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Aaron Helton
Attended St. Edward's University
Lives in New York, NY
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Aaron Helton

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Benign masochism. It often hinges on deliberate self-deception, the introduction of a safe threat.
When a corpse flower named Trudy bloomed last weekend, more than a thousand people lined up for a whiff of its "magnificent stink." The giant blossom smells like a heady mix of rotting fish, sewage...
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Out of two laptops on a Windows 8.1 -> Windows 10 upgrade path, one succeeded after a number of tries. The other has not. I don't have an official count for the number of attempts, but I've deleted the contents of C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download many, many times.

The potentially worrying aspect is that I keep getting different reports for the amount Windows Update has to download. Mostly it goes up. The first try was about 3 GB, later tries were less than that (but not by much), and then it began rising: 5 GB, 10 GB, 13 GB.
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I got it to work by downloading directly from Microsoft and choosing the upgrade option.
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Man do I ever love Naomi Oreskes. This book is written as a "history" of the climate change tipping point we're approaching now, with the tone like that of a future textbook explaining to kids how it happened. Money shot:

"To shed light on this question, some scholars have pointed to the epistemic structure of Western science, particularly in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which was organized both intellectually and institutionally around 'disciplines' in which specialists developed a high level of expertise in a small area of inquiry. This 'reductionist' approach, sometimes credited to the seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes but not fully developed until the late nineteenth century, was believed to give intellectual power and vigor to investigations by focusing on singular elements of complex problems. 'Tractability' was a guiding ideal of the time: problems that were too large or complex to be solved in their totality were divided into smaller, more manageable elements. While reductionism proved powerful in many domains, particularly quantum physics and medical diagnostics, it impeded investigations of complex systems. Reductionism also made it difficult for scientists to articulate the threat posed by climatic change, since many experts did not actually know very much about aspects of the problem beyond their expertise."

<3 <3 <3

Edit:  I just finished the book (it's remarkably short and entertaining). Some further thoughts:

I (obviously) agree entirely that this dogmatic reductionistic position is a serious problem in science right now. Moreover, it's a serious problem in science education right now. The notion that the best (and only) way to understand a system is to decompose it into constituent parts, examine the behavior of those parts in isolation from one another, and then draw conclusions about their behavior in situ is subtly but consistently drilled into the heads of future scientists at virtually all levels of science education--from elementary school all the way up through graduate school in most disciplines. We're very used to this technique working well; as O&C point out, quantum mechanics represents perhaps the ultimate triumph of reduction. As a result, most educated adults in the Western world--scientists and non-scientists alike--have it in their heads that reductive analysis just is science.

This is a big problem for climate change, among other things. The sort of holistic, systems-based thinking that's essential to understanding the coupled climate-society system is, if not outright discouraged, at least never really taught in the course of any ordinary education unless one pursues a graduate degree in something like non-linear dynamics, which most people (understandably) do not. This leaves ordinary citizens, political decision-makers, and even most scientists poorly equipped to think rigorously about the nature and scope of the problem we're facing. If we're going to help people understand climate change, we'll have to begin by helping them understand some basic features of complex systems.
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A 60 year lease, you say?

>> Think you’re ready to quit your current job for a 60-year lease on a farm, surrounded by luscious natural beauty? Those interested should check out the Request for Proposals (RFP) released last week. It’s not just a matter of applying, though: The competition is real.
Two parcels of land were added to Countryside Initiative, a long-term lease program that invites the motivated to live and farm within national parkland.
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Under normal circumstances, I would sign this with the additional question, "What could possibly go wrong?"

But seriously. A wifi enabled smart rifle? Who in the world thought that would be a good idea?
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Twitch plays fashion police?
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fuck you bottle

no u
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Just as well it wasn't a ship.
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Hugh Hancock on what the Cthulu mythos would look like in 2015.

And come to think of it, the plethora of nearly unpronounceable names belonging to web/mobile sites and apps does skew slightly Lovecraftian.

Filed under Lawful Evil for what I hope are obvious reasons.

>> [U]nlike Lovecraft, in 2015 we have plenty of experience with actual gigantic, inhuman entities with agendas entirely orthogonal to the safety and security of the human race.
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Presumably text-walkers have been in contact with the Ministry of Silly Walks.

>> They're less likely to trip because they shorten their step length, reduce step frequency, lengthen the time during which both feet are in contact with the ground, and increase obstacle clearance height. Taken together this creates an exaggerated image of walking, but it apparently slows the walker enough so that he registers some of what is happening around him and can compensate for it.
; We may be driving technology to respond to our needs in various areas, but this is one instance where we've definitely demonstrated that we're also adapting to accommodate technological change.
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This looks fantastic.

I've been a fan of Ribbonfarm for a number of years now. If you aren't reading it, you are missing out on some very interesting analysis and exposure to useful frameworks.

Likewise, the brief overview of the first season of Breaking Smart suggests it will be another source of can't-miss reading. The easiest and most distilled description of the season appears in the How You Can Help section:

>> If you know smart people struggling to understand the new economy, get them to read it. Season 1 is designed to serve as a sort of Digital Economy for Non-Dummies primer.

Get started here: http://breakingsmart.com/
Today, I am launching a new site: Breaking Smart. It is a seasonal binge-reading site (think Netflix binge-watching, but for blogs) devoted to big-picture analysis of technology trends. Starting wi...
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For decades now, I have been haunted by the grainy, black-and-white x-ray of a human skull.

It is alive but empty, with a cavernous fluid-filled space where the brain should be. A thin layer of brain tissue lines that cavity like an amniotic sac. The image hails from a 1980 review article in Science: Roger Lewin, the author, reports that the patient in question had “virtually no brain”. But that’s not what scared me; hydrocephalus is nothing new, and it takes more to creep out this ex-biologist than a picture of Ventricles Gone Wild.

What scared me was the fact that this virtually brain-free patient had an IQ of 126.

Briefly, a hypothesis. 

Most of the volume of your brain consists of white matter: a fatty substance the texture of semi-firm tofu, composed of glia, myelin, and the long tails of axons further up in the brain. It can tolerate a fair amount of damage before causing serious effects: as we age, its volume shrinks considerably without affecting IQ, and although diffuse white-matter injuries can have horrifying effects, small ischemic strokes can take chunks out of it without the patient noticing.

Most of what's missing in this guy is white matter. 

But even if you're completely lacking white matter, there's a second route between parts of the brain: across the surface of the grey matter. In most anatomically normal people, the routes across the surface of the brain are fairly slow and unreliable, as they only directly interconnect adjacent parts of the brain. But presuming that whatever deprived him of most of his white matter didn't impair axon recruitment between lobes -- and it looks like it might not have, as one of the few interior structures that's still intact is the corpus callosum -- it's possible that his brain is simply more space-efficient than the rest of Homo sapiens.

Which did not, I might remind you, undergo a design review process to prove that its brain is constructed efficiently.
For decades now, I have been haunted by the grainy, black-and-white x-ray of a human skull. It is alive but empty, with a cavernous fluid-filled space where the brain should be. A thin layer of brain tissue lines that cavity like an amniotic sac. The image hails from a 1980 review article in ...
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Isn't that the skull of that one Frenchman? Ironically he works for the government...
Despite that, he leads a fairly normal life and didn't even have a clue there's nothing in his brain until the doctors found out by accident.
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Education
  • St. Edward's University
Basic Information
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Male
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Facilis descensus Averno; Noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis; Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hic labor est.
Introduction
I am a husband, father, technologist, humanist, skeptic, gamer, thinker, and dreamer. 

Hablo español.

Insert all applicable obligatory disclaimers here.

Circle me if you like any of the following, because I post about them regularly:
  • Odd and off the wall stuff
  • Technology
  • Philosophy
  • Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
  • Making and DIY
  • Literature and poetry
  • Roleplaying games
  • Random musings and thought experiments
  • Language learning stuff, especially English <--> Spanish
  • Photography
  • Cooking, especially vegetarian and vegan
  • New York City
  • Social Justice, especially feminism
This is not a comprehensive list.

If you expect me to circle you back:
  • Have some public posts
  • Preferably posts that interest me in some way
  • Hint: it helps if they aren't all links to the same page/blog/subject; I like well-roundedness
  • Interact with me in a meaningful way
  • It also probably helps if you have any idea what my tagline comes from.  Just sayin'.
Work
Occupation
Aspiring autoanthropodermic bibliopegist and resident curmudgeon.
Skills
Saying 'nay', shaking my fist, and telling people to vacate my lawn in multiple languages.
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
New York, NY
Previously
Washington, DC - Amarilo, TX - Austin, TX - Enid, OK - Kaiserslautern, Germany - El Paso, TX
Contact Information
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Aaron Helton's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
code4lib jobs: (Temporary) Associate Information Systems Officer - Unite...
jobs.code4lib.org

The United Nations is looking for a Java developer to fill a temporary contract working on DSpace repositories. If you're interested, please

A black and white photograph of a giant dust storm...
natgeofound.tumblr.com

A black and white photograph of a giant dust storm in 1937. Photographed by Chris Johns, National Geographic

My walk along Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. A...
arnade.tumblr.com

My walk along Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. A seven-mile stretch that includes South Asian, orthodox Jewish, Turkish, and finally Russian

xkcd: Pastime
xkcd.com

&lt; Prev · Random; Next &gt;; &gt;|. Permanent link to this comic: http://xkcd.com/1222/ Image URL (for hotlinking/embedding): http://imgs.xkcd.com/

New Yorkers Organize 24-Hour Read-In for Libraries!
bookriot.com

Remember when I told NYC people to stay tuned for announcements about library advocacy opportunities during this spring budget cut season? W

A close view of the puffer fish found in Florida’s...
natgeofound.tumblr.com

A close view of the puffer fish found in Florida’s warm waters, January 1922. Photograph by L. F. Williamz, National Geographic

A shelter made of antlers at Yellowstone National...
natgeofound.tumblr.com

A shelter made of antlers at Yellowstone National Park. Photograph by Edwin L. Wisherd, National Geographic

photo
awkwardstockphotos.com

Where awkward stock photos finally have a purpose submissions@awkwardstockphotos.com. Links to photos work best. We cannot post photos from

1 in 13 humans has chimp-like feet
io9.com

When our ancient ancestors left their arboreal homes, they ditched their flexible feet for rigid tootsies best suited for walking on the gro

Dilbert comic strip for 06/01/2013 from the official Dilbert comic strip...
dilbert.com

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animation, mashups and more starring Dilbert, Dogbert, Wally, The Pointy

A matador poses in full regalia with an...
natgeofound.tumblr.com

A matador poses in full regalia with an embroidered cape in Colombia, 1939. Photograph by Luis Marden, National Geographic

Clever Paper Cut Designs Feature Animals and Their Snacks
www.mymodernmet.com

People often say You are what you eat. Well, Oregon-based artist Wendy Wallin Malinow thought it would be interesting to see that phrase in

Introductory Astronomy
physicsdatabase.com

A course on introduction on astronomy from Michigan tech.

Playful Recreations of Classic Paintings on Toast
www.mymodernmet.com

Food artist Ida Skivenes, better known as IdaFrosk, pays homage to the great painters of yesteryear with her playful food creations. The Osl

"Sodomy": what a waste
shitmystudentswrite.tumblr.com

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah has to do with Sodom who masturbated in the forest, therefore, wasting his semen and not being able to impregn

Amish Raw Milk Farmer Vernon Hershberger Wins Big in Court
modernfarmer.com

(Above: Farmer Vernon Hershberg between two of his lawyers, Glenn Reynolds and Elizabeth Rich.) “Food [...]

Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral tower is...
natgeofound.tumblr.com

Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral tower is unveiled in 1907 in Nova Scotia. Photograph courtesy the Bell Collection

A German shepherd is accepted for sentry duty by...
natgeofound.tumblr.com

A German shepherd is accepted for sentry duty by the Coast Guard, January 1941.Photograph by J. Baylor Roberts, National Geographic

Dilbert comic strip for 05/25/2013 from the official Dilbert comic strip...
dilbert.com

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animation, mashups and more starring Dilbert, Dogbert, Wally, The Pointy

Yamel Cakes
shitmystudentswrite.tumblr.com

Every year on Yom Kippur, Jewish men and boys wear yamel cakes on their heads, which are very important to the Jewish faith. Wearing the yam

Decent food (not like home, but workable), good prices, and a small but reliable selection of vegetarian options. Good, sensible kids selections.
Public - 4 years ago
reviewed 4 years ago
3 reviews
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Where to start? Signs all over the place prohibiting potential customers from touching any of the merchandise? Check. Overreaction to the presence of children in the store (who were well behaved at the time)? Check. More signs prohibiting customers from smelling any of the fragrant items? Check. Finally asked to leave because the children *might* touch something? Check. This is probably the rudest place I've ever seen, and it's a wonder the place manages to stay in business. In the response the owner will surely leave below, she will explain that the signs are intended to keep people from handling merchandise carelessly, and that somehow smelling fragrant items may make them unsellable. She may even concoct some story about my kids being unruly (which will be a lie). So while every story has two sides, you should keep in mind these statements before buying the owner's version. Consumers have choices, and while I could have been a customer, the owner's attitude as evidenced by the signs and the rude treatment mean I will never consider being a customer there in the future. In fact, if I ever set foot in the store again, it will be to take pictures of these ridiculous signs to share here or on Yelp. Verdict: Avoid this place. Your dollars are better spent somewhere else. The internet, perhaps.
• • •
Public - 4 years ago
reviewed 4 years ago