Notes From Saturday Night

So I was with the Usual Gang at a wedding reception and we were trying to decide which male character, out of all of Fantasy Literature, in any media, was the most ‘bad-ass’. Science fiction and superheroes needed not apply. It couldn’t be just strength — personality and ability counted equally. Ultimately it came down to which character would do ‘whatever it took’ to win in situation X. We had to decide, finally, that it was the character that passed the ‘Kidmail Test’.

Huh?

The Kidmail test is as follows: Say Mr Bad Guy has sewed several small children together, alive, to make himself some armor. In order to vanquish Mr. Bad Guy, would Mr. Good Guy be willing to hack through that Kidmail? Upon that question lay the answer to Who Is the Most Bad-Ass Male Fantasy Character.

We finally went with Raistlin. Gandalf , we felt, would not willing hack through children in order to get The Bad Guy. Raistlin might make it a requirement. Also in the running were Elric , Richard Cypher , and Pug/Milamber .

Science Fiction characters will have to wait for another day, as will Comic Book characters. However!!! If you have ever wondered who would win a fight between, say, Moses and Yoda, or a Borg Cube and the Death Star, or even Steve Irwin and Godzilla, check out Electric Ferret’s Comic Book Universe Fight Pages . Comic books and oh, so much more.

Raven Hill, A Novel About Kung Fu

I have studied martial arts for 13 years; two bouncing around from school to school, and the last eleven as a student of Master Lee, Hoa Yen. Having studied one style for so long, I sometimes lose track of what else is out there, so now and then I will spend a few hours surfing, seeing what Google has to say about the state of the Martial Arts in America.

While surfing yesterday I rediscovered Raven Hill , a site which I first came across a couple of years ago. Back then, it was just a link to a story. Now it is a full-blown martial arts website, put together by someone who wields at least a little mojo.

I was delighted to find that the original story is still up, and has been added to significantly. Basically one of the students of this school sat down and wrote a historical/fantasy novel about a group of 17 young men who go off on their own to learn 17 different styles of kung fu, then from what they learn create a new style. Someone put a great deal of time and thought into these stories. The writing is decent; not Pulitzer material but better than most anything you will find on the New York Times rack at the local McBookstore. Where these stories truly shine is in the descriptions of the training these young men go through in the course of learning their kung fu. As a serious martial artist myself I can say that the methods used in the stories make good sense, and to utilize them for eight, ten, fourteen hours a day, as the characters do, would indeed create martial artists of the highest calibre.

So if you feel like being inspired to practice hard, read these stories. The first, Chu Jeng, can be accessed from the link above. The rest can be found linked to the resource page of the Raven Hill site.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go stand in horse stance for a few hours.

I Am Armed

Spent several hours on Sunday down at the Silver Leaf Renaissance Faire. I couldn’t bear the thought of dressing up in Renaissance Garbe this year so I did the tourist thing, armed with camera and money, and just wandered around staring at the sights. Just before I left I made an impulse purchase:

The axe was made by Christian Michaels Arms and Armour , makers of beautiful, high quality, expensive weapons.

In other news I went bowling for the first time in seven years (bachelor party) and discovered a disturbing event called “extreme bowling”.

In an effort to make bowling interesting to the younger generations it has been combined with a techno club atmosphere to make for an environment conducive to neither bowling nor dancing.

Picture, if you will, a bowling alley. Turn off the overhead lights. Turn on blinking runner lights along the lanes. Then turn on blacklights so the silly-putty colored bowling balls glow like miniature suns, difficult to look at. Now turn on the laser light show and spin stars and squares and mushrooms across the length and breadth of the bowling alley.

Then try to hit the pins. Unless you have the concentration of Musashi you will be lucky to break into the double digits.

I should have brought the axe.

MythoPoetica

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”

“Suzanne”, Leonard Cohen

Until the sea shall free them.

Math.sqrt(-e)

Train of thought. Stream of consciousness. Randomness. Turbulence. Complexity. Dimension as metaphor for movement. Movement as metaphor for entropy. Entropy as metaphor for ennui. Pattern. Predictability. Ordered chaos. Chaotic order. Heirarchical programming. Holarchical philosophy. Genetic drift as metaphor for luck. Luck as metaphor for perception. Reptilian brain. Artificial evolution. Potential energy. Kinetic art. Faith in the scientific method. Magic (square/cube/tesseract). Width–height–depth–time–alternity. Zero one infinity. Infinite universe==infinite possibilities. Eternal universe==infinite repetition. Thought invalidates thought. If magic is to exist magic will create the conditions necessary for magic to exist. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Return to luck. Perception alters reality. Meditation increases perception. Magic is to the interior what mysticism is to the exterior. Bounded space and unbounded time? Bounded time and unbounded space? Branches forward, straight road back. Are we in space, on space, or of space? What is PI rotated on it’s side? What if we perceive things that don’t exist? Probability. Flow. Grace. Consciousness of streams. Language as degraded poetry. Poetry as elevated language. Chuang-Tzu’s butterfly. Kafka’s cockroach. Karma as metaphor for irresponsibility. Metaphor as metaphor for metaphor. Sleep as pipe dream.

Photo Page Addition

I have added a new page to the photos section. This one is of the butterflies in the Frederik Meijer Garden Butterfly exhibit. I think I took these back in April. If you find yourself in Grand Rapids, and you have the time, I recommend visiting the Gardens. Summer or winter they are beautiful, and relaxing, and a good place to go to forget about cities and computers for a few hours.

Ummm…yeah. Worked on the navigation for the site. I may have to do a heirarchical menu if I add much more content. Not everyone has a 24″ monitor running 1600*1200 resolution. Although if they did it would make my job much easier.

Aside from the insane fascist rantings of our idiot leaders, life is pretty good right now.

Dragonflies, Carp, and The Man

This past Sunday I found myself at a small pond at one end of the Aquinas College campus. It was not yet noon, so the grass was damp and the small trees cast shadows long enough to sit in, away from the already too-hot sunshine.

The only visible movement was dozens of large dragonflies skimming the surface of the water, putting a serious dent in the local mosquito population and providing me with over an hour of entertainment. There were maybe five different species, some powdery blue, some iridescent green, red, brown, clear-winged, black-winged, and some with spots. The occasional brawl, sounding like a crinkling of cellophane, was the only sound.

After a while a woman and her six-ish year old son arrived. The boy had a fishing pole with him, maybe four feet long, with a big red-and-white bobber and a trout fly for bait. Now, this pond is lightly populated at the best of times, but what with the complete lack of rain in the last month, it is now at most two feet deep. The only surviving fish are minnows, three-inch bluegills, and twelve-pound carp.

Not really fly-fishing-type fish.

There was no way, other than accidentally snagging a carp half his size, that the kid would possibly catch anything. Carp are scavengers, and unless the kid had rubbed the trout fly in roadkill on the way to the pond, the carp would never even notice it. The kid was having fun, his mom was taking a break from her routine, and it was a beautiful day to just hang out and watch the fish.

So I was kind of surprised — and a little disappointed — when a police officer showed up on a bike and told the kid and his mom that there was no fishing allowed, and that they would have to leave. And he didn’t even help the kid retrieve his fly, which he had managed to cast into a tree.

After struggling to free the fly — and I offered to help, but they didn’t want any — mom and son packed it in and left. I felt kind of disappointed. The kid should have jumped in the water and tried wrestling one of the carp to shore. That would have showed that cop.

Entropy, Chaos, Boredom and Sleep

So I woke up just before 6am yesterday and haven’t been to sleep yet. Worst bout of insomnia yet. At 1am I picked up The Green Mile, and I finished it at 6am today. Then I tried to sleep again, then I went to work. I left work at noon, came home, tried to nap for an hour, couldn’t sleep, then went back to work. Now the time is 10:15, and I feel no more tired than I did at this time yesterday. I decided that the idea of missing a night’s sleep is a big part of the hell of actually missing a night’s sleep. And with that realization I woke up a lot.

Part of the problem was a thought that occurred to me at work yesterday: can we actually perceive the three physical dimensions, or are they metaphors we use to orient ourselves to the space we inhabit. After a night of something loosely resembling thought, I have to say the answer is {b}. There is no objective width/height/depth. These parameters exist only in relation to physical space. There is no platonic ideal of “3 dimensions”

That got me thinking about time, and the perception of the passing of time. Again, is that something we actually notice, or do we only notice its effect on the world around us? Again, I think we are only aware of the symptoms of passage through time: entropy, chaos, age, change, hunger, boredom… things and events which change, not through obvious physical intervention, but merely by existing for a while.

On a completely different note, for a mild spot of amusement, go here . Do a search on a word . Any word . (may take a while to load)

Sheesh! The stuff people throw away…

Thoughts on Reality and Perception

Notes from a conversation with Scott , instigated by William James :

Perception and it’s effect on reality. Sensory deprivation. Mysticism. Phantom limbs. Consensual reality.

Scientific discoveries so subtle, so far down the scale of physical things, that they exist as almost pure potential, waiting only for observation to give them shape. Going from here to the principle that the observer affects the observed, and scientific discovery approaches the level of metaphor, or creation. As a self-fulfilling prophecy, we discover what we expect to discover, because it comes into being when we look for it.

Leaving aside what this does to the freedom vs. predestination argument, this very much calls for a hard look at the scientific method, with reference to quantum physics.

More after the thunderstorm.