Archive for January, 2015

Battle of Bones

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

From Kenan Malik  comes this discussion (to me via 3QuarksDaily) of the 'Kennewick Man' controversy (which, it seems, basically boils down to the question of whether modern indigenous tribes have a right to claim the bones of Starfleet Captain Luc Picard  - who was apparently killed by someone he came upon during a time travel excursion to ancient North […]

On Zealotry

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Prompted by Michael Walzer's piece on Islamism and the Left in 'Dissent Magazine' (to which I was led by Jeffrey Goldberg's report in 'The Atlantic' on French PM Manuel Valls' resistance to the term "islamophobia" ). The Zealotry of Righteous Assholes is a universal phenomenon to which we are all susceptible is the most disproportionally visible external face of […]

On Computers ‘Learning’

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Briggs is certainly right that much of what is touted as 'Artificial Intelligence' is just the use of electronic machinery to implement the calculations in a method devised by human intelligence. Indeed, for now that really is all that computers can do. But it already goes far beyond playing optimally at tic-tac-toe (trivial) , or […]

Suis-je Charlie? Si non, il me *faut* etre Ahmed!

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Suis-je Charlie? Muss ich Charlie werden? Why am I not Charlie? Perhaps I am *not* Charlie, but if I am not Charlie, then I *must* be Ahmed! I have often (well, at least occasionally) loved Charlie Hebdo with a love that brought pain to my heart (due primarily to having a diaphragm seized with convulsive […]

Significance Levels and Climate Change

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

D.G.Mayo has reproduced Nathan Schachtman's post on Naomi Oreskes' op-ed in the NYTimes - and of course Briggs also chimes in. I have to admit that I find Oreskes' piece less than compelling and in many ways seriously wrong. Her main point is (or should be) twofold, namely that 1.  if the cost of neglecting a possible […]

A Popular Fantasy About a Smart Person

Monday, January 5th, 2015

I actually thought it was a pretty good movie, but in her review of The Imitation Game: A Smart Person's Fantasy, Emma Green at The Atlantic encourages the reader to confound fantasy and reality. The creators of a movie, presented as a fictionalized account, may perhaps legitimately change the story for dramatic effect but for a […]