Saturday, 23 May 2015

Social anthrapology

Social interactions can be generalised to:

Familiarity with character-of-usual behaviour in relation to mutually enjoyed topic, producing social satisfaction.

As well as our brains searching to satisfy our quota of necessary misery, I feel that the brain, (mine included) requires some level of social satisfaction. It is a game of sorts, that we are driven to play, (so there must be some benefit, (or is there?) This can be acquired by a shared experience with a friend, but looking at the success of television, it is clear that it can be acquired from a television program, and even a consistent video-blog channel.

How many people feel that Sir David Attenborough would be a preferred relation, (a surrogate grandfather?)  Before television the same was found with the radio, and before that stories in books. We can probably extent the idea back to seanchaithe of Ireland, the bards of Wales or the troubadours of France.

So what benefit is there? By watching our group we can detect social infractions, (someone else taking unfair advantage of a situation.)

The down side, is that the constant vigilance punishes us. Judging that the driver in the car ahead of us has just failed to avail themselves of an opportunity to enter a roundabout, or that they have left their indicator on for the last ten minutes, (or worse - not indicated at all) produces anxiety, (and in many a stream of insulting expletives.)

It seems, [citation needed] that we are finding more and more links between, "stress" and ill health. (I air-quote stress because mostly I see it more as, "an individual not accepting a situation" or an opportunity to learn more about one's own capabilities. [See: How to make life harder for yourself, Roche, D.A.O'G. 1998].)

I would like to see the design of a double-blind meditation experiment, but if the practitioners are really trying to calm their mind and not think about anything, then I do not see how we construct a control group.

(Unlike homoeopathic-placebos which are being tested quite nicely by those that, "swear by them" and their not-so-blindly-hippy partners who take the little sugar-pills just to fit in - this will lead to a rather nicely testable group of people that can demonstrate how much belief or intention affect the effect of these placebos. )

I like social anthropology tests because it can take something like, the belief that some divine justice applies to everyone, even if they don't believe in it, and apply it to both the faithful and the certain.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Best kitchen grater ever!

V slicer grater
It was ugly and orange and didn't look like it would do very well: The Börner "V slicer" Twin-Grater (or combi-grater) from the 1980ies was the best I've every used. I am yet to try the new white one Börner-V-2010-Twin-Grater

Most cheap plastic version of professional kitchen equipment is just waiting to take up space in a car-boot sale, (or your recycling.)

I usually check Nisbets for anything that I need. ( Lakeland Plastics if they have it.)

Saturday, 28 March 2015

You must be wrong about my denial

"Would you like a mint?" Is not a question.

The opponents of reductionism are falling into the easy trap of attacking the proponent or their poor grasp of reductionism.

Lets talk about simplicity. Binary. One and Zero. Any system that is founded on binary should be fairly simple. The first attack is that such a system could never cover the nuance and subtle complexxxity of human existence. Once you get to shodan level in the board game weiqi I would expect you to see that this is false.
2^20 is over a million. Calculate all of the branches of English Peg-solitaire and we find that huge complexity can be encompassed by simple rules.

Why is denial a part of human psyche? It is a powerful tool that enables an individual to select branches of possibility within the hugely complex web of choices in a day. It, (and crying) are bridges over the chasm of incompatible or conflicting demands.

... but if someone offers you a mint, you say thank you and you take it. (You don't have to eat it.) Then you go home and wash all of your clothes and yourself. Why do we do this? Because denial of personal hygiene is fine in a hunter-gather society, but unacceptably selfish in a modern urban environment. The only thing worse is rudeness, but we need a system of euphemistic communication to protect civility. This is true because it is more selfish than smelling bad to impose your demands upon someone else, because we may be in denial about our own motivation.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Global social contract?

Most thinking people seem to have no problem with the idea of an implied social contract. Is there now an implied global social contract?

A declaration of human Responsibilities

1. You must limit yourself to acceptable behaviour, and limit and minimise your impact upon our shared home, (Earth+) and its occupants. tl;dr: Leave it better than you found it.
2. You are responsible for what you think from the age of majority; It is acceptable not to know, but your ignorance is no defence: Learn to be the best version of you that you can be.

Could you come up with a better contract? Does one exist?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Image search

Have you ever found a thumbnail image on the Internet and wondered if you could find the original? They bill themselves as a, "Reverse Image Search" which is great as a description, but like many descriptions you can't understand how useful something is until you find a need and remember the right tool in the moment.
 I was once cooking with my father and a pan caught on fire. I ran to the sink and wet a cloth and squeezed it out. He then draped it over the pan and the flames went out. My mother then asked, "why didn't you use the fire blanket that we bought last week?" I felt silly, but the simple answer is, I did not think of it at the time.

 So if you have the above need/problem with an image, (and you are not trying to alter the image, that is what GIMP is for), then remember Tin Eye.

Another example: I had an image of a forest that I had found on some wallpaper site. The file was called 524.jpg. So when I was asked, "where is that?" I had no idea... until I used Tineye. They gave me many results and one of them was actually named. So 524.jpg became Yakushima Forest

Saturday, 3 January 2015

You just don't say that!

I was once at a Sunday Lunch party where everyone stopped taking just after a large old while man informed the wife of a Judge, "I'm a racist." She was clearly of a heritage that had the roots of its family tree in the Indian sub-contenant.

Now this was not meant to be malicious, or even funny. It was simply a statement of fact. The individual  was of one Nationality, passed almost the entirity of his adult life in England,  and spent over forty years working with and in "Forigne Countries".

Now before I let your blood boil, (or maybe you are happy with an old white man telling a lovely small brown battle-axe that he is a racist?) He was talking literally. He was expressing an objection to other Nationalities... He might defend himself, "obviously I'm not colourist" because his list of friends and acquaintances seemed to mostly be composed of minority groups.

He had once passed an agreeable evening as the exclusive guest of an African King. That evening they both agreeded that they were Racist: The could not stand their neighbours based on the difference of culture. Obviously this, once again had nothing to do with the colour of one's skin, (which would probably have no bearing on western culture were it not such a strong psychological issue in the collective conciousness of the USA. [0] )

As usual, I hope that you are still comfortable, relaxed and curious as to where I'm going with this, (and not about to damage anything in your environment.)

Last night I was invited to, (and attended) a little gathering. I was a group of women and myself, (boyfriends and husbands had been left at home.) During the evening it was annacdotally established that most women do pee in the shower, and that every single one of the guests had been on holiday, at some time in the previous twenty years and had a memory of men in those countries treating them like posetions. We discust the issue and they seemed to expect it implicity as being part of their culture. After a while I pointed out that though disgusting, it was racist to object. racisem sees them as other, while we actually all live on one planet and are once speciece. There are invisible lines that we call countries, but those are rapidly melting. The approach of men, from the chat-up-line to the wolf-whistle shows no sign of abating. The only solution that we found last night was a regretion to an imagined past, (I think some of them have been watching too much Dounton Abbey) where no one would even speak to another person until they had been introduced by a third party, (there are exceptions for those in positions of authorty: Police and those wearing livery or uniform that indicates that they are open to particular types of requests: Please may I have a room for the night; may I have a 1/4 of midgit-jems and 1/4 of cough-candy?

I asked if they thought that we should push for more, to help them in the battle-of-the-sexes by stipulating that men should, where possible avert their eyes and cross the street to avoid a woman walking on her own. They failed to reach a conclusion while the conversation drifted off into inquiry as to how much attention was flatering and even enjoyable. It seems that some people do like being cruised, and though no always means no it would be nice if people looked out for signs and voluntarily disengaged at the earliest indication of resistance.

[0] There seems to be an obsession within their psyche that  continues to punish themselves for slavery [1], which leads to both a masochistic reaction in some and a pathological reaction in others. If you want to research that, compare the USA penal system with plantation slavery, (are any of the prisons built on former plantations?)

[1] Slavery is a bleak environment, and though liberal western minds have a conditioned reflex that boils down to, "Slavery = Bad" when we look at the number of voluntary slaves and the historic conditions of the best cared for slaves, (I'm talking ancient Rome and Greece - where most slaves didn't have a the quality of life that you enjoy, but relative to their owners... a conversation for another time.)

Friday, 5 September 2014

On the time of whom?

Another Sunday morning Speculation, (where one of the many things that puzzle me get posted in the form of a research hypothesis.)

It is the start of a new academic year for many and that gives me the perfect setting for something that I've wondered for a while:

Imagine that ten women arrive at University and are all put together in the same house. They have communal everything and sleep in a long dormitory with five beds down one side and five down the other, (more like a boot-camp than a University.)

My question, (and I can find no papers on this) is this: presuming that when they arrive they are not all menstruating on the same day of the month, and that with time they sync up - which girl is the anchor that they move into sync with, (if any - maybe it is more egalitarian than patriarchal and they all move the required time to arrive at a mean time, (statistics, not puns!) )

Then the next questions are: how and why? If it is controlled by pheromones then it should be possible to create a contraceptive mist that would change cyclically to avoid the more rapid sections of hormonal fluctuation that exist, (e.g. day 13 oestrogen crash). Which could lead to happier lives, (but further speculation is poetic at best and futile or damaging, until the first question is confirmed.)

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