Recent Articles

John Oliver points out the scandal of for-profit colleges

| September 8, 2014 | Reply

The amount of accruing student debt is incredibly distressing.   John Oliver has produced this excellent expose on the debt, the politics and the long trail of victims.

Thousands of students are running up enormous debt, especially at for-profit colleges.    Thanks to the lobbying efforts of educational institutions, student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy regardless of how bad the track record of the institution for actually placing students into jobs in their fields of education.

The marketing strategies of for-profits are especially reprehensible.

Excellent job of exposing this dysfunction and fraud.  Once again, we rely on comedians to do the best journalism.

Read More

How to get respect

| September 7, 2014 | Reply

Lots of good information here, provided by “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” Much interplay with competence, power and money.

Read More

The Onion: Noam Chomsky is going to simply try to enjoy the day

| September 4, 2014 | Reply

Here’s the story by the Onion. Here’s an excerpt:

LEXINGTON, MA—Describing himself as “terribly exhausted,” famed linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky said Monday that he was taking a break from combating the hegemony of the American imperialist machine to try and take it easy for once.

I found this Onion story especially funny, given that I’ve been accused of not knowing how to lay back and just have fun. A couple years ago, a very close friend, a man who is like a brother to me, told me, “Erich, you need to have fun more often.” It’s weird to hear such things, because it always seems so normal inside of my own head. The way I think is what I enjoy doing. That’s the context for why I enjoyed this Onion story so much.

Read More

A portrait is more than a photo

A portrait is more than a photo

| September 1, 2014 | Reply

A friend of mine, Steve Grappe, recently posted an article at his studio, PhotoG, about the process of taking my portrait. Steve is a professional photographer who excels at portraits. I am also a photographer, and I was looking for both a learning experience and a portrait. I wasn’t disappointed.

IMG_4981-Edit

 

IMG_4927-Edit

Without getting into the details, I was recently divorced, and the experience of struggling in a dysfunctional marriage can leave both parties feeling less than confident about who they are. This is not a good starting point for one to branch out to meet new people post-divorce. [More . . . ]

Read More

Lee Camp focuses on Police Militarization and other major issues.

| August 31, 2014 | Reply

The Redacted Team examines police militarization and how Time, Inc. rates its writers. George W. Bush recalls his torturing days, John F. O’Donnell recalls his history with Hillary Clinton, and Sam Sacks gets a face full of tear gas.

Read More

The science of kissing

| August 27, 2014 | Reply

There are some interesting facts, statistics and advice offered by this Time Magazine article: “How to Be a Good Kisser.” Here are two examples:

The first kiss is a necessary risk in every budding sexual relationship; a recent psychology study found that 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women reported breaking things off with a prospective partner because of it. People remember their first kiss more vividly than the first time they had sex.

One more:

Men who kiss their wives before work live 5 years longer, make 20-30% more money and are far less likely to get in a car accident.

For those of you who are trying to identify the right person to marry, there is a mathematical solution to this problem proposed by Martin Gardner.

Read More

Virtual worlds inside of our heads

| August 27, 2014 | 6 Replies

This morning, I found myself reveling in the representational capacity of brains.

Here’s an illustration: Sometimes I misplace an item such as my keys and I can’t find them while physically walking around my house. Sometimes, frustrated, I pause my physical search. I sit down and close my eyes. Using only images, sounds and memories embedded in neural pathways in my head, I “see” that I had my keys when I last walked into my house. I “play” a series of short “videos” and “images” in my head reminding myself where I walked and what I touched. I run through the logic that I could NOT have left them in certain places, because I didn’t go to those parts of the house, seeing images of them as I run through this logic? Then, perhaps, I “see” myself closing my car trunk while holding my briefcase. I’m now wondering–did I put the keys on top of the car for a second while closing the trunk? I go outside and there are the keys on top of the car.

My mind contained detailed representations of my home and car, as well as episodic memories that, while imperfect, is often good enough. My neural pathways contain a virtual, somewhat explorable, world inside of my head. Although it is not perfect in all of its details, it is quite functional. It’s a capability we use every day, drawing on the brain’s extraordinary power to represent the world around us, allowing us to perform virtual manipulations of objects, “searching” our house while sitting down with our eyes closed. What type of magic is this that a 3 pound living organ can do this and so much more? How is it even possible that a system like this can spout up and train itself over a lifetime without a “person in the brain” to guide the process? And how is it possible that we experience consciousness on top of this amazing process?

This is but one reason for my love of cognitive science. It’s not my profession, but it is one of my passions to better understand this process that we so often take for granted.

Read More

Race Day

| August 23, 2014 | 2 Replies

I just finished running a 5K in downtown St. Louis, finishing at 26:12.

My concern is that there are people running the race who have runners’ physiques–they have long legs and they glide like they aren’t even touching the ground.  An even bigger concern is that some of the people they allow to enter the race are able to run much faster than me.  For instance, the man that won my age bracket finished in 19 min.  It’s not fair that they let people like that enter the race. Even worse, the race was filled with morning people–They walk around annoying owls like me by being chipper at 7am.  I’m going to propose that they begin their next 5K annual race at 10pm, that they screen out all of the larks, and that they ban all of the people who are unfairly fast.

Read More

Myths of Authority in Practice

Myths of Authority in Practice

| August 22, 2014 | 2 Replies

I’ve been trying to come to terms with Ferguson since it began. The shooting of Michael Browne sparked a response that surprised many people and the counter responses have been equally surprising among certain people, not so much among certain others. Every time I start to write something I find what I intended to say had already been said better elsewhere. [More . . . ]

Read More