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Laws Of Man And Laws Of Nature

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Marcelo Gleiser philosophizes on how the laws of man and the laws of naure differ. via NPR

We humans are an unruly bunch. So much so that we need laws to keep order, to make sure we stay on track. Without our laws, society would quickly descend into chaos. The laws of man are guarantors of order, a necessary control against the inherent greediness of our species.

Nature, on the other hand, shows ordered patterns at all scales: trees branch, and so do rivers, bodies, and arteries; tides and planetary orbits are periodic, day follows night, the seasons alternate, the moon has phases. The display of order in Nature allowed for a methodic counting and organizing as a means to gain some level of control over what was otherwise distant and unapproachable, the marching patterns of a world moving in ways beyond human reach.

The laws of Nature, from the simplest to the most complex, are attempts to summarize this widespread display of order.

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Oliver Sacks, Exploring How Hallucinations Happen

via NPR 9780307947437_custom-f54744401dadf5676ee07efe7e3a5f96294231c9-s2

In Oliver Sacks‘ book The Mind’s Eye, the neurologist included an interesting footnote in a chapter about losing vision in one eye because of cancer that said: “In the ’60s, during a period of experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, I experienced a different sort of vivid mental imagery.”

He expands on this footnote in his book, Hallucinations, where he writes about various types of hallucinations — visions triggered by grief, brain injury, migraines, medications and neurological disorders.

One chapter of the book — that’s out in paperback July 2 — deals with altered states and Sacks’ personal experimentation with hallucinogenic and mind-altering drugs in the ’60s. He says the first time he tried marijuana, it induced fascinating perceptual distortion. He was looking at his hand, and it appeared to be retreating from him, yet getting larger and larger.

“I was fascinated that one could have such perceptual changes, and also that they went with a certain feeling of significance, an almost numinous feeling.

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Romney’s Threat to Big Bird Confuses Those in Other Countries

Pat Nixon welcomes Big Bird to the White House

Picture: Wikimedia Commons (CC)

Twitter exploded following the first presidential debate after candidate Mitt Romney promised to de-fund Sesame Street on PBS, resulting in dozens of parody accounts, a perplexed Big Bird, and some SNL punning. And while conservatives (who disproportionately think that PBS is liberal social engineering) were thrilled, many people in other nations were left scratching their heads.

via Robert Mackey at NYTime’s The Lede Blog:

Mr. Romney’s decision to run against Big Bird gladdened American conservatives, who have long complained of a liberal bias on public television and radio channels, but puzzled many viewers abroad, where local versions of the educational program are popular and well respected. In France, Le Monde reported that the slight against le Gros Oiseau threatened to spiral into “l’affaire Big Bird,” after President Obama — experiencing a certain esprit d’escalier — came up, a day late, with the retort: “Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird.

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How Multinational Companies Benefit From Offshore Tax Havens

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NPR‘s daily show, Fresh Air,  Jesse Drucker from Bloomber News engaged in an interesting discussion yesterday about the multinational companies that save billions in taxes by using other countries with lower corporate income tax. What does this mean for the country’s economy, both that of the US and the offshore tax havens? From WHYY on NPR:

The top corporate income tax level in the United States is 35 percent. In the United Kingdom, it’s 28 percent. But in Ireland, it’s only 12.5 percent, and in Bermuda there’s no corporate income tax at all. That means multinational companies that shift their earnings through Ireland or Bermuda can save billions of dollars in taxes each year.

On today’s Fresh Air, Bloomberg News reporter Jesse Drucker, who has written extensively about corporate tax-dodging, explains how companies like Google, Pfizer, Lilly, Oracle, Facebook and Microsoft have managed to reduce their tax rates by hundreds of millions — and in some cases, billions — of dollars by taking advantage of offshore tax havens.

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Fox’s Roger Ailes Calls NPR Nazis

Roger Ailes giving Congressional testimony

Roger Ailes giving Congressional testimony

Way to go Roger, the rest of the media is going to love you more than ever. Sample quote from Howard Kurtz’s interview with Ailes for the Daily Beast, where he discusses the executives at NPR:

They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”

Elsewhere in the interview Ailes says Obama thinks differently from most Americans; defends Murdoch’s GOP donations; admits Glenn Beck sometimes goes too far; slams Jon Stewart as a conservative-basher; explains why he rode to Juan Williams’ rescue; and sees NPR as taxpayer-funded propaganda. The kind of man you’d like as your neighbor, right?

Part 1 of the interview here.… Read the rest

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