2011-09-20

 

Lucretius, natural selection and free will

"... moving randomly through space, like dust motes in a sunbeam, colliding, hooking together, forming complex structures, breaking apart again, in a ceaseless process of creation and destruction. There is no escape from this process. ... There is no master plan, no divine architect, no intelligent design

All things, including the species to which you belong, have evolved over vast stretches of time. The evolution is random, though in the case of living organisms, it involves a principle of natural selection. That is, species that are suited to survive and to reproduce successfully, endure, at least for a time; those that are not so well suited, die off quickly. But nothing — from our own species, to the planet on which we live, to the sun that lights our day — lasts forever. Only the atoms are immortal ..."

Ideas written more than 2000 years ago by Lucretius, here paraphrased by Greenblatt with a modern lens in his book: Lucretius, Man Of Modern Mystery @ NPR. And he also had a beautiful way to describe free will as derived from uncertainty... Too bad Europeans did not convert to "Lucretianism"...


2011-09-12

 

All we are saying

Aren't you tired of being too polite with all the crazies in politics and at work? Life is too short not to speak your mind. If they are nuts, let them know what you think. This time, the CityZen is about speaking your mind and the realities of the last decade, since September 11th. All we are saying is a mix I prepared with all that in mind. The mix and CD assembly set is available to download in high quality (Username: Apollo, Password: feelingfree). Alternatively, enjoy the podcast below (at a lower sound quality). Warning: contains adult language.

P.S. I wrote this on 2011/09/12, just before the #occupywallstreet started. Riding the zeitgeist and totally supporting it. (added 2011/10/10)




Tracklist:
01 - Laurie Anderson - Another Day in America (E-Trash Mix). Mixed with Grace Jones - this is dub/devil dub/hell dub/cannibal dub 
02 - Jarvis Cocker - Running The World 
03 - Dixie Chicks - Not Ready To Make Nice 
04 - Lily Allen - Fuck You 
05 - Paul Weller - Wake Up The Nation (Zinc's Crack House Remix) 
06 - Yoko Ono - give peace a chance (dj dan vocal mix) 
07 - Stereossauro - Homem ao Mar 
08 - Eurythmics - Beethoven (I love to listen to) (dance_mix). Mixed with Rhythm & Sound- Poor People Must Work (Carl Craig Remix) 
09 - Adele - rolling in the deep (Jamie XX shuffle) 
10 - Paul Simon - so beautiful or so what 
11 - Scritti Politti - Lions After Slumber 
12 - Gorillaz - revolving doors 
13 - Aloe Blacc - i need a dollar 
14 - David Bowie - It's No Game (Pt. 2) 
15 - Morrissey - Ammunition 
16 - 4 Hero - Awakening (Feat. Ursula Rucker) 
17 - Gonzales - Never Stop Chilly Gonzales Rap 
18 - Mayer Hawthorne - A Long Time (Chromeo Remix)

2011-09-10

 

Rule-driven behavior, doublethink and moral authority

It's the Economy, Dummkopf! @ Vanity Fair is a very interesting read about German attitudes towards investing and social organization. Michael Lewis delves too much into the perceived scatological nature of German culture, which, though curious, is really his largely unsubstantiated opinion. He also shows a lack of knowledge of European reality, and so I assume of Germany (e.g. he seemed to have been unaware that most Europeans speak English, let alone the surfacy understanding of the economical crisis in the periphery countries...). Nonetheless the article exposes a very interesting clash between the German obsession with rules and American doublethink. Lewis misses the connection between German rule-driven behavior and moral authority, though. German investment bankers believed on the triple-A ratings of complex investment bonds based on subprime loans issued by Moody's and S&P, because of the moral authority America has on the German psyche. Certainly, if these american companies gave these ratings, they had to be true. The thing is, German investors would certainly not have believed those ratings if they had been issued by Greek companies, no matter how much Germans may like rules... So, while the american financial world is so very based on the doublethink inherent in these ratings---simultaneously believing they are accurate and risky, since these companies stand to gain from their very own ratings---German perception of the USA is what lead German investment bankers to follow the simple rule: excellent (American) rating=safe investment---no need to ask further questions or study the safety of the investment. This also explains why the ECB insisted on American ratings for regulating the Euro member states.

 Now, while Wall Street bankers (and Seemingly, Michael Lewis) may laugh at the German investors---those "ultimate patsies" as Lewis puts it---a big loss of this affair is undoubtedly the loss of American moral authority in the German psyche. Next time they will see the doublethink...

 On that note, the City Zen is left to Laurie Anderson below, "Only an Expert":

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