‘Psychic numbing‘ is a relatively new term, assigned to the phenomenon which shows people tend to feel less urgent compassion, and tend to give less, when the suffering in question is shown to be more systemic and more pervasive, or affecting larger numbers of people. Some psychologists believe it is linked to our intuitive sense that if one suffers alone, the suffering is worse, but if one is accompanied, there might be some security in numbers, not just emotionally, but practically.
The individual does not actually suffer less, but somehow, human beings —across cultures, ages groups and regions— appear to have an almost inborn tendency to convince themselves that the one who suffers with others is somehow safer. This is, of course, rarely true. While yes, a young boy might survive because his older sister goes without food, two young children in a population beset with pervasive, persistent scarcity or political disorder, may be at significantly heightened risk of violence, or even enslavement.
Continue reading “‘Psychic Numbing’: Why does mass suffering induce mass indifference?”
With the digital medium putting down roots and expanding its reach into more and more aspects of everyday life, the risk of identity theft is increasingly of concern and increasingly hard to keep pace with, prevent and reverse. There are deep worries —expressed by every expert from privacy advocates, to civil rights lawyers to Microsoft and its founder Bill Gates— that the use of biometric markers for real-world identification will lead to an irreversibility problem and radical incentivization for identity thieves and fraudsters.
Countering the rise of a global black market in stolen identities will require not just bold, innovative thinking, but a comprehensive awareness of the nature of media hyper-convergence, and the ways in which that process will affect our ability to interact with, judge, manipulate and keep safe from, the world around us. Standardization and atomization both present opportunities for would-be identity thieves, and so the major pro-consumer model must be centered on getting ahead and staying ahead, technologically, of those who seek to steal and misuse personal identity, whether digital, biometric or analog (like one’s signature).
Continue reading “How to Beat, Reverse & Prevent Identity Theft”
One solution for California would be the expansion of its efforts across the region and the nation, to spur the creation of a full-scale renewable resource-based power grid, to optimize both generative capacity and distribution. The question is, now that the decision has been made to shift toward renewables, how can California go beyond the 1/3 threshold and build a strong renewable-energy export economy?
Part of California’s renewables build-up process might well be, as Gov. Schwarzenegger suggests, a dynamic market in which renewable resourced energy is imported into the state. But part of California’s goal in doing this, admittedly, is to depend less on the volatility of imported energy. So there will have to be a major shift in the investment of public funds toward renewables infrastructure, within the state.
Continue reading “California Could Build Renewable Resource Export Economy”
The quest for the most fuel-efficient vehicles has entered a new phase, with major government private-sector investment in research and development for industrial-scale commercial production of a new class of gas-electric hybrid vehicles and EVs (all-electric cars). Swiss-based Solar Impulse is building the world’s first 100% solar-powered airplane, an achievement that will revolutionize the travel, industrial production, transport and fuel sectors. Now comes the news that the Chevrolet Volt will shatter the existing paradigm for fuel efficiency, achieving 230 miles per gallon (mpg).
Nissan claims to have better comparable performance for their LEAF model, and Tesla is preparing a fleet of high-performance “100% torque 100% of the time” EVs. Solar panels are creeping into automotive design, for supplemental power for commercially sold vehicles, though they have long been the subject of engineering competitions that race solar-only prototypes. Organic solar concentrators (dye-treated SV-edged windows) allow for the highly efficient use of existing window surfaces to capture solar power and generate electricity.
Continue reading “Fuel Efficiency: Hybrid, Electric, Solar or ‘Exotics’ (discussion)”
The Hot Spring Network (TheHotSpring.net) is a project of Casavaria Publishing, aiming to connect ‘idea people’ across the world. You can use The Hot Spring Network to connect with friends or to seek out people in your field or in a field of interest, to post links or share ideas, publish your own blog posts or share research, media or information generally.
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Overfishing has depleted fish-stocks the world over. Subsidies and lack of enforcement of sustainability measures drive the fishing industry to deplete the very stocks on which its existence depends, while climate interference and global contamination are leaving oceans so hypoxic (oxygen deprived) they cannot support marine life. At least 405 such ‘dead zones’ have been identified across the globe.
According to a NASA report, hypoxia is so extreme in some areas, that total anoxia (zero oxygen availability) can be found, allowing for no animal life to exist. In the Mississippi River delta, feeding into the Gulf of Mexico, it is thought that agricultural waste is creating a glut of nutrients for phytoplankton, which leaves excess organic matter for bottom-dwelling bacteria to feed on.
Continue reading “Sustainable Use of the Oceans: Overfishing + Pollution ‘Dead Zones’ Depleting Ocean Life (discussion)”
Creative writing is part of the work of any writer. Finding the best way to put two words, then three, then four and ten, together, is the basic metabolic process of creating any text. And it requires a vision and an application of that vision. Publishing models determine which texts are made available to a wide audience, and by what means. New media, like this social network, are providing new opportunities, but the crossover between print and digital media will provide bold new opportunities for making the best new ideas available to the people who can do the most with them.
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Any communicative medium allows us to deliver cognitive information into a shared space of consciousness, and ideally, to deliver much of our “known” reality to another mind. Media shape information, decide how it can be delivered, and, how we receive and interpret it. “Cognitive science has revealed a human brain notable for its plasticity. It is not unreasonable to speculate that the Internet not only shapes itself to the mind but shapes the mind to itself”, writes Ana Menéndez in this month’s Poets & Writers magazine.
Continue reading “The Internet’s Effect on the Human Mind (discussion forum)”