Archive for October, 2009

We ‘want’ them broken

October 20, 2009 7 comments

Hat tip to Aristotle the Geek for this one.

”You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we know you’d slip sooner or later—and this is just what we wanted.”
”You seem to be pleased about it.”
”Don’t I have good reason to be?”
”But, after all, I did break one of your laws.”
”Well, what do you think they’re for?”
Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden’s face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see. Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap.
”Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against—then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Categories: law


October 8, 2009 6 comments

I read Funes the memorious, and thought* – what is an ‘event’? Some Wiki-diving reveals that philosophers are still divided over how to define an event.

What is an event? [To my lay brain, an ‘event’ is the temporal equivalent of a point in space**. You can see it (in your minds eye), assign co-ordinates (properties) to it, but “it” is infinitesimal.]

What is the extent of my memory? [I distinctly remember Scotland – 1989, I remember some vague stuff about Mini KG and nursery – 1987]

What is the granularity of my memory? [Definitely not points but some larger intervals of time – incidents, places, smells, sounds]

What is the capacity of human memory? [Landauer did a study that estimates it at a few hundred megabytes! A summary is here]

*Says Borges, “To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes, there was nothing but details, contiguous details.”

**I have not studied relativity and don’t understand spacetime. My thought process is firmly Euclidean.