It was cold, and there was that pine dampness to contend with. I was glad that our guests were too stunned for words. I didn’t like talking while I worked.
Having carried the logs from the basement to the hearth I proceeded to light them.
“Don’t you boys have central heating?”
“It ain’t enough on a night like this,” Sam answered for me knowing my disdain for conversation during activity.
Luckadoo’s lodge was large. We sat in one of the most impressive rooms. The ceiling stretched twenty feet overhead. Five feet above the Buck’s head above the fireplace. There were the obligatory fox hunt paintings and animal skins about. Bespeaking the English pretensions of the moneyed classes of the region. Though, come to think of it Luckadoo actually was a Limey.
With the aid of a bit of kerosene, a roaring flame brought a humanizing cheer to the somber masculine poshness of the room. Our guests were sat in great mahogany leather chairs, while we occupied an assortment of beanbags and lazyboy’s that we’d brought to keep the antique, haunted vibe of the place from overwhelming us.
I reached under my seat and produced a flask.
“Jesus,” Officer Fabre chuckled. “A flask for every occasion? How many of them things do you got?”
“You’d better be glad he has those. You should see him au natural. Patience was never a virtue for Alan Baird.”
I always felt that people overstated the ‘problem’ with my temper. I simply had no use for the excesses and liberties most people thought normal. Generally, I’d let them know nicely, the first time.
“Oh, come on now, I’m a regular sweetheart,” I protested. “In fact, how about I get everyone a round.”
“A round of what?” The Doctor inquired.
“A round you’ll like,” I said rising to my feet and making my way towards the kitchen.
“Alan never disappoints in spiritual matters.” I heard Lucas say with a chuckle as I rounded the corner.
Almost immediately the voices of guests and companions alike were muted. Replaced by an eerie sort of silence broken only by the muffled cry of a nearby owl. The place was a nightmare from a security standpoint.
A coked up sorority with air horns for shoes wouldn’t be any less stealthy than a SEAL team. The stolid nature of the log and stone made the transmission of sound a near impossibility. It was preternaturally quiet. Like being in a well-appointed sensory deprivation chamber.
It got unnerving from time to time. Which is why I was glad for our motion sensors. But the two boffins we’d taken on board had forced me to minimize its use or risk another round of false alarms. I really wished that they weren’t high all the time. But I suppose that was part of the project.
Yeah, I’d bet we’d have caught our French friend if I hadn’t dispensed with arming the thing. Though I’m glad we hadn’t. This present situation was far less awkward than having to phone Langley. I might still have to make the report.
Despite the size of the kitchen it was as cluttered as the comically tiny one in the apartment I’d grown up in. None of us had the time or inclination to do much dish-washing. I really didn’t mind mess except that mess made it hard to know if something had been tampered with.
As I turned on the light and saw a few woodland roaches scatter over greasy pans I couldn’t help but feel that something was off.
I shrugged away the sensation as I stepped behind my minibar. I wasn’t an expert mixologist. I really didn’t care for overzealous bartending. A mint leaf here, a dash of vodka there, a good ice ratio… Really all the magic you need, provided that you were serving up the good stuff.
After pausing for a moment I headed to the fridge. A couple of beers or so would probably be welcome.
As I carried the tray out the door I could have sworn I heard footsteps. I paused to listen. It was probably my imagination.
As I headed towards the parlor I heard the unmistakable sound of falling silverware. I continued on my way as if I hadn’t noticed.
My friends were chatting merrily amongst themselves as I set the tray on a round oak table beneath a Tiffany lamp.
“Ach!” I said in as loud a voice as naturalness would allow, “Ach! I forgot the chasers!”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, that looks fine enough.” The doctor offered.
I shook my head and tapped Lucas thrice on the shoulder. He rose and produced something from behind a bookshelf.
Our guests picked up the funky vibe.
“Act natural,” I mouthed.
“Yeah, I always forget the damned chasers,” I said loudly as the conversation around me recommenced. “Hey, Lucas come help me carry the damned things. That’s the trouble I tell ya…”
As we approached the kitchen I switched to a no less enthusiastic but somewhat more subdued volume. “Yeah, how did you like that plum stuff from Serbia?”
“Was alright,” Lucas said just as we reached the door.
“Here try a shot of this before I put it back,” I announced. Pausing to listen.
I didn’t have to listen very long, for the sound of someone trying to open the kitchen door that led outside. A kitchen door with no keyhole controlled from a keypad in the hall.
Lucas handed me a small dark green cylinder. I removed the pin, and ever so lightly rolled it in the direction of the kitchen’s sole egress.
We moved away. As far away as we could. But not so far that we couldn’t hear coughing and swearing.
In this ‘TFJ Vlog’ I discuss how the solution to many problems of technology like Big Data may not be technological but legal and societal.
I was heartened when I found out that the CEO of AT&T had mentioned the need for an ‘Internet Bill of Rights.’ I had long had the ‘Big Data/Privacy/Quality of Life’ conundrum milling about in my head. Especially after reading Cukier and Schonberg’s book. It was refreshing to see these issues being addressed from a policy perspective by a business interest.
Now I realize that as was mentioned in the Variety article that’s linked below, there are inconsistencies in AT&T’s behavior and the CEO may have self-interested motives. Nonetheless at least lip service is being given. Though we must of course call for much more.
Which will require us to look into the matter closely as it unfolds and educate ourselves on all its permutations.
Toward’s that effect here are the videos and background reading that I read in preparation for this post.
I decided to make up a story on the go during my drive back home from work. I think it came out ‘ok’ with its chief strength being atmospherics. There did seem to be a bit of unconscious plagiarism in the borrowing of elements from Lovecraft’s: Music of Erich Zann, and Poe’s: A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.
The title was a post-production decision since I felt the strange and nebulous description of one of the characters could best be subscribed by ‘elf or troll’. Trollish dreamer doesn’t have quite the same ring though.
Apologies for issues with the formatting, I ran out of time, and hope to be able to fix the eyesore within the coming week.
The term integrative analysis is generally used in an ‘applied science’ context. ‘Big Data Companies’ such as IGI Global define it as:
1. Analysis of heterogeneous types of data from inter-platform technologies.
Inter-platform technologies mean that the machines and instruments used to gather data are combined into a cross-platform system for integrative analysis of diverse data-sets; which often results in an emergent framework.
That’s still a bit clunky. A better take may read something like: using data from different measurements and processes and combining it to find new patterns that lead to new hypotheses, and discoveries, in so doing paving the way for yet more hypothesis and discoveries.
So in essence just plain old science. But there is a distinction. In that, this is plain-old science at an incredible pace. Augmented in the case of IGI and similar ventures by computing and highlighting the need for the synthesis of such technology assisted derivations in iterating novel solutions.
I am taking pains to describe the more prevalent (industrial, professional, sic) use of integrative analysis to avoid confusion about its operational definition as regards this journal.
At the core of this sophisticated-sounding term is a simple concept. In essence integrative analysis is about not missing the forest for the trees. And actually, it goes a step further than that in not missing the trees for the forest.
That’s what I love about ‘Integrative Analysis’ – It is a top-down, bottom-up, object-oriented sort of thing. Not tarrying too long within the restrictive parameters of any one iterative methodology.
Why apply such a term to a somewhat artsy, ‘philosophical’ website like The Fractal Journal?
In short: spillover. What I mean by this is that the incredibly successful scientific practice of reductionism has bled into other disciplines, like journalism, the arts, and philosophy.
I am by no means ‘anti-reductionist.’ I view ‘reductionism’ as an indispensable weapon in the arsenal that will help humanity win the war for understanding. It yields results because it’s intuitive, focused, searchlight helps us break down processes and problems into workable parts.
Reductionism has always gone hand in hand with bottom-up methodologies. In which the parts, once understood as distinct, are reassembled into an integrated whole. So why proclaim any level of novelty or lavish special attention to ‘integrative analysis.’
Well, simply because two things go hand in hand, doesn’t mean that their relationship is always balanced. I don’t know if it has to do with the psychology of folks given to the hard sciences, or is simply due to the intrinsics of the hard sciences, or some combination of these factors but the balance has certainly seemed to be in favor of reduction (At times even ‘reductio ad absurdum’).
Really, I think that this has something to do with the greater need for specialization as the complexity and depth of respective fields emerges.
Or, more specifically: The focus of respective disciplines despite sharing a common core of basic scientific principles has titrated down to rather over-isolated little monads. This being the result of over-reliance on reductionism, perhaps by necessity.
There have been folks more qualified than I who’ve commented on such trends, like the biologist E.O. Wilson, who calls for the need for a return to more classic conceptions, with a focus on synthesis over isolation. (That is my takeaway from his book Consilience and should not be read as a definitive statement of Wilson’s position.)
This trend of over-reliance on reductionism has led to the unnecessary and destructive Balkanization of disciplines. While there is a need for distinction, there is no need for rigid walls. In fact, such walls render the world of science and the humanities more sterile than they need be.
Synthesis, integration, of data and ‘models’ derived from reductionist processes, is what The Fractal Journal is about. The emergent frameworks like the ‘fractal analogy’ of its namesake are why I think it valid to use ‘integrative analysis’ as a subheading.
Despite the journal’s broad range of topics, and its use of artsy and informal means of framing information and exploring subjects, it does engage in ‘integrative analysis.’
Though it isn’t a highly specific computer-assisted search for ‘proof of concept’ it does nonetheless venture into serious, structured analysis of parts and systems. Since it does so with an especial focus on highlighting the overlap of parts and systems it can fairly be called integrative.
I’ve often found this need for integration elegantly highlighted. Just today while doing background reading for the first chapter of my water book, I jumped from covalent bonds to valence, to heuristics, and finally to the Inventor’s Paradox. All these things were interconnected via Wikipedia because they are interconnected conceptually. This is the first proof of the integrated nature of reality that I witnessed just a few hours ago.
The second proof is the ‘Inventor’s Paradox’ itself. The inventor’s paradox lies in the domain of problem-solving. It addresses the very heart of the problem with over-reliance on reductionism; by pointing out the somewhat counter-intuitive fact that sometimes broadening your search, helps you find a specific solution.
The paradox was introduced by George Polya in his book How to Solve It:
– The more ambitious plan may have more chances of success […] provided it is not based on a mere pretension but on some vision of the things beyond those immediately present.
When you are attempting to solve a problem in the reductionist style, which really is the natural, and intuitive style, you use Occam’s Razor to remove as much ‘excessive variability’ as possible.
I know that some people consider it gauche to quote Wikipedia directly, but I really found the way reduction’s problem was painted there rather elegant:
“Doing this can create unforseen and intrinsically awkward parameters.”
I really like that phrase ‘intrinsically awkward parameters’ because it’s a really apt way of portraying the limitations of reductionist methodologies. Too narrow a focus, too specific an explanation, leaves you more vulnerable to stagnation via the illusion of having arrived at either an answer or an impasse. It is the ultimate missing of the forest for the trees.
It always reminds me of a wonderful evening I had about half a decade or so ago. My ladyfriend, my best friend, and I were all hanging about a house she’d been allowed the use of. Lounging about, washing away the taste of cheap cigarettes with cheaper wine we were a perfect portrait of decadent Bohemians. She fancied herself a visual artist, or at least that was what she’d intended her university to teach her, till it convinced her to lean towards marketing. So, she had many a drawing supply at hand.
My buddy and I who were more musically and mathematically inclined decided on a whim to abandon our bantering about on a couple of guitars to join her in drawing. This is where the psychological and methodological differences relevant to this essay came into play.
I am a sketcher. I draw broad and messy things and eventually whittle them down to finer details. My buddy who’d I’d never seen draw before was a solid line, boom, there’s the thing, no bs, sort of fellow. I think he’d drawn a parrot or a penguin or some such thing with very clearly and neatly defined lines and structures. It was like an ‘engineer’s blueprint’ of a caricature of a penguin. I think this unsurprising given his facility with programming and mathematics.
I believe that on this night we had a nautical theme going. Perhaps owing to the presence of Rum somewhere on the premises. Hence the parrot or penguin or what have you.This ambiance led my storyteller’s mind to form all sorts of imagery from bits and pieces of literature I’d read over the years. I’d drawn something akin to a villa on the coast, luxuriating, on a clifftop above a bay lined with ships. Aesthetically it was somewhat lacking but intelligible enough. It did not have the neatness and the crips pleasant feel of my friend’s parrot. But it did have something else: context.
Context to me is the aim of integrative analysis. Rather than a very clear, and pretty, solitary parrot, of an engineer; a contextualized version would have that parrot atop the shoulder of a rum-swigging pirate, standing in the crows nest, amidst a placid sea. Something that an architect may be more likely to produce.
Really, this could be taken even farther.
Terrence McKenna said in one of his many lectures that people tend to be either seers or readers. I think this has some validity demonstrated through the story above.
I consider myself to be a reader. Seeing things and extrapolating a meaning, a context, which I then display. A seer sees a monad, a thing in isolation, but in exquisite detail, its background might be hazy, but the thing in itself is there, complete, coherent, etc.
I think it important to merge these two inclinations as much as possible. I think this important because the world is not bottom up, or top down, or even object-oriented. It’s up and down, and bottom up, and goes every which way.
….but in every which way within reason. It is the search for that reason that humanity has embarked upon and which The Fractal Journal is glad to support and celebrate.
Really shoulda been called the art of consistent uploads but eh… Here is the TL;DW (too long; didn’t watch) version of this vlog:
The main message is that consistent posting helps you develop your artistic vision, relevant skill-sets, and confidence. Consistent posting can, however, be difficult due to psychological hurdles. I whittle these down to five variations on the themes of romantic notions and perfectionism.
Here they are:
5 Barriers to Consistent Posting
1) ‘High Volume Leads to Low Quality’ – This is a form of perfectionism. The thought goes ‘If I post for the sake of discipline, for the sake of posting, then those posts aren’t going to be good, quality over quantity.’ Well, I think the case can be made that the biggest barrier to quality is lack of quantity (lack of practice). The feedback and stamina you receive from putting your best possible foot forward is exactly the sort of journey that will take you on the road to higher quality creations. Wallowing in notions of making something good, better than ‘those wankers polluting the internet’ isn’t going to get you very far.
2) ‘Effort Fallacy’ I don’t know if this is an official logical fallacy but I see it so often. What I mean by this is that when things feel too easy they don’t feel worthwhile or authentic. It’s really easy to post, to start a blog, therefore at times people feel cheap and illegitimate. They long for validation. Being published by Random House, or being on a music label are perhaps the only things that will make them feel like they’re contributing something of value (Don’t get me started on college…).
This is because the person with this sort of psychological state is hungry for litmus tests. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since going through the process of gaining the approval of professionals is a valuable obstacle course. However, it is still a fallacy because that obstacle course does not necessarily ensure quality.
Quality can be assured by objective tests such as economy of language, readability, descriptive depth, or clever implementation of the circle of fifths. You can do that on your own. It’s especially important to do that on your own because eventually you will have to, and you will gain the approval of professionals faster, if you gain real-world exposure by putting yourself through the paces, of putting your stuff out there.
3) ‘There are a zillion voices and artists, I won’t get heard.’ Well, sure over-saturation is a thing. The good news is that it has always been a thing and many people have still been able to overcome it. The problem is certainly compounded today because technology has allowed yet more voices to enter the arena at an ever-increasing rate. Yet, from everything that I’ve observed, if you put something out there and it’s good, there will be people who find it, enjoy it, critique it, etc. Sometimes even if it’s not so good. I find that I am able to discover new content creators frequently and keep up with at least twenty or so on a weekly basis.
4) ‘Privacy and Security’ This is perhaps the most valid concern on this list. People don’t feel comfortable becoming a ‘public figure.’ Fortunately, there are pen names. It’s important to not let FUD hold back your creative development. Something that you can only gain through practice and feedback.
5) ‘I haven’t the time.’ In this world of washing machines, automobiles, and 4g even a parent working full time will eventually find the odd hour (I think it’s much more than the odd hour, given the fact that people find time for the Super Bowl etc.) Whatever your window is, use it. Building your creative skill-sets will benefit your life in a host of ways.
Hope this has been helpful, thanks for watching, listening, or reading.
Well… washing the potatoes was like three minutes, peeling five, and baking them twenty. But you can just chillax while they bake and then the fish, peppers, mushrooms, vinegar, goat cheese, and mayo thing takes like twenty tops. So altogether it’s a tad over an hour but that’s only technically.
The whole point of this is that it’s not that tough to eat healthy, affordable, tasty stuff. Even for someone who’d prefer to continue napping.
I plan on doing more ‘hipster home ec’ type essays, vlogs, etc. as I discover how to eat well as a Frugal McDougal.
It always felt like bursting into another world. The only sensation I could effectively liken it to was cave diving. Something I’d done once on the dime of Lucas’ dad.
The thing was like swimming through some narrow submerged corridor, and bursting into one of those vaulted dagger studded chambers that knew no light, save the febrile beam of your headlamp.
Luckadoo’s estate sat in a clearing in the thick woods denuded just enough to afford a modest yard.
I heard the sheriff’s car pull up beside us. We’d dimmed our lights ten whole minutes ago but the squad car illuminated the oak and stone walls with an officious glaring brightness. Lucas hopped out of the driver’s seat and ran over to tell Fabre to cut it out.
He was back momentarily. We heard the sound of a cell phone. Pierce answered: ‘Hello.’
After a second. He put it on speaker.
“What the hell did you just blabber about, why should the lights be off, what the..”
“We need to secure the perimeter,” Lucas replied matter of factly.
“Secure, the perimeter, what are you talking about, listen…”
Lucas popped open his cell phone and tapped on the screen as Fabre’s protestation continued to pour from the doctor’s device.
Suddenly there was a very odd sound. One that bespoke suspense and familiarity at the same time. Fabre’s voice grew still.
Out in the sea of trees, as far from the reach of civilization as one could get in a global village, the sound of a THX soundcheck rang out through the valley.
Suddenly there was another sound, it was some simple spoken words, done in a sing-song chant to a certain pitch and rhythm, it was Roger Waters, “Is there anybody out there?”
Graham flipped a metal switch on the dash. The house, the yard, the woods, and what we could see of the lake beyond were illuminated by harsh glaring floodlights that may as well have been the noonday sun.
“Holy shit!” Fabre was apparently still on the line.
Lucas reached down beneath the armrest and pulled up a mouthpiece on a black coiled wire.
“This is Colonel Schmidt of LRD, Army Corps of Engineers, you are within a federal jurisdiction, you are advised to immediately beach all watercraft, and give a report of your position. Having done so you are to step into our immediate line of sight. The line of sight being in front of the vehicles. Drop all weapons and proceed with your hands held high. Be advised that we are authorized and capable of using deadly force.”
“What in the fuck…” Doc Pierce muttered under his breath, shaking his head.
I chuckled. It was always funny to see Lucas Schmidt with his surfer boy haircut deliver such stentorian tones. I suppose having an admiral for a father does make a difference.
There was a five-minute wait for a response.
“If you are military, federal, or law enforcement personnel, state your rank, file, serial number and purpose clearly. If you are within fifty yards of our position we will hear you. Do you copy?”
Again we waited five minutes.
“I repeat, military federal, and law enforcement personnel, are advised to give a prompt and clear report of purpose and station. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary measures. We wish to avoid friendly fire but are authorized to engage, should the need arise. Do you copy?”
We waited five more minutes. There was no response.
Each member of our team put on headphones. I handed a pair to the doctor who complied wordlessly. Lucas ran out of the car with another pair. We heard his voice and the sheriff’s voice arguing through the doctor’s cell phone speaker.
Out of the car window, I saw Lucas’ screen shine dimly in the glare of the spotlights. Then the floodlights died.
Suddenly there was a pulse and a harsh shrill sound, that was thankfully muffled by the deadening in our headphones. You could feel it on your skin, it was like an air dryer, the pressure pushing the hairs on my arms in every direction.
The cars shook gently, the window panes rattling, the windows of the house also rattled, leaves and weaker branches fell from the roof and the trees.
I put away my flask and picked up a P320 from under the seat. The doctor shied away from me mid-process. I motioned for him to stay in the car.
Lucas opened the doctor’s door and extracted the Mossberg 500 off of Pierce’s lap.
Graham, Chuck, the Doctor, and the Sherrif had been pantomimed into staying put as Sam with his own Sig joined me and Lucas in a serpentine toward the door.
I punched in the keycode and Lucas dashed in sweeping the area. I tapped him on the shoulder and saw his flashlight mount head off to clear the eastern wing. I heard the door shut behind me and felt a tap on my own shoulder. Sam headed to the western wing as I made my way upstairs.
We then reconvened in the parlor to clear the basement, backyard, and dock.
The whole process took eight minutes. At every point at least one of us had a line of sight to the vehicles.
At the end, the sound died and we took up position one man prone on the front porch and two flanking the sides of the house.
Sam and I held our position with our sidearms at the ready as Lucas escorted the Doctor, the Sherrif, and our two civvie comrades to the door.
Once inside the rustic wood-paneled lodge with its gentleman hunter’s décor we felt the comedy of contrasts and laughed.
“That is one hell of an ADT system,” Fabre remarked.