Monday, April 24, 2006

The Wedding Dancer

A friend was married last night. It was my first wedding to attend as an adult, and I had occasion to doll up. And boy, did I.

Red silk dress with white polka dots.
Pearl necklace and pearl earrings.
My prettiest garnet ring.
And bright red lips to match - the best accessory.

I felt like a million bucks...
So I looked like a million bucks.

All evening, the scotch was flowing freely, and freely flowing right into my belly. Scotch - when taken properly: neat with a splash of water - is a tricksy spirit because it allows your physical self to function, yet your weakened mind is controlled by any whim of that dickensy whisky. As such, scotch becomes a very manipulative spirit, fooling you into functional dementia. Oh yes, scotch often gets me into trouble, concocting harebrained plans that my body is functional enough to carry out.

My million dollar happy self was aglow with all the wedding love, and my million dollar happy ass was ready to shake it down on the dance floor. Securing a dance with an old friend, we began the slow dance with just a few other couples, and the rest of the wedding party watched. The dance was not at all jazzy enough for mine and Whisky’s standards, so a Dirty Dancingesque spin was in order. I held both of his hands, coming in close, and taking a slight step to the side. My right hand lets go, sliding across his body to reach his left hand. We are fully extended, me leaning out at a 60 degree angle and ready for my spin. I thrust myself under his arm, going for the twirl of twirls, and just as my twirling foot spins toward the pivot foot, I drop. I did not just fall; I dropped my whole self completely straight and completely on my side. There I lay, straight as a toothpick on my side, in my pretty red silk polka dot dress. But no, I was not going to let my spirit and ego drop down as well. Whisky and I had a recovery plan:

Turn it into a dance move!

I extend my arms straight above my head, stiffening and perfecting my now supine position. And then I rolled. Not a spin, no longer a twirl, but a roll. Just two long rollovers in my pretty red silk polka dot dress, and then I reach for his arm pulling my legs under me and twirling into a standing position. I met my dance partner’s reddened face, as well as the entire wedding party giggling off in the distance. I had not seen these people since high school, and I suppose this was a satisfactory and telling Amity update. Sticking with the lie, I oh-so-convincingly referred to my fall as something I meant to do, and I even threatened to bust it out again. He was adamant that I not. Despite his wishes, I threw myself to the ground retracing my routine with superb artistic calculation, all with the sincere conviction that the repetition of my moves would convince the bystanders that I meant to do it. Oh, what is possible within the whisky realm of reasoning. Soon thereafter it was very much time to go home.

How is it that every wedding has that Wedding Dancer? How is it that I unwittingly assumed this role? At any rate, every wedding needs the Wedding Dancer, and I am happy to have fulfilled this time-honoured tradition. As brilliant as mine and Whisky’s recovery plan sounds, I can assure you that its execution was not so artful. In reality, I merely costume my absolute mortification with the guise of a clever, whisky-inspired plan to save face. At least if face was not saved at the wedding, my own written account may do the trick.

Oh, what is possible within the whisky realm of reasoning.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Salt Water

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.

--Isak Dinesen

Monday, October 17, 2005


Just got word of my distinction worthy dissertation, deemed as such by the prolific Academic Rockstar, Andy Clark, and Academic Rockstar Roadie, Simon Kirby.

Oh yeah, congratulate me muthahfuckahs!

(details to come...)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Stars

Somebody wants to hear me breathe.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I am a Master.

Master of Science in the Evolution of Language and Cognition.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Words I Need To Stop Saying In Casual Conversation:


*Ok, I haven't used this one yet, but I've thought about it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Everything Will Be Alright: 3 Reasons

What's wrong: Dissertation due in 4 days and I'm thorougly fucked. On the other hand...

1. The other morning at 7 a.m., walking the Meadows in a cloud of despondency after working on my dissertation all night, I started to cry. As soon as the tear fell, I felt one sweet raindrop on my arm. The sprinkles continued for just about as long as I was teary. I took this event as a sign, a good omen if you will. Now one interpretation could be that God joined in and was crying for me, because he too believed I was fucked. Two problems with this claim: 1. don’t believe in God and 2. what oracle is bad, I mean in real life? You could be thinking that if I don’t believe in God then how, pray you, would I believe in oracles? Well, my friends, that’s the power of faith; you can choose what you want to believe, and it supersedes all propositional logic. Therefore, I believe it was a good omen.

2. At my ‘business lunch’ of me sitting at a restaurant working on my dissertation, Like A Prayer by Jon Bon Jovi came on the loudspeaker. What kind of sign is that, you ask? Well, a short while back during a warrior-like attack on my paper and reaching the half-way point in word count, all I could do was scream at the top of my lungs, “Ah OH! We're half way the-re… OH! AWWW! (insert Jon Bon rockstar scream) Livin' on a prayer. Take my hand and we'll make it I swear… livin' on a prayer.”

3. Just now, the clock struck 2:22, and naturally, I made a wish for *something* (can’t say what it is). But that’s not all. Today I also happened to catch the wishmaking opportunity at 22:22 as well!! You see, the power is *incomprehensible* when you catch the same numbers twice in the same day. Therefore, my wish should come true.

In sum, I have reasonless faith, even more reasonless superstition dealing with digital clocks, and Jon Bon by my side. Yes, everything will be alright.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Please Try Again. a message of inspiration from your friends at Yoplait

Please Try Again.

That's the thought--coupled with the image of the underside of a Coca-Cola or yogurt lid--that came to my head as I reread The Extended Mind.

So it seems that I didn't understand the argument quite right (see below for my bastardized version of the original), and soon I must make a mends and retry my gloss of the argument. I just had to make my correction public, so that you know *that I know*.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I can see your ass! And ITS nice!!

That's what I heard from these little dears as I was sitting on the curb. After a few more minutes of sexual harassment from 10 year-olds, I said, "If you'd like to talk to me, come over here."

They squealed and giddied on over, sitting next to me, standing all around me. All of a sudden, their 'fucks' turned into 'the f-word', very carefully spoken, and they became quite the little gentlemen. And they let me take a picture.

As they walked away, one of them chimed in, "Now you have a picture so you can remember talking to us."

Yes, I do. Thank you, my young friends.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Who Uses the Handicapped Bathrooms!?

Having had fallen asleep for the entirety (minus 15 minutes) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I grumbily walked toward the cinema toilets. A huge line was queuing at the women’s, but the handicapped bathroom--door open wide and not in use--called to me. After all, have you ever seen someone actually using them?

So who uses the handicapped toilets?

The three wheel-chaired men waiting outside as I walked out. That’s who.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Naked Army

At 4.00 a.m. on Sunday in the heart of downtown Newcastle, England, I stripped off my clothes with nearly 2000 others to be a part of Spencer Tunick's latest art installment. He likens cities and landscapes to a canvas, and the fleshy tones of en masse nudity is his paint. The most striking element about the whole ordeal was the ordinaryness of the people. Of course it is quite surreal to be surrounded by some 2000 other naked people... Right after 'getting our kit off' we stampeded down this hill toward the location of the shoot. I paused for a moment, turned around and saw something like a naked medieval army charging down after me. Quite surreal indeed.

The temperature was something like 12 degrees celsius/52 fahrenheit, and after almost four naked hours in the chilly English morning, my nipples were happy to not be erect anymore.

As always, my photo site documents my goings-on.

Though I suspect this edition may be more eye-catching...

This site has some great press shots of the events. Better to enjoy the enormity with, my dear...

Friday, July 08, 2005

I Will Wear Lilies

I have decided that I shall never be without lilies, and in turn, they shall never be without my appreciation.

A very special and wonderful person once wrote a poem about me... and lilies. I love it. It was a caustic, chilling and bitter poem, written after some heated interaction (surely of my own fault). Because it was so beautifully ugly about yours truly, he won't give me a copy of the original--he's a good man and doesn't want my memories to consist of something so negative. So I'll just have to recall what I can.

It was called, "You Will Never Wear Lilies," and the last lines went something like this:

You may someday wear roses,
But you would have looked so nice in lilies.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I'm trying too hard.

Perhaps I can expound on this later (though still in a cryptic form, barely intelligible to me), but for now maybe just saying it will help.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Last night at my favourite pub, a grizzled old man pub, I went up to the bar for a pint. This grizzled old man to my right scowled, gave me a quick look up and down, and then peered down at me over his nose. He slowly growled, “You smell of a self-assured woman.” I paused and a slight smile came over my face. I gave him a curt nod, “Thank you.”

Friday, June 17, 2005

Response to extended mind query

(So I'm posting the response to Academic Front Part I here, because I tried to comment in the appropriate location, but it never appeared. Am I really that dumb...?)

The reason cases of alzhiemer’s and amenesia cases are so often cited is because they are dramatic cases that easily illustrate the notion of the extended mind. If their “extended self” is lost or damaged, a greater part of their ‘self’ (whatever that is) will be lost because to a much greater extent than healthy minds, they rely on external cog-tools.

But you don’t need to have a damaged mind to extend cognitive processes into the environment. You are right to point out that technologies like digital cameras and computers confer a very selective and malleable notion of the mind, and because of that fact, it could be argued that these technologies aren’t like the mind at all. On the other hand, our biological minds are just as open to sabotage (by self or others), suggestion, or selective memory. For instance, if I’m at a pub eyeing some hottie, I may think that they are returning the flirtatious looks but only because I want them to be; however, in reality nothing of the sort is going on. I see what I want to see. Another major fallibility of the bio-mind is that its attentional focus and perception can be very limited. An awesome (and entertaining) experiment has the subjects watch a game of scratch basketball and count the number of passes made. During the game a person in a gorilla suit walks through the game and does a little dance—half the subjects don’t report seeing the gorilla! However, surely if you saw a still photo of the basketball game, you’d pick right up on the gorilla in the midst (ba dum CHING!).

I recently went to a cool talk given by Mike Wheeler, in which he said (bio) memory isn’t post-perceptual recall but post-perceptual reconstruction; memory is a constructive process. I like that idea. On that line of thinking, a photo or a mental picture or a smell or any stimulus—internal or external—can trigger the reconstruction of a memory. It’s really just a question of whether we use our perceptual modalities (like sight, hearing, touch, etc.) that connect us with the outside world or whether we use internal (mentalistic) strategies to conjure up in image or thought.

Thanks for your comments, Friend.

Gorilla video (although I’ve spoiled the fun for you readers, you can try it out on friends):

Other fun perception videos:

Monday, April 11, 2005

I'm Loved

This was one of the lovliest things ever written about yours truly (thanks MJ and Buffy!) I must post it:

Happy Birthday

You well-evolved, talking, walking, cogitating, smilingly beautiful thing, you.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


So I had the chance the other day to be a jerk—and, boy, I wanted to. I assure you, the person most unquestionably deserved it. A friend had wronged me, wronged me in the worst kind of ways. In what I thought to be a casual, friendly conversation, this person made an attack on me—a puny, subversive, contemptuous, passive-aggressive spittle of an attack. Oh, yes. The worst of kinds. If there is one mode of human interaction I despise, it is passive-aggressiveness. Do these people not have the fortitude...the moxie…to simply address their problem directly to me? Or could they be in denial, making the problem just below their conscious radar that they can only subconsciously dribble out a weak, yellow slander? I can’t speak to that. But I can speak to the fact that I was offended—-offended not particularly at the content of the comment, but offended at the contemptuous subversion of the problem. Ooooo. Snakey people. I was proud, too proud, and naturally, I wanted to be a jerk right back. Of course I would have been appropriately direct, though not hostile, in my retort. Wishfully, I’d like to think I could have responded with some caustic Oscar Wildish witticism. Ultimately, however, I did not. Did not respond at all. Carried on the conversation as if I had not heard a thing. (Perhaps in part because I am no Oscar Wilde). It certainly wasn’t out of friendship that I never retaliated their smug little criticism. My non-retaliation was for my own selfish benefit: I know that they could not have left that conversation thinking that I was some puny, subversive, contemptuous, passive-aggressive spittle of a bitch.

But I could.

Moral: kill them with kindness then speak about the incident ambiguously, in a public forum.

Hypocrite disclaimer: Because it's not this person specifically that I have a problem with (rather, their isolated behaviour is merely representative of a larger, more widespread annoyance), there is no need to come down on them personally. End hypocrite disclaimer.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Academic Front (Part II)

Back to the extended mind (because I do have a point)…so Andy talks about fingers being a tool of the extended mind: they are reliably there to make cognitive processes run smoother. Simple as it may seem, to take that perspective to the evolution of the human mind…people are reliably there. So what about extended social cognition?

I met with him about my ideas for my Master’s dissertation, theory of mind as the fundamental evolutionary development in human’s extended social cognition. (Theory of mind is the understanding that others see and think about the world differently than you do…to recognize other selves and their intentions, basically. In my view, language is not possible without this.) He said that he liked the picture I painted (his words) and would love to work with me! Yay!!!

I am a bit nervous to say the least. He is quite the name, the high-profile academic in philosophy of the mind and philosophy of science. During our talk, he kept using big words that independently I knew the meaning of, but when combined to form a new entity, baffled me. Hmmm…definitely need to do some reading on that. Although, I must say that just reading doesn’t help. I referenced Kim Stirlny (as I pronounced it), and he later recast that name as it’s properly pronounced…THEN…I referenced Sterelny’s papers, “her this…her that…” He again recast my error, “Well HIS work blablabla…”. Doh. I of course made a joke about it, as is my custom/coping mechanism for awkward situations.

He’s also very involved in artificial intelligence, connectionism (neural networks), and other technological, geeky pursuits. But what I thoroughly enjoy about his work is the humanistic view he takes on such traditionally geeky pursuits; it’s not just technothings that interest him, but how the human mind, culture, and technology interact. For instance, he synonymizes the extended mind with the extended self; therefore, if you invade someone’s privacy by reading their diary, for example, you are essentially invading/violating their person.

He also focuses a great deal on Alzheimer’s patients. When these patients are in a hospice setting, they have themselves built or had others build a reference system of pictures, reminders, and other tools to help with day-to-day tasks. But if these individuals are taken from the hospice—from their extended mind, essentially—their selves are being violated. Regarding my topic, extended social cognition, enculturated apes also show the effects of violating one’s (socially) extended self. (Enculturated apes are those which have been raised in human environments with human language. Many even show linguistic competence matching that of a human 3 year-old!, and it is argued that the exposure to human language and culture actually gives them the cognitive scaffolding that allows for consciousness).

Anyways, when funding runs out and the enculturated chimps are returned to medical testing facilities or other ape homes with non-enculturated apes, they go mad. Absolutely bonkers. Roger Fouts, the “father” of Washoe the ASL signing chimp in Ellensburg, Washington, often speaks of the cruelty of taking apes out of their humanized social structure. In the same sense that tampering with a person’s extended mind is a violation to their self, it is a similar violation to tamper with the extended social cognition of such enculturated apes. While to some the idea of the extended mind/self is boringly mundane, it obviously has very practical implications for our society.

Enough ramblings. But as you can tell, I’m fantastically excited about my project: taking the extended mind notion and applying it to (my obsession with) the evolution of human social cognition. AND how brilliant that I'm getting to work with Andy Clark, the guy whose idea I'm running with!?! Some of you have already expressed interest in reading up more on the topic and on Andy Clark’s work. They’re easily accessible online. (Just tried hyperlinky things and that didn’t so much work out. So I’ll just list the applicable websites).

Andy Clark papers online:

Great resource for a number of papers on the mind, consciousness, and language:

Yes, There Exists an Academic Front for Amity in Edinburgh (Part I)

(Juxtaposed with “Sex and Drugs in Amsterdam"—I have to make it look like I’m doing something here!)

“The extended mind” is a term introduced by AC/DC (as it’s often notated): Andy Clark and Dave Chalmers. This notion suggests that we rely on external objects in the environment to expand the rather simple capabilities of our biological brain. For example, the maths that a person is capable of doing purely in the head is rather limited. But, we can go beyond our (internal) mind to perform such tasks and use things like fingers for counting or paper and pen for higher maths. Another example comes from the film Memento. The main character has short-term memory loss and thus takes pictures of significant things in his life and/or writes everything else down so that he can “remember” or reference these jotted down facts for later use—his day-to-day functioning relies on the entries he makes. He refers to his notebook and pictures in a very similar way in which we refer to our own memories within our heads; the difference is that his memory is externally stored. Computers, art, writing, marks on fossil bones for counting, human language: those are all tools of the extended mind (“epistemic artefacts”).

Andy—as I now refer to him (he’s just arrived at my university and I’ve been auditing his class)—has acknowledged that many people regard this idea as trivial, obvious, or mundane, while a few others think it’s absolutely ludicrous and highly debateable. I suppose, however, that’s the essence of philosophical studies. In fact, a friend of mine regarded all studies in the humanities and social “sciences” as “the study of the formal terminology for things you already know.” The humanities are funny, indeed. Talking to Andy the other day and the subject of “thought experiments” came up. I chortled; he chortilly retorted, “Well, if a thought experiment can prove the point, then why go on to empirical research?”

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sex and Drugs in Amsterdam

When most people come back from Amsterdam, they remark on the massive amount of bikes in the town. (A population of 730,000 has some 600,000 cycles!) Although it’s been done, I first have to exclaim about all the bicycles!!! It’s really nice to see a city so efficiently run with much less reliance on autos.

We, my dear ladyfriend Kristina and I, had been so overwhelmed with schoolwork, it was incredible to just stop. Stop doing. Stop thinking. Stop.

Accordingly, most of our photos are ‘am and K in this coffeeshop…am and K in that coffeeshop.’ True, I am my mother’s daughter: all of her vacation photos are ‘Cindy and friends at this bar…Cindy and friends and that bar…’ There are few scenery pictures—Amsterdam looks much like any other European city, but with canals. Scenery to me is often of little photographic interest. No matter how enchanting the buildings or landscape are, you can rarely capture that glory on film. People on the other hand are mutable and offer so much character in just one exposure. So the photos are perhaps a bit repetitive…almost all Kristina and I, but I love them! There are some magnificently lovely ones of Kristina; she looked darling.

I arrived at the Flying Pig youth hostel, and it was definitely one of those “Hey I’m young and think I’m cute, you’re young and cute, let’s flirt” type of joints. Everyone’s all enthusiastically saying “right on” to everything you say and down for the perennial party. Not that big of a deal, nor did I think it would be a big deal to be in a mixed sex dorm. Well, apparently all the OTHER girls thought it would be so, so in my room it was just dudes (probably hoping there would be a mix of sexes). Just dudes. And the manliness was exemplified as I was trying to sleep the first night. So I hear normal showery noises from Dude in the bathroom. Splish…splash splash…splosh..splosh SPLASH. Then it becomes rhythmic and patterned. There is fervor and intent behind these splishes: Splish. Splish. Splish. Splish. SPLISH. SPLISH. SPLISH. SPLISH. SPLISH. SPLISH. With growing intensity accumulating in “aaaahhhh.” Kristina said he was probably being polite in a dude way, “Hey, at least I didn’t spank the monkey in front of her!” Needless to say, I eventually found a cheap hotel offering a private room. It’s a terribly sexy city; just breathing the air makes you randy, so I don’t blame the dude, but I sure appreciated my privacy.

Christmas Eve: The Sex Day
To best understand the virgin birth, we thought it appropriate to devote the day to sex. The Sexmuseum was a good prelude to the live sex show we would later see. We turned down the 20 some euro private show for the ‘pay as you go’ peep show—if you’re not going to be classy, you may as well be really low-class. So Kristina and I smooshed into the booth where we could see a bunch of rhythmically shaking men in their respective booths, all around the revolving stage. The girl didn’t give us much of a show—probably because we’re girls. Misogynist stripper!! She didn’t even show us her boobs! (For you linguists, the b is quite plosive and the double o ought to be pronounced as an umlauted and exaggerated u.)

But then a dude came out and started the humping. ‘Humping’ truly is the appropriate word for their sex act. It was rather uneventful and we didn’t stay for him to...climax; we’ve both seen guys humping before and it’s pretty much the same story all around.

In general, the city is quite sexy and a place for luvahs (said creepily). I felt bad for Kristina that I wasn’t her man…not in a weird way, I just know how it sucked at times to look over at your travelmate and not be able to hump the man you adore. Ah…such a romantic I am…

Kristina and the Christ’s Birthday
Kristina shares her birthday with the Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Since the story of the birth is rather mythical and fantastical, I thought hallucinogens would be apt for the big day. Kristina remained the sober chauffeur and was a most exemplar partner and guide for a trip; she was forever pleasant, patient, and knew all the best places to take someone in my state.

Mushroom Highlights:
1. The screaming, crying guy at the coffeeshop. He kind of looked like a more Moroccan version of Ed from Northern Exposure, and all of a sudden started to wail and flail about. He was eventually ‘escorted’ out, only to continue banging on the window right in front of Kristina and I. This was a proper freak out, and one would think it’d be cause for a bad trip, but NAY, he was actually quite mesmerizing.

2. The Magical Mystery Tour. An incredible boat ride through the city’s canals. Although it was Kristina’s birthday, I had to let her do the paying…wasn’t so much ready for interacting and processing. However, these Dudes in wedding outfits thought I was. They were drunk and kept spitting out questions in some godforsaken language. All I could do was chase their questions looking for familiar words with quick responses of “no…no…no…YES….no…no...” Moreover, the boat filled with a giant Cypriot Turk family (I thought they were Cypriot Turks) that I kept creeping out. One of their daughters had an amazing look and I kept trying to get a nice photo of her. The unfortunate thing with a digital camera, however, is that everyone behind me (in this case her FAMILY) could see me trying to snap photos of the girl.

3. The merman seaguy. You know those guys in all European cities that paint themselves metallicky and look like some statue of sorts. You can imagine why this was a highlight. I felt he saw right through me and kept ushering me to come closer. My talent on hallucinogens, however, is knowing how much I can handle. Coming closer would have been entirely too much to handle.

4. Kristina’s hair. As we were opening presents (right about the time Dude was having a breakdown in the coffeeshop), Kristina’s hair began to flow, move, meld like ocean waves. Ocean waves…maybe not. Maybe more like a wind came over a Renoir painting and started tussling a girl’s hair. Most of you have done some LSD or mushrooms…you know what I’m talking about.

5. My hand. Ok, standard trip thing, but can you ever get tired of your own body morphing? I think not.

A Christmas Present

A young manfriend of mine, Rob (aka JLH, Joey Lawrence Hair), is quite technologically savvy (computer geek, if you will), and for Christmas he set me up a blogspot and photo website. He’s the one who once told me there exist one million crap writers for every good one, and I generally agree with that comment, and as such I do not intend to enlighten any of you with my years of wisdom or otherwise reveal any philosophical insights on life’s quirks. Instead, I can relay the more quotidian accounts of my Scotlife to those of you back home; accordingly, this is not intended for those I see here in Scotland. I see you (some of you almost daily). I can tell you everything I write about. I could say that this is not a replacement for personal communication with you individually; however, you all surely know I’m a crap correspondent anyway, so you may even get more amity news (brace yourselves)!!!

The photo website is and is currently filled with photos from my Christmas holiday. I wasn’t able to get home for Christmas, so I decided to do the furthest thing from the hometown Christmas: Amsterdam. As such, some photos may be of questionable taste, and I leave it to your discretion to check them out. Since I’ve already reached my monthly upload limit, not all of the Amsterdam photos are posted nor are any photos taken prior to the trip. I’ll keep you updated when all is up to speed…

Take care!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Merry Chrimbo Amity

and a happy new year.