The scientific study of kissing is “philematology.”
One year ago today, April 25, 2012, I started writing The Great Dead North.
It is a post apocalyptic journal entry novel on Twitter.
When I blogged about it last year, I called it My Twitter Experiment.
Each entry is no more than 140 characters… the maximum allowed per tweet.
I post daily journal entries from the second year in aftermath of the Zombie Apocalypse.
Only a relative handful of people have survived the first year. Food, vehicles, gasoline, medicine and supplies were relatively abundant during the first year. By the second year, gasoline (a highly refined product) has ‘gone bad’ and vehicles no longer run on it. Most of the ‘easy picking’ supplies have been exhausted. Specialized ‘city folk’ are now forced to exist in a hostile environment. Our world, at best, has been plunged back into the Dark Ages. For some survivors, they have been thrown back to the Stone Age.
Please check it out on Twitter and Follow it, if you like it.
New York City has always been a place of contrast and struggle. The gap between the privileged rich and the dirt poor has never been wider. Emphasized this week by the rolling, opulent bandwagon that is NY Fashion Week. A heady, shimmering display of extravagance and indulgence. As a photographer at the event, I guess I am part of it. Helping to feed and perpetuate this glittering circus and earn a living along the way.
What’s the Latest Development?
A team of researchers from Duke University have combed through nearly three decades of standardized test scores concluding that the general level of American intelligence is increasing and that girls are closing the gender gap. The first conclusion drawn by the researchers, that intelligence is steadily increasing, is based on the Flynn effect which states that average IQs around the world have been rising at the rate of 0.3 points a year for the past eight decades. The second conclusion states that part, but not all, of the historic difference between the brainiest men and women has vanished.
What’s the Big Idea?
Whether intelligence is determined more by nature or nurture remains a debate in the scientific community. It is a debate that cannot escape the social implications behind it, such as whether one gender is predisposed to be more intelligent than the other. Concerning the disproportionately quick rise of female intelligence, “[i]t is clear that the rise itself must be ‘nurture’ of some sort—possibly a change in teachers’ attitudes towards girls who are interested in maths—but the subsequent stasis could have either explanation.”
Here’s a few “Hey, look what I learned” fun facts to bring home today.
Ever been curious about exactly how snowflakes form their intricate and beautiful designs? Well, just like no snowflake is shaped the same, no snowflake forms quite the same either.
But all snowflakes start out as a speck of dust floating in the sky, and the story rolls from there. This cool video from the American Chemical Society walks us through the process.
Oh, and if you want to see some of the many amazing designs of snowflakes, check out this slideshow.
Have a wonderful winter. Happy holidays!
Did a bit of a DVD movie marathon this weekend.
Saw a few movies which were basically more of the same. Which isn’t a bad thing, really.
They were good. I liked them a lot.
But when it comes down to it, they were… well… more of the same.
If you are a fan of this trilogy, you will not be disappointed in The Dark Knight Rises… the last installment. It may not have a villain as deliciously brilliant as Heath Ledger’s Joker… but it does have Anne Hathaway at Catwoman, and that ain’t bad.
Men in Black 3 is perhaps the most ‘more of the same’ of the three movies I saw this weekend. Josh Brolin as young K is a hoot. If you love the Men in Black franchise, you’re going to love this one too.
This is a great idea. Take a bunch of Marvel superheroes. Give them each a movie. Then roll all of the characters into one big epic smash ‘em up blockbuster. If you love Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man (and who doesn’t?) and Scarlett Johanssen as Agent Romanov (and who doesn’t?) and every other Marvel character in the other movies… then The Avengers is just the flick for you!
Continued from post What is Horror?
If the Horror genre is best defined by the intention to elicit and manipulate the emotion of fear, what then exactly is the emotion of fear?
The dictionary defines fear as: a feeling of agitation and dread caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
Persons experiencing fear display increased alertness, concentration on the source of fear, attack and fight-or-flight behaviors, and evidence of sympathetic-nerve stimulation such as cardiovascular excitation, superficial vasoconstriction, and dilation of the pupils.
These people drive me up the wall and across the ceiling!
The ones who hover around or lurk somewhere near you.
They are silent, sneaky and they make me crazy.
People who walk up behind you at the computer and then start looking at what you are doing, pretending that if it is on your monitor, then obviously it is open to the public.
And it doesn’t matter if you are reading the news or composing a personal email. Everything is open season for the hoverers and lurkers.
They can’t be that oblivious. I refuse to believe they have no concept that what they are doing is an invasion of privacy.
And it’s just creepy!
It’s not exactly stalker behaviour. They don’t concentrate their lurking and hovering to one person – they are more ‘free range.’ But it sure feels like it sometimes.
It’s weird. Stop it. Now!
As a public defender, there are people I represent… and people I don’t usually get to represent.
These are some of the people I serve.
I call them the Damsels in Distress.
They get screwed (figuratively or literally) by their families. Their boyfriends steal their money and break their hearts. Their best friends betray them and steal their boyfriends. Children’s Aid wants to apprehend their kids. The police and prosecutors want to convict and sentence them. And it sometimes seems to them that the only person willing to listen to them and help them… is me.
They’re not all angels. Believe me, they’re not. They are not actually thankful or appreciative. In the years since I’ve become a lawyer, I can count on two hands the times some of them said “thank you” to me.
But that’s not why I do it. I don’t do it for their appreciation. There is no prestige in what I do, that’s for sure. I certainly don’t do it for the money. Public defenders are the lowest paid of all lawyers. Despite what some arrogant, ignorant people may say, public defenders are not awash in the princely sums lavished upon us by the Legal Aid system.
I do it for the same reason that I can’t just sit in my deck chair sipping margaritas while watching an unsupervised toddler waddle precariously at the edge of a swimming pool. And should the tiny little terror fall in, I can’t sit there and say, “Well… I COULD help the little squirt. I just don’t want to.”
I do it because it is the right thing to do.
For centuries, scientists have studied how we go about the difficult task of choosing A or B, left or right, North or South — and how both instinct and intellect figure into the process. Now new research indicates that the old truism “look before you leap” may be less true than previously thought.
My little geeks and nerdlings over at the University of Tel Aviv have stumbled upon an interesting finding regarding instinct and intuition. 
The article begins, “Decision-making is an inevitable part of the human experience, and one of the most mysterious. For centuries, scientists have studied how we go about the difficult task of choosing A or B, left or right, North or South — and how both instinct and intellect figure into the process. Now new research indicates that the old truism “look before you leap” may be less true than previously thought.”
In a behavioral experiment, Prof. Marius Usher of Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences and his fellow researchers found that intuition was a surprisingly powerful and accurate tool. When forced to choose between two options based on instinct alone, the participants made the right call up to 90 percent of the time.
“The study demonstrates that humans have a remarkable ability to integrate value when they do so intuitively, pointing to the possibility that the brain has a system that specializes in averaging value,” Prof. Usher says. This could be the operational system on which common decision-making processes are built.
The results of their study were recently published in the journal PNAS. 
I have a healthy respect for intuition, especially women’s intuition. Not that anything and everything a woman intuits can be taken to the bank… far from it. But there are times when I will take a woman’s intuition over a man’s intellect.
Case in point, my friend Tracy. She has an almost unerring ‘gut sense’ about many things. On several occasions in the past, when I have rationally thought something out, planned it meticulously and could see no real flaw… Tracy would say “I wouldn’t do that if I were you”… based on nothing except her instincts and intuition.
She has an uncanny ‘spidey sense’ that I ignore at my own peril. Many a carefully crafted scheme has been tossed into the garbage bin because Tracy didn’t ‘feel right’ about it. Were there times when I went against Tracy’s gut feelings and it turned out ok? Sure. Were there times when Tracy was completely blindsided by something that she did not expect? Sure. She’s not psychic. She can’t predict the future. But there were many more times when I did not heed her gut feeling and I regretted it. Enough times that I learned through bitter experience to Just Trust Tracy.
There are times, however, when going with your gut leads you astray. There are times when you disregard facts and choose what Stephen Colbert calls ‘truthiness’… what feels like the truth rather than what is the truth.
Some people learned that the hard way recently.
So I will continue to make plans based on facts and figures as I know them. But… I will always run them by Tracy first!
 Personally, I use the terms ‘instincts’ and ‘intuition’ interchangeably. I am sure people could quibble with this, but if there’s a difference it’s not substantive enough for me to care about.
 Journal Reference: K. Tsetsos, N. Chater, M. Usher. Salience driven value integration explains decision biases and preference reversal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109 (24): 9659 DOI:10.1073/pnas.1119569109