Archive for May, 2015

Chaos Patch (#60)

(Open thread + links)

Where in Rome are we? Chaos beasts. Nydwracu’s library. On marriage. Sigma point. View from the blip. Moral imagination (cockroach-phobia warning). Leftward lurches. Darwinian notes. Assembly plans. Letters to a Young Programmer (1, 2). Nietzschean conservatives. Scots logic. Sleight of hand. Southern duality. Sympathy for skinheads. A little practical drama control (episode n). Fridays frags. (Meta-) Metareactions.

Leading from the rear. The blame for Baltimore. Change. Gay religion (related), and communist religion.

Rational actors. The Pentagon in the valley. A business proposition. Gloom at the top. Policing private cities. Exit and human nature.

Europe’s Dark Future. Tectonic shifts in the mid-East (1, 2, 3).

Never go full Al Ghazali. Harris-Chomsky moral jousting. Counter-terror.

Vignettes from Trivers. Genius-autism linkage. Neanderthal legacy.

Quantum computing update. EM Drive oddness. Tambora. Undead galaxies.

May 3, 2015admin 68 Comments »
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Moron bites (#4)

Social Darwin Awards contender ‘Comix Experience’ [sic]:

We’re for a living wage, for a minimum wage, in principle. … But I think any law that doesn’t look at whether people can pay may not be the best way to go.”

May 3, 2015admin 12 Comments »

Logic and Nonlinearity

The crucial passages from this reconstructed conversation have already been cited over at the other place, but it’s important enough to pick over here, too. The maximally-compressed take-away: cybernetic processes are naturally registered as logical paradoxes (with consequent affinity between paradox and — dynamic — reality).

[The] whole fabric of living things is not put together by logic … when you get circular trains of causation, as you always do in the living world, the use of logic will make you walk into paradoxes. Just take the thermostat, a simple sense organ, yes? […] If it’s on, it’s off; if it’s off, it’s on. If yes, then no; if no, then yes. …

So the isomorphy between the most basic cybernetic control loop and classical logical paradoxes (for e.g.) is exact. The significance of this is surely beyond need of defense.

Capra asks, alluding to the Epimenides Paradox, “Do thermostats lie?” To which Bateson replies:

Yes-no-yes-no-yes-no. You see, the cybernetic equivalent of logic is oscillation.

It seems to me that something of vast importance was discovered here, and subsequently almost entirely lost.

(For anybody following the link, it’s worth noting that surgical extraction is in this case ‘steelmanning’. The retreat to ‘metaphor’ as a substitute for logical formalism is disastrously inadequate. The alternative that matters is not figurative language, but the circuit diagram, and recursive code.)

May 2, 2015admin 25 Comments »

Quote note (#163)

William M. Briggs on the morbid backdrop to Britain’s electoral circus (among many other things):

England … will soon have an election in which one of the candidates, Ed Miliband, promises that, if elected, he will make “Islamaphobia” a crime. Rather, an aggravated crime, a state of mortal secular sin. It is already a venal sin.

Now Islam is inimical to Western, in particular British, values. Which effectively means Miliband will make it illegal to uphold those values. No imam could do better.

Suicide is always an ugly thing to watch, no?

May 1, 2015admin 9 Comments »
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