Where is the middle of nowhere?

Where is the middle of nowhere?

Maybe ‘The Middle of Nowhere’ is the name of a place, just as China in Chinese stands for Middle Country. Or ‘Nowhere’ is the name of a place (an incredible one at that, where everyone’s skin is blue and pink and green), and we have to find its centre: it might be where most people or features are, or even the centre of mass, though that might mean that the middle of nowhere is not actually in Nowhere. Which, if you take Nowhere to be its literal meaning ‘nowhere’, means that the middle of nowhere is truly somewhere. (Which is what we’ve been asserting all along.)

If we were in a crime novel and were trying to be even more obtuse, it might be the letter h. We might even try representing ‘nowhere’ numerically as 14-15-23-8-5-18-5. The middle, then, might be the arithmetic mean of the numbers: 12 4/7, which is L D / G, or perhaps more appropriately LD7, an area in Llandrindod Wells.

But what of these obscure ways of interpreting phrases? Sure, they bring pleasure to the lover of triviality and of obsessive attention to detail, who flips objects like one might a loose pancake, making them more contorted with each flip until they are beyond recognition. These are then served repackaged as a some exotic gourmet dish often exclusively delicious to connoisseurs, but confusing and perhaps distasteful to others. Perhaps it would be better if we turned from them, at least for a while.

So if we were being more reasonable, we might say the middle of nowhere was a place in the radial centre of a deserted area. But in naming this place, we’d have to come up with an arbitrary measure of desolateness, and coldheartedly brand places people call home as forsaken, empty, and devoid of civilised life. Although some may take these labels with gusto, most would not be flattered by the often despairing, or even condescending tone borne from ignorance targeting the places they grew to know and love. And upon judgmentally identifying these places, all too frequently we end up ransacking rainforests and pouring sediment into the sea, only to have the tide turn against us soon after, at which point we blame others for the deed.

Thus, by the same token, should we not treat these seemingly frivolous issues with less contempt? This silly playing with numbers, or twisting of words might be the seed of a creative spirit, a hobby fostered from childhood ready to bloom. Soon, one might even find that these trifles have some use – first for occupation, then for entertainment, then for solving problems in ways never previously imagined. Trying to eliminate trivialities based on perceived usefulness is no winner’s strategy – imagine if mathematicians had stopped working on number theory, which Hardy had declared so proudly to be useless. We wouldn’t have the encryption systems or swift digital calculation often taken for granted today.

Is this claim a stretch? Perhaps. But with the prevalence of investigating for the sake of investigation, and playing with data for the sake of play among the pioneers of intellectual advancement (no citations, sorry), it’s worth at least a second thought. Otherwise, we might soon find ourselves lost in our own ignorance – where we began, in the middle of nowhere.


A recent rant (of mine) that came out of Nowhere.

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Stream of Consciousness

I was thinking of doing some stream of consciousness writing. A stream, a flowing stream not necessarily of water but of music, of lava, hot from the oven, hot from the heart, hot from the centre of the Earth, hot from the pot stirred most smoothly by the ladle of Time. But the consciousness that pours out is chaotic, regardless of how you try to stir it. It does not obey the Laws of Whatever-You-Want-It-To, it does not even flow as one stream but has slight bumps in it, slight words here they come that you don’t expect, slight phrases even, or break offs. So the fluid is not continuous (not /necessarily/ continuous, it could be.) Don’t bother with trying to model it.

But yes, I had this idea from watching a monologue on credit from Love and Money, where the video was just (!) a mouth talking talking for five minutes straight it hurt my eyes at first but I grew more intrigued by the mouth, the emotion in the lips and teeth, wonder if you can see that normally if you’re not tunnelling? But yes, I thought hey I’d like to write something like that and see what I sound like in my head on paper if that makes sense, though it isn’t really a monologue at all: it’s a polylogue, the voices of your surroundings speaking through you in terms of the interactions, people your thoughts the discarded receipt on the floor saying something in their silent language of waves and frequencies, possessing you. Possessing you through your eyes and nervous system and brain and back to fingers onto paper. Clickety click.

Then surely every thought is not a mono-thought but a poly-thought, and we have so many more thoughts apart from those we know of, thoughts we pass on to others and then forget, if we ever knew them. Hah. Giving someone a thought you never knew, as though you could do something unconsciously like that. Well, maybe you could, the same way you do some things without thinking like maybe raising your hand in response to a question asked to a group, something you wouldn’t do if you were asked individually, yes? But you know you’re doing those things. But you arguably know you’re influencing others’s thoughts, just not specifically which and what.

Okay bad analogy – let’s try some biological process that’s happening inside you that you’re not aware of. Did you learn how to respirate? Presumably no. Actually maybe your cells did at some level at some point, but the key is you’re not aware of it. That’s better. Now think on that and good night.


(Imported from A.Symmetric Space, a side project I have now rescinded)

Just for fun

Happy St. Nicholas Day, and also Happy International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development! Here’s something I wrote in my Economics class to celebrate the occasion:

Everyone wants the best for themselves

So says the economist, in a rational tone.

And so macroeconomics carries the results of these words

Onto a national scale, truly a world of its own.

 

As the world goes round, so does the money within

In a flow of income between households and firms,

With consumption and goods exchanged on one end

And wages for labour (on reasonable terms).

 

But there’s more! Injections like exports and investment

Equaling withdrawals like savings and tax.

Economists put it as Y = C + S + M + T

Or Y = C + I + G+ X.

 

With so much to take care of, what’re the key aims?

According to some there are four:

Economic growth, low unemployment, low but steady inflation

And a good balance of payments, but of that we’ll talk no more.

 

First up’s economic growth, more productive capacity,

Illustrated by a shift outwards on a PPC.

These changes are caused by more factors of production

Or better yet, factors of higher quality.

 

All this can be measured by the Gross Domestic Product –

The total value of all output over a certain interval.

It’s not completely accurate, though, neglecting inflation,

Unofficial work, or whether things are affordable.

 

It’s not always the end when GDP sags

The economic cycle may be the cause.

But whatever the reason, if there’s high unemployment

You bet the people will be flexing their claws.

 

It’s said it’s a recession when your neighbour loses his job

And a depression when you lose your own.

Either way, know that the government will be using

The Labour Force Survey and Claimant Count to make the numbers known.

 

It’s not one number, either: it can be divided into types

Be it frictional, seasonal, or demand-deficient.

Cyclical and structural unemployment are two other kinds

All displays of the economy being inefficient.

 

Which is why the government tries to solve this

Through demand management and supply-side policies,

Though firms may benefit through paying lower wages

And hiring workers with more attractive qualities.

 

The third, inflation, is a (low) sustained

Increase in the general level of prices,

Measured through changes in price of 600-odd goods

From clothes to watering cans and culinary spices. This is called the Consumer Price Index, used in the UK,

Or the Retail Price Index, if you throw property in too.

High inflation reduces investment, ups ‘menu costs’,

Harms trade, and makes the price mechanism fall through.

 

A low level is preferred to none at all,

With the UK’s target between one and three percent.

This is to reduce the risk of deflation,

A sure indicator of economic descent.

 

Inflation can be caused by surges in demand,

Higher costs, or increases in the monetary supply.

Which is why, to deal with continuous booms in prices

Governments can wish the excess goodbye.

 

So that’s it! The result of two months of helicopter-building,

Equations, discussions, and cake.

The journey is long yet, but it’s been a great ride

And now it’s time for a well-deserved break! 😀

 

Yeah right.

On the Internet as a Communication Tool

 I feel pretty guilty about not blogging anything serious over the last few months, and so have resorted to publishing academic essays instead. 🙂 I’m really sorry about this, but exams are in less than two weeks, so fingers crossed I’ll actually work on a concrete commitment after that!

As the Internet becomes more accessible, its function as a major communication platform becomes more significant in our lives. Communication is more convenient, and it brings improvements in many aspects of our lives. Work gets done faster, and people can know more on what is going on around them. However, there are also disadvantages of having the Internet as a means of communication, as the extreme convenience will lead to communication of lower quality and a younger generation with poor communication skills.

Communicating through the Internet is so convenient, one can easily get carried away. People take advantage of this convenience and, bearing in mind that they can send another e-mail any time, do not think through the message thoroughly before sending it. Topics become more trivial and rash messages can have dire consequences. For example, people are less likely to think through an argument before responding if it’s held online, especially if they can remain anonymous and evade responsibility. They may not be afraid of immediate consequences of their actions either because they are not speaking face to face with their peers and so are not under immediate threat. This deterioration in the quality of communication may lead to unstable relationships built on trivial topics, and a lack of depth in thought in general.

The convenience of Internet communication also lessens the incentive people have to communicate face to face with others. People may not treasure time with another person as much because they can easily communicate through the Internet any time. The younger generation which is used to this type of distanced interaction will grow to become more antisociable and may have difficulties interacting with others offline. Lack of interaction with others will in turn cause deterioration of mental health as well as an increased number of hermit teens. Although the Internet is becoming increasingly important, offline communication skills are still of utmost importance. If we grow to rely too much on the Internet, these disadvantages will inevitably grow out of proportion, and the Internet will have lost much of its original value. What is important is that we use the Internet in moderation, and that we use it with care. Only then will we be able to keep the detriments to a minimum and enjoy the true benefits of using the Internet as a communication tool.

Two.

Just then a lorry emerged from behind us, in it sitting the ugliest man I’d come to see: patches of moss dressed his bare limbs, ants crawled through his unravelling shirt, and fleas dozed in his mess of hair. He smiled – his teeth were a lumpy brown.

‘Travellers, ye?’ Douglas nodded. ‘So where ye be going?’ Douglas pointed west. Obviously he’d no idea where we were headed.

‘Mocha City,’ he remarked. ‘Some few miles across.’ The driver raised his eyebrows.

‘I’ve never heard o’ no Mocha City,’ he grumbled, fumbling with his tar-stained fingers. ‘Guess ye better turn back ‘ome ‘an get a nice supper.’ I shrank back in my seat as the eyes penetrated through me. A moment later, he was off. I sighed in relief.

‘You think that chap was telling the truth?’

‘Well of course he was! You’ve no idea where you’re going! Admit it!’ I couldn’t stand it any longer. ‘Douglas, it’s time to wake up. We’re not getting anywhere, and even that lorry driver knows better.’ But before I could finish my sentence, a deafening roar sounded behind us. I turned and, to my horror, saw a stampede of bulls snorting across the wasteland, headed right for us. I screamed.

One.

‘Some fresh air, Douglas!’ I spluttered as clouds of black dust swarmed towards me. ‘What’s wrong with your exhaust fan?’
The rusty vehicle bumped down the slope, tires screeching. I wish I’d stayed at home.
‘Kate, be patient. We’re almost there.’ Almost there? All I could see was an expanse of barren wasteland. Our destination, Mocha City, was nowhere to be seen. The car burped.
‘It’s not funny, Douglas. Where are we going?’ Honestly, if I wasn’t such a kind soul, I’d have bonked him unconscious and started driving myself. We’d been driving for five hours, at the very least. And if Douglas keeps to his usual sitting-boulder attitude, I’m thinking it’s going to take him another five to realize just where he’s headed.

The 100 most beautiful words in English.

Maybe, at some point in your life, you’ve wanted to know what words sound best. What words would make your sentences ripple and bounce back. One useful source I’ve found on this is alphaDictionary’s ‘The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English’. It’s a book (and you’re supposed to buy it), but they give you the full list on the page linked below.

The list was compiled by Robert Beard, who’s been dealing with words (making dictionaries, creating word lists, and writing poetry) for 40 years. For five years he wrote the Word of the Day at yourDictionary.com, and since 2004 he’s written up to 1500 words in the series ‘So, What’s the Good Word?’ at alphaDictionary.

Just a sample of the diamond list: (some of the definitions are from Oxford)

Becoming: Attractive

Beleaguer: To exhaust with attacks

Effervescent: Giving off bubbles; fizzy

Opulent: Lush, luxuriant

Petrichor: The smell of earth after rain

Surreptitious: Secretive, sneaky

Vestigial: In trace amounts

Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did (and still do)!

Citation: http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/100_most_beautiful_words.html