Descartes’s methodic learning

In Rule VIII of Règles pour la Direction de l'Esprit, Descartes writes:
Si quelqu'un se propose comme problème d'examiner toutes les vérités pour la connaissance desquelles la raison humaine suffit (examen que doivent faire, ce me semble, au moins une fois dans la vie, tous ceux qui s'efforcent sérieusement de parvenir à la sagesse), il trouvera certainement, par les règles qui ont été données, que rien ne peut être connu avant l'entendement, Continue reading “Descartes’s methodic learning”

Seven Greek Myths

The political and societal crisis currently sweeping the European Union is a topic I try not to get into here, as it touches and inflames bad things in me.

To be clear: I call it a political and societal crisis because that’s what it is. As Maslow said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” What, then, should one expect, when one is run by finance, corporations, the nonelected, and generally compromised institutions and politicians of selfish neoliberal ideologies?

Before I get too caught up in this, here it is:

Seven Greek Myths

What is happening in Greece frightens many. A proper democratic process, by nature, threatens power structures in place. As power seeks to perpetuate itself, any attempt at democracy must be promptly squashed, by any and all means available. A result of this is the campaign of terror waged in Greece and across the Union.

Yesterday, the people of Greece firmly said όχι, which in my book translates to dignity. It isn’t a vote of ignorance, of vain delusions, or of irresponsibility; it is a resolute and proud acknowledgment of the challenges they face and the utmost expression of a nation’s desire for democracy and sovereignty.

I have nothing but the highest respect for the citizens of Hellen.

Selective History

Where I come from1, when the state of democracy and society is the matter in hand, people might still—though rarely—be heard invoking Mai 68. What I had never heard, however, is this fine thread of 20th century history echoing from Scandinavia:

How Swedes and Norwegians broke the power of the ‘1 percent’

I will let the piece speak for itself, and just add this remark:

In my mind, the Swedes and the Norwegians had always lived a [relatively] stable life, one of high societal standards, throughout the past century; there had never been major shifts, nor power struggles, such as the ones described; exaggerating this Mediterranean layman’s perspective, they had “always” been, as though by nature, members of a just and wealthy—by all measures, not just financially—civilization. I was naïf. But I was also the recipient, since my early school days, of a conveniently tailored history of the world.

And yet there’s profound value in this particular thread. Not just because one may extract hope from it, but because it shows how, repeatedly, aiming for anything less than a truly democratic2 society is a recipe for disaster.

  1. things are very bad in most of Europe, but the current Portuguese government gave its citizens front-row tickets to Let’s Destroy 40 Years of Democracy in a 4-Year Term. 
  2. in its etymological sense 

Swing dancing as a language: why Swing dancing is for geeks

Presented as a four-minute flash talk at Automattic’s 2013 Grand Meetup in California.

I want to talk to you about a language that is likely little known to many of you, which is dancing. Indeed, I dance something called the Lindy Hop. Probably the most iconic of Swing dances, reminiscent of the Thirties and such lively venues as the Savoy in New York City’s Harlem, Lindy is a fast-paced, spectacular and fun dance.

Lindy Hop

The Lindy Hop is powered by Swing music. Swing music takes roots in Jazz and is a very well structured kind of music: it gives you 8-count bars, usually 4-bar phrases, and you have progressions such as Blues or Dixieland Jazz progressions. This all means that it has a sense of order and predictability.

Now, the fact that the structure is, at its core, minimal and immutable means that it gets out of your way, and this allows a lot of freedom for improvisation, for bending the rhythm, etc., for musicians and dancers alike. In fact, even if they don’t know the music, dancers can follow it just because of that very structure, and even mess around with it. Continue reading “Swing dancing as a language: why Swing dancing is for geeks”