Climate Change

March 22, 2012

“Beginning in mid-March, however, its various offices began issuing bulletins that sounded slightly shaken. “There’s extremes in weather, but seeing something like this is impressive and unprecedented,” ”

“It’s hard to overstate how impossible this weather is—when you have nearly a century and a half of records, they should be hard to break, much less smash.”

There’s nothing much that needs to be added to this:

90 Degrees in Winter: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like

http://www.thenation.com/article/166917/90-degrees-winter-what-climate-change-looks

Cats Have How Many Lives?

January 15, 2012

I love this meme. Science, silly puns, and cats. What could be better?

Sleep Talking Creativity

November 3, 2011

I was /  reading an article / about a man who suddenly began talking in his sleep. His wife records what he says, and it’s some of the funniest stuff! (“Stupid vodka-shooting cat!”) Here’s/ a link to their website /. Good for many, many laughs! (“The fruit flies have escaped! Hide your plums! Satsumas flee! FLEE! Oh, this is gonna be total fruitocide. Fuck you, avocado, you’re on your own.”)

Physics in a Minute

September 29, 2011

I just discovered this YouTube Channel. One concept, explained with simplicity, in one minute (more or less — shall I make a stupid pun about relativity?) And I love the drawings.

In one of the videos, he makes a crack about getting back to a more important topic (physics) than maths. Well, to him, obviously, but without mathematics, there’d be no physics. (link to xkcd on that topic).

I’m also tagging this under philosophy. Long long ago, physics was a branch of philosophy. Now they seem to be quarrelsome cousins at best. But clear, precise thinking is essential to both, and I refuse to get caught up in their antagonistic debates. They are both necessary and delightful applications of human intellect and curiosity.

To start you off, here is Schrödinger’s Cat

Science is  discovery. Science is the quest for understanding. Science is also a way to think about writing novels.

I read a fascinating article from the Scientific American blogs today. Not only was it informative and thoughtful, it also provoked thoughts of writing.

I am often disheartened by the Rules of Writing. Do this. Do that. Here’s a check list for Character Development. Follow it for Instant Success. Here’s another checklist for Plot. And one for Structure.

And oh, by the way, here’s ten tips to make you an incredibly successful self-promoter. (I obviously don’t follow those!)

The point is, writing does have rules. A rule. But it is quite simple. Write well.

Subset: learn grammar. Learn punctuation. Learn to read your own writing analytically so you can eliminate all the unnecessary words and tangents that bog down the story.

Now that is hard. Check lists are much easier. Ergo, people like them.

This article discusses the origins of life, the adaptation of bacteria to a new food source, the consistent relationships between size and actions in cities and animals, and reminds us to get off the internet!

How does all this relate to writing?

Well, /  I’ve discussed it here, /  just one click  (internet, ah irony!) away.

Research at its finest! (sorry about the pun in the title – couldn’t resist)

The study is titled/ Feline Reactions To Bearded Men /.  Read through the experiment, carefully assessing all the data, and see if you agree with their conclusions:

Abstract

Cats were exposed to photographs of bearded men. The beards were of various sizes, shapes, and styles. The cats’ responses were recorded and analyzed.

Interpretation

  1. Cats do not like men with long beards, especially long dark beards.
  2. Cats are indifferent to men with shorter beards.
  3. Cats are confused and/or disturbed by men with beards that are incomplete.

“The test subjects were female cats, all between the ages of four and six. 214 cats participated in the study. Three cats died during the study, due to causes unrelated to the bearded men. Fifteen cats gave birth while viewing the photographs”

And let us not forget this bit of critical information:  “While each cat was viewing the photographs, it was held by a laboratory assistant. To ensure that the cats were not influenced by stroking or other unconscious cues from the assistant, the assistant was anesthetized prior to each session. The cats’ reactions were assessed for changes in pulse rate, respiration, eye dilation, fur shed rate, and qualitative behavior.”

This is nice. A literal take on computer jargon.

Robot Librarians?

August 18, 2011

Okay, not just librarians. These are amazing. Similar to the Kilobots / I wrote about previously / the Swarmanoids work together to achieve a goal.

I’d like to see them doing housework, of course. And yardwork… I prefer human librarians.

What would you have them do?

I’ve been speculating on denialism as one attribute that is distinctly human. Learn to deny mortality so you can live. From that, you learn that denying anything you dislike or don’t want to admit will allow you to live as if that weren’t reality.

We live in unreality most of the time, I think. Remembering the past, anticipating the future, denying what we don’t like, emphasizing what we do. Not much mental space left for reality to fill.

This video / takes these speculations back a step. What is language? Why did we develop this tool? What benefits did it offer, and what harm can it cause?

I was intrigued by the chart at 12:16 showing the geographic spread of Homo sapiens after language arose. Looks like social learning added to linguistic exchange really did enable us to spread out and survive in myriad environments.

At 15:13 he shows a map of Facebook connections. Not a world map, just electronic friends. And those connections recreate the geographic map.

I agree that having one language for international communication is beneficial, perhaps essential for further development. But which one? Will we rationally choose the language that offers the most flexibility, adaptability, as well as ease of learning and of writing? Or will wars or economic conquest make the determination?

History shows… well, yes, but in my unreality, I keep hoping that reasonable thinking will come to the fore.

I’ve / written before /, albeit briefly, about synchronicity. I strongly suspect it is an aspect of attention. Our brains are very good at seeing or hearing what is of interest and ignoring the rest.

Words have been much on my mind lately, but also the enduring question of what it mean to be human. What is there that we can identify as uniquely us?

Perhaps all we are is an extension in directions and capabilities. Not apart from, only different. We are no more a ‘special’ species with our brains, our emotions, and our reasoning than is a bat with their echo location, or a cat with their night vision, or an octopus with their color changes.  The  same basic DNA, tweaked to different forms and different efficiencies. No more than that.

Now that allowing animals their various intelligences has become acceptable, we see myriad articles about previously unacknowledged capabilities. /  Magpies /  and /  crows  / (and /  here /, just for the fun of it).

Today I read / this  on bees /. Depressed bees.  Optimistic bees. We can’t avoid terms that have anthropomorphic connotations, but the results seem to allow the usages.

Humans. Unique, or part of the spectrum of life? Seems to me we should lose our egos and rejoice in our connections instead.

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