an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.


Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.


[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|

image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
(Linares 2002, 1-0)


about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.



Zwichenzug culture watch, NCAA Tournament edition
They made me the keeper of the vineyards
Transit strike blogs
An indirect citation
Holding Zone

The roads must roll
Notes from the peanut gallery
Democracy NOW! (okay, tomorrow)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy a...


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$zwichenzug$ sell-out zone





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Union Label

Direct Action
Gets the Goods!


some folks I know

Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
Safety Neal
January Girl
mimi jingcha
Hop, Skip, Jump
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian


some blogs I read

strip mining for whimsy
It's Matt's World
School of Blog
Fall of the State
Dru Blood
Echidne of the Snakes
Colossal Waste of Bandwidth
Running from the Thought Police
Bionic Octopus


some philosoblogs

Fake Barn Country
Freiheit und Wissen


some labor blogs

Confined Space
Working Life
Dispatches From the Trenches
Labor Blog
Eric Lee


some A-list blogs

This Modern World
Matthew Yglesias
Andrew Sullivan
Political Animal
The Volokh Conspiracy


some other links

Rule 33
This Week in Chess
War Nerd
National Priorities Project
Bible Gateway
Internet Archive
A Weekly Dose of Architecture
Orsinal: Morning Sunshine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Safety Sign Builder
Get Your War On


some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism
Internalism v. Externalism
What do internalists believe anyway?
Rationalism and internalism
The experimental method in philosophy
Advertising to children
On moral skepticism
A linguistic argument
More on Williams
Williams on reasons
General and particular
Normativity and morality
Political intuitions
What it is, what it was, and what it shall be
Objectivity and morality
Thinking revolution
Abortion and coercion
Moore on torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more Deliberation Day
more Deliberation Day
Deliberation Day run-down
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge, cont.
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge
Every shepherd is an abomination
Droppin' H-bombs
ad hominem

Saturday, March 20, 2004


You talkin' to me?

Don't get me wrong. Tang and Velcro are great, but NASA's latest looks like a real humdinger. They've apparently figured out how to detect words that you think but don't speak.

The technique involves small sensors on the neck and powerful pattern recognition software. These sensors detect nerve impulses sent to the muscles responsible for generating speech (I guess that when you think the word the nerve impulse is strong enough to be detected, but not strong enough to cause any noticeable twitch in the muscles). The pattern recognition software then correlates these impulses with simple words or commands. So far, the vocabulary is very small -- less than 20 words. But they've been able to use that simple vocabulary for tasks as complex as browsing the internet.

There are clearly a lot of uses for this kind of technology, even if the vocabulary remains limited. NASA talks about using it to allow astronauts to more efficiently control remote devices. It occurs to me that this technology could really improve the lives of the severely disabled. Commercially, well, there will be a lot of very cool gadgets. And, of course, the technology raises all sorts of philosophical issues as well.

For example, this development sheds light on our concept of action. Most people think that there is a significant difference between thinking something and saying it. So if I'm standing in line for the premiere of Hellboy and think "Jerk!" when you cut in front of me, nobody would say that I've insulted you. On the other hand, if I was decked out in NASA gear that routed my thoughts through a loudspeaker, we probably would say that I'd insulted you. We might even say that if I didn't know about the NASA gear. In the first case I didn't perform an action, in the second I did, and in the third I may have.

One thing that's interesting here is how easily our concept adapts to the new circumstances. We are easily able to accommodate the new facts which move some thoughts from the realm of the private into the realm of the public. The complexities of the third kind of case aren't different from the sorts of complexities we're used to dealing with (imagine that you called your boss a jerk when you were sure that she was out of earshot). At the same time, the sensitivity of the concept to changes in circumstances dramatically illustrates that whether or not I have performed an action isn't a fact about me in isolation. Instead, its a fact about a complex social situation of which I am a part. That is, its a fact about my relations to other people.


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