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Trump / Clinton Debate – The Optics of Optics

tc-opticsWas it just me or was Clinton’s head larger than Trump’s on the CNN cameras? It almost seemed as if CNN corrected the difference in subsequent internet stories about the debate, making the two candidates’ heads look the same size, with the background text all nicely lined up.

But in the actual televised debate, I’m not so sure.

Take a look at the above screenshot from a post-debate CNN stream, in which various commentators talk about and show clips from the debate.

Hillary’s circle is clearly larger than Donald’s.

Is this fair? Or was it a case of subtly making Trump look “alone at the microphone” as Neil Young once put it.

Again, I can’t say for certain but at the beginning, especially, I felt that Clinton’s head was bigger. There were times when she loomed large on the TV screen while Trump seemed to hang like a lonely puppet dangling from strings.

CNN commentators analyzed every detail… except for this—surprising, considering how sharp those folks usually are.

What do you think? Was Hillary’s head bigger on screen? Or did they balance out over time?


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Hey Hillary: From Us ‘Deplorables’

I live in Canada and watch the US electoral hype with a sense of bemusement. Sometimes it seems that the endless commentary at CNN is mostly about media personalities jockeying to advance their careers and, of course, more advertising revenues for CNN. But I also know it’s not quite that simple. The guy who does that amazing podcast at Spotify about the Romans likens the USA to the Roman Empire. In some ways I agree with him. Both fun to study. —MC

The Foxhole

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The Disease – A poem I wrote a few years before 9/11

9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center (New York)

The Disease

I’ve watched it grow
I’ve seen it sow
true minds into despair

souls of sorrow
ladened deep
burning horrid stares

I’ve seen it work
at lightning speed
to destroy mankind’s seed

through the air
it does its deed
this is its only care

sans partiality
sans decency
Yes, this is “the disease”

You over there!
you believe you’re clear
of this melancholy breeze?

Well let me tell you
if you please
it’s a fatal,
dreadful siege

For once contracted
once enacted
you’ll go on normally
“it’s okay”
“I’m just fine”
“yes, I think I am still free”

But then, alas!
the grippe is tightened
beyond all points of ease
and shipwrecked sailors on the sea of life
all drown
irrevocably

Yes I’ve seen this blight
‘cross this land
and winds are blowing high
no apple pie nor starlit nights
will save this rotting sky
all is darkened
all are dead
all are doomed to die

Lance it fast while time remains
avoid a fearsome plight
destroy this curse
and rest assured
your mark is
for the
light

Cast it out and let us pray
“Lord give us back our sight”
Cast it out to guarantee,
Truth shall conquer might


The Disease © Michael Clark 1997 to present. All rights reserved.

This is a poem I wrote somewhere between 1997 and 1999. I’d just finished my Ph.D and was living in the top floor of an old, run-down house in Ottawa, the national capital of Canada.

At first, I saw “The Disease” as a metaphor for ideas like J.-P. Sartre’s bad faith, Erich Fromm’s mechanical man, Albert Camus’ The Plague and the sociological concept of false consciousness. That is, how some psychologically underdeveloped or skewed people can oppress innocent people.

The poem wasn’t planned. It mostly came via stream of consciousness, with a bit of tweaking after I’d typed out the main parts. While tapping away on my old 286 laptop I remember thinking just how foreboding it was becoming (“rotting sky…all are doomed to die”) and not really knowing why. I followed my instinct and didn’t delete the disquieting parts, although I did consider it for a moment.

After 9/11, I felt that this utterly foreboding verse could be taken as a premonition. As the new millennium approached, not a few artists and sensitives seemed to be picking up something truly rotten on their radar.

That said, around the same time as writing the poem, I was reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno. So one could say that I wasn’t foreseeing anything but, rather, subconsciously aping the greats and their treatment of evil.

God only knows.

By the time of the 9/11 attacks, I’d moved to Toronto, a larger, more cosmopolitan city. On the afternoon of 9/11/2001 I took a walk down Yonge Street, one of the busier streets, and felt a quiver of fear as I looked at our skyscrapers. Would they hit several cities? I can only imagine how New Yorkers must have felt. And watching the memorials today on TV only reminds me of what a pack of losers those are who hate and try to undermine the developed world.


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William Gibson’s influential “Neuromancer” – A thought-provoking review at Stuff Jeff Reads


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A Little End of Summer Arts and Culture

Last night I had two scary dreams. One was that some burly stooges posing as workers for a home security company came to my childhood home to physically abduct me. I awoke startled.

The second dream had me back in university. My dorm room had been changed from a distant, satellite dorm at the edge of town to another room more central within the university village. All the books and items in the room looked vaguely familiar but not quite right. Next thing I knew, some creepy people came in, began to set up a portable operating table, and told me I was scheduled for an operation. When I asked an attendant “What operation?” she replied “I don’t know.”

Sensing serious danger, I asked to make a call and woke up, thinking I would have had to be like that guy in The Fugitive to escape something horrible.

Truly scary dreams. I hope they just mean slow down and take it easy for a while, which is what I intend to do today. Everyone else gets summer holidays and, although I’m not going anywhere physically different, I think I’ll just take in some arts and culture for a while, and post my discoveries here.

The most recent discovery is tweeted at the top of the page. I like this painting. Notice how the more important guy has better, more ostentatious clothing and bigger, more expressive eyes. What really struck me, however, was the larger globe in the picture. Fascinating how mythological creatures are intertwined with the scientific mapping (zoom in to see). We’ve lost that mythic connection to science, although some writers like James Hillman suggest that we’re just fooling ourselves. The mythic is still present and even science is a kind of mythic pattern.

I guess that’s in line with what I’ve been arguing all along here at Earthpages.org and Earthpages.ca. But as I said, it’s my holiday, of sorts, and I don’t feel like going into it any further right now!

Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora...

Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora Stock during Mozart’s visit to Dresden, April 1789 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other discovery, made last night, is something I’m listening to right now: Venice Classical Radio. I almost feel like I’m living in some little flat in Venice while listening to this excellent station. The selections are accessible but relatively uncommon. I’ve only heard one Mozart staple, which I enjoyed anyhow (pretty hard not to like Mozart).

 


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Forget loving the alien… AI raises new questions about consciousness, the soul and love

Back in the 80s David Bowie’s song, “Loving the Alien” anticipated an idea which would become more mainstream with the proliferation of specialty TV and radio channels: Would it be possible for a human being to fall in love with an alien?

Today’s hot question again reflects pop culture and recent tech. Aliens are old hat. But computers, well, that’s a whole new vista. We’re seeing a lot more stories about the possibility of artificial intelligence possessing actual consciousness. And sci-fi movies and novels about human beings and machines falling in love are on the rise.

Whether or not AI really possesses consciousness is something we may never know. One could say that AI is just organized energy. And so are we. Therefore both have consciousness created by our respective degrees of energy organization.

Others, usually religious people, insist we have souls but machines do not. And the soul, they say, is the true center of consciousness. So soulless machines simply mimic consciousness.

But how do these religious believers know that God would not bestow souls on machines?

Can religious traditionalists be 100% sure?

Artificial Intelligence (John Cale album)

Artificial Intelligence (John Cale album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we look into the human body, it really is an electro-chemical apparatus. Those nerve impulses scientists are always talking about, well, they are transmitted through electrical changes within the body.

So fear not. If you happen to be falling in love with your computer or talking car, you just might not be a social misfit compensating through imaginary love.  And even if we never know for sure, the future no doubt will see closer links among men, women, and machines.


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Excellent video about Neurotheology

I’ve panned Dr. Andrew Newberg in the past for making seemingly simplistic claims. But it’s very possible I was wrong to do so. Either that, or his thinking and scientific humility has developed dramatically. This video reveals an Andrew Newberg that I really didn’t know existed. As Yoda might have said, “Pleasantly surprised, I was…”

But seriously. This video is a must for anyone interested in the interface of spirituality, religious practices, and the brain. Follow the link in the above tweet and scroll down the page to watch.