Notes from the Library

Sat, 13 Dec 2014

I just got back from seeing this with my girlfriend. I agree with this reviewer that there's often a sense of missed opportunity for looking at some of the really hard stuff: there's a lot of stuff about both of them, though especially Jane, that isn't explored as deeply as it could be.

There's one scene when Hawking has an idea about how he might prove that time has a beginning. He's struggling to get into his jumper at the time. He lets his wife know that he's got an idea coming on and she dutifully wheels him to the university, and his academic friends take over from her in wheeling the wheel chair. It's presented very much as though Hawking is a conduit for the idea and it's as if he's being used by the academics around him to get that idea out. It reminded me of the novel Never Let Me Go.

Is this how new science is done? Is there a separate category for genius, or is all creativity like this, or is this just a popular fiction/myth about creativity?

Thu, 11 Dec 2014

This morning when I got up I procrastinated doing something boring by reading some blog posts written by disgruntled academics.

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Generation TED and the power of positivity

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It's fashionable to write about how the Internet is "rewiring our brains" and sapping our ability to concentrate for long periods on difficult things, and I don't have anything new to say on the topic.1 I'll just write concisely about my own experiences of the phenomenon. There are two issues. The first is the ability of the Internet to fuel procrastination that might otherwise be avoided, and the seconds is the issue of the Internet damaging the ability to concentrate hard for long periods of time on making something that's hard to make or reading something hard. I intend to talk only about the former.2

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I have been told by a number of LGBTQ activists that there is a growing minority of people who publically identify as not being either a man or a woman, and who are therefore uncomfortable with any of 'he', 'she', 'his' or 'her' etc. being used to refer to them. I don't want to sound dismissive or patronising by using a sentence beginning "I have been told…". It's just that I've never met anyone who cares about this: I've just had a lot of men and women tell me or write that another group of people care about it. I was formerly quite dismissive of these issues. I've changed my mind a little.

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