Equality Vs Freedom

A few weeks ago I read Isonomia, about the Ancient Greek notion of Isonomia and its relationship to democracy.  It is a fantastic book.  Aside from the discussion of political philosophy and history there is also a  little metaphysical discussion on matter and motion.

However, I think this tug between equality and freedom is interesting to think about. We can all be equal, like in a communist society, but our freedom is restricted. Or we can be (relatively) free, as in a capitalist society, but there is lots of inequality.

I am enjoying thinking of this dichotomy. The question is, is this a false dichotomy. If we are thinking equality-freedom can we also think of three terms equalty-x-freedom. What is the x?  What is that third pole? I am not sure, but there must be one? Maybe technicity?

Gym Classes

This morning I went to a spin class, which caused me to meditate on gym classes and workouts in general.

I used to love going to gym classes. One of the first things I did when I was young with a corporate job, was to join Crunch (I think membership was covered by my company). Over the years I would do yoga classes, kung fu classes, I even took kick boxing classes in hong kong – what a work out.   My favorite class is bikram LES yoga.  For me it is the best class because every time I get out I am very happy that I have survived and I am too exhausted to do anything but live in the moment.

When I started having kids, I really had no time to do classes any more. This was a difficult transition for me.  It seemed I had not really exercised unless I was in a class – unless other people saw me and I was instructed my an expert.

This is all totally absurd, but it is how I felt at the time.

Instead I started working out on my own. First situps/pushups/jumping jacks- think 10 minute workout. Then I decided I would try to do tai chi, but I forgot all the moves so I too a ba gua class and now I do ba gua circle walking and basic ba gua/qi gong exercises in the morning. I love this routine and now the idea of going to a class is odious.

This morning I went to spin with my Mom.  My parents are spin fanatics – they go every single morning.  Spin is an incredible work out, but I feel like I am undergoing some sort of mind control experiment. The music reminds me of a night club, and the spin instructor shouting inspiration and affirmations is something like a shaman or a guru. There are new spin bikes, but I miss the old ones.  They looked like a physical computing experiment, with wires and raspberry pis hanging precariously off the bikes.

I always had a fantasy that there would be a network hack of all the raspberry pis and my spin class would be  ground zero of skynet.  This also would make a great sci fi book / movie-  David Cronenberg if you are reading this.  In the meantime, if in the middle of the spin class the instructor tells you to do something new world order like – please RESIST!

Culture and Code

When I was a young programmer I worked with people from many different countries: Russia, China, India, Brazil, Africa. Of the the things that I would think of, was that all the code was in english.  Even though we would write, C++ or Java, or Perl (this was the early 00s), they were really derivative of english. A conditional in programming languages, uses the English words IF.. Then.. Else, even if case of Ruby, which was created in Japan.

I would think about this, what would a programming language look like in French, would there be a tense ending for conditionals instead of  if.. then … else.   What about a Latin programming language, would there be different kind of loops to refer to different types of time spans ? A future perfect loop, a perfect loop, an imperfect loop. What does a programming language look  like if it was built with the Japanese katakana syllabary?

This morning I ran across bato, it is a programming language written in Filipino. I dont read Filipino but this is an example of an if – then else statement:

kapag 1 > 0
  iprint "Kumusta mundo!"
  iprint "Mayroong sira"

Would love to see more experiments like this in the future.

Dream Journal

I have kept a journal for years. But in the past two years, maybe two and a half years, I have written every morning.  I don’t have any sort of guide, I write whatever I feel like. If I have a dream though, then I record my dream. I don’t interpret it. I just record it.

Someone today said that a dream journal is like a record of your unconscious. There is something beautiful and poetic about that statement. I am just meditating on it.

One of my sons wakes up everyday and tells me his dream, I feel like now I should record these dreams so that he has a record of his own unconscious -from before he could even read and write.

Above is an image from Jung’s Red Book, it was his record of his experiments with visualizations and journeying. They were more than a written record, but included painting and calligraphy, as you can see above.

I think about my own journal, and what it would take to turn it into a work of art like this. I feel like it could easily get mired in scrapbooking or mundane events.  To me, the red book is great art, to which a scrapbook or even an artist notebook. What makes that distinction? I do not know but I hope my dreams are worthy of my own red book, and that I could rise to the challenge of creation.


My Brilliant Friend

I am about 5 years behind the literary trends. This is somewhat intentional. I figure if a novel is worth the hype people will be still talking about it in 5 years. This is really not true, there are some terrible novels that people talk about for 20 years. But I want to keep up with the literary trends somewhat, so 5 years seems ok.

In my attempt to read more fiction, I picked up My Brilliant Friend, which in my mind keeps changing to a zombie mashup called My Brilliant Fiend.   Lian started it a few years ago and only made it 80 pages. He wanted more environmental description.

For me, too much description is a deterrent.  There are so many novels that I find overwrought with environmental description I feel claustrophobic.

My Brilliant Friend, meanwhile  is very much about the impressions and perceptions of the main character – (I am not that far in the novel so this may change). I am fine with that. I imagine the classroom, the streets, in my minds eye. The ambiance of the main character’s emotional perception of events creates the milieu for me.   Maybe there are two kinds of readers, ones that like environmental description, and ones that like inner consciousness descriptions.

The conceit of the novel is good, she is recreating the life of her lost friend who disappeared. It is a mystery without being a who done it/police procedural.  Something about the novel reminds me of Confessions of Zeno but that may be all in my head.

Meditations on Mushrooms

Image result for mushrooms

One of my new years resolution is to garden. This is difficult because I live in an apartment without a balcony.  However, there are lots of solutions I have explored such as  soil boxes,  hydroponic setups, and kits.  I would like to explore hydroponic on day, all the electronics speak to my inner geek and I feel like I could do some crazy raspberry pi project.  For now I am going to start with kits.

For years I have wanted to grow mushrooms, I have been fascinated  with mycology and mycelium ever since I read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  For some reason, I thought Pollan wrote that mushrooms have no calories since they dont use sunlight to grow.  This blew my mind.  I subsequently learned that this is not true –  but mushrooms still amaze me.

I went on to binge read everything I could on mushrooms, their relation to nutrition, consciousness, and cleaning up pollution.  I was especially drawn to the work of Paul Stamets.  I wanted to go mushroom hunting. I tried to convince my collaborator Paul to do a mushroom documentary. I fantasized about growing mushrooms.  I have crazy oversized tombs scattered across my apartment along with ancient titles that look like sci fi books.

Since I am a tad neurotic I was afraid I would some how poison myself eating a mushroom that I grew or found. This has stalled my mushroom development.  Today, though I took the plunge and I’m going to use a mushroom kit to grow some mushrooms with my kids. With endorsements from Oprah and Martha Stewart, I feel I am in good hands.  After that maybe I will try some basil in  a box or something…. Baby Steps.

Baba Vanga

This is Baba Vanga, the Bulgarian Nostradamus.

I did not know about this. But apparently there was a woman, Baba Vanga, who has been predicting all kinds of stuff.  When I hear Baba Venga I think of another Baba

Yep – Baba Yaga, the old witch of Slavic legend.

Instead of focusing on predictions and the supernatural, lets think about old women, I hope to become one, one day.  And the knowledge and power that is embodied within the old woman.

Who needs the hero’s journey?? Lets have the Baba’s journey!