Thursday, July 19, 2012

All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Richard Brautigan (1967)


Dennis Bray said...

“I have always wanted to write a book that ended with the word 'mayonnaise.”
― Richard Brautigan

Try Trout Fishing in America

And oh yeah, don't forget to wear a Che Guevara tee shirt while you rerad it.

Werner Krauss said...

Richard Brautigan wrote this poem when he was in 1966-67 the "poet-in-residence" at the at California Institute of Technology. Something Helmholtz should think about, too - poets in residence!

Hannah said...


Thanks for introducing me to this guy! Just read "just because", "At the California Institute", "It's raining in love" and "Love poem". They sort of makes you go "yep" and (at least in my case)... laugh:o)

Werner Krauss said...


glad you like it! Who wouldn't say "yep" when reading these lines:

"At the California Institute of Technology.

I don't care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I'm bored.

It's been raining like hell all day long
and there's nothing to do."

Hannah said...


Having studied Richard's picture I also reckon he is spot on with:

Just because
people love your mind,
doesn't mean they
have to have
your body,


I am recently back from Beijing, such an interesting place, a poem waiting to be written... and all you hear everywhere is the song "Nine Million Bicycles" (in Beijing) by Katie Melua...and no, I don't think we can consider that a commitment/plead to green energy....:o)

Dennis Bray said...

Hanna you must be young. R B was a late 60's icon.

HZG "poet-in-residence"

Werner your quotes are ...
Well what can I say?
To what?
And it has been raining all day
Climate change?

Now I think I will work on "Stint Fishing in the Elbe"

By the way I liked Trout Fishing in MacMerica - in its time

Hannah said...


I am on a roll. This is the second time in a week that someone has commented on my apparent youth! The other time was Saturday when I sat next to a rather gorgeous man who couldn’t believe that somebody so young had read Bertrand Russell (who happens to be an all time favourite of mine :o) sadly I then proceeded to offend him by asking him if he knew Bukowski........

Btw speaking of climate poetry....this little pearl is written by some school children on St Lucia :o)

Conserving Energy
Save energy! Try with all your might
When going to bed, turn off the light
When not in use turn off the TV
Likewise the family PC
You’re not hungry don’t open the fridge’s door
Because energy is wasting yes more and more

Dennis Bray said...

Hi Hanna

Sounds very much like a skipping song from the days of old when kids were allowed outside without a false sense of fear from 49347663different things, including peanuts. Still, I suppose that is before your time too.

Regarding your reading habits and youth:

I could just of easily said
Perhaps you are poorly read
But I opted
For a different illusion

Back to the song

Maybe such songs will eventually enter the Wii sphere. Then computer game writers will be considered as having 'green' jobs.

Did you ever wonder how much energy it takes to run a climate simulation?

Hannah said...


LOL, however you are spelling my name incorrectly, it is “Hannah” not “Hanna” and as you no doubt know "A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude."

hvw said...

Sorry to interrupt the cozy poetry club, but Dennis Bray brought up an interesting question:

Did you ever wonder how much energy it takes to run a climate simulation?

It is no problem to come up with a related number. The super-super brand new NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center will draw about 5MW. Let's neglect for the moment that it is going to be used for all sorts of geosciences, climate simulations being only a small fraction of the applications.

The hard part, and maybe thinking about that is related to the context of a "post-normal" discussion, is to find a unit to express that number, something to compare with, that makes sense.

You can choose your unit to suit your agenda:

"NWSC will use about 63000 times the energy to keep a human alive."
"Yes, but this is only 0.0002 times the energy to keep the population of the US alive".
"And besides, its 0.000014 times the energy used by US military!!"

Obviously all these numbers are meaningless, you might as well stick with 5MW.

So what makes sense? Pielke, in the context of energy production equivalents to CO2 emission reduction goals uses nuclear power plants as a unit: A very good choice, I believe. So NWSC needs about 0.5 % of the power a recent nuclear power plant delivers. But I doubt that this unit makes sense here.

The best I can come up with is the comparison with other high-end strategic research facilities, particle physics come to mind. So NWSC will use on average about 4% of what CERN uses. Sounds not too bad.

Other suggestions?

Dennis Bray said...

Hi HannaH
- and not @ Hannah - that is like poking a finger at someone - a gentleman would never do that either, well at least they would never use @. Then again it might simply be a sign of not being so young.

About the missing H. Was it a simple spelling mistake, an intentional spelling mistake, the result of a defective keyboard or simply poetic license? This is the problem with interpretive work. We can only guess at the intention, and it is only a guess at best.

And hvw - thanks, a nice analysis. It would be nice if we could calculate the amount of GHGs produced in the full life cycle - ie tansportation of scientists to and from the keyboard, the utilites used to house the computer and scientists, the confernces to present the results, etc. And finally to include the production of climate science into the scenarios of climate change. Who knows. it might be a significant factor? A fun but somewhat meaningless exercise.

HannaH said...

About the missing H, so true and I really should stop shaving everybody with Occam's razor....:o) Also as Pinter would say: “So often, below the word spoken, is the thing known and unspoken” .
I note that both he and Larkin are now on twitter....who would have thought?

Dennis Bray said...

Hi Hannah

What's Twitter?

In answer to your question:


I don't know, I am just guessing here.

But we should keep in mind that although climate change / climate science could do with an infusion of humour, the mandate of KlimaZ is to focus on things climate and while Pinter's 'Betrayal' might in someways align with the sentiments of Warmists and Larkin's 'The Less Decieved' with the Skeptics, it is still far fetched for appearance on this blog. I think it is time to refocus.

Hannah said...

Hi Dennis,
You are being a true gentleman ;o)
Re twitter: and
Re refocus: problem being that I have followed climate blogs from time to time over 2-3 years (don’t see how you cannot be interested if you happen to be interested in the world in general) and it seems to me that even if I haven’t been around a particular blog for 3-6 months then the discussion is exactly the same as the last time I looked: “Warmist” and “Skeptics” shouting exactly the same things at each other with a few people in the middle screaming “epokhe!” so while I continue to take an interest in the subject, and indeed the discussion, I feel that I have very little to add (at least today :o) and why I rather enjoy Werner trying to approach things from another any event it is Friday and I tend to agree with Bukowski when it comes to saving the world so that is what I shall go and try to do before heading home early :o)
Have a lovely weekend,

Dennis Bray said...

Hi HannaH


What are these criptic things you are writing - hrnl/???

Next it will be about Face Diary or whatever it is called.

Are gentlemen allowed to be facetious?

As for blogs and Warmitsa vs Septics, steer clear of the extremes and take a peek at the middle. Things do change.

Hannah said...

Hi Dennis,

Only if ladies are allowed to be puckish? :o)

True, they do but equally good old Bertrand is probably right when he says that what a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest there you go...

I always stay clear of extremes :o)

Dennis Bray said...

Hi HannaH

Puckish - you are an ice hockey fan? Of course ladies can go to hockey games.

As for BR, I think that is a matter that cannot be discussed openly in the cyber sphere. The quote though iss quite appropriate for much of science

Werner Krauss said...

I call this a "smart grid" poem. Machines of loving grace - is this irony or not? Hard to tell.

Here on klimazwiebel, many try to keep anything social out of the climate debate, and they put their bets exclusively on technological solutions. But technological solutions have social effects, too. Just think of smart grids: will we be watched over by "machines of loving grace"? There will be no difference any more between nature and culture, and new ethical problems will come up. Is this a romantic vision or a nightmare? In any case, pretty clever poem written as a reaction to a residency in a technological institute.

Hannah said...

Hi Dennis,
...and this lady cannot resist a double entendre :o)
Oh, it doesn’t only apply to science. It is an interesting one. Take “wisdom” for instance. In quite a lot of instances it is really just us trying to apply our own experiences onto a new situation which we perceive as similar although that we are unlikely to know of all the facts and the facts are probably unique to that particular situation in any event and therefore not the same as the situation that we are relying on in order to dish out a bit of “wisdom” I am more and more inclined to believe that the only way to approach situations and people is to go down the Montaigne route and always start out by saying 'Que sçay-je?' :o) Reading “Thinking, fast and slow” some months only affirmed this bias towards...well, uncertainty :o)!
Werner, yes the poem certainly made me smile. I will see if I can think of an appropriate poem for you/Klimaziebel....but right now I got to work :o)

Dennis Bray said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hannah said...
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Hans von Storch said...

#20 and #21 - may I suggest to run a private conversation on a more private channel of communication?

Werner Krauss said...

(Pssst, I wonder if they still exchange sweet nothings, while only google or other machines of loving grace are watching?)

Dennis Bray said...

Hey Werner

This whole post was sweet nothings. The blog admistrator should have killed it at birth.

Hans von Storch said...

True, one may wonder if this thread has anything to do with "Klimaforschung und ihre Wechselwirkung mit der Politik" (climate science and its interactions with policymaking). On the other hand, why not having an experimental corner? - if someone finds it a too much off-topic, just disregard it, and let others have their "poetry club".

Werner Krauss said...

"kill it at birth" - I love this straightforward attitude!

Dennis Bray said...


You of all people should understand a metaphor.