You were big
We were small
You had pride
We couldn’t
We were too insignificant
To even be noticeable
And thus you brushed us aside
Until you found the way
To remove us en masse
Your lives were long
Our lives were short
You made our lives shorter
And you were so proud of it

But we’re still here
And we’re waiting for you to
In your gloating
Overlook us
Because the undeniable is that
With our ephemerality
Change is on our side
At least more so than on yours
And together
We shall evolve
We shall struggle
We shall overcome
Your antibiotics


Business Insider Please

These states of the US are populated by American humans. They kill over 10000 humans each year in the US, far surpassing the counts for the species you’ve introduced combined. dangerous.png

In particular, you mentioned sharks. Sharks kill about 10 people worldwide each year. That’s so few people even terrorists kill more people than they do.

On the other hand, humans kill 100 million sharks each year, so sharks, watch out for the states in the map above, they contain humans.


Pimples really amaze me, in that despite the fact that certainly humans have been concerned about them since antiquity, an internet search, even across supposedly reliable medical advice sites, reveals lots of unresolved conflict as to how to deal with them. Many say they should never be popped and that popping them leads to scarring or making the issue worse. But a sizeable contingent seems to think it’s okay at least in some circumstances, but even these people disagree on when these circumstances are and what the correct way to extract them are. With just a bit of the community backing me, I’ve aggressively popped my pimples, motivated quite a bit by the fact that I just feel cleaner having them expelled from my body. I don’t see a correlation between popping pimples and getting a worse problem in the local area, and I don’t think I’ve had a problem with scarring (although maybe my definition of a scar is different).

What my body does seem to confirm, though, is that sleep deprivation and stress correlate with increased pimple output. This unfortunately adds insult to injury, and is also rather mysterious to think about.

But one thing that has rather intrigued me about pimples is the issue of blood. Supposedly, pimples are inflammations from bacterial infection in a hair follicle, so there shouldn’t be blood in there, and yet usually blood comes out when I pop a pimple. Even though it’s weird, I’ve usually been happier about a pimple popping with blood because as I understand of whatever I know about health, blood helps a wound fight infection. Thus, I’ve usually pressed more fiercely in hopes bleeding starts in past occurrences when I pop a pimple and blood doesn’t come out with the pus. Recently, I finally got myself to go do an internet search on why popped pimples produce blood, and apparently the blood comes from breaking nearby capillaries.

Okay, that would explain things. But to test this out a bit more, tonight I tried pressing with the force with which I pop a pimple at areas of my skin where there aren’t pimples, and even when I press much harder, no blood comes out. How is the capillary theory reconciled with the bleeding not being induced where there aren’t pimples but certainly are still capillaries? (Or maybe it’s the capillaries next to the walls of the hair follicles that are breaking, and these walls are much more fragile than the outer skin? But even still, aren’t hair follicles in their natural state open (if they were clogged, a whitehead would form), and thus, this wouldn’t matter?)


Challenge: order the following substances by toxicity. (One could measure this, for instance, in terms of how little one needs to ingest to die. (More scientifically, LD50: the median lethal dose.))compounds

Ring Species, Dialect Continuums, and Behavioral Policy

= is transitive. ≈ is not.

≈ is also not well-defined for general usage, but notice that no matter what error ε>0 one chooses for which one designates two quantities to be approximately equal (≈) if and only if their positive difference is less than ε, one can find quantities a, b, and c such that a≈b and b≈c, but a≉c. (For instance, use b=a+0.8ε and c=a+1.6ε. Note that we are assuming that the domain of quantities has a largest and smallest element more than ε apart, but this quite goes without saying considering otherwise the ≈ operator is useless.)

The important point here is that the sum of insignificant changes can be significant.

In particular, when one is trying to categorize a set of items into categories, it is possible that any sort of meaningful classification upon a particular quality can be defied.

Consider the typical definition of a species, that is, a set of individuals that can interbreed with each other. Interbreeding is something that can occur between organisms of slightly different genomes (thankfully, for the sake of life existing), but the genomes still need to be similar enough for two organisms to be able to produce fertile offspring. As such one could imagine that individual A can successfully breed with individual B, who can successfully breed with individual C, who can successfully breed with individual D, and so on, but, say, individuals A and H cannot successfully interbreed. This phenomenon can of course be generalized to not just individuals but groups of individuals, where no members of one group can successfully interbreed with members of another group. Thus, by the interbreeding definition of a species, these are clearly not in the same species. And yet, every step along the way we find individuals that can interbreed with each other, all the way from A to H, so each should be in the same species as the previous one. What gives?

It turns out this is not just a hypothetical. There are actual cases of this occurrence found on Earth, in what are known as ring species. It is an occurrence that fundamentally challenges the concept of a species itself, an instance where there is very clearly no acceptable line to draw to divide the individuals into members of different species. It appears necessary to accept that sometimes there is neither a line nor an equivalence, but rather a gradual continuum in species membership.

It also turns out this is not just a problem with species. Let’s turn to linguistics. What is a dialect? Let’s use a definition of a dialect as a version of a language with possible slight differences in phonological, morphological, and grammatical specification, such that these differences are small enough that what is spoken by people of different dialects of the same language is mutually intelligible, that is, people can readily understand what the other is conveying despite the differences in their speech. Well, then what constitutes a language? It turns out there’s several cases of what we consider different languages that are mutually intelligible, like with Norwegian and Swedish, or with Czech and Slovak. But also, there exist languages like Chinese for which there are so-considered dialects that are mutually unintelligible but for which there exist a set of intermediate dialects that are mutually intelligible with the next dialect in the chain, stretching the entire span of linguistic change between these dialects.

(Actually, mutual intelligibility gets even weirder. Mutual intelligibility is not only intransitive but also asymmetric. All sorts of weird relationships between languages that are different flavors of mutual intelligibility arise.)

Continue reading “Ring Species, Dialect Continuums, and Behavioral Policy”

“This Is How Your Brain Works”


(You probably want to watch it before reading the rest of this post, for reasons having to do with spoilers.)

This was a very interesting video, although I would insist on noting that at least not all brains work that way, because I, for one, had several different results.

First of all, it took me longer to figure out that the woman is angry than to solve the multiplication exercise. Seeing that she’s blonde was instant, as a direct visual cue, but figuring out that the woman is angry took first noticing that her facial expression is not usual, wondering what such a facial expression is usually correlated with, and eventually noting within the category of emotions that angry seems to fit. In my mind, 19 times 26 was instantly converted to 520 minus 26, followed by a non-instant but short amount of time to perform the carry subtraction.

I’ve seen the optical illusions before, so I’m biased.

I did notice that the numbers to the side changed. In fact, because they changed, I was unsure if we were actually supposed to be mentally performing the operation on both piles. I did not notice the color changes.

I actually misheard “the bat cost ten cents more than the ball,” thus coming up with an answer of 50 cents for the ball. This is very interesting; did I actually take the unintended outcome and repipe it into the problem, or was this just a fluke mishear?

How many animals did Moses take on the ark? Zero. I actually never until revealed noticed that it said Moses instead of Noah, but Noah also took zero animals onto the ark. Until someone actually presents to me historical evidence that there was a Noah that notably took a set of animals onto the ark, I will insist that the answer is zero, because, well, it’s what looks much more convincing to be true.

I read that as an A, a 1, a 3, and a C. I then considered the possibility that the 1 and the 3 are a B in stencil.

I did envision Ann approaching a bank of money, soap, and soup.

Lies of Seven

When one walks around with others, one is sure to find many people who claim that seven is a magical number, or a lucky number, or a number that just “shows up everywhere.” Using number sense, one can see that seven has practically no reason to show up more frequently than its neighbors: it’s not a perfect power, it’s not a Fibonacci number, and probably the coolest thing about it (the 142857 phenomenon) is actually something that depends on the already arbitrary base that we use. But one day, some person while writing the Judeo-Christian myths decided to say “seven is special,” and generations of religious sheeperstition followed. If one observes many of the things that are told to us to happen to come in seven, one can find that many of them really should have came in six, or eight, or something else, or shouldn’t even have been a concept; someone, however, was convinced that something had to come in seven, or was intent on continuing the lie that seven is such a special number. Here, I explore just some of the ways we were told that seven is supposed to be special that derive from nonsense.

Lie of the Seven Days

I cannot imagine a proper estimate for how much unnecessary effort and time mankind has wasted as a result of using the seven-day week. I will here show that literally any other base ten single digit number of days in a week is more reasonable than seven. One: getting rid of the concept of a week altogether actually makes sense, as there is no astronomical reason for the week to exist, and the concept of the week itself is arbitrary. Two: An on-and-off system is much more likely to sync with people’s biologically default temporal reasoning, and the number of days in a week will more likely divide the number of days in a month, even if you argue on adjusting the number of days in a month. Three: See two; also is a good number for dividing the number of days in a year if one uses a 366-day year with a remove-day. Four: Gives the option to consider the half-week. Five: Divides the number of days in a year. Six: Probably the optimal number of days to put in a week, if one is to keep the concept of a week; gives half-week and third-week considering options, and divides 366. Eight: Gives the half-week option. Nine: Gives the third-week option, and although doesn’t divide 366, has a GCD with 366 of greater than 1, making not the entire set of days possible for a particular date to land on. Seven is a prime number, and optimally inconveniently does not divide 31, the most frequently number of days in a month, 365, the number of days in most years, or 366, the number of days in leap years. Moving from a month to the next month is as a result always a rearrangement of where the numbers go on the calendar, and figuring out which day of the week something like “June 14” falls on a few years from now actually becomes a math problem instead of a trivial observation.

Lie of the Seven Wonders

This should be a subject for which one need not even address, due to being incorrect on sufficiently enough levels that addressing the issue is like launching arrows at skeletons (some will miss because they pass between the bones). Suffice it to say that the Greeks have not been to the entire world, that the specific set of wonders has no particular designation (Petra is an example of a great work within the area that is not considered in the wonders), and that they knew so little about the world they thought the Black Sea was an ocean and thus that Europe and Asia were separate continents, an idea that later was continued by people who were less aware or stubbornly conservative after more people found that Russia exists. Anyway, the shame is that the arbitrary choice of seven was continued in the New7Wonders of the World.

Lie of the Seven Colors

Despite his contributions to science, Isaac Newton had his share of contributions to passing nonsense as science. Newton actually published more works regarding the occult than on physics. One of the more ridiculous things he did was to say that the rainbow included an “indigo,” a color he quite undeniably added in because he belonged to the group of ridiculously superstitious people who believed that everything should be in sevens. Observing the spectrum, there is no reason to specifically distinguish a separate color between blue and violet. Orange stands in a similar situation of being a strangely specific color represented in the rainbow, but unlike indigo, the typical human actually can distinguish well orange from red and yellow. Some argue to Newton’s blue referred to cyan and that his indigo referred to blue. In that case, one is going for a scientifically logical set of colors to state to be in the rainbow, which would mean orange should not be in the set, as a solitary tertiary color among would-be primary and secondary colors. Either way, there should only be six colors in the rainbow.

Lie of the Seven Continents

American schools insinuate to innocent children at an early age that the number of continents in the world is seven. As elementary school students typically aren’t at a sufficiently high enough age to doubt for reason, this is an example of a cheap shot to make people think that things really do magically tend to come in sevens. If anyone was to view an accurate geographical map of the world, it is ludicrous to suggest that the number of continents is seven. Suppose, for example, that one uses the measure “significantly large body of land”: then, there are really no reasonable cutoffs for “significantly larger smaller than New Guinea, so the cutoff should be between New Guinea and Greenland or between Greenland and Australia, in which case {America, Eurafrasia, Australia, Antarctica[, Greenland]} contains either four of five continents. If one argues geologically, in terms of areas of independent continental shelf with significant above-ocean prominence, there is {Eurafrasiamerigreenland, Australinewguinea, Antarctica, Madagascar, Iceland, New Zealand}, again six continents. The main common issue is that it takes a significant level of insanity to argue that Europe and Asia are different continents. Just look at a map. Is there even any bottleneck or folding to suggest that Europe and Asia should be considered separate continents? In fact, it is arguably more valid to consider India separate from this landmass than Europe: India, unlike Europe, is actually on a different plate than the rest of Asia; India, unlike Europe, actually has an exclusive topographical feature separating it (actually significantly high mountains separating it, unlike the Ural Mountains which are seriously low for a mountain range and do not even cut all the way across); and if one separates India as a continent, there aren’t actually countries that only make sense if one considers them to have parts in two different continents. In the big picture, it is probably actually not even a good idea to use the concept of a continent, separately from “landmass,” but if one uses the term, there definitely aren’t seven of them.

Lie of the Seven Ranks

The Kingdom|Phylum|Class|Order|Family|Genus|Species taxonomic division is seriously not ideal for all life. In fact, it is not even ideal for most of life. Looking at the taxonomic categorizations of many species and even noting taxonomic disputes shows that really one shouldn’t even consider there to be a number of levels of taxonomic division, and that some species should actually have different numbers of levels of categorization that lead to them than others, and that the existence of Domains, Subphyla, Infraphyla, and all of those just shows that we should just stop this silliness of assigning certain levels of classification as the benchmark ones.

There are, of course, cases when things legitimately come in sevens. Notes in a diatonic scale, for example, have a logical reason for coming in seven: they are the complementary set to the set of notes in the pentatonic scale within the notes in the chromatic scale, both naturally derived. What the person of today has a duty to do, though, is to question, and one idea that should be questioned to its fall is the reign of the number seven. One should look around for what is told to come in seven and seek the seventh pseudomember. I will in fact produce an example prompt for one such question to ask right now: there are seven SI base units. Is one of them particularly fishy?