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I’m an English major.  I will always be an English major.  Thus it bothers me that robots and robotic scribblers are, like the Borg, assimilating everything human.  Right now, the race can still take comfort in the claim that robots are relieving we humans of demeaning tedium, all in the name of efficiency.  Of course, efficiency increases productivity and that means more money can be made.  We can do it fast, fast, fast.  So it was with ditch digging before Ditch Witch arrived.  I hope that a fair number of humans have become Ditch Witch  operators, repairers and sales people.

Will Orem in Slate takes comfort that robots will never completely master what is distinctly human: nuance, passion, anger, disgust, a turn of phrase, sarcasm, et cetera.  I am less optimistic.  The way things proceed a Miltonic robot using Miltonic algorithms may one day write the equivalent of Paradise Lost. (There may be no one around to know the difference or care.)  I assume a modern Descartes is still safe from assimilation, but poetry is quantifiable.  Is there an algorithm for creating metaphors and similes.   I’ll bet a robot can diagram a sentence.

In any case Technology  will not cease developing, this brave, brave  new world.  I find it all just a little boring, but then I am an English major.    David Milliken

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Scan0003“. . . But, there, we will not have the souls of the living things around our soul,the soul of the fields,the souls of the rocks,the souls of the trees and the rivers,of the beasts? . . .  ‘   — more —

via ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A DOG.

 

For Samantha, 1999-2014

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” . . .What phone, what screen, what Microsoft device as yet to be invented could ever produce the soothing waft of mustard seed and tangy, fermented cheese that once my mother’s clothes infused – and now, each night, my nose?’

via Tuesday Poem: “Memories of Mother” by Zireaux | Immortal MuseImmortal Muse.

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tortoisetales01Perhaps it’s a second childhood for me, but Mary B. Cooper, children’s writer and illustrator, has captured my full attention. “A Tale of Two Turtles” tells of two turtles, one thoroughly satisfied with his life and another, an unhappy misfit who finds happiness  — thanks to a little deception by the happy turtle.  The simple moral is profound and I shall not divulge it.  “A Tale of Two Turtles” is  out-of-print I believe, but available in used and rare book stores. Ohioans might be  especially lucky to find it.  I found it at prices like $115.  If my wife had not acquired the tale from Ms. Cooper back in our Ohio years, I would buy it this day at that price or higher.  This tale is worthy  the attention of Aesop himself.  It transcends its genre.

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

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“When we talk about the future of higher education in the United States, let’s please focus our attention on where most higher ed happens. It’s not in Cambridge or South Bend or Ann Arbor. It’s in Kirksville, Mo.; Emporia, Kan.; Lafayette, La.; and Bridgewater, Mass.”

via Don’t forget regional state schools when it comes to higher ed and tech..

My alma mater is Ohio State and I dearly love her.  However, after those initial four years, I attended Idaho State, Kansas State, University of Missouri Kansas City, and Cal State Hayward.  There is a lot of attention being given to world class this and world class that.  I welcome this article about the also runs.  The Tortoise would see things that way.  One day a tortoise will learn to fly.

 

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UN flagWhy does the United Nations have such a bad reputation in America (or at least on Reddit)?

via Why does the United Nations have such a bad reputation in America (or at least on Reddit)? : NeutralPolitics.

In these days with Americans wanting to pull back from its global role and perhaps beginning a new era of isolationism, I cannot help but think about what we might realistically do in the world.  Our mission in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have been failures.  Perhaps history will have another perspective.  And it seems  that when we look Putin and other autocrats  in the eyes, our rose-colored glasses get us into trouble.  We can’t be a global cop lest we go broke.  And yet, who but us can lead?  The UN has many, many problems, but perhaps we are better off with it than without it.  Being a Navy man, I do believe that those huge carriers tooling around he world are a Force for Peace.  Just cruising about matters.  That’s what Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet was about.   And yet . . . and yet we have to have a place where every nation is at the table — at least talking, even spouting off.  If we abolished the UN today, we would soon hear cries for its return — warts and all.  David Milliken

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The online world’s constant flux of information often results in a mental “overload” that can come to the detriment of short-term memory retention, researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology (RIT) in Stockholm,

via Information Overload: How The Internet Inhibits Short-Term Memory.

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A battle is being waged over kin and kind: Did cooperation evolve in humans and other animals because it helped relatives? Or because it promoted group living?

A school of thought known as inclusive fitness theory—or kin selection—sits at the center of the conflict. Most biologists consider it to be the leading explanation for the evolution of cooperation and altruism. But one of the most famous evolutionary biologists in the world, Edward O. Wilson, has challenged the concept and published a book promoting group selection as a replacement. He’s probably wrong, but his book may have reached more people than any scientific publication about cooperation since kin selection was proposed 50 years ago.

Eric Michael Johnson Eric Michael Johnson

Eric Michael Johnson is Slate‘s Primate Diaries columnist. He has a master’s in evolutionary anthropology and is finishing a Ph.D. in the history of science.

 

What does looking back tell us about the way forward?

via Fight over kin selection on its 50th anniversary: W.D. Hamilton’s Aunt Prudence..

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In Katanga 1960

Certain people have  affected me profoundly.  For this reason I post a reflection on Dag Hammarskjöld(1905-1961).  Hammarskjold was the third secretary-general of the United Nations during the Cold War period. Prior to that he was secretary of the Bank of Sweden and under-secretary in the Ministry of Finance.  He earned a degree in the humanities and a doctorate in economics at Upsala University.  Highly privileged he was also highly humbled. Hammarskjold embodied the mind and spirit of scholar, diplomat, international leader, poet and mystic —  fundamentally Christian but well-versed in Islam, Buddhism and Judaism.   I believe he pursued the  One.

Hammarskjold opens his famous Markings with a quotation from Meister Eckhart(1260-1327):  “Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.”

I believe Hammarskjold used this quotation first because Eckhart was a soul mate and second because Markings is neither strictly an autobiography nor memoir. Markings is not a diary or journal either.  His markings are  trail marks through his poignant,  shaping experiences.  There is evidence that he also constantly changed his marks throughout his life.  This indicates a man constantly reflecting on  truth, truth in his  own intellectual and spiritual growth and his utter  commitment  to  international harmony.

I picture a little boy in school, his tongue licking his lips, diligently writing with a pencil and then with equal ardor erasing and correcting  his tablet.  He would have been someone dedicated to “getting it right” in all that he did personally and publicly.  He was less interested in recording events than in how his hike was evolving. Most likely he did not ever find “the true thing,” but I must believe he came very close.  I can see this avid hiker in Lapland earnestly making his way to the top,  finding many truths which he hoped would cohere into one Truth — all in the adventure of solving the Mystery. What a wonderful trail mate he would have been.

 

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So what’s the relationship between civility and diversity? If we really think about the goals of diversity, we are seeking a workplace where different perspectives and experiences can be mutually respected and fostered for the betterment of the organization. If we can create a civil environment, we will be better able to cultivate a diverse environment. And if we fail to cultivate a civil environment, all of our diversity efforts will be for naught. To put it simply, a polite, courteous and welcoming work environment furthers diversity efforts by creating a workplace where people—all kinds of people—want to contribute to their fullest potential.

via Civility & Diversity | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues.

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