Mayer Spivack (1936 - 2011) is @MayerSpivack on Twitter. He was a consultant and advisor on organizational behavior, innovation, and learning, based near Boston, Massachusetts. He was also an artist working in a variety of media. All writing and artworks presented here are the original work and are the copyrighted property of Mayer Spivack. Nothing on this weblog is aggregated from other sources. Reasonable use involving copying with attribution, and limited sharing not for profit, are allowed. Your comments are invited. This blog is now maintained by his son, Nova Spivack. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your interest.
Nan–Nan! Please listen! You’re just my older sister, You’re not my mother. You could not have prevented any of it so try not to blame yourself. It all just happened, things happen. Sometimes they are just a chain of unconnected events. Think about all the good—no, the great—stuff you have done, the stuff you have done for us, for me, try to think about that for a minute. For example—if it weren’t for you, because of you, me and the sibs would not have learned to love the small animals that live near the stream back at the old house. But you know that already—it has been one of your gifts to us all. You have never harmed any of us.
But there has been a kind of family secret that we need to get out from under, and I guess that it’s partly out now. You know some of it, and that’s the part your worrying over, and the others know some, but there is a part that only I know anything about. It has a bit to do with animals.
My son Nova Spivack ( http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2008/02/a-classificatio.html?cid=103805366#comments ) has brought up the subject of developing a universal classification of intelligence. It is a worthwhile effort, and one that may require a century of reflection and research. It is worth more and serious work. Others have and will attempt it as well, and agreement will be slow and hard to achieve.
One problem is that we do not yet have a workable non-universal (species- our own) description of intelligence. My own questions are — What do we mean by intelligence? What are we getting at when we measure it or write about it? Much of the literature seems to confuse intelligence with 'smarts' (see my own previous posting on this blog — Is Intelligence A Property of All Life?)
I wonder if a useful way of discussing intelligence might be to consider it as an aspect of adaptability and a part of all biological process, and extend that into inorganic systems as well.
This dumps us into the possibility that intelligence evolved out of simple primal and basic properties of inorganic and organic systems in the early universe (at least on our planet, and in it’s high form (homo-sapiens) it is merely an extension of those simpler capacities for adaptability and change.
In this context intelligence is a scale of what can change or adapt in any examined system, ecosystem or species and how rapidly (in a comparative sense) this takes place. For instance, what is the scope and depth of possible change and adaptability in a molecule or virus and how does this scale up as systems become more complex? What terminology might we use to consider all this in a fresh perspective and to avoid the language and conceptual pitfalls hidden within our classical and current definitions and research?
We stand at the edge of time, onlookers and participants in a swirling cosmos that we have neither understood or imagined. It is our illusion that we look ahead at tomorrow or next year. This moment is our event horizon. We cannot see beyond it. We cannot anticipate if our passage in this solar system will either continue or end. We do not know if what we view is a beginning or an ending. Because all moments mark the end of now, all moments are finite singular end points. Restricted to such a foreshortened view, what business do we have causing destruction? All we can achieve in this mode is to restrict and narrow the course of the future, essentially contributing only to entropy, not to life.
The problem of bird flu virus H5N1 is brewing, quite literally, in a biological soup in Asia and now on the European continent. It is a time-bomb. We will all be fortunate if it ticks for a few more years before detonating everywhere at the same time (within a week). Isolationist plans are worthless. Post-crisis-planning, as in Katrina, is worse than useless, it is inexcusable. Incompetence and ignorance of science an public health techniques round out a lethal combination for probably many millions worldwide. None of us has any familiarity with calamities of this sort. The death rate from infections of this flu epidemics in humans is around 50%, some predict worse outcome. Those who are not killed would be so ill as to be unable to care for each other. Downstream and later, the effects of this great human trauma would be felt for a century. It horrifies me to personalize this, but should the pandemic occur, about half of us, family, freinds, and strangers might die, at home, together.
We, the people of the world, teach violence to children by our actions. I offer this phonetic alphabet, the 'A-B-C's Of Violence, as evidence. To be chanted to any a dirge in any language, anywhere.
A Alfa > Afghanistan
B Bravo > Beirut
C Charlie > Cambodia
D Delta > Dunkirk
E Echo > Eritrea
F Foxtrot > Fallujah
G Golf > Guadalcanal
H Hotel > Hiroshima
I India > Iraq
J Juliett > Japan
K Kilo > Korea
L Lima > Louisiana
M Mike > Mogadishu
N November > New York
O Oscar > Okinawa
P Papa > Philippines
Q Quebec > Qatar
R Romeo > Republic of Armenia
S Sierra > Stalingrad
T Tango > Texas
U Uniform > Us, USA
V Victor > Vietnam
W Whiskey > Washington
X X-ray > Xiangyang
Y Yankee > Yorktown
Z Zulu > Zambia
“The crisis you plan for is not the crisis you get. We learned that even the most basic of assumptions can be violated. In a crisis, failure of phones lines should be expected, but not even cell phones worked consistently on 9/11. Transportation modes can and did cease. We may be unable to count on the public safety agencies that otherwise are reliable day and night,…”
“We learned that even the most basic of assumptions can be violated. In a crisis, failure of phones lines should be expected, but not even cell phones worked consistently on 9/11. Transportation modes can and did cease. We may be unable to count on the public safety agencies that otherwise are reliable day and night… the crisis you plan for is not the crisis you get.” — Marilyn McMillan
“From paper, pens and tape to mutual aid agreements, and sophisticated communications and data back-up, the planning was key to dealing with whatever crisis unfolded.” — John Curry, Executive Vice President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The above quotes are taken From a report titled:
The Boston Consortium for Higher Education
150 Great Plain Ave
Available online: http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:bj250eW9FLAJ:web.mit.edu/community/resources/learning_history.pdf+social+unrest+disaster+plan&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
These cautions are truly warnings. We can learn from the experiences of populations and responders under severest stress. In New Orleans (and the Asian Tsunami, the recent floods and earthquakes) almost nothing worked—except for simple things improvised at the local level. For the most part nearby neighbors tried to help each other sharing what they could improvise.
The Arctic ice performed an essential function before we caused global warming. White ice reflected much of the solar radiation back into space during the arctic summer days and kept the top of the world cold, as it should be. In scientific terms, the color and reflectivity of the ice helped to keep the albedo of the planet Earth stable. This had been the case for millennia .
Now the Russians have placed a tiny flag on the North Pole seafloor under ice that has broken because it has already been basking under an overheated atmosphere, and bathed in warming water. They used an unmanned submersible to do the deed. No human was down there burbling “one small-minded step…”
The Alex Foundation- Home page Irene Pepperberg studies cognitive process, teaching and learning in birds. She is problably the most recognized researcher on avian cognition in the world. Alex, her now famous long-time research subject and 'collaborator' recently died at half his life expectancy. Now Wart and Griffin are her collaborators. They are saying and doing things we used to believe that only small children, great apes, and dolphins could do. Her brilliant work deserves better funding.
Tai Chi Chen style Taiji quan- Instruction Marin Spivack is a masterful Teacher of Tai Chi in Salem, Massachusetts; Chen style Instruction in authentic Taiji martial arts, Qi cultivation, Tai Chi DVD videos. Chen Zhaokui Martial Arts Research Association, North America. He is also a composer, a saxophonist, and he is my son.
Minding the Planet Nova is a cognitive scientist and high-tech entrepreneur working on technologies that overcome our information overload. He has founded companies and is now developing interactive internet software, TWINE, that we all need. His thinking covers a great range. He is my Son.
Marin Spivack & Milo Francis | Amie Street Marin Spivack is a Composer, virtuoso saxophonist, Teacher of Tai Chi in Salem, Massachusetts; Chen style Instruction in authentic Taiji martial arts, Qi cultivation, Tai Chi DVD videos. Chen Zhaokui Martial Arts Research Association, North America. He is my son.