It’s Beautiful

This is Nothing

More commonly known today as Choice Theory, Control Theory states that behavior is caused not by an outside stimulus, but by what a person wants most at any given time. This theory of motivation proposed contends that behavior is never caused by a response to an outside stimulus. Instead, the control theory states that behavior is inspired by what a person wants most at any given time. William Glasser, who developed the theory, contends that all behavior is intended to satisfy one of the following five internal needs:

1) To survive.

2) To belong and be loved by others.

3) To have power and importance.

4) To have freedom and independence.

5) To have fun.

This theory of motivation proposed contends that behavior is never caused by a response to an outside stimulus. Instead, the control theory states that behavior is inspired by what a person wants most at any given time: survival, love, power, freedom, or any other basic human need.

By understanding the drives for SURVIVAL, POWER, LOVE, BELONGING, FREEDOM, and FUN in people, we become more conscious of the need for our world to be a quality world of our choosing (retrieved May 02, 2005, from

Thus, the Choice aspect of Choice Theory–that individuals have the power to change their lives for the better based on the choices they make.
The Ten Axioms of Choice Theory

1. The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.

2. All we can give another person is information.

3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.

4. The problem relationship is always part of our present life.

5. What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.

6. We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World.

7. All we do is behave.

8. All behaviors are Total Behaviors and are made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology. All Total Behaviors are chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components.

9. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.

10. All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.(retrieved May 02, 2005, from

How this is done

A person can take greater responsibility for his actions and make the proper behavior choices by examining the following questions:

1) What do you want?

2) What are you doing to achieve what you want?

3) Is it working?

4) What are your plans or options?

More: Control/Choice theory

Local idiot to post comment on Internet

Local idiot to post comment on Internet

HAZEL PARK, MI—In a statement made to reporters earlier this afternoon, local idiot Brandon Mylenek, 26, announced that at approximately 2:30 a.m. tonight, he plans to post an idiotic comment beneath a video on an Internet website.

Mylenek, a moron, prepares to publicly address the “dumbest shiz [he’s] evr seen!!!1!”

“Later this evening, I intend to watch the video in question, click the ‘reply’ link above the box reserved for user comments, and draft a response, being careful to put as little thought into it as possible, while making sure to use all capital letters and incorrect punctuation,” Mylenek said. “Although I do not yet know exactly what my comment will entail, I can say with a great degree of certainty that it will be incredibly stupid.”

Mylenek, who rarely in his life has been capable of formulating an idea or opinion worth the amount of oxygen required to express it, went on to guarantee that the text of his comment would be misspelled to the point of incomprehension, that it would defy the laws of both logic and grammar, and that it would allege that several elements of the video are homosexual in nature.

“The result will be an astonishing combination of ignorance, offensiveness, and sheer idiocy,” Mylenek said.

According to the idiot, he will become incensed at the quality and sentiment of the comments already posted below the video—which will include such replies as “not great, nice try tho,” “FIRSTIES!!!” and “wtf?? lol so random.” At this point, Mylenek said, he will feel a deep, unwavering desire to offer a dissenting opinion, which he has hinted will include the words “gay” and “reatrd” [sic].

“It is my moral obligation to alert the Internet community to the fact that this video is totally gay, and furthermore, that the individual who made it is a fag,” Mylenek said.

Pressed for further details regarding his intended post, Mylenek, who will comment under the Internet pseudonym “xblingdaddy2005x,” revealed that there is a strong possibility he will inadvertently post the comment twice.

“After clicking the ‘submit’ button, I will immediately refresh the page so that I can view my own comment. I will then notice that my comment has not appeared because the server has not yet processed my request, become angry and confused, and re-post the same comment with unintentional variations on the original wording and misspellings, creating two slightly different yet equally moronic comments,” he said. “It is my hope that this will illustrate both my childlike level of impatience and my inability to replicate a simple string of letters and symbols 30 seconds after having composed it.”

Mylenek confirmed rumors that he will be momentarily sidetracked by another inane task while drafting his comment. The distraction is scheduled to come at 2:25 a.m. in the form of a “related video” link featuring a man being sodomized by a horse, which Mylenek will re-watch seven times and laugh obnoxiously at with his friend and fellow idiot, Steve Blanchette, 28.

“Once this minor diversion is complete, I will finish posting my comment, then sit there like the worthless human being I am and wait for other commenters to respond,” he added. “Because, as I mentioned before, I have nothing better to do with my life.”

Mylenek said he fully expects that his comment will spawn a series of replies from other idiots around the world, who will either agree with his stance, disagree with his stance, or call Mylenek himself a “d0uche” and post an irrelevant link to a separate video that they will claim to be “way funnier.” According to Mylenek, this is all part of the plan.

“We are blessed to be living in an age when we have a global communications network in which idiots, assholes, and total and complete wastes of fucking human life alike can come together to give instant feedback in an unfettered and unmonitored online environment,” Mylenek said. “What better way to take advantage of this incredible technology than to log onto the Internet and insult a complete stranger?”

According to media critic Judy Turner, this type of behavior is not uncommon among idiots.

“Brandon’s comments in particular contain a degree of unoriginality and stupidity that you only see in the most muttonheaded and imbecilic Internet commenters,” Turner said. “In fact, I’ve seen him use at least a dozen variations of the word ‘gay.’ Suffice it to say, Brandon Mylenek is a truly stupid, stupid idiot.”

Mylenek concluded his press conference with a solemn vow to uphold the awful, unintelligible, anger-inducing quality of his past Internet comments.

“I promise everyone that this post will be exactly what you have come to expect from an idiot like myself,” he said, “and that I will check my comment regularly so that I can call everyone who says it’s stupid a fag.”

Abandoned in America, The Death of Awareness

This was written by a good friend of mine a couple of years ago … a worthy read:

I fear the morning is coming when we will wake up in America to thousands of dead and a public that has drifted into such a mind-numbing ignorant bliss to the degree that when it happens it will have devastating effects. However, even more than this, I fear how this misinformed and ignorant public will whip back in such an intense emotional state with politicians driving along that knee-jerk, sound bite solutions will destroy years of progress within the counterterrorism community and not only not help to make the country safer but simply create illusions of safety when there is in fact none.

There is much I don’t know but there is one thing I do and that is terrorism. It has consumed the past 15 years or so of my professional life. I also know a little about journalism having spent a brief stint in the print world and having spent the last 12 years working with and providing materials to just about every wire service, newspaper, magazine and network around the world.

The average American has been abandoned. Journalism in this country has always held a privileged role and rightfully so. There was a reason why a newspaper had certain rights and privileges that do not exist for a comic book publisher or a Hollywood studio or the people that make soap. It was a sacred duty of the media to inform the public. Something now only conveniently bandied about when a catchy scandal is breaking and “news” organizations sue to get access to government documents or say Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson or the Runaway Bride have an upcoming court appearance and well, the ratings on streaming that live…

Here’s the question though. Where is an average American able to learn about how much of a threat al-Qaeda or FARC or Ansar al-Islam or any other major terrorist organization poses to this country? Does not a news organization in the US have a duty to, under its privileged status, make sure the public is informed on issues of such consequence? Or is the sole measure of what gets air time and resources and one of ratings and clicks.

Watch CNN, MSNBC and Fox for enough hours and priorities become clear. A horse or worker stuck in a trench, a high-speed chase or a Paris Hilton and her ilk rule the day, only to be superseded by that favorite national news past time of “gotcha sound bites”. Funny though, these things never seem to drive coverage on France24 or al-Arabiyah. They seem to be hopelessly lost in covering such things as an attack on the US Consulate in Turkey, or developments in Afghanistan or even far flung places like Mauritania, which yes I understand poses a real challenge for Americans who don’t even know which continent to look for it in.

I could recount endlessly major terrorist attacks the world over, many involving American targets, that got little or no coverage in the US but did get covered everywhere else. One of the deadliest bombings in the world against tourists in Egypt a number of years ago wasn’t even cause for CNN to switch away from a Larry King interview of Tammy Faye Baker. It’s no wonder American’s are either completely ignorant or horrifically misinformed about world events and why self-promoting, book-selling talking heads who claim there is no more al-Qaeda are seen as credible.

The majority of Americans continue on in ignorant bliss of the shifts and changes in the world around them. They watch in glee as “reality tv” bleeds its way into the broadcast news networks with their “iReports” and celebrity gossip coverage. I can recall just a month or so ago when a headline on CNN’s website proclaimed that iReporters were having trouble buying food, apparently they have not formed a union yet or realized they are just a cheap way to avoid sending crews out. Those Americans who know better are aware there is more going on in the world but if the news is not going to deliver it to them then where do they go? In the broadcast world, if they are lucky they can get France24, BBC News 24 or even CNN International. However, that is a role of the cable/satellite programming dice. I can get one out of three where I live and I have both satellite and cable.

It brings me back to the remarks of CNN’s Miles O’Brien a number of years ago when the news media in a summer slump decided to coin an average number of shark attacks into a media event dubbed the “summer of the shark”. Miles ruminating on air about the disturbing turn the collective American conscience had taken since 9-11 commented how before 9-11 “news” coverage had drifted into a world of how to better seal your windows to save on air conditioning, get better gas mileage or pay down your credit cards. He carried the thought through to how when 9-11 happened Americans were blindsided because no one had been bothering to do the story and how between the sharks and a lost boy scout in the woods (the other big media event of the moment) we appear to have already drifted right back into the same place.

We love to use that phrase “Never Forget” in America and we speak it with deep impassioned sincerity but oh how quickly we do. It is both our strength and greatest curse. We move on like perhaps no other society, however, in doing so we fail miserably at retaining any of the lessons learned of the past. Immediately after 9-11 news organization after news organization held endless public hand-wringing sessions on how we need to do more, send more reporters around the world, more international coverage, etc. etc. and for a bit it happened. However, month by month, year by year, the public and media turned away. 9-11 was a historic event. Al-Qaeda was over in some place called Afghanistan and Iraq and well if they could attack us here they would have by now so therefore they obviously and quite logically cannot. So the sharks and the boy scouts and home improvement and Paris Hilton and workers stuck in trenches came back in droves and all those who trusted that if something important was going on in the world, it would of course be on CNN or MSNBC or Fox, went soundly back to sleep.

The problem, however, is that complicated, nuanced stories that leave people feeling uneasy and require thought will never, ever draw the ratings of the bear in Circuit City or the shark jumping behind the surf board. Spoon fed adjective laced fluff and gossip does. You can dress the terrorism issues up in a political fist fight with battling talking points or a sexy government investigation, then sure it will hold its own for a bit more but by that point you have gutted all the fact and context for a snappy headline designed to get more clicks than actually inform and there is the rub.

Are you a news channel or entertainment? It is a simple black and white question only made gray by those who want the ratings of the entertainment world while trying to play under the guise of credibility and status afforded to a news organization. For my two cents I don’t understand why everyone does not just stop playing around and go straight to porn. You could lay off just about everyone, shoot it on the cheap and ratings would be through the roof. Heck you could even have iReporters shoot it and then you would not even need to have cameramen. I have little doubt there would not be droves of volunteers. If it is just about return on investment and clicks then instead of showing clips of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show on endless loop for days as Fox News did a few years back while talking about how horrible it is that this was aired on one of the major networks when kids could watch (apparently kids don’t watch Fox News), why not just leap ahead to the inevitable conclusion.

The 24-hour network news channels in America right now have more in common with TMZ, arguing radio talk show hosts, CourtTV, Jerry Springer and 5th grade level debate between political hacks spitting out talking points that are as predictable as the sun rising in the morning, then they do news organizations.

From my perspective this is not the fault of many of the top old-school correspondents, producers and anchors who work tirelessly with little resources and fight endless battles just to eke out a minute here or there to try and heroically explain something that can’t humanly be done in less than 10 minutes. Many of you are on this list and I know the situation you face. The problem lies deeper within the evolving culture and revenue driven model of what’s passing for a news organization today.

The painfully short major network news heavyweights at NBC, CBS and ABC still hold to a higher standard but in a changing media market and different lifestyle schedules many people simply do not happen to find themselves sitting in front of the TV and tuned to the same channel as they once did 15 or 20 years ago and even when they do, the extremely short time spans these shows have to inform their viewers of all the key events in the world makes it impossible to get all the high profile stories in, let alone do them justice in two minutes. However, I have watched in amazement as people like Lisa Myers and others do just that under what seem to me to be impossible constraints.

There are also other true hardcore journalists still out there who can get air time to share just a small fraction of what they know. Michael Ware at CNN is one of those people. It’s balanced, well-researched, insightful and informative reporting. The catchy headline takes second  seat to actually informing the viewer and helping them walk away smarter on an issue than they were 10 minutes before. It’s reporting like that which we so desperately need more of in the States. Either that or France24 needs to increase its profile here.

Making all of this worse is that the problems are not limited to broadcast. Shrinking budgets, staff and resources at major newspapers, magazines and wire services are only further complicating things. As old business models are turned on their heads and the all-mighty click metric rules the day. Wire services like AP, AFP and Reuters are the staple of life when it comes to knowing what is going on in the world. Should a push to do more entertainment or resource cutbacks begin to impact coverage in certain areas, it would quite literally be as if those places ceased to exist in many ways for those who read the news but for now their reporters strewn around the world continue to fight the good fight and provide that one reliable outlet. AP reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan and elsewhere has been terrific and showed a depth of knowledge and source development that is what real journalism is about. The problem here though is not that the stories are not being done but rather how many people are seeing the stories if they do not get picked up.

On the newspaper side there still is no one that can hold a match to the in-depth reporting that is done by papers like the Washington Post when they really get behind a story. The Washington Post’s two multimedia features in recent years on al-Qaeda and most recently the IED issue were a more solid and informative treatment then I have seen in any American media and not just on those issues but on almost any terrorist issue. They are an example of what can really be done when the appropriate time, resources and space are allocated to allow the journalists to do their job and the reader to be informed. All is not well in the newspaper world though and the changing landscape is bearing down heavily on the old models. Much of this was captured in the final season of David Simon’s brilliant insight into urban life in America on HBO, “The Wire”, when he focused the spotlight on The Baltimore Sun.

Despite these two last bastions, I’m deeply worried. It’s simply not enough. As a print person it pains me to say it but in today’s day and age, if it is not on TV, more often than not, it did not happen. Whether in the circles of government or in the mind of the public, the morning paper may still often set the news cycle but it is the 24-hour news networks that determine whether or not it grows legs. Even as an intelligence professional, myself and my colleagues often find ourselves running in circles because someone saw something utterly insignificant and unimportant on TV and well of course then it must be urgent and so emails get dispatched and everyone stops what they are doing to answer the questions of the customer who happened to flip on a TV. Give the same person a critical intelligence report on something they do not get and that is not on TV and you are lucky if they bother to read it in some cases.

This brings me back to one simple question. If all the news powerhouses in this country are not going to buckle down and decide that ratings or not, in the post 9-11 world it’s important to educate and inform Americans on these issues, then who will? Also, informing does not mean taking one out of hundreds of FBI bulletins that leak removing all context and common sense and flashing them across the screen as breaking news. More of this tired practice is not needed. What is needed is knowledge and context and real reporting.

At IntelCenter we just released a wall chart with the logos from 39 different active terrorist groups. How many Americans do you think could even think of the names of say five or more groups? Similarly there are more than 50 groups actively operating in Iraq right now. I’d put money down that if you were to walk the street and ask Americans to name just one group other than al-Qaeda they could not. Yet these groups are killing Americans on a regular basis. If we cannot name the groups who threaten us, how can we even begin to understand the nature of the threat and the challenges that face us.

My small part in this battle is to give tens of thousands of dollars every year in free books, DVDs, intelligence reports and video licenses to every news organization and documentary crew doing real reporting on this stuff but beyond that informing the public is outside of our scope and responsibility. Our products are simply too expensive and technical to be able to fill that role. Schools cannot help because well most of us are long done with them. Think tanks and other questionable organizations often only serve to spin the data to serve their political objectives or agenda. They are not beholden to the ethics and professional practices of an intelligence analyst or a journalist. Academics are often too far removed from practical concerns to significantly contribute and they do not have the profile or exposure to reach people on a regular basis. As for the government, some more information coming out of DHS might help but that is trickier than it sounds for a whole host of reasons and the role of a quasi news agency is not one it should be serving.

So I ask, if the news organizations that serve the American people do not step up to the plate and say on this issue, ratings be damned, this is our responsibility and duty, well then… we’re just fucked.

That morning will come and for weeks on weeks following, questions will be asked, “Did you see this coming? Were you surprised?”

And we will all say “Never Again” as we slap billion dollar overnight sound bite feel good fixes into place that will not be sustained.

Until of course we forget yet again…


his website:


The 24 Types of Libertarian

The 24 Types of Libertarian | Progressive Political Cartoon by Barry Deutsch.

Not really

We are the Web

Are you ready for conspiraceh?

Ask culture and Guess culture

This is a classic case of Ask Culture meets Guess Culture.

In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it’s OK to ask for anything at all, but you gotta realize you might get no for an answer. This is Ask Culture.

In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you’re pretty sure the answer will be yes. Guess Culture depends on a tight net of shared expectations. A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won’t even have to make the request directly; you’ll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept.

All kinds of problems spring up around the edges. If you’re a Guess Culture person — and you obviously are — then unwelcome requests from Ask Culture people seem presumptuous and out of line, and you’re likely to feel angry, uncomfortable, and manipulated.

If you’re an Ask Culture person, Guess Culture behavior can seem incomprehensible, inconsistent, and rife with passive aggression.

Obviously she’s an Ask and you’re a Guess. (I’m a Guess too. Let me tell you, it’s great for, say, reading nuanced and subtle novels; not so great for, say, dating and getting raises.)

Thing is, Guess behaviors only work among a subset of other Guess people — ones who share a fairly specific set of expectations and signalling techniques. The farther you get from your own family and friends and subculture, the more you’ll have to embrace Ask behavior. Otherwise you’ll spend your life in a cloud of mild outrage at (pace Moomin fans) the Cluelessness of Everyone.

It explains so much!

So which one are you? Are you from Ask Culture or Guess Culture? Or does it depend on who you’re with?

via The Infusion: Ask culture and Guess culture.

And now … cognitive science at work

Philosophy of mind

Philosophy of mind is a branch of modern analytic philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind-body problem, i.e. the relationship of the mind to the body, is commonly seen as the central issue in philosophy of mind, although there are other issues concerning the nature of the mind that do not involve its relation to the physical body.[2]

Dualism and monism are the two major schools of thought that attempt to resolve the mind-body problem. Dualism can be traced back to Plato,[3] Aristotle[4][5][6] and the Sankhya and Yoga schools of Hindu philosophy,[7] but it was most precisely formulated by René Descartes in the 17th century.[8] Substance Dualists argue that the mind is an independently existing substance, whereas Property Dualists maintain that the mind is a group of independent properties that emerge from and cannot be reduced to the brain, but that it is not a distinct substance.[9]

Monism is the position that mind and body are not ontologically distinct kinds of entities. This view was first advocated in Western philosophy by Parmenides in the 5th century BC and was later espoused by the 17th century rationalist Baruch Spinoza.[10] Physicalists argue that only the entities postulated by physical theory exist, and that the mind will eventually be explained in terms of these entities as physical theory continues to evolve. Idealists maintain that the mind is all that exists and that the external world is either mental itself, or an illusion created by the mind. Neutral monists adhere to the position that there is some other, neutral substance, and that both matter and mind are properties of this unknown substance. The most common monisms in the 20th and 21st centuries have all been variations of physicalism; these positions include behaviorism, the type identity theory, anomalous monism and functionalism

via Philosophy of mind – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

HOR and FOR theories

Higher-order and first-order representationalism

Since the theory of consciousness aims to answer both questions (a) and (b), representation may play a role in answering either question. Indeed, philosophers have appealed to representation in answering both questions.

A theory which appeals to representation in answering question (a) (Rosenthal 2002; Kriegel and Williford 2006; Lycan 1996) would take the following general form: for a mental episode to be a certain way for its subject is just for the episode to be represented to the subject as being that way: for the subject to undergo some mental episode which is correct as a representation if, and only if, the episode is that way. Such an answer is sometimes referred to as higher-order representationalism.

Alternatives to higher-order representationalism are legion. For instance, there is the view that for a mental episode to be a certain way for its subject is: for it just to be that way (assuming, of course, that the feature is a possible phenomenal character in accord with the answer to (b)); or for the episode’s being that way to be in a position to play a central role in its subject’s cognition (for it to be “poised”: Tye 2000); or for the episode’s particular instance of being that way to have a special conscious “glow” which cannot be understood in more basic terms; or for its being that way to be within the subject’s perspective in some way not compatible with the representational theory of perspective.

A theory which appeals to representation in answering question (b) (Siewert 1998; Tye 2000; Byrne 2001; Chalmers 2005), would take something like the following form: a feature may be a phenomenal character only if it is a representational property. Such an answer is sometimes referred to as first-order representationalism.

Alternatives to first-order representationalism are also legion. For instance, there is the view that any feature which a mental episode can have can be a phenomenal character, assuming it and the episode together meet the condition mandated in the answer to (a); various familiar physicalist and functionalist answers—e.g., that the phenomenal characters are certain special brain features [functionalist accounts of consciousness]; the view that a property is a possible phenomenal character only if that property is of the special conscious type, a type which cannot be understood in more basic terms; and the view, once again, that some nonrepresentational properties characterizing a subject’s perspective are phenomenal characters.


HOT Theory

Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness

Higher-order theories of consciousness try to explain the distinctive properties of consciousness in terms of some relation obtaining between the conscious state in question and a higher-order representation of some sort (either a higher-order perception of that state, or a higher-order thought or belief about it). The most challenging properties to explain are those involved in phenomenal consciousness—the sort of state that has a subjective dimension, that has ‘feel’, or that it is like something to undergo. These properties will form the focus of this article.

Much more at:  Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

This why I don’t have kids:

Green Eyed …

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!”

– Othello


Sound Familiar?

To be filed under the “thanks for telling us what we’ve always known” section:

People sometimes seek the truth, but most prefer like-minded views.

The analysis, reported this month in Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association, was led by researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida, and included data from 91 studies involving nearly 8,000 participants. It puts to rest a longstanding debate over whether people actively avoid information that contradicts what they believe, or whether they are simply exposed more often to ideas that conform to their own because they tend to be surrounded by like-minded people.

“We wanted to see exactly across the board to what extent people are willing to seek out the truth versus just stay comfortable with what they know,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Dolores Albarracín, who led the study with University of Florida researcher William Hart. The team also included researchers from Northwestern University and Ohio University.

The studies they reviewed generally asked participants about their views on a given topic and then allowed them to choose whether they wanted to view or read information supporting their own or an opposing point of view.

The researchers found that people are about twice as likely to select information that supports their own point of view (67 percent) as to consider an opposing idea (33 percent).

Certain individuals, those with close-minded personalities, are even more reluctant to expose themselves to differing perspectives, Albarracín said. They will opt for the information that corresponds to their views nearly 75 percent of the time.

The researchers also found, not surprisingly, that people are more resistant to new points of view when their own ideas are associated with political, religious or ethical values.

“If you are really committed to your own attitude – for example, if you are a very committed Democrat – you are more likely to seek congenial information, that is, information that corresponds with your views,” Albarracín said. “If the issues concern moral values or politics, about 70 percent of the time you will choose congenial information, versus about 60 percent of the time if the issues are not related to values.”


“For the most part it seems that people tend to stay with their own beliefs and attitudes because changing those might prevent them from living the lives they’re living,” Albarracín said. “But it’s good news that one out of three times, or close to that, they are willing to seek out the other side.

Full paper:  Feeling Validated Versus Being Correct: A Meta-Analysis of Selective Exposure to Information


Stop Blogging | Phil Hart – Astronomy, Photography and Peak Oil.

Time Travel Sorted!

Novelists and screenwriters know that time travel can be accomplished in all sorts of ways: A supercharged DeLorean, Hermione’s small watch and, most recently, a spacetime-bending hot tub have allowed fictional heroes to jump between past and future.

But physicists know that time travel is more than just a compelling plot device — it’s a serious prediction of Einstein’s general relativity equations. In a new study posted online July 15, researchers led by Seth Lloyd at MIT analyze how some of the quirks and peculiarities of real-life time travel might play out. This particular kind of time travel evades some of its most paradoxical predictions, Lloyd says.

Any theory of time travel has to confront the devastating “grandfather paradox,” in which a traveler jumps back in time and kills his grandfather, which prevents his own existence, which then prevents the murder in the first place, and so on.

One model, put forth in the early 1990s by Oxford physicist David Deutsch, can allow inconsistencies between the past a traveler remembers and the past he experiences. So a person could remember killing his grandfather without ever having done it. “It has some weird features that don’t square with what we thought time travel might work out as,” Lloyd says.

In contrast, Lloyd prefers a model of time travel that explicitly forbids these inconsistencies. This version, posted at, is called a post-selected model. By going back and outlawing any events that would later prove paradoxical in the future, this theory gets rid of the uncomfortable idea that a time traveler could prevent his own existence. “In our version of time travel, paradoxical situations are censored,” Lloyd says.

But this dictum against paradoxical events causes possible but unlikely events to happen more frequently. “If you make a slight change in the initial conditions, the paradoxical situation won’t happen. That looks like a good thing, but what it means is that if you’re very near the paradoxical condition, then slight differences will be extremely amplified,” says Charles Bennett of IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

For instance, a bullet-maker would be inordinately more likely to produce a defective bullet if that very bullet was going to be used later to kill a time traveler’s grandfather, or the gun would misfire, or “some little quantum fluctuation has to whisk the bullet away at the last moment,” Lloyd says. In this version of time travel, the grandfather, he says, is “a tough guy to kill.”

This distorted probability close to the paradoxical situation is still strange, says physicist Daniel Gottesman of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada. “The thing is, that when we modify physics in this way, weird things end up happening. And that’s kind of unavoidable,” he says. “You’re dealing with time travel. Maybe you should expect it to be weird.”

In an earlier paper posted in May at, Lloyd and his team present an experiment designed to simulate this post-selection model using photons. Though the team couldn’t send the photons into the past, they could put them in quantum situations similar to those that might be encountered by a time traveler. As the photons got closer and closer to being in self-inconsistent, paradoxical situations, the experiment succeeded with less and less frequency, the team found, hinting that true time travel might work the same way.

The experiments were meant to simulate freaky paths through spacetime called closed timelike curves, which carry anything traveling along them into the past and then back to the future. Einstein’s equations predicted that travelers on a closed timelike curve would eventually end up back where they started. Although predicted to exist on paper, no such paths have been observed in the wild. Some physicists predict that these loops might exist in exotic regions where spacetime is drastically different, such as in the depths of black holes.

Despite its strange predictions, the new model forms “a nice, consistent loop,” says theoretical physicist Todd Brun of the University of Southern California. The new papers make up “a really interesting body of work.”

These days, deciding which theory of time travel is best is largely a matter of taste. Until someone discovers a closed timelike curve in the wild, or figures out how to build a time machine, no one will know the answer, says Brun. “I don’t expect these will be tested anytime soon. These are ideas. They’re fun to play with.”

Read More:

Insignificance Awareness Engine

I love him so MUCH … I really do

the original:

Life is hard!

The Japanese Tradition – Apologizing

“Shazai (謝罪)” — from “The Japanese Tradition” series of videos by Japan Culture Lab — is a useful and entertaining guide to the art of apologetic bowing.

The video provides techniques and tips for the entire spectrum of bows, from the commonplace shallow bow (for casual apologies) to the various forms of ojigi (for serious apologies) — including the long ojigi (used when apologizing to the public for a scandal or product recall) and the perpetual ojigi (to express determination). Also explained is the kneeling bow (used predominantly by ninjas), the grovelling dogeza bow (used when you are unequivocally in the wrong, such as when “caught red-handed in an orgy of evil”), the momentous doge-fuse bow (for the ultimate apology), and the doge-umari bow (the final straw).

via: Pink Tentacle.

The Hedonistic Imperative

This manifesto outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds. Nanotechnology and genetic-engineering allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Post-humans will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.

The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. They can be replaced by a radically different sort of neural architecture. Life-long happiness of an intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the genetically-preprogrammed norm of mental health. A sketch is offered of when, and why, this major evolutionary transition in the history of life is likely to occur. Possible objections, both practical and moral, are raised and then rebutted.

Today’s images of opiate-addled junkies, and the lever-pressing frenzies of intra-cranially self-stimulating rats, are deceptive. Such stereotypes stigmatise, and falsely discredit, the only remedy for the world’s horrors and everyday discontents that is biologically realistic. For it is misleading to contrast social and intellectual development with perpetual happiness. There need be no such trade-off. States of “dopamine-overdrive” can actually enhance exploratory and goal-directed activity. Hyper-dopaminergic states can also increase the range and diversity of actions an organism finds rewarding. So our descendants may live in a civilisation of well-motivated “high-achievers”, animated by gradients of bliss. Their productivity may far eclipse our own.

Two hundred years ago, before the development of potent synthetic pain-killers or surgical anaesthetics, the notion that “physical” pain could be banished from most people’s lives would have seemed no less bizarre. Most of us in the urban-industrial West now take its daily absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as “mental” pain, too, could one day be superseded is equally counter-intuitive. The technical option of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of political policy and ethical choice.

Much more @ The Hedonistic Imperative

John Helped

It’s the little things

Now the bad news …

There is a “coherent and significant connection” between radiation from Vatican Radio aerials and childhood cancer, researchers have said.

The Italian experts looked at high numbers of tumours and leukaemia in children who live close to Vatican Radio transmitters.

The 60 antennas stand in villages and towns near Rome.

via BBC News – Experts: Vatican Radio transmitters ‘pose cancer risk’.

Sound Advice

Car Codes of Conduct

Since its inception, the primary purpose of the automobile has always been to provide venue for pastors to lose their testimonies. It may also (as a strictly secondary function) provide some modicum of useful transportation.

It is a well known fact in fundamentalism that even the most restrained and moderate of people lose all self-control once they set foot in a motor vehicle. Unless carefully monitored, riding in a car with a member of the opposite sex can lead to fornication, drunkenness, and head-on collisions with trains — possibly all three at the same time.

In the interest of preventing these unfortunate occurrences, the following rules should be observed by any fundamentalists who intends to travel by automobile.

– Pastors should never enter a car with a woman. Ever. If that means leaving her to be eaten by wolves then so be it. Your ministry is too important to risk.

– If two people who are dating should happen to need to travel together for sanctioned ministry purposes such as traveling too and from Bible college, they must travel in no smaller vehicle than a 15 passenger van and be seated for maximum separation distance between them. Please consult the following chart:

– If two people are currently pretending not to be dating so they can sit together on the long, long missions trip to Mexico they must be separated at all times by the width of a King James Bible (Wide Margin, Oxford Press, 1769 edition, 3rd printing).

– Chaperons shall be strategically placed in the vehicle in such a manner that all hands, feet, elbows, and knees are in plain view at all times. If a chaperon is unavailable this task may be relegated to a child who has demonstrated great alacrity in the tattling department.

– Every trip shall begin with a prayer in which the driver shall make it clear to all within earshot that the continued safety of all passengers from accident or freak avalanche depends on the above rules being kept with utmost vigor.

Observe these rules well and it may be possible to keep the inevitable vehicular orgies to a bare minimum. And keep an eye out for those oncoming trains.

Posted by Darrell @

Who Owns You?

Over the last 20 years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been issuing patents to universities and private companies on raw human genes. One company or university is given a legal monopoly over a molecule that is inside every human being and many other animals. This documentary explores the legal, ethical, and clinical ramifications of human gene patenting

via Who Owns You? – A Documentary – Trailer on Vimeo.

Record grooves under an electron microscope

Chris Supranowitz is a researcher at The Insitute of Optics at the University of Rochester. Along with a number of other spectacular studies (such as quantum optics, trapping of atoms, dark states and entanglement), Chris has decided to look at the relatively boring grooves of a vinyl record using the institute’s electron microscope. Well, not boring for me.

From what I read, it’s not just a simple matter of sticking a record under a fancy microscope, as there is a lot of preparation (such as gold-sputtering the surface) and post-processing to be done. Having said that, the results are very cool:

Here is a shot of a number of record grooves (the dark bits are the top of the grooves, i.e. the uncut vinyl):

Here’s the grooves closer up – the little bumps are dust on the record:

And here’s a single groove even closer still, magnified 1000 times:

Chris also did the pits in a CD – here’s what they look like, just for contrast:

Chris decided to take the whole electron microscope image one step further, and created a blue/red 3-dimensional image of the record groove! So, if you have a pair of 3D glasses (sorry, the ones you got from watching Avatar won’t work – you need red on the left, blue on the right), throw them on and take a look at this amazing picture:

Via: SYNTHGEAR  Record grooves under an electron microscope.