Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mixed Nuts

Off to the Chapel - Andrew Sullivan

While I'm happy that Sullivan has gone to marry his partner, and that Greg Djerejian is one of the guest bloggers, James Kirchick is another guest blogger? The man is a walking, talking Marty Peretz clone. I don't think there's an instance where I have ever agreed with the man and it's not like disagreeing with Sullivan or a George Will type who generally have the brains to back up their arguments. Kirchick is one of those 'more rubble, less trouble' types who have gotten us into this mess in Iraq in the first place. I may just have to stay away from Sullivan's blog for a while.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I never really bought the argument, "if everyone in the world was the same the world would be a very boring place." Would it really be boring? Would we even know?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hero of the Day

Lost in Transportation? Bill Murray tested for drunk driving of golf cart - The Guardian

Bill Murray is my hero of the day. That is all.

Cats and Blogs

Kristol Lite - Jon Chait, The Plank

Yeah, blog fight! Get it On!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sensory Blackout

Magic and the Brain - BoingBoing

I remember watching the first half of "What the 'Bleep' Do We Know" (before I got abysmally bored with it) and being struck by the piece on the natives who first encountered Columbus. The shaman of the tribe, after being told about Columbus's ships out on the water, went to the shore and stared out to sea. For several days he didn't see anything and then suddenly the ships appeared. The explanation is that it simply took the shaman's brain that long to come to grips with objects that were completely outside of his frame of reference. Magic tricks seem to play on this loophole in our minds as we come to expect certain results from certain actions. What bothers me though is the thought of what else out there might we, right now, miss because it is so far outside our frame of reference that our brains simply don't register the information. Is it possible that there are things in this world that we have laid eyes on but simply failed to see because our brains couldn't cope with the information?

Goo Goo Ludwig

Baby Talk is Universal - Science Blog

Of course, Wittgenstein would have said this was obvious. Baby talk can then be thought of as our first experience with the language-game, as babies begin to understand what adults are saying by both mimicking adults and picking up on the non-verbal cues that are apart of the contextual language-game.

Spatial Relations

Visual Clutter Detection - BoingBoing

I like the idea that how we process information from items like maps and computer displays is related to the spatial relations between each element of information. It also goes to the concept of web design as a properly laid out web page contains an appropriate amount of information without overloading, or 'cluttering', the page.

Off the Edge of the Solar Map

In Search of Interstellar Dragon Fire - Science Daily

I just like the idea of giant space dragons flying around our solar system, blasting anything that comes their way. Oh, and new way to think about neutron stars--a fast rotating, collapsed object.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Delusional Ideologies

Not a Winning Strategy - Josh Patashnik, The Plank

I would have to concur with Patashnik with one added element. Inside those nations 'failed' by Islam there would exist a hard-core traditionalist element who would claim that Islam didn't fail but was sabotaged by the West. Thus we end up back where we started. The same thing will happen with the social conservativism of the last few decades wherein social conservativism might have succeeded if it wasn't for those godless liberals getting in the way. An ideology doesn't fail until the majority of its previous adherents perceive it as failed. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan are two strong examples of this and even then there were those who believed that their disastrous ideologies were still valid. There are crazy, delusional and sometimes just plain stupid people in the world who will believe in almost anything.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Java and Habermas

No Coffee - Jakob Norberg, Eurozine (via Andrew Sullivan)

I always thought that Habermas missed the historical context of the English coffeehouses of the late 17th century. When coffee was first introduced to England in 1650 the country was just coming out of their own civil war. The Restoration was about ten years out but by the time Cromwell's head hit the floor the nation was looking to avoid the polemical thinking that had brought destruction to their homelands. The places where coffee was first introduced were often places where business was discussed. Soon enough those coffeehouses became centers of information as they were not only places to discuss business but to sell pamphlets and broadsheets containing the latest news on shipping and industry. These two elements--the rise of an anti-polemic attitude and alcohol-free information centers--resulted in the creation of a public discourse. While I think Habermas's placement of the rise of public discourse is correct, I think he misses the historical context that allowed for such a discourse to arise. Moreover, I think Habermas misses the peculiarities of the English coffeehouses and how they differed from the French salons of the following century.