Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Secret Lives of the Brain

A multiple source ~ YouTube, The Guardian, WSJ, Wikipedia and Eagleman's own website ~ mashup on an intriguing topic, being incognito even from ourselves, How very flânerie-apropos... to stroll not just the streets exploring levels above and below but to explore the mind as well, la vraie chambre double

ForaTv just uploaded a video:

Complete video at:; audio clip from book, 

David Eagleman, neuroscientist and author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (something less than a rave review from The Guardian), discusses the relatively minor role that the conscious mind plays in comparison to the rest of the brain. "The conscious part is like a stowaway on a transatlantic steamship that's taking credit for the whole journey without acknowledging the engineering underfoot," he says.

As neuroscientists are learning more and more about our body's hidden frontier, we have gained fleeting insights into our own intuition, habits and seemingly unexplainable preferences. Can we solve those mysteries by creating a complete computer model of our brain? Or, is the brain an unsolvable puzzle? Two leading neuroscientists discuss these question and more as we look into the neurology of the brain. 

David Eagleman's previous book, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, was a delightful collection of short fables, each offering a wish-fulfillment image of life after death in which the wish turns out to contain its own perverse consequences. The fable principle was grounded in a nicely ironic psychology, subtly underpinned by Eagleman's own profession, neuroscience. Using fiction, Eagleman found a neat way of revealing how the mind cannot escape the contradictions of its underlying construction.

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and a fiction ... More

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Taking a (Nature & Poetry) Walk to Remember

#Mountainair is not urban. Of course not. How obvious can a statement get? Yet the organizing idea here and indeed a multitude of ideas from related areas: urban walking; freestyle walking; urban walking tours, art and poetry walks. Community planning and design, especially of public spaces, can encourage walking. This walk described here surely calls to the Manzano Mountain Art Council and iCreate, inviting the addition of public art. Miriam Sagan's Santa Fe Community College poetry posts come to mind too.

It's time to update Mountainair's Comprehensive Plan:

Sameer Reddy in the Wall Street Journal writes:

ScreenHunter_10 Nov. 12 16.38
Nature and poetry share a long and loving history, as Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and Ralph Waldo Emerson's seminal essay "Nature," can attest. So when the New York Botanical Garden was planning the dedication program for its Thain Family Forest, a lush swath of newly restored old-growth forest in the garden's northwest corner, it found a natural partner in the Poetry Society of America.

The Poetry Society, in turn, commissioned Jon Cotner, the author, with Andy Fitch, of "Ten Walks/Two Talks" and the creator of various urban walking initiatives, to design an experience for Garden visitors. He devised "Poem Forest," the goal being to re-introduce them to one of the area's few remaining pockets of 17th-century woodland.

Beginning last weekend and concluding this Saturday and Sunday, the public has the chance to walk the Sweetgum Trail, stopping at 15 spots along the path where they can enunciate a selection of poetic fragments that resonate with the landscape and focus the senses. The lines have been sourced from a diverse group of poets who share an attunement to the wonders of the natural world.

Taking a Walk to Remember. More here.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Temporary Insanity: 10 Lessons Learned from NanoWriMo — Happenchance

A familiar story. I stumbled over it 7 years ago, not completing the first year but coming back every year thereafter (a few reluctantly) and completely all of them. Some people take exotic vacations, others might schedule annual assignation. I NaNo just to do it, for a lark, and with no ambitions to contribute a novel I probably would not want to read to the many already out there in that category.

The points raised here are good ones: just doing it improves your focus and any other writing you do. Multiple blogging and social media, content as well as commenting, promote scattered writing: here a post there a comment here a tweet there a share. Blogs and other writing might suffer this month but will benefit in the long run.


"I stumbled across something called Nanowrimo: National Novel Writing Month. The task is this: write a 50,000 word novel in one month. This averages out to 1,667 words a day.

After your month is up, you copy and paste your text into a little word counter. If you reach the goal, nothing really happens except that you’ve written 50,000 words in a month. Nanowrimo is free and offers plenty of forums for people to talk about their WIP (work in progress).

Most people who start don’t finish. In 2008, there were 119,301 participants and 21,683 winners."

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Gratuitous Graffiti: Robot Makes Random Wall Tags

Makes more sense than any number of projects, concepts, delusions, attitudes, notions and so... some even encountered this very day by a bemused and bothered flâneuse. This is how best to deal with them.

Graffiti takes time whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned expert. This crazy robot lets you sit back with a cold beer while it goes at the work of tagging an entire wall with your choice of spray paint. The drawback, of course, is that it’s a completely random process involving a wildly waving spray paint arm and a bunch of shapeless scribbles. But hey, at least you’ll avoid that miserable sore finger that comes from holding down the paint can button for too long

The Senseless Drawing Bot was invented by So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi for the singular purpose of scribbling random lines and swirls of paint on your chosen surface. The bot wheels itself back and forth in a straight line, swinging its metal arm and creating one-of-a-kind works of robot art.

We hear you out there asking “What’s the point?” But like so many other creative works out there, there’s no real answer to that. The Senseless Drawing Bot seems to exist solely to be weird, funny and different than most of the other graffiti projects out there.

Gratuitous Graffiti: Robot Makes Random Wall Tags and more good stuff from the Web Urbanist, a site the flâneuse adores, especially on those days when just being contrary is not enough

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Best of TED, Nov 2, 2011

Stretch your mind, will you please.... not wasting minds begins at home...

TEDNovember 2, 2011
This week, meet the molecule that could make us act morally ... explore two art projects about storytelling ...  check in on the open-source future of science ... 
Watch Video
What drives our desire to behave morally? Neuroeconomist Paul Zak makes the case for a hormone called oxytocin (he calls it "the moral molecule"). Watch now >>

Watch Video
After he ended up on an FBI watch list, artist Hasan Elahi was advised by local agents to let them know when he was traveling. He did that ... and more. Watch now >>

Watch Video
With scissors and paper, Béatrice Coron creates intricate worlds. Striding onstage in a glorious cape cut from Tyvek, she details her creative process. Watch now >>

Watch Video
How does cancer know it's cancer? At Jay Bradner's lab, they found (and shared)
a molecule that might be the answer. An inspiring look at the open-source future of medical research. Watch now >>
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