All posts for the month February, 2007

Still trying to change the world, one corporation at a time. 

I had a link in the side-bar to the Aikido Activism Wiki for a few years (currently a dead lnk). Purely accidentally I made contact recently with its owner Reed Burkhart (via an e-mail address book glitch) and discovered he’s moved things along.

He now has a (very new) blog (and a site with a collection of papers).

Heard “Al” at the Oscars last night, and have to agree he’s a natural. Particularly taken with his closing remarks

“People all over the world – we need to solve the climate crisis. It’s not a political issue, it’s a moral issue,” he said.

“We have everything we need to get started with the possible exception of the will to act. That’s a renewable resource – let’s renew it.”

Demonstrated today in Silicon Valley by Canadian company D:Wave Systems. Thanks to Magnus Berg over on MoQ.Discuss for the link.

I’ve been following Quantum Computing, not so much for the interest in processing power and super-computing applications, exciting though they may be, but because of the increasing importance of Quantum Information as a fundamental level of physics.

QI or Qubits are somthing I’ve seen as entirely analogous to Pirsigian MOQ “quality” (see also MOQ related links in the sidebar), neither zero nor one, neither subject nor object, but quantum information as some interaction of value or possibility more fundamental than matter itself. The people at the BCS Cybernetics special interest group (fixed link in my side-bar) have seemed to be the people most closely pursuing this philosophical limit to physics itself, drawing on Schroedinger, Dirac et al. But there are several other points of convergence with the Psybertron agenda (in the page header).

The Josephson junction technology involved in D:Wave’s hardware.

The original Stapp and Josephson link I made between quantum processing and oriental world-views.

The Josephson Mind-Matter Unification Project.

Josephson (and Stapp) contribution to the Tucson “Science of Consciousness” and “Quantum Mind” initiatives. I speculated previously that the origins of this Tucson initiative were very much parallel to the Einstein Meets Magritte initiative in Europe, at which Pirsig presented his “Subjects, Objects, Data and Values” paper, had common people like Heilighen and Joslyn in their inception at VUB Brussells.

T E Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (p417, Cape 1940 edition)

The Arab respected force a little: he respected craft more, and often had it in enviable degree: but most of all he respected blunt sincerity of utterance, nearly the sole weapon God had excluded from his armament.

The Turk was all things by turn, and so commended himself for such a while as he was not corporately feared. Much lay in the distinction of the corporate and the personal. There were Englishmen whom, individually, the Arabs preferred to any Turk, or foreigner; but on the strength of this, to have generalised and called the Arabs pro-English, would have been a folly. Each stranger made his own poor bed among them.

And later p 527.

[G]ipsy families from the north with the materials of their tinkering trade [came] on donkeys. The [Arab troops] greeted them with a humour I little understood – till I saw that, beside their legitimate profits of handicraft, the women were open to other advances. Praticularly they were easy to [my bodyguards]; and for a while they prospered exceedingly, since our men were eager and very generous.

I also made use of them.

It seemed a pity to be at a loose end so near to Amman, and not to bother to [spy on] it. So Farraj and I hired three of the merry little women, wrapped ourselves up like them, and strolled through the village [sic].

Some Turkish soldiers crossed our party, and taking all five of us for what we looked, grew much too friendly. We showed a coyness, and a good turn of speed for gipsy women, and escaped intact.

For the future I decided to resume my habit of wearing British soldier’s rig in enemy camp. It was too brazen to be suspect.

The irony, and not a mention, of his previous spying visit to Deraa in disguise, which resulted in his own brutal rape. (Anyway, plenty of wit and wisdom. Now in the final 20%)

T E Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (p477, Cape 1940 edition)

The conception of antithetical minds and matter, which was basic in the Arab self-surrender, helped me not at all. I achieved surrender (so far as I did achieve it) by the very opposite road, through my notion that the mental and physical were inseperably one; that our bodies, the universe, our thoughts and tactilities were conceived in and of the molecular sludge of matter, the universal element through which form drifted in clots and patterns of varying density. It seemde to me unthinkable that assemblages of atoms should cogitate except in atomic terms. My perverse sense of values constrained me to assume that abstract, and concrete, as badges, did not denote oppositions more serious than Liberal and Conservative.

Bring your own wave ?

OK maybe not so how about the beach at Perth WA ?
Nature’s foreworks. (Wow, like Wow - a real pic ? on the Nasa site ! Actually it’s a digitally stitched and processed panorama shot)
And a more peaceful shot of Comet McNaught.

Thanks to Rivets again.
I could go on for ever, browsing Rivets.
Enough already. (A very creative marketing site that.)

Sorry, couldn’t resist capturing these links after browsing a link from Rivets.

This German site with zillions of air-show pics and links
Includes those C17 flare smoke / trailing vortex images.

This bible (?) page with countless images of vapour clouds
Linked here before, but this page has dozens (hundreds ?) of further links. Just love the hard-edged solid look of the cloud on this F14 – features in a number of AVI’s too.

Inlcuding this one where I came in
The irony is the “arty” sunset images of the military machines in active zones, but that F14 in the green sunset is worth a peek anyway (scroll down).

Did I mention I was a plane spotter,
and an aero engineer originally ?

I’ve blogged before “Too much to read, too little time” noting references picked-up during the reading I do manage to achieve – a reading list growing faster than the pace of possible reading. Not uncommon apparently - here a 1989 paper from David Lavery – “How to Gut a Book“.

Here quoting Thomas Wolfe’s, Eugene Gant

The thought of these vast stacks of books would drive him mad; the more he read, the less he seemed to know—the greater the number of books he read, the greater the immense uncountable number of those which he could never read would seem to be.

Here, Lavery’s concluding paragraphs …

Book gutters, I would suggest, understand the book as an evolutionary phenomenon; we see them as repositories of memes. We crack them open in search of the memes encapsulated within.

When asked how it was that Native Americans were able to discover—without the aid of modern science—the medicinal properties of hundreds of indigenous herbs and plants, the Shoshone healer Rolling Thunder explained that the secret was quite simple: a medicine man addressed the plant and asked it, in the “I and thou” dialogue of his “concrete science,” what it was good for, what power it contained. We must learn, without embarrassment, to do the same with books.

Andrei Codrescu has suggested that we need to learn to

“use books as oracles.
Ask them a question: open them up.”

The same David Lavery, Owen Barfield scholar,  recommended by Pirsig for his Descartes “Evil Genius” project. Though that project blogged earlier, seems to have disappeared from his Mid Tennessee State Uni pages (He is currently at Brunel, London.) Here is the Descartes Evil Genius project on his current site. 

Anyway, back to the “book anxiety” piece … it has everything. American Indians, immediate experience, memes, Nietzsche, Borges, Escher, Voltaire, Mortimer Adler’s University of Chicago “Aristotelian pontifications” to add to the Pirsig and Barfield connections. Excellent read, to get reading in perspective. I may never sneer again at those “airport bookstall” summaries of the latest “essential reading”. 

Interestingly, different experiences but similar circumstances in reading Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus” and “Investigations” recently, both in an effort to read, in the original, people about who’m I’d already formed the opinion I needed, yet felt the guilt of not having read. As I already suspected, Rand had nothing worth saying; I already “knew” what Wittgenstein had to say, great though he was. Not so arrogant after all ?

In a similar vein after quoting Mark Twain

“School keeps getting in the way of my education”

and Voltaire

“The multitude of books, is making us ignorant.”

and Barthes

“After all, no author can choose to write what will not be read. It is the very rhythm of what is read and what is not read that creates the pleasure of the great narratives; has anyone ever read Proust, Balzac, War and Peace, word for word? (Proust’s good fortune: from one reading to the next, we never skip the same passages.)”

Thinking about writing myself, I have often wondered about a “tiered book”

The essential messages in a few paragraphs / pages, preceeding a longer treatise developing the arguments on the subject, preceeding a narrative / novel incorporating the message and its arguments. Why insult the reader’s intelligence ? I guess Pirsig was following the same line in making his “Chautauqua” (public lecture) explicit rather than unnecessarily hidden within ZMM and Lila. (Of course the flaw is that I may never have the skills to write the third part … but as a joint venture ? Love to do that with Lavery’s Evil Genius plot idea in fact.)

Another aspect Lavery discusses is scanning texts for epigraphic quotations … something I also do, in many cases as potential book or chapter sub-titles … though I gather so many that I long since stopped explicitly blogging them all. Perhaps I should re-start ? Actually, Lavery cites Owen Barfield as the source of his book gutting concept. If Pirsig’s Phaedrus was outflanking the entire body of western thought, Barfield’s Burgeon was raiding it in “Unancestral Voice”.

Who says you need to read all relevant philosophers in order to have a valid philosophic opinion ? Pirsig’s idea of the philosophologist as “critic”, but not philosopher seems validated.

Ah, and of course, in the footnotes a reference to Stanislaw Lem. Taking the “forget writing the book, just write your own review” idea to new Hofstadterian, Quinish proportions; write a book of collected reviews of imagined books. Summaries of the books you haven’t the time to write, let alone read. Make the book the subject of the book. A book-sized Quine. Brilliant. I already knew I liked Lem.

David Lavery’s “How to Gut a Book” is the most though-provoking read I’ve come across in a long time.

Here in Alabama we live in a subdivision where the cable provider is Comcast, and unlike their local competitor Knology, they have not (until recently) been able to provide the Fox Soccer Channel.

We’ve been following the English Premiership progress of Reading FC mainly through their Premier TV MatchLive Console which carries the live commentary from It’s been an excellent audio-only service. Various attempts at internet TV broadcasts, usually streamed from far-east transmissions have been very unsatisfactory, mainly due to lousy synching with any worthwhile commentary.

Imagine our delight to find Comcast now carrying Fox Soccer Channel from about 10 days ago. We subscribed immediately. Disappointing to find only one Reading FC game scheduled to be broadcast in the first two months (with 8 to 10 Premiership or FA Cup matches per week). Imagine our frustration as we settled down to watch that one and only game yesterday, to have the Comcast service cut out at precisely the kick-off time of that transmission, to be restored only when the second half was under way !

At least Leroy Lita did us the favour of saving his two match-winning goals until the final 10 minutes. 6th in the Premiership. Who’d a thought it ?

… holds that

… there is no capital-T Truth or capital-R Reality aside from, say, physical existence that can be objectively known. Instead, we interpret events based on our individual and/or collective experiences and the effects of those interpretations have real consequences in our lives that comprise little-t truth and little-r reality.

Sounds familiar. An aside from Mark Federman‘s “Easy, Easy, Easy (222)”

Also from Mark, here’s one for Sam, and another one for me.

And one from Jon Husband via Johnnie Moore on “openness in business“.