Saturday, January 13, 2007

Notes and Links

* Mark Chu-Carroll gives a useful summary of the difference between Turing equivalent and Turing complete. This has led to interesting futher posts about computational complexity:

Basic Computational Complexity
Basic Complexity Classes: P and NP
Probabilistic Complexity

* Charles Blattberg's Political Philosophies and Political Ideologies (PDF) offers an interesting argument for patriotism as a political philosophy. Certain aspects of the argument are developed in Patriotic, Not Deliberative, Democracy (PDF). (By 'deliberative democracy', of course, Blattberg has in mind something very specific and Rawlsian; one thread of Blattberg's argument is that a patriotic democracy, in his sense, allows for more of what we would ordinarily call deliberation -- i.e., mutual dialogue and conversation -- than what is usually called 'deliberative democracy'.)

* R.U.R., by Karel Capek; the play that gave us one epoch-changing word: Robot. It's also an interesting read for Asimov fans, because you get to see just how much of Asimov's Robots series is influenced by this play, despite the very different things Capek and Asimov are doing with the idea. The play is also interesting in light of recent discussions over P. D. James's Children of Men.

* Through Aliens in this World I came across this great essay by Alan Garner on the language of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

* A fascinating discussion of Sir John Fielding at "Westminster Wisdom".

* CopyrightWatch has a list of authors whose works entered the public domain on January 1 of this year. You certainly will recognize some of the names. Of course, a distinction actually has to be made between several different types of countries, since public domain is not the same in every country. As the post notes, some countries are on a life + 50 years system, while others are on a life + 70 years system, so when a work becomes public domain in one system, it won't in the other for another twenty years. So whether any of these authors have become public domain in your own country will depend on the specifics of your country's copyright laws. Unfortunately the U.S. is on a life+70 system (as is most of Europe), with a few quirks. This handy chart gives a summary of what is and what is not in the public domain for the U.S. For information on other countries, this website is a good place to start your research.

* This is an old YouTube offering, but still one of the best: a speed-metal version of Pachelbel's Canon on electric guitar.

* Today is the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers, the most Greek of the Latin Fathers. From his classic work On the Trinity:

While my mind was dwelling on these and on many like thoughts, I chanced upon the books which, according to the tradition of the Hebrew faith, were written by Moses and the prophets, and found in these words spoken by God the Creator testifying of Himself 'I Am that I Am, and again, He that is has sent me unto you.' I confess that I was amazed to find in them an indication concerning God so exact that it expressed in the terms best adapted to human understanding an unattainable insight into the mystery of the Divine nature. For no property of God which the mind can grasp is more characteristic of Him than existence, since existence, in the absolute sense, cannot be predicated of that which shall come to an end, or of that which has had a beginning, and He who now joins continuity of being with the possession of perfect felicity could not in the past, nor can in the future, be non-existent; for whatsoever is Divine can neither be originated nor destroyed. Wherefore, since God's eternity is inseparable from Himself, it was worthy of Him to reveal this one thing, that He is, as the assurance of His absolute eternity.


* Wow, the Gummy Bears attack the Hornburg in a viciously sugary battle.

* Thanks to Kieran Healy, you can read Anscombe's Analysis article, A Note on Mr. Bennett. All two sentences of it.

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