- CATEGORY / life and words
- Words with dundant or fluous fixes
Words that aren’t opposites real — unreal canny — uncanny valuable — invaluable credulous — incredulous fact — fiction (this is actually a deep one. Roots of both are in proto-indo-european words for “to make”) mure — demure vert — invert aging — imaging pact — impact mediate — immediate predate — postdate toward — […]
- Bless me
So I was just walking down the street when some nice person I don’t know gave me a nice kind smile and said “God Bless You” kind of out of nowhere. At first I thought, “How nice and friendly, I love small towns” and I transitioned from there into “What a strange and archaic greeting.” […]
- Generosity of spirit is the generosity of taking
I used to experiment with giving. In one instance I walked around my daily life with a bag of cherries, offering them to acquaintances and even random people on the street. It’s obnoxious, I know, but I would get all pushy and at other times try to guess who would take me up. It didn’t […]
- Individually wrapped M&Ms
Visiting Japan, and with a little time in Taiwan and Korea, it’s been comical the amount of packaging around snacks in East Asia. But these individually wrapped M&Ms, from Indonesia, take the cake. They’re packaged with a foil backing, like pills.
- Some people know how to kill
Certain processes are vital to the computer’s operation and should not be killed. For example, after I took the screenshot of myself being attacked by csh, csh was shot by friendly fire from behind, possibly by tcsh or xv, and my session was abruptly terminated. Context? This. Turns out I’m only 14 years behind the […]
- Some people know how to live
While following the Rolling Stones across the country during their 1972 tour, Jim Bell found a discarded cardboard sign on the side of the road that read: “ALASKA.” On a whim he picked it up and stuck his thumb out. He’s been here ever since.*
- The scientist as dataset — specifically a high-rez, 4-D facial capture dataset
I am data for my colleagues at Disney Research. Note lawless dentition and sorry excuse for anger.
- Sailing west down the Panama Canal will get you into which ocean?
The Atlantic. And when you get to the Pacific, and sail up to L.A., you can drive west toward Reno. WHile we’re at it, there is also a sliver of the world where the timezones go backward. Thank you geopolitics. Photo from Wikipedia.
- Toothbrushes are up to 95% less effective after 3 months and hugging your children regularly can raise their risk of anxiety, alcoholism, or depression by up to 95%
It sounds impossible, but this statistic is true: Hugging your child regularly can raise his or her risk of anxiety, alcoholism, or depression by up to 95%. I don’t even need a citation. Does it mean parents should stop hugging their children? No. You’d think that it couldn’t possibly be right, but the truth is […]
- “No wang-wang zone”
My dad lives in the Philippines, and I was in the Manila airport on my way to visit him. I was in the part where you get in line and wait for them to glance at your passport when I saw a cheap computer printed sign taped to a column. This is a no wang-wang […]
- Flat Pilar’s world vacation
In 2010, Flat Pilar went around the world. Real Pilar never learned about it, probably never will. Paris, France Hong Kong, China Bangkok, Thailand Penang, Malaysia Timika, Indonesia Flat Pilar thanks Hurley & co. for the trip.
- Words whose acronyms take longer to pronounce
WWW WWII WTF maybe any acronym with W in it, possibly no other acronyms Oh, just thought of an acronym with a W that might be an abbreviation of its source: WWF. Theory-wise, this phenomenon should be a puzzle for researchers who assume that efficiency is an important factor in language change and evolution.
- Irony is the flatulence of truth
I can actually defend this: The world is complicated so the truth is too, and it can’t always contain itself. Irony reveals parts of the truth, but always out around the back, and in sudden spurts. Even when you don’t see it you can still sense it. I could keep going.
- Auspicious and inconsequential
“Auspicious” and “inconsequential” are two tidy words for describing the experience of being burger customer number one. I like that they can coexist with so little friction. Maybe it works because auspicious wafts superstitious.
- Is it possible to forge your own signature?
It’s true for everyone that no two signatures are identical, at least in the sense that no two periods on a page are identical. It’s a little more true for me. My signature is sloppy, but I’ve never been called out on it until now. I’ve been trying to get a credit card and the […]
- The selling out diaries: Surprising sources of pressure
I’m a behavioral scientist, pretty lefty, and I currently do research for a major media corporation. I predicted before taking on this job that I would feel some pressure to drift from deeper questions about society towards “business school” questions — questions that are less about human behavior and more about consumer behavior. What I […]
- My first autogenerated recommendation letter
I was procrastinating through my LinkedIn backlog when I found this note from an old acquaintance: Dear Seth, I’ve written this recommendation of your work to share with other LinkedIn users. Details of the Recommendation: “Seth is a personable and empathetic leader with a passion and a drive to see his goals through to completion. […]
- Exclamation point on a flag?
There is the category of thoughts that were nice to think halfly because I never imagined thinking them. One was trying to figure out if/how/why it’s redundant/deep to include an exclamation point on a flag. Maybe because each are such active forms of non-action, and the combination makes such a louder call to talking about […]
- Are existential crises heavier when you don’t exist?
This robot fails the turing test on herself. She can keep Claude Shannon’s Ultimate Machine company in the category of Self Denying Automata That I Think Are Deep But I Can’t Tell And That’s Why They Are.
- Na na na na na na na, Na na na na na nah…
That’s a screenshot from work. I also work with the less versatile NaN.
- Hayek’s “discovery” is the precognition of economics
I’m exaggerating, but I’m still suspcious. I think Vernon Smith does have some interesting, unconventional work in that direction. There are also null results.
- A list of things I wanted to know in July 2013
the biology of mushrooms the mathematical methods of physics: how to wreak havoc on equations the name and history every plant I step on when we should have decentralized control, when we should have bosses the contributions of statistical physics to social science more theoretical neuro more theoretical bio more theoretical ecology how to evolve […]
- Is it immoral to not read the newspaper?
Is it immoral to not educate myself about political issues that affect thousands and millions of lives. If I’m a voter? If I’m a resident of a (the) superpower? If I, as a scientist, try not to have opinions? I ask these questions from the far extreme. I get my current events by reverse engineering […]
- Enfascination 2013
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Thus spoke Martin Luther King Jr. in a great endorsement for humility, curiosity, and discovery. On Thinko de Mayo, from 1PM, you will have five minutes to help us see how dangerous we are. You may share anything at all during your […]
- Militant atheism is oppressive atheism. c.f. Portugal
Wikipedia’s list of religious slurs contains the Portugese slur “Ateu-graças-a-Deus.” It translates to “‘Thank God’ atheist,” and its what you call someone who is only atheist in public, but who secretly believes. Fortunately American culture doesn’t yet have a need for that kind of atheist. Its symptomatic of an atmosphere in which believers are coerced […]
- Enfascination 2012 number 2 at the Complex Systems Summer School in Santa Fe, NM
I spent the summer of 2012 with fascinating people. Seeing only their talent as scientists, I thought I knew how fascinating they were. But this short-notice series of short talks revealed their depth. There is no record of the proceedings, only the program: SFI CSSS Enfascination, for we must stop at nothing to start at […]
- Enfascination 2012 audio
Some things take time, but it only takes an instant to realize that you have no idea what’s going on. This epiphany-every time it happens-is punctuated by the sound of 500 stars around the universe literally exploding, dissolving their planets and neighbors in flaming atoms, in silence. It happens every instant, forever. As right as […]
- The Reesee Cup and other bits of the southern Indiana dialect
“Libary”, “supposably”, and other wonderful nuggets welcomed me to southern Indiana five years ago. I no longer have inSUREance, I have IN-surance. I eventually also learned that the grass needs mowed, the fence needs painted, the dishes need washed, and the car needs fixed and sold. But the best ones are those that it takes […]
- “Seth Frey the Sandwich Guy”
In high school I would bring very large sandwiches constructed with many pounds of meat and bread. They were famous enough that I would sell them. I bought some in exchange for people’s souls. Jonathan Lazarus wouldn’t sell his, but he offered to make me a song instead, and I couldn’t have hoped for more. […]
- My Awe Talk: Inventors who were killed by their own inventions
Awe Talks are a 5-minute fun lecture series started by my pal Kyle. He asked me to record one, here: http://vimeo.com/59541529
- What big titty b****** taught me about institution design
In institutional economics, there are four main kinds of resource, classified by whether they are limited (yes or no) and whether you can keep others from using them (yes or no). Now everyone who uses these categories knows that they are fuzzy, and full of exceptions. They can vary in degree, by context, and in […]
- The real Makkie
So I was at a lumber yard looking at the fancy woods they’ve got. A guy on the yard was walking me through showing me what they’ve got, and at the end he added with a gesture “… and this here is just the run of the mill.” I realized at that moment that I […]
- Enfascination 2012
Some things take time, but it only takes an instant to realize that you have no idea what’s going on. This epiphany—every time it happens—is punctuated by the sound of 500 stars around the universe literally exploding, dissolving their planets and neighbors in flaming atoms, in silence. It happens every instant, forever. As right as […]
- Incubation ranges for different food-borne illnesses
Neat: incubation ranges for many food-borne llnesses. No, I didn’t get sick, I just got curious because of Kate’s research on Tweet What You Eat.
- How to learn every spice in the cabinet
So many of my peers are going epicurean. Its beautiful because I think cooking is empowering: it encourages people to try new things and experiencing new ways of thinking. It worrisome because it provides another thoroughly commodified identity, with all kinds of vocabulary for justifying not liking something. I spent a year convinced that I […]