last week i learned about the salton sea, "the biggest environmental disaster in California history." it's a manmade lake that became a resort destination (complete with hotels and yacht clubs!) in CA during the 1950s and 1960s. But the water became salinated and contaminated with agricultural runoff and desert salt deposits. 97% of the fish died. Bombay Beach became a ghost town, although some communities survive to this day.
today i learned about the square cube law from one of my students - which says "When an object undergoes a proportional increase in size, its new surface area is proportional to the square of the multiplier and its new volume is proportional to the cube of the multiplier."
also i learned the reason that cells are so small is because of the square-cube law. "when a cell increases in size, its surface area-to-volume ratio decreases," so they're just the right size, no larger!
taken straight from the wikipedia page about Jennifer Lopez' green dress:
"Google's president Eric Schmidt cited the massive attention to this dress as a motivation for the creation of Google Images search. In 2000, Google Search results were limited to simple pages of text with links, but the developers worked on developing this further, realising that an image search was required to answer "the most popular search query" they had seen to date: Jennifer Lopez's green dress.
the other day terence told me an able-bodied person has a 80 - 90% chance of surviving a collision with a car going 20 miles per hour.
that same person has a survivability rate of 10% if the car goes 40 miles per hour. which is why speed limits are important in reducing fatal traffic collisions.
today i learned that twee is anything “excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty or sentimental” and it's making a comeback
it reminds me of that time hugo told me he didn't like the word quirky, mostly bc of its association with a specific type of innocent but cooler-than-you whiteness.
today i learned about the human experimentation and torture conducted by the japanese imperial army, in harbin, china, in between 1935 and 1945, on chinese, korean, and russian prisoners and civilians. the americans granted immunity to unit 731 in order to prevent the research data from being shared with the soviets, making the U.S. complicit in the human rights violations.
today i learned about the origin story of wework, which the founder adam neumann described as a "capitalistic kibbutz." i didn't realize that both founders grew up in communes (oregon, israel), and i also didn't know there was a welive at one point ... which is essentially a co-op for single millennial Wework members. that was fascinating to me, and i wish the documentary i watched went into further details about the communities at welive.
but anyway, the story goes that wework took off and adam...
started lying about their profitability
partnered up with his wife rebekah and started bringing in a lot of ~ c u l
t ~ vibes to corporate events
led an internally cutthroat / WHPH corporate culture that kept adam in the
had their dismal churn rate published on a blog (and then forced the blog
post publishers who were wework members to vacate the premises)
tried to expand into areas that they didn't have any expertise in... such as
got overconfident with a potential deal from Softbank and flushed money down
the drain...and then Softbank pulled out of the deal.
which led to a hot mess of an S1 for Wework that they eventually called off. adam stepped down as CEO, and even before the pandemic begin, wework's valuation began to plummet.
this reminded me of a conversation i had earlier in the day with peter and david: traditionally so much of public life has centered around religious institutions and the social networks that come with them. town squares in the U.S. were built with churches in the middle.
but today, as people leave organized religion en masse, will we ever feel fulfilled without faith/spirituality in our lives, and if so, what would replace it as community hub?
for adam, the answer was yes, in work. but in many ways, the "we" philosophy was a work-centric religion of its own with all the problems that come with any organized religion. and so, even if you believed in everything the we company said about its potential to transform the world, what adam did was nothing new; it was just another in the legacy of failed utopian communities, except this time with exceptional interior design and the backing of the saudis/softbank at one point.
and for scott galloway and the other folks seeing through the smoke and mirrors, wework was just 'renting f*cking desks.'
overall this was a neat documentary! it was enjoyable to watch, and the commentators/interviews were interesting. some of the scenes/stock videos were a little over-the-top, but it wasn't too bothersome, kylie and i just chuckled.
today i learned that LEVAR BURTON still reads short stories! i grew up watching reading rainbow so this is about the most exciting news possible in my literary life. i've been reading ken liu for scifi book club and this piece is breathtaking.
today i learned that "fuqi feipian", this sichuanese cold dish that my parents often order for takeout, means 'HUSBAND WIFE LEFTOVER MEAT PIECES', because it was popularized by a couple in the 1930s who sold it on the streets of chengdu. the word for "leftover meat" got changed to lung many years after to appear more palatable, but the dish originally was made with beef offal, which was sold by many Muslim working-class vendors in the area.
today i learned that you can use the code '5231' to get into the secret settings menu on mcdonalds softserve machines...which were more or less designed to break down ... so the manufacturer can swoop in for the repair fees
key differences between steam punk and silk punk: technology (draws more inspiration from nature), materials (bamboo, shells, paper, silk, feathers, etc), east asian historical romances
but the punk remains the same: rebellion, resistance.
today i learned that snoop dogg went back to being snoop dogg (and i also learned of his other names besides snoop lion: snoop doggy dogg, snoopzilla, bigg snoop dogg, nemo hoes, among others)
today i learned from another townie (thanks joy!):
in potato batteries (batteries often used in kids' science projects
where there's a potato, zinc on one side, and copper on the other),
the energy comes from the metals rather than the potato.
the potato just acts as an electrolyte bridge between the metals so
their ions can react to create an electric potential. as they react
the metals oxidize and degrade and the the battery becomes less
salt water would work just as well as a potato, if not better, since
salt water doesn't rot like a potato would...
in the morning i had a discussion about women in the biblical family unit and then in the afternoon i watched an esther perel ted talk on desire vs love... such different perspectives. it seems the central difference between the two views is the sense of self; do you willingly relinquish part of yourself and become "one flesh" / unit once you commit to a long-term partnership / marriage, as the bible suggests? or do you keep your whole self independent, which maintains the distance/mystery/novelty that lends itself to eroticism? put plainly, as perel recognizes, love is self-sacrificing but desire requires some degree of selfishness.
i didn't realize steve bannon was attached to the project at one point...and also how fascinating the 8 biospherians were as people (they were not scientists!!). hadn't thought about the biosphere as a communal living experiment in the ninth grade but that's the most fascinating part for me now.
"oh you're the police? good, because i would like to report a theft!"
-- Mwazulu Diyabanza as he is confronted for attempting to take back a looted African funeral pole from a museum in France
what a baller. today i learned that in 2017, president macron promised the restitution of African treasures/art housed in French museums back to Africa. his commissioned report determined that 45,000 pieces should be returned, but to date, only 26 have been promised back and out of those only 1 has been physically returned (..."loaned back").
Of all the different types of parental involvement, academic socialization (learning habits, communicating expectations, college planning, etc.) leads to the highest achievement in middle school. Surprisingly ( or maybe not ) homework help is negatively correlated with achievement. :
Hill, N. E., & Tyson, D. F. (2009). Parental involvement in middle school: A meta-analytic assessment of the strategies that promote achievement. Developmental Psychology, 45(3), 740–763. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015362
today i learned that willpower is a muscle. that muscle gets tired everyday but it also grows. make decisions easier by putting some things out of sight;out of mind.
today i learned that the first hour after birth is crucial to establishing mother-child bonds. extra oxytocin is released during that time, and the bonding during that time sets the trajectory of later development of the child.
today i learned about the power of "ren rou sou suo" (human flesh search engine) in china. i think this podcast is the best window into chinese internet culture that i've encountered.
it addresses censorship, consumerism, group think, doxxing & cancel culture, lgbtq rights all by examining a fan fic page that escalated into a battle between two fan factions.
today i (re)learned various scientific attempts to explain consciousness. here's a gif of dna being created and also a ted talk by david chalmers.
in the ted talk, chalmers summarizes consciousness research from the last 30 years. there are "easy" questions around consciousness (which parts of the brain are correlated with our conscious sensations like taste, touch, etc) and then there's the "hard problem of consciousness", which chalmers coined, and that's the million dollar question: why? why do we have subjective experience at all?
is there a scientific, brain-based, materialist theory of consciousness? can consciousness be explained by psychology which is then in turn explained by biology which is then in turn explained by chemistry which is then in turn explained by physics and the most fundamental laws of the universe?
doesn't seem so. so chalmers presents a couple options:
consciousness is a folk theory. if you're a functionalist like dan dennett, you don't need to be concerned
about consciousness. qualia is such a messy concept, it's all an illusion. understand the functions of the brain, its inputs/outputs(behaviors), and you've solved everything about the mind. this is a "purely reductionist brain-based theory of consciousness."
consciousness is fundamental. consciousness is not able to be explained by the existing fundamentals
(space, time, mass, charge). so maybe consciousness is a fundamental building block of science. and we can do more science to figure out the fundamental laws that govern consciousness.
panpsychism -- consciousness is universal. every system is conscious, and
this is compatible with science/physics because it is baked into the physical world. in fact, consciousness can explain why physics happens. many
cultures already do believe that all of nature is conscious. maybe we can also correlate consciousness with information-processing. wherever there's information integrating happening, there's consciousness, and there's a spectrum of consciousness. but what does it mean for all systems have consciousness -- can China have consciousness?
during the discussion, dan mentioned the tiny protein synthesis chains -- it's really hard to deny their aliveness. i think i see
he's talking about in my mind's eye with the proteins looking like little humans walking along tracks but i can't seem to find it.
as an aside, i like dan dennett's definition of postmodernism -- "there are no truths, only interpretation." also i think of reduction as "explaining away"
today i learned that solar eclipses only happen during new moons while lunar eclipses only happen during full moons. because the moon moves at 1700 km/h, the eclipse can last for a maximum of 7 min 32 seconds.