Generation of photo-realistic faces

Not real people.

In my Health collection because it sounds like maybe it could be healthy in some…

In my Health collection because it sounds like maybe it could be healthy in some particular way…

Donald Trump’s victory shook him. Badly. And so Mr. Hagerman developed his own eccentric experiment, one that was part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan.

He swore that he would avoid learning about anything that happened to America after Nov. 8, 2016.

The Man Who Knew Too Little
The most ignorant man in America knows that Donald Trump is president — but that’s about it. Living a liberal fantasy is complicated.

So, my last post a couple weeks ago was a great essay about Iain M Banks' Cu…

So, my last post a couple weeks ago was a great essay about Iain M Banks' Culture.

Today, I see that Amazon acquired the rights along with a script-to-series commitment for Consider Phlebas…the first of the Culture novels.

I'm nervous about how well it will make the transition to a TV show, but I'm excited to see how it pans out.

‘Consider Phlebas’ TV Series in the Works at Amazon
The retail giant and streaming outlet has acquired rights to the first novel in Iain M. Banks’ “Culture” series.

Iain M Banks was possibly the best sci-fi writer working in the late 20th century…

Iain M Banks was possibly the best sci-fi writer working in the late 20th century and this is a great essay describing why.

Compared to the other “visionary” writers working at the time – William Gibson, Neal Stephenson – Banks is underappreciated. This is because Gibson and Stephenson in certain ways anticipated the evolution of technology, and considered what the world would look like as transformed by “cyberspace.” Both were crucial in helping us to understand that the real technological revolution occurring in our society was not mechanical, but involved the collection, transmission and processing of information.

Banks, by contrast, imagined a future transformed by the evolution of culture first and foremost, and by technology only secondarily. His insights were, I would contend, more profound. But they are less well appreciated, because the dynamics of culture surround us so completely, and inform our understanding of the world so entirely, that we struggle to find a perspective from which we can observe the long-term trends.

As an example of how Banks thought about how technology would drive social change:

For example, once a society has semi-intelligent drones that can be assigned to supervise individuals at all times, what need is there for a criminal justice system? Thus in the Culture, an individual who commits a sufficiently serious crime is assigned – involuntarily – a “slap drone,” who simply prevents that person from committing any crime again. Not only does this reduce recidivism to zero, the prospect of being supervised by a drone for the rest of one’s life also serves as a powerful deterrent to crime.

Why the Culture Wins: An Appreciation of Iain M. Banks
Many years ago, a friend of mine who knows about these sorts of things handed me a book and said “Here, you have to read this.” It was a copy of Iain M. Banks’s Use of Weapons. I glanced over the j…

Just a reminder that the placebo effect mostly doesn't exist or is very tiny…

Just a reminder that the placebo effect mostly doesn't exist or is very tiny.

The most important study on the placebo effect is Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche’s Is The Placebo Powerless?, updated three years later by a systematic review and seven years later with a Cochrane review. All three looked at studies comparing a real drug, a placebo drug, and no drug (by the third, over 200 such studies) – and, in general, found little benefit of the placebo drug over no drug at all. There were some possible minor placebo effects in a few isolated conditions – mostly pain – but overall H&G concluded that the placebo effect was clinically insignificant. Despite a few half-hearted tries, no one has been able to produce much evidence they’re wrong. This is kind of surprising, since everyone has been obsessing over placebos and saying they’re super-important for the past fifty years.

Powerless Placebos
[All things that have been discussed here before, but some people wanted it all in a convenient place] The most important study on the placebo effect is Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche’s Is The Pla…

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid

As a nation, we began by declaring that ”all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocricy.

—Abraham Lincoln (August 24, 1855: Letter to Joshua F. Speed)

Audio causes things to vibrate

You can capture the vibrations on camera and then extract the audio information.

Generally, this requires a high frame rate camera, but the video also demonstrates a method of extracting the audio information from regular 60fps video by taking advantage of the rolling shutter effect (http://w4t.pw/7j).

"This isn’t an animation

It’s real images of stars sped up by a factor of 32 million. Watch them dance around a mysterious blank center."

(mysterious blank center, aka a black hole)

http://w4t.pw/77