Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday grab-bag

Lots and lots and lots of opinions out there on the efforts by the Republican House caucus to defund Obamacare and the chances of a government shutdown. Everyone seems to think the Republicans' effort will blow up in their faces – which to my mind is an omen that it won’t. In particular, I see no reason to suppose Americans are tuned in enough to assign blame where it's deserved should the s*** hit the fan. Nor would I underestimate Democrats’ ability to turn any situation into a disaster for themselves.

This interview with philosopher Daniel Dennett (which dates from back in January) reminded me of why I enjoy the guy's work so much:

The question is, what happens to your ideas about computational architecture when you think of individual neurons not as dutiful slaves or as simple machines but as agents that have to be kept in line and that have to be properly rewarded and that can form coalitions and cabals and organizations and alliances?  … We're beginning to come to grips with the idea that your brain is not this well-organized hierarchical control system where everything is in order, a very dramatic vision of bureaucracy. In fact, it's much more like anarchy with some elements of democracy. Sometimes you can achieve stability and mutual aid and a sort of calm united front, and then everything is hunky-dory, but then it's always possible for things to get out of whack and for one alliance or another to gain control, and then you get obsessions and delusions and so forth.

Video of the week: Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of the Clash did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session today; in honor of that, here’s “London Calling”: 

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