Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 22nd, 2022

Glimpses of almost-humans from prehistory

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Matt Webb has a fascinating post at Interconnected. It consists of multiple parts. Here’s the first and part of the second:


Cave art may be inaccessible to today’s brain:

A recent article argued that superior visual perception was necessary for the creation of Paleolithic cave paintings because of the level of correct anatomical details and accurate depictions of high-speed leg positions of animals in motion, considering that the works were accomplished far removed from the actual animals and with crude tools. The article uncovered and outlined current evidence for an association between visual thinkers (some diagnosed within the Autism Spectrum Disorder) and a relatively high percentage of archaic genes, of which some are associated with perception and cognition. Moreover, within this group are some savants who can quickly and accurately scan what they see and reproduce it artistically in extraordinary detail. One example is reproducing the correct number and relative size of windows from a brief exposure to a city scene. However, the linguistic abilities of visual thinkers may be impaired, which suggests a negative correlation between visual perception/memory and language.

Brain Sciences
“Is Reduced Visual Processing the Price of Language?”
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The argument in the paper is that pre-human primates (a) are sometimes superior to humans in dealing with visual sequences, but (b) have brain areas more directly connected to visual processing than humans. They deal with a flood of visual information – versus humans, which abstract and discard.

The paper goes on to suggest that language emerged relatively recently… and the emergence of language may be associated with the reduced brain size in Homo sapiens that started about 50,000 years ago and more markedly 10,000 years ago.

(I hadn’t realised that there was such an observed brain size reduction occurring so recently. The early known city is only 9,000 years ago! Radical changes in the nature of consciousness in the shallows of pre-history.)

We suggest that an effect of this loss in brain size was the reduction of neuronal signaling and/or pathways related to raw perception and vision in particular. Visual perception relies on informational highways that may provide so much information that it can be overwhelming for other brain functions, such as retrieving knowledge appropriate to the situation or imagining something that is not present in the here and now. We hypothesize that the loss in brain volume is mainly linked to reduced perception of detail in space and time. We are no longer able to perceive how many hooves of a running horse touch the ground, as the cave artists of Chauvet may have seen with ease.

After the Upper Palaeolithic (50,000 to 10,000 years ago) we no longer find evidence for elaborate realistic cave paintings (although we find iconic and symbolic cave paintings after this period).


Johansson, C., & Folgerø, P. O. (2022). Is Reduced Visual Processing the Price of Language? Brain Sciences, 12(6), 771


Guide to Machine Elves and Other DMT Entities.

Self-transforming machines elves: a term coined by the ethnobotanist, philosopher, and writer Terence McKenna to describe some of the entities that are encountered in a DMT trip. They’ve come to be known by many names, including “clockwork elves”, “DMT elves”, “fractal elves”, and “tykes”.


During my own experiences smoking synthesized DMT in Berkeley, I had had the impression of bursting into a space inhabited by merry elfin, self-transforming, machine creatures. Dozens of these friendly fractal entities, looking like self-dribbling Faberge eggs on the rebound, had surrounded me and tried to teach me the lost language of true poetry.

Meetings are common:

Philip Mayer collected and analyzed 340 DMT trip reports in 2005. Mayer found that 66% of them (226) referenced independently-existing entities that interact in an intelligent and intentional manner.


My trip to the dentist which had me discover the secret of the universe (2020) which turns out to be a common effect of nitrous.


Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 June 2022 at 7:24 pm

Generalizing “cook once, eat multiple times” — Kale and companions

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While one-ingredient dishes have their place, in general I like to have multiple players when I cook vegetables. So when I cook something, I go both for multiple meals (quantity) and for multiple ingredients (nutritive quality).

I got some red kale yesterday, and this morning thought I’d cook it to have as Greens for a few meals. But not red kale by itself — it would be lonely. 

I Evo-sprayed my All-Clad Stainless 4-qt sauté pan with 6 sprays of extra-virgin olive oil (1.5 teaspoons), put the pan on the induction burner (but did not turn it on), and added to the pan:

• 1 bunch very fresh thick scallions, chopped (including leaves)
• 2 large jalapeños, sliced (including core and seeds)
• 2 large turmeric roots, chopped small
• 2 enormous domestic white mushrooms, halved and then sliced
• 1/4-1/3 cup unsalted roasted pumpkin sees (wouldn’t fit into the jar where I keep them)
• 1 head of garlic cloves, peeled, chopped small, and allowed to rest 15 minutes

With that in the pan, I also chopped:

• 1 bunch very fresh red kale, sliced pretty thin
• 1 Meyer lemon, diced

With all in readiness, I turned the burner on to 3 and let the cooking begin. I stayed back a bit (pacemaker), but felt nothing when I approached to stir (probably because my left side was a couple of feet from the burner, which was covered with the large pan, centered).

Once the ingredients in the pan had cooked down somewhat — probably 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally — I added the kale and lemon and also:

• pinch of MSG
• splash of tamari (about 1.5 tablespoons)
• good splash of Bragg’s apple-cider vinegar (3-4 tablespoons)
• lots of black pepper that I had just ground (3-4 tablespoons: a lot, but there was a lot of turmeric)
• about 1/3 cup water

I cooked that briefly, stirring to mix things well, and once it was simmering I turned the burner to 225ºF and set the burner timer for 20 minutes. Halfway through, I lifted the lid and stirred to see how it was doing.

A serving of this will take care of Greens for a meal, and the tempeh I made will take care of Beans and Grain, so mostly I have to add Other Vegetables. Kale also checks the cruciferous box. Obviously turmeric is taken care of. I don’t think the pumpkin seeds are enough to take care of Nuts/Seeds, so I’ll probably add some walnuts to one meal.

Written by Leisureguy

22 June 2022 at 11:16 am

Weirdness in daily life

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Occasionally one is struck by coincidental instances of minor weirdness. Sometimes an explanation suggests itself — various changes in my body and its functioning that I’ve been experiencing over the past week seem pretty clearly due to better circulation of oxygenated blood. (Example: my average fasting blood glucose has significantly dropped: an average of 6.2 mmol/L (112 mg?dL) for the previous week, fortnight, 30 days, and 90 days — in other words, a stable reading — has dropped to an average of 5.7 mmol/L (103 mg/dL) for the past week. I even had one reading last week of 5.4 mmol/L (97 mg/dL), which is “normal. And there are other things: sleep patterns, energy level, and the like.

In looking for something else on my blog, I came across a post from last November that collected a little constellation of weird encounters that occurred in a short span of time. I thought you might enjoy seeing it again.

Written by Leisureguy

22 June 2022 at 10:09 am

Posted in Daily life

If Social Democracy Is So Great, Why Is the US Richer Than Nordics?

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Erik Enghelm has an interesting article in Medium with a number of informative graphs. As he points out, he supports Social Democracy and lives in Norway. His title (above) is just asking the obvious question, and his article is an investigation into the answers.

The entire article is worth reading, and I recommend it. Here’s the summary:


  • The economic advantage the US enjoys over Nordic countries today got established when agriculture and slavery powered the US economy
  • Nordic countries lacked agricultural land and climate to compete with the US in agricultural output, especially in cash crops like cotton and tobacco which gave large export incomes
  • Agricultural exports are what historically has provided capital to invest in industrialization. Without profits from agriculture, industrialization will be delayed.
  • Foreign investment is a possibility, but Nordics lacked coal and large population centers and markets to make investing in industrialization attractive for foreigners
  • Development of electric motors and turbines allowed Nordic countries to circumvent the limitations imposed by lack of access to cheap coal
  • Ever since Nordic countries got the opportunity to industrialize, they have grown faster than the US economy

Written by Leisureguy

22 June 2022 at 9:59 am

Hoboken Hasn’t Had a Traffic Death in Four Years. What’s It Doing Right?

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I’ve noticed in Facebook comments on traffic accidents people have a strong tendency assign blame — to the driver(s), or bicyclist(s), or pedestrian(s). Strong language is used, with “idiot” being a popular characterization. Yet in many cases those at fault were clearly the traffic engineers and road designers. A particular intersection here in Victoria is the site of repeated accidents, and inevitably comments about how drivers today are idiots come gushing forth.

But — oddly — these same idiots do not in general experience accidents at other intersections. Same idiots, different intersection, different outcome. That suggests that perhaps the fault lies not so much with the drivers as with the design of the intersection — an idea that, when mentioned, for some reason infuriates some.

I think that people want to blame a person and the idea that the intersection design is at fault deprives them of that satisfaction — but only at first glance. They still can blame someone, and in fact they can blame those actually responsible for the problem —namely, the traffic engineer who designed the intersection and those who approved the design.

In this connection, New York Magazine has an interesting article by Christopher Robbins, which begins:

It’s not quite the prairie, but Hoboken feels downright roomy. Wander down the wide, busy sidewalks of Washington Street, the city’s main strip, past the poke joints and (so-so) bagel shops, or through the unusually narrow side streets that run east and west, and one thing becomes clear. Specifically, oncoming traffic. A pedestrian doesn’t have to play the same perilous game of New York City crosswalk chicken, where you squint through the windows of a massive metal box to catch a glimpse of another speeding metal box whose driver doesn’t see you. Or you edge out into the street, making yourself visible and vulnerable to whatever impatient soul is behind the wheel, hoping one of you has enough time to make the right decision.

Few drivers park next to crosswalks in Hoboken, because they can’t. Those spots are blocked off with bike racks or planters or storm drains or extra sidewalk space for pedestrians or vertical plastic pylons that deter all but the boldest delivery-truck drivers. Stand at a corner, and you can see what is coming toward you, and drivers can see you too, and you don’t have to step out into the road and risk your life to do it.

This is a simple piece of street planning called “daylighting,” and according to Hoboken’s transportation-and-parking director, Ryan Sharp, it’s been among the most popular requests from residents. It’s also one of the major tools that Hoboken has used to make its streets less deadly. The city of 60,000 hasn’t had a single traffic fatality since 2018 and has consistently cut the number of crashes and injuries while — and by — aggressively installing the things that are proven to make cities safer and more efficient for everyone: bike lanes, curb extensions, bus lanes, high-visibility crosswalks, and raised intersections.

As Hoboken’s streets get safer, New York City, like the rest of America, is moving in the opposite direction. Traffic fatalities in . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 June 2022 at 9:18 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Science, Technology

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A Luxury shave with the RazoRock Baby Smooth

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An extremely nice shave this morning with a great ensemble cast. Grooming Dept Luxury shaving soap uses the Kairos (tallow plus much else) formula, with a fragrance of “Oud + Leather!” — quite a pleasant fragrance.

Phoenix Artisan’s Green Ray is one of my favorite brushes: fine but springy bristles with just the right degree of resilience. The brush and soaped cooperated to deliver a first-rate lather, and RazoRock’s Baby Smooth did a wonderful job — great comfort, light blade feel, total efficiency.

A splash of Penhaligon Blenheim Bouquet with a couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel finished the job, and today is clear with a light breeze.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Black Currant: “A blend of rich, smooth black teas enhanced with the zesty essence of black currants.”

Written by Leisureguy

22 June 2022 at 8:56 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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