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All things are made new every day, every moment. Or, what a difference a good nights sleep makes. I’m sure that it being Friday AND payday doesn’t hurt either

How long will information stored in a digital format last? This is really a Long Now topic. I’ve seen some recent attention in the more mainstream (web)press at BBC News and slashdot. This has been an ongoing discussion in the preservation and library community for some time, I’ve been folowing it for 10 years (I’m an archaeologist) and it was a mature topic when I arrived. The short answer is don’t expect it to last (yet), even in an optical format (CD-ROM) without a great deal of attention to keeping it compatable with software and hardware. Evaluating it every 18 months is not unreasonable. If you are involved with an archive of any size at all you can see what an immense pain this would be.

Echelon remains a topic at Wired: France Agog, Aghast Over,
Echelon ‘Proof’ Discovered and elsewhere I’m sure. The original Echelon reports are available as PDF files from the European Parliament’s STOA Programme. I think this will continue to expand and as the pathways and linkages are uncovered and followed the reality will make the most paranoid positions of a year ago seem niave.

Julie has a theory. "It is a theory about pattern, chaos, humanity and the Web." Thanks to CamWorld, where I first saw a link to it.

The surface collection is completed. Next week will bring some test excavations prior to the heavy equipment moving in. Scrambling, scrambling, always rushing to save what little remains before it is gone forever. Why do we care? How can we not care? This particular archaeological site is the last passenger pigeon, the last spring mound in the Las Vegas Valley. We don’t know how they were used, or even who exactly used them. The geologists don’t really know exactly how they were formed. Don’t get me wrong, they have some ideas, good ones, but we’ve never taken one apart to see how and why. Science must test their hypotheses. In a matter of months families will move into houses that will be built there. Will these people know they are sleeping on top of where Native Americans camped for several millenia? I hope so, we get the chance to tell the story. In a matter of weeks bulldozers will destroy forever what we haven’t salvaged. I’m not anti-progress, far from it. But without a sense of place that history and prehistory provides we’re adrift, just another suburban consumer filling the void where our souls should be with material things. Sense objects. Painted cakes do not satisfy.

I’m privileged to provide information about the past to those who would listen. As a Zen Buddhist priest I am also privileged to provide instruction in Zen to those how are curious about that void they pour their houses, careers, cars, social standing, trophy spouses, and technological toys into. I think that when steps are taken to extinguish the ego (Ego) our lives naturally begin to come into alignment with our true natures. That is where happiness lies, when we become true to ourselves and those around us.

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No external links today, what little there is, is all about me. Please feel free to browse through the calendar to the right for past blivets (blivi?). Thanks to Dori at Backup Brain for the reciprocal link. We’ll resume what passes for a weblog Saturday. I haven’t even made more than a cursory tour of the sites I frequent for several days.

Today was a day of false starts and feeling out of step. It started with this cold (OK, cold for Las Vegas) morning. It had snowed waaay downslope on the flanks of the Spring Mountains to the East and the Sheep and Las Vegas Range to the north. The snow was heavy enough that no rocks were visible in the distance so the slopes were absolutely blazing white. It was stunningly beautiful!

We’re working at the north edge of the urbanization in the trash halo oozing steadily outward so there were no buildings between us and those amazing white mountains. The only drawback was that there was a gusting wind of maybe 35 mph coming off those cold slopes and it had that sharp bite that just makes you want to jump back in the truck. Standing on top of that spring mound you just felt like you were wet and naked in that wind. Perfect conditions to walk very slowly, hunched over looking at the ground. Everybody has been fighting (and succumbing!) to various respiratory ailments all winter and this felt like one of those situations your mother warned you about. ("Don’t stand out there in the wind!")

Greg, our fearless liter (archaeology is science and science is metric after all), has been the sickest and I think he was feeling the brunt of the weather – though I didn’t admit until later how bad I felt. So Greg, if you’re reading this, now you know. He called the day after about an hour (one transect) and we rolled up the tapes and piled back into the Suburban without hesitation or complaint. I couldn’t hear out of my left ear until about 3 pm whereupon it rang for about 20 minutes until returning to normal. It just made me feel so disassociated, I could so empathize with those with a hearing loss.

That got me pondering the aging process and the inevitable decline of talents and abilities I now take for granted. Boy, that makes the monkey mind dance around! La, la, la, la, la, la, la. I can’t hear you! We are so attached to these bodies we inhabit, we think that they are us. That kind of attachment leads to so much suffering. We even go to doctors to have how we look changed thinking we’re improving ourselves. How short-sighted we can be if we let the Ego drive the bus. There is so little incentive in American culture to consider otherwise.

Right now, there is so much incentive to go to bed.

Be well.

A little bit later: I take that back, what I said about no external links today. John Martello has posted Mister Wizard: Meet The Internet, a new Utopia Planitia.

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X-Files OK. I’m not sure anything was answered. Samantha was taken, Fox re-connected with her, and is ‘free’ now. I’m not sure I am ready to let go of that yet. I really admire Chris Carter’s ability to weave this tale, and Millennium’s as well, though that ended hastily and without proper attention IMNSHO. This is one of the few series I’ve been with from episode one. (I didn’t warm to ST:TNG until the third season, or B5 until the second) I’m just not sure I have that much to say. I’ve been told I’ll never know until I give writing a serious try. One thing at a time, I feel too scattered, too discombobulated. Perhaps it would be centering. I should start keeping a journal again. IMNSHO means ‘In My Not So Humble Opinion’, ST:TNG is Star Trek: The Next Generation, and B5 is Babylon 5.

I spent most of the day with two dharma brothers and Ming Zhen discussing a Tai Chi video project, then went to Las Vegas Chinatown for New Year’s festivities. We’re still basking in the post-rain glow. The air is sooooo clean. Its wonderful! The Lion Dance was so cool this afternoon

Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz dies at 77. Reuters, CNN sigh!

‘Fly Cast’ Keeps Shuttle Radar Mast Stable. A tricky inertia maneuver gains altitude for the Shuttle with the 20-story radar boom deployed.

MacNN notes that the Apple PPCLinux site seems to be unavailable, as are links to their MKLinux site. I will not give in to dark speculation, I will not give in to dark speculation, I will not give in …

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I love the web, I just freakin’ love it. The Los Angeles Meteorite. Following up from yesterday’s mention, this is the JPL web site concerning the Mars meteorite. from UniSci

Is Quantum Evolution The New Science Of Life? from UniSci
"A biologist from the University of Surrey in the UK, Dr Johnjoe McFadden, has put together a revolutionary theory that seeks to explain the beginnings of life in a brand new popular science book, Quantum Evolution."

Now this really piques my interest. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been involved in several rather squishy discussions about this sort of thing. I use "squishy" because none of us are mathematicians or physicists and I know if you don’t grok the math you’re probably talking out your ass. Not knowing what you’re talking about doesn’t slow down most people, but at least we’re aware which end is talking. The whole notion that we live in a metaverse that we view from the perspective of a subset that is only four dimensional raises a lot of interesting thoughts. Now I know that a lot of you are probably waaaay ahead of me here, but excuse my doubtlessly naïve ramblings that follow. I don’t know how many of you have seen the animated short Flatland. Flatland is two-dimensional, a cartesian plane. The population is composed of points, lines, circles, and polygons – all in two-dimensional space of course. The Flatland scientists are examining the possibility, some of them say likliehood, that there is a third dimension – one that has volume. The mataphor is rather evident, yes? Anyway, a bright young circle grasps this readily and exclaims that if there are three dimensions, there could be more! Four, five, maybe even ten dimensions! The wise old circle cautions the young one to not leave science and get into the realm of psuedo-science.

OK, point well taken. Still, if there is this type of organization extant in the universe that we glimpse only when our four dimensions intersect with the other ones (as in light is a wave or a particle depending on how you investigate it) really helps he to understand atomic oribitals and indeed most of what I’ve read about what has gone on in Physics in the last 100 years.

I realize that the universe described is observer dependant, but this is enticing for me to gain a glimpse of why we’re observing what we’re observing. If scientists can begin to get a handle on underlying structure, greater understanding can not be far behind.

Of course, popularized versions of quantum mechanics (Gary Zakov’s Dancing Wu-Li Masters comes to mind) have shaped much of my understanding of this field, because, as I said, I can’t do the math. But the similarities with Vedic and Buddhist texts, and quantum mechanics in the descriptions (not mechanics) of the nature of the phenomenological world continue to amaze me. Cyclic expansion and contraction of the universe(s), worlds within worlds, and the religious nature of ecstasy, there seems to be an astonsishing amnount of congruence. At least to me.

We live in interesting times. Wonderfully interesting times.

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I watched a great PBS show last night Culture Shock. The episode was about The Adventures of Huck Finn which is part of their "Born to Trouble" thread. What better than the novel we’ve been banning, deifying, exalting, and vilifying for 115 years. The series is about art and literature, how it raises controversy and how we, as a culture, respond to it. What does any of this have to do with the practice of Zen Buddhism, you ask? Ah ha, stay tuned. I can’t write that fast. Until then, mull on this new essay. Hammer that nail!

[archivist’s note 8/13/2006: I have no idea what was supposed to be linked to at ‘this new essay.’ Import error? Perhaps, but unlikely.]

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BBC coverage of the initial findings from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
Chandra solves cosmic X-ray mystery

The Chandra X-ray observatory orbiting the Earth has solved a long-standing puzzle of modern astronomy – the source of the X-rays that bathe the Universe in a mysterious high-energy glow.

NASA has a Chandra X-ray Observatory News web site.

Every moment contains the potential for clarity, for that glimpse of reality. Sometimes you don’t even have to look for it. Just remember its always there.

Well, it is kind of quiet on the archaeology and DOJ vs Microsoft front. Monday should change that I bet…

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I don’t know what is is about Las Vegas traffic. Every time I return home relatively unscathed I’m reminded of the story (probably an urban legend) that Paul Erlich got his inspiration for The Population Bomb (1968) after being a taxi without air-conditioning stuck in a noontime Calcutta traffic jam in July. For those of you who don’t remember, the book was a dystopian view of an overpopulated world with diminishing resources and imminent disaster. Sort of like ‘Neuromancer’ without the plot or style. Las Vegas traffic elicits those sorts of images of the social fabric on the brink of some sort of Malthusian-induced collapse. People gesturing, yelling, shooting each other. Wait, that has already happened – some time ago in fact. OK, maybe congested traffic is not the harbinger of the decline of civilization. Thats already happened too. Driving in Las Vegas is just a pain. With all the people in town to witness The End of the World as We Know It© and get their drinks comped it just aggravates a bad situation. We need to finish those much delayed infrastructure improvements to I-15 and US-95, and build the Beltway. It would be nice to have a County Commission that planned as though people lived here, raised families here, and did something besides go to casinos instead of lining their pockets with developer dollars. did I say that last part out loud?

Early this morning George Harrison was stabbed at his home. Apparently he was not injured seriously. “From what we know, George was stabbed in the chest several times and [Harrison’s wife] Olivia was hit over the head,” said Police spokesman Geoff Baker. Will people please stop this nonsense! Please?

We put Mom on the plane back to her home about 6PM yesterday. I’ll have more on this ongoing rumination later, it needs some zafu* time.

There is some interesting stuff out there I missed yesterday, being away from the computer. Like that is a bad thing or something. slashdot has an interesting discussion on Geeks, Geek Issues and Voting “For Americans: it’s high time we thought about who we want to run the country for the next 4 years. What kind of laws we would want passed…or repealed. Who would be the ideal “Geek Ticket” and why?” Wired has a story about the Ig Nobel committee’s list of the 20 most spectacular failures of the last century.

*p.s. a zafu is a firm, round cushion associated with sitting meditation (zazen).

First begin, then continue …

I’m not really sure what to think about this one. CNN has a story “WWBD”? Need advice? Try Moses, Buddha and the Bard on three books that distill their business wisdom. WWBD? I think that is covered in the eight-fold path.

It seems to be rather calm this morning. AppleInsider has some news/rumors about multiprocessor G4s at Macworld, a 17 inch iMac test production run, and Minuet (Mac OS 9.0.1) falling behind schedule. As always, salt to taste.

It is very apparent I need to pick up some XML skills so I can make Manila do more.

The Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to return today after successfully repairing and upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope. Fantastic job! I initially wrote “splash down” rather then “return”. They haven’t “splashed down” since Apollo 17, I guess I’m showing my age. 🙂

At first, it seems productive to do Zen in a cloistered environment. There are no pesky distractions like family conflicts and your ego doesn’t intrude as obviously. So, for many, it is a good place to begin. With time though, it can become easy to delude yourself about your ‘progress’. The real test of your practice and the place to hone it is in the world outside the retreat, trying to remain centered, dancing the dance of life. Zen is 24/7. Or, more classically, “Zen is a cauldron of boiling oil over a roaring fire.” There is always a lesson, every moment provides a chance to hone your practice and remain in the moment. Or get swept away with the Ego’s drama. It’s just like keeping the servers responsive, providing customer support, or working with other people who have a different perspective. It’s being alive. It’s the only dance there is.