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This is science ... published in Nature no less.

A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta.

In order to personalize the health monitoring they needed to do the equivilent of an iris scan to identify each user of the toilet ... but they don't scan your iris ... gosh ... each one is unique.


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It espouses values I hope I live up to and which seem to align with my aspirations.

It’s not exactly an anthem for the woke generation!

It’s all self reliance and acceptance that the world isn’t fair ... there’s little of the “oh poor thing, there there there, you deserve a free pass on this one” I increasingly associate with the woke left. 

I often try to tease out values and political affiliations: a society which is blind to your background and pushes you to aspire would have a resilience and that starts with the individual. 

A good shibboleth of right v left is where to base your political philosophy: with the individual or society. This talk, and I, start with the individual because it is only from that perspective, one person at a time, you can change society. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Horace published the first three books of his Odes in 23 BC and in 1685 John Dryden published his book Sylvæ, or, The second part of Poetical miscellanies which included his translation of The Twenty-ninth Ode of the Third Book of Horace; Paraphrased in Pindarick Verse, and inscribed to the Right Hon. Laurence, Earl of Rochester; and this longer poem contains within it, its famous 8th stanza:

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

I think it is beautiful poem, the more so that this English verse over 300 years old was inspired by Latin verse over 2000 years old and both contain eternal themes on happiness and the vagaries of life.

I have to be honest, I am not totally “secure within.” I have a nagging concern about the future which cautions me when calling today my own; and this concern isn’t necessarily the oblivion of death.  I know my hour upon the stage is limited and I will then fade to be heard of no more.  Rather it is a disquiet about Alzheimer’s, the smaller death when I, though still alive, will know nothing of the joys I have possessed.

Last night I enjoyed watching the movie Coco with my kids.  It’s about Mexico’s Day of the Dead and how the spirits need to be remembered.  A fading Matriarch, now replaced by her strong-willed daughter as head of the family, is losing her childhood memories with consequences for both the ghosts of the family and her little great grandson, trying to emulate his great great granddad against his granny’s wishes.  It’s a good family movie, but it taps into the anxiety I am feeling.

Terry Pratchett wrote “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” However, this truth is of only a small consolation to the multitude who are no longer spoken of, and, for all of Doug Hofstadter’s talk of our strange-loop souls living on within others, I sadly am firmly a follower of what Edna St Vincent Millay said within her poem Dirge without music, maybe a fragment of those spoken-of remains, a formula, a phrase, but the best is lost.  

Dirge without music 

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind: 
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned 
With lilies and laurel they go: but I am not resigned. 

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. 
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. 
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, 
A formula, a phrase remains - but the best is lost. 

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love - 
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled 
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve. 
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world. 

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave 
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind: 
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. 
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned

I think I am resigned to my death, but before that the cruelty of no longer knowing myself – being, living as, a fragment of what I felt, and needing others to tell me, to say who I was, as I sit incomprehending – feels a worst tomorrow than I am secure enough within to just accept.

A day may come when I am oblivious to all I have done, living in a present, sans eyes, sans teeth, sans everything.  Losing the joys I have possessed is a source of disquiet, I think louder than death itself.  When I am gone, I will be gone, but to live yet not to know feels an especially cruelty.  But such will be the lot of many of us.

The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, were mine, but to give them the present tense to say they are mine, and to use them as validation for my current happiness is to risk their loss, their theft by the mind’s decay.  

So, what is to be done? I am that I am, and ever will be, whether babe, or youth, or man, or bent with age and senility.  We make our path by walking it and that is our reality.  We come, we live, we go.  It is our living which matters, which makes us different from the inanimate.  We can, through our actions, influence the world well beyond our lives.  Our awareness of this is not the issue, but rather its reality.

I am not religious but do understand the resonances of Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

I doubt there are any gods, and they grant us little, but I think we can all aspire to the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

There can be a serenity in old age, and I hope to achieve it and not let the confusion it can also bring overwhelm that serenity.  We must learn to accept things we cannot change, to walk our particular path.  That may involve the theft from us of everything we may now think of as the most important elements of us; leaving just an empty, twilight living husk.  But such a husk can still enjoy, can still feel the sun and a cool night’s air, can still have influenced the world, and by being the reason for a nexus of care can still influence it too.  There is a decency in a society which cares for its old.

So, let us grow old.  The joys we have possessed were ours, the influences we have had exist outside of us now.  We bequeath our existence to the world and our knowledge of that, and even the world’s knowledge are by-the-by – we existed and so the world is different.  That is a joy independent of our possession.  We have had our hour, let us be glad of that.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been doing some work looking at Indonesia and Thailand and in looking up some of their economic and demographic statistics found a nice site comparing different countries on various metrics:
And one of the metrics given was a "Global Peace Ranking" which made me go - Hmmm what's that, then?
It's quite interesting in a nerdy sort of way ... which is right down my street!


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