Stef (firecat) wrote,

equinox linkspam

If you have 33 minutes or some subset thereof, Stef-Bob sez sit back with your favorite mind altering substance, or not, and check out this animated video score of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring." Definitely right up there with the best laser light shows I've seen.


The OH and I are apparently driving genealogists crazy because we made up a last name when we got outlaw-married rather than keeping our existing last names. Maybe it doesn't matter that much because pretty soon they'll be matching everyone up using DNA instead of old records. Besides, we don't have kids.


New world of debt collection: "In about half the states in the country, collectors can seize 25 percent of your paycheck. In all but a handful of states, they can take everything in your bank account....In St. Louis, Mo., Associate Circuit Judge Chris McGraugh has presided over many collections cases....He says lawyers for debt collectors will sometimes ask for delays or continuance on cases if they see a debtor is taking time off from work to show up in court. They will do that several times over weeks or months until the person finally gives up and doesn't come to court anymore, allowing the debt collector to get a default judgment against the debtor."

"In the past, the vast majority of wage garnishments went to secure child support payments or to collect on unpaid taxes. In recent years, though, debt collectors have been filing millions of lawsuits against people for just basic consumer debt: medical bills, student loans and credit card debt."


Sagging pants: Fashion, racism, moral panics, and respectability politics


Finally some competition for Audible in the downloadable audiobook world. Downpour is an audiobook store that offers DRM-free downloads and also CDs. You can buy books without a membership, or you can get a $13 per month membership, which gives you one credit/download.

If you have a AAA membership you can buy their books for $13 without a membership in Downpour. "Apply promotional code AAAMEMBER+your club code (find your club code on your AAA member card)."


This article about a guy caring for his father with Alzheimers is a little overwritten but captures some of the experience. These quotes particularly:
Your correspondent watched a free-floating state of distress blow across his old man’s face, one that would long outlive the memory of what had caused it.
And the time my mother looked in the mirror and said "I got old!"
He looks into the mirror and is frozen with horror.
In place of a youngish man, thin-lipped and clear-eyed, he sees some wretched human ruin mimicking his every expression.


My brain-crush on Arthur Chu continues to grow. "You see, I’ve been having second thoughts about Cards Against Humanity for a while now, and about satire in general. In my younger years I was such a fan of satire and of defending controversial, offensive art as “satire” that it’s strange I’ve done an almost complete 180. I’ve been wondering if satire isn’t a bad thing in and of itself....That awkward moment when you wonder not just “Who did I just offend?” but “Who did I just encourage?” ought to give all satirists pause."

(I believe "satire is a bad thing" is oversimplistic, but I also believe that satire is best in carefully selected audiences and in limited quantities.)


Speaking of brains, humans have apparently achieved technologically mediated telepathy (they're calling it "conscious brain-to-brain communication").
The recent development of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) has provided an important element for the creation of brain-to-brain communication systems, and precise brain stimulation techniques are now available for the realization of non-invasive computer-brain interfaces (CBI). These technologies, BCI and CBI, can be combined to realize the vision of non-invasive, computer-mediated brain-to-brain (B2B) communication between subjects (hyperinteraction). Here we demonstrate the conscious transmission of information between human brains through the intact scalp and without intervention of motor or peripheral sensory systems. Pseudo-random binary streams encoding words were transmitted between the minds of emitter and receiver subjects separated by great distances
The authors comment "We envision that hyperinteraction technologies will eventually have a profound impact on the social structure of our civilization and raise important ethical issues." Ya think?


Also in PLOSOne, Alex H. Taylor & company are still trying to figure out just how smart New Caledonian crows are.
The Aesop's Fable paradigm requires an animal to drop stones into a water-filled tube to bring a floating food reward within reach. Rook, Eurasian jay, and New Caledonian crow performances are similar to those of children under seven years of age when solving this task. However, we know very little about the cognition underpinning these birds' performances. Here, we address several limitations of previous Aesop's Fable studies to gain insight into the causal cognition of New Caledonian crows. Our results provide the first evidence that any non-human animal can solve the U-tube task and can discriminate between water-filled tubes of different volumes. However, our results do not provide support for the hypothesis that these crows can infer the presence of a hidden causal mechanism....The methodologies outlined here should allow for more powerful comparisons between humans and other animal species and thus help us to determine which aspects of causal cognition are distinct to humans.
One thing I note about these experiments (I've read about other ones) is how variable the crows are in how well they learn. "Seven birds passed the multi-stone training....Six birds completed 10 trials proficiently and one bird (Buster) required 32 trials to become proficient at this task." I also note how tricky it is to design an experiment that actually tests cause–effect understanding and not accidentally some other thing such as perceptual attention.

Given how prone humans are to making cause–effect errors, it might be useful to perform experiments of this sort on adult humans as well.

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