Face-goggles with that?

Apple and Meta have recently released VR/AR goggles. My brain started to wonder. Picture this:

Over the next few years, Apple does what Apple does – it iterates on the Vision Pro to create an affordable, high-end device which we can all slap on our faces. Developers pile on to make sure that we can block out the real world entirely. We dive in and immerse ourselves in movies, events, games, memories, relationships, and surroundings that are just not actually there – they are Virtual. Fake. Generated. Is this a heavenly scenario? Or is it dystopian? Maybe it’s because of the AI drama playing out in real time, but I tend to lean towards dystopian.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m desperate to try the goggles. I love tech. Having a 100 inch tv in your house but not actually in your house? So cool.

BUT, I am also aware that the most fun I have had in my life has happened in the analogue world. Family. Friends. Sport. Music. These cannot be replaced online and I don’t think these goggles will change that fact.

Or maybe they will – but I hope not. We’ll find out sooner or later I guess.

Playing with DALL-E

Below are my recent efforts playing around with OpenAI’s DALL-E art generator. I have included the picture, and below each picture is the prompt I used to generate the art. Happy Friday, Chimps.

A mouse’s eye view of an eagle swooping down to grab him, in the style of Picasso

street art stencil picture of a chicken playing badminton

photo of a sculpture of a grizzly dwarf forging a sword

impressionist painting of a perfectly symmetrical orange tree on top of a hill

mice playing poker cyberpunk digital art

a painting of the head of a donkey in the style of martin aveling

Contracts and Covenants

What in your life is governed by a contract? and furthermore, what in your life is governed by a covenant?

Are you buying pencils? Are you asking someone out on a date? Are you looking after someone else’s children? Are you looking after your own children? Are you lending a company some money? Whatever the activity is, there is likely some sort of agreement at play. Formal or informal. Conditional or unconditional.

I work in the world of contracts. Procurement is quite a dry subject because it is so caught up in process, detail and legal paperwork. But the truth is that an effective contract solidifies a business relationship. It serves to protect both the buyer and seller. It is often about risk mitigation more than anything else. A good contract is a reference for all sorts of details in a relationship which might be the source of contention such as the quality of the materials to be used, the parameters of the services to be provided, delivery times, fees, and costs. Fundamental to this form of agreement is the concept of negotiation. The details in a good contract are negotiated and work for both parties. This means it is conditional, optional and it is temporary.

A covenant in the ancient and religious sense is different. Each covenant established the basis of a relationship with God, conditions for that relationship, promises, and consequences if promises are broken. However, a covenant is more of an oath invoked, rather than an agreement negotiated. There are no conditions for the covenant. A covenant once invoked cannot be broken. There is no end to a covenant. Whatever one party does, you have to also do 100%. One of the most familiar examples of a covenant for us today is marriage. Til death do us part. The motivation is love rather than money or risk management.

Interesting to me is the interplay between the covenant of marriage and the many contracts of marriage. They work in parallel with each other. In my marriage, it helps me to think of them as working concurrently, but at different levels. The covenant of marriage is endless and no matter the condition. In sickness and in health. It is looking far, deep, and wide at the commitment. It is a permanent and spiritual oath that gives comfort and joy. The covenant will get me through the unforeseen risks that I cannot manage.

The contracts and negotiations of marriage, in contrast, will get me through the risks I can foresee. They are for the day to day commercial, operational, functional and emotional aspects of marriage which will turn into chaos if there is no attention paid on a regular basis.

Constant negotiation for the contracts. Deep comfort and faith in the covenant. A good marriage likely involves constant negotiation, even though the underlying covenant is non-negotiable. The idea of contracts and a covenant being both present in marriage is beautiful. To rely only on one and ignore the other is probably a mistake.

Happy Thursday, Chimps.

Dickens? Dickens!

I am trying to get back into the more arty side of things – this is a constant battle with the busy schedule we have at home. At the same time it is fundamental part of me – I love art and reading and writing…and so, a blog post and Dickens!

I have started to assemble one of those laughable bookshelves, full of pretentious and important novels I intend to read someday. Dostoyevsky has a plastic cover tightly wrapped around, sealing the pages. I am intimidated by his name and I am claiming to be unable to open the plastic cover, so I likely won’t touch him for ages. But, Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” is open and ready to be read immediately. I ran out of excuses today, and so I just started (at the beginning) and am thankful that the novel includes liner notes for every chapter – Context is good.

Wish me luck… and remember to always exclaim “What the Dickens!” whenever possible.

Tech and enjoyment

Some of the funnest tech I own is also some of the oldest. An Onkyo amplifier, stereo speakers, an old TV and cable box/decoder. I have owned this stuff for ages and have set it up and broken it down multiple times as my family has grown. I feel like the master and the AV tech is my slave. Feeling in control is fun.

What I don’t like is when the tech is acting without my input and out of my control. That’s frustrating and sometimes downright scary. I challenge you to play ping pong with your cell phone in the same room for a few days in a row – and then look at what Facebook ads pop up. The tech is creepy and it is listening to you with a life of its own. (There’s a movie script in there somewhere?….horror movie….I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that….where was I).

I can set up, tune and sync all the Audio Visual gear in our house multiple times and it never gets boring for me. Part of this satisfaction is the syncing up of a ‘perfect’ solution given the constraints of my tech. Constraints are good. I have used the same components in many different scenarios, always trying to make it sound that little bit better.

Part of it is my affinity for anything audio. The sweet sound of my bookshelf speakers more than makes up for the hours of labour.

Anyways, just a small thought for the Saturday – don’t automatically get rid of that old tech. Joy can be found in mastering something rather than relying on the new.

Let’s talk about ***

How do we talk about God? My parents and friends never bothered. One of my early memories is watching a scene in a movie where a witness in court swears to tell “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God”. I remember thinking to myself, well that’s not going to bind him to anything. He can lie his ass off and have no real consequences if God is all that is holding him accountable.

The culture in which I grew up was extremely sheltered in many ways. At a macro level, times were good. The 1990’s saw the ‘end of History’ declared as the Soviet Union lost its marbles. Capitalism and technology was sorting the Western World out, and there was to be an inevitable march with Democracy across the globe. The good news was bound to spread fast. Democracy, Capitalism and Science had won. God was dead and we killed him.

Closer to home, my family never needed to run, to fight, to fear, or to search for much meaning. We had all that we needed right in front of us. Our schools were good. We thrived at academia and sport. We had money, friends and community. The general idea for success was to just keep doing what we did. The only real danger was corruption in developing nations, the ozone layer, conservation or climate change. Humans were sorted in the most important parts of the world, it seemed, so let’s educate the rest and look out for the environment.

That old equation seems a little naive and simplistic. Life is heavier than I thought. Yes, I was young in the 90’s and 00’s so I clearly missed some of the complexity going on around me. But now we are all connected to the internet and we’re not all following the same script. Instead we’re hiding behind touch screens. It feels like a time when belief in a higher power would be helpful. But what do I know? I’m just a chimp with cans.

Friday concerns

A cloud is building on the horizon. One of those dark, steel-coloured clouds, it flashes every now and then with lightening. There is an ominous, glowing red base where the cloud meets the earth, as if Sauron and his army may be ready to strike. I am nervous about my children and their relationship with technology. Tech is the one ring to rule them all.

Back when I was a child, life was simple in the Shire and new tech was exciting but not pervasive. Think of the kids in Stranger Things but without the Upside Down – that’s how it feels in my memories. Our favourite possessions were bicycles and Walkmans. The pace of introducing new technology was slow here in Africa. Just as there was no TV in my mother’s childhood, there was no internet in mine.

Flash forward thirty years and i have to manage my daughters, and their relationship to the internet. That strange magic which is able to make them disappear. We are relatively conservative with our children in this house. I feel like I have seen too much to let my girls loose on an iPad or on YouTube. But I know the dam will burst and there is such a thing as sheltering them too much.

The answer to all of this, I believe, is well described by Tolkien and exemplified by my excellent wife. Stay productive, and know that your tasks make a difference in at least one life: Your own. Just as carrying the Ring throughout Middle Earth is no easy task, managing the internet in your own life is hard. In fact, Frodo almost succumbs to its powers more than once. Friends and family see us through and give perspective to our online life. Sam, is always there to get Frodo back on the right path.

Happy Friday, chimps.

Music on this Monday

I’ve added three tracks to the chimpwithcans playlist: Link

Genesis, “Turn it on” – a track which rocks and which I wish I played back in the day because of the drums. And those crazy skipped beats! Oh man I gets me this one.

The Cars, “I’m not the one” which has a very modern synth and electronic beat for such an old track. Mellow and excellent!

Finally I have included the new one from Arcade Fire, “Unconditional II (Race and Religion)” because it’s a new Arcade Fire track and it includes Peter Gabriel!

I took three old tracks off too. Out with the old and in with the new!

Happy Monday, chimps!


Friends came over for coffee today. Great family friends of my parents, they have known me since I was a child. I grew up with their children. They come from Kenya and after some text messages to arrange things, they suddenly appear at my house. Appearing not only out of a taxi, but out of my past, out of my memories. They make me smile as soon as I see them.

Nostalgia runs deep with visits like this. Talking with them of family, Kenya, the way things are versus the way they used to be – it’s a little like watching a beloved film for the umpteenth time. I often feel that I know what we are going to say before we say it. I am comforted by the familiarity of everything – their accents, their faces, their memories.

Pride sweeps through me too. I show them my new house, I introduce my children. I give them coffee and pastries. I describe my life to them. I hope they see progress even in the face of Africa, the pandemic, gruelling life. Their compliments are kind. I am most proud of my family.

Fear hits me when they leave. I feel it – a jolt in my stomach and at the base of my skull – and I hope I can see them again soon. I am so far away from the people of my childhood. Age is catching us all.

Thank God for my chaotic family. After a beautiful visit is over, my children and my wife bring me right back to the present. I have so many things to do. Til we meet again.

Happy Thursday, chimps.