REVIEWS. — WITH MY COMMENTS AND THOUGHTS. ... [ Word count: 3.450 ~ 14 PAGES | Revised: 2018.9.5 ]

in science •  5 months ago


— 〈  1  〉—

Books. Papers. Fiction. Nonfiction. Text reviews. Comments. Thoughts.

      Word count: 3.450 ~ 14 PAGES   |   Revised: 2018.9.5


Disclaimer. Been reading far, far more than I review here. Yes.

I could write up and post everything. Actually.

However don't know if that would be better.

What do you think? You can write a comment below.

It's related to my interests. My work. So I read widely and frequently. And that during long, uninterrupted intervals of time. Therefore I also read quickly. So I read much. I also keep up with articles as they appear in journals, in arXiv, BioRxiv, and so on. — Or rather I try.

If you don't attempt, you lose. Or reward doesn't come into your hands except, then maybe by accident, at random. — Which is too infrequently. Random is too infrequently.
For the same reason, to those that have more shall be given. — Not because they have. Rather because having, they can risk what they have. They may risk what they have. — Meanwhile those that have not cannot risk what they have not. — Which is a problem.
Contrary to the idea that trying is not sufficient — that you either do or you don't — trying produces a useful habit. — Which is the greatest prize in most real circumstances.
[JAM90.1] said it: our bad habits are both a trap and the source of much of out incompetence, but our good habits are our protective armor that allows us to get enormous work done, without much effort, allowing us to also work on getting other, new things done. Often the best case is getting not a result but a habit that automatically gets use results more often than not.
Science involves knowing the work of your peers. It's a remarkably social, coherent activity. Much unlike what people who don't do it, who don't participate in science, imagine it to be. But then most things are unlike how we imagine them to be.
[SMIT76.1] suggested science as the first and primary example of widespread division of labor. Yes, you must read the work of your peers. And yes, you should attend conferences.
If you don't, chances are not small that you're not actually doing science. Maybe doing work; sure. But not science. Probably rather reinventing the known, or worse. [TRUE84] said it: almost everybody is a leader who has not a single follower. And: That. Doesn't. Work.
This is why, at any time, the same few names writing are appearing most frequently everywhere in each field.

Several references listed in these and related posts are not strictly my recent reading. But rather they're references I've discussed on Steemit or Discord. Or things that I read some time ago and which just suddenly appeared in my mind and I want to recommend. Or actually my recent reading. Keyword: or.

While everything that I've recently read also is reviewed and marked and organized, primarily such that I have recorded what information is where, what to reread in which case, who has priority or more information about what, as you can imagine, dumping all that in a post would make for a far too disorganized text. — And meanwhile, most things we read are really neither good nor bad, but redundant. So therefore we rather focus on the suggestive and interesting remainder.

People have asked me about it.

This is my reply.



The nonrepeating letters in the review marks are mostly arbitrary. Rather they're only such that many typos — and not merely one — must be made in order to accidentally produce a transition from an intended review mark to another. — Which makes such a transition much less likely. Far less frequent.

bp  >   ix  >  gd  >  su  >   er  >  pt
 ⇊       ⇊       ⇊        ⇊        ⇊        ⇊
  3   >   2   >   1   >   0   >  –1   >  –2

Only a –2 is properly a bad review. Each –1 review is really a neutral review. Rather time reading has a cost: — therefore neutral reviews are negatives. Time reading is budgeted; this cost — the next best opportunity foregone — are the other things not read only because these things were read. — So everything 0, 1, 2, 3 is basically recommended.



— 〈  2  〉—


\NONFICTION: \section{C}: 1

su   [CHRIS08]   C. CHRISTENSEN, M. HORN, C. JOHNSON, Disrupting class, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.

\NONFICTION: \section{G}: 2

gd   [GAR63]   Martin GARDNER, A new paradox, and variations on it, about a man condemned to be hanged, Scientific American, 208(3):144--154, 31963.

su   [GOLD87]   Robert GOLDBLATT, Orthogonality and spacetime geometry, New York: Springer, 1987.

\NONFICTION: \section{H}: 1

gd   [HOF79]   Douglas HOFSTADTER, Goedel, Escher, Bach, New York: Basic Books, Hassocks: Harvester, 1979.

\NONFICTION: \section{J}: 1

bp   [JIB95]   Mari JIBU, Kunio YASUE, Quantum brain dynamics and consciousness, Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1995.

\NONFICTION: \section{L}: 2

bp   [LAND69]   David LANDES, The unbound prometheus, Cambridge: University Press, 1969.

bp   [LAND98]   ↑↑↑, The wealth and poverty of nations, New York: Norton, 1998.

\NONFICTION: \section{O}: 1

gd   [OCC48]   Donald O'CONNOR, Pragmatic paradoxes, Mind, 57(227):358--359, 7.1948.

\NONFICTION: \section{P}: 4

bp   [PRIG62]   Ilya PRIGOGINE, Nonequilibrium statistical mechanics, London: Interscience, 1962.

bp   [PRIG03]   ↑↑↑, Is future given?, Singapore: World, 2003.

bp   [PRIG77]   Ilya PRIGOGINE, G NICOLIS, Self organization in nonequilibrium systems, New York: Wiley, 1977.

bp   [PRIG84]   Ilya PRIGOGINE, Isabelle STENGERS, Order out of chaos, New York: Bantam, 1984.

\NONFICTION: \section{S}: 1

gd   [SCRIV51]   Michael SCRIVEN, Paradoxical announcements, Mind, 60(239):403--407, 7.1951.



— 〈  3  〉—



Heads up: a lot more text coming to this post. Will add notes on the above references. And a few more references. Probably in a day. Meanwhile collecting and polishing these essays on popular themes somewhat. Scriven and Gardner's point is an important once, essentially that backwards induction as used in game theory fails for an inconsistent system, because assumptions of rationality and consistency are themselves shaky. Had some of the other references on this topic listed months ago, just getting around to discussing that issue. It's important for social media. Indeterminacy.

\section{COMMENT # 3}

Why is the majority of production contributed by a minority of people, and the majority of that contributed by a minority of those? And why specifically those people? Why not other people?

The underlying reason for such distributions of labor products is actually quite simple, I propose.

(I associate no value judgment with simplicity, by the way. A very terrible thing can have a simple cause ... if any. Some things are random, as we shall see. — Or most often rather a mix of the stochastic and the straightforward.)

Koestler and Waddington, for example, made a big deal about the concept of the threshold. About hierarchies of thresholds, as opposed to attaching meaning and significant to all incremental or all quantitative changes.

Consider the following system.

(1) B ( x, c ) ∊ [0,1], c ∊ ℕ\0, Z > 0

(2) b (0) = ∏c B ( x, c* )

(3) b ( t + 1 ) = b ( t ) 1 + Z

And basically such that the system resets every interval of say with the value T = 10; and x and c are more or less random.

We'll call values those parameters which don't ever change with time — immutable.

Booleans B (x, c) would encapsulate thresholds. They would be called productive or developmental resources in biology.

None causes anything.

Causality is an important concept in some circumstances; true. But it's a flawed concept.
It's not a general concept; it's a concept best reserved for this or that special case.
Rather imagine two men walking past a window, every day for a while; they're going to work. So they arrive like that based on their train schedule, and walk along that street.
Frank Herbert wrote a joke: — a child behind the window discovers that the first man causes the second man ... until one day the first train is late ... and the second man passes by first.) But absent one some development fails to occur.

And now, even if Z is very small, the probability that all the factors needed in each interval to be above threshold would be above threshold, all of them, is sufficiently small.

Only a tiny fraction of individuals would have the conditions (including but not limited to interest, resources, health, time, space, presence in percolating networks) to get much productive work done ...

Also: one thing is a prerequisite for another ... (There is, for example, a feedback effect, "coherence", as discussed by Blanshard, Harris, and later Deutsch in his 2011 book: the more you know, the faster you can acquire more knowledge ...) — And the more you know, the easier you know where to find some critical tool or clue how to proceed.

Neumann and Goldstine famously justified building fast large computers as providing such clues. — Not proving anything ... but clues that lead to a synergy. So the easier it is to proceed, and less you have to remember. (More coherent knowledge ... possible only with more and not less knowledge ... is less random ... better organized ... more compressed.)

The easier it is to proceed ... You proceed farther.

We see that the variables in different intervals are actually correlated. They have memory. (Oh! Yikes ... Dewey, Wheeler, ... and the pragmatic psychologists discussed this issue long ago.)

So relatively small differences produce enormous divergences. Instability. (Fortunately or unfortunately.)

Meanwhile thresholds, buffers, guarantee small differences.

Bohr famously said: you need a room where absolutely nobody can prevent you from working for long uninterrupted period of time. (Now what are the prices of real estate these days ... ?)

All this goes not specifically for mere quantity. Rather for significance; sometimes these are correlated, often not, agreed. But you've seen say the collected works of Michael Atiyah? (In computer science there are the well know Lamport, Knuth, ... )

The conditions and interests and intelligence are just right for enormous and significant productivity.

*But there are actually very many such people every decade essentially. One needs only to look around at the journals. They're very few. — But not that few. Only very few compared to a population. (That's where the model kicks in for a system.)

That is what should be told students, I suggest. It's a positive, rather than a negative, in a sense. Once they are on the rails ... they basically have a high probability of being among the few contributors to human knowledge of legendary reknown. Thumbs up. Future intrepid heroes of socialist labor. They have a good chance, in fact.

Yet they should however be advised to seek out these rails. Circumstances must line up. Norbert Wiener had basically two books on the subject. In my experience that was excellent advice. (Served me well, at least.)

Broadbent has a justly famous monograph regarding Decision and stress.

Science proceeds best in a low stress environment — like everything else. — But the reliance on long uninterrupted hours, I suggest, makes it far more sensitive to all the effects of environment and personality on productivity. — Very unstable.

So there are, indeed, many people who simply were missing one or another factor and left science completely. Others remain, in a very generous interpretation of that word, remain, but ... you know ... nobody can really say what they did ... or what they do now. Just there.

The most effective way known to produce neuroses in animals is to randomly shock them ... too infrequently to be predicted, but frequently enough to be vaguely expected.

Lawrence Kubie has articles (in Science I think ... see Jstor ...) about how this needed confluence of (basically) coincidences and intelligence and community and knowledge and taste* for getting results ... meanwhile random economic pressure ... can be predicted to lead to neuroses in the distant future as the positions become scarcer. (Now that's foresight.)

\section{COMMENT # 2 : Freedom and development}

What's changed recently, besides technology?

Really what is causing people who mostly would not think about freedom to begin thinking - and even organizing?

The interesting thing is that, with unemployment going way up among most classes, people have more time to read, to listen, to converse and even create content. Especially when they try to create content, they have motivation to learn. And that's when they learn about freedom. They become aware of a lack of some freedom. And in order to be able to speak, they study a little bit first.

Whereas when most people are busy and specialized, always working, they just accept what happens, good or bad, and don't have time to think. So paradoxically, in prosperous times, prosperous because free, and everybody has something to do and is not limited artificially in doing, freedom and ideas of freedom decline. Leads to decrease of freedom. Which is correlated with prosperity. Suddenly people are not so busy. And also not as satisfied. They start thinking about freedom. ...

Which brings us to the intimate link between freedom and technology [LAN69, LAN98].

Freedom leads to greater technology. Meanwhile technology can lead to greater freedom.

Software is now intimately connected with freedom.

A current widespread issue is that most programmers are busy working freelance or full time on jobs for institutional players. (Who're mostly totalitarian oriented. And why wouldn't they be: competition is a sin. Or in any case, the typical consumer, who's more or less broke, is not their actual customer ... Which does not bode well for the preferences of the typical consumer ...)

So why do developers favor working for institutional actors ... rather than doing their own thing? Poverty? That or because existing organization pay the most. Or because most developers are themselves totalitarian oriented. (They didn't think much about it, always did as they were told and things were fine, not good, but fine, and go along with the myth of central control as capable of solving any and all problems, apparently magically. Meanwhile developers write decentralized message passing to actually solve problems. They don't think much about it.)

Abolutely fewer specialists are freedom oriented. Individuals who are freedom oriented, for some reason, rarely go into science or high level specialization in technology.

But this becomes troublesome.

When all technological centers are controlled by totalitarians. David Landes made it clear ... Like gravity is the most significant force over long large space and time, being always positive, in the long run technology is real power ... Jerry Pournelle said it: Prefer rather to bother a tiger in its cave than a scholar among his books. Meanwhile those who have no power lose.

And then, the fewer developers who are not really in favor of centralized, totalitarian solutions don't organize. Making software that looks nice with tiny teams is very high risk. Result is failure. But they don't organize. So they lose.

There are dozens of groups of developers, hundreds, who do not assemble into teams of more than two or three. Almost nothing gets done. Whatever does get done is slow and cannot be rapidly maintained. And they expect to compete with A team (15 - 25), B team (15 - 25), C team (15 - 25) corporate structure in getting a mainstream product out the door ...

\section{COMMENT # 1}

Personal responsibility is the only way to fix any problems. Especially complex problems of the future whatever they may be.

For example, nobody designs, except by accident, programs and hardware in a centralized fashion, but goes for decentralized, self timed message passing! And unlike in nature programmers and engineers have complete control over the materials which they form and with which they operate.

Yet most institutional actors dedicate themselves, first of all, exclusively, to the hammer of centralized, bureaucratic entities. So they try to find plausible missions for such centralized, bureaucratic entities. — Why?

There's just no easy money for organizers in decentralized solutions — precisely because these solutions are so decentralized. Only after deciding that centralized solutions are the answer to everything and anything that may have an answer do most past, present, and future big operators look for particular problems to solve.

And the result is what? They gravitate towards nails of all the same kind, — nails which to the representative consumer who's busy, poorly educated, and therefore doesn't think very much and doesn't like thinking, appear plausibly to require centralized solutions. — And the unorganized majority does not object. They remain unorganized — a mass — not a majority — when things start to move. So things move (the wrong things move), the big operators collect, nothing really changes (other than for the worse), and more prospective big operators see opportunity to do more of the same.

Meanwhile centralized institutions, basically harmful except when useful by bizarre accident, accumulate and accumulate and accumulate.

(Ultimately the only majorities are organized minorities. Not easy to organize a larger than certain size group of people — especially those who're busy and already accept premises hand wavingly thrown their way by their prospective opponents should they ever organize.)

This is one lens through which to look at some of the proposals thrown around in politics and even in industry.


I'm a scientist who writes science fiction under various names.

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Somewhere at the very top of the text above I put a tag: — Revised: Date.

I'll often, later, significantly enlarge the text which I wrote.

Leave comments below, with suggestions.
              Maybe points to discuss. — As time permits.

Finished reading? Really? Well, then, come back at a later time.

Guess what? Meanwhile the length may've doubled . . . ¯\ _ (ツ) _ /¯ . . .

2018.9.4 — POSTED — WORDS: 3.400
2018.9.5 — POSTED — WORDS: 50

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