Unkown Blogger Pursues a Deranged Quest for Normalcy

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Of All The Souls

Posted by ubpdqn on February 28, 2015

Star Trek was an important influence on me. I looked forward to watching it every week during it’s original airing. A world in which a  black woman, an asian, a russian, a scotsman, a plain speaking country doctor and an alien worked harmoniously with their captain in a supportive and nurturing way for common noble purposes. This was a comforting vision of the future, particularly for a misfit with few evident redeeming features. It was Mr. Spock within this team, that I was particularly drawn to.  He applied his mind,…if I worked hard enough I could try to apply my mind and be a valuable member of society. Yet despite this his unshakable adherence to logic and rationality he was a loyal, a team player and a good friend. As Kirk observed: “of all the souls i’ve encountered in my travels his was the most human”.

I used to believe I worked in team reminiscent of the Enterprise crew and at times this idea sustained me. I was sadly and somewhat cruelly mistaken. My current experience of cold, friendless demolished team in no way diminishes the power and hopefully transformative aspiration of the Roddenberry vision and Spock as a central character of this vision of the future. As I mused in “Deathly Wisdom”, ‘it is necessary for us to continue to believe what is not true, in order that it may one day be true.’…it is too late for me but I have great faith in my children and great hope for their future progeny (should they be so blessed).

 

Thank you Leonard Nimoy for your skill and talent in all your endeavours and in particular as Mr. Spock.

May your soul “live long and prosper”, as your characters influence has for generations and I hope generations to come.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m No Andy

Posted by ubpdqn on February 22, 2015

The “Shawshank Redemption” is my favourite motion picture. I was extremely reticent to watch it when it was first released. However, once it started I was transfixed. This has never abated.   In the movie, Andy serves almost 20 years when the confluence of reaching breaking point and opportunity for freedom arise. It approaches 20 years (30 years if I count my years as a young slave) that I have been an inmate of “Chateau D’If” (my less than flattering but nonetheless accurate descriptor for my  indentured servitude).  Perhaps, this realization contributed to the uplifting effect of a recent screening.  I have long struggled with the “black dog”. However, more recently my despondency is more reflective of the increasing resemblance of my “jailers” to Warden Norton below. This marked Andy’s epiphany: Andy’s genius was that  he played the long game and strategically set up the pieces of the end game like a chess grand master.     Freedom…glorious freedom… I still find the flawless execution (as only can be contrived in fiction) exhilirating: I am no Andy, however.  I sadly am more like Brooks…institutionalized, irreversibly damaged and afraid of the real world: I yearn to be  like Red: but alas I have no friend, no Andy to illuminate the path to salvation or anticipating my release and journey to Zihuatanejo, no priest to inspire my as did Edmond Dantes, I am on the “Green Mile”… Peace to fellow invisible isolated inmates. May we “get busy living or get busy dying”. May we soar in our minds while our jailers rejoice.

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Better Angels of Our Nature

Posted by ubpdqn on January 29, 2015

baounThis was one of my first kindle purchases. This is an excellent book. It is long but , I believe, important exploration of the decline of  violence in deep and broad set of contexts.

The book explores multiple data sources in attempt to prove and quantify the decline in violence and looks from multiple viewpoints (historical, psychological and other social scientific viewpoints) with a view to explaining this decline. The importance of the “leviathan”, economic prosperity and mutual dependence, the feminine influence, empathy and most importantly reason. I found the “pacificists” dilemma a very useful device for explaining how these factors change the payoff matrix to encourage non-violent cooperation.

 

 

 

 

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Test

Posted by ubpdqn on August 25, 2014

ct

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Evanescence

Posted by ubpdqn on May 19, 2014

clouds

 

Clouds never cease to amaze me. The timescales of persistence the diverse variety of forms in such an unstable environment continues to seem remarkable to me.  A recent extremely windy day provided an opportunity to witness the longer term and more evanescent forms…

I have experienced what seems like years of unrelenting external stresses, with the recent political turmoils somewhat like an engagement in a new war I neither wished to participate in nor was equipped to fight…a peace treaty seems to have been reached by the powerful on both sides while we in the trenches are grateful for the quiet from cessation of intense shell fire from both sides.

Yet, in this “peace” the corrosive, painful and oppressive structural stresses are unrelieved…as a broken and weak soul I commit to taking no more. I have appealed for mercy…the oppressive load has been lifted and whatever happens next I know I have spoken the truth, I have acted not for myself, I have shed the fair weather acquaintances and other pseudo-friends and stand with my conscience intact and with the soothing and strong love of my family…the only love that counts…an authentic frequently painful but always transformative.

I have experienced a measure of peace for the first time in years and for however long it lasts I am grateful…forgiveness…hmm well that is another matter. “The Railway Man” and “Philomena” are two movies which both have major themes of forgiveness. In “The Railway Man”, Eric Lomax is ultimately able to forgive his Japanese torturer when he sees his torturer’s humanity and the suffering and sorrow his torturer experienced in the years since the tragic events. In the case of “Philomena”, the Catholic church representatives were recalcitrant and unmoved by Philomena’s plight or her petitions and rendered no apology. Philomena’s forgiveness emerged from her own nature and strength of character and abiding faith. Both Eric Lomax and Philomena Lee felt compelled to publicly express their stories and journey.  I do not have Philomena’s strength or virtue  but the institution is no less paradoxical in having the form of benevolence but having incontrovertibly acted malevolently upon me…yes forgiveness is just a word but peace is very much welcome…and it is not the product of any benevolence from persons and institutions…

 

 

 

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Urbes constituit aetas, hora dissolvit

Posted by ubpdqn on March 7, 2014

The latin phrase seems apt for recent times. It has taken some time and effort to return to some equilibrium within a complex work place. This has been under-pinned by a resolute commitment to the honesty, integrity and many times nobility of the team environment (despite pernicious effects of increasingly complex interactions of personalities).

This slow but progressive resolve has been increasingly stressed and begins to erode in the face of totalitarian behaviour of the  current government.  The next few months will push people to the edge of a phase transition. I hope we all survive unscathed.

We are all at the banks of the Rubicon. “Alea lacta est”, we will shout (the die is cast)…it has been so difficult to discern the truth, intent and course of current negotiations. There is escalating rhetoric. The tempest is furious, the vortex accelerating…hold fast some of us may still be left but will have the energy to rebuild what has taken years to build but hours to destroy…

 

 

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The Seven Daughters of Eve

Posted by ubpdqn on September 16, 2013

Originally posted on Unknown Blogger Mathematica:

 

I received this book as a gift. I enjoyed it.  The author gives a personal account of his deep and continuous involvement in the development  of methodology to extract, analyse and interpret mitochondrial DNA. We inherit our mitochondrial DNA from our mother.  This tool is applied to understand our genetic ancestry.

The author explains the reliable, stable and reproducible nature of mitochondrial DNA. The collaborative and adversarial/argumentative nature of scientific progress. Mitochondrial DNA analysis stood the intense scrutiny and served as valuable insight. Ultimately, through a journey including exploration of the Last Tsar of Russia, the Pacific Islands, Cheddar Man the author weaves together a complex story of the genetic network/lineage of Europe and forays into the connecting the world.

The majority (95%) modern Europeans have descending from seven clan mothers. Mitochondrial DNA can be used as a molecular clock to determine the age of these ancestors. The author…

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Introduction to Biological Physics

Posted by ubpdqn on August 6, 2013

Originally posted on Unknown Blogger Mathematica:

This book is targeted to Health Sciences. It is clearly written. It covers a broad range of topics. It is committed (nicely) to the use of SI units and has many worked examples. The depth is relatively shallow but it is a good introduction, The book  presents important quantification and simplifies the mathematics to algebra (no explicit calculus) from classical physics.

The authors chapter on MRI was covered in more detail and was well written. One omission in the section on Safety was the interaction with implantable electronic devices: device malfunction, induced currents in orphan leads etc.

 

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Dynamical Systems with Applications using Mathematica

Posted by ubpdqn on July 22, 2013

Originally posted on Unknown Blogger Mathematica:

 

This is a very useful book. The emphasis is on understanding concepts using visualization provided by Mathematica.

I found the second half of the book difficult. This reflects my inexperience. However, it was interesting, particularly the discussion and explorations related to neural networks.

The exercises have answers at the end of the book and I look forward to accessing the notebooks referred to in the text. The book precedes version 9 but the code updating seems relatively straightforward.

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Adapt or Die

Posted by ubpdqn on June 26, 2013

The times they are a changing indeed. Neurochemistry, time and the most precious family support (my sole unwaivering allies) are working to restore and perhaps improve my outlook. I recently experienced a spike in mood, almost elation (something I had not experienced for years). Spike have rapid declines as well as steep upstrokes and this was no exception. However, the moments of clarity and focus allowed the accumulation of some optimism, resilience perhaps.

Homo sapiens emergence, still a blip on the earth’s timescale (order of 10-4), heralded the extinction of the hardy and still longer timespan neandert(h)als more than 25000 years ago. The convergence of climatic change and loss of competitive advantage appear to have precipitated this erasure (genetic data suggesting little evidence for interbreeding). The neandertals were strong, but inflexible and less adaptive than homo sapiens. They were efficient hunters but used closed range limited scope and high risk weapons. They did not modify them. They were carnivores and there is no evidence they changed their diet, despite environmental circumstances changing. In contrast, homo sapiens showed adaptive behaviours: progressive refinement of tools, collective strategies for food gathering, diversification of diet. There was a major negative population pressure (bottleneck explaining the much more limited genetic variant relative to our simian relatives) but homo sapiens endured and neandertals did not. Almost certainly random factors and other factors were important influences and this reductionist story has limitations. However, adapt or die seems to be a simple inference to contemplate.

I am, sadly, in many ways more neandertal-like, than I care to acknowledge. The climate has changed and my pattern of responses have been narrow. However, I have sensed that the social milieu (in my case solely my family), neurochemical changes and perhaps internal capacity for more adaptation give me hope.

I never watched sport as a child or a young adult. This has changed. The video is symbolic of the joy of the unexpected.


This tree has shed its leaves…it is bare but stands defiantly waiting for warmer times…and so do I.
Peace to all.

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