Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Mind Outside My Head | by Tim Parks | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

His favorite example is the rainbow. For the rainbow experience to happen we need sunshine, raindrops, and a spectator. It is not that the sun and the raindrops cease to exist if there is no one there to see them. Manzotti is not a Bishop Berkeley. But unless someone is present at a particular point no colored arch can appear. The rainbow is hence a process requiring various elements, one of which happens to be an instrument of sense perception. It doesn’t exist whole and separate in the world nor does it exist as an acquired image in the head separated from what is perceived (the view held by the “internalists” who account for the majority of neuroscientists); rather, consciousness is spread between sunlight, raindrops, and visual cortex, creating a unique, transitory new whole, the rainbow experience. Or again: the viewer doesn’t see the world; he is part of a world process.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates - ProPublica

Gerona and Cantrell, a pharmacist and toxicologist, knew that the term “expiration date” was a misnomer. The dates on drug labels are simply the point up to which the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies guarantee their effectiveness, typically at two or three years. But the dates don’t necessarily mean they’re ineffective immediately after they “expire” — just that there’s no incentive for drugmakers to study whether they could still be usable.

Monday, July 17, 2017

3quarksdaily: How do we know where the carbon is coming from?

We can now distinguish between the three possible sources of added CO2. We can immediately excludes the circulating pool, because the added CO2 contains no 14C. Of the remaining two possible sources, carbon dioxide from fossil fuels will be depleted in 13C relative to a mineral standard, while carbon dioxide from mineral sources will not. So the question is, has atmospheric carbon dioxide become more depleted in 13C over time, as its amount has risen?

Unambiguously yes. We have been following the process in real time since the late 1950s. We have extended the record back a thousand years using air trapped in ice cores, and have verified the change by examining the carbon isotopes in tree rings, which we can date by direct counting. (Tree ring carbon is of course depleted in 13C relative to atmospheric CO2, but it is depleted by a constant amount, so changes between rings match changes in the atmosphere). What we find is that over the past two hundred years, after having been nearing constant for centuries or more, atmospheric CO2 has become progressively more depleted. And the degree of depletion is exactly what we would expect if the added CO2 comes from an organic source. But remember that we have already excluded any living source, because of the absence of added 14C. That leaves fossil fuels as the only possibility.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

3quarksdaily: Ravens have paranoid, abstract thoughts about other minds

Cementing their status as the most terrifying of all the birds, a new study has found that ravens are able to imagine being spied upon -- a level of abstraction that was previously thought to be unique to humans.

The ability to think abstractly about other minds is singled out by many as a uniquely human trait. Now, a study from the Universities of Houston and Vienna have found that ravens are able to adapt their behaviour by attributing their perceptions to others.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Beguiled (2017) ***

A Southern Gothic fable with the Sofia Coppola touch: lush, detailed atmosphere, emphasis on human interactions, especially the subtle unspoken kind, especially the ones between women when a male is up for grabs.

Haunts (1977) **

Mendocino location helps this ultra-low budget early slasher flick as well as the great Aldo Ray as the Sheriff. Creepy, but confusing and nonsensical at times.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Alchemist Cookbook (2016) **

Impressive shoestring budget horror flick mines the is-he-crazy-or-is-it-real trope for all it's worth. Rests mainly on the capable shoulders of Ty Hickson.

Monday, July 10, 2017

What Mass Extinctions Teach Us About Climate Change Today

Well, walk me through some of the other things you’re worrying about. Food seems like one part of the doomsday picture, but what else are you concerned about?
Well, heat.

I believe that there are going to be some places that become uninhabitable for humans.

How big a portion of the world’s surface do you think that kind of effect will hit?
Certainly Australia. Australia will be deemed uninhabitable. Already Australia — the outback produces not much in the way of crops. But there are kangaroos. I lived in Adelaide, and I’ve lived through some heat before, but we had 40 degrees centigrade [104F], and 42 [108F] and 43 [110F] for weeks on end. It really has an effect. You get depressed, you don’t want to go procreate because it’s too damn hot. You just can’t escape it.

Everywhere you go on the equator, there is some sort of drug — for the human population to try to get through the day. How do you get through living on the equator? It’s so damn miserable. So I think the equator will become uninhabitable. We don’t do well in heat.