Random quote

“Honestly, if I see another skinny-jeans-wearing, thick-rimmed-bespectacled, Apple-worshiping, indie-band-listening, pseudo-skeptic demi-postmodern jello-intellectual hipster again, I’m going to totally stop getting my skinny latte half-foam Fair Trade soy mocha frappuccino from this place.”


‎”I tell her all this. I tell her that I love her, I love her so much that I know she will survive everything. I cry, I sob, I’m shaking in her arms now, my girl, my love, my only proof that once upon a time, a long long time ago, I stumbled upon this side of Eternity.

Outside, there’s drumming.”

— Paul Blake, LAZARUS

Poor reception

A fascinating quote from Dr John Piper’s new book Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God:

[…] People receive Christ [but] they do not receive Him as supremely valuable. They receive Him simply as sin-forgiver, because they love being guilt-free; and as rescuer from hell, because they love being pain-free; and as healer, because they love being disease-free; and as protector, because they love being safe; and as prosperity-giver, because they love being wealthy; and as Creator because they want a personal universe; and as Lord of history because they want order and purpose; but they don’t receive Him as supremely and personaly valuable for who He is. They don’t receive Him the way Paul did when he spoke of “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”; they don’t receive Him as He really is, more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more satisfying than everything else in the universe. They don’t prize Him or treasure Him or cherish Him or delight in Him.

Quote: Two kinds of intellect

There are then two kinds of intellect: the one able to penetrate acutely and deeply into the conclusions of given premises, and this is the precise intellect; the other able to comprehend a great number of premises without confusing them, and this is the mathematical intellect. The one has force and exactness, the other comprehension. Now the one quality can exist without the other; the intellect can be strong and narrow, and can also be comprehensive and weak.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Smart Swarm

Some quotes from Perter Miller’s Smart Swarm.  A very interesting book, and highly recommended:

…a large number of individuals without supervision can accomplish difficult tasks by following simple rules when they meet and interact.- p.262

…groups can reliably make good decisions in a timely fashion as long as they seek a diversity of knowledge and perspectives, encourage a friendly competition of ideas, and narrow their choices through a mechanism like voting. – p. 263

…even small contributions to a shared project can create something useful and impressive when large numbers of individuals build upon one another’s efforts. – p.263

…without direction from a single leader, members of a group can coordinate their behavior with amazing precision simply by paying close attention to their nearest neighbors […] but it can also tempt us to follow the crowd uncritically… – pp.263-4

To vastly oversimplify our dilemma, we’re torn between belonging to a community and maximizing our personal welfare. – p.265

And some outlines from the text:

Swarms in nature have taught us two lessons:

  1. By working together in smart groups, we too can lessen the impact of uncertainty, complexity, and change. – p.267
  2. As members of smart groups, we don’t have to surrender our individuality. In nature, good decision-making comes from competition as much as compromise, from disagreement as much as from consensus. – p.268

Natural mechanisms of interactions between individuals (p.267):

  1. Reliance on local knowledge (maintain diversity of information)
  2. Simple rules of thumb (minimise computational needs)
  3. Repeated interactions between group members (amplify faint but important signals and speed up decision-making)
  4. Use of quorum thresholds (improve accuracy of of decisions)
  5. A healthy dose of randomness in individual behavior (prevent getting stuck in problem-solving ruts).