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Topics - Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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I don't know what it makes me want, but it isn't heroin.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / For Doktor Howl
« on: December 15, 2014, 01:31:48 am »
Two things:

1. Portland's official city slogan is "The City That Works"


Among other jewels:
What do Interstate 5 drivers see as they peel off the freeway and head down the chute that leads to the Morrison Bridge and into downtown?

Yes, the glittering towers of concrete and glass, nestling on a bed of greens. But there's also a guide sign with puckered white lettering that reads 'Washingon Street' on a backboard that instead of the usual green looks like a piece of toast. Why?

About 100 feet farther on there's another, hanging from a rusty support. Next to that is an empty space where another sign used to point to the turnoff to Naito Parkway.

The reason they've been there so long is no one knew who was responsible for it. The 'Washington Street' guide signs are usually the City of Portland Office of Transportation's territory, except when they are on river bridges, which are the responsibility of the county.

Just to confuse things further, the state maintains signs on state highways - and Naito Parkway used to be one. Until five years ago the state also maintained signs pointing to state highways. When the state stopped caring for them it removed the Naito Parkway turnoff sign. But only that one.


The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / WHERE THE FUCK IS ECH
« on: December 14, 2014, 03:38:57 pm »
He's been missing for EVER.

Anyway, I just saw this and was amazed by the fact that somehow Dave Grohl managed to get more douchey. Is he fucking for real? Talking about kids these days? Finding a drum set at a garage sale? Where the fuck did he grow up, Magnolia? That shit doesn't happen for common people.


As an aside, I think this guy was at the show when my ex's band got signed.

Recently I've noticed a category of people I've encountered all my life but never really thought about before; the nerd who isn't particularly bright.

My thoughts on this subject aren't particularly well-defined, but I thought I'd start rambling and see if anything useful or interesting emerges. This particular thought was triggered by a guy I know who has all of the trappings of nerd-dom and is undeniably a nerd: loves science fiction, reads voraciously, has a fantastic vocabulary and great grammar, adores tabletop gaming, and "loves science" in that way that nerdy people do... you know, by watching Cosmos, thinking Bill Nye is awesome, and liking the "I Fucking Love Science" page on Facebook. He prides himself on his intelligence, which he assumes is considerable, and has vast contempt for the unwashed masses and the stupid. Not that he's a bad guy, though; he just, like many people who consider themselves smart, has a low tolerance for stupidity.

However, he seems beneath it all to not be all that intelligent; when presented with a novel piece of information, he either accepts it or rejects it based primarily on how well it matches his internal models, without investigating it to find out whether it has solid support. The result is that he ends up believing things that are easily demonstrated to be false, and rejecting things that are easily demonstrated to be true, based essentially only on whether the premise fits his expectations and worldview.

Maybe this is just my personal definition, but it seems to me that fact-checking and critical thinking are key elements of intelligence. They are definitely key elements of science. From that perspective, he simply seems like someone who has been trained in all the trappings of intelligence but lacks the foundational capacity to retrain himself. On the other hand, it could be that he has the capacity, but has never been trained to use it.

I have a feeling we all know this guy, or someone like him. Maybe someone who is into Doctor Who and puns, writes science fiction, considers himself highly intelligent, and talks with the nerd lisp and is, bless his heart, just kind of dumb.

I'm not really going anywhere with this, I lack a punchline.


I feel like this opportunity is not to be wasted.


- Invitation to submit text -

American artist Jenny Holzer and the office of Art in Embassies, U.S. Department of State, seek text to be included in a permanent artwork for the new American Embassy in London. Students are invited to submit short, powerful writing on any topic relevant to British-American relations or statecraft. Cultural exchange is crucial, so students from both the US and UK are encouraged to participate. Selected texts will be carved into stone on highly visible walls around the Embassy, and collected on a web platform.

I hate alliteration. But I did it anyway, because I like being a dick, even if it's just to myself.

This is real old but I fucking love it anyway:

Researchers may have found the location of sense of humor in the brain, according to their presentation at the 86th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago, Illinois.

Humor appreciation appears to be based in the lower frontal lobes of the brain, a location associated with social and emotional judgment and planning, according to imaging research. That might explain why people who have suffered strokes involving the lower frontal lobes of the brain may have alterations of personality which include loss of their sense of humor.

"A small part of the frontal lobes appears critical to our ability to recognize a joke," said Dean K. Shibata, MD, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York, and principal investigator of a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map activity in the brain while it is registering humor. "Although the purpose of humor and laughter is still largely unknown despite 2,000 years of speculation, having a sense of humor is a key part of our personalities and it can play a powerful role in balancing negative emotions, such as fear.

Literate Chaotic / Just in time for Halloween!
« on: October 31, 2014, 10:51:19 pm »
So I happened upon this website, and this story in particular, and it's, um. Special. Really special. And it disturbed me a lot, although possibly not in the ways the author intended.

Please read it.





While this isn't entirely reflective of my experience, it does capture some elements.
I had a very interesting encounter today. I was sitting in the Malcolm X Lounge, a study room at the University of Texas that’s dedicated to African-American studies, but open to anyone. I was on a couch and had my feet up on a small table. When a girl came and sat down on the couch to my left, I jokingly made a big deal about moving my legs. She responded with, “Stop being so lazy, light-skin.”

I really wasn’t offended by the light-skin reference, but I was totally caught off guard by the way she used the term. See light-skinnededness (no that’s not a real word) has been the target of black humor for a while now, but usually people just say...

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / So did you know
« on: October 15, 2014, 11:43:29 pm »
...that your skin has odor receptors?

Your whole body is a nose.

You're welcome.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / I did this for you
« on: September 23, 2014, 12:18:22 am »
If someone gives someone a gift that they did not ask for and do not want, was the gift really for the recipient, or was it really for the giver?

...that in Portland, there is a store that sells frisbees.

JUST frisbees.


So here's a thought.

Many people seem convinced that the amenities and relative ease of modern life are going to make us -- or in fact, are already making us -- dumber as a species.

However, many social neuroscience researchers think that our high intelligence is a direct result not of overcoming hardships, but of our extremely large (compared to other species) social networks. 

Modern social networks are vastly larger and more complex, with many more tiers of interaction, than social networks have ever been at any time in the past. It stands to reason that people who are better able to manage these huge social networks, and thus manage the multitude of associations between people and contexts, will be more liked, will be able to exploit potentially lucrative connections, will be more successful and thrive better, and ultimately will be more numerous, than those who are less able.

Therefore, if the social network hypothesis of intelligence is correct, over time the relative ease of our lives and technology which allows us to expand our social networks may ultimately make our species significantly more intelligent.

In other words, Facebook might be making us smarter.

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