Friday, December 24, 2010

A Compelling Reason to Carry Cash

I fed cash to a parking machine the other day, but I think that's the first time I'd looked in that section of my wallet for quite some time. I use my debit card for just about everything, but here's something it can't do. The debit card does nothing to reduce physical pain or the distress of rejection. Cash, on the other hand...


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Extreme Paper Crafting: Amazing Les Paul Guitar

This is beautiful. Even if I weren't a paper junkie, I'm sure I'd still be awed by the paper guitar.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Key to Creativity... Happiness

Yesterday it was getting enough sleep. Today we add happiness. I can definitely say that I'm definitely happier when I get enough sleep, so yesterday's advice is a jump start on today's. A study has found that being happy improves creative thinking.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wanna Be Creative? Get Enough Sleep

"In our fast-paced society, one of the first things to go is our sleep," Payne says. "I think that's based on a profound misunderstanding that the sleeping brain isn't doing anything." The brain is busy. It's not just consolidating memories, it's organizing them and picking out the most salient information. She thinks this is what makes it possible for people to come up with creative, new ideas. - Science Daily

I'm so happy to see the recent sleep research getting out into the world. I always knew in my gut that people who said, "You can sleep when you're dead." or "I'll sleep when I'm dead." were full of it. Now I have evidence to back up my gut.


Sleep Deprivation Makes You Look Ill, Ugly, and (duh) Tired

"Our findings show that sleep deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive, and more tired compared with when they are well rested. This suggests that humans are sensitive to sleep related facial cues, with potential implications for social and clinical judgments and behaviour."

More scientists catching up with what the rest of us already knew. :)


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Google Docs Animation

This is so amazing!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Trusting Are Better Lie Detectors

Interesting. And a good rebuttal to those people who refuse to ever believe anyone's word without seeing proof. Assuming innocent until proven guilty finds the lies better than the reverse.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blame Al Gore For the Stalemate?

This article suggests that perhaps the reason we haven't made much progress on getting acceptance for the science behind climate change is that using Al Gore to present it in An Inconvenient Truth politicized the issue. So, people are focused on being politically like Al or not like Al rather than on what the movie was trying to say.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Savor Your Food Before You Eat In Order to Eat Less?

Interesting idea. I can't imagine having a lunch break long enough to imagine my way through the food before actually eating it, but for snacks and the like, this might be interesting to try.


Wacky Way To Multiply by Drawing Lines

This is really interesting. Do multiplication by drawing modified tic-tac-toe boards.


Amazing Typewriter Art

Wow! This is ASCII art in the extreme. No backspace key!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Beards and Credibility: An Explanation for the Success of the iPhone?

Turns out we like our toothpaste advice from the bearded and our undies from the clean shaven. Who knew? Is that why Steve Jobs keeps going back to the beard?


Monday, December 6, 2010

Amazing Iron Fence Art

Wow. This is sooooo cool!


Very Sorry to Welcome the Guys to the Party

The dark side of selling fantasy in marketing and entertainment has been beating the stuffing out of women's self image for ages. Pretty much everyone knows that. Now the scientists are finding the same effects on the guys.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nurture Looms Large in Preschoolers Gender Stereotyping

Amazing how conscious teachers will have to be to let kids be who they are instead of who the teacher thinks they should be...


Storm Trooper Snowflakes

These are hilarious. Peace on earth, good will toward men, or crush 'em in a compactor?


Entertaining TV Show Causes Suspicion

I love Lie to Me, even though I've read a lot of the science upon which it's loosely based and can clearly see that they've pushed the limits of credibility way out there. Well, it turns out, watching the show does not make one any better at detecting lies, but does encourage distrust and suspicion.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A two-layer movable sweating thermal manikin

I get why they're trying to build a mannequin with the heat and sweat properties of a human. What I don't get is why said creations are smiling at the sky...


Great Photo of SF Building

This is awesome. I love the quirkiness of it.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Even Professors Can Be Crappy Science Writers

The headline and opening to this article are great examples of how science reporting and the (perhaps unconscious) agenda of the writer can plant ideas in the public consciousness that aren't reflected in the study being reported on.

In this case, the study measured hormone levels to determine whether ovulation was taking place and had the study participants choose what to buy. To repeat, *every* participant was told to choose things to buy. Therefore, the study says *nothing* about the impulse to head for the mall as the headline would suggest. Instead, it says, for women already shopping (or, in this case, forced to shop), whether or not they are ovulating will determine the makeup of what ends up in the trunk on the way home.

A slap on the wrist to Prof. Douglas T. Kenrick for sloppy, irresponsible writing. The interesting combination of his use of "in heat," which is normally applied to animals and the subtitle "Women: Hide your credit when you’re ovulating!" make me wonder about the author's relationship to, and view of, women... Kinda of ironic for a blog with the subtitle, "Exploring the simple selfish biases that make us caring, creative, and complex." Professor, study thyself.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Being Bullied Changes the Developing Brain

This really isn't the least bit surprising. Considering the way in which experiences and emotions make changes in the brain, it makes sense that chronic bullying would show up in the bullied person's brain.


More Bad News For TV Watchers

There's already research showing that TV watching is not actually relaxing. Add anxiety and a greater focus on material things.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Staircase Storage (I need this in my kitchen!!!)

I love this thing - human factors and cool engineering rolled into one. Now, how can I get this idea translated to the kitchen cabinets, so I can stop standing on my counters?


Lego Sculptures

Wow. These are amazing!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Could Do That... But It Would Never Occur to Me

How many times have I looked at some interesting piece of artwork and said, "I could do that, but it never would have occurred to me if I hadn't seen it done"? Now there's a poster for people like me.


Print a Brick Road

I'm just sure I need one of these. And a good-sized town to go with it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Miata + Sharpies

Wow! This guy likes Sharpies even more than I do!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stunning John Rawlings Photo

Wow. This stopped me in my tracks. I just had to stare at it for a while. I wonder if I could do a multi-block carving (carve multiple soft blocks and print them) of it.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Amazing Talk on Wholeheartedness by Dr. Brene Brown

I'm gonna be chewing on this one for a few days and will definitely watch it again and read her books.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Save Your Memories Get Some Sleep

Seems like more sleep is turning out to be the answer to just about everything these days, from weight loss to memory and more. This article describes how the brain files our memories during sleep.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Perspective on Gender Identity and Stereotypes

Any article that starts out with an anecdote about some dude being shocked to see a woman using a power tool is gonna capture my attention. In my circle, I've got the tool-filled garage my guy friends envy.

I liked the author's comments on her own experience of gender identity. I mostly can relate. I experience life as me, and it doesn't match anyone's stereotypical anything.

I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that the only sane method of dealing with people is to dump the shortcuts (stereotypes, preconceived notions, broad generalizations, etc.) and actually put forth the effort to get to know people as individuals. I'm still trying to figure out at what altitude it becomes necessary to talk about populations vs. people. For example, it's good to know that population x has a low reading rate and needs a plan to address it. It's not good to assume every x person you meet can't read.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Never Make Your Bed Again

...just zip it closed. Et voila!


Credit and Gift Cards Transformed... Into Guitar Picks

I'm just sure I need this punch. Move over Martha Stewart.


Another Crazy Japanese Product: The Doughnut Briefcase

'Cuz it's important that your donut travel in style and arrive as puffy as it was when you left Dunkin Donuts (which, by the way, are amazingly un-sweet in Japan and nothing like our version of donuts).


Monday, November 1, 2010

The Wonderful World of Ear Worms

A coworker and I were talking just the other week about how we have soundtracks always running in our heads. Not surprising that we both suffer from earworms. It is, after all, a music company. I can't remember the last time I *didn't* have a song in my head.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

How To Fight The Fighting Against The Facts

"...when people are faced with scientific research that clashes with their personal view, they invoke a range of strategies to discount the findings."

Guess that explains the left-right debate on global warming, the insistence on neurology as the excuse for sexism and racism, and the intelligent design movement. Sigh.

This is an interesting article on how to get the facts through to the people who need to hear them.


Myth Busters Busts the 10% Myth (and Maybe Starts a New One)

This makes me sigh. Heavily. The folks from Mythbusters set out to bust the myth that we only use 10% of our brains and may have accidentally started a new myth in the process.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Once the Good Guy Finishes First, He's Not So Good: Research on Power

"Power is given to those individuals, groups, or nations who advance the interests of the greater good in socially-intelligent fashion. Yet unfortunately, having power renders many individuals as impulsive and poorly attuned to others as your garden-variety frontal lobe patient, making them prone to act abusively and lose the esteem of their peers. What people want from leaders—social intelligence—is what is damaged by the experience of power."

This article lays out the research on power (and blows apart Robert Greene's "48 Laws of Power" in the process).


Alphabetical Storage

This is both wonderful and a horrible use of space.

Finally, a Healthy Use For Sports Drinks

They're display objects, not beverages. Who knew?


Name That Logo

This is a really interesting piece of design work. Well-known logos are represented by colored circles. How many do you still recognize?

Words With No Translation

I love these!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You're Not So Bad

"People in most studied cultures view themselves less favorably than they are perceived by others."

Ignorance, in this case, really is bliss. If other people knew what I know about me... :)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Death Leads to Overconsumption

Very interesting. Kinda makes you wonder about Halloween... Talk about ghosts, then go get tons of junk food. Woohoo!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gummy Worm: the Banquet version

As if the small ones weren't gross enough...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We Believe It 'Cuz We Paid For It

"The results show that people use paid advice significantly more than free advice and suggest that this effect is due to the same forces that have been documented in the literature to explain the sunk costs fallacy."

Unfortunately, there are lots of scammy folk online who use this to their advantage. They sell iffy information products to trusting souls who end up believing the information simply because they paid for it.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Less Sure They Are, the Louder They Scream

"Gal and Zucker found that doubt turns people into stronger advocates. More subtly, their study shows that this effect is stronger if someone’s identity is threatened, if the belief is important to them, and if they think that others will listen. It all fits with a pattern of behaviour where people evangelise to strengthen their own faltering beliefs."

Hmmm... Kinda makes you wonder about all of those very aggressive proselytizers...


Monday, October 18, 2010

Reading Faces, Yet Another Reason to Get Enough Sleep

"Sleep deprivation selectively impairs the accurate judgment of human facial emotions, especially threat relevant (Anger) and reward relevant (Happy) categories, an effect observed most significantly in females."


An Evolutionary Biologist Blasts the Current Trend of Using EB to Justify Current Gender Norms

"There are dozens of reported gender differences, with piles of research demonstrating them. But when we look more closely, we often see that the either a) the methodology of the research sucks or b) the gender difference, while likely real, changes, goes away, or even reverses as times change, suggesting that the difference is (was) cultural."


Diet Pushers Will Have to Abandon Evolutionary Argument

Looks like we were grinding plants in to flour much earlier than anyone realized. The Paleo Diet is looking much less Paleo.

A Consciousness/Neuroscience Funny

This is funny if you're into neuroscience and consciousness studies to any degree.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Power Corrupts The Corrupt

No surprise here. Research finds that power makes hypocrites bolder and more derisive of others. The part I found interesting was the difference between those who thought they absolutely deserved their power and those who felt less deserving.

"When participants in high-power roles were separated into those with legitimate power versus those with ‘shaky' power (in other words, a level of power the individual did not believe he or she merited), researchers found that the legitimate power group consistently displayed more hypocrisy. People in the shaky power group, in contrast, were actually harder on themselves, in a way similar to those in the low-power group."

Read the whole article here.

Committed Relationships Lessen Stress

For all the work that goes into a relationship, it's still better for your stress levels than not having one.

"What we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol responses to psychological stress"


I Knew the Oven Was Good for Something...

Books! Another place to store books!

Yet Another Researcher Takes Issue With Louann Brizendine's "The Female Brain"

Soooo happy to see researchers from neurology to psychology to sociology slam on "The Female Brain." What a sad waste of pages that could have been devoted to something real. This post is about the teenage brain chapter.


Bering in Mind Blog Discusses Adaptive Behavior and Recent Gay Teen Suicides

The recent rash of teen suicides is heartbreaking. Every time another one was reported, I thought, "Wow. Different reasons, but that could have been me." Jesse Bering (pretty much always a good read) has put together a thoughtful article on some of the mechanisms that may contribute to the phenomenon of suicide in humans.

It's gonna take more chewing on the info to really process it, but already I can feel the Aha coming for me.


Sleep: Yet Another Reason to Exercise

"The people in the exercise group fared far better than the non-exercise group when it came to their sleep. Exercise not only improved their sleep quality—elevating them from being a “poor sleeper” to a “good sleeper” but they also reported feeling better. Their moods improved, and had more vitality and less daytime sleepiness."

This is the crank-up-your-heart-rate-and-keep-it-there-a-while kind. I know it works for me. I can only imagine how much worse my sleep would be if I didn't crank up the old heart rate on a regular basis.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting Out of the Wheelchair: It's Coming

This is SO COOL!!!! I love these things. How exciting. I totally agree with the enormous grin on the one woman's face as she walks for the first time since her injury.

Cool Design: Switch Salt and Pepper

I'm a big fan of fun design ideas. This thing is great.

Amazing Pictures: Paint, Sound Waves, High Speed Photos

These are gorgeous!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weight Loss Greatly Helped By Adequate Sleep

Seems like everything goes better when you get enough sleep, doesn't it? This study shows that getting enough sleep even helps lose fat.


Crosswalk Fish

It's nice artwork, though I'd much rather he did it in chalk.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Know Your Tools

I still have a soft spot for Dave Barry's "hammerthumbasaurus", but this list has some wonderful definitions of common tools you might have around the house.


Live Long With Black Bags and No Memory least, that's what happens to me on 6.5 hours of sleep - big bags under my eyes and a bad case of space cadetism.

"The surprise was that when sleep was measured objectively, the best survival was observed among women who slept 5 to 6.5 hours,"


Aggression Inspired by Violent Video Games Lasts

Violent video games are subject to all kinds of psych studies these days. This one tests aggression in men 24 hours after playing for 20 minutes. The men who ruminated on their game play showed heightened aggression even the next day. That's interesting enough. What caught my eye was that the effect didn't appear in women. Why not?


Monday, October 4, 2010

Nature vs. Nurture: Great Quote

"But biology, while being necessary, is never sufficient to explain human behavior. Our behavior is determined by a complex interaction between our biological heritage and cultural context." - Noam Shpancer, Ph.D.

Mind-Controlled Wheelchairs

What a great use for the technology!

San Francisco Paper Cut

Wow! Someone has a Very good relationship with her Xacto knife!

To Make Self-Control Easier, Make It Fun

How many times have you heard someone say, "Make it a game" in regards to learning a new habit or breaking an old one? Turns out they're onto something. People who make the act of self control fun are more successful than those who don't.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ben Heine Goes Magritte

Ben Heine's work is always wonderful, but I particularly like this one. The guy with his head in the pavement tickles my whimsy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Economist Studies... PIRATES!

I don't know if I'm amused, horrified, or totally jealous that someone got to an academic paper on pirates.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Amygdala in 5 Minutes

The amygdala creates links between sensory input and reactions to that input. Think Pavlov's dogs. While associating the sound of a bell to the body's hunger responses, like salivation, is fairly benign, the amygdala is also the structure that associates the kaboom of a bomb to the emotional response of seeing the horror wreaked by that bomb. Worse, while the dogs took a little training to make the association stick, trauma burns that connection into the amygdala in an instant. This is how it happens that a person who was eating a banana when they got shattering news that made them throw up can end up turning green at the smell of a banana.

Neuroscience professor Joseph LeDoux explains the amygdala:

Meditate to Avoid Unnecessary Failure

Current research is showing meditation to be the ultimate Swiss Army Knife of neurological tools. The prevention of choking (the "screwed up something you should have done well" kind, not the "ohmygod, hit me on the back" kind) is one more application of this marvelous tool.


Social Awareness, Not Brainpower, Determines Group Smarts

"An early effort at defining general intelligence in groups suggests that individual brainpower contributes little to collective smarts.

"Instead, it’s social awareness — the ability to pick up on emotional cues in others — that seems to determine how smart a group can be."

Very interesting. I wonder if that's because the folks with lots of brainpower but little in the way of social awareness aren't as good at kicking the ball around, so to speak - allowing improvements suggested by other team members, letting the conversation flow according to strengths, and accepting and being inspired by even off-the-wall suggestions.


xkcd: Truly a Beautiful Dream

I second the motion.

Wooden Watches

I haven't worn a watch since I trashed my hands years and years ago. If I did, though, it would be one of these.

Driveable Radio Flyer

Yeah, I always wanted to be able to drive the wagon from inside, but I don't think I'd have gone this far...

Amazing Leaf Carvings

Nice work!

Never Mind the Cool View of Earth, Go For the Beer

Yup. Space beer.

A Girl and Her Torch: Artist Cal Lane

Wow! What amazing work. I love the wheelbarrows.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For Best Results, Be Medium Detached

I can definitely attest to the rejuvenating power of detaching from work at the end of the day. So much better for health and well being. Interestingly, the benefit of detaching is moderated by the negative effects of getting so detached that you have a hard time getting back into work mode. Like everything else, moderation is key.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Order in Chaos Clock

What a great idea! Where did I put those clockworks....

Giant Drivable R2D2

I'm just sure I need one of these...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Power Corrupts...

We knew that, right? The infamous Stanford Prison Study by Zimbardo showed us the horrible things people will do when handed a little power. This study digs into one of the mechanisms behind the horrible things. Power over others inclines us to dehumanize them. Something to watch for if you're a manager, a health care provider, a teacher, a parent, or find yourself in any other position where you have power over others.


Yet More Proof Happy Employees => Successful Companies

"It’s just as important to keep in mind you have employees and they are your business," she told McClatchy. "The most important asset is human capital. Financially strong companies know that."

It amazes me that there are still companies out there that haven't gotten it through their thick heads that every single thing they do comes from their people. And just like you need a strong foundation for a grand building, you need healthy happy people for a strong company.


Hey, I Really Am The Devil... And So Are You!

We've all heard the proverb, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." Well, "during these moments of errant thought, the brain is forming a set of mental rules about our world, particularly our social world, that help us navigate human interactions and quickly make sense of and react to information — about a stranger's intentions, a child's next move, a choice before us — without having to run a complex and conscious calculation of all our values, expectations and beliefs."

Hmmm.... So, my view of the world comes from the devil, my sense of self comes from the devil... The devil always lies... So, there is no self in my self. Yo, Buddha, good job!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Wherever you put the mind, the body will follow."

"Wherever you put the mind, the body will follow." - Ellen Langer

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about another friend who is recovering from some physical injuries. Said other friend has made great improvements recently and attributes them to a new supplement she's taking. I mentioned to my friend that the ingredients of the supplement have not been scientifically proven to be helpful (so far?) and are quite controversial. This led to a discussion of the placebo effect and the power of the mind in healing.

I told my friend about the amazing improvements I saw in myself after I stopped identifying myself as "the partially disabled person" and started seeing myself as "the person working to become more capable." Just opening the mental door marked "possibility of healing" made a huge change in my physical abilities. I wondered how much of our mutual friend's improvement might be due to her opening that mental door vs. the supplement composed of much-tested but not proven ingredients.

Ellen Langer's monastery study gives direct evidence of the power of mindset to affect physical ability. Elderly participants pretending to be 22 years younger suddenly had more physical ability.

It's easy to limit ourselves based on age or information gleaned from media or even doctor visits. Don't forget to leave that "possibility" door open at least a crack at all times. You may just get to walk through it.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Six Fixable Reasons You Can't Sleep

Not surprisingly, caffeine and alcohol made the list. Caffeine is still hanging around in your system 15 HOURS after consumption. Yowza. And alcohol completely hoses your sleep cycle. Read on...

Move Towards Conflict

Most of us like to avoid conflict even though that tends to make the issues simmer, not vanish. This article has a nice description of why we avoid and why we should really be moving the other direction.

"To lower the volume of a conflict, you move towards it, not with the intention to soothe but with the intention of increasing mutual understanding."


Adventure Through Inner Space Updated and In a Browser Window

Grab the slider to zoom in and out. This is very cool!

Hello Kitty Meets R2D2

Not sure whether to cringe or smile at this one.

Smart People More Likely to Be Victimized at Work

Wow. The study found a relationship between cognitive ability and being victimized. The moderating factor seems to be the team factor. Smart loners are worse off than smart team players.

We Get Worse At Predicting a Partner's Preferences Over Time

Gotta think this relates to how much attention we pay to partners in the beginnings of relationships vs. later.

A Tizzy of Fairies and Other Collective Nouns of the Supernatural

These are hilarious.

Dinosaur Bones Made of Pancakes!

Pancake art! I love it!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Speed of Fear

"And this unconscious processing of frightening stimuli happens much more quickly than our conscious processing of it. To become consciously aware of a particular stimulus takes 250-300 milliseconds, says LeDoux. But a fear-evoking stimulus can reach the amygdala in a mere 12 milliseconds, which is evolutionarily advantageous if one's response time means the difference between life and death."

This is so important to keep in mind when dealing with someone with PTSD, for example. By the time their conscious mind gets its hands on the information in the stimulus, the fear response is already well on its way.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Seriously Geeky Joke

This one totally cracked me up. Your mathiness may vary...

(Don't miss the comments.)

Is Our Definition of Happiness Extrovert-centric?

I like that someone has posed the question. As an introvert myself, I have often noticed, like the author of this post, that our definitions of happiness tend to involve extroverted words - "talkative, enthusiastic, assertive, bold, energetic, adventurous." Definitely not the words I would use to describe my experience of happiness, since mine would be all about peacefulness, grounding, spacious, and other rather quiet experiences.


Extra Harvest-y Moon Tonight - 9/22/10

Here's a reason to go outside this evening. "For the first time in almost 20 years, northern autumn is beginning on the night of a full Moon. The coincidence sets the stage for a "Super Harvest Moon" and a must-see sky show to mark the change of seasons."

Stress Ruts In the Brain

This article describes a study of the brain's response to stress (and the removal thereof). We've all seen people under stress lose their ability to step back and reassess a problem, instead repeating the same unsuccessful actions over and over again. Turns out, there's a good reason for that. For the brain under stress, regions of the brain associated with executive decision-making and goal-directed behaviors had shriveled, while, conversely, brain sectors linked to habit formation had bloomed." The good news is that taking a break from the stress undoes the neural changes. It's not just the extra sleep that makes you feel better on vacation.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spanking Begets Aggressive Kids

"Data from almost 2500 children shows that 3-year-olds who are spanked twice a month are one and half times more likely to be aggressive at age five than children who are not spanked."

I do remember hitting my mother back once...


Walking is Good for the Brain

"Research shows that walking can actually boost the connectivity within brain circuits, which tends to diminish as the grey hairs multiply."

This is good news for me. Walking is my favorite activity.


All Chicken is "All Natural"

Some good points about misleading food labeling in this one. Like the author, I was surprised to find that there is no difference between chicken labeled all natural and regular chicken.


Long-Exposure Photo of the Northern Lights

Very cool shot!

Pop Psychology Loses to Real Research Once Again: Meyers-Briggs

The article concentrates mostly on showing that the ever-popular Meyers-Briggs test should not be used in career counseling, but the problems he uncovers with the test point to much deeper problems. One very experienced psychologist of my acquaintance refers to the test as "A bunch of crap. Complete crap. Based on nothing. No research to support it. Well-marketed crap." So, for all of us who have felt either trapped in our four-letter classification or have used it to feel good about certain strengths and relieved of the responsibility for certain weaknesses... The future is once again in our hands.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Amazing Driving

Wow! If you got even a little bit of the car gene, this is a must see.

Another Reason Guys Should Take Up Meditation?

New research shows that men with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol are judged more attractive. Wanna be better looking without working out or plastic surgery? Get your Zen on!


Right Brain Left Brain Loses Its Footing

Wow. For how many years have people been claiming that creativity lives in the right brain? Recent studies undermine this assertion.

"Taken together, creative thinking does not appear to critically depend on any single mental process or brain region, and it is not especially associated with right brains, defocused attention, low arousal, or alpha synchronization, as sometimes hypothesized."


Even Dim Light at Night Can Mess Up Your Clock

I was so hoping only bright light would tweak my inner clock. No such luck.

"The study results are important because they indicate that prolonged exposure to dim or low light at night (such as that in homes and office buildings) can influence mammals' biological clocks and "throw off" their sleep-wake cycles."


A Roadkill App... Seriously

It's a brilliant use of crowdsourcing, but I still think the idea of a roadkill app is hilarious. And maybe just plain wrong....

Still Calling Mom to Clean Up the Mess

It's interesting to play the "Why would that be?" game on this one. This study found that people were more likely to choose a female leader for a company in crisis. The article suggests that people see men as lacking the attributes required to get a company through a crisis. The cynical part of me wants to say something about being able to blame a woman if the crisis proves fatal. This is the first study I've personally read about on the topic, though, so I freely admit that my inner cynic has no ground to stand on other than its own cynicism.

Happiness is a Work Ethic

"Ultimately, Achor wants people to understand that happiness should not be kept on our cognitive horizons; it is not something that will magically appear after reaching a certain level in a company or a school. "Happiness is a work ethic," Achor says. "It's something that requires our brains to train just like an athlete has to train.""


So true. Happiness is something you practice and train. So much of our culture is caught up in "I'll be happy when..." How different life looks when you approach it as "I choose to be happy." Or, like my new T-Shirt, I Choose To Be Amused.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Great Pencil Vs. Camera From Ben Heine

All of his stuff is great. If you haven't checked it out yet, do. This one made me say, "Wow!"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Handling Surprise Criticism

Love the advice to look beyond the delivery. Whether the person is nervous or thrilled to be giving you negative feedback, focus on the content of the message, not the emotion of the delivery.

Younger Kids 60% More Likely to Get Labeled ADHD Than Older Classmates

This horrifies me. The rush to drug kids into not acting like kids is abhorrent.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inconstant Constants

"A team of astrophysicists based in Australia and England has uncovered evidence that the laws of physics are different in different parts of the universe."

Ya just can't count on anything anymore...

Transparent Aluminum

Wow. Did I have to choose a two-word headline in which *both* words are hard to spell?

Anyway, transparent aluminum (phew! typed it again!) is very cool. On the other hand, how many aluminum things can you think of that you really really don't want to see through?

Chopping Wood in Slow Motion: Video

Chopping wood has never looked so cool.

A Reason to Spring for the Room With the View?

Peaceful views are good for your brain. That's not really news to any of us, is it? While playing the same sound, scientists exposed people to pictures of traffic and tranquil scenes. Not surprisingly, the tranquil scene made the brains happy.

I kinda wish they'd done the opposite too, since in the iPod age, we have so much more control over what we hear than what we see.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Disappearing Car Door

What a great idea!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

For the Guys: Dance Moves Women Find Attractive

I'm loving the dancing avatars. I wish they'd gone into more depth describing what was good and bad about the two videos. I mean, I can tell which one is a better dancer. I'd just like to know more about why...

Once Again, Language Gets the Jump on Science

I love it when common sayings that describe our reality get validated by science. Have you ever seen someone using a tool or an instrument and thought, "Wow. It's like it's an extension of his/her hand"? Well, you were right.

"While we think of our body as a fixed feature of our lives, the brain displays a surprising ability to accept as part of ‘me’ whatever I happen to be touching and using at any given time."


The Times Blames Biology and Misses the Boat

The study shows that one element of male-female parenting differences is oxytocin. The original article and the press release state that while they have discovered the existence of the chicken, it may be that it came from the egg. The NY Times, however, is so focused on promoting the chicken that they blow off the egg completely.

"For instance, maybe the connection works like this: In both parents, higher levels of oxytocin increase feelings of attachment toward a child. Perhaps more intense feelings of attachment prompt each parent to engage in more behaviors that he or she views as central to his or her parenting role, spurring women to exhibit more affection and men to get involved in more stimulating play."


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Animated Words

This little short is a guaranteed smile for fans of words and animation.

Another Swing and Miss For Pop Psychology

The theory of learning styles has been widely published and swallowed whole by students and teachers alike. Well, guess what...

"Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded. "

And all that advice about picking a study spot and sticking to it? Bzzzzt!


Lack of Sleep Leads to the Kitchen

This is from the "I could have told you that" department, but it's nice to have my personal observations validated. Teens who don't get enough sleep, snack more and eat fattier foods. I know I find myself eating like crazy when I don't get enough sleep. Does that make me a teen? :)

Pure Silliness: Parallel Parking

This is just plain funny.

Creepy "speed bumps"

I have to agree with the folks in the comments. Once people get used to running over virtual children, how long will it be before they ignore the real ones and run them over too?

Subarashii Desu Yo: Precision Walking

The crowd noises between 1:57 and 2:08 are SOOOOO Japanese. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Micro Giant Pandas

Hard to believe they'll grow up to be huge.

Tertium Non Data

Tertium non data translated from Latin means "the third is not given." In alchemy, it refers to combining two elements to create a third distinct element. How this comes about is unknown.

I just like the sound of the phrase and wanted to store it somewhere. in a blog post.

Pluses and Minuses of a Lazy Brain

Our brains love to make snap judgments based on past experiences. On the one hand, making the snap judgment that the lion charging you is dangerous could save your life. On the other hand, assuming your significant other is hurting you on purpose because their behavior maps onto things your parents did is gonna cause trouble. It's good to remember that what we actually experience is not reality, but our brains' fill-in-the-blanks picture based on the past.

"That filled in perception is what you actually experience, and it's based largely on your past experiences."


World's Largest Swimming Pool

Wow! Can you imagine swimming laps in this thing?

Cats and Gravity: a New Avenue of Scientific Inquiry?

This cracks me up. There are so many things my cat does that make me think she should be studied. In this blog post, the author sets up a fun experiment to determine what her cats know about gravity.

Spirals in the Sky

Is it still "the sky" when it's that far away? Probably not, but spirals in the sky sounds so much catchier than spiral in the galaxy.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Unraveling Wall Calendar

Wow! What a great calendar.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rocking Piano

This is very cool. I'll bet the periodicity of the rocking makes certain pieces very hard to play.

How to Find Joy

Current research shows that happiness is an effect not a cause, a symptom, not the disease, so to speak. This article is right on the money. If you want to be happy, don't focus on yourself and how to improve your happiness, focus outside on other people and getting things done.

Explosions and Bursts of Light

This is a very cool example of how big explosions work. We usually think of shrapnel as the thing to watch out for, but it's the light/energy that gets to the target first.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Persuasive Food


"The consumption of proferred food induces a momentary mood of compliance toward the donor that is strongest at the time the food is being consumed and that decreases in strength rapidly after the food has been consumed."

Is this the real reason the way to a man's heart is through his stomach?


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

PRL Tired of Crappy 1959!

This cracks me up 'cuz I used to edit and format physics papers being submitted to the various Phys Revs. Evidently, the papers being submitted were no more readable in 1959 than they were when I was trying to make sense of them in the early `90s.

Does Your Boss Care?

I'm a big Bob Sutton fan. He's the author of the excellent book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, which everyone should read. I haven't yet gotten to his new book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst. It's definitely on my list.

In this post, he talks about how to tell your boss cares about you. Nice list!

Defining Intelligence

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. - Einstein

I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing. - Socrates

Gotta love those guys.

I love that humans have been around a zillion years and still don't have a definition of intelligence. The philosophers and psychologists have weighed in. Here come the neuroscientists...

It's Not Just a Joke

To everyone who ever said, "Relax. It's just a joke." Bzzzzt! Wrong. It's not just a joke. And it does matter. This particular study is on sexist jokes, but I'm sure the same applies to jokes bashing any segment of society.


Overt and Covert Perfectionism

Interesting. Before I read this, I would have said that I am no longer a perfectionist, or at least no longer a perfect perfectionist. :) I definitely was at one time. Maybe even more than a little OCD. (Do I get extra points for turning the noun into an adjective when the noun itself is a TLA?) But now I see that it's only the overt perfectionism whose hold on me was loosened. The internal voices of my covert perfectionism continue to administer beatings.

Dang. Every time I think I have something cleaned up, I find a new layer. Oh, wait. Is wanting to clear things perfectionism? Is it perfectionism to want to clean out perfectionism? Will I ever catch my tail?

But Is It Really Love?

This post starts with a scenario involving a guy falling for a completely fictional image of a woman and being crushed when the real woman to whom he has attached said fiction dumps him. The information about how brain chemicals set people up to do such "crazy" things and how to recover when your brain does it to you is decent, if somewhat obvious. Personally, I wouldn't have used the word love to describe the emotional state depicted in the scenario. Crush, obsession...yeah. Something along those lines.

I'm also fascinated by the fact that the author gives practical advice for how to recover, but says nothing about how to navigate the chemical bath more successfully. Wouldn't it be nice to have less to mop up? Has spending day in and day out helping people mop up blinded the author to door number three? Is there a door number three?

Rainbow Roses

I am NOT a rose girl. They smell good (the ones that still smell after all these years of breeding for looks), but...meh. These, however, would make me smile for days.

Doesn't look like they're available commercially at this point, though, so my current flower favorites are safe for now.

Complexity and Creativity

Interesting article on causes and aspects of creativity.

"Creative people are complex, meaning that they see the world from multiple perspectives. This is an adaptive response to complex inputs during childhood. We are all constantly trying to make sense of the world we live in and the more complex our experiences, the more challenging this proves to be."

So... If you want a creative kid, make his childhood hell?

The bulk of the article is devoted to recognizing the creativity of square pegs - immigrants, homosexuals, people with a non-traditional yin/yang mix, and so on.

I definitely relate to being a square peg in many ways (I plan to title my autobiography, "A Woman of Excess Yang".), will happily hold diverging viewpoints (makes voting a good challenge!), and had a very, ahem, complex childhood. And I definitely have lots of grand ideas for the infamous brick in Guilford’s Alternative Uses Task. The most difficult part of the test is convincing my brain that it can STOP. Guess that's a yes in the creative column.

Still wondering about the coincidence-causality thing. Did being a weird kid in weird circumstances lead to all of those useful bricks?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Clear Description of PTSD

one could say that in PTSD, the "emotional brain" assumes dominance over the "rational brain".

The reason appears to be the failure of the Hippocampus to create abstract verbal representations that inhibit the brain's access to sensory-perceptual recollections of the traumatic event (Conway & Pearce, Psychological Review, 2000).

When the brain is overwhelmed, the hippocampus shuts down. Not only does it fail to turn the trauma into words that can be processed after the event, but during the event, that shutdown impairs critical thinking. Ever hear about an event and wondered why so-and-so didn't just...whatever? They're not stupid. It's a brain thing. And, Mr./Ms. Armchair Quarterback, yours works the same way.


Advice From Disney Princesses


Advice from Disney princesses.



Geek Chic: The Pi Necklace

Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

The articles linked from this list are full of enlightening research. From why the written word is so powerful to backfiring rewards to stereotypes and more, this list has some juicy food for thought.

We Like to Pick Our Own Carrots

This is interesting.

"According to research cited by Sheena Iyengar in The Art of Choosing, infants as young as 4 months enjoyed the power of choice to turn on music by their own volition. In adults, "neurons in the striatum...respond more to rewards that people or animals actively choose than to identical rewards that are passively received." Isn't it amazing that our very brain cells vibrate happily to our active choices?"

I'm wondering how this relates to all of the research showing that employees aren't terribly motivated by monetary rewards. If you gave employees a choice of money, vacation time, flex time, etc., would you get better work out of them than with the standard "Here's the list of things you have to accomplish to get your bonus" approach?

From whence the quote:

Regrets of the Dying

These lists pretty much all say the same thing. Wish I'd taken more chances. Wish I'd asked that girl/guy out. Wish I'd ditched my job and followed my dream. And so on.

I'd like to replace all of these lists with "Wish I'd learned to accept that, at every point, I did the best I could with what I had and to appreciate the growing I've done along the way." After all, 50 or 80 years of building confidence in yourself should be cause for celebration, not cause to berate yourself for not having had your current level of confidence decades earlier.

Romantic Love is Motivating

I was struck by this paragraph in a blog post about the difficulty of breaking up.

"This brain imaging study of individuals who were still 'in love' with their rejecter supplies further evidence that the passion of 'romantic love' is a goal-oriented motivation state rather than a specific emotion" the researchers concluded, noting that brain imaging showed some similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving. "The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that romantic love is a specific form of addiction."

Good insight as to the ways in which our emotional beings can sometimes be so at odds with our analytical sides. Logically, it makes no sense to want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you. Getting the heart on board with that thought is a whole 'nother story.

Post-It Note Art

These are amazing! Truly proof that the supplies don't make the artist.

Album Tacos

'Cuz adding tacos to album covers is just so...crunchy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nice Categorization of Needs

It's wrapped in an "if you want more, do these things" structure, but the organization of needs in the middle is nice.

Language Log Debunks "The Female Brain"

Language Log is a blog by Mark Liberman and Geoffrey Pullum. In this post, they debunk some claims made in Louann Brizendine's book "The Female Brain".

A Swipe at Neurosexism

A very interesting article by Cordelia Fine points out that brain research is being misused and misconducted to support sexism. A couple of quotes:

"Jost and colleagues have found that lower status groups have a remarkable capacity to rationalize what goes against their self-interests, internalize limiting stereotypes, and find legitimacy in the very inequalities that hold them back (see, for example [12]; [11])."

"And as Cameron [5] has noted in her popular critique The myth of Mars and Venus, the effect, and also perhaps the appeal, of the idea of “timeless, natural, and nevitable” differences between the sexes is that it “stops us thinking about what social arrangements might work better than our present ones in a society that can no longer be run on the old assumptions about what men and women do.” (p. 177)"


I Finally Have an Ism to Call My Own

I like this. It resonates with me.

"Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story (say, a man with a beard on a cloud) is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position -- one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story." - David Eagleman

Check out

One More Thing the Buddhists Got Right

"It turns out that our sense of time is deeply entangled with memory, and that when we remember more – when we are sensitive to every madeleine and sip of limeflower tea – we can stretch time out, like a blanket. This suggests that the simplest way to extend our life, squeezing more experience out of this mortal coil, is to be more attentive, more sensitive to the everyday details of the world." - Jonah Lehrer, blog post "In Search of Time".

Seems like mindfulness is popping up everywhere these days... helping kids learn in school, having great relationships, and even stretching time.

Delusions of Gender

Fascinating interview with Cordelia Fine, author of "Delusions of Gender." I'm intrigued by the idea that people assign to biology/neurology anything they have trouble imagining different than it is.

Bad Apples In Your Team Are Expensive

The article is on managers' needs to balance protecting their people with maintaining their own standing. Good advice all around, but I loved this part about the effect of bad apples:

"Research by Will Felps and his colleagues on “bad apples” bolsters this point. They identified three kinds of destructive characters, whom I call deadbeats (“withholders of effort”), downers (who “express pessimism, anxiety, insecurity, and irritation”), and assholes (who violate “interpersonal norms of respect”). Felps estimates that, compared to teams without bad apples, those with just one suffer a performance disadvantage of 30% to 40%. Rotten apples sap time and energy that could be devoted to useful tasks. Their negativity is also contagious—it infects coworkers, turning them into deadbeats, downers, and assholes just like them."


Sunday, August 29, 2010

High Hurdles to Get in Raise Liking of Group

Interesting. Is this why guys are sooo loyal to fraternities?

Pay Attention to Those TV Commercials

Very interesting. TV commercials work better on us when we're NOT paying attention.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pet Cloud

So creative. Just think, you'd never have to shade your eyes with your hand.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bed Bugs Lose the Weirdness Contest

I think Isabella Rossellini's short film is even weirder than bedbugs. Love Jon Stewart's response!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Awesome Star Wars Garage Sale Sign

This is great!

Save Electricity, Snuggle Up

Fascinating. People near a loved one estimate the temperature of the room 2 degrees warmer than people not near a loved one. Grab a friend and turn down the thermostat!

Danny and Annie: a Love Story

Wow! This is the best love story I've ever seen. (Warning: requires Kleenex)

Hand Fork and Hand Spoon

I miss stumbling upon amazing design sense in Japan. That was one of the cool things about my stint there.

We Don't Like Covers

Finally, an explanation for why I've never had a thing for The Beatles doing their own stuff.

It's Sergio Mendes' fault that I sang Norwegian Wood with a Brazilian beat 'till high school. :)

Mental Whammy Works on Guys Too

This doesn't surprise me, but it's nice to have research to back up my gut feeling. Images of guys emphasizing their aesthetics make guys feel worse about themselves. Images of guys emphasizing performance attributes make them feel better.

If you think about it, it makes sense. A person has little control over how close they are to the cultural ideal and much control over getting in shape for a specific activity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ninja Gingerbread Men

Too funny.

Ink Cartridge Enterprise

Wow. This is amazing.

Camper for One

Wow. This is an amazing design.

Gotham and Meditation

Fun article by Deepak Chopra's son on his history with meditation. I can't believe he named the poor kid Gotham. Shudder.

Alan Alda On a Mission to Improve Science Communication

This is so cool. I wish the article had mentioned why he was inspired to start this program. I'm so glad someone is telling the scientific community that emotion and animation are the reasons their message is not getting through. If you had a favorite science teacher in school, dollars to donuts, it was because they were engaging.

Sleep to Remember

Not surprisingly, REM sleep is associated with better memory. We knew that, right? But did you know that the same brain areas that remember the past also light up to help you imagine the future? Oh, the implications...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why We Love Dr. Laura and Love to Blame the Unfortunate

This is a great article on our tendency to tell people whatever hurts them is their own fault.

"We don't, however, give up wanting more care, attention, protection, or love. We just stop asking for it, except under extreme circumstances. We adapt, much like camels have adapted over millennia to go for long distances without water."

The other thing blaming does is feed our denial. If I blame you for whatever horrible thing happened in your life, I can feel (blindly and wrongly) safe that it won't happen in mine.

How I Hate the Phone, Let Me Count the Ways

I just love that they're finally discovering that folk like me (introverted and highly sensitive) are they way they are because they are and not because they need to be fixed.

Last month, 64 of the 65 minutes used on my cell phone were for work. Yeah. I hate the phone.

Your Hair Records Your Internal Clock

I love this. It's the closest we humans get to come to having rings like trees. Even more interesting than being able to read a person's circadian rhythms in their hair is the finding that people's clocks didn't shift as far their schedules. That explains so much about my life!

Relationship as Stress Innoculation

The findings of this study really ring true for me. When I look around at my married friends, I see them taking bigger risks and dealing with life's blows much better than my single friends. It's not that they have better financial or familial safety nets; they just have emotional support at home.

Happiness is a Symptom, Not a Disease

Yeah. It's weird to compare happiness to disease, but the analogy fits... though kinda in reverse... Anyway, the upshot is that happiness is a byproduct of other actions in your life and not something you can go after directly.

But You Have a Pretty Face

And maybe that isn't such a bad position in which to be...

Friend Matchmaking

On the one hand, a business matching people up to be friends is brilliant. On the other hand... How sad that it's come to this. The pure matchmaking model makes some sense to me. The rent-a-friend concept makes me go eew, but I can't really come up with a logical reason why. It's just a more direct version of paying for coffee 'cuz you like the folks who hang at your local 'Bucks or that kind of thing. Still. Eew.

Forget the Shrink. Call Aristotle

This is a really interesting idea. Take your issues to a philosopher, rather than a psychologist or clergy. The author makes a really good point that many of our big life questions really are questions of philosophy, rather than dysfunctions of our psyches or weaknesses in our faiths.

Don't Let Anyone Shut You Up

Clever. And very powerful. From Indexed.

New Business Opportunities for Starbucks

Can't you just see the coffee cart splitting lanes in LA traffic?

"It's complicated and there is no quick fix."

I'm noticing that a lot of things that bug me in the world have to do with sweeping pronouncements, sweeping generalizations, and a general tendency to one-dimensionalize large groups of people and completely ignore their diversity. Looks like the nutrition folk are starting to agree with me.

(The headline is lame. Read the article.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Finger Hug

This is so sweet.

"To be sexual with someone is both an honor and a responsibility"

How much better would life be if people drummed that into their brains? About 30 seconds of thinking comes up with huge lowering of hurt feelings, reputation damage, lost friendships, etc. and a raising of the bar for all of the positive adjectives we associate with sex.

The Mathematics of Hangman

This is not what I'd call an easy read, but it's really interesting. It's also so very funny to slog through a lot of technical mathematical logic only to get to the "is the scaffold drawn first or as part of the game" debate in the comments.

Another One for the Good Guys List: Marty Klein

"He is outspoken about many popular and clinical ideas about sexuality, decrying psychology’s gender stereotypes, sex-negativity, and what he calls 'the Oprah-ization of therapy.'" That puts him on my good-guys list.

My rant: Gender stereotypes are just as damaging and dehumanizing as racial stereotypes. The sooner we all figure out that the best relating and relationship advice ever is to drop all that crap and put forth the effort to actually see the other person for who they are, the better.

Here's the rest of Marty's bio:

And a great article on being interviewed by a writer for what sounds like Cosmo and how she didn't like his answers.

Fellow females, take special note of the answer the reporter liked least. It's right at the end.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rotating Solar House

I love this idea, but not for the reasons you might think. Mostly, I just want to be able to turn whatever room I'm in towards the sun for a dose of natural light or away for a nap.


"When you are ready to pick a mate, go off the pill."

...and "take your Facebook picture mid-cycle."

Wow. The research coming out about how much hormones and hormonal birth control affect behavior is amazing. Everything from ovulating women smelling better to men to women on the pill picking different mates from women with natural hormonal cycles.


Plastic Into Oil

Obviously, it'll take more research to figure out if this process makes sense (energy to process vs. energy returned, byproducts, etc.), but it's nice to see people thinking in the right direction. If there's one thing we have lots of, it's plastic trash.

Framing Over Facts

I'm fascinated by all of the research showing that facts aren't the basis of opinions. This study found that the frame weighs more heavily than the picture.

"Whether it is politics or science, audiences rely heavily on information short cuts to reach judgments. As part of this process, research finds that how a particular message "frames" or selectively defines an issue strongly shapes public opinion. On science topics, frames of reference that make general assertions about benefits and risks often dominate debate."


Friday, August 20, 2010

The Variable Effect of Genes

The post is about Marc Hauser, Harvard Professor of Psychology, who is under investigation for scientific misconduct, but I really liked this paragraph about the effects of genes on physiology and behavior.

"Genes operate on behavior and physiology quite differently. On physiology, genes are indeed potent, determining how many limbs an organism will have, what kind they'll be, how big it will get, with relatively slight and slow-acting influence from the environment. Behavior is different. True, it's underpinned by genes, but genes don't determine it, except perhaps in the very simplest of organisms. Rather they make potentially available a wide range of behaviors (the more complex the species, the wider the range) from which the environment will select the most adaptive. It follows from this that while physiology is cumulative, behavior isn't."

When so many people are trying to blame genes and such for their behavior, it's nice to see someone point out that because we are complex organisms, we have lots of choice in how we behave.

Impatient Machine

I like it, but if I have to turn the crank to make it tap its finger, then I'm still the one being impatient. Mechanized, it would make a hilarious timer. Can you imagine trying to choose your next move on the chessboard with that thing tapping at you? Hilarious!

The Uni-Segue

This is very cool. A unicycle version of the Segue. It only goes 25 mph, so it's not my next commute vehicle, but I'm sure I need one for something. If they could drop the weight, it would be a good adjunct to a train commute. That whole power/weight thing might make that a nonstarter, though.

And the spec sheet...

Ready, Aim... Dang. Still can't get in.

Video of various padlocks being tested for gunshot resiliency. Where do I sign up to do this test? I wanna shoot padlocks. Sounds like fun.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Four Flavors of Shyness

Leave it to me to have the most difficult version of a difficult disposition. I couldn't take the easy road out. That would be too... well... easy. I'm fascinated that there are flavors of shy. That explains why we so often don't quite relate to the feelings and behavior of our fellow shyers.


And to find out how shy you are...

The Practice of Friendship

I like classifying friendship as a mindfulness practice. It's so easy to go on autopilot and miss the deliciousness of the moments together or subtle clues that you're forgetting to give and receive what you need.

Painted Hand Art

These are beautiful. Some of them require a bit of looking to find the hands.

This is Your Brain on Meditation

Very cool set of pics showing what happens to your brain as you meditate.

Beautiful Book Art

I can't do book art because I can't get past the guilt of defacing a book, but I sure do like it when other people do it. These are awesome.

Questioning Gravity

As the guy who proposed the theory says, it may come to nothing. I just really like the idea of someone out of the box enough to question gravity.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The New Normal

Having gone through some grief and trauma in the last year myself, I relate to "life after loss, the survivorship itself and how the survivor lives that life" being described as "new normal." Just the other day, I described to a friend that I felt like the pieces of me that were blown apart are reassembling differently - a different shape, some pieces gone, some added - and that I was starting to learn how to be the "new me" and accept that the old me was not coming back. My own "new normal."


Sports Bras and Support

My custom-bra-making group will find this one very interesting (custom-bras on Yahoo Groups if you're interested in such things). Check out this article on a study in England on what kind of support is needed for athletic activities. I thought the info on the direction of movement was very interesting.

Men Are From Earth, Women Are From Earth, Deal With It

You'd have to be living under a rock to have missed the Oprah-spawned Mars/Venus religion. The content and the tone in which it was written (You know those guys who just plain like women? John Gray - who by the way got his Ph.D. from a diploma mill shut down by the State of CA, not a real university - is NOT one of them.) raised red flags for me and sent me on a journey into the world of gender research. What I found was a lot of hooplah being made out of statistically insignificant differences and a few "facts" that turned out to be things pulled out of his or some earlier self-help author's ass. My education was in mathematics with an emphasis on mathematical logic. Perhaps you can see, then, why this didn't sit well with me...

As BYU researcher Dr. Spangler says, "Despite fallacies in the popular literature, the ideas are embraced because they allow people an excuse not to spend the time and emotional energy necessary to truly understand each other." Amen.

Out with the old:
In with the new:

Bright-Sided Gets Broad Sided

I've been watching the skeptical and scientific segments of the blogosphere treat Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bright-Sided" as the Truth that will set everyone free if they'd just stop being so blind and see it. As this review points out, however, there's a good bit of chaff in with her wheat.

Sex Adds Brain Cells

I wanna know if those new brain cells add to memory and cognitive functioning, or do they just sit around thinking about sex all day?

Wanna Feel Secure? Get a Woman to Touch You

A whole new meaning to "It needs a woman's touch."

Coolest Boat Ever

I'm just sure I need one of these. I have no place to put it and no place to use it, but I'm just sure I need one.

I, Too, Love the Zipper Boat

What a great idea!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chiral Coffin

I like the idea of the chiral coffin, but I still don't see the point in burying bodies vs. cremating them.

Gives New Meaning to the Term "Muscle Memory"

Researchers have discovered that muscles remember their glory days. It does seem that muscles get back to a previous in-shape state even after a long time. Maybe they've discovered why...


One Part of Me Wants To...

This is so bizarre. It turns out the two halves of your brain can have different levels of motivation. Is this where we get that feeling that part of us wants to do x and another part y?


Do Not Look Directly Into Laser With Remaining Eye

Wow. They finally brought the Linac Coherent Light Source online. I edited a bunch of papers on the concept when they first dreamed it up.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Nice Guys Finish First, But...

They don't stay nice. From a nice article on power from Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

"people with lots of authority tend to behave like neurological patients
with a damaged orbito-frontal lobe, a brain area that's crucial for
empathy and decision-making"

"This suggests that even fleeting feelings of power can dramatically change the way people respond to information. Instead of analyzing the strength of the argument, those with authority focus on whether or not the argument confirms what they already believe. If it doesn't, then the facts are conveniently ignored."


Friday, August 13, 2010

Social Stress and Inflammation

Ya ever know a really nervous person who was also always sick? This could be why...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Young Men Hit Harder by Breakups

I'd love to know if this holds true later in life. Like so many things, I'm guessing it doesn't change as much as we'd like to think it does.


A Dose of Silliness

The Great White Snark sums it up perfectly... "has everything I could want in a song about a nerd-crush: a great tune, clever lyrics, a catchy refrain, and a delightfully-out-of-nowhere twisted ending".

Italian Vogue Cover Story on BP spill

This is some beautiful photography by Steven Meisel. What a great way to use art to make a point.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Your Brain Male or Female?

They reiterate the (debunked) pulled-out-of-someone's... statistic on relative talkativeness between the sexes, but the rest of the test is kinda fun.

Blasting the Chattiness Stereotype

Measuring in natural settings agrees with the lab measurements that have been taken over the years. Now if I could just figure out how to update the mental software of the ignorami still spouting the bul$!#$ about women talking more than men....

Poor Dewey Ousted by Netflix

Very funny article on a college library dumping the Dewey Decimal System for Netflix categories. Ha ha ha!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't Call Me Sid

If my name were Sid, I think I'd change it to Cookie Monster, too.

The Cat Couch

I'm just sure I need this.

Drowning Does Not Look Like Drowning

I've spent a lot of time in the water over the course of my life and came very close to drowning a few times as a little person (which, oddly, did nothing to dim my enthusiasm for diving in again). This is info everyone should know.

Flame Thrower vs. Fire Extinguisher

These have got to be the ugliest guys ever to star in a music video. But the photography is really cool.

The 22 Levels of Evil

Twenty two is such an odd (obviously, no pun intended) number. I kinda like that he didn't try to shoehorn his scale into 20 or stretch it to 25. Gotta love a brain that's happy with 22 classifications.

Maslow Meets the Modern Age

Finally. Proof that the machines really are out to get us.

Beautiful Public Artwork Worth Every Penny

OK, they're Eurocents, but "worth every eurocent" just doesn't have that nice ring to it.

The time-lapse of the project over on YouTube is amazing. And a little heartbreaking.

Here's an article on the removal:

Yeah. We'll Clear Your Face Right Up

This is hilarious!

Gummi Bear Lamp

This is wonderful! Can you imagine how sticky everything would be if you got a roof leak? :)

The Eyes Have It

Not sure if these are cool or creepy...

Very clever T-shirt design.

Love the ripples in the stripes!

Monday, August 9, 2010

An Interesting Discussion of the Masks We Wear

OK, so it's written about men, but pretty much all of it resonated with me, so if you're not biologically male, read man as short for mankind.

I appreciate that they recognize that there is a time and place for masks but, at the same time, point out that they also need to be taken off.

Also gotta give 'em bonus points for using "sprezzatura" in a sentence.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sensory Input And Emotional Memories

They're finally getting around to finding the why behind the what we've always known. Sensory input triggers emotional memories - your significant other's shampoo, the sound of a grenade going off, etc. The memories and the processing of the input are sharing storage space.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

‘Nothing jangles a primate like crowding' - Lisa Feldman Barrett

Soooo true. And for some of us, the definition of crowding is hardly a crowd.

I hope the news that open-plan offices are counter-productive starts to perk out into the business world.

Bury Me in BBQ

This is a hilarious music video tribute to BBQ.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Will I Grow Moss Like Stephen King?

Nanoparticles from ivy may replace the metals in sunscreen. This is very cool and good for the environment. But will I start to grow greenery like that guy in the Stephen King movie (played by Stephen King himself, if I recall correctly) who had to live in his bathtub?


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Neuroscience As Seen Through Introverted Eyes

The discussion in the comments is enough to make this introvert hurl. Extroverts are *very* resistant to the idea that introversion is anything but a pathology. Sigh. The article, however, is a nice mix of recent research with personal anecdotes.

Great Use of Small Space

Love the drawers in the stairs!

A Whole New Experience of Being Thrown Under the Bus

Buses you can drive under. Really amazing. What a great out-of-the-box idea.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Music Plays Your Brain Like an Instrument

This is just so cool. It's not short, but well worth the read.

Favorite quotes:

"It’s like the brain is on fire when you’re listening to music"

"Listening to a favorite tune will light up the brain’s reward centers — and boost activity of the brain chemical dopamine, a molecule involved in desire and reward."

Listen Up, Employers!

This will surprise probably none of us.

"A whopping 48 percent of those who want to change jobs are mainly motivated by a loss of trust in their employers, according to Deloitte’s fourth annual Ethics & Workplace Survey."

Source (and more interesting info):

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Finally! An Excuse for All the Weird Stuff in My Office

I have lots of schwag and silly toys in my office. Mostly, it's a bunch of plastic crap. BUT! It's mine, and now I have a study to show that it improves my productivity.

"...superior outcomes are observed when offices are decorated rather than lean. However, further improvements in well-being and productivity are observed when workers have input into office decoration."


Dominant Hand Good, Nondominant Hand Bad

This fascinates me. "In laboratory tests, right- and left-handers associate positive ideas like honesty and intelligence with their dominant side of space and negative ideas with their non-dominant side,"

If only everyone in meetings didn't have their hands on laptops and smartphones, this could be useful in real life...


The Real Reason They Killed Off the Guy in the Red Shirt

Red shirts make you more attractive to the opposite sex. (Source: If they hadn't killed off the dude in the red shirt, Captain Kirk would have been SOL.


Don't wear it to an IQ test or when trying to be creative 'cuz it'll undermine your performance. (Source:

So much for getting dates in art class...

Friday, July 30, 2010

You Can't Eat Your Way to Sleep

No fat, no alcohol, no caffeine, no turkey... Taking all the fun out of choosing late-night snacks...

Tunnel Vision and The Blues

"inducing a good mood in the participants caused an increase in the scope of their field of vision, whereas inducing a negative mood reduced their visual field" (source:

We tend to talk about people getting fixated on a pessimistic vision and, thus, missing any and all evidence that contradicts said vision. Interesting that there's a visual-processing analogue to the psychological phenomena.

The Healing Power of Attention

"Healing an injury requires the practice of paying attention, of being with something fully, of focusing upon it over and over again without pushing it away or trying to change it. It is in paying attention that we will discover the tiny threads of healing and transformation that are developing moment to moment. It is attention, not judgement, that will help our brains rewire." (source:

This really resonates with me. I'm currently recovering from an injury, and given that patience is not in my top five strengths, have experienced a lot of frustration with my slow progress. A few times, however, I've been stopped in my tracks by someone with a better view than mine. For example, my acupuncturist always asks about my workouts and what I'm able to do. Invariably, I express frustration with not being 100%, and just as invariably, she flips back to the last appointment and points out that I'm doing better than I was.

I'm gonna try paying attention. Moving those reality checks closer together than my acupuncture appointments should bring a steady stream of moments in which to feel good about my progress.

Bring Your Inner B*#$ch to the Bar


A study shows that guys lose their ability to tell the difference between friendliness and sexual interest when alcohol enters the picture. No wonder it takes such a high level of hostility to get some of them to go away...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's OK To Be An Introvert

I'm loving the current trend in psychology towards seeing introversion as a trait (like eye color or height) to be worked with and around, rather than something to be fixed, cured, or overcome.

This is a nice discussion of the way in which connection and separation are not mutually exclusive and actually support each other.

Music Messes With Memory

Yet another case in which they could have just asked me. :)

Music is great for our moods and well being, but gets in the way when doing cognitive tasks. Well, duh.


Beautiful Transportation Infographics

I have a thing for patterns, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I really like these two infographics.

San Francisco Muni

And the restart of European air travel as the smoke from the Icelandic volcano (You didn't really think I was going to try to spell that name did you?) cleared.