On Architecture

The architecture of a single-story home on a circular drive. The laughs and cries of children filled its space, earlier today. Now the house is left to watch the sun set behind the trees, to cool in the mottled shadows cast by the leaves. In the little office beside the garage, sounds of rushing traffic faintly reach the ear. The sound is indistinguishable from a light rain in winter. The house seems to enjoy the quiet. A family of six lives beneath its roof. How rare is silence for this silent witness? It has watched children avoiding homework, mothers cuddling babies, fathers tossing large balls to their young sons. And arguments and the tragedy of divorce. And the death of the old. The birth of the young. It has shielded its peoples from the wind, cold, rain, snow, and heat. True, but this house has done more than that.

It’s provided physical shelter, but also psychological comfort and spiritual sanctuary. It has been an icon of identity. People who left long ago, upon returning, remember who they were, which is to say who they are. Some remember that bare spot in the lawn where the ants toil, where the natural rules of life and death were taught in tiny relief. Some remember the cold of the window glass in winter that brought conflicting desires to play in the snow and to snuggle in the warmth inside.

This house could not solve all of its occupant’s adversities. Still, it gives evidence of happiness freely bestowed upon all who have ever entered it’s doors. This, it seems to me, is the main contribution of architecture. It has the character of the artisan rather than the artist.

The artist makes beautiful things. The artisan makes beautiful things that are also useful. Beautiful and useful. What better description could there be for good architecture?

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The Dust Devil

A dust devil appeared in the field nearby my home. Since I becoming a professional writer, I have spent most of the day writing on my shaded porch. The dust devil intensified and grew in height to a hundred yards. A wind whistled across the cornices of my porch roof.

Dreamer that I am, I imagined that someone was singing around the corner of my home. Singing in a whisper at first, then chanting, and louder still until the full throaty song prickled my ear.

“Yes, I am hear…”, said the Dust Devil.

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Whence? Whom?

We must sit now you and I
Before darkness will swirl down upon my eyes
Like an evening clouding in the Winter;
We must rest, while others, less ancient, rush
And murmur in a hush
About stressful lives and last night’s TV show
Or young-adult book characters they’ve yet to outgrow.
Shades that obscure like a deadening lecture
Of too subtle a conjecture
Begun with an uninteresting question.
No, let’s not regret we missed it.
We must rest and have our visit.

In the church they chant and pray
The Kyrie.

The cold wind that rubs its hands upon my whiskered cheeks,
The frosty air that hurts my ears and my whiskered cheeks
Shook the leaves of shadowy trees,
Moaned across wet roofs hiding the sky,
Sped south across the streets that stand in water
To press upon the shuttering window-panes
Of houses living too closely on narrow little lanes.
Because it was cold, and wet, and crisp,
It burst over the houses with a whistling hiss,
And returned never again from the night-time abyss.
It did not linger, like us, to reminisce.

Ah, there will be no more time
For the wind that hisses over roofs,
For the wind that rubs its hands upon my whiskered cheeks;
There is no time, there is no time
Left to think of words to say after others speak;
There will be no time to sin and to repent,
And no time to give money that’s already spent
On asking and answering and being wrong
And no time for knowing it all along.
No time for anger at all the insults and slights,
A million little incisions and cunning fights
Before a coffee and a bite.

In the church they chant and pray
The Kyrie.

RPA Is Empowerment Not Replacement

Did LinkedIn replace recruiters or empower recruiters? It empowered them. It’s a good example of how automation will develop in the future. Successful companies will empower workers with automation not replace them.

Think of what professionals do in their jobs. Lawyers craft arguments for specific audiences: clients, opposing counsel, judges. Doctors bring together fuzzy empirical pattern-matching from experience and hard science. Teachers are experts in their fields but also understand how to tailor instruction to each student. Computers might be able to do one of these tasks, but software can’t combine them into expertise the way humans do.

Technology will not replace professionals. It will allow them to do even more.

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The Regular Customer

It was very early and only the morning shift workers had entered the cafe. It was still dark but for the lights shining through the cafe’s large windows. The early morning regular was patiently waiting outside at the door.

In the day time, the street was busy with tourists walking about on the sidewalk and cars driving slowly through the little street. But in the early hours the street was very quiet. The regular liked to stand on the sidewalk with this own coffee mug, for a few minutes before the doors were unlocked. He looked at nothing in particular but always seemed to be listening for something.

“Last month he lost his job,” the older waiter said.

“Well, that’s not too unusual right now, but it’s tough.”

“He’s an old man. It’s hard to find a job. His wife left him too.”

“Why?”

“Money, of course.”

“How do you know it was money?”

“Isn’t it always?”

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The View From Nowhere

God created the world. Or he didn’t. Let us think on the first case. What was created? It seems that God created the cosmos and man in the cosmos.

In the beginning God made heaven and earth. The earth was invisible and unfinished; and darkness was over the deep. The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw the light; it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day; the darkness He called Night; and there was evening and morning, one day. […]

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of heaven, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that moves on the earth.” So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them.

Why was the earth invisible? Most readers and theologians say it was invisible because there was no light. This is a very unsatisfactory reading. Surely the earth was not invisible to God merely because it was dark. The Greek word translated as ‘invisible’ is αορατος. It can mean invisible; or that which cannot be seen; or that which is unseen. Again, surely God can see the invisible and nothing is unseen by Him. So the γη αορατος, the unseen earth, is not unseen by God. Who cannot see it?

Only God’s creatures are unable to see the invisible earth, but at this point in the story God hasn’t created them. And that’s the answer. The earth is invisible precisely because there is no created being to see it.

We have a world that is created, and later we have a world that is seen. The created-world preexists the seen-world. Are they the same world?

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