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Michael Fox

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls Official Trailer on Vimeo - 0 views

    Nefarious, Merchant of Souls, is a hard-hitting documentary that exposes the disturbing trends in modern sex slavery. From the very first scene, Nefarious ushers you into the nightmare of sex slavery that hundreds of thousands experience daily. You'll see where slaves are sold (often in developed, affluent countries), where they work, and where they are confined. You'll hear first-hand interviews with real victims and traffickers, along with expert analysis from international humanitarian leaders.
Michael Fox

How Can One Company Run Nuclear Arsenals, Schools, And Even Time Itself? Like This. - 1 views

    Serco Group - the largest company you've never heard of
Michael Fox

How Children Learn Language | Steven Pinker | Big Think - 0 views

    "Children are Hard-Wired with Universal Grammar

    Another important contribution of Chomsky to the science of language is the focus on language acquisition by children. Now, children can't memorize sentences because knowledge of language isn't just one long list of memorized sentences, but somehow they must distill out or abstract out the rules that go into assembling sentences based on what they hear coming out of their parent's mouths when they were little. And the talent of using rules to produce combinations is in evidence from the moment that kids begin to speak. "
Michael Fox

The False Digital Imperative | Teaching Writing in a Digital Age - 0 views

    One of the concerns that I am left with as the influx of digital media pervades composition classrooms is a concern that Nicolas Carr writes about in his widely read Atlantic Magazine article, Is Google Making Us Stupid? Digital media supplies information, but it also shapes the process of thought. He openly talks about his experience with feeling like his intellect has dwindled as the internet makes information so accessible that we are not burdened, and thus enlightened, by the search of answers any longer:
Michael Fox

Richard Dawkins in furious row with EO Wilson over theory of evolution | Science | The ... - 0 views

    Richard Dawkins in furious row with EO Wilson over theory of evolution

    Vanessa Thorpe
    The Observer, Sunday 24 June 2012

    A disagreement between the twin giants of genetic theory, Richard Dawkins and EO Wilson, is now being fought out by rival academic camps in an effort to understand how species evolve.

    The learned spat was prompted by the publication of a searingly critical review of Wilson's new book, The Social Conquest of Earth, in Prospect magazine this month. The review, written by Dawkins, author of the popular and influential books The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion, has prompted more letters and on-line comment than any other article in the recent history of the magazine and attacks Wilson's theory "as implausible and as unsupported by evidence"."
Michael Fox

Shock Me if You Can - - 0 views

    "THE morning of "The Rite of Spring" premiere, on May 29, 1913, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Le Figaro predicted that ballet would deliver "a new thrill which will surely raise passionate discussion" and "leave all true artists with an unforgettable impression." That turned out to be one of the greatest understatements of the new artistic century. The passionate discussion began during the first few bars of the music, as derisive laughter rose from the seats, and soon grew into an uproar that sent Stravinsky fleeing the hall in disgust.

    Shocker Cools Into a 'Rite' of Passage (September 16, 2012)


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    He and his collaborators didn't intend to start a riot. But together with the brouhaha over the Armory Show a few months earlier in New York (where outrages like Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" prompted Theodore Roosevelt to declare, "That's not art"), the premiere helped write a modern cultural script. Artists have been trying to provoke audiences ever since, elevating shock to an artistic value, a sign that they are fighting the good fight against oppressive tradition and bourgeois morality. "
Michael Fox

Many Medals but No Consensus for Phelps as 'Greatest Olympian' - - 0 views

    "The races will continue in the Aquatics Center for Michael Phelps this week but, in one sense, the race is already over.

    Phelps has now won more medals than any Olympian: summer or winter, spring or fall.

    But if you think that must make Phelps, by acclamation, the greatest Olympian in history, it is not that simple. "
Michael Fox

The Curse Of Certainty In Science And Religion : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR - 1 views

    "The only constant is change. It's the most basic fact of human existence. Nothing lasts, nothing stays the same.

    We feel it with each breath. From birth to the unknown moment of our passing, we ride a river of change. And yet, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, we exhaust ourselves in an endless search for solidity. We hunger for something that lasts, some idea or principle that rises above time and change. We hunger for certainty. That is a big problem.

    It might even be THE problem.

    Religions are often built around this heartache for certainty. In the face of sickness, loss and grief, a thousand dogmas with a thousand names have risen. Many profess that if only the faithful hold fast to the "rules," the "precepts" or the "doctrine" then certainty can be obtained.

    Fate and future can be fixed through promises of freedom from immediate suffering, divine favor or everlasting salvation. Scriptures are transformed into unwavering blueprints for an unchanging order. These documents must live beyond question lest the certainty they provide crumble. When human spiritual endeavor devolves into these white-knuckle forms of clinging they become monuments to the fear of change and uncertainty.

    It would be symmetrical if I could point to science as the pure antidote to the rigid rejection of uncertainty. Science, in the purest forms of its expression as a practice, holds to no doctrine other than that the world might be known. In the ceaseless pursuit of its own questioning path, science asks us to allow for ceaseless change in our ideas, beliefs and opinions. It's this aspect of science that I value more than any other.

    But science does not exist alone as practice. It's also a constellation of ideas that exist within culture and those ideas can gain value, in and of themselves, without connection to actual practice. In this way science becomes something more and less. For some people the idea of Science offers a trumped up certainty that yields its own false de
Michael Fox

Vandals lash out at Zuma painting | Herald Sun - 0 views

    "VANDALS have struck a painting that depicts South African President Jacob Zuma with his genitals hanging out.

    Two men defaced the picture with gobs of paint, as Mr Zuma and his African National Congress sought a court order yesterday to have the painting removed from an art gallery.

    The case is spiced with freedom of expression on the one hand and the right to dignity on the other. It took centre stage after the painting by Brett Murray went on display in a Johannesburg gallery this month and was reported on in local media.

    Mr Zuma, who has a reputation for promiscuity, took the depiction of him with his private parts exposed very personally and compared himself to a rape victim. Mr Zuma himself was put on trial for rape, and acquitted, in 2006.

    "The portrayal has ridiculed and caused me humiliation and indignity," Mr Zuma contended in an affidavit filed yesterday with the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

    Presiding over the hearing in a courtroom a few kilometres from the gallery, Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane said the full three-judge bench should hear the case because the national interest and constitutional issues are at stake.

    South Africa's constitution protects the right to dignity as well as to freedom of expression. She said the hearing would recommence tomorrow.

    Mr Zuma and the ANC sought to have the painting, titled "The Spear," removed from the Goodman Gallery and to stop the newspaper City Press from displaying a photo of it on its website.

    Just before the hearing was scheduled to begin, two men wielding cans of red and black paint calmly walked up to the painting hanging on a gallery wall and took turns defacing it.

    "Now it's completely and utterly destroyed," said Iman Rappetti, a reporter for a South African TV channel who happened to be on the scene at the time as her camera rolled.

    Her channel showed a man in a tweed jacket painting a red X over the president's genital area and then his face.

    Next, a man in a hoodie smeared bl
Michael Fox

What Is Science? From Feynman to Sagan to Curie, an Omnibus of Definitions | Brain Pick... - 2 views

    "'The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.'

    "We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology," Carl Sagan famously quipped in 1994, "and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That's a clear prescription for disaster." Little seems to have changed in the nearly two decades since, and although the government is now actively encouraging "citizen science," for many "citizens" the understanding of - let alone any agreement about - what science is and does remains meager.

    So, what exactly is science, what does it aspire to do, and why should we the people care? It seems like a simple question, but it's an infinitely complex one, the answer to which is ever elusive and contentious. Gathered here are several eloquent definitions that focus on science as process rather than product, whose conduit is curiosity rather than certainty."
Michael Fox

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Why We're Wired for Science and How Originality Differs in Scien... - 2 views

    ""Every child is a scientist."

    Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson may well be the Richard Feynman of our day, a "Great Explainer" in his own right, having previously reflected on everything from the urgency of space exploration to the most humbling fact about the universe. In this short video, Tyson contributes a beautiful addition to this omnibus of notable definitions of science and explores subjects as diverse as the nature of originality and the future of artificial intelligence."
Michael Fox

Age-old question: when should children be responsible for their crimes? - 0 views

    "The age of criminal responsibility acts as the gateway to the criminal justice system - under a certain age you are kept out.

    Most jurisdictions have this age barrier because it's widely understood children need sheltering from the criminal law consequences of their behaviour until they are developed enough to understand whether their behaviour is wrong.

    But what age is the right age? And how do legal systems deal with this difficult question?"
Michael Fox

The Benefits of Being Bilingual | Wired Science | - 0 views

    Samuel Beckett, born in a suburb of Dublin in 1906, was a native English speaker. However, in 1946 Beckett decided that he would begin writing exclusively in French. After composing the first draft in his second language, he would then translate these words back into English. This difficult constraint - forcing himself to consciously unpack his own sentences - led to a burst of genius, as many of Beckett's most famous works (Malloy, Malone Dies, Waiting for Godot, etc.) were written during this period. When asked why he wrote first in French, Beckett said it made it easier for him to "write without style."

    Beckett would later expand on these comments, noting that his use of French prevented him from slipping into his usual writerly habits, those crutches of style that snuck into his English prose. Instead of relying on the first word that leapt into consciousness - that most automatic of associations - he was forced by his second language to reflect on what he actually wanted to express. His diction became more intentional.

    There's now some neat experimental proof of this Beckettian strategy. In a recent paper published in Psychological Science, a team of psychologists led by Boaz Keysar at the University of Chicago found that forcing people to rely on a second language systematically reduced human biases, allowing the subjects to escape from the usual blind spots of cognition. In a sense, they were better able to think without style.

    The paper is a tour de force of cross-cultural comparison, as the scientists conducted six experiments on three continents (n > 600) in five different languages: English, Korean, French, Spanish and Japanese. Although all subjects were proficient in their second language, they were not "balanced bilingual."

    The experiments themselves relied on classic paradigms borrowed from prospect theory, in which people are asked to make decisions under varying conditions of uncertainty and risk. For instance, native English
Michael Fox

Jean-Baptiste Michel: The mathematics of history | Video on - 0 views

    "What can mathematics say about history? According to TED Fellow Jean-Baptiste Michel, quite a lot. From changes to language to the deadliness of wars, he shows how digitized history is just starting to reveal deep underlying patterns.

    Jean-Baptiste Michel looks at how we can use large volumes of data to better understand our world."
Michael Fox

The Moral Instinct - New York Times - 1 views

    "Which of the following people would you say is the most admirable: Mother Teresa, Bill Gates or Norman Borlaug? And which do you think is the least admirable? For most people, it's an easy question. Mother Teresa, famous for ministering to the poor in Calcutta, has been beatified by the Vatican, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and ranked in an American poll as the most admired person of the 20th century. Bill Gates, infamous for giving us the Microsoft dancing paper clip and the blue screen of death, has been decapitated in effigy in "I Hate Gates" Web sites and hit with a pie in the face. As for Norman Borlaug . . . who the heck is Norman Borlaug?

    Yet a deeper look might lead you to rethink your answers. Borlaug, father of the "Green Revolution" that used agricultural science to reduce world hunger, has been credited with saving a billion lives, more than anyone else in history. Gates, in deciding what to do with his fortune, crunched the numbers and determined that he could alleviate the most misery by fighting everyday scourges in the developing world like malaria, diarrhea and parasites. Mother Teresa, for her part, extolled the virtue of suffering and ran her well-financed missions accordingly: their sick patrons were offered plenty of prayer but harsh conditions, few analgesics and dangerously primitive medical care.

    It's not hard to see why the moral reputations of this trio should be so out of line with the good they have done. Mother Teresa was the very embodiment of saintliness: white-clad, sad-eyed, ascetic and often photographed with the wretched of the earth. Gates is a nerd's nerd and the world's richest man, as likely to enter heaven as the proverbial camel squeezing through the needle's eye. And Borlaug, now 93, is an agronomist who has spent his life in labs and nonprofits, seldom walking onto the media stage, and hence into our consciousness, at all. "
Michael Fox

Henry Miller on Originality | Brain Pickings - 1 views

    "Miller eloquently encapsulates the combinatorial nature of creativity and the constant borrowing and repurposing that takes place as we build upon what came before and recombine existing bits of knowledge and ideas to create what we call "our" ideas.

    And your way, is it really your way?


    What, moreover, can you call your own? The house you live in, the food you swallow, the clothes you wear - you neither built the house nor raised the food nor made the clothes.


    The same goes for your ideas. You moved into them ready-made."
Michael Fox

Mark Twain on Plagiarism and Originality: "All Ideas Are Second-Hand" | Brain Pickings - 0 views

    ""The kernel, the soul - let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances - is plagiarism."

    The combinatorial nature of creativity is something I think about a great deal, so this 1903 letter Mark Twain wrote to his friend Helen Keller, found in Mark Twain's Letters, Vol. 2 of 2, makes me nod with the manic indefatigability of a dashboard bobble-head dog. In this excerpt, Twain addresses some plagiarism charges that had been made against Keller some 11 years prior, when her short story "The Frost King" was found to be strikingly similar to Margaret Canby's "Frost Fairies." Heller was acquitted after an investigation, but the incident stuck with Twain and prompted him to pen the following passionate words more than a decade later, which articulate just about everything I believe to be true of combinatorial creativity and the myth of originality:

    Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that 'plagiarism' farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul - let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances - is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men - but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington's battle, in some de
Michael Fox

Internal Time: The Science of Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You're So Tired | Br... - 0 views

    "Debunking the social stigma around late risers, or what Einstein has to do with teens' risk for smoking.

    "Six hours' sleep for a man, seven for a woman, and eight for a fool," Napoleon famously prescribed. (He would have scoffed at Einstein, then, who was known to require ten hours of sleep for optimal performance.) This perceived superiority of those who can get by on less sleep isn't just something Napoleon shared with dictators like Hitler and Stalin, it's an enduring attitude woven into our social norms and expectations, from proverbs about early birds to the basic scheduling structure of education and the workplace. But in Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You're So Tired, a fine addition to these 7 essential books on time, German chronobiologist Till Roenneberg demonstrates through a wealth of research that our sleep patterns have little to do with laziness and other such scorned character flaws, and everything to do with biology.

    In fact, each of us possesses a different chronotype - an internal timing type best defined by your midpoint of sleep, or midsleep, which you can calculate by dividing your average sleep duration by two and adding the resulting number to your average bedtime on free days, meaning days when your sleep and waking times are not dictated by the demands of your work or school schedule. For instance, if you go to bed at 11 P.M. and wake up at 7 A.M., add four hours to 11pm and you get 3 A.M. as your midsleep."
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