- CATEGORY / books
- Scott’s “Art of not being governed,” in a nutshell
I read James Scott’s 2009 “The art of not being governed: An anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia.” I’ve reproduced a quote that concisely captures a nice chunk of the ~400 page book. The terms raw and cooked are Chinese euphemisms, possibly outmoded, for distinguishing between “barbarians” and “citizens.” It would seem to describe refinement, […]
- Translation with rotation. An American railroad man sold Marx on Iroquois culture.
By a strange irony, the League of the Iroquois has become a model for Marxist theory. The twisting trail that leads to Friedrich Engels begins with Lewis Henry Morgan, a Rochester lawyer and lobbyist for railroads. His interest in the Iroquois was aroused because he wanted to use their rituals in a rather sophomoric fraternal […]
- My dissertation
In August I earned a doctorate in cognitive science and informatics. My dissertation focused on the role of higher-level reasoning in stable behavior. In experimental economics, researchers treat human “what you think I think you think I think” reasoning as an implementation of a theoretical mechanism that should cause groups of humans to behave consistently […]
- The birthplace of Western civilization was killed during the birth of Western civilization.
Deforestation from Classical Period (~1000BCE and on) mettallurgy in the Holy Land dramatically amplified the effects of an otherwise small regional trend towards a warmer and drier climate. Before 10,000 years ago, we were in a different geological and human era and you can’t say too much about civilization. But starting at 10,000 until 2,000 […]
- The fall of cybernetics in anthropology, with citations
I’m reading an ethnobotanical ethnography of the Huastec or “Teenek” Mayans. Its a big fat impressive monograph published by Janis B. Alcorn in 1984. Here is a passage suggesting that cybernetics had come and gone from anthropology by 1980. The criticism focused on the restriction of early cybernetics modeling to closed systems. The attack is […]
- What it means to know things about early Christianity
I’ve been reading a lot about the history of early Christianity, and a lot of the theories and ideas that define it. A lot of the scholarship is totally wild, and a lot is pretty sound; some is both, but its all confusing, because these things get mixed together indiscriminately. It motivated me to create […]
- Political use of the rhetoric of complex systems
I’m excited about the field called “complex systems” because it reflects of best of science’s inherent humility: everything affects everything, and we oughtn’t pretend that we know what we’re doing. I think of that as a responsible perspective, and I think it protects science from being abused (or being an abuser) in the sociopolitical sphere. […]