jrtom: (Default)
http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/11/02/a-piece-of-their-mind/print/

This is fascinating. I wish them well; they're going to have an interesting life, and often not in a good way.
jrtom: (Default)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/07/AR2010060703807.html?sid=ST2010061104123

I do a certain amount of this, but it's mostly informational--books and computer files. (It may be a very good thing that computers, and their hard drives, don't tend to last for more than a few years--otherwise I'd still have files back to 1990, probably.)

At the same time, having Too Much Stuff stresses me the hell out, and cleaning stuff up often feels therapeutic. And while we do have a lot of books, they're all alphabetized and in categories and on shelves. (Well, the kids' books aren't, but then the kids are responsible for putting their own books away.)

Anyway, this article is an interesting perspective on hoarding, written by someone who's been doing so their whole life.
jrtom: (Default)
Until high school, almost all of the music that I owned and listened to on the radio, and most of the music that I listened to at other times, was instrumental (mostly classical and chamber music). (At that point, my sisters decided that I'd been deprived and started introducing me to classic rock, which stuck pretty well.)

Anyway, I don't know if this is cause or effect, but I tend not to really be aware of most of the lyrics of most popular music that I listen to. It's not that I was never curious, but if I'm not specifically trying to pick out the lyrics (and often even if I am), it's not what I hear. (I also learn music much faster than I learn lyrics when I'm studying it to perform.)

Slow accretion of lyrical knowledge, plus the more recent introduction of a smartphone that can both identify songs and look up lyrics, have changed this somewhat. As a result, I've become more aware that while there's a lot of music out there that I like, much of it has lyrics that are either banal or distasteful. (E.g., I like most of Elton John's music quite a lot but hardly any of Bernie Taupin's lyrics.)

How do you listen to music? What do you pay attention to? How do you decide whether you like a given piece of music?
jrtom: (Default)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/03/AR2007090300933.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Some of the more interesting bits:
* Denying an assertion makes it more likely that people will later remember that assertion as true.
* _Failing_ to deny an assertion _also_ has that effect.
* People are lousy at remembering where they learned something, and in particular the reliability of a source.

Apparently the most effective way to counter a falsehood with a truth is to assert the truth without referencing the falsehood. Which seems like cheating, especially (I would suppose) to those with scientific backgrounds.

*sigh*
jrtom: (Default)
http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2007/07/securitymatters_0712

This is one of the more interesting articles I've read recently. Essentially the argument is that people often attribute certain motives to actions that they observe that are conservative (my term) in nature, e.g., "he's attacking me because he wants to kill me". So insofar as terrorists' objectives are in fact political rather than military, they tend not to be met because (a) political objectives require at least some cooperation, and (b) the people who are affected by terrorist attacks respond to the attacks _as_ attacks, and not as a means to get them to embrace the desired political changes.

I've not expressed this especially well since I'm in a hurry and underslept. Go read the article.
jrtom: (Default)
http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/commentary/sexdrive/2007/04/sexdrive_0427?currentPage=1

(Not really _not_ safe for work, but the title does prominently include the word "SEX" in large friendly letters.)

An interesting commentary on the psychology and sociology of sexual behavior.

A possibly revealing pair of questions:
(1) Would you describe yourself as "normal" to your friends?
(2) Would you describe yourself as such in a personals ad?

Update: I wasn't really trying to get people to answer the above questions, but the nature of the responses is interesting. I'm completely unsurprised that some of my friends would happily self-identify as "not normal"--hell, I would.

But that just comes back to the original question from a different direction: what is it that people are trying to convey when they say "normal"? Why do the people writing those ads feel a need to reassure their possible respondents that aside from their kink, they're "normal"? Why do some of my friends and I think that it's cool to _not_ be normal?
jrtom: (Default)
I, Roommate: The Robot Housekeeper Arrives

Despite the title, the article is more about this robot as diminutive companion than as housekeeper. The experience described sounds more like Asimov's dreams of the early days of robotics than anything else I've seen so far. Between the lines, you'll also see some interesting reflections on the extent to which humans really really like to anthropomorphize given the slightest excuse.

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