your facts are interfering with my fantasy patriotism, black and white wet stones wallpaper, nothin’ but the blues

What we generally call the suspension of disbelief  ( an interesting modern take with an emphasis on sci-fi and fantasy here – Why We Love Suspending Our Disbelief) is not a unique human ability that evolved with Jules Verne or Edgar Allan Poe. One of the first known consciousnesses of the ability and the exploitations of it was by early Greek tragedians like Euripides. They called it Deus ex machina or in Latin, “god from the machine”. This dramatic device was used as a way to solve a problem, resolve an issue, introduce – sometimes inexplicably – an event or appearance of a character. Manipulating the audience is such an ages long practice in writing stories – it is everywhere in the Bible – and plays, movies and currently manifested in video games that it goes largely unnoticed. Though I have noted before that people who do not like a movie, especially on grounds of some cultural offense, frequently  invoke the damning word manipulative as a criticism. Drama by definition is a manipulative medium. A good part of our daily conversations include some manipulation – saying please in a sincere manner is a form of manipulation. What people are usually complaining about is what they consider manipulation for what they perceive to be an agenda with which they are not in agreement or that the form was exploitative or cheap. We humans tend to take manipulation to heart because it cannot succeed if our brain do not do its part. Suspending disbelief is not a passive activity. The mind in filling the gaps of logic or overlooking them because it gives the brain some pleasure or satisfaction to do so. With that in mind it might be tempting to believe that really crazy stuff like entire beings suspended by energy fields into individual atoms and reassembled somewhere else would take more mental suspension of doubts than believing that such a smart beautiful woman would be with such an obnoxious jerk. The opposite is true. It is much easier to convince the audience that intelligent automatons are living creatures who traveled here from another planet, than it is to get people to believe a political leader would lie to them about national security threats. For a variety of reasons to do with personal psychology and strong cultural identity we tend to invest more in the meaning of stories closer to real life and have a higher bar of proof, but bring on the time travel. Fiction and Patriotism

…Frequently, our commitment to seeking “the truth of the matter” does not mean that we begin our researches in a state of cold, static objectivity. We begin instead in medias res, from some engaged perspective which we know is unlicensed by our knowledge of the facts of the matter but which nonetheless motivates us to care and to act, and then to question our actions, and to question the emotionally charged allegiances that prompted them. If we didn’t start from somewhere, we would never get anywhere.

[    ]….Perhaps we can go further. Perhaps we can say that patriotism is not only like the consumption of fiction: it is the consumption of fiction. My recent glimmering of patriotism was aroused by a story: the story that the Olympic opening ceremony told of Britain’s progress from rural idyll to industrial powerhouse, under the influence of a class of industrialists explicitly likened to Shakespeare’s Prospero, raising wonders on a mysterious island, relying, not on sorcery like Prospero, but on the stoic endeavours of a heroic working class. It is easy to see that that is not a fully realistic but a somewhat mythic account of British history. Over the years I have been exposed to numerous other popular histories of Britain that are similarly suffused with fiction. And when I am looking at real-world developments relating to my country – domestic politics, my country’s conduct of international affairs, and so on – I am not immune from viewing matters through the prism of such stories, so that I experience my country in a somewhat fictionalised way. I think (although there isn’t space to explore it here) that equally unrealistic myths and legends, and people’s capacity to synthesise these with their perception of real-world events, tend to be at the core of patriotisms everywhere.

Conservatives in the West – Western Europe, North America and increasingly in Eastern Europe  are aware of this phenomenon in the sense of political framing. Though the masses have internalized the suspension of disbelief.There is a playbook quality about saying the Clear Skies initiative – lowering pollution standards – is healthy and good for American jobs. It was in truth, the opposite. The lies, half-truths, disinformation about Iraq and national security had more in common with fantasy fiction than honest debate about the realities and how to deal with them. Deregulating banks would be good for the economy – obviously anyone against what is good for the economy is not very patriotic. Clear Skies made people sick, Iraq cost lives and national financial resources best spent elsewhere and we all know how deregulating the banks turned out. Well that is not completely true, for some people the fictionalized story in which reasonable standards of disbelief were tossed aside, still plays in their head. An agenda wrapped up in patriotism was the exact opposite. If someone wants a mass of people to act against their own rational self interests the first thing they have to do is create a narrative, a story. It obviously does not have to be coherent or bullet proof in the way of facts, or studies of costs and benefits, it has to fill in some gaps in an imagination that enjoys tossing out non-critical evaluation.  The accumulation of human knowledge over thousands of years as a tool for measuring current actions, calling on our brightest minds, infringe on the enjoyment, spectacle and primitive satisfaction of the god in the machine.


black and white wet stones wallpaper

Noise down, neuron signals up

A new model of background noise present in the nervous system could help better understand neuronal signalling delay in response to a stimulus.

This work has implications for explaining how noise, modulated by unreliable synaptic transmission, induces a delay in the response of neurons to external stimuli as part of the neurons coding mechanism. Neurons communicate by means of electrical pulses, called spikes, exchanged via synapses. The time it takes for brain cells to first respond to an external stimulus with an electric signal —commonly referred to as fist-spike latency—is of particular interest for scientists. It is thought to carry much more neural information than subsequent serial spike signals.

This might be one of the intangibles of attraction, his noise is attracted to her noise. And divorces when unreliable synaptic transmissions are not in sync.

Mrs. M. Stevens Wagner arms and chest covered with tattoos c1907


When it requires a list to keep track of everyone who does not meet your litmus test in terms of race, religion or labor rights, you have personal issues. Number one would be the need to reexamine how you define values – Drive-by Bigot Mitt Romney Calls Kettle Black.

Two trends on which I remain justifiably and stubbornly behind the curve. I’m big on cleanliness, but being a germophobe is a batch of chemicals too far – Chemical widely used in antibacterial hand soaps may impair muscle function. Exercise, good for body, mind and lower insurance premiums, but the work out till you puke trend, not a fan –  Riding High

SoulCycle rooms are hot and sweaty. The music is deafening, and it’s almost pitch-black. Spinning may sound easy—it’s only riding a bike, after all—but you rarely get to sit in the seat, or “saddle,” as they call it; your body hovers over the bike like a jockey on a horse. After 45 minutes of this, things start to get weird. It’s like a Native American sweat lodge: everyone is in a stunned, near-hallucinatory state, and suddenly Griffith’s banter sounds utterly profound.

The wit and wisdom of Mitt Romney


Boz Scaggs – Ask Me Bout’ Nothin’ But The Blues