A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

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Monday 28 April 2003

Bo Leuf writes:

Glancing at your borrowed diagrams, I note that I would prefer arrows leading back to the world as well, since our thoughts can manifestly affect the world through our actions. Two-way street.

Also, many are the minds who have taken the concentric ring through another dimension, in effect saying that while it may seem that the world contains the mind, so too does the mind contain the world. Mental Klein bottle, perhaps.

Mark's "SturmWiki" name suggestion is good. Take Wiki by Sturm. Hehe. But I agree that you should run your site any way you see fit. The greatest "reason" for using a wiki (in my opinion), be it open coauthoring or closed blog-like, is the ease of finding references -- and having found them, instantly in situo create explicit crosslinks or restructure topics. If the urge occurs. My own clusters of wikis are but poor examples, as I am far too lazy to do so consistently, and have perhaps followed the day-by-day journal format too much.

/ Bo

The first diagram is there to illustrate the Cartesian model and in the following diagram, how it contains an implicit assumption that the objective observer is outside the mind of the subject, outside of the world etc. Additional arrows do not improve the applicability. Here is the diagram again:

 diagram showing the "objective" observer observing mind, perception and world

The left leg of the diagram has the observer O perceiving the mind of the subject A. Telepathy as far as I know remains elusive. The middle leg has the observer O perceiving the perceptions of the subject B. For instance we know that a subject can report a perception, such as a smell learned in infancy that we cannot detect since we never smelled that smell as an infant. The third leg has the observer O perceiving the world C which is the same as the subject at A perceiving the world C. This is not at all useful.

I'm not at all sure that the second diagram needs reshaping:

mind inside perceptions inside the world

What the diagram says is that the mind cannot be independent of the world, nor can it be independent of perception. There is world that lies outside our perception, for example the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy. There are perceptions that lie outside mind because they are in the distant past, or far future presumably waiting to happen. The mind and perceptions are clearly a result of the world, but is the world a result of perception? This was George Berkeley's position, the perceiver being God.

Of course this leads famously to does a falling tree make a sound when there's nobody there to hear the sound? The answer to this that I like best is the one Informal told me. When nobody is there, the beavers lower the tree very gently to the ground.

Thought for the day:

Why assume so glibly that the God who presumably created the universe is still running it? It is certainly perfectly conceivable that He may have finished it and then turned it over to lesser gods to operate. In the same way many human institutions are turned over to grossly inferior men. This is true, for example, of most universities, and of all great newspapers.

HL Mencken

Current Listening:

Yes -- Tales from Topographical Oceans



Wednesday 30 April 2003

The Git is very busy the next few days, so opportunities to write down thoughts will be few and far between. My good friend Tim Marshall will be visiting this coming weekend. There's a Geology test coming up on Friday and a major History essay to complete. Tim and The Git will be travelling to northern Tasmania on Monday to visit a mutual friend who has the best market garden we have ever seen. There's a new computer arriving for a neighbour some time in the next couple of days that will need setting up and the Franklin Apple Harvest Festival is happening Saturday. Oh, and the Huon Book Discussion Group are holding their meeting in The House of Steel on Friday. What a week!


Regular readers will have noticed The Git's unabashed admiration for Karl Popper. Here's an interesting critique of his major critic, David Stove:

The masthead of the David Stove Neo-Positivist Clubhouse, a Yahoo discussion group, carries the following extract from a book review.

"Stove's greatest contribution to philosophy was his attack on the irrationalism that infests modern philosophy of science, in particular the sort of relativist and 'social constructivist' views so current in sociology of science and postmodernist humanities departments, in which modern science is regarded as no better (or worse) than voodoo or astrology or reading chicken entrails. Much of Stove's effort in this matter was expended in attacking what he saw, quite rightly, as the source of this silliness, namely Karl Popper's view that while we can refute theories, we can never have any reason to think that a theory is true or, more to the point, that we can never have any reason to think that one theory is more likely to be true than another".

If Popper's views are identified as the source of the postmodernist silliness it should be possible to find some exponent of that silliness who attributes his or her stance to the influence of reading Popper, or who has taken on board Popper's ideas (if not directly from him) and consequently moved to adopt the irrationalist or social constructivist position.

I am not aware of any person who has taken that route. I cannot understand how a person who has understood Popper's ideas on critical rationalism and the critical method in science could possibly move in that direction. Unless of course they repudiate the logic of Popper's position, for good reasons or bad, in which case they can hardly be said to be acting under his influence.

The members of the Stove group were asked over a period of weeks, possibly months, to come up with an example, otherwise the group manager should remove the false claim from the masthead of the group. Feyerabend was the only name put forward, however he is not a valid candidate because the [sic] rejected Popper's critical rationalism, root and branch. On the face of the evidence presented (nil) the claim in [sic] invalid. Similarly David Stove's criticisms of Popper are invalid.

Rafe Champion, February 2003

Full Story

Thought for the day:

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack at once.

Ashleigh Brilliant

Current Listening:

Neil Young -- Time Fades Away



Saturday 3 May  2003

Almost a year has passed since The Git was last asked to supply a PC. Today was spent setting up the machine ordered, as usual, from EYO last week. 

It's based on what EYO calls the Home Box and comes equipped with a 1.7GHz Celeron, 256MB of Apacer PC2100 DDR-SDRAM, a 40GB Seagate hard disk, a Lite-On CD ReWriter and DVD drive. The Gigabyte GA-8SIMLH SiS chipset MoBo has video onboard, 5.1sound, LAN adapter (irrelevant), and USB2. It's housed in a very smart-looking black Chieftec ATX midi tower case with a 300W power supply. As well, we purchased a 17 inch Samsung monitor, a Microsoft Internet PS2 keyboard and PS2 wheel-mouse, and an Epson Stylus C41 inkjet printer. 

All up, it's a very nice piece of kit for somewhat less than last year's similar 1GHz Celeron/128MB RAM system and this year's includes a DVD drive. As with last year's system, setting it up was not a task for a beginner. Missing from the rather copious amount of paper documentation for each of the individual bits was the necessity to install a video driver. One might have expected this to be part of the motherboard manual and chipset software installer. If it's there, The Git never found it, though the driver was where one would expect it -- on the CD that comes with the motherboard.

The Git installed Win2k in preference to WinXP since the interface is more familiar to Win9.x users. As well, after living with WinXP for some weeks now, The Git can find no particular reason for preferring it. Rather, he feels it is somewhat less forgiving than Win2k where Office2k is concerned. Mind you, both are so much better than any Win9.x version that the differences are not worth bothering about unless it's XP's better compatibility with older software, especially games.

One Win2k annoyance arose in that The Git foolishly installed the modem before running the Internet Connection Wizard. This failed to find the installed modem, so The Git reconnected the modem and ran the wizard again. The second time, it found the modem and installed it, but as a phantom on the spare comm port. Deleting the phantom and telling the system to use the original modem/comm port allowed us to dial out. Unfortunately, we could not log onto my friends' Internet service provider and this was likely due to a change in password they half-remember making. A phone call to the ISP provided a new password. Despite waiting for an hour for the change to be effected at the ISP, we still could not log on. Perhaps this is down to Norton Internet Security settings, something The Git will be checking shortly. The machine came with Norton Internet Security, hence The Git installed it instead of AVG anti-virus. Perhaps this was a mistake.


All of this was a lot less interesting than attending the Apple Harvest Festival (folk music). Grrrr! The weather was truly foul -- windy and wet -- so being in a warm House of Steel had its benefits. Mind you, The Git had to climb up on the roof to effect a repair caused by the wind/neglect [delete whichever is inapplicable]. The Git had intended to support the extended hot water cylinder pressure relief with guy wires, but hadn't got a round twit. The morning found the pipe bent and draining water into the gutter and being pumped back up to the main storage tank. Needless to say, this meant there was no hot water. Guying the straightened pipe took but a few, cold and miserable (by local standards) minutes. Fortunately, the pipe showed no evidence of leaks. Of course, were we heating the water with electrickery instead of the wetback in the wood-burning  cookstove, this minor calamity would have run the electrickery bill up considerably.


As The Git writes this, Mrs Git is about to depart on a trip around the state with her sister that will last several days. The Git's friend Tim Marshall arrives from interstate and on Monday we depart for the north to visit old friends at Liffey before returning Tuesday. The Boy Wonder is at a party right now and will need to fend for himself for a couple of days. Friday's Geology theory test resulted in a mark of 88%, but the result of the practical won't be known for some days.


The Git is reading Quantum Physics: The Nodal Theory by Hector C. Parr:

The behaviour of atomic and sub-atomic particles is well described by Quantum Theory, and scientists engaged in research in this field can use the theory to make predictions of quite remarkable accuracy. But any attempt to understand the philosophy underlying the theory leads to puzzling contradictions. 

During the twentieth century, several physicists with a thorough understanding of the theory have tried to resolve these conceptual difficulties, but no proposed solution seems wholly satisfactory, and each contains elements which are barely credible.

This book examines the writings of some of these scientist-philosophers, and makes one more attempt to get to the root of the problem. The writer believes that a failure to understand the true nature of Time lies at the heart of the difficulties, and he makes one new suggestion, which he calls the Nodal Hypothesis, in an attempt to resolve them. The book shows that several deductions from this hypothesis agree well with observation, and it outlines the direction in which future research may be able to confirm that it is indeed a step in the right direction.

The Git is but partway through reading this online book and finding the going a little slow and difficult. But then thinking can be like that...

Thought for the day:

By doing just a little every day, I can gradually let the task overwhelm me.

Ashleigh Brilliant

Current Listening:

Pink Floyd -- Obscured by Clouds


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Jonathan Sturm 2003


Jonathan Sturm 2003