# When 2 + 3 Is Not 5, Some Call it an Enigma

Numbers and the Internet. Man-made to gauge and track the world, they’re both endless and will go on long after we’re gone. As matter can always be reduced to its numeric essence, so all manner of human expression may one day reside in the digital realm.
Take 23, for instance, the number assigned by fate to my first breath. Like with other numerals, there are hundreds of Websites about it, from math and numerology to cults and strange coincidences, with everything in between, besides, of course, celebrity birthdays.
Age-wise, few are like 23, and most of anyone would consider it among life’s best years. Perhaps. We hardly appreciate it then or even notice it. But as it recedes, it locks in the imprint of an age when choices are wide open, if not nearly wise, and self-fulfillment is mandatory.
A mind-boggling assortment of arcana is related to 23 as a prime number, but even as its complexities keep planets spinning, and the ISS aloft, few are wise to them. We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes, though, even if they no longer dictate one’s gender.
A curious statistical theory, the Birthday Paradox, says that within a group of 23 people, chances are, two share the same day of birth. That’s the least amount of people to whom such a likelihood is higher than 50 percent. But please, don’t go asking strangers for their DOB.

THE CHAOS & MYSTERY OF NOT MUCH
Yes, there are at least two weird groups that attribute 23 a special meaning. Discordianism associates it with chaos, with some mumbo-jumbo about inverting the pyramids (you read it right), and the goddess Eris. By the way, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built with 2.300 stones, so there you have it.
As for 23rdians, they see the number as an enigma permeating all spheres of existence, claiming author Robert Anton Wilson as a spiritual mentor of sorts. Wilson, in turn, may have caught the 23 fever from William Burroughs, who once told him about his own obsession with it. And let’s not even start with the bible.
Add to these, well, peculiar people, such Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash. Despite his work on economics, he is almost better known for having a strange, and tragic, fixation on the number (and Pope John XXIII, but if you have to ask, don’t). And of course, (more)
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* On This Day
* You Say It’s Your Birthday

# Quando 2 + 3 Não É 5, Alguns Vêem Um Enigma

Números e a Internet. Criados para avaliar e rastrear o mundo, são agora infinitos e vão seguir existindo muito depois de desaparecermos. Como a matéria pode se reduzir à sua representação numérica, toda expressão humana um dia vai residir apenas no reino digital.
Por exemplo, o número 23, que o destino me deu com meu primeiro sopro de ar. Como outros, existem centenas de Websites sobre ele, de matemática ou numerologia, cultos e estranhas coincidências, com tudo o mais no meio, incluindo é claro, o aniversário de celebridades.
Do ponto de vista da idade, muito poucas são como os 23 anos, and quase todo mundo os considera entre os melhores de suas vidas. Pode ser. Temos a tendência de apreciar este tipo de coisa quando ou se está aproximando, ou se distanciando rapidamente daquela idade. Mas é um tempo quando as escolhas ainda estão em aberto e a busca de realização ainda é uma prioridade.
Existe uma vastidão arcana online, relacionada com o 23 como número primo, mas mesmo que suas complexidades estejam por trás do movimento dos astros e mantenham a Estação Espacial flutuando, poucos têm intimidade com ele. O que se sabe é que todos temos 23 pares de cromossomos, mas isto não mais determina o gênero sexual de cada pessoa.Uma curiosa teoria estatística, o Paradoxo do Aniversário, reza que dentro de um grupo de 23 pessoas, há grande possibilidade de que duas delas nasceram no mesmo dia. Esta é a quantidade mínima de pessoas para a qual existe uma probabilidade estatística maior do que 50 por cento. Mas por favor, não começa a perguntar a estranhos sua data de nascimento.

O CAOS & MISTÉRIO DE QUASE NADA
Sim, existem pelo menos dois grupos esquisitos que atribuem ao 23 um significado especial. Discordianismo o associa com o caos, usando uma patavina qualquer sobre pirâmides invertidas (isto mesmo), e a deusa Eris. Falando nisto, a Grande Pirâmide de Gizé foi construída com 2.300 pedras, para quem perguntar.
Já os 23ianos (fazer o quê?) consideram o número como um enigma que permea todas as esferas de existência, e consideram o escritor Robert Anton Wilson como uma espécie de mentor espiritual. Wilson, por sua vez, talvez tenha sido contagiado com a ‘febre dos 23,’ através de William Burroughs, que uma vez lhe comentou sobre sua obsessão particular com o número.
Some a estas, digamos, pessoas peculiares, o ganhador do Nobel John Forbes Nash. A despeito de seu trabalho em Economia, ele era quase mais famoso por ter tido uma relação estranha, e trágica, com o número (e também o Papa João XXIII, mas se você tiver que perguntar, não pergunte). E é claro, o filme Uma Mente Brilhante, sua biografia vivida por Russell Crowe. Há também um outro filme, alemão, (mais)
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Leia Também:
* On This Day
* You Say It’s Your Birthday

# Baby, You Can’t Drive My Car. Nor Should You

Well, it was a good run. From its late 1600s invention to its 20th-century mass production, the car enjoyed a fast, risky, and racy love affair with people. But alas, it may be over. And the signs of a probable popularity crash are coming from some quite unexpected places.
Mainly, its evolution. See, once we begin traveling in driverless, accident-proof, shape-shifting vehicles, what can possibly come next? The quicksand of moral considerations, of course. Or, rather bluntly, will your model choose to save your life or those in the school bus?

At the very least, that’s what we get when we aim at convenience: we’re so willing to trade our hands-on approach to driving with the exactitude of machines, that they may as well make decisions against our best interests. Meaning, save the kids, dump you down the ravine.
With the vexing plus of such artificial intelligence, now capable of safely handling a one-tone speeding vehicle among hundreds of others, not being even that intelligent. The technology that allows a car to go from point A to point B is as old as that which built the pyramids. Just like pushing blocks onto a prefab grid.
We’re not knocking the brave new world of computer research, and the wonders of such a complex piece of engineering that gets us there faster. An evolutionary leap that, in less than a century, rendered the human factor nearly obsolete, as far as its moving parts are concerned.
And yes, thanks to those who came before, to Ferdinand Verbiest, to Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, to Gustave Trouvé, and to Karl Benz, as well as to the man many Americans erroneously believe has invented the automobile: Henry Ford. We’ll give you a minute to check these names out.
Ford did leave an indelible imprint on this evolutionary arch, but perhaps much more relevant may have been his contribution in the context of the U.S.’s technological expanse during his lifetime. And, of course, for having resisted the public clamor for what seemed more needed then: a faster horse.

YOU MAY SLEEP AT THE WHEEL

When Google successfully completed tests of its driverless car almost a decade ago, the driver’s license began its final move towards oblivion, along with birth certificates and notary signatures. A scannable eye, voice, or barcode is all that’s needed; everything else about you is already on file.
So will some familiar rites of passage, such as learning how to drive with a relative, or being the designated driver to your friends. It may not happen next month, or after Covid-19, but we’ve been down this road a few times already to know what comes around the corner.
In itself, the concept of being driven (more)
___________
* Get Moving
* Mushroom Car

# Memories of the Future, or     What We Forget to Recollect

Guess what? It may be a good thing that you can’t remember what they’ve told you about your memories. As it turns out, you don’t have to be a savant or try to associate facts with objects, or colors, or smells. It won’t hurt if you do, but either way, it won’t make much of a difference to most, in the big scheme.
Some exercise their recalling skills like a muscle. Others picture things as if in a photograph. People either struggle to remember or choose to forget. And yes, there are those geniuses. But if you’re none of the above, no reason to despair; it’s been quite a while since we too gave up all hope of ever finding that extra set of keys anyway.
We could save some time and say that science has no clue, but that would be an over-simplification. The more researchers dig, the more distractions they find, affecting how we remember things, produce memories, and even adopt somebody else’s recollections. One thing is for sure: some people are really prodigies recalling details of the past.
How we deal with our memories is, of course, highly personal. We strive to portray our private history as an accurate and favorable reflection of who we think we are. But much conspires against such a seamless narrative, the first thing being exactly that: the narrative.
To tell the story, we need to make sense and fill in the blanks, the details that reality, or memory, not always provided. It’s also disturbing to come across someone who has a different take on the same events. But that’s exactly what siblings and spouses often do. Not to go overboard here, but that’s why we sometimes hate them so much.

THE WEATHER ON FEB. 23, 1955
How do you call someone who didn’t walk until he was four, couldn’t button up his own shirt, had trouble with even the most basic motor skills, had an average 87 I.Q. and, nevertheless, could recall every single weather report going back over 40 years? a Rain Man, or his birth name, Kim Peek, to whom the term savant was defined.
When he died in 2009, he’d become worldwide known, thanks to his portrayal by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 movie. And yet, even with such a gifted actor at the helm, the film barely scratched the mystery of what it means to be someone with such an astonishing mental ability and yet living inside a mind of a tween.
Many others with similar uncontrollable talents have been known by science. But there’s a new breed of ‘recallers,’ as we’d call them, who’re functional human beings, unlike Peek and other savants, according to NPR reports. The University of California at Irvine memory researcher James McGaugh, for example, has been studying 11 such individuals. Many are on the autistic spectrum of Asperger’s Syndrome.
They’re no better than anyone else at performing standard memory tests, such as repeating back lists, though. What they excel at is recalling, in piercing detail, events of their own lives. A person in the group could recall, for instance, an assortment of things that happened on a particular day more than 30 years ago, just because that’s when his football team lost. Is that also why you remember ‘that’ so vividly?

EXPERIENCE VS. NARRATIVE
The research itself, which involves brain scans and a thorough psychological evaluation of the participants, breaks new ground into the study of how we remember some things, and completely forget others. In a recent Ted Conference, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman discussed yet another approach to tackle the complex subject.
The founder of behavioral economics finds a distinction between our ‘experiencing selves’ and our ‘remembering selves,’ and how we often fail to fully appreciate either of them. (more)
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* Vessels of Tears
* Two Thursday Tales

# How to Skip Your OwnBirthday Celebration

The second half of life is a third. It arrives already shattered and goes by like a spell. Compared to the eternity that teen years seem to feel, or the accelerated learning curve lived up to the 30s, the last quadrant is mute and serene, like a trip to another galaxy.
Everything reflects the light of long ago, but there’s no sound in the outer space of advanced age; even the most cheering applause is silenced. The traveler reaches the void looking back; a last minute sorting through spinning memories, before darkness falls.
All that one needs to know is learned early in life. And readily forgotten for the next few decades. So growing old is revisiting childhood, as some put it, making a bit more sense of what’s going on inside, but like then, just as clueless about everything else.
Some of us perceive ourselves as children till we catch a mirror staring back. That smooth layer has been ravaged, the mouth, twisted down in the corners, and the eye twinkle is long gone. But apart from such shocking self-checking, we’re still here.
On the edge of maturity, it counts to have mastered a few things. But accomplishing anything comes clouded by wrong turns and missed

_______
* The 23rd
* Sendoffs
* You Say It’s Your Birthday

opportunities. All is clear now, understood, and absolutely irrelevant. Still there’s pride in learning a new way to tie shoelaces. Perfect, if it wasn’t for the back pain bending to actually tie them.
As I approach the other margin still gasping for air, I’m still puzzled about how little I know. Was it a choice I’ve made, not to veer towards the upper echelon? Or have I fussed and fought only to come up short of whatever was that I was searching for?
The third slice of a life, staled and musty, is reserved for those who lasted and endured, not those who crafted a legend out of their days. Like a bitter brew, it soothes the gut and vanquishes the last sweet taste, left by cakes and pastries baked in youth.
Some go like shooting stars, but the majority succumbs in quiet desperation. Some go before they even come; others overstay their welcome. We live our ways unaware of our moment of departure. Here’s to when it comes, it won’t make me beg too much to stay.

# The World As We Know it & Those Not Meant to Be

‘The future ain’t what it used to be.’ When Yogi Berra uttered his now often repeated axiom years ago, he was uncannily signaling the age of under-achievement and malaise that followed the great promises of the Atomic Era. Sadly, for a generation geared up to dream big, there would be no flying cars floating around anytime soon.
Nevertheless, many ventured into the risky business of divining what’s coming, some with insight, some spectacularly off, and others with a bit of both. Fortunately Berra, whose outstanding performance at his day job has eclipsed his talent to turn a simple interjection into a treatise of wit and charm, never did anything of the sort.
Back in 1900, when John Elfreth Watkins Jr. imagined ‘rays of invisible light’ allowing us to peek inside the body without having to cut it open, he was making an educated assumption. After all, science had just developed tools that did uncover a miniature world, previously invisible to the naked eye.
In comparison, George Hoyle‘s prediction, made some 70 years later, that everybody would be wearing jumpsuits by 2010, was almost embarrassingly wrong. But in all fairness, he did get lots of things right. And so did Bill Gates in 1995, when he envisioned people carrying computers in their pockets a mere 20 years ahead.

I IMAGINE, THEREFORE, I’M NOT BORED
What these no doubt visionaries were doing, though, was engaging in futurology, a rather guessing game, when one’s chances of catching lucky breaks are as likely as piling on a bunch of misses. Not without some irony, science fiction writers by far have always been the group with the better accuracy record than anybody else.
But even though Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and so many others got so much stuff right, many of which being already part of our daily lives, they’ve spoiled us all rot. That’s where our startlingly misguided resentment (more)
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* The Illustrated Man
* The Long Good Friday
* Not Human

# Designing a Creature That Will Hunt Us Down

Animatronics research is making so many strides lately that soon Disney theme parks won’t need actors donning smelly Mickey customs to scare the living hell out of little children. Robots will be able to do just that, and more, in their place. Bad news to actors, of course.
Androids may not be close to pouncing on you on your vacations, out of malfunctioning or pure evil, but the real scare may be other fields tapping into their sophistication. The military, for instance. Something to be expected, for sure, but still no less disturbing.
It didn’t happen overnight, but suddenly pop culture is saturated with the idea that a dawn of the automaton is imminent, even sooner than the one of rotten zombis. And while trying to keep apace with the expectation, science is landing us on some tricky territory.
Call it a land of opportunity, as announced on Blade Runner, or the brave new world of old Aldous Huxley. Say that Philip K. Dick had it all figured it out, or that religion created the original Other, in the form of invisible beings who exist to serve, or curse us to death.
Just don’t say you were not forewarned. For if you give it a thought or two, what with super population, and income inequality, and all that can spoil your dinner, who really needs yet another cast of dependent beings to keep even more people out of things to do?
THE MOMENT THEY’LL WAKE UP
That assuming that they will remain dependent, and existing to the sole purpose of fulfilling our every whim. Because if they don’t, and turn into our lords, there’ll be no point for ‘I told you sos,’ specially if we’ll all be their slaves, tethered to some infernal contraption.
So yes, by now you may’ve gathered that we are kinda excited about Westworld, the upcoming TV series inspired by the old Michael Crichton movie. And that this is a shameless attempt to flag the insane human desire to play god to manufactured creatures, all the while deflating our own expectations.
For however good the series turn out to be it’ll probably pale in comparison with Second Variety, an 1953 P.K.D. story, or even the considerably downgraded 1995 movie based on it, Screamers. That’s when the concept of self-run machines has been taken to just about the threshold of everyone’s nightmares.
REHEARSING FOR THE BIG CHASE
After all, we’ve been trying to build them, either by faith or ingenuity, since time immemorial. The more we see them embodied albeit pixelated, the closer we get to fully realize their feasibility. We’ll embrace them and run for our dear lives, all at the same time, while technology will, once again, overcome our moral ambivalence.
Thus these related posts below, about Artificial Intelligence and robotics, the two fields whose merge will at last produce what already appears inevitable: creation of an artificial but sentient being to run amok exactly the way we’ve been dreading all along. Just like we told you so. Speaking of theme parks, enjoy the ride.

# Humanoids to Replace Body Parts, Not Maids

Mankind’s ancient dream of creating automatons that can stand in for us, when our bodies no longer function properly, got a bit closer to reality not long ago. Thanks to research developed at Brown University, two stroke victims, long unable to move or speak, managed to control a robotic arm solely with their minds.
The good news couldn’t come anytime sooner: just a few days earlier, a Tokyo-based robotics developer team had announced the creation of a highly interactive, and disturbingly human-like, pair of buttocks, that responds to touch and stimuli. To be honest, the robotic butt got us thinking where on earth was this kind of research going.
In a way, it all comes full circle, you see. The development of humanoids, capable of simulate emotions and be responsive to sound, sight and touch, has been making great strides, specially by Japanese engineers. Sometimes, their extreme similitude to humans is quite frightening and one is led to think of Blade Runner-type of nightmarish visions of the future.
At the same time, albeit running in a parallel track, research on artificial intelligence and nanotechnology is also well advanced. The combination of these two fields, so far only partial, does suggest that reality is tracking closely the visions that science-fiction authors had conceived long ago.
To be sure, what’s been studied at Brown diverge fundamentally from research on androids, even though they both follow the same principle: to emulate the human ability of combining thought-processing with physical acts.

But whereas at Brown, the practical applications are already evident, the objectives of research into the development of humanoid robots lack clarity, for except in the case of slave labor, is hard to imagine why (more)
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* Hallow Talk

# The World As We Know it & Those That Aren’t Meant to Be

‘The future ain’t what it used to be.’ When Yogi Berra uttered his now often repeated axiom years ago, he was uncannily signaling the age of under-achievement and malaise that followed the great promises of the Atomic Era. Sadly, for a generation geared up to dream big, there would be no flying cars floating around anytime soon.
Nevertheless, many ventured into the risky business of divining what’s coming, some with insight, some spectacularly off, and others with a bit of both. Fortunately Berra, whose outstanding performance at his day job has eclipsed his talent to turn a simple interjection into a treatise of wit and charm, never did anything of the sort.
Back in 1900, when John Elfreth Watkins Jr. imagined ‘rays of invisible light’ allowing us to peek inside the body without having to cut it open, he was making an educated assumption. After all, science had just developed tools that did uncover a miniature world, previously invisible to the naked eye.
In comparison, George Hoyle‘s prediction, made some 70 years later, that everybody would be wearing jumpsuits by 2010, was almost embarrassingly wrong. But in all fairness, he did get lots of things right. And so did Bill Gates in 1995, when he envisioned people carrying computers in their pockets a mere 20 years ahead.

I IMAGINE, THEREFORE, I’M NOT BORED
What these no doubt visionaries were doing, though, was engaging in futurology, a rather guessing game, when one’s chances of catching lucky breaks are as likely as piling on a bunch of misses. Not without some irony, science fiction writers by far have always been the group with the better accuracy record than anybody else.
But even though Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and so many others got so much stuff right, many of which being already part of our daily lives, they’ve spoiled us all rot. That’s where our startlingly misguided resentment (more)
_______
* The Illustrated Man
* The Long Good Friday
* Not Human

# Memories of the Future, or    What We Forget to Recollect

Guess what? It may be a good thing that you can’t remember what they’ve told you about your memories. As it turns out, you don’t have to be a savant, or try to associate facts with objects, or colors, or smells. It won’t hurt if you do, but either way, it won’t make much of a difference to most, in the big scheme.
Some exercise their recalling skills like a muscle. Others picture things as if in a photograph. People either struggle to remember or choose to forget. And yes, there are those genius. But if you’re none of the above, no reason to despair; it’s been quite a while since we too gave up all hope of ever finding that extra set of keys anyway.
We could save some time and say that science has no clue, but that would be an over-simplification. The more researchers dig, the more distractions they find, affecting how we remember things, produce memories, and even adopt somebody else’s recollections. One thing is for sure: some people are really prodigies recalling details of the past.
How we deal with our memories is, of course, highly personal. We strive to portray our private history as an accurate and favorable reflection of who we think we are. But many things conspire against such a seamless narrative, the first thing being exactly that: the narrative.
To tell the story, we need to make sense and fill in the blanks, the details that reality not always provides. It’s also disturbing to come across someone who has a different take on the same events. But that’s exactly what siblings and spouses often do. Not to go overboard here, but that’s why we sometimes hate them so much.

THE WEATHER ON FEB. 23, 1975
How do you call someone who didn’t walk until he was four, couldn’t button up his own shirt, had trouble with even the most basic motor skills, had an average 87 I.Q. and, nevertheless, could recall every single weather report going back over 40 years? a Rain Man, or his Continue reading

# Women May Lead Our First Mission to Mars

For some three billion years, Mars looked all but dead, despite misplaced expectations astrophysics had about it all along. Now, as if acting on cue, it seems to be having a renaissance of sorts. Even a comet has paid a close visit to it last week.
Besides the two rovers still soldiering on its inhospitable surface and atmosphere, NASA plans to thoroughly explore it, with a possible human landing sometime in the next two decades. A number of international satellites are also on its orbit.
But despite its allure and beauty on our Zenith, Mars has had a problematic and somewhat disappointing history all along. It closely tracked Earth’s own development for at least a billion years, until something went terribly wrong and, by the time we showed up, it’d gone completely astray. A kind of recovery may be in the works, however, as some believe that life may have come from there.
Lucky us, disaster struck the red planet and not to the blue one. While a climatic inferno wrecked havoc on Mars, it didn’t take long, in astronomical terms, for Earth to bloom and become simply the most beautiful and friendly place in the whole wide universe.
That we act uncaring and downright abusive to this paradise is a matter for another time. The fact is that Mars has attracted so much attention that one wonders whether ancient people were up to something when they nominated it as God of War. Or hasn’t anyone heard the words ‘permanent’ and ‘war’ uttered so often together lately?
There was once a famous German astrologer that was so dedicated to find links between the influence of the Zodiac’s heavenly bodies and the human psyche that whenever a planet would be in evidence, she’d point to a corresponding ‘impact’ it’d have on us.
Thus, when the Pioneers and, later, the Voyager probes sent back those stunning images of Saturn, in the 1970s, she immediately related the event to the era’s economic recession, lines at gas stations in major Western cities, and so on. For her, it all had to do with the celestial Lord of the Rings’ particular charm.
Whether she too was on to something still depends on what one believes, but there’s no question that she was very much in synch with the Greek Pythagorean concepts of Astrology, once considered a science, to which Ptolemy formulated additional precepts. Egyptians and Romans concurred to that school too.

VOLUNTEERS FOR A ONE-WAY TRIP
NASA has been preparing a potential crew to make the trip to the Martian steppes, and even if we still lack the proper transportation to do it, a number of endurance experiments have been conducted with small groups of people. Another team has just started a six-month period of isolation in Hawaii, for instance.
Many ideas have been floated about what such a hazardous trip would consist of, including the possibility that it’d be a one-way ticket journey, meaning that the pioneering astronauts would not necessarily come back ever to Earth. A daunting prospect, indeed, but one that may have its takers.
Experiments in dieting, self-renewed sustenance, revolutionary farming techniques, even rigorous psychological training to prevent the crew from becoming overwhelmed with boredom, or worse, have followed. A variety of styles in new spacesuits are also in the works, from Barbarella to Buzz Lightyear, with all the bells and whistles that not even Ray Bradbury had dreamed of.
The latest of a long series of hypothesis and proposals to maximize a trip to Mars represents a novel idea and has a particular appeal to at least 50 percent of humankind: the possibility of sending a crew of mostly, if not solely, women to Mars. One assumes, on a round-trip basis, though.
The proposal is surprisingly not new, as NASA did consider sending a woman as the first human in space, an idea whose time was then still to come, but that now may be just ripe. The rationale has little to do with gender politics and a lot with caloric intake and preservation.

WOMEN ACTUALLY BELONG IN MARS
For such a long, perilous, and expensive journey – a price tag has been conservatively estimated to be about \$450 billion – weight becomes a serious consideration. And a woman’s body does weight less in average than a man’s, consumes Continue reading

# They Do Dream of Multicolor Sheep

These sheep are real. Well, almost. Photographer Gray Malin dreamed of a full flock standing out and, what else? being counted. So he painted them with a non-toxic, washable pigment. The result? Not since Pink Floyd‘s famed album cover with a cow, a herd looked that psychedelic.
He didn’t have to go back to the 1970s. His inspiration was the ‘work’ of Scottish farmer John Heard (we’re not making this up) who, tired of having his sheep stolen so often, opted for painting them orange, so to be easier to spot. It was an instant knockout and it worked.
There’s some mumbo-jumbo about sheep being shy just like people, or something to that effect, behind the Aussie’s whimsical Dream Series. But the bottom line is that its proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which funds treatment for life-threatening conditions in children, so it’s all good.
Only thing is, parents may not recommend using the series to put kids to snooze. After all, much of what sends the little ones straight to Slumberland is the mesmerizing power sheep have to blend seamlessly into the background. Not with the colors, they will not. In fact it may be all too intense, since, well, you got the idea.
_______
* Heard From the Grapevine
* Animal Cues
* Prairie Space

# The Office Thief, The Chinese Sitters & the Three-Boob Woman

Knowingly or not, we all play parts in the staging of someone else’s drama. Some are petty and ruin the proceedings, as others, humbly, master the hapless roles. Yet, there are those whose self-immolating act may make them come out stronger by the end of the third act.
Let’s start with that infamous office jester, the refrigerator thief who plagues the world of company stiffs and often gets away with it. We catch up with line sitters, camping on the streets to get persons unknown the latest iPhone. And on to Jasmine Tridevil’s sideshow.
Although on the surface, these vivid showcases of human frailty seem utterly different from one another, clear commonalities emerge from their underpinnings. They’re enough to bring it all down to a few, basic strains that reveal how we connect with others, or at least, the way we strive to annoy the hell out of them.
But what’s most fascinating about these three instances is how interchangeable is the role each character plays. Just like in the theater, the perceived villains may hold more humanity in their actions than we would care to give them credit for. And the heroes are hardly as virtuous as a cheap movie plot would have them.
Thus, through his mischief, the office jerk may reveal the brutal turf war that goes unmentioned all around the exposed company cubicles. Also, the arbitrary justice ready to be exacted by some anonymous bureaucrat from behind a fancy shield with a name attached – notwithstanding the indispensable victim role.
The professional ‘exploited’ may be turning a profit few would dream of from such a harsh occupation, even if, or given that, to many, standing in line to get the latest gadget is not just a waste of time, but completely below their sense of worth. Also, never mind that some organized crime may be behind the whole scheme.
And speaking of exploiting, how can anyone blame the sheer showmanship er displayed, or almost, by a self-inventing woman bent into becoming a reality TV star? Whether it’s an unhealthy step, or a mere hoax, she has all the right to crave for the attention, for it will be giveth to her, anytime, any day. Enjoy the ride.

TURKEY & SWISS ON RYE
It happened in New Zealand as it could have anywhere else. Office hands may know the script very well: your lunch gets eaten, anonymously; you write your grievance on a note; thief refuses to bulge; you surrender to moaning; thief may be revealed, if ever, by sheer luck, or well-honed snitching. Or some variation of the theme.
This time, the whole saga and its profusely descriptive notes, exchanged between the unconscionably jester and his victim, went viral on a New Zealand Continue reading

# Baby, You Can’t Drive My Car. Nor Should You

Well, it was a good run. From its late 1600s invention to its 20th century mass production, the car enjoyed a fast, risky, and racy love affair with people. But alas, it may be over. And the signs of a probable popularity crash are coming from some quite unexpected places.
Mainly, its evolution. See, once we begin traveling in driverless, accident-proof, shape-shifting vehicles, what can possibly come next? The quicksand of moral considerations, of course. Or, rather bluntly, will your model choose to save your life or those in the school bus?

At the very least, that’s what we get when we aim at convenience: we’re so willing to trade our hands-on approach to driving with the exactitude of machines, that they may as well make decisions against our best interests. Meaning, save the kids, and dump you down the ravine.
With the vexing plus of such an artificial intelligence, now capable of safely handling a one-tone speeding vehicle among hundreds of others, not being even that intelligent. For the technology that allows a car to go from point A to point B is as old as that which built the pyramids. Just like pushing blocks onto a prefab grid.
We’re not trying to knock the brave new world of computer research, and the wonders of making such a complex piece of engineering to be able to relate to its environment so well. An evolutionary leap that, in less than a century, rendered the human factor nearly obsolete, as far as it’s moving parts are concerned.
And yes, thanks to those who came before, to Ferdinand Verbiest, to Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, to Gustave Trouvé, and to Karl Benz, as well as to the man many Americans erroneously believe has invented the automobile: Henry Ford. We’ll give you a minute for you to check these names out.
Ford did leave an indelible imprint on this evolutionary arch, but Continue reading

# We’ve Made Them, So You   May Love Them Wholesale

Who knew? Anyone would be flabbergasted by what used to be prescribed to calm fussy babies just a century ago. Hint: it wasn’t milk and honey. More: there’s a lot of sense in taking newborns seriously when they’re under stress. The payoff: happier adults. Plus, when people tell you that you’ve got to see the baby, that their baby is a doll, run, run and never look back. The fact is, the Industrial Revolution forced a new approach to early childhood and even today, we don’t know much what to do about it.
In the 1800s, drugs now considered scourges of our times were readily available, from heroin to cocaine to absinthe. That’s why people would pour opium and alcohol-infused syrup down the throat of five-day-old infants. More than a century, and many conflicting advising later, there’s new research in favor of calming babies as soon as they start crying. And about those extremely lifelike dolls, and the people who love them, we’re not sure which ones are creepier, but we’d rather sleep with the lights on if they were around.
As it turns out, there’s a lot to be learned by just studying our social mores towards the little ones. Too much attention and we’re a bunch of smotherers. Too much leeway, and someone will call Child Protection. Too blatant a role-playing, well, we’ll leave you to your dolls. Since Continue reading

# a Tip From You?

Public perception is a bitch. For some of us, the empathy bone is so thick that we won’t hesitate making decisions based purely on emotions or the spare of the moment.
The rhetorical question above anticipates what could as well be a branch of “racial profiling,” that

many a policy maker of the future may find perfectly valid upon deciding which (or should we say, who?) will live a long, fulfilling life as a family slave, and who’d be destined to scrap.
But only if the Terminator revolution proves to be just a figure of a cameron’s imagination, that is.