Dependent Rational Animals

Greg Pavlik - Sun, 2014-07-20 17:32
I wanted to briefly comment on Alisdair MacIntyre's lectures collected as "Dependent Rational Animals", but let me precede that with a couple of comments for context: first, as I alluded in my last post referencing Levinas, it is my view that the the ethics demands a certain primacy in any healthy conception of life and society; second, in the area of ethics, Macintyre's After Virtue is the book that has had perhaps the biggest impact on my own thinking.

One of the criticisms of MacIntyre is that his critique of rational ethics is, on the one hand, devastating; on the other hand, his positive case for working out a defense of his own position - a revivification of social ethics in the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition(s) was somewhat pro forma. I think this is legitimate in so far as it relates to After Virtue itself (I believe I have read the latest edition - 3 - most recently), though I am not enough of a MacIntyre expert to offer a defensible critique of his work overall.

I do, however, want to draw attention to Dependent Rational Animals specifically in this light. Here MacIntyre begins with is the position of human as animal - as a kind of naturalist starting point for developing another pass at the importance of the tradition of the virtues. What is most remarkable is that in the process of exploring the implications of our "animality" MacIntyre manages to subvert yet another trajectory of twentieth century philosophy, this time as it relates to the primacy of linguistics. The net effect is to restore philosophical discourse back toward the reality of the human condition in the context of the broader evolutionary context of life on earth without - and this I must say is the most amazing part of this book - resorting to fables-masked-as-science (evolutionary psychology).

George EP Box

Greg Pavlik - Mon, 2014-07-07 16:22
"Essentially, all models are wrong. Some models are useful."

The Other

Greg Pavlik - Thu, 2014-07-03 12:33
It is the nature of short essays or speeches that they can at best explore the surface of an idea. This is a surprisingly difficult task, since ideas worth exploring usually need to be approached with some rigor. The easy use of the speech form is to promote an idea to listeners or readers who already share a common view - that is one reason speeches are effective forms for political persuasion for rallying true believers. It's much more difficult to create new vantage points or vistas into a new world - a sense of something grander that calls for further exploration.

Yet this is exactly what Ryszard Kapuscinski accomplishes in his series of talks published as The Other. Here, the Polish journalist builds on his experience and most importantly on the reflections on the Lithuanian-Jewish philosopher Emmanual Levinas to reflect on how the encounter with the Other in a broad, cross cultural sense is the defining event - and opportunity - in late (or post) modernity. For Kapuscinski, the Other is the specifically the non-European cultures in which he spent most of his career as a journalist. For another reader it might be someone very much like Kapuscinski himself.

There are three simple points that Kapuscinski raises that bear attention:

1) The era we live in provides a unique, interpersonal opportunity for encounter with the Other - which is to say that we are neither in the area of relative isolation from the Other that dominated much of human history nor are we any longer in the phase of violent domination that marked the period of European colonial expansion. We have a chance to make space for encounter to be consistently about engagement and exchange, rather than conflict.

2) This encounter cannot primarily technical, its must be interpersonal. Technical means are not only anonymous but more conducive to inculcating mass culture rather than creating space for authentic personal engagement. The current period of human history - post industrial, urbanized, technological - is given to mass culture, mass movements, as a rule - this is accelerated by globalization and communications advances. And while it is clear that the early "psychological" literature of the crowd - and I am thinking not only of the trajectory set by Gustave LeBon, but the later and more mature reflections of Ortega y Gasset - were primarily reactionary, nonetheless they point consistently to the fact that the crowd involves not just a loss of identity, but a loss of the individual: it leaves little room for real encounter and exchange.

While the increasing ability to encounter different cultures offers the possibility of real engagement,  at the same time modern mass culture is the number one threat to the Other - in that it subordinates the value of whatever is unique to whatever is both common and most importantly sellable. In visiting Ukraine over the last few years, what fascinated me the most were the things that made the country uniquely Ukrainian. Following a recent trip, I noted the following in a piece by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on a visit to Karapchiv: "The kids here learn English and flirt in low-cut bluejeans. They listen to Rihanna, AC/DC and Taylor Swift. They have crushes on George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, watch “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” and play Grand Theft Auto. The school here has computers and an Internet connection, which kids use to watch YouTube and join Facebook. Many expect to get jobs in Italy or Spain — perhaps even America."

What here makes the Other both unique and beautiful is being obliterated by mass culture. Kristof is, of course, a cheerleader for this tragedy, but the true opportunity Kapuscinski asks us to look for ways to build up and offer support in encounter.

3) Lastly and most importantly, for encounter with the Other to be one of mutual recognition and sharing, the personal encounter must have an ethical basis. Kapuscinski observes that the first half of the last century was dominated by Husserl and Heidegger - in other words by epistemic and ontological models. It is no accident, I think, that the same century was marred by enormities wrought by totalizing ideologies - where ethics is subordinated entirely, ideology can rage out of control. Kapuscinski follows Levinas in response - ultimately seeing the Other as a source of ethical responsibility is an imperative of the first order.

The diversity of human cultures is, as Solzhenitzyn rightly noted, the "wealth of mankind, its collective personalities; the very least of them wears its own special colors and bears within itself a special facet of God's design." And yet is only if we can encounter the Other in terms of mutual respect and self-confidence, in terms of exchange and recognition of value in the Other, that we can actually see the Other as a treasure - one that helps ground who I am as much as reveals the treasure for what it is. And this is our main challenge - the other paths, conflict and exclusion, are paths we cannot afford to tread.

July 1, 1858: Co-discovery of Evolution by Natural Selection

FeuerThoughts - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:51
On this day in 1858, members of the Linnaean Society of London listened to the reading of a composite paper, with two authors, announcing the discovery of evolution by natural selection.

One author you've probably heard of: Charles Darwin

The other? Famous in his time, but in the 20th and 21st centuries largely forgotten: Alfred Russel Wallace.

Darwin was a Big Data scientist, spending 20 years after his trip to the Galapagos gathering data from his own experiments and from botanists around the world, to make his theory unassailable. Wallace was a field naturalist, studying species and variation, up close and very personal.

Both ended up in the same place at roughly the same time, driven by the inescapable conclusion from these three facts:

1. More organisms are born than can survive (for their full "normal" lifespan). 
2. Like father like son: we inherit characteristics from our parents
3. NOT like father like son: each offspring varies in some way from its parents.

So who/what survives to reproduce and pass on its genes? Or rather, who dies and why? You can die purely by accident. You are the biggest, strongest lion. Nothing can beat you. But a tree falls on you. Dead and gone.

Or you can survive because you have an advantage, however slight, that another in your species lacks. Your beak is slightly more narrow and lets you get at all the nuts on the tree. Your legs are slightly longer so you can avoid the tiger. And so on, everything sorting out how to eat, how to survive long enough to reproduce, from bacteria to coral to fish to mammals.

And with each passing generation, the mutations that help you survive get passed along, and so we (humans and everyone, everything) change - sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. But change we do. 

With this announcement on July 1, 1858, humans now had a way of understanding how the world works without having to fall back on some unknowable god or gods. And we have also been able to build on Wallace's and Darwin's insight to now understand, perhaps too well, how life works on our planet, and how similar we are to so many other species.

Which means - to my way of thinking - that we no longer have any excuses, we humans, for our ongoing devastation and depletion of our world and our co-inhabitants.

In a more rational world, in which humans shared their planet with everything around them, instead of consuming everything in sight, July 1 would be an international day of celebration.

Well, at least I posted a note on my blog! Plus I will go outside later and cut back invasives, to help native trees grow.

How will you celebrate International Evolution Day?

Here are some links to information about evolution, about the way these two men got to the point of announcing their discoveries, and more.

You will read in some of these articles about Wallace being "robbed" of his just fame and recognition; I must tell you that Wallace, in his own words and the way he lived his life, was gracious and generous in spirit. He always saw Darwin as the one who fully elaborated the theory, making its acceptance so instantly widespread across Europe. He did not seem the least bit jealous.

And Wallace was, in many ways, a far more interesting human being than Darwin. I encourage to check out his autobiography, My Life, as a way of being introduced to one of my heroes.

Categories: Development

Maven support for 12.1.3 Service Bus & SOA Suite artifacts

Edwin Biemond - Fri, 2014-06-27 15:56
With the 12.1.3 release of Oracle Service Bus and Oracle SOA Suite we finally can build all our soa projects with Maven. And this time we can do it natively without calling a utility like configjar or ANT from Maven . We start by setting all the required variables like JAVA_HOME,M2_HOME and PATH export JAVA_HOME=/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_45.jdk/Contents/Home/jre export M2_HOME=

A terribly oblivious ultra-rich man

FeuerThoughts - Mon, 2014-06-16 09:48
Steve Ballmer is a terribly oblivious ultra-rich man.

His offer of $2B for the Los Angeles Clippers is so ridiculously outsized and unjustified, plus it so richly rewards Sterling for, um, for saying something in private.

[Interesting to consider how in the US, land of free speech, this nasty brutish fellow is being punished -well he was being punished before Ballmer rewarded him - for his private thoughts. That's pretty awful when you think about it.]

Anyway back to Ballmer. His offer is so absurd that it becomes patently obvious to everyone that he has so much money it's simply no big deal for him to throw $2B on the table to unambiguously cinch the deal. 

The aristocracy in France did quite well, too, until they forgot that they were supposed to pretend at lesat a little bit that everyone else weren't virtually slaves for them. But when they got too flagrant, they paid, oh how they paid.

And here in the 21st century, in what is supposedly and still formally a democracy, with citizens supposedly being equal under the law, you really don't want to draw attention to your beyond obscene wealth.

Bad move, Ballmer. If I were a fellow billionaire, I'd get in touch and tell him to tone it down. 
Categories: Development

The closer you look....

FeuerThoughts - Mon, 2014-06-16 09:45
In the last couple of years, I have shifted my attention away from the human condition (wars here and there, cool new gadgets, etc.) to the non-human condition: the natural world of trees, water, creatures large and small, the process of evolution.

Along the way, I have been reminded that what you pay the most attention to is what your brain spends the most time thinking about (at least the parts of my brain that "I" am "conscious" of). So I need to be careful about what I pay attention to (one reason that I have stopped watching television almost completely). 

And spending ten plus hours a week outdoors, in the woods, cutting back invasives and rescuing trees, has reinforced this to me:

With living things, the more I watch and more closely I watch (and smell and taste), the more amazed I am by the wonders of life. And the more alive I feel,

With manufactured things, it is just the opposite.

The more closely I look at something made by humans, the more sterile, dead and energy-sucking it appears. And the more I watch (or smell or taste), the more deadened I feel.

Perhaps this is not such a big surprise, since everything that humans make is dead, and built upon the deaths of many creatures. Sorry if that sounds like such a downer, but I believe it is simply a statement of fact.

Anyway, no need to feel down. Just go outside, into the trees, into a field, away from things we make, take a deep breath, feel the sun on your face....and you will feel much better.
Categories: Development

Telling Tales

Greg Pavlik - Sun, 2014-06-08 18:50
After struggling to find time for many months, I finally was able to sit down and watch without interruption Benjamin Bagby's Beowulf performance - an adaptation that relies on Bagby's voice and a reconstruction of a 6th century 6 tone Anglo-Saxon harp. The performance is engrossing and provokes a strong imaginative response, one that would have been communally experienced. Of course the only way to revive a sense of communal experience in the case of Bagby is to see him perform live - however, given the performance is entirely in Old English and as such most unintelligible without subtitles, I think a digital adaptation may be a necessary tradeoff. In many ways, Bagby's Beowulf is a reminder of how impoverished our notion of entertainment is - ephemeral, base, isolating and essentially throw away as a rule.

By the way, it's not entirely the case that the English are unable to create something of the same texture today - several times during the performance I thought of Judith Weir's one person, unaccompanied opera King Harald's Saga. Weir's work is much shorter, principally a musical composition and less poetically rich, so it is difficult to compare the two directly: Beowulf remains the provenance of a balladeer first and foremost, and this is a genre that more and more feels lost to our world - poetry today rarely seems to be meant to be read allowed and even more rarely follows epic formats. This is a lost social phenomena, for which we are impoverished: in fact, the last long work of a balladeer I read was Ethiopian Enzira Sebhat, itself a medieval work dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The closest - though only indirectly comparable - works to the Enzira Sebhat that I am aware of currently being composed are akathistos hymns of the Russian Orthodox tradition. And while many of those recent compositions are less-than-accomplished literary works, they unquestionably represent a rich and living and at times very beautiful means of transmission of communal memory and values. I am not aware of any recent akathistos compositions that have the expressive beauty and originality of the Byzantine hymnographer Romanos the Melodist, the modern akathist has sometimes proven a source of inspiration for exceptionally great art: the late Sir John Tavener's setting of the "thanksgiving akathist" being perhaps the most significant case in point.

Memories of the way we were...

Greg Pavlik - Sat, 2014-05-31 16:13
The fascinating thing about Hadoop is the obviousness of its evolutionary needs. For example, MapReduce coupled with reliable scale out storage was a powerful - even revolutionary - effect for organizations with both lots of and multi-structured data. Out of the gate, Hadoop unlocked data "applications" that were for all intents and purposes unimplementable. At the same time, it didn't take much imagination to see that separating the compute model from resource management would be essential for future applications that did not fit well with MapReduce itself. It took a lot of work and care to get YARN defined, implemented and hardened, but the need for YARN itself was fairly obvious. Now it is here and Hadoop is no longer about "batch" data processing.

Note, however, it takes a lot of work to make the evolutionary changes available. In some cases, bolt on solutions have emerged to fill the gap. For key value data management, HBase is a perfect example. Several years ago, Eric Baldeschwieler was pointing out that HDFS could have filled that role. I think he was right, but the time it would take to get "HBase-type" functionality implemented via HDFS would have been a very long path indeed. In that case, the community filled the gap with HBase and it is being "back integrated" into Hadoop via YARN in a way that will make for a happier co-existence.

Right now we are seeing multiple new bolt on attempts to add functionality to Hadoop. For example, there are projects to add MPP databases on top of Hadoop itself. It's pretty obvious that this is at best a stop gap again - and one that comes at a pretty high price - I don't know of anyone that seriously thinks that a bolt on MPP is ultimately the right model for the Hadoop ecosystem. Since the open source alternatives look to be several years away from being "production ready", that raises an interesting question: is Hadoop evolution moving ahead at a similar or even more rapid rate to provide a native solution - a solution that will be more scalable, more adaptive and more open to a wider range of use cases and applications - including alternative declarative languages and compute models?

I think the answer is yes: while SQL on Hadoop via Hive is really the only open source game in town for production use cases - and its gotten some amazing performance gains in the first major iteration on Tez that we'll talk more about in the coming days - its clear that the Apache communities are beginning to deliver a new series of building blocks for data management at scale and speed: Optiq's Cost Based Optimizer; Tez for structuring multi-node operator execution; ORC and vectorization for optimal storage and compute; HCat for DDL. But what's missing? Memory management. And man has it ever been missing - that should have been obvious as well (and it was - one reason that so many people are interested in Spark for efficient algorithm development).

What we've seen so far has been two extremes available when it comes to supporting memory management (especially for SQL) - all disk and all memory. An obvious point here is that neither is ultimately right for Hadoop. This is a long winded intro to point to two, interrelated pieces by Julian Hyde and Sanjay Radia unveiling a model that is being introduced across multiple components called Discardable In-memory Materialized Query (DIMMQ). Once you see this model, it becomes obvious that the future of Hadoop for SQL - and not just SQL - is being implemented in real time. Check out both blog posts:

Do animals have souls?

FeuerThoughts - Thu, 2014-05-29 09:04
OK, first of all, don't tell me your answer to this question. That would make the rest of this post seem a bit rude.

Here is one of the dumbest questions I can ever imagine a person asking, much less answering:

Do animals have souls?

How utterly ridiculous.

No one knows what a soul is. No one knows what it looks like, what it means, whether or not it really exists.

Furthermore, we certainly have no idea - please allow me to repeat that because I think it is so fundamental to accept this as fact: we have no idea at all - of what is going on inside an animal’s head. Clearly, a whole lot is going on, if you take the time to pay attention to animals and think about what it takes to do what they do. But many of the things humans blithely state as fact regarding animals, such as “They don’t know the difference between right and wrong.” is fundamentally meaningless because we simply cannot know what is going on inside another creature’s mind. We just make the assumption that they are really super different from us in all the ways that matter - to us.

We are intelligent, moral, sentient. We are smart and they are dumb, brute animals. We are conscious, we have history, philosophy, nuclear power. What do animals have? Nothing!

Oh really? How do we know what animals have? Or even what “have” means to a butterfly or a snake or a black bear? Again, we really have no idea whatsoever what animals have, what they want, or how they would feel about killing others just to make themselves comfortable (something that we humans do every second of every day).

So we make the most self-serving assumption imaginable. We simply outright declare that other creatures have no souls, are not sentient. They are food or threat or benign, but they are not like us.

We will continue to reject the evidence of our senses, the clear demonstrations of sentience, of complex social structures, in other animals. That way we don’t have to feel bad about enslaving them and killing them. Think for just a moment about how smart pigs are, and then think about pig farms in which tens of thousands of these poor creatures live short miserable lives - brought into this world for the very purpose of slaughtering them for bacon. And then later a dam bursts and an entire town is swamped with pig feces from the refuse lake at the farm. Go, humans, go!

I sure am glad there wasn’t and isn’t a species of creature on this planet that's three times our size, extremely powerful and licking its lips at the prospect of a nicely smoked human torso. 

We do not know what goes on inside a pig’s head, but it sure seems like they can feel and express terror. 

So, yes, humans will keep on keeping on, keep on consuming, reproducing, and assuming. But that doesn't mean we can’t try to recover a shred, a mere shred, of our individual dignity by at least acknowledging what we are doing, and taking at least one step, no matter how small to help heal our planet and our co-inhabitants.

We can start by acknowledging, accepting, that the thing that we believe makes us unique and special among all living things is simply an unknowable assumption we make. It is an arbitrary, self-serving action - and brings into question the very idea that humans can be considered moral creatures. 
Categories: Development

Configure Coherence HotCache

Edwin Biemond - Tue, 2014-02-04 22:29
Coherence can really accelerate and improve your application because it's fast, high available, easy to setup and it's scalable. But when you even use it together with the JCache framework of Java 8 or the new Coherence Adapter in Oracle SOA Suite and OSB 12c it will even be more easier to use Coherence as your main HA Cache.  Before Coherence 12.1.2 when you want to use Coherence together with

REST, SSE or WebSockets on WebLogic 10.3.6

Edwin Biemond - Wed, 2014-01-15 14:10
WebLogic 10.3.6 comes with Jersey1.9 and has no support for Server Side Events or WebSockets. But for one of our projects we are making a HTML5 / AngularJS application, which need to invoke some RESTful services and we also want to use of SSE or WebSockets. Off course we can use WebLogic 12.1.2 but we already have an OSB / SOA Suite WebLogic 10.3.6 environment. So when you want to pimp your

new Puppet 3 Weblogic provisioning module

Edwin Biemond - Sun, 2013-11-24 14:22
The last few weeks I was busy re-writing of my puppet WLS module so it fully supports the power of Puppet 3 (thanks for more than 4000 downloads on puppet forge and all the github downloads). With Puppet 3 we now can use Hiera, Iterations and Lambdas expression. This does not sound like a big change but with Hiera and the new Puppet Language features, I can define big WebLogic Domains without

Creating your own Virtualbox Development Images

Edwin Biemond - Sat, 2013-11-16 15:11
For my Oracle Puppet provisioning development I can't do without these create image tools: Packer and Vagrant in combination with Oracle VirtualBox or VMware.  In this blogpost I will explain what these tools can do for you and how you can make your own images and use puppet as provisioning tool. With Vagrant you can create your own virtual images and it can start puppet or chef to do all the

The road ahead for WebLogic 12c

Edwin Biemond - Sat, 2013-10-19 13:07
Before we can describe all the new features of WebLogic 12.1.3 & 12.1.4 and compare this to the 12.1.2 version we should first take a look at the 10.3.6 version. WebLogic 10.3.6 is still the latest 11g version but Oracle will support 10.3.6 till 2018 and extended support till 2021. So Oracle’s Fusion Apps and we have enough time to migrate to WebLogic 12.1.X. Oracle also promised that the upgrade

Oracle JHeadstart Now Available

JHeadstart - Mon, 2013-09-30 05:15

Oracle JHeadstart is now available. This is a maintenance release for JDeveloper 11g R1. Oracle JHeadstart 12c, a new release that will be compatible with JDeveloper 12c is currently planned to become general available later this calendar year. 

This release contains the following new features:

  • UI Tree Checked for Pending Changes: Prior to this release, pending changes were only detected in the model, after the JSF lifecycle phase "Update Model" was executed to update the underlying ADF model bindings. This implied that for menu item commands the immediate property had to be set to false to detect the last changes made by the user that were not yet sent to the server, otherwise the "Update Model" phase was skipped. However, with immediate=false, the end user could not abandon pages with invalid or incomplete data as validation errors occurred before the menu navigation could take place. So, the choice was to either limit the navigation freedom of the end user, or accept the fact that the pending changes alert was not always shown. With this new release this problem is solved. All menu items have immediate=false allowing complete freedom to navigate away, while the latest changes are also detected because JHeadstart now inspects the UI Components in the page UI tree for any changes. The UI Components are always updated with the latest value, also when immediate is set to true because the UI components are updated in JSF lifecycle phase "Apply Request Values" which is always executed, regardless of the setting of the immediate property. The inspection of the UI tree is performed in a new managed bean class PendingChangesVisitCallBack. This class is generated as managed bean in JhsCommon-beans.xml. If for some reason you want to keep the old behavior, and not inspect the UI tree for pending changes, you can add the following property to the ApplicationDefinition.xml file:
    Note that you need to set this property directly in the xml file, it is not visible in the JHeadstart Application Definition editor. If this property is set to false, the PendingChangesVisitCallBack bean is not generated and the menu item commands are generated again with immediate=false.
  • Ability to override generated item properties: The item-level property "Additional Properties" has been renamed to "Additional / Overriding Properties" can now be used as well to override standard generated properties. If you specify a property in "Additional / Overriding Properties" then this property always 'wins', it will override a property by the same name that was generated by the same item template. This signifcantly reduces the need for custom item templates.
  • Support for Skyros Skin: If you wan to use the new Skyros skin introduced in JDeveloper, you should change the JHS_PAGE_TEMPLATE setting at application level from default/misc/file/jhsPageTemplate.vm to default/misc/file/jhsPageTemplateSkyros.vm. This new template is optmized for the Skyros skin, and also uses the new af:panelGridLayout component.

See the JHeadstart Release Notes for a list of bugs fixed in this release.

See the support matrix for supported JDeveloper releases.
Customers who own a JHeadstart supplement option license can download it from the Consulting Supplement Option portal. 

For a complete list of all JHeadstart features, use this link. For detailed information on all the features, check out the comprehensive JHeadstart Developer's guide. Want to try JHeadstart yourself? Do the tutorial using the JHeadstart evaluation version that you can install using Help -> Check for Updates functionality in JDeveloper.

Categories: Development

Custom Jersey WADL generation

Edwin Biemond - Thu, 2013-08-22 14:46
I had a situation where the auto generated WADL did not match with my Rest services. The first difference was that the response is presented as an object instead of a collection of objects and the second one is that it could not handle JSONWithPadding as response.  Because I use this WADL in my Rest client generation, I need to fix these issues. Lucky for me, Jersey JAX-RS allows us to provide

Coherence 12.1.2 Rest application build with OEPE

Edwin Biemond - Sun, 2013-08-11 16:20
With WebLogic 12.1.2 Oracle also released a new version of Coherence and OEPE. The 12.1.2 release contains many new Coherence features like WebLogic Managed Coherence Servers and Coherence Grid Archive ( GAR ) which can be included in an normal EAR. Coherence also has some nice new REST features like direct & named queries,  Custom Query engines and new Security options. Plus with OEPE you can


Edwin Biemond - Thu, 2013-08-01 07:39
With WebLogic 12.1.2 Oracle now also supports JAX-WS SOAP over JMS. Before 12.1.2 we had to use JAX-RPC and without any JDeveloper support. We need to use ANT to generate all the web service code. See this blogpost for all the details. In this blogpost I will show you all the necessary JDeveloper steps to create a SOAP over JMS JAX-WS Web Service  ( Bottom up approach) and generate a Web


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