language and shaping perception, smart conservative cranks are still cranks

jean seberg in Breathless

jean seberg in Breathless

Does Language Shape What We See?

by Virginia Hughes

At this very moment, your eyes and brain are performing an astounding series of coordinated operations.

Light rays from the screen are hitting your retina, the sheet of light-sensitive cells that lines the back wall of each of your eyes. Those cells, in turn, are converting light into electrical pulses that can be decoded by your brain.

The electrical messages travel down the optic nerve to your thalamus, a relay center for sensory information in the middle of the brain, and from the thalamus to the visual cortex at the back of your head. In the visual cortex, the message jumps from one layer of tissue to the next, allowing you to determine the shape and color and movement of the thing in your visual field.

Just that piece of information would seem to imply that processing what we see is kind of modular. All this things are taken in a stream and the brain puts the pieces together in workman-like fashion.  Yet evidence suggest that other input plays a role, either simultaneously or is called on as more visual information is processed. memory may help recognize a visual field faster or may invoke perceptions based on emotions associated with memory so you see a blue box, but your friend sees a blue box and is sad or happy. Perhaps smell – one of the strongest senses for invoking memory affects sight. Worth a read with lots of information for a short article.

Couplet on Water and Flowers

Couplet on Water and Flowers, 1972, by Feng Kanghou  (Chinese, 1901–1983). I liked this just as a work of visual art. The signs and the basic contrast between white and black. Though it does have a literal meaning. Kanghou’s interpretation of a couplet from Hong Yingming’s (fl. 1596)

However rapidly water flows, it is always tranquil in itself.
Though their petals fall from time to time, flowers remain restful at heart.
If we could deal with daily affairs and people with this attitude, there would be no inner disturbances.
How carefree our bodies and minds would be!

There is some evidence – though not conclusive, that people who read books tend to be more moral.  Generally the more education someone has the less likely they are to be street criminals – though Wall Street bankers would suggest that there are clear exceptions for some criminal behavior. And women across all demographics commit fewer crimes than men.  Intelligence is frequently linked to better behavior, though a Arthur Conan Doyle knew, geniuses can be criminals. Reagan appointee  Adm. John Poindexter is said to be a genius, yet was neck deep in the Iran-Contra scandal. Still, it is unsettling that someone with a Ph.D. is a crank, Oregon’s GOP Chair Wants to Sprinkle Nuclear Waste From Airplanes

After months of in-fighting, the beleaguered Oregon Republican Party elected a new chairman last weekend. His name is Art Robinson, and he wants to sprinkle radioactive waste from airplanes to build up our resistance to degenerative illnesses. Robinson, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress against progressive Rep. Peter DeFazio in 2010 and 2012, took over after the previous chair resigned in advance of a recall campaign over her alleged financial mismanagement.

Robinson, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry, has marketed himself for the last three decades as an expert on everything from nuclear fallout to AIDS to climate science in the pages of a monthly newsletter, Access to Energy, which he published from his compound in the small town of Cave Junction.

…On nuclear waste: “All we need do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean—or even over America after hormesis is better understood and verified with respect to more diseases.” And: “If we could use it to enhance our own drinking water here in Oregon, where background radiation is low, it would hormetically enhance our resistance to degenerative diseases. Alas, this would be against the law.”

I minored in chemistry. A common, though admittedly not hilarious joke is that if chemists were really smart they would have majored in physics. Hormesis is a real phenomenon, many vaccinations are indirectly based on that theory. It means stimulation by the use of a low concentration of a toxin. There is no, and I mean no evidence that exposure to low levels of atomic radiation increases human resistance to radiation poisoning. He also believes that AIDS was a government invention cooked up to experiment with various kinds of “social engineering, especially in the public schools.” And he reminds of Nobel prize winner William Shockley in his views on race, On diversity: The white-male imbalance at his alma mater, Cal Tech, Robinson argued, was due to the fact that “its applicants are weighted toward those who seek severe, difficult, total-immersion training in science—an experience few women and blacks desire.”


long exposure city traffic wallpaper, kafka and obamacare, the drive-in

city traffic wallpaper

city traffic wallpaper 1920×1080


 Adverse Effects of Ocean Acidification on Early Development of Squid (Doryteuthis pealeii). If you like the cute animals like penguins and seals, or the awful mammals like whales, then by default, because of the ocean food web, you need to care about the unglamorous squid.

Morning Ride on the Beach

Morning Ride on the Beach. Oil on canvas, 1876. By Anton Mauve. There are a few painting that have a calming effect, like lowering your blood pressure when you watch a fish aquarium. This painting has a similar effect for me. It doesn’t work if you start thinking about the modern costs of owning a horse. Mauve was a cousin by marriage to Vincent Van Gogh.

This is a fascinating look at Franz Kafka, Why we don’t understand Kafka; and also by way of looking at reality or our perception of reality, the bizarre way we debate public policy.

This brings out well how even the most learned and well-meaning critics, if they are not very careful, will start with a slight misreading and end in the further reaches of absurdity. For Kafka’s description of Steiner’s lecture and of their meeting follows the same pattern as everything else in the diary: he notes everything he sees and that happens to him with puzzled and scrupulous detachment. Pace Leavitt, he is not satirizing Steiner or the Frau Hofrat (or himself for the comedy with the hat), but merely noting it all, as though trying to pierce a mystery which is immediately comprehensible to everyone but himself.

One way to relate to what Kafka was thinking is what happens almost universally to everyone at one time or another when they look in the mirror. That is m face. I have sen it so many times. It is me, it is the physical body of myself. yet there are times when, that’s me? n ordinary event. An ordinary everyday reality feels a little surreal for the moment. So it is with public policy. The disinformation has become so common place that it works itself into the reality of the perception. Only when we pause to look carefully do we realize there are people and powers at work trying very hard to distort reality, to make more moments surreal, to doubt the reflection of truth. The older one gets the more than constant background buzz of doubt about what is obvious takes on it’s own presence, an ether in he air. It could stop if some people would stop living life creating demons from their own paranoia and foisting them on everyone else. Claim About Obamacare Reform “Rate Shock” Is “Unfounded,” Urban Analysis Finds and  Beyond Rebates, How Much Are Consumers Saving from Obamacare Medical Loss Ratio Provision?

Drive-in theater, Los Angeles, 1949

Drive-in theater, Los Angeles, 1949. By J. R. Eyerman—Time & Life. Drive-in theaters reached their peak in the 1950s at at 4,063 theatres. Despite DVDs and digital downloads there are still around  400 drive-ins in the United States, and 100 drive-ins outside the U.S. According to this essay, they’re becoming popular in China. The last time I went to one quite a few people backed up the rear of their SUVs and family vans to face the screen. They pulled out blankets, big pillows, got comfortable, bought a big bucket of popcorn and seemed to really enjoy the whole experience. I like the whole home nesting thing, but it is nice to get out once and a while. Drive-ins are one way to break cabin fever.

smooth river stones wallpaper, green spaces good for health, watching the new day rise

smooth river stones wallpaper, spring stream

smooth river stones wallpaper

Green spaces boosts wellbeing of urban dwellers

Parks, gardens and green space in urban areas can improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living there, says a University of Exeter study.

Using data from 5,000 UK households over 17 years, researchers found that living in a greener area had a significant positive effect.

The findings could help to inform urban planners and have an impact on society at large, they said.

The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.

There are some encouraging trends in architecture, just judging from my visits to architectural news sites over the last couple years. One is incorporating green spaces into remodeled and new buildings. Sometimes meaning a roof-top garden, occasionally having green areas on every floor (part indoors/part outdoors  mini-parks on upper floors). Space is at a premium in cities so the growth of small street level parks is limited. While not directly a green space, many architects are getting away from the rectangular box. Incorporating curves – sometimes with jetting with balconies. They at least give the impression of being in a structure that is more organic, a more natural part of the environment. I like the nice clean lines of some minimalist rectangles, but we can have both.

watching the morning sun

watching the morning sun

A few quick links of note, How the “Koch Brothers Bill” will mean fewer happy sunrises

In February, 11 congressmen—10 Republicans and 1 Democrat—joined some two dozen [2] industry groups, including the Fertilizer Institute, the American Chemistry Council, and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, to back the General Duty Clarification Act [3]. The bill is designed to sap the Environmental Protection Agency of its powers to regulate safety and security at major chemical sites, as prescribed by the Clean Air Act.

“We call that the Koch brothers bill,” Greenpeace legislative director Rick Hind says

Just because the Koch brothers get a kick out of seeing towns blow-up and American workers getting sick, does not mean its true freedom, of the the new improved conservative libertarian variety.

Once in a while a squirrel finds a nut or a conservative stands for truly American values, Bill for compulsory science fiction in West Virginia schools

Republican state delegate Ray Canterbury says move would inspire pupils to use practical knowledge and imagination in the real world.

Lucky I wasn’t drinking milk when I read that or it would have been spraying out of my nose.

Some conspiracies are true or at least there is enough rational based evidence to warrant a deeper look, Filmmaker claims CIA kept innocent man jailed to cover up drug trafficking

white and white bicycle and beach, oppressed billionaires fighting back

black and white bicycle wheel wallpaper

black and white bicycle wheel wallpaper


Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising “wedge issue” for hardcore conservatives.

Next up the pesky Theory of Gravity. Think how much easier life would be if we could do away with with that massive piece of junk science. We could be floating to work, but…noooo. Those liberal scientists have conspired to limit our freedom with their silly theories: Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory

black and white low tide

black and white low tide. this is a Creative Commons photo. while it wasn’t a bad photo in terms of composition it had some noise and uneven coloration. i have a filter that imitates different kinds of actual photo film. a old Kodak look with a push seemed to work pretty well, along with some noise removal.