July, 2015

Jul 15

“Atomic origami turns graphene sheets into nano machines” (is poetry to me)


turns graphene
its folds are
what it does
what it it means;
is a lattice
of carbon atoms
that’s as thin
(just as thin)
as anything
can be (as anything can be!)
yet also strong,
flexible and
very, very…
…how very, very
It is to me.


Jul 15

A Story with a Happy Ending

Once upon a time there was a storyteller who made his living telling stories as he traveled about the land, starting each one with “once upon a time”. He grew tired of his own stories–even the new ones, since they were always to the formula preferred by the crowds, and never quite new, and one day decided to invent one that seemed more classically tragic and highflown. He told his usual story up to a point: of a young, very good prince, hiding from usurpers, in this case traveling with a kindly mountebank who sold snake oil and the like; as usual villains in the crowd recognized the young prince, and besought their master, King Climp, the Prince’s uncle, who bade them waylay the prince and quietly kill him.

The storyteller’s listeners grew round eyed and rapt, as he went on. The villains captured the young prince, and took him to the river to drown him; here, in the story, is normally where the prince tricked the villainous henchmen with a tale of a secret potion that could turn stone into gold. He told the story, they agreed to release him if he showed them the trick, and he used a sleight of hand that substituted a painted gold rock for a river rock. Thinking they no longer needed the evil King, they rode off–and the young prince encountered a girl, and it was love at first sight. Whereupon the evil King rode up, to check on his feckless henchmen. At this point the girl usually tricked the king–so that the Prince captured the false sovereign and was able to take his place. However, this time, in the new version, King Climp turned to the girl and said, “You have done well, Ariadne. You have delayed him. I knew those bumpkins would fail me.” The girl threw him a kiss–and laughed at the prince. The prince in a fury stabbed her…but as she died she revealed that she had been about to kill the King so she and the prince could be together. Weeping, the Prince bent over her–and was stabbed in the back by the wicked false King. The End.

The storyteller halted his tale. The listeners were silent, gape mouthed. Then they howled and mobbed him, tying him up and carrying him off to a hilltop. There they put a rope, dangling from a tree, tightly round his neck, and set him on a horse, crying out, “How dare you harm the good prince! How dare you break our hearts with this black tale!”

“But wait!” the storyteller cried out desperately. “That wasn’t the end! For the Prince was not dead…nor was the girl! The Prince…ah…let me see…he, ah, crawled away, and just as the King was to finish him off, the girl, who was wounded but also not dead, tripped the evil one…so that he fell…upon the Prince’s knife! They both survived and reigned as the kindest king and queen in all the land!”

The storyteller’s listeners clapped enthusiastically, startling the horse, so that it ran away. The crowd watched in astonishment as the now-dangling storyteller choked in the noose. Two of them tried to climb up and cut him loose but it was too late.

“Well,” said the town’s mayor, as they all turned away, “at least the story had a happy ending.”

Jul 15

Why Does Time Seem to Go Faster as We Age?

Why does time seem to pass more rapidly as we age? Seem is the operative word, and the passage of “time” is indeed subjective up to a point. The phenomena of events unfolding, and folding; the “arrow” of time–the movement toward relative order and entropy, complexity and disorder–essentially the observable rate of changes, adds up to the appearance of the flow of so-called time. The apparent flow of time (as such) is a summary, a kind of consensus of perception we share with others who have similar cerebral and perceptual activity.

The young perceive with more attention, without trying, if they’re doing something they enjoy. As we age our capacity for that kind of open attention erodes unless we work to restore it…Perception–most obviously eyesight–actually takes place at a rate–this rate, that rate, another rate. But always at some rate. It’s just that we don’t notice our perceptual rate, for the same reason we don’t see our own eyes (without a mirror). Our usual rate of perception is simply innate to us…however there is a spectrum, a margin, of possible modification.

I can *see faster* if I exert my attention. I find that if I locate my attention itself, then I root my attention in the present moment, and quiet my associations as best I can, then simply perceive, time slows down while I maintain this state. This slowing is a subjective perception in one respect, since objectively events are unfolding at the whatever speed is natural to them–but in another way, time *has* slowed for me since I’m aware of more of it. The brain is taking pictures and stringing them together, more rapidly than we’re aware of. Normally we’re getting fewer “frames per second”, so it all seems to go by faster, like the major events of a day whipped by on flash cards. For neurological reasons, reasons of entrenched habit, and the psychology of aging, time seems faster as there’s less information processed. Adding more “frames”, more beats of perception, means more information to process which takes “more time”, so to speak. Events move more slowly–though not tediously. (People sometime note the same effect with some mind altering drugs though in my opinion it’s not as beneficial a means for slowing time, over all, since it doesn’t enhance our control of attention).

When we get older, we work more and more on autopilot; our cognition gets weathered, and we generally tend to take less in. So since we’re skipping intervals, time seems to “speed up”. If we move against this process by activating attention, time seems to slow down. It becomes, at least, richer and fuller–more the way it effortlessly was…when we were young.

People have been talking about the apparent speeding of time for the elderly so glib people, and perhaps some neurological theorists, have tried to come up with an explanation, and they’ve given us the tortured one about relativity based on time used and remaining, but it doesn’t explain the alteration of the passage of time with the enhancement of attention…And they’re just wrong, those people. Suppose your car starts spinning out of control on a freeway–this happened to me, and luckily cars flashed by me and I wasn’t hit and I ended harmlessly in the margin…and time slowed down for me. Everyone has had this experience. So how does the graph and the relativity and time-remaining thing explain that? How does it apply? It doesn’t. The one thing that explains it is that perception of events increases, temporarily, in such a case, which apparently slows time …only, time is an illusion of existential, environmental, and internal activity. An objective view of this activity working out is the fourth dimension. We incorporate bits of the fourth dimension, I suspect, when we stretch our attention to take in more “frames per second”.

Jul 15


Finally saw EX MACHINA. Alex Garland, who wrote and directed this (the first film he’s directed) also wrote the very under-rated DREDD, and SUNSHINE, and 28 DAYS LATER (certainly one of the best zombie films ever), and several novels and is generally a very bright talented guy. I think I remember that at least one reviewer of EX MACHINA described it as “intellectual”. Most movie reviewers wouldn’t know intellectual if it bit them in the ass. But it’s a smart movie, and very effective. A sign of an effective, meaningful movie is that you think about it afterwards, and I’m still thinking about it, on and off, a couple hours later.

EX MACHINA, a movie about artificial intelligence, the survival instinct, seduction, male/female relationships, and much that is sinister, inevitably reminds us, thematically, of BLADERUNNER and it also seems an homage –more than Spielberg’s “A.I.”–to Kubrick …that is, the shots, certain ideas, but mostly the film making, is very Kubrickian, and not accidentally I’m sure. It’s seamless film making and, while some bits –maybe much of it–are predictable, well…I can’t say more…but it works out…The film is not without its imperfections but it’s a very, very strong science fiction film, one of the best. All the actors are very good indeed…but it’s the film-making that impresses.

Happily lacking in big stars, EX MACHINA was not terribly expensive, compared to some, and it made a handy profit. I don’t think it should have a sequel but, commercially speaking, it *could* have, given the story and the relative success…

Jul 15

On the Mass Murder Channel–Coming This Weekend!

THIS WEEKEND ON…THE MASS MURDER CHANNEL! Mass shootings, mass knifings, mad bombers–we have them all day, all week, 365 days a year! Now that is coverage!!

…The MMC presents an interview with the DC Sniper himself! “Deek Snipes” as the fans call him will talk planning strategy! (Interview conducted before his execution.)

And…Is the Louisiana theater shooter small change–just three kills?–or was he a talented beginner with bad luck? Our MMC panel discusses!

Let’s get coldly analytical on our Saturday Midnight Massacre as we review and compare the Aurora and Sandy Hook killings–is the choice of weapons really so important? Contrast their gear, and text us your opinion!

On the Sunday Strafe we take along cool look through our telescopic sights at the mass murders in other countries. There aren’t many! Is gun control to blame?!

MMC–the channel that loves the 21st century, and is ready to take it from our studio right to your sofa, camera lenses ablazing!

[Or, you could just watch CNN]

Jul 15

Is ANT-MAN’s Shrinking POSSIBLE? Why…NO! However…

…Friends and I were discussing how the super shrinking in ANT-MAN and THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN and THE ATOM…could be rationalized. How it could be possible. Well, it’s NOT possible BUT…

If I was writing the script I’d use one of three dodges I can think of to make it seem possible–eg, the Incredible Shrinking Man, Antman etc, have some of their mass “projected into the fourth dimension” –it still is attached to them in a way however–and I stole that from Isaac Asimov, who used it in Fantastic Voyage novelization. OR I would point out that there is *said* to be way more space in atoms than substance, and therefore you can do a lot of theoretical compression if you can control the interaction of compressed subatomic particles…OR…

One can use the ever popular “quantum universe” dodge, suggesting, for example, that problematic particles are projected to a “spooky action at a distance” detachment, for example, and other “quantum physics as magic” kind of talk. NONE of this would convince me that it’s really possible, but it would aid in suspension of disbelief. But they don’t hire guys like me for stuff like this, because they prefer you say it’s possible because of Pym Particles or something and leave it at that.

Jul 15

Duality Looks At Us

Faces are divided into two equal halves; symmetry of eyes on each side of the nose, of cheeks, matching opposite halves of mouths: with people, with animals, insects. Plants are symmetrical too, for the most part. . .We see this mirroring in organisms, notice it now and again, don’t think about it much. But…

It seems so expressive, like an artful depiction of nature’s inner essence; as it it’s the appearance taken by the projection of life out of the universe where everything is an iteration of duality.

Action, reaction, a third thing that emerges from those two, which in turn becomes an action, generating a reaction. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. One eye, two eyes, face. And, in the old myth symbols, a third eye is placed between the two.

Hands clap and sound emerges; a face comes roughly together in two halves (even in Quasimodo, despite some asymmetry), in our perception, and it can seem as if there’s an emanation from between the two halves. Certainly in the “faces” of blossoms, something emanates. Duality looks at us from–everywhere.