Getting too deeply into statistics is like trying to quench a thirst with salty water. The angst of facing mortality has no remedy in probability. Paul Kalanithi, ‘When Breath Becomes Air’
“as long as they keep asking the wrong questions, the answers really don’t matter”.
A well argued and evidence based article like this will get you nowhere. This is Britain. Better to put some bollox on a bus.
A comment from the ‘Swedish Chef’ on the FT.
As one Oxford university scholar and administrator courted by the Gulf, who is against satellite campuses, puts it: “We have open doors, but they are our doors.”
Yep, that time of year. This is how Irvine Welsh puts it. Remember: art is not a mirror; art is a hammer.
I’m generally pretty relaxed and very rarely suffer from stress. I see my role as more of a “stress enabler” in others. The last thing I would do if I was stressed would be to read a book. I’d rather write one.
Ed-tech is a confidence game. That’s why it’s so full of marketers and grifters and thugs. (The same goes for “tech” at large.)
In climate science, you can check out of the lab anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Dave Reay, University of Edinburgh, quoted in Nature this week.
“criticism and optimism are the same thing. When you criticize things, it’s because you think they can be improved. It’s the complacent person or the fanatic who’s the true pessimist, because they feel they already have the answer. It’s the people who think that things are open-ended, that things can still be changed through thought, through creativity—those are the true optimists. So I worry, sure, but it’s optimistic worry.” Jaron Lanier. We Need to Have an Honest Talk About Our Data
“Bad strategy flourishes because it floats above analysis, logic, and choice, held aloft by the hot hope that one can avoid dealing with these tricky fundamentals and the difficulties of mastering them.”
Richard Rumelt “Good strategy/Bad strategy”. A moral for our time
“The real world doesn’t care what you are bad at, it only cares what you are good at.” (It is not like school). CP Grey. On the podcast ‘Cortex’.
John Kennedy told the story of Marshal Hubert Lyautey (1854–1934), a French army general and colonial administrator in Morocco. Lyautey asked his gardener to plant a certain tree. The gardener objected that the tree would grow slowly and wouldn’t reach maturity for a century. “In that case,” the marshal replied, “there is no time to lose. Plant it this afternoon.”
From Larry Lessig in America, Compromised.
A tidy phrase from Stephen Downes in a comment on corporate cash and universities:
There’s nothing especially new here, though it is helpful to remember that when for-profit corporations donate money, it is with a for-profit objective.
This is a THE quote referring to the late Sir David Watson. [Link]
In England, he said, undergraduates had been reduced to “state-sponsored Wonga-style customers”; you can see what I mean about that turn of phrase.
I can indeed. And I claim to have come up with similar terminology independently.
“They have mobile phones, social media, but no proper toilets and clean water.” Link.
To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.
This is a validated Einstein quote (many claims of what he did say, appear mistaken).
Some tidy words from a Master
When I was at the National all those years ago, I knew I had something in me,” he says, “but I didn’t have the discipline. I had a Welsh temperament and didn’t have that ‘fitting in’ mechanism. Derek Jacobi, who is wonderful, had it, but I didn’t. I would fight, I would rebel. I thought, ‘Well, I don’t belong here.’ And for almost 50 years afterwards, I felt that edge of, ‘I don’t belong anywhere, I’m a loner.’ I don’t have any friends who are actors at all
Premature optimization, noted Donald Knuth, is the root of all evil. Mediocrity, you might say, is resistance to optimization under conditions where optimization is always premature. And what might such conditions be?
I think this speaks to the value of conscious thought over reflex.
As the joke goes, everyone hates millennials until they need to convert a PDF document into Word.
Europeans may wish to opt out of the global battle for corporate domination. They may even hope that they may thus achieve a greater degree of freedom for democratic politics. But the risk is that their growing reliance on other people’s technology, the relative stagnation of the eurozone and the consequent dependence of Europe’s growth model on exports to other people’s markets will render those pretensions to autonomy quite empty. Rather than an autonomous actor, Europe risks becoming the object of other people’s capitalist corporatism. Indeed, as far as international finance is concerned, the die has already been cast. In the wake of the double crisis, Europe is out of the race. The future will be decided between the survivors of the crisis in the United States and the newcomers of Asia.44 They may choose to locate in the City of London, but after Brexit even that cannot be taken for granted. Wall Street, Hong Kong and Shanghai may simply bypass Europe.
From: ‘Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World’ by Adam Tooze. This book brings to my mind Alan Kay’s comment when he was awarded the Turing Prize:’the computer revolutions hadn’t happened yet’. I don’t think we have even begun to live through the worst of the Crash (yet).
Marie Curie said: “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”
This is from David Hubel, although the citation is not to hand.
Most importantly, today’s organization of science tends to deprive a young scientist of one of the most important learning experiences, that of thinking up a project of one’s own and carrying it through; deciding for oneself, independently, whether to persist or to give up and switch over to something else.
I read this book so long ago I cannot remember when. But Perutz had a way with words ( as well as molecules).
What is Life? helped to make influential biologists out of several physicists: Crick, Seymour Benzer and Maurice Wilkins, among others. But there’s no indication from contemporary reviews that many biologists grasped the real significance of Schrödinger’s code-script as a kind of active program for the organism. Some in the emerging science of molecular biology were critical. Linus Pauling and Max Perutz were both damning about the book in 1987, on the centenary of Schrödinger’s birth. Pauling considered negative entropy a “negative contribution” to biology, and castigated Schrödinger for a “vague and superficial” treatment of life’s thermodynamics. Perutz grumbled that “what was true in his book was not original, and most of what was original was known not to be true even when the book was written”.
He finds the current art scene disturbing in its voracious focus on acquisition. “It is not so different from bitcoin. Art is the ultimate cryptocurrency. What the art world is doing is engineering the consensual value of something, very quickly. It only needs two people, a buyer and a seller.”
“And often the learned men of our time are only dwarfs on the shoulders of dwarfs.”
The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco
“The more you regard college as a credentialing exercise, the less likely you are to get the benefits.”
the problem is that education has become the default solution to everything.
Andrew Keen, in How to Fix the Future. A speaker at last year’s OEB meeting. Worth a read.
‘True science thrives best in glass houses where everyone can look in. When the windows are blacked out, as in war, the weeds take over; when secrecy muffles criticism, charlatans and cranks flourish’.
Max Perutz (1914-), Austrian born biochemist. Shared 1962 Nobel Prize for X-ray crystallography of haemoglobin.
Hype is not fading, it is cracking.
I like the turn of phrase. It is from a post on the coming AI winter. Invest wisely.
It’s curious, the question that comes up without fail, when I’m asked what I do for a day job – how can you defend somebody you know is guilty? But I’ve never once been asked by anyone – how can you prosecute someone you think is innocent?”
Fine thoughts, with words and a life to match
The departure of scientific reality from what common sense suggests is going on (the sun going round the Earth, for example) no longer threatens political institutions, but it threatens the human psyche just as much as it did in Galileo’s day. Dr Hawking’s South Pole of time was 13.7 billion years in the past—three times as old as the Earth. His mathematics showed that the universe, though finite in time, might be infinite in space.
No philosophy that puts humanity anywhere near the centre of things can cope with facts like these. All that remains is to huddle together in the face of the overwhelmingness of reality. Yet the sight of one huddled man in a wheelchair constantly probing, boldly and even cheekily demonstrating the infinite reach of the human mind, gave people some hope to grasp, as he always wished it would.
The Economist’s obit of Stephen Hawking