Saturday, May 11, 2013

Yet another backlog list ...

Well, after breaking the long period of silence, the only better post I can make is about the current backlog of books I have read, but did not write about.
There we go:

  1. "Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening" by Stephen Batchelor
  2. "Guns" by Stephen King
  3. "Zen Judaism: For You a Little Enlightenment" by David M. Bader
  4. "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons
  5. "The Fall of Hyperion" by Dan Simmons (the last two books are on this list thanks to my son, Maciej)
  6. "Proof of Heaven" by Eben Alexander
  7. "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" by Stephen Batchelor
  8. "Rabbi of 84th Street" by Warren Kozak
  9. "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Gunaratana

plus some more books I even can't recall... well I read (and listen to) like crazy ....

Cheers
Mirek@Bouolgne

Quantum Theory by John Polkinghorne ...

I do not quite understand why I decided to write this post after so many months of not writing anything on my blog...

The book "Quantum Theory. A Very Short Introduction" by John Polkinghorne  is one of these "A Very Short Introduction" series books that are simple and usually not deep enough. However, this one is much different. It simple, yet is also very deep.
One gets an intro course into Quantum Theory, but one is also faced with fundamental, philosophical problems of modern science.

Well, after so many months of silence, I can't write any good review, so I will say only some few words.

The author, John Polkinghorne is an unusual person. He is: "theoretical physicist, theologian, writer, and Anglican priest" (see this). What is extremely important, there is just NO sign in the book that could tell you that the author is ordained priest! Well, for 25 years he was absolutely secular scientist!

I guess I will end this long awaited review at this moment and at this point....

Mirek@Boulogne




Saturday, January 12, 2013

Steve Jobs ...


I just finished Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.
I must admit it was fantastic reading experience, and it opened my mind on some decisions Jobs' has made and on his philosophy...

I must admit, I did not like, for many years, Apple product paradigm, even though I was happy to use iPad for some time. I feel I have strong arguments against many facets of Apple's (and Jobs')  views on technology - nevertheless, the understanding of their (his) motives came to me just from this book.

And, I must admit, I started to appreciate and like them and him for the courage to be as they were ...

Could Steve inspire people like myself ? Certainly yes, and if you ask me for what - I immediately could tell: for his main goal to build enduring company ...

Mirek@Paris


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The titles on my backlog list ...

Here is the list of titles I recently read but could not yet review. Hope that my recent Blindsight review signals some come back to more regular blogging :-)

OK, after August report on my backlog, I have been reading the following titles: 
  1. "Stonemouth" by Iain Banks
  2. "A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
  3. "No easy day" by Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
  4. "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan
  5. "Creating a World Without Poverty" by Muhammad Yunus
  6. "The Jew in the Lotus" by Rodger Kamenetz
  7. "The Miracle of Mindfulness" by Thich Nahn Hahn
  8. "Toward a True Kinship of Faiths" by His Holiness Dalai Lama
  9. "The Ultimate Dimension" by Thich Nahn Hahn
  10. "The Lonely Man of Faith" by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
  11. "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking
  12. "Living the Mindful Way" by Sharon L. Horstead
  13. "The Information" by James Gleick
I do not include professional books I read here.
However, I feel it is worth to mention at least one of them:
  • "Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist" by Dean Allemang and James Hendler.
In addition to pure technical, semantic web oriented flavor, this book is also very important from the general, or I dare to say, philosophical point of view...

 I'm now reading or plan to read soon:

  1. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson
  2. "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons
  3. "Meditation and the Bible" by Aryeh Kaplan
  4. "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Guanaratana
  5. "Turing's Cathedral" by George Dyson
  6. "Anger" by Thich Nahn Hahn
  7. "Mindful Eating" by Thich Nahn Hahn
 As you see, it is not just a small pile, it is a tower of read but not reviewed books...
Well, I guess my 2013 New Year's resolution will be to catch up with all these pending reviews :-)

Mirek, December 25, 2012, Aleksandrow near Lodz





Monday, December 24, 2012

True manifest or thought experiment - „Blindsight” by Peter Watts

Blindsight - science fiction novel by Peter Watts...
It has been sometime since I have read this book and I'm still uncertain whether it sincerely represents its author's view of life (or perhaps author's world view) or it is a sort of gigantic thought experiment.

First, some facts. It is certainly one of the best science-fiction books I have ever read. Set in the second half of XXI century it describes an encounter between humans living on Earth with alien inteligence. The encounter starts with the apparent survey the aliens perform sending micro-satellites (called as fireflies). Humans sent a spaceship, „Theseus” to get into first contact with the aliens dwelling on a cosmic structure, a vessel-sattellite called by itself  „Rorschach”. The encounter reveils that the aliens represent totally different kind of intelligence humans expected. The intelligence is lacking consciousness yet it remain highly intelligent, surpassing humans. When the danger of this devilish creatures becomes critical, the artificial intelligence controlling the human spaceship attacks them in apparent suicide mission leaving the lonely survivor live and coming back to Earth, that, by the time of the mission undergoes a new kind of holocaust, caused by unconscious vampires ... It is possible that he is the only truly conscious subject in the entire universe...

Plot is perhaphs not the best part of the novel, though in comparison to many sci-fi(s), it is original and untypical. Language is difficult, peppered with many biological and neuroscientific terms, but the deep comprehension is rewarding. Yet not the plot itself or its language make the essence of the novel. In reality it is a philosophical treaty said in the frame of sci-fi story. It's a big discourse about human consciousnes and its nature, mind and matter interplay, essence of biology, human interaction, artificial intelligence etc.

However, when I read it carefully, I noticed that its author identifies with some quite specific views that go far from what I used to belive in... Sex seems to be presented as nothing more than a blind copulation. His views on biology seems to verge on a brink of primitive reductionism. In his world human free will seems not to exist and intelligence does not need conscious beings to express itself. I probably oversimplify it, yet this is what seems to emerge from Blindsight...

I have an impression that Watts somehow believes in propositions put forward in famous GEB (Gödel, Escher, Bach) book (by Douglas Hofstadter). Yet this book was not mentioned in the "Notes and References" to the novel. In the "Notes" author seem to explain scientific background for many of his constructs used in the novel.

I prefer to believe that Watson's novel, dark and mechanistic is indeed a kind of thought experiment - not an epiphany of some well grounded scientifically based conclusions. For example, while it is instructive to know that Metzinger's "Being No One" was one of inspirations, it is somehow reassuring that such views do not even dominate the whole gamut of current consciousness sciences...

And, as the thought experiment - it is one of the best I ever read...


Coming back ???

I would be very happy to come back to active blogging. Seems my life has become too hectic and full of so many matters and issues and challenges that I hardly can find time for my blog.
Anyway, I will try. I solemnly promise: I'll try !

December 24, 2012 Aleksandrow near Lodz. My parents place ...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Backlog ...

Here is the list of books that I read recently but had no time or power to review:

  1. „Blindsight” by Peter Watts
  2. „All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age” by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly
  3. „The Most Human Human” by Brian Christian
  4. „Da Vinci Ghost” by Toby Lester
  5. „Buddhist Meditation for Beginners” by Jack Kornfield
  6. „Buddhism for Busy People” by David Michie
  7. „True Love” by Thich Nahn Hahn
  8. „The Mind and the Brain” by Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Sharon Bogley
  9. „The Cult of the Amateur” by Andrew Keen
  10. „The Information” by James Gleick
  11. „Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky
and now I'm reading "A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens :-)
Honestly, I will not be able to review all of them :-(, but I will certainly do it for „Blindsight”, „All Things Shinging”, „The Mind and the Brain” and „The Information” — they are the books of utmost importance ....

Cheers
Mirek



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Long time ...

Yes, it again was a long period of silence on my blog ...
I did not stop reading, I did not stop breathing ...

I was too tired, both physically and mentally to write meaningful posts. I had to disappear again for some time from the noosphere. It seems I'm back now. I just returned from 3 weeks spent in the same village on the same rivers at the same seaside I used to go for last 10 years.
I guess I have more mental strength now.
Stay tuned.

Meanwhile... Here are the pictures from my solitary canoeing in North Poland.

And here is my companion who visited my one night in my tent:


:-)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

MakoLab Semantic Day in Paris

I'm not sure how many of my readers could really come to First MakoLab Semantic Day we will organize in Paris on June 26th. Anyway all of you are very welcomed. It will be an incredible occasion to listen to lectures of Prof. Martin Hepp — the creator of GoodRelations and ... my own short intro into Semantic Web :-)
http://semanticday.makolab.fr/
http://semanticday.makolab.fr/
:-)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

What keeps us running ...

I have found this amazing quote from Norbert Wiener — one of the greatest scientists of XX century:


We are swimming upstream against a great torrent of disorganization, which tends to reduce everything to the heat-death of equilibrium and sameness described in the second law of thermodynamics. What Maxwell, Boltzmann, and Gibbs meant by this heat-death in physics has a counterpart in the ethics of Kierkegaard, who pointed out that we live in a chaotic moral universe. In this, our main obligation is to establish arbitrary enclaves of order and system. These enclaves will not remain there indefinitely by any momentum of their own after we have once established them. Like the Red Queen, we cannot stay where we are without running as fast as we can.


Nothing describes my attitude to, at least, my work, better than this quotation...