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Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available (G. Benford)

[sticky post]Western values
my eye
jnuk
If I am asked to define  "western" or "European values", I will single out the following three:

  • Democracy

  • Good governance (fair, efficient and legitimate)

  • Elimination of corruption


Brexit: three years later
EUflag
jnuk
It's been almost three years since the referendum. I'm just making this note for myself to remember my thoughts.

In short, I have to say without any false modesty, that I was 100% right about how it all would go after the referendum. I am not talking about small details, but rather about the general picture. Even the fact that after three years and many eyeopening developments and revelation the country is still divided more or less 50:50.

I can hardly find anything positive about B, but I think in one respect it has been creating a sort of momentum in the right direction. That is a direction where the society and the country's politics are moving away from a false (IMO) notion of achieving some sort of national unity. But how is it possible if 50% of the country want to destroy something that another 50% relay upon and does not offer anything in return. And there are class differences big way. Not a popular subject nowadays, but they do exist and govern the country as much as ever.

(no subject)
my eye
jnuk
Just another illustration that the whole "fun" we are going through at the moment is because of nobs in the conservative party not able to decide what they want.

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What is wrong with me?
big_ideas
jnuk
There has been a lot of talk about Jordan B Peterson. In the left wing media I usually tend to read he has been vilified to a highers order. For example here: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/07/how-dangerous-is-jordan-b-peterson-the-rightwing-professor-who-hit-a-hornets-nest or here https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/01/far-right-bookshelves-jordan-peterson-thilo-sarrazin.
It is not difficult to find other examples elsewhere in the Net.

When I first heard about him some comments about his views made me suspicious . I do not know what it was exactly. Perhaps just how he looked did not much the opinions. I decided to give it a go and spent some time listening to his interviews on YouTube. I started from just short clips, but ended up listening to much longer versions. In total they all add up to several hours of video and some of his podcasts as well.

Well, I have to say, that I have not found anything that can possible justify opinions like in the links above. I find the man to be extremely intelligent and rational in his views. But most importantly in what he says I have not heard anything that in my book qualifies as extremist, offensive, dangerous etc.
What I have found though, is that many of his interviews were conducted by people who do not really want to hear what exactly he has to say. Here is just an example:


Perhaps I am getting old and there is something wrong with my head.

(no subject)
my eye
jnuk


I agree with every word.

Mars Again
Rocket people
jnuk
I am re-reading the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. To be correct I am listening to an audio version, which is many respects even better than reading.
To date it is probably the most impressive and detailed effort to imagine the future on Mars. I was really impressed 15 years ago and the feeling is the same now.
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The Parallel Reality
my eye
jnuk
The most interesting aspect of Brexit for me is how exactly the divide between two halves of the country goes. In two years there is virtually no change in public opinion. Ok, to be fare, the may be a little change depending on one’s reading preferences. But as such the scale of the change is soo small that it is not possible to say that one side has been winning decisively.

It is also difficult to find strong correlations between support for Brexit and factors like education, income, social status, party support etc. In a particular area there may be such correlations, but they breaks apart elsewhere in the country.

My “theory” is that the separation line is defined not by the current state of some aspect of life, but rather by the change of the state. In the past 30...35 years there has been a monumental shift in the relationship between one’s status in the traditional socio-political structure and the actual quality of one’s life. To live a truly comfortable life now does not require to be a part of the elite. To be able to give your children a good education does not require to be rich. And so on. Your status in the traditional British imperial hierarchy is still something you can either inherit by birth or have to pay huge money for. However, there is a parallel reality, the other Britain, where one can achieve all necessary attributes purely based on personal merits and without been educated in Eton.

That “parallel” Britain does not have a strong political representation, but it does not give a damm about it as long as the other Britain leave them alone. The problem is that the “others” do not want to do so. And that unwillingness to share the space and the time is the core of Brexit.

Life is getting better
my eye
jnuk

Ho-ho-ho!
my eye
jnuk

Aerosol Earth
Thinking cap
jnuk


LINK

Education Opportunity
Thinking cap
jnuk
Another interesting visualisation - LINK



Would be interesting to align the identified areas with availability of internet.

Land Use in the USA
Thinking cap
jnuk
A very interesting visualisation in Bloomberg - LINK


TV Show of The Month
my eye
jnuk
The Americans

Я потерял интерес в начале четвёртого сезона, но недавно решил продолжит и был приятно удивлён пятым сезоном.
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Machines
Thinking cap
jnuk
Marvellous Machines

Duolingo — Восемь месяцев спустя
my eye
jnuk


Прошло ровно 8 месяцев с первого урока. Результат точно есть и он обнадеживает.

Best Public Space Award
big_ideas
jnuk
We've just come from four days in Munich. Four days of very intensive walking and looking around.  I now, without any doubt, can say that Munich has the best designed and maintained public space and city transit system.  It beats with a huge margin any other place I have ever been to. 

Making the Perfect Body
Thinking cap
jnuk
There is going to be a new documentary on BBC tomorrow. It will be about a project by an anatomies Alice Roberts. I will probably watch it at some point, but the essence can be found here – LINK



“These are the elements that I wanted to fix:

The retina of the eye - the way that our eyes have evolved is enshrined in their embryonic development - and the retina is ‘backwards’. The light receptors are at the back; the nerve fibre ‘wires’ take off at the front, and then have to converge on a spot where they pierce through and exit the eye - the optic disc - which creates a blind spot. Our brains fill in this blind spot so that we’re not aware of it. But how about we wire up the eye sensibly and avoid the blind spot in the first place. Octopi do just that - so let’s steal their anatomy for the eye. To improve eyesight further, we could also make the eyeballs themselves just a little bit larger.

Ears - We lose high frequency hearing as we age. The tiny hair cells in our inner ears don’t regenerate. To tackle this, we could either opt for regenerating hair cells - or we could look at amplifying the sound coming into the ears in the first place. And I think large, feline ears would look amazing.

Airway - there’s an obvious design flaw here, as the airway and the passage for food share a short but important section of pipeline in the head and neck. The nasal cavity opens into the pharynx, which, lower down, communicates with the back of the oral cavity. Then the ways divide, with air passing forwards into the larynx and thence to the lungs, and food passing backwards, down into the oesophagus. At least - that’s what meant to happen, but the usual set-up allows food to go down the wrong way - towards the windpipe, while air can get swallowed. How ridiculous. Let’s separate the airway completely from the passageway for food, and avoid choking.

Recurrent laryngeal nerve - this is a supreme example of untidiness, and it comes down to the way that the body evolved and how it is built as an embryo - with no foresight. Nerves grow out to the muscles of the developing larynx early on in development, when the heart and its vessels are still up in the neck region. When the heart later descends into the chest, dragging its arteries with it, the nerves that supply the larynx are trapped under a pair of arteries and get dragged down. The pattern we end up with is a nerve that arises high up in the neck, level with the larynx, runs right down into the chest, before looping under an artery then running back (recurring) to the voicebox. It should be simple to tidy this one up.

Lungs - the flow of air through our lungs is bidirectional - air goes in and comes out the same way. Birds have a different set-up which involves air being drawn into accessory air sacs in the abdomen and chest, which then contract to keep air flowing through the passageways of the lungs in one direction. This makes gas exchange - absorbing oxygen into the blood and getting rid of carbon dioxide - more efficient. So I’d like to steal this secret for the new ‘me’.

Heart - we each possess a pair of coronary arteries supplying our heart muscle with oxygenated blood - but any links between these arteries are so small as to be practically non-existent. If one coronary artery becomes blocked, then an area of heart muscles becomes fatally deprived of oxygen, and dies - this is precisely what happens in a myocardial infarction or heart attack. Other animals, including dogs and guinea pigs, have plenty of links between the arteries, so that areas of heart muscle are supplied by both vessels. If there’s a blockage in one, the other artery can take over. This seems like a great idea - and something other mammals already possess, so I’m adopting it too.

Spine - Our long, flexible lumbar spines are great in many ways - they help us to run efficiently, for instance - but they have their drawbacks. The lumbar vertebrae are under great strain, and as we age, the ligaments that hold the pulpy centres of the intervertebral discs in place dry out. The pulp can be pushed out - and the herniated disc can press on nerves and cause back pain and sciatica. As a sufferer of a slipped disc, I’d like to opt for a ‘chimpanzee fix’ here - reducing the lumbar spine from five to four vertebrae, and building up the iliac wings of the pelvis to stabilise the spine even more. I’m sacrificing my waist here, but I think the biomechanical advantages are worth it.

Childbirth - when I asked what people would change about their bodies on Twitter, this was an extremely popular response! Our large-headed babies can make childbirth tricky for some. But what if we’d evolved from marsupials - from animals who give birth to their young very early, and then keep them in a pouch until they’re ready to be independent of the mother? I think this is a great idea, but I’m slightly nervous about what it will look like.

Legs - Our ape legs make us great generalists - we can walk, run and climb. But when you try to do too many things at once, you can end up with problems. The human knee is complex and prone to failure in a variety of ways; there’s a lot of muscle mass low down in the legs which makes moving them fairly inefficient. If we focused on one thing, we could streamline the design. I’ve taken my inspiration from ostriches - which are bipedal, like us, but extremely good at running. Muscles move closer to the centre of the body, leaving the feet light and easy to move. Large tendons provide shock absorption.

Skin - Pale skin is prone to sunburn - which increases the risk of developing skin cancer. I could have opted for dark skin, but pale skin may allow more efficient vitamin D production in conditions of low sunlight. If I had skin which could change instantly between pale and dark, at will, I could ensure that I’m making enough vitamin D in the British winter, while switching skin colour in summertime, or if I travel to tropical countries. Some cephalopods can achieve this trick with skin pigment, so I’m borrowing their trick.

There are many more tweaks I could have made. What would you change about your body, if you could re-write evolution?”

Gapminder Test 2018
my eye
jnuk
Test yourself:

English - LINK
Russian - LINK

Новояз
big eye
jnuk
Попалось в современной российской прессе:
- специалитет
- специалистура
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Фантастика прошлого — реальность настоящего
Rocket people
jnuk
Отмечаю День Космонавтики прослушиванием «Звезда КЭЦ» А. Беляева. Это одна из моих самых любимых книг детства.



Чем старше я становлюсь, тем больше укрепляюсь во мнение, что Беляев был и остаётся наверное самым лучшим русскоязычным автором настоящей научной фантастики. Возможно я и не прав на счёт настоящего. Наверное есть современные авторы сравнимые с ними. Но 20 лет назад такие отсутствовали на мой взгляд.