I’ve had some great teachers over the years, but the best of them all is someone I’ve never met in person: David Powers, author of several instructional books and videos on dynamic web design using PHP, MySQL, and Adobe Dreamweaver. Powers has an uncanny ability to anticipate problems just as they arise, and to fix them. He deserves almost all of the credit for this experimental blog, which has the basic functionality of a Wordpress site, with the PHP code stripped down to its bare essentials. That makes it fully understandable and controllable by a single administrator. But wait… did I say “understandable”? — Well, yes: a Wordpress blog is a brilliant thing, but it’s as complicated as anything else created by a team of specialists, such as a car. No single specialist can be familiar with all the other specialists’ specialisms. No car driver or Wordpress user can honestly claim to understand exactly how every part of his entire vehicle works. But with a simple, functional blog like this one — I’m completely on top of it, thanks to David Powers!

Religion explained

Religion is a funny thing. It presents special problems to people (like me) who think religious beliefs are mostly false, because religion seems to be a human universal. More

The significance of desire

Most of us have an under-inflated concept of desire, and an over-inflated concept of belief. We happily accept that beliefs are fairly detailed representational states — so that taken together they prompt the metaphor of an “inner world”. More

What are paradigms?

Two books made a huge impression on me as a young man. Both literally kept me awake at night, although for very different reasons. More

The tyranny of conditioning

From a very early age, I detested learning by rote. My refusal to engage in this soul-destroying activity led me to my first brush with criminality, when I tried to cheat while reciting the seven times tables. More

What is the positive concept of liberty?

Isaiah Berlin famously distinguished a “negative” and a “positive” concept of freedom. The negative concept is straightforward, but what can be made of the positive concept? More

Are there laws in biology?

Laws are bits of language that describe regularities in nature. If the laws are true, the regularities are real. More