Posts

October 22, 2014

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11:01 AM | ‘Hidden brain signatures’ of consciousness in vegetative state patients discovered
From KurzweilAI: Scientists in Cambridge, England have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state that point to networks that could support consciousness — even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study...
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10:43 AM | Wednesday Poem
Bridge Builder Bridge-builder I am between the holy and the damned between the bitter and the sweet between chaff and the wheat Bridge-builder I am between the goat and the lamb between the sermon and the sin between the princess...
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9:47 AM | Do people really not know what running looks like?
Faster, higher, stronger - wobbly!When we run, our arms and legs swing in an alternating rhythm. Your left arm swings back as your left leg swings forward, same with the right. This contralateral rhythm is important for balance; the arms and legs counterbalance each other and help reduce rotation of the torso created by swinging the limbs. It turns out, however, that people don't really know this and they draw running incorrectly surprisingly often. Specifically, they often depict people […]
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7:41 AM | Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming
Stephen Hsu in Nautilus Magazine (Photo by Cinerama/Courtesy of Getty Images): The possibility of super-intelligence follows directly from the genetic basis of intelligence. Characteristics like height and cognitive ability are controlled by thousands of genes, each of small effect. A...
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6:04 AM | Fame and Literature, Irreconcilable Enemies
John Yargo in the LA Review of Books: Bolaño’s biographers face a unique problem. The seductive popular image of him — something like a better-read Burroughs — is at odds with the voice of his fiction and his essays, which...
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5:40 AM | Category Mistakes
Richard Marshall interviews Ofra Magidor in 3:AM Magazine: 3:AM: You say it’s important for linguistics, computer science – how so? OM: In the case of linguistics, it is fairly obvious why category mistakes are important: one of the central tasks...
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1:45 AM | Fluoridation – a racist conspiracy?
Political activists campaigning on health issues often resort to scaremongering. This can be dangerous – especially when their stories have no real basis but rely on selective and distorted information. Paul Connett’s Fluoride Action Network (FAN) often resorts to this sort of scaremongering. Now … Continue reading →

October 21, 2014

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2:04 PM | Diary: ebola
Paul Farmer at The London Review of Books: The worst is yet to come, especially when we take into account the social and economic impact of the epidemic, which has so far hit only a small number of patients (by...
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1:58 PM | when H. G. Wells interviewed stalin
A 1935 piece by Malcolm Cowley at The New Republic: I doubt that any other interview of the last ten years was more dramatic, more interesting as a clear statement of two positions or, in a sense, more absurdly grotesque...
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1:53 PM | Cubism at the Metropolitan Museum
Peter Schjeldahl at The New Yorker: The show eases, somewhat, the famous difficulty of telling a Picasso from a Braque in the woodshedding period of 1909-12, which is termed Analytic Cubism. A wall text—a welcome one among far too many...
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12:41 PM | a lucid, thrilling and amusing history of the digital age
Peter Conrad in The Guardian: Revolutions usually leave ancient institutions tottering, societies shaken, the streets awash with blood. But what Walter Isaacson calls the “digital revolution” has kept its promise to liberate mankind. Enrichment for the few has been balanced...
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12:35 PM | Genetic Variant May Shield Latinas From Breast Cancer
Anahad O'Connor in The New York Times: A genetic variant that is particularly common in some Hispanic women with indigenous American ancestry appears to drastically lower the risk of breast cancer, a new study found. About one in five Latinas...
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12:12 PM | How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy
Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will...
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12:07 PM | The astounding athletic power of quadcopters
No summary available for this post.
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6:06 AM | Keith Frankish on the Hard Problem and the Illusion of Qualia
Over at Philosophy Bites: Subjective experience leads to the so-called 'hard problem' of consciousness: the difficulty of explaining qualia in terms of the brain. Keith Frankish discusses both the problem and a possible solution in this episode of the Philosophy...
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5:33 AM | A Public Apology is Now the Defence Strategy of the Rich and Powerful
Nick Smith in Aeon (Photo by W Eugene Smith/Magnum): Apologies interact with the law in strange ways. Let’s start with criminal law. The modern penitentiary originated in the 18th century as a place of penance: it was where society sent...
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4:19 AM | Evading Power
Sonja Pyykkö speaks to György Dragomán, author of "The White King", in Eurozine: Day-to-day reality in a communist state was defined by a long list of forbidden practices, objects and opinions, and the culture of informants that aimed to keep...
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3:57 AM | Curiosity’s historic comet photo
Photo Credit: Curiosity on Mars – NASA Rover Opportunity Views Comet Near Mars. According to NASA: NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured images of a comet passing much closer to Mars than any previous known comet flyby of Earth or Mars. … Continue reading →

October 20, 2014

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5:20 AM | Civility and its Discontents
by Gerald Dworkin Tom Paulin In the light of the recent fire-storm over the hirefire of Steven Salaita, I thought it might be interesting to revisit a case which raised similar issues about whether there are limits to what a...
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5:15 AM | Coriander
by Rishidev Chaudhuri At first (and at second, and third) glance, the use of spices in the cuisines of the subcontinent is a subtle and mysterious art, full of musty cupboards staffed by aging apothecaries (and grandmothers) and intertwined with...
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5:10 AM | A Conversation
by Hari Balasubramanian You might wonder who is conversing with whom. The best description I have is that these are two voices or perspectives in my head debating each other. "This thing called the sense of self, the ego or...
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5:05 AM | Monday Poem
Hedge we unload the freight of day as night wraps up what day has told there’s not much more to say— myself in shade, eagle in her hold both are restless in day’s throes. few among us really understand what...
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5:00 AM | “Her hands full of earth, she kneels, in red suede high heels:” Planting a New Language in Diaspo/Renga
by Shadab Zeest Hashmi This past summer, news of the Gaza massacres came most revealingly in images and videos taken with cell phones— the devices originally intended to connect us through voice, chronicling instead the horrors befalling Palestinians in real...
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4:55 AM | 7500 Miles, Part II: Dakota
by Akim Reinhardt Part I of this essay appeared last month. Thus continues my grand voyage, in which a rusty ‘98 Honda Accord shuttles me from one end of North America to the other and back again . . ....
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4:50 AM | We hate Internet trolls. But should we be helping them?
by Grace Boey Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Internet trolls. I’d always been vaguely aware of their presence, and had read some articles here and there about the threats they pose to constructive debate—but I never truly realized...
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4:45 AM | perceptions
Walter Johnston. Flaky Thorn Acacia. Timbavati, South Africa, 2014. Digital photograph. On safari in August we were told that a "gall making wasp" injects a kind of growth hormone into the thorn to make it expand (see below) and thus...
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4:40 AM | Evolving to the Future, the Web of Culture
by Bill Benzon “The interests of humanity may change, the present curiosities in science may cease, and entirely different things may occupy the human mind in the future.” One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes...
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4:35 AM | What i wanted to tell him (on the way to mars)
Lauren Davis extemporizes about how astronauts became known as gods: The stories told of ancient beings so powerful that they could fling themselves into space and explore the points of light in the heavens. When Lady Adelaide moved into one...
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4:30 AM | Torah on a Möbius Strip
by Josh Yarden Here We Go A-Gain I just finished reading the end of the Five Books of Moses, again, and even though I did not read theentire five books this year, or any other year for that matter, I...
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4:25 AM | CATSPEAK
by Brooks Riley
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