All posts made the week commencing Sunday 19 Jan., 2003:

Chemistry guides evolution, claims theory: "As these primitive cells, or prokaryotes, extracted hydrogen from water they released oxygen, making the environment more oxidising. [...] But these oxidising elements could also damage the reducing chemistry in the cytoplasm. [...] For protection, there was just one option: isolate the elements within internal compartments, says Williams. And that gave rise to eukaryotes - single-celled organisms with a nucleus and other organelles". And then later, "Williams admits their theory has limitations. For instance, he agrees that Dawkins's argument is correct in that chance events drive the development of species. But he does not believe random events drive evolution overall. 'Whatever life throws away will become the thing that forces the next step in its development'."

So two interesting things in this article: first is that the choices made in one step of the evolution of a system become embedded in the environment for the next step (I'm happy with that). Second is the claim that this somehow removes chance, because if the system can only respond to the environment in a certain way, and the environment itself is actually a product of the system over time, then the path of development is inevitable. Which I'm not happy with. The mechanism of change isn't push, it isn't deciding on a solution and working towards it: it's pull, making all possible changes at once (given a large enough pool), and only the fit-for-purpose surviving. It's typical of what bugs me about New Scientist. A sensible, insightful idea (breaking the system/environment divide) spoiled by sensationalist journalism (the end of evolution!!!).

The following is from Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut (and thank you Google Answers):

Paul Slazinger has had all his clothes and writing materials brought here. He is working on his first volume of non-fiction, to which he has given this title: The Only Way to Have a Successful Revolution in Any Field of Human Activity.

For what it's worth: Slazinger claims to have learned from history that most people cannot open their minds to new ideas unless a mind-opening team with a peculiar membership goes to work on them. Otherwise, life will go on exactly as before, no matter how painful, unrealistic, unjust, ludicrous, or downright dumb that life may be.

The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise, the revolution, whether in politics or the arts of the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.

The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius -- a person capable of having seeminly good ideas not in general circulation. 'A genius working alone,' he says, 'is invariably ignored as a lunatic.'

The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. 'A person working like that alone,' says Slazinger, 'can only yearn out loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be.'

The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain anything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be. 'He will say almost anything in order to be interesting or exciting,' says Slazinger. 'Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.'

It seems to me that the music industry have more than half won if they've succeeded in setting the terms for debate such that it's an established fact that music sales have decreased. I've seen no proof of this. Especially not since: we've just moved out of the CD boom of people replacing their vinyl; we're in a recession, or at least a slow-down, and consumers are spending less; anecdotally, marketing budgets are down. This is even without: people might be spending their money on movies instead (I heard DVD sales are good); the big music labels are churning out manufactured crap that doesn't appeal to a large section of the market (grown-ups). And I think it's fair if I use myself as an example because I'm precisely the sort of person who downloads and shares music: I buy more CDs than I used to, not less. Have music sales genuinely gone down? I'm not convinced.

"It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was halfway through replacing the lock on my front door, and would you believe it: I ran out of nand gates. Damn. The door build is broken and I've got to go out to the shops".

I don't know what it is about writing for Upsideclown but occassionally I lapse into a kind of idle sci-fi, near-future mundane events. And that's what's happened today, but who cares cos I enjoy it. Fresh today: The same old subroutine.