Publishing my Pieces on SoundCloud


First of all, apologies to anyone who followed the notification to a new post only to find it password protected. This was me not realising that the password-protected setting on WordPress doesn’t make a post automatically private; indeed, it even sends out notifications to everyone. The post was about my music notation system, in development, which I wanted to share just with one confidante. It’s still in development, but don’t hold your breath.

Anyway, as you can probably guess from the title of the post, I’ve set up my account at SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/lettersquash. After a bit of deliberation, I decided to use the same nickname as I do here, as I’m starting to make lettersquash stick most places online now. Besides, there are a few other John Freestones on SoundCloud and at least one I know of who publishes his stuff on YouTube.

Me about 20 years ago. I still look just as good though. ;D

I hope you enjoy the songs and instrumental pieces. The five I’ve uploaded so far aren’t my best work, exactly, but they’re probably the best in terms of a balance between quality of composition, playing and recording.

I have two or three – maybe more – pieces I hope to include later, but they are more difficult to play, and I’m very out of practice. Some of those already uploaded I will probably replace when I polish them up again.

I’m not sure what to do with a bunch of others, but I should upload them somewhere just for my peace of mind (as they’re kind of precious to me and just on local drives). Some are recordings of me playing my 3/4-size Spanish guitar or piano in the early ’70s, with a single mic plugged into a standard cassette tape recorder. Once I’d practised a new song, I’d add it to the end. By the time I thought about saving a digital copy, about 40 years later, the recording had degraded enormously, so they’re just for my own nostalgic enjoyment (or to remind me how they go so I can redo them if I feel any are worth re-recording).

I’ve been intending to upload my music for some time. I did upload several pieces to another site many years ago, but I deleted them again. It was one of those sites for putting you in touch with other musicians, and I’d given up on the idea of playing in bands, or of ever performing again. I hardly played an instrument anymore.

As I described recently, that all changed again with the removal of my Mum’s old piano from the lounge to the hallway, where I don’t worry about disturbing the neighbours anymore. I’m re-learning to read music, practising various classical pieces and working on a few of my own compositions, and now I’ve started getting to grips with my guitars again. So, hopefully, I should have some brand new recordings to upload to my account before too long.

I also need to brush up on my recording-engineer skills. I was still using tape cassettes when I left off, albeit in a 4-track machine. I set up a digital studio on an old computer years ago, but I’ve hardly used it.

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Life Hack, Music Hack


(I’m writing shorter posts now, by the way: no more than 1,500 words each.)

Life Hack

In writing about myself last time I identified a problem that I’m trying to solve, which is that I get obsessed with particular hobbies – music, programming, writing, researching, camping, etc. – and I keep doing the same thing for too long. I get bored with it, but keep pushing myself, because it was so enjoyable, and then I suddenly switch to another. This leaves long periods in between pursuits, so I forget where I got to, making progress frustrating and inefficient.

I noticed it again in relation to music when I began re-learning to play the piano. I’m now practising fairly regularly, but I lose a lot of ground if I leave it even a few days between sessions, so I really don’t want to go off it and get obsessed with something else.

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Duck Wrangling


In loving memory of John Brand

When I was a teenager, I wrote a song, To Watch the Clouds, that goes:

A man may take a little time off
To feel the colour of the sky
To watch the clouds go by

Sometimes he's taken to a hilltop
Sometimes he feels he could fly
The god of gravity sighs

Life is what you make it
So please don't you waste it
Don't watch the clouds go by
Until the clouds run dry

It’s a warning I largely failed to heed. I still watch the clouds. Most mornings, I lie in bed drinking coffee and gaze out the window for an hour or more over the rooftops, thinking my thoughts. I was always getting told off for it at school too (gazing out the window, I mean, not lying in bed drinking coffee).

Luckily, my clouds haven’t run dry yet, but, as I approach 60, I feel an increasing need to catch up with things undone. The pandemic is adding a little impetus. As Mum used to remind me, you only live once.

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Arguing with Idiots: Sceptical Outreach during a Global Pandemic


I have an addiction: I go on YouTube quite a lot, doing what my late friend, John Brand used to call, “arguing with idiots.” He always advised against this. “You should never argue with idiots,” he’d say, “it just confuses them.”

They’re probably not generally idiots (although some clearly are), they just say idiotic things, but I’ll come to that in a moment. And they probably need confusing. Confusion is a good thing. Avoiding confusion (avoiding cognitive dissonance) is why they say idiotic things, as will be demonstrated later. Continue reading

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Natural Consciousness: (Part 2) Being


man holding a hammer

I think; therefore it’s time I returned to my series on consciousness.

Part 1, “Emptiness”, was mainly anecdotal, sharing what I think I’ve concluded from my experience of meditation. I suggested that the idea of “pure awareness” is an illusion, and instead that awareness is an interaction with an object.

I ended with this:

Witnessing necessarily involves an object. All talk of “the witness” in this metaphysical context may be utter nonsense. Of course, something is certainly witnessing. I hope to delve a little more into what we might reasonably consider that to be in future posts.

I was denying that we have a non-physical mind that witnesses our life. My intention in this series is to approach the difficult task of grasping a materialist explanation of consciousness. I am trying to make sense of the idea that what is witnessing our life, the “I”, the “self” is simply the physical brain-body system.

This causes much difficulty, not because it is illogical or because the evidence points elsewhere, but because human cultures ubiquitously deny it, and we all grew up within a human culture. It is difficult to see beyond what we take for granted. Indeed, our language does not easily encapsulate the idea of conscious matter. Presumably it was so for most of human history: mind, we say, is what animates, knows, thinks, speaks, in a world that is otherwise dead.

Dennett remarks that consciousness is the new élan vital, that was thought to make the difference between life and non-life. Now we’ve got used to the twin facts that there is a fuzzy line between them and that we define life with arbitrary conditions, we puzzle similarly about consciousness.

So, people can accept that they are physical entities, but repeatedly insist that consciousness is a mystery, because they imagine it to be non-physical. They say it must be non-physical, although they seem rarely to consider what that means, by what attributes something “non-physical” can be identified. They simply have an unspoken rule that matter cannot be conscious – it is essentially part of their definition of matter.

The difficulty, of course, is what David Chalmers famously called “the hard problem of consciousness”, which is to explain how (and why) the brain performs the feat of creating subjective experience. I am suggesting that the reason is simple: we refuse to accept that we, as physical matter, could possibly experience the brute fact of our being. Losing the notion that we are a ghost in the machine – easier said than done – is what allows us to feel our physical reality, whereupon the mystery begins to dissolve. Continue reading

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Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated with facts: the final summing up


This deserves reblogging, especially now. It’s Yakaru’s summary of his incisive critique of Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief.

Spirituality is No Excuse

I have noticed an up-tick in people looking for information on Bruce Lipton and I assume this must have something to do with the Coronavirus and COVID-19. A brief check and I see that indeed is contributing his ideas to the discussion. Clearly many people are trying to figure out there is any merit to his claim that you can use thoughts to “control your biology”, so I will offer a brief summing up of my exhaustive 77 post review of his book The Biology of Belief.

Sadly, Lipton’s book The Biology of Belief fails entirely, and in the most ridiculous manner, to provide any support for his claims. It is baffling that someone with a Ph.D in biology can get so much basic factual information in his chosen field so wrong. Worse, the way he constructs his argument doesn’t connect up with the case he is trying…

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English Turkeys Vote for Another Five Years of Christmas


Well, there you go. I said it, didn’t I. England is full of cretins, easier to herd than a flock of sheep. Cluck at them for a couple of weeks about how oven-ready they are, how lovely it’ll feel to be hung, stuffed with nuts and baked on a medium heat for five years, their carcass finally dumped on the lawn for the starlings to peck at, and the English turkeys will gobble up all their tasty sound-bites and pop themselves in the microwave.

selective focus photo of red turkey head Continue reading

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Are Brexiteers Stupid?


man person people emotions

Yes. On the whole, it appears so. At least, they were stupid enough to be duped by some very clever people who don’t care about them. Of course, lots of people are stupid, most people, and some of them are Remainers.

I blame the parents…or, rather, previous governments using education (…education, education) as a political football. We allowed education in this country to be degraded and abused for decades. Deliberately or otherwise, we’ve been dumbed down. Continue reading

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Jordan Peterson’s Twelve Rules: #12) Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street


This is the last post in my review of a talk by Jordan Peterson on his 12 Rules for Life. The relevant section in the video begins here.

The review of this section won’t take long, and I hardly even transcribe any of it, but I then summarize what I feel I’ve learned about Jordan Peterson from the experience and a few other sources. I may write a longer summary of the ten rules I’ve dealt with (he missed two out) in a later post, but a more important subject for the future seems to be the much wider, deeper cesspit of anti-woke bullshit that steams noxiously under the pseudo-intellectual crust.

I’m glad to get to the end of the series, because I’ve wanted to write about other things. I didn’t want to interrupt the series with other posts, however, or I might have lost momentum.

But now we’ve arrived where all good Internet memes should begin or end, cats! God, they’re adorable, aren’t they?

person holding white kitten with flowers necklace

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Jordan Peterson’s Twelve Rules: #11) Do not bother children when they are skateboarding


We’re getting close to the finish line. Sad, isn’t it? This post deals with the penultimate, Rule 11, of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Here’s a link to where he begins talking about it. I’ve missed one out again, because Peterson missed it out: Rule #10, “Fly to England and ramble incoherently about ten of the twelve rules in your book.” No, sorry, “Be precise in your speech.” Nobody in the audience alerts him to the fact he missed out rules eight and ten. Probably afraid of dragons.

I feel it’s sufficient to say that precise speech is a reasonable aspiration, and one which Peterson fails at spectacularly (almost always, but particularly conspicuously in this section).

child in black jacket blue yellow old school print fitted cap riding skatebaord

 

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