Category Archives: fun

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via M-Phi (A blog dedicated to mathematical philosophy)

Posted in fun, philosophy.

Philosophy Carnival #141

Welcome to the one hundred forty first philosophy carnival. In my internet travels I found some really cool philosophy inspired posters by Genis Carreras, which I have paired with the links to pretty up the carnival.

Zombies, because philosophers like zombies.


An introduction to the philosophical discussion of zombies
and dualism by Tom B. over at Philosophy of… which looks like a promising new blog contributing “in some humble way to this movement of the popularizing of philosophy, and try to convince a few of you that it’s not so boring, obscure and irrelevant as many assume.”


Jason Zarri at Philosophical Pontifications
posts a more in depth post on the consciousness of a scattered zombie brain. See what happens if at first we have zombie brain, except that this brain is made of people working all over China to simulate brain activity. What happens if parts of the brain (people) are replaced by neurons, ending up with a normal (if scattered) brain?


Professional level zombie discussion!
Richard Brown vs. Dave Chalmers, with Dr. Brown discussing the use modal operators when arguing for the conceivability of shombies (a subspecies of zombie). This discussion goes from possible worlds to identities, and leads to a revised argument which concludes that non-materialism is false. Go check out the argument!

Dogma

This is my favorite post of the carnival: U-Phil: Deconstructing Dynamic Dutch-Books? by Deborah G. Mayo. It is about dogmatism in Bayesian epistemology when considering Dutch Book arguments, as viewed by a frequentist. This is great stuff.

Is There a Difference Between Memory and Imagination? Ok, this has little to do with dogma, but I had nowhere else to put it. Greg argues that remembering is closer to imagination since it is a reconstruction.

Experimental Issues


Tomkow proposes
that philosophical experimenters need to take more care in separating their philosophical intuitions from biasing their results. This makes me wonder if there are further chances for a philosopher to bias their test subjects beyond psychological factors– can philosophical opinions be projected in new and unusual ways beyond what we account for?

What happens when people are placed under linguistic constraints and need to communicate? Experimental semiotics provides some insight with combinatoriality (recurrence of basic forms), but Gualtiero Piccinini argues that natural language is more complex. He says it requires potential infinite complexity, which may not occur with only combinatoriality. Still, ES leads him to hypothesize the “Gavagai Game” of language generation, which could provide insight into language.

Ethics

Two different ethical views are propounded this carnival:


James Armstrong discusses a humanistic approach to the basis of certain rights, namely the right to freedom of movement. The argument is grounded in “the right of individuals to live a minimally decent life,” justifying a strong position on immigration.


Richard Chappell, however, outlines a position where acts are evaluated on utility, not the character of the person doing them. By evaluating acts and not the person’s character, individual accidents of psychology which may make one person much more (in)sensitive to certain issues than others may be separated from their moral will. He argues that this position is highly practical.

The Business of Philosophy

Gregory Wheeler has an interesting set of posts about sampling problems in our favorite school ranking system, the Philosophical Gourmet Report: The Sampling Problem and Educational Imbalance.

Secondly the smokers have posted and been discussing some cool research done in the area of tenure-track philosophy hiring by Carolyn Dicey Jennings. So you want a philosophy job? Take a gander and these numbers! [Go BU!]

Two takes on Rule Following

Murali at the Leage of Ordinary Gentlemen argues for a basis of law on a two tier system, the distinction between habit and rule following, and an internal point of view.

Dave Maier discusses semantic rule following in Wittgenstein. This is actually a really good discussion of how we get caught in a bind of wanting both definitions and revisability when it comes to identifying fundamental measures, but I’m actually posting this because I want to point out that my duckrabbit is better (and more stylish) than his duckrabbit. My duckrabbit should be the standard duckrabbit. And what if my duckrabbit were to significantly change? Would we have to revise all other duckrabbits to account for the change? Of course not. Since it is so inconceivable that my duckrabbit should become fundamentally different, if it were to change, it would signify that we had lost our minds. So there is no problem here at all.

But What is Philosophy

Another article by Dave Maier, What is philosophy, again?, but this one over at 3 Quarks Daily.

My contribution to the carnival is that I am starting a new blog, The Road to Sippy Cups. My inaugural post is I Sneeze, Therefore I Am. I say on the about page, “Philosophy’s goal is to wean us off ideas — even if they had sustained us — because those ideas no longer provide us with what we need, and, hopefully, onto better ones.” And I will be writing, “metaphysics with an eye towards values, humans and society.” So I encourage you to go check it out.

If you have made it this far…

… you might be an internet philosopher!


So go over to the philosophy carnival page and sign up to host or submit your work!

Posted in fun, internet, philosophy. Tagged with , .

Carnival 141 Here

I’ll be hosting the next philosophy carnival, so please submit some fun links over at http://philosophycarnival.blogspot.com/.

Posted in fun, internet, philosophy. Tagged with , .

Philosophy Carnival #2

Well, it’s the second philosophy carnival I’ve hosted.  So let’s get started.

Counterfactuals and time traveling cold-blooded murderers!  Why is it we always want to see what happens when we kill ourselves (or others) when time traveling?  Does time travel make one murderous?  Anyway, besides  the weird questions that occur to me, the discussion over at Kadri Vihvelin’s philosophy blog does try to tackle Counterfactuals, Indicatives and What Time Travelers Can’t Do.

If that isn’t your cup-o-tea, maybe you like smoking pipes.  But apparently not the pipe if you are from Utah.

And if you don’t like smoking pipes, nor counterfactual time travelers, then perhaps you like the movies.  Over at Pirates and Revolutionaries we have durationless movies that involve no time flow.    Lot’s of YouTube clips — which I did actually watch (most of them at least) and you should too. Because what good is anything without pictures or conversation?

Well, if you don’t like the movies, pipes or homicidal time travelers, try the news.  But not if you read the New York Times’ Stone, apparently, because over at The Consternation of Philosophy, Matt says they got the foundation of human rights wrong.  He writes that the reasons that are given not only do not show a foundation for secular human rights, they actually lead to dogmatism.

But maybe you like dogmatism.  I bet there are secretly lots of philosophers out there who, while publicly decrying dogmatism, are secretly delighted with their own.  I’m probably one of these people.  Then, perhaps we should be epistemological anarchists, as is suggested over at the Kindly Ones.  Paul writes on Feyerabend’s reductio directed at rationalist conceptions of scientific method, which concludes with: Anything Goes.  You should read this- it’s something I dogmatically recommend.

Fine, be that way.  Don’t do what I recommend.  Instead sit around and listen to the radio for all I care.  Actually, we’ve got some high quality internet radio going down at the Partially Examined Life: Pat Churchland on the Neurobiology of Morality (Plus Hume’s Ethics).  I surprised myself and listened to the whole thing.  Good talk.  Also, a book for sale.

If none of this armchair stuff has impressed you, I guess you might be one of those “go out and do stuff types.” [yeah right]  If that is the case, go check out some Experimental Philosophy.  Justin writes, ask not “what the history of philosophy can do for us, but rather what we can do for the history of philosophy.“  That’s the attitude!  (The post is actually on the place of x-phi in a historical and cultural setting.  Good stuff just the same.)

Or maybe you are just at The Ends of Thought, so frustrated with the difficulties that you’re left wondering where a lot of us went wrong (and I’m not saying who has gone wrong; you’ll have to read the post to see who Roman says did).

Lastly, zombies, because philosophers like zombies.

Posted in fun, philosophy.

bah humbug

I haven’t done a link roundup in a while, so be assured that all these links are awesome.

[via information aesthetics]

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Animal of the Month: Immortal Jellyfish

‘Immortal’ jellyfish swarming across the world – Telegraph

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In second place is: Giant meat-eating plants prefer to eat tree shrew poo - BBC – Earth News

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A Softer World: 395

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[via Don't Panic > Magazine > Desire > THE BLACK HEART GANG]

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Beautiful and depraved: “Absolutely amazing.  Welcome back Massive Attack. And Mazzy Star. Two of the most iconic performers I’ve ever experienced.  And then this woman.  Wow.” Not safe for work. [if that link isn't working, the video is here too.]

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[via Whitezine]

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“Perhaps nothing has been more influential in determining the popular perception of the Italian game than furbizia, the art of guile… The word ‘furbizia’ itself means guile, cunning or astuteness. It refers to a method which is often (and admittedly) rather sly, a not particularly by-the-book approach to the performative, tactical and psychological part of the game. Core to furbizia is that it is executed by means of stratagems which are available to all players on the pitch, not only to one team. What are these stratagems? Here are a few: tactical fouls, taking free kicks before the goalkeeper has finished positioning himself, time-wasting, physical or verbal provocation and all related psychological games, arguably even diving… Anyone can provoke an adversary, but it takes real guile (real furbizia) to find the weakest links in the other team’s psychology, then wear them out and bite them until something or someone gives in – all without ever breaking a single rule in the book of football.

But if gamesmanship is so rewarding, why are some teams reluctant to embrace it? Why do the Spanish play such a clean version of the game and consider these tactics to be beneath them, while their closest neighbors, the Italians and Portuguese, have no such qualms? Here is Tallarita’s explanation:
Ultimately, these differences come from two irreconcilable visions of the game. The Spanish style understands football as something like a fencing match, a rapid and meticulous art of noble origins where honour is the brand of valour. To the Italians, football is more like an ancient battle, a primal and inclement bronze-age scenario where survival rules over honour.

But this just begs the question: why are the visions of the game so different in nations that are geographically and culturally so close?

Rajiv Sethi: Gamesmanship and Collective Reputation [via]


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[via Core77]

Posted in fun, internet. Tagged with , .

… Yeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhh

via BackRe(Action)

Posted in fun, General Relativity, measurement, physics, Relativity, science, Special Relativity. Tagged with .

Aether Propeller?

I was trying to figure out how planes stay in the sky.

So this is what I came up with.

wing

As the plane moves forward, a small vacuum is created above the wing. The vacuum is a low pressure zone which pulls the wing up and the air down to fill itself in (because Nature HATES a vacuum).  This upward pull that the low pressure zone creates we call lift.

I thought, “Hooray.  This isn’t so complicated!  Planes stay up because they create small vacuums above their wings as they move forward, creating an upward force.”

Then I thought, “And this is why planes can’t fly in outer space, because there is no air to displace and create a vacuum.”

Then I thought, “But if there is an aether theory, why not?”

wing2

So as a wing moves through a vacuum, generally we don’t think there is anything to cause lift or drag.  But if we have an aether theory of a vacuum, i.e. there is some substance below what we can observe that our matter exists within, then why can’t we create a vacuum in that substance?

My line of thought was: Air is to Vacuum as Vacuum is to Black Hole.

Can’t we just spin a propeller fast enough in outer space to create lift?  As the prop turns small vacuums in the aether will be created, and, insofar as Nature hates vacuums, a force will be created to fill in this vacuum, pulling the propeller in that direction.

(Someone please tell me how this is nonsense so I won’t go around thinking I’ve come up with a new model of space flight.)

Posted in fun, physics, random idiocy, science, technology. Tagged with , , , .

Oot and Aboot

For the last few days or so I was in Amsterdam (briefly), Israel and Istanbul.  I had some thoughts along the way and I hope you’ll find them interesting.

Amsterdam:

Heineken tastes MUCH better in Amsterdam.  Now I won’t be able to drink it States-side, which kind of sucks. Hopefully the memory will fade soon and I will be able to go back to my ignorant bliss.

[On the flip side I had some Sam Adams while in Israel and near spit it out.]

Israel:

1) In the 3 days I was in Jerusalem I wanted to figure out why everyone finds it to be the place for religion.  Here’s what I came up with:

Ben Yehuda Str. 1:34am

Ben Yehuda Str. 1:34am

These images were taken within the same minute at on Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem .  However, my camera was set to New York time, so it is really 1:34 am (NY +7).  I’ve put up two images because I want to give the best view of the street that I can to make my point: the top image was with flash, which only reaches so far, but does not make blurry images; the second image was long exposure and gives a more accurate view, but, try as I might, I can only hold myself so still.  Hopefully you will be able to imagine how it looks between the two. (see this image from Wikipedia too)

The second picture – this is the more accurate to life shot – shows the street to be very bright and, in fact, unusually bright.  Times Square-bright even but, as you can see, this street has normal stores and streetlights; no neon, no giant billboards.  So how is this feat of lighting achieved?

Nearly everything in Jerusalem is made of the off-white Jerusalem stone.  Ben Yehuda street is an old, pedestrian only street with no asphalt and hence is white on 3 sides.  This makes it reflect light incredibly well, as I hope you can divine from my shoddy photography.

Imagine the extra hours of usable time that people would have because they needed less fuel for their lamps, and multiply this by thousands of years.   I figure that a place with nice weather and well above average lighting conditions, such as Jerusalem, would be conducive to people sitting around reading and arguing about stuff, and hence religious studies.

2) Gaza:

Israel on the whole seemed rather safe and so completely normal while I was there that it was hard to reconcile it with the place the media covers.  Granted I didn’t go anywhere near where the fighting was, but I was in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and observed how people were living, and I thought it could have been San Diego.  I’ve never been to San Diego, but I think it must be pretty with a friendly population that mostly speaks English and has nice weather, which was my experience in Israel.  So what is going on?

Again, 2 pictures:

israel

middle_east_map

The first map is of Israel alone and it is what we see when we are looking at the fighting going on.  The second is of the Middle East.  When an Israeli thinks about Israel, it is the second map and the distance scale of the first map that come to mind.  From this perspective, it looks as if Israel is a teeny bastion of non-Muslims trying to eek out an existence in a world of Islam.  If you look at the top map, Gaza doesn’t appear all that big, but since Israel is so small, that little bit of usable land is important.

Of course that bit of land isn’t so important to start killing people over.

However, what I was told, was that Gaza was part of long term strategy to take down Israel from within: Since there are many more Muslims in the region and world, if more can gain residency in Israel through Gaza, then in only a few years they will be able to out vote the Jews.  So every settlement matters because each represents an increased voting bloc and tips the balance of power away from the current establishment.

This presents a dilemma because either the Jewish state must change its democratic principles if it wants continued existence, or else die slowly to the ever increasing Muslim population.  So the crude, stop-gap  solution was to just eradicate the Palestinian settlements.  This at least explains some of the reasoning; whether the actions taken were justified is a different question.

Istanbul:

Everyone is interested in Obama.  These ads were ubiquitous (notice the second ad right behind the first on the left hand side.):

TurkObama

Garanti is a bank.

This is what Google Translate tells me the text says:

support loan interest rates

using the most comprehensive credit insurance for Turkey is out of 3 women in markets bonus

warranty package to revive the economy of the world will envy

Much of the world still operates with the dollar.  I bought some ridiculously nice leather shoes from a dingy shop for US $30 – they didn’t even accept Turkish Lira.  I handed the guy 2 20s and the man immediately became concerned: this confused me until he pulled a stack of Benjamins (US 100s) out of his pocket an inch thick and started going through it looking for a 10.  He had to go across the street to get me change.

My thought was that the  current US president is, for all intensive purposes, on the $100 bill.  Money has value because people believe that it guarantees something of worth, goods and services.  This guarantee of worth is made by large, trusted institutions likes banks and governments, and as the head of the biggest institution, Obama is where the buck stops.

So the unsurprising conclusion is that the entire world is counting on Obama to fix the financial crisis.  I don’t know anything about Garanti Bank, but 1.19% loans do sound good.

Posted in fun, politics, random idiocy, religion. Tagged with , , .

Video Game Design #5: Modern Art

Most of the time video game designers are trying to make 3 dimensional virtual worlds that are as realistic as possible, or focus upon a particular art style, and tell a story within that world.

What I would like to see is a lifelike 3-D world that has a main character that has special abilities, or levels, taken from modern art.  This means, for example, that a character with Cubist special abilities (or in the cubist level) can flatten parts of the world that they are looking at into a 2-D space, but in this space they have the ability to see around corners, rearrange objects and do all the other funky things that happen in cubist art.

On the flip-side, when using the Cubist skills, the character would lose depth perception, motion would be funky, and other sorts of strange phenomena would go on.

Moreover the character could get skills associated with other artists or artistic movements.  Say there was a Dali  gun: it could stretch the legs of elephants (or any other animal) such that they become unstable.  Or a Duchamp Readymade skill which combines random objects in the world into other objects depending upon the angle at which you are looking at them.  Frankly I think that there are too many different and good ways to go; it would take some effort to really take a few ideas and make them work well.

This would be a great way to combine the ‘new’ media form of interactive video gaming and more ‘traditional’ modern art.  It might even be considered educational.  But if executed well, it would definitely be fun, interesting and visually impressive.

Posted in fun, technology, Wii. Tagged with , , , .

Fedor Emelianenko is the Man

For all of you out there who, if you aren’t beating someone up with your oversized brains and education, appreciate a good physical put down too, there really isn’t a better fighter in the world then Fedor Emelianenko.

Fedor fights MMA, for those of you who don’t know, stands for Mixed Martial Arts.  MMA is well named: the fighting ranges from boxing to grappling, and just about everything in between.  This means that not only do you have be an excellent boxer, but skilled in kickboxing, Judo, Ju Jitsu, and a variety of other fighting styles if you want to be successful.  It sometimes gets a bad reputation because of the no-holds-barred attitude, but all the top fighters are incredibly skilled at martial arts.

Fedor is the best in the entire world.  Bar none. There isn’t anyone in the entire world who would likely win in a fight against this man; there is no strategy, there is no size differential, there isn’t anything short of having a gun or a posse than would give you an advantage if he were standing in your way.  His nickname is The Last Emperor.

The NY Times just (Jan 20) had a whole piece on him as a lead up to his most recent fight (last night).  And the LA Times has the follow up to last night’s fight (spoiler alert, if you can’t guess who won already by my beaming praise).

But the best thing to do is to just watch videos of him in action.  If you know something about martial arts and fighting, he is something to behold; if you don’t, then there is none more exciting or better to learn from.

Posted in fun.
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