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All posts for the month April, 2006

Just another personal update I’m afraid. Been buried in issues around work relocation to the USA for several weeks, but now it’s looking set.

UK house let. Boys’ UK university accomodation sorted. Visas obtained for Sylvia and I. Flights booked. US apartment booked. Start date confirmed. We’re off next week.

I should be offline between next Thursday (4th) (in UK) and the following Monday (8th) in Huntsville, AL.

Just one blog news item … Friends of Wisdom – I see this initiative has got as far as an article for publication in UK national press. Here’s hoping.

Struck by this quote about Waziristan (Pakistan, north of Balochistan), the piece includes some scarier Taleban material too.

“In North Waziristan, it is religion that overrides all tribal bondages and customs, making it the most conservative region.”

The story in neighbouring Balochistan is mainly tribal / local disputes over natural (gas) resources. I recall all the tribal militia check-points on the roads around Dera Bugti, not far from Quetta, when working at a gas plant 15 or so years ago – that was after the Russian Afghan campaign, and just about everyone seemed to own a Kalashikov. (And just about every mud-brick hut had a vcr and a satellite dish too).

Various grades of paranoia surrounding widespread RFID tagging of goods, being associated with movements of ourselves as consumers.

I’ve never quite got the paranoia generated by identification of the innocent (identity cards n’all that). Where I come from a discarded tin can already is a crime scene – a small one naturally.

Anyway, technology is always available to be misused. Nothing new.

Reading “The Unconsoled” by Kazuo Isihiguro, prompted by Alice’s comments about Ian McEwan on the Dawkins “Selfish Gene 30 Years On” thread.

Strange book as the TLS review commented. Some weird situations. First person narrator following two third parties moving out of the first person view, and continuing the first person narrative. Shouting to be heard above the noise in a library (!) Long conversations in a cinema (!), watching 2001, but with Clint Eastwood in the Dave Bowman role. Anonymous mid-European location, with disproportionate number of old school friends from back in the UK ? Confusion compounded by long streams of digression (?) by characters unloading their problems, long preludes to scenes about to happen, with little narrative certainty that they actually do, mixed with historical flashbacks; characters moving along streets between locations in the one city adds to the Joycean feel.

The plot line is a “Clockwise” out-of-control time-pressure not-quite-farce. ie What really matters in all the confusion – general idea ? The underlying story is about personal relationships and communication as tacit (mis)-understanding – man who spends long periods away from wife and growing child, and the relationship with that child. Older broken couple(s) who’s “understanding” can allow serious rows and breakdowns within the ongoing loving continuity.

Two thirds through – mainly in two long sittings (one of those, another west-bound transatlantic flight). Enthralling, though not yet mind-blowing. Mind-bending certainly – no clues noticed yet as to the eventual outcomes, or the turn of events at the much heralded climax yet to materialise.

Just reading the latest Edge magazine, and see a review by Stewart Brand of Kevin Kelly’s – “Speculations on the Future of Science”.

I’ve mentioned many times the vaue of recursion, often when people get hung up on cyclical logic, as if it is automatically a dead end, begging some question or other. Most recently I referred to the evolutionary value when something (like a brain) works on itself, and evolves intelligence, many of these thoughts driven by reading Hofstadter (who as I type is speaking at Tucson 2006). I see reading Brand’s piece on Kelly, that he’s talking about the evolutionary recursion of science working on science – science’s self-modification. That’s science as in new structures of knowledge and new ways of discovering knowledge, ie philosophy (of science at least).

Interestingly in the same Edge edition there is a piece by John Horgan reviewing the reconcilliation of scence and religion (referring to the same Event I mentioned involving Dawkins and McEwan). Nothing earth shatteringly original, but an intelligent summary including his atheistic involvement with the Templeton Foundation.