The value of unplugging in the Age of Distraction

Small device, but very demanding. aciej_ie/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Small device, but very demanding. aciej_ie/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

A common experience: you are walking down the street and someone is walking in the opposite direction toward you. You see him but he does not see you. He is texting or looking at his cellphone. He is distracted, trying to do two things at the same time, walking and communicating.

There is also the telltale recognition of a car driver on a phone; she’s driving either too slowly or too fast for the surrounding conditions, only partly connected to what is going on around her. Connected to someone else in another place, she is not present in the here and now.

These types of occurrences are now common enough that we can label our time as the age of distraction.

A dangerous condition

The age of distraction is dangerous. A recent report by the National Safety Council showed that walking while texting increases the risk of accidents.… Read the rest

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Poverty and Mental Health: A Chart

There appears to be a connection between poverty and mental health problems. According to Dylan Matthews at Vox:

But the reality is that poor Americans are much more likely to face mental health problems than rich ones. This chart, put together by the Huffington Post’s Jonathan Cohn and Cameron Love using data from a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, shows that 8.7 percent of people living in poverty exhibited signs of “serious psychological distress” when polled from 2009 to 2013. But only 1.2 percent of people with incomes of four times the federal poverty level or higher did:

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You Have to Be Conscious to Deny Consciousness, and Other Conundrums

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via Evolution News:

Would you have a rational discussion with a zombie? Materialists are forced into the position of discussing philosophy and science with the walking dead, since under their terms we are all that. Unless rationality is a mindful concept — unless we are more than atoms in motion — that’s the logical result of denying mind and intelligence.

To deny that we are mindful creatures, the materialist also has to deny the existence of any realm of abstract concepts that a mind can access. Yet materialism itself is an abstract concept.

This seems intuitively obvious, but it’s amazing how often materialists ignore the self-refuting nature of their assumptions. Nancy Pearcey wrote about this a few months ago, noting ways in which materialist claims commit the self-referential absurdity: “Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.”

A recent example is a new theory of consciousness from Ezequiel Morsella, a psychology professor at San Franciso State University.

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Music, Aesthetics & Making Sense: A Conversation with Andrew Bowie

Bowie Header Adorno

This post originally appeared on four by three magazine.

What is music? Can music make sense of the world or even transcend it? Philosopher and jazz musician Andrew Bowie talks to four by three about the connection between music, aesthetics, language, and time, with reference to Adorno and Heidegger, as well as about the relationship between philosophy, the arts and sciences, asking: why does art matter?


‘Art is supposed to engage your whole being and not just your conceptual capacity’
— Andrew Bowie

four by three: The philosophy and philosophical significance of music has been a major preoccupation of much of your writing. What is it that motivates you to write philosophically about music?

Andrew Bowie: When I started doing philosophy, I used to regard my playing as completely separate from my philosophy, because I wasn’t very good at playing in any case [I still am not great, but I have got better].… Read the rest

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California, Camelot and Vaccines

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni takes on Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Jim Carrey in the great California vaccine debate:

If you had told me a while back that I’d someday dread, dodge and elect not to return phone calls from a prominent member of the Kennedy dynasty, I would have said you were nuts.

Then Robert Kennedy Jr. started reaching out.

Robert Kennedy Jr. Photo: Daniel Schwen (CC)

Robert Kennedy Jr. Photo: Daniel Schwen (CC)

Not just reaching out, mind you, but volunteering to educate me. To illuminate me. That was his tone of voice, somewhat pitying and vaguely patronizing, the one time we talked at length, after he’d left messages and before he left more.

It was important, he said, that we meet.

If we did, he said, he could correct me.

My error?

I had disparaged the alarmists who claim a connection between vaccines and autism and fill parents with needless fears about immunizing their children.

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Perceptual Shift — 1,252 Floating Balls Form An Eye When Looking From The Right Angle

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via DesignYouTrust:

Perceptual Shift is the latest in my series of sculptural works that I refer to as expanded graphics, limited color graphics that are exploded and rendered in three dimensional space. This work is the first of its kind, it’s a 3D halftone. Black and white halftone images are traditionally produced using black circles on a white surface. This work moves away from the traditional picture plane using the white room as its canvas. The flat black circles have become floating black spheres.

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Hackers Watch “Hackers” The Movie


Simon Chetrit via Hopes&Fears:

The cultural impact of the mid-nineties tech revolution is still being felt today. Cell phones, email, webcams, the Hubble Space Telescope, the World Wide Web and HTML, digital cameras—all came about within a relatively short time span. A newly computerized world brought with it fears from the general public about the potential for technological abuses. This paranoia was keenly exploited by the filmmakers of the day.

Hackers, The Net, Virtuosity, GoldenEye and Johnny Mnemonic all came out in 1995, when just 14 million American adults were using the internet. Of these films, few stand the test of time. The flicks faced a unique challenge in attempting to make a fundamentally uninteresting, unfamiliar activity into something captivating. Hackers was a financial flop, but its hilariously over-the-top early CGI visuals, oddly prescient view on technology, and glam-cyberpunk aesthetic rendered it a cult classic.

To honor its 20th anniversary—at a time dogged by newfound fears about what the future of technology holds—we thought it would be fitting to bring together a group of actual hackers to screen and discuss the film.

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Real life ‘Pac-Man’ satellite will clean up space junk

It’s no secret that there’s an awful lot of hazardous space junk in Earth’s orbit, so the Swiss (who else?) are going to use a Pac-Man satellite to clean up orbital debris, per Engadget:

The Swiss aren’t big on littering, and that philosophy apparently applies to space, too. After the nation’s EPFL Center for Space Engineering launched its first satellites (the tiny SwissCubes) into orbit, the very next mission planned was “CleanSpace One” to get them out of orbit. For one, the researchers didn’t want to add to the reams of existing space garbage threatening other satellites and astronauts at speeds of up to 15,000mph. But mainly, they want to test a practical system for cleaning space junk with relatively small targets. After considering various systems, the EPFL has settled on a “Pac-Man” solution that will trap the satellites with a conical net.

The operation will be tricky, because just finding the 4×4-inch satellites is going to be difficult.

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More than 2,800 people are dead in Yemen – so why aren’t we outraged?

In the summer of 2014, our screens were inundated with videos of the carnage from the streets of Gaza. The European media was outraged, and the sense of moral urgency was amplified across social media. Similar outrage greeted the destruction of UNESCO heritage sites in both Iraq and Syria with the condemnation of Islamic State’s barbarism reaching a crescendo when it overtook Syria’s majestic city of Palmyra.

Compare this coverage to the almost universal silence on the ongoing war in Yemen, which is largely absent from our TV screens, Facebook and Twitter trending topics sections and the front pages of broadsheet papers.

Admittedly, the Yemen conflict is a complicated matter, where the Saudi “bad guys” in the northern half of the country are looked upon as potential saviours in the southern half. The war includes a number of factions, and provides no easy narratives for the casual news watcher to follow.… Read the rest

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