February 22, 2011

You are what you read

...reading a great work for the first time when one is fully adult is an extraordinary pleasure, one which is very different (though it is impossible to say whether more or less pleasurable) from reading it in one's youth. Youth endows every reading, as it does every experience, with a unique flavour and significance, whereas at a mature age one appreciates (or should appreciate) many more details, levels and meanings. We can therefore try out this other formulation of our definition [of a classic]:

2. The classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them.

For the fact is that the reading we do when young can often be of little value because we are impatient, cannot concentrate, lack expertise in how to read, or because we lack experience of life. This youthful reading can be (perhaps at the same time) literally formative in that it gives a form or shape to our future experiences, providing them with models, ways of dealing with them, terms of comparison, schemes for categorising them, scales of value, paradigms of beauty: all things which continue to operate in us even when we remember little or nothing about the book we read when young. When we reread the book in our maturity, we then rediscover these constants which by now form part of our inner mechanisms though we have forgotten where they came from. There is a particular potency in the work which can be forgotten in itself but which leaves its seed behind in us.
Italo Calvino, Why Read the Classics?

February 19, 2011

Evidence that takes some sorting

A typical assignment for Srivastava goes like this: A mining company has multiple samples from a potential gold mine. Each sample gives a different estimate of the amount of mineral underground. “My job is to make sense of those results,” he says. “The numbers might seem random, as if the gold has just been scattered, but they’re actually not random at all. There are fundamental geologic forces that created those numbers. If I know the forces, I can decipher the samples. I can figure out how much gold is underground.”

February 17, 2011

The 3lb Universe

The strange truth about reality is that it is both objective and subjective. In one sense we are totally at the mercy of the forces of reality, and in another sense we create our own image of reality and impose our own will on reality. One paradox revealed by psychedelics is that reality creates the mind which creates the illusion of reality so that reality can organize, observe, and modify itself from a variety of novel subjective perspectives. I think that psychedelic paradigms of god, unity, latent psychic powers, and cosmic consciousness are all attempts to grapple with the cosmic scope of this mind-bending paradox where object and subject dissolve into the same thing looking back at itself across the expanding sea of infinity. Human brains are not meant to cope with this inverted universal perspective of reality; we have no good words for encompassing the experience; the common name we use is God.

February 11, 2011

Sorting through notes on blank business cards, getting things back together again

Not sure when/where, but a note from a talk by Karl Shroeder where he said something like: There are no disruptive technologies, only disruptive business plans.

February 10, 2011

A nonabstract continuation of reality

The cybernetic structure of a person has been refined by a very large, very long, and very deep encounter with physical reality.
From this point of view, what can make bits have meaning is that their patterns have been hewn out of so many encounters with reality that they aren't really abstractable bits anymore, but are instead a nonabstract continuation of reality.

February 08, 2011

Using Power Laws to Predict Terrorist Attacks

image from this page about ponzi schemes
“It is weird when you step back and say, ‘There are thinking, social beings in these organizations, they have families and causes and ideals and so on.’ And I’m thinking about them as being a little bit like particles.

“But,” he says, “the patterns speak for themselves.”

February 06, 2011

Surounded by practical infinities

I awaked each morning in a fever, sometimes frantically trying to verify or discredit such information as fell within the range of modern human knowledge. Traditional facts took on new and doubtful aspects, and I marvelled at the dream-fancy which could invent such surprising addenda to history and science. I shivered at the mysteries the past may conceal, and trembled at the menaces the future may bring forth. What was hinted in the speech of post-human entities of the fate of mankind produced such an effect on me that I will not set it down here.
H.P Lovecraft, The Shadow Out of Time

February 04, 2011

Drinking [of limited interest]

I spent the summer when I was 19 working at a summer camp in the US, and that was a dry season, but in the 21 yrs since then I don't think I've gone any less than 3 days out of 5 without a drink, and more often 14 in 15.

I stopped last week [1/26], other than a small glass of beer socially if we go out for dinner, and things were good, other than being at a loss what to drink at night and having too much energy and focus in the evenings. And fortunately I live in a place and move in circles where weed is hard to find and expensive.

As a weakness / test of the system I drank again last night [2.25L of beer] with the predicted results, but then stopped there, rather than moving on to something else. It was interesting to see how clear it is where the problem lies, and so back to no drinking again.