Why Networks Are States That Need Democratic Government

P2P, deliberation, policy, politics, blockchain, ETH, XBT, BTC, power, distributed-systems, decentra

One of the governance problems of blockchains, related to the fundamental error of decentralization theater, is the failure to build deliberative institutions on top of the “parliament of miners.” Voting by proof of work is great, especially if the majority is well above 51%, and can demonstrate its strength without an actual hashing race. It’s a good way to finalize decisions. But not a good way to make them. But blockchain governance would be considerably improved if the miners actually had a formal way to delegate their power to a structured institution that represented them. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum have foundations and/or core teams, but authority in these institutions isn’t tied in any way to actual mining power. Informal politics fills this void with personality cults and eloquent blogposts, all hoping to create collective agreement among the actual voting miners. History shows this is not a great way to run a railroad. Misalignment between a fundamental power, like the miners, and a group purporting to represent them, like the foundations, is inherently dangerous.

via https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/why-networks-are-states-that-need-democratic-government/2016/07/03

The people trying to save democracy from itself

democracy, ideas, scale, politics, DIP, G1000, G20, charisma, leadership

These are difficult days for democracy. European nations struggle to elect governments on low turnouts. Populists wielding half-truths go from strength to strength. Facts are a devalued currency, personalities never more important. People use ballot boxes to bloody the noses of the political elite. Young people are particularly jaded. Late adopters such as Russia and Turkey are turning their backs. In its original sense, rule by the people, democracy seems to be in retreat. Perhaps because of this, or in spite of it, experiments in new manifestations of democracy are proliferating. And some may offer a more tangible experience for ordinary people than the remote, mundane exercise of voting for a stranger once every four or five years.

via https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/02/democracy-tarnished-brand-desperate-need-reinvention

Zapping Their Brains at Home

neuroscience, neurohacking, brain, brain-hacking, DIY, tDCS, ethics, research, exeperiment

As neuroscientists continue to conduct brain stimulation experiments, publish results in journals and hold conferences, the D.I.Y. practitioners have remained quiet downstream listeners, blogging about scientists’ experiments, posting unrestricted versions of journal articles and linking to videos of conference talks. Some practitioners create their own manuals and guides based on published papers. The growth of D.I.Y. brain stimulation stems in part from a larger frustration with the exclusionary institutions of modern medicine, such as the exorbitant price of pharmaceuticals and the glacial pace at which new therapies trickle down to patients. For people without an institutional affiliation, even reading a journal article can be prohibitively expensive. The open letter this month is about safety. But it is also a recognition that these D.I.Y. practitioners are here to stay, at least for the time being. While the letter does not condone, neither does it condemn. It sticks to the facts and eschews paternalistic tones in favor of measured ones. The letter is the first instance I’m aware of in which scientists have directly addressed these D.I.Y. users. Though not quite an olive branch, it is a commendable step forward, one that demonstrates an awareness of a community of scientifically involved citizens.

via http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/opinion/sunday/zapping-their-brains-at-home.html?ribbon-ad-idx=19&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article&_r=0

Neuroscientists’ Open Letter To DIY Brain Hackers

neuroscience, tDCS, brain-hacking, neurohacking, ethics, experiment, review

We now know that if you take the same subject and do tDCS with exactly the same settings on different days, they can have very different responses. We know there’s a huge amount that can actually change what effect tDCS has. What you’re doing at the time tDCS is administered, or before tDCS is administered, has an effect. There are so many different things that can have an effect – your age, your gender, your hormones, whether you drank coffee that morning, whether you’ve had exposure to brain stimulation previously, your baseline neurotransmitter level — all of this stuff can affect what tDCS does to your brain. And some of those things vary on a day-to-day basis.

via http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2016/07/11/caution-brain-hacking

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a…

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

H.P. Lovecraft

An Open Letter Concerning Do-It-Yourself Users of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

neurohacking, tDCS, ethics, experimentation, medecine

“As clinicians and scientists who study noninvasive brain stimulation, we share a common interest with do-it-yourself (DIY) users, namely administering transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to improve brain function. Evidence suggests that DIY users reference the scientific literature to guide their use of tDCS, including published ethical and safety standards. However, as discussed at a recent Institute of Medicine Workshop, there is much about noninvasive brain stimulation in general, and tDCS in particular, that remains unknown. Whereas some risks, such as burns to the skin and complications resulting from electrical equipment failures, are well recognized, other problematic issues may not be immediately apparent. We perceive an ethical obligation to draw the attention of both professionals and DIY users to some of these issues”

  • Stimulation affects more of the brain than a user may think
  • Stimulation interacts with ongoing brain activity, so what a user does during tDCS changes tDCS effects
  • Enhancement of some cognitive abilities may come at the cost of others
  • Changes in brain activity (intended or not) may last longer than a user may think
  • Small differences in tDCS parameters can have a big effect
  • tDCS effects are highly variable across different people
  • The risk/benefit ratio is different for treating diseases versus enhancing function

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.24689/pdf

Smart Swarms vs. Big Funding: how to build a 100 million dollars project as a swarm of grassroots organizations

Edgeryders, funding, collaboration, ecosystems, solutionism, MacArthur-Foundation, 100&Change

Are global solutions impossible? Not at all. But global solutions are not composed of standardised identical units; they are ecosystems, organic mosaics of local solutions. For example, nature has a robust global solution to growing forests. It is not a single very large tree that covers 30% of the planet’s surface. It is not a single species of tree cloned in tens of billions of units across the whole globe. It is diversity: local adaptation, commensalism, some competition. A forest on the Mediterranean coast occupies the same ecological niche as one in Siberia, but the two consist of entirely different species, and are very different along almost any other dimension. Nature gets there by evolution: try many things, more or less at random (variation); then weed out those who do not work (natural selection); iterate.

via https://edgeryders.eu/en/blog/smart-swarms-vs-big-funding-how-to-build-a–100-million-dollars

Google Cuts Its Giant Electricity Bill With DeepMind-Powered AI

Google, AI, DeepMind, energy, electricity, machine-learning

In recent months, the Alphabet Inc. unit put a DeepMind AI system in control of parts of its data centers to reduce power consumption by manipulating computer servers and related equipment like cooling systems. It uses a similar technique to DeepMind software that taught itself to play Atari video games, Hassabis said in an interview at a recent AI conference in New York. The system cut power usage in the data centers by several percentage points, “which is a huge saving in terms of cost but, also, great for the environment,” he said. The savings translate into a 15 percent improvement in power usage efficiency, or PUE, Google said in a statement. PUE measures how much electricity Google uses for its computers, versus the supporting infrastructure like cooling systems.

via http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016–07–19/google-cuts-its-giant-electricity-bill-with-deepmind-powered-ai

Get Ready to See This Globalization ‘Elephant Chart’ Over and Over Again

Bloomberg, Capitalism, inequality, black-elephant, elephant, globalization, labour

Globalization was the driving force behind the growth miracle in emerging markets, lifting millions of people out of poverty over the past few decades. Now, a backlash against how the global income pie has been divided up is increasingly influencing the political affairs of developed markets. Globalization constituted a massive labor supply shock, allowing corporations to tap cheaper workers. The benefit to consumers in advanced economies took the form of downward price pressures on these goods. Along the way, however, the middle classes in developed nations failed to see this rising tide lift their boats. “The biggest losers (other than the very poorest 5 percent), or at least the ‘non-winners,’ of globalization were those between the 75th and 90th percentiles of the global income distribution whose real income gains were essentially nil,” according to Milanovic. “These people, who may be called a global upper-middle class, include many from former Communist countries and Latin America, as well as those citizens of rich countries whose incomes stagnated.” Toby Nangle, co-head of asset allocation at Columbia Threadneedle Asset Management, called this “globalization as an elephant” visual, “the most powerful chart of the last decade.”

via http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016–06–27/get-ready-to-see-this-globalization-elephant-chart-over-and-over-again

Pokémon Go players in Bosnia warned to steer clear of landmines

games, news, Pokémon, Bosnia, landmines, AR, MR, BiH, 1992, 2016

People playing the popular smartphone game Pokémon Go in Bosnia have been urged to avoid areas littered with unexploded mines left over from the 1990s conflict. “Today we received information that some users of the Pokémon Go app in Bosnia were going to places which are a risk for (unexploded) mines, in search of a pokemon,” the NGO Posavina bez mina said on its Facebook page. “Citizens are urged no to do so, to respect demarcation signs of dangerous mine fields and not to go into unknown areas,” it added. The new mobile app, which is based on a 1990s Nintendo game, has created a global frenzy as players roam the real world looking for cartoon characters.

via https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/20/pokemon-go-players-in-bosnia-warned-to-steer-clear-of-landmines

What Astronauts in Space Eat in a Day

food, NASA, spacefood, space food, nutrition, ISS

nasa:

There was a time when even NASA didn’t know if humans could eat in the microgravity environment of space. Thankfully for the future of long-term crewed missions, John Glenn proved that it was indeed possible when he ate applesauce from an aluminum tube while orbiting the Earth in 1962.

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Since then, the research conducted at our Space Food Systems Laboratory at Johnson Space Center has resulted in improved taste, variety and packaging of foods intended for space travel. Current-day astronauts are now given a standard menu of over 200 approved food and drink items months before launch, allowing them to plan their daily meals far in advance.

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So, with such a variety of foods to choose from, what does the typical astronaut eat in a day?  Here is an example from the International Space Station standard menu:

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Sounds tasty, right?

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However, these are only suggestions for astronauts, so they still have some choice over what they ultimately eat. Many astronauts, including Tim Kopra, combine different ingredients for meals.

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Others plan to eat special foods for the holidays. Astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren did just that on Thanksgiving last year when they ate smoked turkey, candied yams, corn and potatoes au gratin.

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Another key factor that influences what astronauts eat is the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are delivered via resupply spacecrafts.  When these foods arrive to the space station, they must be eaten quickly before they spoil. Astronaut Tim Peake doesn’t seem to mind.

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Nutrition is important to help counteract some of the effects spaceflight have on the body, such as bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular degradation, impairment of immune function, neurovestibular changes and vision changes. 

“Nutrition is vital to the mission,” Scott M. Smith, Ph.D., manager for NASA’s Nutritional Biochemistry Lab said. “Without proper nutrition for the astronauts, the mission will fail. It’s that simple.”

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We work hard to help astronauts feel less homesick by providing them with food that not only reminds them of life back on Earth, but is also nutritious and healthy. 

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Here are some unusual space food inventions that are no longer in use:

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  • Gelatin-coated sandwich and cookie cubes
  • Compressed bacon squares
  • Freeze dried ice cream

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:http://nasa.tumblr.com

"What’s now captured the interest of intellectuals is the elephant chart, the idea that over the past 30 years the winners were…

capitalism, progress, inequality, Branko Milanovic, Black Elephant, Bloomberg

“What’s now captured the interest of intellectuals is the elephant chart, the idea that over the past 30 years the winners were emerging market middle classes and the 1 percent in developed markets, but the developed markets’ middle classes were stagnant,” he wrote. “And I think we’ve finally found the correct framework for thinking about intersection of politics and macroeconomic trends.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-27/get-ready-to-see-this-globalization-elephant-chart-over-and-over-again

In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking)

rjzimmerman:

The concept of recognizing the legal rights of non-human beings, land, bodies of water and entire ecosystems is relatively novel. To people accustomed to the perspective of “Western civilization” relative to the relationship between humans and the ecosystem, or the perspective of biblical notions of human dominion over other beings and the land itself, this idea is probably silly or heretical. Some may even conclude “bullshit” or “hippies on drugs” or another left-wing conspiracy to destroy the USA.

This article tells us that a law in New Zealand granted rights to a certain parcel of land, and will do so to a river, that is Maori tribal land. Excerpt:

From 1954 to 2014, Te Urewera was an 821-square-mile national park on the North Island, but when the Te Urewera Act took effect, the government gave up formal ownership, and the land became a legal entity with “all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person,” as the statute puts it.

“The settlement is a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world,” said Pita Sharples, who was the minister of Maori affairs when the law was passed.

It was also “undoubtedly legally revolutionary” in New Zealand “and on a world scale,” Jacinta Ruru of the University of Otago wrote in the Maori Law Review.

Personhood means, among other things, that lawsuits to protect the land can be brought on behalf of the land itself, with no need to show harm to a particular human.

A similar but much broader concept is embedded in the constitution of Ecuador. Ecuador was the first country in the world to codify the “rights of nature” by providing constitutional protection. Specifically, the Ecuadorian Constitution recognizes the inalienable rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish, gives people the authority to petition on the behalf of ecosystems, and requires the government to remedy violations of these rights.

Interestingly, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, in his dissenting opinion in the case of Sierra Club vs. Morton, proposed that the components of an ecosystem may have standing to independently protect themselves without the necessity of human intervention in the legal proceeding. He said:

Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes. The corporation sole—a creature of ecclesiastical law—is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases…. So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes—fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it.

Someday in the future, probably well beyond my tenure on this planet, I suspect that the indigenous peoples of the US, Canada and Mexico may take this approach to the lands they consider “theirs” or, if not theirs, then sacred.

In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking)

The most general way of stating the central assertion of the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is that a population of…

“The most general way of stating the central assertion of the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is that a population of replicators subject to variation (for instance by imperfect copying) will be taken over by those variants that are better than their rivals at causing themselves to be replicated. This is a surprisingly deep truth which is commonly criticized either for being too obvious to be worth stating or for being false. The reason, I think, is that, although it is self-evidently true, it is not self-evidently the explanation of specific adaptations. Our intuition prefers explanations in terms of function or purpose: what does a gene do for its holder, or for its species? But we have just seen that the genes generally do not optimize such functionality.”

Deutsch, David. The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World. London: Allen Lane, 2011. (viacarvalhais)

TYPOGRAPHY & DYSLEXIA (Bigelow & Holmes)

typography, fonts, type, dyslexia, reading, legiblity

certain kinds of typography do offer potential benefits for dyslexic readers, especially on electronic reading devices like tablets and e-books, but that typeface design in particular has not yet been shown to provide statistically significant benefits in reading speed for dyslexics and has shown only mixed results in reading error reduction.

via http://bigelowandholmes.typepad.com/bigelow-holmes/2014/11/typography-dyslexia.html

Doing Nothing Has Become a Sport in South Korea

doing-nothing, Korea

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon, about 70 people gathered at Ichon Hangang Park in Seoul, South Korea, to do absolutely nothing. There was not a smartphone in sight, no texting or taking selfies, and no one rushing to get anywhere. The crowd was taking part in South Korea’s annual Space Out Competition, a contest to see who can stare off into space the longest without losing focus. WoopsYang, the visual artist who created the event in 2014, said it’s designed to highlight how much people have been overworking their brains and how much they stand to gain by taking a break.

via http://www.vice.com/read/doing-nothing-has-become-a-sport-in-south-korea

New observations on airborne jet propulsion (flight) in squid

squid, flight, research

Jet propulsion in squids is used primarily as an escape response and most often occurs entirely under water. In many species of squid, however, the propulsive force is sufficient to launch the squid completely out of the water, after which it may fly or glide for some distance. Some researchers do not use the term ‘fly’, but prefer the term ‘gliding’.

via http://mollus.oxfordjournals.org/content/70/3/297

Views of Pluto

pluto, BWPWAP, NASA

nasa:

10 Images to Celebrate the Historic Exploration of the Pluto System

One year ago, our New Horizons mission made history by exploring Pluto and its moons – giving humankind our first close-up look at this fascinating world on the frontier of our solar system.

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Since those amazing days in July 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft has transmitted numerous images and many other kinds of data home for scientists and the public alike to study, analyze, and just plain love. From Pluto’s iconic “heart” and sweeping ice-mountain vistas to its flowing glaciers and dramatic blue skies, it’s hard to pick just one favorite picture. So the mission team has picked 10 – and in no special order, placed them here.

Click the titles for more information about each image. You’ve seen nine of them before, and the team added a 10th favorite, also sure to become one of New Horizons’ “greatest hits.”

Vast Glacial Flows

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In the northern region of Pluto’s Sputnik Planum, swirl-shaped patterns of light and dark suggest that a surface layer of exotic ices has flowed around obstacles and into depressions, much like glaciers on Earth.

Jagged Ice Shorelines and Snowy Pits

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This dramatic image from our New Horizons spacecraft shows the dark, rugged highlands known as Krun Macula (lower right), which border a section of Pluto’s icy plains.

Blue Skies

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Pluto’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn’s moon Titan.

Charon Becomes a Real World

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At half the diameter of Pluto, Charon is the largest satellite relative to its planet in the solar system. Many New Horizons scientists expected Charon to be a monotonous, crater-battered world; instead, they’re finding a landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more. 

The Vistas of Pluto

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Our New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon. The backlighting highlights over a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s tenuous but distended atmosphere.

The Dynamic Duo: Pluto and Charon in Enhanced Color

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The color and brightness of both Pluto and Charon have been processed identically to allow direct comparison of their surface properties, and to highlight the similarity between Charon’s polar red terrain and Pluto’s equatorial red terrain. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. 

Strange Snakeskin Terrain

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A moment’s study reveals surface features that appear to be texturally ‘snakeskin’-like, owing to their north-south oriented scaly raised relief. A digital elevation model created by the New Horizons’ geology shows that these bladed structures have typical relief of about 550 yards (500 meters). Their relative spacing of about 3-5 kilometers makes them some of the steepest features seen on Pluto.

Pluto’s Heart

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This view is dominated by the large, bright feature informally named the “heart,” which measures approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. The heart borders darker equatorial terrains, and the mottled terrain to its east (right) are complex. However, even at this resolution, much of the heart’s interior appears remarkably featureless—possibly a sign of ongoing geologic processes.

Far Away Snow-Capped Mountains

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One of Pluto’s most identifiable features, Cthulhu (pronounced kuh-THU-lu) stretches nearly halfway around Pluto’s equator, starting from the west of the great nitrogen ice plains known as Sputnik Planum. Measuring approximately 1,850 miles (3,000 kilometers) long and 450 miles (750 kilometers) wide, Cthulhu is a bit larger than the state of Alaska.

Colorful Composition Maps of Pluto

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The powerful instruments on New Horizons not only gave scientists insight on what Pluto looked like, their data also confirmed (or, in many cases, dispelled) their ideas of what Pluto was made of. These compositional maps – assembled using data from the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) component of the Ralph instrument – indicate the regions rich in ices of methane (CH4), nitrogen (N2) and carbon monoxide (CO),  and, of course, water ice (H2O).

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:http://nasa.tumblr.com

Stingray Robot Powered by Light, and Living Rat Cells “If a robot is made of living cells, can respond to external stimuli and…

futureofscience:

Stingray Robot Powered by Light, and Living Rat Cells

“If a robot is made of living cells, can respond to external stimuli and has the ability to compute and coordinate movement, is it alive?

This question can be posed of a new, tiny stingray-inspired robot that is able to follow pulses of light to swim through an obstacle course.

“It’s not an organism per se, but it’s certainly alive,” said Kevin Kit Parker, a professor of bioengineering at Harvard University and one of the authors of a paper detailing the robot, published in Science on Thursday.

To create the robot, which measures 16 millimeters in length, Dr. Parker’s team layered heart cells from rats onto a gold and silicone scaffold that they designed to resemble a stingray. They then injected a gene into the cells that caused them to contract when exposed to blue light.

By shining pulses of blue light, the researchers were able to control the robot’s movements. Flashing the light more rapidly caused the robot to swim faster. Blinking the light on the robot’s right side caused it to turn left, and vice versa.”

We’re conflating seeing the injustices of our world with thinking that everything is getting worse. Most of the people reading…

We’re conflating seeing the injustices of our world with thinking that everything is getting worse.

Most of the people reading this will be able to pull out a statistic that they have recently seen to either prove or disprove my point. But I do genuinely believe that we are spending way to little time with understanding the anxieties that modern technology enables just by surfacing it. Companies, organizations, whole societies are aware of so many more things going without having built up a resistance, an ability to contextualize and make use of what is being surfaced without creating a substantial surplus of stress. In all of that it is easy to lose perspective and revert to the position of what German’s describe as “Früher war alles besser” (In the past everything was better). It’s not a genuine way of dealing with what in front of us, but often enough it is the only way of dealing with a system that is being overloaded. In technical terms, the more aware we are, the more we are bordering to DDOS ourselves. 

The result of this is that even the staunchest defenders of the internet are suddenly reverting to nostalgia. You know, when TV was a unifying force and represented people of all colors and/or gender fairly/inclusively. For some, they might have been, but certainly not for most. I fall into the same trap more often, too tired to deal with the absurdity that Twitter has become without wanting to give it up. Or, in more general terms, without questioning the legitimacy of my work altogether.

S02E15. - Igor (viastml)

Popular YouTuber gets shot at while catching Pokémon

new-aesthetic:

Since launching earlier this week, Pokémon Go is quickly gaining traction and people keep stumbling upon Pokémon in the weirdest places. But it seems the hunt to catch them all has finally gone wrong for someone… sort of.

In his latest video, popular YouTuber Lanceypooh decided to record his Go adventures as he headed out to chase Pokémon in the woods.

But his trip suddenly took a scary and unexpected turn when Lancey accidentally ended up intruding someone’s property while following the Pokéradar.

This is when things escalated quickly. The alleged owner mistook Lancey’s harmless Pokémon hunt for trespassing and – following a very brief warning – opened fire at the YouTuber and his friends.

Fortunately, however, Lancey and his companions managed to quickly make their way to their vehicle, getting out of harm’s way in one piece. Skip ahead in the video above to 5:20 to watch that bit.

As Redditors have already remarked, the authenticity of the video indeed appears questionable – and I, for one, won’t be surprised, if it turns out to be staged.

But in case it’s real… Pokémon lovers, beware: the hunter can quickly turn into the hunted.

Popular YouTuber gets shot at while catching Pokémon

Bitcoin has long been thought to be the world’s most unstable currency – moving from being worth $2 to $1,137 in the last five…

bitcoin, XBT, GBP, volatility, Brexit

Bitcoin has long been thought to be the world’s most unstable currency – moving from being worth $2 to $1,137 in the last five years. But that wildly volatile currency is now becoming a safe refuge when compared to the fluctuations in the pound.

For a brief period this week, Bitcoin’s 10-day historical volatility – a measure of how much its price has been changing – dropped below that of the British pound.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-pound-sterling-bitcoin-prices-unstable-volatile-exchange-referendum-a7129311.html

Why don’t we trust the experts?

psychology, trust, experts, post-factual, metaknowledge, context

So here we have a partial answer to why experts aren’t trusted. They aren’t trusted by people who feel alienated from them. My reading of this study would be that it isn’t that we live in a ‘post-fact’ political climate. Rather it is that attempts to take facts out of their social context won’t work. For me and my friends it seems incomprehensible to ignore the facts, whether about the science of vaccination, or the law and economics of leaving the EU. But me and my friends do very well from the status quo - the Treasury, the Bar, the University work well for us. We know who these people are, we know how they work, and we trust them because we feel they are working for us, in some wider sense. People who voted Leave do suffer from a lack of trust, and my best guess is that this is a reflection of a belief that most authorities aren’t on their side, not because they necessarily reject their status as experts.

via http://www.tomstafford.staff.shef.ac.uk/?p=447

A mathematical BS detector can boost the wisdom of crowds

knowledge, metaknowledge, crowdsourcing, Prelec, Aeon, self-awareness

Metaknowledge functions as a powerful bullshit detector. It can separate crowd members who actually know something from those who are guessing wildly or just parroting what everyone else says. ‘The crowd community has been insufficiently ambitious in what it tries to extract from the crowd,’ Prelec says. ‘The crowd is wise, but not in the way the error-correcting intuition assumed. There’s more information there.’ The bullshit detector isn’t perfect, but it’s the best you can do whenever you don’t know the answer yourself and have to rely on other people’s opinion. Which eyewitness do you believe? Which talking head on TV? Which scientist commenting on some controversial topic? If they demonstrate superior metaknowledge, you can take that as a sign of their superior knowledge.

via https://aeon.co/essays/a-mathematical-bs-detector-can-boost-the-wisdom-of-crowds

This Is What Jupiter Sounds Like

jupiter, Juno, NASA, sound, radio, electromagnetics, magnetosphere

Scientists have long known that Jupiter is noisy: The planet produces intense radio storms powered by interactions between the planet and its moons, not to mention the wild gases at play on the planet itself. But they didn’t realize that Juno’s entry into Jupiter’s orbit would produce such complex data. “While this transition from the solar wind into the magnetosphere was predicted to occur at some point in time,” the agency writes in the blog post, “the structure of the boundary between those two regions proved to be unexpectedly complex, with different instruments reporting unusual signatures both before and after the nominal crossing.”

via http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/what-jupiter-sounds–180959686/?no-ist

Sound check: the quietest place in the U.S.

rjzimmerman:

Excerpt:

I’m in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, at a spot that has been christened the “quietest square inch in the United States” by Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist who spent more than three decades traveling the globe and making sound records of pristine environments. These days, however, he is more concerned with protecting these soundscapes than in documenting them — starting with the very patch of forest where I’m sitting.

The difference between hearing and listening, and the discovery of how to really, wholly lend one’s ear, are revelations Hempton wishes more people could have. “After three days or so in the Hoh Valley or in Olympic Park, you find that all the chatter of the modern world that snuck aboard your backpack with you … loses relevance,” he told us, with sermon-like delivery. “It’s no longer important. What’s important is the beauty of nature.”

But the quiet spaces — defined not by their lack of sound, which could include birdsong and wind rustling leaves, but their lack of manmade noise —are quickly disappearing. By some estimates, noise pollution affects more than 88 percent of the contiguous U.S.

Sound check: the quietest place in the U.S.

Can New York Be Saved in the Era of Global Warming?

rjzimmerman:

New York City is proposing to spend $3 billion on a massive wall to keep out the rising ocean. (See: climate change and sea level rise.) It’s called the “Big U” (see the map below…..it looks like the letter “U”). New York City has the money, and the stature and the motivation.

The article is long, but it gets into what NYC is doing and why, the positives and negatives a giant dike, and the politics (of course).

Excerpt:

Next year, if all goes well, the city will break ground on what’s called the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, an undulating 10-foot-high steel-and-concrete-reinforced berm that will run about two miles along the riverfront. It’s the first part of a bigger barrier system, known informally as “the Big U,” that someday may loop around the entire bottom of Manhattan, from 42nd Street on the East Side to 57th Street on the West Side. Zarrilli likes to underscore that the barrier will be covered with grass and trees in many places, as well as benches and bike paths – it’s the East Side equivalent of the High Line, the hugely popular elevated train track on the West Side that has been transformed into an urban park. There are plans in the works to build other walls and barriers in the Rockaways and on Staten Island, as well as in Hoboken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River. But this project in Lower Manhattan is the headliner, not just because the city may spend $3 billion or more to construct it, but also because Lower Manhattan is some of the most valuable real estate on the planet – if it can’t be protected, then New York is in deep trouble.

Can New York Be Saved in the Era of Global Warming?

The Qaaba & Calligraphic Spacetime

fadesingh:

At the outskirts of the solar system there is the Oort Cloud, where comets come from—bound to their eccentric orbits, circumambulating the Sun like throngs of Hajjis  around the holy black cube of Mecca. The granite relic is strangely reminiscent of the alien monolith that confounds Stone Age homo sapiens in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In that sense a journey to the Qaaba simulates particles drawn by the pull of gravity to an Axis Mundi, a primordial sanctorum, the fulcrum of universal motion. Collision of the pilgrims en masse creates a bridge between the pilgrim and the cosmos, a direct encounter with smallness and infinitude.

Across the earthly sphere namazees face this conspicuous cube five times a day, a cube sitting upon a sphere - as if they were small magnetic dipoles aligning themselves to a vast, invisible geomagnetic field extended by the black cube across the earth, tracing its ley lines of unshakeable faith.

Like the Moon which always presents the same face to the Earth, even as it rotates around it. The ritual sighting of the Moon is perhaps a symbolic act of social “flash mob” astronomy. Because these traditions are based on a terrestrial geometry, as the Islamic faith moves into space—the practice of its rituals will become more mathematically intricate. How does a Muslim astronaut face Mecca from orbit? What does ghurrat al hilal  (sighting of the moon)  mean on the planet Saturn which has more than 60 moons? If the moon to be observed is the Earth’s … we might even see a religion adopt the tenets of astrophysics, going so far as to calculate the speed of light and relativistic effects.

Nowhere is the worship of pure geometry more evident in Islamic art than in calligraphy and tessellation. The name of God is repeated across a 2-dimensional sheet of spacetime like a crystalline mirror, a theory of everything without the need of any other words. There is some historical evidence that translations of Plato and Euclid may have contributed to this strange syncretism of geometry, mysticism, and cosmology.

That the world of sensations is a hologram, projected from the 2-dimensional surface of a black hole … is a very new idea in physics, among the many attempts at achieving a theory of “quantum gravity,” but if it succeeds, Islamic calligraphy in particular will acquire a prophetic hue.

Sources:

  1. The Geometry of the Qur'an of Amajur: A Preliminary Study of Proportion in Early Arabic Calligraphy
  2. Oort Cloud: Wikipedia
  3. A Muslim Astronaut’s Dilemma: How To Face Mecca From Orbit
  4. The Holographic Principle: Wikipedia

Modern China is So Crazy It Needs a New Literary Genre

literature, fiction, china, corruption, CQWG, chaohuan

What are we to make of contemporary Chinese reality? Political scientists have their way of looking at things, as do economists, historians, sociologists, and philosophers. Make no mistake, we fiction writers have our way of looking at the world too. Only the fiction writer’s way of looking at the world is not just one more to add to our list. The fiction writer incorporates all ways of looking at the world into one. It is a compound eye. If Magic Realism was the way in which Latin American authors presented their view of their reality, then Ultra-Unreal Realism should be our name for the literature through which the Chinese regard their reality. The Chinese word “chaohuan” (ultra-unreal) is something of a play on the word “mohuan” (magic), as in “mohuan xianshizhuyi” (magic realism)— “mohuan” is “magical unreal,” and “chaohuan” is “surpassing the unreal.”

via http://lithub.com/modern-china-is-so-crazy-it-needs-a-new-literary-genre/

“The digital age reshapes our notion of photography. Not everyone is happy …” Sean O’Hagan in The Guardian …

smbhmag:

“The digital age reshapes our notion of photography. Not everyone is happy …”

Sean O'Hagan in The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/02/photography-no-longer-just-prints-on-the-wall?CMP=twt_gu

(image: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, The Revolutionary, from Spirit Is a Bone, 2013, at Public, Private, Secret at the International Center of Photography in New York. Photograph: © Adam Broomberg and O