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Yo, whatsup - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Yo, whatsup [Dec. 21st, 2006|07:28 am]
Arvind Narayanan
[Current Mood |sleepysleepy]

Reality terrorism. I was walking past the TV yesterday when the "first ever act of terrorism captured live on video" was airing (I don't have cable myself; I was visiting someone.) I couldn't help thinking we could be seeing the beginning of what will be the future of both terrorism and the mainstream media. I'm certain there will be more live terrorism in the future. It is not entirely inconceivable that in the future, we will watch reality terrorism shows. Excuse me for a second, I don't find any google hits for that term, so I'm going to run down to the USPTO to trademark it so that I can make bajillions in a few years...

Southwest. When faced with a mountain of regulations in the name of security, airlines generally give up and pass the nuisance on to the customer. Southwest takes it like a sport some of the time though. They've had flight attendants tell jokes during the mandatory safety regulations thingy, but now they're doing funny accents! Gotta love'em. I don't know if that was impromptu or if it was in the script. Anyone else noticed?

Food update. I started thinking after my last blog post that my excessive eating could be a medical condition, and so I had a blood test done to check for hyperthyroidism. That came out was negative, but they did find I had somewhat low blood sugar, and since it was a couple of hours after a heavy meal, that might point to something. They're going to do further tests. (Interesting having M.D relatives; I do free tech support and get free medical checks :-)

Blood diamond. Is a must-see. DiCaprio's performance is stunning. Two Oscar noms in one year! I hope de Beers stock took a beating. Does anyone know?

The illusion of consciousness. This is one of my favorite soap-box topics. Anyone who doesn't see human consciousness for the thin, fragile illusion that it is should listen to Ramachandran's Reith lectures. One of the factoids is that our subconsciousness often makes decisions and later informs our consciousness, and we are somehow fooled into thinking we made the decision consciously. Occasionally you get to observe this process in action, and it's a beautiful, surreal experience.

What happened is that I accidentally took a gulp from a bottle of superhot water, and immediately reflexively spat it out. I was trying my best not to, I could hear my brain going "not on the carpet, not on the carpet", but I realized that I was actually watching events a split second after they happened (exactly as Ramachandran says, you just usually don't realize it). It's like watching yourself but not being in control of your actions. It lasts less than a second, but it's enough. When your brain fucks up, when different parts of your brain can't figure out which is the real 'you', your notion of a coherent self falls apart and shatters into a million pieces. Your brain won't let you see past the illusion of consciousness for more than a split second, but when it does the view is astounding, and then you know deep down that David Chalmers is wrong and Dan Dennett is right.

Alright, that's enough preaching for now, I've got a plane to catch in a couple of hours.

Oh, and if I don't get a chance to post again soon, Merry Christmas. And for the religiously intolerant, happy holidays or whatever.

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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-12-22 05:15 am (UTC)
nah, it's just a calorie thing. hypermetabolism.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-12-23 02:25 am (UTC)
That's a good one :)

The jokes I know for sure are scripted. I was curious about whether the funny accent was scripted too. I think it's less likely because most people can't put on an accent at will.
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[User Picture]From: amanda42
2007-01-07 03:19 pm (UTC)
Timothy Wilson's Strangers To Ourselves is a fascinating look at how much we really don't understand about ourselves. Related to what you mention above, we often make up reasons after the fact when we don't really have a rational reason for an action. He discusses a lot of interesting empirical research (split-brain patients, etc) into the nature of our subconscious and its interaction with our conscious minds. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/WILSTR.html
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2007-01-07 03:51 pm (UTC)
Sounds very interesting. Thanks!
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