Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category

Italy 4. Genoa.

This is my final post about our trip to Italy this fall. Here we’re mostly in Genoa or Genova. Post #1 was Pisa, #2 was mostly Lucca (plus an intro to The Matrix), #3 was Florence, and this last one is #4.

Love all these people in their stone caskets with stone skulls underneath. That’s a good night’s sleep!

Love the live people even more, like this classic woman selling fish in the mazy little streets of central Genova.

There’s a fancy street in Genoa called Via Garibaldi, and around 1600, all the rich merchants and financiers built themselves serious palazzos there, one after another, cheek to jowl, just amazing. Here we’re in a palazzo courtyard, seeing out to the Via down there.

Obviously a palazzo is gonna have a serious knocker.

We ended up in an odd indie hotel near the town center…all along we just reserved our lodgings the night before we needed them, as it was too hard to plan in advance. The hotel was near some really wonderful churches, like the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. I love the striped stone thing they were doing.

Awesome lion outside San Lorenzo, much more richly modeled than the NYC Public Library lions. That wonderful penchant for turning stone into dough.

This was the view from our hotel room window. So Kafkaesque. One of these buildings was the stock exchange. A zillion motorcycles and scooters parked down there, but we never seemed to see any of them arrive or depart. The hotel was pretty shabby, but they’d painted the room in festive you’re-on-vacation colors, like lime green and mauve. It was called Hotel Christoforo Colombo. The price was right.

The remains of an actual house where our man Columbus grew up in the 1400s was nearby. It was barely marked…I had the feeling that the Italians don’t especially care about Columbus. But we do! I loved how shabby and whipped-to-shit it was.

Amazing little churches tucked into squares all over the place. And always those warm, human, echoes of the city sounds amid the squares’ stone walls.

I tried using my Google maps app in Genoa…I’d knuckled under and agreed to pay $10 a day or whatever for wireless. I actually have a lot of trouble with Google maps in a city…like which way is what, and what is which way, and how do these pixels relate to what I’m looking at, and why does the suggested route seem to go in the wrong direction. Long story short, I was lost a lot of the time, and eventually stuck to my sketchy old school paper map I’d gotten from the hotel desk.

Of course when exploring an unknown city on foot, the notion of “lost” is kind of relative. If you don’t know what you’re looking for or where you’re going, what does “lost” even mean? In a meta sense I was looking for surprises, and the image above is one of them…an unexpected alley from the street-maze into a square by that San Lorenzo church.

So here’s David and Goliath. Goliath looks crass, but David doesn’t. Might this be called “Agent Bests Producer”?

Saw this one in, I think, the Palazzo Rosso, or maybe it was the Piazza Bianco. The two palaces were across the Via Garibaldi from each other, and functioned something like museums, with lots of paintings and statues on the upper floors—although really the buildings’ architecture and views were the real sight to see.

The museum guards in here were curiously pushy, like no guards I’ve ever seen, sternly refusing to let us deviate from the decreed route through the rooms, arbitrarily declaring certain rooms off limits, and at times lecturing us quite harshly. Like really mean grade-school teachers.

Anyway, dig Jesus driving the money changers from the temple! So much color.

Awesome, Escheresque levels and stairs in the courtyard of the Palazzo Rosso (or Bianco).

Hopping back to Florence, here’s a wonderfully peaceful courtyard near the Sante Croce (Santa Cruz ( Holy Cross)) cathedral. We saw a nice concert in a hall here.

And here we are in the round or elliptical central square of Lucca, photographed in a mirror with some smears on it. Vacation time goes slow, that is, it’s so full of incidents that the days and weeks feel longer. In my mind, the two weeks in Italy are longer than the seven weeks we’ve been back home . Here, in my routine live, every time I turn around, it’s Sunday again. More than that, every time I look up, Christmas is here again. Galling how fast the time goes, here in my dotage, when I can least spare the scant remaining colander pages that are flying off the wall in fast-forward. I guess that’s one reason we like to travel, or at least to do new things. To slow time down.

The best church in Genova was the Church of the Gesù, which is, I think, a mother church of the Jesuits, thus its name. Every surface is painted, embossed, besculpted, inlaid, tiled, curved, and lit. Like the inside of a mind.

Cool spiral staircase in the Palazzo Bianco. One of the push guards made me take a picture of it, but doing so was actually a pretty good idea. Sometimes the obvious shots are worth having.

Keep in mind that the Italians are world champs at design. A deluxe marbled kilometers long shopping arcade ran down a street near our hotel, and on the street was a very cool coffee shop with these kicky light fixtures. Given my interests what I liked about them was that the shape of an edges-only cube is to some extent ambiguous, that is, you can mentally flip it if you stare at one of the inner corners and “push” or “pull” on the corner. This is the Necker cube effect, in which a cube is actually turning over in the fourth dimension to become its mirror image. I discuss this effect at length in the “Through the Looking Glass” section of my non-fiction book The Fourth Dimensionn.

Another wonderfully bizarre, over-designed, and impractical light fixture, consisting of a line and a circle, as seen in Via Garibaldi 12, which is probably the most lavish, bizarre, museum-like, and mind-expanding housewares shop in the world. They’re in a palazzo on the ultra-deluxe Via Garibaldi, natch, and they hardly even have a sign outside. You just kind of have to know where they are. You walk into a courtyard, and there’s some weird electronic sounds, and you figure out that you need to go up some five hundred year old marble stairs to get to the store itself, on the second floor.

And who doesn’t want an exquisito cupboard of polyhedra in their salon?

And the pastry shops…ah. Serious pushing and shoving among the slavering clients in here. But a life offered for a perfect cream puff is a life well lost.

One of Genoa’s main squares near our hotel had a big circular fountain in front of that stock exchange we could see from our window. Hard, these days, to even imagine people physically going into a stock exchange, but I gather they still do. Those photos of brokers yelling and waving slips of paper. There was a lot of that in Antonioni’s movie L’Eclisse, featuring the monumental, unreadable, and divinely static Monica Vitti.

Naturally it occurred to that if you turn the stock exchange on its side, the tower looks like the tip of a  three-dimensional, stone Mandelbrot set…

Viva l’Italia!

And salutations to Our Lady of the Holy Web.

Italy 3. Florence.

Continuing my Italy posts here. #1 was Pisa, #2 was mostly Lucca (plus an intro to The Matrix), this #3 is Florence, and there’s a #4 of Genoa.

The Duomo, the cathedral at the heart of Florence, made of multi-colored stone, like a huge confection, massive yet weightless, like a thought made solid. After doing the outside, the builders were perhaps worn out, and the inside is very simple, almost stark.

There’s a plaza in Florence near the Medici Palazzo, with an outdoor array of large marble statues. I’m always amazed how fleshy the marble becomes, how doughy. Here’s Hercules beating the living shit out of a centaur. They say the Florentines and Medici were fairly warlike.

In the evening everyone goes out and walks up and down the streets. This shot is actually in Lucca. I love this old couple with their Afghan hound.

Wonderful light in the Florentine Basilica di Santa Croce. Seems like in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the churches were, like, the big art-form, the museums, the gathering places, the meditation halls, the houses of worship.

Sylvia and me on the Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge. It has shops on it, classy jewelry stores, not T-shirt stands.

Love this woman arranging one of the Ponte Vecchio windows, with her leather gloves matching the window’s decor.

In the Palazzo Medici, they have a small side room that was a miniature personal art gallery for one of the Dukes. The Studiola of Francesco I. No widows, the size of a narrow bedroom, the walls and calling divided up into panels with a different painting on every panel, done by a variety of Renaissance painters from around Florence. In the original installation, each panel on the walls was in fact a cabinet door, generally with some treasure or curiosity stashed in the cabinet, and the object was often connected to the nature of the painting on the cabinet door. Francesco would hang out in there; it was right off his bedroom. Like sitting down with your lap top. You go in there and browse and ponder.

The image shown here is of Diamond Mines.

Wall decoration in that Palazzo Medici, it’s a huge square building by the sculpture plaza, like I said. This is a harpy, from the Odyssey, I think. Love the graceful curves of the lines.

View out the Palazzo window, a bit of rain, the tourists. Not too many of us in October, but still plenty. We didn’t even try to go to the Uffizi Gallery, the main art museum, where Venus on the Half-Shell lives.

They have this cut of meat called Florentine beef or steak. Bruce Sterling ate one while we were with him, it weighed maybe a pound or a pound and a half. I got to gnaw the bone (kind of symoblic of our careers) …tenderest beef ever. The deal is that they age the beef for a month in a cooler, on display in the restaurant or on the street, and as the weeks go by, the big old chunks of beef migrate downward from the top shelf, level by level, and when they’re at the bottom, and kind of black on the outside, then they’re ready.

I loved these mausoleums where the person is in a stone bathtub and there’s an eternal stone mourner.

Went to a wonderful little medieval monastery that was decorated by Fra Angelico. About fifty monk cubicles with a mural in each of them. So insane, being in a bare room week after week with a painting of the crucifixion or some such. It struck me more heavily than ever what an insane religion Christianity is. Certainly the moral teachings are most admirable but…living in a cell with no company other than a painting of guy being tortured to death on a cross. Odd. This one here is an extra painting by Fra Angelico, not a mural, a monk saying Shhhh.

We hit the Galileo Science Museum, kind of interesting, with old mechanical science instruments. Hot in there with our unfolding climate change. Sat by the window for awhile, taking in the breeze off the Arno, enjoying the swaggy sags of the curtains. Note that in Europe they tend to have windows in public places that…open.

Science on parade!

Portrait of the artist as a blank.

Scullers by the Ponte Vecchio. Lovely skies, soft clouds, wonderful old buildings reflected, pink and yellow.

Detail of the weirdest of Fran Angelico’s monk-chamber murals. This is the Scorning of Christ before the Crucifixion, with the Roman guards spitting on Him and striking Him. In His sensorium, only the hands or heads of the guards are present. Cool phenomenological shorthand.

The monastery had some medieval books with those great hand-done “illuminations” of the pages. Love this one, the protractor-like shapes. the wiggly efflorescenses.

A sundial pocket watch in the Galileo Museum. The deal with a sundial is that it’s only accurate if you hold it in the right orientation vis-a-vis the direction of North. So you build a compass into it as well. Kind of like pushing your outmoded tech beyond practicality. It’s how chips are going to look to us in fifty years, when quantum computation, biocomputation, and the chaotic computations of matter have changed the game. Cf. my tome The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul.

Copy of my book shown above in original binding.

We hated to leave Firenze! And our cozy room at Hotel Silla with the alley view on the quiet side of the Arno. Love those little streets, and the human ehcoes of voices.

Italy 2. “Intro to The Matrix.” Photos of Lucca.

This is a little intro talk I gave before a showing of The Matrix  at the Pisa Internet Festival, October 11, 2019. I’ve illustrated this blog post with photos mostly taken in Lucca, a very nice town near Pisa. I’ll have 4 Italy posts in all.  #1 is Pisa,  this is #2 Lucca, #3 is Florence, and there’s a #4 of Genoa.

[Marble dog footrest for eternity.  Love how smooth the stone is.  Saw this in Lucca.]

Rudy to the audience in the theater about to see The Matrix:

It’s exciting to be in Pisa, the home of the 12th century mathematician Fibonacci, and of their 21st century Internet Festival.

[The Archangel Michael in Lucca.  “He knows if you’ve been good or bad!”]

I’m a cyberpunk science fiction writer and a professor of computer science. In the 1990s I worked in a lab at Autodesk programming and designing early VR demos. Much of my novel The Hacker and the Ants is set in VR.

This morning I tried out the Apollo 11 virtual reality experience on display at the Pisa Internet Festival. I maneuvered myself so I was standing inside the hollow shell of Neil Armstrong’s body, guiding the Lunar Module towards a landing in the Sea of Tranquility.

It was viscerally engaging—we don’t actually require all that many cues to feel like something is real. But, as often happens with VR, it was a little lacking on details. The lunar surface was simply an unchanging 2D photo that got fuzzier as we approached it. Neil’s skin was smooth, like a mannequin’s. The dials on the control panel were static.

And by the end I had a bit of VR nausea, a condition induced by the mismatch between the fake and the real.

[They couldn’t cut and paste. so each time the the coat of arms was a little different.  I like that.]

I’m here tonight to give a brief introduction to the classic VR move, The Matrix. I like the movie—it has good characters, and the CG effects are great. But I’ve always been a bit dissatisfied with the ideas underlying the movie. Maybe I’m just jealous that Hollywood still hasn’t filmed any of my twenty SF novels. But I do want to mention three of problems I have with The Matrix.

[The main “square” of Lucca is a big ellipse.]

(1) The movie’s premise is that there could be a computer-generated reality that’s indistinguishable from our own. For whatever reason, many people today believe this , and some go far as to propose that the seemingly real world around us is itself a simulation.

[Futurist painting of fireworks by, I think, Balla.]

Why would people want to think this? Perhaps it’s a Stockholm syndrome, and by this I mean a condition where prisoners of war begin to love and even worship their captors. Computers and the internet bully and parasitize us on every side. We’re obsessively addicted to our smart phones, with the social, the photos, the search, the music, the maps—tiny cornucopias, alluring sirens of the info sea. Hopeless and powerless in our cyberprison, we surrener and accept the computers as our lords—and go so far as to think the Supreme Being who creates our world is itself a digital program.

[I wish we had this beetle platter that we saw in Lucca.]

As a nature-lover and as a computer scientist, I know this idea is false. It’s phenomenologically clear that our reality is immensely richer than any possible simulation. You notice the deep fabric of reality whenever you take the trouble to leave your screens and go outdoors and observe, say, fluttering leaves, clouds in the sky, breaking waves, rain drops in puddles, people’s faces, the folds in clothing, the motions of crowds, the sounds of mingled voices in a piazza. Or pick up a dead stick in the garden, and peel off some bark, and observe the tiny creatures living there, and consider the fact that still tinier creature live within the guts of these mites. Look at the cracks in the wood, and the bits of fungus. God has a very big budget.

[This guy was celebrating with his friends outside a bar on a pedestrian street in Lucca. You can’t quite see in the photo, but he had a wooden cricifix strapped to his back.  I asked him, “Are you getting married tomorrow?” His answer: “No! Today is my 33rd birthday.” And Jesus was 33 when he went on the cross.]

Another thing regarding the physical world is that natural processes don’t repeat themselves. You never step into the same river twice. The modern notion of chaos expresses this by saying that, although the world unfolds according to natural laws, physical processes are inherently unpredictable. This means there is no shortcut formula to predict what a wave will look like, or precisely how many times a quaking leaf will wobble in the next five minutes.

[In San Francisco, a young hacker friend of mine took apart a rental scooter so he could pwn it and use it for free.  While disconnected, the scooter’s chip was screaming, “I can’t feel my wheels!  I can’t feel my wheels!” ]

And understand that what I’m saying is not just an opinion—it’s a very nearly a theorem proved in theoretical computer science. I discussed this over a decade ago in my blog post, “Fundamental Limits to Virtual Reality.” The point, is that no cheesy, dipshit computer chip is going to crank out a precise emulation of our world. Not even if the cheesy, dipshit chip is the size of the solar system. Strict mathematical logic shows, in fact, that the only physical system that can emulate our universe is—our universe itself.

[Unbelievably gnarly mummified Saint in Michael’s Church in Lucca. He was called The Armenian.]

A lawn of grass blades is, if you will, a physical computer that emulates a lawn of grass blades. Using quantum computation, if you will, and running at the maximum possible speed, and with an octillion atoms in play. That’s what it takes.

[Talk about recycling!  Spread over five centuries…]

Okay, okay, I don’t want to be a bring-down, I don’t want to harsh your vibe. But I said I have three bones to pick with The Matrix.  Here’s the second and third…both are small points, but they bother me.

(2) Why would they be using human beings as, in effect, flashlight batteries to provide electricity? Like, how efficient is that? You’re keeping a guy alive, in a bidet in an underground stadium, you’re keeping him warm, and feeding him intravenously, and you think he’ll output more electricity than it takes to keep him alive? Please.

[Pisa concert hall.  The part you can’t see is that an accordianist and violinist weres warming up inside, lovely tunes floating out.]

(3) In Matrix 2, they finally meet the chief programmer of the matrix and he’s—a fastidious, white-bearded guy in a cream-colored suit. Have you ever met any computer people? Like programmers and hackers? They wear T-shirts, they’re slobs, and they don’t speak with upper-class British accents.

They’re cyberpunks! Give us our due.

[Sylvia and I with Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic at the Futurist art show in Pisa.]

But enough of all that. Enjoy The Matrix!

[After I delivered my intro, I stayed in the theater for awhile, and watched the start of the movie, dubbed into Italian, and it was really great, even better than I remembered, and it made me want to see the whole Matrix again.  And never mind that it’s “wrong.”   But then I left the theater to go to a club with Sylvia and Fabio and Roberto and Brolli and our other new Italian friends, and that was even better, even more cyberpunk. Nightlife with intellectuals at the Internet Festival in Pisa, Italy.]

Italy 1. Pisa.

Sylvia and I were in Italy for two weeks. I’m going to do four posts about it.  This is #1 Pisa. I’ll also have #2 for Lucca, #3 Florence, and a #4 of Genoa.

We were guests at the Internet Festival 2019 which organized a bunch of talks, displays, and demos. Eating is one of the many good things about being in Italy. This was a place called Schiaccianoci which means “nutcracker,” don’t ask me why. It was a seafood restaurant, just amazing, full of local types. Fabio Gadducci took us there. He’s friends with the owner. He didn’t really order in detail; the owner just brought us a long series of good plates.

Who’s Fabio? Our contact a the con, a great guy. I think this cigarette were from Ukraine or something. Just tobacco! But people smoke odd brands in Europe. Fabio is a professor at the University of Pisa, involved with computer science, software engineering, and the history of computation. Also very much a boulevardier, a charming man about town, with friends everywhere.

Fabio pointed out that there was a show of Futurist art in town. Sylvia and I actually pushed our way in there for the opening night party…I told the guy at the door I was a famous American science fiction writer…and he said to come back in half an hour and he’d let us in.

Naturally we checked out the Tower of Pisa. They actually worked for centuries, off and on, at stabilizing it. Ut was very cool, of course but the crowd of tourists at this spot was kind of brutal. And everyone but everyone was posing with their hands up so the photo would look like they were propping up the tower.

Mostly we were walking more or less randomly around Pisa. A lot of walls in Italy are yellow, or peach, or apricot, or brick red, or pink. Mediterranean. I like the curve of the shadow here.

One of the churches we went into had this cool old bowsprit from a ship. I think maybe it was a model of the original, but an old model.

Plenty of art graffiti around, stenciled on. Tiny streets and alleys. I like this spot, the 3D jitter.

Lots of this one fat graffiti logo too, all over town. I never could figure out what it said.

Fabio arranged it so the organizers gave us free lodging in what I guess was a university dorm. At night a huge, I mean humongous flock of birds would swirl around and around, settling down into a few big pine trees. I asked one of the locals about it. They said a bird flock is called a stormo, and that this particular kind of bird here is also called a stormo. Once they were in their tree, settled down, they kept cheeping and squawking for a long time. A wonderful multifarious sound.

Design in everything; the Italians are masters of design. This think t looks like a conscious animal. Resting. “Tomorrow I work. Or maybe the day after that.” It’s amplified with the presence of sign that looks like a cursor symbol. Once we get our 3D augmented reality effectors in place you’ll be able to click on the steam roller and lift it up into the air.

Our dorm was by the River Arno, which runs from Florence, through Pisa, and into the Mediterranean west of Italy. Scullers here, in the sunset. The tower was a guard post for a gate into the city, back when. If the guys in the tower didn’t like the looks an new arrival, they’d throw rocks down onto them.

Here’s Leonardo of Pisa, more commonly known as Fibonacci. On the street, he’s best known for the Fibonacci series of numbers. Each Fibonacci number is the sum of the two before. You start with 1 and 1. You add them and get 2. And so on. So the Fibonacci series is, like, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610. 987, and wheenk on. They’re based on a story about raising pairs of rabbits and counting how many you have.

The silly story is in Fibonacci’s classic Liber Abaci of the year 1202. The most important math book of the Middle Ages. It taught Europeans how to use zeroes, Arabic numerals, and positional notation. Which gave arithmetic an exponential speed-up. Relative to those times, it was practically like getting computers.

Fibonacci’s statue is in this really beautiful arcade near the Leaning Tower, it’s called the Camposanto, like Holy Field, it’s sort of a graveyard. They mixed in some soil from the Holy Land.

They had a chamber with a bunch of saints’ relics, like piece chunks of bone. This chunk is from St. Costanza. So gnarly.

Dig the beautiful Art Noveau stenciling on this building. I think those might be Uni Pi students coming out.

Rooting for sights, Sylvia and I ended up in the Pisa Botanical garden, and within it was a little museum, and in the second floor of the museum, we assiduous seekers found some very cool stuffed animals. It was a small room, so they mounted a few of the on the ceiling to good effect.

And there was something even better in the next room: big models made of colored wax. A very cool sculpture medium. This one shows the sprouting of a leek in extensive detail. I looked at it for a really long time.

This here is the old time University of Pisa prof who made those models; and the little museum in the Bot Garden is named after him. He’s marble, not wax.

We had a large church near our dorm; it always seemed to be closed, though we should have checked on Sunday morning. Behind it was this very Hieronymus Bosch type building with a pointed roof. A lot of stormo birds came here in the evening. The building is, I think, what they call a baptistery…for some reason baptism rated a whole separate building.

This is Laura, a pleasant computer scientist working, I think, at the Uni Pi, she was at the con and I talked to her a few times. Don’t know what she’s doing with the cigarettes, but I grabbed her photo. (I’ll find her last name later.)

This was in the elevator at the botany museum. The opening shot for an SF adventure, right?

One day I was at loose ends, and wanted to find place to have lunch, and looked at Google maps, which led me to hell and gone, ending at a spot that seemed to unsavory, so I kept walking, in a more working-class neighborhood now, near a factory, flipped into the black-and-white world of Neorealist cinema.

It’s so nice to get off the beaten track. Everything is interesting, everything is different, sanctioned sights don’t matter. I liked this dangling thing up there—remnant of the Inquisition? Something to do with horses? And dig the prickly-pear hedge. Like in California.

Another gift from the muse of strolling. The red and white bar is nice addition, also the toothy fence. This is a chunk of the old city wall.

I know it’s cheap to photograph signage, but sometimes, well, you gotta. Especially when it’s night.

More on the genius of Italian design. These shapes are trash bins. The genius part is that each of those visible metal pimples is attached to a subterranean bin the size of the cargo hold on a truck, with the bin’s long side going down into the ground, and the pimple on top. In the morning an insanely ultra-designed huge garbage truck with a crane on top lifts each trash pimple high into the air—with its hidden trash bins now visible, dangling—and squeek a door on the bottom of bin hinges open, and the trash falls into the truck.

This is my very dear friend Daniele Brolli, who translates my SF books into Italian. He’s William Gibson’s translator as well. Brolli is a great translator because he’s an author himself. I try and see Brolli whenever I’m in Italy; he’s one of the kindest and most intelligent people I know.

With Sylvia at that restaurant with Brolli.

The Arno in the morning. I’ve love seeing buildings reflected in rivers!

And here’s Ran Zhang, a cool Chinese SF writer. He says he’s not a cyberpunk…he’s in a different category, but what that is I don’t exactly know.

It was fun hanging out with Ran. He gave me a Chinese cigarette to smoke. Our peace pipe.

These were the people at the talk I gave, it was called “Lifebox, Telepathy, and Immortality,” and rather than using PowerPoint, I put the text and slides of the talk online as a blog post.  It went over well, and in the process of giving the talk and answering questions I got some new ideas. . Daniele Brolli introduced me, and Ran Zhang talked too.

Bruce Sterling showed up, which was great. I love that guy. We’ve published a book’s worth of stories together, Transreal Cyberpunk. It was a pleasure to hear his talk…he was going on about various kinds of colorful cybercriminals, which was funny as the speaker just before him had been laying out an idealistic fantasy about how “everyone willl soon agree on basic rules of how to use the internet.” As if!

We took this photo in a bistro near the Pisa train station, we were waiting for a seafood restaurant to open. Kind of a Di Chirico feel to this setting here, and of course we’ve got a Keith Haring mural in the background. Bruce is an allegorical figure of some kind, but I’m not sure what the allegory is.

We might be working on a new story together…something peripherally involving Fibonacci.

My last day in Pisa, Roberto Malfagia and some of his cool VR guys from Florence made a 3D film of me. The group is called La Jetee, you can see an example of their work here. Being recorded by them I felt like the next stage of the Rudy lifebox bot. That’s not me standing there, that guy is for getting the focus right. The guy in silhouette is nice photographer Manuel.

I told about an SF scenario I’d been thinking about. For immorality, we’ll take advantage of natural computation, in particular we store a person’s lifebox-ghost as a pattern in the octillion interwingled atoms of a stone. Let’s say it’s a gravestone. Your soul is in there.

And whenever you aren’t embodied as a juicy ghost in a living organism, your soul in the stone is waiting for some person or, better, some animal to chance past. And you can do a surgical, cyberknife-type, tight-beam narrowcast of your code into the brain (and the muscles!) of an animal.

And then you live in the animal for awhile as a juicy ghost. A crow. He circles up into the air, a rising gyre. In explaining this, I made a theatrical, swirling, upward gesture with my hand, with a Tim-Leary-type pitchman’s smile on my face, faking ecstasy for the camera.

Arrivederci, Pisa! And grazie.

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