Sunday, December 31, 2023

New Year's and World Peace

New Year's and World Peace
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, December 31, 2023, p. C8

“Back in the day” I joined friends on New Year’s Eve to help push earth into one more year. We occasionally kept at it until 1 or 2 a.m. New Year’s Day, either to make sure we’d finished the task or because we’d lost track of time.

As we aged we remained determined to stay until midnight local time, but not much beyond that.

The years rolled on and many wished to be in bed before midnight. So we switched our clocks to Eastern time, watched television’s portrayal of New York City ringing in the new year at midnight New York time, headed home an hour earlier and were in bed by 11:30 central time.

And now?

I’m reminded of Laura Bush’s stand-up routine at a press corps dinner. She interrupted President George W. Bush’s speech: “I’ve got a few things I want to say for a change. (George is) usually in bed by now. (I told him) if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you’re going to have to stay up later. Nine o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I’m watching ‘Desperate Housewives.’”

How many of us 90-year-olds can relate to that?

Many of the world’s cultures and religions have celebrations around the winter solstice. I’m told in Spain they eat 12 grapes. We, by contrast, welcome the yearly opportunity to overeat for the six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It’s just a difference in cultures.

New Year’s Day has walked a long and winding road through history, beginning with welcoming floods and the new agricultural year. Babylonians and Sumerians in Mesopotamia welcomed the flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Egyptians marked the beginning of the new year’s agriculture when the Nile flooded.

Iowa’s farmers also focus on next season’s crops -- buying from monopolists, selling to monopolists, hoping for rain without floods.

New Year’s Day celebrations interweave gods, religious beliefs, stars and planets. Though there are many calendars (e.g., Coptic, Seleucid, Egyptian, Jewish and Zodiac), our Christian calendar’s New Year’s is widely accepted.

That’s right, we are praying to a Catholic pope’s 1582 calendar. We may not understand or adopt the metric system, and our children’s math scores may be falling, but we are attracted like iron filings to a magnet with the numerical precision of 24-hour days, 52 weeks and 28-to-31-day months.

How could we use New Year’s to push 8 billion people closer toward the “world peace” Miss America contestants wish for?

With Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). Google it.

We now have 24 time zones and 24 New Year’s midnights -– further separating humans. [Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, London fireworks, New Year's Day, 2017.]

Airlines, radio amateurs, numerous industries and the military recognize the “local” times around the planet. But to operate globally they also need an everywhere time. UTC time is London time. Noon in Iowa is 6 PM UTC.

With a UTC New Year’s the world celebrates at the same precise moment. Starting the year agreeing about something. What a concept!

Nicholas Johnson wishes everyone a happier New Year than the year we’re leaving behind. Contact

New Year’s

“New Year,” Wikipedia,

Laura Bush

AP, “Laura Bush steals show at press corps’ dinner; First lady Laura Bush stole the show with a surprise comedy routine that ripped President Bush and brought an audience that included much of official Washington and a dash of Hollywood to a standing ovation at a dinner honoring award-winning journalists,” NBC News, April 30, 2006, . (““Not that old joke, not again,” she said to the delight of the audience. “I’ve been attending these dinners for years and just quietly sitting there. I’ve got a few things I want to say for a change.” [George is] usually in bed by now” and said she told him recently, “If you really want to end tyranny in the world, you’re going to have to stay up later.” She outlined a typical evening: “Nine o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I’m watching ‘Desperate Housewives’.”)

Spain’s grapes

“Twelve Grapes,” Wikipedia, (“The Twelve Grapes[1] (Sp. las doce uvas de la suerte, "the twelve grapes of luck") is a Spanish tradition that consists of eating a grape with each of the twelve clock bell strikes at midnight of December 31 to welcome the New Year. Each grape and clock bell strike represents each of the coming twelve months.[2]”)

Mesopotamia and Egypt

Evan Andrews, “1. Babylonian Akitu “5 Ancient New Year’s Celebrations; Get the facts on the ways 5 ancient civilizations rang in the New Year,” History, Dec. 31, 2012, (“Following the first new moon after the vernal equinox in late March, the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia would honor the rebirth of the natural world with a multi-day festival called Akitu. This early New Year’s celebration dates back to around 2000 B.C., and is believed to have been deeply intertwined with religion and mythology. . . . Through these rituals the Babylonians believed the world was symbolically cleansed and recreated by the gods in preparation for the new year and the return of spring.”

Patrick J. Kiger, “How Mesopotamia Became the Cradle of Civilization; Environmental factors helped agriculture, architecture and eventually a social order emerge for the first time in ancient Mesopotamia,” History, Nov. 10, 2020, (“Mesopotamia’s name comes from the ancient Greek word for “the land between the rivers.” That’s a reference to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the twin sources of water for a region that lies mostly within the borders of modern-day Iraq, but also included parts of Syria, Turkey and Iran. The presence of those rivers had a lot to do with why Mesopotamia developed complex societies and innovations such as writing, elaborate architecture and government bureaucracies. The regular flooding along the Tigris and the Euphrates made the land around them especially fertile and ideal for growing crops for food.”)

Evan Andrews, “3. Ancient Egyptian Wepet Renpet,” “5 Ancient New Year’s Celebrations; Get the facts on the ways 5 ancient civilizations rang in the New Year,” History, Dec. 4, 2023, (“Ancient Egyptian culture was closely tied to the Nile River, and it appears their New Year corresponded with its annual flood. According the Roman writer Censorinus, the Egyptian New Year was predicted when Sirius—the brightest star in the night sky—first became visible after a 70-day absence. Better known as a heliacal rising, this phenomenon typically occurred in mid-July just before the annual inundation of the Nile River, which helped ensure that farmlands remained fertile for the coming year. Egyptians celebrated this new beginning with a festival known as Wepet Renpet, which means “opening of the year.” The New Year was seen as a time of rebirth and rejuvenation, and it was honored with feasts and special religious rites.”)

Evan Andrews, “4. Lunar New Year,” “5 Ancient New Year’s Celebrations; Get the facts on the ways 5 ancient civilizations rang in the New Year,” History, Dec. 31, 2012, (“One of the oldest traditions still celebrated today is Lunar New Year (also called Chinese New Year), which is believed to have originated over 3,000 years ago during the Shang Dynasty. The holiday began as a way of celebrating the new beginnings of the spring planting season, but it later became entangled with myth and legend.”)

Agriculture’s monopolists

“Monopolies Are Killing Our Farms,” Bemidji Pioneer, April 15, 2010, (“Has Big Ag gotten too big? And do consumers really benefit from the low prices farmers earn for selling livestock and grain to food giants like Cargill, Smithfield, and Tyson? After two decades standing idly by while those companies and seed behemoth Monsanto swallowed their competitors, a new Department of Justice anti-trust team is vowing to bust up companies that have gotten so big they're thwarting competition. . . . [F]amily farmers and independent ranchers have watched as corporate mergers and takeovers left them with fewer buyers for their crops and animals, and fewer suppliers of basic inputs like seeds and fertilizer. . . . Smithfield's 2007 takeover of Premium Standard Farms, a merger that fattened the largest U.S. hog producer and pork packer by feeding it the country's second-largest producer and sixth-largest packer. In the Southeast, the merger left 2,500 independent hog producers with just one regional buyer. Smithfield could say to the hog farmers who weren't under contract to the company: Here's the price and, if you don't like it, good luck selling your hogs.”)

Varieties of New Year’s celebrations

Cheyenne Buckingham and John Harrington, “26 Completely Different New Year’s Days Around the World,” 24/7 Wall St., updated Jan. 11, 2020, (“People all around the globe ring in the new year, but not all celebrate the same way Americans do, or even on the same day. Though people have different traditions and customs, most feel grateful for the year that passed and optimistic about the one that’s about to begin. Several New Year’s celebrations stretch across several days, like the Burmese and Thai New Year. The Chinese New Year is the longest, lasting 15 days.”)

Varieties of calendars

Miriammne Ara Krummel, “A.D. 2022: Why Years Are Counted with a Gregorian Calendar When Most of the World is Note Christian,” Milwaukee Independent, Jan. 1, 2022, (“The A.D. system, often called “C.E.” or “Common Era” time today, was introduced in Europe during the Middle Ages. It joined the world’s other temporal systems like the Coptic, Seleucid, Egyptian, Jewish and the Zodiac calendars, along with calculations based on the years of rulers’ reigns and the founding of Rome.”)

Near-global acceptance of Christian calendar’s New Year’s

Miriammne Ara Krummel, “A.D. 2022: Why Years Are Counted with a Gregorian Calendar When Most of the World is Note Christian,” Milwaukee Independent, Jan. 1, 2022, (“On December 31, people from cultures all around the world welcomed in A.D. 2022. Few of them thought about the fact that A.D. signals “anno Domini,” Latin for “in the year of our Lord.” In A.D. temporality – the one acknowledged by most societies today – next year marks 2023 years since the purported birth of Jesus Christ. So why did we all toast this new year, given that most of the world’s nearly 8 billion people are not Christians? . . . The A.D. system, often called “C.E.” or “Common Era” time today, was introduced in Europe during the Middle Ages. It joined the world’s other temporal systems like the Coptic, Seleucid, Egyptian, Jewish and the Zodiac calendars, along with calculations based on the years of rulers’ reigns and the founding of Rome. Latin Christendom slowly but confidently came to dominate Europe, and its year dating system then came to dominate the world, so that most countries now take A.D. for granted, at least when it comes to globalized business and government. A.D.‘s ubiquity has almost silenced other ways of thinking about time. This began during the medieval era, under the influence of educated Christian monks . . ..”)

Catholic Pope’s 1582 calendar

“Gregorian calendar,” Wikipedia,

America’s rejection of metric system

Why Doesn’t the U.S. Use the Metric System?” Britannica,

(“When they began to vet potential systems around the year 1790, the newly developed French metric system made its way to the attention of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Though it was so close at hand, Jefferson, and even France until much later, decided to pass, and the U.S. adopted the British Imperial System of measurement (the one still used in the country today). Since then, the U.S. has had many opportunities to change to the metric system, the one that is used by a majority of the world and that is lauded as much more logical and simple. . . . Whenever the discussion of switching unit systems arose in Congress, the passage of a bill favoring the metric system was thwarted by big businesses and American citizens who didn’t want to go through the time-consuming and expensive hassle of changing the country’s entire infrastructure.”)

“Metric Conversion Act,” Wikipedia, (“The Metric Board was abolished in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan . . ..”)

Reduction in math test scores

Alexander Fabino, “America's Tanking Math Scores Spark Fears of Mental Decline,” Newsweek, Dec. 5, 2023,,that%20participated%20in%20the%20assessment (“Despite stable performances in reading and science, the PISA results found that U.S. students' average performance in mathematics literacy in 2022 was markedly lower than in previous cycles, falling to 26th globally in math literacy among the 81 countries and education systems that participated in the assessment.”)

8 billion people

“Current World Population,” worldometer, Dec. 26, 2023, (8,081,286,900 @ 8:31 AM)

Miss America contestants and “world peace”

Chad Gramling, “Why Do We Expect World Peace From Miss America, But Not Jesus?” 1Glories, Dec. 30, 2021,,in%20the%20movie%20Miss%20Congeniality (“World Peace is one of just two easy answers in life. It’s the correct response when a pageant contestant is asked what she would most want to see happen during her lifetime. This response is the mocked canned answer made famous in the movie Miss Congeniality.”)

Universal Time Coordinated (UTC)

“Coordinated Universal Time,” Wikipedia,

UTC used by Airlines, radio amateurs, numerous industries and the military

Jo Craven McGinty, “Major Industries Use Coordinated Universal Time. Why Doesn’t Everyone Else?; An economist and an astronomer want the world to abandon local time zones,” The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2019,

Noon in Iowa is 6 PM UTC

See “Universal Time Coordinated (UTC),” above

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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

E Pluribus Unum

E Pluribus Unum is Threatened
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, December 19, 2023, p. A6

Pull a dollar bill from your billfold. Look at the back. Our Congress of the Confederation founders put that Great Seal on their money in 1782 before creating the United States. It’s still there.

The superstitious recoil from hotels with a 13th floor. They favor floors numbered 11, 12, 14, 15. Our founders loved 13 – 13 states, 13 stars in the Seal, and 13 letters in E Pluribus Unum (after removing the “x” from Ex).

Did you study Latin? No? Me neither. Fifty-six percent of high school students studied Latin in 1905. Presidents John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, both Bushes and Bill Clinton did so. By 1977 only 6,000 students struggled with the national exam.

Thankfully, “Google translate” studies Latin. It reveals our money’s motto means “out of many, one.” Google is not reassuring us that while we’re out of many dollars we still have one. Google’s sharing the founders’ long shot they could blend 13 states into one United States.

But compare the founders’ challenges – 13 states and four million people – with ours: 50 states and 340 million people. People breathing in the polluted air of deliberate divisiveness and politically promoted hatred, occasionally bursting into flames of violence, leaving ashes from which authoritarian dictatorships emerge.

Some politicians and their followers shout demands that immigrants seeking asylum be sent back to their home country – and almost certain death – without a hearing. Those advocates ignore, if they ever knew, that their ancestors also immigrated to this county, often for similar reasons. Unless, that is, they’re registered members of one of America’s 574 Indian tribes.

It’s easy to notice the many differences among us -- languages, ethnicity, customs, religion, wealth, norms, appearance, and political affiliation. We sometimes forget we are 99.9 percent identical in genetic makeup and belong to the same animal species: Homo sapiens.

Those differences dissolve like fog in the sunshine when disaster strikes – floods from heavy rain, rising seas or rivers; home-destroying derechos, tornadoes and hurricanes; fires, airplane or highway disasters, mass shootings and a 9/11 or Oklahoma City bombing.

Well folks, don’t want to scare you, but we may soon find ourselves struggling with a disaster to end all disasters.

We need to realize, as we descend the waterslide of democracy into the Putin-like polluted pool of political populism, that loss of our 247-year-old democracy is upon us.

We can no longer smugly say, “It can’t happen here.” It’s already happening here. It’s no longer a matter of saving our democracy, it’s a matter of rebuilding a democracy.

Don’t whine about the things an individual Gazette subscriber can’t do – compete with billionaires’ political contributions, or knock on every Iowan’s door.

What we can create is what we do in disasters. What the Youngbloods sang in “Get Together”:

“Come on people now
"Smile on your brother (and sister)
"Everybody get together
"Try to love one another
"Right now”

Gift a stranger with a smile and “Good morning.” Pay a compliment. Do a favor.

E Pluribus Unum.

Nicholas Johnson authored the books Columns of Democracy and Test Pattern for Living. Contact

E Pluribus Unum

“E pluribus unum,” Wikipedia, (“E pluribus unum . . . – Latin for "Out of many, one . . . – is a traditional motto of the United States, appearing on the Great Seal . . . its inclusion on the seal was approved in an act of the Congress of the Confederation in 1782.”)

Thirteenth Floor

“Thirteenth Floor,” Wikipedia, (“The thirteenth floor is a designation of a level of a multi-level building that is often omitted in countries where the number 13 is considered unlucky.[1][2] Omitting the 13th floor may take a variety of forms; the most common include denoting what would otherwise be considered the thirteenth floor as level 14, giving the thirteenth floor an alternate designation such as "12A" or "M" (the thirteenth letter of the Latin alphabet), or closing the 13th floor to public occupancy or access (e.g., by designating it as a mechanical floor). Reasons for omitting a thirteenth floor include triskaidekaphobia on the part of the building's owner or builder, or a desire by the building owner or landlord to prevent problems that may arise with superstitious tenants, occupants, or customers. In 2002, based on an internal review of records, Dilip Rangnekar of Otis Elevators estimated that 85% of the buildings with Otis brand elevators did not have a floor named the 13th floor.[3] Early tall-building designers, fearing a fire on the 13th floor, or fearing tenants' superstitions about the rumor, decided to omit having a 13th floor listed on their elevator numbering.[3] This practice became commonplace, and eventually found its way into American mainstream culture and building design.[3]”)


Harry Mount, “A Vote for Latin,” New York Times, Dec. 3, 2007, (“In 1905, 56 percent of American high school students studied Latin. By 1977, a mere 6,000 students took the National Latin Exam. . . . Of the 40 presidents since Jefferson, 31 have studied Latin, many at a high level. James Polk graduated from the University of North Carolina, in 1818, with top honors in math and classics. James Garfield taught Greek and Latin from 1856 to 1857 at what is now Hiram College in Ohio. Teddy Roosevelt studied classics at Harvard.

John F. Kennedy had Latin instruction at not one, but three prep schools. Richard Nixon showed a great aptitude for the language, coming second in the subject at Whittier High School in California in 1930. And George H. W. Bush, a Latin student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., was a member of the fraternity Auctoritas, Unitas, Veritas (Authority, Unity, Truth).

A particular favorite for Bill Clinton during his four years of Latin at Hot Springs High School in Arkansas was Caesar’s “Gallic War.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, George W. Bush studied Latin at Phillips Academy (the school’s mottoes: “Non Sibi” or not for self, and “Finis Origine Pendet,” the end depends on the beginning).”)

Google Translate

“Google Translate,” Wikipedia, (“Google Translate is a multilingual neural machine translation service developed by Google to translate text, documents and websites from one language into another. . . . In November 2016, Google transitioned its translating method to a system called neural machine translation.[13] It uses deep learning techniques to translate whole sentences at a time, which has been measured to be more accurate between English and French, German, Spanish, and Chinese.[14] No measurement results have been provided by Google researchers for GNMT from English to other languages, other languages to English, or between language pairs that do not include English. As of 2018, it translates more than 100 billion words a day.[13]”)

US Population 1782

Cynthia A. Kierner, “First United States Census, 1790,” Washington Library, Mount Vernon, (“The final tally, released by the government in 1792 and also included in digest form in some almanacs and geographies, was 3,919,023 people, divided among fourteen states, Kentucky (a territory before attaining statehood in 1792), and the Southwest territories (Tennessee).10”)

US Population 2023

“U.S. Population 1950-2023,” macrotrends, (339,996,563)

U.S. Ancestries

“Ancestry: 2000,” U.S. Census Bureau, June 2004, (“In total, 7 ancestries were reported by more than 15 million people in 2000, 37 ancestries were reported by more than 1 million people, and 92 ancestries were reported by more than 100,000 people.”)

Indian Tribes

“Federally recognized Indian tribes and resources for Native Americans; Find information about and resources for Native Americans and Alaska Native entities,” usagov, (“The federal government recognizes 574 American Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities in the U.S.”)

Humans share 99.9% genetic makeup

James Franklin Crow, “Unequal by nature: a geneticist’s perspective on human differences,” Daedalus, Winter 2002, (“Most of our DNA determines that we are human, rather than determining how we are different from any other person. So it is not so surprising that the DNA of any two human beings is 99.9 percent identical.”)

Homo sapiens

“Homo sapiens,” Britannica,, (“Homo sapiens, (Latin: “wise man”) the species to which all modern human beings belong. Homo sapiens is one of several species grouped into the genus Homo, but it is the only one that is not extinct. See also human evolution.”)

Lyrics to “Get Together”

Chester Powers and Chester William Jr. Powers, “Get Together by The Youngbloods,” (Sample from lyrics: “If you hear the song I sing You will understand (listen!) You hold the key to love and fear All in your trembling hand Just one key unlocks them both It's there at your command

Come on people now Smile on your brother Everybody get together Try to love one another Right now”)

Examples of Iowa volunteerism

“Days of Service,” “Volunteer Iowa,”, (“Organizations across Iowa will plan activities that give citizens an opportunity to give back. Activities will depend on the specific project, but could range from collection drives, painting, gardening, serving or packaging meals or tutoring children, to cleaning up parks and more. The Day of Service could have partnerships with local schools, families, faith-based groups, businesses and governments to accomplish the activities or projects. Post your project online to help you reach the largest pool of potential volunteers possible!” History: “1978 —The Iowa Office on Volunteerism was established by Governor Robert D. Ray with Executive Order 33 on November 2.”)

Janet Petersen, “Iowans’ Ideas: The power of kindness,” The Gazette, Oct. 6, 2020, (list)

Chenue Her, “A musician and an inspiration: R.J. Hernandez to be inducted into 2023 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame; R.J. Hernandez is one of six people being inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame October,” We Are Iowa, Sept. 22, 2023, (“Hernandez is one of many ambassadors who works with the group to educate the community on different cultures. Since 2008, Hernandez has worked with about 24,000 participants in just about 700 sessions. "He’s so passionate about sharing and about what he knows people will learn from him," Orton said. "And, he gets people to participate . . ..”)

“Valuing the Cultures of Our Community,” CultureALL, (“CultureALL values the cultures of our community. You’ll see us in schools, the workplace, and wherever people gather. The experiences we provide invite Iowans to participate in cultural traditions that lead to a greater appreciation for the diversity around them. The ultimate goal of CultureALL is to elevate individuals' behaviors and attitudes to a higher level of acceptance and collaboration for the benefit of our region. CultureALL provides various opportunities for individuals to learn more about the people they interact with on a daily basis. From programs for seniors to summer camps for children, house parties featuring ethnic flavors to unique storytelling events, multicultural events to musical performances, CultureALL welcomes you to experience and appreciate today’s diverse world.”)

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Tuesday, December 05, 2023


Curious About Real Intelligence
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, December 5, 2023, p. A6

“Curiosity killed the cat”? Not our cats. They slowly walk around the water dispenser, looking, sniffing, contemplating before risking a tongue immersion.

My 86 billion neurons recall my lying on my back in the front yard of our Brown Street house, age three, curious whether wind makes trees sway, or moving trees make the wind blow.

Maybe three-year-olds should know the answer. But at least my curiosity was not risky curiosity. Young boys discovering steam tunnels under the University campus, including one that goes under the river to the hospital? Now that’s a risky curiosity.

Using bridges, not steam tunnels, we moved to the West side. Irving Weber, Iowa City’s historian, lived across the street from us with his wife, Martha, and son, Willis.

Willie and I wondered if copper wire from the roof of my house to his roof might transmit the dots and dashes of Morse Code. Our small battery only produced one “dot” and the beginning of a “dash” (letter “A”). My mother asked why we didn’t use the phone. Martha never forgot the hole we made in her roof. Modestly risky.

Could a kit-built transmitter – with 500-foot antenna -- interfere with commercial radio stations? It could. High risk (though we were unaware of the illegality). That led to an amateur radio transmitter, licensed and legal (minimal risk) and presidential appointment as an FCC commissioner.

Birds have their “territory,” we had ours – including Rock Island Railroad track. We were curious what a locomotive would do to a penny on the track. It flattened it into something we could sell for a nickel (unaware it was also a crime: 18 U.S. Code Sec. 331). Risky curiosity.

A 50-cent piece? Derail a locomotive? Young neighbors debated. Some had seen half-dollars; none possessed one. Curiosity unfulfilled.

My current curiosity involves brains of animals – including Homo sapiens, the only animal species able to talk itself into difficulties that would not otherwise exist. [Photo credit: Wikimedia commons; National Institutes of Health.]

Aside from my scholarly writing, my random curiosity is not that of an academic – discovering more and more about less and less until knowing everything about very little (Ph.D.), or less and less about more and more until knowing a little about everything (liberal arts B.A.).

Curiosity has meant I’d rather be good, mediocre or poor at many things than excel at one. Double par golf. Singing off-key. Trombone sounds only loved by moose. Playing high school basketball for a coach who said I looked like an elephant on ice.

There is no longer an “I.” Only bodies run by brains. My interest is not brains’ weight, neuron numbers and electric messaging. I want to know precisely how those neurons sense, create, store and retrieve a song, book or image from decades ago.

I agree with neurologist Jeff Hawkins: “We don't need more data, we need a good theory.”

Before we struggle with AI’s pros and cons shouldn’t we, like cats, be more curious about what neurons are doing and how they do it?

Nicholas Johnson believes that artificial intelligence is better than none. Contact:


Note: Of necessity, most of the “sources” for this column are from memories of my life experiences as communicated from my neurons.

As the column concludes, “we don’t need more data.” There are tens of thousands of academic articles regarding neurologists’ research and more popular articles reporting and commenting on it. As illustrated by just one of my numerous Google searches, without quotes: (Who said, with regard to knowledge of the human brain, that there is lots of data but no theory?) brought up 60 hits with enticing titles on the first Google page alone. For some reason there was no information about the total number of hits for that search.

I claim no expertise, thorough research or certification in this field. As the column suggests, "I'm just curious." However, based on what I have seen so far it seems that much of the research deals with such things as reporting the weights of various animals' brains, their number of nurons and connections, the primary functions of various locations within a human brain, and the role of electricity and chemistry in transmitting whatever it is the brain is transmitting. Whereas my primary interest is in the content of the messages, the routing details, and how they go about encoding, storing and later retrieving a sight, sound, smell or other content.

18 U.S. Code Sec. 331

“Chapter 17 – Coins and Currency,” U.S. Code, U.S. House, (“Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or

Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 700; July 16, 1951, ch. 226, § 1, 65 Stat. 121; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(I), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)”)

Brain numbers research (an example)

Suzana Hercularno-Houzel, “The Human Brain in Numbers: A Linearly Scaled-up Primate Brain,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, National Library of Medicine, Nov. 9, 2009,

Jeff Hawkins

Jeff Hawkins, “How brain science will change computing,” TED Talks, Feb. 2003, at 5:11 and 05:53 minutes, over 1.7 million views, excerpt from

(“05:11 So why don't we have a good theory of brains? People have been working on it for 100 years. Let's first take a look at what normal science looks like. This is normal science. Normal science is a nice balance between theory and experimentalists. The theorist guy says, "I think this is what's going on," the experimentalist says, "You're wrong." It goes back and forth, this works in physics, this in geology. But if this is normal science, what does neuroscience look like? This is what neuroscience looks like. We have this mountain of data, which is anatomy, physiology and behavior. You can't imagine how much detail we know about brains. There were 28,000 people who went to the neuroscience conference this year, and every one of them is doing research in brains. A lot of data, but no theory. There's a little wimpy box on top there.

05:53 And theory has not played a role in any sort of grand way in the neurosciences. And it's a real shame. Now, why has this come about? If you ask neuroscientists why is this the state of affairs, first, they'll admit it. But if you ask them, they say, there's various reasons we don't have a good brain theory. Some say we still don't have enough data, we need more information, there's all these things we don't know. Well, I just told you there's data coming out of your ears. We have so much information, we don't even know how to organize it. What good is more going to do? Maybe we'll be lucky and discover some magic thing, but I don't think so. This is a symptom of the fact that we just don't have a theory. We don't need more data, we need a good theory.”)

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