Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Check out Martin Dace's new art blog



My illustrator Martin Dace has a new blog at daceart.wordpress.com. This replaces his old blog, however the old posts will stay for the time being.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Persistance and endurance

Ausdauer and Durchhalten as far as I know mean persistence and endurance - but they sound more impressive in German for some reason. We sometimes lose what we might have gained by giving up too soon.

I wonder if this is what happens to some of those film stars who get married half a dozen times (and no doubt this happens to other people who are not famous so we don't know about them). In that first falling in love, or perhaps in the slower development of a relationship that grows on us more gradually, we see everything beautiful and wonderful about the other person. With more time certain things we used to overlook start to irritate. Perhaps when they irritate or even exasperate enough we start thinking that we should move on, look elsewhere. This is the point at which to apply Ausdauer und Durchhalten. 

It does sometimes happen that a situation is beyond redemption and it is better for all concerned to move on. But first one must consider what in the situation might be redeemable, and what efforts one must make oneself. Thinking about what changes the other person must make will not achieve anything useful. And endurance and persistence can sometimes lead to surprising results. Just as a couple who have been through a difficult external situation together become closer to each other, so it can happen if they successfully negotiate difficulties in a relationship.

In other areas of life, too, success usually depends more on persistence than anything else. Why am I not a very rich successful business person? Because I am not fixated on those goals enough, I do not put the necessary effort into those things. Not because there is anything fundamental in my nature preventing it other than the lack of sufficient desire.

Not to worry: decide what you really want (that's the hard part) then go for it. And like a child learning to play a musical instrument, don't get put off because you cannot play Beethoven after your first lesson.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Mermaid at St Doris Island - work in progress

Mermaid at St Doris Island - work in progress
Here is the current state of the latest mermaid linocut. Apart from a few wavy wiggles the sky will be more-or-less white. In the background you can see the volcano on St Doris Island and on the other side is Drake's Golden Hinde at anchor, as described in Sir Henry Herring's book, S. Doris Iland and the Divers Marvells therein, as quoted in A Mermaid in the Bath by Milton Marmalade.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Do one thing at a time


There is evidence that multitasking lowers your intelligence.

This blogger says it better than me. Do one thing at a time. You'll feel better for it, and get more done.



Friday, 27 October 2017

Ethereum - don't do what I did

Ethereum, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are increasingly in the news. You may see in this an opportunity to get in on something that may turn out to be big (or all manner of mishaps may happen to it). However it's interesting enough to put an amount of money into it that wouldn't hurt you much if you lost it all.

Ethereum is interesting because it's not just an alternative currency (although it has value), it's a platform on which what are called 'smart contracts' are written. The idea is to write contracts in code on top of the blockchain (ethereum's existing distributed ledger) making contracts enforceable automatically and (presumably) avoiding the necessity of going to law in the case of disputes. That is, both the rules and the execution of the contract are encoded, and the code is tamper-proof, so no external arbitration is required. That's the theory anyway, and it does depend crucially on the code not having exploitable loopholes.

Anyway, long story short, it might be a good although high-risk investment. In my naivete I went to the official site at https://ethereum.org/ on the basis that this is all new and there are no doubt some scams out there, so might as well go to the source. If you scroll down you will see that you can download the wallet free. A wallet is somewhere you can keep cryptocurrencies. Using the wallet I purchased a modest quantity of ether (the cryptocurrency). From my experience with Bitcoin I did not expect the amount to show up in my wallet immediately, as these things generally take between a few minutes and an hour. I ran the thing day and night from 11 September until I gave up on 9 October and my ether still did not appear in my wallet. This was because the software was still trying to synchronise with the entire blockchain.

At various points I went to the user community discussion forum discussing this very problem. Although people were mostly kind I was told more than once that this was not the correct forum. I could not understand why people were spending any time on this piece of software that clearly wasn't working for any of them. Anyway I persisted and eventually a user gave me enough information to rescue my ether to the point where if I want to convert them back to regular money I probably can.

So if any of this makes any sense to any of you, take heed, and if you want to play around with this, don't invest a lot of money in it until you understand what you are doing.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

How to get spiritual understanding: Mark 7:28

Mark 7:28 Context

"For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. Mark 7:28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter."

This is remarkable. The woman was given a hard answer, but she didn't give up. That's how humble we (i) need to be to get spiritual understanding.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

More about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

I do not know enough to pontificate, so what I write about this is a guess (please contradict if you wish).

Big institutions including governments are looking into cryptos and blockchain technology (not necessarily the same thing) for their own reasons. But that doesn't mean that an independent cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin would not continue and indeed prosper. In the long term that means people being able to buy things and services with it.

In the pipeline are systems that will allow contactless payment much like Applepay but with Bitcoin, with virtual debit cards loaded from Bitcoin accounts by the user. It could be attractive for at least two reasons: (1) being able to access foreign currency when abroad without having to pay exorbitant fees and spreads on currency exchange; (2) having a store of value that would not depreciate significantly in an inflationary crisis.

Once people start actually using Bitcoin for purchases its value might well stabilise, or at least become less volatile, as now I presume the volatility is largely driven by speculation. The threats as I see them are (1) most of the Bitcoin mining takes place in China, where electricity is relatively cheap. This problem will not go away until we have quantum computing, and of course then we have to hope that someone will redesign the blockchain technology to make it tamper-proof again; (2) the unresolved speed/ capacity problem. On the up side, given Bitcoin's ultimately limited supply, if it does not collapse then the value will ultimately rise - quite a lot.