2 June 2013: iPod Fails, Kant Crunch Continues

Transcendental Deduction with Funny Clown

We always perceive here over >1 instants of time where I have represented one such instant as a box. The use of boxes suggests that Kant may have anticipated the Turing machine (or Turing may have been thinking of Kant): but we can probably find justification for believing that Kant in turn thought that this apperception was continuous.

But note that Kant may have not had a clear distinction between a “continuous” apperception of (say) visual scenes that like a modern movie do not flicker, and scenes that do: likewise, Kant predates Cantor’s analysis of the two types of infinity, aleph 0 (natural numbers) or aleph 1 (real numbers).

The compact disk brouhaha of the 1990s, where this recorded media sounded when introduced cold and sterile, may have been caused by its lack of continuously varying tones; instead, we were told that its digital precision was well within the limits of our hearing, which was arrogant in that it targeted precisely those people, with higher, more accurate hearing, who were being thrown out of the data as outliers.

First thing workout at 6:00: increased time from 20 to 30 minutes: supine free dance, 100 supine pull-ups, increased step aerobics from 63 to 75.

In the step aerobics I now do 50 steps pushing off on the good leg and 25 on the weakened leg it gradually gets stronger.

The Way of All iPods?

My iPod has gone the way of all iPods: again, it has developed that problem, where one channel just quits unless one twists and gyres the cable interface to one’s headphones; but the twisting and gyreing never fixes this progressive problem permanently. I am beginning to suspect more and more that this was a deliberate design flaw hidden at the interface between the proprietary unit and the non-prop headphone as supplied either by Apple or a third party.

Note that when I raise this problem online I am threatened with job loss.

This issue represented, I believe, the opportunity for Apple engineers to, without discussion, under-design the interface so that it would fail…and the customer (or the whiney teen-ager who has been given an iPod which is now failing a year later) would in frustration (with being off-warranty, with all sorts of nonsense about whether this problem could be repaired, with yet Another waste of her time) simply upgrades…whether because she’s become “addicted” to the slight Anodyne of music to protect her sanity at work, or to silence her whiney son before she just kills him.

Yeah, right, out we go to the Apple store, and rather than make an appointment with a “genius” who I assure you will NOT be a genius, we just “upgrade”…whether to an identical Classic as I have, or to the iPhone.

Well, thank God that that option is closed to me now by a low but fixed income. I have a few iPod Nanos in my flat, just could not find them last time I was there. They have my essential music including Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations. If they are lost I can spend 300-400 HKD on one Nano. Besides, the Nanos are better for people who work out while listening to music: I went through two Classics and a Touch over the past eight years, in addition to the Classics that failed at the microphone interface, because I handled them too roughly while working out.

[I did ask, when buying my first iPod in 2006, whether one could run while carrying an iPod. I was assured that one could, but my first iPod simply failed completely one hot day after a run.]

It is troubling that Apple does not appear to pay US taxes while skimming engineers from UC Berkeley, from Stanford, and from other institutions supported in some measure by US taxes paid by us little-people-who-no-longer-count. It means that when there’s a tech problem, Apple can throw cash at it as did most Silicon Valley employers up to the dot-com crash of 1999.

My employer simply paid me to live at work until I was able to fix compilers and data bases, by paying me “overtime” in addition to my salary, where this had not been promised when we didn’t know the condition of the software, which condition (no source code) meant I had to work harder (reverse engineer to source while keeping track of changes in a three-level microcode software/hardware architecture…it was inspired by the Digital Equipment Corporation’s VAX…a popular platform in the late 1970s…totally ancient history now).

I used the cash to eat out at restaurants and, after accomplishing goals treat myself to Key West, etc. Never saved a dime because the long drive on 101 back up to my place in SFO was exhausting as were the long hours trying, not to “hack”, but to reconstruct a software world created by Bell Northern’s geniuses in the 1970s in an accountable and documented form, at a company where an increasing number of employees, outside a core group of excellent people, just didn’t give a damn.

This is what IBM did in the fat years until that day I remember very well in 1992 (I was actually working for IBM at the time) when IBM’s CEO John Ayers announced that the party was over, and that the old “IBM Way” (loyalty to employees, meetings on top of meetings, Power Point) was defunct: IBM had no plans to stop paying its taxes to the USA as Apple apparently did. Instead, employees would have to work harder and accept conditional and not lifetime employment.

Which means that Apple’s “creativity” and “quality” is probably an illusion: rich companies, like rich people, always look great. I’ve had a number of quality issues with my MacBooks – excess weight on the Powerbook which caused back pain, which excess weight was caused by Jobs’ insistence on using aluminum: on my Air, a current crash into Darkness with a Black Screen of Death that is even less informative than the old “blue screen of death” on Windows (at least the blue screen of death gave you a memory dump to look at whereas the black screen of death gives you NOTHING to look at).

These strange little problems and the lack of accountability at Apple started early: I bought a 1984 Mac, it worked great but I could not program it for six months when Apple Basic finally came out, and, I only had two applications, MacWrite and MacPaint.

They were in themselves insanely great. But, one morning in Mountain View, in the heart of the Valley, protected most days by a mountain range from the heat of California’s Central Valley, my Mac simply would not boot when the temp was 105 F…until I, remembering stories about Jobs’ refusal to countenance a fan, put my own fan next to the unit (in the 1980s, before global warming, affordable apartments in the SF Bay Area didn’t have air conditioning: what with balmy temperatures, a desert-dry coolness in evening, I blessedly didn’t need air conditioning.)

With that fan, I got a Happy Mac. But most of the country is hotter than the Bay Area in summer. A fan was needed.

Jobs merely wanted, like an abusive wikipedia “editor” of today, to impose his personality on an industrial product. It was characteristic of Jobs’ lower middle class upbringing that he liked putting other people down, especially people better-spoken than he, people with more maturity and emotional control.

The dream of the early 1980s computer hackers was that we’d all give each other “mutual recognition and respect”. We’d look over each other’s shoulders and say wow, or spot problems by asking questions. Jobs changed this to the supervisor hissing at the employee “late” in delivering to unrealistic deadlines, or, in a recent YouTube, striking the employee [sic: but the YouTue made me too sick at heart to remember its location.]

The reality was that the best people in the business, that is most female engineers, Wozniak, Brian Kernighan, CJ Date, Edsger Dijkstra and myself are unknown because unlike Jobs we didn’t insist on an excess of recognition. We all had the profound satisfaction of being grown men and women engaged in real work (I’ll never forget my feelings when Fortran worked after I fixed it in machine language) whereas Jobs spent entirely too much time whining and weeping, especially in his rather strange relationship with Sculley.

I do credit Jobs for certain things. In a cancer ward where many patients suffer greatly from a variety of lung cancer coughs, some of them terminating in a bubbling sound as the patient struggles not to drown in his own phlegm, others in weeping, the iPod can be used to get to sleep IF you say a prayer for the poor bastards. And the Apple Mac was insanely great…it was not sustained, however.

But making a sustainable product and paying taxes is a team effort for the sort of people who, like my Dad, don’t insist on excessive Recognition.

Kant Kritik ReRead Continues

I continue crunching through my close re-read, reading the Analytic of Concepts the fifth of seven times this morning.

Now, one critique of the Kritik in the callow years of AJ Ayer’s “Logical Positivism” (the fifties and sixties) was that Kant was “just wrong” to use a word such as “concept” to mean something non-contingent: that the definition of “concept” should be left to psychology as an empirical matter.

You must understand the four-way combination of analytic, synthetic, a priori and a posteriori to get anywhere with Kant and the primitive Logical Positivists did…but, they considered “synthetic a priori” to be empty and had too much respect for synthetic a posteriori.

Kant basically set “concept” (actually, Begriff) to mean what he meant, a label of a part in a structure. Kant anticipated Structuralism in which names matter less than structures considered as a set of originally nameless things and operations one can do to those things, such as recognize them as necessary or contingent. British ordinary language philosophers, Logical Postivists and others all reacted violently with a surpassing hatred to the Nominalism of French structuralism, which shows that they didn’t understand its commonality with ordinary language philosophy and Logical Postivism. In none of these three systems is a name more than a nomimalist name: you can call what I mean a Concept, a Begriff or anything you like as long as you understand that Kant’s concepts are “pure” and therefore non-Empirical: in Kant’s language, Reinen means non-empirical.

You do have to understand the claptrap in detail. Kant is so hard to read that now, it’s easy and relaxing when I read Adorno’s lectures on the Critique (“Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason”, Polity) because Adorno, unlike Kant, doesn’t assume you’ve taken a logic class taught in the 18th century. Back then, logicians mixed psychology, modal logic, and, after Leibniz, primitive symbolism such that each logic class was different. Adorno speaks a modern language and, having long mastered the Critique, is full of excellent tips: here’s one:

“I would like to encourage you through this example to approach the Kant text in what appears to me the only appropriate way, namely to read it with X-Ray eyes. This means reading it in such a way as to make its hidden content and its hidden puzzles as transparent as the Cabbalists of old tried to make the Torah.”

This is a “deconstructive” read in modern terms. One such “puzzle” would be the way in which “drawing a line”, although essential to cognizing a line (and I hope “cognizing” is the right word) would conceal things about the ideal line (the pencil marks or computer pixels having non-zero and therefore non-Euclidean).

Elsewhere Adorno counsels patience with one’s inability to comprehend the text, and discourages the student in his class from taking notes. Paradoxically, the X Ray eyes must be associated with a relaxed brain that isn’t constantly alert to make sure said brain gets it.


Kant is hard, and I can read him, and describe the voyage alongside my cancer journey, because I no longer work, and instead rusticate in a hospice. Word to your Mama is that my need for painkillers and my lump are both in decline perceptible on a daily basis, probably owing to my documented exercise program.

The tumor is yet smaller although it won’t soften. Perhaps the sheets of irregular cells formed last year when the cancer cells hit the lymph node are dead cells, hardened by age? Not being in any way an oncologist, I do not know. Softening would be nice but I’ll take shrinkage.

The side-effect of sleepiness continues. My infrequent but intense temper tantrums, most recently this morning when I could not find my mobile phone, cause exhaustion and need to stop through better anger management since the cancer, shrunken as it may be, still is an energy drain, and I need not to add to it.

I am trying to get the right amount of food. My lunch and dinner were doubled but I can hardly finish two bowls of rice and fish-or-chicken. I will suggest two congees and two eggs with a normal lunch and dinner since breakfast is the best time to chow down.


Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 9.50.53 AM

Kant Notes 003

Change Record

2 June 2013 Added more analysis of Kantian perception, is it discrete or continous?
5 June 2013 Minor correction


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