Monday, December 27, 2004


Two days after Christmas. Lucia, Eldar and I spent three days in the Matra mountains in the villages of Matraszentimre and Galyateto. Snow was on the ground, the air was cold and fresh. There was no outdoor advertising and little but the sound of silence. To stand out on the balcony and watch the evergreens bend with the wind, the blankets of white atop the village homes, the smell of woodburning fires and the accompanying wiffs of smoke from the chimneys. No rumble of distant traffic, no glow of urban lights were anywhere close. It helps that we were here in Hungary and that the mountains are modest in height - 1000m - there's little to lure big money. So what you find was built mostly with small money. The house we stayed in was a handmade stone dwelling, built on a slope so that the driveway met the second storey. Inside a tightly winding spiral stair case connected the three floors, the bottom of which held the beds, fireplace and kitchen of the owners, while the upper two floors were for guests. The square pillar that ran up the middle of the staircase was paneled with particle board, stained borwn with moulding trimming the corners and adorning the middle of each side. It was a sort of particle board I'd never seen made with large chunks and wafers of wood whose grains showed clearly through the stain. The construction told such story of frugal craftsmanship and ingenuity.

We watched the surging brilliance of a wood fire through the glass door of a Franklin stove in the more civil of the town's two pubs. Lucia and I enjoyed mugs of Gluwein and Eldar drank and apple juice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A time before time, a place with no space

Lucia, my wife, is back from Berlin. Csilla, my assistant, is home with her sick daughter. There are odds and ends I could be working on. But the heart of the matter is the time before time and the place with no space. There and only there can the truth be found.

You might argue that such a province does not and cannot exist. Well, read the above paragraph again a few times with an open mind and it may well start to exist if only in your imagination, as it has begun to in mine.

Why can truth be found there? With no time, for starters, there are no schedules, no deadlines. No need for "spin." A place with no space begets no travel concerns. No place to go. There is, I contend, only room for truth. Not mathematical truth. That is anyhow fantasy. When in reality is 2+2 ever equal to 4? When can you ever actually get 2 of something. Mathematics exists in principle and is applied to the world around you only approximately. And in a place without space or time, there's nothing to add or count. So mathematical truth. Absolute truth? Perhaps. A truth that is comfortably divorced from all things temporal and material. A divine sort of truth. Everything that always and everywhere is in this world is all that you find in the timeless, spaceless place. I want each of you to make a list of these and post them as comments.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The physical mortality imperative

I just read an article about how a mobile telecommunications technology developer is making it possible to use your cell-based radio telephone on an airplane. This will be done by installing a pizza box sized "tower" inside the plane and turning the entire passenger cabin into a "cell". The phones' transceptions will be relayed by a master antenna mounted on the plane to the ground-based networks. Pretty impressive stuff, no doubt. Nice that such a creative solution can be applied to the problem of people not being able to user their radiophones during air travel. This is excactly the sort of energy and creativity that needs to be applied to the much more pressing problem of physical mortality.

Woody Allen once famously said, "I don't wan't to be immortal through my work. I want to be immortal by not dying."

Now it can be argued that plenty of people don't really care much about their longevity. Just look at the poisons they dump into themselves, the fattening, artery-clogging foods they eat. But why then do they spend so much to cure themselves when they become injured or ill, especially in older age? In my opinion, most people do want to live and would spend quite a bit if they were offered a way to live longer.

A concerted effort could be made. If a convincing business plan were put together, it would certainly find investment, eventually all it would need. The concept explored below is my favored starting position. Have a genetically-modified clone made of yourself that can be produced to maturity in a relatively short time and has only a brainstem, and no brain. Then have your own brain transplanted into the new body and have nanomachines connect all the nerve endings. Sure, it sounds far-fetched. But people have new engines put into their cares. It is certainly imaginable. And with a concerted effort to master the workings of the human body, it could be done. We just have to start and proceed in the same manner that industry pursues the sort of innovations described above.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Not Going to Iraq

Just a quick note to let you know that I will not be going to Iraq. My five-year-old son told me not to. So I'm staying here in Budapest and struggling to make the best of things. It could have been the mother of all adventures, but then again I could have wound up dead. Of course I could wind up that way whatever happens. But I'm not going.