The Intersection of Art and Science

Someone at work commented that, one night, she got into a long rambling discussion about the intersection between art and science. I said that art and science don't intersect, and she said she disagreed.

It's possible that there is a disagreement over terminology. When one says that art and science "intersect" I have in my mind some kind of act that combines the two, i.e. discovering some objectively reproducible feature of the universe by painting a nice picture would count as an intersection between art and science because by doing one, you're doing the other.

In my mind, just using the results of one field in another doesn't count as an intersection. So a musician using an electronic keyboard doesn't count as an intersection between music and electrical engineering and a sculptor making something out of clothes doesn't count as an intersection between sculpture and textiles.

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Duckie Fuzz

I went to my friend Neil's bachelor party last Saturday (July 28th). I met the group at the Saint-Sulpice around 2:30pm and I didn't leave till 10:20pm or so. It was a fun day.

It ended up being a kind of a mini pub crawl, and one of the places we ended up was Foufounnes Electriques, a punk bar on Saint-Catherine Street. I had been in there only once before but it was only now that I actually noticed the decor and ambiance.

Something about the whole experience rubbed me the wrong way. An easy explanation would be the death metal music playing on the speakers, but I don't think that was it. I'm not a fan of death metal, but I'm not anti death metal either. Maybe it was the art on the wall. There was one of white clothes on a clothesline splattered in blood, another of a man wailing whilst holding his dead son in his arms, and yet another of some sort of crime/death scene, with blood pooled on the ground. Are you detecting a theme? So was I.

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Seeing Green

Evelyn's birthday passed a few months ago. We were at a bar with her friends and I somehow got into a discussion with some guy about the nature of seeing green.

I'm sure the thought has run though many people's heads in some form or another. It basically goes like this: what if your green is not my green? Ignoring colour-blindness, when I look at the grass I register it as "green" and so do you. We are both, of course, able to verbalize this, but there's no way to tell if we're really seeing the same "green". What if "green" to you is really what I consider to be "red"? There'd be no way of knowing - you'd still call it "green", it's still the colour we both associate with grass, etc.

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Blosxom Warts

At the moment I'm using blosxom to generate this blog. I'm using blosxom for the following reasons:

  • the HTML is completely under my control.

  • there is no database or PHP required.

  • the codebase is tiny, which means I have a better chance of fixing whatever problems crop up and also of integrating it into my site.

So far, it seems to work okay. My blog looks more or less the way I want it to. More specifically, it looks like it's a seamless part of my web site, which is exactly the effect I was after.

That being said, I'm finding that blosxom has a few warts:

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Markdown Is Cool

I'm using Markdown to write this blog entry. I've converted all my other entries to use Markdown as well. Markdown is cool.

One of the annoying things about Blosxom (and perhaps other blogging tools) is the need to write the entries in HTML. Now, I have nothing against HTML and, as I've mentioned before, I insist on having full control over the HTML that gets used on my site, especially for layout purposes. But for writing actual text, I find the markup a bit tedious, especially since I always end up using the same tags over and over again.

The markup in my blog entries consists almost entirely of paragraph, emphasis, list, and link tags. These tags (with the possible exception of links) all represent natural artifacts in written language. And these artifacts all have natural textual representations.

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I Don't Even Like Heights

Several months back I won a free gliding session with Vol Recreatif in a raffle. My natural laziness, combined with my nervousness about heights, combined with the fact that gliding is only fun if you have good weather, meant that I only managed to get myself to the airfield this past Saturday with the help of a friend of mine who actually has a car.

First things first: air gliding is not hand gliding. You are not exposed to the air. You and a pilot are seated in what looks like a single wheeled airplane with no engine. You're towed to a certain height by an actual (old, rickety, propeller-driven) airplane and then released to coast and drift gently back down. The whole thing takes maybe thirty minutes.

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Why I'll Never Be a Good Speller

English spelling is notoriously...arbitrary. Any and all attempts to pin down a spelling rule will be met with at least six different exceptions - and you can be sure that the exceptions will be words that you will actually want to use. A study in English spelling is basically a study in evolutionary history. It's a study of various French invasions and vowel shifts. And, most of all, it's an exercise in brute memorization.

Contrast this with mathematics. Useful mathematical results are derived from previous mathematical results, using nothing but pure logic. A mathematical result is what it is because it had to be that way. A mathematical result simply couldn't be anything else and still make sense. Note that this is, more or less, the exact opposite of what one can say about English spelling conventions.

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What it Means to Have an Opinion

I have strong opinions on certain topics, but unlike some people I know, I try to justify my opinions (see, for example, my philosophy page). Whether I succeed or not is another matter, but I think that the attempt at justification deserves at least some credit. And I've been known to change my mind if I'm convinced I'm wrong.

I take a somewhat dim view of the idea that all opinions matter, or that no one is ever wrong. I know at least one or two people who seem offended whenever anyone tried to point out flaws in their ideas. I think this goes beyond not being able to handle criticism; they are of the belief that every opinion has a bit of right in it. I know other people who consider it the height of rudeness to try and convince another person to change his or her beliefs. There's a tendency today to treat opinions like an outgrowth of your body, like a limb, and to equate the desire to change it with the desire to cut off one's hand. With this sort of attitude, one does not debate so much as exchange ideas.

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Joining the Rest of Mankind

So I've finally gotten a blog. They've only been around for, what? Ten years? I guess I'm not a bandwagon jumper.

Lately though, there've been a couple of instance where a) I've had an opinion that I wanted to share with the world and b) I didn't feel like writing a full-blown essay to express it. I guess this is where a blog fits the bill.

Anyway, after reviewing various blogging options I've finally settled on Blosxom as my blogging tool. At the moment I think this is the best option for me because:

  • it's extremely lightweight. The core package consists of a single Perl script having less than 500 lines.

  • it doesn't use a database. Blog entries are just text files, and can be edited with your favourite text editor. Databases, in my opinion, are overused in these sorts of applications.

  • there's no PHP to set up, no special Apache modules to install, unless you count mod_cgi, which I don't because it's pretty standard on most Apache installations.

  • the HTML is completely customizable by hand. I don't like applications which spit out HTML I can't control.

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