aesop’s fables and thinking, summer lawn chairs, the leech – it grew and fed

I’ve read this over three times and had a difficult time imagining what the Jays did, Scientists Use Aesop’s Fable To Unlock How We Think Cambridge scientists have used an age-old fable to help illustrate how we think differently to other animals. So I tracked down the original paper which explains more detail – How Do Children Solve Aesop’s Fable?

Studies on members of the crow family using the “Aesop’s Fable” paradigm have revealed remarkable abilities in these birds, and suggested a mechanism by which associative learning and folk physics may interact when learning new problems. In the present study, children between 4 and 10 years of age were tested on the same tasks as the birds. Overall the performance of the children between 5–7-years was similar to that of the birds, while children from 8-years were able to succeed in all tasks from the first trial. However the pattern of performance across tasks suggested that different learning mechanisms might be being employed by children than by adult birds. Specifically, it is possible that in children, unlike corvids, performance is not affected by counter-intuitive mechanism cues.

[ ]…To investigate whether the birds’ performance could be explained by instrumental learning, Cheke and colleagues conducted a series of control tests that showed that the birds were able to learn in a mechanised version of the task in which stone-dropping resulted in the approach of food. The jays were, however, unable to learn when the reward probabilities remained the same, but the reward did not move. This contrast was interpreted to suggest that it was not the causal mechanism of the Aesop’s Fable task that the birds were able to learn, but the relationship between stone-insertions and movement.

The children and the birds learned that displacing the water in one side of the tube caused the prize to get close enough to the surface to retrieve. When the Jays were confronted with a situation where the prize did not move on the first try, they could not think their way to another solution.  Jays are very smart, but they’re not as smart as dolphins. So why stop with Jays on finding the differences between how children and animals think. Divided dolphin societies merge ‘for first time’

The Moreton Bay dolphins were thought to be the only recorded example of a single population that consisted of groups not associating with each other.

The was split dubbed “the parting of the pods”.

But since the study that discovered the rift, trawlers have been banned from designated areas of the bay leading to a 50% reduction in the fishing effort.

A key area of the bay to the south, where the social split was first observed by a previous study, has been protected.

The changes gave scientists a unique opportunity to observe the adaptability of dolphin society.

The “trawler” dolphins from Moreton Bay had previously fed on the bycatch from boats while the “non-trawlers” found other sources of food.

“There’s never been really any experiments looking at social structure… where you can compare what it was like before and what it is like now,” said Dr Ina Ansmann, a marine vertebrate ecologist at the University of Queensland and the study’s lead author.

Analysing how the population interacted before and after trawling meant the team could assess how the dolphins’ social network had changed.

“The dolphins had basically re-arranged their whole social system after trawling disappeared so they’re now actually interacting again,” Dr Ansmann told BBC Nature.

The scientists identified individual dolphins by the marks on their dorsal fin and recorded which animals were associating with which.

“Each dolphin has small injuries like nicks and notches, cuts and things like that on the fin so they all have a very unique looking dorsal fin.”

This technique meant that Dr Ansmann could observe changes in behaviour, in some cases down to the individual dolphins which had been studied in the 1990s to reveal the original division.

“Presumably they’re sharing information, co-operating and things like that.”

Dolphins operate in what is called a fission-fusion society, forming groups and then splitting up to form different groups.

Through complex communication and social intelligence, bottlenose dolphins often work as a team when hunting for food and Dr Ansmann believes this may be what lies behind the unification.

“When relying on natural food sources I guess it’s more important for them to interact with others, or to learn from others, or to co-operate with others to get to these food sources,” she said.

The results suggest that a flexible social structure may be an important factor in how dolphins exploit a wide range of resources in the marine environment.

It also seems like the dolphins who had been following the fishing boats had to do something like abstract thinking. How would they know that joining up with another dolphin group, one in which they had no previous interest in, would likely result in new sources of food. It appears as though they had to imagine future events, a major feature of human intelligence.

summer lawn chairs

My reading habits are probably a factor, but it is funny how essays over the course of a week or sometimes a month will have common elements. I mentioned Joyce Carol Oates critique of Charles Dickens the other day. In this essay it turns out that Charles Darwin was an admirer of Dickens and was inspired by him to improve his prose style, Darwin’s ‘clumsy’ prose

Closer to home, Darwin’s readers were not always more enamoured of his style. Within weeks of its appearance, George Eliot wrote that she thought the book (Origin of Species) “ill-written”, and that she didn’t think it would be very popular. But few could doubt its significance, and writers were among the first to see this. Hitting the bookshops in November 1859, it sold out on the first day, Darwin’s publisher John Murray told him. Eliot said “it will have a great effect in the scientific world . . . . So the world gets on step by step towards brave clearness and honesty!”, and Thomas Hardy, who read it as a teenager, declared himself to be one of its first champions. Rereading the Origin (“slowly again for the nth time, with the view of picking out the essentials of the argument for the obituary notice”), T. H. Huxley remarked that “nothing entertains me more than to hear people call it easy reading”. “Exposition”, he insisted, “was not Darwin’s forte – and his English is sometimes wonderful.” This wonderful English, the extraordinary prose that could puzzle Darwin’s Victorian readers, is the subject of George Levine’s new book, from which Darwin emerges as an artist as well as a scientist, a master of argument, analogical reasoning, hypothesis and anecdote.

Darwin became good friends with George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans). Perhaps that is why he seemed to take her criticism to heart. He struggled with and rewrote some kept passages in Origins,

Darwin had, though, in his own words, “to labour very hard & slowly at every sentence”, often reading aloud to an imaginary listener, or to his wife, as he strove to find the right way to explain something, convinced of the necessity of writing clearly, and surprised to find himself an author, promising his publisher as he finished the Origin that he would do his utmost to improve his style. And, sometimes, the metaphors weren’t right. In a laboured sentence in notebook D (1838), a force “like a hundred thousand wedges” was “trying force into every kind of adapted structure into the gaps of in the economy of nature”; by the Origin the face of nature (which a few pages earlier was “bright with gladness” in a superabundant world) is compared to “ten thousand sharp wedges” driven in “by incessant blows”. But by the second edition (Levine mistakenly gives this as the sixth), of 1860, the wedges were gone. Was the image just too violent? As Levine reminds us, Darwin was thinking more about cooperation.

adrian brody in chalk

The human species also has what appears to a fairly unique ability to engage in speech without engaging the higher parts of their brain – Romney Praises Israel’s Universal Health Care System, Which Includes Individual Mandate. Anyone can live in a mental bubble, but the wealthy and those in positions of authority, especially when those two overlap, tend to rate highly on the bubble mental state scale. Romney and his echo out in Conservatoria built everything and didn’t need no darn help from anyone, ever – How the U.S. Government Helped Mitt Romney Build His Fortune.

The leech was waiting for food. For millennia it had been drifting
across the vast emptiness of space. Without consciousness, it had spent
the countless centuries in the void between the stars. It was unaware
when it finally reached a sun. Life-giving radiation flared around the
hard, dry spore. Gravitation tugged at it.

A planet claimed it, with other stellar debris, and the leech fell,
still dead-seeming within its tough spore case.

One speck of dust among many, the winds blew it around the Earth, played
with it, and let it fall.

On the ground, it began to stir. Nourishment soaked in, permeating the
spore case. It grew–and fed.

From the sci-fi short story The Leech by Phillips Barbee via Project Gutenberg


some stuff i have read recently, autumn dandelions wallpaper, louie and unintended meanings

A Nod to the Xenophobic, Lying Inventor of Spy Fiction

Beyond literature, the man’s true (evil) genius (William Le Queux b. 1864)) was as a propagandist. His paranoid novels and bogus pronouncements were aimed at convincing fellow Brits that England was infested with foreign agents. In fact, the flimsy evidence of German spying he stovepiped to a government subcommittee—a subcommittee that arose from anxieties he helped stir—prompted the 1909 founding of the British Secret Service Bureau (later a model for the CIA).

According to one study of paranoia there is only a genetic link a small percentage of the time. What the World Health Organization considers clinical paranoia is said to only affect, at maximum, about %2.5 of the population. With males in the majority. Yet so much of our cultural clashes seem propelled by paranoia. Everyone feels paranoid once in a while. But everyone feels relaxed once in a while as well. Why does one aspect of the range of human emotions drive so much hostility and ethnocentrism.

A High Holy Whodunit

One day this spring, on the condition that I not reveal any details of its location nor the stringent security measures in place to protect its contents, I entered a hidden vault at the Israel Museum and gazed upon the Aleppo Codex — the oldest, most complete, most accurate text of the Hebrew Bible. The story of how it arrived here, in Jerusalem, is a tale of ancient fears and modern prejudices, one that touches on one of the rawest nerves in Israeli society: the clash of cultures between Jews from Arab countries and the European Jews, or Ashkenazim, who controlled the country during its formative years.

This is a long but fascinating read. Even those not particularly interested in religion should find the mystery and the history worth their time. Though it is difficult not to note the way religious beliefs, the same religious doctrines pulled followers in opposite directions.

autumn dandelions wallpaper

I have probably mentioned before that there are some qualities to admire in the Amish. Unlike Republicans they live a truly God centered life. While Republicans embrace the bloody revenge and justice of the Old Testament, the Amish have a more Sermon on The Mount perspective. Unlike conservatives such as Mitt Romney or these clowns, the Amish do actual work for a living. Amish Population Booms in US

The Amish, who represent a branch of the Anabaptist movement, shun most modern technologies and settle on farmland where they can live undisturbed by much of the world. Even so, Donnermeyer speculated that the availability of farmland may not be able to keep up with the Amish population boom, which might mean more Amish men will start looking for nonfarm jobs such as woodworking and construction trades.

Effort to Save Harlem’s Murals From a Grittier Time. Very good photo essay from the NYT Blog.

One of the first murals that Franco Gaskin noticed missing was of a weeping Martin Luther King Jr. He had painted the work about 18 years ago on the dreary metal front gate of an abandoned store where Dr. King was said to have had a book signing. Then his painting of a bountiful harvest outside a store called Family Fair Fruit that is now a Starbucks disappeared. Also gone was his vision of a phoenix flying near the sun outside a mom-and-pop store that became a Rite Aid.

Back when Harlem’s 125th Street was a far drearier commercial stretch, Mr. Gaskin, an artist who has gained global acclaim as Franco the Great, painted mural after mural on the storefront security gates. He ultimately painted about 200 of them.

Mural by Franco Gaskin aka Franco the Great

Joyce Carol Oates writes about Charles Dickens,

If Dickens’s prose fiction has “defects”—excesses of melodrama, sentimentality, contrived plots, and manufactured happy endings—these are the defects of his era, which for all his greatness Dickens had not the rebellious spirit to resist; he was at heart a crowd-pleaser, a theatrical entertainer, with no interest in subverting the conventions of the novel as his great successors D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf would have; nor did he contemplate the subtle and ironic counterminings of human relations in the way of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, who brought to the English novel an element of nuanced psychological realism not previously explored.

The bold seems to what is getting the most attention. Oates also states about Dickens, “Few would contest that he is the most English of great English novelists, and that his most accomplished novels—Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Our Mutual Friend, and David Copperfield—are works of surpassing genius, thrumming with energy, imagination, and something resembling white-hot inspiration.” Not every writer can perform every trick. If a critic so desires there are always short comings to find. Dickens is not around to make notes, but this is where critics, even if they hate a writer, can be their best friend. They provide the opportunity to step back and reevaluate.

6 Things Mitt Romney Is Hiding – From missing emails to mysterious investments, his deep history of secrecy. They seemed to have missed listing Romney’s birth certificate. I’ve heard he was really born in Russia to some KGB agents who smuggled him into Utah via a midnight merchant ship landing at San Diego. Until he proves otherwise he is just a radical commie foreigner. Isn’t that what commies would do, wrap up some fundamentally UnAmerican ideology in the red, white and blue and call it patriotism.

Terry Gilliam’s daughter has started a blog, “Discovering Dad” aka delving into Terry Gilliam’s personal archive. Just one recent example of posts,

Discoveries of the day: 20 July 2012
So I went a little off piste today and dived into some of the Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life material.  I found incredible orignial illustrations and cut-outs for the opening titles animation sequence.

As one would expect everything is copyrighted or I would have posted at least a thumbnail sample.

I generally like program Louie and I like Parker Posey. Louis C.K. was the writer and was the director of the episode that Posey was in. They had meet at a social function and started discussing the role, so Parker and Louis know more about the intended narrative and how to interpret the roles they played than I do. As her dark, two-episode arc on “Louie” ends, the actress reflects on the ways men try to change women

Parker Posey: He’s too wrapped up in his own insecurities to really look at her.

Parker Posey: And he’s a creep too!

Willa Paskin: He’s a creep?

Parker Posey: You don’t think he’s a creep? He’s like skulking in there in a bookstore? Are you kidding? He’s telling her who she is! It’s somewhat sadistic, right? I mean he’s already written her dialogue for her. He comes up to her and he’s talking and what he’s saying is just like a mouthful of what he thinks she’s thinking. And she goes, ‘Yeah, I’ll go along, I’ll be your projection,’ you know?

So this guy is projecting and she senses that, why play games. If she knows who she is and doesn’t like games, why intentionally give him the wrong impression. It turns out later that she does have, as most people do once you get to know them, some emotional baggage. Probably beyond that to some deep emotional scars. With or without emotional scars a woman or a man has the right to vet people. But that is what meeting for coffee or lunch or a full fledged date is for. So from their first words, she was dishonest. Her life experience and what Louie was projecting may mediate too harsh a judgement, but this was probably not the best way to start with someone who on some level one finds appealing, or has the potential to be a date. Later she puts him through a series of trials – putting on a dress, buying a homeless man his prescription and running up a stair case to a roof top that was one of her favorite spots. As Fiona Apple knows, women are capable of toying with men that seem infatuated with them and also knows that taking advantage of that situation is not exactly the right thing to do. If the situation were reversed, with Louie running her through her paces, testing her, would we see it as Louie trying to awaken her – “She’s the one that’s changing him, waking him up to something, getting him out of his head and seeing something. You’re always wondering if Louie’s going to see what’s in front of him. She is trying to help him.” Replace the feminine pronouns with masculine. Not such a good way to approach things by way of these emotional litmus tests. People do test each other all the time, especially in romantic relationships. Some of it can be marked up to human insecurities or frailty, but the extent to which Parker’s character pushed it, reached the threshold of  emotional abuse. Louie and Parker know more about the intentions in play, but might be so connected to the material they cannot see where what they intended could be interpreted as something else. Something dysfunctional. You never know with Louis if or when he will go back and pick up a story line so it might also be his plan to portray a dysfunctional set of characters who don’t know what the hell they’re doing. If that is the case, good job.

parker posey from louie, episode 4 season 3. This is a screen grab from the last minute of that episode.

businesses that fed at the government tit in denial, blacktop highway wallpaper, the not nice fairy tales

In Japan the historian Saburo Ienaga fought Ministry of Education for thirty years over the official censorship of his books which detailed Japanese Imperial atrocities during WW II. One of his major battles was before the Japanese Supreme Court as recently as 1997. Much of the public had grown to support suppressing such public documentation and education. Holocaust denial has a strong, if small following in the U.S., Australia and Europe. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary there are still quite a few people who link vaccines with autism. They are in denial about the evidence or maybe just plain false pride will not let them admit they’re wrong and suffer the public embarrassment. Republican web sites till push the urban legend that Freddie Mac and the working poor caused the Great Recession, but by extending that logic they also caused the world-wide recession. They not just denying their role and that of their economic policies, but laying responsibility off on others. A twofer in the way of denial and deflection. Some combination of denial, what they see as political fidelity and the power of self-delusion is probably in play here as well, Romney camp features Tampa govt. contractors who say they don’t need… government

The A.D. Morgan Corporation employs 50 people and has annual revenues of about $80 million, according to its website. The company lists more than 130 projects and developments. Impressive, no doubt. But the list is nearly all government projects. (One of the few not to be: the Poynter Institute for Media Studies). From the Sumter County jail expansion, Woodlawn Elementary School, the library at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, interior sign at James Haley Veterans Hospital, the Plant City Courthouse, a Florida Department of Transportation weigh station, the projects that have made A.D. Morgan the success it is have been government, big and small, state and local.
Smith didn’t see that as a contradiction to her message that government didn’t help her.

“We’re not going to have an opportunity in the private sector, they have a tendency to use lump sum, low bid,” Smith said, explaining how government bids work. “So by virtue of what it is that we do, we go to the client base that purchases construction services that way.”

And by client, she means government. So doesn’t she benefit from government spending because of her business model?

“So are you saying that if the government purchases anything from Microsoft, Microsoft would be nothing but for the government?” she said. Of course, government and the private sector bought Microsoft products, making it the success that it was. With her business model, it’s almost exclusively public projects.

Asked again about her heavily reliance on government work, Smith got all post-modern.

“We’re all government,” she said.

I’ve known conservatives that have depended on the government directly or indirectly for most of their adult lifetimes to make a living or help them with medical costs ( yes there are people who do not think Medicare and veterans medical benefits are government programs). It seems silly or maybe gulling to some, but these people just cannot bring themselves to admit that the lives they actually lead do not line up with their pure, abet irrational political beliefs they hold.

winged ghost or white moth

Everyone to their own taste, but I’m not much for horror-porn. Since I took a lot of biology in school people are surprised that I’m what they consider squeamish. I just don’t enjoy or feel entertained by a festival of disemboweled bodies, buckets of blood, various graphic depictions of torture. Though the taste for such entertainment goes all the way back to the Brothers Grimm. Actually far before the well-known fairy tales. What were the Roman coliseum fights between gladiators about but a live horror show. The lure of the fairy tale and not the kind with silly farm ducks or glass slippers.

In Grimms’ Fairy Tales there is a story called “The Stubborn Child” that is only one paragraph long. Here it is, in a translation by the fairy-tale scholar Jack Zipes:

Once upon a time there was a stubborn child who never did what his mother told him to do. The dear Lord, therefore, did not look kindly upon him, and let him become sick. No doctor could cure him and in a short time he lay on his deathbed. After he was lowered into his grave and covered over with earth, one of his little arms suddenly emerged and reached up into the air. They pushed it back down and covered the earth with fresh earth, but that did not help. The little arm kept popping out. So the child’s mother had to go to the grave herself and smack the little arm with a switch. After she had done that, the arm withdrew, and then, for the first time, the child had peace beneath the earth.

This story, with its unvarnished prose, should be clear, but it isn’t. Was the child buried alive? The unconsenting arm looks more like a symbol. And what about the mother? Didn’t it trouble her to whip that arm? Then we are told that the youngster, after this beating, rested in peace. Really? When, before, he had seemed to beg for life? But the worst thing in the story is that, beyond disobedience, it gives us not a single piece of information about the child. No name, no age, no pretty or ugly. We don’t even know if it is a boy or a girl. (The Grimms used ein Kind, the neuter word for “child.” Zipes decided that the child was a boy.) And so the tale, without details to attach it to anything in particular, becomes universal. Whatever happened there, we all deserve it. A. S. Byatt has written that this is the real terror of the story: “It doesn’t feel like a warning to naughty infants. It feels like a glimpse of the dreadful side of the nature of things.” That is true of very many of the Grimms’ tales, even those with happy endings.

Where The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan Lived. A very good essay on the woman who Fitzgerald was in love with before Zelda and inspired a few characters, including Daisy.

Ginevra King met Scott Fitzgerald for the first time on January 4, 1915, while visiting a school friend in Minnesota. The two began a romance that consisted primarily of written correspondence, until it was broken off in 1917. While a two-year letter writing campaign might not seem like much by today’s standards, it clearly made an impression.

blacktop highway wallpaper

A pinch of opportunity makes deep inequality more palatable. Besides the possibility of not having free will, why do people, or not enough of them, not act in their own rational self interests. While there are opportunities to get ahead in the U.S., with only about 4% of the working poor ever reaching upper middle-class standards, the concept of everyone being the next Horatio Alger is largely a myth. So why do the vast majority of the working public believe there are rainbows and unicorns just around the corner.

“When you look at it rationally, it makes no sense that people are placing such a disproportionate value on that first one per cent increase in opportunity.

“But that slight increase in fairness seems to have some kind of symbolic meaning.

“It appears people are happy to accept extreme inequality when they have this tiny carrot dangled in front of them.

“We’ve got to remember that our experiments are conducted in a lab at a university, not in the real world which is far more complex.

“But these results could shed light on why people living in unequal societies aren’t more vocal in rejecting unfairness.

The Mill is a film special effects studio. This is a demonstration reel of the kinds of effects they can do.

The Mill US Showreel 2012 from The Mill Visual Effects Studio on Vimeo.

flight credit, night drive wallpaper, the wsj’s revionist history of the internet

Otto Lilienthal with his collapsible glider built in 1893. Rathenow, Germany.

Pictures depicting crazies and their flying apparatuses and machines are al over the net. Lilienthal(May 23, 1848 – August 10, 1896) who has been described as “The Father of Flight”  might thus be categorized as such just judging from the photo. Yet starting in 1891 he made many successful glider flights, holding the record for number of successful glides at one point. The Wright brothers would make their first powered flight in 1903. Lilienthal was an influence on the Wright brothers and their designs. Just as Lilienthal has problems with stability and the Wright brothers saw that as a major flaw in emulating his designs for sustained flight. There has been some disagreement as to whether the Wright brothers were actually first in powered flight which I’m not going to get into. One aspect of the Wright brother’s innovations was the fight with Glenn Curtiss over who invented those help the patent for the all important aileron. If you have ever made a paper plane and put little flaps in the wings that could be folded up or down, you made ailerons. because of the years of patent struggles the U.S. approach WW I with less than state of the art aviation or manufacturing capabilities. So much so that we purchased aircraft from France. With World War I underway in 1917, the U.S. government pressured the new aircraft industry to form a cross-licensing organization, to be called the Manufacturers Aircraft Association. Oddly or not, the MAA  acted as a kind of collective, or cooperative if one prefers, in which member companies paid a blanket fee for the use of aviation patents which included the original and subsequent Wright patents. This is in the ball park of how the music industry and its licensing fees to radio work. Even by 1917 the achievements which made the frontier of modern flight possible rested on almost simultaneous developments. Those people who we view today as the famous names in aviation were often times simply faster to the patent office. While Otto Lilienthal and his brother deserve a lot of credit for creating a gliding mechanism that worked, a basic issue of maned flight for centuries, the picture above looks not too dissimilar from the flight machines design by Leonardo da Vinci.

In rereading some history of early aviation for this some of what occurred in the Wright brothers patent fights rubbed up against a prejudice I accumulated in childhood. I’ve een to the Wright brothers museum and stand on the spot where they had their first successful glider flights. They were like childhood heroes. So when I read that some guy named Curtiss says he was first I can fell a little resentment creep up on my view of events. Though if I put on my judges robes and try to judge who deserves credit for the ailerons it is a tough call. I would probably say Curtiss or call it a tie, with some credit also going to someone rarely mentioned in popular accounts of those years – French born American engineer Octave Chanute. He wrote Progress in Flying Machine in 1894, and gave technical and financial support to the Wright brothers. History, innovation, patents, credit – all get messy very fast. I believe in proper credit having experienced other people taking credit for my work and my innovation, abet at a much less revolutionary level than the pioneers of aviation. Its weird to see people steal credit. Should I speak up. Will I appear petty – especially in work places that empathize a “team” culture. I would not have had any financial windfall, though such things are considered at many companies during yearly salary reviews. Though all I wanted was simple credit. Though to be clear what I deserved credit for was not something derived out of the ether and was never purely the result of my own invention. I could not have had those ideas without my third grade teacher who made me want to increase my vocabulary and be aware of spelling. Or my middle-school teacher who came up to my desk after asking a question that no one in the class wanted to answer and plead, really you have no ideas, no opinions what so ever about what Poe was trying to say. There were other teachers, professors, co-workers, fiction and non-fiction writers, and the writers and works they referenced in their writing. There was all the people I’ve known and learned from – some in a positive way, some as a kind of example about how not to be. I didn’t grow up in a glass dome sealed off from the world, escaped one day and had ideas that made their first appearance on earth when I took pencil to mini-legal pad. So I always felt that being too obsessive about my ideas was as out of place as someone stealing them. In an age where obnoxious arrogant twits like Donald Trump and Mitt Romney brag out of all proportion to anything that have accomplished and any ideas they’ve had, modest people, people with just the average amount of humility are out of style.

Factlet: On October 7, 1908, Edith Berg, the wife of the brothers’ European business agent, became the first American woman passenger when she flew with Wilbur.

city at night, highway lights

night drive wallpaper

That super brief trip int the history of late 18th and early 19th century flight brings us to this, Who Really Invented the Internet? by Gordon Crovitz.

A telling moment in the presidential race came recently when Barack Obama said: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He justified elevating bureaucrats over entrepreneurs by referring to bridges and roads, adding: “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet.”

It’s an urban legend that the government launched the Internet. The myth is that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep its communications lines up even in a nuclear strike. The truth is a more interesting story about how innovation happens—and about how hard it is to build successful technology companies even once the government gets out of the way.

“Gordon Crovitz is a media and information industry advisor and executive, including former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, executive vice president of Dow Jones and president of its Consumer Media Group.” Just his name and the word hack would be an honest summation for Gordon’s resume. The Government created the internet – using the word “launched” seems strange, perhaps to give himself some plausible  deniability later. He is putting words and new meanings into what Obama said.  All of the ingredients – the technology and history, and every individual that touched that creation would fill a book or two, and has. One of the reason the net was created was the military’s fear of loss of communication should the Cold War become hot (The birth of ARPAnet). That is a relatively simple fact. He provides no documentation for this bizarre historical revisionism.

1961 First packet-switching papers
1966 Merit Network founded
1966 ARPANET planning starts
1969 ARPANET carries its first packets
1970 Mark I network at NPL (UK)
1970 Network Information Center (NIC)
1971 Merit Network’s packet-switched network operational
1971 Tymnet packet-switched network
1972 Internet Assigned Numbers


The net or ARPAnet would not have been possible without computers and computing, which has its own complex history. One in which governments played at large role. Gordon also writes,

But full credit goes to the company where Mr. Taylor worked after leaving ARPA: Xerox. It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks.

The Ethernet is an important piece of technology in computer networking. That is great, and good for Xerox for building on technology originally called ALOHAnet. ALOHAnet was developed at the University of Hawaii – one of those publicly funded thingys that gov’mint does. Has Gordon ever heard the saying, popular in science circle, we all stand on the shoulders of giants. Why do we have an Ethernet today where someone’s old Windows 98 PC can talk with someone’s brand new MacBook? Because the bad old gov’mint in partnership with private business, created standards. Standards, the concept of standards are an interesting issue involving private enterprise and government cooperation in themselves. I’d suggest Gordon check out a couple of books on the subject but it would just be a waste of reading light. It is not just my take on history here, but the very same source that Gordon’ cites as his authority, WSJ’s Crovitz: “Creating The Internet” And Getting Everything Wrong

To back this up, Crovitz cited Michael Hiltzik’s book Dealers Of Lightning. Hiltzik responded to Crovitz’s column this morning and said that Crovitz got everything completely wrong:

And while I’m gratified in a sense that he cites my book about Xerox PARC, “Dealers of Lightning,” to support his case, it’s my duty to point out that he’s wrong. My book bolsters, not contradicts, the argument that the Internet had its roots in the ARPANet, a government project. So let’s look at where Crovitz goes awry.

First, he quotes Robert Taylor, who funded the ARPANet as a top official at the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, as stating, “The Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks.” (Taylor eventually moved to Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, where he oversaw the invention of the personal computer, and continued promoting research into networking.)

But Crovitz confuses AN internet with THE Internet. Taylor was citing a technical definition of “internet” in his statement. But I know Bob Taylor, Bob Taylor is a friend of mine, and I think I can say without fear of contradiction that he fully endorses the idea as a point of personal pride that the government-funded ARPANet was very much the precursor of the Internet as we know it today.

There is a legitimate question as to when “the internet” as we come to know it today first appeared on the scene. But, again, that’s not what Obama was talking about. He said that government research led to the internet’s creation. The government-created Arpanet, while not “the internet,” was what made the internet possible in that it was the basis from which all the tech legends lionized by Crovitz did their innovating.

Indeed, Robert Taylor — who, in Crovitz’s retelling gets “full credit” for creating the internet — said as much. Crovitz quoted a 2004 email in which Taylor wrote: “The Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks.” Here’s the part of that email Crovitz left out: “The ARPAnet was not an internet.  An internet is a connection between two or more computer networks.  The ARPAnet, with help from thousands of people, slowly evolved into the Internet.  Without the ARPAnet, the Internet would have been a much longer time in coming.”

So that’s pretty dishonest of Crovitz.

The general issue of who deserves credit for what in western society, the U.S. urgently so is getting a lot of attention. Gordon’s side wants to make the ridiculous case that only private enterprise creates anything. Even with the commercial internet we all use, the technological backbone came out of publicly  funded research. Individuals deserve credit. Some institutions – public labs and universities deserve credit. Finally private enterprise deserves some credit for yes, making it another engine of commerce. Why not this crazy philosophy, Gordon and like-minded zealots may have heard this in passing, credit where due. That means everywhere it is due. Some of us grew up hearing about concepts like modesty, merit, fairness. Who knows what happened, what trauma occurred to the lone inventor believers, the John Galt worshipers that they have become so desperate to create new mythologies.

fostercare – burial

the multifaceted faces of the cultural divide, chipped dishes, big rewards for not much

Dreaming of a World With No Intellectuals. How ‘Conservative Intellectual’ Became an Oxymoron

If the ills of modernity are intensifying, conservatives know why. They rarely mention hyperconsumerism or advertising or a rigidifying class structure—the byproducts of advanced capitalism. Rather, they dwell on the presumably corrosive ideas of the educated, especially the professoriate.

Correspondingly, many conservative politicians flaunt their unworldliness as proof of their virtuousness. Often their provincialism requires no flaunting. Anti-intellectualism flourishes in contemporary America. To the applause of conservatives, George W. Bush took pride in his C average at Yale University. Mitt Romney has sought to burnish his anti-intellectual credentials by complaining that the Harvard-educated Obama “spent too much time at Harvard.” Romney, who has spent more time at Harvard than Obama, and has sent three of his sons there, explained that little can be learned from “just reading” or hanging out “at the faculty lounge.”

Conservatives like to think they have a brigade of intellectuals – Bill Kystal, Thomas Sowell ( who once accused President Obama of being a Nazi) and the bar has been set so low for inclusion in the circle of conservative intellectuals that Jonah Goldberg is sometimes included – even though his historical research and conclusions are below that of the average college sophomore. These are the torch bearers of Edmund Burke ( even in his day Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley cleaned his clock) , Leo Strauss – in his own words would have been a Nazi if not for the antisemitism. Some intellectuals and enlightened reasoning is fine as long as it does not interfere with the dogma of conservatism. They shuffle in and out of elitism when it suits their purpose. The Ivy League especially, but universities in general are farm clubs for liberals, except when conservatives go there. At which point some kind of magic takes place that shields the delicate minds of conservatives from a proper brain washing. If that be the case than conservatives’ worse fears are true, political leanings are genetic in origin.

Historically it is true that with knowledge comes some degree, or type of snobbery. Though one can also chose to be egalitarian – certainly in one’s conviction about public policy. Does it really matter if someone is an elitist about classical music or  literature, or makes it a point to study art history and have contempt for minimalist abstract art. Not unless one cares too much about what other people think about art and culture. This review of three books about evolution, the mind and art gets into the relationships of art and elitism, Art Over Biology

As Nietzsche’s reference to the Greeks suggests, the link between artistry and suffering is not a modern invention. What is modern is the sense of the superiority of the artist’s inferiority, which is only possible when the artist and the intellectual come to see the values of ordinary life—prosperity, family, worldly success, and happiness—as inherently contemptible. The exhilarating assault on bourgeois values that was modernism, in all the arts and in politics too, rested on the assumption, nurtured through the nineteenth century, that there was nothing enviable about what T.S. Eliot bitterly derided as the cycle of “birth, copulation and death.” Art, according to a modern understanding that has not wholly vanished today, is meant to be a criticism of life, especially of life in a materialist, positivist civilization such as our own. If this means the artist does not share in civilization’s boons, then his suffering will be a badge of honor. (Dictators who sought to protect their people from the infection of “degenerate art” were paying a twisted homage to this principle.)

Adam Kirsch is right – damn it – about that phenomenon in art. Yet he is also excluding the different manifestations of elitism or snobbery in the world. The bourgeois practiced their own particular brand of snobbery. They looked down on not just artists, but on the trades like shoe making, iron work, hotel maids, farm hands – all considered a class beneath them. Good upstanding members of society owned things and employed people to do that sort of dirty labor for them. In the south we still have a pretty strong redneck culture – most of it not as bad as Ted Nugent. They’re not as easy to put into convenient categories as some believe. Many are pro-labor rednecks ( something former DNC chair Howard Dean understood). Yet like most groups of what sociologists call cohorts they have some common cultural denominators and traditions. They know you are either one of them or you’re not. Whether intended or not there is an element of elitism, or reverse elitism as a reaction to those people who are “book smart”, but ain’t got no common sense.

An interesting look at how rednecks or wannabe rednecks exploit that image for economic gain, Southern Rock Musicians’ Construction of White Trash pdf

I’ll give Susan Sontag the last word on the related subject of reducing complex thoughts and issues to what has since been called a bumper sticker mentality or soundbite, Susan Sontag on Aphorisms and the Commodification of Wisdom

With the (1943) epigraph of Canetti. ‘The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other very well.’

One wonders why. Can it be that the literature of aphorisms teaches us the sameness of wisdom (as anthropology teaches us the diversity of culture)? The wisdom of pessimism. Or should we rather conclude that the form of the aphorism, of abbreviated or condensed or rogue thought, is a historically-colored voice which, when adopted, inevitably suggests certain attitudes; is the vehicle of a common thematics?

The traditional thematics of the aphorist: the hypocrisies of societies, the vanities of human wishes, the shallowness + deviousness of women; the sham of love; the pleasures (and necessity) of solitude; + the intricacies of one’s own thought processes.


Aphoristic thinking is impatient thinking: by its very brevity or concentratedness, it presupposes a superior standard …

chipped plates

If you have a job you’ll leave for work tomorrow and you will be expected to deliver work in exchange for money. While libertarians and most conservatives would describe this an an equal distribution of rights and an exercise in free will, very few people who get a pay check could honestly describe the relationship as equal and mutually agreed upon or in any way egalitarian. You employer has such a predominance of power that it keeps the anti-depressant, self-help, yoga industry, meditation centers and over the county sleeping pill industry in business. It is absurdist comedy to think that when millions of people put in a forty hour week they still have to make decisions at the end of the month about what they can do without – things like dental care, tires for the car for another month or help their grandparents with the cost of their medications is simply another happy moment in a mutually rewarding contract. There are two major schools of thought on how to handle the matter and the attitudes to wrap, at least one of them. The first is that it is the individual’s fault – they need to get a second or even third job, they need to sacrifice even more. The system is perfect, the individual, in all cases is at fault. The other way of looking at the situation is that anyone who works a forty hour week should be able to afford all the basics including dental care and a reasonably good set of tires, and their grandparents should have a stronger safety net. The system is not hopelessly broken, but it is in need of some tweaking, some adjustments in how work is valued and rewarded – this last group of people are called descent human beings by some, and radical commies by others. If you joined a conversation in the USA about work, merit and and rewards most people would agree that getting something for nothing is also a bad idea in the long run. Able bodied people who think they deserve huge rewards with work of questionable value are scoundrels at the very least,  Mitt Romney and private equity

The phrase “private equity” conjures up images of venture capitalists pooling their funds and backing promising new ventures or contributing new equity and new management to companies in need of restructuring. But that is not how the game really works most of the time. Typically, private-equity companies borrow a ton of money, sometimes in collusion with incumbent management and sometimes in opposition to it, and take a company private. That is, the company’s shares are no longer publicly traded.

This maneuver has several advantages to the new owners. First, despite the picture of investors putting in equity, most of the money is usually borrowed. That produces a huge tax break, since the interest is tax-deductible. Second, the new owners can pay themselves large management fees as well as “special dividends.” Typically, they take out far more than they put in, by incurring debts carried on the books of the operating company.

For instance, when Bain masterminded a private-equity deal for HCA, one of America’s largest for-profit hospital chains (which has gone from private to public twice and which paid a multibillion-dollar fine for defrauding Medicare), Bain paid itself a management fee of $58 million, even though it had only put up 6.3 percent of the buyout fund.

Questionable value produced, limited input of work ( though the paper pushers in private equity will argue they put in some rough 12 hour days. They might want to leave the office some day and get to know a teacher, a nurse, a brick layer etc). There is no question about the incredibly high compensation. No one took any real risks – except perhaps the people who loaned the equity firm money. Some of the math can get complicated, but nothing most people could not handle with a little training. So we are not talking about charging for special skills.

Then, there are three possible ways to cash in.  If the company turns out to be a success, like Staples (one of Bain’s big winners), the private-equity owners can take their legitimate share of the reward. But that turns out to be the exception. If the company, newly loaded up with debt, starts to falter, it can be broken up, with massive layoffs and cuts in health and pension benefits, and resold, usually at a profit for the private-equity owners.

Or the company can simply declare bankruptcy under Chapter 11 and shed its debts.

Charlie Chaplin in the movie Modern Times, 1936.

Official video for Manchester Orchestra

– – – – – – – – – –
Shortlisted VIMEO AWARDS 2012!!!!

Winner Video of the Year 2011 UK Music Video Awards
Winner Best Indie Rock 2011 UK Music Video Awards

Winner Best Video at 2011 Plus CamerImage Film Festival

Winner Grand Prix – Special at Ciclope Film Festival

Nominated for Best Editing VMA 2011
& Best Visual Effects VMA 2011

best time capsule ever, red maple leaves wallpaper, no business is an island

A combination of lost mental focus and the devastating news of the Colorado shootings  means a post of hopefully interesting linkage. I was not going to post at all, but I thought this might help take my mind off things for a few minutes.

One of the best, if untended time capsules ever, The Paris Time Capsule Apartment

A Parisian apartment left untouched for over 70 years was discovered in the quartier of Pigalle a few summers ago and I’ve been meaning to share the pictures with you. Time to unlock the vault …

The owner of this apartment, Mrs. De Florian left Paris just before the rumblings of World War II broke out in Europe. She closed up her shutters and left for the South of France, never to return to the city again. Seven decades later she passed away at the age of 91. It was only when her heirs enlisted professionals to make an inventory of the Parisian apartment she left behind, that this time capsule was finally unlocked.

The team that had the honor of opening what must have been a very stiff old lock for the first time in 70 years, likened the experience to ‘stumbling into the castle of sleeping beauty’. The smell of dust, the cobwebs, the silence, was overwhelming; a once in a lifetime experience.

Breathtakingly sweet and sad. The images seem to be copyrighted by Getty so unless I win the lottery I won’t be posting them here.

Of course my readers probably know all there is to know about the LIBOR scandal, but just in case, Q. and A.: Understanding Libor

The London interbank offered rate, more commonly known as Libor, is one of the most important numbers in the financial world. But until the Barclays scandal, it received scant public attention. Here is a primer.

Q. What is Libor?

A. Libor is the average interest rate at which banks can borrow from each other. London is mentioned in its name because the benchmark is set in that city.

Essentially, Libor is one of the main rates used to determine the borrowing costs for trillions of dollars in loans. Interest rates on some mortgages, student loans and credit card accounts go up or down when Libor moves. Often the rates are adjusted annually or quarterly, rather than every day.

[   ]…Q. Why is Libor important?

A. After more than two decades, Libor still remains one of the most highly cited benchmarks in the financial world.

The British Bankers’ Association has promoted the rate-setting process as highly transparent and impartial, making Libor a good benchmark for various financial products. The group has argued that no one institution can single-handedly alter the calculations behind the rate.

But amid the rate-manipulation scandal, the integrity of Libor has been called into question. In late June, Barclays agreed to pay $450 million to settle accusations by regulators that it had submitted false Libor rates to bolster its bottom line and deflect scrutiny about its health.

For the legions of liberal chart freaks, Behind the Libor Scandal.

SEPT. 13, 2006

“Hi Guys, We got a big position in 3m libor for the next 3 days. Can we please keep the lib or fixing at 5.39 for the next few days. It would really help. We do not want it to fix any higher than that. Tks a lot.”

— Senior trader in New York to submitter

new york subway photo from a series by bruce davidson circa 1980-1985. Davidson is an American photographer (b 1933). While a great street photographer whose influences include Robert Frank, Davidson is one of the great chroniclers of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. NYT did a good profile piece on him in 2009 – Like a Plant, His Roots Are Showing. This link includes a slide show.

Romney video deceptively edits Obama speech to make it sound anti-business.

The Lie This Time

The sleazy became the norm, so they’re cranking it up. This time, the lie machine is telling people [4] that President Obama said that business owners didn’t build their businesses, government did. What President Obama actually said was that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets:

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.

The billionaire-corporate lie machine version? Heritage Foundation [5]: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs “You Didn’t Build” Your Business.

[  ]… President Obama’s speech that Fox and Romney have deceptively edited,

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

The Wall Street Journal has also joined in. In the world of the WSJ and Romney’s bootlickers your typical businessperson gets up in the morning, cranks up their own electricity, they build their own road to work and a new road for each new customer and then roll up these roads after each use. The parts and supplies they use are transported via teleportation directly into the businessperson’s head and they use a special matter reassembling program on the computer they invented and built to resemble the product or the magical aura of the service. They have their own police, fire and military to protect their business. They train all their employees who also build their own roads everyday. OK, that’s me lying. They do not have any employees because they are god-like in their complete and utter self-sufficiency. They do not need customers either because customers would need jobs, education and police protection and infrastructure.

President Obama said something very complex. It has a kind of ying and yang quality about it, so no wonder conservatives are either lying or genuinely befuddled,  “The point is, is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together”. So success is composed of complimentary components. So intertwined, one might say, that one – especially in the modern sense that we understand an advanced technological society – is not possible without the other.

Here is a list of people the WSJ thinks built their businesses as lone wolfves, totally independent of the accoutrements of modern civilization: Bill Gates? Stole DOS and used hardware technology invented by others. used engineers that were educated at public universities. Steve Jobs? never invented anything. That is not hyperbole, just plain fact. He used UNIX instead of DOS. Wozniak built their first PC and all the hardware had been invented and based on technology by others. Ray Kroc founded McDonalds. Big deal. He did not invent anything. He marketed and sold the public on fast, though not great or particularly healthy food. Credit to all these people, but they hardly created or invented stuff out of thin air. Purveyors of social-Darwinism like Romney and the WSJ believe this is the natural order of things, REPORT: Bottom Half Of American Households Have Just 1 Percent Of Nation’s Wealth. If they were only doing 1% of the work and creating 1% of the value of our GDP, only then would that make sense.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. – John Donne, Meditation XVII

red maple leaves wallpaper

The Be Good Tanyas – Littlest Birds

the witch burning never ends, green summer growth wallpaper, romney is no capitalist

I do still think that when there is no further evidence against a person but only this, that a specter in their shape does afflict a neighbor, that evidence is not enough to convict them of witchcraft.

That the devils have a natural power which makes them capable of exhibiting what shape they please, I suppose nobody doubts, and I have no absolute promise of God that they shall not exhibit mine. – Cotton Mather(1663 –1728) New England Puritan minister.

That kind of reasoning – a generous description, is still very much with us and the rest of the world. Acknowledging that there ain’t so such thing as the perfectly rational human being. To our credit in western civilization, we presently stop short of torturing or burning anyone  who, like Cotton, just knew deep down, a gut reaction if you will, that someone was a witch. In the place of witches we now have people who the Cotton Mathers of modern society “have no absolute promise of God” are not feminists, socialists, antichrists, communists, progressives, liberals or the undesirable ethnicity of the month. All routinely burned metaphorically at the stake. If you own a media company or consulting business burning at the stake is at least as profitable now as is was in the 16 and early 1700s. So it goes to counter the beating Romney is taking for his history of vulture capitalism. He and his team of Cotton Mathers plan to revive the same attacks on Obama that McCain and Palin used in 2008. As I said witch hunting was a profitable business, Gold and Silver Coined From Human Blood

In 1597 a grim invoice made its way to the family of Cathin Joyeuse, recently deceased. Known to her fellow villagers of Toul, France, as the Mayoress Etienne, the bill’s itemized contents were sober and matter-of-fact, a collection of figures and sums belying the startling ordeal the Mayoress had faced during her last month on earth: ten francs for the attorney, twenty for “him who conducted the trial,” one franc owed to the “woman who shaved her,” four required for “inspecting the court record,” and twenty francs due to the torturer for services rendered. Like countless others accused of witchcraft in Renaissance Europe, Joyeuse had fallen prey to a vile, codified process of imprisonment, torture, coerced confession, and execution. In their grief, her family was now forced to foot the bill.

“Witch hunting,” wrote the historian Rossell Hope Robbins, “was self-sustaining and became a major trade, employing many people, all battening on the savings of the victims.” The costs of a witch trial were usually paid for by the estate of the accused or their family. Far from the conventional image of a penniless hag, a significant proportion of accused witches, especially in Germany, were wealthy and male. Their property was seized to pay the clergymen, judges, physicians, torturers, guards, scribes, and laborers who raked in increasingly large sums of money, as well as other reliable assets.

In Cotton’s Massachusetts accused witches were jailed until they could pay the cost of their trial. That’s an America we all want to get back to, isn’t it. In 1596 in a convicted witch’s family was left with a bill for the coal, tar and peat used to create the fire with which he was burned to death a bill estimated to be about $1,800 in today’s currency. In 1757 the Archbishopric of Cologne was asked to establish a standard price for such economic activities as showing and threatening witches with torture devices. With such special skills involved you don’t want your torture services going to the lowest bidder. Kind of the modern conservative version of protecting Wall Street and oligopolic corporations.

summer, green

green summer growth wallpaper

Conservative Republicans, certainly including Romney,  are generally not capitalists – neither is the Ron Paul/Paul Ryan crowd of libertarians for that matter. For them to claim so is a practice in Orwellian Doublespeak.

Interesting sociological study, New media, old messages: Obama and family are target of ‘blackface’ racism on Facebook.

Three primary implications emerged based on this analysis. First, findings indicate although historical stereotypes focusing on diet and blackface have all but disappeared from mainstream television shows and movies, they have resurfaced in new media representations. Facebook hate group portrayals incorporate negative viewpoints of black people and their perceived roles in society that storytellers have used for generations. Findings demonstrate that historical representations of the group are still strong and have an impact on modern portrayals.

Facebook has removed some hate sites that crossed the line. How FB determines that line is a mystery. There are plenty of hate Obama pages (“Obama will destroy you and eat your babies”) over there. There are also pro-Obama pages. One of the best ones answers the question what has Obama done with positive achievements of the administration it has a kind of Steven Colbert quality. taking insults and turning them around on the haters.. “What The F** Has Obama Done So Far,” ( this is a web-based version of the page. Be aware of the mature language).

graphic art, typography


Part nature film, part experimental.

Hector Thunderstorm Project from Murray Fredericks on Vimeo.