The Vietnam War

Watched the first episode (of 10) of The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick. It clearly showed how world events and U.S. politics resulted in our involvement and how badly we fucked things up. I kept thinking, “Why don’t I know this?” But it was current events or much of my early life and filtered through the media propaganda machine. I don’t expect to fully understand any important event until Ken Burns and his collaborators have time to make a documentary.

The truck is about done

The truck is about done. It’s getting “rough coating” applied to the footwells and the tub (the rear part of the vehicle). If I understand the procedure, rough coating is sort of spray-on bedliner. Protects the metal and less slippery. The door panel below is aluminum and they said we could cover it with vinyl; paint it the color of the exterior; or rough coat it. I went with rough coat.

Barring any problems, the truck goes to SF for break-in period and I hope to have it by mid-October.

Old Safe

Stopped by a local locksmith this week to have a key made and spotted this old safe. It had been in someone’s barn for a while and they brought it in to have it opened to see what was inside. The locksmith drilled the safe and found what looked to me like one of the first iPods. Would love to know the story.

The Nature of Consciousness

“In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Thomas Metzinger about the scientific and experiential understanding of consciousness. They also talk about the significance of WWII for the history of ideas, the role of intuition in science, the ethics of building conscious AI, the self as an hallucination, how we identify with our thoughts, attention as the root of the feeling of self, the place of Eastern philosophy in Western science, and the limitations of secular humanism.”

“Thomas K. Metzinger is full professor and director of the theoretical philosophy group and the research group on neuroethics/neurophilosophy at the department of philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany. He is the founder and director of the MIND group and Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies, Germany. His research centers on analytic philosophy of mind, applied ethics, philosophy of cognitive science, and philosophy of mind. He is the editor of Neural Correlates of Consciousness and the author of Being No One and The Ego Tunnel.”

“Simply hold your phone to your neck for a minute or two”

In an experiment, the technique was found to be as accurate as a 45-minute echocardiography scan, which currently requires a trained technician operating an expensive ultrasound machine. The smartphone technique measures how much the carotid artery displaces the skin of the neck as blood pumps through it.

To test the app, clinical trials were conducted with 72 volunteers between the ages of 20 and 92 at an outpatient magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facility. MRI is the gold standard in measuring LVEF but is seldom used clinically due to its high cost and limited availability. The measurements made by smartphone had a margin of error of ±19.1 percent compared with those done in an MRI. By way of comparison, the margin of error for echocardiography is around ±20.0 percent.

Full story

Less white and Christian than ever

Just forty years ago 81 percent of Americans identified as white and Christian, the majority (55 percent) Protestant. Today only 43 percent identity of white Christians, 30 percent claiming Protestantism.

America’s youngest groups are non-Christian: 42 percent of Muslims, 36 percent of Hindus, and 35 percent of Buddhists are under thirty.

While the old guard is aging, the religiously unaffiliated is ticking up. Fifty-eight percent consider themselves secular, with 27 percent claiming to be atheistic or agnostic. Sixteen percent state they’re religious while claiming no particular affiliation

When it comes to education, the three biggest groups of post-graduate degree holders are Unitarian-Universalists (43 percent), Hindus (38 percent), and Jews (34 percent). Researchers note that one-third of Muslims hold a four-year college degree, compared to one-quarter of white evangelical Protestants.

Source: Big Think