Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Due to circumstances under control...

The time allotted to thinking deeply about the regularly scheduled blog post was consumed by Hurricane Sandy, so that's what I will write about now, just in case anyone is interested in the exotic subject of riding out hurricanes aboard sailboats at the dock. It's not as exciting as the subject of riding out hurricanes aboard sailboats at sea, but I haven't done that in a while. Nor do I wish that I have. I have a confession to make: I don't like hurricanes very much.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Limits of Language

Pawel Kuczynski
Since this is the height of the political season, I have decided that it would make sense for me to say something about politics which, of course, doesn't matter. And that, obviously, is a political statement.

Last night was the third and final round of what are commonly believed to be debates involving the two presidential candidates. What was said is not very interesting or surprising at all, except in one respect: the two contestants played their role in accordance with a certain unwritten and unexpressed rule of discourse.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Over Three Million Served

Just noticed this...
Pageviews all time history: 3,000,423

In Praise of Anarchy, Part III

Laurent Chehere
[Part I] [Part II]

Kropotkin worked within the framework of 19th century natural science, but his results are just as relevant today as they were then. Moreover, the accuracy of his insights is vindicated by the latest research into complexity theory. Geoffrey West, who was a practicing particle physicist for forty years and is now distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute, has achieved some stunning breakthroughs in complexity theory and the mathematical characterization of scaling of biological systems. Looking at animals big and small, from the tiny shrew to the gigantic blue whale, he and his collaborators were able to determine that all these animals obey a certain power law: their metabolic cost scales with their mass, and the scaling factor is less than one, meaning that the larger the animal, the more effective its resource use and, in essence, the more effective the animal—up to a certain optimum size for each animal. The growth of every animal is characterized by a bounded, sigmoidal curve: growth accelerates at first, then slows down, reaching a steady state as the animal matures.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

In Praise of Anarchy, Part II

Pawel Kuczyński
[Part I]

When confronted with an increasingly despotic régime, the good people of almost any nation will cower in their homes and, once they are flushed out, will allow themselves to be herded like domesticated animals. They will gladly take orders from whoever gives them, because their worst fear is not despotism—it is anarchy. Anarchy! Are you afraid of anarchy? Or are you more afraid of hierarchy? Color me strange, but I am much more afraid of being subjected to a chain of command than of anarchy (which is a lack of hierarchy).

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Browser Issues

Update: apparently the latest IE can deal with the brokenness of Blogger. I just went through and pruned the HTML by hand for the last month's worth of posts. I hope it helps. From now on I am not trusting Blogger's "Compose" mode and will craft the HTML by hand. Sigh.

I keep hearing from people who say that the blog is not showing up in their browser, by which I think they mean the ridiculous thing that is Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Apparently, Blogger has done something that doesn't work with IE. I have tested it in Firefox, Chrome and Safari and saw no issues, and getting things to work with IE is a waste of time. So, don't use IE. It's broken.

In Praise of Anarchy, Part I

Once upon a time there lived a prince. Not a fairytale prince, but a real one, his bloodline extending back to the founder of Russia's first dynasty. It was his bad luck that his mother died when he was young and his father, a military officer who paid little attention to his children, remarried a woman who also took no interest in him or his brother. And so our prince was brought up by the peasants attached to his father's estate (he was born 20 years before Russia abolished serfdom). The peasants were the only ones who took an interest in him or showed him affection, and so he bonded with them as with his family. And so our prince became a traitor to his own class.