The fastest sense to reach our attention facilities is sound. We react too slowly to light. Sound is physical-electrical. Waves hit eardrum, moving hammers, down cochlea from high to low frequency, physically buzzing sympathetic hairs, instantly converting to electrical signals. 50ms later (20 hertz – familiar? It should be), the ALR (auditory late response), then between 135-175 ms (a length of 40ms), the MMN (Mismatch Negativity) which gauges whether you’re hearing the same sound or something novel. All technically pre-attentive. But it’s a funny thing: Musicians can have attentive access even at the MMN stage of awareness, long before the P400 (400ms which is where the fully formed grammatical system is ready, where you can think, “Ew, I don’t like that”), and certainly by the P300 (300ms), which is either considered pre-attentive or attentive depending on how you look at it.

The fastest sense to [read full article]


This is an excellent read. I’m still going through it but this in particular jumped out: “As former President Barack Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq showed, however, the “how” of a withdrawal is crucial. The U.S. does not seem to have secured any concessions from Turkey that would make the move strategically logical – however morally unsatisfying. If the U.S. wanted to let the region stew in its own juice and work with another country (i.e. Russia) to maintain a stable balance of power, that could also be a viable strategy. Letting Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt foot the bill for supporting the Syrian Kurds could work. Supporting the Syrian Kurds – and funneling aid and money to the development of a broader Kurdish national identity –would also be an interesting strategy, the long-term goal being a U.S.-allied buffer state between Turkey and Iran. Instead, the U.S. is engaging in exactly the kind of ad hoc decision-making that countermands strategy. The U.S. has abandoned the Syrian Kurds, antagonized Turkey, opened up the space for the Islamic State to re-emerge, and created a power vacuum that either Turkey or Iran will fill.” This is where my head is at with this situation. It’s not the “what” of abandonment but the “how” of abandonment.

This is an excellent
[read full article]