Thursday, October 21, 2010

Claiming the right to smash their birdbrains against the wall of reality

Protesters rally across France over pension reforms

They are not faces of angry Muslims.
Nor are they faces of tennis players after a winner.
They are faces of French morons claiming the right to smash their birdbrains against the wall of reality!
It also shows the height of their aspirations.
These kids are already longing to twiddle their thumbs for the rest of their lives, 40 years ahead of time, when life expectancy will be such that retirement years will far exceed working years. Off course, they'd never consider the prospect of having a job that could provide satisfaction and that they'd insist to hold on as long as possible.
"Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite"? Fraternity, equality with all the countries whose retirement age is above theirs, in Europe (let's not talk about the rest of the world, where they haven't a clue of what social security means)?
Holding on to "acquired" benefits will come at a great cost.
After that they will be complaining that China and other Indias are overtaking them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

ACTA, a cause worth fighting against

ACTA stands for Anti-Counterfeinting Trade Agreement. It is aimed at enforcing copyright and tackling counterfeited goods and it has been secretly negotiated since 2008 by the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Australia as well as a few other countries.

This aggreement would bypass democratic processes in order to enforce a fundamentally irrelevant regulatory regime, that would put an end to Net neutrality.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Selected from common-sense-quotes

"Common sense is what tells us the Earth is flat and the Sun goes around it."

"The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next."
Matthew Arnold

"Common sense ain't common."
Will Rogers

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
Albert Einstein

"The two World Wars came in part, like much modern literature and art, because men, whose nature is to tire of everything in turn, ... tired of common sense and civilization."
F. L. Lucas

"If an idea's worth having once, it's worth having twice."
Tom Stoppard

"Common sense is very uncommon."
Horace Greeley

"Common sense is in spite of, not as the result of education."
Victor Hugo

"The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next."
Henry Ward Beecher

"Common sense is instinct, and enough of it is genius."
Josh Billings

"Stupid is forever, ignorance can be fixed."
Don Wood

"Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has."

"Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes."
Oscar Wilde

Monday, September 20, 2010

Funny quotes, or paraprosdokians for the pedant.

Those are some favourites. More will follow. Contributions welcome.

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.

Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, you will be a mile away and he won’t have any shoes.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it.

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?

Behind every successful man is a woman and behind his downfall is another woman"

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.

A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.

A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What are worthwhile problems?

 "The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to."
Richard Feynman

That's the very reason the fashionable atheist debate is futile and does more harm than good. It can't bring about peace. It potentially creates a far greater divide than the ones we have endured so far throughout our history (Catholics/Protestants, Christian/Muslims, Sunni/Shiites, the list is long...), since an explanation for our presence here is beyond our comprehension, a transcendental or symbolic substitute for it will never be stamped out IMHO; it's in our nature, it's what made us humans, since the remote times of the awakening of consciousness and symbolic communication (with the sense of social norms, realization of "self" and concept of continuity) when we started to adopt non-utilitarian customs, rituals such as burying our dead,  painting on cave walls, chanting, dancing and making use of gradually more abstract references.

Rational explanation for existence such as the latest well publicised solution suggested by Hawking "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing will leave even the staunchest atheists quite dissatisfied they expose further and more arduous problems. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist". This claim presumes pre-exiting laws of nature and gravity, before even  nature was there to obey them. I confess however that the scientific methods to come to that conclusion are beyond my comprehension.

However, in spite of my unfathomable ignorance, I can reasonably suggest that atheists are intelligent enough to realise that it is not the worldview a person adheres to that makes him/her right or righteous, and that the heart has other and better criteria than belief or doubt in the supernatural to discern what's right or wrong in human deeds.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simone Weil. Selected quotes.

In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!

One cannot imagine St. Francis of Assisi talking about rights.

If Germany, thanks to Hitler and his successors, were to enslave the European nations and destroy most of the treasures of their past, future historians would certainly pronounce that she had civilized Europe.

I am not a Catholic; but I consider the Christian idea, which has its roots in Greek thought and in the course of the centuries has nourished all of our European civilization, as something that one cannot renounce without becoming degraded.

A work of art has an author and yet, when it is perfect, it has something which is anonymous about it.

Petroleum is a more likely cause of international conflict than wheat. (premonitory!)

Most works of art, like most wines, ought to be consumed in the district of their fabrication.

The destruction of the past is perhaps the greatest of all crimes.

The future is made of the same stuff as the present.

Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.

What a country calls its vital... interests are not things that help its people live, but things that help it make war.

La beauté séduit la chair pour obtenir la permission de passer jusqu'à l'âme.

La religion en tant que source de consolation est un obstacle à la véritable foi, et en ce sens l'athéisme est une purification.

Le mot de révolution est un mot pour lequel on tue, pour lequel on meurt, pour lequel on envoie les masses populaires à la mort, mais qui n'a aucun contenu.

Dieu ne juge pas : par lui les êtres se jugent.

Le chrétien est un mauvais païen, converti par un mauvais juif.

Accepter le mal qu'on nous fait comme remède à celui que nous avons fait.

La politique m'apparaît comme une sinistre rigolade. 

Impossible de pardonner à qui nous a fait du mal, si ce mal nous abaisse. Il faut penser qu'il ne nous a pas abaissé, mais a révélé notre vrai niveau.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why Are French Women Killing Their Babies?

Check it there:
Why Are French Women Killing Their Babies?

The obvious answer to the enigma: motherhood is seen as a stigma in our so called culture where professional "career" is the ultimate goal, as if giving life wasn't the very finest destiny one could aspire to. Being inescapable does not make it less valuable.
As a lady very dear to me said to her daughter, when she was, or rather, felt confronted with the motherhood/career dilemma "by definition, the exercise of freedom requires you to abandon all of possible choices offered to you but the one". Coelho made a very similar comment recently.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Internet prefiguring the global brain, as the ant colony does.

The first thing I was taught when I went to studies, was how to find information on any particular topic. It was time consuming and arduous, but certainly the most useful thing I ever learned.
We are in now in 2010. Gone with the library indexed references and cards. Type a few words, click and you get all the information you ever want about any subject of interest. All the knowledge amassed through the centuries is available there on the net. Very nearly...
The next logical step is the direct connection with the universal knowledge. Gone will be the typing and the click that follows. Our brain will somehow be interfaced with the "next" internet.
What a perspective! Each of us will have instant access the hence implanted world knowledge, and merge with a super being which will surpass our individual capacities as much as the colony is with respect to the individual ant.
What will individuality mean then, is left to yet another speculation..

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Les peuples ont les regimes qu'ils meritent

Concernant les OGM, le rechauffement climatique et autres atteintes a notre environnement, n'est-il pas frappant de constater que en depit d'un consensus  qui semble total sur facebook et sans doute dans tous les autres espaces sociaux,  aucun resultat concret n'en ressort? En effet, cela ne semble pas inquietier outre mesure les responsables de tous ces maux, qui non seulement continuent de deverser leurs poisons comme si de rien n'etait, mais ne se donnent pas la peine de justifier ou expliquer la necessite de leurs actions aupres des mecontents affectes, autrement que par les trois mots qui legitimisent tout: croissance, croissance, croissance.
De deux chose l'une: soit ils ne lisent pas ce qui ce dit sur eux sur FB et ailleurs (auquel cas ces complaintes ne servent a rien et on ferait mieux de la boucler), soit ils s'en moquent, se sachant proteges par les gens en haut lieu. Comment, afin de remedier a cette situation, ne pas entre tente par les ideologies anarchistes ou extremistes quand l'etat et les lois protegent des interests particuliers nefastes a la communaute?
Les peuples ont, apres tout, les regimes qu'ils meritent, par manque de raison ou plus probablement par simple veulerie.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Large Hadron Collider. Big Bang's Lab.

LHC is being sabotaged from the future

For my part, I know our Big Bang was the consequence of the last successful large hadron collider experiment !
Nature didn't manage to sabotage the LHC of the previous world.
Why should she manage to save our world this time?
You are sceptic? Just wait and see. It's going to be Grand.;-)
What is so particular about this world that would make it last more than any other?
Men are incorrigible anthropocentrists who are forced to reinvent the big Wheel every time.
Isn't this reminiscent of some ancient myth?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A dream. An uneducated conjecture about perception of time on waking up.

I'd like to share a few reflections that followed the weird experience I went through a year ago.
In the dream I then had, I was observing an aeroplane doing aerobatics, and just as I was worrying about the loads it was subjected to, it broke in flight and went spiraling down to crash on the ground, with bang that coincided with the real one of a car crash (minor one) outside my house. This briefly woke me up, just enough to realise that a real crash occurred,  then in no time I was fast asleep again, the dream resumed at the crash scene towards which people were running; I looked towards the sky to see if by chance the pilot managed to parachute himself out of trouble. He had; and as soon as he touched the ground he ran away from us and the scene, apparently to look for a phone booth. But the second part of the dream is irrelevant to the questions the first bit raised in my mind.
When eventually I woke up, the question that made me wonder about the mechanics of a dream, was "how on earth my dream could have known in advance that the real world crash would occur precisely at the moment the unreal plane would hit the ground?"
I can imagine only two hypothesis:
- a coincidence of extreme low probability
- that the whole sequence of the dream that appeared to last a minute or more, was made up in the instant my ears heard the real crash
And one speculation, in the latter case:
Couldn't time, as we perceive it in the "awakened" world, be of a similar nature as the time of the dream, i.e. actually just an instant in which the perceived "time" is compressed, and that time is actually without dimension, timeless. Everything is happening, has happened, will happen at once, and that by a magical trick, or more likely by some law of nature it appears as a long sequence of events, within which our conscience has evolved to perceive time as we do? Life is perception, and a dream is a perception within.
Perhaps all this is plain commonsense to the dream scholars?

A year later, I read the following quote in an article about the LHC (large hadron collider):
“For those of us who believe in physics,” Einstein once wrote to a friend, “this separation between past, present and future is only an illusion.”

Friday, July 9, 2010

Structured Procrastination

A fine analysis of human nature as well as a doctrine I fully conform to, and that explains my erratically timed postings.

Structured Procrastination
by John Perry
Version of April 25, 1995

I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you.

The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.

The most perfect situation for structured procrastination that I ever had was when my wife and I served as Resident Fellows in Soto House, a Stanford dormitory. In the evening, faced with papers to grade, lectures to prepare, committee work to be done, I would leave our cottage next to the dorm and go over to the lounge and play ping-pong with the residents, or talk over things with them in their rooms, or just sit there and read the paper. I got a reputation for being a terrific Resident Fellow, and one of the rare profs on campus who spent time with undergraduates and got to know them. What a set up: play ping pong as a way of not doing more important things, and get a reputation as Mr. Chips.

Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this goes contrary to the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is a way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being.

At this point you may be asking, "How about the important tasks at the top of the list, that one never does?" Admittedly, there is a potential problem here. The trick is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list. The ideal sorts of things have two characteristics, First, they seem to have clear deadlines (but really don't). Second, they seem awfully important (but really aren't). Luckily, life abounds with such tasks. In universities the vast majority of tasks fall into this category, and I'm sure the same is true for most other large institutions.

Take for example the item right at the top of my list right now. This is finishing an essay for a volume in the philosophy of language. It was supposed to be done eleven months ago. I have accomplished an enormous number of important things as a way of not working on it. A couple of months ago, bothered by guilt, I wrote a letter to the editor saying how sorry I was to be so late and expressing my good intentions to get to work. Writing the letter was, of course, a way of not working on the article. It turned out that I really wasn't much further behind schedule than anyone else. And how important is this article anyway? Not so important that at some point something that seems more important won't come along. Then I'll get to work on it.

Another example is book order forms. I write this in June. In October, I will teach a class on Epistemology. The book order forms are already overdue at the book store. It is easy to take this as an important task with a pressing deadline (for you non-procrastinators, I will observe that deadlines really start to press a week or two after they pass.) I get almost daily reminders from the department secretary, students sometimes ask me what we will be reading, and the unfilled order form sits right in the middle of my desk, right under the wrapping from the sandwich I ate last Wednesday. This task is near the top of my list; it bothers me, and motivates me to do other useful but superficially less important things.

But in fact, the book store is plenty busy with forms already filed by non-procrastinators. I can get mine in mid-Summer and things will be fine. I just need to order popular well-known books from efficient publishers. I will accept some other, apparently more important, task sometime between now and, say, August 1st. Then my psyche will feel comfortable about filling out the order forms as a way of not doing this new task.

The observant reader may feel at this point that structured procrastination requires a certain amount of self-deception, since one is in effect constantly perpetrating a pyramid scheme on oneself. Exactly. One needs to be able to recognize and commit oneself to tasks with inflated importance and unreal deadlines, while making oneself feel that they are important and urgent. This is not a problem, because virtually all procrastinators have excellent self-deceptive skills also. And what could be more noble than using one character flaw to offset the bad effects of another?

Gibble-gabblog's NB:
With special thank to my old friend Professor Olivier Van Reeth who kindly forwarded me this.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Very first gibble-gabble blog entry

Why this blog, when I already have three websites, one blog and Facebook?
My other websites have more specific purposes. So has the nauti-blog. See the latter below...
Facebook is ok, but imposing too much of my presence is not necessarily welcome and can be confusing, as there is no way to distinguish between the silly day-to-day diary and posts meaning to convey something on the news feed. This space has no other purpose than to share what I wouldn't on Facebook, writing down whatever comes through my mind, in particular things that would less likely to be appreciated by the community.
Here, friends, and friends of friends and so on, are welcome, free to come in, take a peek, give a poke and go.
This entry is a test to see if everything works ok. I have no idea how the prototype will look.
What was the most time consuming was to decide for a name I would not regret for this blog. The choice narrowed down in the end between blog-note, gibble-gabblog, jabberwocky, amongst names provided by searches for "nonsense". I hope you acquiesce with the final pick.
Some of my posts  here will be mirrored from Facebook for those who, for very good reasons, don't want to get into the social network game. As as side benefit, it will serve as a back-up for some of the stuff I've got elsewhere.
The appearance is not finalised and don't know what tools are available with in order to shape gibble-gabblog the way I want.
All the best to all,

PS: the next and 2nd blog will be a brief intro of myself for the aliens amongst you, just for the form. : dedicated to kitesurfing of the other kind : kitesufing blog and loosely related topics : the space I love to hate
My other website is not much interest for anyone comfortable here.