“Should we trust models or observations?” In reply we note that if we had observations of the future, we obviously would trust them more than models, but unfortunately observations of the future are not available at this time.
Now there is a perfume I’m working on that’s inspired by The Tale of Genji that will be made from extremely rare ingredients. It will be fabulously expensive because they’re incredibly hard to get. Much of it has to do with the Japanese ritual of burning incense. There are two words for it: one’s the ritual of burning incense and the other is a game where incense is burned and people are asked either to identify or they’ll burn various things and try to combine a smoke that’s really beautiful. Or people will talk about poetry or literature or what the smell the smoke inspires in them. That was very popular at the time that The Tale of Genji was written.
Some conceptions of the good life take the Aristotelian view to the extreme of denying altogether the relevance of subjective well-being. For those who do not want to go that far, the distinction between experienced happiness and life satisfaction raises serious problems. In particular, there appears to be little hope for any unitary concept of subjective well-being. I used to hold a unitary view, in which I proposed that only experienced happiness matters, and that life satisfaction is a fallible estimate of true happiness. I eventually concluded that this view is not tenable, for one simple reason: people seem to be much more concerned with the satisfaction of their goals than with the achievement of experienced happiness. A definition of subjective well-being that ignores people’s goals is not tenable. On the other hand, an exclusive focus on satisfaction is not tenable either. If two people are equally satisfied (or unsatisfied) with their lives but one of them is almost always smiling happily and the other is mostly miserable, will we ignore that in assessing their well-being?I love this. It gets at the root of a very long argument in a new way by looking at the texture of thought and consciousness. The Thinking book (and Kahneman's body of research) is full of exactly this sort of insight, and is one of the few books I've read on the subject that treats with decision-making and strategy while avoiding beginners mistakes in understanding general psychology. One of the best books of the year.
When I started college I thought I would now lead the life of the mind, rather than making good grades. It wasn’t like that. I hated the intellectual mediocrity, I did not know how to find something better; I attempted suicide for the first time at 19. Afterwards I asked myself: Is there anything, anything at all, that would make it a good thing that I did not die? And I thought: If I could go to Oxford, where the life of the mind is taken seriously, that would make it a good thing. Years later a psychologist told me it was not necessary to commit suicide when alienated by intellectual mediocrity: He had gone to Cornell, with its frat culture, but he had found one friend and it had been all right. He asked me why dealing with my publishers had led to a suicide attempt, and I said, well, if a book is technically challenging it is hard to get it through the machine, but if you want to write a work of genius it is necessary to take risks. He said: Your sanity is more important than writing a work of genius. I thought: Nobody who thinks that will ever write a work of genius. I thought: We all die sooner or later.Go and read the whole thing. Perhaps you will be saved by it. Who can tell? We are fortified in this life by the strangest and most happenstance of things.
What I mean is. The Oxford of my imagination was not the Oxford of the actual world. But going to Oxford did transform me intellectually; it was the absolute impossibility of staying where I was, the ability to imagine something better, and the ability to work very hard for it, that took me there. In that sense the Oxford of my imagination was more powerful than the real university: I was trying to live by the standards of something that I had made up in my head, a place where everyone had read Proust in French, every classicist read the whole of Greek tragedy in the original….
Karl Popper, the philosopher, has written a beautiful essay on the plot-paranoia syndrome. He said it starts with Homer. Everything that happens at Troy is decided the day before on Olympus with the gods. So, he says, every society in a way elaborates the paranoia of somebody on their shoulders, deciding their fates. First, it’s a way to escape responsibility. It’s not me, it’s not my fault. Second, it’s very useful, especially for dictatorships. All my youth, until the age of 10, I was educated under the fascist dictatorship. And they said there was the demo-pluto-judo-cratic plot—democracies, plutocracies, and the Jews. It was a general plot in the world to humiliate Italy. And until yesterday Berlusconi continued his campaign about the communist plot against Italy. We have no more communists! Not even with a candle can you find them.
The past is full of everything. Great powers, obscure powers – which may have other achievements to their name. There are powers which last for centuries, but I found a republic which lasted for one day.Read the whole thing, and then buy all of the books on the list.
Goodness me. Which day?
March 15, 1939. The republic of Subcarpathian Ruthenia. It was the day that Hitler marched into Prague. The Germans swallowed Bohemia and Moravia, formed a protectorate and Slovakia became a client statelet of the Reich. And the third part of Czechoslovakia, this Subcarpathian Ruthenia, was left with nobody to tell it what to do. So it declared its independence at around 10 o’clock in the morning. And by the evening the Hungarian army arrived and swallowed it up. Fortunately there was a British travel writer – or someone posing as such – there at the time who described all this.
The finest pianos in the world were built about a hundred years ago. Due to evolution in engineering, exhaustion of raw materials, and flagging business standards, we will never see their like again. Some people may build very good pianos; new forms of the instrument may exceed (in narrow ways) the magnificent machines built a few decades either side of the year 1900. But, from a musical perspective, there will never be a “better” piano than the typical concert grand of a century ago.
4. Inventio Fortunata(via boingboing)
In the 14th century, a Franciscan monk from Oxford, whose name is unknown, traveled the North Atlantic. He described the geography of the Arctic, including what he presumed was the North Pole, in a book called Inventio Fortunata, or “The Discovery of the Fortunate Islands.” He gave King Edward III a copy of his travelogue around 1360, and some say an additional five copies floated around Europe before the book was lost.
What followed next was a game of telephone that stretched across centuries. In 1364, another Franciscan described the contents of Inventio Fortunata to Flemish author Jacob Cnoyen, who, in turn, published a summary in his own book, Itinerarium.
Unfortunately, Itinerarium also went missing—but not before Gerard Mercator, one of the most prestigious cartographers of the 16th century, read it.
Mercator, writing to an English scientist named John Dee in 1577, cribbed word for word from Itinerarium’s description of the North Pole: “In the midst of the four countries is a Whirl-pool, into which there empty these four indrawing Seas which divide the North. And the water rushes round and descends into the Earth just as if one were pouring it through a filter funnel. It is four degrees wide on every side of the Pole, that is to say eight degrees altogether. Except that right under the Pole there lies a bare Rock in the midst of the Sea. Its circumference is almost 33 French miles, and it is all of magnetic Stone.”
When Mercator published a world map in 1569, he used this description as the source for his illustration of the Arctic—based upon the third-hand summary of a lost book written by an unknown monk 200 years earlier.
"A wise man once said--'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it.Play us out, guys:
"I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.
"We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It's been amazing."
When I was 10 years old my parents took me to the Museum of Modern Art to see an exhibit entitled Structures for sound. It was a collection of "musical sculptures" created by Francois and Bernard Baschet and it permanently reupholstered my brain. From that moment on, I knew that I not only wanted to be a musician, but a weird musician.I love that. I've always wanted to be a weird musician, too.
The body includes behavior possibilities. It has the sense of space in which you can do things, not just move around. The possibilities of “what we can do from here” is the space that we really live in; we don’t live in empty, abstract, geometric space.A further explication of the body feeling concept can be found here.
And then on top of that, you have your thinking capacity. The thinking that you are doing varies your behavior possibilities. You might think of something and then see that you can do such and such, which you hadn’t seen before. So the thinking changes the behavior possibilities, and that in turn is reconstituting your body in various ways.
Your body takes everything you learn with you. But your body understanding is more than what you learned. It absorbs what you learn, and then it still implies further. A body isn’t only an is; it is an is and implies further.
awesomepeoplehangingouttogether:The cast of the original Star Wars trilogy“ARB,” I believe the parlance goes.
Thing is: we should store copies of this photo in every library and every time capsule.
Because, I think this may be very important.