Yup, I’m a communist.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last couple of weeks. I’ve listened to a lot (and I mean a lot) of NPR and have been reading a lot of wiki pages, et al., and I have come to what I believe is a reasonable conclusion. Seriously people, what the fuck is up with basing the entire world economy on debt? Debt and hedging? Debt, hedging, and speculation? Debt, hedging, speculation, and something called credit default swaps? Who the fuck decided it would be a good idea to run the global economy like it was some sort of sleazy casino? And quite frankly, I am morally offended that a scant handful of arrant idiots are able to affect how much money the rest of us have.

</end rant>

Channel Surfing Tuesday

Because we need a break from “financial Armageddon” here at Chez Interrupted:

Here’s a great video of 24 hours of world wide air traffic. Hypnotic.

Here’s a funny video that asks “What if the Sarah Palin story were a Disney movie?”

Finally, people have started putting music to the Ninja Cat video I shared last week. This is the best one I’ve seen.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

I found this surfing the web a while back. Behold, the Omnivore’s Hundred from Very Good Taste.

Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Bizarre foods? Not for me, apparently.

Philosophy Phriday

It is a little known fact on this blog that I studied and received my undergraduate degree in Philosophy. Of particular interest to me was, and continues to be, the Philosophy of Mind and the mind-body problem. The mind-body problem is essentially this: how does the mind, which is assumed to be a thing without physical substance, arise from the body, a thing which is physical substance? In other words, how to you get something that is non-physical to arise from, and interact with, something that is physical?

This problem has been kicked around by philosophers since Aristotle, but became a real point of contention when Descartes “invented” the Dualism which I described above. It would be a digression to present the arguments against and solutions for Cartesian Dualism here, but one notion that in recent years has gained popularity, is that the studies of neurobiology and cognitive science would, sooner or later, put to rest the entire discussion because, as the workings of the brain become more and better understood, it will be shown that the mind is merely the brain, doing its thing.

The fundamental problem with this argument, known as Naturalism or Physicalism is that of Qualia–i.e., that the existence of a particular brain state does nothing whatever to explain subjective qualitative experience which caused it.

“Good God,” you must be thinking to yourself. “Have I been transported to some strange parallel universe? I thought this was supposed to be a knitting blog!” And you would be right. I bring this up here because  1) I am avoiding my knitting as well as other current events and 2) yesterday, I finished reading “Stop Me if You’ve Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes” by Jim Holt in which I found one of the best examples of the problem of Qualia I’ve ever come across. Toward the end, he describes an interesting discovery by a UCLA medical team in 1998. They were operating on the brain of a teenage girl, trying to find the cause of her epileptic siezures by stimulating various parts of her frontal lobe with an electronic probe (sounds fun!).

When the probe touched a tiny patch in the “supplementary motor area,” they observed something that was quite unexpected: The girl laughed. The doctors turned the current up a bit and touched the spot again. The girl laughed some more, longer and harder.

So here we have a particular brain state to which we can point and say, “this is the part of the brain that finds things funny” but it cannot explain the why an individual’s experience of the brain state of “laughter” is evoked by something humorous. Or indeed, why something is considered humorous at all.

So go forth, my ducklings, and ponder the nature of mental experiences and how they relate to brain states. And consider this (from workjoke.com):

Two women were walking through the woods when a frog called out to them and said: “Help me, ladies! I am a stockbroker who, through an evil witch’s curse, has been transformed into a frog. If one of you will kiss me, I’ll be returned to my former state!”

One woman took out her purse, grabbed the frog, and stuffed it inside her handbag. The other woman, aghast, screamed, “Didn’t you hear him? If you kiss him, he’ll turn into a stockbroker!”

The second woman replied, “Sure, but these days a talking frog is worth more than a stockbroker!”