All posts for the month June, 2010


Whether Capello is given the chance to manage the team through the next Euro tournament (or not) he himself should resign, if he cares one iota, and save the FA (ie fans of English football) having to pay to make a decision. BTW, never mind Roy Hodgson for Team Manager, we need people like him managing the FA’s football affairs.

An incomplete review, notes only from this excellent article. Hat tip to Sam Norton in his comment below. And some good links in the piece, eg to Stanley Fish.

Explanation … avoiding reductionism.

Terry Lectures on video – nb Terry Eagleton joke ?

“It was I felt, characteristic of the delightfully informal nature of American society that I should receive a letter from Yale inviting me to deliver the Terry Lectures. I had of course long been accustomed to the instant-first-name culture, but this long-range intimacy nevertheless came as something of a surprise.”
Terry Eagleton “Reason, Faith and Revolution”
The Terry Foundation Lectures, Yale, 2009

Flattening out “important differences” … finding difference is easy, synthesising common value is harder – Mary Parker-Follett.

Determinedly symmetrical. Refusing to take a stand on big issues “of our time”. (see also Zizek’s Empty Wheelbarrow.)

Keep mixed groups (with important differences) talking on common ground – Mary Parker-Follett again and conflict resolution (integration, as opposed to compromise)

James & Nietzsche, Metaphysical Poets and the Poetics, B.F.Skinner (vs Chomsky “impoverished”), Dewey, Hume, Burkert, Gombrich, Meyer, Sokal (“mischief, unrepresentative”, “mutual ignorance and caricature”, “demonizing”.)

Cognitive science of religion … “The New Naturalism” Distinction between New Atheism of Dawkins and New Naturalism of Dennett, though even Dennett limited – a misunderstanding – “correspondingly dubious conception of beliefs—religious and otherwise—as static, discrete items of cerebral furniture” – far from static or discrete, just useful …. misplaced reductionism again.

Excellent piece.

“The objectives of science may be objective, but science forms a fascinating topic for anthropologist’s case study. Social and political factors driving science are pervasive. Nothing fundamentally different in modes of “problem solving” thought between say engineers and scientists.”

I had found the current Rees Reith lectures (last of 4 today) a little dull so far, and even today. Perhaps it’s just his – male, gray & stale – delivery, nothing too contentious, but some gems in there. The real contention in science is that Rees has religious faith, held to be compatible with his elevated position in science.

Wonderful dig at the religious zeal of Darwin’s modern day “disciples” contrasted with Darwin’s own outlook.

(Scarily dumb question from the representative of The Wellcome Foundation, wishing scientific progress could be more systematic. Give him the benefit of the doubt that it was maybe ironically tongue in cheek ?)

One of my management adages is

“Agreement in public,
disagreement in private”.

I was reminded of it by this quote collection from Kevin Kelly. (Here’s the permalink to the Scott Delinger quote.)

It’s one of these things that get’s tangled up in open communications, freedom of speech mantras that so many people seem to think applies to all communications. As if not voicing disagreement is somehow dishonest. No such thing as need to know, all management of communication is somehow evil. Also the element that agreeing in public is a kind of “me too” noise, less valuable that disagreement. It also get’s tangled up in “scientism” … as if somehow covering up disagreement, not pointing out errors, is counter to scientific progress, and must be stamped out for some greater good.

No. In my experience most disagreement is initially misunderstanding, and voicing disagreement initially tends to spread misunderstanding, and in a context where trust matters, spreading misunderstanding then spreads uncertainty and mistrust. Much more effective to voice misunderstanding and apparent disagreement with the other party privately, to establish if there really is error or significant disagreement, or simply lack of clarity that will benefit from clarification. Then go public with that. Much more productive of everyone’s time.

Of course if trust doesn’t matter to you, do your worst.

(More good quotes in that Kevin Kelley collection BTW – Tim O’Reilly and E. Digby Baltzell for example.)

Spooky for reasons I can’t quite pin down yet, having picked-up on Compression yesterday, Compression is the initial subject of this Long Now talk from Brian Eno and Will Wright. In retrospect, I think the only connection with Owen Barfield is the mention of the Aeolian Harp as regenerative music.

Oh, and receiving a mail this morning concerning Owen Barfield.

Listening now to that Eno / Wright talk, this is of course identical to Hofstadter’s Tabletop metaphor – problem space with huge range of possible outcomes as a conversation … a simple recurring pattern of “play” generating outcomes in levels well beyond the objective  inputs.

Another sequence from Doug Hofstadter responding with scepticism to Ray Kuzweil at the Stanford Singularity Summit (2007 or 2009 ?) – singularity as in machine intelligence or machine aided intelligence overtaking human intelligence. Sceptical in terms of short predicted timescales, immortality, time travel, hockey-sticks, etc … losing credibility … but concerned that mainstream science is not taking the core ideas seriously and finding any serious arguments against the plausible possibilities.

Kurzweil, Wolfram, Hameroff, Chalmers all the usual suspects at the 2009 Summitneed to listen to Chalmers and Scmidhuber – this community needs some philosophical injection into all the exponential processing power hype – intelligence and intellect are far more than processing power. (Thanks to Krim over on MD for the report on the 2010 H+ event.)

Schmidhuber is excellent – a German with a sense of humour – as well as the explicit jokes, his take on the psychology of seeing exponential approaches to points of significance is a very clever dig at Kurzweil (my ’twas ever thus meme) – truly excellent talk – compression is key.

Chalmers is also excellent – does philosophy proud – basic logical argument, philosophy of mind and metaphysics. His controlled simulation and gradual upload consciousness and identity cases are pretty much the Hofstadter and Dennett’s “Brain in a Vat” thought experiment.

Interesting even Hameroff, though he mentions microtubules at length – in dendritic gap connectors and in internal neuronal networks – he doesn’t major on quantum coherence – brain as a quantum computer – as a mechanism for distributed coherence of consciousness, until the light-hearted Spielberg-AI moment towards the end. Much of this stuff does indeed seem like valid (testable) science. Though the first question – cut-off immediately by the mediator – brings him back to this unpopular Hameroff-Penrose topic.

Ben Goertzel too, came over well (these are all 2009) … integration … cognitive synergy …. interoperation … lifting & lowering of knowledge too – from communication language to semantic nodes and links of knowledge and back to communication language.

The word that jumps out at me from all of this is Integration. (ie not processing power.)

Never did get to Bonnaroo despite living pretty close to the site for 3 years. I guess it’s that time of year again. Anyway the name sticks thanks to a line in Tommy Womack’s Alpha Male and the Canine Mystery Blood track on There, I Said It. Strangely, in reading the NYT article a phrase from the preceding line also sticks.

“post-hippie jam-band”
bangin’ those skins at Bonnaroo

Is a meme.

Dear Marge,

… as a British male engineer of a certain age with 30 years experience in UK, Australia and the US, I guess I’m allowed to notice that here in Scandinavia there are more engineers that happen to be attractive young women – though incidentally many of them are not native Norwegians. That is, I’m allowed to notice, provided I keep the thoughts internal and anonymous and act like the grown-up professional I am ?

No problem, what problem ? There’s one such engineer in the office that wore … over two or three days, the winter before last, to and from the office … a dark pink beret. Since then, 18 months say, every time I encounter, pass, or even glimpse that person in the work context, with the subject head-wear nowhere to be seen, my head fills with “Raspberrry beret …” even with my iPod filling my ears with Muse or some such.

Harmless amusement, tickling the old grey cells, share the joke ? Except the next phrase in the last line of the chorus does make that sharing a little awkward.

She wore a raspberry beret,
The kind you might find in a second hand store.
Raspberry beret, I think …

Aaaagh. Back to work.

(Old news from 2007, but …) The ingenuity, and effort, for the cleric to come up with the breastfeeding suggestion, in the face of the inconvenient rules, even if the mind boggles at the rules in the first place. (Rules being for the guidance of wise men and the enslavement of fools, after all.) More promising that the minister of religious affairs …

called for future fatwas to be
“compatible with logic and human nature”.

No mention of the word of gods or prophets. Progress.

Think I just experienced an original band, Norwegian too.

OK so the usual heavy grunge punk metal vocal delivery – indistinct monotonic screaming growl – I’ll never quite get.

But visually & stylistically different. Again all blues based rock is “derivative” and original is always relative, but not many give me that same sense that Devo did. Musically more than competent. Not too muddy for a catchy melody to escape, twin pedal drummer to double the pace when needed.

Oh, and yes, when they took off the cardboard box disguises, the square suits were indeed art school persona. I think I would have been disappointed if they weren’t. Ones to watch ?

Sent from my iPhone