Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘video’

29 JUNE, 2012

The Scientific Cure for Hangovers

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Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about the aftermath of partying, and then some.

In the legal disclaimer of every Friday — especially Summer Fridays, with their earlier drinking start times and later bedtimes — should be a note about hangovers. But with science on your side, you might be able to short-circuit some of the gnarly side effects of excessive booze. From the fine Canadian folks at ASAP Science comes this scientific hangover cure — take notes:

And if you ever wondered what actually causes a hangover, they’ve got that down, too:

And while we’re at it, here’s the science of why coffee and alcohol make you pee:

For a deeper dive, see toxicologist Amitava Dasgupta’s indispensable tome, The Science of Drinking: How Alcohol Affects Your Body and Mind.

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22 DECEMBER, 2011

Christopher Hitchens: “One should try to write as if posthumously.”

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Hitch on death, public opinion, and freedom from inhibition.

Exactly a week ago today, the world lost Christopher Hitchens and cried a chorus of mourning. On June 4, 2010, three days before he became gravely ill, Hitchens took the stage at The New York Public Library’s excellent LIVE series (one of the many reasons I support NYPL monthly) to discuss his newly published memoir, Hitch 22. In this excerpt from his conversation with NYPL’s Paul Holdengräber, hair-raising in retrospect, Hitchens discussed the duality of his relationship with death, both a fiend of fear and a frontier of freedom.

Holdengräber: In the first 4-5 pages of your memoir, one thing that strikes me is a real fear of death, and in some way I think that the memoir is written to hold it at bay.

Hitchens: Of course. I’ve always known that I’m born into a losing struggle… don’t know anyone who’s come out of that a winner. One should try to write as if posthumously. Because then you’re free of all the inhibition that can cluster around even the most independent-minded writer. You don’t really care about public opinion now, you don’t mind about sales, you don’t care what the critics say. You don’t even care what your friends, your peers, your beloved think. You’re free. Death is a very liberating thought.

Watch the full program here and don’t miss Hitchens’ final collection of essays, Arguably.

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21 DECEMBER, 2011

Steve Jobs on Why Computers Are Like a Bicycle for the Mind (1990)

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A 20-year-old antidote to modern-day digital pessimism.

The future of libraries — and of information, curiosity, and knowledge at large, of which the library has always been a bastion — is something I think about a lot, particularly the struggles of intellectual institutions like libraries and museums in bringing their vast analog archives into the digital sphere in an intelligent and useful way. In this excerpt from the film Memory & Imagination: New Pathways to the Library of Congress, essentially an extended 1990 infomercial for The Library of Congress starring such icons as Francis Ford Coppola, Julia Child, Penn & Teller, and Gore Vidal, Steve Jobs talks about the future of libraries in the digital age, video games as simulated learning environments, and why a computer is like a bicycle for the mind — a metaphor that I, as a bike lover, a curiosity jockey, and a techno-optimist, want to shake in the face of every false prophet pedaling techno-dystopia.

I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.

And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” ~ Steve Jobs

For a related treat, don’t miss this recently uncovered 1995 interview, in which Steve Jobs opens the door to his philosophy on life and failure.

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