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Spirit of Place

Spirit of Place

Charles MacLean


An excellent guide, both to the distilleries and their surroundings. The pictures are quite amazing, and often capture details of the distilling process that are being lost or overtaken at many distilleries.

5/5. Finished 26 March 2017.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The World Until Yesterday

The World Until Yesterday

Jared Diamond


Perhaps the best summary discussion of the differences between traditional and modern societies one could imagine. Diamond is both an expert in his field and an expert in communicating its intricacies – and he doesn't shy away from the details in making often subtle points.

There is no romance here for traditional ways of life: no room for Rousseau. It's a life that many traditional peoples, when offered the choice, abandon with little regret. The perils of the traditional life are many, not least from other members of neighbouring tribes or bands. Diamond makes an identical point to that made by Stephen PinkerStephen Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity: modern societies are by far the most stable and peaceful social structures we've ever created. But there are other hazards: skin scratches are elevated to the ranks of the top-five causes of death (from infection). Diamond himself makes the point, in his excellent concluding chapter, that despite his emotional and professional commitment to New Guinea, he's never considered moving there.

Diamond is at his strongest when discussing war, lifestyle, and religion – and he deals sure-footedly with that most difficult of topics. He's less deft in dealing with the diseases of different societies: not because of any lack of mastery, but because the detail feels overwrought somehow. But that's a minor complaint for a book that's overwhelmingly detailed and balanced, and that tries to draw out the best of traditional societies in a way that might find application for we moderns, without ever losing sight of the fact that the modern world is in many ways an infinitely more preferable place in which to actually live.

4/5. Finished 16 March 2017.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

Steven Pinker


A comprehensive look at an important problem of perception.

I sort of disagree with Pinker's hypothesis that most people believe the world is more violent than in the past: than in the recent past, perhaps, but I don't think anyone really disputes that the past 2,000 years had more violence in them. Where dispute arises, I think, is when one considers pre-State or pre-chiefdom level societies: did small bands live in harmony, as Rousseau and his followers would have us believe? Pinker's answer is a clear "no", when one considers the death rates of small-society violence.

But in some ways this is an essay manifesting itself as a book. The introduction and conclusion are quite compelling in their own rights: violence has decreased, people do live more peaceful and safe lives now than at any other point in history, local eruptions of extreme violence notwithstanding. The rest of the book provides the evidence, and it's vitally important that it's been collected, synthesised, and analysed by someone as skilled as Pinker. And it's the source of fascinating anecdotes that it's a shame to risk missing – but its very depth and length make that risk real, as well as becoming lost in the fascinating but ultimately inconsequential analyses of a certain body of evidence. It's a depth that's necessary for a research work or thesis, but perhaps off-putting for a casual reader.

4/5. Finished 04 March 2017.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Call for papers: 11th IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems

SASO 2017 is now accepting paper submissions. Come and join us in Arizona!

SASO 2017

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ · 18-22 September 2017

Aims and Scope

The aim of the Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems conference series (SASO) is to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of research on the foundations of engineered systems that self-adapt and self-organize. The complexity of current and emerging networks, software, and services can be characterized by issues such as scale, heterogeneity, openness, and dynamics in the environment. This has led the software engineering, distributed systems, and management communities to look for inspiration in diverse fields (e.g., complex systems, control theory, artificial intelligence, chemistry, psychology, sociology, and biology) to find new ways of designing and managing such computing systems in a principled way. In this endeavor, self-organization and self-adaptation have emerged as two promising interrelated approaches. They form the basis for many other so-called self-* properties, such as self-configuration, self-healing, or self-optimization. SASO aims to be an interdisciplinary meeting, where contributions from participants with different backgrounds leads to the fostering of a cross-pollination of ideas, and where innovative theories, frameworks, methodologies, tools, and applications can emerge. The eleventh edition of the SASO conference embraces this inter-disciplinary nature, and welcomes novel contributions to both the foundational and application-focused dimensions of self-adaptive and self-organizing systems research. The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Systems theory: nature-inspired and socially-inspired paradigms and heuristics; inter-operation of self-* mechanisms; theoretical frameworks and models; control theory;
  • System properties: robustness; resilience; stability; anti-fragility; diversity; self-reference and reflection; emergent behavior; computational awareness and self-awareness;
  • Systems engineering: reusable mechanisms and algorithms; design patterns; architectures; methodologies; software and middleware development frameworks and methods; platforms and toolkits; multi-agent systems;
  • Theory and practice of organization: self-governance, change management, electronic institutions, distributed consensus, commons, knowledge management, and the general use of rules, policies, etc. in self-* systems
  • Theory and practice of adaptation: mechanisms for adaptation, including evolution, logic, learning; adaptability, plasticity, flexibility
  • Socio-technical systems: human and social factors; visualization; crowdsourcing and collective awareness; humans-in-the-loop; ethics and humanities in self-* systems;
  • Data-driven approaches: data mining; machine learning; data science and other statistical techniques to analyze, understand, and manage behavior of complex systems;
  • Self-adaptive and self-organizing hardware: self-* materials; self-construction; reconfigurable hardware;
  • Education: experience reports; curricula; innovative course concepts; methodological aspects of self-* systems education;
  • Applications and experiences with self-* systems in any of the following domains are of particular interest:
    • Smart systems: smart grids, smart cities, smart environments, smart homes, etc.
    • Industrial automation: embedded self-* systems, adaptive industrial plants, Industry 4.0, cyber physical systems
    • Transportation: autonomous vehicles, traffic optimization
    • Autonomous systems: aerial vehicles, undersea vehicles, autonomous robotics
    • Internet of Things: self-* for network management, self-* applied to cyber security
We are looking for contributions that present new fundamental understanding of self-adaptive and self-organizing systems and how they can be engineered and used, including: novel theoretical or experimental results, novel design patterns, mechanisms, system architectures, frameworks, tools, and practical experiences in building or deploying systems and applications. Contributions contrasting different approaches for engineering a given family of systems, or demonstrating the applicability of a certain approach for different systems, are equally encouraged. Likewise, papers describing substantial innovation or insights in the use and communication of self-* systems in the classroom are welcome. Where relevant and appropriate, accepted papers will also be encouraged to participate in the Demo or Poster Sessions.

Important Dates

Abstract submission May 1, 2017
Paper submission May 10, 2017
Notification June 30, 2017
Camera ready copy due July 12, 2017
Conference September 18-22, 2017

Submission Instructions

Submissions can be up to 10 pages, formatted according to the standard IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide, and submitted electronically in PDF format. Please submit your papers using the SASO 2017 conference management system: The proceedings will be published by IEEE Computer Society Press, and made available as a part of the IEEE Digital Library. Note that a separate Call for Poster and Demo Submissions will also be issued. As per the standard IEEE policies, all submissions should be original, i.e., they should not have been previously published in any conference proceedings, book, or journal and should not currently be under review for another archival conference. We also highlight IEEE’s policies regarding plagiarism and self-plagiarism (

Review Criteria

Papers should present novel ideas in the cross-disciplinary research context described in this call, motivated by problems from current practice or applied research. Both theoretical and empirical contributions should be highlighted, substantiated by formal analysis, simulation, experimental evaluations, or comparative studies, etc. Appropriate references must be made to related work. Because SASO is a cross-disciplinary conference, we encourage papers to be intelligible and relevant to researchers who are not members of the same specialized sub-field. Authors are also encouraged to submit papers describing applications. Application papers should provide an indication of the real-world relevance of the problem that is solved, including a description of the domain, and an evaluation of performance, usability, or comparison to alternative approaches. Experience papers are also welcome, especially if they highlight insights into any aspect of design, implementation or management of self-* systems that would be of benefit to practitioners and the SASO community. All submissions will be rigorously peer reviewed and evaluated based on the quality of their technical contribution, originality, soundness, significance, presentation, understanding of the state of the art, and overall quality.

Contact Information

Conference General Chair

Ada Diaconescu Telecom Paris-Tech, Paris, FR

Program Chairs

Peter Lewis, Aston University, Birmingham, UK Sam Malek, University of California, Irvine, USA Hella Seebach, Augsburg University, Augsburg, DE

FAS* 2017 Call for Workshops

Workshops now open for the  FAS* (ICCAC and SASO) conferences in Arizona in September The FAS* 2017 Steering Committee invites proposals for the Workshop Program to be held along with the technical conferences SASO 2017 and ICCAC 2017. FAS*W workshops will provide a meeting for presenting novel ideas in a less formal and possibly  ore focused way than the conferences themselves. Their aim is to stimulate and facilitate active exchange, interaction, and comparison of approaches, methods, and ideas related to specific topics, both theoretical and applied, in the general area of Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems as well as Cloud and Autonomic Computing. To motivate the discussion and participation of all the workshop attendants, we encourage organizers to get away of the typical "mini-conference" format of a workshop, and include more discussion sessions, panels, etc. Members from all areas of the SASO and ICCAC communities are invited to submit workshop proposals for review. Workshops on global challenges, applications or on new and emerging topics are particularly encouraged. Workshops can vary in length, but most will be one full day in duration. Optionally, if desired by the organizers, workshop proceedings can be published through IEEE. Attendance of workshops will be included in the registration fee for the main SASO/ICCAC conference.

Important dates

  • Workshop proposal submission deadline: April 7, 2017*
  • Workshop acceptance notification: April 14, 2017*
  • CfP submission deadline: April 21, 2017
  • Workshop paper submission deadline: July 7, 2017
  • Workshop paper acceptance notification: July 21, 2017
  • Early registration deadline: TBD
  • Camera-ready papers due: July 26, 2017
  • Workshop notes submission to workshop chairs: July 28, 2017
  • Workshops dates: September 18 & 22, 2017
* Please submit your workshop proposals as soon as possible (i.e. before April 7)! We will try to decide earlier on workshop acceptance in order to give the organizers more time to solicit papers.

Requirements for submission

Proposals for workshops should be separated in two parts. The first part should be organized as preliminary call for papers or call for participation, depending on the intended format of the workshop, with a maximum of two pages and contain the following information: PART 1:
  • Title of the workshop.
  • A brief technical description of the workshop, specifying the workshop goals, the technical issues that it will address, and the relevance of the workshop to the main conferences. Please specify, which of the two main conferences the workshop assigned to (if any)!
  • Description of paper review process (if any) and acceptance standards in order to keep the workshop high in quality. Note that papers must be in the same format as the conference proceedings and may not be more than 6 pages in length.
  • The names, affiliations, postal addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of the proposed workshop organizing committee. This committee should consist of three or four people knowledgeable about the technical issues to be addressed. The organizing committee should include individuals from multiple institutions.
  • The primary email address for contacting the organizing committee.
  • Expected duration of the workshop (half or full day). - A brief description of the workshop format.
  • List of potential program committee members (if applicable), including their title and affiliations.
  • List of potential invited speakers, panelists, or disputants (if applicable).
PART 2: The second part with a maximum of three pages should contain additional information not suitable for a Call for Papers, including:
  • A discussion of why and to whom the workshop is of interest.
  • A list of related workshops held within the last three years, if any, and their relation to the proposed workshop.
  • Information about previous offerings of the proposed workshop: when and where it has been offered in the past, organizers names and affiliations, number of submissions, acceptances and registered attendees.
  • An indication of the envisaged acceptance rate (if applicable).
  • A description of the qualifications of the individual committee members with respect to organizing a SASO or ICCAC workshop, including a list of workshops previously arranged by any members of the proposed organizing committee, if any.
  • A list of places (distribution lists, web sites, journals, etc.) where the workshop is planned to be advertised.
All proposals should be submitted in plain ASCII text or PDF format by electronic mail to the FAS*W 2017 Workshop Chairs, via Christopher Frantz, as described below.

Selection Criteria

The selection of the workshops to be included in the final FAS* 2017 Workshop program will be based upon multiple factors, including:
  • the scientific/technical interest of the topics,
  • the quality of the proposal,
  • complementarity with the conference topics,
  • balance and distinctness of workshop topics, and
  • the capacity of the conference workshop program.
Note that authors of proposals addressing similar and/or overlapping content areas and/or audiences may be requested to merge their proposals.

Responsibilities of FAS* 2017 Workshop Chairs

For all accepted proposals, FAS* 2017 will be responsible for:
  • Providing publicity for the workshop series as a whole. - Providing logistical support and a meeting place for the workshops.
  • Together with the organizers, determining the workshop date and time.
  • Liaising and coordinating between the workshop chairs and the finance chair, publicity chair, registration chair, and web chair for FAS*.
  • Arranging for publication of proceedings.

Responsibilities of Workshop Organizers

Workshop organizers will be responsible for the following:
  • Setting up a web site for the workshop.
  • Advertising the workshop (and the main FAS* conference), and issuing a call for papers and a call for participation.
  • Collecting and evaluating submissions, notifying authors of acceptance or rejection on a timely basis, and ensuring a transparent and fair selection process. All workshop organizers commit themselves to adopt the deadlines set by the committee.
  • Making the pdf of the whole workshop notes available to the workshop chair, as well as a list of audio-visual requirements and any special room requirements.
  • Writing a 1-page organizers' introduction for the workshop proceedings. Ensuring that the workshop organizers and the participants register for the workshop and/or the main conference (at least one author must register for the paper to appear in the proceedings).
FAS* reserves the right to cancel any workshop if the above responsibilities are not fulfilled, or if too few attendees register for the workshop to support its running costs.

Submissions and Inquiries

Please send proposals (as a PDF document) and inquiries to: Christopher Frantz ( or Jeremy Pitt (