Blog Archives

Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole

"After this," says Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix, "there is no turning back." You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red

The More the Merrier

Lately I've been thinking a lot about (what I'm going to call) swarms and hives — two different kinds of collective animal behavior. Examples of swarms include: what gazelles do in herds, what fish do in schools, and what gnats

Doesn't Matter, Warm Fuzzies

Why do humans dress up in funny clothes and perform elaborate actions with no tangible effects? Remember, we're not just human beings — we're apes. Why do apes do this? A study of ritual in ten lessons. I. indirection A

Parable of the Redwoods

or What Trees Can Teach Us About Human Intelligence. My native California is home to the world's tallest tree species: Sequoia sempervirens or the coastal redwood. The tallest living specimen towers a lofty 115 meters (379 feet) above the forest

Border Stories

I. National sovereignty Conservatives often clamor for strong national borders. For most of my life I had no idea why. I mean, I understood their specific (partisan) agendas — wanting to restrict immigration or keep drugs out of the country,

2014 Meta

Time again for the annual indulgence: blogging about the blog itself. Main points for 2014: Fewer posts... but higher quality(?). I published only 8 full essays this year. Granted, most of them were long — 3500 words on average —


A Tale of Dominance, Submission, and Friendship on the Cheap. So humans are a peculiar species. You probably knew that. What you may not have realized — like I hadn't until recently — is just how many specific traits and

Ads Don't Work That Way

There's a meme, particularly virulent in educated circles, about how advertising works — how it sways and seduces us, coaxing us gently toward a purchase. The meme goes something like this: Rather than attempting to persuade us (via our rational,

Personhood: A Game for Two or More Players

Being a person is not the essence of humanity, only... one of its many masks. — John Gray Pardon me while I scratch a little itch here in public. I'd like to describe for you a concept that I can

Your Oddly-Shaped Mind

"There are three kinds of death in this world. There's heart death, there's brain death, and there's being off the network." — Guy Almes Last time we explored how your body — a tube of cogitating meat that you (sort