The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse

This was probably the wealthiest, most powerful group I had ever encountered. Yet here they were, asking a Marxist media theorist for advice on where and how to configure their doomsday bunkers. That’s when it hit me: at least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Tesla founder Elon Musk colonising Mars, Palantir’s Peter Thiel reversing the ageing process, or artificial intelligence developers Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had less to do with making the world a better place than it…

A computer animation showing scutiods, complex 3D geometrical shapes (like an irregular prism with a hexagon on one end and a pentagon on the other, with the sides broken up in such a way as to create several irregular polygons, some planar and some non-planar, that let two identical scutoids fit together in multiple different ways.

Fun with Geometry — Biological and Theoretical

For some reason today I was thinking of the 3D shape scientists recently discovered in our cells — I had to look it up just now to refresh my memory. Not being an expert in geometry, I would describe the “scutoid” as an irregular prism-like shape with a hexagon on one end and a pentagon on the other, with the sides broken up in a specific way that allows the shapes to be packed together.  I confess I’m not entirely clear on whether these biological building blocks grow that way, or they take on that shape based on the way…

Eco-critical Code Studies: Reconfigurations of nature in the born-digital artifact “Colossal Cave Adventure” from text to VR

Video game history is colliding: Sierra founders are bringing a seminal text adventure game to VR (The Verge) Colossal Cave Adventure (Crowther 1976; Crowther and Woods 1977) (photo credit) Photo of Ken and Roberta Williams; Wikipedia photo of Adventure on a CRT Sierra On-Line (Sierra Entertainment, Inc.); King’s Quest, Space Quest, Phantasmagoria; original publisher of Half-Life How Sierra Was Captured, Then Killed, by a Massive Accounting Fraud (Vice) Klein, Ernst. Ready Player One; Ready Player Two Culver, Nathaniel. “Adventure Family Tree” Nelson, Graham. “A short history of interactive fiction”  Infocom; Adventure International; adaptations of The Hobbit; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to…

People who caught Covid in first wave get ‘no immune boost’ from Omicron

Science deniers who expect medical research to be as tidy and predictable as a chapter in a middle school textbook sometimes see conspiracy theory when they look at the twists and turns in the scientific community’s response to the COVID-19. The scientists themselves would say they are doing science in real time, adapting to the evidence they find. That’s why the scientists “keep changing their story,” because science is all about changing your understanding of the world by consulting the best possible evidence. As our understanding of a thing develops, new evidence emerges that sometimes confirms, and sometimes challenges our…

Darwin Was Wrong: Your Facial Expressions Do Not Reveal Your Emotions

In real life, people express a given emotion with tremendous variability. In anger, for example, people in urban cultures scowl (or make some of the facial movements for a scowl) only about 35 percent of the time, according to meta-analyses of studies measuring facial movement during emotion. Scowls are also not specific to anger because people scowl for other reasons, such as when they are concentrating or when they have gas. The same tremendous variation occurs for every emotion studied—and for every other measure that purportedly tells us about someone’s emotional state, whether it’s their physiology, voice or brain activity.…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In April, 2002, I was blogging about an autistic person’s guide to asking a girl on a date; The Inform 6 Beginner’s Guide; broken links;

In April, 2002, I was blogging about Instructions for “Asking a Girl on a Date” (autistics.org) The Inform Beginner’s Guide (I edited this book on programming text adventure games in Inform 6) Broken Links: Just How Rapidly do Science Education Hyperlinks Go Extinct? (yes, the link was broken but I linked to the backup on the Internet Archive) Faking It: Sex, Lies and Women’s Magazines “Prenatal memory and learning” (language acquisition begins before birth) “Did I Miss Anything?” (poet’s creative response to a “question frequently asked by students after missing a class”) A Salon article mocking the New York Times…

Experience: I let a baby bird nest in my hair for 84 days

He was abandoned by his flock, his nest blown from the mango tree. His eyes were tightly shut and he was shuddering, too young to survive alone. He was the size of my little finger, with feathers the colour of Rich Tea biscuits, inky eyes and a small bill like a pencil lead. I placed him in a cardboard box with tea towels, mimicking a nest, and stayed up all night, researching how to care for him. I spoke to an expert who said it would take 12 weeks to prepare him for the wild. The next day, he woke…

Brain activity of a dying man suggests we do recall memories at death

The 87-year-old man developed epilepsy and was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada, before dying of a cardiac arrest. […] “As a neurosurgeon, I deal with loss at times. It is indescribably difficult to deliver the news of death to distraught family members,” [Dr. Amal Zemmar] said. “Something we may learn from this research is: although our loved ones have their eyes closed and are ready to leave us to rest, their brains may be replaying some of the nicest moments they experienced in their lives.” —Daily Mail

Shatner’s live, extemporaneous post-touchdown monologue on mortality was better than Kirk’s death scene

After returning to Earth in Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin private spacecraft, Shatner is delivering an extemporaneous monologue about viewing Mother Earth and reflecting on death. “I hope I never recover from this,” he says, of the emotions he experienced. Much better than Kirk’s death scene in Star Trek: Generations. Someone (I was listening, not watching… I think it was Bezos) says “Beautiful,” and Shatner thinks he’s commenting about the view from space, but the comment was referring to Shatner’s words. And I have to teach.

Why your brain’s so bad at letting go of negative comments

Negative comments engage avoidance motivation. When you’re motivated to avoid something bad, then an important strategy is to be vigilant for more bad things in the environment to make sure that you’re aware of problems as soon as they happen. This may have been an adaptive strategy when there were people or animals out there trying to hunt you in some evolutionary environment. However, it’s a less effective strategy in today’s world, when the negative thing is not a bear but a nasty tweet. Despite this, your brain reacts in the same way, making you obsess about what some anonymous…