Blog Archives

Boundaries of Your Body

Some will say that 'you' are your body. That everything that happens to 'you,' happens to your body, and vice versa. That you ought to identify, therefore, with your organs and tissues, your face, your DNA, and your brain —

The Aesthetics of Personal Identity

Forgive the seemingly sophomoric question, but... Who are you, exactly? Or to put it another way: Which parts or facets of the universe do you identify with? This question, so easy to ask, is all but impossible to answer in

Technical Debt of the West

(Originally published at Ribbonfarm.) Here's a recipe for discovering new ideas: Examine the frames that give structure (but also bias) to your thinking. Predict, on the basis of #1, where you're likely to have blind spots. Start groping around in

A Codebase is an Organism

I. Here's what no one tells you when you graduate with a degree in computer science and take up a job in software engineering: The computer is a machine, but a codebase is an organism. This will make sense to

UX and the Civilizing Process

(Originally published at Ribbonfarm.) To scandalize a member of the educated West, open any book on European table manners from the middle of the second millennium: "Some people gnaw a bone and then put it back in the dish. This

Hallucinated Gods

We've laid a lot of groundwork over the past two months for me to be able to say this with a straight face: Julian Jaynes believed that ancient people experienced their gods as auditory hallucinations. OK, maybe I cringed a

2013 Meta

Time for the annual 'meta' indulgence: writing about the writing process, blogging about the blog itself. Summary of the year In last year's meta post I set myself the (v. reasonable) goal of publishing one essay per week in 2013.

Neurons Gone Wild

To reject gods and spirits is easy: just bully them away in the name of science. But to accept them, or at least our experiences of them, and yet give them a scientific explanation: there's a task worthy of our

Accepting Deviant Minds

There is no question that the mind is vaster and more fluid than our ordinary, waking consciousness suggests. — Sam Harris At a sleepover when I was 12, a friend told me that he could control his dreams. It didn't

Mr. Jaynes' Wild Ride

If any book deserves to be called a mindfuck, it's Julian Jaynes' epic, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. When it was first published in 1976, no one knew quite what to make of it,