Posts

Catching up with Zeno...

I just wanted to share another Zeno analysis I came across today, this one from Adolf Grüubaum:

"According to a view that is as widespread as it is erroneous, Zeno's argument is no more than a mathematical anachronism. We are told that if he had only known, as we do today, that the arithmetic some of the suitably converging infinite series of numbers is finite rather than infinite, then he would have recognized that he had merely posed a pseudoproblem" (Zeno's Paradoxes, editor Wesley C. Salmon, p. 172, emphasis mine).

The genius of Jane Jacobs

Highlighted in this article.

What I didn't know before reading it, and what really impressed me, is... that she previously had been an advocate of most of what she criticized in The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She was a big fan of the city planners! But she did not cling to her ideas as if they were her very self: instead, she kept her eyes open. And what she saw changed her mind. In particular, in a tour of Philadelphia urban renewal guided by planner Edmund Bacon, she realized that:

"Not only did [Bacon] and the people he directed not know how to make an interesting or a humane street, but they didn’t even notice such things and didn’t care."

A true intellectual giant, who was willing to learn from what she observed going on in the world around her.

Making science too simple

At LSE, one of my lectures remarked, “The problem with Popper and Hempel is they try to make things too simple.”
In particular, the idea of a decisive experiment that conclusively falsifies a theory does not do justice to the complexity of what actually goes on in scientific research. There are almost always multiple ways that one can sensibly take some experimental result. For instance, I am reading The Eighth Day of Creation at present. The author describes how, in 1944, Oswald Avery and colleagues published a paper that offered evidence that the carrier of genetic information was a nucleic acid. The author himself considers the paper to of offered “rigorous proof“ that this was the case, but when he talks to other scientists, it becomes clear that the author is mistaken. at the time of the experiment, the reigning theory held that nucleic acid‘s were too simple to carry the genetic information. Given this, Max Delbrück tells him there were at least three reasonable ways to interpret…

Walker Percy and me

I had been told to read Walker Percy, by people I respect, for some time. Well, I just finished Lost in the Cosmos, which contains a 40-page semiotic interlude. And what do you know? He lists his main influences as Susanne Langer, Ernst Cassirer, C.S. Peirce, and Ferdinand de Saussure, by whom I have, respectively, 6, 4, 4, and 1 book(s) on my shelves. And twice in the book he mentions the Grateful Dead. Curious, I wondered was there some known connection between Percy and the Dead? I googled and came up with this.

Hmm, so Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter read a lot of Percy. Well, all of this should prove to be interesting!

Perpetuating economic nonsense

Somebody produces YouTube videos examining medieval weapons and armor. You can easily find the link yourself.
This fellow was discussing cross bows versus long bows with some historian. Their puzzle was why crossbow archers were paid more than longbow archers, despite the (supposedly) better performance of the longbow archers. The video producer concluded “it’s because the crossbow archers’ equipment was more expensive.”
Sigh. This fellow produces videos for Internet consumption. Would he really pay me more to host his videos, with the exact same quality, reach, download speed, etc., simply because I told him that the computer I was using to host his videos was way more expensive than the one that YouTube uses?

Old economic journals...

Image
are often better than new ones. Check out what I found in Review of Economic Studies from 1936:


Modern architecture

"the primary aim of architectural design today is, very simply, not to find the best possible solution for human environments, but rather, to create adventurous new sculptural works of art on a gigantic scale" -- Michael W. Mehaffy, Cities Alive, p. 167