Friday, April 27, 2012

If this isn't Lake Woebegone then...

Why isn't anyone average?

There are a variety of re-reports and repostings of a study done at U of British Columbia that concludes people who are, in the sloppy parlance of popular press, more "analytically inclined" and less reliant on intuition are on average less likely to profess some religious faith.   But from a read of the article [pg 493 of the April 27 issue of Science] the "significance" of the evidence for analytic minds rejecting supernatural beliefs in five different test strategies, was stated in terms of statistical measures of the confidence in the averages, and based on samples as small as 100 persons.   This means that the only people who are going to "believe" the results are already the analytic and disbelieving subset of humans.  I guess I pride myself on my own analytic skills and objectivity and feel rather more comfortable with Buddhist perceptions of mind-in-universe than with any of the more dogmatic and myth-centered creeds.  But other than stroking the self confidence of the nerdy atheists, the reach of this article won't be great: its not written in a language the true believers can believe.

Much more interesting to me was the actual theory of mind that was applied: a kind of "you have both analytic and intuitive modes, one may be stronger in some folks", but either one can be attenuated or accentuated in its competition with the other by the conditions under which you use your mind to form and state some conclusion.

Maybe you should check out Joseph Campbell's Mythos lectures again? Campbell was above average.

Monday, February 14, 2011

hey, you there in the bushes!

If you are naked and don't want to be seen but want to know who it is that you hear coming, you might step behind a hedge and just peak through. But do you know if the owner of the hedge is back there behind you with a full view of your backside?

...that is a metaphor for people who make obscure names for themselves and then repeatedly use those names in web IDs by which they chat, visit forums, blog and so forth...they almost make it easy for the marketer or phisher who is sifting the net for real names to manage an uncloaking. So say researchers at INRIA.

You can test that special bit of privacy armor you forged for yourself right here.
I did. My moniker greensmile is would not be identifying until the population of the planet shrank to 1.4 billion. But the gmail ID behind it is a friggen lighthouse with my name on it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

actually not funny

This was once good for a giggle.

Yes, friends, 32 bits just ain't big enough for all of us.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

'Bout time!

Thanks to my feed from Lindsay Bayerstein's new gig, [I don't get TV where I now live and hate like hell to even read the news much] I hear Obama finally got a priority I agree with.

Getting the general tax paying public, which is broker than a bum with a gambling habit, to pay for your lung replacement and your liposuction ain't gonna happen. Give up your state of denial about mortality and recover from your numbed sense of responsibility for your own dodgy health. Far better fates await a people who know they can't save themselves until they save their planet and remove the temptation to wage ruinous wars on petroleum rich dictatorships.

Who knows? Maybe I am living in a sane country after all?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

You are not in control.

If Matt Taibbi and Eric J. Weiner agree that US infrastructure and land have gone on the auction block, who am I to argue otherwise? I have retreated to farmland, sold my stocks and whittled my dependence on the health and savings institutions that this schizophrenic nation sets up in congress one year and tears down on Murdoctored News the next. And when the authors agree that the buyers are sovereign funds pumped full of cash by our own insatiable consumption and banker-crafted and corporation-friendly trade policies, why would any of us be hoping that a less rapacious model of globalization will alleviate or prevent economic suffering of the marginalized majority of people either in the states or abroad?

Its a fun exercise to just run through the entire listing of current titles in economics at B&N or other outlets. They fall mostly in to a few categories:
  • the business-will-make-you-rich kind seem to run on either of two theories...the author knows a secret the rest of the market does not and you can learn the trick, or "You Just Need a Bigger Ego to be a winner". It is refreshing to see Dan Ariely on the same book shelves.
  • the Intrigue-of-Big-Money and power. The long list of titles of this genre go into every boardroom and stateroom looking for bad guys...and what a surprise! They found some. That category includes both the invisible hand of the collective or divine as Adam Smith imagined it and the invisible hand of some cabal of bankers or secretive super rich. No matter: all such musings focus not on the cause but on the carnage, the irresistible and morbidly appealing accident scene that fearful and neurotic humans bring forth from a rich planet, a sorry miscarriage of cleverness in the absence of wisdom or simple kindness. Just as romance novels are over-sized love stories for dull love-starved readers, I suspect this Financial Intrigue genre is only read seriously by the empty pocketed non-players hoping for a glimpse into that other world that has trodden so heavily on their own.
  • The institutions-just-need-a-tune-up. Stiglitz and Charlton [linked above] are in this category. They propose tuning an engine that runs on blood if you ask me.

It were better to look not in to the crooks, witting or unwitting, nor into their institutional tools but into our own spendthrift hearts. I find a fourth category of books on economics, one that is probably dismissed by the wealthy who actually benefit from the current order and from the common, globalizing sense that sane priorities must place profit or at least subsistence ahead of sustainability. The nature of the beast is that we will always put our subsistence ahead of the sustainability of anyone else's future. The prescriptions of these authors who say that you can mend the world by taking charge of your own habits are reported by their publishers to be "new ideas" and to bring a ray of hope to the dismal prospects offered by the dismal science. Don't I wish. Its not wrong to ask that we think more of the world of trees than the world of money...its just not human nature. And it saddens me to observe this because I do agree that empowerment begins in the micro-economic realm where we, the plankton of the economic food chain, really could just say NO if we were at all in the habit of conscious, informed choices and a modicum of deferred gratification.

Jeffrey Sachs is one writer who sees clearly enough how we got here and then gets a bit dreamy about how we can turn to new institutions and schemes of socially and environmentally equitable negotiation in order to salvage human history:
So there is yet another respected source saying the mighty US is losing control of the financial destiny of its citizens...but I must repeat myself here: why would we expect any such detour from the unvarying selfishness that permeates all that has been done to date by nations and sects and individuals? We would need people raised in a different world if these new institutions would be embraced. I would hate to have the kind Mr. Soros hear this but from where I stand, it appears that the works of the generous wash away like sand castles built at low tide. Watch what happens this Tuesday.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Its kind of like a cemetary...

Wherever you try to bury a fear, a stone of anger marks the spot.