All posts for the month August, 2012

Really grown on me from this year’s “This is PiL” release. I don’t think I even mentioned it making any particular impression when I listed the setlist from Newcastle ? (Has the making of a future crowd-pleaser, I said in fact.)

When I try to explain to people why PiL are so worth seeing, some cannot get their minds beyond “that punk Johnny Rotten” – some albatross. Whilst John may now be a national treasure, the English eccentric, light relief on Question Time, what is beyond doubt is that John, Lu, Scott and Bruce are a top drawer band with top quality material, both lyrically / subject matter-wise and musically. Having seen this “best PiL ever” three times now I can also report that the live experience is second to none, and it’s not just the music, it’s the respect. John demands a little respect from his audience but it’s repaid in spades – the band returns passion and genuine appreciation for an audience that turns out to see them.

The setlist on Monday at the O2 Academy in Newcastle [Aug 16, 2012] had five numbers from the latest “This is PiL” album amongst the tried and tested mix of crowd-pleasers and personal favourites. (This is Not a Love Song, Deeper Water, Albatross, Reggie Song, Disappointed, Warrior, Flowers of Romance, Lollipop Opera, Death Disco, Bags / Chant and Religion, with Out of the Woods, One Drop, Rise and Open Up as the encores.)

The order seems to vary from gig to gig, but the collection seems to have crystallised around the set first aired in April 2012 at Heaven. Out of the Woods and One Drop have the makings of future crowd favourites, Reggie Song fits the set like a glove, and Warrior, Religion and Open Up remain magnificent; the irresistible, pile-driven arrangements so tight.

Can you resist dancing and singing along to these ?
Find out for yourself. You’d be mad not to catch them live on this tour.

Wonder if upcoming trips to US might provide an opportunity to catch them there ?

[PS One of the other reviewers that night mentioned the omission of Public Image itself from the set list. I found that weird too. It’s the blistering opening track on the 2011 Isle of Wight – Live Album – smashing through the lousy sound system feedback problems in the opening numbers – maybe what actually fried the monitor mixer – stunning, literally. It says something about PiL’s depth of material when they can leave out a number like this and still wow their audience.]

An excellent RSA (Royal Society of Arts and … ) “RSAnimation” of a lecture by Iain McGilchrist. (Hat tip to David Morey on Facebook for the link.)

Blogged several references to reading McGilchrist’s “The Master and his Emissary” but never wrote a complete review in one post – It so knocked me out, it led me into other connected readings immediately. The lecture animation covers the essential beauty of his view. The halves of the brain have forgotten who’s in charge – neither. The right brain appreciates why it needs to collaborate with the left, but the left has forgotten why it needs the right. And this is a “western” mental illness.

Or, in McGilchrist’s words (after Einstein)

We honour the servant (rational mind)
but have forgotten the gift (intuitive mind).

Distinct but also vitally important point – the interconnection between the two (the corpus callosum under control of the frontal lobes) is inhibitive – permissive management control – that preserves the necessary distance between the two halves. [Very consistent with the view of free-will actually being free-wont.] There is actually more in the book than the lecture too, naturally.

[Post Note – 4th March 2013 – see also this Dr. Dave NPT Interview with Iain McGilchrist. Also hat-tip to David Morey. Biggest new point discussed – ~35:30 – is the gender differences !!! Women have “broader” corpus-callosum structures than men, so the connection / inhibition balance is significantly different – because women have different evolutionary survival needs from men – women are more robust and less expendable than riskier men. Don’t recall reading that in the book? The reference to Julian Janes too “Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind” – no, but yes – not so much breakdown or loss of the divided brain, more an exaggeration of the division, coupled with an increasing emphasis on using the left, and to ignore the “voices of the gods” coming from the right. A breakdown of the optimal, balanced and enlightened functioning of the increasingly bi-cameral mind. Characterised as behaviour you’d only expect to see in autism – another recurring theme. Interesting Dr Dave also admits to being “blown away” by McGilchrist’s work too – so “knocked-out” I said. Full 55 mins interview plus additional 20 mins discussion by Dr Dave and commenters. Really, really good stuff.]

[Post Note – that lecture includes my whole agenda – scary – HOW DO WEjoin up the dots” between this thinking and the narrow “simplisticated” view that objective rationality is everything – rather than the definition of its own limitations. Say, in the naive but very public – faith vs science wars, the global economic & environmental “crises”, art and science funding, education, education, education, or crime & morality, responsibility & punishment debates. Some dots worth joining: Pirsig’s Quality before Objects, Nick Maxwell’s Scientific Neurosis, Alan Rayner’s Natural Inclusion, Iain McGlichrist’s Master and Emissary, Jill Bolte-Taylor’s Stroke of Insight, Dave Snowden’s Cynefin Framework, Dr. James Willis’ Scylla and Charybdis, Daniel Wegner’s Free Will as Free Won’t, Mary Parker-Follet’s Integration not Compromise – will do for now – ignoring many of the more explicitly philosophical and metaphysical resources.]

Dave Gurteen has a stream of daily quotes on KM subjects, and this one from Dave Snowden always catches my eye when it comes round.

“The way we know
is not the way
we report what we know.”
Dave Snowden

That is so true, and pretty fundamental to the Psybertron agenda “What, why and how do we know?” The way we know things is invariably complex, but we inevitably express it (or are expected to communicate it) in rational objective terms.

Good piece by Mark Lewis in Time.

Yes, in terms of the individual (multiple) crime, the victims and Norway’s liberal justice system the sentencing is right and safe. If he doesn’t “reform” his view of events, or get terminated by an insider, he’s there for life. The curtailment of his liberties – imprisoned with limited outside communication – is about protecting society from him and his worldview until such time as he is rehabilitated (if ever), not about punishment.

We could argue the pros and cons of punishment, and whether it’s a good thing or not that a liberal justice system shuns it, but one reason to have a proportionate penal element is “pour encourager les autres”. A message to the world, beyond Utoya, beyond Norway, beyond 2011/12.

The real issue here goes beyond the specific case to future cases of “nutters” rationally justifying mass killings or other “evil” in some personally perceived cause or other, even before any actual action. Insanity is a grey scale, a spectrum disorder. Frankly, I don’t accept the importance of any distinction between evil and less than sound mind. Surely most capital crimes are neither, even pre-meditated (murder) killings, are culpable but circumstantial lapses of good order. Evil and/or insane are surely the minority case. Rational justification of evil is madness. Rational justification of human killing by an individual is evil.

(Case in point – uneducated mouthy lout in a bar last night “Can’t see what the fuss was about – they were all liberal lefties. Should’a been acquitted.” and “Can’t understand why they were calling him a Nazi, he didn’t kill any Jews.” Breivik needed the smirk wiping off his face. Strong messages are needed to educate.)

[Post Note – in terms of my own agenda on what makes for a sound mind, when it comes to rational morality, if rehabilitation includes the offer of therapeutic help with his mental disorders – coming to terms with the rational madness of his motivation and justification – then the achieved outcome matches my preferred outcome. The only downside is that whilst not being formally “insane”, the fact that his not being completely sane really does benefit from psychotherapy, becomes effectively invisible.]

Mark Lewis tweets the accepted refrain – accepted in the sense that the existing legal situation appears to demand this choice. But no reason the judiciary shouldn’t do the right thing ?

Mad or bad:
#breivik will be sentenced tomorrow.
He wants prison.
Prosecution wants compulsory mental healthcare

Right thing is – he’s guilty (culpable, responsible, rational, aware) and insane (morality based on narrow rationality alone). He gets (more we get him, it’s not about him) imprisoned for the protection of society (life or until deemed not dangerous) – he gets offered therapy for his mental health. If he doesn’t see his problem he declines the offer, when he does, he gets the therapy. No risk to society, he’s in prison.

If choice is enforced – then “mad” is the best option – so long as the the mental institution is actually as secure as a prison, and the sentence is still “life or until not dangerous” – with some good checks and balances on any non-dangerous decision. Once deprived of his freedoms (*), don’t see why the “health care” should be enforced – offered yes, enforced no.

(*) This is the real question – what human “rights” does this kind of criminal have ? Very little external communication so long as he remains “dangerous” clearly. Being declared insane – or with his sanity suffering from a specific disorder or two – against his wishes, is part of the rights-deprivation punishment – depriving him of the right to be considered sane.

[I’m repeating myself.]

[Post Note : As claimed earlier, Breivik’s defence  confirm today that he will appeal if found insane, but not if found plain “guilty”. A fact which confirms – ie no surprise – that insane is the greater punishment for him, depriving him of one important satisfaction. Be interesting to see if the judges rationalise that guilty is the better verdict simply to avoid the ongoing limelight of an appeal – but I hope not. Provided for the victims the less than sound mind verdict doesn’t relieve him of any culpability, then the world needs the insane verdict – insanely culpable, culpably insane.

Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be in prison.
Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be guilty.
Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be of less than sound mind.
Mad, bad and dangerous enough to be offered therapy.]

[Post Note 24th – Verdict – Guilty / Prison and of Sound Mind. Typically Norwegian bureaucratic sentencing, with no “judgement” by the judges, just a list of penal code sections and subsections applicable.

Boy does the world need a redefinition of “sound mind”.]

Honour among thieves – and you don’t steal innocent young lives. Bring me the head of Anders Breivik – the subject is London gangster Danny Wollard (who?). Technically insane or not, Breivik is guilty / responsible, and he’ll need solitary confinement if he expects, or we expect him, to live on the inside. Hat tip to Trygve Sorvaag. (Topical because the sentencing is tomorrow 24th August).

BBC Magazine piece on the recent US poll on religious belief comprising (mainly) two comments by religious conservative Ron Dreher and moderate atheist David Dickerson.

I’m constantly baffled that sexual orientation and marriage is a central issue on both sides – surely it takes all sorts, and normal is a numbers game that needn’t be a judgement, just fact that “abnormal” has to be a minority by definition. Fidelity to norms – conservatism – is as fundamental to evolution as the fecundity of new opportunities. Just not even contentious. More to the point, surely we have bigger moral fish to fry?

Some interesting interpretations of the numbers – now and in the direction of youth becoming the future population. Good to see the atheist pointing out that the new atheist / four horseman effect is probably minimal and not representative of majority atheist positions – hear hear.

What’s more, as a person who has read Harris and Dawkins—who both treat saying grace at dinner as if it were morally adjacent to slapping Galileo—you can hardly claim that the New Atheists have mounted an unusually empathetic charm offensive. I give them credit for a 1% atheism bump, max. Maybe two.

Absolutely. My mantra – constant fighting “against” doesn’t win friends and influence people – evolving constructive long-lasting added-value.

It was only when three of my friends came out of the closet in one month that I was forced to look at the consequences of my theology. It was “The Literal Bible As I Understood It v My Friends”, and my friends won. Historically, friends always win.

Or as I say “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding?”

(The source of the survey is David Kinnaman’s book “unChristian.)

[Post Note :]

Woodrow Wilson (1919)
“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”
“We are citizens of the world. The tragedy is that we do not know this.”