blueollie

Winter on its way…

Workout notes it was in the 30′s; cloudless, when I walked to yoga. The moon was in the crescent phase and Venus was just showing off. :) For the most part, I had only my footfalls as company; on occasion an obnoxious motor vehicle disturbed the effect a bit. ;) Then yoga, (12 people, 8 men, 4 women), then a walk back; about 6-6.5 miles total.

Around the internet:

Congress continues to pick on poor old Harriet! Is a contempt of Congress charge on the way?

Well, given that this Congress has capitulated to the Executive Branch time and time again, probably not.

Of course, the Republicans haven’t changed all that much; some openly use homophobia and xenophobia in their campaigns, some refuse to let their own constituents link to their OFFICIAL OFFICE websites and some pander to the religious wingnuts to win votes (a 10 Commandments display issue in Kentucky).

Speaking of wingnuts: the results of the “golden wingnut” blog posts are in, and the winners have been announced. See how “Bush’s genius” is appreciated, how American men are “pussified”, among other things.

Liberals: recent polls show that political liberals are starting to favor Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Presidential nomination race. The fact that a Democratic conservative can appeal to people that she so openly disagrees with is a testament to her political savvy.

Of course, if people continue to play the “oh, the poor woman is a victim of all of those mean sexist males” card, she may well win more votes among the feminists, but that will hurt her badly during the general election.

Note that Pollitt’s article was written about 1 year ago!

Pakistan: Joe Biden and Bill Richardson weigh in. Biden’s video is about 14 minutes; Richardson’s is about 5.

Interesting Science Of course, all science is interesting (at least the so-called “hard sciences”), but here are a couple of conversation starters:

Some people “associate colors” to numerals on a level that makes certain digits stand out. Note this is not an “abstract number” association, as this didn’t work with roman numerals for the same numbers. And notice that some color blind people do this too! Cosmic Variance explains:

One of the talks was by local neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran, or “Rama” to his friends. (Like any good neuro person, his web page includes a fun collection of optical illusions.) He talked about his experiments with synesthesia, the phenomenon in which people see graphemes (e.g. numbers or letters) as associated with colors. I do that a little bit — five is certainly yellow, seven is red, and eight is blue — but it’s closer to a vague association than a vivid experience. Some people report very strong synesthetic reactions, and for a long time researchers have wondered whether the experience was mostly metaphorical or something stronger.

Go ahead and read the article; it is fun and interesting!

Rationalizing: have you ever wondered why people rationalize bad decisions “after the fact” (e. g., voting for Bush?) The phenomena is called cognitive dissonance. Guess what? Even monkeys do it!

For half a century, social psychologists have been trying to figure out the human gift for rationalizing irrational behavior. Why did we evolve with brains that salute our shrewdness for buying the neon yellow car with bad gas mileage? The brain keeps sending one message — Yesss! Genius! — while

our friends and family are saying,

“Well… “

This self-delusion, the result of what’s called cognitive dissonance, has been demonstrated over and over by researchers who have come up with increasingly elaborate explanations for it. Psychologists have suggested we hone our skills of rationalization in order to impress others, reaffirm our “moral integrity” and protect our “self-concept” and feeling of “global self-worth.”

If so, capuchin monkeys are a lot more complicated than we thought. Or, we’re less complicated. In a paper in Psychological Science, researchers at Yale report finding the first evidence of cognitive dissonance in monkeys and in a group in some ways even less sophisticated, 4-year-old humans.

The Yale experiment was a variation of the classic one that first demonstrated cognitive dissonance, a term coined by the social psychologist Leon Festinger. In 1956 one of his students, Jack Brehm, carted some of his own wedding gifts into the lab (it was a low-budget experiment) and asked people to rate the desirability of things like an electric sandwich press, a desk lamp, a stopwatch and a transistor radio.

Then they were given a choice between two items they considered equally attractive, and told they could take one home. (At the end of the experiment Mr. Brehm had to confess he couldn’t really afford to give them anything, causing one woman to break down in tears.) After making a choice (but before having it snatched away), they were asked to rate all the items again.

Suddenly they had a new perspective. If they had chosen the electric sandwich press over the toaster, they raised its rating and downgraded the toaster. They convinced themselves they had made by far the right choice.

So, apparently, did the children and capuchin monkeys studied at Yale by Louisa C. Egan, Laurie R. Santos and Paul Bloom. The psychologists offered the children stickers and the monkeys M&M’s.

Once a monkey was observed to show an equal preference for three colors of M&M’s — say, red, blue and green — he was given a choice between two of them. If he chose red over blue, his preference changed and he downgraded blue. When he was subsequently given a choice between blue and green, it was no longer an even contest — he was now much more likely to reject the blue.

The monkey seemed to be coping the same way humans do. When you reject the toaster, you could spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself, and that phenomenon, much less common, is called buyer’s remorse. [...]

Purity Balls: I am glad that someone else is yukked out by this.

Do you think that I am hard of some believers (mostly the religious fundies)? Well, here are places you should even think about surfing to:

Scientia Natura: Shalini doesn’t pull punches:

If they were any more stupid, they would not be able to breathe
From the lunatic nutjob cretins/theistards/liars/frauds/kooks at Answers in Genesis: [...]

Nor does she tolerate fools well:

A challenge to all theistards, kooks, goons, woos, and various idiots
A buffoon has recently started the all-too-familiar idiocy that ‘there are other better ways of knowing than the scientific one’. [...]

Of course, I agree with this blogger, who thinks that the media has given many Republican idiots and woos a pass while hammering Democrats who have kooky ideas:

[...]You think Dennis Kucinich is goofy because he believes in flying saucers? I’ve got news for you, pal: a good number of people in Congress and the Bush administration sound like they just stepped off a flying saucer. You think Dennis Kucinich is freaky because he’s pals with Shirley MacLaine? I’m more concerned with the fact that many of our legislators are pals with people who think cavemen rode around on dinosaurs, the invasion of Iraq is a moral crusade and giving huge amounts of money to rich people is the cure for poverty. And those are just the honest ones.

So now that Kucinich has been tagged and consigned to history as the Flying Saucer Guy, let it be noted that before his views on space aliens became known to Tim Russert, his views on rational healthcare, the public good and the need to evict the current pack of crooks and crazies from the White House never seemed to stir Russert’s interest. The Sunday Morning Squawkers can spend time in the company of William Kristol without gagging, and can listen to his views on the glorious success that is Iraq — and the crying need to begin bombing Iran immediately — without ordering up a straitjacket and a double-order of Thorazine, but when Kucinich speaks about impeachment and single-payer healthcare they smile at each other and make little finger-twirl motions by their temples. That Dennis Kucinich, he’s craaaaaayyyyzeee! Not like that guy who thinks God put him in the White House in order to settle the hash of Saddam Hussein and all the other dark-skinned people sitting on top of our oil. Naw, that guy’s a statesman. [...]

(my note: Kucinich didn’t really admit that he believed in flying saucers, but rather stated that he saw a flying object that he couldn’t identify; hence he saw an Unidentified Flying Object: UFO).

Also, Kucinich doesn’t silently suffer foolishness either: (ok, I just like excuses to show Mrs. Kucinich! :) )

Humor: check out yoga for zombies. Hat tip to Water Tiger.

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November 6, 2007 - Posted by | yoga

3 Comments »

  1. Too bad we don’t have more “purity balls” in this country. Then we’d birth a lot fewer future Democrats. ;-)

    Comment by vonster | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  2. Really?

    In your honor, I might call this link “News from a Red State”:

    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/no-kidding-abstinence-education-doesnt-work/

    Comment by blueollie | November 7, 2007 | Reply

  3. [...] Workout notes it was in the 30s; cloudless, when I walked to yoga. The moon was in the crescent phase and Venus was just showing off. For the most part, I had only my footfalls as company; on occasion an obnoxious motor vehicle disturbed the effect a bit. Then yoga, (12 people, 8 men, 4 women), then a walk back; about 6-6.5 miles total. Around the internet: Congress continues to pick on poor old Harriet! Is a contempt of Congress charge on the way? Well, given that this Co source: blueollie [...]

    Pingback by blueollie — 2008 President election candidates | November 22, 2007 | Reply


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