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Weekend social 31/08/19

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, August 31st, 2019 - 34 comments
Categories: weekend social - Tags:

Christmas truce 1914Weekend social is for non political chat. What’s on for the weekend, gigs, film or book reviews, sports, or whatever.

No politics, no aggro, why can’t we all just get along?

34 comments on “Weekend social 31/08/19”

  1. JohnSelway 1

    I’ve just reread Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World. Aside from Sagan being my all time favourite personality in the world of science education Demon Haunted World is a great read about the dangers of scientific illiteracy.

  2. mpledger 2

    In Wellington I am going to a pop-up wool show for knitters, crocheters, weavers(?)- https://www.facebook.com/events/2048073735228421/

  3. Robert Guyton 3

    But would you trust him?

    "As an example of skeptical thinking, Sagan offers a story concerning a fire-breathing dragon that lives in his garage. When he persuades a rational, open-minded visitor to meet the dragon, the visitor remarks that they are unable to see the creature. Sagan replies that he "neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon". The visitor suggests spreading flour on the floor so that the creature's footprints might be seen, which Sagan says is a good idea, "but this dragon floats in the air". When the visitor considers using an infra-red camera to view the creature's invisible fire, Sagan explains that the fire is heatless. He continues to counter every proposed physical test with a reason why the test will not work.

    Sagan concludes by asking: "Now what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true."

    • weka 3.1

      thankfully science isn't the only way to understand the world 🙂

      • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1.1

        Maybe not, but most science, like most of the other ways of understanding the world/universe, begins with observation – that much at least is in common 🙂

        • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1

          The really useful ones question, not what is observed, but what it means to be the observer.

          • Poission 3.1.1.1.1

            The useful ones are Heretics.

            A Soviet Heretic: Essays by Yevgeny Zamyatin,

            If there were anything fixed in nature, if there were truths, all of this would, of course, be wrong. But fortunately, all truths are erroneous. This is the very essence of the dialectical process: today’s truths become errors tomorrow; there is no final number.

            This truth (the only one) is for the strong alone. Weak-nerved minds insist on a finite universe, a last number; they need, in Nietzsche’s words, ‘the crutches of certainty’. The weak-nerved lack the strength to include themselves in the dialectic syllogism. True, this is difficult. But it is the very thing that Einstein succeeded in doing: he managed to remember that he, Einstein, observing motion with a watch in hand, was also moving; he succeeded at looking at the motion of the earth from outside.

            On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters

            Click to access zamyatin_essay.pdf

            • Incognito 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Interesting. I wonder what Zamyatin thought of Gödel who was another fine example of thinking about a system from outside the system.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1.1.1.2

            Well observed 🙂

          • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1.1.1.3

            Just for fun.

            "Such experiences we ascribe to the action of suggestion and the imagination—the cloud "that's almost in shape like a camel," or "like a weasel," or "like a whale." But throughout our visual experiences there runs this double strain, now mainly outward and now mainly inward, from the simplest excitements of the retina up to the realms where fancy soars freed from the confines of sense, and the objective finds its occupation gone."

            https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Popular_Science_Monthly/Volume_54/January_1899/The_Mind%27s_Eye

            Try Figure 16 – took me a while to see the upward-pointing blocks (does that make me a pessimist?); unfocussing my eyes helped.

            Intuition is critical, but be careful.

            1. A bat and a ball cost £1.10 in total. The bat costs a pound more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? (Intuitive answer 10 pence).
            1. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? (Intuitive answer 100 minutes).
            1. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half the lake? (Intuitive answer 24 days)

            For some reaon I particularly like this one:

            If you’re running a race and you pass the person in second place, what place are you in? (Intuitive answer 1st)

            And these are downright cruel!

            Emily’s father had three daughters. The first two are named April and May. What is the third daughter’s name? (Intuitive answer June)

            How many cubic feet of dirt are there in a hole that 3’ deep x 3’ wide x 3’ long? (Intuitive answer 27)

            You go to bed at eight. You set your old analogue alarm clock to wake you up at nine. How many hours of sleep will you get? (Intuitive answer 13 h)

            https://absolutedecisionsblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/cognitive-reflection-and-cognitive-reflection-like-items/

        • weka 3.1.1.2

          "Maybe not, but most science, like most of the other ways of understanding the world/universe, begins with observation – that much at least is in common"

          True, but the issue here is what happens when one person can observe a phenomena more easily than another. The question for me isn't whether Sagan has a dragon in his basement, it's what makes him think it's there. Maybe he can perceive something I cannot, and that science cannot.

          Twinned with observation is experience and how one makes sense of those things. And what Robert is saying about being the observer.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1.1.2.1

            There is an almost unlimited number of things that current science cannot perceive, let alone analyse. Yet that number is smaller than it was 100 years ago, or yesterday.

            For me, the issue is not so much what 'science' or (certain) individuals can and cannot perceive, but rather the belief that there are some things that can (and should) never be understood via scientific investigation. It may well be true that some phenomena (including mental/thought and even non-corporeal phenomena) that will resist observation, and scientific analysis of their nature, unto the end of time. I just prefer to believe that's not the case, even though I'm likely wrong in this (hopeful?) belief.

            "I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts." – Richard P. Feynman

            • weka 3.1.1.2.1.1

              I think they're both doing the same thing. Each one believes they have the superior view and are missing what happens when one can do both.

              I understand the attraction of believing that science can eventually understand all things. I'm more ok with the mystery and uncertainty and the value in that (or maybe I think it doesn't matter whether we don't know because we can't or because science hasn't gotten there yet). Either way, it doesn't help us so much with the dragon in the basement, which seems the most exciting thing to think about. Dragons!

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                I'd like to think that most good scientists were/are OK with uncertainty, even dragons, but I'd probably be disappointed. Same with theologians.

                I’m unsure about the inferiority/superiority of the scientific view compare to alternatives – it’s simply the view I understand best.

                I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives [Dragons!]. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.” – Richard Feynman

                • weka

                  that's pretty much how I feel and I do think lots but not all sciencey people are like that.

                  I was meaning uncertainly about whether science can eventually understand anything it comes up against. I'm ok if that's not true. Don’t most science people believe it is true, that science will eventually explain all (or theoretically can)?

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    I would like it to be true, perhaps even believe it to be true, but I don't know that it's true. Recognised or not, uncertainty is an element of all belief 🙂

            • Incognito 3.1.1.2.1.2

              Nice discussion thread!

              Whether you’re right or wrong depends on the definition of science, where it draws the borders and what its limitations are.

              I certainly agree that science ads to life.

              What makes science science? What sets it apart from other belief systems (or ideologies rather)? Is it the so-called scientific method? Is it that theories have to be predictive and testable by experiments? If so, this would run into some fundamental problems, e.g. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-08-29/string-theory-explainer-what-is-the-universe-made-of/11428656. Feyerabend came to the conclusion that there is or should be no such thing as the scientific method; whatever progresses science and our collective knowledge and understanding of the world is as good as anything (“anything goes”).

              Popper’s criterion for falsification has failed itself to be a good or useful benchmark. Probabilistic theories, such as climate change and quantum mechanics, fail to meet this criterion. Interestingly, I saw this recently being held as a judgement against CC somewhere and that CC was not (based on) true science because it could not be falsified (can’t find the link now).

              Mainstream science has now fully accepted uncertainty and probabilistic theories, I believe. It is ok if evidence is not or cannot be absolutely conclusive.

              A hypothesis (e.g. about a dragon) does not necessarily have to be true or false. Just like Schrödinger's cat, it can exist in two or neither state until an observer collapses the superposition. This shifts the question to how useful the hypothesis is in the larger framework. Something that is and remains abstract belongs to realm of mathematics and will remain there unless or until it finds an application in science 😉

              Science is a collective endeavour and scientific consensus and convention are the criteria. In this sense, science is as much a human construct as any other and merely a way or attempt to interpret the world we live in rather than an interpretation in its own right.

      • Psycho Milt 3.1.2

        thankfully science isn't the only way to understand the world

        "All models are wrong, but some are useful." To which we could add, some are more useful than others.

        • weka 3.1.2.1

          Aye true, and that applies to non-science ways of knowing as much as science.

          • greywarshark 3.1.2.1.1

            Is it possible that we can come to see science as posturing or the advanced curiosity of a grown feckless child? Could it be that we will decide to stop seeking further information about some things, and allow that endless poking and prying into them is counter-productive for a balanced, society that has accepted some humility about its misuse of novel findings, and some historical ones?

  4. Cinny 4

    New Zealand Random Acts of Kindness day tomorrow 🙂 Sept 1st

    It costs nothing and is easy as saying a few nice words or helping someone. Cool huh?

    Get onboard…. more info here…..

    https://rak.co.nz/

  5. WeTheBleeple 5

    Spring Show for Auckland Horticultural Council today. Straight across from the road at Western Springs that takes you to the zoo. Displays, garden geeks, plants/bulbs for sale. Would be all over it but family coming to visit, will try drag them there…

  6. joe90 6

    Nothing new under the sun.

    The Joyful Ballad is essentially a catalogue of curses that the poet wished upon taverners who diluted their wine. Although its author is unknown, it has long been associated with François Villon (c. 1431–after 1463), one of the most renowned French poets of the late Middle Ages, but also a murderer, thief and vagabond. Here is a translated stanza in order to give you a taste of the poem:

    'Let some great gunshot blow their heads off sheer;

    Let thunders catch them in the market-place;

    Let rend their limbs and cast them far and near,

    For dogs to batten on their bodies base;

    Or let the lightning-stroke their sight efface.

    Frost, hail and snow let still upon them bite;

    Strip off their clothes and leave them naked quite,

    For rain to drench them in the open air;

    Lard them with knives and poniards and then bear

    Their carrion forth and soak it in the Rhine;

    Break all their bones with mauls and do not spare

    The vintners [or ‘taverners’] that put water into our wine.'

    [translation from John Payne, The Poems of Master François Villon of Paris (London, 1892), p. 137].

    https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2019/08/the-joyful-ballad-of-the-taverners.html

    • mac1 6.1

      In the first picture in joe90’s comment at #6 the hammered dulcimer player played a bum note by the look of the harp player and the pipe and tambour player are giving him. I know that look……..

      I was an upright bass player in a country string band, and stood at the back of the group so that the other players could get their timing from the bass. Whenever especially the fiddle player played a bum note he'd look around at the bass player, who of course had no one he could turn around and so accuse. (Politics and the art of dead cat distraction works the same way.)

      I'm reading a Commissario Guido Brunetti novel at the moment. His literary professor wife Paola noted that interactions between men are all about power. Even a band of five musicians had its politics and power games. Today's news contained an article on the games still played in the Rolling Stones, after fifty years or more. True now as it was in medieval times, it seems.

  7. gsays 7

    Did anyone get along to the Other's Way in K Road yesty?

    I had tickets but a mate let me down last minute and I couldn't afford the drive up to Auckland.

    I bought the tickets on the strength of Blam Blam Blam.

    Small consolation, RNZ had the Blams in live playing on Friday arvo.

    I would love to hear how they went and Straitjacket Fits.

    • Ad 7.1

      Was great to see Karangahape pumping deep into the night.

      The Chills were nowhere near as sharp as they needed to be.

      Blam Blam Blam put out massive conceptual complexity for just three musicians.

      Everyone sang hard to There is No Depression …

      Robertson was given a shoutout in the audience.

      Lots of dispersed venues made for lots of difficult choices.

      Still, I don't expect to hear any of them again in my lifetime, so, no complaints.

  8. gsays 8

    Hey hey, thanks again, Ad.

    Luxury length is in my top 10 albums and my favourite debut LP (tied with Headless Chickens Stunt Clown).

    I foolishly spent the best part of 6 weeks anticipating The Others Way.

    Great idea – venues cooperating.
    P.S. did you hear how Straitjacket Fits went?

    • gsays 9.1

      I would add Muscle Shoals and I'll be me (Glen Campbell doco) to that list.

      • WILD KATIPO 9.1.1

        So many of em ( doco's)

        But when I'm sad?… I ssssslide…..!!!

        Dunno why I felt like sharing this, just popped into me head in a whimsical moment. Happy Sliding !

        I slid a lot when I loved this as a kid during the 1970's.. I'll bet some of you did too 🙂

        Marc Bolan & T.Rex – The Slider

  9. greywarshark 10

    This sounds like a promising idea from Radionz today.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018711115/substack-an-ad-free-social-media-network

    The New York Times' Mike Isaak says… "my new social network is an email newsletter. Every week or so, I blast it out to a few thousand people who have signed up to read my musings. Some of them email back, occasionally leading to a thoughtful conversation. It’s still early in the experiment, but I think I love it."…

    So what exactly does Substack do?

    "We just make it simple for a writer to start a paid newsletter," Hamish McKenzie said.

    "We say 'newsletter' because that's simple but really it's like a personal media empire where a writer can have a blog that's attached to a mailing list. And they can also, if they want, distribute podcasts and host host discussion threads," he said.

    Substack has thousands of newsletters with more than 50,000 paying subscribers. The minimum price for a sub is $US5 a month.

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