through the screen doors of discretion

"[Algorithms and heuristics] are very important in cybernetics, for in dealing with unthinkable systems it is normally impossible to give a full specification of a goal, and therefore impossible to prescribe an algorithm. But it is not usually too difficult to prescribe a class of goals, so that moving in some general description will leave you better off (by some definite criterion) than you were before. To think in terms of heuristics rather than algorithms is at once a way of coping with proliferating variety. Instead of trying to organize it in full detail, you organize it only somewhat; you then ride on the dynamics of the system in the direction you want to go.

These two techniques for organizing control in a system of proliferating variety are really rather dissimilar. The strange thing is that we tend to live our lives by heuristics, and to try and control them by algorithms. Our general endeavor is to survive, yet we specify in detail (‘catch the 8:45 train’, ‘ask for a raise’) how to get to this unspecified and unspecifiable goal. We certainly need these algorithms, in order to live coherently; but we also need heuristics — and we are rarely conscious of them. This is because our education is planned around detailed analysis: we do not (we learn) really understand things unless we can specify their infrastructure. The point came up before in the discussion of transfer functions, and now it comes up again in connection with goals. […] Birds evolved from reptiles, it seems. Did a representative body of lizards pass a resolution to learn to fly? If so, by what means could the lizards have organized their genetic variety to grow wings? One has only to say such things to recognize them as ridiculous — but the birds are flying this evening outside my window. This is because heuristics work while we are still sucking the pencil which would like to prescribe an algorithm."

Stafford Beer, “Brain of the Firm,” 1972. 

1972, folks. “This is because heuristics work while we are still sucking the pencil which would like to prescribe an algorithm.”

(via slavin)

One for would-be CompSci students.

(via mistersaxon)

(via kenyatta)

fractallogic:

allthingslinguistic:


"The man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook and he said: "to defriend, I mean is that a real word?”. I wanna pause on that question: what makes a word ‘real’?”- Anne Curzan, What makes a word “real”? TEDxUofM [x]

The whole TEDx talk that this is from is very much worth the watch. 

I made my students watch this TED talk! So great.

Also, DFW’s astoundingly good “Tense Present" dictionary critique that ran in Harper’s in 2001 is worth a read along with this. SNOOTlets unite! 
ZoomInfo
fractallogic:

allthingslinguistic:


"The man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook and he said: "to defriend, I mean is that a real word?”. I wanna pause on that question: what makes a word ‘real’?”- Anne Curzan, What makes a word “real”? TEDxUofM [x]

The whole TEDx talk that this is from is very much worth the watch. 

I made my students watch this TED talk! So great.

Also, DFW’s astoundingly good “Tense Present" dictionary critique that ran in Harper’s in 2001 is worth a read along with this. SNOOTlets unite! 
ZoomInfo
fractallogic:

allthingslinguistic:


"The man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook and he said: "to defriend, I mean is that a real word?”. I wanna pause on that question: what makes a word ‘real’?”- Anne Curzan, What makes a word “real”? TEDxUofM [x]

The whole TEDx talk that this is from is very much worth the watch. 

I made my students watch this TED talk! So great.

Also, DFW’s astoundingly good “Tense Present" dictionary critique that ran in Harper’s in 2001 is worth a read along with this. SNOOTlets unite! 
ZoomInfo
fractallogic:

allthingslinguistic:


"The man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook and he said: "to defriend, I mean is that a real word?”. I wanna pause on that question: what makes a word ‘real’?”- Anne Curzan, What makes a word “real”? TEDxUofM [x]

The whole TEDx talk that this is from is very much worth the watch. 

I made my students watch this TED talk! So great.

Also, DFW’s astoundingly good “Tense Present" dictionary critique that ran in Harper’s in 2001 is worth a read along with this. SNOOTlets unite! 
ZoomInfo
fractallogic:

allthingslinguistic:


"The man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook and he said: "to defriend, I mean is that a real word?”. I wanna pause on that question: what makes a word ‘real’?”- Anne Curzan, What makes a word “real”? TEDxUofM [x]

The whole TEDx talk that this is from is very much worth the watch. 

I made my students watch this TED talk! So great.

Also, DFW’s astoundingly good “Tense Present" dictionary critique that ran in Harper’s in 2001 is worth a read along with this. SNOOTlets unite! 
ZoomInfo
fractallogic:

allthingslinguistic:


"The man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook and he said: "to defriend, I mean is that a real word?”. I wanna pause on that question: what makes a word ‘real’?”- Anne Curzan, What makes a word “real”? TEDxUofM [x]

The whole TEDx talk that this is from is very much worth the watch. 

I made my students watch this TED talk! So great.

Also, DFW’s astoundingly good “Tense Present" dictionary critique that ran in Harper’s in 2001 is worth a read along with this. SNOOTlets unite! 
ZoomInfo

fractallogic:

allthingslinguistic:

"The man to my right started telling me about all the ways that the internet is degrading the English language. He brought up Facebook and he said: "to defriend, I mean is that a real word?”. I wanna pause on that question: what makes a word ‘real’?”- Anne Curzan, What makes a word “real”? TEDxUofM [x]

The whole TEDx talk that this is from is very much worth the watch. 

I made my students watch this TED talk! So great.

Also, DFW’s astoundingly good “Tense Present" dictionary critique that ran in Harper’s in 2001 is worth a read along with this. SNOOTlets unite! 

(Source: starberry-cupcake, via linguafandom)

mcnallyjackson:

As we struggle to figure out how to notch back the degrees, so as to mitigate the suffering that a warming planet is going to bring, we also need to figure out forms of relationality — both to ourselves and to each other — that won’t make things worse.

By the time I finished 10:04, I felt I knew some: not being ashamed of the desire to make a living doing what we love, while also daring to imagine “art before or after capital”; paying as intense attention to our collectivity as to our individuality; demanding a politics based on more than reproductive futurism, without belittling the daily miracle of conception, nor the labor and mysterious promise of child bearing and rearing; attempting to listen seriously to others, especially those who differ profoundly from ourselves, no matter how pre-contaminated the attempts; spending time reading and writing poetry; and more. Far from despair, I felt flooded with the sense that everything mattered, from meticulous descriptions of individual works of art to kissing the forehead of a passed-out intern to analyzing our political language to documenting the sensual details of our daily lives to bagging dried mangoes to the creation of the book I was holding in my hand to my deciding to spend some time writing a review of it. “The earth is beautiful beyond all change,” Lerner repeats in 10:04, quoting the poet William Bronk. The inspired and inspiring accomplishment of his novel makes me want to say that, sometimes, art is too. And maybe — if incredibly — so might we be, ourselves.

McJ favorite Maggie Nelson (Bluets, Jane) reviews Ben Lerner’s 10:04and it’s wonderful.

(Source: fifidunks)

wailtothethief:

Fuck I’m walking downtown and I pass a group of guys staring at me and I think “great catcall time” but then one guy goes “you look like you could kill a man a million different ways with just your bare hands”. This. This is an acceptable comment to give a girl on the street.

(via lauraolin)

natgeotravel:

Intricate designs painted with henna have been worn by women in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia for hundreds of years.

Photograph by Petra Warner, Your Shot National Geographic

"Some day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."

C.S. Lewis (via infamoussayings)

In context in the TLTWaTW opener: 

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”

(via kenyatta)