I Have the Perfect Defense Against Tigers
Posted on March 25th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by Steve

Since 1997, every night before I go to sleep, I turn around three times and chant “on-gay iger-tay”. In more than thirteen years, I have not been attacked by a tiger. My method is perfect!

Everything I know about logic, reasoning, and causality, I learned from Peter Wehner, former deputy assistant to President Bush, in this op-ed:

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when virtually everyone assumed we’d be hit again, Bush put the United States on a war footing. He mobilized the entire federal government, including the military, Homeland Security, the Treasury, the FBI, our intelligence agencies and more.

We have not been attacked since.

Update 3/26/10:

I should add that I have also learned a great deal about logic and causality from former Bush administration speechwriter Marc Thiessen, from his fabulous new book Courting Disaster:

“In the decade before the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda launched repeated attacks against America. In the eight years since the C.I.A. began interrogating captured terrorists, Al Qaeda has not succeeded in launching one single attack on the homeland or American interests abroad.”

Q.E.D., baby!

(BTW, the Thiessen quote comes from this excellent takedown by Jane Mayer in the current New Yorker magazine.)

Free the Willies
Posted on February 25th, 2010 at 3:23 pm by necco

In light of the most recent Killer Whale attack at Sea World I think that cetaceans should not be held in captivity and forced to perform. The animals are clearly intelligent. They should be given the option to perform… maybe an “open” aquarium where they can voluntarily open a door, swim into and out of the ocean as they please and interact with humans on their own terms when desired. I wonder how many would be interested in this type of interaction…

Don’t get me started on octopuses and cuttlefish.

Neurogastroenterology. Really.
Posted on February 16th, 2010 at 12:48 pm by Steve

You have more neurons in your stomach and intestines than in your spinal cord or peripheral nervous system. Some call it “the second brain:”

Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system…

And yes, apparently there is a new field of medicine known as Neurogastroenterology!

The Idea Is Like Grass
Posted on January 29th, 2010 at 6:59 pm by Steve

“The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

“Brockman, to the Ants Submits”
Posted on January 29th, 2010 at 11:16 am by Steve

What did people daydream about before popular culture? History? Religion? Geneology? Was I suffering from some sort of condition exacerbated by the internet culture of link and remix?

Author James Lileks explores how his own brain works. He travels associatively from Camptown Races to Foghorn Leghorn to Lou Grant to Singin’ in the Rain to Twitter to the Simpsons, and concludes, “I, for one, welcome the day when people no longer say ‘I, for one’.”

Read it and laugh and smile and shake your head.

‘It’s Incredibility I’m After’
Posted on January 8th, 2010 at 11:09 am by Steve

“What Is Fire?” – Buckminster Fuller Answers
Posted on December 30th, 2009 at 4:47 pm by Steve

Buckminster Fuller, in Critical Path (hello, Dr. Hoo!), answers a child’s query, “What is fire?”:

Fire is the Sun unwinding from the tree’s log. The Earth revolves and the trees revolve as the radiation from the Sun’s flame reaches the revolving planet Earth. By photosynthesis the green buds and leaves of the tree convert that Sun radiation into hydrocarbon molecules, which form into the bio-cells of the green, outer, cambium layer of the tree. The tree is a tetrahedron that makes a cone as it revolves. The tree’s three tetrahedral roots spread out into the ground to anchor the tree and get water. Each year the new, outer-layer, green-tree cone revolves 365 turns, and every year the tree grows its new tender-green, bio-cell cone layer just under the bark and over the accumulating cones of previous years. Each ring of the many rings of the saw-cut log is one year’s Sun-energy impoundment. So the fire is the many-years-of-Sun-flame-winding now unwinding from the tree. When the log fire pop-sparks, it is letting go a very sunny day long ago, and doing so in a hurry.”

Widen the Circle of Compassion
Posted on November 2nd, 2009 at 5:27 pm by Steve

A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

— Albert Einstein

An Astounding Font of Knowledge
Posted on September 21st, 2009 at 4:16 pm by Steve

Since 1993, The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension has been bringing you esoteric and visionary knowledge (and a lot of other crap, too). That tradition continues with their recent posting of a six-part interview with Peter Lamborn Wilson, better known in some circles as Hakim Bey.

An Incredible Degree of Elegance
Posted on July 21st, 2009 at 1:46 pm by Steve

Allowing for the identical Apollo guidance computer (AGC) in the Command Module (CM), containing a program called COLOSSUS, it is correct to say that we landed on the moon with 152 Kbytes of computer memory.

That quote, and the link included in it, are from a paper by Don Eyles, introduced by the BBC as “a 23-year-old self-described ‘beatnik’ who had just graduated from Boston University and was set the task of programming the software for the Moon landing.”

These days it’s rare to find an icon that fits in 152 Kbytes of computer memory!!! Those guys wrote all the software that got a spacecraft to the moon and back.

I walk by the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory every day… but today I have special respect for the kind of work those people did, and do.

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