Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Off to Geneva

Going to Geneva tonight - see ya all in 3 weeks for ball and blading and stuff...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cats in the Cradle

I would go to a pub to listen to them too...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NTUC Comfort = No integrity

Totally pissed off at NTUC Comfort. Was with PL, Nekki and KeY and called a cab from Central. 10 minutes later, cab wasn't there, so called up the call line. Guess what, the cab reported he picked up his ride.

B**t*** cab driver - probably took any ride who was willing to pay the call charge.

A**h*** passenger - stealing someone else's ride.

Going to lodge a complaint. And not call NTUC cabs again. They should require cabs to verify that they've picked up the correct passenger - and should compensate passengers if the cabs don't come.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Philosophy on Tap: Causation

Attended a Philosophy on Tap session at LogicMills yesterday, on the topic of Causation - where the guest speaker, Dr Edward Moad (NUS) , outlined philosophers' objection to the idea of cause and effect. I'll try to summarise the argument, but you'd better wiki it because I'm not a philosopher.

Basic argument - science operates on the basis of induction - that conditions of type C have always been followed by events of type E in the observed past, therefore conditions of type C will always be followed by events of type E in the future. But the inductive leap from part 1 of the argument to part 2 of the argument is based on a premise that, in layman's terms, the future will be the same as the past. And we can't prove that that inductive leap works - because we can only extrapolate based on the past, that the past futures have always been like past pasts.

Enter cause and effect - We use cause and effect theories to justify belief in / knowledge of induction arguments above. So C (dropping your pen) is clearly not the cause of E (baby born somewhere in the world) even though E always follows C, there's no causal link. Instead, C(sticking the car key in the ignition) is clearly (one of) the (long chain of) causes leading to the car starting.

In the end - there's no normatively justifiable reason for us to believe that there is cause and effect. Even though we need it to function, we should just accept that cause and effect is not provable.

Ok, first disclaimer - I think the argument doesn't debunk cause and effect so much as it debunks empiricism - and that one reason philosophers might be in love with this argument is that it proves that those scientists doing their material experiments can claim no superiority over the philosophers doing thought experiments in their head, because induction is flawed and therefore science is flawed. And just like all those people caught by Socrates' arguments, I can't come up with good arguments against the implications of that statement on the fly. But after a good night's sleep, my brain is churning out lots of good thoughts (I think).

1) There is a continuum of being wrong. Just because empiricism / induction is flawed / wrong in some way does not make it a useless belief/system, it may be less wrong than other systems. For instance, the belief that the world is round (it's not perfectly round!) is not as wrong as the belief that the world is flat.

2) Some statements may be true, but not be provable - ie, Godel.

3) Science / Empiricism is not based on knowing absolutely - instead, as the future becomes the present new knowledge is incorporated. Experiments disprove certain hypotheses, scientists have to come up with new explanations, new models, and that's the whole point of science. While it is true that the past may not be perfectly extrapolat-able to the future, that's fine. When we get to the future and find that "something has changed", empiricism will work it in then.

So to me, it's okay to believe almost anything as a starting point - even beliefs that to me are irrational. However, as evidence comes up that makes it more and more unlikely, you should work that into your belief model and review your beliefs accordingly. And that's the whole point of empiricism right?

On a side note, I do believe that cause is an illusion that's linked to our forward view of time. If time ran backward, we would see that the moving ball striking the cue causes the pool cue to move, not that other way around.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Hdb flats - again, not enough.

Wins - 489 flats, but on Thursday evening there were already 2800 applicants and counting. Not going to bother...

Marathon tips

I'm obviously not going on a marathon anytime soon, but here's some tips for runners of all kinds from NYTimes. What I found most useful?

1) If you're running and stop sweating altogether, go find an ambulance.

2) Run at a conversational pace.

Want to read: Everyday Engineering

Via FastCompany, I want to read Everyday Engineering. For info, IDEO is an engineering design lab, quite cool stuff, especially if you like building / making cool stuff...

“The demo last Saturday was irrefutable proof that the concrete situation...”

From the NYTimes, article by Doris Lessing pointing out that such phrases (which are written in a language that seemed designed to fill up as much space as possible without actually saying anything) comes from Communist jargon - just like the phrase "concrete steps".

Words confined to the left as corralled animals had passed into general use and, with them, ideas.
Funny thing is, you do see people writing like that - especially people who are trying to impress. I remember reading KeY's social work academic texts and thinking that the writing was awfully bombastic. And you sometimes see it in civil service writing too. Never associated it with communism though. Got to find someone from that era and ask...

Spinning which way?

Via Marginal Revolution, please observe this spinning woman - I must be a total right brainer, because I can't see it turning anti-clock at all! A quick test with the 4 people behind me showed some right and some left brainers, each of whose perception of the turn changed now and then. Does my inability to comprehend it turning the other way betray that I don't have imagination?

Anyway, KeY's first thought was that the right-side of the brain was not the creative side. Is it because she thought I was right-brained?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Taka parking

Got a rude shock today when I tried to park at Taka. After I reached the barrier, saw that the price was quite expensive, so I decided to go through the car park and come straight out. Was stunned that the car park charged me for that first half hour of parking even though I was in there like 3 min.

So what to do? Even though the amount for half an hour is quite small, was quite peeved - By the time I see the rate I can't reverse anymore, and there's no indication that there's no grace period. And when I went to the customer service in Taka, I was redirected to the security post, which redirected me to the car park management office on L7, where the guard at first told me there was no manager but later connected me to an operations executive.

In summary - the exec did *some* service recovery (gave me a parking coupon for 1 hour's value, but which I'm dubious I'll use within its expiry date), and I'm not angry with him. What I am angry with is this very unreasonable policy where
(a) by the time you see the signage you basically have to park unless you want to cause havoc in the run-up to the car park
(b) no grace period
(c) no indication that there's no grace period
(d) no refund policy. As in "no refund" policy.

So I'm going to write in. Only thing is, I don't think they'll change their policy. I've been told I'm not the only complainant in the xx years that the car park has been in operation - but doesn't that indicate that the problem is quite pervasive? Anyway, since the operations exec has told me that they will definitely reply to my feedback (and I have his namecard), I'll write in first, and see what they reply. After that, as necessary, may forward to CASE? Lol... it seems small, but it's just the principle of the matter. I mean, I spent half an hour chasing this down, whereas I'm sure in most situations I would just have let it go and let them earn the dollar off me. It's not worth my time, or anyone's time, to settle just one case, but just not happy to let it go!

50% back?

KeY went shopping today at Centrepoint - and we found out they had this UOB Lady's Card Promotion. Spend $100 on the card (in 3 or less receipts, same day, blah blah) and you get an instant win lucky dip (among other things) and KeY got back a $50 Aldo voucher which seems to have almost no strings attached.. pretty productive shopping, lol...