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some recent links

A beautiful song inspired by the 2 Girls 1 Cup video, "How Do You Show Someone That They Are The One":

Bionic eyes... a heads up displays in contact form:

Phantom Erections:

Gender Optimized 2.0, by the lovely and talented transwoman folksinger, Jade Starr:

Pluralist voting systems such as the US system are the worst of all voting systems in use:

"Boy With the Incrdible Brain" video... this video is long but well-worth watching. I watched it over the break and am completely amazed and left wondering how this is neurologically possible... and even more convinced there is an extremely spooky connection between mathematics and the brain. This guy is a synaesthetic mathematical savant who sees a different unique shape/texture for each number between 1 and 999 in his head. By manipulating a whole landscape of shapes combining in his head, he can raise 2-digit numbers to powers up to (7 I think?), divide numbers out to nearly a hundred decimal places, and recite pi out to 22,500 places all seemingly without any effort:

Cyborg disqualified from the Olympics for being able to run faster than humans:

Vagina couch (I could totally just crawl in this and curl up! how delightfully freudian):

Law of Attraction: true or false? A good essay on the scientific basis for the so-called "law of attraction" and the way in which it's oversold and misrepresented to the public:

Power Drag (interesting but difficult to penetrate blurb on power dynamics, gender roles, and drag... based on some of Judith Butler's ideas, Lisa Diamond uses the term "power drag" to apply the idea of "gender drag" to power relationships):
(I just realized this is a link to a friends-only community post. Well, if you're interested in this stuff you can always join the community.)

Cheat Neutral (a rather poor parody of carbon offsets, but entertaining nevertheless):


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
The guy talking about voting systems leaves out some important criticisms of other systems. At one point he says there aren't really many known flaws with one or another system (maybe it was range voting, or approval voting?). But this can't be right - we just apply Arrow's theorem and see which criterion the system violates. If you can show that the criterion it violates is the least important one (independence of irrelevant alternatives) and it only violates it in certain uncommon cases, then that would be nice. But it's not clear that this is the case. Especially with range voting, it looks like there's every incentive to vote strategically - if I'm voting in the Democratic primary, and I prefer Clinton to Obama, but I'd be ok with them, or with three or four of the others, I might have reason to give Clinton my maximum vote, the others a medium vote, and Obama a 0, because I know he's the main competitor for Clinton. I believe approval voting has the same flaw (being a special case of the system). And both systems have the problem that there's no natural uniform way to convert the preference scale into numbers. If I'm voting on a scale from 1-10, do I give Clinton and Obama 9's, and Kucinich a 5, and Bush a 3? Or do I give them 9, 7, and 5 because I know that Bush is far better than Hitler or Stalin, or even Nazarbayev or Hussein or Musharraf or Mbeki? Or do I rate them 10, 8, and 1 because they're basically the extremes of my preferences among the actually viable candidates? Or what? Anyway, it's interesting stuff. Social choice theory is really interesting. (I just wrote a post about a different aspect of it here: http://tar.weatherson.org/2008/01/10/the-hiring-impossibility-theorem/)

Also, that "Law of Attraction" post was interesting. I still think it's irresponsible to say there's a "scientific basis" for it - the existence of this system he's talking about really isn't directly enough connected to the benefits he discusses to support them. But there is the intuitive and anecdotal claim that justifies the law just as well as this "scientific basis", which is that we have all always known that there are some things we notice and some things we don't. We know that something about our interests plays a role in this, as does something about what we've been primed to look for (by seeing similar things recently) as do many other factors. If there's some way we can really prime ourselves to notice things that really are important steps to self-improvement, then we can certainly do better in life. But none of this (including the "scientific basis" he cites) gives a clear answer to what exactly we should do to make useful things more prominent. Making our goals explicit is one simple step that can help, but it's far from clear whether this is the biggest single improvement or if counterintuitive things (like focusing on what we don't want, possibly) might work even better.
Jan. 20th, 2008 06:59 am (UTC)

Especially with range voting, it looks like there's every incentive to vote strategically

Yeah, interesting point. But surely whatever incentive you have to vote strategically with range voting, you're going to have a greater incentive if you just get to pick one candidate. In that case, you're practically being forced to vote strategically and not indicate what your real preferences are. Right?

I still think it's irresponsible to say there's a "scientific basis" for [the Law of Attraction]

He uses the phrase "it's a scientific fact" in his post, which I would agree is not a sensible statement (mainly because the idea of the Law of Attraction is a bit too vague to have a 1-to-1 correspondence with science in the first place). But I don't have any problem with saying it has a scientific basis. It's based on something that has a correlate in neuroscience... something that makes the basic idea plausible and useful, even if it is taken too far, exaggerated, and recast as something a bit different than it is.
Jan. 21st, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
The vagina couch gives new meaning to the phrase Fuck Yo Couch
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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