Archive for September, 2013

The properly divided brain

September 29, 2013 | By | 2 Replies More

Psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist agrees that the brain is divided, but not at all in the way that is it is commonly thought. This is one of those quick-draw RSA Animate illustrated videos, deeply thought-provoking and also entertaining.

Here’s a transcript of McGilchrist’s lecture on the divided brain.

So you have, essentially, two kinds of attention, one that narrows a thing down as much as possible to a certainty so that you can pick it up and get it and sort it out. This is very useful for manipulating the world. It’s not good for understanding the world. For understanding the world you need what I would call a relational attention in which you don’t see yourself as somehow disconnected from everything around but realize how interconnected you are with it and need to be aware of all of it.

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Terrorism = Criticism of Terrorism

September 25, 2013 | By | Reply More

It is my belief that the reckless use of drones is a form of terrorism, and that the U.S. is engaging in the reckless use of drones against various populations in the Middle East. Therefore I noticed Glenn Greenwald recent article that the definition of “terrorism” has been broadened even further by U.K authorities:

A well-known and highly respected Yemeni anti-drone activist was detained yesterday by UK officials under that country’s “anti-terrorism” law at Gatwick Airport, where he had traveled to speak at an event. Baraa Shiban, the project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve, was held for an hour and a half and repeatedly questioned about his anti-drone work and political views regarding human rights abuses in Yemen.

When he objected that his political views had no relevance to security concerns, UK law enforcement officials threatened to detain him for the full nine hours allowed by the Terrorism Act of 2000, the same statute that was abused by UK officials last month to detain my partner, David Miranda, for nine hours.

Shiban tells his story today, here, in the Guardian, and recounts how the UK official told him “he had detained me not merely because I was from Yemen, but also because of Reprieve’s work investigating and criticising the efficacy of US drone strikes in my country.”

The notion that Shiban posed some sort of security threat was absurd on its face. As the Guardian reported Tuesday, “he visited the UK without incident earlier this summer and testified in May to a US congressional hearing on the impact of the covert drone programme in Yemen. Viewing anti-drone activism as indicative of a terrorism threat is noxious.”

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Popular Science: We’re better off without comments at our website

September 25, 2013 | By | Reply More

Boorish comments distort the readers perception of articles, according to PS:

It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.

That is not to suggest that we are the only website in the world that attracts vexing commenters. Far from it. Nor is it to suggest that all, or even close to all, of our commenters are shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla. We have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters.

But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story.

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Einstein proves fraud

September 25, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Huge securities trading spike occurs before it would be possible to even receive the information electronically, much less react to it after reading it.

“[T]he Fed news was certainly present in trading centers in Chicago and New York before 2pm. The evidence is overwhelming. It is unknown how many people had access to this information – for a timed news release, it would have been at least an administrator, probably Q.A. and others. What we do know is the resulting explosion of trading just 1 thousandth of a second after 2pm, was unprecedented in the history of Fed news announcements, and much of that trading was based on information obtained before the set Federal Reserve Board release time.”

I’m betting that there won’t be any prosecutions.

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Following the money to understand political corruption

September 25, 2013 | By | Reply More

Shocking story by “This is American Life.” Nancy Pelosi attends 400 political fundraisers per year. Politicians of both parties spend untold amount of town raising money, planning to raise money or thinking about raising money. How much money do members of the house of representatives need. At 7:41 of this recording, you’ll hear a Federal Representative from Ohio admitting that he needed to raise $10,000-15,000 PER DAY. This amounts to $2.5 M over two years. The story goes on and on, and amounts to a total corruption of our supposed democracy.

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Nixon more Liberal than Obama?

September 23, 2013 | By | Reply More

Fascinating article in Daily Kos. Here’s some of Nixon’s accomplishments (granted, that he had a different Congress):

1969 – Nixon enters peace negotiations with North Viet Nam
1970 – Nixon negotiates permanent deal with USSR not to use Cienfuegos (Cuba) for ballistic missile Submarines
1971 – Nixon increases arms sales and loans to Israel
1972 – Nixon enters into successful SALT talks with USSR
1973 – Nixon withdraws thousands of troops from VietNam, ends draft.
1973 – Nixon agrees to support Israel, begins airlift that allows Israel to counterattack. Nixon and the USSR negotiate a peace protecting Israel and ending the war.

Big sections on domestic policies too. Well worth a read.

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To smile or not to smile

September 23, 2013 | By | Reply More

I was given an article about smiling and portraits over the years. Fascinating.

“Smiling also has a large number of discrete cultural and historical significances, few of them in line with our modern perceptions of it being a physical signal of warmth, enjoyment, or indeed of happiness. By the 17th century in Europe it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment – some of whom we’ll visit later. Showing the teeth was for the upper classes a more-or-less formal breach of etiquette. St. Jean-Baptiste De La Salle, in The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility of 1703, wrote:

There are some people who raise their upper lip so high… that their teeth are almost entirely visible. This is entirely contradictory to decorum, which forbids you to allow your teeth to be uncovered, since nature gave us lips to conceal them.
Thus the critical point: should a painter have persuaded his sitter to smile, and chosen to paint it, it would immediately radicalise the portrait, precisely because it was so unusual and so undesirable. Suddenly the picture would be ‘about’ the open smile, and this is almost never what an artist, or a paying subject, wanted.”

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Seeking an average woman

September 22, 2013 | By | Reply More

Fascinating images of the average woman from each of many countries can be found here.

average women

 

If you want to make your own composite faces, visit this site, or this one, in which one of the people making compilations discussed methodology.

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Definition of Bandaloop

September 21, 2013 | By | Reply More

Bandaloop: Highly skilled and courageous people who like to dance on the sides of buildings. Bandaloop performed in St. Louis today, at Grand Center’s annual Dancing in the Street Festival.

For a larger gallery of images, click the title to this post and scroll to the bottom.

IMG_1010 Bandaloop

IMG_0999Dancing in the Street

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