Category Archives: General

Taking plastic to heart – a health narrative

I sort of cringe when I hear about microscopic images which show “visible, jagged-edged ‘foreign bodies'” in our cells.

And yet, there’s the more familiar lead thing. Who wants lead in our water supply (tap, bottled, etc.)? Aren’t all parents concerned? How have perspectives and perceptions changed in the past? In the present.

Even with modern chemistry, microscopes, chemical analysis, lab research & group studies, what does it take for collective agreement on the data? To trust the science? To take collective (political) action? To change habits?

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Profiling aging well

“Becoming a person of character” is a lifelong process … with challenges of growth vs. stagnation … and meeting “our intrinsic need for recognition and affirmation” [1].

Profiling successful people is an interesting exercise. Trying to characterize their key traits. Two articles …

This article discusses letting go of behaviors which subvert respect.

• Hack Spirit > “If you want to be respected as you get older, say goodbye to these 9 behaviors” by Mia Zhang (January 18, 2024) – The behaviors we hold on to and those we let go can make a huge difference in how others perceive us.

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Authentic – word of the year 2023

My personal word of the year is kayfabe. But …

Otherwise, in the wider, mainstream buzz: AP News, NPR, CNN, CNBC, …

So, in an info-verse awash in fake info, misinfo, disinfo, Merriam-Webster’s word for 2023 reflects erosion of the line between “real” and “fake.” And as traditional news sources are replaced by social media, presentation is everything – performative charm displaces deeper character [2].

[M-W article below] Authentic is what brands, social media influencers, and celebrities aspire to be. … Ironically, with “authentic content creators” now recognized as the gold standard for building trust, “authenticity” has become a performance.

Continue reading Authentic – word of the year 2023

AC as necessity, not amenity – a future of life-support

Imagine Prometheus bringing ice rather than fire, to a new age.

The age of air conditioning. A complicated history. Conspiracy theories. Fading stoicism. Where would we be without AC? Something we take for granted. Yet, increasingly a Catch-22.

When I taught public school in the 90’s, there were times when I brought in my own fans for the classroom. Multiple fans. Is learning possible in sweltering school buildings not designed even for cross ventilation? No AC. Distant water fountains.

When will air conditioning be standard in cars and trucks – no longer optional?

Heat zones, longer summers, wildfire smoke, grid instability, … climate migration …

This article has historical photos and useful visuals, including a timeline chart “How air conditioning arrived in U.S. households” from 1915 to 2020.

• Washington Post > “Addicted to cool” by Philip Kennicott (Sept 21, 2023) – How the dream of air conditioning turned into the dark future of climate change

Continue reading AC as necessity, not amenity – a future of life-support

The price of free

If something appears to be free …

… the old Earth saying, “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product.”


No such thing as a free lunch” (alternatively, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”, “There is no such thing as a free lunch” or other variants) is a popular adage communicating the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing.

The acronyms TANSTAAFL, TINSTAAFL, and TNSTAAFL are also used.

The phrase was in use by the 1930s, but its first appearance is unknown.

The “free lunch” in the saying refers to the formerly common practice in American bars of offering a “free lunch” in order to entice drinking customers.

Longevity and happiness? – Blue Zones

Is there a relationship between longevity and happiness?

Blue Zones? Five places around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives.

• > “5 tips for living to 100 from a top longevity researcher” by Stephanie Thurrott (Sept 8, 2023) – Dan Buettner, who has been studying people who live the longest for 20 years, shares their secrets.

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Robots don’t wipe butts – future of elder care?

Gerontology and Geriatrics

If we build them, will they be accepted? The Simpsons S31:E12 does not satirize issues about privacy and personal information – just butt wiping. [1] Might co-design and co-production of care robots improve acceptance? [2]

The crew

A team of international researchers, a model of robot acceptance, a small cross-sectional study across Japan, Ireland, and Finland.

The challenge

“Although care robots are being developed and improved at a rapid pace, their social acceptance has been limited.”

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Will androids be less tribal?

Contention arises easily from personality conflict. Sometimes such conflict is framed as that between different values. Yet, what strikes me more & more is that the problem is not unalike values, but that those values are applied only to one’s tribe. As noted in this article, “small tent” value systems – people loyal to their tribe, “and very unloyal to other tribes.”

In his latest Plaintext newsletter, Steven Levy recounts his conversation earlier this summer with legendary artificial intelligence researcher Geoffrey Hinton, “after he [Hinton] had some time to reflect on his post-Google life and mission” – in his “new career as a philosopher.”

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Humbling complexity – in 3 lb or so


The mystery of the brain

In a milieu of polarization, an era of claims to supremacy – “and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” – perhaps complexity can moderate pride. Complexity that resonates like a prayer.

There’s the wider stage of complexity – from the atomic to the cosmic scale. Ecosystems. Culture. But there’s the complexity right in our skulls. Our brain.

• > Humbling > “causing a person to feel less proud, especially through awe, admiration, or gratitude.”

The mystery of the brain – our sense of identity, our feeling of agency

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