How "futureless" languages impact political thought

There are certain languages that don't differentiate between the present and the future. Estonian is the classic example of a "futureless tongue." According to new research by Efrén O. Pérez, co-director of Vanderbilt University's Research on Individuals, Politics & Society Lab and Margit Tavits, professor of political science at Washington University, language has a sizable impact on how we think about future-oriented policies. As William S. Burroughs said, language is a virus. From their scientific paper in the American Journal of Political Science:

Can the way we speak affect the way we perceive time and think about politics? Languages vary by how much they require speakers to grammatically encode temporal differences. Futureless tongues (e.g., Estonian) do not oblige speakers to distinguish between the present and future tense, whereas futured tongues do (e.g., Russian). By grammatically conflating “today” and “tomorrow,” we hypothesize that speakers of futureless tongues will view the future as temporally closer to the present, causing them to discount the future less and support future-oriented policies more. Using an original survey experiment that randomly assigned the interview language to Estonian/Russian bilinguals, we find support for this proposition and document the absence of this language effect when a policy has no obvious time referent. We then replicate and extend our principal result through a cross-national analysis of survey data. Our results imply that language may have significant consequences for mass opinion.

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If Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were an 8-bit video game

Directed by Norwood Cheek with animation by Dilara Mundy.

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How to roll dice in space

The microgravity of space would really put a damper on your dice games. You roll them and they don't land. The 3D Printing Professor has a fun solution. Space Dice (via Adafruit)

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Mousetrap vs. hot dog

If you ever doubted the ability of a simple mousetrap to rid your household of pesky hot dogs...

(via Cliff Pickover)

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"Gimme Some Truth" covered by David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets)

David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets fame and his frequent collaborator/manager Darwin Meiners cover John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth!"

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Can you "hear" flashes of light? Do you have synesthesia? Take a test.

Can you "hear" motion or light flashes? If so, according to new research from City University London, you may be experiencing a not-so-rare form of synaesthesia. Synesthesia is the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another sensory pathway. For example, a synesthete might taste sounds or hear colors. (In this study, 8 out of 40 participants, a very high percentage, were considered to have hearing-motion synaesthesia.) Here is their test for you to take yourself. From The Guardian:

(This new study) suggests that many more of us experience a less intrusive version of (synesthesia) in which visual movements or flashes are accompanied by an internal soundtrack of hums, buzzes or swooshes. Since movements are very frequently accompanied by sounds in everyday life, the effect is likely to be barely discernible.

When tested under laboratory conditions, the “hearing motion” effect appeared to enhance a person’s ability to interpret fine visual movements, but also interfered with the ability to hear real sounds when visual and audio signals were mis-matched.

“These internal sounds seem to be perceptually real enough to interfere with the detection of externally-generated sounds,” said Freeman. “The finding that this ‘hearing-motion’ phenomenon seems to be much more prevalent compared to other synaesthesias might occur due to the strength of the natural connection between sound and vision.”

In a separate study, the team tested for the phenomenon in trained musicians and found that it was much more common in the group. It is not clear if this is due to a natural disposition to link sounds and visual cues or whether thousands of hours of training might have strengthened the neural circuitry behind the effect.

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Animated series about Donald Trump's hair from Ferris Plock, Kelly Tunstall, Form & Fiction

Day Dreamers Limited -- the artist collective of Kelly Tunstall, Ferris Plock, and creative studio Form & Fiction -- are making an animated series starring Donald Trump's Hair as the protagonist! From Hair to the Throne:

Whenever the President drifts off to dreamland or is too busy Tweeting to notice, The Hair gets to work: undoing Trump’s wrongs, pacifying allies, counteracting hostilities, and unifying a divided nation....

This is not just a show about cheap laughs and making a mockery of our President. The overarching theme is the bipolar and symbiotic relationship between President Trump and The Hair, which together represent our divided nation.

Our plans are to have The Hair engage and challenge not only the characters in the fictional world of Hair to the Throne but in the real world as well. Just imagine for a moment, the delightful Twitter conversations @realTheHair will have with @realDonaldTrump as we hold our President accountable for being elected to the most powerful office in the free world. If every person whose voice was ignored on Election Day gives just one dollar, we will send the world a powerful statement, followed by even more powerful action. Only you can help us turn The Hair into a symbol for hope and democratic responsibility! #HopeIsInTheHair

Support "Hair To The Throne" on Kickstarter!

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See a fantastically strange red seadragon on video for the first time

Scientists declared the ruby seadragon a new species in 2015, but that was based on dead specimens in a museum. Now though, Scripps Institution of Oceanography biologist Greg Rouse who led the team that originally discovered the species, managed to find two of the wonderful fish swimming around the Recherche Archipelago, off the south coast of Western Australia. Each one is about 10 feet long. Just kidding. They're 10 inches long. From National Geographic:

After four dives with a remote-controlled mini-submarine, they managed to film two ruby seadragons more than 167 feet underwater, as the fish swam through rocky gardens of sponges and nibbled at their prey, most likely tiny crustaceans called mysids...

...The footage confirms that ruby seadragons use a different means of camouflage than its closest relatives. Common and leafy seadragons are covered in leafy outgrowths meant to camouflage the fish as they swim through seagrasses. The ruby seadragon, however, lacks them—opting instead for a scarlet body, an efficient way to disguise itself from predators in the dark depths.

Most surprisingly, the video suggests that the ruby seadragon can use its curled tail to grasp objects.

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Thinnest-ever electronic tattoos are capable of precision health monitoring

The graphene temporary tattoo seen here is the thinnest epidermal electronic device ever and according to the University of Texas at Austin researchers who developed it, the device can take some medical measurements as accurately as bulky wearable sensors like EKG monitors. From IEEE Spectrum:

Graphene’s conformity to the skin might be what enables the high-quality measurements. Air gaps between the skin and the relatively large, rigid electrodes used in conventional medical devices degrade these instruments’ signal quality. Newer sensors that stick to the skin and stretch and wrinkle with it have fewer airgaps, but because they’re still a few micrometers thick, and use gold electrodes hundreds of nanometers thick, they can lose contact with the skin when it wrinkles. The graphene in the Texas researchers’ device is 0.3-nm thick. Most of the tattoo’s bulk comes from the 463-nm-thick polymer support.

The next step is to add an antenna to the design so that signals can be beamed off the device to a phone or computer, says (electrical engineer Deji) Akinwande.

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Gorillaz new video with Benjamin Clementine in Trump Tower

The new Gorillaz video, the first track in six years from the animated, virtual band, features real singer and Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine crooning in Trump Tower. The song is called... "Hallelujah Money."

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Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker's new Political Objects online anthology with Luc Sante, Lydia Millet, etc.

BB pal Rob Walker says:

My Significant Objects co-conspirator Joshua Glenn and I have started a new adventure: PROJECT:OBJECT will publish four “themed” volumes of stories-about-objects from an all-star cast of writers. Volume 1, POLITICAL OBJECTS launched today, with stories from Luc Sante, Lydia Millet, and Ben Greenman. This series will continue on HiLobrow through Q1 (with a bunch clustered around Inauguration Day.) Then a new volume with a new theme will launch in April, etc.

The POLITICAL OBJECTS stories are here.

And here’s the once-a-week email newsletter we’ll use to distribute links to new stories in the year ahead.

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This is the creator of Comic Sans

Comic Sans MS, perhaps the most polarizing font in history, was designed by Vincent Connare for Microsoft and unleashed upon the world in 1994.

"If you didn't notice (a piece of art), I considered that was bad," Connare says. "And if you did notice, it was good."

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Trump's five most "anti-science" moves

Scientific American summarized five of Donald Trump's "major moves many see as hostile toward science." They are:

• Trump’s pick for head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has actively battled its mission

"To lead the EPA, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has long opposed environmental regulations and has questioned the science behind climate change."

He chose former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Energy Secretary

"It is a science-heavy department, and one that (climate change skeptic) Perry—who is not a scientist—had advocated dismantling during his 2012 presidential bid."

He chose an energy company executive for secretary of State

"Trump tapped former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State."

• He met with a vaccine critic while planning a commission on autism

"(Robert Kennedy, Jr) has repeatedly promoted discredited arguments that link vaccines to autism."

His transition team sought information about Energy Department staff associated with climate change

"In December Trump’s team asked the DoE for the names of employees who have worked on issues related to climate change."

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How Louis CK tells a joke

The Nerdwriter presents a fascinating analysis of why Louis CK's jokes are funny.

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Why the US Navy wanted to communicate using whale language

In the 1960s and 1970s, the US Navy researched whether they could use synthesized whale sounds for submarines to have encoded conversations across long distances underwater. Called Project COMBO, it was a fascinating attempt at biomimicry. The project's culminating experiment even attracted a pod of whales. Alas, Project COMBO ultimately failed, but it makes for a great story. From Cara Giaimo's article in Atlas Obscura:

Positioning themselves off of Catalina Island, 150 feet underwater, they blasted their squeaky, warbly codes through a transmitter. The receiver, placed at varying distances away, plucked the messages out of the noise flawlessly. Another test, in the fall, went deeper down and extended the range. In June of 1974, they sent out a real submarine, the USS Dolphin, which successfully transmitted sounds to a receiving ship—and, in a true vote of confidence, attracted a pod of pilot whales.

After these testing successes, researchers were left with a lot of work to do. Although they had the pilot whale on lock, they wanted to expand their repertoire by inventing “techniques and equipment to synthesize large whale sounds and small whale screams.” They still had to create scalable versions of their tools, including the call generator and the spectrograph-recognizer. Looking ahead, more problems loomed: the researchers figured this was a good enough idea that the Soviets would steal it, at which point American submariners would need to add another skill to their arsenal. “Fleet sonarmen must become more familiar with bioacoustic signals,” they wrote—inspiring thoughts of submarine soldiers, facing long days underwater, taking up sonic seal- and whale-watching.

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William Onyeabor, Nigerian funk music pioneer, RIP

William Onyeabor, the Nigerian musician who pioneered African electro-funk in the 1970s, has died. He was 70-years-old. Onyeabor's music experienced a resurgence in recent years thanks to the Luaka Bop label's reissues of his deeply groovy albums. From Luaka Bop:

It is with incredibly heavy hearts that we have to announce that the great Nigerian business leader and mythic music pioneer William Onyeabor has passed away at the age of 70. He died peacefully in his sleep following a brief illness, at his home in Enugu, Nigeria. An extraordinary artist, businessman and visionary, Mr. Onyeabor composed and self-released 9 brilliant albums of groundbreaking electronic-funk from 1977-1985, which he recorded, pressed and printed at Wilfilms Limited—his personal pressing plant in southeast Nigeria.

For people in his hometown of Enugu, Nigeria, Mr. Onyeabor was simply referred to as "The Chief”. He was known for having created many opportunities for the people in his community. In his early 30s, he traveled the world to study record manufacturing, so that he could build, "the greatest record manufacturing business in all of West Africa." After those successful years as an artist and record label President in the 1980's, he opened a flour mill and food processing business. In 1987 these new business ventures saw him awarded West African Industrialist of the Year—just two years after the release of his most successful song "When The Going is Smooth and Good", and what should have been the height of his musical career. He was given the honorary title "Justice of the Peace"—a local judicial position elected by the community to provide independent legal ruling.

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How to use a telephone

In ye olden days, a telephone user had to ask the operator to call the desired party and make the connection. Then the dial telephone empowered us all to, er, reach out and touch someone. This 1927 instructional film from the telephone company explains the basics: "The ringing signal is an intermittent burring sound telling you the bell of the called telephone is ringing." (via /r/obscuremedia)

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