wood s lot - Oct. 2000



news feeds

Weblogs: History and Retrospective by Rebecca Blood


Phil Agre offers some reflections which are timely in light of major elections looming in Canada and the U.S.:
Projection is insidious. Let us consider two analogous examples ("politically correct" and "liberal media") of the projection that is hidden in the currently fashionable jargon....
Projection is an integral component of every example of aggression. When one country invades another, for example, it almost invariably stages an attack against itself by the country it wishes to invade. When men who batter their wives are compelled into therapy, those few who ever become capable of explaining their feelings explain that they felt, throughout their attacks, that in reality their wives were attacking *them*. The new jargon is not the moral equivalent of physical violence, of course, but it exhibits the same structure: attacks on "them" disguised as accusations that "they" are attacking "us". The more that the jargon develops -- the more rhetorical devices it acquires for engaging in projection -- the more primitive does the aggression become. Unless this irrationality is brought into the light and shown for what it is, it will only get worse. People who can be sent foaming at the mouth against imagined enemies are dangerous to everyone except the tiny elite who get to imagine who the enemies are.

Fortune has an interview with an embittered James Cramer:
Nobody really cares for the Internet--except for the newspapers and magazines that live off the advertising on it, and people who can't sleep and need something to do. It has created an undisciplined culture of slothfulness and foolishness that's now a culture of despair.

Jim Holt in the current Lingua Franca -
HYPOTHESES: What Have I Done To Deserve This? Explaining Retribution
IN THE UNITED STATES, nearly two million people are kept in prison at any given time, and dozens are executed each year. That adds up to quite a lot of suffering deliberately inflicted by the state. How can we justify it?....
Happily, there is at least one proposition about punishment that everyone seems to agree on these days, regardless of his or her philosophical orientation. It is that torture - the deliberate infliction of physical pain - is not a morally permissible way of punishing a wrongdoer. Unless, curiously, that wrongdoer is a child in need of a spanking.

Prophet with a Typewriter
ORWELL: Wintry Conscience of a Generation. By Jeffrey Meyers. Norton. 380 pp. $29.95
Reviewed by Christopher Hitchens
The short life (1903-50), during which Orwell combated all "the smelly little orthodoxies," as he termed them, has been related by several biographers and is scheduled to be told by many more as the centennial of his birth draws close.

subtle aid to meditation ?
keep your eye on the status bar

The Opening of the Evangelical Mind in this months Atlantic online: This lengthy article has some good historical background stuff and is, surprisingly, sympathetic. Interesting take on affinities with postmodernism:
"When evangelicals read authors like Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jacques Derrida, they cannot accept pronouncements about the insufficiency of meta-narratives or the impossibility of grounding truth....But everything else about postmoderism appeals to them....
postmodermism offers them a chance to replay the Scopes trial: science, they believe, will have to defend itself against Jacques Derrida in a way it was never forced to do against William Jennings Bryant."

The Role of Quantum Mechanics in Brain Function: An interview with Dimitri Nanopoulos, Ph D

What has been discovered is that inside the neurons there are structures that are called microtubules that have been pushed forward by Dr. Hameroff and Professor Penrose of Oxford. Microtubules can support quantum waves that somehow transfer information. What is happening is that these quantum waves can really suffer spontaneous collapse because of the gravitational effects described before. The final decision of how we are going to react to an external signal, we believe, is due to the gravitationally induced spontaneous collapse of the brain wave function

In love? You'll have butterflies in your brain
Now scientists have come up with a definition of love: a warm patch near the centre of the brain.


A little something from the past:
Media Temporalities in the Internet: Philosophy of Time and Media with Derrida and Rorty

The essay comprises four sections. The first section provides a survey of some significant developments which today determine philosophical discussion on the subject of 'time'. The second section conisders the question of how time and the issue of media are linked with one another in the views of two influential contemporary philosophers - Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty. Finally, in the third section, the temporal implications of cultural practices developing in the new medium of the Internet are analyzed and, in the fourth section, related to the named philosophers' theses.
"If one interprets the technical media of modernity as machines, with whose help whole societies can acquire new vocabularies, new forms of temporality and new ways of worldmaking in a relatively short time, then it becomes clear that issues of media politics have genuine philosophical dimensions and that philosophical theories of media have eminently political aspects."

Check out the softly | seething | teeming | tintinnabulation fun, courtesy of the Mad Scientist at
The Random Knowledge Generator.

Prozac generation: A trio of brain researchers wins this year's Nobel Prize for medicine


Kerbango tango
"It looks and works like a radio, but it's an internet radio, so instead of picking up just 20 stations, it could pick up 20,000," says James Gable, the president of Kerbango. "And it does it without using a personal computer!"

Online Journalism Review offers some thoughts on technological directions in presenting the news

Immersive News Technology: Beyond Convergence
Adapted from a paper given at the Radio-Television News Directors Association convention at Minneapolis, September 16, 2000, by Larry Pryor, OJR Executive Editor

"...this technology is still in the research box, awaiting the Broadband Genie to fully unleash it."

The editor at vtheory expresses his reservations about the desirability of an Owen Barfield revival (see previous post).

Canadian content - Coach House Press (35 years publishing the likes of Margaret Atwood and Ondaatje) offers on line readings such as Kenneth Goldsmith's "Fidget" (reviewed in the current Utne)

"To experience Fidget, Web site visitors choose between a text, a sound, or a java applet version in which sentences float and collide, creating a work of art that's visually . . . well, fidgety."

Fidget is a transcription of writer Kenneth Goldsmith's every movement made during thirteen hours on June 16, 1997 (Bloomsday). This online edition includes the full text, a self-running Java applet version written by programmer Clem Paulsen, and a selection of RealAudio recordings from Theo Bleckmann's vocal-visual performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Bloomsday 1998

Rubber Soul: New York Times Book Review of newly translated early novel byHaruki Murikami, NORWEGIAN WOOD


Salon: From March 9,2000; Maybe the Net doesn't change everything

"The Social Life of Information" Dumpster-dives into the muck of failed predictions to show why the future isn't so likely to just let go of the past. In a measured series of eight essays, authors John Seely Brown, Xerox's chief scientist and director of the company's legendary research facility Xerox PARC, and Paul Duguid, a historian and social theorist at the University of California at Berkeley, gently deflate the most extreme claims of "the blinkered euphoria of the infoenthusiasts," as they term technology boosters.

see also THE FUTURE DOES NOT COMPUTE--Transcending the Machines in Our Midst, by Stephen L. Talbott

Fond memories of elemental custard and blistered fingers.

Perhaps its's time for an Owen Barfield revival, at least according to these submiters for a recommended reading list

Ptolemy Tompkins, author of Paradise Fever, suggests Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield, for it "paints a picture of the universe as an arena for the evolution of human consciousness more convincingly than any other book I know.

Douglas Sloan, professor of the history of education, Teachers' College, Columbia University:
Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield This seminal, still all-too unknown treatment of objective imagination in the context of the evolution of consciousness holds far-reaching potential for the transformation of science, art, and religion and a meaningful future evolution of the earth.

Such a revival would certainly be welcomed by the vtheorist (15.5.00)

Br> top

TheWatcher Website
Millennium Apocalypse Updates Conspiracy & End Time Prophecy: bringing you all you could ever need to know about The New World Order, The One World Religion, Masons, British Israelites, Rosicrucians, Pokemon Mind Control, The Southern Baptist Convention and other dire portents.

Oklahoma City, the site of the outrage perpetrated by clandestine Luciferian Masonic (CLuM) Wizard Timothy "Macbeth" McVeigh, is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 77 and U.S. Route 66.

Consider the following:
7 + 7 + 6 + 6 = ( 7 + 6 ) + ( 7 + 6) = 13 + 13 = 26
The number 13 is the most Masonically correct number,
whereas 26 is equivalent to the Hebrew name of God in Gematria: IHVH, I = 10, H = 5, V = 6, H = 5; 10 + 5 + 6 + 5 = 26
The god of the CLuMs is considered by them to possess the good qualities of the Christian God and the bad qualities of Satan. Their master, Lucifer/Satan, is composed of a "lucky" 13 and an "unlucky" 13; 13 + 13 = 26.

Brethren, beware of Contemporary Christian Music. It is the blind and carnal leading the blind and carnal down a path of delusion and error and into the arms of the one world apostate, end-times "church."

For more zany fun see also Watch Unto Prayer

From Edge.org a fine essay on the dominant viral meme of cyberculture with objections which appply to any totalizing acceptance of meta-narrative - with feedback from George Dyson, Freeman Dyson. Cliff Barney, Bruce Sterling, Rod Brooks, Henry Warwick, Kevin Kelly, Margaret Wertheim, John Baez, Lee Smolin, Stewart Brand, Rod Brooks, Lee Smolin and Daniel C. Dennett.

One Half Of A Manifesto
By Jaron Lanier

The distance between recognizing a great metaphor and treating it as the only metaphor is the same as the distance between humble science and dogmatic religion. During the last twenty years a stream of books has gradually informed the larger public about the belief structure of the inner circle of Digerati, starting softly, for instance with Godel, Escher, Bach, and growing more harsh with recent entries such as The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurtzweil....

There is a real chance that evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence, Moore's Law fetishizing, and the rest of the package, will catch on in a big way, as big as Freud or Marx did in their times. Or bigger, since these ideas might end up essentially built into the software that runs our society and our lives. If that happens, the ideology of cybernetic totalist intellectuals will be amplified from novelty into a force that could cause suffering for millions of people....

The greatest crime of Marxism wasn't simply that much of what it claimed was false, but that it claimed to be the sole and utterly complete path to understanding life and reality. Cybernetic eschatology shares with some of history's worst ideologies a doctrine of historical predestination. There is nothing more gray, stultifying, or dreary than a life lived inside the confines of a theory. Let us hope that the cybernetic totalists learn humility before their day in the sun arrives.

Lanier (coiner of the term Virtual Reality) explains his newly jaundiced eye on the brave new world of cyber/nano-tech culture in an interview at Salon: Artificial stupidity
Virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier says computers are too dumb to take over the world.
By Damien Cave

Lanier's upstart argument yields a uniquely here-and-now version of computer science ethics and an entirely different, but equally frightening form of what Lanier calls "Bill's version ... of the Terror."
He's lost his faith in computers and, like a present-day Nietzsche, he'd like the rest of the world to recognize that this 21st century God is dead.

(via Follow Me Here)

A New Scène Seen Anew:Representation and Cruelty in Derrida's Artaud
by Colin Russell

"As many post-structuralists argue, the individual who goes beyond the structures by which others govern themselves steps into an abyss, since all our learning is focussed on mastering the structures. There one encounters freedom, but at the price of losing the advantages of the system. Artaud felt that his body was appropriated by God, and that in recovering the full presence of the original moment of theatre, he could reappropriate his body and experience the communion with sacredness, without God. The theatre that he posited in order to accomplish this cannot be realized, for there is no origin without a past, nor a moment without a repetition, nor presence without absence.
In the madness to which Artaud succumbed, Derrida can read a case study of the effects of Western culture and thought as the mise en scène of madness. Allen Thiher concludes that, "in encountering Artaud, Derrida makes more than clear the Nietzschean origins of a thought that must exalt in the play of the same - at the risk of otherwise going mad" (Thiher 508). If Western metaphysics and Western theatre are akin to a plague, Artaud suffers the physical symptoms as his body fights the infection, and the apparently healthy cannot be assured that they too do not suffer from the ubiquitous effects of this social disease. In representation, the chronic and terminal condition of the disease becomes apparent, and Artaud can only dream of the closure which could occur on the stage in the moment of presence, the moment of gesture, the moment of cruelty."

A touching story from Lingua Franca's archives:
Death Of An Altruist Was The Man Who Found The Selfless Gene Too Good For This World?
by James Schwartz

Despite his remarkable scientific achievements and the intense drama of his personal life, George Price has remained a relatively obscure figure in the history of science. And yet he played a key role in shaping the conceptual basis of sociobiology and its offshoot, evolutionary psychology

A memorable week for Canadians - October 5, 2000
"While our politicians were, for the most part, prosaic in reacting to the former prime minister's death, or just plain pedantic (Stockwell Day), petty (Lucienne Bouchard), partisan (Joe Clark), self-centred (Brian Mulroney) or boorish (Mike Harris), ordinary Canadians were poetic and extraordinarily eloquent in capturing the essence of Trudeau and his meaning for Canada."

"The send-off, not scripted in advance but cobbled together as a compromise between the family's desire for privacy and the public's need to express itself, was as spontaneous and heartfelt as John Diefenbakers's was choreographed and contrived.
Not since the unfurling of the flag or the staging of Expo '67 have we experienced such scenes of communal bonding.
They reminded us of a Canada that was and can perhaps still be."

Bourke's Trudeau tribute collection

George Radwanski

He succeeded, to an amazing extent, in moulding himself into just the sort of man most of us would want to be.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky offers up his FAQ's on the meaning of life, transhumanism, Extropy, ultratechnology, and the other things that make life fun
"Do I have free will? "Free will" is a cognitive element representing the basic game-theoretical unit of moral responsibility. It has nothing whatsoever to do with determinism or quantum randomness. Free will doesn't actually exist in reality, but only in the sense that flowers don't actually exist in reality.
Got it? "

also Staring Into The Singularity
(viaabuddhas memes )

speaking of free will.....

by Ted Honderich This new piece begins with a defence of determinism against those hopeful persons who think it has been refuted by Quantum Theory. What comes after that is argument against the idea that determinism is compatible with freedom and also the idea that determinism is incompatible with freedom. Do you ask if both ideas can be false? Read on for the answer -- and an explanation of the real problem that determinism poses to us in our lives. The thoughts in this piece, until one or two at the very end, are not new, but they might be true. They make up my contribution to a new collection of pieces, The Free Will Handbook. Edited by Robert Kane of the University of Texas, it will be published by Oxford University Press in 2001.