Posts

Posture. The Great Big Rump.

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Many of us work in offices, where a large part of every day involves sitting at a desk. Something we practiced for years at school as well. Musculoskeletal disorders have emerged to reflect this, with a proliferation of different forms of strain and injury caused (apparently) by all of this desk work.  And in recent years there has been even more alarming news for desk workers, with claims that too much sitting can even be lethal, this sort of thing: https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/

Is sitting really so terrible? It seems the most innocuous and gentle of human activities. Arguments will be made that it's the amount of sitting that we now do which is the problem, that we're more sedentary than our ancestors. That sedentary idea is important here, much of the danger of sitting relates to it (again, apparently) being a static, unmoving thing, unlike walking or running for example.

That's a framework which needs a bit of t…

Two ways to approach presence. One hopefully much easier than the other.

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Presence traditions, particularly mindfulness, are popular and making inroads into both personal and professional life, including into medicine. 
The basic approach is as simple a thing as you could imagine. Just let go, let things be as they are, discover the power of letting yourself automatically respond to things rather than always reacting to them. To not try to make things right or any particular way, but to let them them just be as they actually are. Whether that be in your body, in your activities, or whatever. 
Common training in achieving this sort of presence includes people being encouraged to learn again how to pay attention to things, to focus on their senses; on what they see, hear, smell, touch, and so on. It's this attentional workout that can lead people astray, however, or at least get them stuck in years of repetitive, fairly meaningless sensing. A sort of trap, where people continue to be as reactive as they always were, while simply changing the focus of the…

OMG. God stuff.

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Look down after rain and you'll often see this, leaves and other plant material arranged neatly into long arcs, with silt banked up on the concave side. Sometimes there are many rows of these arcs. This is the way that bare ground is often re-vegetated, the wall of plant debris traps silt, which builds up new soil behind the wall. Grass and other plants then grow in this soil, and what was previously bare ground is now covered.
What's wonderful about this is that it happens all by itself. Looking down at these soil traps, in their regular rows, it would be tempting to assume somebody had organised the whole thing. But the water and plant material and soil do all of this by themselves. 
In the debates between atheists and those in traditional religions, there is a lot these little walls of leaves have to teach people. Most of these debates revolve around the nature of design and purpose in the world, about whether somebody or something (God) is behind the scenes pulling string…

Why organisational culture, values and leadership might be things to leave alone

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(No it isn't.)
Anybody who works in an organisation, particularly a large organisation, will have noticed in recent years much talk about 3 things:

1) organisational culture
2) organisational values (and mission), and
3) leadership.

I'm going to suggest that if you're focused on these things, you may be barking up the wrong tree. And it's a long story as to why this might be.

To cut the long story short, for hundreds of years if not longer, much of the West has used a distinction it calls the "fact-value distinction" (Hume for example codified this clearly). Or in other words, it's made a sharp split between what "is", and what "ought to be", claiming that you can't argue what ought to be simply from what is.

This extends into values more generally. So it's one thing (apparently) to have some sort of facts about the world - how the world is - but another to overlay these with how you value these facts. For example, under this s…

Stere-oopsis (Part 1)

Not a typo. Stereopsis is the technical term for the perception of depth using binocular disparity, or in other words by each eye (apparently) seeing a slightly different version of the same scene - because each eye has a different 'line of sight', parallax occurs between images seen from those separate lens of sight. Which again just means the two images are different, which you can easily test by covering or closing one eye and then the other, alternately, and noticing how the scene in front of you changes slightly.

I said not a typo because this theory is probably wrong. So more "oooops" than ops. But it's far and away the most common theory of how we see in depth, which I've talked about and questioned a few times, see here. (Note that links will show below this post, you'll have to scroll down.)

There's no doubt you will see profound depth using stereopsis techniques, such as the ones most commonly used in 3D pictures and films. There's no qu…

3D Coming Soon

I've been working on a very different set of ideas around why 3D works for a few years. It's almost done at last. Here's a taster. Click anywhere to focus on any part of this image, or click and then move your mouse, to shift the image in any direction. Watch the 3D pop out at you (hopefully). From the new Lytro camera, empirical proof of the set of ideas.

Open is not the Opposite of Closed

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Open education. Open society in general. What does 'open' mean?

In education, openness is currently a bit of a cause celebre. Rapid recent developments in 'online' education have led many to question whether standard institutions in education are under threat, to be replaced by a variety of new models of teaching and even research that take place online.

Henri Bergson was a brilliant thinker on openness. And on many other things (his Matter and Memory must still rank as one of the most extraordinary books of the last 2000 years, his Nobel Prize surely had a lot to do with that book alone). What Bergson realised was that we make the mistake of trying to define open as the opposite of closed. Just as we tend to make all sorts of similar mistakes in opposing night and day, love and hate etc. To Bergson, defining openness by making it the opposite of closed is like calling somebody a boofhead, and when they object saying, "ok ok, you're a not-boofhead then."