Blog 2006

2006 December 31

This week I read a big book on twentieth century history:
The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred
by Harvard professor, Oxford don, and media star Niall Ferguson.
My review of the book

Watch his UCTV interview with Harry Kreisler:
Conversations with History: Money and Power
(#8635, 56 minutes, 2004-06-14)

A topical thought for the day: a Daily Telegraph piece he wrote about a year ago:
The Origins of the Great War of 2007

2006 December 24

Read an excellent book on cosmology:
Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes
by Alex Vilenkin, who is a leading inflationary cosmologist at Tufts University. The book is short, lively and clear, with a nice balance of personal anecdotes, basic explanation and wild ideas. I'd say it was a better text mashup than Stephen Hawking's brief history of time, though admittedly no less baffling for the clueless.

War Nerd Gary Becher has finally lost it (if he hadn't already lost it long ago). His latest blog is a tissue of crudely formulated and simplistic half-truths that add up to no case at all for his main claim that World War 2 is "way overrated".
Excerpts with my comments

 2006 December 14

After 15 years finally liberated my article

The Globall Hyperatlas: A Development Proposal
The Visual Computer 8, 1-7 (1991)

A future hardware system designed to support an interactive geographic database is outlined. The basic system is intended for domestic and educational use and extensions of the system are foreseen as serving a wide variety of professional users. The main physical and functional parameters of the system are presented. Possible problems are indicated and development goals are suggested. The aim of the paper is to initiate a detailed and informed discussion about how such a system may be developed.

PDF: 7 pages, 705 KB

2006 December 10

Read JCS 13(12) containing my article
Will Robots See Humans as Dinosaurs?

2006 December 9

Read some of the eXile blogs of War Nerd Gary Brecher, apparently a loathsome fat slob from Fresno. I found myself both horrified at his primitivism and delighted at his knowledge of war and his insights into aggression.

2006 November 28

Read interesting article in The New York Times:
The Power of Persistence
by SAP Americas CEO Bill McDermott
and (for me) a much more interesting review
Strung Out
by quantum theorist David Lindley of the books by Lee Smolin and Peter Woit on string theory in the Autumn 2006 issue of The Wilson Quarterly. The review ends: "As for string theory, it’s likely to unravel only when its practitioners begin to get bored with their lack of progress. Like the old Soviet Union, it will have to collapse from within. The publication of these two books is a hopeful sign that theoretical physics may have entered its Gorbachev era."

2006 November 27

Visited IBM Frankfurt to lecture on
SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator

Back home, read good article in The New Atlantis:
The Paradox of Military Technology
by Max Boot

2006 November 26

Greatly enjoyed New Scientist 50th anniversary issue with articles on the big questions: Roger Penrose on reality, Pat Churchland on free will, Michio Kaku on a theory of everything, ...

2006 November 25

Read two noteworthy articles:

The New York Review of Books:
The Adventures of Doris Lessing by John Leonard

Lessing is now 87 and a grande dame of British letters, if you can call her cosmopolitan output British. I'm impressed enough to want to read a few of her books.

It is as if some gauze or screen has been dissolved away from life, that was dulling it, and like Miranda you want to say, What a brave new world! You don't remember feeling like this, because, younger, habit or the press of necessity prevented. You are taken, shaken, by moments when the improbability of our lives comes over you like a fever. Everything is remarkable, people, living, events present themselves to you with the immediacy of players in some barbarous and splendid drama that it seems we are part of. You have been given new eyes.
Doris Lessing, Time Bites

The New York Sun:
The World According to Carter by Alan Dershowitz

Jimmy Carter has just published what seems from this review to be a distinctly bad book about Israel and the Palestinians. I was moved to add a few words to the New York Sun comments blog.

2006 November 23

My comments on the book by Mark Steyn reviewed by Daniel Pipes in the New York Sun

2006 November 21

My edition of an interview from The Observer with Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

2006 November 20

My edition of a chilling book review from the New York Sun by Daniel Pipes. The book, by Mark Steyn, argues that Europe has all but gone under to Islam and America must stand alone to rescue Western civilization.

2006 November 12

Compiled a list of all the books I have purchased recently. Read one of them: Yourgrau on Gödel and Einstein. Review: Most of the story was familiar to me but I was gripped by the tale of the ongoing neglect of Gödel's philosophical gloss on his discovery of a solution of Einstein's cosmological equations that corresponds to a rotating universe including time loops. Naturally, I am not surprised, given the professional arrogance of philosophers, but I am happy to find that Gödel's conclusion tends to support my own ideas about time. To be more accurate, it confirms the view (not unique to me, I should say) that the dimensionalization of time in general relativity does not do justice to the experience of an ever-changing present moment moving from past to future. That experience is not an "illusion" (as Gödel would have it) but it may reasonably seem secondary to a cosmologist for whom psychology is of no great interest.

2006 November 6

Finally posting here an SDN blog I posted on SDN a few weeks ago. There it drew no reactions, I think because it was far too chatty for the propeller-heads who usually post on SDN. Maybe more people will appreciate it here.

2006 November 1

Reading the proof of my next JCS article:
Will Robots See Humans as Dinosaurs?
A reply to Claude Pasquini (blog June 23-26)

Also read first novel by Petra Theunissen:
Alien Genes 1: Daughter of Atuk
(Whiskey Creek Press 2006)
Classic story, charming fantasy engagingly realized, and very readable too

2006 October 29

Reading Journal of Consciousness Studies 13(10-11)
Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism?
Galen Strawson starts with a target article "Realistic Monism" and ends with a reply to critics including a wonderful metaphysical thesis (the last of 36 such theses) called Equal-Status Fundamental-Duality (ESFD) monism: Reality is substantially single. All reality is experiential and all reality is non-experiential. Experiential and non-experiential being exist in such a way that neither can be said to be based in or realized by or in any way asymmetrically dependent on the other (etc.). The metaphysical-epistemological framework culminates in five variants of a Revelation thesis asserting that "I am acquainted with the essential nature of" various kinds of experience. All this is offered both as a contribution to science ("physics is psychics" and real physicalism must embrace at least micropsychism) and to modern philosophy (as a version of what Chalmers calls "Type-F monism") as well as a gloss on some central views of Descartes and Spinoza. Bravissimo!

2006 October 22

Recently I read the book Among the Dead Cities by British philosopher A.C. Grayling, who questioned the morality of the Allied bombing of German and Japanese cities in World War 2. Of course it is easy to moralize from an armchair decades later, but the issues are troubling.

2006 October 21

Read a long but mostly good article by Martin Amis:
The Age of Horrorism
Also read a long and partly good review by Terry Eagleton:
Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching
about the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
The best part of the review is the opening:
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding.

2006 October 16

Why do some of my colleagues at work insist on finding the prospect of driving a Hummer to work each day exciting? If they want to intimidate other road users, why don't they forget about soft-skinned vehicles like Humvees and go for a Cougar (as the U.S. army calls them; the British army calls them Mastiffs), even if they do weigh 12 tons and have diesel motors?

2006 October 10

Read interesting online article by Robert D. Kaplan in October issue of The Atlantic Monthly:
When North Korea Falls

2006 October 8

Read book by Sam Harris:
The End of Faith
Good brisk argument, overstated, mixed tone and topics

2006 October 3

Baur au Lac Club, Zurich, Switzerland
Dinner with old boys from Exeter College Oxford
and College Rector Frances Cairncross

2006 September 24

Read excellent review by Kenneth Anderson of new book
America at the Crossroads
by Francis Fukuyama
in the September 20 issue of
The Times Literary Supplement
Posted my comment (third from bottom of review):
Fukuyama's internationalism may not be as ineffectual as Anderson makes it seem. The global order imposed by liberal democracies has as much to do with economic clout as political ideals. The globalization of business and the resulting tight integration of supply chains and consumption models demands an international political order. The windfall oil revenues that support the resurgence of Islamism are a potential choke point where we can apply pressure to return to the agenda of ending history. We need a "BP" energy policy.

2006 September 21

Group photo with (most of) the TREX team

Not an official logo: I invented it!

2006 September 17-20

Read new book
The Trouble with Physics
by Lee Smolin
Smolin says what needs saying and offers a wealth of ideas and opinions: string theorists should reflect on his argument

2006 August 26

Granted blogging rights in SAP Developer Network

2006 August 19-23

Enjoyed pleasant days with Lynn, visiting from California

2006 August 14

Inspired by New Scientist cover story:
"Out of the Void" by Davide Castelvecchi
Topic: loop quantum gravity

2006 August 7

SAP Labs Palo Alto SVP for research Ike Nassi explains in Computerworld that integration of the real world and the IT world will accelerate

2006 August 3

PTG Summer Summit, Holiday Park, Hassloch
A large number of SAP employees met there with their families. I enjoyed a multisecond free fall from the Free Fall Tower

2006 August 1

British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered what was billed as a major foreign policy speech on the Middle East to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council
My edited extracts

2006 July 8

Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton, UK
International Air Day

2006 June 23-26

St Annes College, Oxford, UK
From the subsequent conference report:
An Opening Reception Amidst Dinosaurs
"Just like these guys" — Andrew Ross pointed to the giant skeletons of the dinosaurs — "are now the remnants of our distant past, we humans will be the remnants of the distant past of robots which will replace us humans. From the point of view of those future machines the world as we know it will be their primeval soup and humans will have been some biological dirt one could dispense with." Was it a sacrilege to talk like that in the University Natural History Museum ...?
Claude Pasquini, A (Mostly) Sunny and Sober Anniversary, JCS 13(6), 79-100 (2006)

I must say this is a not a word-for-word quotation, though I must also admit the general sense is accurate. I am preparing a more extended and systematic defense of my position.

2006 June 19

University of Trier, Germany
Presented invited guest lecture to Diploma students in department of business informatics:
SAP NetWeaver and the Business Intelligence Accelerator

2006 June 14

Completed work on SAP-sponsored paper:
Data Mining with the SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator
By Thomas Legler (TU Dresden), Wolfgang Lehner (TU Dresden), Andrew Ross (SAP Walldorf)
Proceedings of the 32nd VLDB Conference, Seoul, Korea, 2006
VLDB 2006

Abstract. The new SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence accelerator is an engine that supports online analytical processing. It performs aggregation in memory and in query runtime over large volumes of structured data. This paper first briefly describes the accelerator and its main architectural features, and cites test results that indicate its power. Then it describes in detail how the accelerator may be used for data mining. The accelerator can perform data mining in the same large repositories of data and using the same compact index structures that it uses for analytical processing. A first such implementation of data mining is described and the results of a performance evaluation are presented. Association rule mining in a distributed architecture was implemented with a variant of the BUC iceberg cubing algorithm. Test results suggest that useful online mining should be possible with wait times of less than 60 seconds on business data that has not been preprocessed.

PDF: 10 pages, 543 KB

2006 June 5

PDF: 24 slides, 163 KB

2006 May 28

Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett
Not Even Wrong by Peter Woit

2006 May 23

A leading global company, Switzerland
Lecture on SAP NetWeaver BI Accelerator (based on TREX)

2006 May 18

Received my copy of Journal of Consciousness Studies 13(4) containing on pages 6-38 a symposium on what consciousness means based on an article by Christian de Quincey, Professor of Philosophy and Consciousness Studies at John F. Kennedy University, followed by responses, including mine

2006 May 14

Contemplating a new hobby: to write a book on logic and related matters ranging from consciousness to cosmology entitled Omniscience

2006 April 28

SAP team TREX colleagues Gerhard Hill and Thomas Peh and I are preparing an academic article on the use of virtual pairs for outer join resolution, which was recently the topic of a patent application from our team. It is now my task to set the raw draft in LaTeX and to polish the language and presentation for submission to a journal.

2006 April 24

An SAP team TREX colleague and I recently submitted a U.S. patent application. It discloses a method for implementing fast access to business objects in the SAP Enterprise Services Architecture as well as fast update of the data used for the objects. The method is based on multi-join indexes and extended join indexes, and is several times faster than previous approaches.

2006 April 3-8

Sad but true: did not attend
Tucson VII - Toward a Science of Consciousness 2006
Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

2006 March 18-19

Enjoyed mystic epiphany with DVD and book:
What the Bleep do we know!?
(William Arntz et al. 2005)

This is the glorious collapse of my ten-year quest to relate quantum theory and consciousness. Numerous people whose books I'd read were in the movie confirming my boldest ideas. All that remains for me now is to work out the details and tell the world. That may take a while ...

2006 March 11-12

Schönes Buch gelesen:
Skurrile Quantenwelt
Autorin: Silvia Arroyo Camejo
(Springer 2006)
Wahrlich ein Paradebeispiel, wie man mit subtilem und teilweise paradoxem Stoff unterhaltsam und doch rigoros umgehen kann.

2006 February 21-22

Lectured on the SAP NetWeaver BI accelerator at
IBM SAP University 2006 EMEA
Palatin Congress Center, Wiesloch, Germany

2006 January 29

Wrote magazine article
The Moral High Ground
A secular answer to fundamentalism

2006 January 1

Posted preprint of new paper:

About Time
PDF: 16 pages, 175 KB

This essay is an exercise in scientific metaphysics. Its aim is to sketch a unified account of time that both works in modern physics and makes sense in psychology. The raw materials for the sketch come from elementary logic and set theory. The experience of time flow is seen as a direct manifestation of a fundamental physical process. The ontology and epistemology of this experience can provide a foundation for psychology. If the physical sciences in their present form depict “the view from nowhere” onto reality, the new foundation can depict the view from anywhere.

Me in 2005
Me in 2005