Thursday, September 16, 2010

Non Muslims and Koran

Robert Wright makes an interesting point about interpretation of scriptures;

All the Abrahamic scriptures have all kinds of meanings — good and bad — and the question is which meanings will be activated and which will be inert. It all depends on what attitude believers bring to the text. So whenever we do things that influence the attitudes of believers, we shape the living meaning of their scriptures. In this sense, it’s actually within the power of non-Muslim Americans to help determine the meaning of the Koran. If we want its meaning to be as benign as possible, I recommend that we not talk about burning it. And if we want imams to fill mosques with messages of brotherly love, I recommend that we not tell them where they can and can’t build their mosques.

Of course, the street runs both ways. Muslims can influence the attitudes of Christians and Jews and hence the meanings of their texts. The less threatening that Muslims seem, the more welcoming Christians and Jews will be, and the more benign Christianity and Judaism will be. (A good first step would be to bring more Americans into contact with some of the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are in fact not threatening.)

You can even imagine a kind of virtuous circle: the less menacing each side seems, the less menacing the other side becomes — which in turn makes the first side less menacing still, and so on; the meaning of the Abrahamic scriptures would, in a real sense, get better and better and better.
-The Meaning of the Koran

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Artists Rooms

Interesting series from Guardian- Writers' Rooms

Memo to Self- Do you belong to the tribe of Infovore Warriors

David Warsh profiles Tyler Cowen-

Consider Cowen’s output last week on the blog – 34 items. Among them: entries n the the speech patterns of service employees (flight attendants, doctors, hookers, economics professors); the significance of layoffs in the futures market for greenhouse gases; the economic fallout from a recent earthquake in New Zealand; the nature of firms; the joys of cineplex-hopping; the magnitude of US war finance during World War II; the cost of high-speed rail; the role of securitization in the recent financial crisis; the efficacy of betting on one’s own ability to lose weight; the reason the Australian dollar is the fifth most-traded currency in the world; an arbitrage opportunity in the administration’s plans to stimulate business investment; the architecture he saw on his trip to Buffalo; a review of a new book about Adam Smith (plus a review of some other reviews); a notice of Economist correspondent Greg Ip’s The Little Book of Economics: How the Economy Works in the Real World; a lengthy rejoinder to fellow libertarian Bryan Caplan on education in poor countries around the world; news of Austan Goolsbee’s nomination as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; capsule reviews of the five books he is reading this week (everything from W.G. Sebald on The Natural History of Destruction and Michal Whinston’s Lectures on Antitrust to Suzanne’s Collins’ The Hunger Games, first of a trilogy for young adults); the possible benefits of not recognizing faces (a condition known as prosopagnosia, described in an article by Oliver Sacks; a plan to sell daily permits to drive 90 miles per hour on Nevada highways; the reason that a rise in imports lowers GDP; a new paper in defense of high frequency trading; and, at intervals between the entries, a couple dozen links to other interesting items that he has read....

Infovore tells the story of how Cowen came to believe that the pattern of compulsive processing of information about the economics of culture that he displays could be described as autism or its milder form, Asperger’s Syndrome. A reader had gently inquired if the habitual organizing and categorizing he displayed could be signs of the cognitive disorder. He thought not – at first. An “[U]pper class white male who all his life felt like he belonged to the dominant group in American society was suddenly faced with the suggestion that he could be part of a minority, and a very beleaguered minority at that.”

Maybe the author of this blog also belong in this category.

Assorted websites

Please Rob Me [don't post on Facebook that your houses are empty for the weeken]

Graphy Your Inbox

The Future of Printing- where Data is the Design Product

Freedom of Creation, based in Amsterdam, designs and prints exotic furniture and other fixtures for hotels and restaurants. It also makes iPhone cases for Apple, eye cream bottles for L’Oreal and jewelry and handbags for sale on its Web site.

Various designers have turned to the company for clothing that interlaces plastic to create form-hugging blouses, while others have requested spiky coverings for lights that look as if they could be the offspring of a sea urchin and a lamp shade.

“The aim was always to bring this to consumers instead of keeping it a secret at NASA and big manufacturers,” said Janne Kyttanen, 36, who founded Freedom of Creation about 10 years ago. “Everyone thought I was a lunatic when we started.”

His company can take risks with “out there” designs since it doesn’t need to print an object until it is ordered, Mr. Kyttanen said. Ikea can worry about mass appeal.

LGM, based in Minturn, Colo., uses a 3-D printing machine to create models of buildings and resorts for architectural firms.
-3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do

BURSTS: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do from Authors at Google.

Book Blog;
What exactly is a burst?
ALB: A burst is a sudden escalation in our activity pattern, characterized by an excessive focus on a certain type of task at the exclusion of all other responsibilities. It is like the thunder of drums in a Beethoven masterpiece, punctuated by the pleasing sound of the violins that preceded and follow them

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bertrand Russell's Three Passions

Quote of the Day;
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair....

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

via Information Processing

John Grisham, the failed tax lawyer and construction worker

Effective Habits from John Grisham-

Halfway through college, and still drifting, I decided to become a high-powered tax lawyer. The plan was sailing along until I took my first course in tax law. I was stunned by its complexity and lunacy, and I barely passed the course...

When my law office started to struggle for lack of well-paying work — indigent cases are far from lucrative — I decided to go into yet another low-paying career: in 1983, I was elected to a House seat in the Mississippi State Legislature. The salary was $8,000, which was more than I made during my first year as a lawyer. Each year from January through March I was at the State Capitol in Jackson, wasting serious time, but also listening to great storytellers. I took a lot of notes, not knowing why but feeling that, someday, those tales would come in handy...

Writing was not a childhood dream of mine. I do not recall longing to write as a student. I wasn’t sure how to start. Over the following weeks I refined my plot outline and fleshed out my characters. One night I wrote “Chapter One” at the top of the first page of a legal pad; the novel, “A Time to Kill,” was finished three years later.

The book didn’t sell, and I stuck with my day job, defending criminals, preparing wills and deeds and contracts. Still, something about writing made me spend large hours of my free time at my desk.

I had never worked so hard in my life, nor imagined that writing could be such an effort. It was more difficult than laying asphalt, and at times more frustrating than selling underwear. But it paid off. Eventually, I was able to leave the law and quit politics. Writing’s still the most difficult job I’ve ever had — but it’s worth it.