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Test 02/27/2011

February 27, 2011
  • ection 1.10.32 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum”, written by Cicero in 45 BC
    “Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur?”

    tags: Amar Chitra Katha Uncle Pai India experiment experimental comics

    • “One day, in February 1967, I was in Delhi,” he told me when we met several years ago. “There, at the junction of Gurudwara Road and Azma Khan Road was a shop called Maharaja Lal & Sons. It was selling televisions sets. At that time, Delhi had television but Mumbai didn’t. A quiz show was in progress. None of the contestants could answer a simple question like, “Who is the mother of Lord Rama?” I felt bad about that but I tried to explain it to myself.
    • They were not interested in mythology, not interested in the past. They were looking to the future. But then the next question was about a god from Mount Olympus and all of them knew the answer. I realised that these young people had been alienated from their own culture. And I realised that comics might be a way of bringing them back.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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The Brain and the Written Word : Article : Scientific American Mind

February 19, 2010
  • tags: neuroscience, science, language

    • What I am proposing is that the human brain is a much more constrained organ than we think and that it places strong limits on the range of possible cultural forms. Essentially the brain did not evolve for culture, but culture evolved to be learnable by the brain. Through its cultural inventions, humanity constantly searched for specific niches in the brain, wherever there is a space of plasticity that can be exploited to “recycle” a brain area and put it to a novel use. Reading, mathematics, tool use, music, religious systems—all might be viewed as instances of cortical recycling.
    • What I am proposing is that the human brain is a much more constrained organ than we think and that it places strong limits on the range of possible cultural forms. Essentially the brain did not evolve for culture, but culture evolved to be learnable by the brain. Through its cultural inventions, humanity constantly searched for specific niches in the brain, wherever there is a space of plasticity that can be exploited to “recycle” a brain area and put it to a novel use. Reading, mathematics, tool use, music, religious systems—all might be viewed as instances of cortical recycling.

      Of course, this view of culture as a constrained “LEGO game” is not novel. It is deeply related to the structuralist view of anthropology, as exemplified by the late Claude Lévi-Strauss, which posits that any cultural phenomenon can be understood in terms of certain structures that are ubiquitous around the world. What I am proposing is that the universal structures that recur across cultures—mythology, marriage traditions, language—are, in fact, ultimately traceable to specific brain systems.

    • The monkey brain already contains neurons that preferentially respond to an “alphabet” of these naturally occurring shapes, including T, L and Y. We merely “recycle” these shapes (and the corresponding part of the cortex) and turn them into a cultural code for language.
    • We are starting to do brain-imaging experiments in people who are illiterate, and we find that this region, before it responds to words, has a preference for pictures of objects and faces. We are also finding that this region is especially attuned to small features present in the contours of natural shapes, such as the Y shape in the branches of trees. My hypothesis is that our letters emerged from a recycling of those shapes at the cultural level. The brain didn’t have enough time to evolve “for” reading—so writing systems evolved “for” the brain.
    • Higher mathematics must be constrained in a similar manner by our evolutionary tool kit. Complex numbers, for instance, were deemed “imaginary” and impossible to understand until a mathematician found that they could be described intuitively on a plane—an easy-to-grasp concept for the brain.
    • Our brain never relies on the overall contours of words; rather it decomposes all of a word’s letters in parallel, subliminally and at a high speed, thus giving us an illusion of whole-word reading. Experiments even suggest that the whole-language method may orient learning toward the wrong brain region, one in the right hemisphere that is symmetrical to the left hemisphere visual word-form area—the letterbox.
    • MIND: And if the brain of a dyslexic is organized differently, does that suggest it might have other abilities—or is dyslexia purely an impairment?

      DEHAENE: The answer is not fully known, but I was intrigued by recent research indicating that dyslexic children and adults can perform better on tasks of symmetry detection—they have a greater ability to notice the presence of symmetrical patterns. The evidence even suggests that this skill was helpful in a group of astrophysicists to detect the symmetrical spectrum of black holes!

    • More generally, we are touching here on the very interesting issue of whether the cultural “recycling” of brain areas makes us lose some abilities that were once useful in our evolution. The brain is a finite system, so although there are overwhelming benefits of education, there might also be some losses. We are currently doing experiments with Amazon Indians, in part to test what their native abilities are and whether, in some domains such as geometry and spatial navigation, they might not be better than us.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Ferf

February 18, 2010
  • Another test

    tags: artsy

    • Between takes in a recording studio, Mr. Jones brainstormed about names with his new band mates, including former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, then checked them online. Their first choice, Caligula, turned up at least seven acts named after the decadent Roman emperor, including a defunct techno outfit from Australia. Eventually the rockers decided on Them Crooked Vultures. The words held no special meaning.

      “Every other name is taken,” Mr. Jones explains. “Think of a great band name and Google it, and you’ll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page.”

      The available supply of punchy one- or two-word band names is dwindling. So, many acts are resorting to the unwieldy or nonsensical.

      Among more than 1,900 acts expected in March at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, are bands with the names And So I Watch You From Afar, and Everybody Was In the French Resistance…Now! The f-word is part of 100 band names in a media database maintained by Gracenote, a unit of Sony Corp. that licenses digital entertainment technology.

    • The last decade’s digital revolution not only transformed the way people listen to music, it changed the way bands establish identities. In the past, identically named acts often carved out livings in separate regions, oblivious or indifferent to one another. Now, it takes only moments for a musician to create an online profile and upload songs, which can potentially reach listeners around the world.
  • Pictures of fancy frenchies.

    tags: artsy

    • To introduce our campaign heroes for the two fashion lines, are the two :60 second intro spots, shown below

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Music

February 18, 2010
  • tags: History, Music

    • For 30 years, it was almost de rigueur for rock bands to tip their hat to the 50s artists who originated the genre, usually by covering their songs live. Few gigs were complete without an encore of Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On or Johnny B Goode: even the most iconoclastic of punks, the Sex Pistols, covered Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody and Somethin’ Else. But Britpop seemed to bring about a curious foreshortening of rock history, eradicating everything that happened before the Beatles began writing their own songs.
  • tags: Music

    • The irony is that, by off-handedly dismissing Vampire Weekend, Lefsetz is aligning himself with the hipsters and would-be arbiters of cool that he’s trying to distance himself from. A hallmark of contemporary cool-kid posturing — particularly bloggy posturing (or in the case of Lefsetz, email-y posturing) — is, of course, acting like you’re so totally immune to the hype machine. Anti-hype — advertising your aversion to everything hyped — becomes its own form of hype.
  • tags: Music

    • The reality is that the musical journey for listeners does not follow a one-directional arrow into the future; it shifts backwards, forwards and sideways. You might discover an established artist, reach into their back catalogue, perhaps explore their influences, context, contemporaries, rivals, successors, as well as anticipating their new work.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Saint Augustine on Science and Scripture

February 18, 2010
  • What more needs to be said about Christianity and Science?

    tags: christianity, history, religion, science

    • Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his workThe Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) provided excellent advice forall Christians who are faced with the task of interpreting Scripturein the light of scientific knowledge. This translation is by J. H. Taylor inAncient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41.

      Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth,the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about themotion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relativepositions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, thecycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals,shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to asbeing certain from reason and experience. Now, it is adisgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear aChristian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture,talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means toprevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show upvast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame isnot so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but thatpeople outside the household of faith think our sacred writersheld such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whosesalvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized andrejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in afield which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining hisfoolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believethose books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead,the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when theythink their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which theythemselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untoldtrouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught inone of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task bythose who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. Forthen, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untruestatements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proofand even recite from memory many passages which they think supporttheir position, although they understand neither what they saynor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Advertising

February 12, 2008

I’m not the sort to blogvertise, but here are the two blogs I maintain actively:

The Rest is Silence – where the mindshadows lie

Zorro on Doughnuts – where the music lies (or does not lie. Music is Truth, and Truth Music, after all.)

This is an example of double-coding, and also irony. I claim to be against advertising, thereby absolving myself of grubby worldliness, while at the same time I go ahead and place an ad. And, ironically, I seem to be using my anti-ad stance as some sort of subliminal selling point. Even more ironically, in consciously pointing out aspects of this post that might otherwise have passed unnoticed, I achieve all possible goals associated with this particular set of words/concepts.

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Going On Hiatus

November 22, 2007

I am going to stop blogging for a while. Maybe until the beginning of 2008. Maybe for longer. I don’t know.

I just saw a documentary about Joe Strummer called The Future is Unwritten. It was one of the most inspiring films I have ever seen. And I wasn’t even that much of a fan of The Clash.

Here is an mp3 of something Joe Strummer said shortly before he died in 2002. [Listen.] He was born in the same year as my dad. He was still…young. And he died, not of an overdose, or some cigarette-induced cancer. He died of a congenital heart condition that no one knew about. So it goes.

It’s not that I’m depressed, or disillusioned with this form of expression. I feel good, actually. Blogging has been good for me. I just think I need a change. And I need to be this change. I need to stop using my lethargy and depression as material (or a reason) for my next blog post.   I have to stop waiting around for the great miracle or tragedy to kick me into adulthood.

I feel like I need to grow up. Maybe I won’t, and I’ll be back here eking out electronic quiddities.

I am not dropping out of communication. I’ll even reply to comments on old posts. I just have to cease output until I feel that something new needs to be said. I have some plans, and if they come into fruition, I’ll be back in the electronic sphere soon enough.

So long and thanks for all the fish-slaps! All what jazz, eh?

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