I turn 75 years old today 2023-10-31. I am told, and periodically experience, that old age brings about frailty. Looking it up in an online dictionary, its definition sounds worse than I feel: as an aging-related syndrome of physiological decline, characterized by marked vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. Frail older patients often present with an increased burden of symptoms including weakness and fatigue, medical complexity, and reduced tolerance to medical and surgical interventions. My own definition is much simpler, frailty = reduced capabilities.

I notice that my renovation/ construction projects are taking longer to complete. It is not just because I have less energy in the day to work actively at them, but equally, there is less enthusiasm. The latest project involves the kitchen, with changes to the plumbing and electrical system that included some work by others. It took much longer than planned.

I have said that I will retire from construction projects starting 2024-01-01. I am aware that this will not be a complete stop. Additional work is needed in the attic to make it a suitable place to store things. This activity will continue, but only when I want to do it, and feel capable. I will accept no imposed deadlines.


Things can be a polite term for junk. Every time I think about storage, I recall Allied Van Lines, and their advertisements in the 1960s where they stated that they did not mix other people’s junk with your valuable possessions. In my dreams, I regularly see myself as a child peering into the back of a moving van, filled with increasingly irrelevant technology. The moving van gradually transforms into a dumpster.

Today, millennials are storing less junk because books, music, videos, games and more, are digital files stored on servers and distributed as needed to other devices.

In my old order universe, there were physical things: books were printed documents; music was long-play records or CDs or many other things; videos involved Betamax and VHS formats, DVDs and even laserdisks; games involved dice, pieces and folded cardboard sheets representing the game universe. In my preferred new order universe, things are files on a computer. I have not yet accepted that files should be kept on clouds = some stranger’s computer/ server. My solution is to encourage family members to cooperate, by storing encrypted backup data on each other’s servers.

Duolingo/ Sudoku/ Books

Duolingo and Sudoku are two activities I engage in on a daily basis, even though recent news reports tell me that these may not prevent dementia.

With Duolingo I regularly change languages. Within days of the start of the current war in Ukraine, I began to study Ukrainian. In 2023, I alternated between Ukrainian and Finnish. I used to change between these two languages, up to several times a week. Then, I stuck with each language for a month, before switching. For me, it was much easier than working with both languages every day.

After my son, Alasdair, asked for my company on a trip to the Outer Hebrides for five days in the summer of 2024, I decided to focus my attention exclusively on (Scottish) Gaelic. This does not mean that I am prepared to eat guga = salted gannet, on these travels. Fortunately, Is toil leam brocham gu mor! = I like porridge a lot!

Sudoku involves filling in squares in a printed book. Within each square I can code numbers using dots following the same numerical sequence used on touch-tone telephones, with 1-2-3 on the top and 7-8-9 on the bottom. There is no need for 0, or operation keys +,- x, / or =. I have decided that when the puzzles in my current book are used up, I will just use a Sudoku program found on my laptop or hand-held device. I say this every time…

Apart from Sudoku, I do not find games fun at all. I include crosswords as a type of game. My significant other plays card games on her laptop. I agree with Art Vaughan, that real-world challenges are more interesting problems to solve than constructed games.

Reading books in Norwegian

The Volga and its tributaries.

I attempt to read at least a chapter a day of books written in Norwegian. In part, this is to keep my Norwegian vocabulary active. This decision came about because of a conversation. I wanted to use the Norwegian word for jam, syltetøy. However, all that came out was French, confiture.

One newly read book was written by Norwegian author Geir Pollen (1953 – ), who lived in Russia from 2007 to 2020. Volga : En russisk reise (2021) = Volga : A Russian trip. It actually involved many trips over many years, but is organized geographically from the Volga headwaters north-west of Moscow, until the river enters the Caspian sea.

Reading about Russia is my attempt to understand the most extensive war in Europe since the second world war. I find that it helps to have it explained by someone from a culture where I have lived for over forty years. I am not so sure, I would be equally receptive to a book written by someone who has an American perspective. The book was written before the second Russian incursion into Ukraine.

The title of chapter 65, the last about the middle section of the Volga, can be translated as the world as a listening exercise. It is about Sofia Gubaidulina (1931 – ) born in Chistopol, in Tatarstan, Russia with Tatar and Russian heritage, a composer who has lived in Appen, a village near Hamburg, Germany, since 1991-02. Here is one shorter work: Vivente – Non vivente, for ANS Synthesizer (1970).

Pollen says that Gubaidulina describes her music as: a journey in a soundscape where the composer is just as exposed to the unknown as the musician and the listener. In the universe it sounds like: the things, the plants, the trees, the people, the animals, the earth, the stars. It is the starting point of music. If the people concentrated and did not surround themselves with so much noise, they would hear it. She compares modern life to a city where the artificial lights make it impossible to see the starry sky. The loss of the height dimension, the vertical in existence, is the greatest threat to mankind today, because we cannot live only in the horizontal, on the surface (p. 323).

I concur. The world is challenged by noise. I dislike noisy motorcycles. Yet, even more disturbing are subwoofers played inside assorted vehicles. They are especially annoying when I am walking through a natural environment. I may not be able to hear the sounds emanating from them, but I can feel them, and am looking forward to limits being placed on their noise levels.

The tragedy of the commons is an economic theory that states that individuals use up resources shared by many to benefit themselves. Because individuals generally act selfishly, shared resources are misused so that everyone ends up suffering in the end. I regard quiet and darkness as important shared resources. Other important shared resources include the atmosphere, the oceans, forests and wildlife. I am almost successful at unlearning the value of densely populated urban spaces. The British economic writer, William Forster Lloyd (1794 – 1852), introduced the concept in a pamphlet in 1833.

American ecologist and philosopher Garrett Hardin (1915 – 2003) wrote about the tragedy of the commons in a 1968 paper, calling attention to the damage that innocent actions by individuals can inflict on the environment. He is also known for Hardin’s First Law of Human Ecology: We can never do merely one thing. Any intrusion into nature has numerous effects, many of which are unpredictable. He is also regarded by many as a white supremacist/ racist. For example, he wrote: Lifeboat Ethics: the Case Against Helping the Poor, that appeared in Psychology Today, September 1974.

Global warming is another example of the tragedy of the commons theory. At least since the start of the industrial revolution, individuals, companies and societies around the world have been engaged in activities that have a serious impact on the atmosphere. In many cases, there is no disincentive for a company to stop releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Indeed, they have an incentive to do so because it allows them to increase their profits. They seem to have no obligation about how their actions will affect others. These actions can have a lasting effect on the planet, and everyone and everything on it, for generations.

I have already bought my next Norwegian language book by the same author, about a failed Swedish invasion of Trøndelag, aka the Carolean Death March, in the winter of 1718-19, led by Karl Gustav Armfeldt (1666 – 1736). Armfeldts Armé : historien om en katastrofe (2014) = Armfeldt’s Army : The history of a catastrophe.

Reading books in English

I regularly read books written by Obi Kaufmann (1973 – ): The California Field Atlas, The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Resource, The Coasts of California, The Forests of California. I am also looking to two forthcoming books, The Deserts of California, and The State of Fire: How, Where and Why California Burns.

I am also reading: Russia Against Modernity (2023), by Alexander Etkind (1955 – ): “Communism was modernity’s most devout, vigorous and gallant champion … It was under communist, not capitalist, auspices that the audacious dream of modernity … was pushed to its radical limits: grand designs, unlimited social engineering, huge and bulky technology, total transformation of nature.” Zygmunt Bauman (1925 – 2017), Intimations of Post-Modernity (1992) p. 179.

Modernity takes various forms. Etkind names a bureaucratic modernity, as proposed by Max Weber (1864 – 1920), in the 19th century, which was replaced by a paleomodernity, in the 20th century, with an emphasis on using nature for resources and energy. Now the world has encountered a gaiamodernity, from a theory proposed by James Lovelock (1919 – 2022) and developed in cooperation with Lynne Margulis (1938 – 2011) that is focused on using less resources and less energy. Small is beautiful, is a catchphrase for this era, as well as a book from 1973, written by Ernst Friedrich Schumacher (1911 – 1977).

In contrast, Russia is attempting to reverse modernity with its own special operation: stopmodernism. Anthony Giddens (1938 – ) expressed many of the ideas behind it, in his theory of structuration. Etkind views the 2022 war in Ukraine as structuration in practice (p. 8), and the war as a campaign against modernity. The major issue is trust.

My next work on Russia will be by Masha Karp (1956 – ) about George Orwell = Eric Arthur Blair (1903 – 1950). George Orwell and Russia (2023). She claims that Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty Four (1949) were not dystopias, but accurate fictional depictions of reality. Her book explores how Orwell’s work was received in Russia, and how it affects the totalitarian political reality today. It also why The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), Orwell’s exploration of British poverty, was never published in Russian. In this context, Vladimir Putin’s actions are simply the next transformation of totalitarianism, as predicted and described by Orwell.

Tony Judt’s (1948 – 2010) Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (2005), is also scheduled to be read. Judt decided to write this in 1989 while waiting for a train at Vienna central station, inspired at least in part by having witnessed the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. While the work has been highly praised, it has also been criticized.

Fiction has been missing in my diet. However, The Sycamore Gap Tree incident has inspired a change. On 2023-09-28, a sycamore tree standing next to Hadrian’s Wall near Crag Lough in Northumberland, England was felled, illegally. It was located in a dramatic dip in the landscape, which was created by glacial meltwater and was a popular photographic subject, described as one of the most photographed trees in the country and an emblem for the North East of England. As a steward to another sycamore tree, grown from a seed, I understand the loss.

Shortly afterwards, I discovered that Louise (LJ) Ross, had written a romantic crime novel taking place there. I am not quite sure what a romantic crime novel is, but decided I could experiment with it. Unfortunately, Sycamore Gap is the second book in the series, so I am first having to slog my way through her first book, Holy Island, about crime on Lindisfarne.

Local Issues

Sometimes I cannot appreciate the world without reflecting on local issues. Trust was eroded in Inderøy, this past summer, on the recreational hikes, as up to several people opted to drive between posts, rather than walking, using wheelchairs or kayaks to access them. Driving is not part of the social contract! As I write this, I think of Vic Leach, in New Westminster, encouraging people to walk more.

Trust is also being eroded in Norwegian political parties at the national level. There was a municipal/ county election in Norway on 2023-09-10. For the first time since 1924, the Labour Party was not the most popular party. In recent years there have been too many issues arising involving politicians, in this and other parties. For example, the leader of the political party I voted for in the national election in 2021, admitted to shoplifting a pair of sunglasses at a taxfree store at Oslo airport. I voted for another party in the municipal elections, and will probably continue to do so in the national elections to be held in 2025.

Meanwhile, some Norwegian government ministers have been criticized for their failure to follow rules, most often, recently about stock purchases, that could involve insider information. Sometimes, it is not the minister who is purchasing stocks, but their spouse.

Ulrich Bech (1944 – 2015) wrote that “social inequalities and climate change are two sides of the same coin”, Climate for Change, or How to Create a Green Modernity? in Theory, Culture & Society 27.2-3 (2010): 254-66, quoted from p. 257. Somewhere I read that members of the billionaire class use one million times more energy than the median earthling. Every time I read about energy inequality, I think of Technocracy, which aimed to give people an equal share of energy. Technocracy and light pollution are two topics that I intend to address in the next 99 upcoming weblog posts.

I Touch Myself

Chrissy Amplett of the Divinyls, co-created a song, I touch myself, in 1990, that has become an anthem for breast health in a project that started in 2014.

Time is different now, than it was in my childhood and long into adulthood. Before, others dictated the timing and sequence of events. It applied to most activities involving more than one person. In addition, people listened to radios, and allowed stations to determine what songs were played when. Television was similar. There was a schedule that had to be followed, if one wanted to watch, say, The Avengers, that British espionage series, created by Canadian Sydney Newman (1917 – 1997), one had to be available at a specific time each week. In the days before the internet, libraries provided a source of information, as well as entertainment. There were some places that allowed, even encouraged, a greater freedom. I was fortunate to live less than three blocks from New Westminster Public Library, that I could visit to increase my knowledge about various topics, even those of marginal interest to most other people. Yes, I would like to thank the librarians at New Westminster Public Library for their engagement, particularly in the period 1958 to 1979, when I was an active user there.

We have lived without radio and television for most of the current millennium, and have not missed it. The Norwegian government replaced FM (frequency modulation) radio with DAB+ (digital audio broadcasting) in 2017. This had no effect on my life. We purchased a DAB+ radio so that we could listen to emergency broadcasts, should that ever be necessary. The radio is tested about once a year, but otherwise remains silent. This technology is already outdated, as emergency conditions are now communicated with SMS (short messaging service) messages. I experienced this recently in Iceland, when I received an earthquake warning.

Today, the age of instant gratification is upon us. We have experienced three iterations of the internet, so far: dial up; ADSL (asymetic digital subscriber line); and, fibre optic cable. People are becoming increasingly dependent on assorted web engines and their algorithms to propose content. These engines seem to know a great deal about my interests. Sometimes, I am intrigued more by these algorithms, and their proposals, than the actual content.

At the beginning of October, at the top of my YouTube suggestions was I Touch Myself (1990) by the Divinyls. I later learned they were an Australian band from Sidney, active in the 1990s. I wondered why this particular song was proposed. I had never heard of the band, or the track. Of course, from the photo provided, I wondered if it has something to do with my interest in female vocalists. I decided to explore it, by viewing and listening to that proposed track from 1991.

Resetting the YouTube start menu, brought forward several versions of the same song, some by the Divinyls, as well as others. I then viewed two other versions, another from 1991 and one from 2006. Also among the content proposals was a short video version from the film, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). I viewed it, but unlike the music videos, it repulsed. Like so many things in life, my sense of humour has also evolved.

After consuming these four versions, I delved deeper into the song, to understand better why this particular track was at the top of my YouTube list. It is easy to discover context today, because information is so much easier to access. Wikipedia and other sources of information are as close as one’s smartphone or laptop. Thus, within a few minutes I had discovered that the I Touch Myself Project was launched in 2014, a year after the death of Divinyl singer, Chrissy Amphlett (1959 – 2013) from breast cancer. Wikipedia could tell me that Amphlett wanted I Touch Myself to be adopted as a global anthem for breast health. The project was created in her honour with its mission to create educational forums to promote self-examination. In another few seconds I learn that October (every year) is breast cancer awareness month.


This past year two of the websites I used regularly have closed down. For many years, my primary source of books was The Book Depository. I also used Ello, a social media platform, as a source of inspiration for various forms of artwork. Originally, there was a third, Kottke, but it came back to life, after its founder had returned from a sabbatical.


This weblog post is to commemorate my 400th weblog post. It follows a previous commemoration, posted on .


When a new weblog post is published, 42 notifications are sent out (including one to myself). Of these, 18 are to women, and 24 to men. 26 go to people living in Norway (including 11 in Inderøy), 9 to people in Canada, and 7 to people in USA. Slightly more than half of the people, 22, are retired. I am biologically related to 8 people, and married to yet another. Of my adoptive family, all have declined an invitation to receive notifications. I have known one person for about 68 years, and another for less than a year. I have a relationship with each and every one. On average, 33 people read each post. I do not know who these people are, and I have no intention of finding out.

When I approached retirement, and started writing this weblog more seriously, in 2016, I stated that if readership exceeded 100 people, it was an indication that I was doing something wrong. This is still my belief. However, I have no objections to increasing readership to about that level, on the condition that I know the people or are related to them, or are recommended by people in these two groups.

Spam is not a major problem, but sometimes people I don’t know want to add inappropriate content. The post that has attracted the most spam is one about a Kaiyun Pickman, a Chinese pickup. This week, for example, someone wanted to add an advertisement there for an online casino. Even though I don’t know Paul MF Broadway, I allowed his comment because it was relevant. Relevance is the only criteria for having a comment accepted.


Veritas vos liberabit = The truth will set you free, is the motto of Johns Hopkins University. It is appealing, especially at a time when many politicians don’t seem capable of differentiating truth from lies. It is also Biblical, appearing in John 8:32. Yet, in 2017 W. Bradford Littlejohn described it as both the peril and promise of Christian liberty. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported over 270 million cases, and over 5 million deaths, in the world, as publication of this weblog post approached. Currently, the omicron variant is dominating the press, if not the pandemic.

I am not impressed with former Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg who, in a press conference 2021-09-24, announced that people in Norway could return to their normal way of life. This was a lie, but I am uncertain if Solberg is too dense to understand this elementary fact, or if she was wishing ill will on the people of Norway because of her election defeat. There could even be other reasons. In any case, the result was that many people behaved as if life had returned to normal. Shaking hands and not maintaining an adequate social distance are examples of clear violations of acceptable pandemic behaviour. Now, the intensive care wards of hospitals in Norway are filled beyond their capacity with Corona-19 cases. In addition, since everyone knows that government budgets are written in stone, Norwegian hospitals will have to cut back on their services in 2022, because of cost overruns this year. Nurses and other hospital staff are also suffering burnout. Workers, who have the opportunity, are once again required to work from home. Masks are required in stores. Most public activities have been cancelled.

There is increased need for cooperation in many fields related to epidemiology, including the production and distribution of vaccines. Disease seems an inappropriate place for free enterprise/ capitalism, especially during a pandemic where none can be free of Covid-19, until everyone in the world able to be vaccinated is vaccinated. It may be possible to build a bubble, but even New Zealand has experienced that these can pop easily.

Jennifer B. Nuzzo, in a TED talk, compared Covid-19 with the 1904 Baltimore fire caused by a cigarette that destroyed 1 500 buildings/ 2 500 businesses/ 80 blocks. Despite aid from firefighters in neighbouring cities, they couldn’t hook up their hoses because in 1904 there were over 600 variations of hose couplings. This failure resulted in major changes: Data was used to make buildings safer and to improve fire responses; ordinances were passed that ultimately became building codes resulting in fire resistant buildings; fire alarms were installed that could detect and pinpoint fires in buildings; fire drills became standard practice; national standards for firefighting equipment were developed so fire crews had interoperable equipment. In the same way, lessons from Covid-19 will change the world forever. There will be no return to the previous normal.

Climate Crisis

The world is facing a human created climate crisis. On 2021-08-09, The sixth Comprehensive Assessment of Climate Science, a 3949 page report, was published. This report raises important questions, some of which are left to the interested reader to answer. Is libertarian capitalism better at solving social problems than, for example, democratic socialism? Why/ why not? What should be done to improve the situation for the majority of people given that there is increasing inequality in the world? What are the benefits of redistributing wealth and income from the many poor into the tax havens of a wealthy small minority? Are the large number of jobs created meaningful for the people employed? Why/ why not?

Americans spend about 17 % of their GDP on health care, in contrast to 10 % in Europe. That is more than 50 % difference. In USA it is the specifics of health insurance that determine benefits, in Europe there are strict rules that apply to everyone. Which system is better? Why? Is the increased cost of health care in USA beneficial or detrimental?

Should health care be provided as a government service, or should it be open to competition? Why? Private donors collectively make large donations to medical research. Why are the medical charities unable to patent treatments since they are financing so much of the research? Why are drug companies able to patent treatments, and profit from this situation? If this just? What alternatives are available to ensure that everyone receives the health care they need? What should be done to change the current situation?

Bayer owned Monsanto produces seeds that are genetically engineered to grow glyphosate tolerant plants, commonly referred to as Roundup Ready crops. While most plants die when exposed to glyphosate, genetically modified plants experience no ill effects. The genes contained in these seeds are patented and a source of income for Monsanto/ Bayer. Should these genetically modified plants be permitted? Why/ why not? There are a number of conflicting claims related to toxicity and carcinogenicity, especially, that give rise to doubt about the suitability of glyphosates and patented seeds. Monsanto has been found guilty of false advertising, and there are claims that some test results have been falsified.

While I am reluctant to encourage Roundup Ready crops, there are some genetically modified crops that I do support, with golden rice being the best example. Wikipedia tells us, golden rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa) produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice. It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A, a deficiency which each year is estimated to kill 670 000 children under the age of 5 and cause an additional 500 000 cases of irreversible childhood blindness. Rice is a staple food crop for over half of the world’s population, making up 30–72% of the energy intake for people in Asian countries, making it an excellent crop for targeting vitamin deficiencies.

Of course, some crops (and probably some weeds) take it upon themselves to become Roundup Ready, through genetic modification. The challenge with both of these genetically modified products is that they both involve ethical decisions. Should genetically modified products be available? If yes, then in what form? Why? Why not?

This section on the State of the World was initially written 2020-01-26 at 20:45. It was modified for publication, starting on 2021-08-10 at 10:00.

COP 26

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference = 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Glasgow, Scotland, between 2021-10-31 and 2021-11-12. It is also the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA3). In 1804, it was estimated that the world population finally reached 1 billion people. It reached 2 billion in 1927, and 3 billion in 1960. On 2012-03-12, the world population reached 7 billion. By 2021-10-17, 7.9 billion milestone was reached, heading to 8 billion in 2023. This growth is unsustainable.

In particular, I am concerned that the wealthier nations have reneged on their promise to provide $100 billion, that they promised during the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, to help developing nations strengthen their resilience to climate change. Thus, I am in full agreement with Tasneem Essop (? – ), a South African who is the executive director of Climate Action Network, that the third proposed final text is a clear betrayal of the world by rich nations.

I am also in agreement with Saleemul Huq (1952 – ), a Bangladeshi, who is director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development, and a senior associate of the International Institute for Environment & Development, that the world is facing two climate change problems: the old one of preventing catastrophic impacts for everyone if we go above 1.5 C and a new one of dealing with the loss and damage already happening due to increase of 1.1 C!

On Saturday, 2021-11-13, Extinction Rebellion protesters, with a piper leading a procession through the gravestones of Glasgow’s Necropolis, then lay in front of tombs declaring Cop26 and all the summits prior to it as a failure. Karen, from the Isle of Barra, said: “We are here grieving for a planet that has been sacrificed by the failure and stupidity of Cop26. The bare minimum needed from Cop26 were commitments to leaving oil in the ground and an immediate halt to fossil fuel funding. Anything less than that is idiocy. We know exactly what we need to do and we’re not doing it.”

Living in the past

Stellantis is a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation formed in 2021 merging Italian-American Fiat Chrysler with French PSA Group. The company is headquartered in Amsterdam. Currently, it is the sixth-largest automaker worldwide. Despite this, CEO Carlos Tavares is unhappy. He doesn’t like making electric vehicles, and claims that these have been imposed on his company, and are unprofitable.

This is the challenge of being a laggard, hoping electrification won’t happen. Now that it is inevitable, he complains that automotive industry electrification brings 50 percent additional costs against a conventional ICE vehicle. He states that these additional costs cannot be passed onto the final consumer, because most of the middle class will not unable to pay that price.

My reply to Stellantis, is to encourage them to shut down their entire automotive manufacturing activities. Let the Chinese, Vietnamese and other manufacturers take over. Despite the rhetoric, Stellantis has said that it is investing €30 billion through 2025 to build new EV platforms to support a series of new electric vehicles across its brands.

Profitability is not an industry problem. Other automakers have been able to make reliable and profitable electric vehicles. There are cost issues because of inflation and global supply chain problems. However, there are also benefits. Battery costs are now (2021) $132/ kWh. In 2016, five years ago, they cost $350/ kWh.

A Vinfast VFe35 SUV. Photo: Vinfast USA

The Vinfast VFe35 is a 5 seater, all wheel drive SUV made in Vietnam. It provides a 300 kW motor with 640 Nm of torque, and a 90 kWh battery, for a WLTP range of 500 km. It is 4 750 mm long, with a 2 950 mm wheelbase. In comparison, a standard Tesla Model Y offers a 150 kW motor with 350 Nm of torque, and a 50 kWh battery, for a WLTP range of 390 km. It has the same length (4 750 mm) but has a slightly longer wheelbase at 2 981 mm. Both vehicles are being provided with over-the-air updates.

Living in the Present

Ecuador has enshrined the rights of nature in its rewritten 2008 constitution. The Guardian newspaper reports that the Ecuador constitutional court decided 2021-12-01 that mining permits issued in Los Cedros, a protected area in north-west Ecuador, would harm the biodiversity of the forest, which is home to spectacled bears, endangered frogs, dozens of rare orchid species and the brown-headed spider monkey, one of the world’s rarest primates. Enami EP, Ecuador’s national mining company, held rights for mining concessions that had been granted in two-thirds of the reserve. The decision means that mining concessions, environmental and water permits in the forest must be cancelled, not just for Enami, but throughout Ecuador.

Some regard the Rights of Nature as important as Thomas Paine’s (1737 NS – 1809) Rights of Man (1791/ 1792), a key text in the American Revolution that defends the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) against Edmund Burke’s (1729 NS – 1797) attack in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). One of Paine’s main arguments was that human rights originate in nature, and cannot be granted politically, because that would implies that they are revocable, in essence, that they are only privileges.

Rights of Man proposed many practical reforms. It was directed mainly at the British government at the time, but has application today: a written constitution composed by a national assembly; the elimination of aristocratic titles, because democracy is incompatible with primogeniture; a national budget without allotted military and war expenses; lower taxes and subsidised education for the poor; and, progressive income tax to prevent a re-emergence of a hereditary aristocracy.

Mica Peck (? – ), an ecologist and senior lecturer in biology at the University of Sussex, apparently of Finnish ancestry, but born in Ecuador, comments: “It is important for the world to reflect on the limits of nature and to seriously question the effectiveness of current conservation policies and actions. Policy frameworks that place humans in context as a part of nature, integrated into a system that balances intrinsic rights between legitimate subjects of the law, rather than placing humans as above, or apart from, nature, will be a necessary part of addressing the serious environmental issues that our planet is facing. This ruling is as important to nature as Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man were to our own species.”

My hope is that other countries will enact similar ecological provisions in their own constitutions.

Present Reality

With my eyes slowly failing, I intend to concentrate more on audio than video, but using computers as visual assistive/ enlargement devices where necessary. Building construction is another of my interests, but will stop when our residence since 1989-03-01 becomes suitable for a couple of old people to live in. Hopefully, by the time I am dead and gone, one or more of my children will decide that they too want to live in a house suitable for old people, but will fix it up to suit their own particular needs. My only request is that they spare the lives of some of my favourite trees.


Recently, I came across advice on how to prioritize activities. The first step was to make a ranked list of the top 25 categories of activities one would like to engage in. The second step was to note activities six to twenty five, and to develop a strategy to avoid them. That is because these activities are so seductive, that they will take time away from the top five activities.

Compiling this list has taken some months already, but I have managed to put two items on it: writing and electronics. Then I took exception to the second item. Electronics is probably the wrong term to use, it is too narrow. Mechatronics covers it better.


Wyze 47 smartwatch. Photo: Shelagh.

Somehow two Wyze smartwatches, have materialized in our house. These are a 44 model, for Trish, and a 47 model, for myself. These arrived without incurring any costs. This miracle occurred through the natural process of producing and raising a child, who ended up paying for these two watches and giving them to us. Thank you, Shelagh.

I am not exactly sure that they are going to work, as desired. Neither of us have worn watches for at least twenty years. However, we both come equipped with unused watch pockets on our respective jeans and chinos. Thus, the intention was to fill these pockets with a watch, that could be taken out to undertake common tasks, as needed. The first task is that a digital watch can always show the exact time, to within a few milliseconds. I especially wanted to have the time displayed with large digits, in a bright colour that contrasts with a dark background. This eliminates the need to have clocks located in rooms. The watch can also act as a timer that follows the person who needs it, rather than being located at the device (such as a stove top) being timed.

Despite their relatively small size, a HHD is sometimes too large to be carried about continuously. Personally, I am forever taking my HHD out of my pocket, and laying it on a desk or workbench. A smartwatch is considerably smaller, and can stay on a wrist or in a watch pocket. Thus, it can be much more effective at helping people remember events by sending notifications (accompanied by vibrations in advance of an activity) that are actually received by the user.

Some digital watch apps can be very useful. NightWare is a digital therapeutic device that currently fitted to an Apple Watch to interrupt post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related nightmares, by measuring heart rates and body movements. Other people may have other sleep disturbances that could benefit from similar interruptions to their sleep. This would require that the watch be worn!

Personal Data Assistant

In the 1990s, I considered buying a Psion 3 personal digital assistant (PDA). Charles Stross (1964 – ) regards the Psion 3 as an unsurpassed PDA because of its long battery life (20 to 35 hours) with 2 AA batteries, its stable and versatile software and its durable hardware. Others describe over twenty years of daily use with models such as the Psion 3mx. While Psion is English, the company had a major Canadian presence, with offices/ operations in Mississauga, Ontario. It was often compared with an American made Palm.

One of the mechatronics projects I am considering working on is a revitalized Psion, which would not be a recreation of a 1999 Psion 5mx Pro, but an extension of it, based on a Raspberry Pi Compute Module (CM), or other microprocessor, and using other 21st century components/ processes. What I miss on a HHD/ smartphone is a keyboard. I also prefer working in a landscape (in contrast to portrait) format. Thus, an updated Psion would have its case and keyboard recreated with a 3D printer. Originally, the EPOC/ Symbian operating system (OS) was used with applications for word processing, spreadsheets, databases, email, contact and diary management. The Open Psion Language (OPL) was available for software development. OpenPsion, formerly PsiLinux, is an open source project that attempts to provide a more modern OS for the Psion. The ultimate success of the project would to have the device actually function as a HHD, with phone capabilities.

A Psion 5mx PRO photographed in 2005 by Georg Dembowski Schoschi.

The Future

As before, I continue to encourage people to write weblogs, rather than to use exploitive social media. In 2018, I quoted Bill Blunden in a weblog post about the challenges of social media, titled Social Media Revisited. The Guardian recently published an article that explains how social media, and Facebook in particular, is exploiting people. Restrict social media to friends and family, and perhaps a few others you don’t know that well, to keep it honest. Write about the topics that interest you that others might be interested in.

Jacinda Santora, 2021-08-27, made a list of 103 social media sites. Here, people may find one or more that suit their personalities. While some sites are huge, others like Goodreads or Pinterest are just large. Some people prefer one or more of the Reddit flavours, because of their own special interests. Some days, I even visit Ello.

The two social media platforms I do encourage are Diaspora and Mastodon. Only the former is on Santora’s list. Diaspora is a nonprofit, user-owned, distributed social media platform with independent nodes/ pods interoperating as a network. Mastodon is a self-hosted social networking service, with microblogging features, similar to Twitter. I have (largely unused) accounts at both. For further details, Wikipedia has articles on Diaspora and Mastodon.

Former president, Donald Trump, seems to be a fan of Mastodon. To avoid a lawsuit, his social media site, truth.social is acknowledging that the computer code powering the platform comes from Mastodon. He writes: “Our goal is to support the open source community no matter what your political beliefs are. That’s why the first place we go to find amazing software is the community and not ‘Big Tech’”. The Open Source section appeared 2021-11-12, two weeks after Mastodon threatened to sue Trump’s platform for violating its open-source license, that allows anyone to use it freely, but on the condition that the code and any ensuing modifications be made publicly available, allowing the entire Mastodon community to benefit.


I am disinclined to use a hand-held device (HHD) = smart phone (most often), for notes. It is not merely that I prefer a keyboard to a touchscreen, it is their lack of a suitable (read: fast) drawing tool that is most irritating. In addition, I find the lack of a visible file system annoying. During my working life, I used to carry a planner with me, with a page for each working day, plus a page for the weekend, so that each week occupied three sheets. While both calendar and note apps are found on my HHD, I seldom used either. There is too little to do that requires me to make a note of times and dates, so they either don’t get written down, or – if they do – the calendar isn’t consulted when needed. This means that I sometimes forget about (zoom) meetings that I want to attend. Around the house and when visiting building supply shops I carry a yellow A5 hardcover project book with 240 grid/ squared pages, with 4mm squares, that I do use. Here, I write notes with a V-ball pen with blue liquid ink, emerging from a 0.5 mm tip. The use of a pen is deliberate, so that any changes will be clearly visible.

My yellow A5 240 page Workshop & Construction Projects notebook, with information about reconstructing Ikea Fira storage containers, that are no longer available. The pen shown is my favourite writing device, a Pilot V-ball 0.5 mm tip, liquid ink pen.

Earlier this year, lacking pen and/ or notebook, I started taking notes on my hand-held device (HHD), using an app labelled Notes. Some days later, I was using Nextcloud, a server-client program on my desktop machine, and came across these same notes. They had been automatically copied from the HHD to the server, and were available to all of my other devices. Because of its built in privacy and security features, these were not available to anyone else using Nextcloud, although they could be sent to others using Warpinator (for other users of the server) or Signal (to a somewhat wider audience). Then again, they could be added to an email to allow contact with anyone.

In this very undramatic fashion, I had accidentally found a solution that had troubled me for years. My advice here is simple. People should acquire a server, even if it is just a minimal solution involving an inexpensive, single board computer such as a Raspberry Pi, and some form of storage. Then they should install Nextcloud, or some other server-client software, to run that server, as well as on all of their other devices.

For those wanting a more detailed history of my route to this discovery, this weblog post will end with its story. It is not for everyone, especially those with demanding children or other time constraints.

My outpouring of words in this weblog probably reflects an inability to keep a diary or a calendar, plus a dopamine addiction. On 2019-09-29 I decided to do something about this and started an experiment. It started because I wished that I had some form of a register so that I could look up what I had done with some missing bookcase hardware. Yes, I am aware that wiser people tape or in other ways affix hardware to the uprights, or at least shelving, so that the screws and other bits don’t wander off to party at more exciting locations in the universe. This attachment didn’t happen.

My significant other keeps many diaries, with names like garden, knitting, sewing and general. I’m not sure that such an arrangement would help me. While I’ve never actually read these books, I’ve had parts of them read to me – and they seems to deal mainly with weather and gardening events, perhaps even a record of visits or meals, for all I know. What I can’t imagine is any reference to screws, let alone one that details where a particular set of screws were stored.

The problem with diaries is their chronological nature. They are traditionally written in books made of paper. This might be useful for tracking some events, but not for most things. What the world needs is a digital diary, with what used to be called hyperlinks.

Unknown to me, but not unexpectedly, Digital Diary turns out to be a commercial Microsoft product, when I searched using these terms. I changed my search terms, adding open source, which brought me to SourceForge, which listed 26 open source search results. Twenty-five programs listed that they had between 0 and 3 downloads this week, with many of these programs claiming they were last updated in 2013.

Lifeograph was the exception with 53 downloads this week. It was recently updated (2019-09-18) and claimed: to be a private digital diary, for taking personal notes on life; to have all essential functionality expected in a diary program and strives to have a clean and streamlined user interface.

A more general search resulted in finding RedNotebook, described on SourceForge as open source time tracking software. It had 121 downloads that week, and was updated 2019-04-07. Features include: Text formating with bold, italic or underlining; tag and search entries; Insert images, files and links to websites; Links and email addresses are recognized automatically; Spell checking; Search-as-you-type; Automatic saving; Backup to zip archive;Word clouds with most common words and tags; Templates; Export to plain text, HTML or Latex; Content is future-proof: data is stored in plain text files; Translated into more than 30 languages.

The challenge with both of these products was their inability to update content on multiple machines automatically. As a user of three different machines, I was left with three incompatible versions of notes, unless I used excessive efforts to merge them.

Fast forward to 2019-10-25 and I downloaded and installed a third program, Simplenote, from Automatikk, the company that makes WordPress. Its main advantage, is that it allows one to have the same content on different machines. That is fine, but I am reluctant to let Automatikk store my data on its cloud. Since this was a test, I installed it on my VivoMini desktop machine, my VivoBook laptop both running Linux Mint, and my Xiamio Pocophone F1 hand-held device (HHD) running Android.

On 2020-11-23, more than a year later, I ended my experiment with Lifeograph, RedNotebook and Simplenote, and wrote this summary, timestamped at 18:47. There wasn’t much data collected, but my intuition allowed me to declare Simplenote as the winner. Yet still, I was unhappy, and the winning program was never used.

Have fun everyone, and thanks for reading!


Welcome to Brock’s 300th weblog post.

Why do I subject myself, and readers, to this massive outpouring of words, that a weblog represents? There are two reasons. The first is my addiction to writing, combined with an inability to keep a diary. When I try to write a diary, which used to happen about once a decade, it is more a reflection on the day’s events, than a chronicle of them. My determination as a diarist lasts about a week. There are a thousand excuses for any failure to write, not finding the diary being paramount.

The second reason involves brain stimulation. Novelty releases dopamine in the brain. which, in turn, stimulates the amygdala, the site of emotion, and creates a pleasurable feeling that is associated with the new activity. Fun encourages more fun, which is what writing a weblog post should be about.

A weblog suits my personality: my mind prefers to focus on topics, rather than on events, or on people; a keyboard is faster than a pen. Yet, despite its slowness, I still use pen and paper to write other texts, for handwriting is an skill that should be retained and sometimes promoted. My one vanity is a pride in my handwriting, which – when I take the time – is small and legible and produced using liquid blue ink. I have tried black, red and even green, but prefer blue.

Changes are easier to make with word processors, than they are with pen on paper. While it may not be any easier to start writing a blog than to begin an entry in a diary, but it is easier to continue again at a later date, and to make corrections. Innumerable drafts can be kept, that can be published in any order, or even discarded. Not even my hairdresser knows how many drafts I have stored away, awaiting further inspiration. As I write this sentence, there are 330 posts in total, 293 published, 6 scheduled, 31 in draft form, and one in the bin. That is the number on my private website, not on the Keywords website or inside my computers or on external drives.

As I write these lines my mind returns to the early 1980s, and to the technology available at the time. A computer terminal can show what was right, and what was wrong with an era that introduced the masses to computing.

The Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VT 100 terminal was a companion for three years. Designed for computer programming, rather than word processing, with 80 columns and 24 lines of white text against a black background. The monitor/ screen was fixed in position, too low and unsuitably angled. The keyboard was far too high, and certainly not ergonomic. The user was expected to adapt to the machine.

Digital Equipment Corporation VT-100 terminal. (Photo: Jason Scott)

The Norsk Data (ND) system, with its ND-Notis word processor was a vast improvement. The Tandberg TDV-2200 terminal was the most ergonomic terminal in the world at the time, its brown and beige monitor/ screen featured green text on a black background, and was fully adjustable in every direction. Its beige, brown and orange keyboard, was a delight to use. I used such a system, in two different environments, for four years. Even the colour scheme was explained in ergonomic terms, with claims that the colours chosen were more restive than any other colour combinations available. The machine was expected to adapt to the user.

A Tandberg TDV-2200 terminal. (Photo: Tore Sinding Bekkedal) Uploaded to Wikipedia in 2006 by by User:Arsenikk aka Alasdair McLellan. Thanks, Alasdair.

It is easy for old men to focus on the past, but that is not what I want to do here. I want to encourage people of multiple ages and genders and ethnicities and interests to reflect on their lives, and on society, and then to express themselves. How will people in a future age know what it was like to live at this time, if you don’t tell them? How will people in distant lands, know what you experienced, are experiencing? Help them to understand, and you might also begin to understand yourself, and your place in the world.

A weblog does not have to be written words. It can be words or music as sound waves, or assorted movements as video. At the moment, it is more problematic to diffuse smells and tastes, but a time may come when this is possible. Poetry, drama, comedy, performance are all valid forms of expression. It could be images: photographs as works of art or mirrors of contemporary life; drawings, paintings, collage; sculpture that is knitted, cast in bronze or chiselled away from stone; culinary masterpieces. Craftsmanship is of particular importance to me, and I admire all forms of it: woodworking, metalworking, moulding in plastic, papier-mâché, sewing.

As is my habit, I encourage people to write weblogs, rather than to use social media. Restrict it to your best friends and closest family, and perhaps a couple of people you don’t know that well, to keep it honest. Write about the topics that interest you. Perhaps you know something about tractors, or dogs or playing congas.

With 7.7 billion people, the world is being consumed, so there is less nature for other species to inhabit, and ourselves to enjoy. We – in the west – will have to learn to consume less, so that others may fulfil their lives. Hopefully, this will also mean that we will work less, and spend our free time in pursuits that benefit others as well as ourselves. Even billionaires would benefit, if there was increased equality. Perhaps you could find, then document, ways of doing things better, that use less energy or water or materials. Perhaps you could invent, then document, new ways of having fun: A new game, dance, sport or toy.

Have fun everyone, and thanks for reading!