The interview: Robert Pirsig | Review | The Observer

November 23, 2006 § Leave a comment

Core thught.. 

As a young man – he was at university at 15 studying chemistry – he thought the answer might lie in science, but he quickly lost that faith. ‘Science could not teach me how to understand girls sitting in my class, even.’

Source: The interview: Robert Pirsig | Review | The Observer


Working with a tablet

October 22, 2006 § Leave a comment

I was asked to write up sme thoughts on the use of a tablet pc. May be useful.


My job is making sense of the world for myself so I can make it make sense for my consulting clients. I need to deliver paper, conversations, and presentations . A small slate is really a different experience from a laptop. A laptop is self contained and awkward. A tablet is intimate and sleek and breathes with me as my day changes.

First thing I noticed with the tablet is how much friendlier it is in meetings. Not only does it not put up a barrier the way a laptop does but it is even less intrusive and quieter than flipping pages in a notebook or pad. And I don’t feel like I may be wasting paper!

The second thing I noticed was the delight in awkward places were the laptop was always dangerous or a nuisance. Working lying down from one, which includes being sprawled in a chair, suddenly is a delight. I never have to worry about the lighting, either being bright enough, or disturbing others, because the lighting on the screen is just perfect for reading in shadows or the dark. A laptop teeters. A tablet snuggles.

And standing up. I find I more often slip my tablet out of its case (where I keep it in standby, with audio sounds turned off so as not to put up that audio nerd tag as the tablet powers up), and I can make notes with the pen, like yesterday standing around waiting for my car to be serviced. Having learned the pen, the next was dictation. I now use a USB stereo noise cancelling headphone/mike and can dictate while walking. Editing a manuscript with dictation is very effective.

It took me awhile to have the courage to use the recording feature in meetings where clicking on my hand written note later, when looking for the high points, takes me immediately to what was being said at the time.

I use OneNote, which really is the killer app for the tablet, which means every keystroke is saved, and coordinated with my home machine (a feature in OneNote 2007), which these days is really just an automatic backup. I’ve found that a couple of really good monitors – I’m currently using the dell 24 inchers which are $700.00 – making an incredible enhancement. I have one at home and another at my main office. When I need to sit and work over multiple files, the extra real estate is fabulous. When traveling to clients I carry along a small two pound. projector and, with a friendly wall or flip chart, we have a shared work space. I sometimes carry a wireless keyboard so we can pass it around and make entries on the shared screen.

But the use and usefulness is what is important. I am constantly scanning the Internet for articles where one click puts it in an editable form in OneNote where I keep a file for each month. Basically everything I read goes in there. And I am constantly scanning for relevant ideas and facts which I then pull out into a daily log of those things that I think probably need to go into documents or conversations by the end of the day. Using Skype is a natural extension of these files.

What is important is that the tablet is a constant companion to all these activities, which was never true with a laptop, which tended to stay in the briefcase or out of reach on the table.

I have a wide range of interests so I keep on my tablet with a folio of paintings I like, my own and others’. And also music. Kind of obvious. But what is not obvious is the use of sheet music. I play classical guitar and was always caught, say a friend’s house, where there was a guitar but no music I knew. I’ve even discovered I can read music on the tablet on a subway, which I never would have done with a laptop, and to my surprise, “hear it”.

I also have about 600books, mostly free classics from Gutenberg, which are so easy to bring up in the table and return to where I was reading. I especially like the portrait mode which gives me a nice page on which I can also scribble or dictate notes. The ability to go into the Internet and find a painting, or a map of a place mentioned in a book, is a great enhancement to reading. It is only because the tablet is so convenient for reading, and comfortable, that I have explored these possibilities. A search in Google for “” Takes me immediately to that page in the Wiki. That makes creating background for the reading much richer than ever before. It’s not that one can’t do these things with the desktop or a laptop. If the extended range in which I will do them that is the big change with a tablet..

For the first time I feel like I always have what I might need and it is well organized and available. The intimacy of the tablet and its ability to reach out of the larger screens on the projector without interfering with the social process has redefined a refined my workspace and my effectiveness and morale. A tablet has extended the range of mine output and by using the pen and the headset has increased the range of my input. By getting the tech right with the tablet my struggles with tech have been minimalized. The tabet, comfortable in the hand and on the eye, lets me feel always connectable without looking like an erector set of gadgets and a spaghetti plateful of unfortunately interwoven wires. Struggles are over and productivity is way up.

Mirowski on scientific error.

March 16, 2006 § Leave a comment

I am reading an essay A Visible Hand in the Marketplace of Ideas: Precision Measurement as Arbitrage. Fairly technical but full of implications. It clears up for me what arbitrage means – that different selling paths, if he market is efecient,should end up with he sme price, but they don’t, and the differene allows the extraction of differences as profit.

 But it also has an amazing histoy of physical constants, sucha as he speed of light or Plank’s constant, and their interconnections.

Which leads him to the history of socia intervention in the physical measurement process, since i was discovered that estimaes of physical constants cluster around a number, and the shift, in the next time period, to a cluser around a slightly different cnstant. This “bandwagon” effect or “intellectua phase locking” shows that cleary there is a social process of hedging one’s numbers absed on the numbers not of reality, but of others.

As Newton once wrote of his optical investigations, “The historicall narration of these experiments would make a course too tedious & confused & therefore I shall lay down the Doctrine first and then, for its examination, give you an instance or two of the Experiments as a specimen of the rest” (quoted in Gooding, Pinch, and Schaffer 9,68).

The book is The Effortless Economy of Science? Mirowsk is an economist and historian, full of intersting things. I previosly read his Machne Dreams: how economics became a cyborg science.

On the Internet and the struggle between big media and big telecom vs both against the consumer.

February 20, 2006 § Leave a comment

We have yes of course entered an age when news clips and editorials are loaded with bias and have taken our understanding into account so they can appear to be doing what we want while – not. 

Net Neutrality – Tragedy of the Commons

Net neutrality is about big media against big telecom, not big telecom against the consumer, though that is not what the NYT and digital elitists would like you to believe. The reality is that different types of internet consumers exist, and they should pay different amounts for different types of service. Just as the Tragedy of the Commons parable shows:Benefits of exploitation accrue to individuals, while the costs of exploitation are distributed between all those exploiting the resource.

The telcos have done an awful job of arguing for net neutrality, and have caused such an uproar that Congress cannot back away without extracting a pound of flesh. One of the more sensible things Verizon

Weblog at: warpspeed

Informed Comment

February 9, 2006 § Leave a comment

From Juan Cole’s Informed Comment
Muslim touchiness about Western insults to the prophet Mohammed must be understood in historical context. Most Muslim societies have spent the past two centuries either under European rule or heavy European influence, and most colonial masters and their helpmeets among the missionaries were not shy about letting local people know exactly how barbaric they thought the Muslim faith was. The colonized still smart from the notorious signs outside European clubs in the colonial era, such as the one in Calcutta that said, “Dogs and Indians not allowed.”

Indeed, the same themes of Aryan superiority and Semitic backwardness in the European “scientific racism” of the 19th and early 20th centuries that led to the Holocaust against the Jews also often colored the language of colonial administrators in places like Algeria about their subjects. A caricature of a Semitic prophet like Mohammed with a bomb in his turban replicates these racist themes of a century and a half ago, wherein Semites were depicted as violent and irrational and therefore as needing a firm white colonial master for their own good.

Understanding how religious imagery, history and future hopes and fears play into the way each person uses their mind is an approach that ought to be at the center of politics as management of the world toward peace and justice, and the fuller development of each person. the move against psychological understanding in the face of an expanding tech of electronic games, computers and the speed of social pressures is one of the main stories that needs to be told, and will. the world is real. Society is real, and so is the mind. To neglect any one is to be out of touch with the needs of governance.

Big Fat Surprise By Eric Umansky

February 8, 2006 § Leave a comment

Big Fat Surprise fails to live up to the headlines, and in fact are very misleading. In a way it comes down to a non-study. How should the press handle it? I think the way slate has here is ood, giving he conclusions and very good reflections. That is a good story. Interesting and educational. Being able, as Eric is, to cmment on stories, gives a degree of reflection uknown by the press until a few years ago and the wide distribution of the Internet. (When did Slate start? Google didn’t help soI sent an email.)

That’s because, as the Post notes, there is from this and other studies” that The study was started a decade ago, before the current taxonomy of fats was established, and it didn’t distinguish between “good” and “bad” ones.The study was started a decade ago, before the current taxonomy of fats was established, and it didn’t distinguish between “good” and “bad” ones.What’s more, the women in the study who stuck to a low-fat diet did have 9 percent fewer breast cancers than the control group. It’s just that the decrease was small enough that researchers decided they couldn’t rule out chance. The nuances aren’t exactly given prominent play. ” ‘LOW FAT’ DIET’S BENEFITS REJECTED,” says the Post.

The LAT‘s coverage, though, is Among other things, it notes concerns about the study’s methodology. Women in the low-fat group reported eating relatively few calories, yet they didn’t lose weight. “Something is wrong with this picture,” said one public-health prof.

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