(Sally McKay is on blog-sabbatical, writing her PhD.)
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So the evening report - Sally is still white water rafting:
But, bbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! it's cold:
Hopefully, they have hot chocolate:
Meanwhile, I am comfy and smug in my home:
And it's all very dangerous:
...because it's reported that the RCMP, Toronto Police Department & CSIS have finally made nice with each other and, on top of that, have arrested 17 men on terrorist charges.
So, to bring everyone up to date - Sally is currently white water rafting. Which I imagine looks something like this:
It is cold and rainy, so hopefully she packed this:
Meanwhile, I've been in my garden:
And who should pay me a visit?
Why it's Joint Task Force Two, Canada's top-secret anti-terrorist commando unit.
Joint Task Force II, modeled on the British SAS, was formed in 1993 with a counterterrorism mission. These days, that means it can do anything. Previously, counterterrorism was handled by the RCMP Special Emergency Response Team, but their scope was domestic and it was bad PR for the Mounties to be given a job that involved killing people, therefore it was decided that the Canadian Forces would create and control a top-secret unit for these purposes.
One current deploynment for JTFII is Afghanistan, where our Chief of Defense Staff General Rick Hillier is quoted as saying that the Canadian Forces go after "detestable murderers and scumbags", "radical murderers and killers" and "despicable murderers and bastards". "We are the Canadian Forces," says Gen. Hillier. "Our job is to be able to kill people." Thus, forever shattering our illusions of a Canadian army devoted to repairing damaged hospitals overseas.
Now that Sally's out of town I can turn this site into the gardening blog that it wants to be.
A nice rendition of my front yard by Thomas Kinkade.
(I found the blue Delphiniums in the bottom right corner of this example rather fetching and as a whole the painting accurately portrays my inspiring and gracious lifestyle)
According to an article on the Guardian Unlimited site, the painter of light is fighting some legal claims against his personal & business practises:
"Two former employees, Terry Sheppard and John Dandois, told the panel of further examples of Kinkade's unpredictable behaviour: bringing disorder to a Las Vegas performance by the illusionists Siegfried and Roy by repeatedly yelling the word "codpiece" from his audience seat, and urinating in public - in an elevator and on a model of Winnie the Pooh at a Disneyland hotel. "This one's for you, Walt," Mr Sheppard claimed the artist said as he did so."
I'm going white water rafting this weekend and I'm not taking my camera. Maybe I'll do an artists' rendition to post when I get back. Blogging will be even slower than usual over the next week or two as summerish activities and getting the $#@& out of town are taking precendence. I am aware that some of you are eager for Mods and Rockers follow up and installation shots. I'm sorry this is taking me so long, there are reasons but they aren't very interesting. I haven't forgotten, and it will happen eventually. I have heard reports that the show was very popular with the masses of children at Harbourfront over the Milk Festival. And there is no question in my mind that if kids like your art you must be doing something right.
There is a really interesting rant by Jaron Lanier at Edge.org about Wikipedia. He warns of a dangerous groundswell towards "hive mind" type social models, wary of the disastrous political precendents for rampant collectivism, which he distinguishes from "representative democracy" and "meritocracy." Lanier connects the popularity of Wikipedia with the economic push for meta-level sorting of the internet where information becomes farther and farther removed from its original context and the levels of useful subjective information associated with authorship. And he relates all this to artificial intelligence and points out an uncomfortable phenomenon of people degrading their expectations of human intelligence in order to claim success for artificial intelligence. He also notes that the internet is good because of all the people, but there is a trend to depersonalise the content. (As with Wikipedia, which he says "is like reading the bible closely. There are faint traces of the voices of various anonymous authors and editors, though it is impossible to be sure.") The essay has some analysis (quoted) below of collective versus individual systems, and also talks about the valuable checks and balances we developed pre-internet that helped us generate good shared knowledge, like independent media and ethical journalism!
"Collectives can be just as stupid as any individual, and in important cases, stupider. The interesting question is whether it's possible to map out where the one is smarter than the many.
There is a lot of history to this topic, and varied disciplines have lots to say. Here is a quick pass at where I think the boundary between effective collective thought and nonsense lies: The collective is more likely to be smart when it isn't defining its own questions, when the goodness of an answer can be evaluated by a simple result (such as a single numeric value,) and when the information system which informs the collective is filtered by a quality control mechanism that relies on individuals to a high degree. Under those circumstances, a collective can be smarter than a person. Break any one of those conditions and the collective becomes unreliable or worse.
Meanwhile, an individual best achieves optimal stupidity on those rare occasions when one is both given substantial powers and insulated from the results of his or her actions.
If the above criteria have any merit, then there is an unfortunate convergence. The setup for the most stupid collective is also the setup for the most stupid individuals."
"I'd also like to say a word about speculation, a term that has acquired a pejorative connotation among some scientists. Describing someone's idea as "mere speculation" is often considered insulting. This is unfortunate. As the English biologist Peter Medawar has noted, "An imaginative conception of what might be true is the starting point of all great discoveries in science." Ironically, this is sometimes true even when the speculation turns out to be wrong. Listen to Charles Darwin: "False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science for they often endure long but false hypotheses do little harm, as everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path toward error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened." - From: V.S. Ramachandran, M.D.,PH.D., and Sandra Blakeslee, "Preface," in Phantoms in the Brain, New York: Harper Collins, 1999. pg.xv-xvi
Mr. Nobody just got back from Japan.
This show is going to be good.
Holey informational diagrams! Bee sure to check out this one.