October 29, 2013

Brains are different like bikes are different.

The dominant analogy for the brain has tracked the leading technology of the day.

The human brain was like a clockwork, then a hydraulic system, then an electronic circuit, then a digital computer, then a computer network, – until the present day, when, according to Stephen Kosslyn & Wayne Miller, writing in the Wall Street Journal, the brain is like a bicycle:
Our brains are not engaged in some sort of constant cerebral tug of war, with one part seeking dominance over another. (What a poor evolutionary strategy that would have been!) Rather, they can be likened roughly to the parts of a bicycle: the frame, seat, wheels, handlebars, pedals, gears, brakes and chain that work together to provide transportation.
The distinguished scientist and journalist continue:
Although the ... parts of the brain are always used during all of our waking lives, people do not rely on them to an equal degree. To extend the bicycle analogy, not everyone rides a bike the same way. Some may meander, others may race.
To be sure, Kosslyn &  Miller are right: Brains are like bikes.

But Kosslyn &  Miller are wrong, in that brains are not different like bikers are different; brains are different like bikes are different.

The apt bike analogy for inter-individual differences in brain function is not inter-individual differences in how people ride bikes, but rather inter-individual differences in bikes. Road bikes, mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, touring bikes, BMX bikes, commuters, recumbents, etc. – bikes are different.

Brains are like bikes, and brains are different from one another like bikes are different from one another – not like how cyclists ride differently from one another, okay?

Because otherwise, you're just putting Descartes in the saddle.

October 26, 2013

"He's silent, wherever he is." [On metaphorical terrain.]

"By now one more American sheep the shepherds have temporarily lost track of, somewhere in the high country above this ruinous hour, cragfast* in the storm."

-From page 402 of "Bleeding Edge" by Thomas Pynchon.

*From the Oxford English Dictionary:

October 23, 2013

October 22, 2013

"She finds herself gazing out the window." [Towards the Deseret, a (fictional) apartment house.]

"She squints past roofline contours, vents, skylights, water tanks and cornices under this pre-storm lighting, shining as if already wet against the darkening sky, down the street to where the cursed Deseret rears above Broadway, one or two storm-nervous lights already on, its stonework at this distance seeming too uncleansable, its shadows too many, ever to breach."

-Just one sentence (the prior one provides this post's title) from page 199 of "Bleeding Edge" by Thomas Pynchon.

October 17, 2013

O Lucky Man!

(self-strangling morning glory; 
no cameras or photographers were harmed making this photograph)

I am very fortunate. 

I recently came upon a Serious Warning in my camera's user's manual: 

"Sunlight focused into the camera when the sun
is in or close to the frame could cause a fire."

And another: 

"When operating the viewfinder diopter adjustment control with your eye to the viewfinder, care should be taken not to put your finger in your eye accidentally."

I am very fortunate! Taking photographs – many photographs – without having heretofore consulted these Serious Warnings, I never set the camera on fire, nor stuck a finger in my eye. I shall give thanks for my good fortune, next month on Thanksgiving, once I get my finger out of my ear.

October 8, 2013

Is the paint made from crushed pearls, and applied by magic elves wielding brushes of unicorn hair?

Did you know that there's a hybrid car with a $63,000 paint option?

That's not the price of the car; that's the upcharge for the fancy paint.


Why do you think it's called Fall?

(in the air)


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