Sunday, March 31, 2013

12 Twenty-Nineth Beginning (Nanowrimo 2007) Organizing Aunt Sheila

[Welcome to the middle of a long conversation between and Aunt and the Niece she has never met and who has been sent by the family to "help orgainize."  Do not read any part of this as if it were a completed story or you will be disappointed. In 2007, my strategy for Nanowrimo was to call my efforts 'literary' use that as an excuse to dump ideas and references that had been collecting in my mind and desk and files for years.  I skipped linear progression.]

[I also skipped quotation marks and dialog tags.  They may or may not go back.  I kind of like the ambiguity.]

[Barbara has collected stacks of notes and is reading from them as she and her Aunt Sheila sit on a log in a meadow an undetermined distance away from nearby houses.]

Leopard calling.

Leopard calling is something that chimps do.  And maybe baboons.


Yes, and behavior, if you need a keyword

Chimps are always competing for status.  The top chimp is always under subtle or not so subtle attack.  But there’s one way that he can sidetrack the pressure for a time.

You see, the top chimp is always alert, watching out for the troop.  He makes a special call that alerts everyone that there is a leopard in the area.  All of his lieutenants jump into position to support him when he makes the call.  And for awhile after that, for the good of the group, there is cooperation against an outside threat instead of competition within the group.

So, every once in awhile, if there’s been pressure building from below. . .

. . . he leopard calls when there is no leopard.

That’s right.  Human leaders do it too.  It’s also a well known technique for bringing people, like voters, into a group that they wouldn’t have otherwise felt the need to be part of.

That’s blog material, too.

It’s significant.  Certainly it’s something that humans need to know about humans.

Do you think that the top chimp does it on purpose.  Or does he just start wanting to see a leopard and maybe misinterprets something as a leopard.

That would certainly help make it convincing.  But I can’t think of anyway to test it.  And nothing related has ever made the Sunday Supplements. 

Barbara paused, stroking the side of the laptop.

Okaaay.  How about:  “Jim Al-Khalili's Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed is about the best book I've found for explaining this to a non-technical audience and has some beautiful illustrations besides. Give that a shot.” 

Books I’ve never read.  Sounds like a good one.

And we just need the title and author?


Christopher Booker in his "Seven Basic Plots -- why we tell stories"

Same.  Although I’m curious as to how much ‘why’ is in there and whether it’s Primatology.

Gotcha.  “If you can get any books be Eric Kandel, he is (IMO) the dude when it comes to memory.  Principles Of Neural Science Memory...Mind to Molecules. If you read the first, you may be able to follow the second.”  That sounds like two books.

Yes, can you pick them apart?  Sheila leaned over.

Yes.  I think it’s Principles Of Neural Science as one and Memory...Mind to Molecules as two.

And if it’s not, we’ll figure it out later.

Gotcha.  How about:  Self-Coaching: How to Heal Anxiety and Depression by Joseph J. Luciani, PhD, From Panic to Power by Lucinda Bassett, The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, M.D., and Power over Panic by Bronwyn Fox. I believe they are all available through Chapters.

Just the titles and authors. 

Are you sure you want to spend the time on these.  You’ve got stuff of your own going.

It’s easier to delete them then to get references for them again.

Right.  Included in his works as author and/or editor are By the Late John Brockman, The Third Culture, Digerati: Encounters with the Cyber Elite;editor of The Greatest Inventions in the Past Two Thousand Years, and The Next Fifty Years : Science in the First Half of the Twenty-First Century; Science at the Edge.

Sounds like a bunch of books by one author.

And it sounds computer related. 

Yes, computers and how they change society.  Have you ever read Isaac Asimov’s space detective novels?  One has a planetary society in it where people are never in the same room as other people.  There’s a taboo against it, like against pooping in front of people.

Or farting in front of them.

I have a fart reference for you in Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos. 

Hang on.  I want to put that in my note doc instead of into the database.

College kids usually like Vonnegut. 

While the title is misleading, Dennett's Consciousness Explained is about the best take on consciousness from an evolutionary philosophy point of view. If you want to get more into the technical neurological detail of the brain and the processes of consciousness, I recommend Ian Glynn's An Anatomy of Thought. (Warning, this is pretty technical, despite being a nominally pop-science book, and you'll need a basic knowledge of biochemistry and neurology to make good headway through many sections of the book.)

Titles and Authors and the keyword dense

Cool.  Now, I’m going to shake my finger over this one.


Yes.  It says I don't think you're geeky enough for the internet...

Not merely a joke, but an entire career: Vaughn Meader's The First Family, released in 1962. It satirized JFK, his administration and his family. It broke all sorts of records in sales and won the "best album" Grammy. Everyone, including JFK himself, loved the album, and Vaughn Meader was an instant superstar.  Then came November 22, 1963. The album was pulled off the shelves, Meader's career was effectively over, and he basically never performed again, with a few rare exceptions.

And your finger will shake because. . .

You got this off of the internet and printed it out.  We hooked up to the internet to get rid of all of these papers sitting around.  You’re not supposed to be adding to the mess.

Have I ever told you about the theory of the paperless office?

No.  But it sounds like a good idea.  We’ll probably evolve to it eventually.

You’d think so.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those work expanding to fill the time available things.  And a cover your ass thing.

Cover your ass?

Keep the record clear so no one can blame you for something that you didn’t do.  Office communications can be tricky.

Now, you’ve suddenly got the capacity to make changes in a document quickly.  Where before it would have required typing out a whole book to make a few changes, now you can just slip the changes in.  So everyone wants to, right up until it goes out the door. 

And as the document is routed for comments and approvals, everyone wants to track the changes they requested, so copies are made.  Copies will let you say later that you asked for that change, or, no that’s Bill’s handwriting.  So copies of multiple versions of the same document are made and filed for future ass-covering purposes.

And since the copies can be made easily, instead of only by carbon copy, everyone wants to make one and keep it.  So they can remember to add it to their resume if it turns out that being associated with the document turns out to be a good thing.

Lots more changes.  Lots more versions.  Lots more copies.  Filed in lots more places.  Not less paper.  More.  Word processing generated a lot more paper for any given office.  Because the printout can’t be changed, but the electronic version can.  They can change it as soon as you’ve approved it.  They can change it years later, trying to cover their own asses.

No paperless office until the electronic versions can be locked into your personal equipment and used in the same way.  And even then, anyone who has been in an office long knows about the computer files that can no longer be read because we don’t have that program any more.  Or we don’t have an old enough version of that program.  Or the files got corrupted. 

The computer can’t take six inch floppies any more.  It can’t take ticker tape.  It can’t take two inch floppy or a zip drive or an Euler disc.  The electronics go out of fashion and you’re screwed.  All that data and no way to retrieve it.

But the paper can be read with your eyes.  Just your eyes.  No electronics necessary.  The language isn’t going to change fast enough to mess you up.  Your eyes aren’t going to upgrade to the point that they can’t read it.  Paper is golden. 

There will be no paperless office in my lifetime.  Paperless archives, maybe.  For organizations that can keep up with maintaining them.  So that shifts to new programs or equipment won’t result in orphan files.

And maybe you’ll live long enough to see things slow down and standardize.  The train tracks eventually standardized.  The electricity standardized.  Computer Operating Systems have standardized enough that you can read a document written on a Mac on an IBM.  There was a time when you couldn’t do that.  But I won’t live to see it.  I’ll see more paper, not less.

Are you finished?

I supposed.  Eyes batted.

Now, can you start a file for these things that you print out, at least?  I was going to ask you to just email them to me.  But if you need to hold it and see it in your hand, that’s okay.  I can do the extra work.

There was a pause, then their eyes met and they both cracked up.

I’ll try to remember to email it to you.  It’s just the old fogeyhood.  And I do want to see them.  Maybe in a 3-ring binder, when it’s all done.  I like to flip through.

They’re starting to get computers that you can do that with.

Hugely expensive.

Probably.  Next.

“I’m the end of a Raymond Carver Story”  Cat and Girl

That’s from a webcomic.  I don’t know who Raymond Carver is or what his stories are like. 

But you want to get the joke.  I’ll add it to Books.


Then you’ve got the Kinky Friedman bibliography.  I assume you’ve read some of them.  I’m not reading off the ISBN’s.

Don't bother reading the titles.  Just list them all with a question mark.  I’ll go through and see if which ones I’ve read.  I can never decide if I’d really enjoy meeting that man or if I’d want to slap his face in two minutes.

I’m going to have to try one, with that kind of recommendation.

He is a true raconteur. 

What is that.

A very special kind of story teller.
Cool - -

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