Saturday, May 31, 2014
What should we call the design, construction, and study of the built environment? "Geography" is too broad. "Regional planning" sounds like a job reserved for bureaucracies. "Urban planning"—the usual catchall term—is a holdover from the profession's early years, when industrial blight was one of America's biggest domestic problems. Today we are worrying about our cities for different reasons, and our suburbs and open spaces are demanding equal concern. How do we retrofit our aging suburbs? Can design foster stronger communities? What does sustainable development really mean? These questions all fall under the subject of urban planning. So what's a better term? Perhaps "placemaking" best fits the bill. The following books are all in some way about placemaking in America, past and present. They are about cities, suburbs, and neighborhoods: how we build them, how we can change them, and how we can make them better. Some of these books were written by urban planners with other experts in mind. Still, they should all be accessible and interesting to any curious generalist.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
"Much more interesting, because less obvious, is the case [Nicholas] Wade makes for a genetic element in differences in behavior between genetically distinct groups. For example, East Asians consistently come out ahead of Caucasians on tests of intelligence, yet Caucasians dominate by a wide margin in inventiveness. Why is this? Wade asserts, somewhat speculatively but with a lot of evidence, that natural selection has shaped the Chinese and Japanese to form collectively-oriented, hierarchical societies, not favorable to independent thought.
Prof. Jesse Prinz asserts that, "The study of the human mind is fundamentally the study of place. If we want to know why some people wage war and others aim for amity, it is not enough to know that both capacities exist within our species. We must understand the circumstances that make us peaceful or pugnacious." shown through brain scans and other analytical tools to possess the same or similar chemistry react in much the same way to various external stimuli (as the brains of twins do even when raised apart). The brain is less plastic than policy makers and the public think. The first sentence of the Declaration of Independence is politcally correct but scientifically wrong.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The exchange seems somewhat jumbled *, but the interplay of innate tendencies and environmental influences which produces culture (=cultureplaces) does come through.
(*) Prof. Prinz presumes a baseline capacity across humanity that is then modified by experience, but he discounts that learning may be influenced by hereditary biological traits shared by a particular race or ethnicity, e.g., the role of testosterone. Evolution can change the genome after only a small number of centuries on the group level, which is why we can talke about the Russian or German Character.
Prinz sees twins, for example, as half empty glasses and ignores the half full part (similar similar norms and tastes when raised apart in very different circumstances). The moderator should have brought up this non emotional/cognitive hardwiring which of course can be swayed and somewhat modified by social conditions.
Patrick TuckerMay 28, 2014
How well can you predict your next mood swing? How well can anyone? It’s an existential dilemma for many of us but for the military, the ability to treat anxiety, depression, memory loss and the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder has become one of the most important battles of the post-war period.
Now the Pentagon is developing a new, innovative brain chip to treat PTSD in soldiers and veterans that could bring sweeping new changes to the way depression and anxiety is treated for millions of Americans.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
BY DOMINIC BASULTO
In the future, using cognitive enhancement devices to boost your brainpower could become just about as common as getting a bit of plastic surgery is today. It’s already possible to order online a number of cognitive enhancement devices, including some –like the foc.us – that are popular with online gamers. But how exactly are we going to regulate and control these cognitive enhancement devices so that people don’t start (literally) losing their minds once they start using these devices for boosting memory, focus and concentration on an everyday basis?
The talk seems to emphasize genes over environment. Prof. Jones also slips by possible genetic explanations for the higher murder rate in Detroit as shown in a slide at the end, since African Americans are known to have higher levels of testosterone.