Philology and Mythology

Woohoo! I finally finished reading “The Complete Grimm’s Fairy tales.” Jumpin’ Jaysus in an acorn, what an acorn, what a fuckin’ mission that was. Philology. Great word. “The study of literature and relevant fields.” I picked that one up from the afterword to the Grimm collection by none other than Joseph Campbell, oft-cited source for the whole concept of the hero’s journey. Anyway, good ol’ Joe wrote a great afterword exploring the origins of the thematic elements of the folk tales put to paper by the Grimm brothers. One of the repetitions in the stories was the constant(and I mean constant)recurrence of things in threes. As I read the afterword, I had hoped for an explanation of the origins and meaning of this repetition of threes. All I got was, “Throughout the Old World, repetition is commonly in threes; in America, fours,” and–when discussing how tales from different languages and cultures get appropriated by others–“Persons and things become multiplied (particularly by the numbers 3, 5, and 7.” I`m guessing three was a significant number because of the Holy Trinity, but I`m just guessing. I’d never noticed that American repetition in stories is in fours: I’ve always felt like it was also in threes. But that could be because the triplicate repetition of Old World tales so thoroughly infiltrated the American zeitgeist over the past seventy years(the copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales I have was originally copyrighted in 1944 with the printing of my copy taking place in 1972). Anyway, if anyone can answer the repetition in threes question for me, please send me the info on that. Thanks.

It’s now Sunday, 8/27/2017, and I have been locked down for six days straight now. But, hey, now I know the difference between a fable, a myth, and a fairytale. I also know Germans in the 1700’s were obsessed with never-ending meals, magic items to transport one wherever they wished in the blink of an eye, and having three magic acorns from which would spring three gowns(each subsequent gown exceeding the beauty of the previous gown). I wonder, though, why tailors were so despised, why the devil was such an easy going and easily-fooled guy, and what the deal was with glass mountains. Ah, maybe I`m like the perennial favorite character in these tales–just a “Stupid Hans.” Such quandies are beyond my ken.

On that note, time for this Stupid Hans to get to work on a notice of appeal for Mikey boy. Fare thee well, mystical creatures of the forest. Ironically enough, you out there in the world may as well be mystical, mythical forest creatures to me, see as how I am so far removed from the world. As the recent Wired issue posed it: “Who is the real person and who is the simulacrum?” Who indeed.

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More Inventions and the future of tech

Right now Amazon is killing the game, out-innovating the past decade’s king of innovation, Apple. There is a tech and media consolidation under way as old paradigms collapse under the weight of innovation. Disney recently made the decision to pull all of their content from Netflix and create their own direct-to-consumer service for all their content, including ESPN. ESPN was the one channel holding existing cable subscription models together, and Disney offering ESPN as a standalone offering is the death-knell of cable companies as we know them. No, cable companies won’t go bankrupt, but current subscription models will disappear.

If Tim Cook(CEO of Apple) really wants to maintain Apple’s dominance, it’s time to take the brash step into Tomorrowland. Yes, Apple needs to buy Disney. At the least, they need to collaborate. Apple has created a digital hardware and software ecosystem wherein customers feel secure, but they have fallen away from their original ability to delight. Disney, on the other hand, delights millions and millions of people everyday. Apple and Disney are missing out on a crazy huge opportunity: a software and hardware ecosystem for kids and young adults. If they collaborate on a tablet and smartphone for kids, wherein the ecosystem is monitored to protect from any negative influences, they could create an educational social networking ecosystem that is safe and secure. Imagine a Disney tablet with all of the Disney content and all the reliability of Apple. Combine that with Disney-branded toys with a voice-interaction system embedded wherein an AI doll keeps contact tabs on kids and their environment while pushing an educational agenda using gamification to teach kids everyday in a way that they avidly pursue learning. Disney and Apple need to get together on that before Amazon does it on its own.

Anyway, here are some more old inventions and notes of mine. It’s probably going to take about a year to get all of my inventions up on here. Hope you have the time. God knows I do.

*8/6/2002*

Cellphones as smart cards and portal access devices rolled into one. Either wireless of plug in. Examples: When in checkout line at grocery store, “pay” button on phone automatically pays for groceries. When travelling, phone(combined with access code) is plugged into port of computer terminal(in planes, stores, lounges, offices, etc.). With plug-in and access code, computer automatically links to home computer, or work computer, or both. When phone is plugged in,  automatically connects to a landline.

*8/12/2002*

Content Management may be key to home network. Content Management controls and structure data(based on types: i.e. Web, video, audio, text, etc.).

*8/12/2002*

Home networks can only be accessed using smart cards, cellphones, and/or security cards and/or thumbprints and individual pin codes–but how to handle phone calls, emails, etc.? Network can only be manipulated with keys; firewall needs to be impenetrable.

*8/12/2002*

Check out VPN’s(Virtual Private Networks) and IVE’s(Instant Virtual Extranets). Check “Voice XML”(data to speech–“voice interface”).

*9/20/2002*

Restaurant with breakfast, lunch, and dinner made to exact calorie specifications(for weight loss).

*11/15/2002*

Roof shingles, slats, tiles, etc. that are actually solar panels. Must provide water/rain/snow/ice protection as good as, or better than, regular roofing materials. Obviously more expensive, initially, without factoring in electricity-saving costs. Overall cost–including savings on electricity–should be same as, or cheaper than, regular roofs. Longevity and efficiency also factors.

And that concludes my 2002 inventions. Next up: 2003 inventions. I hope everyone is well. Until next time.

 

 

Prison and Technology and Free Speech

When I first came to prison, about twenty years ago, they sold black and white tv’s, color CRT tv’s, Walkman’s, and cassette tapes. The internet was just beginning to take off, albeit at dial-up speeds. iPods didn`t even exist yet, much less smartphones and tablets. The adoption of technology in prisons is a slow process, usually years–if not decades–behind the free world. I’ve watched the in-prison transition from cassettes to cd’s to MP3 players, and CRT tv’s to flat screen tv’s. They started selling flat screens about four years ago, and started selling MP3 players (8GB, with the ability to receive emails and pictures) about three years ago. Still no typewriters, word processors, or computers: everything has to be written by hand. They did sell a little rubber keyboard, barely bigger than a smartphone, which plugs into the MP3 player under the guise of being able to send outgoing emails, but that never came to fruition. So you can type things on your MP3, but you can never get them off the MP3. Not that a miniature rubber keyboard is in any way an efficient means for typing.

The sales of these little tech trifles is for the purpose of making money. When the MP3’s were first rolled out, the whole system was run by Access Corrections, a subsidiary of Keefe Group, who in turn is owned by a private equity company in Chicago. They charged about $0.25 for sending a single message, $0.25 for sending a single picture, and $1.99 to download a single song. The prison phased out cd’s and cd players, so music costs $1.99 a song. At least it did until about a month or two ago. Though Access Corrections still runs the canteen ordering system here, the package program(wherein items are marked up by a minimum of double what they would cost on the streets), the system for sending inmates messages, and the music download system has been switched over to CorrLinks. Corrlinks is the inmate email system used in federal prisons, where inmates have tablets and can both receive and send emails. The Corrlinks system was rolled out here in Nevada last month, and I think they’re still working out the kinks. Music now costs $2.00 a song, messages cost $0.30 an email, and while there is a picture option on the inmate account in here, I don`t know if anyone can send pictures yet. Initially, emails took a week or two to arrive, but now they are delivered within a couple of hours.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, technology and business are a couple of my passions. I do my best to keep up on all the technological advances so that I don`t become irrevocably disconnected from the world. My limited access to technology combined with my conceptual abilities puts me in a unique position to see things from a completely different perspective and envision the path of technology. Technology is completely reshaping culture and society, and most likely causing an evolutionary shift via reshaping of human brains that are exposed to tablets, smartphones, and the internet from birth. Every cultural and societal shift comes with upheavals and often violent vicissitudes. We are in the midst of that societal shift. Which leads me to Wired’s most recent issue: “How we learned to stop worrying and love the future.” I`ll try to have Des create a hyperlink to the Wired site here so you can see the ingenious cover art that perfectly encapsulates  the current tech-driven anxiety in America. The title of the issue is a sly nod to Dr. Strangelove.

One of the articles was about Instagram–at CEO Kevin Systrom’s behest–employing artificial intelligence to automatically delete specific words and emoji from user’s feeds to eliminate toxicity from trolls. I don’t remember who originally said it, and I`m just paraphrasing here, but I really subscribe to this ethos: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend you–to the death–your right to say it.” Freedom of speech is the most fundamental and essential right in America, enshrined in our Constitution as the very first amendment. Any restriction on speech needs to be narrowly tailored because it’s very easy for a single restriction on speech to snowball into an overall restriction. What starts off as a benevolent plan to make the world a nicer place can turn to a more nefarious oppression of whole groups of people. It’s a slippery slope and the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Immediately after the Instagram article was “Trolls Across America,” a map showing the percentage of comments that are hostile on the internet, broken down by states. Nevada came in as the third-highest percentage of hostile comments. The accompanying text says, “Internet Rule # 1: Never read the comments.” As you’ve no doubt noticed, my wife has the comments capability disabled on this blog, which is necessary because she doesn’t want to be inundated with vitriol any more than anyone else does. I believe, however, that everyone who wants to be heard should be heard. A couple lessons I’ve learned in life: 1. Pursuing anything out of hate for the purpose of harming another human being is a waste of time and energy because whatever you accomplish out of hate does nothing to improve one’s own lot in life. It destroys the pursuer as much as the pursued when that time and energy could have been spent on improving one’s self and the world around one’s self. 2. When encountering an uninformed viewpoint in the world, it’s an opportunity to educate rather than an excuse to spew vitriol.

The second lesson is why I think Google made a mistake when they fired an employee who wrote an email with outdated views. Google should have instead countered the employee’s misinformed assertions with a rational, science-based response, then invited that employee to a seminar wherein they could educate him about the flaws in his line of reasoning. It as a teachable moment, and Google let it pass by without teaching anyone anything. Racist and misogynistic beliefs should not be tolerated, but it shouldn`t be assumed that such beliefs can’t be challenged and minds can’t be changed.

That said, here is a link to Corrlinks. Anyone who has anything to say about this blog can comment to me directly. Set up a Corrlinks account to email Inmate Jeremy Strohmeyer, inmate # 0059389. I welcome comments and correspondence from anyone and everyone. Whether you are from Scotland, Vegas, or anywhere in between, I want to hear from you. I`ll answer any questions you have, and elaborate on any posts you want elaboration on. I`m a true believer in the power of dialogue to change hearts and minds for the better. I can’t email anyone back at this point, so you’ll have to include an address where I can send you snail mail if you want a direct response.

Alright, that’s all for now. The next few posts will be inventions and invention-related. Fifteen years ago I was really obsessed with the creation of the home network. I was a little ahead of the curve, as home networks are just now finally becoming a reality (albeit at a glacial pace). Speak freely and be kind to one another!

Busy, Busy, Busy

I might as well maximize my time, write a couple of posts at once, then have them posted a few days apart. I hadn’t posted in a few weeks because I was busy writing a cross-motion for summary judgement for a guy with an excessive force case. The state had filed a motion for summary judgement, and the guy had 21 days to respond. The guy who had been helping him before is in a different unit now, and it takes months to get an appointment for the law library (not that any of the law library workers could help anyway), so if I didn`t help him, he would most likely lose his case. Luckily, it’s not a complicated case, and the facts and law for the one count aren’t too numerous or complex. It took me a couple of weeks to read everything and familiarize myself with the case and write out the cross-motion. The guards at another prison used obvious excessive force on this guy, and he doesn’t know much about the law, so I felt compelled to help him. It’s definitely one of the things in life that can make you feel good: helping others.

Now my focus shifts to helping my friend, Mike, with his criminal appeal. He had a lawyer working on it for him, but it got denied at the first level (judicial district court) at the same time his lawyer was diagnosed with brain cancer. The criminal justice system doesn’t care, though: Mike has 33 days to file a notice of appeal, and it’s already been 23days. After I get that done, I need to prep for discovery for my civil case so I can prove a conspiracy between the defendants. That–the discovery process–will be a battle in and of itself, but I`ll do my best.

I’ve run out of time if I want to get this to the presses this week, so I`ll end here for now. Quickly, though, my stock picks for the week: Under Armour, Alphabet, and Amazon. Under Armour has been oversold by the market and the current price (around $16 a share for the class C shares) is a great entry point. The shares will probably hit $20-$30 a share in the next 12 months.

Alright, take care everyone, and be good to each other.

High Desert State Prison Locked Down

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Indian Springs, Nevada

Soundtrack: “Doin’ Time” by Sublime.

“On lockdown like a penitentiary.” Ah, yes, the good ol’ prison lockdown rears its ugly head at HDSP again. The skies are blue, a few solitary clouds float freely across those blue skies. A beautiful day to be outside, get some fresh air. Nope. “No yard for you!” As a matter of fact, no movement out of your cell at all!

It’s Thursday afternoon, and we’ve been locked down for three days now. According to a reliable source, three different assaults on staff took place over the weekend–Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I`m pretty sure all of the assaults on guards took place in general population, yet the warden slams protective segregation, as well. I’ve never understood the oft-used “group punishment” here in prison. One inmate, or a few(at most) violate the rules and the prison response is to punish every inmate within a certain radius. All those other inmates are following the rules, doing nothing wrong, but they get punished arbitrarily because a guard or an administrator is mad. The result is that the threat of punishment holds less sway. “Wait, I get punished even when I follow the rules? Well, what the fuck?” What the fuck, indeed. There is no reward for following the rules, and punishment is forthcoming, so what’s the point?

The last time I was out on tier was Monday afternoon, after I got yard. I’ve been out of my cell a few times to pick up my food tray and take it back to my cell, and I’ve been out of my cell once for a shower (yesterday). That’s it. The rest of the time has been spent in my cell. Luckily I was one of the last to shower yesterday, so I had an hour to get a good workout in before showering. When I`m locked down like this, I won’t work out unless I know I have a shower coming that day. My celly and I worked out while bumping my workout playlist on my boom box, alternating our sets because there’s not enough floor space for us to both exercise at the same time. A couple hundred squats, a couple hundred push-ups, and a hundred lunges. I`m a bit sore today, but not too much.

The longer the lock down, the antsier I get. I usually use lock downs to clean and wash. I give the sink and toilet and floor a thorough scrubbing, then wash the floor rag and the towel I have at the cell entry(for preventing dirt and hair from coming into cell under the door). After the cell’s clean, I move on to laundry. I wash all my laundry as is–boxers, socks, shirts on a pretty much daily or bi-daily basis–but heavier items like shorts, towels, and sheets get washed once every two weeks. Washing everything by hand in a tiny-ass sink with limited water-flow is seriously time consuming. As of today, everything except my yard shorts is clean. I hand wash everything because I`m not a fan of putting my clothes in a laundry bag, sending them to “laundry” where they will be washed in large industrial washing machines that actually get your clothes dirtier after being mixed in a soup of God knows what, and wondering what diseases and bacteria have been infused into my clothes and sheets. If you saw how dirty and nasty some of these guys in here are, you would wash all your clothes by hand, too. Not just your clothes–all of your laundry. Just say no to sharing bodily fluids in prison. No MRSA for me, thank you very much.

Anyway, pretty much everything is clean, so I’ve been catching up on some long overdue reading. I’ve been grinding my way through The Complete Grimm’s Fairy tales. The first couple hundred pages(the first forty stories) maintained my interested as I found the origins for many popular Disney stories and fairy tales in general, and the overt violence in the stories I’d previously only known the sanitized versions of was intriguing. Then the stories began repeating themselves, and the previously entertaining non sequitur endings became annoying. Now, as I near page 560, the endless repetition grates on my nerves like a song played on repeat too many times. However, I’m committed to reading every single story. Only about 300 pages to go! Jesus wept.

Ah, I also took the time to sew some holes in my tier shorts. Yes, I have multiple pairs of shorts for multiple settings. There are my yard shorts, for working out in (both on the yard and at the gym). Then there’s my tier shorts, strictly for wearing on the tier (the phones don’t have any stools or chairs, so it’s either stand the whole time or sit on the ground when on the phone). Then there’s my cell shorts that I wear only in my cell so I`m not sitting on my bed(which also functions as my desk, my couch, and my workspace) with dirty ass shorts from outside. So, yeah, used a sewing kit to sew some holes.

The hardest part about lock downs like this is missing my wifey, going so long without talking to her on the phone. As she and I are wont to say: I miss my person. My poor wifey has endured too many of these lock downs with me to count. I don`t talk a lot about it, but I am in awe of her. She has been through so much with me, so much for me. I am truly lucky and blessed to have her. This life is impossibly hard for us together at times. I can’t even imagine how it would be without my indefatigable and selfless partner by my side. It’s astonishing to me when I think about the fact that we have been together for over fourteen years, married for almost eight years now. Thank you for your strength, my love, for your faith, and for never giving up on me.

On that note, I wish everyone the best, and I bid you adieu for now. Get outside, breathe that fresh air, enjoy the weather, and feel the sun–or rain or wind–on your face. In short, enjoy your freedom. Summertime, and the livin’s easy.

Into the Wild

The heat is cloying. It’s monsoon season here in Vegas, an irony or an oxymoron–“desert monsoons”–depending on how you look at it. With the clouds comes humidity and when you’re used to the dry heat of the desert, the sudden spike of humidity is stultifying. Makes you listless, the constant stickiness a distraction from any kind of comfort. The temperature seems hotter than it is, and the nights feel endless. No relief in sight, you fervently wish for a return to dry heat, even if it’s 115 F degrees.

I’ve kept myself distracted by reading, as is my usual mode for distraction from discomfort. The most recent books I’ve read are “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, and “The Man Who Folded Himself” by David Gerrold. Both books focus on the universal themes of identity and the meaning of life–both themes which intertwine with each other. Into the Wild is one I read years ago, and greatly related to in my early twenties. I read it again recently because Des was enchanted by it when she recently discovered it, and we wanted to share in the emotional vicissitudes of the story together. Into the Wild is a true story–a cautionary tale about the hubris of youth combined with a call to arms for every  human to live life to the fullest while following their dreams. The Man Who Folded Himself is a sci-fi novel, a novel most fitting for any teenager struggling with their identity, particularly sexual identity. This novel was recommended by a friend’s teenage son due to its science fiction content. While exploring questions of sexual identity and gender fluidity, it also explores the consequences of time travel in a logical manner, discarding the typical time travel tropes of irreversible damage due to interference with one’s own history and the universal collapse of time and space through the paradox of two versions of the same person occupying the same physical space at the same time.

Those tropes are discarded in favor of the concept that time travel creates an alternate universe with every instance of a person travelling through time. The exploration of time travel is central to the novel, but it’s exploration of the multiplicity of feelings and thoughts, often conflicting with each other (especially when a teenager is in the throes of constantly surging hormones), that combine and coalesce in each individual to make one whole person. In each of us reside an infinite number of potential outcomes. What impresses me most about this book is that it was originally published in 1972, long before any kind of universal acceptance of sexual orientation beyond the long-standing male-female pairings expected and enforced by society. Near the end of the book, exploration of identity and gender roles and societal expectations aside, the book sums up life in a few lines: “Danny, you cannot avoid mortality. But you can choose your own way of meeting it. And that is the most that any man can hope for. Live well, my son.”

If The Man Who Folded Himself explores these themes through the sci-fi prism of H.G. Wells, then Into the Wild explores these themes through the ascetics and aesthetics of Jack London, Thoreau, and Tolstoy. Into the Wild has always struck an extremely personal nerve with me as I saw a lot of myself in the ill-fated protagonist, Christopher Johnson McCandless–aka “Alexander Supertramp.” My heart aches every time I hold this book in my hands, each time I see the snow-clad bus where Chris died, every time I see Chris’ beatific smile, every time I crack the book and read any of the lines within. Chris encompassed all the foibles, all the hubris, all the energy, and all the promise of youth. Simultaneously selfish and selfless, his journey was a true odyssey, a heroic, defiant fist shaking in the face of the void that is the universe, that is eternity. Shunning the rampant materialism of American consumer culture, Chris shook off those shackles to embrace the joy of a peripatetic lifestyle and worship at the altar of nature.

Reading it again more recently, I`m struck by the act that literature and history are strewn with the wreckages–and the harrowing escapes–of “raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic.” Christopher’s life ended when he was in his early twenties, before he could fully understand the consequences of his actions, before he could fully regulate his irrational and self-destructive impulses. At the same time, there was clarity to his actions in his own mind. It’s actually quite hard to put it all into words, the connection I feel with Christopher McCandless, and the beauty and tragedy of the life he lived to the fullest while tragically losing it. The book’s author, Jon Krakauer, captures all of the emotion and conflict perfectly, and I would recommend that everybody read this book, especially anybody who has ever yearned for freedom, yearned to lose themselves in nature, yearned to get away from the petty demagoguery that is modern civilization. Into the Wild is a book I would keep with me forever, constantly returning to its well-worn pages, but I can have only ten books in my possession at a time. If I had to choice, I would have a full library of every book I’ve ever read, shelves and shelves of books, with my favorites returned to over and over again. For now, though, I have to commit as much as possible to memory and pass on the books I have read so that others in here might learn and grow upon reading them, as I have.

Until next time then, may each of you take the trail that sets your heart free and allows you to grasp a bit of infinity.

Inventions from 2002

*05/17/02*

“Speakers in rims of cars. Instead of rims for tires, you have speakers. Now you can pump your stereo for everyone”

*06/10/02*

“Is Jetson’s shower possible? Conveyor belt from bed to shower. Toothpaste put onto brush via tube dispenser. Toothbrush placed into retractable container where cleaned. After shower, belt reverses to dry room, then to sink, then to closet.  

Computer has alarm set. Twenty minutes before wake time, hot water turned on. Alarm goes off(radio, tv, whatever). After ten minutes, if person not out of bed, pushed out of bed by hydraulic system. Push buttons at each station, along with sensors. Music, news, etc. transferred to each room’s speakers as person moves.

As shower starts, coffee being made, breakfast being started, etc. based on individual tastes.

Car is started as person exits home. Home shuts down as residents drive away”

*07/05/02*

“The answering machine must be on the computer for direct access to computer(remote access). Using code(just like retrieving messages), you access system and give comments”

*08/06/02*

“Climate controlled rooms within one house. Whether or not climate kept at preset level based on doors being open or closed (simple sensors on frame, hinges, or locking mechanism pressure plate). Each room has “optimum setting” for roomer’s personal preference. How to go about achieving different temperatures in separate rooms with one central heating/cooling system? Use of vents and flaps with motors operated by home network. Look at corporate office buildings for home models. Thermostats in each room.

Perhaps decentralization of heating and cooling units is key. Ah…continuous airflow maintained via central airflow system (ducts). Heating and cooling components inside ducts at room entrances. Can use something akin to car heater and air conditioner units. Hot water pipes redirecting hot water through pipes. How do heaters work? The empty pipes could have sprinkler timer valve controls on them, hooked up to a computer.”

IMG_1183

*08/06/02*

“Home networks will eliminate need for emergency broadcasts over radio and tv. Message will be sent to networks, networks will inform residents. Cars, cellphones, and PDA’s will have addresses correlating to physical addresses so resident will know even when he’s not home.”

*08/06/02*

“Home cleaning devices. Set into floorboards, vacuum suction devices with sensors running their full length. Different settings for different surfaces (i.e. hardwood, carpets, and rugs), and different settings can be employed simultaneously along length of vacuum.

               Sensors set inch or two in front of vacuum tube, and separate sections running length of tube react according to sensor data.”