Monday, August 30, 2010

No Alternatives

I just read this interesting paper.  While it deals with Bayesian statistics  I find that it has revealed something else about my own life.  The authors Andrew Gelman and Cosma Shalizi talk about the falsifying of models without necessarily having an alternative model to replace the obviously false one. This has been a problem in my life. Karl Popper who thought that science progresses by the attempts to devise tests that will falsify a given hypothesis, often makes the point that when we devise these tests we really are devising tests to choose between two hypotheses.  I thing the main example of that would be the test of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, which predicted that a large object such as the sun would bend light more than predicted by Newtonian physics. It was a test designed to choose between Einstein and Newton.

So we go through life and we are presented with an array of alternative ways of being and acting, and we start choosing between proffered alternatives. The crises comes when one realizes that previous approaches have been falsified, and living the critically real life, one attempts to falsify each new idea as it comes along, and succeeds without having any alternative hypothesis. One starts to stumble around in the dark, trying to find an explanation for it all, or some piece of an explanation, because all the explanations that we inherited have been shown to be false. We do not have the comfort of only having extremely strong theories to choose between. We may go with the approximation, but in life what does that mean? Every approach seems falsified and there is no clear replacement hypothesis or model or paradigm. It is all very tense. It feels horrible to be adrift.  It feels frightening when one thinks that one might die in this state.  So we try to eat well, get some rest and sunshine, maybe catch a show and continue racking our brains for the proper approach to it all.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

OJ Through the Decade

In honor of Olive Juice Music's new design I thought I'd post some of the older home pages.

Here's O.J.'s homepage on August 19, 2000:

 Somewhere between February 3, 2001 and February 17, 2001 the olive gets moved to the center of the screen:

Then Somewhere between March 2, 2001 and March 31, 2001 everything BUT the Olive disappears:

But if you clicked on that lone olive you would get something like this (note that missing from this snapshot is the "Welcome Banner" across the top and a counter at the bottom, also where it says "Art" is because the snapshot was taken in the middle of the moving rendition of a sort of an oscilloscope-type waveform that would spell out "Artists" on each pass.):

Lo and hehold at some point I know not when in late 2001, if you clicked on that little olive you would find this:

Yes indeed the OJ Board had arrived!  I can't tell exactly when this happened but here is the earliest image I can find of the board. It is from April 14, 2002, but note that there are threads that started back in July 12 of 2001 (entitled : "Dolphin Sex") started by Major Matt .

That Lone Olive remained until 2005 when suddenly there appears:

This then seems to be  the first appearance of that format of the green wallpaper and when you clicked on the picture the main page was this (the design I remember when I first came on the scene):

Then we get this wonderful group photo somewhere in early 2005 (this snapshot is from April 6, 2005):

Then somewhere between February and April 26, 2006 this classic greets the visitor to OJ:

Then somewhere in early 2007 the links to what in the website are finally moved to homepage:

Wait here's a frightening greeting (snapshot from June 25, 2007) to the random visitor (who is that?):

This photo was replaced by the classic Herb Scher photo of Major Matt:

Finally this past week we were greeted with the all new:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sometimes It Angers Me

that language can be used so lazily, that the news program I am listening to just wants to deal in lazy concepts. It was announced that there would be an interview "that few ever thought would happen"-- Now I would normally be afraid to comment on such a lame statement, for fear of being considered the pedant. But dudes, this is ridiculous. Who are the few who even thought about it? Did the vast majority of the world state aloud or in writing that they didn't think there would be an interview of this person? A person is given the opportunity to be heard by hundreds of thousands on the evening news and they actually insult the intelligence of the viewers-- either they are wasting words or assuming that people will just accept the vague and shallow as the norm. It is just so disheartening. I thought to blog about this, then I forgot about it, but then I was reminded of it by this posting by Erin Regan on the O.J. Board:

"I'm not overly concerned with today's youth. they will find their path, just as we all have. the good ones will float to the top. what bothers me is the blatant laziness in lyrical formation. it's always existed but I've never been aware of it on such a mainstream level. it's like they don't even try and are totally proud of it. that's what's truly terrifying. "

By the way for an example of amazing non laziness in lyric formation you should take a listen to Building Jumper by this same Erin Regan. Then if you are interested you might want to check this piece I wrote about the song.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kripke, Me and the Queen of England

I'm reading Naming and Necessity by Saul Kripke. He has now come to a section where he is trying to discuss essentials if any there be, or some such. He uses the example of the Queen of England which at the time of his lectures in the early Seventies was also Elizabeth II. He wonders whether if the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, had different parents would she still be Elizabeth II. His answer is no. This comes from his notion of names as "rigid designators" such that when we talk about counterfactual situations involving the object named we are still talking about that object. Thus we can say that in some possible outcome of history, Elizabeth II would not have been Queen of England, but we cannot say that this person Elizabeth II would have in some possible world been the son of American parents. Such a person is simply not the same person as Elizabeth the II. It is like this desk, if it were made of some completely different substance, would it still be this desk, or to speak of possible worlds, could I say that in some possible world this very desk I sit at would have been made of ice? The answer is no. It would not then be this very desk. This very desk might in some world never have been made or wound up elsewhere than in this space. It might also be the case that in some possible world I would not me sitting at this desk but another. But then that desk would not be this desk, it would be the desk I sit at to write this. In any event if I am talking about what would happen to this desk in other scenarios, it is still this desk, but if I describe an object of completely different origins and materials, then I am not talking about this desk. And so with Queens of England.

Here's my problem, and it is a problem I realize that I have been contemplating since early childhood in one form or another. What if I had been not been born of my parents? If I take Kripke's view I believe all that I can say is that in some possible world, or alternative states of affairs, I would not have existed, but to talk about myself as having different parents is a contradiction. It is not me I am talking about but someone completely different.

(I haven't finished the book yet, so I don't know if Kripke deals with this, but since it brought back memories of trying to solve this particular problem while sitting in a tree in my parent's backyard I thought I'd blog it quickly-- maybe after half a century I will get close to the answer or just actually elucidate the problem)

Now it is easy, though in Kripke's view it may be wrong, to think of me being born elsewhere, in other times and places, or another nationality or different parents etc. but the harder reflection is this: if I was not this particular system that I am, would I be conscious of being someone else. If the molecules that make me, never made me, still there are molecules that make someone else, some other system of molecules is conscious of having an individual identity over time, who exactly feels that consciousness? Someone. Would I be feeling that? In other words would the consciousness that would arise from this collection of molecules, which may never have existed arise somewhere else? Somewhere somehow there arises a conscious being, if it is not this conscious being that is writing now, do I feel like I am that person (not this person, me, in that person's body, but that person as that person and no one else). Some set of molecules is in this view feeling this unique consciousness, but if I am not around maybe that molecular experience goes somewhere else. How to explain this vague intuition I had as a child? Back then I assumed if I wasn't born to my parents I would have been born someone else, but it still would have been me, even though I was someone else. But I also wondered if I hadn't been born me, would I have been everybody? Enough, I must sleep.

Being and Becoming

"Being and Becoming" is a new song by Rav Shmuel. It is up there with the must hear songs. Unfortunately I cannot speak of it for it has not been recorded and as far as I know Rav has only performed it a few times. One must point to a song first, let people listen and then have them come back for conversation about the tune. At least I feel I must give the listener such a chance lest my words interfere with that initial hearing, So I guess I'm hoping Rav records this thing, gets it out there so that I can start pondering it in public and actually doing the work of an antifolk explicator.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Random Thoughts

1)Recursion is apparently a very important aspect of Godel's thinking in his On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems. There is also something recursive about Godel's essay in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist The Library of Living Philosophers, Volume 7. There he describes what appears to be the possibility of time travel in a rotating universe. That's pretty recursive.

2) Paul has linked to this. It is most interesting to see the analogy between the prisoner's dilemma and behaviour in general. It is as if we are prisoners. But there is this key difference: the prisoner's dilemma is a one-off. Behaviour is day to day. So after years of people choosing to do unto others as they would be done unto and finding that no one else is making that choice, what is the rational move then? Imagine the prisoner chooses not to rat out the other prisoner, but the other prisoner chooses to rat her or him out. The silent prisoner gets 5 years, the rat goes free. After five years the prisoner is offered the same dilemma. If she or he rats out the other its a maximum of one more year and possible immediate freedom. Silence gets a six month minimum more with a possibility of 5 years more. So the prisoner goes all altruistic and remains silent, and gets another 5. The altruistic behaviour looks more and more nutty.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Well I Got Some Healing and Meaning

Dan Mo (is he related to Keb-- I dunno) in addition to briefly playing a handheld homemade theremin which buzzed more that giving that typical theremin sound, sings these songs which gave me the sense and realization that good songs come from a complete combination of strange views of the world, word-play both expressing and causing said strange views of the world, reportage of a living with view of the world inherited from other songwriters and a host of other things. Basically on a couple of songs it occurred to me that the scenes Dan was desribing were just there against a backdrop of odd prior possibility at the ontological heart of the world and how odd is that.

Charles Mansfield, what can I say? I come away from listening to Charles, walking home it occurs to me that I want to write an angry song against materialists in which I describe the nightmare of their worldview, and I am laying out the nightmare in such great fashion in my head until I realize that I am doing Charles Mansfield melodies and chord changes and even similar verbal structure. Still the moment was cathartic and made me realize that the at least for us the remedy from the materialist nightmare is the ability to sing our pain.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sitting at The Fest

It occurred to me that sometimes I am judgmental about performers simply because I think life is meaningless at a given point in the evening. It therefore annoys me when a performer appears to think that they are doing something important. But seriously if life is meaningless, why not be arrogant, why not appear to be arrogant? Who am I to judge the other lost folk surrounding me. Perhaps it annoys them to see bloggers curled up in metaphysical fetal positions. Still I came here for some healing and it hasn't happened yet. In lieu of healing I'll take meaning, which hasn't happened yet either.