Saturday, 16 June 2018
On a recent wander around the Glasgow park-lands, some of which may at some stage be sold off to private developers for luxury housing projects as is already happening in many other parts of the UK at the moment under an increasing " it used to be a treasured public facility but it costs far too much to maintain so lets get rid of it and make some money " ongoing current popular agenda. A Common Blue Butterfly here which got me thinking about Alan Turing's Morphogenesis theory of Reaction:Diffusion to explain how animals, including us, have fingers and toes, how tigers and zebras end up with various stripes yet others have spots, flora and fauna patterns, and how all this can be explained as a form of natural engineering through chemicals and other factors interacting. Basically, the more we learn about the natural world the more it does seem to have been 'designed' or fits into mathematical profiling at any rate.
I don't pretend to understand all of this link but the general themes I can appreciate. Maybe at some future date using this theory in practice we can build not just 3D printed organs and structures but actually grow them organically- almost like a flower or an embryo grows using the same basic principles... Or buildings. Science Fiction has long imagined structures/ spaceships/ humans that combined both natural and synthetically grown materials into one cohesive unit.
After all, it's only eleven short years since the Ray Winstone film Beowulf came out in 2007 as an animated version of the classic tale. It was a good enough film but also memorable for the lifeless eyes of many of the characters in close up. Jump forwards eleven years and you get this-..... a complete world of realistic looking plants, animals and humans with eyes full of expressive intent.
In another 50 years will we know this world from the 'real' one? In 200 years will we know if we are still human and not just a regenerated version living in a simulated universe. What if we are there already and just don't realise it yet? Could we be created and designed? These fleeting thoughts and mental brush strokes of imagination certainly passed the time on a warm Sunday afternoon around the Kelvingrove district. Decades ago in the 1960s these ideas and concepts were certainly around in some of the books I read then but to be honest they seemed about as plausible and certain to come true as a flat earth with the oceans pouring over the edges... now though I'm not so sure given the leaps in technology over the last 30 years.
As unfair a set of scales as a recent programme about affordable social housing/ social cleansing/deliberate political tilted table engineering over decades highlighted in this link.
Before Grenfell: A Hidden History. BBC 2. A snapshot of what's happening across the rest of the UK as well but focused on this one estate where a normal poor/ordinary working class family can all be working industriously over decades yet never afford to buy into London's booming property market but just a few streets away in Notting Hill and other affluent districts folk can earn more just from house value increases alone in one decade as that entire family gainfully employed over a lifetime of toil, scrimping and saving can. Unfair enough in itself but of course due to the UK system at present many have used that extra cash to buy ex- council properties, snapping them up elsewhere then renting them out to poorer folks who actually live in that area but are way down the ladder, cash wise, for a further profit. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Now I understand how people can afford to buy all the luxury properties they seem to be building everywhere I've noticed on cycle rides over the last decade. Not since the mid 1800s has this level of inequality existed in the UK and it has been engineered deliberately in many instances. This programme raised interesting points going back 50 years into the birth and transformation of that estate and London as a city. It got me thinking at one point... 'are the so called 'UK working class' turning into a redundant costly extra we no longer require ...with traditional jobs disappearing fast over the horizon? Not at present but in the near future. Or are they just changing into a Piranha feeding station instead with various outlets springing up every year to grab an extra mouthful of the action, capitalizing on desperation or stupidity. Legitimate short term loans, credit card industry, University loans...etc...(I get a new credit card offer in the post at least once a month. I could have dozens by now if I was that way inclined)
After all in the 1980s we switched from manufacturing and heavy industry into mass unemployment and a business and service society. Maybe another big change is on the way and not in an obvious direction either.
Robots and the desire to create artificial life is nothing new, of course. Here's a very lifelike attempt at it from the late 1800s. " for 100 dollars extra we can build you a soul." The ancient Clockwork Guild............or a future bio- engineering project.
Sunday, 10 June 2018
After climbing Beinn Mheadhonach in the Benderloch District and getting this lovely summit view of Ben Starav, 1078metres, and Loch Etive we headed a short distance further west in Alex's car to the heavily wooded island of Eriska.
Alex wanted to bag the high-point on the island but he knew I would like this extra excursion as well. In the past, like the majority of hill-walkers I've met, he could be very single minded about gaining summits whereas I soon deviated and took the slacker route, after doing the Munros, as I already knew inside I would never have the same drive to complete the Corbetts. I like interesting hills, jaggy summits and odd features and have never fully embraced the concept of climbing a featureless boring slope just because its on some list somewhere. Beiinn Mheadhonach was an enjoyable hill with various landscape zones to climb through from low level fields and vivid garden edges...
then up through small mixed woodlands, onto open meadows then the upper windy ridges and craggy summit views but many other hills are of the head down plod up variety with nothing much to see or photograph from top to bottom. Every place I've visited on holidays or trips here or abroad I've enjoyed the hills I've climbed but a part of me has always wanted to do other things as well, like visiting new towns and cities nearby, interesting beaches, places I've heard about or tourist haunts. I've always been that way, wanting to visit everywhere at once, with a competing range of interests to pursue so its always been a gentle battle of wills with others to combine both. Sometimes I win but most times no interest wins the day and I give up in disgust. In previous holidays I've been lucky enough to climb and walk in the Italian Dolomites and France but have always had a real effort to persuade my reluctant companions to go sightseeing around Italian and French towns and cities, just sightseeing in itself, which I also enjoy with equal relish.
" Rimini- Wow- poly sexual sleaze capital of western Europe it says here in this guidebook and we are only 30 mins away guys. We've got to have a night out there. Look at that photograph of the main street. Where's your spirit of adventure?!There's a bus stop at the Youth Hostel. C'mon. " ( no takers in that instance due to an early rise next morning heading for ten days in the jaggy mountains and no enthusiasm at all for visual urban decadence either apparently :o( Obviously you have to be fairly single minded to work your way through any list of summits so its always been something of a compromise going with other people to interesting places although I always like the company but Alex now is also more flexible and thinks " need to find something to interest Bob while still pleasing myself." This post probably comes under that heading.
Due to the pestering effects of the flies and midges inland I spent a lot of the ten day holiday here exploring the rocky shoreline alone, playing music on a small portable hand held machine I carried everywhere at that time. Not loud as it was close to my ear in an age before i pods. Teenage years are strange ones anyway with so many conflicting emotions/hormones sweeping through mind and body where everything feels much more intense as its all fresh and raw seen for the first time. If it's true that our mental state often veers from madness to sanity over the course of any lifetime and is not fixed to one precise spot I think its fair to say I was more of a yoyo during my teens and twenties than at any other age. In what would now be termed a Goth stage I liked melancholy music and morbid subject matter and found plenty of gloomy dark places here to mope around in but also found a certain weird happiness in sadness and solitude as well. I found numerous bats flying at night close by, a few lone otters playing in the shallow coves.... and seals in numbers would often stick their heads up and come closer when I played music to them, especially long folk ballads, or me yowling and singing softly back to them trying to find the best notes and drawn out sounds they liked, Irish pipes, and violins mainly got the biggest 'seal of approval', so I had loads of interest without other children my own age to play with and could escape into my own imagination instead. At night in the caravan I had a series of recurring weird dreams of lying under the stars on the grass surrounded by local sleeping donkeys with gleeful little vampire bats hopping across the field to feast on our blood each evening as I got thinner and thinner. This turned me into an infected emaciated ghoul who crawled out at night to dine on the village locals. On one occasion the bats had human faces of my various teenage friends left back in Glasgow shrunk down to miniature size. This notion came from a well known Sci- Fi postcard of the time I'd seen as a child that fascinated me for years afterwards so at least I knew the source. Ants in that instance with human faces. I was a strange boy who probably troubled his parents but I came out all right in the end.
Saint Conon's Kirk on the shores of Loch Awe.
One of my favourite videos on You Tube. Think Bronte sisters plus brother Branwell... the inner imaginary world they all shared together as children with its own rules and harsh judgements and you're halfway there. People don't change that much as they grow older. I still like sunlight... and obsidian... and bats. :o)
Saturday, 2 June 2018
Now that my leg has finally improved enough to attempt serious hill-walking again after a two month plus recovery period to mend itself I set off with Alex for a day trip to Benderloch- a scenic area of mountains, sea lochs, and islands just north of Oban. With the gorse in full bloom and skylarks singing we motored up through the Scottish Highlands in what is proving to be a sustained UK heatwave. In Scotland hardly a drop of rain has fallen in over a month and bogs, gardens and hillsides are bone dry, crying out for moisture. In some places forest fires have started sweeping across hillsides/woods/ moorlands and in urban areas glass bottles, dis-guarded cigarettes, untended barbecues or deliberate arson is always a threat to surrounding grasslands. Empty winter beaches and car parks are full to bursting as folk head for the coast ( judging by the online photos I've seen) and beauty spots get their annual influx of humanity with some inevitably leaving all their rubbish behind when they depart. Being a contrary bugger I've usually had enough of heatwaves after the first week and when I start to see the hillsides burning around me, swarms of flies, clegs, ticks, and assorted biblical beasts increasing in numbers or society breaking down altogether I too get down on my knees under the sunshine and pray for rain. The UK and Scotland needs rain and cool weather to keep some kind of order. I firmly believe this. Here's what I mean.
Here's what happened when it didn't rain. A shame as I really miss that annual street parade. There used to be a few big free events in Glasgow in the early 2000s. The River Clyde Festival, West End Festival etc ...However, big happy events involving thousands seem somehow destined to end badly at some point in the cycle if they continue too long and get too popular. It's classic chaos theory in action. The West End Festival still happens- just not the same large street parade or open air activities.
Worth a look at this link to see what I mean.
Anyway, we avoided the masses on the beaches, beauty spots, and city parks by heading to a part of the Highlands and a hill well off most peoples radar. Alex's choice of Beinn Mheadhonach, a 2344 foot Graham on the edge of Benderloch District sitting beside Loch Etive proved a winner as it was both secluded and scenic.
I discovered Gemma Hayes a while ago and this is a brilliant acoustic cover of a classic KB song.
Appropriate lyrics as thunder is getting closer as I type. Very warm conditions recently for a good nights sleep.