Thousand Words a Day for August 19, 2017

Yor Anchid thought for a moment, recalled the requirements of three dimensions and a single, backward-moving dimension of time, and raised a limb of his peculiar body, the one that had a human-shaped cross-section in 3+1B dimensions. “Not that one,” one of his future-selves called from a few days forward. “You want the one that works in forward time.”
“Oh, right,” Yor answered himself. He dropped that limb and raised another one, the 3+1F limb.
“Try to be a little more….” The voice of that paticular future-self faded with the odd echoing sound that indicated trnsference into nonexistence. That future-self would have been him in a few days of he had thrust the wrong limb into 3+1F space–since, as a result of the future-self’s advice, he didnt, the future-self wouldn’t generate. 
Some of the 3+1F creatures which were so amusing to watch had in their small explorations of timespace raised an objection to the possibility of benefiting from the advice of future-selves in this way. “It’s a paradox.” Yor has heard them say. He was reclining one day above a top-secret laboratory in something called ‘Nevada’ one day as a pair of 3+1Fs, dressed in identical clothing, discussed the issue. 
“Information flow backward in time violates causality and so won’t be tolerated by the universe,” one said to the other. “Imagine if someone from the future told you to do something and you took the advice. So now you do whatever it was that future person wants. Fine. But now there’s no reason for future-person to ask you to do it, so future-person doesn’t ask you. Failing to get such a request, you of course do not take the action and now future-person must ask you to do so. You see the problem? The asking destroys the reason for asking.”
It was amusing to hear them go back and forth this way. Yor had once heard one of them come close to the answer for this objection. The particular 3+1F being didn’t realize it, though. He was explaining the infinite series ‘1-1+1-1+1…’ and talking about the kinds of problems a series like this can cause by referring to something he called Thomson’s Lamp. “Imagine a lamp that can be either on or off,” he said. “The lamp is off. You start a timer. After 1 second goes by, you turn the lamp on. After half a second has gone by, you turn the lamp off. After a quarter of a second, you turn the lamp on again. After an eighth of a second, you turn the lamp off again. Continue that way, on and off and on and off. We know that you’ll be done in two seconds, because the series one plus one-half plus one-quarter plus one-eighth plus one-sixteenth and so on adds up to two. The question is, when you’re done, is the lamp on or off?”
Yor smiled to think of the naivete of both of the 3+1F beings, so sure and smug in their limited dimensionality and understanding. In this they weren’t much different than the 2+1F beings he found living on the surface of a neutron star, or the 3+2 beings living inside a large concavity on an asteroid orbiting a pair of black holes.  The holes were together just massive enough to create closed time like loops that the asteroid moves through–the creature there evolved the ability to control the flow of their local clock such that the 70-or-so seconds they spent moving forward in time took thirty times longer for them to experience than did the 70 seconds they spent moving backward. Thus, there was a net gain, and in this gain, the beings advanced themselves and their culture. Yor had sat on top of the black holes’ center of mass and watched them live their jerk-backward, creep-forward lives through the mass of their asteroid. Finally one of Yor’s future-selves had advised him to move along, and he did so.
Yor inspected the area around where the three-dimensional cross section of his 5D limb would appear, seeking to find some place where the sudden appearance of a middle-aged woman, one that would look a little  disheveled, wouldn’t raise an alarm. That had happened once–he had thrust his limb into a little trading district in an Italian village in 1538. There had been alarm, and then a ruckus, and then a local official had tried to arrest that part of his limb which existed there in the local 3D space. Yor froze the local time for a moment and fought the urge to pluck the pompous little constable out of his domain, flip him over, and thrust him back in to see how the others would react to the man suddenly being turned inside out, but in the end, he simply retracted his limb, turned time back on, and watched the little people scurry about, wondering how the stranger could have disappeared. 
After some reflection, Yor settled on a stall in an empty bathroom in a shopping mall in southwestern suburban Cleveland on March 16, 2004.  He floated as the terrain moved under him: Dallas, Texas; Cambridge, England: Hong Kong. The vast prarire between Chicago and Minneapolis floated by, then he was above Cleveland. He paged through the city, looking inside buildings and flipping the time forward and back to find a good when as well as a good where, and found a bathroom adjacent to a good court in a place called Cleveland Frontier Mall–‘Step into Summer Savings’ the marquee said above a listing of now-showing movies. Yor brushed through the top of the bathroom and gently inserted his limb into the space. 
Once it was in, it required no effort on Yor’s part for the limb–or rather its 3D cross section–to move around in 3D+1F. As he watched, his 3D+1F turned around in the closed stakk, taking in her surroundings, and then opened the stall door. Yor’s limb saw herself in the large mirror that lined the space above the sinks on the opposite wall and reached up to smooth her unruly hair.

Thousand Words a Day, August 17, 2017

On the south side of the city, inside a series of large warehouses, were contained thousands of precisely stacked plywood crates containing thousands of identical tubes, manufactured to three-decimal-place precision of length and diameter and sealed at one end. Conrad Lightner, the facility’s director of engineering, strode along a central corridor inside Warehouse 14 and led a group of foreign businessmen past the ends of the long rows of crates; he held one of the tubes in his hand as he conducted the tour.

One of the businessmen stopped and sighted down one of the long rows–the group continued for some distance until one of his colleagues noticed, turned, and spoke to him sharply in a language the Conrad speculated might be Akkadian–or Turkish. His ear was not good with such things. He stopped and backtracked to see what the holdup was.

The businessman who had delayed was moving forward again by the time Conrad reached the colleague who had spoken to him. “Question?” Conrad asked, his eyebrows raised.

“No, no, no question,” the colleague said nervously as the one who had paused at the end of the row joined him. Each visitor had a nametag–the nervous man’s nametag said ‘Arthur’ and the other’s said ‘Hamil’ Arthur spoke sharply, sotto voce, to Hamil, who did not respond. Conrad was conscious of a rising suspiciousness about this group generally and about the businessman Hamil, which had been growing as he continued to conduct these visitors through his facility. But he also knew very well that the tour group route on which he had been leading them as he’d led scores of similar groups during his tenure contained no security-breachable areas or information. The tour had been designed that way. As for Hamil’s interest in tubes, well, he was welcome to come to whatever conclusion he wished. His guess would be as good as anyone else’s.

“Am I to understand, then,” Arthur said, stepping off in the direction the group was headed before Hamil caused the delay, “that even you who make these, ah, these….”

“Tubes, we call them,” Conrad said. He got the distinct impression that Arthur was attempting to smooth other Hamil’s distraction, but he allowed Arthur to lead him forward, and the rest of the group followed, some of them chattering quietly in Akkadian–or Turkish, if that was what it was. 

“Yes, tubes.” Arthur reached for the demonstration tube that Conrad had been carrying and which he had used as a sort of training aid during the tour. It wasn’t an aid–it was the real thing. It was so simple that there was no reason not to use one of the actual tubes. It was so simple that there was no reason to hand it over, which Conrad did.

Arthur’s eyebrows raised slightly in surprise that Conrad would allow him to touch it, to handle it, and he immediately started collecting and registering data on the device. Weight: 348 grams. Major axis length: 441 millimeters; outer diameter: 37 millimeters; inner diameter: 33 millimeters. The thickness of the cap on the end: 2 millimeters. Arthur wasn’t directly conscious of these dimensional and elementary statistics; the electronics in his hand assessed them automatically and registered them in a sliver of gold in his forearm that would be removed in the home ship. He was conscious of the compositional analysis, as that was slower and took more of the chemical energy resources in his muscles. He smiled slightly as he felt that analysis finish and be written to the gold sliver. 

Conrad allowed him to carry it as the group proceeded. “Tubes. Am I to understand, then, that you don’t actually know what this thing is intended to do?” Arthur completed his thought.

“That’s correct,” Conrad said. Arthur must know this, Conrad thought. Everyone knows it. But he played along. “We receive the specifications for manufacture from the Hive, and we make them and store them here, as you see,” he gestured to the ocean of plywood boxes on either side of them as they walked.

A voice sounded from the rear of the group. “How do the Hive take their delivery?” It was Hamil, bringing up the rear. Arthur’s head swiveled around and when it returned, Conrad saw he was frowning, almost grimicing, but he made no objection. 

“Ah, well,” Conrad said, stalling to see what reaction there might be to his speaking to Hamil directly, but there was none, so he proceeded. “The Hive give us instructions on how to stack the boxes you see here, and then at a prearranged time, they use their own devices to retrieve the boxes. From our point of view,” he continued, “they simply disappear, and then they Hive report that they have received the items.”

“Disappear,” Hamil repeated.

“That’s correct,” Conrad said, feeling a little silly. “The instructions dictate that no humans be present here on the floor when the transfer is made, but our camera record the entire transaction. There’s not much to report. The boxes are here, and then they aren’t. We’ve analyzed the video and we can determine based on the video frame rate that the transfer takes place in something less than the time between adjacent frames. Beyond that, we know nothing about the mechanism of the transfer.” Conrad suddenly realized that he had taken his eye off Arthur. He turned and saw that Arthur had stuck the open end of the tube onto the third finger of his left hand and was carrying it that way, his hand held at an odd angle. 

Conrad made eye contact and tilted his head, communicating that he saw what Arthur was doing and that it puzzled him. Arthur’s reaction was to remove the tube and hold it out. “Oh, please excuse me,” he said. “I was simply, ah, gauging the inner diameter of the device.” Conrad couldn’t tell if his embarrassment was feigned, and he also noted that Arthur had referred to it as a ‘device’–an odd word to use for something as simple as a plastic tube sealed at one end.

He took the tube back and said nothing, turning to lead the group on toward the outer door and the waiting bus beyond.

Thousand Words a Day for August 16, 2017

“Over the course of human history on Earth, there will be over four hundred billion people living and dying there, Bob,” the small man said, drumming his fingers on the table. “We can’t chart out all the small and large decisions of each person.”

“No, I guess not,” the man across the table from him responded.

“And yet, we have monitored certain lives, certain individuals, certain important decision points.”

“Can you give me an example?”

“Sure. When were you born?”

Bob loosened his tie. “Nineteen sixty-one,” he said.

The small man gazed for a moment into the middle distance; his eyes moved back and forth briefly as if he were reading something, which in fact, he was. One of the several brain implants that was under his conscious control fed him information on events of the year 1981. “Okay, you remember when an assassination attempt was made on President Reagan?”

“Yeah, I remember that,” Bob said.

“There were a number of Secret Service men with the President that day. One of them was a man named Delahanty. We monitored him closely for a period of about three hours a couple of days after the event. He was wounded in the attempt, and he was recovering in the hospital during that time.”

“Three hours?” Bob said.

“Yeah, that was the critical period,” the small man responded. “He made a couple of phone calls during the critical time, and had to be prevented from making one.”

“How do you do that?”

“In a hospital, there are lots of ways. In this particular case, we arranged to have a nurse administer a sedative to him about twenty minutes before he would have made the call which we were concerned about. He fell asleep and did not make that call.”

“Who would he have called?” Bob asked.

“Ah,” the small man hesitated, “I think telling you that would be a mistake. Suffice it to say that you would recognize the name were I to tell you who it was.”

“What would the man have said that was so dangerous?”

“Dangerous?” the small man wiped his lip with his napkin, looking around nervously. “Everything’s dangerous. So many of you making so many decisions moment after moment. Our job is to find the critical decisions and concentrate on those. We–” he stopped suddenly as the door to the bar swung open and a man wearing a leather jacket entered. The man was wearing a bandanna on his head, he worn sunglasses despite the fact that it was night, and he carried a motorcycle helmet under his arm. “We steer decisions and try to keep this universe in the right place, that’s all.”

“What would have happened if Reagan had been killed?” Bob asked.

“George Bush would have been president,” the small man responded.

“Well, he was anyway, wasn’t he?”

“Sure. But 1981 wouldn’t have been his time. If Reagan had died, Bush would have served out his term, then would have been defeated in 1984.”

“The Democrats ran Mondale in ’84,” Bob said. “We would have had a President Mondale, then?”

“No. Listen, I’m ready to leave.”

“Who would have been president in 1984, then?”

“Nobody. Come on, let’s go.”

“Nobody? It’d have to be somebody. Dukakis?”

“Nope, not Dukakis.” The small man stood up and as he did, the bandanna-wearing man noticed him–and turned to approach. “Oh, crap,” he said under his breath.

Bandanna Man walked straight up to the small man and took off his sunglasses, staring at him with doleful gray eyes. “Maxim, what have you been doing?” he asked.

“Nothing. Bob, I want you to meet a colleague of mine. Bob, this is Victor Valentine. Vic, this is Bob Foster.” Bob remained seated and nodded at him. 

“Mr. Foster,” Valentine nodded back. Then, returning to the small man, he repeated his question: “Maxim, what are you doing?”

“Bob’s a research psychologist, I’m interviewing him for the book,” Maxim responded. It was his cover story: he was a freelance author developing material on the psychology of criminals for a supposed book on the subject. 

“Uh-huh,” Valentine responded, unconvinced. Suddenly, Valentine sat down in the booth, right next to Bob. “Listen, Maxim, why don’t you sit down for a moment?”

“Actually, we were just leaving,” Maxim responded.

“No, have a seat.” It was an order. Not knowing quite what else to do, Maxim sat down. “Now, about 1981,” Valentine said to Bob. “The attempt on Reagan was unsuccessful, right? So you could speculate anything if it had turned out the other way, right?”

“I suppose so,” Bob responded. “But how did you–”

“I’ve excellent hearing,” Valentine said. “Quite abnormal, really. I always could hear everything.” He put his sunglasses back on. “In fact, I can almost hear what you’re thinking.” Bob wasn’t watching Maxim and so he missed the small man’s gaze into the middle distance, and the side-to-side movement of his eyes as he seemed to read something that only he could see. 

“Yes,” Maxim said suddenly, “Bush would have lost the election in ’84 to Gary Hart. Hart would have been elected twice, and then his VP, Bill Bradley, would win on his own in 1992.”

“He’s a nut,” Valentine said to Bob. “You can imagine anything.” But he wasn’t smiling, and he shot a hard look at the small man on the other side of the table.

“Bradley dies of an aneurysm in ’94, pushing Vice President Joe Addabbo into office. He chooses Austin Murphy as his VP then when Addabbo is impeached in ’95, convicted in the Senate, and removed, we end up with Murphy as president on December 2, 1995.” Maxim said rapidly.

“President Murphy?” Bob said.

“He’s a nut,” Valentine said, but still, he was not smiling.

“December 2, 1995,” Maxim repeated. “That was an important date, Bob. Go look it up, see what happened on that day. Think about it.” 

Suddenly the small man rose from his seat. He stared at Bob for a moment, looking like he was going to say something–but then he turned on his heel and walked directly to the door of the bar, disappearing through it.

Analysis of Murphy’s ‘Sally Goodin’ Part A and Part B1


Here’s my analysis of Part A and the first part of Part B of Murphy’s ‘Sally Goodin’ that I’ve been working on for several days now. This song is on Murphy’s “Advanced Earl” DVD, and I’d rate it’s difficulty at ‘very hard’–I guess that is to be expected, though.

This narrative goes along with the photo of the bit written out in FTab notation for the banjo.

Okay, first, take a look at the three squared bits of notation on the right side of the page. Those are three standard positions on the neck that are used in this bit. The first is the ‘C Gap,’ or ‘Cumberland Gap’ position. That first six eighth-note quads after the pickup notes uses that ‘C Gap’ position with three deviations, which are noted in red.

So the way to think about this is to think of it in terms of deviations from the ‘C Gap’ position. That gets you through the first six quads.

Next, look at the middle square on the right–that’s the ‘S Good,’ or ‘Sally Goodin’ position. For Quad 7, the fingers move to ‘S Good,’ a ‘3231’ is played, and everything moves back to ‘C Gap’ for the next bit.

Now look at the bottom square on the right side. This position probably has a name, but I don’t know what it is, so I’m calling it the ‘No Name’ position for now. I guess it must be a partial barre G, and probably so simple that it doesn’t need a name–okay. At the beginning of the B phrase there, a 0/5 eighth note played to give time for the left hand to move from the ‘C Gap’ to the ‘No Name” for that 12/1, also an eighth note (the rhythm requires it), then a little slide on the second string right back to the ‘No Name’ position. There is a deviation from ‘No Name’ there, marked in red as the other deviations were.

And that’s it! Easy IF–IF!–you think about it the right way. Just for fun, I’ve circled in blue ink the parts that give me the most trouble, but ultimately, this isn’t hard, just complicated.
Analyzing it this way makes it much easier for me to understand, which is the first step on the road to internalization.