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August 2011

Blogfodder linkdump part 8

The penultimate link dump. This selection comes from the first half of 2007, a year when I didn’t really blog at all. I regret that. Anyway, enjoy:

  • Crappy Sound Forever! / David Byrne on how recording technology changed the way music was/is written and performed.
  • Freedom is slavery / Links and commentary on free will and determinism. I wrote an essay about free will in one of my end-of-year philosophy exams years ago; I think I concluded it by contradicting everything I’d asserted before the last paragraph.
  • English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects / Or, the grammar of swearing (via Kottke).
  • The stuff of dreams / Ferrofluids, dilatants and other freaky sciency things.
  • Powers of 10 / “Two leading structural engineers pick their favorite feats of man-made wonder.” They wouldn’t all be my pick, but nice all the same.


Weeknotes #510-516

Thanks to Twitter for helping me remember the following:

4/7 — I find a hole torn in the back of favorite plaid shirt. Annoyed. Proper, durable (non-fashiony) plaid shirts are hard to come by round these parts.

Later in the day, the beginnings of a bad week of hayfever-induced sinusitis. Ugh.

13/7 — Markham sent me an invite to Google+ a couple of days ago. First impressions? It’s like Facebook, but more Twittery in its de-emphasising of symmetrical relationships. But at the same time, it’s kind of boring without my friends there. I don’t feel the same way about Twitter, funnily enough.

16/7 — Made up a batch of my tomato, carrot and onion soup. The secret ingredient is habanero sauce. Yum.

17/7 — Watching Sunday morning wrestling. Zack Ryder has a QR code on the front of his shorts. Genius! Although I’m not sure that’s what they really meant by the Internet of Things.


Why people believe bullshit

From an interview with philosopher Stephen Law in New Scientist on his new book, Believing Bullshit:

Some things may be beyond our understanding, and sometimes it’s reasonable to appeal to mystery. If you have excellent evidence that water boils at 100°C, but on one occasion it appeared it didn’t, it’s reasonable to attribute that to some mysterious, unknown factor. It’s also reasonable, when we have a theory that works but we don’t know how it works, to say that this is currently a mystery. But the more we rely on mystery to get us out of intellectual trouble, or the more we use it as a carpet under which to sweep inconvenient facts, the more vulnerable we are to deceit, by others and by ourselves.

Thinking out loud about David Starkey, the England Riots, etc

So this David Starkey thing, eh? “The whites have become black”? Enoch Powell? “Jamaican patois”? That old chestnut about black people who ‘sound white’? Really?

Anyway, one thing that stands out for me from the Starkey furore — apart from the hole-digging of an ignorant man, desperately out of touch and out of depth — is the hypocrisy of his subsequent evisceration by the media. That’s the very same media that can’t look at itself and see how it fuels the very stereotypes that influence such misleading attitudes.