The Beach Boys

Ben, from Crescent Beach, and George, from Qualicum Beach.

The Spring Writes Conference in Nanaimo, held on May 2-5, was organized by the Federation of BC Writers. Rutherford Press was there in full force with the Beach Boys happily showing visitors the several books by Ben Nuttall-Smith, along with the new titles by Dr. Michael Catchpole, John Napier-Hemy, and George Opacic.

Favourite titles ranged across fiction and non-fiction: Mad Gods of the Toltecs, Crescent Beach Reflections, Anxiety: Debug It Don’t Drug It, Evacuee, In a Cloud of Sails, and Quantum Events.

Thank you to all our visitors!

Happy reading and Good writing!

FBCW & VPL

Rutherford Press will be at two upcoming events. Come on out to say hi to Ben Nuttall-Smith, George Opacic and John Napier-Hemy!

Federation of BC Writers at Nanaimo/VI Convention Centre, 80 Commercial St., Saturday May 4th, from 10 am.

Vancouver Public Library, Writing & Publishing Fair, Saturday May 11th, from 11 am.

See you there!

From Whence Comes Anxiety?

Anxiety comes from…

The mind or the brain?

If it is the brain, there are a phalanx of drugs being promoted that purport to alleviate the symptoms.

If your anxiety comes from your mind, it can be eliminated by professional coaching.

Your choice: drugging the symptoms, or removing the anxiety by having a direct conversation with its cause.

Weigh the consequences of either option: Drugs such as benzodiazepines, opiates or alcohol are dangerously addictive and only mask the reason for your anxiety; Coaching by a certified psychologist using CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) will attack the source of your anxiety and place in your hands the proven tools to stop anxiety from taking over your life.

To mask anxiety or to get rid of it?

Your choice. Read Anxiety: Debug It Don’t Drug It, by Dr. Michael Catchpole, available through Rutherford Press:

Anxiety: Debug It Don’t Drug It

Is the Internet Breaking?


One hundred-and-fifty years ago, most countries had a postal service that enabled citizens to send and receive five or six messages every day. If you wanted to have afternoon tea with a friend, you could place the request into an envelope, drop the envelope into a mailbox by 10am, and have confirmation in time to dress for the occasion.

Today, we do the same with a variety of synchronous (phone, video) or asynchronous (text, email, etc.) technologies. The outcome has changed little – though, it is more likely to be coffee instead of tea.

With the vastly increased complexity of our new communication technologies – exacerbated by our loss of community oversight to private interests with only profit and corporate benefits in mind – there has been an equal increase in the number of access points for the transmitted information. And where there is such access, someone will seek to use it to personal advantage. “Community oversight” is now considered too naive a concept, so we have rules. As each rule is circumvented a new book of rules is required. The volumes of rules now requires armies of people in each country – bureaucrats and lawyers – to adversarially determine which “t” needs to be crossed and at what profit to whom.

We still know that we need some way to communicate with friends and family regarding the afternoon tea, so, holding our nose, we still use the services of the private, for-profit organizations to perform the human necessity of maintaining contact.

The unfortunate result is that humanity has created a virtually autonomous monster called “the internet”. And we really have no idea how to moderate the monster’s negative effects.

In fact, unknown to all but a tiny number of users of the internet, there are dedicated people working mostly as unpaid volunteers who struggle to deal with this monster. One such group is the European “RIPE”, described in Wikipedia: “RIPE is not a legal entity and has no formal membership. This means that anybody who is interested in the work of RIPE can participate through mailing lists and by attending meetings.”

Here is a fascinating peek into that mysterious world:

…………………………………

Posted by anti-abuse-wg ; on behalf of; Ronald F. G******* :

Perhaps some folks here might be interested to read these two reports, the first of which is a fresh news report published just a couple of days ago, and the other one is a far more detailed investigative report that was completed some time ago now.

Dossier Gubarev – Russian hackers

Court Document

Please share these links widely.

The detailed technical report makes it quite abundantly clear that Webzilla, and all of its various tentacles… many of which even I didn’t know about until seeing this report… most probably qualifies as, and has qualified as a “bullet proof hosting” operation for some considerable time now. As the report notes, the company has received over 400,000 complaints or reports of bad behavior, and it is not clear to me, from reading the report, if anyone at the company even bothered to read any more than a small handful of those.

I have two comments about this.

First, I am inclined to wonder aloud why anyone is even still peering with any of the several ASNs mentioned in the report. To me, the mere fact that any of these ASNs still have connectivity represents a clear and self-evident failure of “self policing” in and among the networks that comprise the Internet.

Second, its has already been a well know fact, both to me and to many others, for some years now, that Webzilla is by no means alone in the category commonly referred to as “bullet proof hosters”. This fact itself raises some obvious questions.

It is clear and apparent, not only from the report linked to above, but from the continuous and years-long existence of -many- “bullet proof hosters” on the Internet that there is no shortage of a market for the services of such hosting companies. The demand for “bullet proof”
services is clearly there, and it is not likely to go away any time soon. In addition to the criminal element, there are also various mischevious governments, or their agents, that will always be more that happy to pay premium prices for no-questions-asked connectivity.

So the question naturally arises: Other than de-peering by other networks, are there any other steps that can be taken to disincentivize networks from participating in this “bullet proof” market and/or to incentivize them to give a damn about their received network abuse complaints?

I have no answers for this question myself, but I felt that it was about time that someone at least posed the question.

The industry generally, and especially in the RIPE region, has a clear and evident problem that traditional “self policing” is not solving.
Worse yet, it is not even discussed much, and that is allowing it to fester and worsen, over time.

It would be Good if there was some actual leadership on this issue, at least from -some- quarter. So far I have not noticed any such worth commenting about, and even looking out towards the future horizon, I don’t see any arriving any time soon.

Regards,
rfg
…………………………………

Squids and Free Will

(from Quantum Events)

The absolute quiet wakes Simion with a start. Not wanting to let the least bit of heat out of his sleeping bag, he moves very carefully to face the pingo’s door. It looks OK.

The little ceramic heater is clicking its way toward cold.

He makes a minor but critical adjustment to a flap of blanket that covers the back of his head, up to his night toque.

Minutes, or tens of minutes, go by. Simion goes over in his mind what happened during the day; what he could have done better; what he wished he had been quicker about doing; the hot, monstrous mouth that was inches from his neck…

“This is going to be one of those long nights,” he mumbles.

“Dah,” answers Andrei.

“You awake too?”

“Heater wake me. Click, click, click. Never end. Get warm, get cold. You snore. Never end.”

Smiling, “I try hard. Perhaps if I lay on my back I can manage to let out some formidable snorts for you… At least it could keep the animals away.” Simion debates whether he should speak frankly. Something, anything to take his mind off that hot gaping mouth.

“Andrei.”

“Still here, my friend.”

Pensively, “Good… Do you ever wonder, ah, if people can hear, like, what…” He trails off.

“Like what what?”

“Things have happened to me, sometimes, so that I’m certain that, well, people can sometimes hear some of what I think.”

Andrei tries to remember the word. “Telepathy.”

“Yeah. Probably silly…”

“Know about squid?”

“Eight slithery tentacles; good camouflage; whales consider them a delicacy.”

“Speak with colour. Every cell on skin can change colour and, and texture. When nearby squid look sexy, colour shimmers in pattern. When food come in big bunch, squid tells other squid with shades of colour. When you catch squid for table, turn red ‘cause it mad as hell. Very smart – to control all of skin needs lots of neurons.”

“I didn’t know that, Andrei. I promise, the next time I have sushi, I’ll give it some thought.”

“What about colour-blind squid?”

“Huh?”

“What if one squid see no colour? Only grey. This squid see other squid talk and do thing, but colour-blind squid only see grey. Think other squid know what they say ‘cause of telepathy. Must be something like telepathy, ‘cause language of grey say little. Everybody must speak with telepathy, he think. He is wrong.”

Simion is stunned by the analogy.

Andrei carries on, “Is like Asperger symptom.”

“Ok. Ok, but I might have a little bit of that, yes, but why can people hear me?”

Andrei ponders that. “If true, prove. Think word. No – need science study…” He is about to launch into a research proposal.

“Thanks, Andrei, but never mind. I’ve already gone through that at a university. Did an intensive four hours of trying to beam my thoughts at research subjects. Nothing. Then, when the oh-so-skeptical assistant prof was wrapping up and telling me about random chance and probability, and I was so tired I just wanted to go and flake out on a couch, I was thinking, what the hell time is it? And he looks at his watch and says, ‘Four o’clock.’ I asked him why he said that. He said, ‘Because you asked me.’ I said, no I didn’t. The argument went on for a while, but nothing good came of it. So I’ve never brought it up before…”

Now, Andrei is wide awake. He tries to make a conscious effort to not think – which, of course, entails strenuous thinking. Soon he slips back to sleep, exhausted.

Simion ponders the Aspergers analogy. He thinks that it explains a few things… Sleep.

Next morning, Simion is still thinking about the colour-blind squid. He puts it into a letter to Laura. His and Andrei’s letters are saved in a mail packet.

Another listless night for Simion in the pingo. It is warmer, so he rolls over with less care about his blanket.

Warmer! What’s wrong?” he thinks, sitting up with a start. “The amount of light bleeding in around the door looks ok . Andrei is… breathing ok . Did the weather change?”

Listening intently, he hears nothing out of the ordinary. He settles back down, causing the plywood under his sleeping bag to creak against the gravel.

Andrei’s head turns toward him slowly. “Shto?”

“Nothing. Too warm. It woke me.”

Now Andrei does a perimeter search with his head raised. “Ok?”

“Yeah, I think so. Must be warmer outside.”

“Dah.” He rolls to his other side.

Several minutes pass.

“You’re not sleeping, are you?”

“No, my friend. Adrenalin do good job to keep head spinning. Thank you.”

Pause. He carries on, “Jebem. What is? Smell wood cell burning.”

“Grey cells. Just… thinking.”

“About…”

Simion sniffs. “About, well, I have this funny way of thinking.” He cuts off Andrei’s retort, “Yeah, and you’re crazy too, but it’s like…”

“Like vodka fog?”

“Shiraz is better for you. No. You know, I have this feeling/idea/certainty someplace in the back of my mind that if I can only take time to drag it out from back there, that there’s something that’ll be really important… That it’ll be an important contribution to how we see our society in the context of why we’re here.” He started slowly but ends with real feeling.

Andrei’s mind is thrown into visions of Paluntov saying the same thing, then he frantically races his mind in a dozen directions at once to avoid what he imagines is “transmitting”. Outwardly, Andrei is tensely stiff, focusing on a sliver of light from the door.

The lack of a voiced reply makes Simion think Andrei is ignoring him.

“Andrei! This is important!”

He relaxes a bit. “Three times important. Good job. Thank you – you make me sleep now.” He produces a snore, wide awake, still on the defensive.

A minute passes.

The effort is exhausting. Andrei rolls to his other side to calm down. He uses Simion’s technique of tossing out a non sequitur. “At night, I wake up sometime and think, ‘Bozhe moi! Is brilliant idea! Have to write idea down! Do in dark. In morning, words and scribble make no sense. Think grand idea in sleep. In morning light is all mish-mush. Mean nothing. Just nice dream… Go to sleep. Have more nice dream.”

Simion shakes his head. “Something weird is going on, Andrei. It’s not like I can hear voices in my head…”

Nodding, “Is good.”

“It’s that I find myself – I don’t know how; mostly when I’m tired – I’m actually inside somebody’s mind…”

Renewed panic scrambles Andrei’s thoughts. Simion waves at a buzzing sound around his ears.

“Is dangerous. Very dangerous, my friend.” Andrei sits up awkwardly, focusing on the outline of light around the door. He pulls his legs from out of the sleeping bag and sits on the box next to his bed.

Suddenly Simion feels a hot panic that he hadn’t felt since the three bullies from the block near his house caught him in an alley contemplating a twenty-dollar bill he’d found outside the local pub.

Heart racing, “What… what do you mean dangerous? Andrei?” Unwelcomed words push forward in his mind: cold death-trap, Russian soldier, rifle, middle-of-friggen-nowhere. He fumbles franticly with his sleeping bag, getting the extra blanket caught around his good arm.

Andrei turns toward him. Quietly, “Stop.”

Simion finally extracts himself, standing and breathing heavily on his side of the beds.

Staring back at the door, Andrei pulls out thoughts he never knew he had.

“Do not know if you hear me in ears or head. No matter – in pingo, in Mofin, attack by bear, we are friend, always.”

He turns again to face Simion. “Have poor English. But need to tell important thing. Man from Oceanographic Institute, Director Paluntov, very smart. More smart than anybody I know. He study philosophy, like you. He know much more.” Andrei smiles kindly at Simion. “Maybe you learn more in future.”

Simion is about to say something but Andrei holds up a hand.

“Paluntov tell me this philosophy very hard for understand. When he say this, I think he joke. Is impossible for simple Andrei to understand. Can say this. Philosophy guys always try understand what means person and what means community. And what connection is.”

Simion lights up. This is his favourite topic, with which he has turned many a party into stone.

“Ok. Like the presocratics, and then Sophists…”

“Only Sophis I know is last name Loren.”

Completely undeterred, Simion catches fire. “So the Greeks started the rational movement by questioning what an individual could do to change the course that their fickle gods had put him on. They came up with the idea that free will was something separate from the will of the gods or even the will of the community. And that it must be some thing that went along with your body but wasn’t really part of your body.”

“Paluntov have same eye like you. See thing not there.” Andrei, at this point, dearly wants to be speak and understand these concepts with Paluntov in Russian. He wants to engage intellectually with Simion, and yet the language barrier is palpable.

“The monotheistic religions…”

Andrei jumps in, “Tradition guys. Close-mind tradition…”

“Ok ok. You’re right. It was the traditionalists in the main religions that always took power away from the thinkers.” Simion shakes his head. “Why do we always end up getting led by closed-minded, as you say, power-hungry people with only enough vision to stay in control! Self-appointed gatekeepers!”

“You read this? My, my teacher say…”

When Simion is excited about a topic he forgets to be respectful of the other’s opinion. “I took this in university. Philosophy, religion, anthropology, biology, psychology, linguistics…”

“All interesting class. Problem I give you at start is why you want to jump both shoes into my mind?”

“Huh?”

“If punch face, I punch better. Or put on mask. Can do nothing if you stomp in brain.”

“Huh?” Simion is taken aback, like someone just told him to get his hands out of a lady’s purse.

“Is hard.” Andrei tries to dredge up Paluntov’s argument about free will. “What you think is your private. What I think, my private place. Want no stomp. Want no eyes, comment, troll. Private… Friend tell friend, if want, what private thing is in mind. If not want, must be locked door. Yes-no?”

Chastened, Simion rolls it over on his tongue, nodding as the concept coalesces. “Your private thoughts are… private. We all have those things that we must keep that way. So, as you say, when a friend decides to tell you those private things, it is that person’s free will to do so.”

“Is not free will if someone see everything private. Is dangerous. Get you dead.”

Simion is having an epiphany. Stepping over this line, he looks back to see how blind he has been to people around him. Not simply in the matter of wanting to look into their minds. He sees that he was imposing his own will on them in so many ways, without giving it a thought.

“Respect is at the heart of it.” He nods again. “Everybody has their own private thoughts and their own desires. If they want – if they want – to engage with me as a friend, it is their free will to make that decision.”

They sit on their boxes thinking it over.

Andrei flashes an impish grin. “Not all have enough brain for free will.”

Time to Recycle (or Dump?)

Pile of Letters

Isn’t the internet great? Anything you want to know is right there at your fingertips!

There are a few problems. Wherever people and their ideas congregate, somebody wants to make money out of it. So, there are ads coming out of your keester, hucksters trying to spam/phish/scrape/? your i.d. and your id. Grumps and haters YELLING AT YOU!

And there are just too many new words and terms to keep straight – ah, correct.

We all have vague memories of some really neat stuff that we read. Somewhere. Sometime. Maybe. If only all that miscellaneous disconnected data would just stop flying at my aging greying cells!

Where was I? Oh. Recycling. Well here are a few facts that were posted in the last century. They have each been debunked – which is to say, “proven to be factually untrue”. But that won’t stop the internet from recycling them (wry grin):


In the 1500s baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.  The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children — last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”.

True or false?

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old”.

True or false?

If you would care to see the debunkers at work, check out these two sites:

“Snopes”

“History Magazine”

Put On a Hat

The Six Hat Gang

Writing from the point of view of another personality can sometimes be taxing. Here is a technique taken from the wonderful world of training and human resources, significantly amended for literary artists:

Six Hats is a way of putting your mind into another mode. When a character in your story needs to be shown to think in a certain way, put on a Hat from below, as appropriate.

White hat – Facts & Information

These people make statements of fact, and are able to discern information from scant evidence, presenting the views of others in a factual manner.  Yes, they are boring personalities. In plot lines, these characters act as the neutral “announcer”, and can present details about your plot or other characters along with the background to events.  Where background info or character traits could take too many pages, a white hat person can be useful.  Absences of information can also be brought to the reader’s attention.

Red hat – Feelings & Emotions

Their feelings are in your face. They tell you their gut instincts.  In many cases these characters are foils against which ideas can be tested, and can be contrasted against other, more stable, characters.  While central characters may not be Red Hats all the time, they may express this side of their nature periodically.

This hat can be used to emphasize an empathetic response to a situation of other character.

Grey hat – Being Cautious

 These characters regularly identify barriers, hazards, risks and other negative connotations.  While some people may find his hat is natural to use, the issues with it are that some will tend to use it when it is not requested and when it is not appropriate, thus stopping the action of others.  Another issue is that some people will naturally start to look for the solutions to raised problems —they start practicing green on grey thinking before it is requested.

Yellow hat – Being Positive and Optimistic

These characters identify the positive aspects associated with any situation. This is the opposite of grey hat thinking. A Yellow hat looks for the reasons in favour of something.  They will look to justify statements in favour of the idea or other person.  Called the idea of “undecided positive”  -whereas the grey hat would be skeptical – “undecided negative”.
They may use statements regarding the benefits that exist, or positive statements about the likelihood of achieving the benefits, or identifying the key supports available that will benefit this course of action.

Green hat – New Ideas

This is the hat of thinking new thoughts.  These characters bounce from one idea to another like butterflies in a field of flowers.  They exist to identify new possibilities, some of which may be reasonable. Things are said for the sake of seeing what they might mean,rather than to form a judgment.  Because green hat thinking covers the full spectrum of creativity, it can take many forms.

Blue hat – The Big Picture

This is the hat used by experienced people who assess all the possibilities and then set a course of action.  The blue hat organizes things.  What have we done so far?  What can we do next?  Who should be asked to do it? Which consequences need to be considered?