Monday, 22 April 2019

Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity

"Today, around 55 percent of the world’s population is thought to be living in an urban area or city, with that figure set to rise to 68 percent over the coming decades, according to the “Population Division” report from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs." -CNBC, May 17/2018


Published on Oct 14, 2016 by John Ramos
YouTube: MUST WATCH - Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity - A Pentagon Video (4:55)
According to a startling Pentagon video obtained by The Intercept, the future of global cities will be an amalgam of the settings of "Escape from New York" and "Robocop" — with dashes of the "Warriors" and "Divergent" thrown in. It will be a world of Robert Kaplan-esque urban hellscapes — brutal and anarchic supercities filled with gangs of youth-gone-wild, a restive underclass, criminal syndicates, and bands of malicious hackers.

At least that's the scenario outlined in "Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity," a five-minute video that has been used at the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations University. All that stands between the coming chaos and the good people of Lagos and Dhaka (or maybe even New York City) is the U.S. Army, according to the video, which The Intercept obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.



References

Wikipedia: Megacity
A megacity is a very large city metropolitan area, typically with a population of more than 10 million people.

Largest cities
This is the list of the world's largest metropolitan areas by population as of 2016.

  1. Tokyo = 38,140,000
  2. Shanghai = 34,000,000
  3. Jakarta = 31,500,000
  4. Delhi = 27,200,000
  5. Seoul = 25,600,000
Megacities and The United States Army: Preparing for a complex and uncertain future (PDF)
Chief of Staff of the Army, Strategic Studies Group
Cities with populations of ten million or more are given a special designation: megacity. There are currently over twenty megacities in the world, and by 2025 there will be close to forty. The trends are clear. Megacities are growing, they are be-coming more connected, and the ability of host nation governments to effectively deal with their explosive growth and maintain security is, in many cases, diminishing. Megacities are a unique environment that the U.S. Army does not fully understand.


2019-04-22

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Sunday, 21 April 2019

Slaughterbots

LAWs (Lethal Autonomous Weapons): Dystopian science fiction or future reality?


Published on Nov 12, 2017 by Stop Autonomous Weapons
YouTube: Slaughterbots (7:47)
Many of the world's leading AI researchers and humanitarian organizations are concerned about the potentially catastrophic consequences of allowing lethal autonomous weapons to be developed.

Wikipedia: Slaughterbots
Slaughterbots is a 2017 arms-control advocacy video presenting a dramatized near-future scenario where swarms of inexpensive microdrones use artificial intelligence and facial recognition to assassinate political opponents based on preprogrammed criteria. The video was released onto YouTube by the Future of Life Institute and Stuart Russell, a professor of computer science at Berkeley, on 12 November 2017. The video quickly went viral, gaining over two million views. The video was also screened to the November 2017 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons meeting in Geneva.

An Observation
At first glance, this seems far-fetched: It's more of the realm of science fiction, a dystopian interpretation of the future. However, can we extrapolate from current events a logical progression to such a scenario?

* Drones or UAVs (Unmanned Air Vehicles) have been used by the United States for over a decade in its war on terror.

* A.I. is well-known in commercial products such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and various cell phone systems.

* Drones or quadcopters are the staple of videographers and aerial surveyors.

* Facial recognition is used by Facebook and Google in the detection of people in photographs.

The pieces of the puzzle are all there: The technologies currently exist. The idea laid out in this video is within the realm of possibility. Like landmines, will we see an international treaty banning LAWs? Then again, will such a treaty stop them? I note that Mine Ban Treaty has 32 non-signatory states including the United States, Russia, and China: the top three largest arms exporters in the world.

What will the future hold? I can't help noting that a person without a gun can't shoot you.


References

Ban Lethal Autonomous Weapons
Take Action
The development of lethal autonomous weapons would be catastrophically destabilizing to society, and time is running out to prevent them from being developed.


Wikipedia: Lethal autonomous weapon
Lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs) are a type of autonomous military robot that can independently search and engage targets based on programmed constraints and descriptions. LAW are also called lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), lethal autonomous robots (LAR), robotic weapons, or killer robots. LAWs may operate in the air, on land, on water, under water, or in space. The autonomy of current systems as of 2018 is restricted in the sense that a human gives the final command to attack - though there are exceptions with certain "defensive" systems.

Wikipedia: Stuart J. Russell
Stuart Jonathan Russell (born 1962) is a computer scientist known for his contributions to artificial intelligence. He is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.

Published on Mar 26, 2019 by Future of Life Institute
YouTube: Why We Should Ban Lethal Autonomous Weapons (5:43)
Top AI researchers -- including deep-learning co-inventor Yoshua Bengio and AAAI President-elect Bart Selman -- explain what you need to know about lethal autonomous weapons. Thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the narration.


2019-04-21

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Saturday, 20 April 2019

Redbone: Come And Get Your Love



Published on Nov 7, 2016 by Solrac Etnevic
YouTube: Redbone - Come And Get Your Love [Studio Music]

Hail (hail)
What's the matter with your hair? Yeah
Hail (hail)
What's the matter with your mind and your sign? And a, oh, oh, oh-a
Hail (hail)
Nothing the matter with your head baby, find it, come on and find it
Hail
With it, baby, 'cause you're fine, and you're mine, and you look so divine

Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love

Hail (hail)
What's the matter with you? Feel right
Don't you feel right baby?
Hail, oh yeah
Get it from the main vine, all right
I said a-find it, find it
Go on and love it if you like it, yeah
Hail (hail)
It's your business, if you want some, take some
Get it together, baby

Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love

Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now
Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now
Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now
Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now

Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love

Hail (hail)
What's the matter with you? Feel right
Don't you feel right baby?
Hail, oh yeah
Get it from the main vine, all right

La, la, la, la, la, la (Come and get your love)
La, la, la, la, la, la (Come and get your love)
La, la, la, la, la, la (Come and get your love)
La, la, la, la, la, la (Come and get your love)
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la (Come and get your love)
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la (Come and get your love)
La, la, la, la, la, la, (Come and get your love)
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la (Come and get your love)


References

Wikipedia: Come and Get Your Love
"Come and Get Your Love" is a 1974 hit single by the Native American rock band Redbone. The song was originally released as a promo single under the name "Hail" and was re-titled for its feature on the album Wovoka in 1973. Written and produced by band members Pat and Lolly Vegas, it is one of the band's most successful singles. The song later appeared on many "greatest hits" albums released by the band, as well as on numerous compilation albums of the 1970s.

"Come and Get Your Love" also exists in a longer version, with an introductory slow part, plus a longer repeated coda. However, most radio stations rarely play this cut on the air. The song features a prominent part for electric sitar.


The song is featured in the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. In the film intro the character Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) dances to it while exploring alien ruins on the planet Morag.

Wikipedia: Redbone (band)
Redbone is a Native American rock group originating in the 1970s with brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas. They reached the Top 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974 with their No. 5 hit single, "Come and Get Your Love". The single went certified Gold selling over a million copies. Redbone achieved hits with their singles "We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee", "The Witch Queen of New Orleans", "Wovoka", and "Maggie" in the United States, although these singles were more successful overseas. Redbone is known as the first Native American rock/Cajun group to have a No. 1 single internationally.

official web site: Redbone

2019-04-20

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Friday, 19 April 2019

A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

In the early 1930s, the United States faced the Great Depression, following the 1929 Stock Market Crash. High unemployment, poverty, low profits, deflation: The economic future of the country looked bleak. President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the New Deal, a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations, focusing on the "3 Rs": relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy back to normal levels and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression. It was a success.

The Green New Deal proposes a similar idea, targeting climate change and income inequality. Of course, Republicans hate it, the same way they hated FDR's initiative. On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy announced, "We chose to go to the moon." At the time, people questioned the cost and the value of such a project, but the project became a rallying cry for the nation and its goal to progress.




Published on Apr 17, 2019 by The Intercept
YouTube: A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (7:35)
What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? The Intercept presents a film narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple.

Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This film flips the script. It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”


The Intercept - Apr 17/2019
A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by Naomi Klein
Today, The Intercept launches “A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” a seven-minute film narrated by the congresswoman and illustrated by Molly Crabapple. Set a couple of decades from now, it’s a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like then?

... more...


Ms. Klein goes on to explain FDR's "New Deal" and why it succeeded. If the New Deal can be a success, the Green New Deal can also be a success.


References

CNN - Feb 14/2019
Here's what the Green New Deal actually says: Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
Green New Deal fits perfectly on a bumper sticker.

But the proposal, which is on its way to becoming a litmus test for the Democratic Party's many 2020 contenders, isn't a simple fix for what ails the US. It would equal taking American society back to the drawing board and rebuilding it from the safety net up.


Wikipedia: Green New Deal
The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposed stimulus program that aims to address climate change and economic inequality The name refers to the New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. The Green New Deal combines Roosevelt's economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energy and resource efficiency.

In the 116th Congress, it is a pair of resolutions, H. Res. 109 and S. Res. 59, sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). On March 25, 2019, Markey's resolution failed to advance in the U.S. Senate in a margin of 0-57, with most Senate Democrats voting "present" in protest to the vote.


Wikipedia: The New Deal
The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1936. It responded to needs for relief, reform, and recovery from the Great Depression. Major federal programs included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). They provided support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly. The New Deal included new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen sharply. New Deal programs included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The programs focused on what historians refer to as the "3 Rs": relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy back to normal levels and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression. The New Deal produced a political realignment, making the Democratic Party the majority (as well as the party that held the White House for seven out of the nine presidential terms from 1933 to 1969) with its base in liberal ideas, the South, traditional Democrats, big city machines and the newly empowered labor unions and ethnic minorities. The Republicans were split, with conservatives opposing the entire New Deal as hostile to business and economic growth and liberals in support. The realignment crystallized into the New Deal coalition that dominated presidential elections into the 1960s while the opposing conservative coalition largely controlled Congress in domestic affairs from 1937 to 1964.


The Atlantic - Nov 5/2013
Why Land on the Moon?
In 1961, when President Kennedy declared that America would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, critics complained about the cost. In response, two scientists argued that the endeavor shouldn't be thought of in terms of budgets or even science, but rather in terms of pursuing a "great adventure" on behalf of mankind.

2019-04-19

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Thursday, 18 April 2019

Broke and Sexy

In September 2018, I ran across this gentleman while I was on my way to the gym. I thought his sign was original and funny, so I gave him $20 and took a picture. I shared this with family and friends, explaining that I now realised two things:

1. I'm not quite broke.

2. I'm not quite sexy.

Since then, in the past 8 months, I've gone by this guy a number of times and given him a twenty-dollar bill. Now, that may strike you as exorbitant, "too" generous, but I can't help wondering about his circumstances where he has to beg in the streets.

I retired in 2018. In the lead-up to this extraordinary moment in my life, I had calculated everything left, right, and center: monthly rent, living expenses, VISA bills, pension, Retirement Savings Plan, etc. While working, I could expect a direct deposit in my chequing account every two weeks. After retirement, there would be no automatic credit to my account and yet, I would still be required to pay my rent at the end of the month. How the dickens was I supposed to make this work?

As I write this, I've now been retired for one year and three months. I'm not begging in the streets.

This past weekend, I had lunch with a childhood friend, Chad. We caught up on all that had happened over the past forty plus years and discussed retirement. I had heard it said that the golden years are only golden if one had enough gold and repeated the joke: "The only thing golden about my golden years is my urine."

Chad's American and I'm Canadian. His wife required cataract surgery last year and they incurred an unexpected medical expense of twenty thousand dollars. My doctor has told me I have a cataract, and I will, at some point, also have to have surgery. I didn't tell my friend my cost will be nothing.

Chad also told me that he and his wife are not quite making it. He has to go back to work to be able to cover all their expenses. So far, in my retirement, I've gotten by. By my calculation, I'm not going to need to go back to work. I have enough. I'm not rich, but I'm okay.

I may not be sexy, but I'm not broke. I also realise that I'm lucky. Old saying: "You can work hard and still lose."

Years ago, when I was twenty and knew everything, my father was trying to convince me to go to university, get an education, and find a career. "But, Dad, money won't buy you happiness." God, I was such a smartass.

My father paused, and then said, "You're right, son. But at least while you're miserable, you can be comfortable."

I'm happy to say that when I turned forty, I recounted this incident to my dad and said that I then knew he had been absolutely right. We both had a good laugh. I like to think my father would be pleased with my situation.

2019-04-18

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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Why do we believe things that aren't true?

How do we know what we know? We talk about "common knowledge" — beliefs held by most people — but can we prove anything?

If I'm sitting with someone in a coffee shop, I can take two packets of sugar and put them on the left side of the table. I can take another two packets and put them on the right side. I can then move to two groups of two packets into the center of the table and say, "Voilà! Two plus two equals four!"

For those philosophically inclined, we could also arrive through discussion at "Cogito, ergo sum", I think, therefore I am. That is, I can prove the point I'm making right at the table, while sharing a Triple Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato.

But other assertions may be difficult, if not impossible to conclusively demonstrate.
  • The Earth is not flat.
  • Vaccinations do not cause autism.
  • For every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.
And thus starts the argument. — What is common knowledge for one, may not be true for someone else. — But is there such a thing as a fact?

Independent scientists doing independent research independently arrive at the same results.

But I'm not a scientist. I can't prove diddly-squat. As a consequence, I must rely on other people to prove stuff. Then I have to make a decision: Who do I choose to believe?

Published on Sep 13, 2017 by TEDx Talks
YouTube: Why do we believe things that aren't true? | Philip Fernbach | TEDxMileHigh (15:50)
It seems like we're living in an epidemic of false belief. Clearly the other side just doesn’t have all the facts, right? Or are they really that stupid? In this fascinating and hilarious talk, cognitive scientist Philip Fernbach peels back the layers of what we really know and reveals some surprising truths about the human mind. Philip Fernbach is a cognitive scientist and professor in the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Co-author of The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, Philip's research focuses on why we think we know more than we actually do and the implications this has on individuals and society.



Final Word
In the era of Trump, The Right versus The Left, I see more than ever we are all debating our beliefs. We believe something is true, but do we know something is true? We rely on other people, but do those other people believe something or know something?

My Boiling Spaghetti Story
When I was growing up, Mom taught me to put a little salt in the water before boiling pasta. However, later in life, when I was out on my own, and being lazy about cooking, I dropped this step from the recipe and always boiled pasta without salt. Personally, I found no difference in taste, and nobody ever complained about my spaghetti.

I ran into somebody who was taken aback by my lack of cooking skills, adamantly demanding I use salt. I got curious: What did the experts say?

my blog: Boiling spaghetti: to salt or not to salt - Nov 11/2010
[Two students] set up a controlled experiment where they cooked pasta in 3 pots, one with no salt, one with 5g of salt and one with 10g of salt. They cooked the pasta then tested the water for salt content.

The results of their 3 tests were that there was more salt in the water after cooking the pasta than before. Their conjecture is that pasta releases salt into the water and that salt must come from the flour.

Let me repeat that as it certainly baffled me when I read their paper. There were 3 pots, one without salt, one with 5g added and one with 10g of salt added. They cooked the pasta then tested the water afterwards. In all 3 cases there was more salt in the water than before the pasta was cooked. In other words, the pasta did not absorb salt; it released salt into the water.


My mother's mother taught her to put salt in the water. My mother taught me to put salt in the water. I run into somebody else who was taught to put salt in the water. But here's an experiment showing that pasta does not absorb salt from the boiling process, but releases it into the water. We rely on other people. We rely on the knowledge of other people, and we believe them. We choose to believe them. But are they correct? Who among us is going to take the time and effort necessary to experiment and prove objectively whether or not salt should be added to the water?

Common knowledge. Is it common knowledge or is it common belief? You don't think the Earth is flat? Okay, prove it!


References

official web site: Philip Fernbach
Bio: I am a professor of marketing in the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I am a cognitive scientist who studies how people think, and I apply insights from my research to improve public discourse and help consumers and managers make better decisions. I am co-director of the Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making, an affiliate of the Institute of Cognitive Science, and the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, and an external advisory board member for McKinsey & Company. I teach data analytics to undergraduate and Masters students.

Wikipedia: Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition (in a broad sense). Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures."

Wikipedia: B.o.B.
Bobby Ray Simmons Jr. (born November 15, 1988),[5] known professionally as B.o.B, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and conspiracy theorist from Decatur, Georgia.

The Flat Earth Society (theflatearthsociety.org)
The Flat Earth Society mans the guns against oppression of thought and the Globularist lies of a new age. Standing with reason we offer a home to those wayward thinkers that march bravely on with REASON and TRUTH in recognizing the TRUE shape of the Earth - Flat.

According to my research, there was a schism in flat Earth movement. As one put it, the following is the Protestant church versus the above Catholic.

The Flat Earth Society (tfes.org)
The Flat Earth Society mans the guns against oppression of thought and the Globularist lies of a new age. Standing with reason we offer a home to those wayward thinkers that march bravely on with REASON and TRUTH in recognizing the TRUE shape of the Earth - Flat.

The Illusion of Explanatory Depth
This complementary talk further explores our knowledge: What do we know and how do we know it.

Published on Nov 14, 2013 by TEDx Talks
YouTube: The Illusion of Understanding: Phil Fernbach at TEDxGoldenGatePark (13:03)
Professor Phil Fernbach discusses the "illusion of understanding" in this riveting TEDxGoldenGatePark talk that sheds light on how our understanding of things may not coincide with the depth of our opinions.


my blog: What are the epistemological implications of indeterminacy? - Mar 27/2013
Ever since I attended university (for the first time), I have used this grand question to mock those who pontificate about esoteric erudition. Exploring the meaning of life comes crashing back to Earth when you discover you've run out of toilet paper.

2019-04-17

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

2019: Where I am and where I’m going

In the past two years, I've written "2017: Where I am and where I’m going" and "2018: Where I am and where I’m going". Why not 2019?

Retired
My last day at work was January 26, 2018. I've now celebrated one full year of not working. It may seem odd not having a job, but I'm enjoying not having to rush off in the morning. A second cup of coffee in my bathrobe is nice.

However, I didn't want to fall into bad habits — sleeping in and staying up late — so I have my alarm permanently set to 8am. — I wake up before that a fair number of times.

Everyday, I take two to five breaks throughout the day and do a set of exercises: 30-50 sit-ups, isometrics, tension bands, various things given to me by my kinesiologist. I go to the gym every other day. — Experts say you should let your muscles rest 48 hours between workouts. Am I disciplined? No, I'm scared. After my 2012 sports injury which left me in pain for five months and unable to move much for ten months, I vowed to do whatever necessary to (try to) make sure that never happened again. Every once in a while, I have an "incident" (mild injury) which reminds me (scares me) to faithfully continue.

In other words, I'm trying to maintain some semblance of order.

Finances
Retirement: the golden years. But the joke is that you have to have enough gold. In the lead-up to my retirement, I analysed my finances every way imaginable, wondering and worrying about how I would survive. The concept is that I stop working, stop receiving a regular paycheque, and yet, I still manage to pay my monthly rent. How is such a thing possible?

Last fall, I spent the day with two business friends, the same age as me. We walked around, had lunch, and chatted about life and everything under the sun. Our conclusion: None of us were rich, but we were okay. We didn't own a mansion and a Rolls Royce or jetted off to the French Riviera to hobnob with the world's elite, but we were okay. We'd all get by. Financially, we had enough to live our lives, not extravagantly, but comfortably. And in saying that, we all recognised that we were lucky, aware that some people work very, very hard and still fail. I'm reminded of this meme:

The only thing golden about my golden years is my urine.

Novel Numéro Deux
I wrote "The End" at the beginning of December 2017. Over the next eleven months, I did ten beta reads, a line edit, a manuscript evaluation, two copy edits, and finally a proofread. In between each step, I poured over my text, correcting, rewriting, deleting, and adding. I clicked on the Publish button on November 4, 2018. On to marketing, an aspect of writing I know little or nothing about. It's an adventure.

Will I write another? I have to chuckle because over the years, I've heard some people say that they write because it's in their blood, it's part of their DNA, or some other allusion to a higher calling. I've come to realise that if I put pen to paper so to speak, it's for a much more mundane reason.

I write because I'm bored, and I can't think of anything better to do.

So much for the pretentiousness of my higher calling.

Travel
In March 2018 I spent a week in St. Petersburg, Florida visiting family. At the end of September 2018, I spent ten days in the Canadian Rockies also visiting family. So far in 2019, I dropped back down to St. Petersburg again, but other than that, I haven't planned anything. The world is my oyster, but I think twice about solo traveling. It's amusing to discover that the world, well the world of travel, is for the most part geared to couples.

If I do something, I can stay close to home. I've come to appreciate how little of my own country I know. Yes, there are many places in the world I've never visited, but there also many parts of my native land, Canada, I've never visited. I've taken to using Google Maps and its Earth View and Street View to explore places with the vague notion of hopping on a plane to see them in real life: St. John's, Newfoundland, Iqaluit, Whitehorse, and Churchill. Why? I'm just curious. I've never been there, and I know someone could argue that there's nothing there of any significance, but people deliberately moved there and continue to live there, so there has to be something good about these places. Besides, wouldn't it be funny to share a picture of me standing in front of a road sign like "Dildo, Newfoundland"?

Okay, one crazy thing I've become obsessed about is Moonbeam, Ontario, specifically the flying saucer. At my previous company, I chatted with colleagues who, as part of their job, had to travel around the province of Ontario, visiting far-flung outposts such as Kapuskasing, Hearst, Dryden, and Sioux Lookout. Yeah, I had never heard of these places, either.

One guy told me about Moonbeam, and after looking it up, I kept thinking about the crazy idea of taking a picture of me in front of the flying saucer. I've checked flights to fly from Toronto to Timmins, rent a car, and drive the one hour and thirty minutes to the saucer. And what else is there? After all, Moonbeam has a population of merely five thousand people, not exactly a top-ten tourist destination.

I've used Google maps to check out the area: scout restaurants and motels, locate gas stations, and view natural features like Remi Lake and René Brunelle Provincial Park. I could see myself spending a day or two just driving around enjoying the scenery. I'd want to put lunch at Mi Cafecito on the list. Doing this would remind me of the various cottages I've visited over the years. There are thousands and thousands of such areas, microcosms of summer fun in nature: beaches, swimming, family-run general stores for supplies or the occasional ice cream cone, a temporary reprieve from one's regular life, a complete change of pace.

Will I do this? It's been fun researching it. I calculate I need to set aside a thousand dollars for this, but then again, a once-in-a-lifetime memory is priceless.

Blogging
At the moment, I can't see myself going back to blogging regularly. The thought of writing about myself seems unworthy of consideration and self-indulgent. While I have opinions on a variety of topics - political, societal, sexual - I can't find the motivation to write it down. I estimate I wrote over a million words on my blog from 2010 to 2013-2015, so what else could I possibly have to say? Every time something in the news or social media awakens the need to espouse my views, I realise I've already written about them. I could take a blog posting from a few years go, change the date, and republish it. Why bother restating what I've already said?

Besides, a Facebook friend posted pictures of her vacation down south. I commented that she should write a travel blog, and she responded, "Blogging is so passé." When I started in 2010, I had the impression for several years that everybody under the sun was blogging. Now? Is everybody still doing that? Somehow it no longer seems to be desirable to be writing long-winded, detailed tracts about personal opinions or personal activities. Why? We all have opinions and activities. Is anything I do exceptional? Is anything I do worthy of committing to paper so future generations can marvel at the profundity of my thoughts and view of the world? Then again, maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm bored with writing, and I'm looking for something better to do. Ha!

I'll be 67 this coming October
I don't want to give anybody the impression I'm obsessing about age and death, but I'm certainly aware of it. My father died two days shy of his 80th birthday, and the average life expectancy of a Canadian male now stands at 82.3 years.

Over the holidays, a family member by marriage died at the age of 75. (Death at Christmas). I just heard this past weekend, that another distant family member by marriage died after a massive stroke. He would have been 70 on April 8, 2019. I don't know if this is true or not, but I had a friend tell me a couple of years ago, that if somebody lives to the age of 70, there is a good chance they will live to 80. I'll be biting my nails for the next three years. Ha, ha!

Recently, a business acquaintance turned 51. I couldn't help thinking that while I have 13 years left before my 80th birthday, he has 29 years. How different is his perspective on life? I'm retired. I must plan out my finances with the idea of not having employment income. He still has another 15 plus years to accumulate wealth. I will add, as a sobering thought, that the actor Luke Perry, of Beverly Hills 90210 fame, died at the age of 52. One never knows when their time will be up.

In the meantime, let me see where all this goes. I didn't have anything better to do at the moment. :-)


References

my blog: 2018: Where I am and where I’m going - Jan 30/2018

my blog: 2017: Where I am and where I’m going - Jan 28/2017

Quote Investigator - Oct 18/2014
Don’t Like to Write, But Like Having Written
Dorothy Parker? George R. R. Martin? Frank Norris? Robert Louis Stevenson? Cornelia Otis Skinner? Clive Barnes? Gloria Steinem? Hedley Donovan?

In conclusion, this family of expressions is difficult to trace because of its mutability. This article represents a snapshot of what QI has found. Based on the 1915 citation QI would provisionally credit Frank Norris with the statement “Don’t like to write, but like having written”. During the almost one hundred years since 1915 many other writers have made similar remarks. Strengthening the emotional valence by changing “like” to “love” is a common modification.


my blog: Writing: Humour - Mar 26/2017
Ya gotta laugh: it beats sobbing uncontrollably.


2019-04-03

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Monday, 1 April 2019

Meredith Brooks: Bitch




Published on Nov 13, 2009 by Micky-as-himself
YouTube: Meredith Brooks - Bitch [OFFICIAL HQ VIDEO]

I hate the world today
You're so good to me
I know but I can't change
Tried to tell you
But you look at me like maybe
I'm an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet
Yesterday I cried
Must have been relieved to see
The softer side
I can understand how you'd be so confused
I don't envy you
I'm a little bit of everything
All rolled into one

[Chorus:]
I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way

So take me as I am
This may mean
You'll have to be a stronger man
Rest assured that
When I start to make you nervous
And I'm going to extremes
Tomorrow I will change
And today won't mean a thing

[Chorus]

Just when you think, you got me figured out
The season's already changing
I think it's cool, you do what you do
And don't try to save me

[Chorus]

I'm a bitch, I'm a tease
I'm a goddess on my knees
When you hurt, when you suffer
I'm your angel undercover
I've been numb, I'm revived
Can't say I'm not alive
You know I wouldn't want it any other way


References

Wikipedia: Bitch (Meredith Brooks song)
"Bitch", also known by its censored title, "Nothing In Between", and later in re-released as "Bitch (Nothing In Between)", is a song recorded by American artist Meredith Brooks and co-written with Shelly Peiken. It was released in May 1997, as the lead single from her debut album Blurring the Edges.

Popular misconception
"Bitch" has frequently been misattributed to fellow singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, a misconception that has existed since the song's release. The close musical similarities between Morissette's work at the time in comparison with "Bitch" has been commented upon by publications such as Allmusic, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly,[8] and the Los Angeles Times, with music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine saying that Brooks sounded like a "clone". Record producer Geza X deliberately sought a hit single that sounded like Morissette's songs, yet he was fired soon afterward even when "Bitch" achieved major success, due to conflicts with Brooks' record label.


Wikipedia: Meredith Brooks
Meredith Ann Brooks (born June 12, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for her 1997 hit song "Bitch", for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award.

2019-04-01

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