Archive for the ‘arts and crafts’ Category

Here’s ancient Greek sophist Gorgias on the important of being good with words (taken from Enconium of Helen of Troy, translated by George A. Kennedy):

Speech is a powerful lord that with the smallest and most invisible body accomplishes the most god-like works. It can banish fear and remove grief and instil pleasure and enhance pity. […] Divine sweetness transmitted through words is inductive of pleasure, and reductive of pain. Thus entering into the opinion of the soul the force of incantation is wont to beguile and persuade and alter it by witchcraft, and the two arts of witchcraft and magic are errors of the soul and deceivers of opinion.

Here’s economist and historian Deirdre N. McCloskey on a similar theme (taken from Talking Capitalism: Schumpeter and Galbraith):

Schumpeter and Galbraith spanned the range in the last century from moderate conservative to moderate socialist. These two men of clever words, both master rhetoricians, laid out the case for and the case against unregulated capitalism. […] Regulated or not, though, […] capitalism hangs on words. […] Case-making with sweet words is how business decisions are made. It’s how regulatory agencies do their jobs, too, and how you shop for furniture. It’s how economic scientists persuade. It’s how managers in a free society manage. Talk, talk, talk. Rhetoric rules.

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G. made a square for a community quilt being put together by the local Women’s Institute:
Embroidered graph of Cambridge population
It possibly isn’t quite what they had in mind, but the crossover between needlework and data science had to happen sooner or later. (The jump on the data around 1911 apparently coincides with a significant boundary change. There was no census in 1941 due to the Second World War.)

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I’ve been wanting to write something about brevity for a while now. You know: the soul of wit, brevitas vs. copia, maxims and arrows, and all that sort of thing. I fear I may write too much whilst saying too little. Ho hum.

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I’ve previously mentioned Rodney Brooks approach to robotics, and also “bottom up” views of knowledge. Here’s a nice quote (from Brian Rotman, Mathematics as Sign, p115):

Brooks’ attachment to the bottom-up procedure is also performative, ruling the description as well as the content of his approach. Thus, not only mind—problem solving, central control, representation—is subordinated within his model of intelligence but also its sociocultural correlates—philosophy, abstract thought, theory—are likewise invoked by him on a minimal, need-to-know basis.

This appeals to me, in part, because it chimes with my views about another form of abstract knowledge that’s central to programming: knowledge of programming languages.

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Free ideas

To lighten the mood for the New Year, I’ve got a few suggestions for anyone who wants them. Make of them what you will.

  • Career Freelance café consultant. (Probably not very lucrative, but might be quite pleasant nonetheless.)
  • Song title “Martin Amis fought the cliché and the cliché won”.
  • Album title “The Afterbirth of Cool”. (Might be suitable for noodling jazz-rock types.)
  • Exam questionInteractive fiction is gamified narrative.” Discuss.
  • Meme Lolkits: suitably captioned portraits of Kit Marlowe. Bonus points for remembering that he died in an argument about a bar bill (the “reckoning”).
  • Software methodology article “The Look and Feel of Technical Meetings”. My next planned post might expand on that, a bit.

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I don’t normally pay that much attention to up-coming films. (I’m avoiding agreeing to see The Hobbit…) However this one recently came to my attention.

It all looks rather intriguing. Hopefully it will be shown at the Arts Picture House, when it comes out.

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I must be getting old. Surely it should be Mr. Asbo Swan. Also: “Evek”?
Asbo Swan sez evek da law

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Frank Stajano’s presentation on security (and the recent Cambridge Stack Overflow Dev Day) was based on the premise that hustlers and scammers understand human psychology in a way that engineers do not, and so security engineers would do well to learn from how classic scams work.


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