Tuesday, 21st October, 2014
Saturday, 16th August, 2014
Social Network Analysis (3rd ed.)
2013 (1st ed. 1991)
Sociology, Marxism and Fascism
Lukacs 1962, in the section on German sociology, presented the sociology of Weber and Simmel as having been developed explicitly as a bulwark against Marxist explanations of society [todo: get quote]. Weber and Simmel were (convincingly, imho) portrayed as lightweight confabulators (especially Simmel).
So here I am reading a sociology textbook — not because I want to criticise sociology, but because I want to learn about social network analysis (sna). It is a very strange peak into a foreign discipline.
Weber and especially Simmel are referred to occasionally and with approval. Simmel is resented as more-or-less the father of sna (e.g., pp. 14, 23).
The antagonism with Marxism (in early sociology at least) is confirmed, with this antagonism continuing in early work in the US. e.g. p. 20:
… the biologist Lawrence Henderson … actively promoted the work of Pareto. Henderson held that this was the only appropriate basis for a truly scientific sociology and that it was, furthermore the only viable political bulwark against revolutionary Marxism.
… Pareto was also the great exponent of elite theory, and Mayo saw that a managerial elite that recognised this influence of group relations on ecomonic motivation could most successfully control worker behaviour.
I can’t remember if Lukacs covered Pareto, but Pareto would have fit nicely into Lukacs’ scheme. Pareto’s link with Italian fascism seems rather closer than, but of the same kind as, that between Simmel and German fascism.
Graph theory, computers
This is a sociology text, written for people without a mathematical or computing background. For example, graphs are described as consisting of points and lines. Graph theory we are told “was first formulated” in 1936 (p. 16). Spreadsheets are recommended as “basic data storage” (p. 52). Unrelated really, but I can’t help relating it, Russian Matryoshka dolls are described as “Russian Babooshka dolls” (p. 107).
Let’s just say these all marked the text as being from a different culture to the texts with which I’m more familiar.
Another more positive marker was that I found only one typo in the whole book (p. 122).
With those two sets of observations out of the way, the book is a very readable, well-written overview of the field. An early chapter gives a history of sna in sociology, and later chapters give overviews of various approaches and techniques. The author does not seem to favour any particular approach.
My overall impression is that the application of graph theory to the study of social networks is fairly ad hoc and that the best way to learn about it is to collect some data and Have A Go.
As well as various technical leads, the references below looked attractive:
Freeman, L. C. (2004) The development of Social Network Analysis: a study in the sociology of science, Empirical Press.
A bit meta-meta maybe, but the history chapter was v interesting. In particular, a group based around Manchester (e.g. John Barnes) focusing on conflict and change.
Scott, J. & Carrington, P. (eds) (2011) The Sage handbook of Social Network Analysis, Sage.
The author blowing his own trumpet perhaps, but this does look like a solid practical overview of the field.
[none of these seem to be available apart from behind paywalls. tsk]
Brent, E. E. (1985) Relational database structures and concept formation in the social sciences, Computers and the Social Sciences, 1.
Carroll, W. K. & Fenneman, M. (2002) Is there a transnational business community?, International Sociology, 17.
Smith, R. M. (1979) Kin and neighbours in a thirteenth century Suffolk community, Journal of Family History, 4.
Monday, 4th August, 2014
The Destruction of Reason
1962 (tr. 1980)
This was a gruelling, depressing read. I am full of respect for Lukács for sifting through so much complete drivel (Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Spengler, Heidegger, and so on). I’d never read any of these people before and I had naively assumed they were proper philosophers (as they are presented in the mainstream media).
Lukács traces the history and the development of irrationalist philosophy from the French revolution right through to Hitler, with an epilogue on the post-war US, with its increasing shoddiness and cynicism and anti-humanism.
I couldn’t help notice similarities with contemporary developments: the denigration of democracy; the celebration of irrational political action (like the infantile Occupy movement); of apostasy (like the whistleblowers); the almost medieval approach to morality; temper-loss and name-calling in place of debate; …
Because of its nature as a critique and a warning, this book doesn’t open up so many new horizons as the Hegel book did. However there were three clear avenues:
- Two heroes mentioned stand out: Rosa Luxemburg (obviously not new to me) and Georges Politzer (completely new to me).
- “German Classical Humanism” (p530): Herder and Humboldt. These two popped up repeatedly while I was reading for my PhD (on Vygotsky and Ilyenkov) all those years ago (the early 90s).
- I need to do something to correct my patchy knowledge of 19th century history, esp. the years 1848 and 1870.
Tuesday, 6th May, 2014
Hegel’s Naturalism: mind, nature, and the final ends of life
Oxford University Press
This is a really exciting book. I read it through once and read it again straight away. It introduced me to Hegel, and opened up my idea of what Hegel’s philosophy might be about. I can see him placed with other philosophers I like (Aristotle, Spinoza, Marx).
Below are some highlights, and then some ideas for further reading.
An appendix of typos is at the end.
Monday, 14th April, 2014
This job notice was posted to the erlang mailing list recently (here). As I’m interested in erlang and interested in Chinese, I thought I’d have a go at translating it.
本公司天朗时代科技有限公司，面向文化产业，提供数字多媒体内容从生产到发布、到运营的全流程整体解决方案和服务系统。公司现诚邀对Functional Programming有极大热诚并对Erlang开发有丰富经验的人士加盟，有意者请联系：0755-83597260 苏小姐
- 精通erlang语言，熟悉OTP设计模式，有项目开发经验；或有Functional Programming开发经验
The company Titan Times Technology Co., Ltd. works in the cultural industry. They provide digital multimedia content from production to release, including the operation of the complete process from planning to maintaining the system. The company sincerely invites persons with (high) enthusiasm for FP combined with (plentiful) experience in Erlang to join their team. Those interested please contact: 0755-83597260, email@example.com, Miss Su.
Senior Erlang Development Engineer
- Participate in core network/internet service product development, having responsibility for software module design and development.
- Participate in the company’s core technology systems architecture design.
- Use Erlang to conduct distributed computing systems development.
- Proficiency with Erlang, familiarity with OTP design patterns, experience with product development; or at least experience in FP development.
- Familiarity with HTTP, TCP/IP network protocols.
- Familiarity with caching techniques and distributed deployment.
- Familiarity with RDBMS, distributed databases and NoSQL technology, practical development experience with MySQL and Postgresql.
- Familiarity with all kinds of data structures and algorithms.
- Familiarity with data structure and algorithm complexity analysis.
- A strong foundation in mathematics.
- Familiarity with common linux commands, and system deployment, operation and security.
- Experience with “big data” high load product/system design or kernel development.
- Love of software development work, familiarity with the software development process, good habits of technical documentation, and following recognised coding standards.
- Undergraduate degree as well as school records.
- Good English reading level, can easily read all kinds of technical documentation in English.
** vocab highlights
|产业||chǎn yè||estate, concern, sector|
|分布式||fēn bù shì||distributed|
|各种||gèzhòng||every kind of …|
|多媒体||duō méi tǐ||multimedia (lit. all/many medium body)|
|岗位||gǎng wèi||post, station|
|工程师||gōng chéng shī||engineer|
|有意||yǒu yì||“have a mind to …” / intention|
|有限公司||yǒu xiàn gōng sī||limited company|
|科技||kē jì||technology — (cf 科学技术 / kē xué jì shù / science and technology)|
|算法||suànfǎ||algorithm — (cf 方法 / fāngfǎ / method)|
|者||zhě||“-er” (see notes)|
|职位||zhí wèi||position, post|
|联系||lián xì||contact (verb/noun)|
|设计模式||shè jì mó shì||design patterns|
|较||jiào||comparatively — (cf 比较 bǐjiào comparatively)|
|面向||miàn xiàng||facing, involved in|
|高级||gāo jí||high rank|
*** some conjunctions
*** 本 běn
běn gōng sī …
I know 本 běn as a measure word for books. Here it looks like it might be a measure word for companies too.
Or, perhaps it is here as “established” and is part of the full characterisation of the company 天朗时代 (tiān lǎng shí dài / Titan Times)
*** 位 wei
位 wei means “place” and it can act as a polite measure word for people. “Job description” (岗位要求 / zhí wèi miáo shù) and “position requirements” (岗位要求 / gǎng wèi yāo qiú) each use slightly different terms based on 位:
|职位||zhí wèi||position, post (职 zhí duty)|
|岗位||gǎng wèi||post, station (岗 gǎng position – as in sentry post on a hillock)|
*** 者 zhě
者 zhě is an agentive suffix, like “-er” in English. e.g.:
It seems to be much more productive than the English equivalent however. The notice has 有意者 (yǒu yì zhě), where 有意 can be translated as a verb like “have a mind to”, “be inclined to”, or an adverb like “deliberately”. I have translated 有意者 as “those interested”.
*** 对X有Y duì X yǒu Y
This pattern accurs a couple of times:
duì Functional Programming yǒu jí dà rè chéng
for Functional Programing have great enthusiasm
duì Erlang kāi fā yǒu fēng fù jīng yàn
for Erlang have plentiful experience
对 can be used to topicalise object phrases (eg below) and that seems to be what is happening here.
tā duì wǒ shuō “…”
she said to me, “…” (lit. she to me say, “…”)
Thursday, 20th March, 2014
A weibo from 杨澜 (Yang Lan):
The post is in the form of a 五絕 (wŭjué), a five-character line 绝句 (juéjù). Actually, it seems to be a popular title for blog posts on the interwebs, but I haven’t been able to find an author. A commonly known homily perhaps.
zé shàn rén ér jiāo,
zé shàn shū ér dú,
zé shàn yán ér tīng,
zé shàn xíng ér cóng.
Choose good people and make friends,
Choose good books and read,
Choose good speech and listen,
Choose good conduct and follow.
Web service translations:
Choose the good people and pay,
Choose the good books and reading,
Choose the good words, and listen,
Choose the good from the line.
Optional good Samaritan,
Choose the good book and read,
Optional good deeds.
Wednesday, 19th March, 2014
杨澜 (yáng lán / Yang Lan) is a Chinese media proprietor, journalist, and talk show hostess. She hosts an interesting interview programme called Yang Lan One-on-One (杨澜访谈录 yáng lán fǎng tán lù), and she has a couple of microblogs on Sina Weibo (1, 2). Plenty of realia for the dilettante language learner.
The microblog linked to her TV programme often has themed posts — e.g., quotations translated from English, excerpts from recently published books. One theme is called #杨访晚安句子# (yáng fǎng wǎn ‘ān jù zi / Yang’s goodnight sentence). These posts have a mildly uplifting or challenging homily, with a “goodnight” (晚安 / wǎn ‘ān) sign-off.
Here’s one from 18th March 2014:
|py:||měi yī cì qīng yì de fàng qì,|
|en:||every time easily give up,|
|py:||dōu shì rén shēng de yī chù bài bǐ.|
|en:||this is life’s one mistake.|
A full idiomatic translation might be something like, “to give up easily every time is the greatest mistake in life”.
Some web service translators:
- google: Each easily give up, life is a big mistake
- bing: Give up easily every time, is the life of places
** style notes
Chinese and English are so different that anything beyond a literal translation, which would not be very idiomatic English, must be regarded as an interpretation, or a paraphrase, or a version.
|轻易||qīng yì||(adv) easily, lightly|
|放弃||fàng qì||(v) abandon, give up|
|人生||rén shēng||(n) life|
|处||chù||(m) place, event, location|
|败笔||bài bǐ||(n) false stroke, mistake|
** grammar notes
- 都 (dōu) is used to emphasise the second phrase.
- 处 (chù) is a measure word for places or locations, e.g.,
fā xiàn liǎng chù cuò wù
find two mistakes