Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Laid back (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind)

I just saw a talk by Igor Aleksander on "Conscious Machines: Fiction or Fact". Aleksander has worked on "conscious machines" for 45 years. A review of his recent book World in My Mind, My Mind in the World is here. Nice talk by a charming guy, but right now the answer is fiction. More later....

In the meantime, I just heard on the BBC World Service that global warming may force French winemakers to consider the "nightmare scenario" of growing their grapes in England. Sacre bleu!

Emily Yoffe does it again

Emily Yoffe tries to learn enough math to help her daughter with sixth-grade homework:

Now that I had it memorized through 10, it was liberating to know how much 8 x 7 was. But my homework, which I used to toss off in 10 minutes, was taking me an hour to complete ....

One night, my husband asked to see the packet I was working on.

He flipped the pages and asked, "This is hard for you?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Seriously?" he said, eyes widening. When I assured him it was, I realized I was looking at the face of a man staring into the evolutionary abyss. I could see he was regretting that he had allowed his DNA to be carried into the future merged with mine. Luckily, our daughter is good at math.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Brodsky on Sunday

On Sunday Christine and I saw the Brodsky Quartet at Wigmore Hall, which is "justifiably regarded as one of the world's great recital halls." (I'd never heard of it until recently.) It's a small venue that hosts over 400 concerts a year and keeps prices low. The acoustics were terrific, and we had fourth-row seats. Brodsky played three interesting string quartets - Mozart's no. 17, Shostakovich's no. 3, and Schumann's no. 3. plus an encore of Liszt's Liebesträume. The Shostakovich piece, which he wrote in 1946 in between denunciations by Stalin, was the highlight.