important books of twenty-twelve

Here are some of the most interesting and important books from this year. they may or may not be the "best" of the year, but by my lights, they are better "pickings" for your brain than found elsewhere. i can do quote-mining and tell you how singularly brilliant and seminal these are, but never mind. in all seriousness: quality varies from good to excellent to brilliant. some books, like harlan ellison's bugf#ck seem to have too little in them. [how anyone can come up with a tiny volume of ellison quotes is a puzzle] some, like neal stephenson's some remarks seem to have too much. [he stumbles through leibniz's monadology with literacy and grace. really.]

so here is the first batch. ben goldacre's bad pharma is not officially out in canada until the new year, but came out in england months ago. what causes the delay in publication? not sure, maybe editing required. fitzpatrick & collins-sussman's team geek and coleman's coding freedom are two exceptional books on software development. martin's there are two errors in the title of this book is now the third edition of a rich and entertaining book on philosophical puzzles and paradoxes. plotnik's elements of expression is in its second edition of expressiveness.

second batch is more essential non-fiction and fiction. i did not have enough room to pile all the good books in various genres i read. nate silver's the signal and the noise is getting some mixed reviews from specialists, and i feel it is deserved: it delivers some noise with its signal. mooney's republican brain is a disturbing read. that book in the middle? katz's information design - possibly the smartest book i have seen on the topic since tufte's four volumes, which it displaces quite neatly. [surely "brainpickings" could have had enough clue to pick this for one of its top ten "best" lists] two other books in this group really stand out: macintyre's double cross and taleb's antifragile - deep and rewarding books by two exceptional authors.

this last batch is an art batch, but more about photography. i have other good to exceptional books in this category but i thought they deserve a separate blog entry some other time. rocky nook has been publishing some important books on photography, and no surprise that four books on that table are theirs. tone poems are astonishing, as expected. last but not least, stillman's looking at ansel adams is an essential read for a photographer. 



seven principles of explanatory coherence

paul thagard have been working on a set of principles and computational models of explanatory coherence since late eighties. recently he applied these principles to belief revision about global warming. It helps explain the increasing adoption of the hypothesis that global warming is caused by human activities.
  • Principle 1. Symmetry. Explanatory coherence is a symmetric relation, unlike, say, conditional probability. That is, two propositions p and q cohere with each other equally.
  • Principle 2. Explanation. (a) A hypothesis coheres with what it explains, which can either be evidence or another hypothesis; (b) hypotheses that together explain some other proposition cohere with each other; and (c) the more hypotheses it takes to explain something, the lower the degree of coherence.
  • Principle 3. Analogy. Similar hypotheses that explain similar pieces of evidence cohere.
  • Principle 4. Data priority. Propositions that describe the results of observations have a degree of acceptability on their own.
  • Principle 5. Contradiction. Contradictory propositions are incoherent with each other.
  • Principle 6. Competition. If P and Q both explain a proposition, and if P and Q are not explanatorily connected, then P and Q are incoherent with each other. (P and Q are explanatorily connected if one explains the other or if together they explain something.)
  • Principle 7. Acceptance. The acceptability of a proposition in a system of propositions depends on its coherence with them.
Reading: Paul Thagard and Scott Findlay, "Changing Minds About Climate Change: Belief Revision, Coherence, and Emotion"


unexpectedly, priorities shift

things change. i just terminated three small (free/ad-free) ios projects. they will now be re-implemented on android for my nexus 7 and phones.
Start time: Sat 25 Aug 2012 22:47:27 EDT
Analyzing devtools package: 'com.apple.pkg.ApplicationLoaderLeo'...
Analyzing devtools package: 'com.apple.pkg.DashcodeLeo'...
Analyzing devtools package: 'com.apple.pkg.DevDocumentationLeo'...
Analyzing devtools package: 'com.apple.pkg.DevSamplesLeo'...
Removing devtools files...
Removing generated files...
Removing Xcode Caches...
Removing Xcode Documentation...
Removing empty devtools directories...
Finish time: Sat 25 Aug 2012 22:47:58 EDT


recently noted quotes

"jargon marks the place where thinking has been. it becomes a kind of macro, to use a computer term, a way of storing a complicated sequence of thinking operations under a unique name." -- marjorie garber ["academic instincts"]

"simplicity overrules logic." -- terry o'reilly ["under the influence"]

"the warrior and the artist live with the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day." -- steven pressfield ["war of art"]

"Will it really take wall-sized prints that you can put your nose against and not see pixels to make you happy?" -- thom hogan

"Python and Ruby programmers come to Go because they don't have to surrender much expressiveness, but gain performance and get to play with concurrency." -- rob pike

i'm mad about good books,
cannot get my fill ... -- bobby mcferrin ["how about you"]

"paying attention, for long periods of time, is a form of performance athleticism.  like running a marathon, it requires practice and training to get the most out of it." -- clay a johnson ["finding focus"]

"I hope we will never see the day when photo shops sell little schema grills to clamp onto our viewfinders; and the Golden Rule will never be found etched on our ground glass" -- henri cartier-bresson "the decisive moment"

"The prepared mind sooner or later finds something important and does it." -- richard w. hamming 

"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." - dietrich bonhoeffer [quote found in steve mccurry's blog]

abelson's laws:

1. chance is lumpy
2. overconfidence abhors uncertainty
3. never flout a convention just once
4. don't talk greek if you don't know the english translation.
5. if you have nothing to say, don't say anything.
6. there is no free hunch.
7. you can't see the dust if you don't move the couch.
8. criticism is the mother of methodology.

-- robert p. abelson ["statistics as principled argument"]

"high dynamic range is no substitute for high creative range." -- oz 

"Shadows are perhaps, the areas in which we dream." -- bruce percy ["personal exposures"]

"gorpah good guide! me guided young foreigner with little white dog before! me can show many yetis! only 500 rupees, blistering barnacles!" -- gorpah [spirou & fantasio "running scared"]


harder to see

what is in plain sight
is often harder to see
for the mind is busy
with a forest of possibilities
but not a tree.



abelson's laws

abelson's laws as found in "statistics as principled argument" by robert p. abelson

1. chance is lumpy
2. overconfidence abhors uncertainty
3. never flout a convention just once
4. don't talk greek if you don't know the english translation.
5. if you have nothing to say, don't say anything.
6. there is no free hunch.
7. you can't see the dust if you don't move the couch.
8. criticism is the mother of methodology.


what's in a name: creative labels and images

in the cellulose acetate and silver halide days of the past, i started out with manual "nikonography". I guess it could have been "canonography" but bayonet mount ruined it. In my heart I really wanted to do some quiet "leicagraphy" for that very special feel and look, but could not afford it. i also admired those who lugged rosewood and cherry frame cameras for their "fieldography" and "viewography" - someone once said that "the best camera is the one you can lift, with both hands, while keeping a low center of gravity to avoid back injury" - too funny. anyway, all in the past. i like the modern days of photon capture and beating to submission without chemicals. we are finally free to explore our collectively wired individuality with "iphoneography" which often resembles images made-believe with a plastic lens found in a light-leaky toy camera (maybe not all in the past) at many megapixels of quality color noise. i hear that some creative types have a blanket term for all this fascinating image wrangling - "photography" (as in light writing) but i doubt that will catch on.


scam: "first of all you must know ..."

most recent scam email i received in response to an inquiry about something on craigslist:

The item is available and it is like in the ad.First of all you must know that 70% from this sale will go the Save The Children Foundation where I'm working.I am a volunteer at them in UK and I want to continue this transaction through a 3rd part Clickaparcel delivery...I am in England and I have talked with the people from Clickaparcel already.The item is at them ready for delivery and I paid for the taxes and fees already.I worked with them in the past and everything was fine.I posted in your area also because I want to sell it fast(we need money).If you are interested please let me know for I can tell you the details.

Thank you