Never Too Late!

Never Too Late!
any resemblance to anyone real or imaginary is mere bad luck
we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are trying to get up



Fun facts about transport in São Paulo

A law against drunk driving finally came into force a little over half a year ago but hasn't really changed anything. Everyone still drives around completely out of their tree.

If there is such a thing as a São Paulo bus map, I still haven't been able to find it. Asking people can help, although often even the drivers and cobradores don't know where they're going.

Bus stops are always located in the middle of blocks and well away from train and metro stations, rather than at corners of the crossings of main roads and rail routes.

Passengers in Metrô and train stations always stand on the escalators and never stand on one side to allow people who want to walk up to pass. Further, if there is a ludicrously crowded escalator, and a completely empty set of normal stairs, everyone will still try to pack onto the escalator. These people love escalators.

Morning and evening rush hours see traffic on main routes, in ten lanes and three layers (including elevated and underground), going absolutely nowhere.



Best reason ever for supporting a football team (because isn't your team as arbitrary as everything else?) :

About as remote as you can get in São Paulo state, where the paved road ends and a dirt track goes off into the bush, but still only a few hours from the city, you can still find the odd Indian village. A friend of mine is a lawyer, and she has taken up a case for land rights on behalf of some Guaranis.

They all support Palmeiras (="palms") in the village. The old Indian guy explained: the palm tree is sacred to us. The world was born from a palm tree. We eat palmito (palm heart). The birds which are messengers of the spirits perch in the palm tree.

Therefore, we are all faithful to Palmeiras.

Oh and I met Sócrates, Brazilian football legend from the 70s, in the bar a while back. These days he is getting a bit alcoholised and he was completely sloshed. Like Gazza. I asked him what he thought of English football.

"It's a load of shit," he said. "Just like the football in any country."

[From a more-or-less indifferent football fan in England I have become a complete devotee in Brazil. Just like I follow cricket when I'm in India or Pakistan - it is very difficult not to be caught up in the feverish excitement. I used to make money betting on the cricket in India, back when Pakistan was still a team to be reckoned with, because no matter how poor the chances, it seemed to be utterly inconceivable to people that anyone would want to bet on Pakistan (ancestral enemy...) winning. Not only that, but in Brazil it's a different game, a beautiful virtuoso game compared to the tactical workmanlike football of Europe.]


Life and games

Lazy has recently taking up playing poker. He's pretty good at it too, until he crosses a certain line of drunkeness and throws all his money away on silly bluffs. Better late than never to the game, as always...

We have always enjoyed chess, and seen card games as somehow slightly inferior. But really, poker is every bit as strategic. You have no control over the cards you're dealt, but you have to fight the best fight you can with them... and if you stay cool, you can convince the opposition that you have a much better hand than you really do. Not to mention the power of money - once you're winning and have a big pile of chips in front of you, it gives you so much more freedom of action than the little guys.

As such, it is infinitely more like real life than the idealised one-on-one battle that is chess.


Aliens go home!

There is this conceit that you come across in science fiction sometimes - I am reminded because I watched the recent re-make of The Day the Earth Stood Still yesterday (in low quality and dubbed badly into Portuguese, both of which probably improved the film) -- there is this conceit -

An alien from a hyper-advanced culture beyond our imaginings where all suffering and stupidity has been banished descends to earth to study us... accepts human limitations to live a human life in a human body among us... and mission finished, refuses to return to his blissful and transcendent alien life

- that there is something noble about the human condition...

something noble in the squalor of it.

Memory and desire stirring

"Do not sit to think what you should write - sit to write what you have thought."

That sounds very much like Dr. Johnson again. See the very first post on realgem - he had the distinction of opening for us.

Very well then. Consider:

You have no way of knowing how your memory will record the present that you are experiencing now.
(This thought flashes into my head as sun blinds me as I cross Br. Faria Lima into on-coming traffic, and somehow I am certain I will remember this moment, if one of the madly weaving cars doesn't get me in the next five seconds at least.)
I feel nostalgia for the bizarrest things, things that were hellish at the time.
(Cursing at pain in a hospital bed, unable to sleep for pain, cursing the nurse who refused to bring me more morphine...)
Conversely, sheer ecstasy sometimes becomes flat, pale and tasteless when played back by memory.

Particle accelerator

"The medium is the message."

I still don't fully grok what Marshall Macluhan meant by this gnomic statement, but I can generalise it to apply to various contexts. Right now I am thinking of the difference between composing on a computer screen, as opposed to and compared with an old-fashioned (electric) typewriter, and longhand, with a pen, on paper. Surely different regions of the brain are active - different sets of motor neurons, certainly - but how do these connections being lit up impact on other connections elsewhere in the brain? Specifically those to do with "creativity", so-called - maybe "synthesis" would be better, originality being protecting your sources - and those to do with "language"? (All gods are one. So are all languages. Discuss. 3000 words.)

"Phenomenal consciousness is defined as a subjective that experiences itself."

Similarly with the idea of things remaining in an undetermined state until they are observed, from the field of sub-atomic physics. What effect does the "observer" ("reader") have on the "experiment" (the writing)?

A simple particle accelerator...

ypoirh hnvbn hgahdf......aerhadfhafd....asgdfgBANG!sdagfd
qn tmx
(particle or wave? 2000 words. 50% of final score.)