Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-10-19 - 6:53 a.m.

More with Laurence and the Chinese room of dog-feelings. We think we agree about the question – and also about some of the big areas of uncertainty, especially the maths. The problem with maths is that no one understands it – even the people who can do it don’t seem to be able to give a good account of what it is that they are doing. There are several competing theories of what maths is and these theories in themselves are harder to understand than a fair amount of the maths itself. I think musicians do better at what music is than mathematicians on the nature of maths.

So how can anyone work out an overall theory of maths when the mathematicians can’t agree what they are doing and the proportion of people who either want to or are able to appreciate the differences between the different accounts of doing maths is miniscule and declining. Obviously most people neither know nor care what maths is and yet we keep on trusting mathematicians eg with our mortgages yet alone our physical theories. No wonder the French are alarmed at the digitization of the lifeworld – they tend to take analysis more serioulsy then everyone else.

I may have mentioned that Emily had posted an excellent editorial on the kk site – accessible at the top of this page. This has led me to an even better speech by Zachie Achmat . You can find it here:


On one level its (yet another) argument against multicultralism and in favour of radical enlightenment values. I sent a copy to Captain Peter plus a bit of analysis to go with it looking at some of the developments since the Clinton-Adorno rapprochment – which is roughly where we were on the kk site. He seems to sign up to this characterisation of the current state of affairs. James McG says he has been listening to the MfHV record. We are exchanging a few thoughts about the way ‘getting better’ works on sgt pepper.

Keith Mice-Beefheart Jordan, an old sparring partner of Capt P, went off to Pembroke College today for a bit of learning and a decent supper. Our man at Pembroke has agreed to come to the annual dinner along with the Captain where KMBJ will be hosting. I will sadly be on a plane to Valencia but there may be compensations, I suppose. (Laurence is off to Rome next week.)

I think I may have finished this week’s project with upgraded versions of the introduction, conclusions and recommendations . I thought maybe I would use total factor productivity theory. Normally the maths surrounding this is intimidating and so for obvious reasons I have taken a different path. I have looked at 10 industrial sectors between 1998 and 2004 comparing totals for the period 1998-2000 with period 2001-2004 – for labour cost, capital expenditure and value added. To what extent are changes in value added related to changes in capital labour and capital or what extent to the third factor which goes by the name total factor productivity?

To simplify the analysis I have multiplied the labour input by the capital input to create a single input variable, plotting the output measure and the input measure on a biplot and located the centre of gravity of the spread. The only other parameter I need is the slope of the line of averageness – which passes through the centre of gravity - and I have had a rough go at that. The aim is to get to total factor productivity as the residual in terms of the distance between the sector point on the bi-plot and the line of averageness. So I have found a line of averageness I can segment the sectors into three groups in terms of – those which are on the line of averageness – those which are higher and those which are lower – and this gives an approximation of the effectiveness of each sector in terms of its utlisation of capital and labour. The prime point is that our sector is in the right group – the above average group. The other sectors in that segment are the ones you would expect – making computer equipment and making medical equipment. The average sectors are more of a mixed bag.

A new task has arisen which looks set to take several weeks. I think I may have to get on top of the microsoft desk top publishing software to do this – it may provide an excuse to get stuck into nore detail about central and eastern europe,

I have started to read a detective novel about drug smuggling. It arrived in the post along with the EBTG acoustic album.

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