Thursday, July 27, 2017

Josh Marshall: The Darkness and the Rot

One of Marshall's best pieces so far.

The key insight:  "Eventually I sensed that Trump wasn’t inducing people’s self-destruction so much as he was acting like a divining rod, revealing rot that existed already but was not apparent."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Steve Dickinson: How to sell your high-value equipment in China

Via BRF, I came across these three posts on how to do business in China.  It seems like a credible set of posts to me, and is pretty amazing and dismaying.   I'm not excerpting anything here, read the three parts.  I wonder how all of this squares with WTO, free trade and all the other standard rhetorical garbage that is trotted out. If you have answers, comments are welcome.

Part I: http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/02/how-to-sell-your-high-value-equipment-to-china.html
Part II: http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/03/how-to-sell-your-high-value-equipment-to-china-part-2.html
Part III: http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/03/how-to-sell-your-high-value-equipment-to-china-part-3.html

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Heinrich Zimmer on linear and cyclic time

This following is a chapter form "Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization" by Heinrich Zimmer.    This rendering by Zimmer of a story from the Brahmavaitarta Purana may be read before reading this chapter.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Eric Prydz - Generate (2015)

First heard on an aircraft entertainment system.  Way to get it out of the head is to post it here :)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

History: a profound cultural difference

"The idea of history as a space where the salvation of individuals as members of a “nation,” a “race,” or a “faith” manifests is alien to Indian thought."
A clearer statement than the above cannot be found.  Of course, modern Indian thought seems to be  rapidly alienating itself from the roots of Indian culture.  Maybe modern Indian scholarship can rescue it.

The quote is from here.


PS:

As is the one below, with emphasis added:
The fact that everything transpires in history and can therefore be arranged temporally is a relatively banal insight. As a taxonomic principle it is no more compelling than those Foucault discovered on reading Borges in The Order of Things. So the distinguishing feature of the contemporary view is neither the insight into the historical nature of all existence (a discovery variously attributed to Vico, Herder, Humboldt, Hegel, and Ranke) nor the relating of events and discoveries to historical time. Rather, what is distinctive about historicism is the significance attached to history—a significance that, as Löwith rightly notes, originates with the Jewish and Christian experience of awaiting the Messiah. The Greek concept of time is cyclical: historical narratives exist but history itself insofar as it is chance and accidental cannot be the subject of an episteme (science). The proper object of knowledge is the eternal laws and customs that uphold the cosmos and ensure its orderly functioning. As Löwith notes, “In this intellectual climate, dominated by the rationality of the natural cosmos, there was no room for the universal significance of a unique, incomparable historical event.” Contrast this with the Jewish and Christian experience, for which “history was primarily a history of salvation and, as such, the proper concern of prophets, preachers, and philosophers.” There is now a tremendous interest in studying history. As the sphere where man’s salvation plays itself out, history acquires a new significance. To the extent that they regard themselves as Geschichtswissenschaften (historical sciences), the contemporary humanities also stand in this tradition. They have replaced philosophical understanding and ethical self-cultivation with reading the historical tea-leaves.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Can the Earth have a runaway greenhouse effect?

Stephen Hawking is in the news, having said that the Earth could experience an accelerating greenhouse effect that renders it uninhabitable, like Venus (e.g., here).

Back in 2013, the Scientific American had this story:  
Fact or Fiction?: We Can Push the Planet into a Runaway Greenhouse Apocalypse
A new study suggests human activity could, in theory, bring about the end of most life on Earth
The new study was this paper in Nature Geoscience:
Low simulated radiation limit for runaway greenhouse climates, Colin Goldblatt, Tyler D. Robinson, Kevin J. Zahnle & David Crisp

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Intelligence & genetics

A news-item on GenomeWeb:

Rather than having genetic variants that make them smart, brainy people may lack mutations that make them less clever, New Scientist reports.

In a paper posted to BioRxiv, researchers from the University of Edinburgh report that they genotyped some 20,000 people from the Generation Scotland family cohort to tease out the effects of gene variants on intelligence, extraversion, and neuroticism. As the cohort includes family members, the researchers could delve into variants not typically found in genome-wide association studies of unrelated people.

.....
In particular, New Scientist says that CNVs, structural variants, and rare variants seem to affect intelligence. As rare variants are more likely to be harmful, New Scientist says it appears that a person's intelligence might be in part due to their mutational load.
Note 1: CNV = copy number variations
Note 2: It would seem high intelligence is the norm, and variation away from the norm reduces intelligence.  Rather amusing, and this would be a blow to the IQ-metricians, I think.