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Baris Baser
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Looks like the jury is still out on cognitive neuroenhancers. Their research sample size is pitifully small, 10-20 subjects. Though the paper might pave way to a larger study, so I was glad to see the research. Kurzweil personally recommended that I stick to black coffee a few years back, above anything else, and thankfully I love coffee.  Abstract below. 

"Abstract
Modafinil is an FDA-approved eugeroic that directly increases cortical catecholamine levels, indirectly upregulates cerebral serotonin, glutamate, orexin, and histamine levels, and indirectly decreases cerebral gamma-amino-butrytic acid levels. In addition to its approved use treating excessive somnolence, modafinil is thought to be used widely off-prescription for cognitive enhancement. However, despite this popularity, there has been little consensus on the extent and nature of the cognitive effects of modafinil in healthy, non-sleep-deprived humans. This problem is compounded by methodological discrepancies within the literature, and reliance on psychometric tests designed to detect cognitive effects in ill rather than healthy populations. In order to provide an up-to-date systematic evaluation that addresses these concerns, we searched MEDLINE with the terms “modafinil” and “cognitive”, and reviewed all resultant primary studies in English from January 1990 until December 2014 investigating the cognitive actions of modafinil in healthy non-sleep-deprived humans. We found that whilst most studies employing basic testing paradigms show that modafinil intake enhances executive function, only half show improvements in attention and learning and memory, and a few even report impairments in divergent creative thinking. In contrast, when more complex assessments are used, modafinil appears to consistently engender enhancement of attention, executive functions, and learning. Importantly, we did not observe any preponderances for side effects or mood changes. Finally, in light of the methodological discrepancies encountered within this literature, we conclude with a series of recommendations on how to optimally detect valid, robust, and consistent effects in healthy populations that should aid future assessment of neuroenhancement."
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This week I was happy and honored to host my longtime friend and Luthier Erez Perelman give a talk on crafting custom classical and flamenco guitars, here at Google in Mountain View, California. The talk is live on the Talks@Google YouTube Channel. Special thanks to family and friends for coming together last minute to make this happen, and the Talks@Google team. 

Subscribe to the Talks@Google channel if you enjoy cerebral talks and fireside chats. The Talks at Google program brings directors, actors/actresses, artists, authors, musicians, innovators, and speakers of all stripes to Google for talks centering on their recent work and capturing the popular and intellectual zeitgeist of the day.
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Feel free to comment with your feedback (YouTube comments) as well, always appreciated. Thanks Grant, see you soon!

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Ooh, shiny.
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There's neither rain nor parades on Dune :-).

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Great answers by Evan and Marcus, and an interesting data point: 

'Apologize for circumstances that are out of your control. According to a 2013 study conducted by Harvard, Wharton, and UPenn researchers, simply apologizing for the rain made a stranger seem up to 5 times more trustworthy. '
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Work in the travel industry and you'll quickly realize the happiness of your guests is largely NOT in your control. It can be too sunny, windy, cold, wet, humid, whatever and all you can do is apologize. :)

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Viva Italia! 
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So majestic. Switch to 4K!
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To be clear, I bin wifi routers into "Stupidly simple", where they stupidly give me no ability to configure obvious options, and "Simply stupid" where they require me to configure esoteric options.

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Looks promising.
Nebia is raising funds for Nebia Shower - Better experience, 70% less water on Kickstarter! A showerhead that is better in every way. A superior experience, iconic design, and 70% water savings.
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In the past 16 years, Jon Stewart has reshaped both comedy and journalism around the world. This may seem an unlikely pairing, but if you think about it, it makes a certain sense: the jester's job, like the reporter's, is to tell uncomfortable truths out loud. Tonight he signed off from his show for the last time, and closed it with a speech worth remembering.

I look forward to the day when schoolchildren are reciting this for their history classes.


Since there isn't yet captioning available, I'll transcribe it here:

"Bullshit is everywhere.

There is very little that you will encounter in life that has not been in some way infused with bullshit.

Not all of it bad; your general, day-to-day, organic free-range bullshit is often necessary, or at the very least innocuous. "Oh, what a beautiful baby! I'm sure it'll grow into that... head." That kind of bullshit in many ways provides important social contract fertilizer, and keeps people from making each other cry all day.

But then there's the more pernicious bullshit: your premeditated, institutional bullshit, designed to obscure and distract. Designed by whom? The bullshitocracy. It comes in three basic flavors.

One, making bad things sound like good things. "Organic, all-natural cupcakes." Because "factory-made sugar-oatmeal balls" doesn't sell. "PATRIOT Act." Because "are you scared enough to let me look at all your phone records act" doesn't sell. So whenever something's been titled "Freedom-Family-Fairness-Health-America," take a good long sniff. Chances are, it's been manufactured in a facility that may contain traces of bullshit.

Number two: hiding the bad things under mountains of bullshit. Complexity. "You know, I would love to download Drizzy's latest Meek Mill diss," (everyone promised me that made sense) "but I'm not really interested right now in reading Tolstoy's iTunes agreement. So I'll just click 'Agree.' Even if it grants Apple prima noctae with my spouse."

Here's another one: simply put, banks shouldn't be able to bet your pension money on red. Bullshitly put: it's -- hey! this! Dodd-Frank. Hey, a handful of billionaires can't buy our elections, right? Of course not. They can only pour unlimited anonymous cash into a 501(c)(4) if 50% is devoted to issue education. Otherwise, they'd have to 501(c)(6) it, or funnel it openly through a non-campaign-coordinating SuperPAC, with a coordinating.... [stage whisper I think they're asleep now. We can sneak out.]

And finally, it's the Bullshit of Infinite Possibility. These bullshitters cover their unwillingness to act under the cover of unending inquiry. "We can't do anything, because we don't yet know everything! We cannot yet take action on climate change, until everyone in the world agrees gay marriage vaccines won't cause our children to marry goats who are gonna come for our guns. Until then, I say, teach the controversy!"

Now, the good news is this: Bullshitters have gotten pretty lazy, and their work is easily detected. And looking for it is kind of a pleasant way to pass the time. Like an I Spy of Bullshit. 

So I say to you, friends: The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something."
In his 16 years as host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart made a career out of critiquing the hypocrisies, contradictions, and general stupidity of the world around us. It’s only fitting, then, that Stewart’s last big speech conveyed this simple message to viewers: “Bullshit is everywhere.” In a brief,...
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Baris Baser

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If you care about wildlife conservation, I'd advise not to dwell too much on recent news and donate to www.wildcru.org . Nonetheless here's a 5-minute summary of what happened to Cecil the lion if it's still not out of your system. 
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    Corporate Operations Engineer, 2006 - present
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