In the News 20.03.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Monday 20th March, 2017
The Mind in the Whirlwind
In our last conversation about consciousness, Riccardo Manzotti and I arrived at a crux. Having found both brain- and action-based explanations of conscious experience unconvincing, Riccardo set out a radical alternative: our experience of the world (light, color, sound, smell, touch) is not a “movie in the head” provided by our neurons, nor the interaction between our bodies and our environment, but nothing other than the object itself. When I see an apple in front of me, I am the apple. Every perception is nothing more, nothing less, than the object perceived, hence every experience requires an external object to which it corresponds.
To those of us used to supposing that our experience is locked inside our heads and that our minds begin and end with our bodies, this externalist approach initially seems completely unacceptable, even laughable. How can my consciousness be both physical and outside my body? How can a subject, I, be identical with a thing? And since my experience changes, but the object clearly doesn’t, how can the two be the same?
Read the rest of this article at The New York Review Of Books
How Aristotle Created the Computer
The history of computers is often told as a history of objects, from the abacus to the Babbage engine up through the code-breaking machines of World War II. In fact, it is better understood as a history of ideas, mainly ideas that emerged from mathematical logic, an obscure and cult-like discipline that first developed in the 19th century. Mathematical logic was pioneered by philosopher-mathematicians, most notably George Boole and Gottlob Frege, who were themselves inspired by Leibniz’s dream of a universal “concept language,” and the ancient logical system of Aristotle.
Mathematical logic was initially considered a hopelessly abstract subject with no conceivable applications. As one computer scientist commented: “If, in 1901, a talented and sympathetic outsider had been called upon to survey the sciences and name the branch which would be least fruitful in [the] century ahead, his choice might well have settled upon mathematical logic.” And yet, it would provide the foundation for a field that would have more impact on the modern world than any other.
Why Chuck Berry Is Even Greater Than You Think
The first time I met Chuck Berry he was playing a club called Where It’s At, which, in contradiction of its name, occupied the second floor of a drab business building in Kenmore Square and was operated by longtime Boston DJ Dave Maynard and his manager, Ruth Clenott. It was 1967, and I was in my senior year of college, working at the Paperback Booksmith, as I had for the last four years, both in and out of school. I was making $65 a week. The reason I know this is because Chuck Berry signed my paycheck.
Read the rest of this article at RollingStone
This Article Won’t Change Your Mind
“I remember looking at her and thinking, ‘She’s totally lying.’ At the same time, I remember something in my mind saying, ‘And that doesn’t matter.’” For Daniel Shaw, believing the words of the guru he had spent years devoted to wasn’t blind faith exactly. It was something he chose. “I remember actually consciously making that choice.”
There are facts, and there are beliefs, and there are things you want so badly to believe that they become as facts to you.
Back in 1980, Shaw had arrived at a Siddha Yoga meditation center in upstate New York during what he says was a “very vulnerable point in my life.” He’d had trouble with relationships, and at work, and none of the therapies he’d tried really seemed to help. But with Siddha Yoga, “my experiences were so good and meditation felt so beneficial [that] I really walked into it more and more deeply. At one point, I felt that I had found my life’s calling.” So, in 1985, he saved up money and flew to India to join the staff of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, the spiritual leader of the organization, which had tens of thousands of followers. Shaw rose through the ranks, and spent a lot of time traveling for the organization, sometimes with Gurumayi, sometimes checking up on centers around the U.S.
The Strange, Spectacular Con of Bobby Charles Thompson
Donors all over America opened their wallets for his United States Navy Veterans Association. Politicians all over Washington posed for grip-and-grins with him. But not only was he not a legitimate fundraiser for military families—he wasn’t even Bobby Charles Thompson. A look inside the hunt to catch one of the country’s biggest con men.
In February 2012, Celia Moore opened an e-mail from a man looking to rent a room in her Portland, Oregon, home. “Friendly toward all,” he wrote. “No criminal history.” The man introduced himself as a retired police officer relocating from New Mexico and Montana. His name, he said, was Don Morsette.
Moore, a 67-year-old former paralegal with a Portlandian love of NPR and a bookshelf full of Ursula K. Le Guin, owned an old Victorian farmhouse in a blue-collar neighborhood. When Don visited for an interview, she found him pleasant and chatty. He had a thicket of dark hair that rose from his forehead and looked as if it had seen its share of dye. When he offered to pay in cash, Moore declined but was unfazed. Her boarders often strayed from convention—“They’re living a different life,” she says.
Don proved to be a well-mannered tenant, and the stories he told hinted that he was more worldly than he looked. He said he was part Chippewa-Cree and mentioned a terrible divorce. She could tell when he awoke because she could smell the Bengay he rubbed on his knee—he said he’d been a great dancer before injuring it while kickboxing. During the day, he left the house, saying he was a consultant with Boeing. “I didn’t give a rip what he was doing as long as he had his rent,” Moore says. Over time, Don told Moore about his years as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.
Then, about two months into Don’s stay, Moore was in bed and heard her dog growl. One of her other housemates came in. “We have a situation,” he said.
Downstairs, Moore found ten or so US marshals and Portland police officers in her living room. The head marshal introduced himself, then asked about her housemate Don—whom they had just arrested outside her front door.
Moore, concerned, asked if Don was okay.
“Well,” the marshal replied, “Don isn’t Don.”
Moore’s boarder didn’t work for Boeing. He was not a former cop, Native American, or divorced. And he’d been wanted on multiple felony charges for a year and a half.
Read the rest of this article at Washingtonian