synthetic zero

March 17th, 2009

Check out the events coming up at the Synthetic Zero art space

Sunday, March 22nd, 6:30pm - Jessica Danser/dansfolk presents:

Thursday, March 26th, 7pm - Portland writer, performer, and
interdisciplinary artist Tiffany Lee Brown brings the Easter Island
: Participation Tour to the Synthetic Zero Art Space:

Attendees are invited to bring art- and music-making gear. And she’d
“LUV it if you wanted to help document the gathering — bring video
cameras, recording devices, cameras, etc. of any quality or lack

Preview on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 6pm - 9pm, presentations on Saturday, April 4, 5pm - Stranger Than Fiction

Presentations and work shared by Yasmine Alwan, A.S. Bessa, Ethan Ham, Jane Hsu, and Angie Waller, curated by Laura Napier.

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March 15th, 2009

A post for physics geeks:  I’ve suspected for a long time that the long-awaited “God Particle”, the Higgs boson, which, according to the Standard Model of particle physics is the origin of the mass of particles — may well not exist.  Why?  It’s nearly entirely handwaving, but it comes from my ideas about the nature of the measurement problem in quantum mechanics.  That is to say … Jonathan Tash and I speculated a number of years ago that the solution to the preferred basis problem of the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics may well be that it is only in the basis that we happen to observe that you can have perception or awareness needed for what we call life; that is to say, if perception depends on feedback loops a la Gregory Bateson, those feedback loops would have to be able to “close”.  Our hypothesis was that the apparent structure of spacetime itself was/is induced by these feedback loops (on some sort of underlying substrate that was itself not necessarily local in structure and which did not have a spacetime structure in particular.)  However, if spacetime is induced by feedback loops, but, according to Einstein, one can interpret gravity as a bending of spacetime, then perhaps there is some relationship between these perceptual feedback loops and gravity (again, this is just my personal speculation and it is nothing more than handwaving, as I said, at this point).  If, somehow, gravity itself is related to the nature of closed feedback loops, then it may be that what we call mass has to do with global factors rather than created by a Higgs field.  However, I haven’t analyzed it further than this; it’s just an intuition, and a very vague one at that.  But, let’s just say I’m not entirely surprised that they haven’t found the Higgs boson yet; if they do find it, I suppose I’d be slightly disappointed (but again, since I haven’t done the analysis I’m not really sure if or whether it would really affect the more fundamental ideas Jonathan and I have bandied about.)  If the Higgs doesn’t exist, of course, it means there’s something fundamentally missing from the Standard Model — and I think it could be something along the lines of these feedback loops inducing spacetime. Who knows, however, it’s all just speculation (update: Jonathan wrote me just now to say he shares this intuition).

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March 13th, 2009

I wanted to say something about the recent Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer face-off.  I have to say, I thought this was one of the most powerful and to-the-point shows I’ve seen in a long time.

What Jon called Cramer and CNBC out on was not just being wrong sometimes, it was failing to do journalism.  Cramer’s show is like the Daily Show in that it’s entertaining, but it’s not the Daily Show in that Cramer does not do his homework.  It’s mostly him up spouting off the top of his head, not doing research, making calls based on his gut.  He’s a smart guy but Jon rightly called him out on failing to use his experience and smarts and do the hard work that is incumbent upon him in his role on his show.  Jon is saying: fucking take your job seriously.  He has some moral authority here since it’s damn obvious the Daily Show staff does THEIR research, far better than the vast majority of real news shows out there.  Yet, people with real financial knowledge and experience are up there spouting things off the top of their heads — yet he and his Daily Show writers, who he acknowledges are mainly entertainers — are out there trying to figure it all out, as best they can, without that background and expertise.

He called Cramer out not just for being wrong, but for being lazy.  For not doing his job, for not taking his job seriously.  And, quite frankly, I think Cramer listened.  I think he actually got his point across.  This wasn’t just a takedown of Cramer: it was a schooling of Cramer, and maybe a schooling of CNBC.  Jon’s essentially saying: do your jobs, fuckers.  If you’re going to sell yourself as a serious network covering financial news, well then, be a serious network covering financial news.

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