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Archive for the ‘paradox’ Category

Seen through the fog of war..

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — truth is always the first causality casualty ]

SPEC dolphin robot


The big question these days is no longer Nature or Nurture, it’s Nature and Nurture — or Tech?

Opposites attract?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — stunned ]

This has got to be one of the strangest DoubleQuotes, referencing one of the strangest DoubleLives, that I have ever seen:


Oh, and are they opposites?

The paradox of the Repugnant Conclusion & more

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — two data points, one impoverished, one rich — and a redemptive (maybe) quote from Twiggy ]

SPEC DQ The Repugnant Conclusion


As I quoted in my recent post Not everything that counts can be counted, “Effective altruism is based on a very simple idea: we should do the most good we can” — which in turn suggests that “good” can be quantified, an idea I resist.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article The Repugnant Conclusion, from which I drew the Parfit quote [upper panel, above], doesn’t mention Wittgenstein , though I suspect his view that we cannot sum individual sufferings to a grand total would suggest a similarposition with regard to the summation of individual happinesses..

And as I’ve pointed out before, both CS Lewis and Arne Naess agree with Wittgenstein on this point.


Walker Percy, Ludwig Wittngenstiein and Clive Staples Lewis all being Christians, it seems appropriate to recall here the tale of Mary and Martha from the New Testament, Luke 10:38-42 —

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

I somewhat cavalierly refer to this story on occasion as the story of Mary Qualit and Martha Quant. Eh. Mary Quant, you may recall if you’re as old as I am, gave us the mini-skirt, the Dashing Daisy doll, and Twiggy .


The quote from Walker Percy’s second novel [lower panel, above] nicely illustrates high level abstraction, as we instantly see when we compare it with the personal insight (from the same novel) on which it is based [lower panel, below]:

SPEC DQ Walker Percy x 2

The first is philosophy, the second — if you’ll pardon my saying so — is humanity.

Literature. Art.


All of which ties in neatly with a conversation I was having on Facebook with my long-time friend the game designer Mike Sellers. And in all of which, I am trying not to forget the heart’s reasons of which Pascal famously wrote —

The heart has reasons Reason knows not of

— because we need them in our gaming, in our analysis, and our understanding of what Mike Sellers describes as our world that is “far more interconnected and interactive than ever before.”:



  • Julia Galef, The Repugnant Conclusion (a philosophy paradox)
  • Walter Isaacson, Walker Percy’s Theory of Hurricanes
  • **

    Hey, Twiggy — sweet — gets the main point:

    twiggy quote

    Twin serpents bite their tails with Barbara Ehrenreich

    Thursday, August 6th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — a double instance of form signalling significant (!) content ]

    Here are two self-referential quotes from Barbara Ehrenreich‘s Guardian post today, In America, only the rich can afford to write about poverty — the first being the title of her piece, the second a sentence from it:

    SPEC DQ Ehrenreich

    As I have noted before, whenever you see a property of form such as the ouroboros or serpent biting its tail, pay attention: something of significance may well be going on. Further, if a pattern such as this crops up in writing, painting, cinema, etc, it’s a likely indicator of an artist who values the medium as well as the message.

    And that goes double when the same pattern is displayed twice.


    Oh, and once you’ve read Ehrenreich’s piece, please feel free to pay me to write about the things I am both passionate and informed about..

    Intriguing DoubleTweet variants & more

    Monday, August 3rd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — also genetics, genetic algorithms and John Holland on the glass bead game ]

    An abstract DoubleQuote:

    Thi9s is like one of my DoubleQuotes boards, empty — the reader is incited to fill in the blanks. And —

    A Skew DoubleQuote:


    Parallelism is a pretty obvious form of linkage, opposition is almnost the same, yet also sharply distinct — and there’s the style of linage where two ideas could be be described as in oblique relation, intersecting, but not in direcxt opposition or parallelism. And then, then there’s the situation where wo ideas, two lines of thought, may pass quite close by one another, without intersecting- – ideas that pass in the night — in a manner that would be oblique if they were in the same plane, but they’re not – skew ideas?

    I’m using the definition of skew that says “Skew lines lie on separate planes, they are not parallel, they do not intersect” — as illustrated here:

    skew lines

    Poets love skew links between thoughts, for the leaps they embody:

    Li Po drowning, drunk, into the moon reflected in the Yellow River. Crazy? Crazed. Amusing? Mused.


    Bryan Alexander alerted me to the bead game matter. You may need to read the whole article, The Codes of Modern Life by Alex Riley to understand how Reed-Solomon codes allow for the nifty correction of errors in complex messages:


    but what led Bryan to cc me in on the discussion was the passing mention that DNA-stored data could best be protected bu encasing the DNA encapsulated in “microscopic beads of glass” — cue the Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse:

    DNA in glass beads


    While on the subject of genetics, it’s worth recalling once again that John Holland, the “father” of genetic algorithms, once told interviewer Janet Stites:

    I’ve been working toward it all my life, this Das Glasperlenspiel. It was a very scholarly game, starting with an abacus, where people set up musical themes, then do variations on it, like a fugue. Then they’d expand it to where it could include other artistic forms, and eventually cultural symbols. It became a very sophisticated game for setting up themes, almost as a poet would, and building variations as a composer. It was a way of symbolizing music and of building broad insights into the world.

    If I could get at all close to producing something like the glass bead game I can’t think of anything that would delight me more.

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