Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Clapping Sounds in a Dark Theater

A mental image, without vision. Darkness, and that special feeling thattheatres always have that if you stand up and step in the wrong direction,you'll tumble over a number of people, possibly eventually to drop to yourdemise. No sound, except for the clicking of snapped fingers, en masse.Strange. The vision visits me, and even stranger dreams await. Dreamsdance around and through topics that disturb and confound me.

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I recently have been thinking further about the topic I introduced in the lastentry (I think) -- positions I'll call essentialist and emergentalist waysof looking at the world. I'll go further now, and speculate that the firstis generally conservative, and the second is generally liberal. I suggest thetie because of a few reasons -- the first focuses on formal structures, whichhas ties to moral absolutism and fundamentalism, and the second focuses ongrand messages and less on specifics, pushing for new interpretations.It would be tempting to make this into a caricature of personalities -- thescientist and the artist, but I don't think that's quite accurate -- thescientist might be claimed, depending what version of philosophy of scienceis used, by either side. One thing I got from taking a class on Philosophyof Science here at CMU was that there are a lot of different ways to look atscience, philosophically, and that some of these have effects on how onemight interpret some types of findings. Fortunately for science, most of theseare edge cases, and it's quite possible to get along in science withoutunderstanding the philosophy that underlies it. Unfortunately, this means thata lot of scientists can be dogmatic about science without understanding therich intellectual traditions that surround the tools they use, nor even thinkingthat there could be controversy beyond meeting basic scientific integrity intheir experiments as to what they might mean. Anyhow, thinking back to theperspectives, the benefits of each perspective are at least partly plain --essentialists preserve meaning by simplifying the world into categories andrules, and emergentalists prevent formalism from strangling the meaning ofthings. There's an interesting dynamic between the two ideas here. I imaginea lot of this may be set in early education -- perhaps the reason liberals andconservatives are distributed where they are in the United States (city vsnoncity) is that cities have, in kindergarten through second grade, teacherswho teach in different styles, emphasising one or the other ways of lookingat the world. This leads to a possibly testable theory -- if we were todifferentially raise children with stresses on the two ideas, would theybe statistically affected in conservativism or liberalism? If so, educationshould be even more interesting, politically. It would, alas, be a trickystudy to run. I wonder if this perspective/divide makes sense.

You may like this image.This looks very weird.

Apparently there's one fewer dangerous loon in Canada today.I bet the Germans are *thrilled* to have him back.In the news, another dangerous person is in trouble, and apparentlyBushJr has decided that he's an "enemy combatant" and so shouldn't getan open trial with the normal constitutional protections. A judge ruled againstthe president, and apparently he's upset that that ruling limits his abilityto fight terrorism. Apparently, the Executive branch doesn't trust our courtsystem. That's .. interesting. It also apparently likes NATOmore than it likes the UN. No surprise.

Recently, two bits of news came out on BushJr -- firstly, he apparentlytried pot at some point, and also thought about some other jobsbefore deciding to enter politics. None of these are great sins, butapparently some liberals are in the mode of jumping on anything potentiallydamning as a starving squirrel would leap on the last walnut on earth. That'ssad. It makes opponents of BushJr look dumb, and sets stupid standards forpoliticians. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with pot usage unlessit's too frequent, and don't think at all the less of people who smoke it.I even tried it in Amsterdam. I didn't particularly like it, but for thepeople that do, more power to them (provided it's used responsibly). As forthe second, who doesn't think about a lot of careers before picking one?That's a good thing. It's not controversial. I fail to see how that's evennews. Finally, the person who released tapes of him saying these things wasapparently formerly a close friend of BushJr. It seems really rude to putout tapes of conversations you had with someone. If I were his friend, I'd bea bit nervous.

JWZ's latest rant is on-target. He takes on the problem of when acertain kind of groupthought leads to a certain kind of corporate thinking thatleads to a sucky product. This leads to interesting thoughts about alternateways to manage groups -- I've noted that programmers tend to have theability to work without managers, in smallish groups (up to maybe 20) bybecoming a kind of delegated collective. From conversations with others, otherkinds of workers presently don't have this ability, and there are questionsof scalability. I wonder if there are ways to deal with scalability and makingthis efficient.

Occasionally I come across ideas that seem on one hand to be interesting tothink along, and on the other hand seem to be quite dangerous and easily usedto justify a number of dangerous things. The work of Kevin MacDonald promisesto be of that sort. It's going on my wishlist, for it looks interesting.

AMD has gone multicore!. W00t!

MJD's next book will be out soon. It promises to be interesting.

Bob Swanson has a very important political point.Apparently, the FCC's obscenity fines, which IMO should not be there in thefirst place, are 500k per violation, well above numerous other, obviouslymore harmful violations. What a free society America is! Apparently, the1950s are calling, and they want to take our freedoms away.

Things are really interesting in the middle east right now.Syria and Lebanon are becoming less intertwined, andAbbas says he won't tolerate more Palestinian attacks on Israel.Hmm.

I haven't read it yet, but this looks interesting. I'm becoming interestedin learning about China's government, because they seem to be doing a numberof things radically different than the western world, but in ways that arenot all obviously bad. I'm further considering (yes, it's now rising to thelevel of being a real interest that I'm not just tossing around anymore)living in Qatar (transferring to the CMU campus there), Tel Aviv, orAmsterdam for a few years. I want to experience more of the world than theUnited States. I'm not entirely certain of the opportunities available to mein each -- Qatar is a pretty easy move, and would be no doubt the mostdifferent. I'd need the help of friends, I think, to arrange a job for mein Tel Aviv or Amsterdam. I'm going to start talking to people so I canseriously consider this. The biggest problem I see is that I have pets.Almost everything else I have in my life can be pared back or brought with me -I live a very digital life, with more of an attachment to the data that'spresently on my laptop than anything else. The next most prized possessionis my books. Well, and I don't exactly see pets as possessions. Hmm. Insome ways, it was very dumb to take the iguana and the cats back fromMartha and Debb. If I move, I'll need to find good new places for them.


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