The mathematics of desire

By Gordon Rugg

When I was an undergrad, back in the day, a lot of the campus graffiti looked as if it had been written by someone who had dropped acid shortly beforehand. One example read: “The Tao that can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao”.

Another said: “Tell me what you want, and I will give you what you need”. That particular concept stuck in my mind, and it’s one I still use in my work on requirements.

What do people want, and what do they crave, and what do they need, and what are the implications? Those are questions central to our world and our values, and they’ve been around for millennia, but they’ve never been properly answered. In recent years, though, research has produced some fascinating new insights into these old questions.

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Monday mood lifter: Alaskan flat tyre

The title says it all…

alaskan flat tire

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/416653402997501398/

Compassionate readers will be reassured to know that no animals were harmed during the making of this image – the grin on the face of the man on the sledge is a giveaway that this is just another case of huskies being huskies. If you want to know what “huskies being huskies” means, then you could try doing an image search for “Moon Moon”. The results will be suitable for work, but might make you spit coffee over your keyboard, so be careful…

Barbara Cartland meets H.P. Lovecraft, Episode 5

By Gordon Rugg

This article is the concluding part of a serial inspired by the concept of Dame Barbara Cartland writing with H.P. Lovecraft. In it, sentences from a Dame Barbara novel and from a Lovecraft short story have been stitched together into a startling new creation by an anonymous narrator. We have seen the two authors’ styles mesh seamlessly together in the previous episodes, but how will they handle the transition from depictions of anguished fear into the gentler climes of love?

The story so far…

In arguably the greatest love story since Twilight, the Earl of Rockbrook has been tempted by the wicked Lady Louise Welwyn. Convalescing in a nearby manor house after a riding accident, he falls in love with the beautiful Purilla, and asks her to marry him, so that they can return to his estate and live happily ever after. Will her response leave him as damaged emotionally as he was damaged physically by the fall? Or will she reveal a passion that matches his? What searing emotions will be revealed by her answer, and will the story end with the two living happily ever after, or will it have a twist of eldritch horror?

cartland4

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Game theory

By Gordon Rugg

I’m interested in game theory for various reasons. One reason is that it makes sense of a wide range of phenomena which otherwise look baffling.

Another is that it can be combined with approaches such as Transactional Analysis and script theory, to provide systematic and rigorous analyses of how individual people view the world, and what the likely outcomes will be when those views collide with other people’s views, or with the things that life throws at us.

It’s a powerful technique, and it often produces unexpected and counter-intuitive results.

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Monday Mood Lifter – YMCA in Cantonese

By Gordon Rugg

If you’re tired and jaded, and even fish rubbing or hunting stuffed moose can’t bring a sparkle into your life, then fear not, since help is at hand.

This is the inimitable George Lam version of YMCA. It’s completely suitable for work; the only thing it lacks is a video to do justice to the unique qualities of this cover. Though, thinking about it, I’m not sure whether any video could do justice to it…

Anyway, here it is; I hope it brightens your day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUye5UxO-54

PS: As an added bonus, if you liked that, you could go on to try his cover of Uptown Girl (with suitable-for-work video of a live performance, on a Segway, sung and subtitled in English and Cantonese). You’re unlikely ever to see anything else quite like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoUkRYDLbNQ

 

 

 

Barbara Cartland meets H.P. Lovecraft, Episode 4

By Gordon Rugg

This article is the penultimate instalment of a serial inspired by the concept of Dame Barbara Cartland writing with H.P. Lovecraft. In it, sentences from a Dame Barbara novel and from a Lovecraft short story have been stitched together into an unhealthy palimpsest recounted by an anonymous narrator. Previously, we have seen the inner torment of the hero, inimitably recounted by the two authors playing to their own unique strengths. How will they depict romance, when it enters the tale?

The story so far…

The Earl of Rockbrook is torn between the pure true love he craves and the barren, gnarled and terrrible fate which lurks before him, in the sensuous form of Lady Louise Welwyn. To distract himself from that eldritch horror he has gone riding, but has been knocked unconscious when his horse trips in a rabbit hole.

cartland4

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Systems Theory

By Gordon Rugg

Systems theory is about what happens when individual items are connected and become a system. “Items” in this context can be anything physical and/or abstract, which gives you a pretty huge scope. Systems are ubiquitous. Examples include mechanical systems such as vehicles; social systems such as organisations or countries; and logical systems, such as software. Many of these systems can cause disasters when they fail, as in the examples of nuclear power plant safety systems or autopilot systems in aircraft; systems are important.

There are regularities in how systems behave, and some of those regularities are both counter-intuitive and extremely important. That’s a potentially dangerous combination.

If you understand systems theory, then the world makes a lot more sense, particularly if you combine it with game theory, which will be the topic of one of my next articles. Most questions that start with “Why don’t they…?” can be answered either with “Resources” or “Systems theory” or “Game theory”.

In this article, I’ll look at some core concepts from systems theory.

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