Subject: Another tree? A branch? No … it’s a bird!
From: “Bernard D. Tremblay (Ben)” 
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 00:43:25 -0700

Only a lark, but not really.

“Cat” is nowhere to be seen. (He’s 16, so likely not messin’ with Miss Puss … more likely tryin’ to back off some young’in.) So I’m up for at least another 1/2 hour. (It’s getting cold … he deserves better than a night outside.)

So, top of mind:


Late 70s, I’m driving my taxi. My as in I own it, lock stock and permit. And I don’t have to drive, since I’ve got something like 5 figures in my savings account.

I pick up a fare out in the industrial zone and head for downtown … many many miles, since Edmonton is a sprawling prairie city.
We talk about this and that … pretty quickly get onto systems and hardware and layout and what we would now call human factors. What turns the topic to other things is this: something I say leaves him gob-smacked and he announces that he’s in town with IBM overseeing a new project at the refinery and would I like a job.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaa! SigInt in the forces, SAC/Norad with telco, installing with Motorola, computerizing MCR at CBC … I need more hi-tech like I need another hole in the head.
And IBM?
And for an oil company?!
But I was polite. I mean not rude. I mean neither patronizing nor condescending.
We talked about airlines or something.


Late 90s I’m happy as a clam: contracting gave me a grub-stake and I’m studing cog-psych, criminology, and poli-sci as a mature student.
Talking to a prof about his concentration (teenage depression) I swing the convo to his web-site and suggest (using Socratic method) “Are depressed folk interested enough to use the site?” (Sometimes, yes.) “And folk who’s interest is more academic are also interested in the site?” (Hopefully, yes.) “Sooo couldn’t the site be designed so that those who are depressed perhaps go one way and those whose interest is more academic would go another way? To generate data?” (*long pause* Not certain, but sounds plausible.)
I designed him a new site … just more modular, was all … so we could start from a known base.
He never took it another inch. Barely even replied to my queries. Dead in the water. Go figure.


This one I think I told you: talking with ethologist Dr. Fentress (arguably world’s expert on wolf behaviour) about, of all things, relation of parts to whole … taxonomy … I bring it to earth with whatchamacallit inter-rater distinctions. Using foxes, what one observer might call a scoop another might call a tamp. And that would screw up the data.
How to generate operational definition of “scoop” VS “tamp”? Sure, show video to train … but … that’s no fun!

I suggested we use pure numerical measurements to generate animation file for VRML model … /this/ cluster of motion typifies “scoop” while that one there typifies “tamp”. *long pause*
Not only did I get space in his lab, I got a laptop for myself (my choosing) and 2 PCs in the lab (again, my purchase decision) and a monthly honorarium.


What I’m going on about is this: people who are actually / really / existentially engaged with “the work” relate to my mutterings.
Folk who are engaged in churn (like the majority of A-list bloggers) really find me unpleasant in some unspecified way for some unspecified reason. (After all these years of Buddhism I’ve got a pretty good lock on just how and just why. Occam’s razor | diamond-cutter logic … two different tools for peeling back the sophistry.


My aim is not to secure a comfortable life.
My aim is to deploy a tool.


In short? Dialectics, DLL … simply that.
Information is data that makes a difference huh huh huh …
… and if the recipient really doesn’t give a hoot (i.e. if s/he’s engaged in mere churn) then any old system will serve, whether email-list or wiki or blog or forum.

But when it comes to “Are we going to replace the cooling system or switch the farm over to blades?”, then chances are better than even that /somebody/ there has a can tied to his tail. That person would get along real well with me. And the phalanx of sophists and sycophants who surround him? They would just as soon have me eat shit and die.

No cynicism … I trust you here.

Abhidharma“? Just a term for information theory from another tradition. “Buddhadharma“? A long word for “the philosophy and science of mind.

If a person’s aim is to get click-through then that person will establish co-dependent relationships and produce churn … that’s a limitless appetite.

I know I’m no Chomsky.
But I’m a good technical communicator.
I know my trade.
I know my craft.
I know my field.

Oh heck, I might as well go the distance. Your sensitivity to my IP has been many times evident.


*!Warning: Zen in action!*
*** ***


Most people would just blink.
Some would recall “Hitchiker’s Guide” and giggle to themselves. “The meaning of life!”
Nope. But close.
“42” is what the computer replied to the question.
But “42” could have been an error code; the computer might have been communicating: “Hey, lard-ass, find the meaning of life for your own lame self … I’m just a computer.”


“Momentum” … fine so far.
“Inertia” … no problem so far.

What’s the diff?
Nooooooo … no such thing as “an object at rest”.
Nothing is at rest; all objects are in motion, of course, which we grant immediately when we think it through for a moment.

Now, that’s nice.
But suddenly the clear distinction we started with is … somehow bewildering.

So actually inertia is momentum in a direction other than the one we favour.
Not quite the same!


Inertia | Momentum

Matters philosophical and crudely physical seem equally ?what? … relative.
*Yoiks! Zounds!*

Meaning / implications / entailments seem to depend on our thinking, as subjective individuals.
But this not the case with consequences.
As I taught my kids: you can have a real good excuse for having forgotten your parachute when you jump, or a really lousy reason, or just a fib … but none of that changes the speed you’re moving when you reach the ground. (Even though it can change how you feel while you’re falling, which can be good news.)


So … 
so what?!

Let’s set inertia/momentum aside. This is getting long, it’s late, and my neck is starting to cramp.

42 … the number of fladrams in the fladram bin.

Short version:
Q: “How many fladrams do
we have?”
A: “There are 42 in the bin.”
*long pause … existential realization sets in*
Q: “Is that good enough?”
A: “Enough for what?”
*sick feeling in pit of stomache; slight vertigo*

Point is: good answers to good questions is, well hell’s bells, that’s pretty darned good. For a start. As far as it goes. Which, alas, often ain’t very far.
With so much relativity floating around, even with good questions … the good answers become garbage in … and you know what results from that.

Bottom line? Those “good questions” are crap. Let the freakin’ system do the arithmetic.
Operationalize! Get dialectical!

Q: “Do we have enough fladrams for this week’s production run?”
A: “No. With 42 rams in the bin and 14 fladmeisters in partial assembly, the 36 units projected will result in a shortfall of  8.”

dang … I’m pret’near cross-eyed … where /is/ that danged cat?!