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Showing posts from August, 2017

notable not able

to glomarise (US govt v.): to stonewall; to answer a request for information with "neither confirm nor deny". After that time the Americans tried to steal a ruined Soviet nuclear sub.
pro tanto (legal adj.): as much as you can; as far as it goes. Of a fine with a cap dependent on how much the defendant actually has.
multihyphenate (adj.): doing several jobs, like "actor-director" or "scientist-playwright". Good word - but unfortunately it is largely used by pretentious fools and connotes deluded bragging about one's own complexity.
Moiré pattern (n.): large-scale interference pattern produced by a stripey pattern with lighter gaps. Old TVs were terrible at showing anything striped without moiréing.

powerless (theoretical CS adj): having sub-quadratic complexity; not having a power (greater than 1) on any term.
cryptobourgeoisie (): people who have made a lot of money (millions) through bitcoin and ether. The door is closing.
civil twilight (n.): the b…

notable no table

New Aesthetic (art n.): Best defined visually. That slightly grating half-digitised gimmick that every other alt rock album of the last 7 years has used:

surface learning (n.): superficial, merely verbal, resentful, and test-driven education. No engagement, no internalisation, no critique. Forgotten within months. Most of the 'learning' in the world is just this.
chinny reckon (sarcastic English interjection): Liar! See also Itchy Chin, Chinny chinny... My peers used this to mean "I wonder" in response to an obvious question.
damnit operator (computing n.): "!"; an error-suppressing manual override of some language feature. e.g. style inheritance priority (in CSS) or nullability (in C#).
farm (computing n.): Set of servers all slaved as one.
adult supervision (n.): Whereby a startup hires an older, outsider CEO. Started as a joke, but it is now reified.
UQ (academic n.): uncertainty quantification; a multidisciplinary field covering uncertainty in a rigorous and…

Why I am not a philosopher

The greatest nontechnical minds in history have all failed to work out the nature of the world just by thinking about it, and so would I.

(Technical minds sometimes manage it, but with data, plus maths, plus just thinking about it. But that isn't philosophy, anymore. *)


OK. Aside from the pursuit of truth, which it is manifestly bad at: what reasons are there to do philosophy?

philosophy as janitor work: tidying concepts
The standard rejoinder to the account of philosophy implied above is that philosophy is not about adding to a body of knowledge, but instead clarifying the concepts used in other bodies of knowledge. This is how most naturalistic philosophers now think of their role, e.g. in WVO Quine: is scrutiny of [the] uncritical acceptance of the realm of physical objects itself, or of classes, etc., that devolves upon ontology. Here is the task of making explicit what had been tacit, and precise what had been vague; of exp…

notable no no no no no no limit

black tax (South African n.): 1) putative burden on black South Africans, to support their extended family; 2) Trevor Noah uses it as a substitute for "white privilege", which I think is a good idea. Racism is an artificial burden on black people, rather than an unearned bonus for whites. 'Privilege' distorts the issue and invites correct but irrelevant objections about how little has been given the privilegee.
Saffer (n.): South African person.
japie or yarpie (Afrikaans n.): (white) farmboy; bogan; teuchter; hillbilly.
chemsex (gay UK n.): Intercourse facilitated and potentiated by e.g. meth, GHB, mephedrone. Particularly of Grindr people. See also slamsex, chemsex with injected substances.
dec (fashion n.): Décolletage; a woman's neck, shoulders and cleavage.
MORSE (academic n.): Maths, Op Research, Statistics, Economics. All the good stuff.
passage (microbiology n.): process of a pathogen iterating itself, as it passes through one organism and mutates.

epimetheus and procrustes

'I think in a line — but there is the potential of the plane.' This perhaps was what great art was: a momentary apprehension of the plane at a point in the line. — Charles Williams

A theory is a machine for answering a class of questions. — Judea Pearl What philosophers and socialthinkers and literary critics call their "theories" do not often merit the word. Rather, these people lay out models - with all the artificiality, partiality and temporariness that implies, and seldom the precision. A model is a tool for making sense of things, for filtering out things in self-defence, and is not necessarily a general claim about reality, a truth-machine.

(Some of them agree with this low estimate, like the post-modernists. People don't realise that post-modernists are often self-deprecating - some of them even call their works little: Minima Moralia, Minima Memoria, les petits récits.)

These theories are actually language games. O.K. Except that (the best) scien…


I can handle bullshit. However copious, however arbitrary: I am confident in the extent of my stoicism, I could be a Kolmogorov, it would flow over me without touching the heart. I'm capable of not caring about what I do.

Logically, I would be worse off if I couldn't stand it, if I was forced to be Solzhenitsyn. But I can't help admiring people who can't put up with it. I have an extra ability, and many extra opportunities, but they've the crown.

notable heinleinations

winchell (n.) and lippman (n.): Two words for 'journalist' coined by Heinlein. A "winchell" is a hateful, gossipy pundit. Named for this nasty little man. A "lippman" is a brave, muckracking investigator. Named for this good guy. We really really need two words for these two wildly different ideal types. (More recently Nick Davies tried out "churnalism", but it didn't stick.) It is stupid to attack 'journalism' when you are only dissing winchells, but that is the blunt instrument of language for you.
niladic (computer adj.): Of a function, having zero arguments. The zeroth member of the n-adics.
d'Alembertian (maths n.): the Laplace operator in Minkowski space; the divergence of the gradient of a function in a 4D manifold. What a beautiful word.
bim (1950s US n.): woman. I think the register is the same as "chick" or "broad".
offboarding process (HR adj.): The minutiae surrounding leaving a job: deleting accounts, g…

you do you

Out at London Pride, uncharacteristically. Around 1am, as you do, find myself in an intimate discussion with a stranger. Who leaps to what he imagines is my defence:
"What are you into?""Women, mostly.""Oh right." "It's a really limited view, though. I wish I were more open.""What? There's no such thing as limited! You got to accept yourself!""Sure, but - I'm only attracted to like a tenth of the population; it would be objectively better to have a larger pool, and to see all of beauty.""Hey, hey: stop it, you don't need to justify myself. You are you, so you do you. Don't do anyone else.""That's a beautiful thing to say, and there's a lot of people in the world who really need to hear it. Not me though.""It's true for everyone! You'll only hurt yourself by not being yourself.""No, though. Consider: monkeys like bananas and sex; humans like bananas, sex …

odour of sanctity

"36056e1bc7447cc3d66832a10f9e420beeab3226" (2017) by dorianna Besides being free and endless and potentially superhuman, algorithmic art has a hidden benefit:
The artefacts are not the real problem with conceptual art: rather, it's the pretense. The artist, feigning profundity; the critic, helping them wank. Artbots won't claim profundity, nor will they be attributed it; so they might make museums smell less of shite.

"Accidentally generated pattern........" (2015) by Kieran G. Larkin 'Exploration of Related Points Along a Space Filling Curve #2' (2007) by Don Relyea "inception_4c-output-3-9-3" (2007) by Pete Ashton