Monday, April 21, 2014

My Friend Billy

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Warning: Viewer discretion advised. This post discusses adult themes and content. Oh, not the usual adult themes we get on TV, like D: Suggestive Dialogue or V: Violence. Instead, it is a discussion of the following well-known wanted criminal:


The one with many names … the Pale Rider. The Grim Reaper. The Angel Of Death. Thanatos. Azrael. Cronus.
 I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. The gorgeous ex-fiancee is a Family Nurse Practitioner, and she and I have been taking care of her 86-year-old father in his final illness. “Billy”, that’s what the rest of the guys in the band always called him, so that’s what I called him when I came to be friends and play music with him over the past four years. He was a jazz drummer his whole life, and a very good one. Having had the honor of playing music with him myself, I can testify that he was a very skillful, fun, and inventive percussionist.  But when he came out of the hospital back in February, he hung up his sticks and said that was it. His time with music was over. I knew then that his days were short. So we’ve been giving him all the love and support possible in the face of his approaching death.

Here in the developed world, we tend to distance ourselves from death. But in the third world, it is ever-present. The first dead man I ever saw who wasn’t rouged, perfumed, and embalmed was on a side street in Trench Town, a dirt-poor, less than fragrant, and more than turbulent suburb of Kingston, Jamaica. It was a strange scene.

Trench Town is not a good place to be at night. Even in the middle of a hot afternoon, it’s a place where you feel a need to take an occasional look over your shoulder. I was walking down the street, the only melanin-deficient guy in sight. (I hear that the new PC term is “melanin-challenged”, by the way, to avoid hurting people’s feelings by making them feel deficient … but then I’ve never been politically correct.)

In any case, halfway down the block, a man was lying in the gutter. At first I thought he was just drunk and sleeping it off, until I got nearer, and I saw he was lying in the proverbial pool of blood. I remember particularly the sound of the flies. I was reminded of when I used to kill and butcher cows and sheep and other animals out in the farmers’ fields for a living, and how fast the flies would appear. Seeing that man lying dead in a cloud of flies, in the middle of just another average city afternoon, was a shock to me. The cities I was accustomed to back then didn’t feature much in the way of dead bodies in the gutter. I was beyond surprise.

But the bigger shock was the reaction of the people in the street. By and large it was ho, hum, another day in the life, step over his corpse and keep going, Many people looked once and didn’t give him a second glance. The public level of concern seemed to be on the order of “It’s the tropics, mon, cover him up ‘fore he stinks”.

I realized then that in such places down at the bottom of the economic ladder, the death of a stranger is no big deal. Oh, I don’t mean that people don’t mourn or grieve their loved ones the way it happens in the industrialized countries. That’s the same everywhere. But in countries where death is more common, countries where most families have lost a child, countries where malaria or some other tropical fever takes away the young and otherwise healthy, everyone lives in much closer proximity and familiarity with death and the dead.

 Continue Reading "My Friend Billy" by Willis Eschenbach

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Scapegoating


ON SCAPEGOATING 
A COMPUTER EXECUTIVE
FOR PUBLICLY OPPOSING 

GAY MARRIAGE


Please pardon me
I was mistaken.
I am a loyal
Slice of bacon.
Apologize
Rip out her eyes
Now we sees
thru her disguise.
We took a poll
and all agree
She is the
worstest enemy
of all that's true and fine and good.
Do you want her in your neighborhood?
I knew you would concur with us
We're proud to have you on the bus.

Posterity will praise what was needful to do
Against monsters as loathsomely evil as YOU!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Open Position


OPEN POSITION

I hear you have an open role
I'm sure that I can play
Making love with Nature
In a purely quantum way.

Yes, I've had plenty of lovers
But I'm still unsullied as dew.
Good sex is a matter of context
And I've never entangled with you.

Yes, I've raised a couple of children:
From my body new creatures emerged.
I've tried all the main psychedelics
And a few that are still on the verge.

I'm known to be a quick learner
In the field or out of a book.
My body moves like a weasel
And I can sew, clean and cook.

I don't know a lot of mathematics
But I've experienced a number of blisses.
I appreciate new ways to wallow and squirm--
Am fond of drug-enhanced kisses.

We could make history together
You and I could win a Nobel Prize.
You with your big cerebral cortex
And me with my ... big brown eyes.

Take me, teach me, train me
To be Earth's first quantum acrobat.
Please use me
For your science, Nick.
Use me
As your new lab rat.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ellen Bass, Poet Laureate

Ellen Bass: poet laureate, Santa Cruz (2014-2015)
Ellen Bass was recently named the new Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate. Her poetry includes “Like a Beggar” (Copper Canyon, 2014), “The Human Line” (Copper Canyon, 2007), and “Mules of Love” (BOA, 2002), and she coedited “No More Masks!” (Doubleday, 1973), the first major anthology of poetry by women. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and The Kenyon Review. She teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University. (From Santa Cruz Good Times) Visit Ellen's website.

When my wife Betsy and I first moved to Boulder Creek, Ellen Bass was one of our neighbors. She lived right across Highway 9 from us in a cottage along the San Lorenzo River. In those days (early '70s) we visited Ellen often for tea and talk. And Betsy for some time took writing lessons from Ellen.

Now Ellen is (locally) famous.

Congratulations, Ellen Bass. Since we first met I have visualized you wearing the poet's laurels. Now you wear that poet's wreath for all to see. May you not "rest on your laurels", and continue to be blessed with fresh insights into this odd homo sapiens incarnation.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Red-Light Bardo

Kelly Evans: Bold bard of the trance dimensions
RED-LIGHT BARDO

After slipping from peace in the field of Love
From the non-dual space often called White Light
The refreshed soul stripping its higher bodies
Through a series of dream-like events like life
Encounters experiences evoked by personality
The waves woven in Aether called Habit-in-Life
The sex bardo is one of the grand central lines
A fork in many roads leads to the erotic red light
And many pass through this place within places
Lovers scientists entrepreneurs athletes and sloths
Bums mechanics servants politicians mothers fathers
Deviants artists cats dogs flowers bees atoms and trees
Not everyone but not just good or bad sinners or saints
Many are drawn to union communion passion and bliss
And so among the erotic hallucinations of real feel porn
Angels and demons yogic avatars slip into dream bodies
The fantasies formed in response to each individual
Through sympathetic communicative properties of nature
Phenomena and events resonant with personality threads
Warm bodies and sex appear from vacuum flux
Complete with histories and futures attuned to the soul
So that some couplings are autoerotic and some real
Some of the soul-on-soul action are crude astral affairs
Some soar into more refined realm of mind and spirit

And good and bad spirits pluck the self streams
The schizophrenic weave more or less individuated
From self-to-self from rope-to-cable to solid core
From frazzle and disintegrate to cloud and moons
The elements of the Person are related in many ways
Making their own music then harmonizing and jamming
Sometimes with other ghosts and then with emissaries
The many realms intersect the flesh feel in the soft red
And through the caress of the climax and force of the fuck
Can transport the soul instantly through a quantum leap
To Heaven or Hell or one of infinite births and lives
To a myriad of planets dimensions or types of reality
Down the road to a million more lives or free right now
The working girls of the Bardo Red-Light District come
In all shapes and sizes every species and order of being
Scintillating in this infinite space of passionate pullulation
Where everyone can be a sex star and feed life or go nova



Arnold Böcklin: Pan Whistling at a Blackbird

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring 2014

E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)

you shall above all things be glad and young
For if you're young, whatever life you wear

It will become you;and if you are glad
whatever's living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love

whose any mystery makes every man's
flesh put space on;and his mind take off time

that you should ever think,may god forbid
and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies,the foetal grave
called progress,and negation's dead undoom.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance 


========================= 

Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me:
'Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah's night
And twofold always, may God us keep
From single vision and Newton's sleep! 

---William Blake 


===========================


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Guinness Made Me Do It

Continuing to pursue his project to discover new ways of connecting with Nature, Nick Herbert invokes his inner Irish tenor at a St. Paddy's Day party in Aptos. Accompanied by Kim Fulton Bennett on wooden flute, Nick renders the traditional Irish folk song "Carrickfergus" while other members of the band "Blarney" look on. In addition to Kim and Nick, "Blarney" consists of August O'Connor on guitar and bodhran and Matt Johnson on banjo and Irish whistle.
Matt Johnson & August O'Connor

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Catfish and Earthquakes

Magical Method of Earthquake Protection: This protective print which claims to prevent earthquake damage to one's home if attached to the ceiling, shows a group of remorseful catfish apologizing to the god Kashima for causing earthquakes while he was away.

 "In November 1855, the Great Ansei Earthquake struck the city of Edo (now Tokyo), claiming 7,000 lives and inflicting widespread damage. Within days, a new type of color woodblock print known as namazu-e (lit. "catfish pictures") became popular among the residents of the shaken city. These prints featured depictions of mythical giant catfish (namazu) who, according to popular legend, caused earthquakes by thrashing about in their underground lairs. In addition to providing humor and social commentary, many prints claimed to offer protection from future earthquakes."

Kashima restrains a namazu using the kaname-ishi rock
A namazu engaged in a fierce game of "neck-tug-of-war" with the god Kashima. A group of earthquake victims root for Kashima, while those who typically profit from earthquakes (construction workers, firemen, news publishers, etc,) root for the catfish
 "The popularity of namazu-e exploded, and as many as 400 different types became available within weeks. However, the namazu-e phenomenon abruptly ended two months later when the Tokugawa government, which ordinarily maintained a strict system of censorship over the publishing industry, cracked down on production. Only a handful are known to survive today."


You can view 37 more of these rare namazu prints at the wonderful Pink Tentacle site which hosts a varied collection of Japanese graphics, videos and odd news from Japan such as the development of life-like robots.


"Researchers from the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University have teamed up with robot maker Kokoro Co., Ltd. to create a realistic-looking remote-control female android that mimics the facial expressions and speech of a human operator.

Modeled after a woman in her twenties, the android -- called Geminoid F (the "F" stands for female) -- has long black hair, soft silicone skin, and a set of lifelike teeth that allow her to produce a natural smile.


According to the developers, the robot's friendly and approachable appearance makes her suitable for receptionist work at sites such as museums. The researchers also plan to test her ability to put hospital patients at ease.

The new Geminoid F can produce facial expressions more naturally than its predecessors -- and it does so with a much more efficient design. While the previous Geminoid HI-1 model was equipped with 46 pneumatic actuators, the Geminoid F uses only 12.

In addition, the entire air servo control system is housed within the robot's body and is powered by a small external compressor that runs on standard household electricity.

The research is being led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is known for creating teleoperated robot twins such as the celebrated Geminoid HI-1, which was modeled after himself."

Geminoid F and her human counterpart, wearing outfits by fashion designer Junko Koshino
Also from Pink Tentacle comes a list of 60 popular Japanese phrases, among which is "ria-juu" or "reality-filled" which is "internet slang that describes people who lead fulfilling lives in the real world (as opposed to the virtual online world). Examples of "reality-filled" people include those who enjoy relationships with others in the real world, those who attend parties or participate in group activities, and those who pursue non-otaku interests."








Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Kalamidas Experiment--Easy Pickins

Demetrios Kalamidas: "Prove me wrong--on my own terms!"
I am no stranger to faster-than-light signaling schemes. I even wrote a book about such schemes. So when I heard about Demetrios Kalamidas's clever and original FTL signaling proposal, I jumped right in--both in trying myself to refute his scheme and urging other physicists to do so too. Only a few physicists took the bait but they were a prestigious crew: Gian-Carlo Ghirardi of quantum-collapse-model fame, Christopher Gerry, author of a respected quantum-optics textbook, John Howell at University of Rochester, a school famed for its optics discoveries and its association with Eastman Kodak, and Martin Suda at the Austrian Institute of Technology in Vienna. Each of these four men and myself took a different path and we soon produced 5 different refutations of the Kalamidas proposal.

Two path-entangled photons ambiguified by mixing with coherent states

As explained by John Howell, there are two basic ways to refute such a scheme--using photon operator calculus or using wavefunctions. Ghirardi, Howell and Gerry chose the more elegant operator mode while Suda and I calculated the wavefunctions. Although differing in details, all of our refutations have one thing in common. They are very general refutations -- with no approximations. It is obvious that if the exact Kalamidas scheme won't work, then any approximation scheme must fail as well.

Kalamidas was impressed by the variety of our refutations but he refused to entirely surrender until one condition was met. "Show me where I went off the tracks,"  he asked. "If you are all so sure that you have proved that I am mistaken, then it should be 'easy pickins' for one of you to point out exactly where I went wrong".

Nobody took up the Kalamidas challenge -- probably because they had more important work to do.  Since my life at the quantum tantra ashram requires lots of free time, I decided to calculate the result of the Kalamidas experiment on his own terms, to see if indeed it would be 'easy pickins' to find his mistake.

I did the calculation. But it would not have been easy pickins had I not learned so much exotic photon algebra from John Howell and Martin Suda, particularly the basic orthogonality relations between photon-added coherent states, displaced-Fock states and garden-variety coherent states. Using these orthogonality relations, the Kalamidas calculation becomes easy--anyone could do it.

In Kalamidas's calculation he produces an interference term [11] which if uncanceled would indeed lead to superluminal signaling. However, as part of his calculation he throws away terms that he plausibly argues are "vanishing". Demetrios's mistake was in throwing away these terms. They do not vanish and when reinstated they demonstrate why the Kalamidas scheme doesn't work.

Calculating the "vanishing terms" produces two anti-interference terms [01] and [10], each of which by itself suffices to cancel out Kalamidas's [11] term. However, if that were the end of it, the Kalamidas scheme would still work, because now one of the anti-interference terms remains uncanceled and could itself be used for superluminal signaling.

Fortunately for the fate of the world (superluminal signaling would seriously disrupt the world of physics and eventually mess up ordinary life as well)... Fortunately for the fate of the world, the "vanishing terms" produce a second interference term [00] unnoticed by Kalamidas. Now the two interference terms [11] and [00] are exactly canceled by two anti-interference terms [01] and [10] so that the "Kalamidas effect" disappears completely--on Kalamidas's own terms at Kalamidas's own level of approximation.

Take that, Demetrios!
Nick's refutation of the Kalamidas effect on Kalamidas's own terms
 A pdf file of this new refutation (including references to the work of Ghirardi, Gerry, Howell and Suda can be found here.





Friday, February 14, 2014

Monsters Have Feelings Too

by Mike Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine
SONNET 116
William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, 

Although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.