July 22, 2014

Vulcan Salute


The Vulcan salute is a hand gesture consisting of a raised hand, palm forward with the fingers parted between the middle and ring finger, and the thumb extended. The salute was devised and popularized by Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the half-Vulcan character Mr. Spock on the original ‘Star Trek’ television series in the late 1960s.

The gesture famously has a reputation for being difficult for some people to make without practice or the covert pre-positioning of the fingers, and actors on the original show reportedly had to position their fingers off-screen with the other hand before raising their hand into frame. This reputation may stem from variations in individuals’ manual dexterity. This reputation is parodied somewhat in the motion picture ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ when Zefram Cochrane, upon meeting a Vulcan for the first time in human history, is unable to return the Vulcan salute gesture and instead shakes the Vulcan’s hand. Continue reading

July 21, 2014

Nothing to Hide Argument

the lives of others

Cardinal Richelieu

The nothing to hide argument broadly states that police surveillance is only adverse to those doing something wrong. By this line of reasoning, government data mining and surveillance programs do not threaten privacy unless they uncover illegal activities, and if they do, the guilty person does not have the right to keep them private. The motto ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear’ was used to advertise closed-circuit television programs in the UK.

Geoffrey Stone, a legal scholar, said that the use of the argument is ‘all-too-common.’ Cryptographer Bruce Schneier described it as the ‘most common retort against privacy advocates.’ He cites French statesman Cardinal Richelieu’s statement ‘If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged,’ to describe how a state government can find aspects in a person’s life in order to prosecute, defame, or blackmail that individual. Schneier also argued ‘Too many wrongly characterize the debate as ‘security versus privacy.’ The real choice is liberty versus control.’ Continue reading

July 18, 2014



ding an sich

Haecceity [hek-see-i-tee] (from the Latin ‘haecceitas’: ‘thisness’) is a term from medieval philosophy first coined by thirteenth century Scottish theologian Duns Scotus which denotes the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing which make it a particular thing. Haecceity is a person or object’s ‘thisness,’ the individualizing difference between, for example, the concept ‘a man’ and the concept ‘Socrates’ (a specific person).

American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce later used the term as a non-descriptive reference to an individual. It may also be defined in some dictionaries as simply the ‘essence’ of a thing, or as a simple synonym for quiddity (‘whatness’) or hypokeimenon (‘underlying thing’). However, such a definition deprives the term of its subtle distinctiveness and utility. Whereas haecceity refers to aspects of a thing which make it a particular thing, quiddity refers to the universal qualities of a thing, or the aspects shares with other things (which is relevant to taxonomy, the science of classification). Continue reading

July 17, 2014

Album Era

Bring Out Your Records by James Lloyd

The Album Era was a period in English-language popular music from the mid 1960s to the mid 2000s in which the album was the dominant form of recorded music expression and consumption. It was primarily driven by three successive music recording formats, the 331⁄3 rpm phonograph record (1931), the audiocassette (1964), and the compact disc (1982).

In 1999, peer-to-peer file sharing application Napster was released, popularizing digital copies of music. The ease of downloading individual songs facilitated by it and later networks is often credited with ushering in the end of the Album Era in popular music. Continue reading

July 16, 2014



Napster was a peer-to-peer (P2P) music sharing application first developed in 1999 by Shawn Fanning at Northeastern University. The original program was available for three years before being shut down by a court order for copyright violations. The company’s brand and other assets was subsequently acquired at a bankruptcy proceeding by Roxio, maker of CD burning software. In its second incarnation Napster became an online music store until it was bought by music streaming site Rhapsody in late 2011.

Fanning lead the original company along with his uncle John Fanning and entrepreneur Sean Parker (who would go on to make billions as an early employee of Facebook). Later companies and projects successfully followed its P2P file sharing example such as Gnutella, Freenet, and many others. Some services, like LimeWire, Grokster, Madster and the original eDonkey network, were brought down or changed due to similar circumstances. Continue reading

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July 15, 2014




Antireductionism [an-tee-ri-duhk-shuh-niz-uhm] is a reaction against reductionism (the idea that a system can be totally determined by understanding its components), which instead advocates holism (sometimes called ‘whole to parts,’ in which a contextual overview precedes analysis of constituent parts).

Although ‘breaking complex phenomena into parts, is a key method in science,’ there are those complex phenomena (e.g. in psychology, sociology, ecology) where some resistance to or rebellion against this approach arises, primarily due to the perceived shortcomings of the reductionist approach. Holism is touted as an effective antidote against reductionism, psychiatric hubris, and scientism, a belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method. Arguments against reductionism therefore implicitly carry a critique of the scientific method itself, which engenders suspicion among scientists. Continue reading

July 14, 2014


the monkey wrench gang


Neo-Luddism is a philosophy opposing many forms of modern technology. According to a manifesto drawn up by the ‘Second Luddite Congress’ in 1996: Neo-Luddism is ‘a leaderless movement of passive resistance to consumerism and the increasingly bizarre and frightening technologies of the Computer Age.’ The name is based on the historical legacy of the British Luddites, textile artisans who rebelled against the Industrial Revolution and newly developed labor-saving machinery that threatened their livelihoods. Both the original Luddites and their modern counterparts are characterized by the practice of destroying or avoiding technological equipment as well as advocating simple living.

Neo-Luddism stems from the concept that technology has a negative impact on individuals, their communities and the environment. It also seeks to examine the unknown effects that new technologies might unleash. The modern Neo-Luddite movement has connections with the anti-globalization movement, anarcho-primitivism (a political critique of the origins and progress of civilization), radical environmentalism, and Deep Ecology (a contemporary environmental philosophy advocating for the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their instrumental utility to humans). The word Luddite is also used as ‘a derogatory term applied to anyone showing vague technophobic leanings.’

Continue reading

July 13, 2014

Anthony Ausgang

Anthony Ausgang

Anthony Ausgang

Anthony Charles Grant Thompson (b 1959), better known as Anthony Ausgang, is an LA based artist and writer born in Pointe-à-Pierre, Trinidad and Tobago. He is a principal painter associated with Lowbrow art, a populist movement with cultural roots in underground comix, punk music, and hot-rod culture. Ausgang was one of ‘the first major wave of lowbrow artists’ to show in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. The protagonists of his paintings are cats — ‘psychedelic, wide eyed, with a kind of evil look in their eyes.’

By 1993, his artistic production consisted of customized cars, original acrylic paintings, and commercial merchandise,  including clothing,  puzzles, toys, lighters, and posters. Laguna Art Museum commissioned Ausgang to design a hole for a miniature golf course exhibit at South Coast Plaza in 1996. In 2010, he did the cover art for the MGMT release ‘Congratulations,’ ‘an eye grabbing illustration that could easily been found on a Grateful dead release circa 1974.’

July 11, 2014

Open-source Economics

Yochai Benkler by Judith Carnaby

global village construction set

Open-source economics is an economic platform (a two-sided market with two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits) based on open collaboration for the production of software, services, or other products. First applied to the open-source software industry, this economic model may be applied to a wide range of enterprises. The system requires work or investment to be carried out without an expressed expectation of return; products or services are produced through collaboration between users and developers; there is no direct individual ownership of the enterprise itself.

The structure of open source is based on user participation. According to technology law professor Yochai Benkler, ‘networked environment makes possible a new modality of organizing production: radically decentralized, collaborative, and non-proprietary; based on sharing resources and outputs among widely distributed, loosely connected individuals who cooperate with each other without relying on either market signals or managerial commands.’ Continue reading

July 10, 2014

Nonviolent Communication

Marshall Rosenberg


Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is an interpersonal communicative process developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. NVC often functions as a conflict resolution process. It focuses on three aspects of communication: self-empathy (a deep and compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience), empathy (listening to another with deep compassion), and honest self-expression (expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).

NVC is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms others when they don’t recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs. Habits of thinking and speaking that lead to the use of violence (psychological and physical) are learned through culture. NVC theory supposes all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs and that these needs are never in conflict. Rather, conflict arises when strategies for meeting needs clash. NVC proposes that if people can identify their needs, the needs of others, and the feelings that surround these needs, harmony can be achieved.

Continue reading

July 9, 2014



The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions suggests that positive emotions such as enjoyment, happiness, and joy (and perhaps interest and anticipation) broaden one’s awareness and encourage novel, varied, and exploratory thoughts and actions. Over time, this broadened behavioral repertoire builds skills and resources.

For example, curiosity about a landscape becomes valuable navigational knowledge; pleasant interactions with a stranger become a supportive friendship; aimless physical play becomes exercise and physical excellence. This is in contrast to negative emotions, which prompt narrow, immediate survival-oriented behaviors. For example, the negative emotion of anxiety can lead to a fight-or-flight response concerned only with immediate safety. Continue reading

July 8, 2014

Unspoken Rule

rules of the game

baseball code by Chris Philpot

Unspoken rues are behavioral constraints imposed in organizations or societies that are not voiced or written down. They usually exist in unspoken and unwritten format because they form a part of the logical argument or course of action implied by tacit assumptions. Examples include unwritten and unofficial organizational hierarchies, organizational culture, and acceptable behavioral norms governing interactions between organizational members.

For example, the captain of a ship is always expected to be the last to evacuate it in a disaster. Or, as Vince Waldron wrote, ‘A pet, once named, instantly becomes an inseparable member of the family.’ Continue reading

July 7, 2014

What happens on tour, stays on tour


guy code

What happens on tour stays on tour is a notorious phrase or saying agreed to by men who get together and travel either interstate or overseas for sporting tours. In essence, the phrase means that all exploits during the tour must be kept strictly confidential, never to be discussed with anyone outside the group. In more recent years, the phrase has also been applied to men attending music gigs, going on business trips, and fishing holidays. The expression is also used in the US military when speaking of temporary duty assignment (‘what happens TDY stays TDY’)

The phrase has been described by Samantha Brett, a writer for the ‘Age,’ as an ‘unspoken male pact that for centuries can never be broken.’ In essence, if you were there you may discuss the events, but if you were not there, you get nothing. In contrast, ‘Rugby for Dummies’ describes the phrase as, particularly funny, embarrassing or debauched moments are for consumption only by the tourists themselves and not casual listeners back home. Continue reading

July 3, 2014

Concert Etiquette

beastie boys mosh pit

Concert etiquette refers to a set of social norms observed by those attending musical performances. These norms vary depending upon the type of music performance and can be stringent or informal. Etiquette is especially valued at concerts featuring music from the classical tradition. The cardinal principle at work is to let others listen to the music undisturbed. Instruments and voices are typically unamplified, the music is rich in detail, wide in dynamic range, and poetic in intent. Audiences want to hear everything.

Any noise louder than light breathing is best avoided. Experienced concertgoers try to suppress coughs and sneezes until a loud passage arrives, and muffle these with handkerchiefs. Electronic devices are turned off for the duration of the concert. Concertgoers try to arrive and take seats before the music commences. Late arrivals wait until a break between pieces allows seating by an usher. Conversation at a concert or opera normally stops at the first entrance of the chamber ensemble, or that of a soloist, concertmaster or conductor.

Continue reading

July 2, 2014

Illusion of Control

Placebo button

The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events, for instance to feel that they control outcomes that they demonstrably have no influence over. The effect was named by psychologist Ellen Langer and has been replicated in many different contexts. It is thought to influence gambling behavior and belief in the paranormal. Along with illusory superiority (overestimating positive abilities and underestimating negative qualities) and optimism bias (unrealistic or comparative optimism), the illusion of control is one of the positive illusions, unrealistically favorable attitudes that people have towards themselves or to people that are close to them. Positive illusions are a form of self-deception or self-enhancement that feel good, maintain self-esteem or stave off discomfort at least in the short term.

Psychologist Daniel Wegner argues that an illusion of control over external events underlies belief in psychokinesis, a supposed paranormal ability to move objects directly using the mind. As evidence, Wegner cites a series of experiments on magical thinking in which subjects were induced to think they had influenced external events. In one experiment, subjects watched a basketball player taking a series of free throws. When they were instructed to visualise him making his shots, they felt that they had contributed to his success. Continue reading


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