Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows.


In mid-1947, a United States Army Air Forces balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. Following wide initial interest in the crashed “flying disc”, the US military stated that it was merely a conventional weather balloon. Interest subsequently waned until the late 1970s, when ufologists began promoting a variety of increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories, claiming that one or more alien spacecraft had crash-landed and that the extraterrestrial occupants had been recovered by the military, which then engaged in a cover-up.

In the 1990s, the US military published two reports disclosing the true nature of the crashed object: a nuclear test surveillance balloon from Project Mogul.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

photo { W. Eugene Smith, Untitled [man holding bottle, S-shaped foam form emerging from it], Springfield, Massachusetts, 1952 }

‘Nothing brings you peace but the triumph of principles.’ –Ralph Waldo Emerson


Suppose you live in a deeply divided society: 60% of people strongly identify with Group A, and the other 40% strongly identify with Group B. While you plainly belong to Group A, you’re convinced this division is bad: It would be much better if everyone felt like they belonged to Group AB. You seek a cohesive society, where everyone feels like they’re on the same team.

What’s the best way to bring this cohesion about? Your all-too-human impulse is to loudly preach the value of cohesion. But on reflection, this is probably counter-productive. When members of Group B hear you, they’re going to take “cohesion” as a euphemism for “abandon your identity, and submit to the dominance of Group A. ”None too enticing. And when members of Group A notice Group B’s recalcitrance, they’re probably going to think, “We offer Group B the olive branch of cohesion, and they spit in our faces. Typical.” Instead of forging As and Bs into one people, preaching cohesion tears them further apart.

What’s the alternative? Simple. Instead of preaching cohesion, reach out to Group B. Unilaterally show them respect.Unilaterally show them friendliness. They’ll be distrustful at first, but cohesion can’t be built in a day. 

{ The Library of Economics and Liberty | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, Queens, New York, April 1972 }

That the mind is united to the body we have shown from the fact, that the body is the object of the mind


The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades and is generally known now as the “hard problem” of consciousness […] Fast forward to the present era and we can ask ourselves now: Did the hippies actually solve this problem? My colleague Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and I think they effectively did, with the radical intuition that it’s all about vibrations … man. Over the past decade, we have developed a “resonance theory of consciousness” that suggests that resonance—another word for synchronized vibrations—is at the heart of not only human consciousness but of physical reality more generally. […]

Stephen Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate what he calls “sync” (synchrony) […] Fireflies of certain species start flashing their little fires in sync in large gatherings of fireflies, in ways that can be difficult to explain under traditional approaches. […] The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face. […]

The panpsychist argues that consciousness (subjectivity) did not emerge; rather, it’s always associated with matter, and vice versa (they are two sides of the same coin), but mind as associated with most of the matter in our universe is generally very simple. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoy just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter “complexifies,” so mind complexifies, and vice versa.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

‘Le seul bien qui me reste au monde est d’avoir quelquefois pleuré.’ –Alfred de Musset


Despite variation in lifestyle and environment, first signs of human facial aging show between the ages of 20–30 years. It is a cumulative process of changes in the skin, soft tissue, and skeleton of the face. As quantifications of facial aging in living humans are still scarce, we set out to study age-related changes in three- dimensional facial shape using geometric morphometrics.

We collected surface scans of 88 human faces (aged 26–90 years) from the coastal town Split (Croatia) and neighboring islands. Based on a geometric morphometric analysis of 585 measurement points (landmarks and semi- landmarks), we modeled sex-specific trajectories of average facial aging.

Age-related facial shape change was similar in both sexes until around age 50, at which time the female aging trajectory turned sharply. The overall magnitude of facial shape change (aging rate) was higher in women than men, especially in early postmenopause. Aging was generally associated with a flatter face, sagged soft tissue (“broken” jawline), deeper nasolabial folds, smaller visible areas of the eyes, thinner lips, and longer nose and ears. In postmenopausal women, facial aging was best predicted by the years since last menstruation and mainly attributable to bone resorption in the mandible.

{ Physical Anthropology | Continue reading }

The harder you look the harder you look


Can events be accurately described as historic at the time they are happening?

Claims of this sort are in effect predictions about the evaluations of future historians; that is, that they will regard the events in question as significant.

Here we provide empirical evidence in support of earlier philosophical arguments1 that such claims are likely to be spurious and that, conversely, many events that will one day be viewed as historic attract little attention at the time.

{ Nature Human Behaviour | Continue reading }

photo { David Sims }

‘A man, being just as hungry as thirsty, and placed in between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starve to death.’ –Aristotle

Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this—one you’d read—come up in conversation, only to discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences? I’ll be honest: it happens to me regularly. Often things go well at first. I’ll feel I can sketch the basic claims, paint the surface; but when someone asks a basic probing question, the edifice instantly collapses. Sometimes it’s a memory issue: I simply can’t recall the relevant details. But just as often, as I grasp about, I’ll realize I had never really understood the idea in question, though I’d certainly thought I understood when I read the book. Indeed, I’ll realize that I had barely noticed how little I’d absorbed until that very moment.

{ Andy Matuschak | Continue reading }

Maybe it’s those two old crony aunts held them out to the water front. Queer Mrs Quickenough and odd Miss Doddpebble.


S is a woman if and only if:

S is systematically subordinated along some dimension (economic, legal, political, social, etc) and S is ‘marked’ as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction.

To be a woman is to be subordinated in some way because of real or imagined biological features that are meant to indicate one’s female role in reproduction.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

ho, ho, ho, pimp


Where Does Time Go When You Blink?

Retinal input is frequently lost because of eye blinks, yet humans rarely notice these gaps in visual input. […]

Here, we investigated whether the subjective sense of time is altered by spontaneous blinks. […]

The results point to a link between spontaneous blinks, previously demonstrated to induce activity suppression in the visual cortex, and a compression of subjective time.

{ bioRxiv | Continue reading }

photo { Helmut Newton, A cure for a black eye, Jerry Hall, 1974 }

‘The book creates meaning, the meaning creates life.’ ―Roland Barthes

Based on the analysis of 190 studies (17,887 participants), we estimate that the average silent reading rate for adults in English is 238 word per minute (wpm) for non-fiction and 260 wpm for fiction. The difference can be predicted by the length of the words, with longer words in non-fiction than in fiction. The estimates are lower than the numbers often cited in scientific and popular writings. […] The average oral reading rate (based on 77 studies and 5,965 participants) is 183 wpm.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

He may be very sexy, or even cute, but he looks like a sucker in a blue and red suit


The Twelve Labours of Heracles are a series of episodes concerning a penance carried out by Heracles or Hercules, the greatest of the Greek heroes, whose name was later romanised as Hercules. They were accomplished over 12 years at the service of King Eurystheus.


Driven mad by Hera (queen of the gods), Hercules slew his son, daughter, and wife Megara. After recovering his sanity, Hercules deeply regretted his actions; he was purified by King Thespius, then traveled to Delphi to inquire how he could atone for his actions. Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, advised him to go to Tiryns and serve his cousin King Eurystheus for twelve years, performing whatever labors Eurystheus might set him; in return, he would be rewarded with immortality.


Eurystheus originally ordered Hercules to perform ten labours. Hercules accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus refused to recognize two: the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra, as Hercules’ nephew and charioteer Iolaus had helped him; and the cleansing of the Augeas, because Hercules accepted payment for the labour. Eurystheus set two more tasks (fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Hercules also performed, bringing the total number of tasks to twelve.


The twelve labours:

1. Slay the Nemean lion.
2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.
3. Capture the Ceryneian Hind.
4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
5. Clean the Augean stables in a single day.
6. Slay the Stymphalian birds.
7. Capture the Cretan Bull.
8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta.
10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.
11. Steal the apples of the Hesperides.
12. Capture and bring back Cerberus.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

helmet, acrylic and crayon { Jean-Michel Basquiat, AARON, 1981 }

Cocaine coming out my pores in the sauna, I’m serious, man, I’m so sincere


As we shall see, the story of the great flood and the voyage of the ark contains so many incredible “violations of the laws of nature” that it cannot possibly be accepted by any thinking person. […]

From the moment the impending storm is announced (Genesis 6:7, 13, 17) and Jehovah sets forth the design and dimensions of the ark (Genesis 6:14-16), problems start appearing. […]

The ark is to be made out of gopher wood according to a plan that calls for the ark to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits tall (450×75x45 feet, according to most creationists. See Segraves, p. 11). It is to contain three floors, a large door in the side, and a one cubit square window at the top. The floors are to be divided into rooms, and all the walls, inside and out, are to be pitched with pitch. Since the purpose of the ark is to hold animals and plants, particularly two of “every living thing of all flesh . . . to keep them alive with thee” (Genesis 6:19), it will have to be constructed accordingly.

Before he could even contemplate such a project, Noah would have needed a thorough education in naval architecture and in fields that would not arise for thousands of years such as physics, calculus, mechanics, and structural analysis. There was no shipbuilding tradition behind him, no experienced craftspeople to offer advice. Where did he learn the framing procedure for such a Brobdingnagian structure? How could he anticipate the effects of roll, pitch, yaw, and slamming in a rough sea? How did he solve the differential equations for bending moment, torque, and shear stress? […]

As if the rough construction of the ship weren’t headache enough, the internal organization had to be honed to perfection. With space at a premium every cubit had to be utilized to the maximum; there was no room for oversized cages and wasted space. The various requirements of the myriads of animals had to be taken into account in the design of their quarters, especially considering the length of the voyage. The problems are legion: feeding and watering troughs need to be the correct height for easy access but not on the floor where they will get filthy; the cages for horned animals must have bars spaced properly to prevent their horns from getting stuck, while rhinos require round “bomas” for the same reason; a heavy leather body sling is “indispensable” for transporting giraffes; primates require tamper-proof locks on their doors; perches must be the correct diameter for each particular bird’s foot (Hirst; Vincent). Even the flooring is important, for, if it is too hard, hooves may be injured, if too soft, they may grow too quickly and permanently damage ankles (Klos); rats will suffer decubitus (ulcers) with improper floors (Orlans), and ungulates must have a cleated surface or they will slip and fall (Fowler). These and countless other technical problems all had to be resolved before the first termite crawled aboard, but there were no wildlife management experts available for consultation. Even today the transport requirements of many species are not fully known, and it would be physically impossible to design a single carrier to meet them all. […]

Genetic problems […]

Marine animals […]

Having drawn up a passenger list, the next order of business is to gather them all at dockside. At this point, the creationists themselves are unable to propound any sort of scenario in which Noah and his sons could perform such a feat, so they resort to the convenient dumping ground of the inexplicable: miracles. God himself intervened by implanting in the chosen pair from each species the instinct of migration, and by this mechanism they gathered from the four corners of the world and headed for the Plains of Shinar […] However accurate their suddenly acquired instinct, for many animals it could not have been enough to overcome the geographical barriers between them and the ark. The endemic fauna of the New World, Australia, and other remote regions, as well as animals unable to survive the Near Eastern environment, would find the journey too difficult no matter how desperately they yearned to go. Flood theorists are unperturbed by such obstacles, however, for they simply gerrymander the map to give us an antediluvian world of undivided continents and a uniform, semitropical, spring-like climate.

{ Creation/Evolution Journal | Continue reading }

art { Nobuhiko Yoshida, from JCA Annual 4, 1982 }

‘The trouble with fiction is that it makes too much sense. Reality never makes sense.’ –Aldous Huxley


Ten years after the financial dramas of Autumn 2008, I take stock of what we have learned, what we have done, and what we have yet to do if we would avoid a repeat performance.

The primary lessons I draw are that income and wealth distribution, the endogeneity of credit-money, and finance system structure all matter profoundly not only where justice, but also where systemic stability is concerned.

The longer-term tasks still before us include a much broader and financially engineered diffusion of capital ownership over our population, citizen central banking, a permanent national investment authority, continuous public open labor market operations, debt-free or low-debt education and health insurance, and an updated form of segregating capital-raising primary from asset-trading secondary markets in the financial sector.

Shorter-term tasks include debt-forgiveness, a restoration of labor rights and countercyclical progressive taxation, and restored citizen-ownership of our secondary market makers in home mortgage and higher education debt.

{ LawArXiv | Continue reading }