Journal 2021-08-01

It is possible to define much that is essential to humanity’s flourishing with an inverse reading of this passage in Orwell’s 1984:

“There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

Podcast #7

jabberwocky

– By lewis carroll
A Little Bit of Drama

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Journal 2021-07-10

Confirmation bias afflicts even the most objective thinkers. I am generally sceptical that people, especially in our current febrile state, have the wise nuanced answers to the big questions of society, philosophy and the human condition. I think we are usually wrong, despite the confidence and self-certainty of the protagonists, wrapped-up in self-constructed “isms” and other ideological belief identities in which to force life. But things always change. We are improving. It is better to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t know who I am” and experience where reality turns on the journey.

Ballads

Beneath a mountain of tedium

In a dull ugly system

In an empty ocean of shadows

Is a silhouette of pure fire heat

Drifting in the dark

All I wanted was the wind

The wind murmured with anticipation

The grass turned to icy grey

A fine mist fell

And with the mist came my sorrow

Cooling my body

With her thousand kisses

Leaving me there

I am surrounded by ice crystals

floating down through silence

into soft glowing snow.

The only sound is the pulse of my breathing.

As the sun sleeps,

how many hearts are dreaming,

when the world stands still.

Smart Money

I play with music, art, and drama. My life’s work has been the democratisation of financial services.

The aim is for smart money help available to everyone.

Smart rules enable optimisations and automation of a person’s finances, all in one place from a single app – including saving, borrowing, payments, investments, and trading.

The community aspect enables sharing and performance measurements of the best Smart rules.

Approval Addiction

If you are indifferent to others’ opinions about you:

You don’t need to pretend or hide anything;

You don’t need to worry about impressions or what was said;

You don’t need to be conform to rigid or mistuned expectations;

You don’t need to be offended or hurt by words;

There is no need to show-off and chase false, empty priorities;

You break the addiction to the approval of others;

You break free from inhibitions;

You have freedom to be who you are.

Podcast #6

Dawn

– By Bobby Walker
A Little Bit of Drama

Dead shadows dance in the night

yearning for the dawn. 

Cold and forgotten walking scars,

drained by decay,

wasted by time,

stretch out,

hungered and blurred,

to a spark ignited,

climbing,

rising from the ground. 

From the dark depths,

rays of hope entwine in the sky,

kissing the hills;

breathing new life

and wonders layered in light. 

Naked with joy, a new day, a new world is born.

Journal 2021-02-28

I remember as a young kid once being reprimanded by a stranger in a shop because I said that I didn’t like some latest fad with clothes (bizarrely at the time there was a short-lived fashion of wearing patches of cartoon pictures on denim). The explanation given was that it is popular, so I am wrong for not liking it too. The fashion changed a few months later and no doubt she changed to what she was supposed to like – to behave how she was supposed to behave and to insist on others behaving that way too.

A Different Story

What would have happened if Gandalf had accepted Frodo’s offer of the One Ring?

Gandalf freezes, the shadow of the ring draws his hand nearer; and as the fire skips a beat, the ring falls into Gandalf’s pocket. “I shall keep the ring safe and unused. However if there is just cause to use it, I shall become the guarantor of peace”, announces Gandalf solemnly.

As night draws in, Gandalf looks back over the hills at the tiny flickering lights of the Shire. The Wizard whispers to himself: “There is much to do. Much to do.” He notices the weight of his robes and the precious Ring within.

Gandalf wanders, ruminating intensely upon the weaknesses of Elves and Men. He reasons that Elves are incapable of comprehending the true power of the Ring, and would foolishly wish to destroy the golden future of Middle-earth. He knows that mere Men are too easily corrupted by its power. Gandalf is absolutely resolved: he must keep the Master Ring his own secret, at all costs.

Gandalf sits on the crest of Weathertop. The days pass, the rain falls but Gandalf does not notice; he is lost in matters of deepest consequence. Then out of every corner of the darkness come the cries of The Nine: “The Ring. The Ring!”. Gandalf raises his staff and proclaims: “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor, your master, the Lord of the Ring!”. “The Ring. The Ring!”, chant The Nine. As the Ring slides onto Gandalf’s finger, the sky erupts with lightning. “I am the bringer of light”, exclaims Gandalf in triumph.

Gandalf of Many Colours imprisons Saruman the Traitor and unifies Elves and Men against Sauron, destroying the Dark Lord and his Dark Tower of Mordor. Much rejoicing is had by all. Gandalf announces that there is much more to do – to the consternation of Aragorn, who is executed for treason; with all his followers, kinsfolk and other suspected spies of Elrond.

Gandalf later wears an imperial gown of black and proclaims himself the Lord High God of all Middle-earth. He anoints his Ringwraiths Lords of Middle-earth, as a temporary edict to ensure order while the new Great Age of Wisdom is being forged. He puts his vast prison camps of heretics and traitors to work, building a bigger more magnificent tower on the ruins of the Dark Tower, called The Great Tower of Unity – as a example of beauty and perfection to all. Gandalf sits at the top of the tower in his golden throne room and ever-watches, ensuring his subjects are forever obeying his great will.

Gandalf is regularly overcome with anger at the disloyalty and ingratitude of his subjects, which necessitates public demonstrations of his great power, much to the amusement of the Uruk-hai. Transgressors of the laws of Gandalf are sent to Mordor to learn more of The Way of Gandalf – they are not seen again.

One day, as the Lord High God of all Middle-earth is amusing himself with the antics of his Hobbit court jesters, he sips from a chalice of poisoned wine carefully prepared by his servant Grima Wormtongue; he takes his last gasp as the Ring slips from his withered finger on to the finger of his murderer. The Great Tower of Unity is renamed The Dark Tower.

But Gandalf had foreseen and refused this fate, placing his hope instead on the unnoticed deeds of Hobbits. “Will you not take the Ring?”, says Frodo. “No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me!”

Speed Barriers

Galaxies are micro specks in the universe, yet the nearest galaxy to Earth is tens of thousands of light years away. This should make the ego feel silly, and the heart in awe at the unimaginable immensity of it all.

There are five stages in the human expansion story:

Intercontinental;

Interplanetary;

Interstellar;

Intergalactic;

Interuniversal?

Physically visiting a planet at the intergalactic stage might be entirely irrelevant to any intelligent species that evolves to such a level to circumvent the speed of light – they may discover something fundamental to the nature of the universe that is completely incomprehensible to us, in our rudimentary stage of development.

Journal 2021-02-07

Where would I live if I could live anywhere? I am British, I owe my freedoms and opportunities in life to this country and I would never give-up British citizenship; however, if I could live anywhere in the world, would I choose here? I think, yes, but only for the summer months. London is a magnificent city steeped in multifaceted layers of history, a true world hub for almost any interest or activity; the countryside and coasts can be beautiful, relaxing and even inspiring when in the mood – but it is undoubtedly the months of perpetual darkness and dreariness that dampen its desirability. I like sunlight and sea; rivers and lakes; mountains and forests, with access to community and civilisation. I am not partial to extremes of hot and cold, or lawlessness and iniquity – or wild-fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. I think I will explore northeast Florida with my fantasy checklist when life eventually becomes more normal.

Journal 2021-01-17

Job: employed at a financial markets brokerage firm.

Side-project: writing an algorithmic trading terminal. This may sound like a huge project but I have actually already written all the back-end code – it’s just a case of placing a GUI on top. I will gradually iterate to a stand-alone FinTech App for people to optimise and automate their finances.

Music: recording a cappella versions of powerful old songs. Also putting lyrics to classical music then singing a cappella.

Filming: have added some poems to the list of scenes I am shooting.

First To 8

First To 8 is played on the same 8 by 8 standard board used for Chess or Checkers.

The aim of the game is to be the first player to get 8 pieces to the other side of the board.

It is arguably at a level of strategy difficulty between Checkers (the easiest) and Chess (the hardest).

Both players have 24 regular pieces, one player has one colour and the other player another colour.

Each player places their pieces on all the squares of the first three rows nearest to them.

The players decide who has the first move of the game. Each player then takes turns to move one of their pieces.

Any piece can move to 1 of 3 different squares if available: Forwards Diagonal Left, Forwards Vertically, or Forwards Diagonal Right.

“Forwards” is moving towards the opponent’s side of the board.

A movement is completed when the player removes their hand from the piece.

Only one piece can occupy any square of the board.

If before moving, a player’s piece is Diagonally Forwards adjacent to an opponent’s piece and there is an empty square in the same direction behind the opponent’s piece, the player’s piece must move to the empty square and remove the opponent’s piece from the board.

If after taking, there is a new opportunity to “take”, then the player must take again in the same move until no longer applicable – this is known as a “multi-take” and can take up to 3 of the opponent’s pieces.

A player can not take Vertically Forwards.

The player must take if the taking opportunity is noticed by the opponent.

If there is more than one opportunity to take then the player has the option to choose which piece to use for the taking move.

The other side of the board is the first row of squares nearest to the opponent.

A piece can not move when it has reached the other side of the board.

The end of the game is when one player has a piece on all 8 squares of the other side of the board – they are the First to 8 – or the end of the game is when one player can no longer move.

The winner is the player at the end of the game with the most pieces on the other side of the board.

The differences with Checkers are:

  • The aim is to move quickly to the the other side of the board – not like in Checkers which is to take all the opponent’s pieces.
  • Pieces can move vertically forwards as well as diagonally forwards.
  • Pieces can move on both square colours.
  • There are 24 pieces per player instead of 12.
  • A piece can not move when it has reached the other side of the board – there are no Kings like in Checkers.

All these differences require the players to adopt different tactics from Checkers.

Have a go and find out.

New Year

I intend to make some interesting videos and films next year with my own green screen studio. With filmmaking I can write and perform the music and songs; write the screenplays; perform as an actor; and design the visual art and cinematography. Technology is continuously providing new amazing tools to play with, so the future seems very exciting creatively!