Category Archives: Philosophy

Thinking of the nature of the world and thought itself.

The key to everything

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via 3QuarksDailyNYBooks: The Key to Everyting

Freeman Dyson reviews Geoffrey Wests book on “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies

“Geoffrey West spent most of his life as a research scientist and administrator at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, running programs concerned not with nuclear weapons but with peaceful physics. After retiring from Los Alamos, he became director of the nearby Santa Fe Institute, where he switched from physics to a broader interdisciplinary program known as complexity science.”

Freeman’s review nicely summarizes the book for some heady reading. But his view on the subject is not without criticism driven by differences in philosophy:

“The choice of an imagined future is always a matter of taste. West chooses sustainability as the goal and the Grand Unified Theory as the means to achieve it. My taste is the opposite. I see human freedom as the goal and the creativity of small human societies as the means to achieve it. Freedom is the divine spark that causes human children to rebel against grand unified theories imposed by their parents..”

I share Freeman Dyson’s view. But this is still worth reading and stimulating to think about.

The rise of the ambient video game

zeldabotw-2018-04-21-10-471.jpgvia 3QuarksDailyTheOutline – The rise of the ambient video game – Link in the Korok Forrest ready to replace the Master Sword into the stone to start his Master Trials.

Lewis Gordon describes his recurrent experience with Nintendo’s hit and truly revolutionary “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” He compares it to Ambient Music, which is also a genre I love.
Talking about the convergent emergence of video games and ambient music in the 1980s, he writes, “Shigeru Miyamoto, wanted to draw on his childhood experiences of climbing mountains and discovering lakes in the countryside around Sonobe, a town roughly an hour’s drive from nearby Kyoto and Osaka. His wish found expression in the original Zelda’s large, nonlinear and mythical pre-modern Japan. The designers, coders, and artists crafted a crude 8-bit landscape with the emerging computer-chip technology, the game’s deep, verdant greens a far cry from the concrete and steel dominating Japan’s cities and towns at the time.”

“Japanese ambient music of the 1980s reflected such concerns. Hiroshi Yoshimura released the album Green in the same year as The Legend of Zelda, crafting a work of almost unfettered naturalism, lush with shrubbery and the drip of water.”
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, […] has incredible grass. It undulates gently in the wind while the sun paints its tips yellow. Meadows turn into shimmers. Holding forward on the controller jostles Link, the game’s boy-hero protagonist, into a light jog, his weight only just displacing the greenery around him. In the evening I sit on the couch, letting the colours and sounds of the digital world wash over me, allowing my brain to slowly decompress. It’s a relaxation activity that slips nebulously into self-care, the video game equivalent of putting an ambient record on.”

This echoes my experience. I find myself drawn back into Hyrule after taking my time (more than 640 hours!) to complete the game and DLC in both regular and Master modes. I look for more Koroks (little surprises and puzzles hidden throughout the open realm,) help people in distress along the path ways, try to catch a better horse, or just watch a sun set on a mountain top with a dragon flying in the distance.

It’s the ambience of the game redeeming reality (to quote Kracauer) that draws me back and back again.

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Dude, you broke the future – a talk by Charlie Stross

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Charlie Stross gave a talk at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, December 2017. It puts our current history into a larger context. It includes a fresh view of AI as it has been with us for centuries in the form of corporations!

A real eye opener worth reading! Dude, you broke the future!

You can also watch the talk on youtube.

New Years is as good a time as any to make changes to patterns making you dumb!

As I contemplate the year and our life it has become clear that following my current patterns will not give me the future I want. My habits are not destructive, but also not constructive.

This is a very personal thing, but I am sure that many in my age group will find themselves needing to redefine their life, start fresh and complete, what they always wanted to do. Since we are embodied, we must start there. Sleep, food, other things. What pattern makes us truly feel good and able to achieve what we aspire to?

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I have decided to abstain from some things I like in exchange for feeling better long term. I also want to find myself in control of my urges. Wine and beer is one of those things I associate with relaxation.

Reading biographies of the many good people who ended up their lives struggling with dementia, it is surprising to see the widespread problem of alcohol. I am not an alcoholic, but I have noticed the heightened sensitivity to it with age. The pleasure is not worth the risk. This blog is a great collection on Dementia: Going Gentle Into That Good Night

I ran across it doing research for a story I am planning out.

But there are also other habits most of us share.

Over the last few months I have self observed patterns of electronic media consumption, which by themselves are not obsessive, but can become so. Apps like Flipboard claim to search for your interests presenting the results, but they are designed to keep your attention like a drug. Facebook has the same ultimate intent as do many other social apps like imgur, Pinterest, and even Quora.

All really aim to permanently capture your attention via continually changing visual stimuli in an unconscious way. While you are aiming to take in this information, you DO NOT THINK. You are just visually processing. And you are becoming addicted! You keep spending time.

It turns out that “flipping those boards” and reading those abstracts one after another or “Liking” the posts on Facebooks as you scroll endlessly also might have more long term effects on your intelligence and creativity – perhaps even eventually causing dementia.

The site mentioned above has a great book review of “The End of Absence” by Michael Harris and analyzes some of these patterns further in Technology and Neurology – A Perfect Storm For A Lifestyle Dementia

I am not intending on becoming a Luddite, but “attention must be paid!” In this case, I want to look at my patterns and be aware and in control . In the end our life experience is about how we consciously spend our time.

Time

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I thought I was establishing a habit of writing frequently. But life got in the way. The really odd thing is that in my mind the last time I blogged seemed like a couple, maybe three weeks ago, not months.

There is the desire to write, the surge of ideas, the need for expression. But actually sitting down seems hard at the moment. In any endeavor the vision of what the outcome will be is usually divorced from reality. There is the struggle for what you feel is there and what you find forming on the screen or page.

I think, most of us find it hard to live in the present. We reminisce, we look forward to something. Before we know it has passed. Family, kids home, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and suddenly it is February with the tax return looming. And I will not write about politics right now.

Like everything good, I need to make it a habit. Life change – daily mindfulness, exercise, expression – write.

Track it, form the habit. Write, no matter how silly the output. And maybe I can make something of the ides stacked out there in my notes. In the flow, the self stops being the focus. Rationally, life is futile. We find or escape in the purpose we create.

Bill Gates: “We Need an Energy Miracle”

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Killing the fallacy that Capitalism and Markets are effective and efficient. And it is especially true when viewing the slow unfolding climate disaster.

Bill Gates on the surprising wisdom of government R&D: “When I first got into this I thought, How well does the Department of Energy spend its R&D budget? And I was worried: Gosh, if I’m going to be saying it should double its budget, if it turns out it’s not very well spent, how am I going to feel about that? But as I’ve really dug into it, the DARPA money is very well spent, and the basic-science money is very well spent. The government has these “Centers of Excellence.” They should have twice as many of those things, and those things should get about four times as much money as they do.”

Read more on the Atlantic.