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Tired of your job?  Hate the daily commute?  Want to tell your boss what you think?  Has your life become insane and you just want to leave the rat race behind?

Back in 1953 at age 46 one man did it and he never looked back.  He found a life much more fulfilling. More


The Incredible Story of Phineas Gage

Photograph comparing Phineas Gage's skull to three foot seven inch tamping iron that went through it in 1848.  Gage lived and has become a medical legend. Read more here.


Love Within The Machines

Without the brain we would not have consciousness.  Does it follow that consciousness is a product of the brain?  (An "epiphenomenon of the brain.")  The epiphenomenalists would have it so.  The reason is clear.
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Don't Forget This

In ancient Rome, a general, many to become emperors, presided over The Triumph (Triumphus), a victory parade through the streets of the city with throngs watching him pass by.  In a chariot he lead the parade, and heard the ovations of the masses. He wore a purple tunic, for purple was a rare dye only the nobility and powerful could afford.  Behind him walked all his army, his men and women captives, soon to become slaves, followed by his other spoils of war.  A slave held his golden crown, but the main role of the slave was to occasionally whisper in his ear,

Memento mori, memento mori.

Translated it means, Remember, you will die.

I dedicate this story to all politicians of power and high station.


Winnie The Pooh on Free Will

"If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by free will. I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse–Five)

"There's a very large question here." (Winnie The Pooh)

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Julian Barbour: Killing Time

Time's Arrow
What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know. St. Augustine (354—430)

Theologists could help support their theologies if they did more thinking about the problematic nature of time. Me at Mind Shadows (\infty\infty)

According to the math of quantum physics, Time's Arrow can flow either direction, into the future, or into the past. Time is symmetrical. Why then do we experience time as asymmetrical? Our deaths lie ahead, not our births.

Physicist Julian Barbour: Time and motion are illusions. They are put into the external world by our brains, but don't exist there.
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Robert Robinson: An African-American's 44 Years In The Soviet Union

Some years ago, I read Black On Red: My 44 Years Inside The Soviet Union, a book by Robert Robinson, An African-American who lived in Detroit during the Depression. I had to read it again, for it is about as gripping an autobiography as one can find. During 44 years in Soviet society, Robert Robinson found that the deepest discrimination was against blacks and orientals. In his book he notes that in the USA people may or may not condone institutional and racial discrimination but they do recognize that it exists. In the USSR, officially and socially, such discrimination did not occur. But it ran deep.
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The Woman Who Fell To Earth: Juliane Koepcke

"On Christmas Eve 1971, German teenager Juliane Koepcke sat next to her mother in the window seat of a Lockheed Electra. She had just graduated from high school in Lima, Peru, and was on her way to Pucallpa, where she and her mother would rendezvous with her father, biologist Hans Koepcke. But the plane never made it. The Electra hit a freak storm, and the 17-year-old girl looked out the window to see the right wing aflame. She turned to her mother, who said, "This is the end of everything." The last thing Juliane remembers is feeling herself whirling in midair.

She awoke three hours later, still strapped into her seat, in the Amazon." Wearing a torn miniskirt and one sandal she walked out of the Amazon jungle alive with bad injuries and a maggot infested wound. More can be found here, here and here

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A Little-Known Story: Maria Leontievna Bochkareva, Who Met President Wilson

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Of peasant stock, beaten by her alcoholic father, working since age eight, she married at fifteen and left her husband when he began beating her and swore to kill her. She married again, followed her husband to exile in Siberia but left him when he tried to hang her. In 1914 she fought for the Czar as the only woman in the 25th Tomsk Reserve Battalion, where fellow soldiers taught her to read and write. She was wounded twice, decorated three times for bravery, fought with frost-bitten feet, bayoneted German soldiers, and pulled fallen comrades to safety.
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Some Sh*t to Read on Language Taboos Now and Then

Because of my age, I found an article by John McWhorter engaging.  I offer it as one way to understand some of the dynamics of modern society. I think only people of a certain age, whose long memories compare past and present, can truly appreciate this article. The young think today's language is as it has always been or don't think about it at all.

When i was growing up, my parents taught me the difference between belly and stomach, or tummy. To say belly was crude. The same went for butt and damn. Four letter words s*, f*, and c* were wholly uncivilized. To say Get screwed was a very graphic reference to intercourse and This sucks could only refer to fellatio, both phrases unacceptable in polite society. When a boy, I read a headline that shocked the nation: Truman Calls MacArthur SOB.
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Walter Freeman's Ice Pick Lobotomy on Howard Dully

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This is a sad story, but one of self-redemption, so if you read the book you will find that Howard Dully was able to salvage something of the tragedy others made of his life. It is titled My Lobotomy. The title is simple, not pretentious, and the narrative is straightforward. Dully began life as a normal boy, bright, at a young age able to beat his father in chess. Then something happened to him. What happened to him was Walter Freeman.
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Blindsight: Graham Young Is Blind But Can See

What is consciousness? You may say that it is to be aware. But what does it mean to be consciously aware of something? I can type this paragraph while outside my window a bird chirps, shadows dapple the window ledge, and here, inside this room, my fingers move on the keyboard, music plays on the radio, and other events also happen as I focus only on these words. I stop for a moment, and there they are, all these other things. Then I return my attention to the computer screen. In a sense, I see but I don't see. I am aware but I am not aware. Things are part of conscious and, so to speak, they are not.

Graham Young of Oxford, England is a case in point.
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Marilyn Vos Savant, Ron Hoeflin, and High IQ

Marilyn Vos Savant: "the surname is real, it was her mother’s maiden name – has had a unique claim to fame since the mid-1980s. It was then, almost 30 years after she took a test as a schoolgirl in downtown St Louis, Missouri, that her IQ came to light. In 1985, Guinness World Records accepted that she had answered every question correctly on an adult Stanford-Binet IQ test at the age of just 10, a result that gave her a corresponding mental age of 22 years and 11 months, and an unearthly IQ of 228.
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Josephine Baker's Rainbow Tribe

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Taking French citizenship in 1937, Josephine Baker (1906–1975) was celebrated across Europe, especially in France, where she was known as La Baker. Treated as a "colored" woman in her native United States, she decided to adopt and raise children of various ethnic backgrounds. From all over the world she brought them to her Château des Milandes in France's Périgord region. They became her Rainbow Tribe. Of Japanese origin, Akio Bouillon was one of them. From Finland, Jarry Baker was another.

"On the surface, the children seemed to have a dream childhood. They were living in a castle, like children in a fairy tale.
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Batman & Personality Disorder

Well, first of all, do you know anybody who wears tights with underwear on the outside? Think about it. That is a dead giveaway of something leaking inside his brain.
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Seeing Through Self: David Bohm & Krishnamurti's Ego

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Quantum physicist David Bohm (1917-1992) was a protégé of J. Robert Oppenheimer and liked by Einstein. So impressed was Einstein, that he referred to Bohm as his successor. As for Bohm, he had deep interests outside science. This led to the day when Bohm met J. Krishnamurti and began studying under him until the two men had a falling-out.
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Lori Berenson at Middle Age

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Outraged at injustice and inhumanity, the young, naive Lori Berenson made a comment in fluent Spanish to the Peruvian press that would change her forever. She became seen as a despicable, self-important gringa. Her father said, “Forty-four seconds, and it ruined her life. It doesn’t take much.”
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E.Allen Petersen and Hummel Hummel: A Forgotten Story of Escape and Survival

Of all the true stories lost to popular history, this one is of a remarkable and dangerous escape in the prelude to WWII.
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God has a very big heart, but there is one sin he will not forgive--if a woman invites a man into her bed and he will not go. I know because a very wise old Turk told me.

Anthony Quinn as Alexis Zorba in the movie Zorba The Greek, from Nikos Kazanatzakis' novel of that name.


Phineas Gage: Stuff Happens

The horrible accident of Phineas Gage became a case for brain scientists to study, but for me he also represents something else. In the long history of the world it has happened as people kneel in prayer. It can occur as we gaze at a seagull, feeling ocean breeze on our cheeks, or as we enjoy orange juice and the bright feathers of a cockatoo on the patio. Above all, we want our lives to be predictable, within our control, and they seem to be for a while but one day the biopsy comes back positive for pancreatic cancer or we didn't see the car that ran a red light.

It happened to Gage one sunny Vermont day. On September 13, 1848, Phineas Gage, a handsome 25 year old railroad foreman would have his life changed forever. He would go down in history as the Gage who was no longer Gage.
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Known Unknowns

I can thank Donald Rumsfeld for the term "known unknowns." Indeed, there are known unknowns.

That much I know, though I can never show it to you.

But think about this. Thoughts come as perceptions. They are perceived.

The perceiver cannot be found. Whatever is located when searching is only another object of thought. Perception remains, out of reach as that which is aware of the search and the thought object.

To establish a model for discussion, consider this. We cannot see black holes but we can see the gravitational lensing they cause around astronomical objects. Black holes are inferred phenomena.
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Argentina to Alaska in A 1928 Graham-Paige

Take an adventurous young couple. Add a 1928 Graham-Paige Model 610 Touring Car. Put them in it pointed north out of Buenos Aires.
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Wilder Penfield, Brain Maps, with V.S. Ramachandran and The Man Who Mistook His Foot For A Penis

Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield performed pioneering experiments in the 1940s and 1950s. During extensive brain surgeries, he applied electrodes to different regions of the brain and stimulated them. He then asked patients what they felt. He recorded and correlated sensations, images, even memories, as reported by the patients. By this means he mapped the brain and found, for example, that the brain area involved with lips and fingers occupies as much space as the area which handles the entire trunk of the body.
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Elly Beinhorn, The Most Famous Aviatrix You Never Heard Of

Mention Elly Beinhorn to somebody today and he or she will look at you blankly.
Not so, in the era between World Wars One and Two. During the twenties and thirties, hers was a household name on many continents. She was an aviatrix, a daring young woman in the mold of Amelia Earhart. Like other such women of her time, her goals were not properly feminine. Yet as she became famous, people said her flying skills were exceeded only by her femininity. That was it, a most unwomanly thing. She wanted to fly an aeroplane around the world. Alone. Her mother wept and her father threatened to send her to a psychiatrist, but an aunt had died and left Elly a little money.
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William James Sidis: The Smartest Person Ever?

The following essay is about William James Sidis, whom Robert Persig (Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) discusses in his novel, Lila. Sidis's one great passion in life was collecting street car transfers.

The account comes from a web page I saved to my hard drive. Before uploading it, I checked it and found it dead, but still want to give credit, so here is the obsolete URL-- Jim Morton, the essayist, uses Peridromophilia as a term for Sidis's love of street car transfers.

Peridromophilia Unbound:William James Sidis
By Jim Morton

The great geniuses of mankind are often said to be "born ahead of their time." William James Sidis, on the other hand, seems to have been born out of his time completely; on the wrong world, in the wrong dimension. Perhaps someday the world will understand "Willie" Sidis's strange genius, but that day is far off indeed.
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