Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - Mesozoic Mister Nigel

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5 ... 54

At least, not in the way  the question is most often posed. In many psychology books, operating on a philosophy that is straight outta 1896, you will see again and again statements like "This makes humans unique among the animals of the world". This statement is almost always unequivocally false.

There is no one thing, no great difference, that makes humans different from other animals. Nothing that is biologically derived, anyway; you could argue that no other animal wears pants, and you would probably be correct, but given Nature's history of proving us wrong, eventually we'd probably discover some small Amazonian beetle that weaves pants for its young out of caterpillar silk. Other animals have culture, other animals have language, other animals use tools, other animals have enormous frontal lobes. There is simply no one thing that is so special about humans that we can hold it up like a trophy, some sort of divine symbol that we stand apart from all the other species. In all ways, our differences are emergent and in measures of degree, using different versions of the same structures present in other animals in ways that make us unique-- just like all the other animals.

I would like to see the "What makes humans unique and different from all other animals?" question put to bed forever. It is an irrelevant question, it asks nothing useful and there is no useful or enlightening answer. Seeking one fundamental difference, something which we share with no other creature, is a philosophical and scientific dead-end; and at this point, philosophy has nowhere to go if it fails to embrace science. "What makes us different from all the other animals?" is a question as deep and as elucidating as "What makes a horse different from a badger?"

If we can't be satisfied with that, we probably aren't ready to move forward in asking the more significant question, not of what sets us apart, but of how we fit in.

Beyond the wall / The Portland Airport Carpet Project
« on: July 12, 2015, 06:39:14 pm »
I don't know if any of you guys are familiar with the slightly baffling love affair that Portlanders have with the absolutely hideous PDX airport carpet, or the outcry and grief  that has ensued over the fact that it was recently replaced, but I just found out that there is an art gallery exhibit honoring and eulogizing the iconic carpet of PDX.

I can't say that I completely understand it, but there you go.

« on: June 29, 2015, 03:02:11 pm »

It’s a remarkable performance

...about says it all.

Beyond the wall / HAY THE JOHNNY
« on: June 24, 2015, 03:22:01 am »
It turns out that on September 8th, I will be in Mexico City overnight; my plane comes in in the early afternoon and I fly out the next morning at 7 am. It seems like it would be a shame to be there and not try to meet up with you! I also wondered if you could recommend a safe but cheap place to stay?

Beyond the wall / I PITY THE TREES
« on: June 10, 2015, 08:05:31 pm »
In July 1976, Tureaud's platoon sergeant punished him by giving him the detail of chopping down trees during training camp at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, but did not tell him how many trees, so Tureaud single-handedly chopped down over seventy trees from 6:30 am to 10:00 am, until a shocked major superseded the sergeant's orders.

In 1987, he angered the residents of a Chicago suburb, Lake Forest, by cutting down more than a hundred oak trees on his estate. The incident is now referred to as The Lake Forest Chain Saw Massacre.

What the hell does Mr. T have against trees?


Beyond the wall / HA. AHAHAHAHAHAHA.
« on: June 05, 2015, 04:19:30 pm »

Beyond the wall / Facebook is dying
« on: June 03, 2015, 05:38:58 pm »
About six months ago, I noticed something about Facebook: it was slow. I don't mean that I was getting fewer "likes" or that I had less crap in my feed; those things haven't really changed. But conversation in groups has dropped off sharply, and most telling, popular groups that had been gaining new members daily -- sometimes by the hundreds -- started having slower membership gains. Then they plateaued. And now they are declining. Post reach dropped precipitously, I suspect as part of Facebook's efforts to convince group and page owners to pay for visibility. It's funny that after all these years, they still don't understand  how the internet works.

I've seen this before. I saw it with dialup BBSes, and with newsgroups, and with pay-per-month web services, and with free webforums. I've been waiting for it, because frankly, Facebook is a shitty, shitty platform for online discussion, and discussion has always been my main motivation for being online.

I went looking to see what the Web had to say about Facebook's user numbers, and found these:

I can't say I'll be sorry to see it go.

Beyond the wall / Faust, this one's for you
« on: May 30, 2015, 07:24:14 pm »

Beyond the wall / So this appears to be a real thing
« on: May 25, 2015, 06:29:54 am »

Live Cat Toy - One House Fly
   6 customer reviews 
Note: This item is only available from third-party sellers (see all offers).
Available from these sellers.
Size: Large
"Captain Goldbloomer": The All-Natural, Battery-Free Live Cat Toy
Cats are mesmerized by house flies
Provides hours of mental stimulation and exercise
You will receive one large Blue Bottle house fly in an attractive, transparent container
Yes, this house fly will be alive and buzzing!
1 new from $2.99

Beyond the wall / Swingers
« on: May 24, 2015, 11:42:58 pm »
So my housemate had an experience last night which helped me pinpoint exactly why I am skeeved out by swingers. At least, by people in the Portland swinger scene.

A woman contacted him on OK Cupid and explained that she and her husband are poly, and she is looking for a new boyfriend. So far so good, right? That is pretty much Portland standard. They chatted a bit, and she asked him whether he'd like to meet the two of them for a drink. Sort of an unconventional date, but I was like, hey sure whatever, why not? Then he asked me if I knew where the Bungalo bar is, and I was like, oh, are they swingers? Because that place hosts a lot of swinger events. He assured me that they were not, so I wished him luck and off he went.

Texted me an hour later with "They are totally swingers! I'm out of here."

So he came home and told me about how it was a swinger event, and for the brief time he was there he had to fend off several people who were aggressively hitting on him. We laughed about it a bit, he went to bed, and this morning got up really early to go fishing in a remote spot on the mountain.

When he came home from fishing, he told me that when he returned to cell range he had EIGHTEEN texts from the woman, inviting him to another event, telling him how lucky he is to be part of the group because they don't usually invite men, and how he'll have more fun at this one because her ladies like him. She apparently also told him that the whole group got kicked out of the next bar they went to because "they didn't like our lifestyle" and patrons were complaining about them making them uncomfortable.

Lady, it's not your lifestyle that was making people uncomfortable. Nobody fucking cares about your lifestyle. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that it was your behavior.

So in short, this woman:

-lied to my housemate about the nature of her relationship
-lied about what she and her husband were looking for
-deliberately misled him in order to get him to come to a swinger party
-did not pick up on the fact that she had put him in an uncomfortable position
-did not recognize that leaving after one beer was a signal of non-interest

And that's when it crystallized for me. The thing about the swingers I've met is that they just plain don't respect other people's boundaries. Maybe they can't see them, maybe they don't care, but the net effect is the same; they tend to assume that the absence of no is yes, and that underneath no is yes if they just keep pushing. And they seem to think it's cute, and edgy, and that the reason people don't like them is because of their lifestyle, rather than because of their behavior.

For the most part, nobody gives any fucks if you have a lot of sex with different people. People start giving fucks when you lie, pressure, manipulate, and cross boundaries in pursuit of having a lot of sex with THEM.

Beyond the wall / HOWL, YOU'RE GONNA LOVE THIS!
« on: May 24, 2015, 10:13:22 pm »

Erik Sorto, 34, has been paralysed from the neck down for the past 13 years. However, thanks to a ground-breaking clinical trial, he has been able to smoothly drink a bottle of beer using a robotic arm controlled with a brain implant. He isn't the first patient to control an arm with a neural prosthetic device. But this represents the first time the implant was placed in a region of the brain thought to control the intention to perform movements, rather than the ensuing mechanics of movement. This difference created surprisingly natural movements and has the potential to work for multiple robotic limbs.

Beyond the wall / Child exploitation
« on: May 24, 2015, 10:06:47 pm »
We really need laws that prohibit the exploitation of children as performers. Just as there's no good reason to have underage children working in our factories, there is no good reason to have them working on our stages.

Beyond the wall / More developments in the bicycle lanes
« on: May 18, 2015, 05:24:10 pm »
Perhaps a few of you remember a couple of years ago, when I posted about an unwitting motorist getting stuck in the bike lane on Williams while trying to turn right, and getting screamed at by a bicyclist who refused to move when the light turned green, based on some principle of which apparently only he (and MMIX, who proceeded to inform me that I was wrong about the whole incident based entirely on looking at the street on Google Earth) were aware?

Well, in the ongoing saga of bike lane development here in Portland, the city has resolved that issue by simply moving the bike lane to the LEFT side of the street, and making it a combined bike/turn lane.

Which of course, is perfectly safe and makes all the sense in the world [/sarcasm].

It has certainly gone some way toward cutting down on bike traffic on Williams and Vancouver, by virtue of making those former bicycle thoroughfares absolutely fucking terrifying.

Techmology and Scientism / The rich club phenomenon in the classroom
« on: April 25, 2015, 05:33:35 am »
So, the rich club is this network theory phenomenon in which the most highly-connected nodes tend to be connected with other highly-connected nodes. It's a big deal in connective neural networks, and the discovery of rich club networking in the brain appears to be taking network scientists by storm for some reason.

Anyway, while I was looking up a rich club neural network article for class, I came upon this, and thought it was really interesting for a variety of reasons.

Here's the abstract:

We analyse the evolution of the online interactions held by college students and report on novel relationships between social structure and performance. Our results indicate that more frequent and intense social interactions generally imply better score for students engaging in them. We find that these interactions are hosted within a “rich-club”, mediated by persistent interactions among high performing students, which is created during the first weeks of the course. Low performing students try to engage in the club after it has been initially formed, and fail to produce reciprocity in their interactions, displaying more transient interactions and higher social diversity. Furthermore, high performance students exchange information by means of complex information cascades, from which low performing students are selectively excluded. Failure to engage in the rich club eventually decreases these students' communication activity towards the end of the course.

Interested in hearing other people's thoughts about this, even if you just read the abstract and not the whole article. I'll chime in with my own as well, but I don't want to taint the thread with my ideas about it before the discussion gets rolling.

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5 ... 54