December 21st, 2006

Semiformalishmaybe

Jung and Old

I've been rereading Carl Jung for the first time in many years, and probably for the first time after I (consider myself to) have learned a decent amount of modern psychology. I'mn trying to understand the relationship between things that are pretty clearly science and things that might be in his school of thought. A number of my friends are very dismissive of Jung (and Freud), but as few of them have read much philosophy of science, I'm not sure how seriously to take their objections (not a status thing - rather many of their arguments are based off of an inadequately simple understanding of what science is and how it works). I can't say that at the end of my exploration of this matter, I won't be similarly dismissive, but hopefully I'll have better reason than they do for being so if I am. The most interesting area to explore is whether Analytical Psychology can/should be viewed as a useful abstraction over the materialist framework of mind. By useful abstraction, depending on what school of philosophy of science (I'll call this PhilSci) we come from, this could imply that it is true in some sense or highly predictive in a useful way (think Newtonian physics, which we might say is wrong-but-useful). Is analytic philosophy productive beyond placebo levels? Placebo is actually a pretty strong force in the realm of therapy, I think - one of my intuitions about therapy is that a lot of the good it does is just giving the subject someone to talk to about their problems that they can be honest with. One part of me suggests that most things beyond that are bunk, but I've learned to be wary of "peasant intuitions" like that. I'm not sure I'm actually going to be in a place to look at this simply by rereading his book, even if I really pay attention, but this is a difficult thing to study.

One of the more interesting things I've read so far is his comparison of analytic psychology (his baby) with psychoanalysis (Freud's baby) - Freud takes what the subject is speaking of and tries to tie it into one of a set of experiences inherent in the human condition, while Jung tries to stay very close to what the subject is talking about in the hopes of finding something unique to them. Which is more productive? Which reveals more about what's really going on in the mind of the subject? He does talk about successes of his type of therapy in finding what's going on in the subject's mind, but doesn't offer much in the way of how he came to the conclusion that he was right. Given how suggestable subjects are, I don't imagine it'd be easy to come to trustworthy conclusions on this matter, and yet there they are laid out liberally through the text. Hmm. Maybe some more ideas on this will follow.

While I'm at it, I thought I might share an interesting assertion I read recently from Mao (from his collected works which I'm working through) - the degree to which someone is a communist is their willingness and practice in becoming one with the workers and peasants and their welfare - professed belief in the people's principles and membership in the party is not enough. It's a bold assertion, and one which poses a certain practical challenge for me personally.

I am pleased that we are very near the solstice - although we've been fortunate to have warm weather, this darkening is not fun at all. On the downside, we're at the point where stores close. At least I live in SqHill - I suspect all the kosher places will stay open. W00t. I will also likely eat at the French place on Murray tonight - I'm going to partake of meat - specifically duck. Mmm.

Semiformalishmaybe

Province and Central

After my migraine went away, I had a very nice evening. Ma Provence always has amazing food, and is probably the most expensive place at which I'll occasionally eat. Unlike most places, at Ma Provence I have had multiple "the best XXXX" experiences with various types of food. I sometimes wonder exactly which Provence/Commune of France Ma Provence's title refers to - "Provincial" is supposed to mean that non-Parisian culture/traditions/etc are represented. OTOH, it may just be a name in this instance.

On foundation-l, another explosive discussion is happening on the topic of single-signon (SSO), a planned technical feature that will require policy changes if implemented. The idea is that for all WMF projects, from the various language Wikipedia to meta (a central collaboration wiki), commons (central storage of media), wikibooks, and all the rest, having global accounts where when one logs in one place one is logged in everywhere would be very useful. This is a great idea when described in the abstract, but there are issues when it comes to the different languages and writing systems involved. Japanese users, for example, naturally have usernames written in Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji, meaning their usernames are unintelligible and indistinguishable from each other to western eyes. The first point is not a major concern - people regularly make references in their username to books and TV shows most people are unfamiliar with (my username of Improv, despite what y'all might think, is actually a reference to Lotus Improv, an old spreadsheet for NeXTStep). The latter is a serious issue for the community though - if the username is illegible (and indistinguishable from other similar names, e.g. two chinese characters), people lose the ability to remember other people they work with, greatly hampering a functional society. Presently, the English Wikipedia has a policy to make people rename accounts they have that are written in non-Latin8 characters - this policy is threatened by SSO. Personally, I'm tempted to say that the community damage will be severe enough that SSO is not worth implementing if it is not reworked. One possible solution would be to allow SSO to have one central account with local distinct usernames on each language Wiki - this would be a solution for 95% of the users with only a moderate increased complexity. It would obviously not work for multilingual-by-nature Wikis like Meta and Commons, but I think it would be "good enough". In our rush to be multilingual-friendly (a very good intention, by the way), I don't think we should sacrifice proper functioning of communities by giving up desirable features of usernames-as-we-know-them. Fortunately, I'm not the only person to have this idea - hopefully this (or another equally good solution) will be accepted. In any case, it's pretty clear that languages are difficult.

Lightly on that topic, I regret that the computing community didn't, as a whole, make a great leap towards adopting UCS-4 as a standard encoding format for everything. There is enormous utility (to programmers, at least) in always knowing the precise relation between the byte-length and character-length of a string -- I consider it very unfortunate that the current solution prevents random seeking (even if we get a space-savings). But then (as the amd64-fhs standard and the DST revamping show us), I am not in charge of the world. :)

I find it interesting how, when I want to transliterate things in English into Japanese, I am generally inclined to split English consonant clusters by inserting "う" (makes a "oo" sound similar to the Russian "у") or consonants with that sound as their pair. Why that vowel? I don't know. It almost suggests that my way of thinking about language suggests a Abugida. Writing systems are things I've always liked playing with...