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Wednesday, November 21, 2001
bugs enjoy hamster sex (via missingmatter)

carey sends some neat flash thingies through the interweb. thanks carey.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001
a nation divided is a nation secured

romanticizing the de-evolution of the state (via boingboing)


(via robotwisdom)

Monday, November 19, 2001
feels so good

One of the triumphs of modern Darwinian theory is to show how even feelings this ethereal—moral intuitions, not just raw animal impulses—could be products of natural selection. Evolutionary psychologists now have a pretty clear idea why people in all cultures intuit that just as good deeds should be rewarded, bad deeds should be punished.

not having to be an actor

What we expect of our stars is something abnormal. We expect our stars to be bigger than life, don't we? We expect their behavior to be more generous, more forgiving, but of course they're subject to envy and anger and all the other things. Whose fault is it? I think the issue of fault is perhaps even irrelevant. We all conspire in the illusion-making: the media, the stars themselves, and we who are accepting these fictions, who are applauding these fictions, who turn on our televisions ready to watch these fictions.

describing an emerging field

The book is very well written and a pleasure to read. The authors assume initially only minimal knowledge of quantum theory and/or computer science, and bring the reader up to the current state of the art as it pertains to this field. Problem sets to aid the student and instructor are included. The text is enlivened with occasional insertions of wit and apt quotations. In this spirit, I will conclude with a quotation from Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince: "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Friday, November 16, 2001
ethics, game theory and biology and liquid space

the works of dave mckean and virtual sky (via metafilter)

Thursday, November 15, 2001
columbia: STS-50 (via robotwisdom)

naqoyqatsi: war life (via haddock)

More important than empires, more powerful than world religions, more decisive than great battles, more impactful than cataclysmic earth changes, NAQOYQATSI chronicles the most significant event of the last five thousand years: the transition from the natural milieu, old nature, to the "new" nature, the technological milieu.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001
In Konishi, ve would probably have called this "mathematics." In C-Z, it was necessary to call it "art," since anything else suggested a virtual universe in direct competition with the real one. Blanca had been dismayed to see the other polises sink back into complacency after the initial shock of carnevale, but ve still chafed against C-Z's growing orthodoxy when it proclaimed that to explore any system of rules that failed to illuminate the physics of reality amounted to pernicious solipsism. The beauty of the physical world had nothing to do with its power to harm—that was just the dogma of the dead statics in another guise—and everything to do with the simplicity and consistency of its laws. Blanca was unimpressed by claims that C-Z's physicists and engineers toiled only in the service of protecting the Coalition from the next dangerous cosmic surprise. It was the elegance of Kozuch Theory and the grandeur of the Forge itself that had kept them going; if either the guiding principles or the design had been the slightest bit uglier, they would have packed it in long ago.

--greg egan

***
Undoubtedly we are drawing on towards great changes; and for every nation the thing most needful is to discern clearly its own condition, in order to know in what particular way it may best meet them. Openness and flexibility of mind are at such a time are the first of virtues. . . . Perfection will never be reached; but to recognise a period of transformation when it comes, and to adapt themselves honestly and rationally to its laws, is perhaps the nearest approach to perfection of which men and nations are capable. No habits or attachments should prevent their trying to do this; nor indeed, in the long run, can they. Human thought, which made all institutions, inevitably saps them, resting only in that which is absolute and eternal.

--matthew arnold

***
This battle fundamentally is about what you think of the nature of truth, the value of life, and the content of community. You're at a university which basically believes that no one ever has the whole truth, ever, because you're human. It's part of being a human being. It's part of the limitation imposed on us by God. We are incapable of ever having the whole truth. They believe they got it. Because we don't believe you can have the whole truth, we think everybody counts and life is a journey. Hopefully we get wiser as we make this journey, and we learn from each other, and we think everybody ought to be entitled to make the journey. They believe that because they have the truth you either share their truths or you don't. If you're not a Muslim, you're an infidel. If you are and you don't agree with them, you're a heretic, and you're a legitimate target. Even a six-year old girl who went to work with her mother at the World Trade Center on September 11th. We believe that a community is you. Doesn't matter where you come from, doesn't matter what your religious faith is, you just got to accept certain rules of the game: everybody counts, everybody has a role to play, we all do better when we help each other, and we ought to argue like crazy because nobody's got the truth and we're trying to get closer. They believe communities of people are those who look alike, act alike, dress alike, and just to make sure they enforce the rules. That's why you see all those sanctimonious guys beating those women with sticks in the Taliban in the movies on television. They paint the women's windows black, so God forbid, they won't be able to see outside and might be polluted, and in some cases even shoot people when they go outside where they shouldn't go.

--bill clinton, speech at georgetown

Tuesday, November 13, 2001
afghan government

"There must be no more Great Games with Afghan people the pawns: no more regional rivalries, with Afghan people the victims," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the U.N. General Assembly on Sunday.

"For the first time in decades, there is consensus in the Security Council as a whole, and among Afghanistan's neighbors, that there should be a broad-based government in Kabul, reflecting Afghanistan's rich ethnic diversity, and that the future of Afghanistan must be put into the hands of the Afghan people," Straw said.

defining globalism

Generally speaking, globalization today is a Western idea (although other, earlier cultures took some shots at it), fueled most recently by technology's forging of a global economy. It's a powerful offshoot of capitalism and popular culture, yet it's being debated in almost every country, and it's become almost impossible to hear a major political speech that doesn't mention it.

The subject arouses strong emotions. Directly or not, globalism is at the root of the terrorist attacks on September 11, and the resulting conflict between the United States and Islamic fundamentalists, who are articulate and open about their hatred of the changes sweeping their cultures. Every business is obsessed with it.

Monday, November 12, 2001
got the strokes album. pretty much listened to it straight through the weekend. dirtynerdluv linked to a penthouse article on them. oh and a salon analysis of mulholland drive. (also via DNL) also want to get the very best of otis redding.

finished diaspora: After a while, Paolo said sullenly, "I could live with wasting a thousand years coding myself into some planet's topography, while being ridiculed by every sane person in the Diaspora. But if I start giving in to him, where does it end? If he thinks I'm migrating back to the flesh with him afterward—" (p.288)

started matthew arnold: And when he has thus misconceived himself he will lose the deep, sure insight which is the prime power of the poet, which comes from integration, proportion and joy but, above all, from a certain unconsciousness; the poet will become a system-maker. The system-maker can lie, but the true poet cannot lie; for his poetry is experience and as such must have its own truth. (p.30)

Sunday, November 11, 2001
couple articles from blogdex: inessential articulates my objection to memes in four easy sentences (although hate is a strong word :)

One of the many things I hate about that word is that underlying it is the assertion that all thought is propaganda.

Is the theory of evolution by natural selection a meme—or is it true?

Memes and truth are mutually exclusive. The idea of memes is the idea that there is no truth.

longest tongue!

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