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Uninspiration #9

Reality testing is cruel.
How do you think it feels, failing over and over like that?

Unreality testing is more interesting and often prettier.


An odd hallucination

Clover and flopped Ananda

A typical Ananda flop

I was sitting on the floor grooming Ananda’s face and ears as he lay flopped on hallway tiles. I’m treating him for middle ear infections and clean away the goopy mixture of topical antibiotic and putrid discharge several times a day. (Hey, brachycephalic pet breeders. After the revolution we’re coming for you.) I’d been doing it for a while and was almost as relaxed as him when I spotted a small, fine, ethereal example of the spiders we generally called daddy long legs (which are actually mayfly sort of things and not even spiders). I have no idea what their proper name is.

It was hanging no more than a centimetre from the white tiles in what I now saw was a modest web between the floor and skirting board. A few tiny bits of dust and debris stuck to the strands but other than that they were right at the edge of my capacity to see them against the tiles and off-white board.

I rested my gaze on the spider and focus soon shifted to a point mid-way between my eyes and the diminutive spinner. A loose hair blew into the same part of my field of vision, quivering a little in the fan breeze, overlaying a shivery blur to the web. That’s when the hallucination started.

In a small ovoid area between myself and the spider – seeming around 2cm on the long horizontal axis, maybe 1.5cm on the short – there appeared an area of scrolling black text on a white background. There were short portions of three lines visible with the middle segment about 12 characters long and the outer ones about half that. It was scrolling horizontally and rapidly, left-to-right, and I doubt I could have made out English language words if there were any. From the brief snatches I could take in the words seemed either nonsensical or very foreign,  often unpronounceable, but the individual characters seemed very clear and regular, in Latin computer-style script and a font similar to how this one appears on my PC screen. There seemed a lot of scientific and mathematical symbols in the mix – though I was unable to recognise specific ones – and the word length and distribution of words and symbols seemed consistent with some technical articles I’ve read, particularly statistics heavy stuff.

The vision had been clear and stable for several minutes when the spider moved and broke the spell. At first I thought it had been a vital component of the illusion but it was because I had unconsciously changed my focal length when it stirred. When I relaxed onto the same intersection of hair and web with the same focus as before the scrolling text reappeared immediately.

When I moved my centre of vision slightly away, whether along the hair or the web, the illusion disappeared. There were a couple of other places where the hair crossed in front of the web but they didn’t produce the effect. It was something specific about that spot looked at in a certain way (as well as having something to do with chemistry in my head and ‘zoning’ while grooming Ananda I suppose).

I sat watching for some time (without reducing my attention on cleaning Ananda – I don’t need my eyes for it and it’s that kind of headspace) and it seemed as sharp and stable as if a real, tiny translucent screen was somehow hanging in thin air displaying backwards scrolling gibberish. After a while I gently touched the hair to see if I could move or disrupt the image and it disappeared immediately. After a few minutes trying to put the hair close enough to the original spot to get the same effect I gave up. I think the way it was quivering was a factor and after touching it I probably couldn’t get the frequency back.

So, neuro-blah-blah-blah, optical interference patterns blah, blind spot visual processing blah, blah, my history of psychosis, substance abuse and staring into screens blah, blah, blah, blah, blah?

Or did some cock-up programmer leave a small hole in the matrix where the source code shows through?

More BS

I could say there’s a way to feel it, but I could just as honestly say there’s a way to sense it, experience it, know it, have it or be it. It’s all the same kind of bullshit.

If there’s a way to say it that isn’t bullshit I either haven’t heard it or I don’t speak the language.

Communication is not just impossible, it’s misleading and redundant.

That was bullshit too.


They’re made of people but they’re not human. Nor are they mechanical, though some may strive to make them so. Their behaviour is largely emergent, influenced primarily by the imperatives of their operating environments – growth, profit, survival … – rather than by the intent or values of those who are constituent parts.

Regardless of rank, if members of institutions fail to carry out their functions in accordance with those imperatives they are forced to comply or expelled. Otherwise the institution itself risks failure, probably at the hands of competing institutions. Thus they evolve.

Where does volition lie? With the termite or the hive? With the neuron or the mind? Is there a border between thought and groupthink?

Some of our institutions serve us, protect us and nurture us. But all extract a price. Some of our institutions abuse us, oppress us and threaten our existence. Sometimes the price is too high.

We can try to influence our institutions but as individuals we can’t control them; from without or within. They are bigger, more complex and more powerful us. Some have existed for thousands of years. We can try to face them collectively but doing so spawns more institutions.

Our institutions are killing us yet we rely on them to survive.
Can we stop them?


The Magic Socialist — Consent Factory, Inc.

… because he says it better than I do.

So here it is, the announcement we’ve been waiting for … all aboard for another cruise on the new and improved U.S.S. Magic Socialist with your captain Bernie Sanders at the helm! If you’re not familiar with this extraordinary vessel, it’s like the luxury liner in The Magic Christian, except catering to credulous American socialists […]

via The Magic Socialist — Consent Factory, Inc.

There’s no leopards like snow leopards …

… and no journalism like snow(-job) journalism.

Not snow leopards.

According to the Guardian, this is a pair of Chinese snow leopards.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they can’t tell a lynx from a leopard. They can’t tell Luke Harding from a journalist either.




I’ve screen capped and Waybacked the ‘leopard’ photo because I expect the Guardian to correct it soon. They made a stupid mistake but it was probably an honest one. I’m not holding my breath waiting for them to correct Harding’s long litany of fake news though. Some things never change their spots.


Postscript (24-Feb-2019): It’s gotta be satire, right? The Guardian is now pitching for donations with this gem of self-delusional self-promotion appended to its reports on the Mueller inquiry.

As the Mueller investigation unfolds … The Guardian offers clarity at this critical moment in American history. As the most momentous political probe since Watergate plays out, we will continue to provide insight, analysis and factual reporting to help bring the truth to light.

In fact the Guardian has been a major source of the blizzard of spin, distortion and outright lies that have characterised mainstream reporting on alleged links between the Kremlin and Trump since they were first aired. They have not only made the compulsive liar Donald Trump look honest by comparison – vindicating some of his vicious attacks on the media and handing him an ideal re-election issue – but have repeatedly smeared Julian Assange and Wikileaks with false reports linking them to the Trump campaign. Even worse is that ‘Russiagate’ has effectively closed down many diplomatic channels between the world’s two major nuclear powers. Any US official making positive overtures towards Moscow is likely to find himself accused in the media of ‘collusion’ or worse.

Whether it’s Trump, conflicts in the middle east, libelling Jeremy Corbyn, attacks on real independent journalism or pretty much anything to do with Russia, it’s become clear there is no place for factual reporting in the Guardian.

Checking my privilege

I’ve pretty much got it all. Always have. And for most of my life I’ve known it.

A passes-for-white articulate male from a first world country I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, globally speaking. I hated school but got good enough grades and didn’t turn out to be gay. So I was clear of the ghetto. Almost.

Born at the dawn of generation X I was too young to be sent to Vietnam but old enough to scramble up the ladders of free tertiary education and good jobs for professionals before the baby boomers pulled them up after them. I got in pretty much at the ground floor of Australia’s IT revolution.

And I have superpowers.

I knew from the comics that having them had their drawbacks and I sure have mine. Us super-folk are aliens. Don’t think we don’t feel it. But my powers and vulnerabilities aren’t separate to me. They are me. When they help me they’re talents. When they hinder me they’re shortcomings.

It was studying psychology at university that taught me their names, though it wasn’t the first time I’d heard them. The voices had been saying them for a while. Psychosis. Asperger’s. Bipolar.

While learning the labels I also learned to avoid them and it wasn’t just horror stories from Chelmsford that taught me why I should. Substance abuse offers reasons, if not excuses, for aberrant behavior as well as being interesting and fun at times. My superpower boosted careers gave me the means to maintain it. For a while.

Naturally I share the chief preoccupation of the ultra-privileged. Freedom. Because, you know, we can. Unless we’re too busy chasing the next fix; whatever that may be.

I soon gave up my most restrictive addictions and was able to roam Asia for years with little fear for my personal safety and little more burden than I carried in my backpack (which included a thick wad of travellers cheques courtesy of my IT career). I’m always on the lookout for how I might carry even less and perhaps I learned about it differently as an ultra-privileged white person in poor countries than I would have as a somewhat privileged partly indigenous person in a rich country. Especially when those poor countries have a very long and rich tradition of seeking to understand freedom and the search for it. My birth privileges and sectionable superpowers had helped me out again.

Then my powers turned on me. I think I knew they would. They’d always played rough. I crept into a kryptonite cage of my own devising and there I stayed for almost a decade. I still recognised my powers and privileges as me. I was still proud and ashamed of them. But now I named them. I sought help for them. Most of which I refused. Except for the disability pension. Even when they stopped me from doing much at all my powers were still putting food on the table. Thanks to my privileged birth.

Need I say it was a superpower that freed me from my cage? One of its names is psychosis but there’s another that acknowledges the incredible privilege of it. Grace. It isn’t mine after all. It just is.

I’ve always loved stories. Hated them too. Especially ones about me. I could say I’m free of them now but that’s disingenuous. It would be another story and wouldn’t be me. None of them are. Unless I’m some sort of cartoon scratched out in one dimensional narrative. A self-drawn comic strip. I still like stories though. I like making them up. Which is lucky as I’m always doing it.

What if my superpowers had never been super? What if they’d been diseases or disabilities instead? What if they weren’t part of me but something attacking me from the outside? Would my story have been different? Would I be me? Would I be free? Would I have a different idea of what freedom is?

But that’s not a story I’ve lived. Another privilege I suspect.

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