Studio30

These have been through a lot to get here. Every picture here is a panorama stitched together from at least two images. In a sense, none of these pictures ever really happened, since they are composed of different moments, but so is the world you see when you look around. I’ve always wanted to create close up panoramas which practically sounds self canceling. In most of these I had to trim out tons of stuff that didn’t fit smoothly because taking panorama shots in close creates very messy shapes. After stitching they’ve been tweaked and poked in Illustrator and Photoshop. My photos but some from many years ago. I have no talent or patience as a painter, but these are in a very painterly mood. 

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I believe attribution should go to Business Insider for these but I’m not certain if they generated them or just republished them. I think this is a nice summary of how and why human decision making sucks elephant butt. If you can remember these and filter your own thoughts for signs of them when they pop up you’ll develop better arguments and be a little more honest with yourself too. It’s not easy. From one angle it’s like a list things politicians do consciously and otherwise, often successfully.

I also find them interesting as a sociobiological thing, this is a list of mind behaviors that evolved with us and have stood the test of time. Somehow or other they may have held some survival or success value. Many feel like something I can see being either advantageous to the individual getting what they want or as socially unifying (and possibly dumb) behaviors. The rest are mostly stubbornness and wishful thinking.

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This is a half-baked theory. It doesn’t suggest any particular role for neurons or other physical aspects of the brain. It is about the workings of the mind. It is primarily concerned with the things we learn how to do. 

 Imagine yourself…the mind you are as a volume of processing power: As an environment with a certain amount of ability to respond to the world. This software-like volume is a hierarchy made up of entities with different roles to play at different levels.
The smallest increment or unit is a “Mindon” (see: Making up crap, H. Miller). Metaphorically it is like a cell in the body, an atom in matter or a byte of computer memory. It is there not because of evidence pointing to it but simply because it belongs logically within the structure of this theory as the smallest unit of work. For our purposes, it creates the image of a tiny individual operator with a bit of processing power.
A new and unknown task is encountered. For example, learning a musical instrument, casting a fishing line or properly cutting an onion. The brain experiences it as if with a kind of touch in the processing centers naturally assigned to the sense data involved in the task (Motor, optical, etc).
Executive function does a kind of “importance triage” focusing on the sense data and relevant memories. Mindons begin to swarm and cluster around the task creating a complex imaginative prototype or map of the skill and begins measuring and comparing the experience of trying the skill against the map, making edits in the map as more information comes in and also making edits in DOING the task. Heuristics are noted and retained. With time and practice the map, measurements, and comparisons become more accurate, detailed and nuanced. Plateaus and benchmarks are hit and become a bit like a saved version of a game or a file, the starting point next time. Essentially this is a matured and organized group of mindons forming a stable repeatable task.
These coherent, informed collections of mindons I would call “Agents“. Something like playing the guitar wouldn’t involve a single agent but many. I imagine agents in this example being like proper holding, finger pressure, picking and strumming, volume and tuning, etc. Each of these areas would be an agent.
The whole coordinated group functioning together would be an Agency. I could use other names, I could call the agency a program and the agents, modules. The terminology isn’t very important but I’d like to not be completely bound by computer metaphors.
This system is far more fluid and flexible than any computer system. The agents are not limited to one specific agency, once established, I believe they can flow on demand into new situations that call for them. Somewhere in the mental map mentioned above would be a process of looking for existing “off the shelf” agents that could hit the ground running on the new task. For example, if you have an agency for driving a car or playing the guitar then when picking up a Ukulele or sitting in a go-cart the agency isn’t fully applicable but many useful agents flow instantly into the task.
So, mindons group at the behest of executive function, and form educated agents which group as a whole agency; “playing the guitar”. Singing would be an agency too so when playing the guitar AND singing there must exist a kind of Meta-agency that allows parallel processing and two-way feedback.  All of this is playing out in a larger framework where the musician is also processing things like audience reaction, etc.
This suggests an overall environment or community of mindons, agents, agencies and…departments? I’m not crazy about the bureaucratic feel of this metaphor but the hierarchical structure is needed.
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About Guns:

nocarry

Sure, we’ll be happy to pry your gun from your cold, dead fingers. And don’t forget to try Prickly Ash Bitters!

  • When NRA types say: “Let’s not politicize this tragedy” they are proactively politicizing it.
  • Claiming that talk of gun control or of better access to mental health care is “politicizing” this tragedy is like saying that common sense fire prevention is politicizing arson.
  • How about this? To own a handgun you have to be licensed DMV style and test every few years. To own more than one gun or more assault-style guns you have to be part of an actual “well-regulated militia.” (with no actual police powers) this would be framed as a quasi Switzerland “Homeland defense” style group. In reality, it would probably function as more of a natural disaster response style group but it would give the gun guys a civic investment and a sense of pride while also making sure that some thoughtful eyes are on these weapon owners at regular intervals.
  • I was just watching a Ken Burns documentary on the old west and you know who had really restrictive gun control? Frontier towns — places like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge.
  • Gun sales have surged following the Sandy Hook massacre. I realize these people don’t wish to emulate the murderer but I’m damned if I can think of much about this more depressing than that it should actually inspire a sales “boom” for gun companies. It means that as a result of the shootings there are people in gun business saying “Wow! This is going great!”
  • All the people who hold up second amendment rights furiously, as if they were sacred, never mention second amendment responsibilities. Let’s get THAT talk going.
  •  The son of the current president of the NRA has served jail time for shooting into the car of another driver during an incident of road rage. This isn’t to call names but it just points out the real nature of the problem: Even the people the NRA sees as “good guys with guns”, the supposed antidote to our dangerous times, are mammals with limited self-control and sanity.

And an Open Secret

I’m pretty liberal but I hate it when people only look for the answers that give them a comfortable feeling. If you bend over backward to avoid offending, you are no longer facing in the correct direction to have an informed opinion. We have an outrageous number of gun deaths yearly in this country, as you know. There were 31,000 in 2005 and also in 2010. Using 2010 stats:
  • 55% (17050) were suicides, guns being a fairly certain means. This is tragic but its relationship with guns is somewhat gray, would they be dead without a gun? It cannot be known. This sad situation might be improved by some form of mental health screening for gun owners but ultimately it is more an issue of depression than guns.
  • 3% were accidental.
  • 2% were considered justifiable or unknown.
  • 40% or 12400 of these were murders

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Prescription-Meds

  • Restless nose syndrome
  • Mild hulkism
  • Late onset albinism
  • Spontaneous pregnancy
  • Phantom hand syndrome
  • Increased appetite
  • Pulmonary weevils
  • Rectal hallucinations
  • Brain tooth
  • “Sneezeures”
  • Genital migration
  • Lactose addiction
  • Testicular myopia
  • Weightlessness and hives.
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Is to create a dynamic tension of necessarily opposing forces. This tension defines the overall moral character of a place. In balance: Conservatives provide cohesion with tradition, patriotism, following authority and defense of borders. In balance: Progressives provide introspection, conscience, and doubt. Working together (by working against each other) they create a structure strong enough to hold together but flexible enough to admit change. Meeting in the middle is sort of irrelevant, the goal is achieved by opposition.  And if either side has no pushback from the other, it becomes a political autoimmune disorder, digesting itself alive as it strives for purity.
Progressives: You know at some level that those asshats are holding the line for you, right? They are throwing themselves into battles in far away places because they will actually do that when it has to be done (and also when it doesn’t). And they hold down a certain kind of solid decency in a lot of places.
Conservatives are the base note. Conservatives are the ones prepared to homestead on the goddamn prairie all over again if they have to. They are representing the basic voice of humans organizing for survival, they like things predictable and familiar and they don’t like all those weirdos sniffing around. If humanity was an inchworm they’d be the reluctant back end. And if you are picturing a bunch of southern white americans you aren’t exactly wrong but you aren’t sufficient, either. You better picture the same type in Belarus and Uganda, and Helsinki because they all have them and they all think the other conservatives are a bunch of weirdos sniffing around because of their funny ways and dumb clothes. Highly suspicious.
And Conservatives: You know that these self important, holier than thou jerkoffs are right once in a blue moon about things like buying people and whether or not we should kill your daughter for being a lesbian (yeah, I heard). And they may be a bunch of insufferable ninnies for thinking that the world could ever really change, but I mean kids think that way, and we always say kids are the hope of the future so maybe…No. Fuck ’em. Progressives are the high hopeful note that may or may not be true. Progressives are a hand feeling around in the dark for the future.
Anyway, like it or not you guys actually need each other. Progressives need conservatives so they don’t give away the goddamn candy store to them weirdos who’ve been sniffing around. And conservatives need progressives so the rich people don’t start actually selling them one of these days.
Meanwhile you might as well hate each other, I don’t see why you shouldn’t. You’re both pretty goddamn annoying.
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A talented and esteemed lecturer in early childhood education has resigned from teaching at Yale because an email she wrote suggesting a little flexibility about Halloween costumes resulted in an inferno of moral indignation and demands for her (and her husband) to be fired by the college. (Demands by the students of course).

Here is the intolerable message:

“This year, we seem afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween,” she wrote. While noting that she did not wish to “trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community,” Christakis went on to question the imposition of “standards and motives” on others as well as the feasibility of agreeing on how to avoid offense. “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” she asked. “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”

Even -asking- the profoundly politically correct to consider being a little more relaxed results in a take no prisoners purge of the impure. Left wing. Read your history. You do this. Stop.

The Reign of Terror | The Great Purge | The Cultural Revolution | The Killing Fields

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This isn’t a tortured metaphor, I promise. Many things HAVE changed about America over the years but underneath there is a Kevlar skeleton which controls the ways things can change and grow. Part of it is deeply corrupt.

Here is my proposal: 

The people fighting against admitting and correcting climate change (and against developing alternative energy) are like the slave holders who started the civil war.

This might sound like someone yelling “NAZI!!” every time they hear something they don’t like, but trust me, it isn’t.

Southern slave holders were too blinkered to see that technology was rapidly advancing and that holding slaves would soon be made obsolete. They imagined that their lifestyle would carry on exactly in its God ordained fashion forever, with them perched atop of a pile of lesser beings: those being poor whites and enslaved blacks.

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There’s some disagreement about how long modern humans have existed but the figure of 200,000 years is frequently cited. The lifestyle of the stone age was wandering groups of associated families usually between 25 to 50 people. Pretty much anyone you knew, you knew for a lifetime (yours or theirs). The stone age ended as the neolithic revolution in farming transformed the lifestyle of people into the sort of population dense settlements that have basically carried on to this day.

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that about 107 billion people have ever lived – since the beginning. Scientists suggest that out of that huge number, only about 12% of those people lived in the stone age. 12% doesn’t sound like a very significant number to influence the sort of people we are today. Until you realize that every person since then is a descendent of that 12%. And even more importantly that that 12% of all people was us during 96% of our time on Earth. Our roots are deep, deep in the stone age. 

So our inner cave clan easily breaks through the surface of our modernism. 192,000 years of comforting small groups of closely related people with a distrust of strangers is not something you shake off like a daydream. When we utterly detest racists and xenophobes we are behaving toward ourselves as we might to our dog humping legs at a party or chewing shoes. We shout “NO!” and we drag them off, “stupid dog” we mutter. The dog’s behavior has been momentarily suppressed but not altered in the slightest. And certainly not for the next generation of dogs.  Continue reading

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