Friday, December 30, 2011

On language, Max Weinreich

"A language is a dialect with an army and navy."

On nations

".. a decision to form – or re-form – a nation depends on a common view that it will be a better place to be for its people, because it will in its institutions and in its customs, in its actions and in the place it makes for itself in the world, more resemble them and how they would like to be seen."

More here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


"That's what insanity is, when you do the same thing over and over again even though it really doesn't work."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mindwalk (1999)

"See, we tend to think of subatomic  particles as some kind of small billiards balls or small grains of sand. But for physicists a particle has no independent existence. A particle is essentially a set of relations that reach outward to connect with other things.

What are those other  things, please?

They're interconnections of  yet other things which also turn out to be interconnections, and so on, and so on. In atomic physics we never  end up with any things at all. The essential nature of matter lies not in objects, but in interconnections."

"No one induced upon us the wisdom of the American indian tribes who made all their important decisions with the  seventh generation in mind. We were never taught to think about the future that way."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

About credibility

There's always more than one side to a coin, it smells bad whenever only one side is shown. Whenever the same story is repeated over and over by different voices it means that somebody already analysed both sides and made their choice for their own benefit.

Greece should default and the rescue funds are bound to fail, idea defended by Martin Feldstein. But at the same time this can have a domino effect for Italy and Spain and a devaluation battle didn't help anyone in 1930.

"The only way the dollar is going to strengthen significantly is if the Federal Reserve begins to aggressively tighten monetary policy, which means raising interest rates, or if a major global economic catastrophe hits the economy, such as several EU countries entering into default at the same time."  citation

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The endless repetition of history

"When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand, we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the Sibylline books. It falls into that long dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong - these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history." --Winston Spencer Churchill, May 2, 1935

Monday, June 6, 2011

The model pupil, John Pilger

"Indonesia, once owing nothing but having been plundered of its gold, precious stone, wood, spices and other natural riches by its colonial masters, the Dutch, today has a total indebtedness estimated at $262 billion, which is 170 per cent of its gross domestic product. There is no debt like it on earth. It can never be repaid. It is a bottomless hole."

Bulletin, June 2001

"Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied."

Arthur Miller

“We have 50 per cent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of it’s population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period… is to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality… we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation”

George Kennan, US strategic planner, 1948

"'structural adjustments programmes', consisting of privatisation, indebtedness and the destruction of public services, have further impoverished and disaffected a large proportion of the world's population."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to build an empire

"... the Persian empire became the first to attempt to govern many different racial groups, on the principle of equal responsibilities, and rights for all people, so long as subjects paid their taxes and kept the peace. Additionally, the king would agree not to interfere with the local customs, religions, and trades of its subject states" [1]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The ups and downs of economy

The Dutch developed many of the techniques of modern finance.

"Many individuals grew suddenly rich. A golden bait hung temptingly out before the people, and, one after the other, they rushed to the tulip marts, like flies around a honey-pot. Every one imagined that the passion for tulips would last for ever, and that the wealthy from every part of the world would send to Holland, and pay whatever prices were asked for them. The riches of Europe would be concentrated on the shores of the Zuyder Zee, and poverty banished from the favoured clime of Holland. Nobles, citizens, farmers, mechanics, seamen, footmen, maidservants, even chimney sweeps and old clotheswomen, dabbled in tulips."

Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay (1841)

"Among the many companies to go public in 1720 is—famously—one that advertised itself as 'a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is'".

How far can the power of a term go

Tulip mania, wikipedia article

"Growers named their new varieties with exalted titles. Many early forms were prefixed Admirael ("admiral"), often combined with the growers' names—Admirael van der Eijck was perhaps the most highly regarded of about fifty so named. Generael ("general") was another prefix that found its way into the names of around thirty varieties. Later came varieties with even more superb names, derived from Alexander the Great or Scipio, or even "Admiral of Admirals" and "General of Generals". However, naming could be haphazard and varieties highly variable in quality. Most of these varieties have now died out, though similar "broken" tulips continue in the trade."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The pitfalls of using structured data

Structured data:
  1. Ontologies
  2. Textual structures

  1. Domain and purpose dependence
  2. Abundance of standardised formats
  3. Lack of standardised formats
  4. Poor support
  5. Lack of quality measures for ontologies (could be addressed by provenance tracking)
  6. Lack of appropriateness measures for ontologies

Based on: [1]