I’ve managed to get into a maybe one day argument again. It looks like a discussion with Matt, but really it’s a maybe one day argument. I suspect I’ll be having them for the rest of my life.

I wonder if it’s more about a different way of thinking, than a difference of opinion. I’ve never had a maybe one day discussion with anyone from a science background. That might have relevance.

See it’s really not about a difference of opinion at all. Because I don’t see there being any opinion involved. Which is also relvent, as those putting forward maybe one day points of view often claim that it’s all about differing opinions.

Let’s say it is.

I’ll quote Richard Dawkins

“When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly half way between. It is possible for one side simply to be wrong.”

The ‘argument’ is about the speed of light one day maybe being broken. Again (I get into this argument a lot)

Now let’s start off assuming either side could be wrong. That leaves us with two possibilities

  1. The speed of light will never be broken
  2. The speed of light will maybe one day be broken.

Now if this was a differance of opinion either side could equally be right. But it’s not. So one side is at the very least more wrong than the other

  1. Lots of scientific proof and supporting evidence (including the fact the universe is working) that the speed of light is a constant
  2. Nothing A few odd things we don’t understand that may or may not be related to the speed of light

So if we were to be generous and assign 1% to the speed of light being broken (i.e. not constant) then I’m still more likely to be right by near on two orders of magnitude. And that’s being really generous. The reality is that number (1) significantly outweighs number (2) by such a large order that number (2) is deemed false.

In fact the crux of the maybe one day is that whilst (1) appears to be correct, based on past experience we cannot dismiss (2) as ever being zero.

Which sounds true, but is also false, because if we could apply an “Reductio ad absurdum” argument and I can then say

Maybe one day we will prove that we will never be able to exceed the speed of light

Which holds true if we accept maybe one day arguments, which is then clearly false as it conducts the maybe one day argument, thereby showing that maybe one day arguments are not proof of anything.

And if you followed that all I’m really impressed.

The crux is, that “maybe one day” is a statement, not a truth.

It has nothing to do with being open minded, having a healthy scepticism and nothing to do with science.

“maybe one day we will exceed the speed of light” has no more meaning than “maybe one day we wont exceed the speed of light”.

Both can’t be true. Hence one must be.

I’m backing the one with all the science behind it.

Note left on my car

Dear Mr RBEMO1

Firstly, let me thank you for the complement. I hate to be accused at doing anything half-heartedly, or not being complete at something.

I'm really sorry you had trouble getting out of your car. I myself simply climbed out of the passenger seat. See I didn't realise this was not an option for you. I assumed that is what you intended to do when you parked with your wheels over the white line2. I really wasn't aware that because you have chosen to purchase a really big expensive car, that this meant you actually get to take up the two best parking bays right by my lift doors.

I'll certainly be writing to the car park management firm and make sure they post signs to this affect so that other insignificant people like myself don't make life difficult for you and your more important car. I would hate for someone else to go through what I have, after reading your note and realise feeling sick that I had done this to you, causing such irreparable distress. I know I should have instead parked far away and carried my shopping some distance which any community minded person would really have done. I'm so thoughtless.

Normally I pride myself on parking directly in the centre of the bay. You know us people with less expensive cars, we have to find small pleasures where we can, not being part of the cool kids with big expensive cars. To my eye I was really spot on, directly half way between the two white lines, but if I was a few microns too close to your car, thereby causing your struggles in life (no less than I'm sure Ghandi and Mandela themselves had to contend with) I really do take the blame. Next time I'll make sure I'm not a selfish pig who thinks he can park in the middle of a bay near an expensive car that has rights to both bays.

Thanks ever so much for folding back my mirror and putting my windscreen wipers up so I knew the wrong I had done. This is far less punishment than I deserve and I really should be whipped with the wiper blades till I cry out for repentance. I should probably be made to drink windscreen washer fluid in place of beer for months too. I'm not sure I can really understand the depths of my wrongness with just the wiper blades placed in the air.

I beg of you kind sir, for those of us less humans, who sometimes don't understand, and who are mere apes amongst men such as yourself; could you please simply park directly in the centre of both bays next time. This will avoid us of below simian intelligence from making the mistake of parking near your car at all.

Yours truly in the humblest of regrets
Adrian - complete wanker - Sevitz

1 Really Big Expensive Mercedes Owner
2 And again further apologies if you are Green/White colour blind and were unable to see this. I would not want to be perceived as being discriminatory to a minority group, no insult intended.

... on facebook that is. And not you of course. Obviously you are really important to me. It's the other people who aren't.

I talked about this a while ago, and Meg is also talking about how Facebook needs to add relevance to the contact list..

I'm cross posting my comment on Meg's site here because I think my solution is rather nifty, and the comment I left at Meg's was pretty much blog length.

I agree with Meg, although I see it less as a venn diagram and more as a an onion. I should have drawn diagrams too. Basically I see friends ranking outwards from really important to me, to vaguely important to basically archived.

Whilst your groups idea gets the end result, I don't think it would work. People on FB don't really treat groups that way, and it involves too much work, both for the person settings things up, as well as for the other people. It also breaks down the venn diagrams of of overlapping connections, which I think is a critical part of how facebook/linkedin etc work.

What you really need is a simple, or near automated way to do this with minimal effort. Easier than the "how do I know this person" they currently have, which whilst interesting has very little value, and is mostly wrong because hard wired tick boxes cannot account for enough situations.

What I would see as a solution (which admittedly only came to me when reading your blog) is an importance bar. On the left site is "really important people" (wives, close friends, etc) and on the right side is "people I really can't be bothered with, more of a reference if I need it" (that guy I knew at school, my now married ex, etc)

Every person then needs two variables. A placement and a modifier. The placement is where you stick them on the bar. The modifier is a 1 or 2 step shift up or down the bar based on how you communicate with them.

Then when your friend a person, it gets shown below on this bar. A couple of key friends could appear on the bar as reference points. You then slide this person up or down the bar to the point where their relevance to you is. Really quick and easy and not much effort to set up.

Then in setting you can control how much information about you is revealed based on the bar position. You can also give more or less control to facebook to modify people's position automatically based on how much you communicate with them, and poke them, and view their profile etc. Information delivered to you about other people is obviously prioritised towards their importance on the bar.

I think this fairly accurately reflects how we view people in life. I think it's very little effort to do, to deliver context and simplifying things, as well as being able to dynamically change things based on activity. It also retains and holds interconnection information between contacts as well as adding too it.

I now have over 250 contacts in FB. Way more than I can manage. I suspect most people have this problem. If Facebook doesn't improve this aspect of their platform, they will start suffering from it. If they aren't already.

I apparently use the word so a lot, especially when beginning sentences. I never notice.

What I also never knew, is that it's a common thing with engineers and the like.

When I asked Kittu Kolluri what he though of his first encounter with Jim Clark, he thought for a moment and then said, 'So ...' This was not unusual. When a computer programmer answers a question, he often begins with the word 'so.' Chapter 5, The New New thing - Michael Lewis

Who knew. It wasn't just me being annoying. Now I feel far happier to not be bothered by this.

Scoping out the horizon




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