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A Seconds Time

Days/months/years are kind of standard, but the concepts of seconds, minutes, and hours has a varied history. Sit back, I got home from work early and the adderall is flowin' so I wrote up a nice history of units of time:Early man tracked time day by day using apparent time, or time based on sundials and other observations of nature. I can't find too much info right now but as far as I can tell there was no standard unit of time shorter than a day among any major civilization for a while.

  1. The Egyptians defined hours as 1/12th of either day or night, and had seasonal variations on the length of their hour.
  2. Greek astronomers were the first to establish the modern hour, by dividing the day into six parts and then dividing those parts into four more. They also had an early version of the minute, which was how long it took for the sun to travel one degree along the sky, or about four minutes.
  3. The Babylonians went a little nuts, also dividing the day into six parts, but then divided each part by sixty for their sub-units, up to at least six subdivisions, the smallest individual units being as accurate as two microseconds. However, instead of using a 1/24th of a day hour like the Greeks, they had a 1/12th day hour (120 min), but did use the 1/360th day minute, and something resembling a second called the barelycorn, about 3.5 modern seconds and still used in the hebrew calendar today as the helek.

In 1000, a Persian scholar named al-Biruni first termed the word second when he defined the period of time between two new moons as a figure of days, hours, minutes, seconds, thirds, and fourths. The minute was the first subdivision of the hour by 60, then the second, and so on. Roger Bacon did this again in the 1200's, but started with hours, giving a more accurate figure. The term third still exists in some languages, such as Polish, but fourths were apparently too small for any practical use and fell out of style with the general population.

The late 1500s what the first time a true standard second came to being with the advent of mechanical clocks, so that the time could be measured objectively from mean-time instead of deriving it from the apparent-time. The first clock with a second hand was built between 1560-70and 1579 saw the first clock with actual markings denoting the seconds. However, they weren't very accurate, and the second remained arbitrary from machine to machine and unable to be reliably measured. In 1644 it was realized that a pendulum of a specific length would have an oscillation period of exactly two seconds, and by 1670 William Clement had tinkered with the physics enough to build a clock precise enough that the second was now an established unit of time.

By 1862 it was established that the second would be the base unit of time for all scientific research, along with the millimeter and milligram, by The British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS), defining the second as 1/86,400th of a solar day by the 1940s.

From there we've just been refining the accuracy of what we call a second, accounting for the Earth's axis and ever-so slowly declining rotational velocity, to the point where it's not even measured by observations based on the earth and sun, but by the distance light travels in a vacuum or how many vibrations a cesium atom makes.

We've divided time so hard that to do so any further wouldn't make sense; events in subatomic physics just don't happen quickly enough for smaller units of time to be measured.

But yeah, that's where we got our units of time. It's such a ubiquitous thing that we've had literally our entire existence to hash it all out, and while today we're all in agreement about the standard subdivisions and have been for a long time, there were discrepancies in the past and in the context of your post it must have been a special kind of frustrating trying to figure out what two people mean by "hour". However, while we all agree on the day/hour/second situation, the annual calendar is still pretty sporadic in it's appearance. The lunar month may seem standard, but there are many South-East Asian cultures that have their own unique way of dividing the year.

I won't get into that, because it's mostly a headache and I'm kinda losing steam on this anyway, but long story short we're far from having a universal system here.

In the end we picked that number based on the previous definition, so the second is still derived from the Earth's rotation, even if it is no longer actually tied to it.

Hypnosis Factor

There are two schools of thought about what actually happens psychologically.

It has been well established that hypnosis is an ability of the subject. It has essentially nothing to do with the hypnotist, and in fact even unskilled trainees, students, or the subject themselves can hypnotize a person with high hypnotic ability.

  1. Social-cognitive theory. Basically, the act represents a very special social situation in which you're allowed to do outrageous things with no consequences. It is socially understood that that isn't "really" you, and afterwards you can claim amnesia or loss of control or whatever and you'll never be blamed for acting like that. This isn't exactly "they're all faking", because there is also an extreme social pressure to do what the hypnotist says and not be a buzzkill for everyone else. So, the combination of the pressure and the opportunity give rise to all the things you see.
  2. Dissociation theory. Basically, you have two aspects of your consciousness: The everyday thinking and feeling part you call "I", and a hidden observer in the back of your mind that just kind of watches everything. Normally you identify with the I, and have only a faint awareness of the observer. In hypnosis you become the observer - which is an altered state of consciousness - and don't worry so much about the I. The observer cares far less about your social standing, personal qualms, etc, and just notes everything going on. So it is more likely to do far-out stuff, similar to what you might do when you're drunk, high, in a dream, etc (all of which are other altered states of consciousness).

Hypnotists are very used to people not believing them (and, really, it's a ton of fun to make a believer out of those sorts of people), but people just get nasty about it. Still, I'm going to address a few points that we've looked at in greater detail:

  1. Yes, hypnosis is real but comes from the person being hypnotized and not the hypnotist.
  2. No, no one is a victim. Although they are in a hypnotic state, they are not helpless. Their inhibitions are lowered, and it's easier to convince them of things outside of their normal reality. But they're never victims. Just volunteers.
  3. The simple truth is, some people are more easily hypnotized than others, and that's why they get selected in thos shows.
  4. When it doesn't work for what ever reason the people tend to be the loudest "Oh my god, hypnosis is fake because it didn't work for me!" Yet you will always find people trying to speak up saying "It worked for me!" Sadly, they get shouted down as liars.

The most interesting theory I've heard comes from the psychological theory of bicamerilism.

The theory states that the mind is 'two chambered' . This corresponds to the brain's two hemispheres. The author essentially argues that hypnosis is tapping into the ancient human capability to receive commands from one part of the brain, and listen to them with the other. It's far more than I can explain here, and it's a far out theory but not as dubious as it first sounds, the guy who invented it was a Princeton psychologist.

It boils down to these factors:

  1. The only people who volunteer for a stage show are those who want to entertain an audience. People who don't want to act in outlandish ways would never volunteer.
  2. The hypnotist narrows down the selection by asking non-responsive individuals to leave the stage.
  3. The audience cheers and applauds whenever something outrageous happens, which encourages the volunteers to be even more outrageous.
  4. An authority figure telling people what to do allows those people to deny responsibility for their own actions.
  5. Finally, hypnosis -- a state of mind where critical thinking is suspended -- allows people to accept suggestions they wouldn't normally accept.

Climate Change Is Real And There Is Proof

I don't want to get into the politics of climate change. Instead I want to present you with an analogy that would explain the process and tipping point.

Imagine the climate of the earth is a huge, complicated, Mouse Trap Game/Rube Goldberg Machine designed to water your plants, feed your pet fish and hamsters and turn your thermostat up and down so the room stays a comfortable temperature.

Now imagine the whole machine is powered by the heat from burning candles, like one of those German Christmas toys.

The whole intricate system is running beautifully, your plants and pets are thriving and the room is nice and comfy. It's like this most of your life. But one day, one of the candles gets blown out, so the machine starts to malfunction. Maybe the plants don't get watered as often and the pets don't get fed so often. You don't really notice because the machine has always worked, and even though the room doesn't always feel quite as comfortable as it used to, you chalk it up to other reasons like what you cooked or hormones or something.

Meanwhile, since the hamsters aren't getting fed as often, their energy level is off, and since the hamster wheel was powering the part of the machine that replaces candles, another candle goes out and now the machine really isn't working well.

The fish aren't getting fed, the plants are wilting noticeably and the hamsters are entirely inactive. On top of this, the room is getting uncomfortably warm because the machine can no longer adjust the thermostat properly and now the few candles that remain lit are melting just because the room is so damn hot.

Soon the machine isn't working at all and you're busy putting out the small fires that have started from the melted candles.

Some little cactus plants survive and there are no doubt microorganisms eating your dead fish and hamsters, and live mold is growing too and some flies have gathered. So life hasn't been wiped out entirely. It's just a different form life that's thriving because of the new, unintended environment. You try to fix the machine, but can't because you're not the one who built it and it's really complicated. Intricacies upon intricacies down to the microscopic level. Fixing it is completely beyond your pay scale. So now this place you lived your entire life in is uncomfortably hot, has bugs and mold and a funky smell.

You can't live there anymore, so you pack up your things to move to a new place.

When you open the door to leave, there is nothing there but an inconceivably vast and dark expanse that has no oxygen or heat. There is nowhere else you can go.

But this analogy doesn't leave room for a solution, which is really depressing, so here's more:

At this moment, we're at the point where the second candle has just gone out. The hamsters are still fairly active, the fish are still swimming and only the most sensitive plants are showing signs of wilt. You still aren't paying much attention, but you are noticing a strange noise you haven't heard before.

You search for the source of the noise and it's a phone.

On the other end of the phone is a person telling you something is very wrong with your machine. They tell you your pets and plants are dying and if you don't do something now you won't be able to save them.

You look over at your pets and plants and they seem fine.

This person says there's a huge team of top scientists working hard around the clock to find a work-around to the malfunction, but he needs you to buy them some time by changing the way you live.

Everything he says you have to change is incredibly inconvenient, not as comfortable and he's even telling you to stop doing some of your favorite things-- forever. If you follow his instructions, your life will never be the same, but you will adapt and live out your days in the company of your beloved hamster, colorful fish and flowering plant. There's even a chance that the scientists will call back in your lifetime and talk you through a way to patch the machine so it's functional again.

If you don't follow his instructions, one day soon the other candles will melt and it will be too much damage for the scientists to fix.

This is the moment we're at today. The scientists have made the call and are working furiously to sequester carbon, find new viable and sustainable energy sources and perhaps even repair the damage to the environment. Even though they're incredibly talented, they still aren't the one who built the machine, so they won't have a solution for a while. They're asking us to change the way we live to buy them some time. I hope this mitigates some of the gloom of the original ending. Candidly, I'm not sure how many candles have gone out.

I'm really hoping the scientists can help us and that enough of us change the way we live to buy those scientists the time they desperately need.

John Oliver

Whenever you take out a loan or get a service that you don't pay for in advance, you owe someone money.

That is how the system works.

If you don't pay, they chase you down looking to get their money. For many of these people who are owed money, they want to spend their time performing services for people, not chasing down delinquent payers. So for a fraction of the total price of the debt, they sell the right to collect the money to some third party. That way they get some of their money back (more than they would without a bunch more effort chasing down the people who haven't been paying).

So now the third party who specializes in chasing these people down will try to find the people who haven't paid and get them to pay.

John Oliver bought the right to collect these debts ($15 million in medical debt), just like these third parties do, but then forgive the debts - that is he told the people who owe money that they don't have to pay him back.

Moken Tribe's Children

When I went diving I would wear goggles, the reason as you all know is that without them the water distorts and warps our view.

Some children actually possess the ability to see underwater relatively clearly, as their lenses are more flexible and can adjust to the difference between seeing in air and water. Scientists studied this in Thailand's Moken tribe's children and also found it was still somewhat possible in European children, just with more eye irritation and less clarity.

It's due to the refractive index between the air and your eye vs between water and your eye. When light goes from one medium to another its path gets bent. You can see this when looking into a glass of water with a spoon in it, the spoon doesn't line up. So when you open your eyes in the water, the light gets bent in a way your eyes haven't adapted to deal with and still focus.

I think I read that pearl divers have adapted to be able to focus under water.

But for the rest of us? Our eyes need air directly in front of them to be able to focus properly. The reason has to do with the way that your cornea bends the light as it enters your eye; when touching water, nowhere near as much of this bending is possible.


Everybody is putting captions on their photos without much though into the technology that goes into making them.

But when I was growing up I was amazed when the titles of the shows would appear over the actors. I thought that they had to reproduce it for each frame.

So how did I the words "I Love Lucy" or "The Honeymooners" or screen credits would appear over the live action footage before they could just slap it on without computers?

What they would make the titles with press-on letters (I forget the brand name) and shoot them with a camera. The title camera would be combined with the live camera in a device called a "luma key" that would switch the live camera off and the title camera on everywhere that the lettering appears, based on the brightness. This was with monochrome cameras. With color cameras there was a device called a "chroma key" that would switch based on hue, usually tuned to blue. The same device was used for example to put graphics behind the weather man. You had to be careful the talent didn't wear any blue clothing.

This website on switchers shows one with built-in luma key, and explains how it works: Scroll down to "Keys - Internal, External, Matte."

The letters were called; Tactype. You can buy a sheet of it here: VINTAGE TACTYPE Lettering 12 x 8 Sheet Dry Transfer 5514 Futura Medium.

Tactype, Linopress or Letraset were just a few of the typesetting brands. There were other press on letters.

They used a special tool kinda like a solid pen to transfer the letters from a transparency like film. You would manually rub the letters off the sheet. The letters would stick, most of the time not uniformly, to the paperboard or surface you were working with. As you can imagine the whole process took some time.

Logos and special art was normally printed with block type and hot type or lithograph for full color. As you can imagine it was really hands on.

As a side note this is why closed captioning use to be so expensive.