The Motion of Ideas

The last printed edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was “the 2010 version of the 15th edition, which spans 32 volumes and 32,640 pages.” Though the resource continues now exclusively online, the cessation of the print version marked a significant acknowledgement about the way in which information is stored and accessed. The transformation of the Encyclopædia Britannica from a massive, multi-volume hard-cover collection to an expression of information in the form of zeroes and ones completed the erasure of who we were to who we are. Unlike cruising the internet, getting engrossed in a set of encyclopedias always seems personal; a far more intimate experience in which the physical, paper page shares information and ideas only with the person holding the books in his hands.  Millions of people simultaneously can access the same information online, of course, but the sensuality of those books in one person’s hands—the way they feel, look, smell—is far more appealing than the impersonal fire-hose of information that is the internet. That having been said, the internet is faster, more extensive (though not nearly as well-vetted), and the information it provides is far easier to store. When the choice must be made, I pick that faster, less personal resource; with regrets to the romanticism of a massive set of hard-bound books. Watch ideas and information spray throughout the dark universe.


Last night, mi novia made a wonderful dinner, Miso-Mushroom Barley Soup, the recipe for which she found in the New York Times. It was nothing short of exceptional. I love all the noted, main ingredients, individually, but mixing them together, along with the marvelous flavors that blend and bind them all together, yields a soup so flavorful that I found it difficult to stop at one bowl. In fact, I did not stop at one; I topped off the meal with another quarter-bowl of the stuff. The fact that the soup’s ingredients include miso made me think of one of my favorite Japanese-influenced breakfasts: miso soup, rice, cucumber, radishes, and salmon filet. I doctor-up my miso soup, adding dried and diced wakame (a species of kelp with a distinctive flavor), sambal oleke, and a few muscular squirts of soy sauce. I am making myself hungry at this late hour (almost 8). I got up very late; after 6. I could kick myself; and I probably will.


Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

~ Nelson Mandela ~


I feel human at the moment. And I felt human yesterday, though I think I zoned out a few times, which I think signaled that I was not quite finished with my periodic exhaustion. Today, though, I am knocking on wood; maybe I will have a few days of normalcy before next Thursday’s chemo treatment. My sister, who lives far, far, far away on the western fringes of the continent, is having hip replacement surgery today; I send her positive vibes and I look forward to hearing that it was a spectacularly successful procedure. She has dealt with a painful hip for way too long.


Periodically, I open in an attempt to better understand the information that feeds people whose political perspectives generally are 180° from mine.  I took a look this morning. The term “information” is far too generous; the network is almost entirely a propaganda machine. Whether the “information” it spews is based entirely on lies, I do not know; I can tell, though, the moment I see the words on the screen that lies, bigotry, intellectual dullness, and all manner of other ugliness inform the network’s decisions about what to say and how to say it. I find absolutely NOTHING of any merit on But I’ll keep taking a look from time to time so I can have a better understanding of “the others.” There’s plenty of left-leaning propaganda, too, but I believe a majority of left-leaning consumers of the “news” can separate the wheat from the chaff; no so, I am afraid, on the other side. I try. I try. But maybe not hard enough?


I can understand the genesis of blind rage. Exponential growth in the number of encounters with frustration can finally cause something—I do not know just what—to snap, releasing pent-up energy that cannot be contained. The frightening aspect of this is that the explosive release is not limited to a particular personality type. It can happen to almost anyone. But it need not happen. If only we just change the world for the better. That’s all it will take.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to The Motion of Ideas

  1. John says:

    Thanks, Patty. I look forward to seeing you soon!

  2. Patty Dacus says:

    I am so glad you are feeling good today!! Enjoy every minute! Wish I was there… I’m in Memphis with mom today. See you soon!

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