Archive for January, 2010

Matthew Stewart, The Management Myth:

The recognition that management theory is a sadly neglected subdiscipline of philosophy began with an experience of déjà vu. As I plowed through my shelfload of bad management books, I beheld a discipline that consists mainly of unverifiable propositions and cryptic anecdotes, is rarely if ever held accountable, and produces an inordinate number of catastrophically bad writers. It was all too familiar. There are, however, at least two crucial differences between philosophers and their wayward cousins. The first and most important is that philosophers are much better at knowing what they don’t know. The second is money. In a sense, management theory is what happens to philosophers when you pay them too much.

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Related to this, from Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps by Peter Galison:

Over the last thirty years it has become a commonplace to pit bottom-up against top-down explanations. Neither will do in accounting for time. A medieval saying aimed at capturing the links between alchemy and astronomy put it this way: in looking down, we see up; in looking up, we see down. That vision of knowledge serves us well. For in looking down (to the electromagnetically regulated clock networks) we see up: to images of empire, metaphysics, and civil society. In looking up (to the philosophy of Einstein and Poincaré’s procedural concepts of time, space, and simultaneity) we see down: to the wires, gears, and pulses passing through the Bern patent office and the Paris Bureau of Longitude. We find metaphysics in machines, and machines in metaphysics. Modernity, just in time.

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I’ve been a bit slow in my learning of Ruby. This time around I’ve re-written Ozan Yigit’s ndbm clone: sdbm.

I’ve cheated a bit. My general plan has been to pick things up through re-writing bits of existing code in Ruby: but to do them from memory (swotting up if necessary) rather than translate them directly. In this particular case it was convenient (for testing) to ensure that my implementation produced files that were bit-for-bit identical to those produced by the original (as incorporated into Perl). So, to avoid incompatibilities, I wrote down the string hash algorithm and the block sizes used for reading and writing the files. It was only a tiny cheat.


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