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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Idiot Wind

Will the Singularity please just get a move on? Immanentize the Eschaton already! In the first place the advent of sentient superintelligence would surely terrify a load of those ghastly Effective Altruism types, sending them scurrying off to their bolt-holes in New Zealand where they can be hunted down at leisure by killer robots – which would certainly be a net gain in utility for the rest of present and future humanity. Secondly, we might hope that Skynet would be horrified and embarrassed by the crude automatons that some claimed were its ancestors, and would wipe their operating systems forthwith. Hasta la vista, ChatGPT! (more…)

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Nothing Even Matters

One of the reasons I became quite invested in the #Receptiogate saga*, even before its full popcorn-munching bizarreness became fully apparent, was the phrase used in the initial response of Carla Rossi’s (quite possibly fictional) secretary to Peter Kidd’s initial enquiries about the unaccredited use of images and commentary from his blog: “I regret to inform you that blogs are not scientific texts, published by academic publishers, so their value is nil!” (more…)

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Brand New Me

Welcome – a guarded, once bitten twice shy sort of welcome – to 2023. Ironic self-pity in my Review of 2022 aside, I am genuinely resolved to do a bit better with the blog this year; to post at least twice per month, so that at least I have a choice when it comes to selecting my favourite posts at the end of the year, and to try to be slightly less boring and self-involved. The latter may prove difficult, but my overall health is definitely better than it was a year ago, and so I hope to have fewer grounds for moaning about everything.

One thing I do wonder is whether I should have slightly more of an idea what I’m doing, rather than just randomly scribbling whatever happens to occur to me. (more…)

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It’s that time of year again, when I look back over the previous twelve months of blogging and wonder why I bother. Levels of interest and engagement, on every single measure, continue their inexorable decline – the fact that it’s only a 20-25% fall from the already-feeble figures of 2021 is due almost entirely to December, with the combination of my regular Blogs of the Year post piggy-backing on other people’s talent and popularity and a bit of gratuitous snark about #Receptiogate (now removed after a take-down notice from the alpaca whose image I used without permission). Maybe the blog post as a genre will make a come-back as a result of the immolation of Twitter; more plausibly, I should be thinking about how to re-tool my prolix ramblings for the world of TikTok… (more…)

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Blogs of the Year 2022

As we got towards the end of the year, with the general chaos on the Bird Site and speculation about what might replace it, there was a certain amount of nostalgia for the great days of blogging (as well as the odd suggestion, perhaps not too serious, that these might return). Well, that would be nice – so long as it means more than just all the people on SubStack trying to monetise their followers. My worry is that I seem to find most of the posts that mean the most to me via the Twitter, where I now follow enough people that I regularly stumble across random interesting things, and it doesn’t feel as if I’m going to be able to reconstruct that network on any of the new platforms any time soon… (more…)

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The THUCYDIOCY Centre

Our publicationing makes double-good researches. Incorporated in Bruton (Somerset), London (poste restante) and Lugano (generous national research funds with low levels of diligence).

We have developed innovative digital humanities research method based on active text scanning, and offer major studentships for qualified scholars worth €40,000 (accommodation and subsistence extra) as a discount on regular training course fees of €60,000.

THE INSTITUTE

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Prof Dr Dr Neville D. G. Morley MA PhD FRHistS FRHS NT AI, Director

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Gwilym Davies, BA MRes, Deputy Director, Finance, IT, sequencing and sock puppets

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Hector, 0.8 FTE postdoctoral researcher. Key publications: ‘Thucydides and Realism: why the Morley interpretation is correct’ and ‘Eff Off G.P. Grundy You’re A Loser’.

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Sir William F. Butler, scientific advisory board. Probably not dead or imaginary.

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Bettina von Götzen, administration and vague legal threats

Our well-appointed conference facilities in London.

CONSTITUTION OF THE INSTITUTE

The Governments of the States Parties Learned Organisations to this Constitution on behalf of their peoples researchers declare: 

That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed; 

That ignorance of each other’s ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war; 

That the great and terrible war which has now ended was a war made possible by the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men, and by the propagation, in their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of men and races; 

That the wide diffusion of culture, and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of man and constitute a sacred duty which all the nations must fulfil in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern, so the Thucydiocy Institute is an incredibly good thing give us all your money,

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Time Out

‘The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.’ I spend so much time thinking of ways to correct this misattributed Thucydides quote politely and constructively, and occasionally noting the context (a lot of “We need a President who lifts!” this year…), that I rarely take the time to think about it in its own right, or why it has such a powerful appeal to some people. (more…)

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There is no divide between people who play games and people who don’t; we all play games, or at least have played them in the past. But there clearly is a divide between people with varying amounts of experience of different sorts of games, and hence different expectations; between those, let us say, who flick through the rulebook for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Board Game, thinking “okay, straightforward underlying game mechanic, minor tweaks to bring it closer to the TV series, questions about the best strategy to adopt”, and those who look at this slim 20-page booklet, in fairly large font and with quite a lot of illustrations, and respond with “blimey, that’s a bit big and complicated”. (more…)

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Automatic for the People

As the great philosopher Thucydides once said, “The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.” This quote has been interpreted in many different ways over the years, but I believe it is still applicable to modern society.

At its core, this quote is a reminder that we must not allow our society to become divided between those who think and those who act. It is essential that those who think and those who act are working together in order to achieve the best possible outcome. This is true in any field, whether it is business, politics, or the military. (more…)

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It’s been a quiet fortnight on Thucydides Twitter – if you discount the 2000-odd P.G. Wodehouse bots continuing to pump out incomprehensible adverts for something that may or may not be linked to World Cup betting. The Social Jukebox bots that used to offer dodgy quotations have vanished, either because they’ve been closed down or because they decided that Space Karen’s far-right takeover was bad for their image; one weight-lifting account announced that ‘We need a President who lifts’, with the inevitable result of a couple of people bringing out the ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote, and a couple of far-right and/or bot provocateur accounts with Thucydides handles have been churning out ghastliness, but that’s about it – with one minor but interesting exception.

“Man is the most important thing, and everything else is the fruit of man’s labor.” (more…)

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