Banned Books Week

Lisa Gold is an accurately self described Research Maven, who help Neal Stephenson write the Baroque Trilogy, about late 17th Centery and ealry 18th Century physics, banking, and world politics. Here she points out that Banned Books Week is September 27 to October 4. Noting Sarah Palin’s propensity to block purchases to her local library, this is an especially important year for observation. Follow her links.

Cognizing and offloading Cognitive Load

In linguistincs and psychology we talk about the cognitive load of any task. A task that requires calculation or analysis has a larger cognitive load. A task in a foreign language, or using an unfamiliar tool, like a computer, also increases cognitive load.

David Peskovitz over at BoingBoing has a friend at the Institute of the Future Mathias Crawford found this article about Cognizing entitled Offloading Cognition onto Cognitive Technology by Itiel Dror, and  Stevan Harnad talks about

“Cognizing” (e.g., thinking, understanding, and knowing) is a mental state.

And how to offload some of the cognitive load onto technology. In our discussions over at cck08, the Connectivist class  by Siemens and Downes, echoed across the web (search your RSS for cck08), where we are talking about the nature of knowledge, and the connectivist idea that it’s most basic element is connections. Connections between neurons, between people, and between organizations and concepts. Check it out.

The Ellsberg Paradox

Close-up of two bottles of marbles

Mark Frauenfelder over at BoingBoing is reading Gregory Bern’s Iconoclast. He talks about the Ellsberg Paradox. Read his description of aversion to ambiguity.  Which one would you choose?

Utterly Cynical GOP

Saw this first on Digg, where the GOP is trying to use foreclosure roles in Michigan to deny people the vote.

How sadly, sinisterly ironic is this. Deregulate the mortgage lending industry so that the market collapses and voters get booted from their homes. Use this information to eliminate these disgruntled voters from the polling place. (posted by Knute5)

Woes on Wall Street, Black Swans

I woke up this morning and opened my browser, and found the Dow down 500 points, to less than 11,000. Lehman Brothers is filing for protection against bankruptcy (Chapter 11, the lesser of the two evils.) Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America for the bargain basement price of $50 billion. AIG needs about $40 billion to stay afloat, and is having a hard time finding it. The soveriegn funds are shying away from US investments. We have have turned a corner here. I put a big chunk of money into Euros just before the summer. Glad I did.

I also received the newsletter The Edge (see below), this time with Nassim Taleb railing agains the Quants. The Quants are the people in the banking industry and in regulation that use statistics (quatifiable methods) to make their decisions. The problem, Taleb says, is that they don’t use the tools correctly, or they use the tools for personal gain at the expense of the institution they are working with. It seems statiticians, true statiticians, are a lot more circumspect when making analyses on data that is less than quantifiable, what Taleb terms the Fourth Quadrant. A good read for scary times.