Monthly Archives: April 2014

#622: Raising the Bar

Maybe a philosophical talk about whether computers could ever become conscious wasn’t the best choice for someone already worried about that prospect.  But it was the only science-related talk of the Raising the Bar event that wasn’t sold out (though I later found out “selling out” didn’t mean anything and every talk was first come, first served).

I knew I was in for trouble when the first speaker told us that we all know what’s going on in our own minds.  Uh, do we, really?  That’s a generally accepted premise?  Okay, I’ll play along…

The talk continued on to focus on what separates a conscious being from an unconscious one.  And, surprise, there’s not exactly agreement within the philosophical world on this point.

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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Computers


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#621: Attend a writing group

If I weren’t so lazy, I would go to coffee shops to write more often.  It might help if I drank coffee.  The bustle of activity in coffee shops, while seemingly distracting, is more like white noise once you start to write.  Plus, you can’t just go over to your bookshelf and read the titles to yourself or lie on your floor and see how many pillows you can balance on one foot at any given moment.

If I were as serious about writing as I claim to be sometimes, I would also join a writing group.  It takes the constant buzz of a coffee shop and adds in the forced attention to the task at hand, since everyone else is writing.

At the writing group I attended yesterday, I typed around 800 words in 40 minutes.  Granted, they were stupid words, words about the only thing I consistently write about these days—the tired, monotonous subject holding my figurative muse hostage and clearly having way too much fun torturing her to let her go any time soon—but still, they were somewhat more structured words than they would have been had I been at home typing them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Language


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#620: See In Your Eyes

“I think the hopeless romantic in you would appreciate Joss Whedon’s new In Your Eyes,” a friend texted me.

He was right.  Because if the cynical side of me may have cringed at the all-too-obvious metaphor of how meeting someone with whom we have an electric connection can feel like they’re a part of our souls, the side that defends impossible situations despite their reality-defying nature had me cheering for the main characters throughout.

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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Movies


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#619: The Lost Lectures

Every time someone asks me to name my favorite activity from this blog, I always say LoftOpera.  But I first went to that event almost a year ago, so I’ve been eager to replace it with a more recent phenomenon.  Luckily, The Lost Lectures came to New York last night, and I now have a new go-to “what’s the best thing you’ve done?” answer.

You can look it up yourself if you want to know more details, because frankly, describing it probably won’t sound that incredible. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in NYC


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#618: Own art from a museum

The Paweł Althamer, “The Neighbors” exhibit at the New Museum was one I’d meant to visit but didn’t get around to in time.  Luckily, this is an example of bad timing turning into good timing.

Now that the original exhibit has ended, they’re cutting up the wall and letting visitors take home pieces.  As someone who loves museums but not necessarily the hands-off aspect of them, I just think this is so extremely cool.

Not only do I now own a piece of art that was hanging in a museum, but it’s one that was contributed to by so many people in the city. I can see the multiple layers of paper plastered over one another, and the many vibrant colors painted on top of each other, and though I have no idea who exactly painted the part I have, or what the larger picture looked like, I can imagine what a diverse set of human beings worked together–mostly unknowingly–to create this one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Art


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#617: Win lecture tickets

I have a feeling the reason I won tickets to a lecture on DNA at the American Museum of Natural History and not, say, any one of the numerous other ticket offers I enter through the same email list, is because fewer people entered this one.

But no matter.  I won.  I got to hear a panel on genes.  I was reminded of the question I hope I never need to seriously consider: if you could find out whether you would one day get a fatal disease, would you want to know?

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Science


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#616: Take prescription pain medication

So apparently, if you arrive at the gate for a flight less than 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, the airline can give away your seat.

I fly at least 5 times a year, so I thought I knew all of the rules–both silly and reasonable ones–of the airport.  So when I noticed the woman checking IDs at security was taking forever, I kept a close watch on the clock.  “As long as I get through security with 15 minutes before the flight, I can still make it, since they close the gate 10 minutes beforehand,” I kept telling myself.

Which would have been true if my last name were Rodriguez, since while I was standing at the gate arguing with the worker that I arrived in time, a man with that last name walked up and boarded the plane because they hadn’t given away his seat.

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Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Travel


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