Musings/Träumereien/Devaneios

Shitty Philosophy and Physics : “Time Reborn - From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe” by Lee Smolin

Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe - Lee Smolin

“I propose that time and its passage are fundamental and real and the hopes and beliefs about timeless truths and timeless realms are mythology.”

 

 

In “Time Reborn - From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe” by Lee Smolin

 

 

Impermanence, Buddhist style?

 

Buddhism seems to acknowledge the play of opposites I've referred to elsewhere.

Recognising the yin-yang nature of the universe, in order to claim there is constant 'flux' (fluidity, rather than change; a subtle difference) - or for argument's sake, change - Buddhists balance that by asserting a 'greater' reality - the one, eternal, stable, whole (a supposed 'deeper' reality).

 

Contradiction and paradox is near the heart of evidenced, reasoned contemplation?

 

As for Aristotle:

time is a measurement of change is a measurement of time.

Change makes time possible, and vice-versa.

In principle, it seems that time persists, even in conditions of perfect stillness.

Yet any attempt to conceive a temporal progression, absent all change, seems to lead us into perplexing self-contradictions: any attempt to imagine how such unchanging time-flow could be measured, requires changing. It seems that time must be more than change; yet remove change, and time vanishes!  But if time is just a means to measure change, then in principle, it should permit the possibility of a world where change is cyclical. Yet our understanding seems to limit time to a linear, one way progression.

 

Or does it?

 

 

If you're into shitty physics, read on.

Programming is Like Music: "Python - Become A Master In Python" by Richard Dorsey

Python: Become A Master In Python - Richard Dorsey

Just what is the fascination with spreadsheets? I played with them on my Spectrum in the 80s, but it wasn't very useful. I used a spreadsheet on a Psion handheld in the 90s to keep track of some data. And nowadays I have a spreadsheet in LibreOffice to keep track of my expenses and work out my tax (estimate, since obviously, you need to use a proper package to get it right). I've worked in places in the meantime where bosses think that Excel is a suitable tool for project planning. It isn't. But if you only give people a hammer, everything looks like a nail to them. As a programmer, myself, I'm finding this whole thing fascinating. The quality of the kid's programming output (and yes, it is programming, not 'coding') is going to be directly proportional to the teacher's ability who's teaching them. I have a big worry that this will go the way of foreign language learning in school though, even without this concern over the quality of teaching. It's a subject that needs self-determination and a lot of time spent outside of the class room to truly get to grips with. Without these two things pupils, will probably grow to despise the subject - and we may even start to put off future would be programmers. Children as young as four have been learning programming skills in the classroom for many years with programmable toys: Big Trak, Roamers and BeBots are some examples which have been whirring around on the floor. Disguise a robot as a sheep and get it to run away from the farmer or program a lifeboat to reach a sinking ship etc.

 

 

If you're into Computer Science and programming in particular, read on.

All Much Ado about Nothing: “The Trouble with Physics” by Lee Smolin

The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next - Lee Smolin

“The Weinberg-Salam model requires that the Higgs field exist and that it manifest itself as the new elementary particle called the Higgs boson, which carries the force associated with the Higgs field. Of all the predictions required by the unification of the electromagnetic and weak forces, only this one has not yet been verified.”

 

In “The Trouble with Physics” by Lee Smolin

 

 

Hello physicists and Lee Smolin in particular,

 

I can't say I agree with such a hard stance against string theory personally like Smolin does, but I’m what’s known as a stupid person, so it doesn’t really matter what I think. However, I do feel it is healthy for science to have people that challenge ideas from all sides. All this will do is galvanise people to work harder to provide evidence to prove or disprove any theory that tries to describe realty. Science thrives in areas of confliction.

 

Life is the memory of what happened before you died, i.e. we cannot extricate ourselves from the universe in any way shape or form, including our "objective," apparently repeatable theoretical notions. By definition, there is only one UNI-verse. If you want to call it a universe of multiverses or a multiverse of universes, or balls of string with no limits, no problem, but there is only one of everything that is and isn't. This assemblage of atoms, no different from any other atoms, called the human body, has a life and death, as do the stars; it also has an internal resonance we like to call the consciousness of self-awareness of existence. We all too often, de facto, accept that there is a universe outside our "selfs", our bodies, i.e. it’s just me, my-self, and I, and the universe that surrounds my body, as if there were a molecular separation of some sort. This starting point for science, i.e., this assumed separation from a universe that surrounds our (apparent) bodies is the first thing that has to go. By definition there is only one UNI-verse that includes Heisenberg, I, the photos and videos of flying objects that make apparently perfect right angle turns at thousands of miles per hour, which we casual observers are not able to identify, black holes, white holes, pink holes, blue holes, our memories, our records, not to mention everything else. It's all much ado about nothing. As someone else used to say, "This IS the cosmic drama," we are living at the interface of the Sun's outgoing light and the apparent incoming light from the universe that appears to surround the Sun. Ah, but, what if we live in a black hole and don't realize it? That would mean the night sky, which most of us consider to exist outside the sun would actually be all the light of the sun after doing a 180, except, and here's the kicker, daylight, i.e., the light of the sun that we experience as sunshine.

 

 

If you're into Physics and String Theory in particular, read on.

The Ballet Dancer: "The Late Show" by Michael Connelly

The Late Show - Michael Connelly

“It’s like the laws of physics—for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. If you go into darkness, the darkness goes into you. You then have to decide what to do with it. How to keep yourself safe from it. How to keep it from hollowing you out.”

 

In "The Late Show" by Michael Connelly

 

 

It isn't polite to look in through other people’s windows. I knew this but still I would do it. It isn't an obsession, it isn't voyeuristic. No. But sometimes things would catch my eye as I walked past. A nice vase, a sleeping cat, a glimpse of a print on a wall, random "stuff" that makes a home a home. I liked to imagine who would surround themselves with these things, what do they look like? How do they live? In one window, I know is a tiny figurine of a young ballet dancer - cheap, pastel, glazed. Nondescript. Given a place of prominence through love.

 

I once saw the woman who owned that dancer.

 

 

If you're into Crime Fiction, read on.

Non-Flash-in-the-Pan SF: “Counting Heads” by David Marusek

Counting Heads - David Marusek

“I am not pouting, and I am certainly not indulging in self-pity, as Eleanor accuses me. In fact, I am brooding. It is what artists do, we brood. To other, more active people, we appear selfish, obsessive, even narcissistic, which is why we prefer to brood in private.”

 

In “Counting Heads” by David Marusek

 

 

SF stories often regurgitate medieval themes and settings, including wars, sword fighting, emperors, dukes, and so on. Star Wars and Dune do this, too. They would have us believe that people still fight with (light) sabres although they master FTL travel as well. Light sabres may be entertaining, but to me they are not serious SF. I prefer another kind of SF, the kind that shows NEW forms of human/alien behaviour induced by alien settings and new technology, NEW dilemmas and choices, and shows how current developments will play out in the not-too-distant future. In short, it kind of sheds light on the human condition as I’ve been writing “ad nauseam” on this blog. David's Marusek brilliant "Counting Heads" has no sword fighting, no laser guns. It does have court cases being pursued by Artificial Intelligence Assistance up to the Highest Court within milliseconds. People being "seared" - deprived of their online identity and thereby being unable to live a normal life. Societies with large numbers of clones such as "Maries" (that often marry Freds, who are fond of making lists for everything they do).

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

733bi/fo@@h732=|$dGGGHHH&+~52: "Think Like a Hacker - A Sysadmin's Guide to Cybersecurity" by Michael J. Melone

Think Like a Hacker: A Sysadmin's Guide to Cybersecurity - Michael J. Melone, Dr. Shannon Zinck

“Thinking like a hacker means studying the tooling that hackers use, attending hacker conferences such as DEFCON [and C-Days 2017 in Portugal], and practicing hacking and exploitation in a lab environment.”

 

In “Think like a Hacker: A Sysadmin’s Guide to Cybersecurity” by Michael J. Melone

 

What happens in real life passwords-wise? (I know what I’m talking about; back in the day I was in the trenches doing this for a living…)

 

The passwords are usually stored in a database with the username, when you enter your username and password one is checked vs another. Obviously if the database was stored "in the clear" anyone who stole it or looked at it would know your password. This can't work for anywhere where the user accounts must be secure - even from employees, which is basically everywhere. So, what is done is that the password is "hashed" which means that it is encoded using a one-way conversion formula. If I have the formula and the password I can reproduce the hash result, that's a match! I can open your account! That's what a website does when you enter the right password. But if you just have the hash then if you give that to the website it will apply the formula and create a different the result and the system will say "no dice". So having the hashes is no use to a hacker.

 

 

If you're into Cumputer Science and hacking in particular, read on.

Literature as a Strengthener of Character: "The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare" by Emma Smith

The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare (Cambridge Introductions to Literature) by Dr Emma Smith (2007-04-09) - Dr Emma Smith

Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus!

 

The thing about drama is that everybody has to put effort in to learn their part, then they have to work together to make the play happen. Putting on a successful performance is very hard work but the buzz children get from the performance is huge and they learn that hard work is worthwhile. The play won't work without Titania, Bottom or Puck or all the more minor parts or the person who does the lighting, the scenery, the costumes. They compete for parts but work collaboratively to achieve a result and are proud of what they achieve. What better life lessons could children learn? There is bound to be a positive knock-on effect on other subjects.  Any good play, or musical, will do this but Shakespeare has huge scope and, generally, a large cast. This is a wonderful initiative. We owe it to our pupils to open up to their imaginations a world beyond our own shores and time. The 'Metamorphoses' speak to us about the fluidity of identity and have so much to offer to teenagers confronting this issue in their own lives. They can be read with Jeffrey Eugenides' 'Middlesex' as effectively as with Shakespeare. Emma Smith is right to point to the importance of the Philomela story for 'Titus Andronicus', but the many rape narratives in the 'Metamorphoses' present serious ethical challenges in the classroom. In teaching teenagers (and not only) respect for others, you are teaching them respect for themselves. That's the main point of school and home; in their rapidly-changing world (i.e. their intellect, their bodies) these are mainstays. These are what enable them to contextualise the attacks of commerce on their minds. And anybody who thinks that good literature and art aren't great strengtheners of character is missing the point; of course, they are, because they improve human intelligence.

 

 

If you're into Shakespeare, read on.

ThisIsMyPasswordForNatWest: "KALI LINUX - How to crack passwords using Hashcat - The Visual Guide" by Taylor Cook

KALI LINUX - How to crack passwords using Hashcat: The Visual Guide - Taylor Cook

Yep, most of our supposedly easy-to-remember-hard-to-crack strategies fall pretty quickly when we're informed that there must be a symbol - but not that one, that one, that one, or that one - and there must be a capital letter and there must be a number, oh and sorry your password is now too long. So now we need to remember our standard phrase AND the fact that for THIS website we couldn't use that symbol so we had to put in another and we had to stop after 6, 8 or 10 characters which meant we had to move the number to the front...

 

Passwords should never be stored as plain-text, but as a big long hash. So 'ThisIsMyPasswordForNatWest' becomes 'a64b8d3190050e4600ed3352cb05e5fb9a54c6dc' under a hashing system called SHA1 for instance, and you can't take that hash and reverse it and get the password. A per-account string of random characters should be added to the user's password too - this alone makes it virtually impossible to crack a password. So long as no website stores your password as plain-text then you're in the clear.

 

The problem is that you can't trust websites to not store passwords as plain-text, and you have no idea if a website is there just to suck up people's passwords and password strategies. Or even if a company has a website and just one developer decides to make copies of submitted passwords or figure out people's password strategies.

 

 

If you're into Computer Science and White-Hat Hacking in particular, read on.

The Emperor Had the Boy Locked Up: "Mastering Kali Linux for Web Penetration Testing” by Michael McPhee

Mastering Kali Linux for Web Penetration Testing - Michael McPhee

“As applications have become more complex, and their importance has skyrocketed, bolt-on security approaches are no longer cutting it.”

 

In “Mastering Kali Linux for Web Penetration Testing” by Michael McPhee.

 

 

Hah... memories of a rather expensive inter-bank trading system we were offered one time to test. Examining the executable revealed a few plain text strings, one of which (the name of a biscuit in upper case) stood out as dubious, and turned out to be the encryption key for all communications (“super-duper unbreakable encryption" was one of their selling points) ... With that, and a little bit of poking around, we reached the stage where we could send a message to another counterpart offering them a product at a certain price, and then we could send a message that told the server they'd accepted it (forming a legally binding contract - notional values for these goods were of the order of millions and tens of millions of dollars). Being nice guys, we didn't do this for real (the above was done on the QA rig), but rejected the software. When we explained why, the vendors told us what we did would be "a breach of the license terms", and couldn't understand why we fell about laughing... especially after the way they "patched" the holes (obscured the encryption key with, I kid you not, ROT13.)

 

Names above withheld to protect the incompetent...

 

 

If you're into Computer Science and Web PenTesting in particular, read on.

A Society of Abatement: “Year of the Fat Knight - The Falstaff Diaries” by Antony Sher

Year of the Fat Knight: The Falstaff Diaries - Antony Sher

“Sartre said that there’s a God-shaped hole in all of us. Greg fills his with Shakespeare; the other day he said, laughing, ‘I’m not the director of a company, I’m the priest of a religion!’ and me? I have Falstaff inside me now – I can say it confidently at last – and that great, greedy, glorious bastard leaves no room for anything else at all.”

 

In “Year of the Fat Knight - The Falstaff Diaries” by Antony Sher

 

 

 

Reading stuff like this, always awakens my creative streak. Here's a little something for your (and my own) enjoyment I've just written that I think aptly summarises Sher's book.

The Emptiness of Literature: "Requiem - A Hallucination" by Antonio Tabucchi, Margaret Jull Costa (translator)

Requiem: A Hallucination - Antonio Tabucchi, Margaret Jull Costa

“Were someone to ask me why I wrote this story in Portuguese, I would answer simply that a story like this could only be written in Portuguese; it's as simple as that. But there is something else that needs explaining. Strictly speaking, a Requiem should be written in Latin, at least that's what tradition prescribes. Unfortunately, I don't think I'd be up to it in Latin. I realised though that I couldn't write a Requiem in my own language and I that I required a different language, one that was for me A PLACE OF AFFECTION AND REFLECTION”.

 

In “Requiem” by Antonio Tabucchi

 

Affection and reflection: with these two words, Tabucchi defined his book better than any reviewer would be able to. "Requiem" is a small masterpiece of contemporary literature, from which one can only complain about one thing: it ends too soon for those who are taking delight in it. It's a very subjective thing, but when you read something that impresses you as language, regardless of its meaning, that seems to be so perfectly expressed that no one could have written it better, that makes you want to telephone a friend at 4AM and read it aloud, then you're probably reading a great prose stylist. I also pay attention to a writer's ability to create interesting, appropriate and original metaphors, similes, etc. A few top off-the-top-of-my-head's examples of what I would call great prose stylists, really the greatest of the great, and they’d be Shakespeare, Proust, Walter Pater, Frank Kermode, Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall”, Faulkner, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” and “To the Lighthouse”, William H. Gass, William T. Vollmann, Cormac McCarthy, John Donne in his sermons (which are enjoyable purely as prose), and many, many others. Again, it's all very subjective, and everyone who cares about this stuff probably has a different list. Hell, I would have a different list if I made it two minutes from now... Having said that, let me fanboy on Tabucchi as hard as I can, and on “Requiem” in particular. This is a tribute to the dead, a fictional Tadeus (the narrator’S best friend), Isabel (his lover), and Fernando Pessoa. But it is also a tribute to a city almost dead, the old Lisbon that the Europeanization of Portugal had been destroying. Tabucchi is passionate about ancient Lisbon and describes it with affection for the all 12 hours during which the main character goes out in search of his ghosts. On the last Sunday of July, the anonymous narrator is reading "The Book of Disquiet" by Fernando Pessoa under a mulberry tree in a farm in Azeitão, when he suddenly finds himself at the Lisbon dock waiting for the "dude" with whom he realizes he suddenly had a scheduled appointment. The "dude" is Fernando Pessoa. While trying to figure out how to fulfill his commitment to the poet, the narrator wanders through an almost deserted Lisbon (people have been refreshing themselves on the beaches), following clues that lead him to the Museum of Ancient Art, the House of Alentejo, the Cemetery of Pleasures, Brasileira do Chiado Café and other traditional points of my Lisbon.

 

If you're into European Literature, read on.

The Power of Certain Narratives: "Pereira Declares" by Antonio Tabucchi, Patrick Creagh (translator)

Pereira Declares: A Testimony - Antonio Tabucchi, Patrick Creagh

“[…] but I feel I must tell you that originally, we were Lusitanians, and then came the Romans and the Celts, and then came the Arabs, so what sort of race are we Portuguese in a position to celebrate? The Portuguese Race, replied the editor-in-chief, and I am sorry to say Pereira, that I don’t like the tone of your objection, we are Portuguese, we discovered the world, we achieved the greatest feats of navigation the world over, and when we did this, in the 16thcentury, we were already Portuguese, that is what we are and that is what you are to celebrate, Pereira.”

 

In “Pereira Declares” by Antonio Tabucchi.

 

I read this in a Portuguese translation from the Italian more than ten years ago, if memory serves me right, I haven't come across anything quite like it and I still have a place in my heart for portly, perspiring Pereira with his omelets and his quiet, but subversive, decency. This time, this wonderful translation by Patrick Creagh just made my day.

 

In a narrative that does not want a puzzle, Tabucchi uses a very similar resource to the one used by Isaac Bashevis Singer: that of telling alien stories supposedly collected from conversations with real people, and not hiding it in the book's writing. “Pereira Declares” is a book that walks slowly, seeking to situate the scenario through which the characters walk, without extending the descriptions but worried to leave the reader with significant details about the characters, as, for example, the custom of Pereira to take Lemonades and the same path every day.

 

 

If you're into European Literature, read on.

Witchcrafty-Cyperpunky SF: “Killing Gravity” by Corey J. White

Killing Gravity - Corey J. White

I am not sure which word I hate more, "badass", or "Kickass". Both, and often the situations where they are used, make me feel like we are celebrating being aggressive and mean rather than being strong.  Why is being successful always equated with winning over others? Why do people encourage someone with "go kick some ass'. Speaking for myself, I would love to make a success of things but I would rather do it without hurting any asses or feeling like my ass is "bad". And by reading some fiction I discover another negative dimension to the word, as usual, women being asked to be strong are asked to be manly. What a sad way to be a feminist. Were I a woman, I’d not aspire to be more like a man. I’d aspire to have the same rights and opportunities as a man, and to be strong in my own way. But that’s just me talking. I understand we must keep in mind that unfortunately the world we live in is a competitive and aggressive one. Whenever someone’s gets to the top it is because he/she has kicked some ass in the road. Of course, there are a few exceptions given certain conditions and circumstances. Because this is the way language develops and changes over time, just as how 'gay' became shorthand for 'homosexual'. 'Badass' might still mean something negative for men (not least because it suits some people to imply as much). It also explains why there have been so many feminist attempts to 'reclaim' words. Or is 'badass' going to join the list of Words-You-Must-Never- Use-to-Describe-a-Woman such as 'feisty'?

 

Is “badass” the only way to be?

 

No. Women are diverse that way.

 

 

 

If you're into SF, read on

 

 

Bayes' Theorem: "Música da Sra Bach/Mrs Bach's Music" by Alex McCall, and Irini Vachlioti

 

I've just watched this documentary and I'm still venting... I must get these vapors out of my system!
 
Why are people so credulous when it comes to classical music?
 
It's not limited to classical music. Why are people credulous? Well, for a great many reasons. In this case we have a confluence of several:
 
i) Bach's works have been analysed for hundreds of years, and little new information has emerged. That means it's hard for anyone to find anything new to say.
 
ii) its fits a nice contemporary narrative. Unquestionably, talented women have been repressed and marginalised throughout history, and only relatively recently have they received their deserved attention. This means that the potential rediscovery of another such women fits the scholastic zeitgeist, and so attracts the attention above its actual scholarly value. Twenty years ago we'd be asking if Bach's second marriage meant he was secretly gay. So it goes.
 
iii) the continued fascination with postmodernism in all facets of the arts mean that strong factual evidence is not actually a requirement, and people can be published on the basis of "analysis of penmanship" - a pseudoscience that makes phrenology look credible.
 
 
If you're into Classical Music and Bach in particular, read on.

Boxing is a science while MMA is a maul: "McGregor vs. Mayweather" Part 2

 

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."
 
 
In Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5 by William Shakespeare
 
As predicted, Mayweather knocked it out of the park. Mayweather controlled it from the 4th. The discipline of boxing is much purer than MMA and McGregor showed his novice skills early. I liked the way Mayweather just put his gloves up and went inside like a relentless zombie attack. Conor just couldn't figure that one out and had no power inside. He was drawn into a trap and he was dumb and greedy enough to fall for it. His cash mattress will cradle him tonight though, soft and luxurious enough to sooth his bruised ego. If Federer retires I’ll try to convince him and the then Badminton or table tennis world champion to play the Ultimate Tennis Match at Wimbledon’s centre court. This wouldn’t be more ridiculed than this "fight" or shall we call it scam. The only thing that made it vaguely interesting was that McGregor is younger, stronger, faster and able to verbally sell a fight, but it showed that experience, conditioning and ring craft can be more important attributes in a boxing bout.
 
If you're into make-believe Boxing, read on.

Boxing is a science while MMA is a maul: "McGregor vs. Mayweather"

 

Watching the weigh-in, it does seem that McGregor has some major and unresolved anger management issues. Did Mayweather steal Conor's bike (the shiny new red 5-speed racer he just got for his birthday), or say something horrid and beastly about Conor's Granny (so spiteful, she's such a lovely thing)? Well what I saw was a heavily tattooed man with a semi erection screaming a lot , and a black guy ,slighting shorter , smiling and appearing to enjoy himself. Did I miss something ?

 

If you're into Boxing and MAA, read on.

web address book
Flag Counter