Friday Coffee

Google Doodle celebrating the birthday of zoologist Dian Fossey (1932-1985).  Dian studied the social behavior of gorillas in their natural habitat, becoming an honorary gorilla in the process.  An advocate of conservationism, Dian wrote Gorillas in the Mist to further public understanding of primates and the risks they face.  

Further reading:

Dian Fossey: What was her biggest discovery? (Christian Science Monitor)

Zoologist Dian Fossey: A Storied Life with Gorillas (National Geographic)

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Album Art

Tropics - Invitation

from Popup Cinema EP

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Played 150 times.
Xuming Haute Couture
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Xuming Haute Couture

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n. the frustration of being stuck in just one body that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die—and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

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Solid science sometimes devolves into pseudoscience, but the imprimatur of being science nevertheless may remain. No better example of this is the popular “left brain/right brain” narrative about the specializations of the cerebral hemispheres. According to this narrative, the left hemisphere is logical, analytic, and linguistic whereas the right is intuitive, creative, and perceptual. Moreover, each of us purportedly relies primarily on one half-brain, making us “left-brain thinkers” or “right-brain thinkers.”

This characterization is misguided, and it’s time to put it to rest.

Two major problems can be identified at the onset:

First, the idea that each of us relies primarily on one or the other hemisphere is not empirically justifiable. The evidence indicates that each of us uses all of our brain, not primarily one side or the other. The brain is a single, interactive system, with the parts working in concert to accomplish a given task.

Second, the functions of the two hemispheres have been mischaracterized. Without question, the two hemispheres engage in some different kinds of information processing. For example, the left preferentially processes details of objects we see whereas the right preferentially processes the overall shape of objects we see; the left preferentially processes syntax (the literal meaning), the right pragmatics (the indirect or implied meaning) and so forth. Our two hemispheres are not like our two lungs: One is not a “spare” for the other, redundant in function. But none of these well-documented hemispheric differences come close to what’s described in the popular narrative.

It is time to move past the popular but incorrect left brain/right brain narrative.


Psychologist Stephen M. Kosslyn, director of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, is among the 176 prominent scientists who answered this year’s Edge Question: ”What scientific idea is ready for retirement?”

Also see this animated case against the left/right brain divide, then look back on previous compendiums of famous scientists’ answers to the annual Edge Questions, including “What scientific concept will improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” (2012) and “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” (2013).

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Album Art

Tom Waits - Alice

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Played 3161 times.

I’m Going Away (by s@mar)

"The niece of the great Mongol leader, Kubla Khan, Princess Khutulun was described by Marco Polo as the greatest warrior in Khan’s army. She told her uncle she would marry any man who could wrestle her and win. If they lost they had to give her 100 horses.

She died unmarried with 10,000 horses."

Style Asahi February 2014 (by Tatsuro Kiuchi)

Serge Gainsbourg - L’Hôtel Particulier (by La serinette enivrante)


"[You are not a match.]
You are a goddamn wildfire."

Amanda Oaks, How to Pick Up the Pieces

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