Monday, May 23, 2005

Is anyone NOT a cultural creative?

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (corrected...again)
created with

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

When I say L U V, you better believe me L U V...

Weighing in on Ruth's moral debate, I personally would at least read it, mainly because one of the many things I seem to have inherited from my Dad is an enjoyment of being stimulated to anger. When it comes to newspaper-reading, obviously the content of what is reported matters, but in terms of interpretation and opinion, I don't particularly want to read something that is just likely to make me nod my head in agreement. Now of course, having said that, there are limits - frequenting a BNP conference or reading the Daily *&!% (although I'm getting worryingly into - and I find her quite insufferable) isn't my idea of a good time, and there really is something quite scary about Michael Howard (it says something when it was ANNE WIDDECOMBE who pointed that out to us!). But then again I have noticed myself drifting slightly less leftward than I once was, so I'm clearly not immune to what I take in - I do think it is important, however, to be able to defend my values to myself, and if not, then to adjust them.

Whether linking to it is immoral I guess depends on whether one would say that to be a conservative is immoral. The struggle that conservatism has is convincing people that their ideology is better for society as a whole and not just a subset (just as liberalism has to convince people that success and hard work will be adequately rewarded). Michael Howard said on the party leader's Question Time that the question he applies to every issue is "what is best for Britain?" and yet a few moments later he said that of course he would allow victims of humanitarian evils into the country. To me that suggests a contradiaction, and that he isn't quite able to believe that his own ideology is best for society.

Where the Conservatives has really failed (although maybe it should be applauded over some other parties for trying), I think, is in communicating a connection between morality with the good of both the whole and the individual. With circles of concern having become so small, personal and individualistic (which I don't think the Tories can really absolve themselves from having played a significant role in) it is difficult for a statement about morality to not immediately end up being a statement about rights or equality. But surely unbounded freedom, when it is made the most of (which if we're honest it will be) leads to unbounded consequences - it's just that consequences are for a later time or for other people to deal with. And so when the party of small government, the party who seem least willing to help, are also the party most willing to make statements about their possibly being an element of right and wrong in people's choices, then it is natural that it puts some people's backs up.

I am, however, pretty certain there are many Conservatives who are not anagrams of "Virginia Bottomley", but sincerely believe that conservatism (possibly as something distinct from what was presented in the election campaign) is good. They're yet to convince me, but they are welcome to try.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Fog of War

Happened to watch this last night... was very interesting. It was a film in which Robert McNamara (US defense secretary during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the early years of the Vietnam war) discussed his life and gave 11 lessons which he had learnt. They were:

1. Empathize with your enemy.

2. Rationality will not save us.

3. There's something beyond one's self.

4. Maximize efficiency.

5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war.

6. Get the data.

7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong.

8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.

9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.

10. Never say never.

11. You can't change human nature.

A lot of those got me thinking... lesson 11 is something that the Christian is very aware of (as is 3), but a couple of the others have interesting consequences if accepted. Lesson 2 is something that I could definitely do well to take on board at times, but the one that really gets me thinking is actually 9. I guess it comes down to asking yourself if that is an acceptable axiom to live by? Is it a correct and even righteous view of the world that says that in order to reduce the evil in the world, evil acts will probably be necessary. I wonder what leads to a more chaotic value-system: that, which says that evil may be necessary in order for good to come about; or what I guess is the more common contemporary view - that the moral value of an act is judged on the basis of it's intention, so killing can be good if the end is good. McNamara seemed to take the view that killing is always bad, but we should do bad if the end is good (but not call the act good). It was very interesting to see that there were some actions during his tenure as Defense Secretary that he clearly felt a deep sense of responsibility for (there were some that he didn't too), and that some of those that he believed were right even though he felt a sense of guilt as a result of having had to make those decisions.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

For anyone who's ever read a computer science academic paper... may want to:

a) seek professsional help.
b) check this out.

The writers of this managed to get one of their "papers" accepted to The 9th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics.

I managed to become author of "Decoupling the Partition Table from the Ethernet in Evolutionary Programming" - lots of realistically incoherent stuff about "psychoacoustic configurations" and the "Italian toolkit for randomly visualizing partitioned hit ratio" before a paragraph entitled "dogfooding our approach". Still, marginally more coherent than this.