Journal 01/01/2012 (a.m.)

    • When blood flows away from your heart, it gets pushed by the strong, rhythmic beating of your heart. Getting back is another story. The blood doesn’t get that boost from your heart muscle, it relies on special valves in the veins in your legs to make sure the blood doesn’t sit or flow backwards.
    •  The valves work in conjunction with your leg muscles. When these muscles relax, the valves close. This is what prevents your blood from flowing backwards. It’s critical to keep these valves, and the veins that support them, healthy and strong. With strong vein walls, your veins and the valves can contract as they should, sending your blood back up to your heart. This in turn helps prevent pooling
  • tags: Virgina Colonial America frontier exploration wikipedia

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Journal 12/30/2011 (a.m.)

    • Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after
       years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief,
       of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which
       has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game,
       is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip.
       Only a feeble light glimmers like a tiny star in a vast gulf of
       darkness. This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul,
       when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not a
       dream, and the gulf of darkness reality. This doubt, and the
       still harsh tyranny of the materialistic philosophy, divide our
       soul sharply from that of the Primitives.
    • Shapeless
       emotions such as fear, joy, grief, etc., which belonged to this
       time of effort, will no longer greatly attract the artist.
    • Imagine a building divided into many rooms. The building may be
       large or small. Every wall of every room is covered with pictures
       of various sizes; perhaps they number many thousands. They
       represent in colour bits of nature–animals in sunlight or
       shadow, drinking, standing in water, lying on the grass; near to,
       a Crucifixion by a painter who does not believe in Christ;
       flowers; human figures sitting, standing, walking; often they are
       naked; many naked women, seen foreshortened from behind; apples
       and silver dishes; portrait of Councillor So and So; sunset; lady
       in red; flying duck; portrait of Lady X; flying geese; lady in
       white; calves in shadow flecked with brilliant yellow sunlight;
       portrait of Prince Y; lady in green. All this is carefully
       printed in a book–name of artist–name of picture. People with
       these books in their hands go from wall to wall, turning over
       pages, reading the names. Then they go away, neither richer nor
       poorer than when they came, and are absorbed at once in their
       business, which has nothing to do with art. Why did they come? In
       each picture is a whole lifetime imprisoned, a whole lifetime of
       fears, doubts, hopes, and joys.
    • Whither is this lifetime tending? What is the message of the
       competent artist? “To send light into the darkness of men’s
       hearts–such is the duty of the artist,” said Schumann. “An
       artist is a man who can draw and paint everything,” said Tolstoi.

       

      Of these two definitions of the artist’s activity we must choose
       the second, if we think of the exhibition just described. On one
       canvas is a huddle of objects painted with varying degrees of
       skill, virtuosity and vigour, harshly or smoothly. To harmonize
       the whole is the task of art. With cold eyes and indifferent mind
       the spectators regard the work. Connoisseurs admire the “skill”
       (as one admires a tightrope walker), enjoy the “quality of
       painting” (as one enjoys a pasty). But hungry souls go hungry
       away.

    • The vulgar herd stroll through the rooms and pronounce the
       pictures “nice” or “splendid.” Those who could speak have said
       nothing, those who could hear have heard nothing. This condition
       of art is called “art for art’s sake.” This neglect of inner
       meanings, which is the life of colours, this vain squandering of
       artistic power is called “art for art’s sake.”

       

      The artist seeks for material reward for his dexterity, his power
       of vision and experience. His purpose becomes the satisfaction of
       vanity and greed

    • The life of the spirit may be fairly represented in diagram as a
       large acute-angled triangle divided horizontally into unequal
       parts with the narrowest segment uppermost. The lower the segment
       the greater it is in breadth, depth, and area.

       

      The whole triangle is moving slowly, almost invisibly forwards
       and upwards. Where the apex was today the second segment is
       tomorrow; what today can be understood only by the apex and to
       the rest of the triangle is an incomprehensible gibberish, forms
       tomorrow the true thought and feeling of the second segment.

       

      At the apex of the top segment stands often one man, and only
       one. His joyful vision cloaks a vast sorrow. Even those who are
       nearest to him in sympathy do not understand him. Angrily they
       abuse him as charlatan or madman.

    • How many years will it be before a greater segment of the
       triangle reaches the spot where he once stood alone?
    • The greater the segment (which is
       the same as saying the lower it lies in the triangle) so the
       greater the number who understand the words of the artist. Every
       segment hungers consciously or, much more often, unconsciously
       for their corresponding spiritual food. This food is offered by
       the artists, and for this food the segment immediately below will
       tomorrow be stretching out eager hands.

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Journal 12/29/2011 (a.m.)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Journal 12/27/2011 (a.m.)

  • tags: Civil War

    • as in all antebellum houses, someone famous hid in the attic
    • Imagine a building divided into many rooms. The building may be
       large or small. Every wall of every room is covered with pictures
       of various sizes; perhaps they number many thousands. They
       represent in colour bits of nature–animals in sunlight or
       shadow, drinking, standing in water, lying on the grass; near to,
       a Crucifixion by a painter who does not believe in Christ;
       flowers; human figures sitting, standing, walking; often they are
       naked; many naked women, seen foreshortened from behind; apples
       and silver dishes; portrait of Councillor So and So; sunset; lady
       in red; flying duck; portrait of Lady X; flying geese; lady in
       white; calves in shadow flecked with brilliant yellow sunlight;
       portrait of Prince Y; lady in green. All this is carefully
       printed in a book–name of artist–name of picture. People with
       these books in their hands go from wall to wall, turning over
       pages, reading the names. Then they go away, neither richer nor
       poorer than when they came, and are absorbed at once in their
       business, which has nothing to do with art. Why did they come? In
       each picture is a whole lifetime imprisoned, a whole lifetime of
       fears, doubts, hopes, and joys.

       

      Whither is this lifetime tending? What is the message of the
       competent artist? “To send light into the darkness of men’s
       hearts–such is the duty of the artist,” said Schumann. “An
       artist is a man who can draw and paint everything,” said Tolstoi.

       

      Of these two definitions of the artist’s activity we must choose
       the second, if we think of the exhibition just described. On one
       canvas is a huddle of objects painted with varying degrees of
       skill, virtuosity and vigour, harshly or smoothly. To harmonize
       the whole is the task of art. With cold eyes and indifferent mind
       the spectators regard the work. Connoisseurs admire the “skill”
       (as one admires a tightrope walker), enjoy the “quality of
       painting” (as one enjoys a pasty). But hungry souls go hungry
       away.

  • tags: politics

    • “Newt Gingrich trying to claim credit for the Clinton economy is like Johnny Ringo claiming credit for the gunfight at the OK Corral” was the take of former Clinton adviser Paul Begala. “He was involved in it — just on the losing side. Newt opposed President Clinton’s economic plan with all the bombast, bitterness and bloviating for which he’s famous. … What’s next? Is Newt going to claim credit for President Clinton’s weight loss?”
  • tags: machines

    • A robot walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a screwdriver.” A bad joke, indeed. But even less funny if the robot says “Give me what’s in your cash register.”
    • The fictional theme of robots turning against humans is older than the word itself, which first appeared in the title of Karel Čapek’s 1920 play about artificial factory workers rising against their human overlords. Just 22 years later, Isaac Asimov invented the “Three Laws of Robotics” to serve as a hierarchical ethical code for the robots in his stories: first, never harm a human being through action or inaction; second, obey human orders; last, protect oneself. From the first story in which the laws appeared, Asimov explored their inherent contradictions. Great fiction, but unworkable theory.
    • The neuro- and cognitive sciences are presently in a state of rapid development in which alternatives to the metaphor of mind as computer have gained ground. Dynamical systems theory, network science, statistical learning theory, developmental psychobiology and molecular neuroscience all challenge some foundational assumptions of A.I., and the last 50 years of cognitive science more generally. These new approaches analyze and exploit the complex causal structure of physically embodied and environmentally embedded systems, at every level, from molecular to social. They demonstrate the inadequacy of highly abstract algorithms operating on discrete symbols with fixed meanings to capture the adaptive flexibility of intelligent behavior. But despite undermining the idea that the mind is fundamentally a digital computer, these approaches have improved our ability to use computers for more and more robust simulations of intelligent agents — simulations that will increasingly control machines occupying our cognitive niche. If you don’t believe me, ask Siri.
    • This is why, in my view, we need to think long and hard about machine morality. Many of my colleagues take the very idea of moral machines to be a kind of joke. Machines, they insist, do only what they are told to do.
    • In fact, the benefits of reduced fine particle pollution account for most of the quantifiable gains from the new rules. The key word here is “quantifiable”: E.P.A.’s cost-benefit analysis only considers one benefit of mercury regulation, the reduced loss in future wages for children whose I.Q.’s are damaged by eating fish caught by freshwater anglers. There are without doubt many other benefits to cutting mercury emissions, but at this point the agency doesn’t know how to put a dollar figure on those benefits.

       Even so, the payoff to the new rules is huge: up to $90 billion a year in benefits compared with around $10 billion a year of costs in the form of slightly higher electricity prices. This is, as David Roberts of Grist says, a very big deal.

       And it’s a deal Republicans very much want to kill.

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The Future of Moral Machines – NYTimes.com

  • tags: machines

    • A robot walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a screwdriver.” A bad joke, indeed. But even less funny if the robot says “Give me what’s in your cash register.”

    • The fictional theme of robots turning against humans is older than the word itself, which first appeared in the title of Karel Čapek’s 1920 play about artificial factory workers rising against their human overlords. Just 22 years later, Isaac Asimov invented the “Three Laws of Robotics” to serve as a hierarchical ethical code for the robots in his stories: first, never harm a human being through action or inaction; second, obey human orders; last, protect oneself. From the first story in which the laws appeared, Asimov explored their inherent contradictions. Great fiction, but unworkable theory.

    • The neuro- and cognitive sciences are presently in a state of rapid development in which alternatives to the metaphor of mind as computer have gained ground. Dynamical systems theory, network science, statistical learning theory, developmental psychobiology and molecular neuroscience all challenge some foundational assumptions of A.I., and the last 50 years of cognitive science more generally. These new approaches analyze and exploit the complex causal structure of physically embodied and environmentally embedded systems, at every level, from molecular to social. They demonstrate the inadequacy of highly abstract algorithms operating on discrete symbols with fixed meanings to capture the adaptive flexibility of intelligent behavior. But despite undermining the idea that the mind is fundamentally a digital computer, these approaches have improved our ability to use computers for more and more robust simulations of intelligent agents — simulations that will increasingly control machines occupying our cognitive niche. If you don’t believe me, ask Siri.

    • This is why, in my view, we need to think long and hard about machine morality. Many of my colleagues take the very idea of moral machines to be a kind of joke. Machines, they insist, do only what they are told to do.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.