Sunday, January 18, 2009

3D in 2D

Looks like a great gig, and I'm truly sorry I missed it. There's only half the song here but hopefully the album won't be long coming.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I do keep telling myself that I should keep going, and that I'm doing so well and all. So nice that when it's impossible to listen to myself someone else will write my thoughts for me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More tomorrow

Will you?

When I was little(r) I thought clouds were blue and the sky was white. I suppose this was on the assumption that 'nothing' (as I considered the sky to be at that time) would be white and 'something' (which is what the clouds seemed to be) would be blue. I thought this for a very long time. At a similar sort of time also developed the notion that, as I saw it, there was no reason to believe that since the sun (or sky, or clouds for that matter) were there today they would be there again tomorrow.

I realised that I had been wrong about clouds being blue when first in the window seat of an aeroplane. Since I was then above something white (which had to be the clouds) and the 'nothing' was still above, well then the sky must be blue. I did toy with the brief idea that there had to be something higher for it to be blue, but that didn't come til later still. It seemed pretty logical to me.

The idea that the sun would be coming up tomorrow, however, never really left.

Recently I was asked what the probability of the sun coming up tomorrow was. This was asked by someone who probably knows or else could easily work it out I'm sure. Since I couldn't reason a calculation to establish an actual estimation I said 0.5. This almost certainly arises from my failure to understand the concept of probabilty but also beceause of my lack of belief in empirical data. I may be wrong, but I don't see that the sun coming up today means it will come up tomorrow.

And so to Bayesian theory. This method is probably best summed up by saying that there are not only yes/no answers, there are part truths and part untruths. Karl Popper was of the view that science should aim to falsify untruths. This is, in essence, the null hypothesis, a concept which on a day-to-day basis I find quite depressing, and yet also true. We should, I suppose, always be trying to remove all the wrong ideas we have. Bayesian theory, on the other hand, suggests that the hypotheses we have should constantly be modified by the data that we acquire. So yes, it is ok to say that there are only white swans, until that little black signet arrives on the Queen's lawn. Hilborn and Mangel gave a nice discription of this (involving squirrels!) which is talked about here.

Taking Bayesian theory, however, it would seem that, you can never have a probability of 1, and you can never be sure.

I suppose its strange to not live by empirical rules, especially being a (part-time) scientist, and especially as it is the general basis of most human reasoning. What is certain, however, is that living this way means every today you go to bed terrified and every tomorrow you wake up astonished.

Friday, January 09, 2009


I'm talking here now because I need to talk to somebody and there is no-one else. Funny how here there seems to be both the possibility of everybody and nobody. The needs arises from a general failure to understand anything that is happening in the immediate vicinity. I don't understand this,

Although I imagine it to probably be a very simple thing. I didn't understand the majority of what was said during the two hour meeting I attended this morning.

Some people drive themselves mad trying to find the single unifying pattern to their world, but it seems that for me even the things which are clear and sensible to the rest of the world are just a step too far.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Where the melody takes you

I remember very clearly my first thought about learning to play the guitar. I'm sure there are plenty of ideas about why exactly I did this. Not many will know that as well as all the non-guitar related reasons, there was the fact that for a long time I had already told people I could play the guitar. Sure I'd messed around and heard tunes in my head that I couldn't make my fingers play. I had no idea what the names of the strings were or what chords went where. I had lied about a lot of things for a very, very long time. I didn't really think that I could or would every actually play. I'd never met anyone who made me think things that I hadn't considered were possible.

I learnt quite quickly. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Sally Murray, but I learnt to play other people's songs, even if I'm told that I do so with such woefull inaccuracy that it is both an insult and a compliment.

The cello was another matter entirely. If I'm honest, I have absolutely no idea why I started learning the cello. I know I found lots of J du Pre on YouTube having had a particularly nasty argument about the letter J. I tell people that I actually wanted to play the harp, but cello was close (in my wonky mind). I'm not sure that's true. I do want to play the harp, along with making felt, speaking numerous languages, learning capoeira, doing a brilliant tango and blowing glass. I didn't know cello was a favourite instrument and I didn't know about the ex-girlfriend. The truth is that we don't know what switch inside our skull makes us do things. Why am I writing here when there are an uncountable number of other possibilities. Why do the birds sing? And why do I play the cello?

I know I'm definitely pretty keen on it though, for it's shape, it's deep humming melody (mostly when in the hands of others), and for a teacher who says 'you must see through the fear that you create'...and then prods you in the boob (I wasn't expecting it either!)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fearing the inevitable fall

It's that time of year again when almost everyone promises to do that little bit more, eat that little bit less, and generally be that little bit better all round; and I've certainly been doing my fair share of a little bit more.

Last week I went skiing for the first time. Now I've always been led to believe that 'there is nothing to fear but fear itself'. There may be brackets involved: 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself (and hurtling to your death)', for instance.

Certainly for me 'there is nothing to fear but being discovered to be utterly afraid and pathetic', is definitely high on the list. It's not the fact of being afraid of falling over, it's being watched as you stand at the top of a mountain utterly paralysed. It's having to say 'no I haven't read that book', 'no I don't know that answer', 'no I've never done that'.

Perhaps it is that we have nothing to fear but the holes we create in ourselves.

And in order to fill some of those holes I shall be resolved in acheiving the following things (though undoubtedly not this year):
1. Read the lady with the lapdog - Chekhov (tick)
2. Learn to ski
3. Go and see some plays/ballets/musicals