Thursday, December 31, 2020

Nashville Far From Alone...,

usatoday |  The vulnerability of the telecommunications system in Nashville and beyond became clear Christmas Day when AT&T's central office in downtown became the site of a bombing.

Mayor John Cooper called the blast on Second Avenue an attack on infrastructure. The effects of that attack are sure to ripple through the region for weeks, as the telecom giant scrambles to restore services while maintaining the integrity of an active investigation site teeming with federal agents.

State and local officials and experts say the fact that a multistate region could be brought to its knees by a single bombing is a "wake-up call," exposing vulnerabilities many didn't know existed and predicting it would lead to intense conversations about the future. 

The bombing and the damage to the AT&T office was a "single-point of failure," said Douglas Schmidt, the Cornelius Vanderbilt professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University.

American Comfort Taking Hits Left And Right

NYPost  |  Thousands of residents in Aspen, Colorado were left without heat during near-zero degree weather after vandals — possibly green activists from an environmental group — attacked the city’s gas system, authorities said Monday.

The vandals apparently attacked three separate Black Hills Energy gas lines, one in Aspen and two in Pitkin County, leaving around 3,500 residents shivering in their homes Saturday night, The Aspen Times reported.

The Aspen Police Department said the words “Earth first!” were written on one pipe near Aspen. It’s unclear if the environmental group “Earth First!” was behind the vandalism.

Aspen assistant police chief Bill Linn believes the vandals would have to be familiar with the gas system to pull off the scheme.

“They tampered with flow lines,” Linn said. “They turned off gas lines.”

Police scrambled to distribute thousands of space heaters to residents while Black Hill Energy continued working Tuesday to restore the gas.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Computational Statistics (So-Called AI) Is Inherently Biased

FT |  Baysean statistical models, (so-called AI) inherently amplify bias of whatever data set they have been modeled on.  Moreover, this amplification is exponential, meaning the more you use AI, the more biased it will get via self learning. Since it is impossible to eliminate  bias completely in a training dataset, any AI system will eventually become extremely biased. Self correcting mechanisms suffer from the same problem since they too are AI based, you end up with a system that is unstable and will always eventually become extremely biased based on even minute impossible to eradicate biases in its initial data set. 

“F*** the algorithm!” became one of the catchphrases of 2020, encapsulating the fear that humanity is being subordinated to technology. Whether it was British school students complaining about their A level grades or Stanford Medical Centre staff highlighting the unfairness of vaccination priorities, people understandably rail against the idea of faceless machines stripping humans of agency. 

This is an issue that will only grow in prominence as artificial intelligence becomes ubiquitous in the computer systems that power our modern world. To some extent, these fears are based on a misconception. Humans are still the ones who exercise judgment and algorithms do exactly what they are designed to do: discriminate. Whether they do so in a positive or a negative way depends on the humans who write these algorithms and interpret and act upon their output. 

It may on occasion be convenient for a government official or an executive to blame some “rogue” algorithm for their mistakes. But we should not be fooled by this rhetoric. We should hold those who deploy AI systems legally and morally accountable for the outcomes they produce. Artificial intelligence is no more than a technological tool, like any other. It is a powerful general purpose technology, akin to electricity, that enables other technologies to work more effectively. But it is not a property in its own right and has no agency. AI would sound a lot less frightening if we were to relabel it as computational statistics. 

That said, companies, researchers and regulators should pay particular attention to the feedstock used in these AI systems: data. Researchers have shown that partial data sets used to power modern AI systems can bake in societal inequities and racial and sexual prejudices. This issue has been highlighted at Google following the departure of Timnit Gebru, an ethical researcher, who claimed she was dismissed after warning of the dangers of large-scale language generation systems that rely on historic data taken from the internet.

Hyundai Motor Company Robots Dance Better Than You Do...,

theverge |   It’s not the first time Boston Dynamics has shown off its robots’ dancing skills: the company showcased a video of its Spot robot doing the Running Man to “Uptown Funk” in 2018. but the new video takes things to another level, with the Atlas robot tearing it up on the dance floor: smoothly running, jumping, shuffling, and twirling through different moves.

Things get even more incredible as more robots file out, prancing around in the kind of coordinated dance routine that puts my own, admittedly awful human dancing to shame. Compared to the jerky movements of the 2016 iteration of Atlas, the new model almost looks like a CGI creation

Boston Dynamics was recently purchased by Hyundai, which bought the robotics firm from SoftBank in a $1.1 billion deal. The company was originally founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where it became known for its dog-like quadrupedal robots (most notably, the DARPA-funded BigDog, a precursor to the company’s first commercial robot, Spot.) It was bought by Alphabet’s X division in 2013, and then by Softbank in 2017.

While the Atlas and Handle robots featured here are still just research prototypes, Boston Dynamics has recently started selling the Spot model to any company for the considerable price of $74,500. But can you really put a price on creating your own personal legion of boogieing robot minions?


Are You The Voice In Your Head And Is That Voice In Your Head Just Movement?

wikipedia |  Subvocalization is commonly studied using electromyography (EMG) recordings,[5] concurrent speaking tasks,[6][7][8] shadowing,[6] and other techniques.[6][7]

EMG can be used to show the degree to which one is subvocalizing[5] or to train subvocalization suppression.[9] EMG is used to record the electrical activity produced by the articulatory muscles involved in subvocalization. Greater electrical activity suggests a stronger use of subvocalization.[5][9] In the case of suppression training, the trainee is shown their own EMG recordings while attempting to decrease the movement of the articulatory muscles.[9] The EMG recordings allows one to monitor and ideally reduce subvocalization.[9]

In concurrent speaking tasks, participants of a study are asked to complete an activity specific to the experiment while simultaneously repeating an irrelevant word.[6] For example, one may be asked to read a paragraph while reciting the word "cola" over and over again.[8] Speaking the repeated irrelevant word is thought to preoccupy the articulators used in subvocalization.[6] Subvocalization, therefore, cannot be used in the mental processing of the activity being studied. Participants who had undergone the concurrent speaking task are often compared to other participants of the study who had completed the same activity without subvocalization interference. If performance on the activity is significantly less for those in the concurrent speaking task group than for those in the non-interference group, subvocalization is believed to play a role in the mental processing of that activity.[6][7][8][9] The participants in the non-interference comparison group usually also complete a different, yet equally distracting task that does not involve the articulator muscles [7][9](i.e. tapping). This ensures that the difference in performance between the two groups is in fact due to subvocalization disturbances and not due to considerations such as task difficulty or a divide in attention.[7][9]

Shadowing is conceptually similar to concurrent speaking tasks. Instead of repeating an irrelevant word, shadowing requires participants to listen to a list of words and to repeat those words as fast as possible while completing a separate task being studied by experimenters.[6]

Techniques for subvocalization interference may also include counting,[7][8] chewing [10] or locking one's jaw while placing the tongue on the roof of one's mouth.[10]

Subvocal recognition involves monitoring actual movements of the tongue and vocal cords that can be interpreted by electromagnetic sensors. Through the use of electrodes and nanocircuitry, synthetic telepathy could be achieved allowing people to communicate silently.[11]

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Know What You Are Doing So That You Can Do What You Want

feldenkraisresourcesformusicians |   This description is marvelous because it captures the effect of integration through listening.61 Trough listening, something happens that Ephram does not ‘know’.
He is given a taste of the pre-symbolic Real for a moment. He does not speak, but instead acknowledges this internal, placeless ‘fnding’ (between visible activity) with chirruping laughter; this giddy delight and uncertainty refect the trauma of the Real and the way in which the senses are unifed in this domain. Nancy attempts to come to grips with the way in which laughter mediates the senses.

He states that, Laughter bursts at the multiple limits of the senses and of language, uncertain of the sense to which it is ofered […] Laughter is the joy of the senses, and of sense, at their limit. In this joy, the senses touch each other and touch language, the tongue in the mouth.62

Ephram’s laughter is like a cloudburst. Feldenkrais touches something deeper than just Ephram’s sensorium through touch and listening, and Ephram responds with laughter: he touches Ephram’s uniqueness.63 Feldenkrais states: ‘You know what that laughter is worth? Tat is Eureka!’ Later, when Ephram laughs again, he observes: ‘You see that laughter is priceless; you can’t buy it for all the money that you have in the world.’ Feldenkrais tacitly acknowledges that in this release, Ephram as a listening being has also withdrawn from him.64 Nancy might say that essential to listening is a ‘withdrawal and turning inward’.65 Laughter provides evidence of an essential independence that signals and derives from integration.66

Trough Ephram’s laughter, the external listeners assembled are exposed to a moment when Ephram is on a fulcrum of listening. It is not just that in Nancy’s terms he has become present to (him)self, but that he registers the trauma of the Real; Ephram’s laughter registers the possibility of change in his self-image. In Nancy’s terms this is the ‘reference’ (renvoi) of sound, ‘from a sign to a thing’.69

But what is this ‘thing’? Te making of ‘sense’ within Ephram’s sensorium is the jouissance of precisely that which does not make sense to him, a new self-image which cannot be immediately rationalized or assimilated.70 So when Nancy states that ‘a self is nothing other than a form or function of referral, a self is made of a relationship to self, or of a presence to self’, this can be considered only part of the story.71

One of the functions of FI is to bring the subject into an encounter with what is unknown, moving from the self that is known, founded in gravity and their own body image in the world, to a new image of the self.72 Ephram’s laughter bubbles up; it escapes what is presented to the world as a disabled boy. It is the resonance of an encounter with another self. His listening is an ongoing process of (re-)formation in the irreducible, intimate and non-linear temporal paradigm of ‘making the impossible possible’, as Feldenkrais has stated,73 and it is precisely this which is inscribed in the Lacanian Real.74

His outburst of laughter creates a symbolic cut in the Real that through its diferentiation signals the Real: it is like the tip of an iceberg that appears above the water, but in doing so it also signifes that below the water (apart from the rest of the iceberg, which is already integrated with the symbolic register) is the ocean’s void.75 In Nancy’s terms, Ephram is a paradigm of a ‘subject of listening [that] is always still yet to come’.76 With regard to Feldenkrais’s ‘listening for his next breath’, Nancy’s question is germane here: ‘What does it mean for a being to be immersed entirely in listening, formed by listening or in listening, listening with all its being?’ – and one might add here: ‘listening to all his being’.77 In this spirit of enquiry we might listen with Feldenkrais and ask: ‘Is it indeed possible (or desirable) to listen to all of another person’s being?’

This is a crucial question, and one fundamental to FI, because listening for Feldenkrais is a sensing through his hands of where someone else is stuck; where, through habit or injury, for example, the mind/body entity is momentarily incapable of utilizing a deeper intelligence to improve a function or action. Helping a person to fnd this intelligence within themselves is one of the primary functions of instrumental lessons and indeed of the Feldenkrais Method. Listening, then, as is shown in  Feldenkrais’s work with Ephram, is an enactivist engagement with intelligence and awareness, not just with presence to the world or the self (pace Nancy).

Feldenkrais’s ideal of listening is intimately connected to overcoming ‘resistance’, a term borrowed from Freud. In their book The Language of Psychoanalysis, Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis defne this concept: ‘In psycho-analytic treatment the name “resistance” is given to everything in the words and actions of the analysis and that obstructs his gaining access to his un-conscious.’78 

Laplanche and Pontalis point out that while Freud first discovered that resistance was ‘an obstacle to the elucidation of the symptoms and to the progress of the treatment’, he realized that ‘resistance was itself a means of reaching the repressed and unveiling the secret of neurosis’ and that ‘the interpretation of resistance, along with that of the transference, constituted the specifc characteristics of his technique’ that was part and parcel of the possibility of a cure.79 Feldenkrais extends this in profound ways elaborated through the examples given in this study. 

Resistance is understood not merely as that which obstructs the change in the self-image; Feldenkrais ‘interprets’ this resistance as an active means of gaining access to Ephram’s motor cortex, rather than the psychoanalytic ‘un-conscious’.

Do You Know How Much Damage Faulty Sleep And Movement Habits Can Cause?

princeton |  I turned to Feldenkrais because a friend I respected a lot suggested it as a solution to my hand and arm pain (RSI). I went to ATM classes and took FI lessons from a local teacher in Princeton NJ. Though these whetted my curiosity, they did not solve my RSI problems.

I found an excellent teacher, Angel DiBenedetto, during a 5-month stay in Seattle. She learned from Moshe Feldenkrais, and is herself a trainer of other Feldenkrais teachers. Eight lessons from her (over a 3-month period) completely changed my view of my body. My hand was much better but still not 100%. Also, I sensed the tremendous potential of this method and wanted to go further. So I took 8-9 Feldenkrais lessons with another amazing teacher, Anat Krivine, during a subsequent 4-month stay in Israel. Anat is also a trainer of Feldenkrais teachers. It was very useful for me to learn from multiple teachers, since  no two teachers have the same perspective. One important thing that Anat finally made me realize and give up was my tendency to ask for "the best way to do X" which I think was limiting my learning. Furthermore, unknown to me, she had a special interest in scoliosis (sideways curve of the spine) which turned out to be relevant to my problems. By the end, my hand problems were completely gone and my scoliosis (which the medical profession thinks of as a skeletal problem, with no cure) much reduced. (See the links below for an explanation of scoliosis and the Feldenkrais approach to it.)

So what can you expect when you get Feldenkrais lessons from a good teacher? The immediate sensation is one of calm that you have never known. You may realize that you have lived in a background of muscular tension that you had never noticed until it went away. (Kind of like the change in background noise level you might notice if you moved from Manhattan to Montana.) This can be a powerful, even emotional experience. It is a good idea to  savor this calm right after the lesson, and to take a nap. You may feel great, but avoid the temptation to go out and do something strenuous. (Skip your usual exercise routine for a day or two.) The calm may dissipate over the next few hours and days, but in future sessions it will last longer and longer, until it becomes part of your everyday state.

The FI's implant new ideas into your body, and over the next few days and weeks it will slowly imbibe them and change. Do not be surprised if you find yourself doing things differently.

Another thought that might occur to you is that much of what you have known about pain is wrong. You will learn that often pain is caused by faulty movement patterns, not any kind of damage to the body. Thus pain can be produced and taken away at will, using simple change in movements. This knowledge is extremely empowering for people who have suffered from chronic pain.

(Update Aug 2008): During the year since I first wrote my page, I have continued to do ATMs every week, and felt continuous and noticeable improvement. However, I also slowly became more and more aware of the asymmetries still left over from my scoliosis. These were interfering with my enjoyment of activities I had newly started (Capoeira, rollerskating, and running). In Summer 2008 I got a few lessons from another excellent teacher, Reuven (Robbie) Ofir, in Manhattan. (I heard of him from a friend.) Robbie is also a Feldenkrais trainer and a former  head of physical therapy at a leading NYC hospital.  Robbie helped me work out some deep asymmetries and tensions  in my body. Robbie also taught me do ATMs at an even slower and gentler pace that I used to, which has taken my learning to a higher level. I feel truly great now.  But Robbie has helped me appreciate that there is no end to the process of improvement with the Feldenkrais method. (Encouraged by this, I also took my aged parents to Robbie for a few lesson, which helped them a lot. They are from India and Feldenkrais is unlike anything they have experienced.)  I plan to get an occasional FI or two in future years to continue this learning. In particular I plan to explore the use of the method in voice and music.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Opposite Of Karen: I'm A Healthy Person, I'm Not Crazy

Social Credit: An Aristocracy Of Producers Serving And Accredited By A Democracy Of Consumers

wikipedia |  Social credit is an interdisciplinary and distributive philosophy developed by C. H. Douglas. It encompasses economics, political science, history, and accounting. Its policies are designed, according to Douglas, to disperse economic and political power to individuals. Douglas wrote, "Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self-development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic."[1] Douglas said that Social Crediters want to build a new civilization based upon "absolute economic security" for the individual, where "they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid."[2][3] In his words, "what we really demand of existence is not that we shall be put into somebody else's Utopia, but we shall be put in a position to construct a Utopia of our own."[4]

It was while he was reorganising the work at Farnborough, during World War I, that Douglas noticed that the weekly total costs of goods produced was greater than the sums paid to individuals for wages, salaries and dividends. This seemed to contradict the theory of classic Ricardian economics, that all costs are distributed simultaneously as purchasing power. Troubled by the seeming difference between the way money flowed and the objectives of industry ("delivery of goods and services", in his opinion), Douglas decided to apply engineering methods to the economic system.

Douglas collected data from more than a hundred large British businesses and found that in nearly every case, except that of companies becoming bankrupt, the sums paid out in salaries, wages and dividends were always less than the total costs of goods and services produced each week: consumers did not have enough income to buy back what they had made. He published his observations and conclusions in an article in the magazine The English Review, where he suggested: "That we are living under a system of accountancy which renders the delivery of the nation's goods and services to itself a technical impossibility."[5] He later formalized this observation in his A+B theorem. Douglas proposed to eliminate this difference between total prices and total incomes by augmenting consumers' purchasing power through a National Dividend and a Compensated Price Mechanism.

According to Douglas, the true purpose of production is consumption, and production must serve the genuine, freely expressed interests of consumers. In order to accomplish this objective, he believed that each citizen should have a beneficial, not direct, inheritance in the communal capital conferred by complete access to consumer goods assured by the National Dividend and Compensated Price.[6]:4:108 Douglas thought that consumers, fully provided with adequate purchasing power, will establish the policy of production through exercise of their monetary vote.[6]:89–91 In this view, the term economic democracy does not mean worker control of industry, but democratic control of credit.[6]:4–9 Removing the policy of production from banking institutions, government, and industry, social credit envisages an "aristocracy of producers, serving and accredited by a democracy of consumers".[6]:95

The policy proposals of social credit attracted widespread interest in the decades between the world wars of the twentieth century because of their relevance to economic conditions of the time. Douglas called attention to the excess of production capacity over consumer purchasing power, an observation that was also made by John Maynard Keynes in his book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, although he rejected the A+B theorem. [7] While Douglas shared some of Keynes' criticisms of classical economics, his unique remedies were disputed and even rejected by most economists and bankers of the time. Remnants of social credit still exist within social credit parties throughout the world, but not in the purest form originally advanced by Douglas.

Social Credit System: Controlling The Behavior Of Individuals And Businesses

wikipedia  |  The social credit system traces its origin from both policing and work management practices,[63] but the concept itself can trace as far back as the Warring States period to Shang Yang's Legalist meritocratic "20-rank" system practised by the Qin state. During the rule of Mao, the work unit was the main intermediate between the individual and the Communist Party of China. The unit concept, as such, is derived from Hegelian and especially behaviorist social science. Other related examples include the neighborhood unit in developments, study of living creatures at the level of a defined ecological unit, the entity concept from accounting, the strategic business unit in commerce, the unit concept of church fellowship in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the use of individual behavior as the unit of study in radical behaviorism, and the meme in anthropology.[citation needed]

The government of modern China has maintained systems of paper records on individuals and households such as the dàng'àn (档案) and hùkǒu (户口) systems which officials might refer to, but did not provide the same degree and rapidity of feedback and consequences for Chinese citizens as the integrated electronic system because of the much greater difficulty of aggregating paper records for rapid, robust analysis. [18]

The Social Credit System also originated from grid-style social management, a policing strategy first implemented in select locations from 2001 and 2002 (during the rule of paramount leader Jiang Zemin) in specific locations across mainland China. In its first phase, grid-style policing was a system for more effective communication between public security bureaus. Within a few years, the grid system was adapted for use in distributing social services. Grid management provided the authorities not only with greater situational awareness on the group level, but also enhanced the tracking and monitoring of individuals.[63][64] In 2018, sociologist Zhang Lifan explained that Chinese society today is still deficient in trust. People often expect to be cheated or to get in trouble even if they are innocent. He believes that it is due to the Cultural Revolution, where friends and family members were deliberately pitted against each other and millions of Chinese were killed. The stated purpose of the social credit system is to help Chinese people trust each other again.[64]

The Social Credit System is an example of China's "top-level design" (设计) approach. It is coordinated by the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms.[11] It is unclear whether the system will work as envisioned by 2020, but the Chinese government has fast-tracked the implementation of the system, resulting in the publication of numerous policy documents and plans since the main plan was issued in 2013. If the Social Credit System is implemented as envisioned, it will constitute a new way of controlling both the behavior of individuals and of businesses.[11]

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Gurdjieff's Theory Of Laughter

This is about Jill Bolte Taylor, Shirley Q. Liquor, Cognitive Dissonance, and the American Tradition. What It Do;
Gurdjieff offers us a theory of laughter, independent of any state of amusement (= humor), that nevertheless distinguishes between laughter as a physiological response and the organismic cause of it, which he also calls “laughter.” This organismic variable (O), though not necessarily the same as humor, is shown to be a complex structure that is radically different from the visible laughter that results from it. Since his conception of O, though outlined in a most rudimentary and concise form, provides us the basis of the most viable theory of humor that we have been able to elaborate and immediately brings into relief some of the most conspicuous features of this humor-theory, we find it both convenient and opportune to begin with his succinct formulation of the structure of the organismic variable responsible for both humor and laughter. The passage on laughter is reproduced below in full and much of this thesis may be considered to be a systematic interpretation of his theory of laughter, its integration into a general theory of humor, and a sustained exploration of its consequences in various domains. We shall ignore his references to other aspects of his system such as his theory of yawning, of accumulators, centers, and so on, except insofar as they are relevant to our proper understanding of humor.
The framed web presentation is very cumbersome, but the analysis is on point and is the likes of which you will never encounter in the ordinary literature...., Gurdjieff’s Theory of Laughter 1. Though only a theory of laughter, and not of humor, it distinguishes between the binary-structured organismic variable (O) and its physiological resolution (R). O provides the basis of the most viable theory of humor even while preserving its link with laughter (R). 2. R is the discarding of superfluous energy due to O: an unstable structural opposition between two sharply contrasting simultaneous impressions, positive and negative, of a single stimulus (S). It is not the particular contents—cognitive, affective or motor—but the binary structure of the mutual neutralization that determines O. 3. R is pleasurable due to relief from tension and not due to amusement (as in humor); O may nevertheless have a painful element. 4. Though the convulsion O may be unerringly registered by the subject, the constituents and even structure of O may remain unspecifiable. 5. This laughter mechanism releases possibly pre-existing negative emotions through the negative component of O. Thus, culturally it is a ‘luxury reflex,’ simultaneously valorized for the relative freedom from fundamental biological instincts it provides and also devalorized for its necessary dependence on the same. Marks the ambivalent threshold between nature and culture. 6. Laughter being infectious, R in another can act independently of S for one’s own laughter (parastha-hâsa). Similarly, another’s laughter induces one to perceive the real S in terms of O. 7. The possibility and frequency of O’s occurrence is doubly determined: both by the effectiveness of the stimulus (S) and the subjective state of the individual (also his psychic constitution). 8. [61] Gurdjieff’s ‘behaviorizing’ theory of the psychology of the ordinary modern man is perfectly compatible with the traditional ‘psychology’ underlying brahmanical philosophy; just as the reversal of the ‘behavioral circuit,’ the finality of his system, is the counterpart of the ‘autonomy’ (svâtantrya) of the Trika ‘metapsychology.’ It is within this combined theoretical framework that humor-and-laughter, hâsa-and-hâsya, will be investigated in their universality. 9. Hâsa classified as a pleasant emotion despite the neutral character of O, because the resulting laughter (R) is pleasant. 10. Reduction of Freud’s ‘comic of movement’ to Gurdjieff’s ‘laughter in the moving-instinctive center.’

Are Humans The Only Animals That Mock One Another? (redux)

telegraph |  Our animal ancestors, and most of their descendants, laughed simply because they were enjoying themselves, according to a new study. 

But over millions of years humans have perfected how to use the sound to wound as well. Great apes which roamed the earth 16 million years ago are thought to be the first who developed the ability to laugh.
Modern-day Orangutans, the only species of Asian great ape, laugh when they are having fun, while African great apes, which include gorillas and chimpanzees, have learned that the sound can be used to influence others, but still only use laughter while playing.

However, human have gone much further, using laughter for a range of negative emotions, including to ridicule or sneer. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

"Science" Understands Very Little About Laughter...,

SA  |  For instance, how can the sometimes opposite functions of humor, such as promoting social bonding and excluding others with derision, be reconciled? And when laughter enhances feelings of social connectedness, is that effect a fundamental function of the laughter or a mere by-product of some other primary role (much as eating with people has undeniable social value even though eating is primarily motivated by the need for nourishment)?

There is much evidence for a fundamental function. Robert Provine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, showed in Current Directions in Psychological Science, for example, that individuals laugh 30 times more in the company of others than they do alone. In his research, he and his students surreptitiously observed spontaneous laughter as people went about their business in settings ranging from the student union to shopping malls.

Forabosco notes that there is also some confusion about the relation between humor and laughter: “Laughter is a more social phenomenon, and it occurs for reasons other than humor, including unpleasant ones. Moreover, humor does not always make us laugh.” He notes the cases where a person is denigrated or where an observation seems amusing but does not lead to laughter.

A further lingering area of debate concerns humor’s role in sexual attraction and thus reproductive success. In one view, knowing how to be funny is a sign of a healthy brain and of good genes, and consequently it attracts partners. Researchers have found that men are more likely to be funny and women are more likely to appreciate a good sense of humor, which is to say that men compete for attention and women do the choosing. But views, of course, differ on this point.

Even the validity of seeking a unified theory of humor is debated. “It is presumptuous to think about cracking the secret of humor with a unified theory,” Forabosco says. “We understand many aspects of it, and now the neurosciences are helping to clarify important issues. But as for its essence, it’s like saying, ‘Let’s define the essence of love.’ We can study it from many different angles; we can measure the effect of the sight of the beloved on a lover’s heart rate. But that doesn’t explain love. It’s the same with humor. In fact, I always refer to it by describing it, never by defining it.”

Still, certain commonalities are now accepted by almost all scholars who study humor. One, Forabosco notes, is a cognitive element: perception of incongruity. “That’s necessary but not sufficient,” he says, “because there are incongruities that aren’t funny.” So we have to see what other elements are involved. To my mind, for example, the incongruity needs to be relieved without being totally resolved; it must remain ambiguous, something strange that is never fully explained.”

Other cognitive and psychological elements can also provide some punch. These, Forabosco says, include features such as aggression, sexuality, sadism and cynicism. They don’t have to be there, but the funniest jokes are those in which they are. Similarly, people tend to see the most humor in jokes that are “very intelligent and very wicked.”

“What is humor? Maybe in 40 years we’ll know,” Forabosco says. And perhaps in 40 years we’ll be able to explain why he laughs as he says it.

You Robot...,

TNR |  The Buddha recommends practicing greater mindfulness throughout our waking day. The ultimate insight, however, is that when we peer within and try to gauge or pin down the elusive ego, there is nothing there. As Zen master D. T. Suzuki put it, the fruit of concerted and disciplined meditation is to see the “I” flapping like a loose door in the wind, coming off its hinges with each breath.

Halo, by contrast, promises to deliver only narcissism and self-obsession. The device doesn’t offer real insight into your inner states but reports on how you seem to other people. As Amazon’s medical officer Maulik Majmudar explains, “People are relatively unaware of how they sound to others and the impact that may have on their personal and professional relationships.” If you sound irritated, angry, restrained, or overbearing, you can adjust your tone and delivery to seem otherwise.

Doesn’t this invite you to second-guess every utterance and interaction and fret over how you look in the eyes of judging peers? This is the least helpful kind of self-knowledge since it is wholly insecure, constantly shifting, eternally uncertain. I can and never will know how others assess me—this is beyond my control. Trying to grasp this, or influence it with any consistency or certainty, is a futile chase and a recipe for madness. It evokes the anxiety that therapists attribute to social media use.

But if Halo is of little use to me, who is it principally for? Amazon has vowed that it will not pillage the data collected; Halo spies only for you. For now. But it establishes an important precedent and inures us to constant surveillance. Thus, it opens the door for hungry marketers. Surveillance is at the heart of the digital economy; it’s what makes, or promises to make, digital services superior. The more we divulge, the more precisely, efficiently, and effectively these services help us. They can tell you what you want before you know you want it. On the promise of personalized service and greater convenience, we invariably comply.

Why might marketers want to know about your emotional states? How are they benefited by knowing you are sad for 1.6 seconds at 12:30 p.m.? Marketers can take advantage of you in such moments and pitch products and services that you are susceptible to. As media scholar Zeynep Tufekci argues, it’s but a short step from identifying your vulnerabilities to creating them. If Amazon determines you are depressed, for example, it may know exactly what movies you will indulge in, what snack foods you will load up on—what “retail therapy” soothes you at that moment. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Because I Can...,

Back Door Santa

They call me the Back Door Santa
I make my runs about the break of day
They call me the Back Door Santa
I make my runs about the break of day
I make all the little girls happy
While the boys are out to play

I ain't like the old Saint Nick
He don't come but once a year
I ain't like the old Saint Nick
He don't come but once a year
I come runnin' with my presents
Every time they call me dear

I keep some change in my pocket, in case the children are
I give 'em a few pennies so that we can be alone
I leave the back door open so if anybody smells a mouse
And wouldn't old Santa be in trouble if there ain't no
Chimney in the house

They call me the Back Door Santa
I make my runs about the break of day
I make all the little girls happy
While all the boys are out to play

They call me the Back Door Santa
Yeah, that's what they call me
They call me the Back Door Santa
Yeah, that's what they call me

a christian is a man who is able to fulfill the commandments (redux)

A man who is able to do all that is demanded of a Christian, both with his mind and his essence, is called a Christian without quotation marks. A man who, in his mind, wishes to do all that is demanded of a Christian, but can do so only with his mind and not with his essence, is called pre-Christian. And a man who can do nothing, even with his mind, is called a non- Christian.”
G.I.Gurdjieff /Views from the Real World / Separation of Oneself from oneself

"If instead of religion in general we take Christianity, then again there exists a “Christianity number one, that is to say, paganism in the guise of Christianity.  Christianity number two is an emotional religion, sometimes very pure but without  force, sometimes full of bloodshed and horror leading to the Inquisition, to religious wars. Christianity number three, instances of which are afforded by various forms of  Protestantism, is based upon dialectic, argument, theories, and so forth. Then there is Christianity number four, of which men number one, number two, and number three have no conception whatever.  "In actual fact Christianity number one, number two, and number three is simply  external imitation. Only man number four strives to be a Christian and only man  number five can actually be a Christian. For to be a Christian means to have the being  of a Christian, that is, to live in accordance with Christ's precepts.  "Man number one, number two, and number three cannot live in accordance with  Christ's precepts because with them everything 'happens.' Today it is one thing and  tomorrow it is quite another thing. Today they are ready to give away their last shirt  and tomorrow to tear a man to pieces because he refuses to give up his shirt to them.  They are swayed by every chance event. They are not masters of themselves and  therefore they cannot decide to be Christians and really be Christians.”
G.I.Gurdjieff/ In search for the Miraculous / Chapter 4 

"First of all it is necessary to understand that a Christian is not a man who calls himself a Christian or whom others call a Christian. A Christian is one who lives in accordance with Christ's precepts. Such as we are we cannot be Christians. In order to be Christians we must be able 'to do.' We cannot do; with us everything 'happens.' Christ says: 'Love your enemies,' but how can we love our enemies when we cannot even love our friends? Sometimes 'it loves' and sometimes 'it does not love.' Such as we are we cannot even really desire to be Christians because, again, sometimes 'it desires' and sometimes 'it does not desire.' And one and the same thing cannot be desired for long, because suddenly, instead of desiring to be a Christian, a man remembers a very good but very expensive carpet that he has seen in a shop. And instead of wishing to be a Christian he begins to think how he can manage to buy this carpet, forgetting all about Christianity. Or if somebody else does not believe what a wonderful Christian he is, he will be ready to eat him alive or to roast him on hot coals. In order to be a good Christian one must be. To be means to be master of oneself. If a man is not his own master he has nothing and can have nothing. And he cannot be a Christian. He is simply a machine, an automaton. A machine cannot be a Christian. Think for yourselves, is it possible for a motorcar or a typewriter or a gramophone to be Christian? They are simply things which are controlled by chance. They are not responsible. They are machines. To be a Christian means to be responsible. Responsibility comes later when a man even partially ceases to be a machine, and begins in fact, and not only in words, to desire to be a Christian."
G.I.Gurdjieff/ In search for the Miraculous / Chapter 6

the temple in man...., (redux)

"Generally speaking we know very little about Christianity and the form of Christian worship; we know nothing at all of the history and origin of a number of things. For instance, the church, the temple in which gather the faithful and in which services are carried out according to special rites; where was this taken from? Many people do not think about this at all. Many people think that the outward form of worship, the rites, the singing of canticles, and so on, were invented by the fathers of the church. Others think that this outward form has been taken partly from pagan religions and partly from the Hebrews. But all of it is untrue. The question of the origin of the Christian church, that is, of the Christian temple, is much more interesting than we think. To begin with, the church and worship in the form which they took in the first centuries of Christianity could not have been borrowed from paganism because there was nothing like it either in the Greek or Roman cults or in Judaism. The Jewish synagogue, the Jewish temple, Greek and Roman temples of various gods, were something quite different from the Christian church which made its appearance in the first and second centuries. The Christian church is—a school concerning which people have forgotten that it is a school. Imagine a school where the teachers give lectures and perform explanatory demonstrations without knowing that these are lectures and demonstrations; and where the pupils or simply the people who come to the school take these lectures and demonstrations for ceremonies, or rites, or 'sacraments,' i.e., magic. This would approximate to the Christian church of our times.

"The Christian church, the Christian form of worship, was not invented by the fathers of the church. It was all taken in a ready-made form from Egypt, only not from the Egypt that we know but from one which we do not know. This Egypt was in the same place as the other but it existed much earlier. Only small bits of it survived in historical times, and these bits have been preserved in secret and so well that we do not even know where they have been preserved.

"It will seem strange to many people when I say that this prehistoric Egypt was Christian many thousands of years before the birth of Christ, that is to say, that its religion was composed of the same principles and ideas that constitute true Christianity. Special schools existed in this prehistoric Egypt which were called 'schools of repetition.' In these schools a public repetition was given on definite days, and in some schools perhaps even every day, of the entire course in a condensed form of the sciences that could be learned at these schools. Sometimes this repetition lasted a week or a month. Thanks to these repetitions people who had passed through this course did not lose their connection with the school and retained in their memory all they had learned. Sometimes they came from very far away simply in order to listen to the repetition and went away feeling their connection with the school. There were special days of the year when the repetitions were particularly complete, when they were carried out with particular solemnity—and these days themselves possessed a symbolical meaning.

"These 'schools of repetition' were taken as a model for Christian churches—the form of worship in Christian churches almost entirely represents the course of repetition of the science dealing with the universe and man. Individual prayers, hymns, responses, all had their own meaning in this repetition as well as holidays and all religious symbols, though their meaning has been forgotten long ago."
G.I.Gurdjieff/ In search of the Miraculous / Chapter 15

separating the mind from essence (redux)

from Gurdjieff's "Views from the Real World," pp. 148-150 As long as a man does not separate himself from himself he can achieve nothing, and no one can help him. To govern oneself is a very difficult thing--it is a problem for the future; it requires much power and demands much work. But this first thing, to separate oneself from oneself, does not require much strength, it only needs desire, serious desire, the desire of a grown-up man. If a man cannot do it, it shows that he lacks the desire of a grown-up man. Consequently it proves that there is nothing for him here. What we do here can only be a doing suitable for grown-up men. Our mind, our thinking, has nothing in common with us, with our essence--no connection, no dependence. Our mind lives by itself and our essence lives by itself. When we say "to separate oneself from oneself" it means that the mind should stand apart from the essence. Our weak essence can change at any moment, for it is dependent on many influences: on food, on our surroundings, on time, on the weather, and on a multitude of other causes. But the mind depends on very few influences and so, with a little effort, it can be kept in the desired direction. Every weak man can give the desired direction to his mind. But he has no power over his essence; great power is required to give direction to essence and keep essence to it. (Body and essence are the same devil.)... Speaking of the mind I know that each of you has enough strength, each of you can have the power and capacity to act not as he now acts.... I repeat, every grown-up man can achieve this; everyone who has a serious desire can do it. But no one tries.... In order to understand better what I mean, I shall give you an example: now, in a calm state, not reacting to anything or anyone, I decide to set myself the task of establishing a good relationship with Mr. B., because I need him for business purposes and can do what I wish only with his help. But I dislike Mr. B. for he is a very disagreeable man. He understands nothing. He is a blockhead. He is vile, anything you like. I am so made that these traits affect me. Even if he merely looks at me, I become irritated. If he talks nonsense, I am beside myself. I am only a man, so I am weak and cannot persuade myself that I need not be annoyed--I shall go on being annoyed. Yet I can control myself, depending on how serious my desire is to gain the end I wish to gain through him. If I keep to this purpose, to this desire, I shall be able to do so. No matter how annoyed I may be, this state of wishing will be in my mind. No matter how furious, how beside myself I am, in a corner of my mind I shall still remember the task I set myself. My mind is unable to restrain me from anything, unable to make me feel this or that toward him, but it is able to remember. I say to myself: "You need him, so don't be cross or rude to him." It could even happen that I would curse him, or hit him, but my mind would continue to pluck at me, reminding me that I should not do so. But the mind is powerless to do anything. This is precisely what anyone who has a serious desire not to identify himself with his essence can do. This is what is meant by "separating the mind from the essence." And what happens when the mind becomes merely a function? If I am annoyed, if I lose my temper, I shall think, or rather "it" will think, in accordance with this annoyance, and I shall see everything in the light of the annoyance. To hell with it! And so I say that with a serious man--a simple, ordinary man without any extraordinary powers, but a grown-up man--whatever he decides, whatever problem he has set himself, that problem will always remain in his head. Even if he cannot achieve it in practice, he will always keep it in his mind. Even if he is influenced by other considerations, his mind will not forget the problem he has set himself. He has a duty to perform and, if he is honest, he will strive to perform it, because he is a grown-up man. No one can help him in this remembering, in this separation of oneself from oneself. A man must do it for himself. Only then, from the moment a man has this separation, can another man help him.... The only difference between a child and a grown-up man is in the mind. All the weaknesses are there, beginning with hunger, with sensitivity, with naiveté; there is no difference. The same things are in a child and in a grown-up man: love, hate, everything. Functions are the same, receptivity is the same, equally they react, equally they are given to imaginary fears. In short there is no difference. The only difference is in the mind: we have more material, more logic than a child.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Triangular Fast Movers And Transmedium Vehicles

thedebrief  |  In an exclusive feature for The Debrief, U.S. military and intelligence officials, as well as Pentagon emails, offer an unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes of what’s currently going on with The Pentagon’s investigation into UFOs, or as they term them, “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP).  

For the last two years, the Department of Defense’s newly revamped “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force” (or UAPTF) has been busy briefing lawmakers, Intelligence Community stakeholders, and the highest levels of the U.S. military on encounters with what they say are mysterious airborne objects that defy conventional explanations. 

Along with classified briefings, multiple senior U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the matter say two classified intelligence reports on UAP have been widely distributed to the U.S. Intelligence Community. Numerous sources from various government agencies told The Debrief that these reports include clear photographic evidence of UAP. The reports also explicitly state that the Task Force is considering the possibility that these unidentified objects could, as stated by one source from the U.S. Intelligence Community said, be operated by “intelligences of unknown origin.” 

Significantly, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and head of RAND corporation’s Space Enterprise Initiative has—for the first time—gone on record to discuss some of the most likely explanations for UAP. 

 His responses were surprising.

Overwhelmingly, everyone The Debrief spoke with said the most striking feature of the recently released UAPTF intelligence position report was the inclusion of new and “extremely clear” photograph of an unidentifiable triangular aircraft.

The photograph, which is said to have also been taken from inside the cockpit of a military fighter jet, depicted an apparent aerospace vehicle described as a large equilateral triangle with rounded or “blunted” edges and large, perfectly spherical white “lights” in each corner. Officials who had seen it said the image was captured in 2019 by an F/A-18 fighter pilot. 

Two officials that received the report said the photo was taken after the triangular craft emerged from the ocean and began to ascend straight upwards at a 90-degree angle. It was indicated that this event occurred off the eastern coast of the United States. Several other sources confirmed the photo’s existence; however, they declined to provide any further specifics of the incident. 

Regarding the overall theme of the recent report, officials who read it say the report primarily focused on “Unidentified Submersible Phenomena,” or unidentified “transmedium” vehicles capable of operating both under water and in the air. 

The three officials we spoke with said the report suggested the UAP Task Force appears to be concerned that the objects being termed as UAP may be originating from within the world’s oceans. Strange as this may sound, the idea of “USOs” or “unidentified submersible objects” is not something exclusive to the current UAPTF.

Do These Patents Describe Operable Technologies Or Are They Simply Weaponized Patents?

It's been a year since I touched on this subject, prolly time to hit it a lick and a promise again....,

thedrive |  The War Zone reported on a series of strange patent applications the U.S. Navy has filed over the last few years and questioned what their connections may be with the ongoing saga of Navy personnel reporting incidents involving unidentified objects in or near U.S. airspace. 

We have several active Freedom of Information Act requests with the Department of Navy to pursue more information related to the research that led to these patents. As those are being processed, we've continued to dig through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) Public Patent Application Information Retrieval database to get as much context for these patents as possible.

In doing so, we came across documents that seem to suggest, at least by the Navy's own claims, that two highly peculiar Navy patents, the room temperature superconductor (RTSC) and the high-energy electromagnetic field generator (HEEMFG), may in fact already be in operation in some manner. The inventor of the Navy's most bizarre patent, the straight-out-of-science fiction-sounding hybrid aerospace/underwater craft, describes that craft as leveraging the same room temperature superconductor technology and high energy electromagnetic fields to enable its unbelievable speed and maneuverability. If those two technologies are already operable as the Navy claims, could this mean the hybrid craft may also already operable or close to operable? Or is this just more evidence that the whole exotic 'UFO' patent endeavor on the Navy's behalf is some sort of ruse or even gross mismanagement of resources?

Make sure to read our last feature on this bizarre topic to get up to speed on critical background information before continuing on. 

At the heart of these questions is the term “operable.” In most patent applications, applicants must assert proof of a patent’s or invention’s “enablement,” or the extent to which a patent is described in such a way that any person who is familiar with similar technologies or techniques would be able to understand it, and theoretically reproduce it.

However, in these patent documents, the inventor Salvatore Pais, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's (NAWCAD) patent attorney Mark O. Glut, and the U.S. Naval Aviation Enterprise's Chief Technology Officer Dr. James Sheehy, all assert that these inventions are not only enabled, but operable. To help me understand what that term may mean in these contexts, I reached out to Peter Mlynek, a patent attorney. 

Mlynek informed me that the terms “operable” or “operability” are not common in patent applications, but that there is little doubt that the use of the term is meant to assert to the USPTO that these inventions actually work:


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

U.S. Political Controlavirus Policies Specifically Target One Third Of The Population For Destruction

counterpunch |  The notion that the COVID-19 pandemic was ‘the great equalizer’ should be dead and buried by now. If anything, the lethal disease is another terrible reminder of the deep divisions and inequalities in our societies. That said, the treatment of the disease should not be a repeat of the same shameful scenario.

For an entire year, wealthy celebrities and government officials have been reminding us that “we are in this together”, that “we are on the same boat”, with the likes of US singer, Madonna, speaking from her mansion while submerged in a “milky bath sprinkled with rose petals,” telling us that the pandemic has proved to be the “great equalizer”.

“Like I used to say at the end of ‘Human Nature’ every night, we are all in the same boat,” she said. “And if the ship goes down, we’re all going down together,” CNN reported at the time.

Such statements, like that of Madonna, and Ellen DeGeneres as well, have generated much media attention not just because they are both famous people with a massive social media following but also because of the obvious hypocrisy in their empty rhetoric. In truth, however, they were only repeating the standard procedure followed by governments, celebrities and wealthy ‘influencers’ worldwide.

But are we, really, “all in this together”? With unemployment rates skyrocketing across the globe, hundreds of millions scraping by to feed their children, multitudes of nameless and hapless families chugging along without access to proper healthcare, subsisting on hope and a prayer so that they may survive the scourges of poverty – let alone the pandemic – one cannot, with a clear conscience, make such outrageous claims.

Not only are we not “on the same boat” but, certainly, we have never been. According to World Bank data, nearly half of the world lives on less than $5.5 a day. This dismal statistic is part of a remarkable trajectory of inequality that has afflicted humanity for a long time.

Americans Flocking To Mexico For Their Corona...,

WaPo  |  The beachside dance floor was packed. The pulse of electronic music throbbed. In the middle of the pandemic, in the crowd of maskless dancers, some tourists commented to each other: "Tulum is back."

“It felt like covid was over. The borders are open. The world is back to normal. Let’s just have fun,” said Alexandra Karpova, 31, a public relations executive who flew from New York to attend the November festival, called Art With Me, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya on the Caribbean coast.

 But in the days after the festival, dozens of attendees tested positive for the coronavirus. Some brought it back to the United States.

The incident prompted a question at the heart of Mexico’s economic recovery: Is the country — with among the highest coronavirus caseloads in the world — taking too many risks to re-energize its lucrative tourism sector?

 Remarkably, the number of American tourists visiting the state of Quintana Roo, where Tulum and Cancun are located, has increased by 23 percent compared with 2019. With Europe closed to most Americans, Mexico has successfully marketed itself as a desirable alternative. Roughly 100 flights from the United States are now landing in Quintana Roo every day.

Many tourists are coming to stay at coastal resorts, where masks are mandatory in public places. Others are going on scuba diving tours or taking kite surfing lessons. But Tulum’s global reputation as a party destination has not changed during the pandemic.

“There are parties almost every night,” said Maria Prusakova, 30, the founder of a public relations firm, who traveled to Tulum in July from San Francisco.

When the restaurants closed at 11 p.m., she said, the parties started at private villas. No one wore masks. Prusakova got sick at the same time as 12 of her friends. They all tested positive — in her case, only after she returned to San Francisco.

“I’m still so happy I went,” she said. “I was so glad to see people. The food was amazing.”

Prusakova is returning to Tulum for New Year’s Eve, when the city is typically packed with parties. This year, authorities say they won’t permit them. State officials say they are scanning social media to find any mention of large gatherings. Event organizers are quietly telling tourists that they will find a way to host parties.

“We need to find a way to create jobs. Otherwise, the situation will continue getting worse,” said Marisol Vanegas, the state secretary of tourism. “But we always prioritize public health.”


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