Bar Jokes

Drat. It’s almost 5a.m. but I’m still on a post-talk high and have too much adrenaline coursing around to sleep.

So here are some really bad jokes:

An electron and a positron walk into a bar.
Positron: “You’re round.”
Electron: “Are you sure?”
Positron: “I’m positive.”

A neutron walks into a bar.
He asks the bartender, “How much for a beer?”
The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”

Helium walks into a bar.
The bartender says,”Sorry, we don’t serve noble gases in here.”
Helium doesn’t react.

Gold and silver walk into a bar.
The bartender yells,”Eh you, get out!”
Gold leaves.

Two chemists walk into a bar.
The first one says,”Bartender, I’ll have a H2O.”
The second one says,”I’ll have an H2O too”, and he died.

The bartender says,”Sorry, we don’t serve faster-than-light particles here.”
Tachyon walks into a bar.

Neutrino walks into a bar.
The bartender says,”Sorry, we don’t serve any neutrinos in this bar.”
Neutrino says, “Don’t mind me, I’m just passing through.”

A small furry mammal walks into a bar.
The bartender says, “Sorry, our maximum occupancy is only 6.00 x 1023. We can’t have a mole here.”

Entangled photon walks into a bar.
The barman says,”I haven’t seen you round here before.”
Entangled photon says,”I’m non-local.”

Electron walks into a bar and says,”Pint of your piss-poor beer, mate.”
Barman says,”No need to be so negative.”

Two bacteria walk into a bar.
The bartender says,”Sorry, we don’t serve bacteria in this bar.
The two bacteria say,”Hey, but we work here; we’re staph.”

A parasite walks into a bar.
The bartender says,”Get out! No parasite welcome in this bar.”
The parasite says,”Well, you’re not a very good host.”

Pavlov walks into a bar.
The phone rings.
Pavlov gasps,“Oh no, I forgot to feed the dog.”

A horse walks into a bar.
The bartender asks,”A drink, sir?”
The horse replies,”I think not,” and promptly ceases to exist.
(I would have explained that this had something to do with corgito ergo sum, but that would be putting Descartes before the horse.)

3 logicians walk into a bar.
The bartender asks if all 3 of them would like a beer.
The first logician says,”I don’t know.”
The second says,”I don’t know.”
The third says,”Yes!”

A statistician walks into your average bar.
The bartender says,”Sorry, we don’t serve statisticians in this bar.”
The statistician says,”Well, you’re just mean.”

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar.
The first one orders a beer.
The second one orders half a beer.
The third one orders a fourth of a beer.
The bartender stops them, pours two beers.

sin(x) walks into a bar.
The barman says,”Sorry, we don’t cater for functions.”

Robert Durst, Wearing Your Wireless Mike to the Loo, and Investigation by Media

In an event symptomatic of the power of the new mass media, information-gathering as part of HBO’s series on The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst appears to have dug up enough new evidence to suggest that Durst murdered his wife and a good friend, Susan Berman.

James McCormack via The New York Times

He was arrested last Saturday in New Orleans and charged with first-degree murder.

The two main pieces of evidence were:

  • a letter from Durst to Bergman in 1999, found by Berman’s stepson Sareb Kaufman, bearing what seemed to be the same handwriting and spelling errors as the anonymous letter sent to the police notifying them of a cadaver in Berman’s house in 2000; and
  • a recording of him whispering to himself when he went to the bathroom (loo) whilst still miked:”What a disaster. … I’m having difficulty with the question. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

Entertainment impinging on reality, and reality as entertainment. Yet, more real than hyper-reality?

PS: at events, we’ve often had to stop speakers wandering off to the restroom with their wireless mikes still on, broadcasting their toilet work to the gathered audience. Criminal-with-something-to-hide or no, it’s embarrassing either way.

Mom! Slavoj Žižek’s Demanding the Impossible!

Ah, Slavoj Žižek, the delightful pop critical theorist, the “Elvis of Cultural Theory”. In our world of short attention-spans, he still manages to rock it like…err…Madonna?… Causing constant controversy either in misreading other philosophers or in being deliberately offensive (oh, being critical) or in just plain plagiarism, the sweaty-haired pepper-bearded one manages keeps us entertained.

If you were keen on giving him the benefit of the doubt, you’d say his philosophy was complex; if you were critical in the way he proposes, then you’d say he was fluffing.

Regardless, it’s always fun to find gems in his many talks/rambles that incorporate all manner of pop movie and contemporary-event references. 🙂

Slavoj Žižek's Demanding the Impossible, Baguette, comte

Today in Demanding the Impossible:

    • …just as in more confused times, like today, we don’t just need experts. We also need people who will think more radically to arrive at the real root of problems…I believe this may be the main task for today: to prevent the narrow production of experts…Let’s look at [an] example from ecology. When the oil spill in the Gulf Mexico unfortunately happened in the summer of 2010, people quickly needed experts to deal with the animals and other sea creatures. No, that’s not what we need. Indeed, what should be raised here is a much more fundamental question about such problems, problems for all of us which potentially shatter our commons:”What are the risks if we have to keep the oil drill?” “What kind of industry can replace it?”
    • …look at the proletarian position on the internet. It’s clear who will control the internet. What is really worrying, with so-called cloud computing, is a massive reprivatization of global spaces…I think the key is to prevent these clouds from being privately owned. This is not a technological problem; indeed, it is a purely ideological economic decision.
    • …now something new is emerging that I cannot but call “private public space.” When you chat erotically on the internet, even showing our photos or whatever, you feel like you are in contact with the global world, but you are still isolated in a private space. It’s a kind of global solipsism.
    • …when intellectual property is appropriated by private property we have a new enclosure of the commons.
    • Another thing that worries me is the reason why China weathered this financial crisis much more easily than elsewhere. The great danger is that all of a sudden, because of its virtual nature, crisis erupts. What is needed more and more are big radical decisions. In the democracy we have now, it’s difficult. You have to go through all the mechanisms. But I read a book on China…when the fiasco happened in 2008, the banks generally put a limit on borrowing because people were not paying back loans, and it was this that eventually pushed the economy further down. but in China, the communist political power bureau gave an order:”No, you should give people even more credit.” And it worked perfectly. It is somehow very sad to discover that authoritarian power is much more efficient in these conditions. [Comment: well, then it should show that your theories don’t work as you want them to work…or wait, what theories…]
    • …I wonder if this so-called “capitalism with Asian values,” a Chinese-Singaporean authoritarian capitalism, is not a new form of capitalism, which is economically even more dynamic. It’s productive and it functions even better. But it doesn’t generate a long-term demand for democracy. Now, however, the link between democracy and capitalism has been broken. [Comment: well, if the evidence doesn’t fit the hypothesis…]
    • Somehow all these civil society movements should think not just about organising a big demonstration once a year in Trafalgar Square or wherever, but about engaging in a more active cooperation.
    • Revolutions sometimes do happen maybe in times of chaos. But they usually happen when there’s neither a war nor chaos. Revolutions happen under two conditions: in times of poverty, and when justice breaks down. Yet the two are not necessarily connected. Usually in order to realise that your situation is unjust, you must a least experience a certain ideological freedom. Because the first step toward freedom is to becomes aware of your situation – the situation of injustice and unfairness.
    • I think it’s too easy to say that state power is corrupted, so let’s withdraw into this role of ethical critic of power, etc. But here I’m almost a conservative Hegelian. How many things have to function in order for something to be done? Laws, manners, rules: these are what make us feel truly free. I don’t think that people are aware of this fact. That was the hypocrisy of many leftists there: their target was the whole structure of the state apparatus of power. But we still need to count on all the state apparatus functioning…I think that the left should drop this model of immediate transparent democracy.
      The Stump Jump GSM Wine
    • I think today that the discourse of victimization is almost the predominant discourse when it says that everyone can be a victim of smoking or sexual harassment. today we have an extremely narcissistic notion of personality.
    • …what I don’t like is that you often find an aspect of satisfaction in saying: “Oh, poor Russia. But we know….” I always find it suspicious that, when you sympathise with freedom fighters in other countries, the conclusion is usually like this: “Look at those poor guys, but with us everything is okay.”…I just don’t like this liberal superiority.
    • Walter Benjamin already said: “Every rise of fascism bears witness to a failed revolution.”
    • As Hegel already know, “absolute democracy” could only actualize itself in the guise of its “oppositional determination,” as terror…So when Naomi Klein writes,”Decentralizing power doesn’t mean abandoning strong national and international standards – and stable, equitable funding – for healthy care, education, affordable housing and environmental protection. But it does mean that the mantra of the left needs to change from “increase funding” to “empower the grassroots”,” one should ask the naive question: How? How are these strong standards and funding – in short, the main ingredients of the welfare state – to be maintained? What would “multitude in power” (not only as resistance) be? How would it function?
    • In his unique book of dialogues, Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques, Rousseau deployed the wonderful idea of distinguishing between two types of egotism – amour-de-soi (that love of the self which is natural) and amour-propre, the perverted preferring of oneself over others in which a person focuses not on achieving a goal, but on destroying the obstacle to it…a feeling which demands preferences, whose enjoyment is purely negative and which does not strive to find satisfaction in our own well-being, but only in the misfortune of others.
    • …in France where, you remember, there were car-burning rebels in Paris about three years ago. This I think is a model of today’s form of revolt: a bad one…It was a kind of pure protest without a program. It was, quoting Roman Jakobson in linguistics, the notion of “phatic communication.” The goal is not to pass information but just to signal,”Hi, I’m here.” The point is just to tell you this. There was no positive message of wanting more justice or dignity. It was a big explosion of violence…It is a dangerous situation when young people just have this abstract discontent. [Comment: like all sorts of ego graffiti.]

Interesting critiques, but what would the Lord of the Universe have to say to this?

Ontology, Epistemology, Learning Theory, Instructional Theory, and Instructional Design

Have been thinking again about how best to teach the various groups I’m to train over the next few months. Here’s a back-of-the-napkin thought about how instructional design is based on theories of instruction, that are themselves based on theories of learning, that must be based on different epistemological and ontological theories. Cheap and quick, so probably many errors.

ontology, epistemology, learning theory, instructional theory, instructional design, and Stump Jump GSM

Materialism says that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are the result of material interactions. Knowledge, therefore, comes only or mainly from sensory experience and can be evidenced.

Its/their natural (not nurtured?!) children are:
(i) behaviourism (primary psychological paradigm 1920s – 1950s): humans are born tabula rosa (blank slate), resulting behaviour is a result of stimulus and response, the environment.

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select–doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and, yes, even beggarman and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years.” (John B. Watson).

Related instructional theories would therefore be something to do with conditioning, whether classical (Ivan Pavlov), operant (B.F. Skinner), or social learning (Albert Bandura). And the attendant instructional design would be stimulus-response, reinforcement by rewards-punishment, and modelling. Skinner would also advocate practice as part of reinforcement – by for a reason different from that of David Ausubel (see below) who wouldn’t have cared for repetitive rote-learning.

(ii) cognitivism (primary psychological paradigm 1950s-1990s): humans are born with minds like black boxes that influence behaviour. Focus is on neuroscience, the brain, memory (long-term, short-term). Cognitive development occurs in stages (Jean Piaget) by the construction of a series of schemata to understand the world (schema theory – Frederic Bartlett, Richard C. Anderson). Therefore instructional theory emphasises learning styles (for different minds), repetition and mnemonics (to aid the memory), progressive differentiation and advance organisers (David Ausubel).

Phenomenalism says that physical objects do not exist as things in themselves but only as may be perceived through a person’s senses or with their mind. We cannot experience anything beyond the phenomena of our perceptions. Solipsism then states that actually, we can only be sure that our mind exists. Therefore, it agrees with rationalism that truth is best discovered by the use of reasoning and logic rather than by the use of the senses. Learning is therefore done in the context of constructing on what is already known (constructivism) rather than acquiring new knowledge.

Each person has a different interpretation and construction of the learning process. But this can be aided within a zone of proximal development (Lev Vygotsky). Instructional theory would therefore include scaffolding (because of ZPD), collaborative learning, active learning, discovery learning, knowledge building. This would result in instructional design outcomes like problem-based learning, assignments, disputations, interrogations, individualised programmed learning.

And critical theory probably says that none of these theories are valid because they include oppressive use of authority by educators! 😉

*this is not to say though that each of these instructional design theories must definitely be based on the corresponding ontological and/or epistemological theories as set out above.