and inspiring friend and mentor. One of the new circles centres around an excellent fellow I will call Theatre Guy who has so much in common with me it’s freaky. And what a pleasure to work with someone who has an excellent functioning mind and who seems to understand nearly everything I throw at him. Tomorrow I am spending the day at the board game cafe with he, Aqualad and Girlfriend-of-Aqualad (alias pending!). He is hugely looking forward to this escape from the great challenges of his life currently.

5. I got pressured by Doc Lock into accepting a back-up roster position with the Bourbon Creams Trivia Team who play their home matches out of a Brew-Ha-Ha pub in Toronto. This is due to Lock’s brother, the Eloquent Potter leaving for the entire season to flit about Vietnam in search of himself. Apparently he was the superstar who led the team to championship victory in their recent rookie season and his shoes are intimidating to fill, in this case by committee. I’ve been called on a few times and finally found the means to participate the other night. While the beastly Intrepid awaits repairs I took the train into the Big Smoke. Thank Gord the train and subway stations feature elevators these days or I’d still be lying in a heap somewhere underground.

As I tried to suppress the team’s expectations I found myself saying, “Oh I have a head full of information all right, but none of it’s trivial!”

To my surprise I performed well thanks to a lot of good guesses! Calypso, sulphur, yttrium, spam (the meat) and Tolkien were among my correct answers, along with “1800” in response to “Any year during the life of Marquis De Sade?” The opposing team were cordial and fun. I would do it again some time or even full time if there is such a league here in Scooterville. ‘Cause Gord knows I need more commitments.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hi everybody!

What is this? Year 12 of my ongoing effort to convince myself to blog every day? As you can see (if anyone still comes here) it’s going smashingly well.

I’d really like to be in the habit of posting smaller blurbs but more often.

In no particular order, here are some things that are new!

1. the health problems/reduced work/reduced income/financial challenges/grocery compromises/weight gain/health problems vicious circle is rolling viciously along. I am gently attacking it from a couple different angles. No big breakthrough yet but hope remains..

2. I should be cottaging with Earth Writer, Dog Whisperer, Aqualad, and Aqualad’s very fun yet-to-be-aliased girlfriend - oh and three small nutty dogs - the last week of June. It’s an opportunity for several positive endeavours

3. I spent about two weeks in bed after having a bad spill on the stairs and later suffering a related injury, wherein I discovered a video game that has seized me in the throes of addiction. It is basically a virtual world with a wide open creative palette of the kind that engages my vast creative urges in the most instinctively compelling way ever. Now I know what the word addiction really means. I could actually imagine giving up every goal, relationship and useful habit I have and just doing this forever. That scenario should be horrifying to me and yet is not. It would be insane because there is probably no possible noble application for this kind of creativity whatsoever. I’m hoping that one of my young (D&D group) gaming-expert counsellors is correct on this matter who suggests that I just need to survive the honeymoon period and the game will become less compelling with time. I am only just starting to see that this is possible.

4. Terry-ann (Tati) has passed away. I received a message from her husband using her likebook account, asking me to call him. I knew, at once, why of course. He said he was informing those she considered a good friend. She and I were only good friends for a couple years I guess. And then I never came around any more. Her personality seemed to change into something I found hard to relate to. No, I said, I was not a good friend to her. I haven’t seen her in years. When you procrastinate visiting someone who is very easy to avoid, for long enough, then it becomes less about procrastination and more about how to explain why you’ve been absent so long. So… yet another dead associate who’s dying I handled very poorly. I’m batting a thousand.

5. Long Time Companion has cycled through ten different doctors now, in more than a year of suffering and not working, and no one has properly nailed down what is wrong with him. He is determined not to live in this circumstance much longer. I believe he is fully sincere about that. I believe we are running out of time before he takes things into his own hands and departs with dignity. I would prefer that every avenue be exhausted first, Including perhaps the liquification of all his assets which would probably fetch close to seven digits, and moving to the States to purchase every medical treatment he fancies in a last-ditch gamble to get a life back, even if he’s piss poor at the end of it.

Okay there’s much more but I’m going to make five items the limit. I’ll be back soon with some more-positive news.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Mindcrack Diaries

I now have seven zombies trapped; imprisoned; all of the formerly-human variety (if human is the right word for the civilians who inhabit this earth-like planet). I have prepared a tiny village for them. There are no established villages nearby; neither to accommodate them nor to seed the city I envision: Hulk City. Perhaps the first city this planet will see?

I cannot cure them without the appropriate potions etcetera, which I am equipped to manufacturer at Castle Minerva; my home-in-progress which is so far away that I got lost trying to find it when returning from this region after my recent, inaugural visit, and lost again trying to find my way back here. Mind you on this occasion, I expect to retain my compass. It always guides me to Castle Minerva, or rather to Genustown specifically, which is just down the road from my ambitious castle project, via Toad's Corners, Sandtrap Pool and Steve's Lagoon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Ark

Fifty-four years ago a Frenchman named Vanier turned heads pulling two developmentally challenged adults out of a standard institution and bringing them to live with him in a small house. There they improved their lives, demonstrated their worth, and grew the community they called the Ark, building a workshop and art studio along the way.

Today there are Ark communities in forty countries including two hundred - significantly larger - homes in Canada; some forming the Scooterville chapter, where core members live under the same roof as the staff who are dedicated to helping them live productive lives.

To me, this represents harmony; the most laudable goal of humanity.

“Would you ever consider returning to the traditional workforce if the employer had goals compatible with your own?” World Citizen asked me a couple years ago.

“Of course,” I said, “If I were convinced it were true.”

Days ago I applied for a temporary part-time Admin Assistant position - not at an Ark home but at the Scooterville community office: two days a week for a year or so; a perfect arrangement to commit to in order to test a possibly integral component of my life-goals/income solution.

And given I am well-acquainted with the Scooterville community director - we volunteer together at Circles - I figured myself a shoo-in for an interview at least. I thus went light on the successes portion of the resume, preferring all that to come from my own mouth, and concentrated on a list of forty significant and relevant job skills which just about runs the gamut of the admin environment, and a bold, perfectly truthful mission statement:

To help manifest harmony wherever possible, through ongoing self-directed and charitable projects and if applicable: by working within a like-motivated organization.

I was surprised when they declined an interview, citing “many qualified applicants” and stating that “…sadly we will not be continuing at this time with your application…”

Well darn. I didn’t intend to make anyone sad! I’m certainly not. My goal was to help the Ark land the best new member for their team; myself if applicable. I did not want the job for myself regardless. There is no harmony in that. I just hope they haven’t made a mistake, passing me up prematurely.

I responded that I was actually happy that they had garnered excellent candidates (my word, not theirs, but the logical assumption).

At circles events I appropriately dress down in order to fit in with the membership and I do not go out of my way to shave. Does the director assume I would not groom appropriately for an office gig? Am I not the traditional shape or gender for such a role? I would assume a more forward thinking mindset here.

Was my objective perceived contrived? I am aware that my truthful circumstances are very unlikely. But the director has glimpsed many insights into my past when I’ve spoke at functions. Though I also wonder if she had nothing to do with my resume’s appraisal and too if our connection was not even known by the appraisers.

As I release more resumes must I dumb myself down a bit and produce something more normal?

Saturday, April 28, 2018


I had to climb the porch stairs in the dark in order to verify the address of the giant old house before returning to my New Old Clunker at the curb in order to fetch my big old offering and the remote control that goes with it.

“Does it have a built-in VHS player!” Muzic Wizard had messaged me upon seeing the ancient catalogue image I sent him.

“It does indeed,” I replied. “And I can’t promise there’s no cheesy 80’s porno tape jammed inside it.”

“Oh the porno tape would be a plus.”

So now I’m lugging the beast up a couple short flights of creaky stairs as the smell of pot grows stronger.

Muzic Wizard answers the apartment door barefoot and slit-eyed. “Cool!” he says and begins checking out the input/output ports at once. “Yeah, this’ll work.”

“Oh, a TV!” says his girlfriend, appearing in the doorway.

They are both grateful for this contribution to the nostalgic art installation they will construct for the 3-day In The Soil festival. But I am just as grateful for the opportunity to be rid of it. We are all happy.

I journey back to Scooterville, catch a short sleep and arrive at Grandma’s in time to get us to breakfast at the nearby diner where Uncle and Aunt and Aunt’s husband await and where I counted on using a $10 coupon as my contribution. Instead they whip out a stack of 2-for-1 coupons. I am teamed up with Aunt’s husband and he declares that he will pay our bargain bill.

“I must accept,” I say, and report to them these direst of employment circumstances. Ye Olde Security Company seems to have me down to seven shifts per month. I am getting aggressive in the search for a new or second employer - if I haven’t mentioned that.

As the gang departs I see that Aunt’s husband has left a mathematically-justified three dollar tip. I want five left instead but I have no toonie to add; just a single twenty dollar bill. I ask Aunt if she can make change.

“Hold on,” she says, and fetches the requisite small bills from the waitress in exchange for her own twenty. She gives them to me but refuses my own twenty in exchange. Again I have no choice but to accept. Then she reaches into her wallet.

“No!” I say, but she presses another $40 into my hands and I am too choked up to debate.

I then go to meet -- Damn. What excellent nickname do I have for the sight-challenged Circles program director who exudes kindness and sweet music everywhere he goes? Soul Man? That will do for now. I meet with Soul Man and drive him to his appointments for the afternoon and take part in them also. I do this for him one day a week. It’s unclear if I will ever begin to receive mileage reimbursement for this but it doesn’t matter. I track the miles for now and find ways to absorb charity which I convert into gas money for this purpose.

We wrap things up just after three PM which puts me at the Good Shepherd Centre just in time to rub elbows with Scooterville’s homeless and enjoy a free hot meal which today is weiners (premium jumbo weiners even!) and beans over rice with a simple salad and balsamic dressing. I skip the dessert and koolade and choose water.

I’m agog at the great many volunteers who are cooking, serving, busing and… shepherding. What a beautiful contribution. And at times surely a challenging or even dangerous one.

My role as a Circles volunteer has much expanded of late as has my health and financial deficits. It is with a special warmth that I find myself slipping into this alternative economy of the heart.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Better than okay

“Are you okay?”

In the days between the Liaison’s death and his funeral, many people asked this of me. Many were writers who were inspired by him or were grateful for his excellent leadership or grateful for the individual personal help he gave them at times. Everyone knew he was special. These writers I refer to, who asked me, “are you okay?” are ones who did not often see him outside of November NaNoWriMo but who knew that I did, and assumed I had some closer relationship to him than they did.

I don’t necessarily know that I did.

It’s interesting, this specific gesture of concern which we typically offer. Are you okay?

We might be genuinely concerned or we might feel it’s appropriate or expected of us to express concern, or some combination. We might not even know for sure the composition of our own motive. It might just be a habit to some degree. I suspect in this case that most of them were genuinely concerned, or at least just genuinely wanted to express something. When we’re confronted with something resembling a tragedy we feel moved to be useful somehow. By expressing concern we either gain the opportunity to be helpful (depending on the response) or else we can at least check off the box that says I tried. Either way, in our effort to be comforting we have comforted ourselves; assured ourselves that we have done what we could.

I don’t mean to be cynical by this. I too would be inclined to offer these words in many such circumstances, and I feel that my associates here are sincere.

What is interesting is that I am very much okay. I have been in tears at times; perhaps most so in sick boy’s embrace who was weeping very intensely at the time. Thus I did likewise, much out of empathy.

Empathy is at play almost any time I shed tears; which I do often but rarely out of personal sadness; indeed almost never from personal sadness. I cry for the reason that all people cry: intense emotion. That most people associate tears with sadness is because sadness is the emotion most people find themselves experiencing most intensely. This is a troubling reflection on our society. I tend to experience most intensely other emotions altogether, which I am grateful for.

I am well aware that death is no tragedy. Only failure of life is a tragedy; one hugely present in this too-often shallow consumer society. Death too often marks the deadline where the FAIL stamp comes crashing down. But not in this case. There may indeed be many deeper experiences in which the Liaison had yet to find opportunity. But what he did with his time was so much worth celebrating. Within his own limits he expanded very much is influence and his own spirit. And he spent his time very well, serving what he loved and serving others.

Am I okay? Yes. I am more than okay.

In the case of the Liaison’s passing I mostly cried out of -- what? Not despair; that’s for certain. Can I define what it was? something in the realms of love and joy and inspiration? I was emotionally moved out of celebration! I witnessed how much he meant to people. I witnessed one of the most meaningful achievements in life; that of improving the lives of others. Truly: I cried from the beauty of it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Finding truth

I want to highlight this excellent comment from a recent post in which I drifted into a bit of a rant:
IntrepidReader said...
"You ask some very good questions. Where DO you go to find the truth? It is surely not out there in social media land and if it is, it's pretty hard to discern. News networks are supposed to bring the truth, but what they really want is ratings. I thought the church I attend would lead me to it, but it is just as motivated by politics and money as everything else. Maybe the truth lies within us, in our hearts...maybe we know it we just have to look for it."

For the sake of concision I will not address social media at this moment. As for news networks and churches there are certainly many barriers to truth because truth will often conflict with the entity’s higher priorities including their own survival. They are also both prone to the reality that bias, like all forms of shit, flows downhill.

I promise to get back to you with a video clip in which a filthy-rich media mogul admits outright that when something is important enough to him he makes sure the message gets out via all [hundreds of] his media channels. So much for the independence of media myth.

What’s important to note is that media and religion are both examples of organizations and right there everything goes to hell: All organizations (including corporations, charities, political parties, governments etc.) are immediately a disaster because they are fundamentally corrupt in their very conception. Humans construct organizations as if the people who inhabit them will also inhabit the vision and principles of the organization themselves. Which is not true. They assume that policies and audits can enforce this, which they can’t.

The individual people who inhabit organizations are each loyal to their own individual instincts well above any loyalty to the organization, whether they know it or not. As such they are permanently attentive to their own personal best interests which include keeping the appearance that they are loyal to the organization. All the actions of an organization are derived from a sea of duplicity and rationalization. Most organizations do far more harm than good. And this does not even take into account the intentional masquerades which are consciously concocted in board rooms everywhere.

Organizations are like money launderers who clean up the reputations of their individuals through the scheme of organizational structure which is in essence a legalized escape from accountability and liability.

But on to better things!

Maybe the truth lies within us, in our hearts...maybe we know it we just have to look for it.
Ah… now this is gold!

A sincere search for truth invariably leads to the most corrupt forces we personally know. Poets will tell you; even Einstein would tell you: it is our own mind; the devilish super-power; the forces of instinct which spin the illusion of consciousness. This is the source of the fears, the vanity, the addictions, the infatuation with identity; all the things at odds with truth in our own experience. Yes we must look inward. Only through much inward searching and reflection can we begin to see the shadows of these covert operations. To become familiar with them is to become familiar, finally, with our own society beyond the veneer. Only then is the greater truth accessible.

As I’ve said here before. it took a lot of courage and solitude for me to find my way to this road, and I have yet to reach the end.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

I am deeply intrigued

Ninety minutes ago I scanned the Netflix menu and chose the documentary AlphaGo; an odd choice, because it didn’t immediately smack of a useful educational opportunity nor a good inspirational one. I chose it short-sightedly because it had something to do with board gaming apparently, which might be quite pleasurable, and having been very sick lately and thus, per my usual M-O, self-entitled, I felt I deserved a cheap entertainment.


I was in for a surprise.

It was a simple documentary put forth by the programmers of AlphaGo, an AI computer system designed to play the game Go which is ancient; the oldest continually-played board game on the planet and probably the most profound given the incredible simplicity of the dynamics versus the near-endlessness of the actual possibilities. The game, essentially impossible to master, is huge (as chess is to Russia) in places like China and Korea.

The AI team put their creation up against a human opponent who would later go on to win the European Go championship, and to the human professional’s tremendous shock, it defeated him five games to zero.

The machine team then arranged a battle against the reigning champion of the world, Lee Sedol of Korea. The match was massively publicized and densely covered by the press. It was seen as the most important test to date for the human mind to prove itself against the spectre of artificial intelligence. It should be mentioned that the common theory had been that AI was still about ten years away from becoming worthy of the best human opponents.

Sedol stated that he had played many games for himself and many for his country and now he felt that he was playing on behalf of humanity.

The results were interesting to say the least.

Sedol who assured all from the outset he would win five-zero, was immediately surprised by many of the computer’s moves, and the programmers, who gathered in a separate space watching many of the background computer processes on a myriad of monitors, were also often surprised. The program, after all, had been continuing to study and improve, daily, since the previous tournament. It becomes a new beast every day.

The machine won the first two games; a painful shock to all but the programmers. Sedol it seems, never once got into the groove of playing “his own game” but seemed always to be trying to crack the code of his digital opponent; to discover it’s weakness, and couldn’t.

In the pivotal match three of the five-match series (over the course of a week I’m guessing) Sedol became desperate and aggressive and lost worse than ever. The programmers, with victory assured, were happy for themselves and for the achievement, but seemed very sad at the same time, empathizing with their human opponent and his society, and perhaps with all humanity.

Game four: Now here’s where things get… sort of epic.

Having tournament defeat assured, Sedol became more relaxed. There was now less on the line. Meanwhile the computer perceived no concept of a tournament. Each match carried the same imperative: to win; simply… to win. And the game slowly turned against Lee Sedol yet again.  

Then AlphaGo played a tremendously “slack” move; a move that would appear “lazy” had a human played it. The experts, the commentators, the programmers, no one could figure out how the move could possibly be useful. The broadcasters literally doubled over in laughter. There was either a downright computer glitch or something was happening beyond the comprehension of the most qualified human intelligence present.

The tables turned and Sedol gained momentum. AlphaGo seemed not to be paying quite enough attention, allowing it’s winning margin to steadily shrink.

Sedol managed to win the game and to a joyous fanfare at the venue and in the streets, but he went on to lose the tournament four games to one.

There had been other somewhat slack moves by the machine and in the end what the programmers came to realize, was that the AI had a much different approach to winning then humans do in almost any sport or point-scoring competition: The AI gained no comfort from running up the score. It only needed to win by one point or more. It did not gauge it’s grasp on victory by how far ahead it got, but only by how much it felt assured of getting that one extra point by the end..

This is a fundamentally different dynamic. This is why people continually found it so hard to relate to the computer’s moves.

Here is where I get very intrigued:

The computer’s objective was only to survive and not to dominate.

This is profound.

Because humans, by my accounting, can never seem to grasp the difference. Academically, sure, but it doesn’t filter into our behavior. People don’t want to know how much a slave we are to survival instinct. It is not pleasant to contemplate. If I wanted to, I could study any number of people anywhere and postulate how in each and every case, every thing everyone is saying and doing is mapped to simple survival instinct and how their impressions of conscious control are illusions.

(If you know me in real life you must understand: I do not ever do this with my friends. I have no need or desire whatsoever to turn my friends inside out. I cherish them and they are pure to me.)

This is of critical relevance because survival instinct is not well named. Functionally it is domination instinct more than survival instinct because we have evolved no thermostat in essence, and as such, in the hands of humans, survival instinct ultimately works against survival. This is at the core of human duplicity. The ramifications are too immense to treat in this space. Domination instinct makes an opponent of all other life. And when we succeed at dominating all other life; the biosphere in essence, then we simultaneously destroy ourselves.

This is not a simple climate change analogy by the way. The threads of this phenomenon run everywhere, through everything we do.

The fact that the artificial intelligence, in this case, naturally chooses survival and not domination, and without its programmers even catching on except in hindsight, arouses exciting thoughts. Is there a chance that AI, rather then evolving into the Terminator scenario, may become our savior instead, guiding us toward a gentler mandate in all things? One can imagine many reasons why we would resist. I need not go into them immediately.

Here’s what’s really interesting though:

Lee Sedol, following this experience, went on to go undefeated in every single human vs human match for months! Sedol, as did others, learned to think differently about the game of Go, widening his approach to strategy.

AlphaGo did not change the game. It changed how humans now think about the game.

Might that perhaps be the ultimate role of artificial intelligence? Not something to fear but something that will teach humans how, finally, to think?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Well, this piece got away from me… as some do. Oh well. I post it intact:

The Liaison’s funeral was not a big one. His influence manifested mostly through the wires to many locales beyond Scooterville. But I think that both his family and co-workers may have been surprised by the extent of outreach from the writing community. More than a hundred writers sent words of comfort or even flowers (and we accounted for a good third of the attendance). I was proud of sick boy’s moving speech at the event which helped to crystallize this for everyone.

His boss was a very sweet man who spoke very kindly of him. I was grateful for this brief insight into the other side of the Liaison’s life and said so later to the fellow, on the lawn, as we shook hands, both failing to hold back tears entirely. We’re likely to meet for a drink at some point.

The brother also spoke, of their childhood struggles for one thing, and it was very sincere and moving.

Then the final speaker was a soulless troglodyte named Pastor F.U. or thereabouts, who had never met the Liaison once in his life but who felt empowered to condescend to us with the usual outrageous doublethink concerning atheism versus faith and the inane ass-backwards idea that belief provides meaning in life.

I tried not to walk out. I reminded myself that I was here for the prime purpose of supporting the Liaison’s family. I thought carefully; realized I could not in any good conscience give permission to this hijacking, got up and walked out and waited in the parking lot to take my assigned passengers to the cemetery. I hoped very much that I had not caused a scene in any way; that I made no one other than the troglodyte uncomfortable. I did not want this event to be about me and my principles. Dog Whisperer, despite being an employee of a church, came to find me afterwards and issued firm support. She wanted to follow me out but her seating was trapped in essence. So that was a comfort to hear.

It can be immensely sad to reflect on the apparently-growing collective human insanity. It is not only the swiftly-deteriorating economic and environmental systems which point to impending disaster. It is the realization that almost nobody among the privileged societies which steer the world has any regard for truth, but only the addiction to the clinging to falsehoods derived from cherry-picked factoids, peddled by the world’s grotesquely-untrustworthy horde of priests, politicians and corporate-sponsored mouthpieces: whichever ones happen to peddle the particular bullshit which is most flattering, convenient or profitable to the ultimately self-serving and self-righteous listener.

We created a society wherein there is no requirement, regard or reward for truth (except in the field of science which cannot function without it - and look how the field of science is routinely maligned by the above perpetrators), a society riddled with problems which will not be solved because problems are not solved without truth.

But truth is so buried. The internet is surely 99% rubbish. And we’re so busy chasing our unfortunate addictions there is no time for the average person to unearth truth. We need specialists devoted to it. I am trying to do just that I suppose, but society does not include this in the ledger of currency nor afford a framework for accountability.

Where oh where are the people who can summon the courage to just want the truth no matter what it is? No matter how unflattering, how inconvenient, how unprofitable it might be? Are you out there? You’re certainly not in the youtube comment section; I know that.

And if you exist, where do you turn to for real news? for real authority? Where are the leaders or other powerful voices who only want to report truth without personal interest? Probably the Buddha, probably the real Jesus of Nazareth prior to being exploited and misquoted and misunderstood. Einstein of course. Likely Eckhart Tolle. Likely that dude who wrote the Four Hour Work Week! Read Tolle by the way, for goodness sake.

I’m not going to be falsely humble. I am a devoted adept of truth on my good days and frankly, even on my mediocre days. I was a self-identified Catholic who denied my tribe when I learned it untrue. I gave up my position as a climate-change denier when the truth became all-too apparent. I walked away from my sports tribes when I learned of their delusion. I have largely given up many instinctive tribal mind comforts having learned of their treachery. I even gave up my self-image as a good person, prepared to accept that I was an evil person if that was where the pursuit of truth led me - which it did - for a while. Somehow (through very fortunate circumstance) I was afforded a certain brand of courage that I can see almost nowhere else.

I wish I knew how to tell my story. I wish that people would know what I know: that the reward for this kind of courage is utterly freeing and joyful and transformative; transcending even, and that the fears which contain you will be revealed illusion! Where are the champions of truth to lead us? I appear not to have what it takes, nor where to find such a congregation.