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Nature

This category contains 84 posts

Fake followers

Singer Katy Perry has nearly 100 million followers on Twitter according to Friend or Follow. Close behind are Justin Bieber and Barack Obama, with Donald Trump ranked 34th in line with about 31 million followers. You don’t need to be a follower to find out what people are tweeting. You can just search on their … Continue reading

Reverse analytics

Can you infer a person’s politics from their online footprint? Let’s start with something less contentious: a person’s nature preference. If you were raised in a school and home environment that encouraged you to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature pursuits, then it is highly likely that in later life you will respect the environment, … Continue reading

What’s wrong with accelerationism

“You can’t always get what you want” is the puzzling refrain that echoed out over the PA at the end of Trump rallies, and was repeated at his subsequent post-victory reprieve rallies. The less audible punchline of the song is, “You just might find you get what you need.” Getting what you need is more important than … Continue reading

In bad taste

France, and some other countries, use the two-round election system. If there’s no majority vote winner from among a set of candidates then there’s a second election. It’s a playoff between the top two candidates. Binary choices are often easier to deal with, and are decisive. Of less consequence than state elections, I find it easy enough to choose … Continue reading

Reverse image search

Biologists have worked out how to use Google’s “reverse image search” to scour scientific papers for similarities between microscopic samples they have photographed and photographs reported in scientific papers by others — on the basis of image matching. This is very powerful. Can practitioners of art and design find equally useful applications of readily-available image matching technology? This weekend marks the … Continue reading

You have reached your destination

It sounds final. “You have reached your destination,” says my car SatNav. Achieving a goal is melancholic in several respects. Some achievers realise there’s nothing left. It’s not going to get any better. Then some think their achievement doesn’t accrue all the benefits they expected. Freud also explained melancholy as a tendency to focus on losing something, even if it is … Continue reading

Brainwalks

How can EEG (electroencephalography) help us understand people’s responses to outdoor environments? Due to its constraints, the technology lends itself to two tasks. The wearer of the head-mounted EEG technology is either (1) stationary in the environment, passively observing and listening, or (2) mobile. In the latter case, the EEG wearer just walks, slowly and deliberately. I … Continue reading

End of nature

In what sense is nature ended? It is not just that natural environments have been polluted, over-managed, or subjected to human control, but nature has changed its meaning. This question provides a further touch point for nature and semiotics. Writing in the 1980s, environmental writer Bill McKibben said of nature that it  “is now a category like … Continue reading

Less of one and more of the other

The natural is in opposition to the artificial — or so we think. Some oppositions lie at either end of a spectrum, with gradations between. e.g. light versus dark. That’s an opposition with an inverse relationship. The more light you add to an image, the less dark it is. The louder things get, the less quiet; the hotter, the less … Continue reading

Inmate takes over the asylum

One Republican senator said after the historically “extraordinary” unpresidential press conference this week, “He (@realDonaldTrump) should do this with a therapist, not with the country” (The Hill). The occasion came across as an open and public catharsis. The rest of the world got drenched in the outpourings of his singularly troubled unconscious. Long term care institutions (asylums) for psychiatric patients are mostly … Continue reading