Researchers say they’ve identified two brain networks – one responsible for volition, the other for agency – that together underlie our sense of free will


Research Digest

GettyImages-937123936.jpgByEmma Young

While there’s still a debate about whether we have free will or not, most researchers at least agree that we feel as if we do. That perception is often considered to have two elements: a sense of having decided to act – called “volition”; and feeling that that decision was our own – having “agency”.

Now in a paper in PNAS, Ryan Darby at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and colleagues have used a new technique – lesion network mapping – to identify for the first time the brain networks that underlie our feelings of volition and for agency. “Together, these networks may underlie our perception of free will, with implications for neuropsychiatric diseases in which these processes are impaired,” the researchers write. 

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Hello Neighbor


It appears that in neighboring Vancouver Washington, a CloudFlare alternative has been founded and is operating. The name of this company is BitMitigate (as in mitigation of attacks on the Internet). The primary difference between CloudFlare and BitMitigate being that BitMitigate supports free speech. For those that don’t know, CloudFlare offers a service to protect websites from being attacked and also to improve their performance. CloudFlare has denied service to many users recently, on the basis of their unpopular speech. The right to free speech is only meaningful when unpopular speech is protected.

Services like Epik (domain registrar) and BitMitigate (content delivery network) are going to become more important as the big orgs consolidate their power and deny the freedom of speech, especially to patriots. Big orgs are not interested in limiting free speech necessarily. They are interested in their own income. But in that process, the faceless, nameless corps have to project their outward friendliness to social justice warriors. These large corps are not interested in truth, fairness, or the American way. Just their own continued existence. Big orgs do not belong to your community anyway. Why would you expect them to respect your community? In some ways, they may take part in the San Francisco Bay Area community, but, even that is doubtful. They will use their power and influence to destroy that community whenever it is convenient.

Does your business or organization need help with mitigating DDoS attacks or any aspect of web hosting? Call me at 971-865-3492 for personal assistance.

Concessions


Airport concessions (like fast food restaurants and coffee shops) should be granted at no charge to vets. It is an injustice that airport concessions are gouging prices to support profits for large corporations

I grant you that some will turn around and take that concession to the market and sell it for a profit. I obviously am not suggesting that this is good, but, I do not see that as an avoidable outcome. Airport concessions in some places are not guaranteed to succeed, and that is something that I have no suggestion for fixing, either. But if I recall correctly, airport concessions were provided to veterans with preference in the past. For those individuals who have the desire to try to succeed, I support their desire to pursue success in business.

I do not feel that the way that concessions are currently granted would provide any American individual with a fair opportunity to compete for it. They are skewed towards corporations and individuals who already own a lot of other businesses. Part of the appeal to grant concessions this way is that they will be professionally managed. The airport has an interest in providing a high quality amenity to travelers. Brand new managers will make mistakes that could reduce quality. So what? Do you think that the current managers really care about their communities? They don’t. They laugh at their ability to take advantage of us. They do it with careless ease and glee. For this reason alone, we should support businesses that are owned by real people. Portlanders take special care to insist that they “buy local.” But do they really do that? They are just as enamored with corporations as the rest of the world.

What I am suggesting is that people do not have a fair opportunity to provide their communities with goods and services, because they do not have access to credit mainly. Liquor stores, convenience stores, laundromats, donut shops, could all be owned by people that are now living without the dignity of ownership and good employment. I think that people are too vain to shop at “Joe Smith’s Bakery” instead of “Panera Bread Bakery.” And I cannot change them. I’m sad about that. It is not the way that I shop.

Help Homeless


I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance about his desire to hear from the homeless themselves about what they need and how to help them.

I was honored and touched that someone wanted to have a discussion with me specifically about the homeless and how to help them. We started with discussing food pantries and donating cash to panhandlers (street begging). We also discussed the availability of groceries and free ready-to-eat meals (community dinners, homeless helping charities).

Homeless charities and govt agencies both go to great lengths to avoid helping people who could be the most able to make use of the help to stay stable and employed, i.e. people who could be temporarily homeless, and have the greatest chance of staying housed independently, without further ongoing assistance. They are conspicuous about passing over them in favor of helping the more numerous and more visible homeless people that are unable to care for themselves independently.

If we helped the low hanging fruit first, in my opinion, the chances that they suffer permanent injury from being homeless is reduced. A homeless person who passes from being temporarily homeless to become an inured, and permanently helpless homeless person, to me, is a tragedy that should be avoided with the help of the community. Towards this end, charities and govt agencies should incentivize the employment of released prisoners and felons.

The resistance to providing this type of help is directly related to the inability to classify the homeless into groups. They are instead lumped together and treated as one group. Homeless people are individuals. To classify them is to help them. Classification does not create discrimination.

The majority of the help currently given to homeless should be described as “relief” as in “relief from suffering and pain.” Relieving hunger and pain is compassion for others. It is not intended to provide anyone with an opportunity to stop behaviors that contribute to homelessness. As I have stated in a previous post, although spiritual help has earned a bad reputation, I do not find that psychotherapy will help the majority of the homeless who are willing to choose to stop harmful behaviors. Spiritual rebirth is the process that is formulated by AA, the Christian religion, and it is the only one that I am able to recommend at this time.

The rigid insistence of charities and govt agencies to avoid helping people become self-sufficient has earned it a reputation for encouraging poverty and dependence. While the media ignores this fact, people hold this belief firmly and it is well earned. The public has a cynical belief that the charities and govt agencies are guaranteeing their own existence and profitability without regard to the needs of the community that they claim to serve.