Alan Bates’ performance of a lifetime (and he’s had a few) deliciously embodies Simon Gray’s scathing insider’s perspective into the grim world of humanities academia (already that in 1971). Butley has much in common with Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano insofar as all the action takes place in one day, everything falls apart, and alcohol is part and parcel of the protagonist’s demise. Here is Alan Bates talking about the role along with two reviews: NYT and Roger Ebert. Here too is Bowie singing what could well have been part of the soundtrack, Chris O’Leary commenting: “The flailing scholar of the original recording at least had energy in his desperation; here, all is resigned, empty despair”. At least Butley was someone who once had a substantive interest, i. e. T. S. Elliot, unlike the array of “activisms” (that tend to attract the already embittered) and that crassly characterize much of what masquerades as “English” (i. e. with little or no canonical literature and philology). Butley/Bates was a favourite I shared with my mother as was The Go-Between and An Englishman Abroad. I’m glad that I never had the gumption to approach Bates when, on the way to my mother’s GP, we passed him on the pavement (we lived on the same street, about a five walk apart).


Gigerenzer papers

The most distinguished Gerd Gigerenzer has very kindly alerted me to some of his most recent writings. Roger and I were honoured to have Gerd participate in our co-edited Minds, Models and Milieux: Commemorating the Centennial of the Birth of Herbert Simon and moreover, with whom we spent an enjoyable time in San Francisco a couple years back. You’ve got to love the title of item 3 below:

  1. A Theory Integration Program
  2. Can search engine data predict pancreatic cancer?
  3. A Simple Heuristic Successfully Used by Humans, Animals, and Machines: The Story of the RAF and Luftwaffe, Hawks and Ducks, Dogs and Frisbees, Baseball Outfielders and Sidewinder Missiles—Oh My!
  4. How new fact boxes are explaining medical risk to millions


Liberty Fund Book Sale

Liberty Fund is offering a 20% discount on all their books and DVDs. (Use promo code JULY18 at checkout — expires July 31, 2018). Discount aside, their books are incredibly good value for money and are superbly bound.


Walker Percy, Philosopher (6)

Forthcoming: Walker Percy, Philosopher.

Diamonds in the Rough: The Peirce-Percy Semiotic in The Second Coming

Karey Perkins

Karey Perkins makes the case for the view that Percy is more than a novelist with occasional random existential musings or themes. Although Percy begins in existentialism, his coming across semiotics sparked Percy’s interest in language as the uniquely human symbolic activity. Moreover, Percy attempts a systematic philosophy based in Peirce’s semiotic, by applying semiotic principles not just in his philosophical essays, but also in his novels—something rarely mentioned, even by Percy himself.

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The Evolution of Computationalism

A terrific discussion of computationalism by the very excellent Marcin Miłkowski, freely available in Minds and Machines.

[i]t is less misleading to think of computationalism as a diverse research tradition composed of multiple, historically variable computational theories of mind (or brain). By conflating the research tradition with one of the early theories, one could be tempted to reject the whole tradition.


Music from Big Pink

To commemorate Canada Day and exactly 50 years since the release of this all-time classic album on July 1, 1968: i.e. Canada Day. To my mind, The Band stand as the greatest “beat combo” of them all with roots extending from Acadia down to Acadiana and back again with so much more in-between — thereby hitting the sweetest musical spot in post-War North American music.