17
Apr 09

Radical rhetoric

Did I hear this correctly?

Regarding Mexico, Hillary Clinton said, “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade”, and, “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians”.

Here we have a senior Whitehouse official accepting some form of societal responsibility for the damage the drug trade is doing to foreign ground.

That may well sound normal and correct to the average citizen, but isn’t it a little radical for Ms Clinton to state such things?

I can’t see how, if she had won the primaries and the subsequent election, she would ever have been capable of such radical speak. Being in support of good power makes Hillary an exceptionally likeable person.

Yes, this is another Obama-praise post in disguise.


02
Apr 09

Finally, it breaks

Contrary to original post re apparent indestructability of iPhone, mine appears now to have broken. Just thought I’d set the record straight. The volume / vibrate switch on the side had snapped off. O2 insurance was brilliant: a brand new model, couriered to me the following day.


02
Apr 09

Predicate logic

Courtesy of this site, we have a nice succint definition of a predicate:

A predicate is a verb phrase template that describes a property of objects, or a relationship among objects represented by the variables.

The statement Mat is right can be thus represented by the arbitrary object Mat as it applies to the predicate “is_right” represented by capital R:

R(Mat)

Or for a different verb template, “Mat gives to the world a lesson in being right” where the template reads “[object] gives to [object] an [object]”, the predicate can be expressed as Give(x,y,x) or G(x,y,z):

G(Mat,world,lesson in being right)

Fine. Hardly stretches the old wheat and grain.

(New rhyming slang invention.)

But then I come unstuck.

The page then gives us a little test as follows:

Let G(x,y) represent the predicate x > y

  • G(6,13) means 13 is greater than 6. Yes or no?

… obviously this is a no, because according to the ordering of the predicate definition, the first value should be greater than the second.

Computer says “correct”!

  • G(2,0) is true. Yes or no?

… well, yes, 2 is greater than 0.

Computer says “correct”!

(Interestingly we have now invoked an assertion outside of the predicate definition, one which depends on us being aware of what “greater than” actually means in the real world. I can just about cope. But I’m scared.)

  • G(7,1) means 7 is greater than 1. Yes or no?

Well, that’s exactly how the predicate reads. As an aside to this, seven is indeed greater than one, although that wasn’t the question that was asked.

Computer says “correct”! (Well at least to the first bit!)

  • “4 is less than 5” can be represented by G(5,4). Yes or no?

I answered NO. Maybe you can see why already, from my comments.

Computer says “incorrect”.

Mat says “does not compute does not compute”

Can someone shed some light on this? I’m sure I’m missing something very basic.

My reason for answering NO was that, regardless of the values, it doesn’t follow that if x is greater than y, then the opposite is definitely not true. This is because the predicate “is_less_than” is not even defined in this exercise, in order for us to say that it’s the opposite to the predicate “is_greater_than”.

If it read

“blue is greater than green” can be represented by G(blue,green)

… then I would agree: yes. But,

that “green is less than blue” can be represented by G(blue,green)

… is surely never true.

I prefer these object values of green and blue when dealing with a mathematical construct “is greater than”, they are more arbitrary than actual numbers and therefore helpful in abstracting predicate logic from the functions it seeks to convey.

If the predicate “is_less_than” were to be defined, then it still wouldn’t hold true, not until we have also defined “is_equal_to”.

Consider the question:

“5 is less than 5” can be represented by G(5,5). Yes or no?

The fact that 5 is not less than 5 is largely irrelevant in answering this question. Of course, 5 is NOT less than 5 in the real world – but the real world has nothing to do with predicate logic. The reason the above is NO is because the predicate “is_equal_to” has still not been defined.

I’m making such a big thing about the ‘real world’, because have we not also applied some non-predicate mathematics to our workings out when answering that second question posed by the website?

I’m down with that shit, but it would have been nice to know in advance, right? Especially as all the other questions were ones of veracity of equivalence rather than truth in the real world.

So – someone help me out on this.

Is Mat Right?

R(Mat) is true?


02
Apr 09

When is a deep-seated problem in society not a deep-seated problem in society?

Is racism inherent to humanity? A societal construct? A belief we are taught? Is it possible to be untaught? Are some people genuinely completely devoid of racism, or are we all complicit in the racism that is a part of our society whether we own that belief ourselves or not?

Needless to say, I know exactly what I think the answers to the above are.

I rarely rise to the bait.

Especially on issues as emotive as racism, debated as publicly as online, at someone’s blog.

But I posted somewhere about the fact that I don’t see colour, and someone responded by linking me to a blog post about how so-called “colour-blindness” can be detrimental to the progress of racial equality.

With great interest, and a very open mind on this matter, I followed this link to a blog entitled Uppity Brown Woman, and read the article. I didn’t think too hard about the title of the blog.

I read it, and I agreed with its central tenet: that perhaps “colour-blindness” is not the process by which equality can be realised, but rather the end-point.

Thought I: “A little arbitrary, perhaps a little dogmatic, but I guess it’s important to get these things perfectly straight if we can, after all, we are talking about ideals and progress”. Clearly if I had been subjected to racism in some form, I may be far less flippant with this last sentiment, and so I didn’t write this thought out. But I would still hope to think it deep down. Let’s take the example of white-on-white crime; for the sake of argument I’ve been beaten up and mugged, I would be very upset but I wouldn’t necessarily become too worried about the chicken-egg argument of whether it was a problem with parenting in society or a problem with humanity itself. I’d tell myself “beating up is immoral, it’s wrong, and nobody should be subjected to it”, and I’d leave it at that.

The first blog response I read, however, I found difficult. So I posted a response. Bad idea.

It was the wee, wee hours:

Someone on the internet is wrong

Nota bene, there wasn’t actually anyone shouting “are you coming to bed” from another room; that would sound spookily like there was someone in my life who actually did that kind of thing.

I don’t know what else to say here really. Please take a quick look at the comments on that blog. If you are without time, skip the blog entry itself and go straight to the first comment, as I have summarised the bit I’m talking about above.

I’m the enigmatically titled “Mr Smith”.

After a little more reading of the blog, I discovered there are, in my opinion, a few chips on a few shoulders – and it was this I was railing against. Now I kind of regret going there.

Can someone tell me I am not being completely unreasonable here?

I get really angry when people tell me “everyone is a rittle bit lacist”. (Ref: Avenue Q.)