DAY 136: Time is Money

July 1st, 2015 § 0 comments

How’s that for a trite observation? (you’ll say). Not by the time I’m through wth it, since I bet you spend relatively little time (or indeed money) seriously considering the proper definition of these two contentious terms.

But first, and more urgently, a friend, indeed a Friend, has raised the question of starting non-violent resistance to ISIS. I’ve tried introducing the topic around the pubs and on the marches which I frequent, and been laughed out of court when I wasn’t beaten to a pulp. But seriously folks, can you say that violent resistance has done very well so far?

A recent(ish) article in HuffPo which I strongly recommend shows that this line of thinking (the search for non-violent alternatives) has now become sort of mainstream, and those of us

us-installation-artist-spencerNon-violent naked protest on a glacier

who used to think only of bombing the shit out of people are now concerned to develop meaningful dialogue with non-state actors in civil society in small groups with facilitators. I quote from Eli S. McCarthy, Director of Justice and Peace with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (how’s that for a title?):

‘I along with many other religious leaders have identified specific ways to engage this conflict, with a recent webinar (ugh!) and action alert. One of the key ways is a political track that involves a regional approach including Iran, but also identifying people of influence with members of ISIS. These people can create lines of communication with low, mid and perhaps in time with upper level leaders to identify grievances or needs and seek to peel away support. The reality is that lines of communication have already been happening but in a minimal and peripheral way. Multiple negotiations (ex. with the Peshmerga, Turkey, Jordan, U.S. citizens, etc.) have occurred with ISIS over hostages from different state and non-state actors. Members of ISIS are still human beings.’

I think McCarthy should study the writings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and George Fox to improve his style, but the main point stands. It’s worth a try, and I tried to put the point to David Cameron while we were waiting at Kingham station, but he seemed to have difficulty catching on.

The Time-Money Equation

This occurred to me, as it has to many others, as I looked at my phone and marvelled at how for a (relatively) low cost, it managed to embody a complete GPS system. Yet (I reasoned), my phone must make a reasonable shot at comparing the 24 satellites’ account of the time with its own. The satellites run on atomic clocks, which I’m told will set you back $50,000 each if you’re lucky. [I'll spare you recent data, available in Wired, which explain that if you supercool an atomic clock so as to make it really really accurate, then the theory of relativity predicts that it will be inaccurate.] My phone manufacturers reckon they can simply jam in a clunky quartz clock and count on making a handsome profit. If they couldn’t do that there wouldn’t be any point in commercial GPS which as we know makes huge sums from phone users, from motorists, and for that matter from Inuit trackers 2c(See Aporta, C., & Higgs, E. (2005). ‘Satellite culture – global positioning systems, Inuit wayfinding, and the need for a new account of technology’. Current Anthropology, 46(5)). How can we get a true reckoning of where we are, given the hopeless inaccuracy of our time measurement – which in turn is dictated by the need to save money and maximize profit?

I’m glad to say, the answer is ‘Mathematics’. And while some of the mathematics behind GPS is hard 20th century stuff (general relativity and quantum theory), the argument about saving money is much older and simple. Basically it’s a theorem which says:

‘You can jiggle five inaccurate measurements of position in space to get one really super-accurate one.’

I don’t know how much they paid the mathematician who thought up how to use this theorem to make huge profits for Samsung and iPhone and their like. Not enough, if you ask me. But how does the profit Einstein got for the General Theory compare with that which the phone companies make by applying it to the variation in the Earth’s gravitational field? I rest my case.

You ask: Why does Facebook censor pictures of breastfeeding but not pictures of beheading?

Answer: There’s a lot of loose talk going round that this is because Zuckerberg et al are a bunch of sexist crypto-jihadists. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the policy of what to display of Facebook is determined by Zuckerberg’s analyst, who is an orthodox Kleinian and recognizes that the original and primary aggression is that of the breastfed infant against the breastfeeding mother.

IMG_0399Bad breast collage

In comparison with this primary trauma (which occurs, you remember, at the onset of the paranoid-schizoid phase), beheading, or the re-introduction of the originary (disconnected) part-objects, might be seen as a healing process. Ergo, breastfeeding pictures are more deeply disturbing and in need of censorship.
Q. Why is the cultivation of gooseberries banned in the U.S.?

A. Hang on! It’s only illegal ‘in some areas’ of the U.S., reasonably because it’s a potential host for white pine blister rust., which you definitely don’t want. You can’t grow them in Maine. You can grow them all you like in former Czechoslovakia, where you probably make a sort of slivovits out of them if I know anything about Czechs.

Keep Calm Department

You’ve certainly been worrying about those news 29F5F86D00000578-3138908-image-m-75_1435231073062items about thousands of staphylococci being found on festival-goers’ wristbands (which had been worn for two years). Has it occurred to you that there is not a single report of a staph-induced infection on a 2013 Glasto-attender? Festival goers are tougher than you think, and if they can survive the mud, the noise, the cheap thrills,the queues for the loos, the hangovers, the heartache and the thousand natural shocks, why would a few bacteria stop them in their tracks? Plus, they have the Vaccines to protect them,,,


We have, I think, to find a work which alludes to the Greek situation. For example, ‘The Greek government has demanded that Germany pays it back €279bn (£205bn) in loans Greece was forced to give the Nazi authorities who occupied the country during World War Two’ - which relates, as many analysts (I won’t tell you who) to the post-war past, as recounted by Seferis – for example – in his 1945 ”Gymnopaidia, Postscript”.

“Γυμνοπαιδία, Υ.Γ.”

Η θάλασσα που σε πήρε μακριά
τόσο απαλή σαν τον κόρφο μητέρας
αυτή το ξέρει.

Ό,τι ρωτούσες σαν ήσουν παιδί
τέτοια ψελλίζουν τώρα οι γερόντοι·
φαντασίες για ανώφελα αντικείμενα
σαν κλειδωμένες κασέλες πνιγμένων θαλασσινών.
Κοίταξε· φοβούνται το φως του ήλιου
φοβούνται να ιδούν·
παραμιλούν, δεν έχουν άλλο.

Παιδιά μεγάλωσαν πεινώνταςchildren
ξεριζώνοντας δέντρα ερημώνοντας τα βουνά·
άλλα παιδιά ρωτούν και σ’ αποκρίνουνται
γιατί πήγαν ένα βήμα παρακάτω-
στην ανηφόρα; στην κατηφόρα;
δεν ξέρω, το ίδιο κάνει·
κι έχουν ακόμη πολλές φωτιές
ν’ ανάψουν για τ’ Αι-Γιαννιού το πανηγύρι.

Έλεγα κάποτε, το αίμα
φέρνει το αίμα κι άλλο αίμα—
το πήραν για παράσταση σαλτιμπάγκων,
άχρηστα παραμύθια.
Ψιθύριζα ακόμη, βαριές οι πέτρες
κι ασήκωτες οι μυλόπετρες
που άκουσες μια βραδιά να σταματούν
στο σύνορο του καιρού,
και τραγικά τα νέα κορμιά που βούλιαξαν—

“Τριμμένα ρούχα” λέγαν οι φαρμακοί.
—Μα πώς θα ντυθούμε στην παγωνιά
όταν δεν έχουμε καινούργια;
Και τι να πεις στους φίλους σου
σαν έχουν πίκρα και σωπαίνουν
και τα περιπαθή τραγούδια τα γλεντούν
μόνο οι μεγάλες πόρνες;

Και τούτο ακόμη· να ξεχωρίσεις
μια στιγμή ζωής, να ξεχωρίσεις
τον άνεμο που κλονίζει τα τριαντάφυλλα
και τα τριαντάφυλλα, στο μικρό περιβόλι
σε μια φούχτα γης—
και τούτο το προσπάθησα, θα ‘λεγα
όχι καθόλου σαν είδος στοχασμού
αλλά σαν είδος ανάσας
δικής μου, δικής σας,
ή καλύτερα σαν είδος μιας φωνής·
άνεμος η φωνή και διαβαίνει.

Η θάλασσα που σε πήρε μακριά
και σε ξανάφερε στο γνώριμο λιμάνι
χαρίζοντάς σου τη σιγή μπροστά στη σκάλα
την ανεξάντλητη του μεσημεριού,
ξέρει να σου εξηγήσει
τη Μεγάλη Παρασκευή και το Πάσχα.

The sea that took you far away
so soft like a mother’s breast,
the sea knows.

Whatever you used to ask when you were a child
such things that now old men mumble;
fantasies about useless objects
like locked trunks of drowned sailors.
Look, they fear the light of the sun
they fear seeing;
they babble, they have nothing else.

Children grew up hungry
uprooting trees devastating the mountains;
other children ask and they answer you
why did they go one step farther—
on the ascent? on the descent?
I don’t know, it makes no difference;
and they still have many fires
to light for the feast of St. John.

I used to say, blood
brings blood and more blood—
they took it to be the performance of a buffoon,
useless folktales.
Still I would whisper, stones are heavy
and the millstones are unliftable
that you heard stopping one night
on the edge of time,
and the young bodies that drowned tragic—

“Tattered clothing” said the scapegoats.
—But how will we dress in the cold
when we have nothing new?
And what will you say to your friends
when they are sorrowful and fall silent
and the passionate songs are celebrated
only by extravagant whores?

And still this: to set apart
one moment of life, to distinguish
the wind that shakes the roses
and the roses, in the little garden
in one handful of earth—
and this I tried to do, I would say
not at all as a kind of reflection
but as a kind of breath
mine, yours,
or better yet as a kind of voice;
voice is like the wind and it passes through.

The sea took you far away
and it brought you back to the familiar port
giving you the silence in front of the moorings
the boundless silence of the mid-day,
the sea knows how to teach you
the meaning of Good Friday and Easter.


Staying on the Greek theme – and resisting the temptation (always present) to launch into another zingy Xenakis number  - I don’t seem to have posted anything by the late great Grigoris Bithikotsis. Who would certainly have supported Syriza, I imagine. Here’s his signature ‘Aristokratis Mangas‘. The aristocratic robber – which of the troika was he thinking of?


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