Choose a topic

.. Epistemology
Semiotics and Body Language

.. HUM
A Mind

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
What is Art?
Working With Reality

Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
Bird Brains
Bounded Rationality
Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
Emergence and Cognition
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Taking Things on Faith
The Hard Problem
The I Love You Gesture
The Imagined Order
The Phenomenology of Swim Bladders.
Thinking about medical procedures
Thinking About Risk
Underdetermination and Redundancy
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
What Does Google Know?

A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Blood and Money
Can Capitalism Survive?
Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
Job Destroyers
Money and Value
Money is Different
National Accounts
Necessary Production
Paper Wealth
Post Capitalist Society
Profit Motive Fails
Rentier Capitalism
Social Wealth vs Surplus Value
Spending Money Into Existence
The Metaphysics of Money
The Ontology of Debt
Thinking about Money
Wealth is What Money Buys

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Whatever happened to The Truth?

Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
Evolution Defended
Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
Forces of Nature
Is Natural Selection Obsolete?
Politics and Evolution
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

Free Speech in the age of Twitter
Freedom and Badness
Freedom and Morality
Freedom From and Freedom To
Freedom in the Age of Convoys
Libertarian Coercion

10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

Levels of Abstraction
Levels of Abstraction and Minds
What is a newspaper?

As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

Emotional Plague
Memes: Imitated Behavior.
The Problem with Memes
What is a replicator?

Beyond Rules Based Morality
Freedom and Morality
Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Sincerely Held Beliefs
Sorites Paradox
Stereoscopic Vision and The Hard Problem
The Gorilla in the Room of Science
The Purpose of Science
What is Going On?

If It Walks Like a Duck
Right Wing Freedom
The Sovereign Citizen
Tyranny of the Majority


Constructed Life
Correlation Wins
Quack Doctors
The Great Shattering
The Material Space
Thinking about Interconnection
Too Small to See
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Inclusion and Christmas
Open Society and Falsification
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
To the Moon
We Live in the Present
Why is there a shortage of nurses?
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

Implications of Very Productive Technology
Modest Proposal
Problems with Universal Basic Income
Tormenting Unlucky People
Why there are oligarchs

Pencil and Paper

Easy does it

One of the first lessons I learned at art school was to keep a notebook. Usually I'd use sketchbooks and they would always be with me.
I filled many over a period of 15 years with everything from essays to sketches to studies to notes for computer code. I still have them and they are cherished. I look through them now and again - kind of mining my past for ideas.

Since about 2000 I found that my computer is a better tool for keeping notes and exploring ideas.
But not always. I still have notebooks that I fill up to aid me in my computer work.

As I approach my senior years (:-) I find that my short term memory isn't what it was. Often enough I head to the kitchen looking for something and by the time I get there I've forgotten what I'm after. Must return to my desk and get reminded there what I was thinking about and then try again.

I'm not worried by this. It's consistent with the way I've come to understand our cognitive processes. This goes back a long way to when I was interested in meditation. The idea was to sit and allow the constant flow of thought to subside. One technique was to concentrate on the act of breathing.
The surprising thing is how hard that is to do.
You face a constant stream of thoughts from all over the map. They emerge and merge out of no place much like dreams do.

So when I go looking for something in the kitchen I need to pay do something to fix my goal in my attention as I solve the many subtasks like getting up from my chair and walking around the corner.

Like I say; this isn't really a problem. It's something we all deal with subconsciously all the time. I take it as an interesting probe into how this organ we call a brain works.

This is relevant when thinking of using pencil and paper vs a computer; why don't we just use one all the time?

An example is writing. I'm depend on computers for writing. It's not just that typing is faster than writing long hand, and not just that error correction and editting is easy; it's that having what I've just written in plain sight keeps my mind focussed on a thread of thought. It my thinking wanders a bit, when focus returns I can see what I'm thinking about. This works if I'm writing by hand too.

The thing that seems to me to determine whether we choose between pencil and paper and computers as a tool has to do with the forgetfulness issue I mentioned above. Lots of times I need to capture an idea before it flits away. Jotting a couple of words on a scrap of paper works. I've had the experience of losing the thought by the time I've been able to get my wordprocessor running. On the other hand, once you have the idea nailed you don't want to go through the labor of editting from draft to final by hand. And even if you do that you only have one copy of the thing.

I use pencil and paper a lot when I'm coding. I'm old fashioned and use flow charts to help thinking about the logic of the program. With pencil and paper I can just write a symbol without having to think about that process.
I have software that does flowcharts very well - but when I'm first thinking about a problem using the software can be a problem. Where is the damn symbol hidden? How do you manipulate it?
I've had the experience of forgetting why I wanted it by the time I got a symbol in the workspace.

But normally - once I get the start on paper I transfer it to my computer because of the ease of editting and filing.

I've seen books described as a random access storage medium. The idea is that it's pretty easy to get to a page to access the information there. You don't need computers or operating systems or software. You just pull the book from the shelf and open.

I find a similar thing when I'm sketching an idea on paper. You just place your pencil where you want on the page and make your mark. You don't have to figure out how to do it. That seems to me to be essential for working up new ideas.
But once the new idea is clear then often a computer is the best way to develop it.

Lately though I've been working with an inversion of this situation. I've started making paintings based on studies I do first on the computer.
A painting takes quite a bit of time to do. I use my computer and my snowflake tech to come up with designs I think would make a good painting and use printouts to guide setting up the design on canvas.
But then I find that the ideas that emerge from the act of painting take the picture in a new direction.

Marshall McCluhan once enigmatically said of art that "the medium is the massage". I think what he meant was that the medium you are working in and thinking about subtly pushes what you want to do and can do. It's all good.

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.