Friday, February 17, 2017
"Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of the 'Orch OR' Theory", by Hameroff and Penrose; getting closer to explaining individual free will
Here’s an e-booklet on Science Direct, by Stuart Hameroff (University of Arizona) and Roger Penrose, “Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of ‘Orch OR Theory”, here (see link there to PDF, 79 pages). as originally pointed to on the HuffingtonPost .
“OR” refers to “objective reduction” of the quantum state (not to operations research, my first job). Consciousness if described as following combinations of three models (1) biological evolution (2) religious, or outside of science, or (3) a property of structures in the universe, having access to other dimensions or dark energy (perhaps origami), that “maps”’ into certain structures inside cells (microtubles) at the quantum level. The individual human or animal brain is seen as like an orchestra rather than a computer; a thread of consciousness is like the unveiling of a symphony (especially by Bruckner) over time (as a dimension) rather than the experience of a single note on a single instrument at one instant of discrete time.
This leave us to wonder about the principle of identity. I cannot wake up tomorrow morning and find I have a particular 21-year-old’s body (and learn what it would be like to be strong again, a chance I threw away); I can only know if by affiliation (which might be sex). My identity perceives the world only through one body. Causality is irreversible; I (and not someone else) would experience a prison cell if I committed a particular crime as an “experiment”. We know this from experience, but I don’t know if we can prove this mathematically. This sounds like Godel’s incompleteness theorem.
Consciousness may be the way the Universe protects itself from entropy. “God” plans for independent beings to develop, capable of free will, to change course. Biology seems to be the best way to do this. Maybe this is even consistent with the occasional need for a savior, grace, and prophets. (We can all be Christians, Jews, Muslims, and everything else at the same time.)
If you’ve ever been “adopted” by a stray cat, a wild animal who returns to your home after hunting game in his own environment, communicates to you and “knows” you, you get a sense that there are other ways that free will develops. It’s quite a moment (and a challenge to our ideas not only about race but even biological destiny) when another creature communicates his sense of existence to you, even by kneading on your bed and making sounds at night. You realize your sense of superiority to him is an illusion.
At a moral level, sustainability seems to go way beyond usual ideas of family and procreation, and even environment (climate change). It seems as though we, through descendants, must get to know the entire universe someday, if we don’t blow ourselves up with someone like Donald Trump. Maybe the “Star Wars” model really exists somewhere.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
I don’t know whether I’ll order and formally review this book yet, but I wanted to note a story about an attempt by students or activists at UCLA to block access to it as “Islamophobic”. The book is by Elan Jouro and Onkar Ghate, “Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond”. It’s from the Ayn Rand Institute (maybe a clue as to the student reaction), ISBN 978-0996010106, 206 pages, five parts, many short chapters as separate essays.
“TheHill” has a blog entry, “UCLA banned my book on Islam from a free speech event”. In this world of trigger warnings and microaggressions, his book was “inflammatory” and had to go after protestors ganged up (reminiscent of protests against Milo Yiannopoulos).
I just posted this link on Milo’s FB page, to see if he is aware of the incident.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The Kramerbooks and Afterwoods Café, just north of Dupont Circle on Connecticut Ave. in Washington DC, has a new owner, Steve Salis, who also found “&pizza” (story in my IT jobs blog yesterday).
There are reports of some dissent among employees, and Salis seems to have an interest in items that would be bigger volume sellers, like children’s books. The Washington Post has a major local story by Abha Bhattari Monday.
I’ve been in the store many times. There are stacks of books on all sorts of non-fiction political, scientific, social, psychological, LGBT, and other topics. I do not recall seeing any of my own authored DADT there, although I believe my third book was pitched there is a recent bookstore marketing campaign. Kramerbooks tried to expand in the Clarendon area of Arlington about ten years ago, and had a store there for about a year.
Lambda Rising, the gay bookstore, used to live one block to the north. It closed in 2010. Specialty independent books stores have a hard time competing against online retailers, especially with books online through Kindle and Nook. It’s former owner, Deacon Maccubbin, was supposed to write a book (Citypaper story), But I don’t see a book by him on Amazon (ironically) yet. Milo will beat him to press.
In the meantime, some self-publishing companies (like Author Solutions) have been trying to pressure authors (especially since about 2012) to work harder to actually sell physical books to stores rather than live in cyberspace, as if on a Dyson’s Sphere. It’s really not feasible for so many self-published authors to support families selling books, and employees of publishing companies, in this age of Trumo-ism and MAGA, have to wonder about their own holding patterns. You simply can’t stop change. .
Monday, February 13, 2017
I got an email about a bookfair sponsored by AWP, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs , the article being a detailed one in Publisher’s Weekly “AWP 2017: A Political Book Fair”.
Many participants reportedly were concerned about the expected loss of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, and some had connections to left-wing movements like Black Lives Matter.
I’ve always been on my own. But I remember those days back in Minneapolis in 2002-2003 networking with the National Writers Union --- how tied in some people were to “guerilla marketing” and to circles of grant-writing assignments. Most people have to write what others want.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Because Clive Barker has attracted some publicity recently for his sponsorship of a new Project Greenlight contest (Movies Feb. 10) I thought I would recall my experience reading “Sacrament” (1997), while on a weekend trip to the Las Vegas area after moving to Minneapolis in 1997. My old legacy review is here.
This is a story of a wildlife photographer, partially reincarnated, it seems, saving the world with his special insights as a gay man having lived through the AIDS tornado of the 1980s.
Here is Clive Barker’s own site reference to it.
Friday, February 03, 2017
David Frum’s article “How to Build an Autocracy”, booklet length, from the March 2017 Atlantic, is online now, here. Frum prefers the term "kleptocracy" to "oligarchy".
It looks insidious, like “it won’t be so bad, or will it?” The country will survive, as well as most of familiar online life. But Trump will go after The Washington Post, which Jeff Bezos will sell to eastern European interests, and it will degenerate into a local paper about consumerism.
It seems that Trump actually will prefer amateur media (like mine) than gets picked up in “Bubbles” news feeds (no honor to Michael Jackson).
Shadowproof, in an essay by Kevim Godztola, weighs in on David Frum's unwillingness to respect mass movements in another piece, "David Frum is definitely not the right person to give advice on 'effective protest'".
The cover for January-February has a shorter piece, “Donald Trump and the Future of America” by James Fallows, which also blames Mark Zuckerberg and his news aggregation for “stupid people” for Trump’s unintended win. He probably agreed with Hillary Clinton’s idea of deplorables.
Then Peter Beinart writes about “Glenn Beck’s Regrets”. Beck believes that we sometimes have to pay for our mistakes. The article traces Beck’s conversion to Mormonism.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Atlantic issue gets attention with "The War on Stupid People" as a prelude to "How American Politics Went Insane"
The July-August 2016 Atlantic had three booklet-like stories that caught my attention.
The most flagrant was David H. Freeman’s article “The War on Stupid People” on p. 13. “As the intellectually gifted reap ever greater rewards, we are beginning to mistake smarts for human worth.” I thought, no, Milo Yiannopoulos never said this. True, not just Mark Zuckerberg but now people like Jack Andraka enjoy the limelight and quick financial rewards of their smarts in youth. But that’s turnabout from a time when being smart wasn’t cool.
Trump himself pitted “Book smarts” against “Street smarts” on “The Apprentice”. I was actually called “stupid” by a couple people in Army Basic back in 1968. Some people thought I was behind, when they came from a way-off base point (one of them had to do with “who had the spirit” at a church campfire in Texas.)
But a lot of the “whitelash” during the election concerned working people who felt left out by the intellectual “elite” who have never had a rite of passage or gotten their hands duty.
And some of it comes from certain parts of the evangelical community who want to deny science because it confounds their “simple faith.”
It sounds stupid to chant “lock her up” or “Build that wall” as part of a mob at a rally.
But I recall as a child, it you said “You, stupid”, your parents would wash out your mouth with soap.
Then, on p. 51, there is “What’s Ailing American Politics”, aka “How American Politics Went Insane” by gay libertarian author Jonathan Rauch (who had authored “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America” back in 2004, pubbed by Henry Holt). Rauch talks about the complete backroom deals in smoke-filled rooms in the past – like we need that now for network neutrality. But the end result seems to be the problem that intellectual people don’t want to run for office and get people to give them money. Of course, there is gerrymandering. It’s weak parties and strong partisanship (that is, tribalism).
And Peter Beinart opines with “The White Strategy” on p. 81
Link for letters on all three pieces is here.