Tag Archives | uncertainty

An Essay on Time From a Dying Neurosurgeon: “Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past.”

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Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, knew he was dying. His time was limited, and after being released from the hospital due to a relapse in lung cancer, his daughter was born. For him, the expectation of death warped time. Now, the hours in a day, the minutes in an hour, meant something different.

Here’s his moving adieu to the world.

He died on March 9, 2015 at the age of 37.

Paul Kalanithi writes at Stanford Medicine:

There are two strategies to cutting the time short, like the tortoise and the hare. The hare moves as fast as possible, hands a blur, instruments clattering, falling to the floor; the skin slips open like a curtain, the skull flap is on the tray before the bone dust settles. But the opening might need to be expanded a centimeter here or there because it’s not optimally placed. The tortoise proceeds deliberately, with no wasted movements, measuring twice, cutting once.

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We Must Learn to Love Uncertainty and Failure, Say Leading Thinkers

uncertaintyAlok Jha writing at the Guardian, from 2011:

Being comfortable with uncertainty, knowing the limits of what science can tell us, and understanding the worth of failure are all valuable tools that would improve people’s lives, according to some of the world’s leading thinkers.

The ideas were submitted as part of an annual exercise by the web magazine Edge, which invites scientists, philosophers and artists to opine on a major question of the moment. This year it was, “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?”

The magazine called for “shorthand abstractions” – a way of encapsulating an idea or scientific concept into a short description that could be used as a component of bigger questions. The responses were published online today.

Many responses pointed out that the public often misunderstands the scientific process and the nature of scientific doubt. This can fuel public rows over the significance of disagreements between scientists about controversial issues such as climate change and vaccine safety.

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Time Wars

Picture: Alan Cleaver (CC)

Science fiction is tackling the issue of economic inequality using the metaphor of rationed time and mortality. Radical blogger and professor of ‘cultural analysis’ Mark Fisher doesn’t see this as too far from the truth.

His writing examines autonomy, workerism, post-Marxism, post-Fordism, punk, post-punk, neoliberalism, new atheism and anarchism. As fear of losing one’s job, debt closing in, mortality, apocalypse, the devastating end of capitalism or Malthusian collapse tick away in our background, all of us feel that constant tremor, further emphasized by the endless updates to our devices, making us addicted to our own anxiety. Society stalls and experimental innovation is crushed under the systemic pressure of time constraints. As he writes:  “Given all of this, it is clear that most political struggles at the moment amount to a war over time.

Via Gonzo Circus:

For most workers, there is no such thing as the long term.

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