All posts for the month April, 2005

Been watching a TV documentory about Australian management practices (can’t find a link for now … ) and was struck by a quote from a Harvard guy, that echoed with the one I keep using from John Z DeLorean – “Committees of moral men make immoral decisions.”

The quote yesterday was “So many board members seem to lose their ethics in the car on the drive to the office.” The game in the boardroom is about pushing the envelope of the legally possible, not “what is right”. Quite different from their domestic behaviour with family and friends, most of them go to church (sic). Partly it was seen as a detachment issue – reaching the boardroom as a retirment reward, rather than a job affecting people – but whatever the mechanism, the behaviour is real enough.

Saw the H2G2 film this evening. Remarkably good; story, effects and the point – all pretty true to the first book, as true as any screenplay adaptation. The John Malkovich character the only superfluous addition. The planetary construction scene is indeed impressive. Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast steals the show. The whole presentation seemed quite literal, new audiences should have no trouble following the narrative, powerful stuff.

(And Sunderland are Champions. Whoohoo … More importantly The Royals get the edge over Hammers for that final play-off place. So close this season, even the one extra goal conceded by Hammers drops them behind the Royals. Unlucky Mr Pardew. Enjoy the party Mr McCarthy.)

One of the claimed opportunities for quantum information processing is highly secure private key encryption – here demonstrated in real time encryption and decryption of each frame of streamed video.

I see from the linked stories, the other more interesting aspect, non-local entanglement over real world distances also demonstrated (1mm and 600m mentioned). The encryption aspect is really just a result of the power, the processing density, of Qubits, but the non-locality raises all sorts of causality bypasses in real world physics, and communication channels behind the electromagnetic “ether”. Hence my interest in basic questions of what is information anyway !!!

(And Stevie Elliott puts Sunderland ahead of the Hammers … Yeehah, …. 1:2 with 2 minutes to go. Hammers biggest crowd of the season, 33,400 leaving in droves, 90 minutes up, 4 minutes added.)

Almost a week since I posted. Too many domestic (relocation to Australia) chores. Been active philosophically on MoQ-Discuss e-mail forum, trying to raise the bar as far as scientific explanation being more than “scientific method”.

Since finishing David Deutsch and “The Rule of Four” I’ve been reading “The Two and a Half Pillars of Wisdom – The Von Igelfeld Trilogy” by Alexander McCall Smith (Author of “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”). Amusing, if a little stereotypically British about stereotypical Germans “A blend of the cultivated pomposity of Frasier Crane and the hapless gaucherie of Inspector Clouseau.” says the cover blurb aptly. As I say, amusing with “philological” intellectual references. Flood of reminiscences as the central character is asked what he would most like to do in life that he has not yet had the opportunity to do “Study and work in Cambridge” he says, and for all the reasons I miss the place. Oh well.

Of course it was the title caught my eye. What with WWI in focus with the ANZACs suffering at Gallipoli against the Turks and other disasters like Townshend surrendering to the Turks at Al Kut in Iraq – T. E. LawrenceSeven Pillars of Wisdom” was clearly just below the surface.

Anyway, whilst waiting for the following to arrive …

* Dennett – “Freedom Evolves”
* Dennett – “Consciousness Explained”
* Dennett – “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”
* Hofstadter and Dennett – “Mind’s I”
* Hofstadter – “Godel, Esher, Bach”
* Chalmers – “The Conscious Mind – In Search of a Fundamental Theory”
* Blackmore – “Consciousness, An Introduction” (to replace one I gave away)
* Neville – “Magic Circle” (suggested by Georganna in response to hype around The Rule of Four and The Da Vinci Code) – out of print, must find a used copy.

… prompted by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, I picked up Cervantes’ Don Quixote (The Tobias Smollett translation). Something I probably ought to have read already.

(Almost forgot – what a great coillection of book links from Rage Boy / Entropy Gradient Reversal.)

No one I spoke to in the club of the above name (in Northbridge, Perth) seemed to have heard of George Thorogood and his “Bad to the Bone”. Still … the place has live blues bands 5 nights a week, and tonight had two acts on. The venue has only recently organised itself to that format, so management and staff were keen to please, and attract an audience for future nights.

The first duo, rhythm / vocal and lead semi-acoustic covered a wide range of bluesy-country-folk-rock. Apart from the Kalgoorlie to Port Hedland “road” blues number, the two that stuck were covers of Dylan’s “Times They Are a-Changin'” and Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” – both in the vocalist’s own style, rather than a karaoke imitation style. Brave for such well -known classics.

The next act were a 4-piece (2x Strat) blues rock outfit called “The Gators”. A tight unit, but quickly apparent that they were the latest vehicle for guitarist Paul Felton and vocalist Pete – it was the rhythm sections first gig together. Says something about the quality of both that they were tight throughout. Paul impressed on The Animal’s “Misunderstood” and on Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. “Misunderstood” introducing Paul’s understated right hand pinched harmonics, and the latter giving free reign to his solo virtuosity. So simple, but so effective.

I’ve seen a few rock guitarists in my time, Joe Satriani most recently, Slim Hamster and Bill Puplett most memorably, but Paul is up there in the top handful. Worth catching.

[Post Note : This was my first visit of many to BTTB, and the first “duo” mentioned were Rick Steele (see many later references) Became very friendly with Rick, life and soul of Perth Blues Club still (in 2012) even though BTTB has long changed its format. Saw him most recently in 2011, though don’t appear to have blogged.)]

April 25th, next Monday, is ANZAC Day here in Australia, commemoration of war dead, the particular date being that of the ill-fated landings at Gallipoli in 1915.

I can’t think of Gallipoli without thinking of Shane McGowan’s baleful rendition of “And The Band Played Walzing Matilda” with The Pogues. [Post Note … although the Pogues version is widely known, it was originally by Eric Bogle, and popularized by Lean Clancy and Ronnie Drew before the Pogues version.]

[The event remains a particularly poignant defining moment for the then very young nations of Australia and New Zealand, who “came of age” in the ANZAC involvement in the great war, starting at Gallipoli and ending in France, and in doing so discovered their stiff-upper-lipped colonial-ex-masters couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, even if ironically, they did organise an evacuation without a single fatality. As well as defining Australia and New Zealand, the event also effectively created Turkey out of the Ottoman empire, as hero Mustafa Kemal went on to become Attaturk – Father of the Turks. Churchill resigned over Gallipoli, not simply taking the rap as non-executive head of the operation, but also for his original pre-war blunder in confiscating two British-built Turkish warhips. As well as the 9000 Anzac dead, 86,000 Turks, 9,000 French and 21,000 British, including many Irish home-rulers at the time, all perished. Not to mention the countless maimed, and the ongoing historical repercussions, as the song reminds us.]

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over

Then in nineteen-fifteen my country said son
It’s time to stop rambling ’cause there’s work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off for Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
When the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter

Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
And we buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then it started all over again

Now those who were living did their best to survive
In that mad world of death, blood and fire
And for seven long weeks I kept myself alive
While the corpses around me piled higher

Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I awoke in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, Christ I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying

And no more I’ll go waltzing Matilda
To the green bushes so far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded and maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The legless, the armless, the blind and insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla

And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
And they turned their faces away

And now every April I sit on my perch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving the dreams of past glory

I see the old men, all twisted and torn
The forgotten heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask me, what are they marching for ?
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me ?

I’ve just spent several hours downloading software and registering with Real, Napster and MusicMatch on-line MusicStores as pointed to my MP3.COM so I can legally buy and download music tracks (rather than whole physical CD’s from the likes of good old Amazon). Each let me download, install, register and log-in before advising that their service is only available to US residents.

WTF (iTunes next I guess.)

Or back to BigPond – which seemed to work initially, but the UI had no buttons to get past “Checkout” and seems to have charged me for tracks I’ve found no way to download. Grrrr. (Now seems I’ve paid 3 times for one track and failed to download every time.)

Omigod, even iTunes doesn’t work in Oz.

OK, so where else can I buy music on-line in Oz.

NineMSN and HMV all utter cr*p too. Very limited range of material available for download. Oh well off to the real (physical) record store it seems.

Well, actually, they already have …

After the “Poetics” (in The Name of the Rose) you had the “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili” (in The Rule of Four, Princeton), now read the “Oxyrhynchus Papyri” (in real-life, Oxford University) – new technology allows reading of long lost classics – Sophocles, Euripides to name a few … [Independent Online] [via Robot Wisdom]

Neat idea from ZipCar (Can you tell I’ve been catching up reading the BBC site this morning ?)

It’s just car-hire with technology used to increase time and space slicing efficiency – “public” (subscription) transport in on-demand packets – I’m sure we’ve all had the idea. The really neat part is the idea that “For every ZipCar on the road, 20 private cars become redundant”.

Will the motor industry lobby ever let this work ? Go ZipCar.

Japanese official denial of Nanking as a significant tragedy, continues to justify anti-Japanese sentiment (and action) in (Mainland, People’s Republic of) China. I’ve just come back from a trip through Chiang Kai-Shek airport in (Taiwan, island Republic of) China.

Can’t help thinking it is significant that the occupants of Nanking, Chiang Kai-Shek’s “nationalist” army and Kuomintang governement, were then engaged in a civil war power struggle with the Communist Chinese before fleeing Nanking to Taiwan. Dare I suggest that Japan’s (normaly honorable) attitude to their enemy in Nanking might have been colluded, encouraged, at least tolerated by the communists at the time.

For example, I find it odd that the strong anti-Japanese sentinment is “on the winning side” in PRC, whereas the concern with this period of history remains strong in ROC. Does the PRC sentiment over Nanking, really reflect a popular PRC sympathy for the ROC, despite ongoing official cold relations – reaching sabre-rattling invasion threats as recently as only a couple of weeks ago ? Had me nervous about the trip to Taipei CKS in fact.

Does the suggestion of PRC official tolerance of the popular PRC protests suggest the PRC government is itself emotionally ready to resolve this triangle of guilt, or at least exposing that it sees itself on the horns of a dilemma ?

(Must look out for official and unofficial ROC attitudes to this PRC / Japan situation.)

Sadly ironic to note in the story [via BBC] of the recently-convicted-for-life Algerian Al-Qaeda police-murderer and ricin-terrorist that, on the one hand, the police chief is playing down religion (99.99% of moslems are law abiding, etc), whilst the bereaved family is playing up it’s christian faith.

Football that is. Yeovil fan just walked up to me here in Changi, keen to check the Southend result from last night – they lost to Orient.

That means if Yeovil beat Kiddy today, they’re in champions spot apparently. Interestingly Reading were interested in the defeat of Blades by Derby last night – now we only need Millwall to beat Hammers for our play off place to be entirely in our own hands.

The connection ? Johnny Mullins of Reading is on loan at Kiddy and being influential according to manager Watkiss, who wants to extend the loan. (Though he’s an injury doubt for this particular game.)

Football outside the premiership really is interesting these days – so many outcomes dependent on so many results with just a few games to go yet again this season.

… or maybe France … Gibberish, computer generated “scientific” paper is accepted for conference in Orlando [via BBC]. To be fair, it was passed unreviewed by default due to missing reviewing milestones. So no-one was actually conned by its content, unilke the French existentialist quantum genetics (?) example earlier, but Oh Dear.

Perversely, I’ve just been corresponding with Chris over at Enlightened Caveman about the difficulties of getting serious, thoughtful but amateur material published or even read in academic channels.

And … His Essence ? … did I get that right – CNN in the background again – Hand lotion and wax candles infused with “His” essence from some holy spring – who buys this stuff ? Who thinks it up ?

File under conspiracy – see below.

Finished reading Caldwell and Thomason’s “Rule of Four” in transit here at Changi.

As I predicted in the previous post the theme becomes “Love Conquers All” – with the reminder of the double edged meaning in that aphorism – “mis-directed love destroys anything” is not a recipe for happy endings – though this book does indeed have a predictable one – just like the eponymous US version of Brazil.

Anyway whoever described The Rule of Four as The Name Of The Rose in the style of Donna Tartt’s Secret History was spot on. So many plot components are straight from Eco – not least the conflagration destroying the evidence (or does it ? type suspense), the labrynthine passages and stairs, the whodunnit murders, the dead-languages intellectual and philosophical references, and the poisoned paper trick. Had they never read Eco ? Did they not have an editor who had ? Either way I might be embarrassed.

The main theme is the same – western / christian church suppression of renaissance knowledge originating with the mediterranean, middle and eastern ancients. In The Rule of Four, the evil side is simply academic competitiveness personal jealousies and loves – no suggestion of a Da Vinci Code style institutional conspiracy of secrecy over the ages. The quote from St Paul’s Gospel neatly sums it up “I [god] am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of any who understand”. Compare that with David Deutsch’s understanding or Sue Blackmore’s open mind if you dare. (A certain irony in the TV news headlines playing in the background beside me here – “The world waits for the announcement of the next pope …”)

It’s a conspiracy allright, A metaphorical conspiracy of memes.
But it’s no secret, it’s on CNN, that’s how memes work.

Actually I’m being unfair, Rule of Four is not a bad read in its own right, but I’d recommend the others mentioned here ahead of it. Except of course unlike the Da Vinci Code the fictional / mythical aspect of the source material content – The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili – is acknowledged, even though the mysterious book itself is real.

Some annoying cliches throughout – constant references for the hard of thinking, to the significance of changing pronouns in dialogue – and the obligatory “love-interest”, but the style and phrasing makes an entertaining read – Echoes of Raymond Chandler in the character descriptions early on, and some creative quotable phrases throughout.

“[She] can be heard muttering in dead languages to the books around her; A taxidermist whispering to her pets.”

“[He] speaks in shades of the obvious; Some stopgap between his mouth and mind gone missing”

Also a nice variation on the existing …
“Some things have to be believed to be seen“,
“Belief creates“, or
“Belief has to be-lived
… Caldwell and Thomason have …
“Only a man who sees giants can ever stand upon their shoulders”.
I liked that.

Browsing Gimbo, which has changed since I last looked (he’s got married ?) the issues being blogged seem higher level. Several good posts – the UK Government ID Card story, The TinyURL (risks) story, and the women in sport (world full of idiots) link.

I was taken by the “risks” link simply because the link was which I recognised as the domain of Rivets ( naturally). Anyway the catalogue of risks (of IT mis-use in devices) makes interesting reading.

Matt at DoubleLoop has a new post on a survey of link collectors / organisers. As he says the common feature is Tags, Tags, Tags, Tags, but for me what is key is the semantics of Why, Why, Why, Why ?

The thing I liked about del.ici.ous was that the links were to categories, and since you could create the categories themselves, you could categorise the categories too, though I see no evidence of inheritance in the linking. I wonder if any of the others stretches that far. (Must look at both del.ici.ous and CiteULike again more closely.)

It’s like this …

If I have a category of “People” with 10 “Members”
And I have another category of “Animals” with 10 “Members”, one of which is “People”
Does my click on “Animals” return 10 or 19 hits ?
64,000 dollar question.

If that’s possible – then I make my categories aspectual – ie in terms of why the interest / intent / reason in the link, rather than simply “what is at the end of it”, then Robert is your father’s brother – Semantic Web – I think you’ll find.

You may have read it here first.

OK, so the inescapable key of David Deutsch’s world view is that the Everett / Wheeler idea of many worlds forming the multiverse, is … well … fundamental to all of reality.

I’ve said twice – once after his introduction and again after reading the whole of his Fabric of Reality – that Deutsch argues his case convincingly. The real world behaves virtually “as if” it was as it really is. However convincing, boy, is that gonna be hard to absorb into a natural world view.

Christian Hauck provided some helpful links to Max Tegmark’s MIT work on the parallel universes aspect of the multiverse. Hmmm – do I really want to go there ? Seems unavoidable – I may be some time.