What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Linkee-poo squanders his youth for a pocket full of dreams

Susan MacGregor talks about writing violence. In her case, from the point of horror. There's plenty of violence outside of the horror genre. Heck, my book is filled with some pretty harsh stuff, and the body count gets pretty high. But I think what she's saying here, in a long about way, is the violence in our stories needs to mean something. It can't just be violence for violence sake (the shock of gore and spatter).

Fake movie posters for real movies and real actors but not the same people who worked on those movies. This is what designers do with their free time (mostly, some of us have other pursuits). (Pointed to by Dan)

Michael Gazzaaniga talks about the narrator in our heads. This is why we're drawn to story. Our brains are built to enjoy and process it. And here I'll note several studies on how much affects cognitive behavior as well, because we (most of us, anyway) are hardwired to process the musical rhythm and harmonic structures. (Grokked from Jay Lake)

And since we're talking about the brain. "According to research on expert performance by the psychologist Anders Ericsson, the best way to master a field is to work on the task that's most demanding for you personally. And often the best way to do this is alone. Only then, Mr. Ericsson told me, can you 'go directly to the part that’s challenging to you. If you want to improve, you have to be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class — you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.'" And I'll concur that this is how I do my best studying. Which has led to some friction with my class mates who want me to joint their study group. Study groups don't work for me, in fact they often do my learning harm. So I'll help out when I can, but I don't normally go to the study groups. However, this article is making generalities from specific cases. And so, it's suffering form the same malaise it's decrying. Groups work for some people and some tasks, not so well for others and other tasks. Brainstorming, when done appropriately and moderated successfully, works magnificently for some tasks. It fails miserably at others. What the real problem here is attempting to fit an all or nothing solution to something that isn't one or the other. And considering the article calls the amygdala "a small organ in the brain" when it's part of your brain (which is an organ by itself) let's me know how in-depth this research has been. Of course the article isn't much more than a PR push for the author's new book. And now speaking of books, this is how a lot of writers write. At first, it's just them (individual in seclusion). Eventually they send it out for critical feedback (which starts the group phase of the project). (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Whenever the whole issue of women's rights comes up specifically in discussions of the treatment of women in islamic cultures, it's often misperceived that it's the religion that's at fault. If any of you have seen my argue on this topic, you should know by now that it's really society's mores that are the problem, not the actual religion. Case in point, the treatment of women by ultra-orthodox jews in Israel. You can also see the same things in social conservative evangelicals in this country ("Right to Life" isn't so much about abortion as it is about rolling back the sexual revolution and feminism). It's the cultural legacy of the dominance of patrilineal customs that rarely have any foundation in the actual dogma of a particular religion. (Grokked from Jay Lake, my interpretation is solely my own)

Here's an interesting article on a researcher being arrested for filming killer whales feeding. Only, she really wasn't arrested for filming (the writer chose this angle to make the charges seem even more silly), but for "feeding" the whales. Which, granted, is a felony, but I think they best case they could really make is that she "tampered" with their feeding (which might be a felony as well). The "tampering with evidence" charge (by giving the authorities an "edited" video of her normal activities) is an example of why you want a lawyer to help you when you're questioned by the authors, even if you feel you've done nothing wrong. But I will agree with the final premise of the article, most laws are written in a way that creates a lot of confusion for the average lay person (and being an actual marine biologist means she has at least a bachelors degree) and the law will use that ambiguity against you. This article also takes the position that you, the reader, won't really know how "research" is actually done. My guess is this scientist didn't have the proper permits to do this research, and that's what the charges stem from. You see, scientist don't just go wandering about, waiting for something to happen. There's a whole routine to set up research, acquire the proper permits and licensing (which can be just "yes, I'll let you gather things on my property" to the forms filled out in triplicate with stamps and ids), make sure all the authorities are notified, etc, blah blah blah. Veering off those permits, licensing, and timing even for "a once in a lifetime opportunity" can land you in hot water. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

Andrew Sullivan on Obama's long game. Not to be read by those who have problems with facts and actual history. It takes on the major criticisms of the Obama Presidency and puts truth to the fictions. As I said before, the conservative mind set seems ever more unhitched from reality these days. (Grokked from Eric)

"'Romney is not a moderate. He is a liberal. He is almost as far to the left as Barack Obama,' Phillips, who organized the first tea party convention in February 2010, said." Well, yeah, that kind of happens when you don't understand the words that are being used for rhetorical flourish. Obama is actually a moderate conservative (see earlier linkee-poo about how he's governing in that fashion, co-opting much of the conservative agenda). Now that he's been labeled a "liberal" all "moderate conservatives" are "radically liberal." (Grokked from Jay Lake)

Well, seems like there's more trouble for Project Veritas' latest "sting" video. One of the people they claimed was dead isn't. And not in a Monty Python "Bring Out Your Dead" way. Not to mention that going to the polls and requesting a ballot under a false name is a felony. Even if you don't actually cast a ballot.

Tweet of my heart
@fivethirtyeight: This is not the climactic week of the GOP nomination. It's the week when the show got canceled and all plot twists are hastily resolved.

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