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Goods
Easy Out
No Mighty Work
Souls in Pajamas
ALie
Zero Draft
KAC Contest as Full-Spectrum Writing Workout
Machina Sans Merci
Questions
Two Hundred Million
Mirror, But Missed
Continuous Train of Thought
House Painting
Infinity
Kansas and Overpopulation
Easter Eggs
Song Facet Alignment
Needles
98.5%
The Impossible Moral Standard
Wild Eyed Radical
Humanism and Ecclesiastes
Why Do I Do This?
Three Dimensional User Interface
Arrogance
Computer Video As Clickable Bitmap
Relationship as an Art Form
This Blog

 

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20240717 - Roy

Goods

The relationship is simple.

Capitalism = Greed is good.

Communism = All the greed, none of the goods.

Wisdom = The road divides the ditches.

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20240526 - Roy

Easy Out

Many words have been heard about abortion as a woman's right to choose. There is at least one problem. Most women do not want to kill their baby. Who does want abortions? The men who want a quick and easy way out of their responsibility. Listen to the testimonies. Many abortions are endured at the demand of a man who tells the woman he impregnated she will be on her own if she keeps the child. Abortion gives a shiftless man the perfect excuse. Take the easy out. Listen to anguished women who felt abandoned by the world. Women for whom the possibility of abortion turned into pressure to abort. Listen to the testimonies. Coercion is real. Abortion continues to sometimes be a tool wicked men use to take away a woman's right over her body and child.

Instead of some theoretical objection to this reality, listen to the testimonies.

This male power abuse could not by accident be silenced in a world eager to denounce men. Why then is this form of men-abusing-women missing from public discussion?

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20240525 - Roy

No Mighty Work

Why do we in the West see few miracles while missionaries to less developed nations, for example, see miracles on a fairly regular basis? This is not a new phenomena.

"He went out from there and came into His own country with His disciples. On the sabbath day He began to teach in the synagogue.

Many upon hearing Him were astonished. Where did this man get these things? What wisdom is this which is given to Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands? Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us? They were offended at Him.

Jesus said, A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own kin, and in his own house. He could do no mighty work there except lay His hands on a few sick folk and heal them. He marveled at their unbelief. He went round about the other villages teaching."
Mark 6:1-6

America's present situation was long ago described by Mark. Jesus marvels at our unbelief. Western civilization has known Christ two thousand years. We are familiar as family. We are no longer impressed by Jesus. Our decadent culture spurns the King other civilizations tremble to meet.

God forgive us. We laugh about the very proof of our profound darkness.

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20240518 - Roy

Souls in Pajamas

Rather than external conformity, our dystopia wraps internal conformity in a hedonistic and even anarchic exterior. Air Inside the Bubble says the celebrated rainbow of chains paints a colorful gulag.

After the fall of the Soviet Union the leaders of Red China realized they could not compete if they kept their citizens in pajamas. So they decided to only keep their souls in pajamas and let their bodies strive to wear suits and ties and drive a Bentley. After the Big Guy gets his cut.

It is crucial to understand the intersection. As God has always taught, speech is the intersection of body and soul. Speech is the locus of control this fallen world will not allow to be free. A permissive world flooded with information cannot tolerate Truth. Cancel the heretics! Talking heads form pitchfork mobs to destroy anyone whose tongue does not conform to State Speech. Render your Hate Speech verdict! From the comfort of your chair.

How primitive to imagine brain-washing was best achieved via club and cattle prod. Today power understands the best brain-washing happens when the subject works a day job to earn the money to pay you to control them.

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20240508 - Roy

ALie

People pronounce the acronym for artificial intelligence incorrectly.

ALie is the designation. Long-A, L, Long-I.

Also known as Deceit.

ALie. Articles you did not write algorithmically derived through stolen access to articles other people did write.

ALie. Robotically pronounced words in the voice of a person who never uttered such a sequence of words in their life. The voice of a person who may well no longer be living to protest their auditory signature being the appropriated attribute of a machine.

ALie. Images never photographed. Video never shot. Proof texts of a thousand varieties proving nothing but the audacity of technology companies to process information to which they have no process rights. Tort. Sometimes crime. Why perpetrating organizations utilize prodigious legal capabilities.

ALie. In other words, Fraud.

Large language model ALie are the fruit of the poisonous tree so few people heeded from the common phrase --

If the product is free, the product is thee.

It is sad to hear people say no one knew when they used social media that social media was using them. If the product is free, the product is thee. Or as phrased even further back - There is no free lunch.

In a bit of irony regarding the whole tort thing, multitudes agreed via an End User License Agreement they accepted but never read, that they would behave. Under which users fed mountains of information like photos of children who never signed such an agreement. Nor were of age to enter into such a legal agreement. How could these poor media giants imagine their clients might scandalously violate peoples' property rights? The media giants are just providing a service.

Humanity's desperate need to discern fraud goes all the way back to the whopper, "Thou shalt not surely die."

The agencies of the creature known as the father of lies have now so extended deceit through ALie that it has already erased humanity's hard-won gains in the war of the authentic. Inventions like photo and audio and video are completely untrustworthy. With more erosion of authentication to come.

As never before, our world needs the King of Truth.

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20240506 - Roy

Zero Draft

Contest writing helps you dig down to first principles. Art rises in tension between the ecstatic and the analytic. We struggle to balance the wildly creative with the coherent. A judged contest exemplifies authorship's tension. We want our entries to be wild and creative. We want our entries to be professionally comprehensible. A bland mishmash between the two poles will be revolting. Be not afraid. Turn tension to asset.

Start by writing what I call the zero draft. Straight ecstatic. No filters. A mess. Care not. It does not matter. Capture experience directly as possible. Get down everything experienced and felt and thought at that moment. Just dump it. Yes, I do include thoughts. NO FILTERS. No other person ever sees zero drafts. Ever. Your soul must walk naked.

Like physical children, the moment of conception is ecstatic. Legions of men take the ecstasy then abandon the consequent responsibility. Would-be artists do likewise. Examine the ecstatic zero draft that gave your soul tangibility. Is your offspring perfect? Will you pay for his perfecting? Will you bath and feed and dress him to step fit for the world he must traverse?

If so, hand ecstatic's zero draft to analytic's evaluation. Use your professional eye. Send analytic through the zero draft to fix the mess. This yields the first draft. Ecstatic creates the second draft from analytic's first draft. Ecstatic will say he must fix what analytic screwed up because analytic did not understand it. But that of course is not fair. There is power in the process as you discover things in your work, dredged up from the ecstatic, only analytic will recognize. Sometimes a 'found object' of your work inspires powerful revision.

Analytic in turn revises ecstatic's second draft into the third draft. The ecstatic and the analytic accept no balance. Comprehend no moderation. Ecstatic reviles the mundane analytic like a ravening bear. Analytic primly turns ecstatic's gore into English. These attack each other over and over until they finally concede the fruit of the other is no longer toxic. Eventually these opponents will accept what the other has done. Bounce between ecstatic and analytic drafts until you decide the child is ready. Publication is fruit of truce.

When you critique something, first determine the strength of the piece. Where is the weakness of the piece? Generally the weakness is in one of those two poles. Either it will be strongly ecstatic yet sloppy, or it will be elegantly analytic. And dead.

Those are the things, those are the critiques that actually shape the changes I need you to make. Authors are routinely given half help. You missed this comma, used a wrong verb tense, carry needless "thats", misused an apostrophe - all analytic. It is difficult to critique the ecstatic. That is where you have to actually pay a lot more of your deliberate specific attention to exactly doing the fire instead of the ice because otherwise yours is an analytic critique. A critique of half of the experience. There are phone books of people who offer the half critique. But the ecstatic, the finger of God, the mountains of the stones of fire? The mortal artist dazzled by immortal vision? Who even comprehends?

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20240505 - Roy

Kansas Authors Club Literary Contest as Full-Spectrum Writing Workout

Competition is life for authors. There is a finite pool of readers. More finite the less pornographic the work. At the same time, we strive to honor authorship's rich tradition. This puts authors under tension. The rich tradition demands an honest yet creative expression of life as reflected in your soul. Conversely, the marketplace demands we tickle the fancy. Potential responses are predictable. Pursue market and scorn art. We call that pandering. Pursue art and sneer at market. We call that starving. Being all market or all art is simpleminded. The road divides the ditches. Solitary effort and community feedback are both essential to the deft hand required to hold to the road.

Enter the Kansas Authors Club (KAC) literary contest. The road between pandering and starving is difficult because ditches trap us. The literary contest embodies the requisite balance. While open to expression, the categories are nothing like formless. The judge and competition demand structural accuracy and creative interpretation in each contest category. The literary contest provides authors a proving ground. If you spurn the category rules the judge will return the favor. If you slavishly follow the rules, competitors will expose your lack of imagination.

Contest effectiveness is enhanced by the entry fee. The author has at least $5 regard for the piece. This saves the judge from flotsam in which not even the author believes. These factors make the literary contest valuable experience even if an author only submits a single example of their work. But we show you a more excellent way.

You cannot buy better training than to write each contest category. Tally it up. Sixteen categories @ $5 each is $80. For $80 your writing skills get a full spectrum workout. Plus you might get recognition of a job well done. Take this developmental opportunity seriously, and submit the maximum of five entries per category. That totals out to $400. Under $10 a week gets a professional full-spectrum literary workout of actual writing. Authorship worth weekly pizza?

The drawback is each entry's audience of one. The contest strives for well-informed judge opinions, but it remains a solitary opinion. Yet you must write your stories and poems from out of yourself regardless. Something that leaves you unmoved is unlikely to touch a judge's heart. This is why writing on demand is difficult. So difficult I will contradict everything I have said to this point. You cannot fill all the contests slots writing to spec. At least not right away. "Not right away" is the key.

The first stage of writing on demand is demanding you write. About anything that captures your interest, even if it produces nothing but scribbled lines containing the germ of an idea. There is no more effective writing prompt than your own bone pile. Try not to lose track of anything you have written. Each sheet represents enough inspiration to trouble to embody the thought. Review your bone pile for easy contest category fits.

There is an organic cycle from category to prompt to embodiment to bone pile and back centered on the conversion of experience into tangible words: a reflection that can be shared. The intent and prompts and bone pile should already be part of your writing. The contest adds an organizing principle in the shape of categories. You can stop there and not pay a dime. Just because you wrote a sonnet or stage play or story or lyric does not mean you must actually enter that item in the contest. You can get the writing exercise free. Else pay $5 for someone to review your work. Awards (or silence) are the comments. It seems unlikely authors of eighty entries care nothing what others think.

The KAC Literary Contest is where these streams unite. Training plus competition: the author's marketplace in miniature. Winning a category award is a little akin to a publisher accepting your manuscript. Recognition is the consequence of a journey. Contest winning is a consequence of the systematic writing training the contest encourages. Contest winning is a long-term proposition. Year after year you submit as many of your strongest entries in as many categories as possible. This is the simple and obvious fact; works you never enter never win.

You may well ask, what does your strongest entries mean? Judging is subjective. Only you can determine which pieces you admire enough to submit year after year until they are appreciated by a judge. Few of my first-place winners came of first-time entries. Only you can be the judge of the private competition among your unpublished works for a category slot. The contest is what you make of it. The real prize is stronger writing. If stronger writing wins awards, so much the better. The process of writing creates a back story. That back story is the author. Writing's most precious creation is you, the author. Writing is multidimensional. Writing simultaneously produces tangible sentences and intangible capabilities. Death of authors is an irreparable loss. Transcendent capability, built one grueling word at a time, has left our world.

As the world sinks in the swamp of the tawdry and mundane, your personal existence as an author is increasingly a light in a dark world. Realize. Your work becomes more precious as its market dwindles. Why? Darkness is absence. Lack of light. Do not be swallowed by the postmodern void.

Tips

Prompts

Thoughts

Humanity must make sense of a universe so massive, so complex, we oft feel like insects. Confusion and despair are lethal to our species.

Authors serve as observers and communicate the humanity of our observations as voices raised against death. If this simple sentence did not make you weep you did not actually read it.

Fools aside, we will either be agents of light or holes of darkness. Though we are each too weak and too briefly alight to fully throw back the dark, cause people staggering against blindness to bless the day you were born. Never relent.

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20240503 - Roy

Machina Sans Merci

2016 AlphaGo versus Lee Sedol

When a Go champion was defeated 4-to-1 by the AlphaGo computer in 2016, was the competition honest?

Must not a person win a number of Go matches in a string of tournaments to be eligible for a title fight, so to speak? Nothing indicates AlphaGo played its way into championship contention as a person would. This is unfair.

In professional contests much depends on mastering your opponent's tendencies. An expert staff prepares a player for the upcoming opponent. The player is the tooth, the staff the tail. Though Go is much older, AlphaGo had a MUCH longer tail. This becomes particularly relevant since AlphaGo was provided its opponent's Go games to analyze. It appears to have been provided everyone's every game.

In all such games you play the player, not the board. AlphaGo knew Lee Sedol's games but Lee Sedol did not know AlphGo's games. AlphaGo did not have years of tournament play for Lee Sedol and his staff to analyze before the competition. The result is that AlphaGo played Lee Sedol. Lee Sedol played the thick theoretical universe of Go. The human could hardly have been more unfairly disadvantaged had they gouged out his eyes.

How appropriate the "Sputnik moment" of the AI arms race was rigged. Why did Google want an ace up their sleeve? AlphaGo should have played through the competition, under the same rules as any aspiring Go master, in order to reach a championship match. And thus leave a trail of games for opponents to study. Like the other players do. Let the player's team of experts help study the history of AlphaGo's tournament games. Let them help the player discern anomalies. Like they do against human opponents. Google knew this was how a genuine competition works. Google could proclaim AlphaGo so far above humans it could not just win four games of Go, but could enter and win any and all Go tournaments. That AlphaGo could take on any and all comers under any circumstance. What could be a better demonstration?

Instead, Google put a finger on the scale.

Why?? Those pesky anomalies.

Google took advantage of a Go team obviously unaccustomed to playing machines. Ask any video game enthusiast. They wax prosaic about how to poke and prod gameplay until you expose the glitches. The inevitable glitches. Then you exploit those faults. Like you would if playing a person. You learn their weaknesses.

Confident Tech for the sake of equity should have encouraged Lee Sedol's human team to poke and prod AlphaGo to their heart's content for the explicit reason AlphaGo had studied human games from birth but humans had no such analytical scrutiny of AlphaGo because the machine was without precedent. Giving humans extra opportunities for scrutiny to level the playing field was very reasonable.

Instead, Google put a finger on the scale.

AlphaGo would not have cut such an impressive figure once devious humans probed its blind spots. Such exposure would have been a critical blow to powers selling AI as precise. Accurate. Unbiased. Unbeatable. As an inevitable development of technological progress only fools resist. Trillions of dollars would be lost if AlphaGo, and thus AI, were yet again exposed as a powerful flawed tool of human intelligence. The fact the competition was rigged does not prove humans would have won. It proves AI's humans were worried.

In keeping with the backroom nature of big tech, AlphaGo was born and bred and fed in a secret environment while human Go players lived and played in sight of the world. When your income is taking peoples' information without their knowledge, when you laugh at normal stiffs and play customers for fools and tools, you grow accustomed to half light. The sun burns. Of course the manipulators were worried. Hence the finger on the scale.

Artificial Intelligence is a disingenuous phrase. No one thinks AlphaGo built Google engineers. That DeepBlue founded IBM. That Prospector created field geologists. That ChatGPT wrote itself some venture capitalists. The intelligence flows one way, game victories notwithstanding. AlphaGo's hard-specialized intelligence is more akin to the reactive abilities of a potted plant. Difficult if you try to do it yourself but not indicative of someone you wish would marry your daughter.

Watch the magician's hand. Which is how the trick works. AI is not some new independent life form. AI is a complex weapon. AI attacks and defends, feeds and serves, power. Is it wise to cede the elite another weapon of mass destruction?

In the end it matters nothing if human or computer won or would have won the contest. Eventually computers will be fast enough to do whatever computers can do, faster than people. Obviously. No, the issue is why the contest was deliberately unfair. You would think the confident multi-billion dollar empire advertising its glorious AI which should be used to run the world would heavily handicap itself in favor of the little human standing on the road to progress. Just to show anything that ought to run the world is too powerful to be threatened by one mere mortal. You would think. But oh! Power took quite the opposite approach.

Cut through the AI propaganda to understand one thing.

Intelligence without compassion is the very image of the devil.

In case you find this statement hard to understand, think of humanity fabricating an AI species to replace us, a creature that resembles the main character in the following TV episode:

It's a Good Life

Heavens people! Any question what is at stake?

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20231028 - Roy

Questions

Predestination - Can God create a universe with true freewill?

If so, the Bible sure looks like He did since the word "choice" is everywhere.

If not, there are things that God cannot do. The ENTIRE premise underlying predestination withers away.

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20220123 - Roy

Two Hundred Million

The army of Revelation seems outlandish. Why would anyone field such an army even if they could? Of course only Red China and India could do so, one a representative government and the other one of the most bloody dictatorships in history.

Going out on a limb, I pick Red China's dictatorship to be the one to field an army that kills a third of the human race.

But why such excess? There is no military reason for such an immense army. Anyone who could be conquered could be conquered by far fewer soldiers. The answer is psychological. Tyrants Dream of Moses is about the nightmare of all who enslave their people. Tyrants fear the immense numbers that daily hang over their head. I believe that fear provokes this sort of response, wielding their greatest fear as a weapon.

Excessive reaction by tyrants is a historical commonplace, as seen the Daniel 3 account of Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace, and the Matthew 2 account of Herod murdering all children below a certain age.

To a tyrant afraid of numbers, using numbers as a weapon makes sense, even to the excessive point of two hundred million.

This is an army of annihilation rather than conquest. To be literary, this is Sauron emptying Mordor.

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20210920 - Roy

Mirror, But Missed

"Man will never be that which he can and should be, until his Life is a true mirror of Nature..."
Richard Wagner, Artwork of the Future

A concept Wagner then goes on to completely misunderstand, holding to his fool's defiance of the King.

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Romans 1:25

Wagner's fundamental error, while grievous, is hardly new.

We do not find our destiny in created nature, which in Wagner's usage Nature is, in truth, a concept rather than an entity. The fullness of existence is found in God, the Creator of all creatures.

Wagner's passage struck me, of course, due to Mirror Covenant. It is fascinating, and humbling, to discover relationships forty years after the fact of which I had no inkling. Time and again I have found evidence, through my ignorance, of a cultural structure that transcends any individual. My use of "mirror" was original to me, but hardly original.

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20210530 - Roy

Continuous Train of Thought (CTOT)

Enhanced productivity lets your office get more work done per hour. Overtime reduction keeps your labor force sharp. More work with less trauma in fewer hours apart from the family profits everyone. If you invest in the necessary resources.

Knowledge Workers

I will use the term to get along, but Knowledge Worker is misleading. These are thought workers. Knowledge is useless unless a worker thinks about that knowledge in a useful way. Otherwise we are just talking about data storage. It is ironic so little attention is paid to thoughts when they are in fact the "knowledge process" coin of the realm.

Knowledge workers are not manual laborers. Knowledge workers manipulate information using their experience and intelligence to create products where the real means of production are intangible. Management that may extract results from assembly line workers is often egregiously ill-suited to knowledge workers. A wise administrator persuades knowledge workers instead of coercing them. Knowledge worker productivity is a complex topic. It is disheartening to see that complexity routinely profaned by crude Theory-X ideas.

CTOT - Continuous Train of Thought

Continuous Train of Thought (CTOT) describes the productive mental state where a person's full concentration is focused on the task at hand over a contiguous span of time.

CTOT differs from merely paying attention by being active instead of passive, productive rather than consumptive, thinking rather than perceiving. An average adult may pay passive attention for a two hour movie, yet struggle mightily to maintain productive concentration, CTOT, for twenty minutes. Knowledge workers are a subset of the general population characterized by exceptional powers of concentration. Why? To put it colloquially, because thinking is hard.

"The true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention." Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, 2015.

The statement is ironic. Most attention studies examine information consumption. Such studies are sponsored by advertisers, interface designers like Microsoft, websites, entertainment companies, and the like. They are concerned with a client's ability to process presented information. Studies on concentration's effect on knowledge worker productivity are far less common. Yet without knowledge worker production there is no product for client consumption. It seems much of the business world is pushing a horse with their cart.

CTOT is an aptitude, a skill, and an environment. A wise business hires people with the aptitude, trains people to enhance the skill, and provides them the environment. The relationship is hierarchical, so if Human Resources (HR) fails in the hiring process, there is little training or environment can do to optimize productivity. HR's generally poor understanding of CTOT leads to a high hire failure rate, but some people with aptitude eventually make it into your building. The next level, CTOT training, is hard to obtain given the lack of understanding regarding its importance. If I ever have time I may write up such a curriculum. Someday. Which leaves environment.

CTOT is the primary productivity tool for knowledge workers. Think of it as a kind of thought-pipeline management. The work environment must not introduce avoidable CTOT interruptions. Thinking is a difficult process under the best conditions. Yet for many companies, precisely this difficult thing called thinking is their manufacturing process. Given its level of importance and difficulty, workers should expect a quality thinking environment.

You would imagine this last statement all too obvious. Walk into office buildings across the world and note how rarely you encounter quality thinking environments. Our ubiquitous blindness to the thinking environment seems inexplicable. Every time a knowledge worker shifts in her uncomfortable chair, the thought-pipeline is disrupted. Money is lost. Every time a knowledge worker leans forward to squint at his substandard monitor, CTOT is broken. Money is lost. Every time a person's CTOT is broken by invasive cubicle chatter, money is lost. Every time a knowledge worker waits on their computer, fifty years worth of studies tell us productivity suffers.

CTOT Effect on Revenue Growth

CTOT lies at the center of revenue enhancement. The alternatives, hiring more people or working existing staff longer to produce more hours, are not only less profitable, and face the iron rule of diminishing returns, but routinely face more intractable barriers. In many offices, increasing staff is impossible. They are already space bound. Longer hours is often similarly out of bounds. Staff are often already worked far beyond optimal hours. Increasing revenue depends on getting more work out of each hour.

PROFITABILITY IS ENHANCED BY REDUCING THE PERCENTAGE OF WASTED THOUGHTS PER DAY. Stated otherwise, profitability is about increasing concentration. Interruptions, even seemingly minor ones, can hemorrhage profits.

CTOT as Motion Study

CTOT is the bedrock of knowledge worker productivity. Motion studies go back at least as far as Henry Ford. Assembly line productivity was dying the death of a thousand cuts. Wasted motion not only costs its literal delay, but also slows everything through a kind of process friction. That friction increases the cooling load, so to speak. You have the delay's lost time, plus the remediation effort to recover from the delay. It is not unusual to have a process grind out so much friction the majority of the effort goes up in the heat of just getting the beast to run at all. Such an out-of-control process is fiduciarily irresponsible. Harming CTOT in order to save pennies is fiduciarily irresponsible.

CTOT is a knowledge worker's motion study. Have you not noticed how much more you get done nights or weekends when no one is around to disrupt your train of thought? Phone calls and meetings and knocks on the door are unavoidable interruptions. Thinking about how much you hate your chair or waiting on your computer or rubbing your eyes from strain are avoidable. Such delays, accumulated over every minute of every day for every employee, are expensive.

Take computer response times as an example. Studies going back into the 1960's show even small delays in computer response times have significant cognitive effects.

Up To -
0.1 second - Limit for user feeling the system is reacting instantaneously.
1.0 second - Limit for user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though they will notice the delay. User loses feeling of operating directly on the data.
10 seconds - Limit to keep user's attention focused on dialogue with the computer.
Beyond ten seconds - Users shift to other tasks while waiting on computer to finish.

Now you see why computer speed is of great importance. A ten second delay snaps your CTOT. Any action on the computer that takes more than one-tenth of a second introduces some measure of distraction, and thus decreases worker productivity. Only now can we even begin to approach a zero-disruption one-second computing environment. The ideal, a zero-distraction environment where all responses take less than one-tenth second, must await a future of even faster equipment. And much better Windows.

Firms bleeds profitability through avoidable thought-pipeline disruption time and a thousand times again, day after day, year after decade. The cost of the lost productivity dwarfs the remediation cost even before the effect on morale is considered.

CTOT as Respect

When you give workers resources to enhance their productivity, they understand you have invested in them. Investment demonstrates "human resources" is not merely the joke Theory-X managers tell each other before employee-flogging resumes. When you deny workers good equipment you belittle them. You marginalize them. Of yes, we notice. It is particularly insulting when the equipment is to do a better job making you money. How many companies think so little of their workers they starve them of profit-making resources?

The cost of disrespecting your workers over the price of a chair or monitor, for example, is severe. Poor morale disrupts CTOT, and does so continuously. Discomfort harms CTOT. Delay disrupts the thought-pipeline. Some days bring such CTOT chaos I wonder how this sort of firm makes any money at all.

The obvious fact about knowledge workers is you cannot really tell how much of their knowledge they give you, how much of their creative energy they invest in your product, how closely they run to the edge of their productive ability. So much of what you wish to buy from a knowledge worker is not visible. Is not worker morale worth the price of quality equipment?

Environmental CTOT Examples

How does environment affect revenue through its effect on CTOT? We will look at two examples, namely Chair and Cubicle.

Chair

Say a cheap chair distracts a user ten seconds per hour due to discomfort, as compared to a good chair. This is hardly an unrealistic penalty for using a cheap chair. The cheap chair directly costs you over a minute every day in time lost. Let us plug up some numbers so we can analyze the chair decision. A rough but not useless hourly rate can be obtained by dividing firm revenue by total employee hours.

Assume firm earns $4,000,000 annual revenue.
Assume firm has 40 employees.
Assume cheap chair costs $250 and has a 5 year life.
Assume good chair costs $2,000 and has a 10 year life.
Assume 8 hours per workday per employee.
Assume 5 workdays per week.
5 work days per week * 52 weeks per year = 260 work days per year

$4,000,000 revenue / 260 days = $15,384 firm revenue per day.
$15,384 / 40 employees = $384.60 firm revenue per employee per day.
$384.60 / 8 hours = $48.08 firm revenue per employee per hour.

For simplicity sake let us go with $50 per hour.

8 hours * 10 seconds lost time = 80 seconds lost time per day per employee.
260 days * 80 seconds = 20,800 seconds lost time per year per employee.
20,800 seconds / 60 = 346 minutes per year.
346 minutes per year / 60 = 5.7 hours.
5.7 hours per year * $50 per hour = $285 in lost time per employee per year.
$285 per year in time lost * 5 year cheap chair life = $1,425 lost revenue per cheap chair.

But the cheap chair's life is half a good chair's life, so double the loss.

$1425 * 2 = $2,850 loss.

That $2,850 is loss, not the cost of two chairs.

$250 chair + $250 chair + $2,850 loss = $3,350 ten year cost
of two cheap chairs that cause 10 second @ hour distraction versus one good chair.

So what looked like a great "savings" of $250 for a cheap chair instead of $2,000 for a good chair turns out to have squandered $1,350 solely to buy extra user discomfort. More than half the price of a second good chair spent to instead produce user discomfort. Too many companies operate based on superficial cost analysis.

Profitability turns out to be heavily dependent on avoiding a build up of small delays.

A knowledge worker cannot be productive eight hours out of eight. These are not mindless drones, and knowledge work is hard. Were it not hard you would hire cheaper employees. Yes, people waste time talking at the coffee pot or using the restroom, but that is because they are people. People with exceptional powers of concentration, but still people. To say they waste time already in no way invalidates CTOT. You have pointed out the unavoidable time "wasted" with employees being people in contrast to the completely avoidable time wasted by a substandard work environment.

Say a knowledge worker's capacity is two-hundred (200) productive thoughts per day, or twenty-five (25) thoughts per hour. At 50% efficiency this leaves one-hundred (100) monetarily-useful thoughts per day, or roughly thirteen (13) thoughts per hour, every hour they are in the office. I suspect one-hundred productive thoughts per day is too difficult to maintain long term, but these are exceptional people.

Use the previously calculated $384.60 revenue each employee must produce every day.
$384.60 * 260 days = $99,996 per year per employee

260 work-days * 100 thoughts @ day = 26,000 thoughts @ year @ person (50% efficiency).

$99,996 revenue @ person / 26,000 thoughts = each thought must generate $3.85 in revenue.

Now look at these numbers from the other way around. Each worker has one-hundred opportunities every day to lose a $3 thought. Do that once a day and you get 260 * $3 = $780 lost productivity a year. Your chair can easily cost you a third the cost of a good chair every year. Just let its discomfort cost you one useful thought per day. Over the ten year life of a good chair, the cheap chair will have squandered $7,800 - nearly the cost of four good chairs, from the CTOT loss of one thought per day. How easy to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Profitability is about lowering the percentage of wasted thoughts per day. Stated otherwise, profitability is about increasing concentration. Interruptions, even tiny ones, can hemorrhage profits. It is ironic assembly lines have long known productivity is the most effective way to increase profit. They routinely spend substantial sums increasing worker productivity. Knowledge firms seem largely not to have gotten the memo. We spend real money on IT infrastructure then cheap out on the factor that makes it all work. PEOPLE.

Cubicle

CTOT explains why cubicle farms are a poor design. Distractions. Distractions. Cubicle farms are an obvious yet ill-considered notion to save money by giving workers less than their own office. Distractions. Life is full of easy yet terrible solutions.

Offices encourage people to stay on task. Cubicle farms promulgate distractions. Everyone in the bullpen, participant or no, can scarcely avoid being distracted by conversations too trivial to engage in were anyone required to even rise from their seat. Or people talking to themselves. Or a neighbor's phone conversation. A cubicle farm is productivity death-by-design. Cubicle farms are a bad idea. They have always been a bad idea. Life is rife with bad ideas nonetheless implemented.

An office tells the employee you value their contribution to the company. Pack 'em in! conveys the opposite. A cubicle makes the person wonder if you would, if you could, give them nothing but a plastic folding chair in the parking lot. Toiling in a cubicle prairie-dog village is discouraging. People hate them, and you should too. The demarcation of humans into employees or prairie dogs perpetrates that noxious Old World pecking-order. American caste. An office is a CTOT production tool, not a merit badge. If an employee contributes so little to the company year upon year upon year, too little to provide them an office, should they still work for you?

Obviously, remediating the effect of a poor chair is easier than restructuring a deficient building. But the CTOT wastage of the building is likely many times that of even the poorest chair. I hope to bring forward the conversation and consideration of Continuous Train of Thought. Millions of thought workers so much at the heart of modern society have yet to receive their own paradigm shift; their own Industrial Revolution.

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20210424 - Roy

House Painting
Optimized for cedar lap siding.

01. Remove hardware
02. Repair/replace any rot
03. Power wash - do not fuzz the siding with too great a pressure
04. Let dry
05. Set nails so below surface of siding
06. Scrape - do not go crazy and rip the wood up
07. Power wash
08. Dry
09. Sand
10. Scrub wash by hand - old paintbrush works as the scrubber
11. Dry
12. Brush on penetrator - see below
13. Dry - longer than normal due to penetrator oils
14. Fill nail holes with putty
15. Caulk every crack and seam - resist urge to skimp this step
16. Dry
17. Prime
18. Dry
19. Paint
20. Dry
21. Paint second coat
22. Dry
23. Reinstall hardware

-------------------------

Basic ideas -

Paint does not stick to rotten wood. -- reason to repair rot
Paint does not stick to dirt. -- reason to wash
Paint does not stick to wet wood. -- reason to let it dry
Paint does not stick to rust. -- reason to set and putty nails
Paint does not stick to flaking paint. -- reason to scrape
Paint does not stick to fuzz. -- reason to sand

Another reason to set nails is so you can scrape. Otherwise your scraper catches on the nail heads.

Penetrator is equal parts turpentine, Thompson Waterseal, and boiled linseed oil. You may add a quart of 100% tung oil (not varnish) to the three gallons above. Penetrator's role is for the turpentine to carry the oil through the remaining paint and rejuvenate its bond with the wood. Penetrator also rejuvenates the oils of the parched bare wood. Lastly, it seals the raw wood surface so it does not wick all the primer away from the surface.

Actually applying paint is the easy part of the job. It is the sixteen steps before the first drop of primer that is the real work. It also stands to reason most paint jobs fail. Most paint jobs skip almost every one of the sixteen preparatory steps. These steps embody the focus of painting a house - the bond between wood and paint.

Water behind paint will lift it. Every seam, crack, and hole will allow water to get behind the paint. You need a watertight seal that keeps the water off the wood. Otherwise it is impossible to get the paint to stay adhered to the wood. Paint's role is largely to protect the sealed surface created by your preparation.

If there is anything innovative in this housepainting procedure, it is the penetrator. All the other steps are ones the paint can tells you but which most people ignore. Penetrator provides a uniform surface over both old paint and raw wood to which the new paint can adhere. In that sense you paint the penetrator surface that in turns adheres to the wood.

This is just an overview of the painting process. It should suffice for people with some construction experience to create a lasting paint job. Like all things, the more you know the better. The science and art of painting is a large field far beyond the scope of this little document. The hope is to equip you to ask better questions of the world of paint, and better understand its answers.

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20210421 - Roy

Infinity

The human conception of infinity is flawed.

We say the words. We can use the symbol. We draw the diagrams. Yet we cannot actually imagine it. As one might expect for beings in a material universe without so much as one actual infinity. Here, all our infinities are theoretical.

When we use infinity words regarding God, such as omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, it is vital to keep in mind our oh so finite ability to even imagine such concepts. These characteristics of God are legitimate topics of conversation, indeed essential, as long as we do not forget our understanding of infinity is incomplete. Even the wording logic of such a phrase as, "Understanding of infinity is incomplete," highlights the inadequacy.

Humanity has repeatedly, and all too often catastrophically, failed to evince the requisite humility. In our arrogance we try to lock God in a box of His infinity, ridiculously contradictory as that even sounds.

One demonstration of this illogical logic is predestination. At its full extent, predestination claims there is no freewill, no choice of any kind. Every thought, raindrop, and flower was locked and settled before time began because God knew it would be so. This doctrine seems more closely related to the Hindu idea of Mahavishnu dreaming existence than it is legitimate Christian theology, but predestination is certainly not an uncommon doctrine. See Calvin. Blame would thus seem only a joke, since you are compelled to every sin by God's combination of omniscience and infallibility. Choice is an utter illusion. Again, this strikes me as more Far Eastern than Christian.

The underlying logic of predestination is that God's infinity precludes true choice. More to the point, that it is impossible for God to create a universe containing true choice. The logic is that God cannot escape the box of His omniscience. Flee any idea dependent on God-in-a-box.

Of course by this I am not speaking of God keeping His promises. Promises are constraints God puts on Himself by choice. Because God cannot lie and because God is a promise keeper who watches over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12) God by choice binds Himself whenever He makes us a promise. That infinity should deign to constrain Himself for the sake of we finites is one of the most astounding aspect of God.

Of course we finites are not content with the constraints God puts on Himself for our sake. We want to build our own boxes in which to keep God. Predestination is an apparently pious box which is actually heresy. God is not a murderer, thief, rapist, liar, and adulterer. God does not cause us to sin.

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man." James 1:13

Moreover, predestination's God-in-a-box is not actually even logical. Were it true, Jesus' redemption would have been incomplete, a failure He was unable to make universally available.

"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came on all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came on all men to justification of life." Romans 5:18

Surely predestination's denial of Romans 5:18 is a bigger problem for theologians than the possibility of free will.

Predestination renders creation vain, as if life were some kind of previously-recorded movie. But we know God does not act pointlessly.

Predestination is a religious God-in-an-infinity-box, not a Biblical doctrine. The proof is so obvious centuries have looked right through it, blind.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:5-8

Philippians 2:5-8 is the explicit description of omnipotence. Understand.
JESUS IS NOT BOUND BY HIS POWER.
He transcends even that.

"Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10:17-18

Jesus laid down His life, and took it up again, by choice. This fact stands at the very center of Christianity. Jesus is not His power's captive. He can lay it down and pick it up again at will. Nor did laying aside that power render Him other than God.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Hebrews 13:8

Jesus hungered and grew weary. Jesus slept, yet remained God. Jesus transcended those infinite power characteristics precisely because they are His characteristics and not His essence. Jesus is more than His attributes. He was, is, and will always be God. Jesus could take on flesh yet remain God because He is not bound by His power any more than He is bound by your power of imagination.

The heart of Christianity is that Jesus's power does not constrain Him, as evidenced by the Incarnation. Yet some people who think themselves clever try to use Jesus' power to bind Him to things like a predestination universe without choice. How blind.

In some measure, the greatest irony of our blindness regarding God's transcendence of His power, despite it lying at the very center of Christianity, is with whom we share that blindness.

"However, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." I Corinthians 2:6-8

Satan too was blind to the fact Jesus is not bound by His power. A power for which Satan sold his soul.

"How you are fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, who weakened the nations! You said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." Isaiah 14:12-15

This is why Satan was blind to the Incarnation as described in I Corinthians 2:6-8 above. He could not imagine laying aside the power for which he sold his soul. So it is no surprise we too forget Jesus unbound, and thus wander into errors like predestination. Be wiser than the devil about putting God in a box.

When God tells you to choose, He means it. When God tells you to decide, it is a real choice being placed before you. The fact you have difficulty understanding the possibility of choice, even though laying aside His power is at the very center of Christianity, is to be expected.

The human conception of infinity is flawed.

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20160703 - Roy

Kansas and Overpopulation

There is a good deal of talk about the world being overpopulated. The irony is that as the population has shifted to the tiny geographic areas called cities, an increasing amount of land in the United States is far less inhabited than it was in even recent history. It is understandable for urban dwellers to feel crowded, but it is a logic failure to project that onto the whole world. Consider the numbers.

US Population = 321,368,864
US Area = 3,794,101 square miles
US Density = 84.70224 people per square mile

Kansas Population = 2,911,641
Kansas Area = 82,278 square miles
Kansas Density = 35.39 people per square mile



Density

1  New Jersey 1,210

2  Rhode Island 1,017

3  Massachusetts 858

4  Connecticut 743

5  Maryland 611

6  Delaware 475

7  New York 417

8  Florida 365

9  Pennsylvania 286

10  Ohio 283






Were Kansas to have the population density of more crowded states, what percentage of the US population could live in Kansas?


 New Jersey 1,210 99,556,380 31%

 Rhode Island 1,017 83,676,726 26%

 Massachusetts 858 70,594,524 22%

 Connecticut 743 61,132,554 19%

 Maryland 611 50,271,858 16%

 Delaware 475 39,082,050 12%

 New York 417 34,309,926 11%

 Florida 365 30,031,470 9%

 Pennsylvania 286 23,531,508 7%

 Ohio 283 23,284,674 7%

So if Kansas had the population density of New Jersey, it would hold nearly one third of the entire population of the United States. That would sure leave a lot of ground free for farming in the other 49 states.

Looked at another way - What if we combined the five central plains states?

Kansas 82,278


Nebraska 76,824


South Dakota 75,811


North Dakota 69,001


Oklahoma 68,595


These five states combine for 372,509 square miles. For context, Alaska alone is 570,641 square miles.

If you use the density of the more crowded states on the area of these five states, the number of people these states could hold is surprising.

 New Jersey 1,210 450,735,890

 Rhode Island 1,017 378,841,653

 Massachusetts 858 319,612,722

 Connecticut 743 276,774,187

So with the population density a little higher than Massachusetts, the states of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Oklahoma would hold the entire US population. That would leave 45 states entirely unpopulated. Sure does sound like the U.S.A. is overpopulated. What was I thinking?

Looked at another way - Current US density is 85 people per square mile. Double it to 170 people per square mile. So if the US were to have the population density of GEORGIA, 186 people per square mile, it could hold over 640 million people.

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20081023 - Roy

Easter Eggs

As a kind of easter egg, we have deliberately not explained some things just to see if people figure them out. It seems likely this may turn out to be a good place to locate the easter eggs. This will at least demonstrate we did not just make up some level of meaning after a fan pointed it out. So with that in mind, here after the Wild Eyed Radical section, we will lay an egg. Sorry, could not help myself.

Predator is in large measure a message to Christians regarding the world for which we must prepare ourselves. Christians can expect to be marginalized (Donner), sacrificed (Wall), abused (Misasa), disenfranchised (Smoke), then finally labeled as enemies of the state (Finest).

You need not be some sort of observant genius to see the shadows of this dehumanization already pass across our faces.

The fact Predator culminates in "Not Flesh & Blood" is not done so we can close with some holy platitude. In the world to come victory cannot be achieved by carnal means. Long before the Beast openly struts his evil on the world's stage, Christians will be villanized until even the Unites States will treat us the way the blood drenched despots of Red China do today.

On the material level there is no escape from governments utilizing the full measure of technology. Those in the U.S. have grown myopic regarding the pressure a government can bring on its population if they have no scruple. And the Beast and his John Baptists will certainly have no scruple. But what is impossible for man is possible for God. We will not prevent the Beast from trying to make himself god. That is the course of the world, and it will fill its destiny to the very last drop of God's wrath. Our job is to set free the captive souls of those who will receive the Word. This job is spiritual. It will be won on our knees in prayer. Any protection from persecution we receive will also be achieved spiritually. You will not shoot your way out of the world's dominion.

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20081023 - Roy

Song Facet Alignment

Songs have layers because the structures are in fact only alignments of a few of the facets on a set of songs. Turn one song so it shows a different face and the appearance of that overall alignment changes.

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20081023 - Roy

Needles

The upside down idea behind the Epiphany album connects to Tolstoy and his idea that the king is a slave of history.

It also connects to the Bob Dylan song, "Idiot Wind" where 'everything's a little upside down'.

In Needle's Eye, the image plays on "needle" as relating to Every Deadly Game.

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19990203 - Roy

98.5%

Hang around geneticists long and you will hear this number. It is how much humans are said to be genetically related to chimps. The reason why those who buy into evolution like to raise this is obvious. But it does raise interesting questions.

Does this mean that if you go down a human and a chimp DNA molecule that 98.5% of the time you will find the same atom in the same place? Given the incredible diversity of the human race, who has mapped out every item of our genetic code and the genetic code of chimps in order to be able to make this kind of comparison?

Given that you can DNA fingerprint each individual human being, ie. human genetics have individual patterns, does this mean some humans are more closely related to chimps than others?

As this same kind of percentage, what is the range of variance among human beings? This variance range would cover all the diversity of human beings, from our various heights, weights, eye and hair and skin colors, to our ability to run and jump and dance.

As this same kind of percentage, how closely related are we to whales? To frogs? If we are only 2% related to frogs, this 98.5% number is significant. But if we are 80% related to a trout, this oft repeated percentage is being used to mislead the public, since that would mean a tiny percentage difference makes a huge actual difference. Unless you do not think there is much actual difference between a human being and a trout, in which case you really ought not go fly fishing.

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19990203 - Roy

The Impossible Moral Standard

Humanism, the philosophy that elevates humanity to the pinnacle of existence, is the core operating belief of our present culture. But is it not interesting that a culture having such a philosophy for humanity in general has such an absolute lack of regard for any particular individual human being? Yet Christianity, which is held to be the outdated (terrible insult in our modern Greek culture that lives for something new) thought that looks down on humanity, places huge value on individual human beings. The great freedom to create one's own morality in practice produces a predatory culture, a rule of the jungle where the strong take the weak, while the 'inhuman' morality of Christianity aims for the opposite.

Is it not ironic that the, "Impossible moral standard," (Dick Gephart, Clinton impeachment proceeding) of marital fidelity is exactly what any particular individual wants from their own particular spouse? It can be no surprise then that violating ones oath of office is considered trivial, given the disregard for the importance of ones marriage vow. In fact, the marriage vow is not only seen as of no consequence, it is actually vowing to hold yourself to an impossibility. If this is the case, Mr. Gephart must believe everyone who speaks the marriage vows is lying, since what they promise is impossible. This is an ideology of the high worth of human beings?

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19990203 - Roy

Wild Eyed Radical

Christians, pay attention. Black history in America has something to teach us. Not for the reasons, good though they are, which are typically given. No, for the unspeakable, unthinkable reason. Because the social situation blacks and other minorities are still coming out of is where Christians are going.

What kind of wild radical must one be to say this! Sadly, it does not take either a prophet or a radical. Just say "Separation of Race and State" a few times instead of the similar phrase so commonly voiced. Then imagine the outcry were a President or member of Congress to voice this phrase. Imagine a Martin Luther King display being removed from a school by court order to defend this idea. Deny the parallel if you can. Time will prove all.

Are there other objective signs of this process? Perhaps you could consider the Christian media such a sign. In the days of segregation there were black dance troupes, black restaurants, black instances of nearly every aspect of society. It might be objected that this parallel is unjust because the Christian separation has been Christians drawing back from the secular structures rather than being thrown out. That is true, but the question to be asked is why we are pulling back. It is because our beliefs are being trampled, particularly in the public schools.

Further, in the case of the secular media it is in fact precisely because Christians have and continue to be excluded from access that we created our own outlets. A rock band can sign to a major label with the most open worship of the devil or Krishna, but not Jesus. It has often been objected that it is simply a matter of sales. This of course is foolish. There are no bands signed to secular labels whose album sales are below the sales level of openly Christian artists? Hardly.

The area I want to address, among the many this radical statement raises, is how this impacts art. The experience of black artists has been extremely problematic, in many ways a greatly intensified version of the classic artistic dilemma. Do you follow your private muse while your people are being destroyed? If your art becomes political, does it cease to be art, will you destroy your muse? Is the best way you can help your people to follow the private muse? Can you accept the dangers of patron support when the alternative is to be denied a voice? Is art inherently political, so awareness of the political aspect sharpens the art? Should art speak for those who cannot speak, or should it express the artist's personal identity?

The situation for Christian artists is whether to operate as a ministry fulfilling the Great Commission or to make art that shows Christians too are human. Is it selling out to the Man to release albums where Jesus is never mentioned by name? Is success in terms of sales inherently a sell out? Is it fruitless entertainment to have art that is not basically packaged Word? Should Christian artists endorse products? If art expresses the identity of the artist, is that glorifying man instead of God?

The gestalt rock approach is in some respects a reaction to this situation. At the song level, many of the songs are of the personal muse. But the levels of meaning opened by the concept albums and series are more 'political'. This website takes the personal and political aspects of the art and weaves them together in an effort to rise above the personal/political dialectic.

An interesting aside is that blacks cannot recant their race. This will tend to put some iron in ones backbone. You cannot escape the situation, so your only relief is to resist the bigotry. The same is not true for a Christian. Not only is your "condition" invisible, but you can recant. It makes it easier to go along to get along, to "pass".

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19990203 - Roy

Humanism and Ecclesiastes

If you think humanity is hot stuff, read Ecclesiastes. The day you breath your last will most likely not be a good time to hold you up as an example of a god.

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19990203 - Roy

Why Do I Do This?

If you read this, remember this page is off the beaten track of our website. In this section I am speaking for myself instead of the band.

There have been many times I despaired of Mirror Covenant ever seeing the light of day. Worse, I have long been in turmoil as to whether I have been fooling myself in thinking it is worthy to. Have I been writing all these words only to create something no one wants to hear? Is my judgment so corrupted what I think is good is actually meaningless? Or am I digging into a vein the rest of the world has examined at length and found unworthy of mining, and I am just too ignorant to know this? Has the price I have paid to dig here been for nothing? Right now these doubts remain. And yet....

It is the 'and yet' which keeps me going. I have never found myself to be all that unique, so surely there must be others who feel as I do, who would welcome such an approach to thought, to art.

I started down this road because I wanted to find something worth doing, something high, something deep, something that would 'be worthy of a song'. I found what I believed to be worthy in the pain of my own epiphany, my own awakening. I wanted to make an art that would have helped me through the pain of sleeping as a child and waking as an adult who did not understand the significance of the gift of adulthood. An art I have to this day found only in bits and pieces, never whole. I want to make that art whole.

As the dream grew, and things came into place oh so slowly, and the world time and again moved right where it needed to go to make the dream live, I felt I was on the right path. But another part of me has been mocking, asking how I could be on the right path for twenty years without arriving. Twenty years. It seems ridiculous that anything would take twenty years to bear fruit. Surely it means I have missed God somewhere along the way.

Then I think of Moses. Forty years between leaving and returning to Egypt. Then forty years leading a faithless people around in a desert. Then not setting foot in the Promised Land. Oh yes, it is possible for something to properly take twenty years. Yet I also wonder if I have done something to cause me to be denied setting my foot in this realm. Tonight it all seems so near at hand yet so far away. Which is it?

Against all odds, against the doubts, I still believe not only in the dream, but that the dream is even larger than I see. For I believe not only am I not alone in thinking Mirror Covenant's material is good, that there will be others who like it, but that there are also other people presently in obscurity with the same type of dream placed in their heart by God.

It was not idle words when we said we measure our success by how well we open doors for other bands with a similar vision. I know the blackness of the doubts. I know the fear you are a freak. I know what it is to look at the media giants' stranglehold on the keys to the audience. I know what it is to despair at the timidity of these media giants, at their proven track record mentality, at how impossible it seems to even get an audience with these kings. And worse, how much of the dream would be lost in dealing with their kingdom because they would not understand.

So I know what it would mean to me tonight if I were to find this web on the Internet. A kindred spirit! A kindred vision! It would be a gift of such joy I cannot put it into words. I believe Mirror Covenant can give that gift to others still enmeshed in the fears and isolation. I believe there are more groups out there like ours than anyone imagines. I believe once this genie leaves the bottle, nothing will put it back.

I believe we are on the brink of a great change in music and art which transcends the trend shifts, like from disco to rock to alternative, the way the lightning transcends the lightning bug (to borrow from Mark Twain). Despite a world that shouts I am nothing, I believe God can use this small person to do great things.

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19990203 - Roy

Three Dimensional User Interface

The current (1998) generation of graphic user interfaces are pitiful. Besides being more complex than the Space Shuttle, and less reliable, the entire approach is crude, dull and archaic. A flat desktop? Does that actually resemble the way you do things? It is a clear reflection of the business roots of computers that we interact with them as if the real world involved nothing more than sitting at a desk. What will replace it someday? It depends upon what user group you are considering. Here, we are going to consider the power users, the people who can organize their thought process.

It will not be speech. Talking is slow slow slow slow. By the time you speak two words you can have clicked on ten hot spots. For taking dictation or for people who will never be comfortable with these infernal machines, this may prove an important interface. But the future of computers does not rest on either this process nor these people. Talking is also imprecise. It will always be imprecise. Imagine trying to place some kind of pointer at a specific location on an image by talking and you will see what we mean. Speech control is a special purpose tool for the input of words and for situations where, for whatever reason, you need to use the computer but keep your hands free.

It will not use a mouse. That is too primitive a tool.

It will not even be hypertext, at least not as we currently know it. That is just a way of arranging what happens when one uses the current flat desktop interface paradigm.

We will detail out the idea here someday, but for now let us do an overview. One of the primary criteria this essay is going to operate under is that the idea must be something that could be implemented with current technology. For the sake of pushing the envelope, we will assume PC's are faster and have greater storage capacity than they now do, but that seems a pretty tame assumption.

One last aside. It will not be virtual reality, at least not as we now understand this, with headphone and goggle and the like. We do not need to bury ourselves in a computer to use it. Nor is this technology at the level of sophistication that it would require to be the primary day-in, day-out interface. Consider the VR glove for instance. Imagine picking up a cup of coffee with one on and not disturbing your virtual world, not to mention it being awkward. We get on and off the computer dozens of times a day, and something you cannot simply let go is a nuisance.

The interface of the future will be a three dimensional model somewhat like that in the old 'Myst' game. The organizational paradigm will be 'rooms'.

The basic idea is simple. When you get up in the morning, where are you? Usually in your house. That is where the computer will be when it 'wakes up'. If you want to see what the weather is like outside, what do you do? You go to the window and you look outside. If you want to read a book, you go to the bookshelf. If you want to make a call, you go to the telephone.

The idea is that a virtual you is put in a virtual world. There is no need to make the real you feel like you are in the virtual world. Send in your agent and make them do the crawling around.

You make the virtual you move around in the virtual world with a simple, existing device. A joystick. A mouse is a device made for a two dimensional virtual world, and performs no functions a joystick could not be programmed to perform just as easily. If a joystick has the ability to twist on its vertical axis, this feature can be used to turn 'your' head. This frees the tilt of the joystick to be used to move 'you' through your virtual space. Click become a pull of the trigger.

If you want to see something in more detail in the real world, what do you do? You move closer. If you have a project that requires the use of multiple objects, what do you do? You get these objects and put them on your desk / table / workbench. Using such an interface would quickly become obvious, dare we say intuitive, because it mimics what every child does every day. The advantage 'you' would have is that this virtual person would also be able to teleport to any location in your 'world' instantly, or fly over buildings, or walk through walls.

But there is a greater advantage to this interface than merely the obvious nature of its use. Organizing information is wide open. If you want, you could organize your work by hanging 'paintings' on the 'wall' of a particular 'room'. You could put 'folders' in 'file cabinets'. You could stack it on the 'floor'. You could make multiuse rooms, or rooms dedicated to any activity you choose. You could make a room that has hundreds of tools and storage units and workareas and is the size of a stadium. You could make a room that only has bookshelves and is barely bigger than a phone booth. You could make an office building with hundreds of rooms. You could make a city block with a building for each of your customers. You could make a house for each of your friends, and even lay them out like your friends' houses. You could make a globe, a solar system, a galaxy. You get the idea? Compared to this, a desktop with some icons and folders is as primitive as a butter churn.

The real kick is that the only thing holding it back is someone to write the software. It could be running full bore in a few years without depending on any breakthrough inventions. And it would not be so different that people would have a hard time adjusting. In fact, one of the items you could put in a room would be a computer screen that looks and acts just like the one you are using now. But we hope it would be more reliable.

One thing that would open up the cyberworld aspect would be to use vector graphics instead of bitmaps so things are smaller. CAD graphics would be even better, because then all the objects are made of computer discernible components. This really opens things up in terms of the information you can hide inside such a graphic in addition to allowing the 'default' graphic quality to be much higher. Bitmaps are a lowest common denominator solution.

Is not someone going to knock Uncle Bill off his monopoly throne? You could make a few bucks in the process.

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19990203 - Roy

Arrogance

The writing of several of our songs is certain to be viewed as evidence of contemptible arrogance by some people. In fact, some will surely consider this entire band to be a pretentious exercise.

We do NOT view ourselves as wildly talented. That is why we work so hard at this. To compete, we must work harder than those who are. I do not think we should be labeled as arrogant, because we see our faults quite well. I guess you could disagree with this reasoning in that I should not be writing if I know I am not a Keats or Tolstoy. Oh well. I am opinionated, but I think anyone who has thought about an issue should have some opinion about that issue. Otherwise, what does thinking about it gain you? I think you should try to be right about everything so you at least have a shot at being right about something. Naturally, I think my opinions are right, but at least in part because I try to discard opinions that are wrong. To me, arrogance is the refusal to reexamine ones opinions.

I have a problem with two groups of people. The first contains those who hold no opinions. I do not know how they get through life. The second contains those who hold opinions they will not defend. This seems to break down into a handful of reasons. They do not think the other person is worth the time it would take to set them straight. Or they think the other person is too narrow minded to listen to reason. Or they are afraid the other person will show up their opinions. Or they think the other person is incapable of understanding their position. (If you disagree with this list, please set me straight)

If I were arrogant, I would assume my ideas are so profound very few are even capable of understanding, let alone willing, and thus would not bother to speak. The fact that I am writing this shows such is not the case.

If I were insecure, I would try to gain status in my own eyes by attempting to get you to swallow my opinions whole. I would use invalid proofs like, "I must be right because Bobby Bob the famous baseball player agrees with me," and other such rot. But you might object that we include quotes from many, usually famous, people. In fact, this is a bit of humility. When I have learned something from someone, and they said it better than me, is it not right to acknowledge the debt and to utilize the well turned phrasing? Famous thinkers have often been utterly wrong, so my agreement with them on specific points does not make either of us right. Further, several quotes we use are from people with whom we disagree, so that we can deal with strong opponents rather than paper tigers.

I believe if reasonable people are willing to lay out both their opinions and the reasons why they hold them, for the purpose of finding the "right" opinion, the worst that will result will be specific disagreement. And it may be that someone's opinion is moved away from error and toward truth. Quite often what is discovered in the course of such an encounter is that the disagreement has been a misunderstanding of the subject under discussion, and that in reality there is little effective difference of opinion. i.e., a communication problem rather than antagonistic ideologies.

The real barrier to mutual understanding (not agreement) is attitude. If the parties refuse to communicate, both to speak and to listen, then one or all involved care nothing for Truth. Which of course returns us to the two groups with which I have difficulty, and who almost certainly view me as an arrogant jerk.

What does this have to do with the Body of Christ? I believe our failure to hold fast to the Scripture about being ready at all times to give an account for the hope that is in us to be one of the Church's greatest failings. Every believer is commanded to be ready to answer for the Truth, not just the paid professionals of our organizations. Agrippa was almost persuaded. Today we rarely seem to even start persuading.

Related to this is that there is no Scripture of private interpretation. The same Holy Spirit is within each believer to turn the same Logos into Rhema. The Word can be known. The Bible can be understood. Do not fall into the modern dishwater ideology of everyone having equally valid opinions. God is not the author of confusion, so if we see confusion about the Word, it does not come from God. Someone is right and someone is wrong if two people hold irreconcilable views of the Word. Unless, of course, they are both wrong.

Look at the universe around you. There are specific truths that can be applied, for example, to make a pile of material heavier than air fly. All science is based on the belief that the cosmos has rules that can be discerned and applied. But in an era where science is viewed as little short of a religion, we have an ideology about personal belief that is exactly the opposite. Science is all about moving away from error and toward truth, but our ethics have degenerated to the point where we cannot even acknowledge the existence of truth and error, wrong and right. This is the tragic irony of our modern age. This ties back to my point about those who refuse to hold opinions.

Jesus said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword; confrontation. The confrontation between truth and error. I have found it impossible to really know something until I have defended it against a worthy adversary. (John Stuart Mill wrote a good piece about this) That is where I am confronted by the holes in my understanding, which should send me back to The Source to have my knowledge of the Truth repaired so I may be a worker who need not be ashamed of my handling of the Sword.

On our own, most people will take an opinion ready made to save ourselves the effort of building it from the ground up. The general rule is that a confrontation between ideologies turns into a confrontation between people, so most people flee confrontation. Yet condemning an ideology is only condemning the person who holds to it if you believe that person to be incapable of change from wrong to right. This ties back to my point about those who refuse to defend their opinions.

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19990203 - Roy

Computer Video As Clickable Bitmap

The stream of images in a video can take on a new life when they are run on a computer. It will be possible soon, if it is not already, to tie a hypertext link to an object in a video, in particular if the objects in the video were computer generated so the computer can already distinguish among the objects, as is the case with CAD files. This opens a new realm of interaction. Instead of a static page of links, you can tie these to a moving stream, in essence presenting links to the entire contents of your site in a few moments. If things are going too quickly, the user can slow or stop the stream.

While this would have applications in the business world, what excites me are the artistic possibilities. Imagine watching a movie where you could click on something you see and learn more about it. Why is this car moving right to left in the scene? Is this a tiremark on the street? What is the offscreen history of this character? Why is this particular book lying on the killer's coffee table? In this kind of work, everything you see could have a meaning or history. Given a high level of sophistication, we could even ask different characters questions.

Further, such a format plays right into the idea of an interactive movie with multiple plot lines. For instance, it could be set up so that we 'follow around' any of the characters in a scene, essentially becoming these characters. Were the overall plot up to the complexity of a good novel, or higher, an entire dramatic series could come as a single package. We could follow the character we wanted for as long as we wanted, then choose to follow someone else we run across. A great deal of skill could be put into plotting out where the different characters cross one another's paths, thus defining the places where we could jump to a different story line. Another approach could be to allow you to change some personality traits of some of the characters, so that they react differently to situations and thus change the plot. This approach is far more difficult to do well, but it opens the way to having a plot that even the writer did not understand in total.

The idea has been around in one form or another for quite some time. The problem though has been more artistic than technological. What might make a good motion picture might be dry dust as an interactive movie, and the reverse. The few attempts to do something like this have fallen far short of serious artistic quality in terms of the story and characterizations. It is going to take writers some time before they learn to think in terms of this media, and even more time for the people who pay the bills to figure out they need to challenge the artists to leap higher, take greater risks, instead of holding them down to another G. Island rerun.

As an aside, in our feeble culture "taking risks" in the artistic sense has been puddled down to how pornographic or violent or perverse a work can be. Since the media mindset is that sex and violence sells, how can anyone call peddling it risky? Artistic risk comes from trying to communicate in a way that may be misunderstood because the new method of communication has the potential to eventually communicate better than do existing methods. For us this website is such an artistic risk, because it has certainly been misunderstood by some people. But if you 'get it', this site communicates in some ways that are fresh. The risk we take is that too few people will understand, and like it, to keep this operation going.

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19990203 - Roy

Relationship as an Art Form

This web is our attempt to make the drawing of relationships into an art form, so that knowledge and information and images both verbal and visual unite into an artistic context. Of course, we know we are only scratching the surface of the possibilities. Further, we know our approach to using this technique is only one of a multitude of approaches. The theme of the album series, which basically takes in everything (the theme of course, not our tiny work), tends to obscure this fact. The principle can be every bit as properly applied to a small slice of life.

Let us take a novel as an example. All the characters of any importance have a history. The setting has its own context. The era has a context. And so on. Make biographies of the characters that can be accessed by context sensitive linking and you open up whole realms of communication about this character's motives. Go into as much detail as you want about the setting and its history, and the same with the time in which the novel takes place. A good novelist does this kind of research. Why not make that research provide a set of hyper footnotes? Write songs about events in the novel. Make the novel serve as the core of a motion picture script, so that when you see someone do something in the 'movie' you can go to the novel and find out what they were thinking. Each type of media has things it communicates well, and others it communicates poorly or not at all. Communicate the story in every way possible, because even then existential isolation will only allow a small subset of the story to reach the other side, to make its way into the mind of the 'audience'.

What makes this process work relates back to the 'Kuleshov Effect' of montage, where a sequence of film clips produce their meaning by their relationship with each other. The idea here is that a few frames of film becomes a 'letter' in the 'word' of the sequence. In other words, the individual frames do not have their real meaning in isolation. The hypertext approach takes the psychological and perceptual effects produced by the montage and opens it in all directions. This is true especially because now the montage does not need to be sequential. Nor does it need to be a momentary effect, ie. an effect requiring motion. The deep web is formed of things that will each have to be pondered, then pondered together.

A significant problem is the depth of content required by this process. It is completely insufficient to spend a month in the studio cutting tracks and a week making a music video before tossing the work out to the world. Done to the full, there is no current art form that rivals it for complexity. A movie is just a piece. Ninety nine songs are just a piece. A novel is just a piece. And all must both stand alone and tie together. Who knows if we are smart enough to do it?

Producing enough material to simply demonstrate the concept (and in the time left from our day jobs and families) has been the work of many years. Doing it basically alone, with tiny resources, inventing and borrowing techniques all along the way, and doing all this under the cloud of doubt that hangs over every artistic work before it has been appreciated by an audience, has made this somewhat of an ordeal. Even if this approach takes hold, and we are able to bring the vision of a number of people together in the way a studio brings people together to make a movie, the process will not be quick.

Perhaps the most difficult requirement is that the story itself be worthy of the effort. The standard of depth and quality is so high that each story should be a classic. A classic album or movie or novel is a rare thing. All these and more, classics at the same time? Very difficult. Yet the world is full of great stories waiting to be told, though you would not think so watching most made for tv movies.

Then the same type of effort is required to perceive the work. It will not be anything like sitting down for two hours and watching a film. In our speeding culture, is there anyone left who wants a work they can chew on for months instead of fast food art? It will certainly not be the mainstream of the population. Will the rest be enough of a market to support the work? Only time will tell.

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20210420 - Roy

I have long resisted a blog, despite being an author with a website, because I certainly do not need another writing project. I am already deep in a time deficit. Yet I find myself writing little position papers so to speak about things that interest me. Those pages wind up in a box by my desk where even I rarely see them again. In addition, some of those papers are timely, such that they will expire in this box.

Since it is possible someone somewhere might also find some of them of some interest, to sum things up I decided it was time to set them down in a visible format. A vague endorsement, but an endorsement nonetheless.

So a blog it is. I apologize in advance for the blog's poor care and feeding. I certainly do not have time to blog on schedule.

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