Monthly Archives: October 2012

I Am, Therefore I Think

Consciousness is one of those nebulous concepts, at least in the ‘normal’ non-academic world. Some say there is no such thing, a delusion. It’s just how the body refers to itself and organizes its sensory processing. There are so many theories. On the other side there are the religious, spiritual views that posit that there is something more then the meat body, more then just electro-chemical discharges. In between there are some investigators finding that the traditional views are lacking. Some even claim that consciousness derives from deep quantum mechanical processes; quantum effects are relevant at room temperature and macro scales.

Heck if I have an answer. I just Am.

I’ll make one observation though. Seems that people argue about consciousness from the mental processing angle. That is, if something is conscious it exhibits certain properties. Yet, stop the flow of thoughts and what remains is awareness. How can awareness be awareness of being aware? Or is it just the body all along that encases the waking state dream?

  1. Cytoskeletal Signaling: Is Memory Encoded in Microtubule Lattices by CaMKII Phosphorylation?
  2. Consciousness
  3. OnLine Papers on consciousness
  4. Consciousness; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Damn those pesky regulations!

Angry right: Those regulations are stifling economic growth!!!!!!

Mellow middle: So you want insects and rat turds in your food?

Angry right: What are you talking about? That is not relevant!!!!

Mellow middle: I’m just trying to make a point by analogy; since you are so adverse to regulations, then you don’t care about what might happen if some regulations are eliminated.

Angry right: That makes no sense.

Mellow middle: Well, how many rat turds do you want in a can of soup?

Angry right: Obviously, the manufacturers will apply standards. Besides, if some manufacturer’s product has too many impurities the consumer will just buy from someone else. You liberals are just using irrational arguments as usual.

Mellow middle: That is an optimistic viewpoint. Sure it happens. Do you want your family to be the manufacturers testers? Did you remember seat belts?

Angry right: Now your into seat belts?

Mellow middle: The auto makers fought it tooth and nails, just like they fight against increased mileage requirements. If I’m not mistaken all of our precious children are in school buses with no seat belts. Also, remember Thalidomide? How about arsenic in your juice, how much is too much? Don’t you think that the quest, a valid one, for return on investment, will drive many decisions, many shortcuts? Also, don’t you think that industries will inevitably collude to optimize profit?

Angry middle: You are confusing consumer issues with industrial nation issues like energy production. This administration has put too many regulations on oil production, for example.

Mellow middle: So you don’t think that the same profit incentives are operating there? That any company should be able to do whatever they want as long as you can guzzle with your SUV? That safeguards won’t be relaxed? You don’t think that environmental factors should not be taken into any decision? And, don’t you think it is suspicious that these same companies via Citizens United are channeling millions of dollars to influence the vote?

Angry right: No, I don’t think.

I was trying to create a hypothetical dialog between an extreme right wing ‘Tea Party” type of viewpoint and a saner style. However, rereading it, even the ‘saner’ viewpoint sounds insane.

No wonder American political discourse is so rancorous and unproductive. Add in statistics that can be used to prove anything, mix in religious psuedo-think, spice with partisan group think, and cover with jingoist Exceptionalism. Hmmmm, yummy.


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Great TV series "Sherlock"

I just discovered the British TV series “Sherlock”, a recreation of the Sir Arthor Conan Doyle’s detective character Sherlock Holmes.

As with many British series, excellent!!!! The two actors, Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson are splendid. Finally when I picture Holmes, I no longer picture Holmes as looking like Philip St. John Basil Rathbone. Kudos to the director and everyone involved in its making.

My only critique is that it seems to jump the shark a little; Holmes is just to over the top. But, I guess heroes being like that is in the telly. Also, the episodes are complex. Like, I still don’t get the significance of the pink dress the victim was wearing in one of the episodes.

The series is also available on NetFlix streaming.


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Do Americans want bipartisan compromise?

On one of the Sunday talk shows the guests and host mentioned that the American people want the political fighting to end and some compromises to be made.

No, we don’t want compromise.  We want solutions.  In a compromise both sides lose.  And when these two sides lose, we lose.   A compromise is a solution to a flawed bilateral choice.

Lets look at one of these so-called problems.  Raise or lower the taxes?  That is not a choice, that is buffoonery.  What is the optimal tax rate at each moment in time?  How can the results of that tax rate be measured, and how can tax revenue not be squandered by the same parties who supposedly have this problem?   To argue about rates and 99% vs 1% is, though important, not the issue.  The tax system sucks.  Yet, we argue about the percentage of suck.

There are countless studies on tax changes and alternative systems.  Do we need more studies and even more hot air on the issue?  There are even simple measures to make taxes “meaningful”, like allowing a certain percentage of taxes to be targeted to concerns that taxes payers check off on the tax return.   How much do you want the 20% of total taxes allocated:  to congressional health club and perks, poverty, war making, education?

Next so-called problem?

Further reading

  1. Fuzzy Tax
  2. Compromise
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