OK, let’s celebrates Feb 29!
Big Ideas Become Slogans, Equations, Tweets:
I was contemplating a copy of Pascal’s Pensées. It seems as if he invented the Aphorism genre, just as Montaigne earlier invented the Essay genre. The advantage of short aphorisms is that one can drive straight to the main point.
Twitter is helpful that way. Contracting thoughts in 140 signs: a worthy exercise. Are equations tweets? Remember E = mcc, E = hv, F = ma, E = mgh, E = 1/2 mvv, Plus Oultre, Dura Lex Sed Lex, etc.
Here is a tweet: “Sometimes one has to give luck a chance!“
Labeling Saves Lives:
Samis have more than 300 words to describe various states of snow. To each different word, a different concept. Some people have died, up north, because they met a type of snow they did not know existed. Unable to move, they starved.
Kicking The Machinery To Get FTL:
The OPERA experimenters are not too sure that their Faster Than Light signal was not simply due to an insufficiently screwed cable
For all it’s worth, I encountered a strange situation yesterday. I had lost a few TV channels on my high speed internet plus TV connection. Reception was perfect on most channels, but on others, it was indicated “this channel to be available shortly”. After checking out all other possibilities, the Cable Company technicians told me they had encountered that situation before, and would I please screw every cable connection really tight.
It turned out that the input cable in the TV box had become slightly loose from thermal cycles. So there was a complete loss of some channels, while other digital channels were left completely unscathed. I would never have expected such a thing, and i don’t understand how it makes sense, physics wise.
But then I remembered that Hans Solo had to kick his spaceship to get it to achieve Faster Than Light while he was fleeing the Dark Side’s plutocrats during Star Wars (episode IV). Sophisticated we are, yet the basics stay OPERAtive…
Chimpsky: How Silly Can One Get?
Do those intellectuals who adulated Stalin or Hitler have something in common with those admiring Chomsky?
Chomsky’s main idea seems to have been that children came with an “innate grammar”. Is it as if Chomsky never observed any child. Children LEARN. They don’t come out there, all knowing. There is basically nothing they know to start with. They even learn to look, and see.
My daughter had to be delivered early through C section, for several medical reasons. So she was a bit premature. Her eyes were closed. however, when she heard my voice in the incubator, she turned her head towards me, opened her eyes, looked at me for maybe a minute. Obviously she was thinking: this is the voice I heard before, and it comes from that. Then, enough curiosity satisfied at this point, she closed her eyes for the next three days (which she probably spent partly processing that minute long, probably blurred vision).
Chomsky does not know learning. Yet, he has a vastly Politically Correct following. No doubt from a vast herd who does not know learning either. The funny thing is that I agree with many of his political views (not all of them!)
At this point my daughter is 29 months old. She understands thousands, and speaks hundreds, of words in English and French, each.
Her first word was uttered at an unbelievable three weeks (!), although that was an event not repeated for quite a while (she was in the sort of frustrated pain infants are prone to find themselves in, trying to crawl about, and her dad made gentle fun of her, so she emitted an anguished “Daddyyy”, so that the author of her days would stick to strict empathy).
Now she has her own camera. Yesterday Athena was taking a picture of her mother. She barked an order:”Don’t bouge!”. The correct expression for normal people is either:”Don’t move!” (English) or “Bouges pas!” (French).
Just there, Athena demonstrated that Chomsky is wrong. Indeed the English and French grammar are completely different in this case, the position of the verbs are, opposed and the child made her own mix. And it still very clear.
In English, priority is given to the interdiction as the sentence starts with the interdiction:”Don’t!” In French, the communication starts, instead by the information of that the communication is about motion, and the interdiction comes next.
This correspond a different emotional hierarchy in what is more important (what comes, literally, first). English gives priority to the order (“Don’t“), French to the realm of the message (“Bouges“).
Plutocracy In Action:
Newt Gingrich was in trouble, running out of money. So Mr. Ralston, a plutocrat owning casinos from Las Vegas to Macau, cut him a 5 million dollar check. Next Ralston’s wife wrote him another 5 million dollar check. The couple loves Gingrich’s views on Israel. something about a much greater Israel… Will Israel extend all the way to Teheran?
The election in the USA is turning into a contest of billionaires: Romney, Gingrich and their billionaires are going into a food fight with the billion dollar man, Barack Obama.
In the USA, there are no more campaign funding limits for the hyper rich: from a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court “Citizen United“. Statistics show that those who gets the most money for their campaigns get elected. Nancy Pelosi, head of democrats in Congress: “if we just ask the rich who they want to rule, that is a plutocracy”. Yes, well, that is a plutocracy.
Pelosi is pushing the “disclose Act”, revealing who, and what give millions to whom.
In France there is a law outlawing “abus de biens sociaux” (“Abuse of social goods”). Including diverting capital for goals not that of the company. Such a law used to exist. In the USA. The Supreme Court overruled it.
He Writes, I Read, We Will call That A Presidency:
Obama gave his Third State of the Union. A 30 something year old guy, we were told on TV, spent a month writing the speech, “without sleeping”(!). That guy has been writing Obama’s speeches since 2004. Think about it: a guy writes the speeches, Obama reads them off a machine. No wonder Obama sounded “inauthentic“. The 30 year old gentleman, we were told on TV, spent a month writing the speech, “without sleeping“(!). That guy has been writing Obama’s speeches since 2004. Think about it: a guy writes the speeches, Obama reads them off a machine.
The first thing to request from a politician in a democracy is to be authentic. It seems the same guy, when he was 32, wrote the Obama speech on Afghanistan. That basically was all over the map, and somehow deduced Obama was tripling the troops in Afghanistan, while telling he was getting out.
Real Reason For Christianity:
The real reason for Christianity was to give a metaphysical justification to the Roman emperors for killing whoever they did not like. The first Christian emperor applied that to his nephew, his son, Crispus, and his wife, whom he steamed like a lobster.
As far as the mythical Jesus is concerned, he fully subscribed to the old genocidal Abrahamism. Jesus allegedly made, among other incriminating statements:
“These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
Sometimes the sum of the Old Testament was referred to as two collections: the law and the prophets. Interestingly, Jesus referred to Psalm 82:6 as “Law”: “Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” John 10:34.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17
*** When Intelligence Becomes A Trap:
Christy Romer and Paul Krugman rightly lament that the more educated neoconservative republicans are, the more they differ on what facts are. See: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/this-tribal-nation/
For example believing Obama instituted “death panels”, Believing Obama is a “Muslim” (whatever that means!), correlated positively with republicans’ education and self perception as knowing the issues well.
Of course we saw this before. That’s what happened with Stalinism, Nazism, and other fanaticisms deployed. The more educated some were, the more pro-Lenin, pro-Stalin, pro-Mussolini, or pro-Hitler they were!
It is important to understand that mechanism. The errors of the White House are illuminative that way: it fed the exact opposite of what it wanted (one presumes).
An emotion was fed, an ideology was built to support it. For example people around Obama agitated the idea of what was decried (including by me) as “death panels“. Then the idea was dropped.
Meanwhile we learn that a true death panel exist to target individuals for extra-legal assassination of so called “terrorists”, including American citizens, worldwide.
Such facts entangle the White House with a smell of death, ordered, and panels, set-up. Such was the emotion. Then, of course, adversaries smell that smell, and rush an ideology to condemn it, because they were looking for something to condemn.
That is why perception is important. An example: French president Mitterrand killed terrorists, worldwide, every year (Mitterrand started his career during the war, wounded in combat, made prisoner, escaping the Nazis twice, and playing double agent for years, so an execution here or there was routine for him).
However, Mitterrand kept the executions he ordered hushed. It is less of a moral hazard to not to do it officially.
The republic is about the law, and that’s official, and ought to be the only official position. Yet, the French (and Western) law’s skeleton is Roman practice. In Rome, imperators had the right of life and death on soldiers.
Within the city of Rome, the lictors would remove the axes inside the fasces, to demonstrate no Roman citizen could be executed without a trial. Then the fasces would even be lowered to show that the power of the Populus Romanus reigned.
However, outside of Rome, and especially in times of military campaigns, Consuls, the highest officers of the republic, could inflict whatever punishments they saw fit, including the death penalty.
Obama and his administration do not need to evocate the Roman precedent, though. Of what one cannot defend, one should not crow.
Pat Buchanan, a USA presidential candidate, has said many times that making war to Hitler had been a terrible crime that France and her sidekick, Britain, committed. He actually wrote entire books about it. He was paid fortunes to foster this pro-Nazi propaganda, for decades.
The USA ought to be ashamed to have this pro-Nazi express himself so long, so loud, and be immensely rewarded for it. At some point thinking some things aloud is a criminal act.