Viewing blog entries in category: Science

  • realitybites
    *Updates at bottom of page.

    Whoa, my plants are huge—both standing over four feet tall!

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    Bud has twenty tomatoes so far.

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    Ben has 19.

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    Update June 20:

    If my babies survive this heat I will be a lucky mama. It is going to be 107 today. Just gave them two gallons of water each. Four yesterday. Leaves are frying in the dry heat. May only get one run from these plants. But... looks like I will have some juicy, ripe tomatoes for the 4th of July. :)

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    June 26:

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    June 28, after three months of TLC:

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  • realitybites
    Last Sunday I planted two new tomato plants. This season I decided to place them below the porch--up on crates--rather than on the porch.


    Meet Ben. He is a Better Boy hybrid.

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    This is Bud. He is a Big Beef hybrid.


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    I will update this post soon. And keep you abreast of their progress.

    3/27: Both Ben and Bud are 13" and look very strong and healthy.

    4/3:
    Bud has taken off. He now stands 18". Ben is trailing behind at 14".

    4/11: Bud stands 21". Ben is at 17".

    4/19: Bud ~ 25". Ben ~ 21".

    4/22: Both Ben and Bud are blossoming!

    4/25: Bud is 36" ~ on left. Ben is 26" ~ on right.

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    5/3:
    Both plants have tiny green tomatoes!

    Buds first tomato:

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  • realitybites
    Last night the temperature here dropped below the freezing point. I covered Penny and Sid but they were not looking so good this morning. So, I picked their remaining tomatoes. I will attempt to ripen them in paper bags on the counter. If that fails, I will be scourging the Net for green tomato recipes.

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    Total harvest from two plants this season: 28 lbs. Not too shabby. :)


    Update December 1: Tomatoes are all ripening. No need to hunt down green tomato recipes.

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  • realitybites
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    I have been eating a lot of cabbage lately—bok choy and green. I chop it up and sautée it in a little oil in a dutch oven on the stove top. After it caramelizes, I add lots of black pepper and some cubed ham (optional). Then I pour in a little water, cover, and steam it for ten minutes. I eat it over basmati or long grain rice. The rice soaks up the liquid. Delicious. I also eat quite a bit of romaine-based salads. I eat very little dairy—cheese every once in a while (lactose intolerance).

    I love French bread from the bakery and eat far more of it than I probably should (bleached white flour, gluten). I rarely eat eggs, pasta, cereals, or fruit—except when I did the vegan challenge. I eat quite a bit of tomatoes, pork loin, various other vegetables, fish/shellfish, and chicken. I rarely eat ground beef. When I do eat beef it is raw or cooked rare and very lean. I eat less than one percent of potatoes and nuts. I never eat peanut butter or bananas.

    I'm not a soda drinker but I do drink copious amounts of seltzer. And a cup or two of a coffee day. I also drink hot tea—Earl Grey is my favorite. I occasionally drink beer and vodka, indulge in sweets like chocolate, and chomp on chips. Oh, and I eat lots of ice cubes in bed when I read. Sometime I eat pretzels in bed as well. And I love candy.
  • realitybites
    Penelope and Sid look like little Christmas trees with bright red bulbs.

    Yesterday afternoon...

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    Just picked these this morning...

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    There are still dozens yet to ripen on the plants. So far I have harvested eleven pounds of tomatoes. Not too shabby. I am so happy and excited that my parents will get to taste some when they visit next week.
  • realitybites
    Was just at my local market. Look at what I came across...

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    That is right. Large tomatoes selling for 3 lbs for 99¢!

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    I couldn't resist buying a bunch...

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    All these for $1.37!

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    Look at my small tomato perched on top. Going price for mine? Four dollars a pound. Enough to make this gardener weep.

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    Next season, I am growing heirlooms. So the taste will definitely trump the market varieties'. But how will Penny's tomatoes stack up against these large market tomatoes? I will let you know later today.

    Later today...

    Aesthetics:

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    The top slices are the market tomato; bottom ones are from Penny. Clearly Penny's are redder and less watery. And have far fewer seeds.


    Market:

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    Penny:

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    Now for the taste. Both are flavorful and tangy—the way I like tomatoes to taste. But the texture makes Penny's a much better experience in the mouth. Are they worth 12x the price? No. But they are far better overall. And they are organic and grown with lots of love— locally—by yours truly. That makes them priceless, imo.
  • realitybites
    Waiting for my tomatoes to turn red is like watching paint dry—it seems to be taking forever. Sid has over thirty tomatoes. Penny has over forty. I can't even count them all. I've tried but I lose track. There are so many clustered together. But they are all green. Some are quite large. Looks like they are full size. As soon as they start to get a little orangeish at the bottom they are good to go. It usually takes about seven days for them to fully ripen on the vine once they start.

    I bought a small kitchen scale so that I could weigh my bounty. I am so excited. It is awesome growing your own food. If I had the space, I would have a huge garden. My dad was a suburban gardener as was his father. The torch has been passed.

    I will post pics as soon as I spot any color changes.

    Update 9/14: Color! One of Penny's tomatoes is ripening. It is not one of the larger ones but it was the first tomato on the plant. Interesting.

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    More pics to follow...

    Holy Toledo! Later the same day...

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    Update 9/15: This morning...

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    And at 5:30 pm this evening...

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    When they say sun-ripened tomatoes, they aren't kidding!


    One of Sid's larger/older tomatoes is turning as well!

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    Update 9/16: Looking good!

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    Later that afternoon...

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    And another one of Penny's tomatoes is ripening...

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    Update 9/17: Penny's first tomato:

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    Update 9/17: Penny's first was delicious!

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    Update 9/22: Six ounce red globe...

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  • realitybites
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  • realitybites
    Took these a few minutes ago. She has twenty-two tomatoes and dozens of blossoms. Eight of her tomatoes are the size of a small peach. Isn't she gorgeous.

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    Taken yesterday after a rain shower:

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    A little info on Penny: Phoenix Tomato

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    Update 9/1: Penny now has 26 tomatoes! Each are expected to weigh 10 to 12 ounces. That is over fifteen pounds! I need to get a mini fruit/veggie scale.

    Her largest tomato:

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  • realitybites
    Sid has produced his first tomato. Baby Sid—vine-ripened—was picked yesterday, August 22nd.

    Just got home from running all of my errands. Baby Sid looks delicious sitting on the counter:

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    I think I will slice him in half:

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    Now slice him into wedges and sprinkle him with a little sea salt:

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    Now, for the taste. Holy mother Rhea of Zeus, he is the most flavorful and juicy tomato I have ever tasted. I am not kidding. No exaggeration here. If you can, I highly recommend growing your own tomatoes.

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    Sid minus his Baby. He is not sad:

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    He is finally staring to grow. He has two more tomatoes that are coming along nicely.


    Update 9/1: Sid now has fifteen tomatoes. Here is his largest cluster:

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    Sid:

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    Update 9/5: Sid now has twenty tomatoes! You've come a long way baby...

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  • realitybites
    Penelope and Siddhartha ~ Sid for short because he is...

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    I have two tomato plants which I transplanted into containers to grow on my porch this past July. Very late in the season—a risk. It was an impulsive thing—to start a tomato garden this year. I was inspired by a new friend of mine who is a master gardener/scientist. But so far things have been running smoothly. I named them Siddhartha and Penelope. Siddhartha—because he looks like a compact Buddha sitting all stoically in a green tote—like a Zen garden. Penelope was named after Penelope Cruz—my favorite actress.

    Penelope is a Phoenix heat resistant determinate hybrid. This photo was taken right after I transplanted her into her tub on July 27th:

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    Penelope this morning ~ Just 17 days after transplant:

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    She is now two feet tall and has one tomato and many blossoms. She is really thriving:

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    Sid is a basic container tomato determinate hybrid—bred to thrive in containers but suitable for the garden as well:

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    He has one large tomato and another few small ones. He also has many blossoms:

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    I will keep you posted on their progress with regular updates.

    Update 8/15: Both Sid and Penelope each have three tomatoes. I couldn't be more thrilled.


    Update 8/16. Penelope now has six tomatoes! Sid? still three. Come on Sid!

    Isn't she lovely...

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    Update 8/17: Sid's large tomato is starting to ripen.

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    Update 8/19: Penelope has nine tomatoes and is almost three feet tall.

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    Sid's large tomato is ripening nicely. Weekend bruschetta for one?

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    Update 8/21: Just a few more days.

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    Update 8/22: Succulent Sid.

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    Update 8/25. Anticipation.

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    Update 8/28: Penelope has 22 tomatoes and dozens of blossoms. Sid has 3 tomatoes and close to a dozen blossoms.


    Update 9/5: Penny has thirty tomatoes. Sid has twenty.

    Look how they have grown in the last three weeks...


    August 13:

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    September 5:

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  • realitybites
    There is no such thing as objectivity. Everything is a construct—constructed by subjects.

    No one is capable of being completely objective. We all start with a subject—ourselves. Even in eastern philosophy—though they fervently deny there is such as thing as 'self'—a person cannot think, feel, make decisions, or critiques without the self being a part of the picture. All film, food, art, and music critics critique from a place of subjectivity. Even you do. You choose to read about certain bands and genres and ignore others. We cannot consume all the culture out there. Our ignorance prevents us from being 'objective.' How do you know what you are missing? You don't even know what you don't know, most of the time.

    Scientists may conduct their research using objective methods—quantitative research. But even then, the subjectivity is never left outside of the lab. What theory will they test? What area of research? Who did they study under? How much funding do they have for this research? How many assistants will they have? So many variables influence their 'science.' Objectivity is a goal. Not an absolute.

    As far as philosophy goes, the more I learn about the different traditions and philosophers the more I see just how subjective the whole thing is. Philosophers are almost always egotistical and self-absorbed. And they build upon the works of other egotistical and self-absorbed thinkers. Objective? Hardly. Once a branch in philosophy becomes objective, it leaves the philosophy department. All sciences and mathematics were once branches of philosophy. "I think therefore I am," claims to assert an objective truth about reality—from a subjective position. :squiffy: Perhaps logic, physics, and mathematics are more in line with objectivity. But bring the mathematician, logician, and physicist into picture, and you have now contaminated anything that was once potentially pure, with subjectivity.

    Law, objective? Never. Law is a construct. Constructed by human subjects. It was not something discovered. Some a priori entity. Like Plato's Forms. Even the concept of 'human rights' is a construct. Animal rights? A construct. Justice? A construct. Fairness? Depends on who you are asking. All completely subjective—constructed by subjects. Interpreted by subjects. The beauty of the Constitution of the United States is that it is NOT objective at all. It is a living and breathing document that is capable of changing with the times as the society and her subjects change. Subjects will interpret its contents differently to suit their needs. Brilliant, isn't it?! A perfect subjective construct. Perhaps objectivity is overrated. Even an illusion.


    Hater and lover are constructs.

    Do haters hate themselves and so they project this hate upon a musical artist—Morrissey? They are misogynistic so they project misogyny onto Morrissey? They are uncomfortable with their own sexuality so they claim Morrissey is uncomfortable with his? This is a cop-out and seems to be a convenient way to dismiss all criticism. What kind of criticism is objective—enough? I know I am not projecting my feelings about myself onto Morrissey. Are the 'haters?' Perhaps some deranged haters online—somewhere are. But, I honesty don't see any of those types on this website, at all.

    And as far as trolling goes, studies have shown that the notion of the bully bullying because he hates himself and projects this hate onto his victims is erroneous. Many bullies have very high self-esteems. Are actually narcissists. Even psychopaths. They are not projecting self-hate onto others. They are toying with someone else for pleasure. For fun. Because they like it. We want to believe that all haters hate themselves and are broken in some way. Not always the case. Not even often the case.

    What does it mean when we say a person is a lover or a hater, anyhow?

    'Hater' has lost meaning from overuse and misuse. A pejorative construct. Notice how its counterpart, 'lover,' is not a pejorative term? 'Lover' is sweet and positive and conjures up things like goodness and peace and beauty—all lovely things. I prefer the term sycophant instead of lover. Because truly that is a more accurate description of the obsessive fan who is projecting, in denial, and completely subjective. I think if you are going to label some fans as haters, you must label their opposites as 'sycophants'—not lovers.


    Perception is a construct.

    I would also suggest there are more 'lovers' here than 'haters.' Way more. And, I would argue if there is any projecting going on it is coming from that camp. Some of the comments and attitudes of the 'positive obsessives' are seriously problematic and three miles from reality. Pure subjectivity. And projection. Read the, Does Moz hate his female fans? thread. And Who is Tina Dehghani? Numerous heterosexual female fans, who claim to have read Morrissey's Autobiography, exhibit a complete denial of the misogynistic and homosexual content in the book. They don't WANT to believe those things. So they don't see them. Willful ignorance. That IS projecting a worldview, sexual orientation, values, etc., onto a person—Morrissey. He is what they want him to be. Not what he says he is or shows himself to be through his actions and comments in the press. It doesn't help that Morrissey has made it easier for his American hetero female fans to remain in their delusional states now that he has edited out the 'gay' parts from his book. Should he publish a special edition for his radical feminist fans so that they too don't have to struggle with cognitive dissonance? Edit out the misogynistic tidbits? Protect your fan base by protecting your image. If there would have been as much talk of the misogyny found in Autobiography, in the reviews and press, as there was of homosexuality, you better believe those misogynist parts would also have been absent in the US edition as well. But as we all know, sexism and misogyny are so pervasive and ingrained in our culture, that some—most—can't even see these things when they are staring them in the face. See those two previously mentioned threads for evidence to back this claim.


    It is all a construct folks.

    Morrissey is a construct. His fans are constructs. I am a construct. Fandom—is a construct. Morrissey will let you see what he wants you to see. Image. Damage control. It is hilarious. And kind of sad. But... brilliant. That cannot be denied. He knows his fans all too well. He created them after all, didn't he? Morrissey constructed his own fan base. Perhaps like no other.


    Deconstruction.

    Why do some of us 'fans' appear to focus more on psychoanalyzing the man rather than discussion his music? I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Moz's musical output has been slim pickings as of late. What is on offer to discuss? Not much. Certainly nothing new. Whereas we had a a 450 page book about THE MAN to dissect, analyze, speculate, critique. And all his comments in the press and statements on TTY—an endless supply of content to mull over. Of course many of us became armchair analysts. That was what we had to work with. The book revealed little about the music and much more about the person. Plus some of us are more fascinated with the persona of Moz than his music—at this point in his career. The song remains the same. How many times can we dissect a piece of music? Or lyrics? New fans can and will, of course. But for us long-term fans? Been there, done that. The music is static. The man is dynamic. Much more interesting to discuss, I think. But that is just me. Can we have both types of discussions here? I say yes, we can, and should.
  • realitybites
    Goodbye my loves. You once meant so much to me. I thank each and every single one of you for being there when I needed to listen, connect, learn, engage. I have moved on. You have all been replaced. Technology... innovation... killed off all of you, slowly, one by one.

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    Let's have a memorial service.

    First, a poem...

    Nothing Gold Can Stay ~ Robert Frost

    Nature's first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf's a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.

    And now let's listen to some great music:

    80's New Wave Synthpop Megamix - Blue Silver by Mcfly

    Playlist
  • realitybites
    Nothingness = a closed spherical spacetime of zero radius

    Can you imagine nothingness? Right now I am reading a book titled, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective story. About halfway through the book, I came across a wonderful passage. The author, Jim Holt, speaks with physicist Alex Vilenkin about the difficulty in imagining sheer nothingness. Vilken helps make this possible with a thought experiment: Imagine spacetime as the surface of a sphere. Now suppose that this sphere is shrinking, like a balloon that is losing air. The radius grows smaller and smaller. Eventually—try to imagine this—the radius goes all the way to zero. The surface of the sphere disappears completely, and with it spacetime itself. We have arrived at nothingness. We have also arrived at a precise definition of nothingness: a closed spacetime of zero radius. This is the most complete and utter nothingness that scientific concepts can capture. It is mathematically not only devoid of stuff but also of location and duration.

    With this characterization in hand, Vilenkin was able to do an interesting calculation. Using the principles of quantum theory, he showed that, out of an initial state of nothingness, a tiny bit of energy-filled vacuum could spontaneously “tunnel” into existence. How tiny would this bit of vacuum be? Perhaps as little as one hundreth-trllionth of a centimeter. But that, it turns out, is good enough for cosmogonic purposes. Driven by the negative pressure of “inflation,” this bit of energetic vacuum would undergo a runaway expansion. In a couple of microseconds it would attain cosmic proportions, issuing in a cascading fireball of light and matter—the Big Bang!

    Ted Talk: Jim Holt: Why Does the Universe Exist?
  • realitybites
    Videos:

    View attachment 14000 Charlie Rose Brain Series

    Recommended episodes:

    Consciousness

    Depression

    Alzheimers Disease

    Neurological, Psychiatric and Addictive Disorders

    The Great Mysteries of the Human Brain



    Podcasts:


    View attachment 14001 Brain Science Podcast

    Recommended episodes:

    Dave Eagleman on the Secret Lives of the Brain

    How Mind Emerges From Brain

    Consciouness With Christof Koch



    View attachment 14005 Skepticality

    Recommended Episodes:

    The Believing Brain




    Books:

    [​IMG] ~ Incomplete Nature

    A radical new explanation of how life and consciousness emerge from physics and chemistry. As physicists work toward completing a theory of the universe and biologists unravel the molecular complexity of life, a glaring incompleteness in this scientific vision becomes apparent. The "Theory of Everything" that appears to be emerging includes everything but us: the feelings, meanings, consciousness, and purposes that make us (and many of our animal cousins) what we are. These most immediate and incontrovertible phenomena are left unexplained by the natural sciences because they lack the physical properties—such as mass, momentum, charge, and location—that are assumed to be necessary for something to have physical consequences in the world. This is an unacceptable omission. We need a "theory of everything" that does not leave it absurd that we exist.



    [​IMG] ~ Free Will

    A BELIEF IN FREE WILL touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.

    In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.



    [​IMG] ~ Who's In Charge?

    The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions

    A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: Since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical laws therefore govern our behavior and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a “determined” world.

    Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga in this thoughtful, provocative book based on his Gifford Lectures——one of the foremost lecture series in the world dealing with religion, science, and philosophy. Who’s in Charge? proposes that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, “constrains” the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called “his trademark wit and lack of pretension,” Gazzaniga shows how determinism immeasurably weakens our views of human responsibility; it allows a murderer to argue, in effect, “It wasn’t me who did it——it was my brain.” Gazzaniga convincingly argues that even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, there is an undeniable human reality: We are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.

    An extraordinary book that ranges across neuroscience, psychology, ethics, and the law with a light touch but profound implications, Who’s in Charge? is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time.



    [​IMG] ~ Incognito

    If the conscious mind--the part you consider to be you--is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing?

    In this sparkling and provocative book, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate its surprising mysteries. Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Is there a true Mel Gibson? How is your brain like a conflicted democracy engaged in civil war? What do Odysseus and the subprime mortgage meltdown have in common? Why are people whose names begin with J more like to marry other people whose names begin with J? And why is it so difficult to keep a secret?

    Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.