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I am not a statistic!

“Don’t become a statistic!” That was the warning teachers and parents would direct at young drivers some years ago, when news broadcasts used to feature weekly road casualty figures. The psychologist Carl Jung amplified the despair of associating the human with a number: “If, …, I despise myself as merely a statistical cipher, my life has … Continue reading

Obfuscate!

Why do zebras have stripes? The stripes aren’t very successful as camouflage. If anything, a stripy lone zebra stands out against the grassland. But any single zebra will blend in with the herd when they stand together. It’s harder to tell where one zebra ends and the next one starts. As they approach the herd, … Continue reading

Unicursality

The traditional unicursal maze has no forking paths but leads directly to its centre. As a drawing or ornamental pattern you imagine the lines are walls and trace your finger through the opening. You eventually arrive at the centre, through a series of left and right turns. There’s just one path through the intestines of … Continue reading

Don’t go into the crypt!

Those who couldn’t fight, or were too important to lose in battle were told to hide in the crypt of the capital for safety. Meanwhile those above ground battled the White Walkers and their army of the dead (called “wights”). Zombie logic I wasn’t following Game of Thrones closely enough to realise that the crypt … Continue reading

Apocalypse then

The science fiction writer Fredric Brown (1906-1972) retells a short horror story (attributed originally to Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1836-1907]). It goes as follows: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” That’s reputedly the shortest horror story ever written. It’s apocalyptic. It’s about the last human … Continue reading

The treehouse

A treehouse provides both prospect and refuge. It’s built to position its residents some distance above the ground. A treehouse is organic and improvised, structured to oblige its particular and uncertain superstructure — the tree. The structure is usually additive. It looks as though it could extend further into the tree canopy, and even connect … Continue reading

Architecture’s pragmatic turn

There was once a linguistic turn. The philosopher Richard Bernstein describes the ascent after WWII of analytical philosophy with its focus on plain language and clear argumentation, as it pushed aside other philosophy deemed imprecise and speculative. But now we have entered the pragmatic turn. Bernstein published a book in 2010 entitled just that: The … Continue reading

One knock for yes two for no

You might think that advanced technologies obliterate the need for a belief in spirit, a world outside of everyday tangible experience. More accurately, techno-science, and its attendant promotion of rationalism and the cultures of modernity have supposedly disenchanted the world. Techno-science explains the world without the need to look for extra-physical cause and effect. There’s … Continue reading

Enter title here

Titles matter. I stumbled across an interesting web site with advice about titling your talks. The advice also applies to headings for essays, articles, books, blogs, podcasts, etc. Olivier Mitchell writes that in order to create a title “that gets people flocking to your session,” it ought to do at least one of the following (1) … Continue reading

Second Life revisited

It’s eleven years since I explored the shared 3D world of Second Life. The University of Edinburgh owns a virtual island there, and in 2006 I was gifted a small promontory of land on which to conduct some experiments. This playground nook was always a mess. One of our team created a stylised version of … Continue reading

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