Archive for September, 2012

Paul Ekman discusses emotions and their visual cues

September 30, 2012 | By | Reply More

In this article at Big Think, Paul Ekman discusses micro-expressions, subtle cues that could tell others what we are really feeling, if only those other people were trained to spot those micro-expressions.

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Matt Taibbi uses the current election to illustrate our completely corrupt political process

September 30, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More

Once again, I’m a bit embarrassed that I can’t think of ANYTHING to disagree with while reading an article by Matt Taibbi. Here’s an excerpt:

If the clichés are true and the presidential race always comes down to which candidate the American people “wants to have a beer with,” how many Americans will choose to sit at the bar with the coiffed Wall Street multimillionaire who fires your sister, unapologetically pays half your tax rate, keeps his money stashed in Cayman Islands partnerships or Swiss accounts in his wife’s name, cheerfully encourages finance-industry bailouts while bashing “entitlements” like Medicare, waves a pom-pom while your kids go fight and die in hell-holes like Afghanistan and Iraq and generally speaking has never even visited the country that most of the rest of us call the United States, except to make sure that it’s paying its bills to him on time? Romney is an almost perfect amalgam of all the great out-of-touch douchebags of our national cinema . . .

The fact that Barack Obama needed a Himalayan mountain range of cash and some rather extreme last-minute incompetence on Romney’s part to pull safely ahead in this race is what really speaks to the brokenness of this system. Bruni of the Times is right that the process scares away qualified candidates who could have given Obama a better run for all that money. But what he misses is that the brutal campaign process, with its two years of nearly constant media abuse and “gotcha” watch-dogging, serves mainly to select out any candidate who is considered anything like a threat to the corrupt political establishment – and that selection process is the only thing that has kept this race close.

Barack Obama is hardly a complete Wall Street stooge. The country’s most powerful bankers seem genuinely to hate his guts, mainly because they’re delusional and are sincerely offended by anyone who dares to even generally criticize them for being greedy or ethically suspect, as Obama has with his occasional broadsides against “fat cat bankers” and so on.

On the other hand, Obama’s policy choices in the last four years have made it impossible for him to run aggressively against the corruption and greed and generally self-obsessed, almost cinematic douchiness that Romney represents.

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The lowest note ever played

September 30, 2012 | By | Reply More
The lowest note ever played

It is “played” by the Perseus Cluster, and it is a Bb 57 octaves below middle c.

In 2003, astronomers detected the deepest note ever detected by mankind in the cosmos, a B♭, after 53 hours of Chandra observations.[6] No human will actually hear the note, because its time period between oscillations is 9.6 million years, which is 57 octaves below the keys in the middle of a piano.[6] The radio waves appear to be generated by the inflation of bubbles of relativistic plasma by the central active galactic nucleus in NGC 1275.

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Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards go for a drive

September 29, 2012 | By | Reply More

Interesting format here: It’s called “Comedians in Cars getting Coffee,” and it’s an impromptu discussion between two of the actors from the Seinfeld series: Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards, published in Sept 2012.

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Gibberish passes as theology

September 29, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More

How do you tell the difference between gibberish and theology? The experts apparently can’t. This brings to mind Daniel Dennet’s quote:

The philosopher Ronaldo de Souza once memorably described philosophical theology as “intellectual tennis without a net,” and I readily allow that I have indeed been assuming without comment or question up to now that the net of rational judgement was up. But we can lower it if you really want to.

 

You’ll have some fun reading this Sokal-style abstract for the fake article that passed muster.

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A visit with the CFPB

September 29, 2012 | By | Reply More

Yesterday I was honored to have the chance to speak to the Advisory Board of the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). Their first meeting ever was in my hometown of St. Louis. I was given only about 2 minutes to speak, so I lashed out against payday lenders and mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses.

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More on the drone wars

September 29, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

I’m sick of the undeclared drone war that the U.S. (led by President Obama) is waging against thousands people in the Middle East who have not been shown to be guilty of anything at all. Who are all these people we are killing? The Obama Administration says “Trust Us,” but I don’t. I’m tired of hearing the U.S. claim that these drone attacks are killing “insurgents” while more reputable sources show the bodies of civilians and children. This reckless use of drones is causing millions of people to HATE the United States. The drone wars are thus contrary to our national interest. Even if you very much prefer Obama to the insane GOP alternative this November, please speak up against the drone wars. The following cartoons were drawn by a friend of mine, Ray Gregory, who is no fan of the drone wars.

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New batch of quotes

September 27, 2012 | By | Reply More
New batch of quotes

I collect my quotes from many sources. When I have about a dozen favorites, I publish them at this website. This is where you’ll find hundreds more of my favorites.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” ~ Buddha

“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.”
Utah Phillips

And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
Thomas Jefferson – May 28 1816 Letter to john Taylor. http://www.snopes.com/quotes/jefferson/banks.asp

All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law; directors should not be permitted to use stockholders’ money for such purposes; and, moreover, a prohibition of this kind would be, as far as it went, an effective method of stopping the evils aimed at in corrupt practices acts. Not only should both the National and the several State Legislatures forbid any officer of a corporation from using the money of the corporation in or about any election, but they should also forbid such use of money in connection with any legislation save by the employment of counsel in public manner for distinctly legal services.
Theodore Roosevelt

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Plato

“Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.”
Bodie Thoene

“Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
-James Madison

You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
Anne Lamott

“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.”
― Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

“Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.
Unknown, Hanlon’s Razor

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Libertarianism: (noun) One who believers that oppression is best handled by the private sector.
Anon

“When the white man came we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed and when we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”
Jomo Kenyatta (1889 – 1978), prime minister of Kenya,

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte

“In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.”
– Oscar Wild

Science is arranging experience in the most economical way.
Ernst Mach

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Leaking information to the public now appears to be a federal crime.

September 27, 2012 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald comments on some disturbing information recently obtained pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request.

It seems clear that the US military now deems any leaks of classified information to constitute the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” or “communicating with the enemy” even if no information is passed directly to the “enemy” and there is no intent to aid or communicate with them. Merely informing the public about classified government activities now constitutes this capital crime because it “indirectly” informs the enemy.

The implications of this theory are as obvious as they are disturbing. If someone can be charged with “aiding” or “communicating with the enemy” by virtue of leaking to WikiLeaks, then why wouldn’t that same crime be committed by someone leaking classified information to any outlet: the New York Times, the Guardian, ABC News or anyone else? In other words, does this theory not inevitably and necessarily make all leaking of all classified information – whether to WikiLeaks or any media outlet – a capital offense: treason or a related crime?

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