June 30, 2014

Thought (Memetic) Soup, June edition

Happy middle of summer (in the Northern hemisphere, anyways)! Here are some humorous and puzzling items from my leisure time, cross-posted to Tumbld Thoughts. Also an update on Orthogonal Research, which is turning into quite a productive endeavor. This also marks the return of the Thought Soup series. Bemusement and incredulity abound. 

I. Technological Bemusement (for better and for worse)

Miguel Nicolelis (Neuroscientist of BMI fame) is demoing an EEG-controlled exoskeleton at the World Cup [1]. The exoskeleton is able to engage in soccer-related movements, but is controlled by a human brain. Read the Science News interview for more. And here is the outcome [2], courtesy of Neurogadget.

Contrary to the popular trough of disillusionment, Google Glass is a huge development in the world of Augmented Reality. Soon we will all be wearing glass-mounted displays, even if they are not made by Google. Google is apparently very bad at marketing, but that may not be the whole story [3]. Just know that violent responses to so-called "glassholes" is not entirely new.

25 years ago this month: Star Trek V opens. See William Shatner direct a film. Then see William Shatner rock-climb (poorly) and question God. If God is at the center of our galaxy, then are there gods at the center of all of the other galaxies? And if a god created the Big Bang (as some people claim), then is this God merely a middle manager? These are the types of questions audiences should have been asking, but it was 1989 and we were all fascinated with Spock's levitation boots.

II. Speaking Fee Incredulity

Speaking fee incredulity, courtesy of CREMA [4]. The graph is a sampling of economists on the lecture circuit: the x-axis is their relative internet ubiquity, and the y-axis is their minimum speaker's fee. Notice the red arrow and how it points to a cohort that includes Myron Scholes, Dan Kahneman, and Ben Stein. Funny how the world works sometimes.

III. Spam and Pointless Political Resistance Incredulity

I quit, I give up, Nothing's good enough for anybody else, It seems  -- Circle, Edie Brickell.
The chorus of this song [5] seems to summarize the Democratic Party's 2014 grass-roots fundraising strategy against the conservative Super-PAC fundraising [6]. Do you approve of this message? There are some people (progressive-minded bloggers, no less) who do not [7]. I don't think the Queen (a tory who does not have to worry about being elected) is amused, either. 

Of course, it's only a matter of time before democracy-as-market-economics [8] implodes. Perhaps we are witnessing that implosion right now. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a jihadist stroking his cat. No, it's not a dirty limerick -- it's some form of PoMo resistance. Is this the height of absurdity, or Dr. Evil, martyrdom edition? Big money and bad religion, it's all highly-offensive performance art to me.

IV. Lack-of-funding Incredulity

My slouch towards intangible forms of enterprise continues. The Orthogonal Research activity report for the second quarter (Q2) of the calendar year (not financial) is now available. Busy quarter, but still without funding (although parties interested in changing that can contact me).

Is placing a value on research necessary but not sufficient? Here's one humorous take. COURTESY: PhD Comics.

[1] Servick, K.   Kickoff looms for demo of brain-controlled machine. Science News, 344(6188), 1069-1070 (2014).

[2] Paraplegic Man In Mind-Controlled Robotic Suit Kicks Off World Cup 2014. Neurogadget, June 13 (2014) AND Atkins, H.   Human In Robotic Exoskeleton To Kick Off The World Cup. Popular Science, June 6 (2014).

[3] Edwards, J.   Google glass is going to be huge, and its critics are wrong. Business Insider, June 9 (2014).

[5] Circle, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. YouTube video (1988).

[6] Dear Democrats, please stop spamming me for donations. Weasel Zippers blog, February 28 (2013).

[7] Atrios.   From Bean to Cup, You Fuck Up. Eschaton blog, May 27 (2014) AND Myers, P.Z. Democrats: you suck. Pharyngula blog, May 30 (2014).

[8] Avalon, J. and Keller, M.   The Super PAC Economy. Daily Beast, September 18 (2012) AND Aronsen, G.   Are Super PACs Overhyped? Mother Jones, September 28 (2012).

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