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I'm back

Hello! I have returned from a long hiatus, in which the trials and tribulations of the dreaded Real Life mounted up uncontrollably. In that period, my desire for collaborative encyclopedia-writing was sated by the unmentionable Wikipedia, but I have accepted that it is possible to be a contributor to both projects.

Though I am involved in many other projects right now, I wish to write some more articles for h2g2. They will be about mathematics, although if I get bogged down with this, I may switch to articles about grammar, or something entirely different.

I have returned with a new set of beliefs and a new direction in my life. It would take too long to explain all this, and many would die before I finished (including me), but if you were to listen you might begin to think of me as an anarchist, or a behaviourist, or a reductionist, or a determinist, or an atheist, or even a Communist. Or just a scientist.

Discuss this Journal entry [5]

Latest reply: Jun 24, 2006


Felonious Monk has, or had, been working for some time on a WYSIWYG for GuideML. I think he did quite well, but recently I have been working with him on an idea that he had to make it cross-platform, and the method is elegantly simple... can import and export XML files.

I've known that for ages, but I have to say the thought never occurred to me to make a filter for OpenOffice that allows it to read and write GuideML files. But after FM shed the light on it, that's exactly what I've done.

I've set up a page to explain all this at A7720562. At the moment, I think I have a serious bug, and I'd be grateful if somebody - anybody, really - could take a look and see what happens. The problem has probably come about because I've been swapping between two computers to do the development and testing of this thing, and I think I've just confused the whole thing by copying all the files into so many different places too quickly... Argh! That's my problem, though.

When it works, I think it works quite well. Currently it can do just about all the common tasks except tables.

Discuss this Journal entry [8]

Latest reply: Dec 12, 2005


Yes, the world is a terrible place.

Horrific, in fact, and why? Why death? Why war? Why suffering? Why poverty? Why crime? Why discrimination? Why hatred? My research has taken me deep into South-East Asia (not literally, but figuratively), where I discover the answers have been lying there for around two and a half thousand years. Why have we not acted upon them?

Because Buddhists are not evangelists. Self-promotion is not what they do, and many good deeds are done by these people that go unnoticed and without reward. Yes - my research has shown, to me at least, that the root causes of the world's injustices have been investigated quite extensively in the lives of those seeking enlightenment, and it is threefold:


Ignorance is the root cause. People are ignorant to the extent that they do not understand what is going on around them in the world and how things work. A lifetime of ignorance means you generally don't care what other people are doing, and couldn't care less how the world works, why it does what it does. Hence, people sink into themselves, and eventually what we are describing is not ignorance, but selfishness, rooted in ignorance. Selfishness means the attitude that only the self really matters - nobody else - and this, of course, leads to greed (or attachment). Being selfish also encourages a sort of 'distance' from other people, a distance that ignites prejudice, discrimination, and ultimately, hatred (or aversion).

Take any bad event in the world - any act of evil - and apply this formula; you're certain to see the cause.

That's why our society needs big lifestyle changes. As a whole. Indeed, it's time to rethink everything!

Discuss this Journal entry [7]

Latest reply: Sep 25, 2005

It's time to rethink everything...

It's time to rethink everything...

What happens when you take a book from the shelf, and fail to overcome an urge to peek at the ending? What do you feel when you know what has become of the characters mentioned in the blurb? Kathy walks out on Steve. Gurtrude is dead. The butler did it1. The Great Thingleberry of Doom is destroyed once and for all, and the Crystals of Destiny are restored to their full powers. What then, is the point of reading the book? Do you put it down, slap your wrist and urge yourself to be less tempted when you take the next book; or do you read it anyway?

And what if a friend that forgot herself told you the ending of a book before you had even entered the bookstore? Or you read a rather-too-revealing review on the Internet? Would you still decide to read it?

Maybe you're interested in why Steve turned out to be such a prat. Maybe Gurtrude drank too much of that elusive elixir you've always wanted to read about. Maybe the butler collaborated with the sly old maid who wasn't even included in the investigation for her 'obvious' innocence. Or maybe you were convinced that the Great Thingleberry was indestructible, and want to find out how in Brahman's name it was destroyed.

Maybe you believe in the Crystals of Destiny.

What of a book, on the front cover of which you see the title: your name?

Would you peek at the end?

Why bother, though? Without even the need of an over-enthusiastic friend, or an online rather-too-revealing review, we all know the end really. We're just spared the details.

Somehow, we must be intrigued. What else would drive us forward, if we know that Steve will leave us in the end anyway? What other meaning is there if we know of Gurtrude's fate? Why else bother with the case if we already know who is guilty? And why fight the Thurbled Jabberneck, and shun the Frubious Bandersnatch, if we already know that the quest will ultimately bring about the downfall of the armies of Thingleberry?

Indeed: we might be waiting for the sequel. We might be continuing in the hope that our Rebirth, or Reincarnation, will further us on our path to enlightenment; or that Allah, the Lord or the Father will eventually deliver us to paradise. We might be hoping that the author will once again put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and reading, sure in our minds that Kathy and Steve will be re-united in the end; or that Gurtrude's daughters will inherit the mystic chest, said to conceal a dark secret; or that the butler will escape from prison and strike again in an ever-more perplexing mystery; or that the Thingleberry - in its Renewed Almighty Indestructible Form - will rise again, conquer the Crystals of Destiny and reak all manner of chaos and calamity on the unsuspecting citizens of Bleak Isle, in a race against time for one man to prove himself the true Dungeon Lord of Hiddlethark.

The book of the Baryonic Being has a number of blank pages. And whatever it is that drives us to read on, the end of it is already written.

It's time to rethink everything...

Discuss this Journal entry [1]

Latest reply: Jul 8, 2005

It's time to rethink everything.

I'm trying to contribute more to h2g2 after having spent many months in a state of limbo. Rewriting my personal space, I think, should help. When I think about how much I posted when I first joined, nearly 2 years ago, I feel I'm losing out on a whole raft of enjoyment. 'Reality', as usual, spoilt everything.

And yes, I confess: I have been tinkering and toying over at - dare I say it - Wikipedia. But I've come to terms with the whole situation: the two are very different approaches to creating an online encyclopedia; and I will certainly be thinking about writing a new h2g2 entry soon. I wonder how many others do what I do: I write all my ideas for feasible Guide Entries in a list on my PDA. My main problem will be choosing the best!

Call it heresy, but here's my Wikipedia page:

I've been trying to add links from Wikipedia articles back to h2g2, by the way, if that's any consolation. smiley - smiley See, for example,

If any of you are even *remotely* interested in other things I've had time to get up to, I have a number of new online projects available at my website, , including a game of Name That Constellation and a system that adds new tags to HTML to make it easier to find the facts you need to write about.

Discuss this Journal entry [2]

Latest reply: May 19, 2005

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Baryonic Being - save GuideML out of a word-processor: A7720562

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