Sunday, October 30, 2011

The attack of the 50 foot nerd

Though a tad predictable, I though this is the title Adam Curtis should have given to his latest three-part documentary (aired in May on BBC). Instead, he opted for the faux poetic ”All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace.” On second thought, Curtis’s choice does seem to convey a larger, poetic truth. Those eight words ring with such piercing absurdity that it is difficult to imagine they were strung together by a living, breathing human being.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Long live the nerd patriarch

A former student recently sent me a link to a piece in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Nothing warms my heart as much as receiving this kind of poke. The article describes the unceasing quest of biologist E. O. Wilson for a “theory of everything.” Seven decades ago, he started out as a boy hobbyist collecting with much excitement ants and other insects. Now in his early 80s, he doesn’t seem to have changed much. Only his intellectual ambition has grown. He now thinks the kind of science he pursues (dressed up in mathematical formulas and equations) is poised to finally resolve “the great questions of man’s nature” – the same questions that have bugged misty-headed philosophers for a couple of millennia.

A new day has come for the Lybian people

Below are a few quotes from an article in the Guardian, “Muammar Gaddafi's 'trophy' body on show in Misrata meat store”:

"Bloodied, wearing just a pair of khaki trousers, and dumped on a cheap mattress, Muammar Gaddafi's body has become a gruesome tourist attraction and a macabre symbol of the new Libya's problems.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

You Love Your iPhone, Literally

This is the title of a recent article in the NYT. It is written by Martin Lindstrom, a neuroscientist who dabbles in marketing research. He carried out some fun experiments using sophisticated brain scanning equipment, with astounding results. When he exposed his subjects “to audio and to video of a ringing and vibrating iPhone,” he observed a “flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion.