NATO’s decision to intervene in Libya on humanitarian grounds has become an alarming and revealing assessment of America’s understanding of war. The way the “established” media portrayed the Libyan conflict, and its subsequent reception, illustrates our society’s failure to recognize how the power dynamics of plutocratic governance shape our realities. There is significant historical evidence that during times of war propaganda is used to justify military action for special interests. If we are to believe the theme of “change” will define our generation, we must pierce through both the media and the government’s rationalization of war.
Perhaps the most interesting consequences of the self-tracking movement will come when its adherents merge their findings into databases. The Zeo, for example, gives its users the option of making anonymized data available for research; the result is a database orders of magnitude larger than any other repository of information on sleep stages. Given that the vast majority of our knowledge about sleep—including the idea that eight hours is optimal—comes from highly controlled studies, this type of database could help to redefine healthy sleep behavior. Sleep patterns may be much more variable than is currently thought.
We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures. We watch our backs, weigh the odds, pack an umbrella. But both neuroscience and social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic. On average, we expect things to turn out better than they wind up being. People hugely underestimate their chances of getting divorced, losing their job or being diagnosed with cancer; expect their children to be extraordinarily gifted; envision themselves achieving more than their peers; and overestimate their likely life span (sometimes by 20 years or more).
Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He’s found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he’s taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a “Chickenosaurus”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most influential people of the 20th century, and his legacy still has a tremendous affect on American society and the world [...] Today, however, I find popular culture’s understanding of Dr. King incomplete. It seems to focus solely on his “I have a dream speech”, and his quest for civil rights, neglecting the fact he also spoke out against the war, in support of unions, and for blacks to have respect for themselves. These topics directly challenge the power structure that controls our society.
This recipe, adapted from Jane Lawson’s Spanish Kitchen (Thunder Bay Press, 2005) may seem entirely Italian because of the hazelnut and chocolate combo, therefore not fitting into the September theme of Spanish recipes. It is the infusion of cinnamon in the dark chocolate mousse, however that provides a Spanish touch.
Artist Aaron Koblin takes vast amounts of data — and at times vast numbers of people — and weaves them into stunning visualizations. From elegant lines tracing airline flights to landscapes of cell phone data, from a Johnny Cash video assembled from crowd-sourced drawings to the “Wilderness Downtown” video that customizes for the user, his works brilliantly explore how modern technology can make us more human.