2016-10-23

Loose change -- unanimated

A few people have asked to see the words of my animated poem "Loose change" written out in full so they can be studied at leisure, rather than chased after as they run away like water...

It is sort-of against the spirit of the poem...

However a principal I like to keep to is that everything should be either easy or forbidden.  To put it another way it is a principal of user interface design, and I really dislike those computer programs, websites and bureaucracies which make it perfectly possible to do what you want, but put you through two dozen steps to do it.

So, by my own principal, since somebody could pause the playback and copy the words out by hand, I ought to make it easy.

Here you go.  The bold Roman numerals indicate the boundaries between completely different screens in the animation...




Loose change


I


Where does the future come from,
can we know? I will kick fallen leaves
when they blow around my ankles
in an rustle-russet tide,

but no-one can predict
when one leaf falls from the tree,
how many there will be,
whether I will stay to kick them thoroughly,
or wander on.


II


Why do those leaves fall? Do they shiver
in the summer's blaze, programmed
for an end to days? Or do they realise it late, rebel,
and get their Blade Runner moment:
we built you as best we could.

Perhaps it is so good, for trees,
that leaves don't even figure. Maybe
even when a tree falls
some other tree will say
it's for the good of the forest.


III


Can we see the forest for the trees? Thales thought
the whole world water, intransient, showering
past him all his raindrop days,

and Heraclitus saw it all
as change and only change.

Should he maroon me in this maelstrom,
how can I understand a thing?
How to arrange
a place for Archimedes
to stand and leverage the world?


IV


There is no future. It cannot be
in any way determined. Point at it.
You cannot. Thus for me,

said the blind man, scratching,

the future does not exist.


V


Draw the blinds in Plato's cave,
are we stuck here? If you were brave
you would turn away from the shadow play

(it's just a rock wall anyway,)

and go investigate
the fire.


VI


And do we burn? In one way it is true
we literally do. Metabolism charring sugars into lives
and chemistry a one way street.
Chew your meat. Swallow. You can only go downhill.

Cosmology will show the same thing,
on quite a different scale,
but you cannot fail to see
the analogy.

Death's most-favoured daughter --
Entropy -- she never winds the clock.


VII


The more it changes, the more fools say
la plus ça change as if by that they'd chain
the beast. Blind men with elephants

feel a trunk
run into a face, and think
they know how trunks all go,
until the elephant is replaced with a camel.

Trend analysis is always wrong
but the tree has fewer leaves
every morning.




Late onset fallibility

This is a poem about dementia, which isn't something which has badly impacted me in my life.  Yet...

(My Nan had it, but I wasn't that old and we lived quite a long way away...)

It's going to touch me at some point however.  It's bound to.  About 1/6 of people over 80 are affected, and I know many more than 6 people.

Some see Alzheimer's as the worst tragedy of the modern age.  I am not sure I entirely agree, it's certainly one of the most painful for the victim's familypossibly worse even than having them in a persistent vegetative state, at least in that case the wreckage of the person you loved isn't still trying to talk to you.


However, to my mind dementia, horrible as it is, is a subset of the big tragedy, which is that people die.  I have written about this before: the inevitability of death, how it gets a little more evitable every year, and how that in itself brings interesting, new, social problems.  Those are good problems to have, however.  People living too long is infinitely preferable to them not living long enough.  The increase in diseases we can't yet fix: dementia, cancer, diseases of senescence in generalis the direct effect of taking out all those lesser deaths who were more vulnerable to our sorcery.

None of which makes the failure of a beloved mind any more bearable.


I have been asked why this is late onset, when early onset is even more tragic.  The answer is because early onset dementia is more like a horrible disease, striking down only a subset of us; however the diseases of old age, of which dementia is the one example, get everybody who lives long enough...









Late onset fallibility


He returns from walking the dog
no longer quite your father.
It's nearly your dog.

He returns from walking the dog;
he's only been gone two days,
which admits no ready explanation.

He returns from walking the dog
with a jaunty stride
and somebody else's shoes.

He returns from walking the dog:
your mother leaves without a word--
she has been dead for five years.

He returns from walking the dog
smiling strangely to himself;
scowling at you, your brother, the front room paper.

He returns from walking the dog;
seems like he's acting younger
and looking frailer than when he left.

He returns from walking the dog;
wants to speak to your sister, oblivious
that she lives in Queensland now.

He returns from his walk
with a cat on a piece of string
and seven tins of the wrong dog food.




2016-10-13

Going forward

I had an evening out with some people I used to work with...

...who are all still mostly more embroiled with large corporations than I am...

...so I promised one of them I would post this.














Going forward

The corporation cannot plan
its way out of a paper bag
whichnoteis not to say
it doesn't have extensive PowerPoints
to socialise the vision
for the new, division-wide, bag-exit mission
get buy-in from the stakeholders at levels
from CFO to tea lady
and distribute cheap beer and pizza
at revels
that celebrate the dragging of one thousand hapless
employees, kicking and screaming,
into progress, status, overview, coordination,
planning, steering, post-mortem, and kick-off, meetings
at cost of fifty thousand person-hours
or half a million dollars [OpEx]
which is money so well spent
for staying in a paper bag.  Meanwhile

Team Lunchpackwho were spun,
you will recall, from Project Dune and tasked
with building an organisation-wide
flexible container collocation strategy
have been thinking outside the box,
and now are standing
a touch despondently
outside a cardboard shipping carton,
and wondering where everybody went.