‘Depression is sadness gone wrong.’ —Lewis Wolpert


Spinoza is quoted approvingly […] to the effect that the free man is the one who thinks about, or fears, death the least. Such fear he considers to be a passive emotion, or affection, which is a bondage to pain, symptomatic of our impotence and servitude. Spinoza writes,

Hope is nothing else but an inconstant pleasure, arising from the image of something future or past, whereof we do not yet know the issue. Fear, on the other hand, is an inconstant pain also arising from the image of something concerning which we are in doubt. If the element of doubt be removed from these emotions, hope becomes Confidence and fear become Despair. In other words, Pleasure or Pain arising from the image of something concerning which we have hoped or feared.

The free man, in this light, is one who has not only cultivated the stronger active emotion of acquiescence to the univocal chorus of necessity, but has also learned to disengage external factors which are coincident with such passive emotions.

{ James Luchte | Continue reading }

Two former models who are now special agents are on the trail of mobsters in possession of a music book that has the coded location of a chest of gold bullion


Giving violators more punishment than they deserve can undermine the benefits of cooperative action. […] At the same time, imposing markedly less punishment than what a violator deserves creates disaffection and acrimony that also can subvert cooperation. In other words, it is not punishment that is needed to maintain social cooperation, but justice. […]

In 1848, the discovery of gold brought 300,000 men to California from all over the world. Yet this sudden mass of humanity lived without a functioning legal system. And if there had been a legal enforcement system, it was unclear what law it would enforce. […] Without a functional government, there were no licensing procedures, fees, or taxes to regulate gold prospecting. No miner worked land that he owned. Any prospector could join any mining camp at any time. Camp populations were heterogeneous: “Puritans and drunkards, clergymen and convict, honest and dishonest, rich and poor.” There was no common language, culture, or legal experience. […] The men shared a common set of needs, however. Each miner needed to be able to leave whatever he owned unguarded each day while he worked his claim. A miner who found gold needed to protect his find until he could convert it into cash or goods.

{ Paul H. Robinson/SSRN | Continue reading }

And Night, the fantastical, comes now


Horses are the only species other than man transported around the world for competition purposes.

In humans, transport across several time zones can result in adverse symptoms commonly referred to as jetlag.

Can changes in the light/dark cycle, equivalent to those caused by transport across several time zones, affect daily biological rhythms, and performance in equine athletes?


We found that horses do feel a change in the light/dark cycle very acutely, but they also recover very quickly, and this resulted in an improvement in their performance rather than a decrease in their performance, which was exactly the opposite of what we thought was going to happen.

{ HBLB | PDF }

I now regard my having been a Wagnerian as eccentric. It was a highly dangerous experiment.


Keepin it real since 94 ☞ *Amaze*


“Would you please take a selfie of my friend and I in front of this window?”

She was not aware that she had approached a linguist. […]

It would not be like him to snarl that of my friend and I should be of my friend and me (or perhaps better, of me and my friend). Nor did he remonstrate with the woman over her rather extraordinary misuse of the noun selfie.

{ Language Log | Continue reading }

unrelated { Photographer countersues Empire State Building for $5M over topless photos }

‘Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.’ —H. L. Mencken


More than 400 years after Shakespeare wrote it, we can now say that “Romeo and Juliet” has the wrong name. Perhaps the play should be called “Juliet and Her Nurse,” which isn’t nearly as sexy, or “Romeo and Benvolio,” which has a whole different connotation.

I discovered this by writing a computer program to count how many lines each pair of characters in “Romeo and Juliet” spoke to each other, with the expectation that the lovers in the greatest love story of all time would speak more than any other pair.

{ FiveThirtyEight | Continue reading }

‘Refrain from total disclosure to basic strangers.’ —Rachel Rosenfelt


In his story Sarrasine, Balzac, describing a castrato disguised as a woman, writes the following sentence: “This was woman herself, with her sudden fears, her irrational whims, her instinctive worries, her impetuous boldness, her fussings, and her delicious sensibility.” Who is speaking thus? Is it the hero of the story bent on remaining ignorant of the castrato hidden beneath the woman? Is it Balzac the individual, furnished by his personal experience with a philosophy of Woman? Is it Balzac the author professing ‘literary’ ideas on femininity? Is it universal wisdom? Romantic psychology? We shall never know, for the good reason that writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing.

{ Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author, 1967 | Continue reading }

‘The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.’ —Nietzsche


These fictional examples suggest that creativity and dishonesty often go hand-in-hand. Is there an actual link? Is there something about the creative process that triggers unethical behavior? Or does behaving in dishonest ways spur creative thinking? My research suggests that they both exist: Encouraging people to think outside the box can result in greater cheating, and crossing ethical boundaries can make people more creative in subsequent tasks. 

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

‘Max I can loose is 100%. Max I can gain is unlimited.’ —Shit /r/Bitcoin says


The arguments for ditching notes and coins are numerous, and quite convincing. In the US, a study by Tufts University concluded that the cost of using cash amounts to around $200 billion per year – about $637 per person. This is primarily the costs associated with collecting, sorting and transporting all that money, but also includes trivial expenses like ATM fees. Incidentally, the study also found that the average American wastes five and a half hours per year withdrawing cash from ATMs; just one of the many inconvenient aspects of hard currency.

While coins last decades, or even centuries, paper currency is much less durable. A dollar bill has an average lifespan of six years, and the US Federal Reserve shreds somewhere in the region of 7,000 tons of defunct banknotes each year.

Physical currency is grossly unhealthy too. Researchers in Ohio spot-checked cash used in a supermarket and found 87% contained harmful bacteria. Only 6% of the bills were deemed “relatively clean.” […]

Stockholm’s homeless population recently began accepting card payments. […]

Cash transactions worldwide rose just 1.75% between 2008 and 2012, to $11.6 trillion. Meanwhile, non traditional payment methods rose almost 14% to total $6.4 trillion.

{ TransferWise | Continue reading }

The anal stage is the second stage in Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, lasting from age 18 months to three years. According to Freud, the anus is the primary erogenous zone and pleasure is derived from controlling bladder and bowel movement. […]

The negative reactions from their parents, such as early or harsh toilet training, can lead the child to become an anal-retentive personality. If the parents tried forcing the child to learn to control their bowel movements, the child may react by deliberately holding back in rebellion. They will form into an adult who hates mess, is obsessively tidy, punctual, and respectful to authority. These adults can sometimes be stubborn and be very careful over their money.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

related { Hackers Hit Mt. Gox Exchange’s CEO, Claim To Publish Evidence Of Fraud | Where are the 750k Bitcoins lost by Mt. Gox? }

‘One is always wrong, but with two, truth begins.’ –Nietzsche


Two fields stand out as different within cognitive psychology. These are the study of reasoning, especially deductive reasoning and statistical inference, and the more broadly defined field of decision making. For simplicity I label these topics as the study of reasoning and decision making (RDM). What make RDM different from all other fields of cognitive psychology is that psychologists constantly argued with each other and with philosophers about whether the behavior of their participants is rational. The question I address here is why? What is so different about RDM that it attracts the interests of philosophers and compulsively engages experimental psychologists in judgments of how good or bad is the RDM they observe.

Let us first consider the nature of cognitive psychology in general. It is branch of cognitive science, concerned with the empirical and theoretical study of cognitive processes in humans. It covers a wide collection of processes connected with perception, attention, memory, language, and thinking. However, only in the RDM subset of the psychology of thinking is rationality an issue. For sure, accuracy measures are used throughout cognitive psychology. We can measure whether participants detect faint signals, make accurate judgments of distances, recall words read to them correctly and so on. The study of non-veridical functions is also a part of wider cognitive psychology, for example the study of visual illusions, memory lapses, and cognitive failures in normal people as well as various pathological conditions linked to brain damage, such as aphasia. But in none of these cases are inaccurate responses regarded as irrational. Visual illusions are attributed to normally adaptive cognitive mechanisms that can be tricked under special circumstances; memory errors reflect limited capacity systems and pathological cognition to brain damage or clinical disorders. In no case is the person held responsible and denounced as irrational.

{ Frontiers | Continue reading }

photo { Slim Aarons }

The Sphinx Without a Secret


Le pop art dépersonnalise, mais il ne rend pas anonyme : rien de plus identifiable que Marilyn, la chaise électrique, un pneu ou une robe, vus par le pop art ; ils ne sont même que cela : immédiatement et exhaustivement identifiables, nous enseignant par là que l’identité n’est pas la personne : le monde futur risque d’être un monde d’identités, mais non de personnes.

We must realize that if Pop Art depersonalized, it does not make anonymous: nothing is more identifiable than Marilyn, the electric chair, a tire, or a dress, as seen by Pop Art; they are in fact nothing but that: immediately and exhaustively identifiable, thereby teaching us that identify is not the person: the future world risks being a world of identities, but not of persons.

{ Roland Barthes, Cette vieille chose, l’art, 1980 }

art { Andy Warhol, Foot and Tire, 1963–-64 }

related { David Cronenberg on Foot and Tire }

Even if you knew the entire past history of the universe, this would not contain the information about what the particles will do in the experiment


Quantum physics is famously weird, counterintuitive and hard to understand; there’s just no getting around this. So it is very reassuring that many of the greatest physicists and mathematicians have also struggled with the subject. The legendary quantum physicist Richard Feynman famously said that if someone tells you that they understand quantum mechanics, then you can be sure that they are lying. And Conway too says that he didn’t understand the quantum physics lectures he took during his undergraduate degree at Cambridge.

The key to this confusion is that quantum physics is fundamentally different to any of the previous theories explaining how the physical world works. In the great rush of discoveries of new quantum theory in the 1920s, the most surprising was that quantum physics would never be able to exactly predict what was going to happen. In all previous physical theories, such as Newton’s classical mechanics or Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, if you knew the current state of the physical system accurately enough, you could predict what would happen next. “Newtonian gravitation has this property,” says Conway. “If I take a ball and I throw it vertically upwards, and I know its mass and I know its velocity (suppose I’m a very good judge of speed!) then from Newton’s theories I know exactly how high it will go. And if it doesn’t do exactly as I expect then that’s because of some slight inaccuracy in my measurements.”

Instead quantum physics only offers probabilistic predictions: it can tell you that your quantum particle will behave in one way with a particular probability, but it could also behave in another way with another particular probability. “Suppose there’s this little particle and you’re going to put it in a magnetic field and it’s going to come out at A or come out at B,” says Conway, imagining an experiment, such as the Stern Gerlach experiment, where a magnetic field diverts an electron’s path. “Even if you knew exactly where the particles were and what the magnetic fields were and so on, you could only predict the probabilities. A particle could go along path A or path B, with perhaps 2/3 probability it will arrive at A and 1/3 at B. And if you don’t believe me then you could repeat the experiment 1000 times and you’ll find that 669 times, say, it will be at A and 331 times it will be at B.”

{ The Free Will Theorem, Part I | Continue reading | Part II | Part III }