Vasilios Theodorakis – An Online Author is a digital repository of all my written work (in text and podcast formats)…

August 24, 2009

Formal Worship and Nature

Filed under: Religion And Theology — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 8:35 pm

A few years ago, a couple of my nieces decided to put on a “utility play” as a Christmas presentation for all the relatives. Even though the girls came from a family that didn’t follow any formal religion, they were still aware of the basic Christmas story (through media and friends) and went about trying to recreate it by themselves. The term “nativity” was unfamiliar to them so they came up with a word that sounded similar i.e. “utility”. In spite of their parent’s best efforts, these children sought to participate in some level of religious ritual even if it meant making it up from scratch.

What I find interesting, is that I’ve seen other children raised in families with no formal ritual or religion, do a very similar thing. In all instances they try to re-enact stories associated with local beliefs, which they’ve heard about through members of their community. For example, a friend of mine whose people were traditionally Buddhist has raised his kids without any reference to religion; yet, these kids know of the Budda story (through other friends) and try to make up plays about him.

This may of course be about child conformity, but I believe the innate tendency of children to gravitate towards religion is about humanity having a built in need for ritual and spirituality. In its absence, we will always substitute something in its place – just look at how sport is followed and worshiped in secular countries like Australia. The bottom line is we are animals, born on a planet with physical cycles and we have always been tied into these cycles – its hardwired into our genetic make-up. When we progressively removed ourselves from those cycles, that is, by developing sedentary lifestyles, our internal clocks did not suddenly abandon our need for routine or ritual even though we had cut close ties with the environment. In fact, the further we removed ourselves from the cycles of the earth the more dependent we became on ritual in order to “feel ok and normal”. Millions of years of evolution couldn’t be left behind by our genome, just because culturally/socially we had stopped paying attention to the seasons and acknowledging the sun’s rising and the moon’s setting, etc. The simple answer to the good atheist’s question of “Why do we need religion?” is that we need routine and ritual to feel complete and religion is still the best fulfiller of this need.

Built on top of this psychosocial fact is the metaphysics of the situation. Anyone who has ever gone camping and watched the planet come to life in the mornings, or watched pets in captivity when the sun reappears, knows that all sentient creatures turn to the sun and welcome another day of existence with gratitude. So much so, that I swear you can almost hear them thanking existence/their Maker/their Source for their lives. I’ve often thought that the places of worship we build can never match the living cathedral of the planet, where all creatures are allowed to witness the sun breaking over the horizon, are allowed to stand side by side (both friend and foe) and offer up their gratitude in their own way – even if that “survival of the fittest ceasefire” only lasts for a moment of each morning. In this cathedral, this daily event (which inadvertently sanctifies everything that participates) is the right of all life, not just Homo sapiens. The associated tragedy of our settled lifestyles is that many creatures in captivity often can’t see the sun to fulfil our most prehistoric of all biological rituals.

We may therefore have created formal worship (for ourselves) because it completes us in the absence of standing alongside our planet’s brethren as the sun re-appears each morning. In addition to this explanation of formal religion, many religious texts (written by people of insight) have described how non-corporeal beings in the invisible world also hold elaborate liturgies in praise of their Source. e.g. With Christianity, there are many instances in the Bible that describe how the Seraphim and Cherubim have always held formal worship before God. Combine all these physical and metaphysical theories together and it’s not hard to see why we feel most at home when we have something to look up to and thank – whether it be the sun, God or a sporting team.

A thousand years from now, I have no doubt that my nieces’ contemporaries will construct other religious plays that pay homage to existence, God and the meaning of life. Even if no adults are left who believe in anything other than themselves, children will know what to do. I believe our young will continue to hear the call of the sun (or is that the Son?), which is hardwired into our genome, until it is beaten out of them by non-believing adults. It is only the adults who have forgotten to stand beside the Pelicans and be grateful for the fresh air that fills their lungs, the sun that warms their skin and the light that illuminates their eyes. In every era, a few of our children take this instinctive insight into adulthood. Those who do will always be our seers and guides in life.

Addendum For Orthodox Christians: Nature And Christ?

As a species, the more we moved away from the natural world and into the artificial world of societies and cities, the more important formal ritual became. Our internal body clocks which had built in memories for cycles, seem to have happily accepted the replacement of routine (like work) and ritual (like religion) to make up for being taken out of the planet’s normal patterns.

For good Christians, Christ inadvertently had to show up in order to remind us of what we had once known instinctively but had forgotten. Knowing us better than we knew ourselves, he had to re-educate us in regards to His presence, which had existed prior to the creation of the universe, and continued to exist as a conduit to God even though we had forgotten about the conduit and had forgotten about Him. He even had to become one of us and walk among us, for we had become so fixated on our own species, that we were incapable of understanding a connection with the Source other than through our own constructs and through one of our own kind. Living away from nature for so long, we couldn’t see what all the other creatures could still see naturally. Christ’s visit was to primarily restore us to our natural state.

Ironically, some groups of people – especially the nomads, still had a sense of the Source and the connections to the Source through the planet’s natural cycles. Colonial Christian missionaries however, spent hundreds of years prying nomadic peoples away from their lifestyles and unbroken connections with the earth, only to settle them in towns and offer them religion to replace the ritual they lost through settlement. This type of social engineering was not only discriminatory and stupid but also spiritually wasteful! It was analogous to having access to a meal but then throwing the meal into the bin and giving the restaurant’s patrons exactly the same meal (only this time arranged differently on the plate). In addition to this, the restaurateurs (i.e. missionaries) went on to claim that the patrons (i.e. nomadic peoples) never had any food in the first place. Their final strategy was of course to indoctrinate all survivors that this was always the case.

If these people had been left alone, their separation from the Source would never have occurred. Our history is unfortunately riddled with examples of how colonialists “had” to save those that did not need saving, “had” to offer them a connection/communion with God when it was already there and “had” to force them out of Eden as the colonialist’s ancestors had been forced out of Eden thousands of years earlier. How dare someone continue to exist within Eden, when everyone else had inadvertently thrown themselves out in search of bigger and better things than the earth could provide naturally! Ah… the notion of greed – civilisation’s finest friend and first ever catalyst is unfortunately still with us.

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2009

August 20, 2009

The Havoc They Reeked!

Filed under: Ungrouped — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 1:35 pm

Nothing left;
Just an old man in a blue T-shirt.
Bike parked near the nets,
He taps at pollution filled oysters,
Hoping for a winning,
And done in remembrance,
Of the bountiful nutrition,
That the land
Had once bestowed on his people.

Never again,
Will it be as the ancestors knew.
For it was taken;
And in the shortest amount of time,
Crushed by the other.
Annihilating the balance
That once ruled these waters.

Everything is right;
As far as the mainstreamers
Are concerned.
But all that remains
Is the blue,
Filling up my mind,
And drowning out my heart;
Stretching ahead,
For as far as I can see.

Dedication (For Minjerribah)
Audio Version (To Be Added)
Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2009

August 18, 2009

The Apple Multi-touch Tablet – A Mouse Replacement?

Filed under: Tech Predictions — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 2:43 pm

OK, OK – why, might you ask, am I now getting into technology predictions? Very simple really, my wife continues to point out how I have this uncanny ability to predict what companies like Apple are about to release. She thinks I should be sharing these predictions with people other than herself – partially because it bores her to death, and partially because it may be of more interest to other technophiles. :)

Contrary to what she has come to believe, there is nothing psychic about my predictions of new gadgets. It’s all about reading widely in the tech industry (which I have to do for my web work), and extrapolating product lines. Most companies develop their products on the basis of what they want the customer to “believe” they need. Their PR gurus then go to work on convincing the customer that they “have to have” the item. There are lots of strategies for doing this, especially with today’s hi-tech marketing and advanced industrial design. In this way, tech companies often groom their customers for a new product through incremental technological changes. It’s very rare for businesses to randomly dump a new type of device on the market without preparing the commercial environment for the introduction of the product. In instances where they do dump a new category of device on an unsuspecting public, it almost always fails. Just look at the Apple Newton – a great device, but no one knew what to do with it on a day to day basis. In addition to this, companies inadvertently leave behind a trail of clues that outline the new product’s purpose, especially when they begin modifying related technology to work with the new product.

So far, I’ve successfully predicted that if Steve Jobs ever returned to Apple, Inc. he would simplify it’s product line and reintroduce an all in one Mac. Everyone made fun of me at the time, but this of course did occur when the iMac was introduced in 1998. I also predicted that Apple would create a commercial and legal ecosystem for music downloads and come up with a “useful” MP3 player when I realised they had converted the SoundJam MP program into iTunes 1 (in early 2001). The only thing I didn’t get right was just how intuitive and user friendly the iPod’s interface was going to be.

So what’s my latest prediction? The Apple Multi-touch Tablet of course, but not in the way that all the tech sites are describing. I predict that Apple will attempt a paradigm shift in the way we interact with our personal computers and access data wirelessly. The interesting thing about the shift is that all the components for it are already in place – touch screens, small footprint operating systems, cutback keyboards, wireless networks in homes and offices. So many of the components are in place, that the device should fit into most people’s lives without its introduction being a surprise at all. Even so, it will be a paradigm shift away from what we’ve grown accustomed to i.e. using a mouse as a pointing device.

So this is my prediction, as we move towards our computer desktops actually becoming our physical table’s desktop, we’ll need medium sized multi-touch surfaces to get used to the idea of the computer disappearing all together. I believe that Apple and other computer companies are slowly moving in this direction, but the hardware change they’re pursuing won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, people need to get used to touch screens and what better way to do this than by replacing the mouse (and mouse-pad) with a touch screen device. Let’s call the device an “iPad” in recognition of track-pads already on notebooks. After all, laptop owners have been using track-pads instead of mice for years now. What Apple probably wants us to do, is start using desktop PCs that are made up of a small keyboard, screen and small multi-touch device – no mouse. If this wasn’t the case, why did Steve Jobs finally allow the mouse to become multi-button based? Anyone who’s followed how obsessed he was with single button devices, knows he wouldn’t have let go of the single button mouse, unless he was absolutely sure the mouse was already on its way out! Initially when purchasing such computers online, I expect that you’ll be able to choose between a mouse and a multi-touch tablet (iPad?). Because the tablet will be so expensive on release, only the die-hard Mac-Heads will choose this sort of computer bundle.

I’m guessing that while such a device is connected to a desktop machine, its touch pad app, numeric keyboard app or desktop screen duplication app would link its iPhone OS to the main machine’s Mac or Windows OS. While working as a touch pad, the screen would probably go blank in order to conserve battery power and not distract the user from using it as a touch pad.

In addition to the tablet doubling up as a mouse (numeric keypad, mirror or extended screen, etc.), the consumer would be able to disconnect the tablet from the desktop machine and move around a house outfitted with a wi-fi network for general emailing, web browsing, tv streaming etc, just like other iPhone OS devices. They’d only reconnect the device to the desktop machine in order to carry out computing tasks that are too cumbersome to do on a tablet.

The beauty of this paradigm shift is that Apple gets rid of the mouse, annihilates the netbook market and monopolises the touch screen industry in one go. It also gets people ready for the day when the computer is the desktop and the desktop is the computer – no keyboard, no mouse, no screen – just the flat surface of the desk. (The flat surface preparation has already began with Apple’s introduction of low profile keyboards.) When looking at the current iMacs and their keyboards, its not hard to image how these machines could first evolve into drafting board devices and then finally into completely flat digital desktop surfaces that cover a normal table.

How did I come up with this prediction? “Elementary my dear Watson!” I collated the following tech facts and made a deduction. The facts include:

  1. Reports of Chinese manufactures dropping the use of mice and adding track pads to standard keyboards i.e. one device instead of two. Some Chinese tech companies are notorious for stealing concepts before they get released. i.e. In this case the idea of getting rid of the mouse.
  2. Common knowledge that Apple has been working on a tablet for a long time.
  3. Apple already has an optimised OS i.e. iPhone OS for multitouch screens. It doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, and this OS finally does everything a micro OS needs to do, like cut, copy and paste.
  4. Apple is now bundling keyboards without numeric keypads so a different device can finally slot in next to the keyboard. This also means that if the device was touch screen based, it could have customised programs that simulate a numeric keypad as well as do the job of the mouse.
  5. The Mac OS Finder now uses “Cover Flow”. i.e. one wouldn’t start building this into their OS unless one intended all their computers to use some form of touch screen to scroll from side to side.
  6. Making upright touch screens, as Acer and HP have done are impractical and non ergonomic – they need to lie flat. Anyone who has used these screens for more than a few minutes ends up with instant RSI.
  7. Apple likes to shake up markets – as it did with personal computers, MP3 players and smart phones. It’s been tracking the netbook market for sometime and is really the only company currently able to reinvent these devices as something that “everyone” will need.
  8. Apple has tried the idea of a portable device docking into a desktop workstation a number of times. For example the Powerbook Duo and Duo Dock. Unfortunately, the concept never caught on even though the equipment was very robust. In addition to the dock’s commercial failure, a multi-touch tablet would effectively waste or under utilise its touch screen, especially if a docking mechanism swallowed it up. To highlight this point please see’s suggested picture of an Apple Tablet Dock.

I therefore believe Apple’s Multi-touch Tablet will be a stand alone device which doubles as a peripheral device. It will probably continue as such, until it becomes as ubiquitous as the mouse and is bundled with every computer. This prediction could be completely wrong, but I’d be very surprised if Apple didn’t do something along these lines. Too many things in the tech industry are currently pointing towards just such a development.

Post Update: 29/08/2009
There are now numerous rumors circulating that support my theory that the Apple Tablet will be a replacement for the mouse. Both are currently on the site i.e.
A –
which talks about the tablet being made of aluminium just like the keyboard and thus complimenting the keyboard’s design.
B –
which shows a picture of a tablet made out of aluminium just like the keyboard, and again complimenting the keyboard’s design when positioned alongside the keyboard.

An additional point I’d like to make is that the tablet will be able to go both ways, act as a mouse and have a keyboard plugged in to it in order to do more serious typing.

Post Update: 08/09/2009
I’ve just discovered further circumstantial evidence to support my theory.
Please read:

I didn’t realise that Apple had purchased FingerWorks in 2005. I believe almost all of the functionality that existed in FingerWorks products is about to appear in the yet to be released Apple Multi-touch Tablet. Its interesting to note, that I came up with my prediction independent of any knowledge of FingerWorks existence, its products and its purchase by Apple, Inc.

Post Update: 18/09/2009
An additional thought – now that Mac OS X has Grand Central Dispatch, a desktop setup which included a desktop machine and a tablet could make use of the tablet’s chip-set to increase the processing power of the desktop machine. This would occur when the tablet was being used as a multi-touch interface for the desktop machine and the chips were able to share the workload wirelessly etc. If Apple implemented this, they would be a whole generation ahead of the competition as all Apple’s machines would be made up of multiple computers that could combine their processing power.

Post Update: 20/01/2010
Since I first wrote this piece and posted the updates, a series of things has happened which I still think point towards the Apple Tablet being a paradigm shift away from using the mouse.

Firstly, Apple brought out the magic mouse which has a touch sensitive surface and is acting as an excellent bridge between the era of the mouse and the era of the tablet.

Secondly, Apple began buying up all sorts of trademarks like magic slate and ipad. To me, this points towards the idea that they want the product identified as a stand alone touch pad – as opposed to the built in touch pads on laptops.

Thirdly, after leaving running since Apple bought the company, the site was finally pulled on the 11/01/2010. Reason for this – they obviously don’t want the FingerWorks multitouch peripheral interfaces being compared with the multitouch tablet as a peripheral interface.

So am I right or am I wrong? According to almost everyone the Tablet and its launch is scheduled for the 27th January – just over a week away. If I am right that will give me a “hat trick” in terms of Apple predictions and force all the rumors sites to eat humble pie – I should point out, that not one of them has linked to this article. Alternatively, if I’m wrong then my track record will be ruined and I of course will be the one eating humble pie!

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2009, 2010

August 13, 2009

The Exam Syndrome

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:15 pm

The older I get, the more I’ve come to believe that excelling (and defeating one’s competition) is for the young at heart, that is, for those who still think they’re immortal, bullet proof and have all the time in the world. Its of course a natural part of youth and is probably one of the reasons why our kind has been so successful at subjugating all other forms of life and controlling the rest of our planet.

For me though, existence is more about survival and quality of life. I’m often told, “one approach, is no better or worse than the other – they’re just different.” Needless to say, this affirmation is that of liberalist fanatics.

For better or worse, people (like me) have trouble maintaining the frivolity and excitement of achievement, especially after staring death in the face as often as we have. Most recently, I’ve decided to put the last vestiges of my own need for success and competition to rest. Its time to get on with what I have to do and not obsess over what I’d like to do.

Ironically, this doesn’t translate into not doing well at what I have to do; it’s more about, not being concerned as to what others think and not needing to compete within our social system. Still, taking this path has relegated me to the leper’s corner in more ways than one. It’s also very dubious as to whether this approach is a good long term choice for my wife and I, in regards to our financial well being. :)

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2009

August 12, 2009

Did You Ever Exist?

Filed under: Ungrouped — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 6:00 pm

Face tarnished – framed in the midst of flaking silver oxide.
Long drawn, is the line
Between us and those directed dead eyes.
Forever forgotten,
Your name remains unknown
By all, but those who stood there by your side.
And now, paper death
Is made real by vacant visions,
Drinking in all that appeared
Before the camera.
Mesmerised, we look again,
But nothing can dispel the absence of life,
In those blackened sockets.
You are the thespian arbitrator
Of another time’s reality.
There, you dictated what was real
And what wasn’t,
But did you ever exist as flesh and blood?

If not for the crumbling paper
Now held in my own aging hand,
Our young would see you as vectors
Drawn from silicone etching.

Audio Version (To Be Added)
Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

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