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Friday Ephemera

Augmented diving. // Emergency kit for boredom. // Where do I put the paper? // What you need to know about data transfer speeds. // Bespoke electronic instruments. // 3D book cover art. (h/t, Julia) // Transit. // Foldable knife. // The complete Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. // For seeing with. // The ghost cities of China. (h/t, dicentra) // From zero to 100. // Alcohol and mayonnaise, together at last. // A junk-touching diagram. // Pyjama jeans. (h/t, Simen) // “Everyone is equally intelligent.” // “The fantastic sensations, including fireworks and airplanes, were a lot of fun.” // How to make a micro-omelette inside an eggshell.



“Everyone is equally intelligent.” From The Philosophers Magazine. Proud to say, I got banned from commenting there. Everyone may be equally intelligent, but everyone's thoughts are not equally appreciated. This is, of course, a stupid deduction for a number of reasons. But, hey now that we're all equally intelligent, no problem.

However, "if everyone is equally intelligent, then why should we put up with being told how to think, or what to think about, by those with a vested interest in maintaining the hierarchies of the status quo?" then of what use is the argument itself? Kind of like the "all ideas are equal" idea, excepting of course the idea that all ideas are not equal.

Comments by "Samuel", "Ernest", and "Johnny" seem to be satirical. But maybe I'm missing something...sarcasm is still one of the lowest forms of humor though, right?

Nate Whilk

Tangentially related to "for seeing with": In "Asimov Laughs Again", Asimov tells a story about how Salvador Dali was treated by an eye specialist. The doctor asked as his fee a painting on a subject of Dali's own choosing. Dali produced a huge, detailed portrait of an eye with a tiny but perfect likeness of the doctor in the middle of the pupil. At seeing it, the doctor was silent for some time and then said, "Mr. Dali, I can only say that I'm glad I'm not a proctologist."



It’s surprisingly easy to find leftist academics willing to tie themselves in knots in order to display their ideological disdain for certain biological facts. The idea of innate dispositions and talents independent of social pressure is, for some, troublesome, even offensive. The unequal distribution of intelligence causes upset in ways that the unequal distribution of musical or athletic talent does not.

If you poke about in the archives, you’ll find – for instance - Joseph Kugelmass, an English graduate student at the University of California, who tells us, “The abstract personal definition of ‘intelligence’ [as an inherent personal quality]… is a source of social ills and should be abandoned. It impedes and confuses pedagogy, underwrites racism and sexism, inhibits culture, and trivializes political debate… Intelligence, like all essentialism, is a technology of power.”

The fact that some people are bright or gifted offends him on political grounds. It jars with his egalitarian pretensions and therefore it must not be true. And so the dishonesty escalates.


"Alcohol and mayonnaise, together at last"

Right, I'm off to the pub for a Smoker's Cough:

Ingredients: 1 1/2 oz. Jagermeister, 1 tsp. Mayonnaise

Instructions: Pour Jagermeister into a shot glass and add a spoon of mayonnaise.

Then I'll try a Greasy Mexican…

sackcloth and ashes

I have 'Tinker, Tailor' on DVD. It is an absolute gem, from the days when the BBC produced quality entertainment, and when John le Carre could actually write quality fiction.


Tinker, Tailor is being remade as a film with Gary Oldman as Smiley.

Not sure how seven hours of dialogue-heavy drama will be squeezed into a two-hour film.

sackcloth and ashes

Oldman as Smiley? No way. I'd cast him as Bill Haydon, though. And I'm not sure how a film version is going to work.



I watched it again recently and had forgotten how good it is. I’d also forgotten Haydon’s speech when asked why he’s done what he’s done. His reply could have been lifted straight from any issue of Socialist Worker (from any decade). Or straight from the articles of Seumas Milne. Ian Richardson captures the vanity of it rather well.


Hmmm. Those Chinese 'Ghost Cities' could be the answer to Georgie Monbiot's prayers. They even have a nicely oppressive government!

Simen Thoresen

Re visualizing junk-touching; Every field of expression has some actors that do things right and some - if the field has any outside interest at all - that do things wrong. Some of those who do things right, feel so strongly about the field that they complain - publicly - about those who do things wrong.

This guy does Venn-diagrams right, and shows why others do them wrong;


Simen Thoresen

Augmented or reduced reality?
Slashdot had a piece on seeing changes;
It is simple to notice changes in objects that are stationary in our field of vision, but when they start moving, it becomes hard to do so without focusing on the separate objects.

This is also where I'd like to plug Peter Watts book 'Blindsight'. He has aliens that move in sync with the saccades of the Human eyes, so that they are filtered out by our visual hardware as noise. And vampires. In space.
And the book is free-to-read. And great.




“This guy does Venn-diagrams right…”

I see the concept lends itself to continual refinement. I hadn’t, for instance, considered “strumpet MDs” or “TSA agents who are also prostitutes.”


"Everyone is equally intelligent"

So no-one is more intelligent than 'Dr' Nina Power? Wow.


Norm Geras once asked me, “What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate?” I said, “That one should not become stupid or dishonest in order to seem fair.”

Seems relevant somehow.


If everyone is equally intelligent, then, to follow on the first comment above, all ideas should have equal validity, because they come from equal intelligences which look at the same information and make the same deductions. I have personally developed the idea that the first idea is incorrect. Is this contradiction then a paradox, or a demonstration that the original "axiom" is incorrect? I would argue the latter, but this would conflict with the idea of the original author that equal intelligence is axiomatic. I think the conflict arises because we have different ideas (again!) about what the word axiom means. I think of an axiom as a concept that is accepted as being true, and no one has been able to provide any examples to the contrary. It is used to develop new knowledge and test theorems. This is the way the word developed from the classic Greek logic methods.

Unfortunately, modern humanist philosophers and social "scientists" have taken words like this and re-defined them. In this case, the author is using the word "axiom" to mean "a concept that politically correct people all know to be correct, and that is not allowed to be challenged by any evidence to the contrary". It is not a concept for which no contrary evidence can be found - no one is allowed to even search for contrary evidence.

It is amazing how much of this sort of philosophy is coming to resemble that of 1984. One wonders whether George Orwell had access to a time machine...


Delicious self-contradiction:

can relatively quickly understand complex arguments and formulae that have taken very clever people a long time to work out ... everyone has the potential to understand anything.

Unless they want to say that "clever" is not the same as "intelligent"...


After constipating on this a little while, it finally came to me as to how all intelligences must be equal. After all, it was just a matter of time before I would grasp what my philosopher intellectual equals were saying. While someone like rxc might put forward counter arguments attempting to refute the obvious truth, this would be an indication that rxc and like persons are mentally unbalanced. One does not argue with crazy people. That would be nuts. We have hospitals to fix your malfunctioning mental processes. If you'll kindly step this way...


'One does not argue with crazy people. '

Indeed. As a matter of fact using reasoned argument with 'crazy people' can actually deteriorate the 'craziness'.

Please kindly step this way.


"Not sure how seven hours of dialogue-heavy drama will be squeezed into a two-hour film."

Oh, by the time they've put in all the gun battles, car chases and explosions, maybe a mid-air plane hijack or two, I'm sure the time will just fly by...

And then, when the film comes out, you can read the book of the film!

Read the small print. No, it isn't what you think it should be... :)


"... this would be an indication that rxc and like persons are mentally unbalanced..."

Yes, I am sure that some would make this argument. It was used in the Soviet Union for a long time to deal with people who did not buy into the socialist vision, which was based on "rigorous, logical analyses" performed by Marx and his successors. Clearly, anyone who did not agree had something wrong with them.

If you start with definitions that do not allow alternate explanations, even when those explanations hit you over the head, over and over again, you can prove anything.

But then, I also seem to remember that Einstein once said “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” I think that many of the supporters of socialism satisfy this definition quite well.

sackcloth and ashes

I'm in two minds about whether I'd watch the 'Tinker, Tailor' remake.

The main problem is that you already have the definitive version of the book on film, in the form of the 1979 BBC serial. Who can play Smiley (on film) after Alec Guinness? I will always associate Esterhase with Bernard Hepton, and Jim Prideaux with Ian Bannen. And who else could be Connie Sachs other than Beryl Reid.

David, Bill Haydon's explanation of his motives is probably the one weak spot in the series, IMHO. Not because of any shortcomings on Ian Richardson's part, but it was actually capturing the combination of vanity, disillusionment and political naivete that made Haydon a traitor. One of the ironies of Le Carre's current stance is that he talks like his fictional version of Philby, and I can't help thinking that his novels have deteriorated in quality ever since he became mates with Pilger.


“Haydon’s explanation of his motives is probably the one weak spot in the series…”

Well, I think it’s much too brief, certainly. It isn’t given the space and detail it warrants. But then I don’t think Beryl Reid was given enough screen time either. Which brings us back to the problem of how to squeeze a slow and atmospheric series into a two-hour film. The mood of decline is rather important.

sackcloth and ashes

For me, if any justice is to be done to Le Carre's best novels, they need to be serialised. And I still live in the hope that the BBC and HBO will get together to do 'The Honourable Schoolboy'.

The one book which could be done as a 2hr film is 'Single and Single', which happens (as far as I'm concerned) to be the last good book that Le Carre wrote, before he succombed to Pilgeritis.

sackcloth and ashes

Oh, apparently Kathy Burke is cast as Connie Sachs.

I like Burke, but I'm not sure she can pull this one off.

sackcloth and ashes

The trailer is here (unfortunately, with an advert at the beginning):

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