zenpundit.com » simulation

Archive for the ‘simulation’ Category

On play as wildness

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — what’s true of hex maps is true of all mental models ]

There’s a certain let-your-hair-down quality to play.

It appears that one Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser said or perhaps wrote, muttered, whispered, shouted, or simply thought out loud, “the straight line is a godless line” — at any rate, someone noticed and recorded the phrase, and now it’s scattered across the net and difficult to track to its source.


But we do love order, don’t we?


And so the rivers on our hexagonal maps all too easily follow the hexagons..


when they’d more realistically cross over them, following their own courses:


and note how easily even our efforts to bring natural variety to our hexagonal mappings conform more to hexagons than to variety.



Zennist Thich Nhat Hanh in Listening Deeply for Peace writes:

A traditional Vietnamese Zen garden is very different from a Japanese Zen garden. Our Zen gardens, called hon non bo, are wild and exuberant, more playful than the formal Japanese gardens with their restrained patterns. Vietnamese Zen gardens are seriously unserious. For us, the whole world is contained in this peaceful place. All activities of life unfold in true peace in the garden: in one part, children will be playing, and in another part, some elderly men will be having a chess game; couples are walking; families are having picnics; animals are free to wander around. Beautiful trees are growing next to abundant grasses and flowers. There is water, and there are rock formations. All ecologies are represented in this one microecology without discrimination. It is a miniature, peaceful world. It is a beautiful living metaphor for what a new global ethic could bring.


Here is the wrestling of a tree with such angels as gravity, sun, wind and rain:


Here is the wild calligraphy of the Rio Mamoré across the forests of the Amazon basin:


Syria and drawing the web of tensions

Friday, September 9th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — with a Magnus Ranstorp squib in its tail ]

The issue is complexity, and how you represent it. The case in point is Syria.

Here’s a diagram that suggests complexity as a sort of crazy weaving, all straight lines and colors:

Daveed’s diagram has a network feel to it, with actord as nodes and the tensions between them as edges:

Karl Sharro’s tackling the wider context, but his illustration at least gives the sense of a ball of twine after a cat has carefully re-arranged it:

Juan Cole simply provides a screenshot from Google Maps —


— the headline America’s Syria SNAFU: Pentagon’s Militias fight Turkey & CIA’s Militias — which is effectively friendly fire framed as paradox — and some paras beneath it using words to describe the tangle:

The Turkish incursion into Syria at Jarabulus was advertised as an attack on a Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) stronghold and smuggling station in conjunction with (fundamentalist) remnants of the Free Syrian Army.

But the southern outskirts of Jarabulus had already fallen to the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which are majority Kurdish but have a significant Arab component. The Arab, non-Kurdish SDF brigades such as the Seljuk brigade, the Army of Revolutionaries, and Northern Sun Brigade had fought to liberate the northern Syrian city of Manbij, due south of Jarabulus from Daesh. They have an outpost in the village of Amarna just a few miles south of Jarabulus, where they call themselves the Jarabulus Military Council.

The Turkish army, having secured Jarabulus itself with the help of fundamentalist militias, moved down to Amarna, where they met fierce resistance from the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are allied with the Kurds. The Turkish air force bombarded the SDF positions in Amarna and the militias responded by destroying two tanks and killing one Turkish soldier. Fighting continues there.

To be honest, I’m not sure which of those means of modeling a complex system leaves us best able to understand the situation on the ground.


Maybe this one’s the best:

Donald Trump and his Trumpalike, The Denald

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — reality imitates parody, a subset of life imitates art ]

The Denald Trump account posted this fake trumpery as satire:

This tweet was quickly followed by an all-too-similar one from the real Donald:

— the only problem here being that the Scots voted to stay..


And now the coup de grace — Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau‘s eye catches the match between parody and reality in these two quotes — and tweets them in juxtaposition, DoubleTweet-style:

— with the added bonus of a playful sideswipe at the Bostrom / Musk simulation idea..


It seems there really were Scots shouting at Trump to leave — he’s not well-liked over there — so was he the one who was being ultimately playful and ironic — deliberately misunderstanding them for the purpose of his tweet?

FYI: Mike Sellers, game designer extraordinaire

Monday, December 14th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — game design, systems thinking, education ]

An old and valued friend just popped up in my feed:


Ideal as cause, real as effect

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — a pretty intense little cognitive romp, b’day surprise #2 ]

nefertiti saccade cc version
mapping object seen to eye movement, Yarbus via MIT


Today I was reading James Harkin, How the Islamic State Was Won, in Harper’s from November last year, and this sentence struck me:

The aim was to wipe out the regime’s armed opponents, but the result was to destroy the country’s social fabric and displace whole communities — leaving millions of Syrians with little to lose. Groups like the Nusra Front took control of towns across the north, and foreign jihadis flooded into Syria to join the fight.

Here’s the thought it prompted:

The aim, purpose, or target of an action will often represent some sort of ideal, and that ideal becomes the cause of the action in question. Like all ideals, it represents a trajectory in a model space, that of the imagination, which like all models, lacks some of the details of the reality it purports to represent. Not only is the map not the territory, it will in all cases not envisioned by Jorge Luis Borges be smaller and less informed than the reality.

The result of that action, its effect, takes place in reality, even thought we then cognize it in a mental comparison with its aim or cause.

Unintended consequences, then, are quasi-mappable as arising in precisely those areas of the real which the ideal fails to map.

Mapping the distinctions between reality and unconscious perception, conscious perception, neural activity, and verbal, visual and matghematical models in mind, brain, and on a napkin or computer is, accordingly, one of the great tasks of the age.


duchamp cc versionDuchamp (image) and Ithkuil (verbal description) via John Quijada, see Birthday surprise

Switch to our mobile site