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This tag is associated with 11 posts

Apocalypse then

The science fiction writer Fredric Brown (1906-1972) retells a short horror story (attributed originally to Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1836-1907]). It goes as follows: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” That’s reputedly the shortest horror story ever written. It’s apocalyptic. It’s about the last human … Continue reading

Escapology 101

Biologists and animal behaviourists refer to their study of escape responses as escapology. Fish, cockroaches and higher animals move at speed in a direction away from an immediate threat from a predator, but not always, and not directly. The direction of the escape travel depends on the lay of the land, the position of likely … Continue reading

Africa calling: How to say a lot with a little

When we had cell phones it was called “beeping.” Now in the era of smartphones another word serves better. It’s “flashing” or “making a flash call.” I think we even did it with land lines as well back in the day. Children away from home would flash call their parents. Though we didn’t recognise it … Continue reading

Eliminate the impossible

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” said Sherlock Holmes, in The Sign of Four, ch. 6 (1889). One of the ways to eliminate the impossible is to first enumerate everything that can be enumerated — probable or not. René Descartes said something similar. His last rule for … Continue reading

Unlocked

TOOOL stands for The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers. According to their website they’ll be holding a LockCon event in October 2019 in The Netherlands, which is where the organisation was founded. The organisation distances itself from criminal activity, i.e. breaking and entering. It provides instructions and runs competitions as a kind of “door hardware sport.” … Continue reading

Tags and codes

Graffiti tags are like the scents left by animals to mark territory. The territorial call signs of birds presumably fill a similar function. Territories are defined as much by secret conventions as they are by walls and boundaries. As explored in my previous post, one of the technical terms for such sign conventions is “deictic” … Continue reading

Trash talk

Like most urban commuters I have learned to tune out other people’s mobile phone conversations. But when I’m forced to attend to one-sided overloud jibber-jabber the interlocutor may as well be speaking in code. “She said that? … He did it then. … Ask him to give it to me when I’m there.” Deixis Deictic … Continue reading

One knock for yes two for no

You might think that advanced technologies obliterate the need for a belief in spirit, a world outside of everyday tangible experience. More accurately, techno-science, and its attendant promotion of rationalism and the cultures of modernity have supposedly disenchanted the world. Techno-science explains the world without the need to look for extra-physical cause and effect. There’s … Continue reading

Everything is code

“He doesn’t give you questions. He doesn’t give you orders. He speaks in a code. I understand the code because I’ve been around him for a decade” said convicted ex-lawyer Michael Cohen about his ex-boss (Trump) before the US House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. As any student of semiotics knows, speaking in code is what … Continue reading

Decode this

Political statements come coded: “I think there’s blame on both sides. I don’t have any doubt about it and you don’t have any doubt about it either.” That was Trump on the white supremacist contingent at the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville this week (with violence resulting in deaths and injury). The statement sounds … Continue reading

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