Re: I imagine they are rarely asked, yes

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"I am not qualified to call bullshit on Paul Graham when he writes about programming, history, starting a business, or even growing up as a social pariah, but I do know enough about art to see when someone is just making shit up."


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 4:49 PM
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Oh, FFS.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 4:50 PM
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Must be some kind of Pavlovian thing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:01 PM
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Wait, there's something wrong with "highly technical stuff that doesn't matter much"? I'd better rearrange my life.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:05 PM
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If you understand math or history or aeronautical engineering very well, the most abstract of the things you know are what philosophy is supposed to be teaching.

Hmm, does Phil Graham post at Crooked Timber as PHB?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:08 PM
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Actually a different RAQ deals with how to avoid becoming a PHB (protips: keep programming! start a startup up!).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:11 PM
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3 - My knee, it does tend to jerk.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:16 PM
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Wait, I thought that was economics.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:30 PM
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His article on Yahoo was really interesting:

http://paulgraham.com/yahoo.html

There are a lot of history books that are accessible to the average reader, but fewer philosophy books. It would be a reasonable thing to not recommend any philosophy books to a programmer friend who asks you what philosophy book to read. Reading philosophy books may be not worth the opportunity cost for the average reader.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:52 PM
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I'm kind of curious: what would be your response, neb or anyone else, to what philosophy books you would recommend, and why?

I once had to sell a philosophy course -- on animal language and intelligence (phil of language, phil of mind, not really ethics) -- to a non-philosopher panel of tenured judges. I completely blew it the first try: "What value do you anticipate this course will have for our biology and physics majors?" Uhhhh.

On the second try, I'd figured it out, the value, and I got the job, but it took some work to reconfigure the presentation, and I was not making shit up, but: took some work to explain.

What would you recommend, and why?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:53 PM
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The question is badly posed. What is the petitioner's interest in philosophy? Why does s/h wish to read a philosophy book, what is s/h looking to get?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:56 PM
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To impress chicks. Duh.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:58 PM
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I wish I knew.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:04 PM
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What is the petitioner's interest in philosophy? Why does s/h wish to read a philosophy book, what is s/h looking to get?

The petitioner has merely heard that reading philosophy is, or can be, of value. S/he is interested, and would like to hear and learn more. What should s/h read?

Of course it's badly posed; do you really expect a well-posed question from someone who's never read philosophy? (I really am not being obnoxious here: try to answer the question.)

My first response is that epistemology is the way to go: questions about how we know things, and what we know, and so on, can be quite gripping for pretty much anybody.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:44 PM
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Of course it's badly posed; do you really expect a well-posed question from someone who's never read philosophy?

No, of course not, but I expect that I could have a conversation with such a person prior to spitting out a one-size-fits-all recommendation.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:48 PM
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My instinct with someone who had just heard that reading philosophy can be of value (where would anyone get that idea, I wonder) would be to go Hellenic or Hellenistic, but, you know, horses for courses.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:49 PM
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What would you recommend, and why?

In order

1) Philosophy as literature

2) Philosophy as history

3) Philosophy as science


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:50 PM
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Is "Philosophy for Dummies" a good place to start?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:50 PM
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The self-mythologizing of hackers gets really tedious.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:51 PM
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I can state from personal experience that Naming and Necessity may not be a good choice.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:53 PM
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Of course it's badly posed; do you really expect a well-posed question from someone who's never read philosophy? (I really am not being obnoxious here: try to answer the question.)

You mean, of course, do you expect this question to be well-posed, right? I mean, it's not as if we non-philosophy-students are incapable of asking well-posed questions in general.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:55 PM
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I find that epistemology makes my head hurt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:57 PM
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Why does s/h wish to read a philosophy book, what is s/h looking to get?

How ---- shall men ---- live?

(Why do I hear that in a Shatner voice? Did some professional brow record it, perhaps for high-school filmstrips?)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:57 PM
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Why do I hear that in a Shatner voice?

Beats me; it's clearly what Picard asked after asserting that there—are—TWO lights!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:00 PM
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The self-mythologizing of hackers gets really tedious.

We all thought we knew this, but now it's been confirmed by sociology.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:00 PM
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24: I was counting the reflection from Picard's bald spot as a separate light. My bad.


Posted by: Opinionated Cardassian | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:03 PM
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For a lay audience (or at least for me in college) philosophy of language was accessible and amusing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:07 PM
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15: No, of course not, but I expect that I could have a conversation with such a person prior to spitting out a one-size-fits-all recommendation.

Right. I'm supposing that you're offering a one-size-fits-all course, or recommendation, that would give people a taste of philosophy without being a survey course. Well, never mind.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:08 PM
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A course is not a book recommendation.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:09 PM
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The only philosophy course I've taken was a basic survey of ancient and medieval philosophy. I had a fantastic time in it, and I think it was very helpful as I pursued my history studies. I wish I had been able to take the early modern class as well. I'm not sure I got a whole lot out of it philosophically speaking,* but no surprise that I liked tracing the history of ideas. Plus, one of the best teachers I have ever had taught it (which is why I took it; I had him for a more general GE course and enjoyed it immensely).

*As in, philosophical discussions mostly sound like gibberish to me, still.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:09 PM
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Oh, I'm sorry, I missed 16, regarding the Hellenistic philosophy. I apologize, neb. Whether I agree with that as an entry point or not, I was grumpy at the prospect that the question would be avoided altogether.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:13 PM
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16 still constitutes avoision. Maybe I would not go Helleni{,sti}c.

This isn't to say that in any actual case I would avoid the question.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:16 PM
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joy as _the_ ultimate justificatory of existence ...an almost random link.

One reads or does philosophy because it is beautiful and fun.

I consider philosophy as the greatest art form among the traditional arts, not including life or politics or whatever, although they include philosophy. Partly because it is the most profound (and/or?) interface between art and life.

Kant etc are just fucking insanely beautiful.

One book?:Schopenhauer? Ayers? Manifesto? Lucretius? Candide?

Fuck, teaching someone to do philosophy with some dry subject textbook is like introducing to Western Painting by handing someone a brush.

Show 'em Caravaggio.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:17 PM
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I find that epistemology makes my head hurt.

But do you really know your head hurts?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:29 PM
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The self-mythologizing of hackers gets really tedious.

Whaaaa?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:32 PM
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Someone's head hurts, but is it mine?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:33 PM
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Gonerill did I ever tell you about the time we tried to blackmail a security company into giving us a million dollars and a monster truck? It was right before we shipped ten thousand copies of our hacking software into China, terrifying the PRC, and I guess a couple of years before Milosevic tried to invoke our names to clear himself of war crimes charges. And several years after we were in Sassy Magazine.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:37 PM
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The question is badly posed.

What question is not?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:38 PM
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One reads or does philosophy because it is beautiful and fun.

Oh, bob. No one is going to let you teach a philosophy course that way. You have to say what the value is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:39 PM
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38: ok, but when did you start with the funny emails?

What question is not?

The questions I ask.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:40 PM
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38: But did you get your Miata and your copy of X-Men #1?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:40 PM
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The questions I ask.

Was heißt Fragen?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:43 PM
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(To essear's 21, by the way: of course, it was whether that question was well-posed.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:44 PM
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I think philosophy is a bunch of nonsense and studying it is a waste of time so I wouldn't recommend any books either.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:03 PM
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That's unusually stark for you, James. Behind every management-book author lies a long-dead pop-philosopher.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:07 PM
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Good thing most philosophers are skinnier than most management book authors or the dust jackets would be teh creepy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:15 PM
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It could be a composite photograph, like for the wizard book, but actually that would probably be creepy too.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:16 PM
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Of the four philosophers I've met three were very thin. The other one could have fit behind a management book author only if the author was holding a shower curtain or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:19 PM
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My mother was once in an elevator with a group of well-known philosophers (due to a family connection). She directed the following two questions to them:

1) Are you all philosophers?
2) Who *feeds* you?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:23 PM
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there's the little series on the vices that's fun. the one on sloth is the best, but it's not by a philosopher. the philosophical one that's most on point is the blackburn on lust.... but the sense in which that's on point...


Posted by: alittlequeer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:23 PM
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Paul Graham is the ne plus ultra of the know-it-all tech support guy.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:24 PM
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a group of well-known philosophers (due to a family connection).

If you use "group" and "well-known" the way most people do, I don't see how that could possibly be true.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:28 PM
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Philosophers are more like a ring than a group.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:32 PM
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Well, OK, a ring of philosophers who all had tenure.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:34 PM
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philosophical one that's most on point is the blackburn on lust

I enjoyed that book quite a bit. I also keep meaning to read Sloth, but, well...


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:38 PM
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I'm sorry to say (again, as I've said previously), that the philosophy courses I took in college - early modern and intro to logic - were dull, at times numbingly so, and I went into them thinking I was probably going to major in philosophy.

The sad thing is that no attempt was made at any point to try to explain what philosophy was about. It didn't have to be right, or something all philosophers agree with, just something to put the courses in the context of other courses one might take. I probably would still not have majored in philosophy, but I might have taken another course. I'd certainly take more courses if I were in college now, based on what I've learned of or about philosophy since then.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:39 PM
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Philosophers are more like a ring than a group.

Who's the additive identity? It would be worth avoiding them, because if they decide to multiply you, you're screwed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:44 PM
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if they decide to multiply you, you're screwed.

Isn't that the idea?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:45 PM
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The sad thing is that no attempt was made at any point to try to explain what philosophy was about.

Isn't this the sad fate of many an intro course? Physics is not all about blocks sliding on frictionless planes. Math is not about calculating derivatives. Intro courses suck, and I kind of don't see how people decide to major in something if they haven't somehow encountered enough of the subject outside of coursework to get a sense that it's actually more interesting.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:46 PM
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the sloth one has the same punchline as 55; only longer. still funny though.
simon b kinda creeps me out in that book. that's what I meant by a little too on point...


Posted by: alittlequeer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:55 PM
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Unlike math and (really, really basic) physics, few people have taken any philosophy in any form before entering college. Also, physics benefits a lot from science reporting in the news - even inaccurate reporting. Most intro courses aren't really intros.

In my early modern class, the TA said something about how Hume was probably the most important of the philosophers we covered in the course. (Hume was chronologically the last we covered.) I asked why and the answer basically came down to something between "you don't know enough to know why" and "you will find out if you take other courses, and now I will proceed to not explain how those courses might fit in with this one."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:55 PM
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60.2: I don't disagree with you on the creepiness factor. For some reason I found it charming.

(And the worst thing about 55 is that it wasn't meant to be joke. I really just haven't gotten around to it. Sloth is definitely the sin I identify with the most.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:57 PM
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I just realized that given that I am making a 10" cookie (all for myself) maybe I should say, sloth and gluttony are the two sins I identify with most.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:59 PM
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Just as long as Sloth isn't the character in the Goonies you identify most with.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:02 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:05 PM
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sloth-me too. hence midnight & unfogged rather than work. I'd make a giant cookie too, except I'm too lazy. ice cream.
fake- i feel in better shape just for not knowing that there there's a character Sloth in Goonies...


Posted by: alittlequeer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:06 PM
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65-???


Posted by: alittlequeer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:06 PM
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Amongst the sins I identify with most are sloth, gluttony and nice red uniforms.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:10 PM
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67: Troll. Pay it no mind. (The comments are usually deleted.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:11 PM
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what kind of cookie?


Posted by: alittlequeer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:13 PM
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Chocolate chip. It's basically just a bar cookie made in a cast iron skillet. I'm wondering if it's going to come out tasting vaguely of cumin and garlic. (I made it because I was avoiding real work.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:15 PM
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hence midnight & unfogged rather than work.

Not working at midnight is slothful now?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:16 PM
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Slacker.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:19 PM
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the cumin wouldn't be awful, but the garlic... ew..
essear--well, not for full profs and partners in the firm I suppose...


Posted by: alittlequeer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:21 PM
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What I tend to do in this situation, if the person is genuinely interested in philosophy, is try to show how philosophy forms a core part of the history of ideas in some area or other that they are already interested in, whether that's science, politics, aesthetics, or whatever. And then try to show how it might still be interesting to them and not 'dead' as a subject. Sometimes that's fairly easy if their interests and my philosophical interests line up. Sometimes not so much.

On the other hand, if they are being a dick, then I usually try to take some cherished part of their world view, and utterly fuck it up. This tends to be particularly easy with people with the sort of thick, dogmatic, crude 'scientistic' world-view that leads them to dismiss all or most of the humanities, as most of them haven't actually thought much about the underpinnings of their world-view, and it doesn't take much philosophy of science and/or pop epistemology to take everything they thought they knew about science and the world and reduce it to confusion and disorder.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:18 AM
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75.2 probably makes me sound like a typical dickish philosopher. Which wouldn't really be true. I usually find most people are fairly receptive to philosophy if you are genuinely interested in what they might be interested in, and not patronising or trying to show off.

Another entry is just to explain my own research, which, because it isn't super technical, and is fairly relevant to actual real world problems that a lot of people find quite interesting, is usually a fairly easy sell.

But some people just are narrow-minded philistine fuckwits. So fuck 'em.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:31 AM
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75 was all right, it is 76 that went and did you in ;-)

I know, I know: fuck me. And if nobody else will - I will sure have a try.

The idea that anything specialized should be able to be expressed as of immediate interest to anybody non-specialized is, well, stupid.


Posted by: Earnest O'Nest | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:11 AM
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Who is Paul Graham and is there any reason I should care?

Engels, who was self-educated in Hegeliansim (now there's a thought) believed that the progress of science would over time erode the sphere of philosophy to nothing, as all(!) remaining questions eventually succumbed to scientific investigation. Which sounds a bit like a Victorian version of this guy. Possibly the idea of a philosophy of science was unfamiliar to Engels, which would make the baby William Whewell cry.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:31 AM
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I actually thought the history intro classes I took did a fairly good job in the "unsettling things you thought you knew" - especially the medieval Europe class - and in the "what is this discipline about" areas. But in a sense, history isn't really about much: there's some variety in methods, but specialization is mostly along topical/chronological/geographical lines. People in different specializations are usually doing recognizably the same thing, just with different sources and secondary literatures.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:33 AM
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Unfogged truly is the echo chamber on this thread!


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:56 AM
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59: Every science intro course I've taken or been involved with has had, on the first day of class, a little spiel about what $science is all about, why anyone should care, and how the course fits into the bigger picture of what's going on. It seems bizarre to me that anyone would teach an introductory class in any discipline without setting things in context. Failing to do so strikes me as a sign that the instructor should not be teaching. Even at the big state school where I did my PhD instructors did the introductory talk, and that was in a department where people with clearly stated contempt for teaching undergrads were permitted tenure and expected to teach intro courses.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:45 AM
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I usually try to take some cherished part of their world view, and utterly fuck it up

This is what the graduate student that taught my Intro to Philosphy class tried to do. It was the 80s though, so we were all a bunch of nihilists anyway.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:16 AM
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It seems bizarre to me that anyone would teach an introductory class in any discipline without setting things in context. Failing to do so strikes me as a sign that the instructor should not be teaching.

I don't do this. Partly because they're all totally numb to the mandatory-ness of a math class. But more because I always tuned out during those first-day talks, once it became clear we weren't responsible for the material.

I do interject it throughout the semester, but I'm pretty disdainful of grand first-day plans.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:20 AM
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82 - Say what you will about the tenets of Warrant's "Sometimes She Cries", dude, at least it's an ethos.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:02 AM
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84: I'm not familiar with that song.

"He who dies with the most toys, wins" -- that sums up 80s nihilism to me.

But, of course, all that decade stuff is bullshit.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:13 AM
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||

Anyone want to help with a cumbersome geometry problem? I'm getting frustratingly bogged down and making it harder than it should be. I think.

I've got a space which is a sphere, radius CR, crossed with a circle. Points in the space are labelled (p, theta). Each special point has an associated special region around it, and no two special regions can intersect. The special region around (p_1, theta_1) is defined by the criteria Rsqrt(2-2cos (theta_1 - theta_2)) + |p_1 - p_2| ≤ KR.

What is the maximum number of special points/regions that can fit in the space? The point is to show it only depends on C and K, not on R.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:16 AM
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Oh damn. I forgot that the less-than sign means "erase everything after me". Hang on while I fix that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:16 AM
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It is, of course, completely absurd to expect anyone to jump in and waste time on this problem. I just thought...well, maybe...


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:17 AM
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Ok, it's fixed. Friday Puzzler, Everybody!!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:21 AM
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86: Is the answer "bob"?

Isn't he always the answer?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:28 AM
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What is the maximum number of special points/regions that can fit in the space?

I was told there would be no math.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:28 AM
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No, no, there is math. It's a fun puzzler!!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:29 AM
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But, people pay me to do math. If it were fun, they wouldn't have to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:30 AM
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Would it help if I didn't pay you?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:31 AM
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Yes, because then I wouldn't feel guilty about not doing the problem.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:33 AM
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All right, I have to run out to the grocery store, but I'll check everyone's work as soon as I get back! The anticipation is already killing me!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:39 AM
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75.2 probably makes me sound like a typical dickish philosopher.

No, the typical dickish philosopher has a crude, scientistic worldview.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:43 AM
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Seven.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:43 AM
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98: You have to show your work, apo.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:52 AM
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I'll show you my work!


Posted by: Kobe | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 9:52 AM
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Wait! Don't go! I don't understand the problem.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:05 AM
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98: Oh, right. Sorry.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:06 AM
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101: What's so hard to understand? heebie doesn't like her haircut.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:11 AM
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I don't get this "crossed with a circle" jazz.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:24 AM
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Oh wait, I get it now. Thanks, peep. That is cumbersome.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:26 AM
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I don't know the terminology, but I think it means a space formed by the direct product of two spaces.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:29 AM
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Briefly, via examples: a line crossed with a circle gives you a cylinder.
A circle cross a circle gives you a torus: a circle's worth of circles.
A plane crossed with a circle gives you something you can't draw anymore, but you can locate a point by specifying the coordinate on the plane and the coordinate on the circle.

Actually, I said above that we've got a sphere cross a circle, but I actually only need the problem to be solved on a disk cross a circle.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:30 AM
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Keep it up, everybody! You're doing great!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:30 AM
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Isn't a disk crossed with a circle a filled torus?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:33 AM
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It is! So what's the volume of the region Rsqrt(2-2cos (theta_1 - theta_2)) + |p_1 - p_2| ≤ KR around some point (p_1, theta_1) in the solid torus?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:36 AM
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109: I don't know, but I'm pretty sure a plane crossed with a torus is a walrus.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:37 AM
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Off to get my hair fixed. Then I'll be here all afternoon, working on this problem for as long as it takes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:37 AM
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Goo goo ga joob.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:38 AM
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Well, it depends on the values of θ2 and p2, would be my guess.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:39 AM
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110: Since KR is involved, does the answer have to do with sheer blouses and wistful misty wack-off sessions?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:44 AM
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If p1 is More than KR from the edge of the disk one could just integrate a relatively simple shape. If, for some thetas it intersects the edge then it'll be more complicated.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:44 AM
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Philosophy considered as field work.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:45 AM
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θ2 and p2 are points interior to the special region, I think. IOW the region consists of all points (θ2, p2) where that inequality holds.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:46 AM
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Heebs is steadfastly refusing to type thetas and whatnot because her mom might be reading and doesn't have the right browser.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:56 AM
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If it doesn't intersect the edge of the disk, a given point's region has the volume of the integral of Pi*r(θ)^2 with respect to θ from -Pi to Pi, where r(θ) = KR - sqrt(2-2cos(θ)).
I think.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:59 AM
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I'm on an iPhone and I don't feel like looking up how to do them. If someone wanted to throw up some Pi and whatnot ...


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:01 AM
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117: That reminds me. As a youth I spent some time in the building that housed LBJ's media empire. It had four working floors and the top floor was a penthouse where the Johnson family would stay when they were in Austin. So, the elevator had buttons for 1, 2, 3, 4, and the top button said "PH". One day someone pencilled in "IVE" next to the PH button.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:07 AM
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That integral is ugly, but proportional to R^2, so to some approximation it's probably true that the answer doesn't depend on R, since were filling a disk with radius R.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:07 AM
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Oops, in 120 sqrt s/b R*sqrt.
123: +'
And many others, I'm sure.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:10 AM
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Well to me philosophy is mostly a game of very precisely defining things.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:16 AM
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What's the metric on your sphere, heebie? I.e. What does |p1-p2|^2 mean? I guess you said you also want an answer for a disc, so presumably the obvious flat metric?

I'm on a train with a pad of paper and nothing better to do, so there's a slim hope I'll be able to work this out before I getto my stop. Wouldn't bet on it though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:21 AM
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"What are you really trying to do?"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:24 AM
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127: I'm not sure, but I think this is how mathematicians flirt.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:30 AM
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122: That reminds me. On my stove is a button marked "Clear|Off". I maintain that there ought to be a button preceding it marked "Oi|You|Lot".


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:31 AM
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127: "How do you keep someone you never met busy?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:33 AM
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At the level of sketching pictures, I'm having a hard time seeing what a meaningful answer would look like. In the limit C much greater than K much greater than 1 the circle drops out and it's just (C/K)^2, I think. The region doesn't shrink enough across the circle to make a difference. In any other limit it's hard to imagine a simple answer.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:34 AM
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Here's a bit more context: I've got a disk of radius R around the origin, contained inside of a disk of radius CR. A subset of Euclidean motions is acting on the disk of radius R, giving it images around the larger disk. We're only interested in those rigid motions whose image of the little disk is contained inside the big disk.

There's a slightly cumbersome restriction on the density of the images: if P and Q are any two images, let g: P - > Q be the Euclidean motion from P to Q. Then max { || gb - b || : b in P} > KR, for some K.

The goal is to show that there is a bound on the number of images that all pairwise satisfy the density restriction.

(Even with Preview, I'm sure I won't see my typos until after I've posted this.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:52 AM
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132: I can't really help you, but I can figure out what everyone owes after a group meal pretty quickly.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:55 AM
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133: Last one to run owes it all. Duh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 11:57 AM
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I'm half-hoping that forcing myself to phrase things slowly and accurately will make the answer immediately apparent.

Each Euclidean motion of the little disc can be uniquely described as a rotation, followed by a translation. That's where the space "circle cross a disk" came from, in my original formulation.

And if you're rotating by θ and then translating by d, the max || gb - b|| requirement becomes that R(sqrt(2 - 2cos θ)) + d < KR.

So in other words, there's a sphere?/"special region" around any Euclidean motion of disallowed euclidean motions, and I want a bound on the number there'd be if they're packed as densely as possible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:08 PM
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Seven.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:12 PM
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||
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that this NYT article doesn't even mention that the whole ACORN mess was a FoxNewsTM set up and the videos were faked. Grr.
|>


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:16 PM
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heebie, apo obviously needs something a little more challenging.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:16 PM
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136: Seven ±2


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:18 PM
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K divided by 7.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:19 PM
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These are 2d Euclidean transformations? And I don't understand the nature of the region around each transformation. When you say
max { || gb - b || : b in P} > KR
Do you mean for any two images there must be a point in one that is greater than KR from the transformed version of itself?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:21 PM
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Upon rereading, I realized that it's obvious they are 2d, and I think I understand the region definition but failed to correctly describe it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:23 PM
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135: I'm still at a loss. Would using a spirograph help?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:24 PM
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Shouldn't the torus have a radius of (C-1)R? Or are you just requiring the center of the small disc to stay inside the larger disc?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:27 PM
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Do you mean for any two images there must be a point in one that is greater than KR from the transformed version of itself?

Exactly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:34 PM
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144: I'm getting stuck figuring out the second radius of the torus. One direction definitely has radius CR. But the other radius isn't obvious to me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:35 PM
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137: Grr.

Yeah, it should have been the perfect opportunity to redeem themselves a tiny bit by pointing that out...even if they continued to ignore their own complicity (which continues via this lacuna).

Not to mention that earlier this week an otherwise decent editorial supporting the government *finally* pushing the motor voter law (of 1993!) into some of the public assistance offices as required by law, they started with this paragraph (my emphasis):

After years of deliberate neglect, the Justice Department is finally beginning to enforce the federal law requiring states to provide voter registration at welfare and food stamp offices. The effort not only promises to bring hundreds of thousands of hard-to-reach voters into the electorate, but it could also reduce the impact of advocacy organizations whose role in registering voters caused such a furor in 2008.
Shorter: Yay, no ACORN! ... oops we already helped kill them.

And ended:

But the best reason to applaud the Justice Department's new posture is that it will bring more voters into public life. When advocacy groups sued Ohio and Missouri to force their public assistance offices into complying, huge groups of new voters surged onto the rolls -- more than 100,000 in Ohio, and more than 200,000 in Missouri. Nationwide enforcement by the Justice Department could add millions more. The more people who have access to the ballot, the better the country will be.
Make sure not to mention that "advocacy groups"=ACORN. Assholes!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:36 PM
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136 to 146.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:37 PM
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Shouldn't the torus have a radius of (C-1)R

Sure, to exclude those Euclidean motions whose image would hang out over the edge of the big disk.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:40 PM
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147: And do not read the comments to the editorial.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:42 PM
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Let me see if I can articulate why I'm stuck on the second radius.

The other radius should reflect the distance travelled by any point under a strict rotation, (no translation). Therefore all points equidistant from the origin should travel the same distance. But when you draw a solid disk and mark an origin on it, and then cross it with a circle, all points equidistant from the origin on the disk do not travel the same distance around the circle-direction of the solid torus.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:43 PM
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What do you mean by "second radius"? It's just a cylinder with opposite ends joined, right?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:44 PM
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Sure, to exclude those Euclidean motions whose image would hang out over the edge of the big disk.

Laydeez.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:45 PM
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Maybe the problem is that it's a circle-bundle over a solid disk, and not actually a solid torus.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:45 PM
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What do you mean by "second radius"? It's just a cylinder with opposite ends joined, right?

So you've got the radius of the cylinder. Then when you join the ends, you've got the radius of the circle formed by the center of the cylinder. That's the second radius.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:46 PM
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155: Like a tire. Got that part.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:47 PM
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Or a doughnut with no sprinkles.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:48 PM
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That's sort of an extrinsic quantity, though. If you want to embed the torus in a space you might worry about that, but since you're concerned with comparing the size of the exclusive regions within the torus to the torus itself, that doesn't matter.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:50 PM
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158: True. But then I'm having trouble getting a handle on these regions R(sqrt(2 - 2cos θ)) + d < KR. It seemed like if I understood the second radius, then these regions would become spheres, and so their volume would be easy to compute, and bound in the volume of the torus.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:53 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:55 PM
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The way I'm picturing the problem now is you have an object inside a cylinder shaped like a symmetric turnip or a long snake that has eaten a large meal (depending on the parameters K and C) and you want to know how many of these you can fit in the cylinder (all at the same orientation, and allowing wrap around at the cylinder's ends).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:57 PM
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perhaps include a graph of the problem-- like the one in front of you.

There isn't a graph in front of me.

And a justification of why the problem is important at all,

Because I'd like to get this paper done.

It's not important in any sense. I need it to get a stupid result about a sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-case of unimportant tilings that no one cares about.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 12:59 PM
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In order to really understand this problem, I need to know if it was discovered, or invented.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:05 PM
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In order to really understand this problem....I'd have to care. And then I'd need a brain transplant. Depending on the brain transplanted into me, I might then be able to understand the problem.

But would that still be me?

Maybe there is no way I could ever understand this problem.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:10 PM
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Would using a spirograph help?

Lite Brite.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:18 PM
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Actually, I'm thinking a spirograph plus a slinky ought to do it.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:20 PM
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Oh, plus some tape to join the slinky ends together.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:20 PM
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165 A Magic 8 Ball?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:20 PM
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168: Ask again later.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:21 PM
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your chances don't look good.


Posted by: alittlequeer | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:24 PM
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but not 7. 42. duh.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:24 PM
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Etch-a-Torus!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:26 PM
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I'd rather have a graph in front of me than a frontal graphotomy.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:34 PM
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Upper bound (volume of torus / volume of region) = C^2/(K^2-8K/Pi+2).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:43 PM
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Wait, what is 'P' and when did we start on imaginary numbers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:44 PM
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&pi


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:49 PM
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Joking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:55 PM
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Toruses: how the &*%$@ do they work?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:56 PM
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I know. But you spurred me to finally look it up.


Posted by: &Eta&pi&pi&lambda&alpha&nu&tau | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:57 PM
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I'm afraid it's tori all the way down, young man.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:58 PM
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179 to 177, but it's true: I am now an initiate in the toroidal occult.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:59 PM
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"Εγγπλαντ", no?

(Ok, I don't know from Ε vs. Η, I admit it.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:00 PM
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Oops.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:01 PM
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171 is bullshit. I wouldn't sign my name to that nonsense either.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:02 PM
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180: Actually it's alternating tori and tugi.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:03 PM
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Or is that "tugae"? We need a classicist stat!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:04 PM
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I was a little too excited by &pi.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:05 PM
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tugae


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:05 PM
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188: Homophobe.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:09 PM
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Upper bound (volume of torus / volume of region) = C^2/(K^2-8K/Pi+2).

Hooray! Did you really get this? It looks reasonable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:21 PM
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I'm kind of curious: what would be your response, neb or anyone else, to what philosophy books you would recommend, and why?

Recommendations for the casual student? I'd recommend off the bat that people get a good, solid general reference book like, say, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy* and consult the bibliography for subjects that interest them.

I'm a big fan of readers for getting a grasp on a period or a thinker. For periods: Annas' Voices of Ancient Philosophy, for instance. Or Klima's Medieval Philosophy: Essential Readings. I personally would love to have some introductions to Buddhist, Islamic and Indian philosophy along these lines, but I don't own any as yet and regard my philosophical education as very incomplete because of it.

People should have a grasp of the fundamental modern thinkers. There are lots of thinkers, of course, but I'd venture to say that it's really hard to know what's at stake in most philosophical debates without a basic understanding of Descartes, Hume, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Kant, Wittgenstein... and Heidegger, icky though it may be to say... not like you're going to read every word they have to offer, but collections of their works aren't hard to find and the more you read of them the more you'll understand about basic issues in philosophy. If readers or collections are too much work, that "X for Beginners" sort-of-comic book-y series is actually very good; its entries for Derrida and Foucault are a thousand times better and more accurate than many, many a far longer book written about either thinker.

It's a good idea to check out the people who were influential on post-colonial thought, at least if you want a grasp on why many of the post-colonials think the way they do. Edward Said's Orientalism, Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth, Cesaire's Discourse on Colonialism are necessities.

(As my personal bias goes, I also think people ought to seek out phenomenologists like Husserl and pragmatists like C.S. Peirce -- who in particular I don't think gets enough play in the marketplace of ideas -- but that's getting a lot more specific.)

Oh, and I'd recommend The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. Because of its dominant influence on the roots of modern Western civilization, and its just being a good read.

(* Yes, Cambridge I said! Take that, Oxford dons!)

How's that?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:25 PM
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You have to include "Eggplant" in the acknowledgments now, you know, h-g.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:32 PM
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I already thank all my vegetables in the acknowledgments.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:48 PM
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190: I did. It's the volume of the cylinder divided by the integral I mentioned in 120.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:49 PM
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You have to thank M/tch and Sir Kraab and togolosh and me too! We helped! Didn't we?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:57 PM
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Btw, does this mean that apo was wrong?

He seemed so convincing!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 2:58 PM
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Btw, does this mean that apo was wrong?

Ahem.

C^2/(K^2-8K/Pi+2) = 7


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 3:02 PM
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197: Apo is right!

For K=π

C= (7π2-42)½


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 3:28 PM
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C.S. Peirce -- who in particular I don't think gets enough play in the marketplace of ideas

Seriously, why not? In my Computer Science masters he was virtually the only philosopher as such who got any notice at all, a circumstance which led me to write an appendix to a term paper complaining about it. Depends where you look in which marketplace, I'd guess.

(Off to bed now. If you're arsed to respond I'll get back to you tomorrow.)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 3:37 PM
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Dividing volumes doesn't tell you how many you can pack. The estimate is more like (C/K)^2 times a packing fraction for discs in the plane, plus subleading 1/C and 1/K corrections, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 3:56 PM
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I haven't reproduced it yet, but dividing volumes would suffice. I just need that bound on the number you can fit doesn't depend on R. I don't need to exhibit the exact bound.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:01 PM
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137, 147: Technically, that story is an AP wire story. It still should have mentioned Fox.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:26 PM
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200: Sounds about right, although I don't think you could use a packing fraction for discs in the plane to establish an upper bound because I think you don't need to arrange the regions so that all their fattest portions are in the same plane.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:28 PM
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199: Oh, I did not know that. I've never taken Computer Science. The markets I had in mind are Humanities and Social Sciences.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:35 PM
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Isn't it obvious that whatever the bound is, it doesn't depend on R, since you can uniformly rescale all the distances without changing the problem? The bound must be a function of only C and K.

(Symmetry arguments and asymptotic estimates: these are the only two things I know anything about.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:36 PM
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203: That's a 1/K effect relative to the leading estimate, I think.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:39 PM
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206: I think it's a constant factor, affecting the packing fraction (for instance, I think you could partially fill the space with two close packed planes 180 degrees out of phase and aligned so the centers of one layer coincide with the gaps in the other). Without the packing fraction its not just an asymptotic upper bound -- it's always true.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:46 PM
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I'm slightly confused and have a headache, so although 207 sounds plausible I can't decide if it's right. Will think about it later without the headache.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 4:55 PM
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In my Computer Science masters he was virtually the only philosopher as such who got any notice at all

May I ask why any philosophers were getting notice as such at all?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 5:15 PM
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Umberto Eco is really into Pierce, so anyone who's into semiotics gets introduced to Pierce fairly early on.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 5:21 PM
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anyone who's into semiotics gets introduced to Pierce fairly early on.

*facepalm*


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 5:27 PM
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211 should have quoted the entirety of 210. In a just world, of course anyone interested in semiotics would be introduced to Pierce fairly early on.

Bernard Bosanquet was really into Hegel, so anyone who's into idealism gets introduced to Hegel fairly early on.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 5:29 PM
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Isn't it obvious that whatever the bound is, it doesn't depend on R, since you can uniformly rescale all the distances without changing the problem? The bound must be a function of only C and K.

I know this is true; I don't know that it's obvious.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 6:17 PM
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191: How's that?

Fine. To be honest, I hadn't thought of anthologies/introductions/surveys. I'd been thinking in terms of primary texts: which primary texts would you recommend to someone who blithely wondered what he/she should read?

That had led me chiefly to thinking about what I would *not* recommend: people who've never encountered philosophy probably should not try to read The Critique of Pure Reason, or Being and Time.

There are also a few too many people who've picked up some Nietzsche and walked away declaring: Nietzsche thinks there's no such thing as morality! (Uh, no. No no. Shit. Really, that's wrong.)

People should have a grasp of the fundamental modern thinkers. There are lots of thinkers, of course, but I'd venture to say that it's really hard to know what's at stake in most philosophical debates without a basic understanding of Descartes, Hume, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Kant, Wittgenstein... and Heidegger, icky though it may be to say

I don't know why it's icky to mention Heidegger. You mean the Nazi thing? I imagine.

Knowing what's at stake in most philosophical debates is a fair distance from the original question -- which is fine. I agree that people should, for some value of "should", have a basic grasp, but we know that's not going to happen.

ttaM gets it right upthread that putting all of this in the context of the history of ideas is probably the best approach.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:29 PM
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214: I don't know why it's icky to mention Heidegger. You mean the Nazi thing?

That would be the thing.

(Totally agree that a little Nietzsche is a dangerous thing.)

Knowing what's at stake in most philosophical debates is a fair distance from the original question

Just given that the practical purpose of philosophical learning would presumably be to participate in / be able to evaluate contemporary philosophical discussion at some level or other.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:53 PM
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That would be the thing.

Right, well. I, uh, find value in Heidegger and don't worry about that much. Nietzsche was sexist, you know. Best to just drop this one for now.

As far as primary texts that an utter neophyte might approach and find engaging? I really like the Boethius suggestion, actually, though it's been a very long time since I've read it.

I confess I'm turning to the obvious: Plato (which?), Descartes' Meditations, and I'm actually tempted to gesture toward some Montaigne. Which is not really technically philosophy. Sorta not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:24 PM
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Hell, Robert Pirsig sold 4 million copies. He ain't Davidson, but he ain't Casteneda either.

And slightly after his day, Nietzsche sold well and was read in the trenches. I have no problem handing someone one of the later short works, or Zarathustra. People consumed by ideology can get him wrong, but an awful lot of amateurs have taken value from him.

And he doesn't talk about women enough to be problematically sexist, if good readers get the independence and creativity.

Emerson. Mill. But I have a very very broad idea of what is philosophy. Iceman Cometh is an argument.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:40 PM
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Well, ok, maybe N can be problematically sexist depending on how much an agonistic attitude bothers cooperation types, and if there is something masculinist in there blah blah etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:43 PM
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Emerson. Mill.

Good ideas. Emerson is always a good idea, as far as I'm concerned, but I seem to remember that there was a complaint thread here not long ago about how unbearable he was.

Nietzsche's sexism is just something to note while one reads him. It doesn't invalidate the entirety of his work in the absence of a fuller case that it does. This should go without saying.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:53 PM
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hegel, heidegger, derrida, kant, aristotle, plato, focault are all completely worthless, except in for specific, limited, and circumscribed purposes. To the extent that they're important in understanding history, they're important as an example of the intellectual elite's reaction to the zeitgeist rather than as drivers of it. And for that purpose, there are probably better examples. Similarly worthless are all non-western philosophies that don't incorporate the good parts of modern western philosophy, and virtually all premodern philosophy. (What are the good parts? That's an obvious question.)

It seems to me like a lot of philosophy education is simply rehashing centuries-old battles that have already been won. I'd rather those parts be skipped, or at least greatly condensed. So much has already become completely integrated into background knowledge. For modern people, Meditations is about 95% overkill. This approach would cut out about 2/3 of the reading in an undergraduate philosophy degree, and more on-topic-ly, would cut out 95% of the kind of reccomendations I've found for philosophy neophytes.

For what's left, trying to read the originals of big name philosophers (even translations (even *good* translations)) is mostly worthless, since good philosophers aren't, in general, good writers. Also, reading originals of stuff written in English more than 50-150 years ago (depending on the author) is unadvised.

For what's left after that, I generally think that philosophy is only really *necessary* to the extent that it helps us do science, and society, smarter. Though I think it's silly and pointless, I have nothing strictly against the pursuit of other philosophy for its own sake.

My initial reaction to this post was to dismiss the entire field of philosophy, but upon consideration, I realized that many things I find interesting actually *are* philosophy, even though I don't generally think of them that way.

On the other hand, if they are being a dick, then I usually try to take some cherished part of their world view, and utterly fuck it up. This tends to be particularly easy with people with the sort of thick, dogmatic, crude 'scientistic' world-view that leads them to dismiss all or most of the humanities

I'm fascinated as to what would happen if you tried this with me. I have a rather pure scientistic worldview, and while it's not crude or dogmatic, it's likely *you* would say it is.

Totally agree that a little Nietzsche is a dangerous thing.

I picked up Nitchze back when I was just trying to get into philosophy. I realized after a few pages that the meaning there was very subtle. (Just like Ayn Rand! (kidding)) I like to give myself credit for this.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:15 PM
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I'm actually tempted to gesture toward some Montaigne

Hey, so what's the next reading for the reading group?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 10:36 PM
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I'm fascinated as to what would happen if you tried this with me.

Haven't we had that thread more than once?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 6:40 AM
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I realized after a few pages that the meaning there was very subtle.

New mouseover!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 9:14 AM
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132

I think this is pretty simple if you just want a bound and don't care if it is sharp. It is sufficient to show there must be a pair of small disks with distance between centers less than (k*r/2) and distance between angles less than k/2 (in radians). This means a point moves a distance at most (k*r/2)+r*(k/2) (or k*r as desired) when one disk is translated and rotated to coincide with the other.

If you have more than 4*pi/k disks then there is a pair with angle less than k/2 since there is only 2*pi of angle to use. So we need to find 4*pi/k of disks whose centers are within k*r/2 of each other. This will occur if they are all in a square of side k*r/4 (since all points in such a square are with k*r/2 of each other). So how many such squares are needed to tile the big disk. The big disk fits in a square of side 2*c*r. So ((4*c/k)+1)**2 little squares will completely tile the big square and hence the big disk. (The plus 1 is because 4*c/k may not be an integer). So if we have more than (4*pi/k)*((4*c/k)+1)**2 little disks then some little square must contain at least 4*pi/k little disk centers and at least 2 of these little disks must be within angle k/2. So they are within the bound.

Obviously this is not sharp but I think you have a lower bound of similar form (ie w*c*c/k*k*k small disks are not enough for some constant w less than 64*pi).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 1:31 PM
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216.1: Oh, I agree.

220 shows signs of trollishness, but what the hell:

hegel, heidegger, derrida, kant, aristotle, plato, focault are all completely worthless, except in for specific, limited, and circumscribed purposes.

See, I'd mainly recommend people getting acquainted with the major thinkers so they don't, when attempting to wade into philosophy discussions, produce sentences as risible as this one. Somehow I doubt you've done the homework necessary to establish the "complete worthlessness" of a whole range of philosophers from Aristotle through to Derrida at one fell swoop.

they're important as an example of the intellectual elite's reaction to the zeitgeist rather than as drivers of it.

This, for example, is a spectacularly ignorant thing to say about Aristotle and Plato -- both of whom at various times drove major parts of the zeitgeists of whole civilizations -- at an absolute minimum.

Similarly worthless are all non-western philosophies that don't incorporate the good parts of modern western philosophy, and virtually all premodern philosophy.

The good parts of modern Western philosophy are nowhere near this foolhardy in their attitude to non-Western or premodern philosophy.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 2:54 PM
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I just want to declare the worthlessness of Derrida! I don't want to have to learn German so I can read all of Heidegger so I can declare Derrida worthless. I just want to fucking declare the worthlessness of Derrida.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 3:57 PM
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226: Ah, but "the worthlessness of Derrida," which would seem on the surface to be a stable ideality, would inevitably be destabilized by its constant juxtaposition with whole shifting systems of competing idealities like "the worthlessness of your Mom." It's inevitable that such a construction would therefore have to be subject to further interrogation.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 6:00 PM
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Sifu's mom is always already subject to further interrogation.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 6:11 PM
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It is true that the last time I saw Derrida speak I said to my adviser, after the event, that it was excellent warmed-over Heidegger. But that was late Derrida. Also I was being kind of snotty. Though I meant it, and it was true, and he agreed, and overall I don't think anyone was surprised.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 7:27 PM
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Hey, so what's the next reading for the reading group?

Apparently, the readership of AUFS, after slogging thru The Recognitions, rebelled against the next assignment being Omensetter's Luck. Choice is Hoban's Kleinzeit instead which sounds kinda French to me.

Philistines. This is how we get drive-in churches and televangelists.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-14-10 8:38 PM
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"Somehow I doubt you've done the homework necessary to establish the "complete worthlessness" of a whole range of philosophers from Aristotle through to Derrida at one fell swoop."

Well, I wasn't trying to include every philosopher between Aristotle and Derrida; I was picking out specific ones. OTOH, I don't really think I need to do all that much homework (i.e. read more than 20 pages of him) to realize that nowadays Aristotle is worthless now, regardless of how worthwhile he was way back when. And I don't know what I would have to do to deserve being subjected to Derrida.

"This, for example, is a spectacularly ignorant thing to say about Aristotle and Plato -- both of whom at various times drove major parts of the zeitgeists of whole civilizations"

Yeah, I misspoke. I only meant to say that the post-Kant philosophers I mentioned weren't influential to non-philosophers. Basically the philosophers after a bunch of sciences split off and philosophy started to become more specialized. Anyway, to the extent that any of those later guys had any good ideas, they're better pursued using science than Cartesian masturbation. And much, much better written.

"220 shows signs of trollishness, but what the hell:"

I've never claimed to be a great troll. And I certainly haven't been commenting enough to really troll lately.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 08-15-10 5:15 PM
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OTOH, I don't really think I need to do all that much homework (i.e. read more than 20 pages of him) to realize that nowadays Aristotle is worthless now, regardless of how worthwhile he was way back when.

You're mistaken both about your assessment of how much you'd have to read and of Aristotle.

Yeah, I misspoke. I only meant to say that the post-Kant philosophers I mentioned weren't influential to non-philosophers.

Hegel, Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida have all be influential to non-philosophers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-15-10 5:22 PM
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