The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit Writer, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit is the mind behind Men Explain Things to Me, hailed as the “antidote to mansplaining.” The Mother of All Questions has been ambiguously described as the former’s follow-up, involving ― as you might have guessed ― new essays on feminism. All we can say at this point is that Solnit knows how to write an intriguing book title. ― KB Available on Amazon or at your local bookstore March 14.

Source: 27 Nonfiction Books By Women Everyone Should Read This Year | The Huffington Post


Seven Basic Plots proposed by journalist Christopher Booker. Briefly, these plots are: the Quest (think Lord of the Rings), Voyage and Return (Ulysses), Rags to Riches (Cinderella), Tragedy (King Lear), Comedy (Will Ferrell movie), Rebirth (The Ugly duckling, Shrek), and Overcoming the Monster (Star Wars’ Darth Vader).

Generally, all of the family story plots contribute to a sense of history and resilience in families. But when dealing with difficult times, families tell the “voyage and return” and “overcoming the monster” stories.

Source: What stories should you be telling kids this holiday season?

Scientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered how cancer cells latch onto blood vessels and invade tissues to form new tumors — a finding that could help them develop drugs that inhibit this process and prevent cancers from metastasizing.

The researchers first spotted tiny bridges between cancer cells and endothelial cells while using electron microscopy to study the interactions between those cell types. They speculated that the cancer cells might be sending some kind of signal to the endothelial cells.

“Once we saw that these structures allowed for a ubiquitous transfer of a lot of different materials, microRNAs were an obvious interesting molecule because they’re able to very broadly control the genome of a cell in ways that we don’t really understand,” Connor says.

Source: Scientists discover how cancer cells escape blood vessels | MIT News

Carson’s and Ted Cruz’s stump stories may not be true, but they paint a portrait that helps listeners understand how the presidential hopefuls view themselves

Source: Ben Carson’s lies reveal a fundamental truth about candidates’ tall tales | Mike Daisey | Comment is free | The Guardian

The problem with stories provided as myth is that they are frequently presented as fact. They reflect a willingness of candidates to accept mythical storytelling to support beliefs/positions that are without merit. When myths are presented as fact, they hinder uncovering of deeper truths more difficult to accept. In an election season, a lack of distinction between truth and myth is crucial, as it indicates how much myth-telling candidates are willing to spin as truth to tell the story they want to tell.


After all, if we are merely material beings whose personality can be altered and even controlled by fairly simple technologies, is there really a there there? Is there some immutable kernel of a person that is the self, or an essence that resists change? Can brain interventions can change who we are – make us into a different person or alter personal identity?

Source: Do brain interventions to treat disease change the essence of who we are?

The Conversation: In-depth analysis, research, news and ideas from leading academics and researchers.

A wonderful project!  I wonder what would happen if we took a similar approach to government – actually listening to the people who knew what they were talking about as they make policy for our health, economy, environment, research, culture.

After years of promotion and reviews of documentaries devoted to social change, the site Films for Action released a list of what they consider to be the 100 most influencial and provocative. From critiques to manistream media to the corporate world, passing through the ideas and solutions proposed in and by the majority world, this list of films present a wide view of ideas that many consider crucial to discuss.

The list includes documentaries like The Economics of Happiness (2011), which will be available for free in August, and The Crisis of Civilization (2011), based on the Book by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.

via ‘Films for Action’ Website Shares List of Top 100 Documentaries ‘We Can Use to Change the World’ · Global Voices.

In terms of history, the events in Middle East, of ISIS and all of that, is just a speed bump on history’s highway. The Middle East is not very important. Silicon Valley is much more important. It’s the world of the 21st century … I’m not speaking only about technology.

In terms of ideas, in terms of religions, the most interesting place today in the world is Silicon Valley, not the Middle East. This is where people like Ray Kurzweil, are creating new religions. These are the religions that will take over the world, not the ones coming out of Syria and Iraq and Nigeria.

via Death Is Optional |

Gleiser begins by posing the question of whether there are fundamental limits to how much of the universe and our place in it science can explain, with a concrete focus on physical reality. Echoing cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz’s eye-opening exploration of why our minds miss the vast majority of what is going on around us, he writes:

What we see of the world is only a sliver of what’s “out there.” There is much that is invisible to the eye, even when we augment our sensorial perception with telescopes, microscopes, and other tools of exploration. Like our senses, every instrument has a range. Because much of Nature remains hidden from us, our view of the world is based only on the fraction of reality that we can measure and analyze. Science, as our narrative describing what we see and what we conjecture exists in the natural world, is thus necessarily limited, telling only part of the story… We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery… It is the flirting with this mystery, the urge to go beyond the boundaries of the known, that feeds our creative impulse, that makes us want to know more.

via The Island of Knowledge: How to Live with Mystery in a Culture Obsessed with Certainty and Definitive Answers | Brain Pickings.

In one aspect of vision, computers catch up to primate brain | MIT News.

Taking advantage of very large amounts of computation processing power and access to large datasets to train – develop the algorithms, scientists have created a computer model that is capable of recognizing objects visually as well as a macaque monkey brain.

“Led by Hong and Majaj, they implanted arrays of electrodes in the IT cortex as well as in area V4, a part of the visual system that feeds into the IT cortex. This allowed them to see the neural representation — the population of neurons that respond — for every object that the animals looked at.
The researchers could then compare this with representations created by the deep neural networks, which consist of a matrix of numbers produced by each computational element in the system. Each image produces a different array of numbers. The accuracy of the model is determined by whether it groups similar objects into similar clusters within the representation.”