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The Science of Sarcasm June 3, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Life.
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Katherine P. Rankin, a Neuropsychologist, Studies Sarcasm – NYTimes.com
What you may not have realized is that perceiving sarcasm, the smirking put-down that buries its barb by stating the opposite, requires a nifty mental trick that lies at the heart of social relations: figuring out what others are thinking. Those who lose the ability, whether through a head injury or the frontotemporal dementias afflicting the patients in Dr. Rankin’s study, just do not get it when someone says during a hurricane, “Nice weather we’re having.”

“The left hemisphere does language in the narrow sense, understanding of individual words and sentences,” Dr. Chatterjee said. “But it’s now thought that the appreciation of humor and language that is not literal, puns and jokes, requires the right hemisphere.”

Pessimist? Be A Lawyer November 9, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Life, Lifestyle.
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Science Journal – WSJ.com
Optimists, the Duke finance scholars discovered, worked longer hours every week, expected to retire later in life, were less likely to smoke and, when they divorced, were more likely to remarry. They also saved more, had more of their wealth in liquid assets, invested more in individual stocks and paid credit-card bills more promptly.

Yet those who saw the future too brightly — people who in the survey overestimated their own likely lifespan by 20 years or more — behaved in just the opposite way, the researchers discovered. Rather than save, they squandered. They postponed bill-paying. Instead of taking the long view, they barely looked past tomorrow.

Surveying law students at the University of Virginia, he found that pessimists got better grades, were more likely to make law review and, upon graduation, received better job offers. There was no scientific reason. “In law,” he said, “pessimism is considered prudence.” The most widely held profession, of those elected to serve us in Washington, is the Legal profession. We are being governed by a bunch of Pessimists. If you expect the worst in everyone, then you’ll legislate accordingly. So if Optimists “saved more”, then you would expect increasing deficits from Pessimists? No wonder us Optimists give Congress such a dismal approval rating.

How We Fool Ourselves September 2, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Lifestyle, philosophy & politics, Religion.
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Forer effect – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Forer effect (also called personal validation fallacy or the Barnum effect after P. T. Barnum) is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. The Forer effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some pseudosciences such as astrology and fortune telling, as well as many types of personality tests.

A related and more generic phenomenon effect is that of subjective validation (Marks, 2000, p. 41). Subjective validation occurs when two unrelated or even random events are perceived to be related because a belief, expectancy, or hypothesis demands a relationship. Thus people seek a correspondence between their perception of their personality and the contents of a horoscope.

Kids’ Food Fussiness May Be Inherited August 24, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Food, Life, Lifestyle, Science & Technology.
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Kids’ Food Fussiness May Be Inherited – Forbes.com
Wardle said food preferences appear to be “as inheritable a physical characteristic as height.”

Unlike nearly every other phobia, neophobia is a normal stage of human development.Scientists theorize that it was originally an evolutionary mechanism designed to protect children from accidentally eating dangerous things – like poisonous berries or mushrooms.

Neophobia typically kicks in at age 2 or 3, when children are newly mobile and capable of disappearing from their parents’ sight within seconds. Being unwilling to eat new things they stumble upon may turn out to be a lifesaver. While most children grow out of the food fussiness by age 5, not all do. For parents of particularly picky eaters, experts encourage them not to cave in when their children throw food tantrums

Are We Failing Our Geniuses? August 18, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Lifestyle, philosophy & politics, Politics.
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Are We Failing Our Geniuses? – TIME
To some extent, complacency is built into the system. American schools spend more than $8 billion a year educating the mentally retarded. Spending on the gifted isn’t even tabulated in some states, but by the most generous calculation, we spend no more than $800 million on gifted programs. But it can’t make sense to spend 10 times as much to try to bring low-achieving students to mere proficiency as we do to nurture those with the greatest potential.

Video: Postcards of Secrets August 17, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Lifestyle, Religion, Streamingvideo, Video.
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Frank Warren has been requesting postcards from strangers confessing their secrets. Instead of going to a priest in a confessional, these postcards express the need to anonymously expunge those guilty feelings. Here is a 4 minute video composite of some of the more artful/powerful ones.

Powerball wife out of jail July 19, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Life, News.

Daily Independent (Ashland, KY) – Powerball wife out of jail
The wife of Powerball winner David Edwards was released from the Boyd County Detention Center on Wednesday, under the condition that she pay the $17,000 she owes in child support.

Shawna Edwards, 32, has been in the county jail for nearly a month after she was arrested on a warrant charging her with failing to make child support payments on two children she had previous to her marriage to David Edwards. She also served 10 days in jail for giving police officers a false name when she was arrested. Thanks to Melinda for sending us this one. (more…)

Powerball Winner’s Belongings To Be Auctioned July 13, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Life, News.

Spoils for sale: Lottery winner’s belongings go on the block
Can you believe this story appears on Friday the 13th? In November 2005, he was charged with possession of cocaine and heroin. Edwards pleaded guilty to possession of narcotics paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor, and the cocaine charge was dropped.

A court hearing is scheduled July 24 to determine the status of the heroin charge, according to the state attorney’s office.

Last July, Edwards’ $1.2 million home was auctioned for $400,000.

And Saturday, much of the home’s contents will go on the auction block at a Riviera Beach warehouse where Edwards spent his final days in Palm Beach County. (more…)

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature July 8, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Religion.
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Psychology Today: Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature
Men in monogamous societies imagine they would be better off under polygyny. What they don’t realize is that, for most men who are not extremely desirable, polygyny means no wife at all, or, if they are lucky, a wife who is much less desirable than one they could get under monogamy.

What distinguishes Islam from other major religions is that it tolerates polygyny. By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygymy creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don’t get any wives at all.

So polygyny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status. It therefore increases the likelihood that young men resort to violent means to gain access to mates. By doing so, they have little to lose and much to gain compared with men who already have wives. Across all societies, polygyny makes men violent, increasing crimes such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors as economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy, and political factors in the region.

However, polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombing. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and North Africa. And they do have very high levels of violence. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars—but not suicide bombings.

The other key ingredient is the promise of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. The prospect of exclusive access to virgins may not be so appealing to anyone who has even one mate on earth, which strict monogamy virtually guarantees. However, the prospect is quite appealing to anyone who faces the bleak reality on earth of being a complete reproductive loser. (more…)

Exercise Away Depression July 2, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Lifestyle, Science & Technology.

Exercise stimulates the formation of new brain cells
Exercise has a similar effect to antidepressants on depression. This has been shown by previous research. Now Astrid Bjørnebekk at Karolinska Institutet has explained how this can happen: exercise stimulates the production of new brain cells. (more…)

This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It) May 24, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Science & Technology.
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This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It) – New York Times
At some level, talk therapy has always been an exercise in replaying and reinterpreting each person’s unique life story. Yet Mr. Adler found that in fact those former patients who scored highest on measures of well-being — who had recovered, by standard measures — told very similar tales about their experiences.

They described their problem, whether depression or an eating disorder, as coming on suddenly, as if out of nowhere. They characterized their difficulty as if it were an outside enemy, often giving it a name (the black dog, the walk of shame). And eventually they conquered it.

“The story is one of victorious battle: ‘I ended therapy because I could overcome this on my own, Those in the study who scored lower on measures of psychological well-being were more likely to see their moods and behavior problems as a part of their own character, rather than as a villain to be defeated. To them, therapy was part of a continuing adaptation, not a decisive battle.The findings suggest that psychotherapy, when it is effective, gives people who are feeling helpless a sense of their own power, in effect altering their life story even as they work to disarm their own demons,” Mr. Adler said.

Food Five-Second Rule May 10, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Food, Life, Lifestyle.
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The Five-Second Rule Explored, or How Dirty Is That Bologna? – New York Times
Professor Dawson and colleagues placed test food slices onto salmonella-painted surfaces for varying lengths of time, and counted how many live bacteria were transferred to the food.

On surfaces that had been contaminated eight hours earlier, slices of bologna and bread left for five seconds took up from 150 to 8,000 bacteria. Left for a full minute, slices collected about 10 times more than that from the tile and carpet, though a lower number from the wood.

The infectious dose, the smallest number of bacteria that can actually cause illness, is as few as 10 for some salmonellas, fewer than 100 for the deadly strain of E. coli.

Of course we can never know for sure how many harmful microbes there are on any surface. But we know enough now to formulate the five-second rule, version 2.0: If you drop a piece of food, pick it up quickly, take five seconds to recall that just a few bacteria can make you sick, then take a few more to think about where you dropped it and whether or not it’s worth eating.

Born to be Fat May 10, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Food, Life, Lifestyle.
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Genes Take Charge, and Diets Fall by the Wayside – New York Times
krispy-kreme-bacon-cheddar-cheeseburgers There is a reason that fat people cannot stay thin after they diet and that thin people cannot stay fat when they force themselves to gain weight. The body’s metabolism speeds up or slows down to keep weight within a narrow range. Gain weight and the metabolism can as much as double; lose weight and it can slow to half its original speed.

80 percent of the offspring of two obese parents become obese, as compared with no more than 14 percent of the offspring of two parents of normal weight. 70 percent of the variation in peoples’ weights may be accounted for by inheritance, a figure that means that weight is more strongly inherited than nearly any other condition, including mental illness, breast cancer or heart disease. ibeatanorexia

The feeling of hunger is intense and, if not as potent as the drive to breathe, is probably no less powerful than the drive to drink when one is thirsty. This is the feeling the obese must resist after they have lost a significant amount of weight


Mega-yacht Still Marooned off Key West May 9, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, In The News, Life, Lifestyle, News.

Palm Beach tycoon’s mega-yacht still marooned off Key West
Palm Beach tycoon Peter Halmos has spent $1 million to gently free his mega-yacht from a federal marine sanctuary off Key West.

But the effort has failed. With another hurricane season beginning June 1, he may have no choice but to drag the vessel out. (more…)

If You Want to Know if Spot Loves You So, It’s in His Tail April 28, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Lifestyle, Science & Technology.
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If You Want to Know if Spot Loves You So, It’s in His Tail – New York Times
Every dog lover knows how a pooch expresses its feelings.

Ears close to the head, tense posture, and tail straight out from the body means “don’t mess with me.” Ears perked up, wriggly body and vigorously wagging tail means “I am sooo happy to see you!”

But there is another, newly discovered, feature of dog body language that may surprise attentive pet owners and experts in canine behavior. When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left

Vegan Eateries Not Just for Hippies April 28, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Food, Life, Lifestyle.
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Vegan Eateries Not Just for Hippies – Forbes.com
Once a network of grungy, obscure cafes, the vegetarian and vegan experience in some cities has blossomed on par with its carnivorous counterparts, complete with Zagat ratings and celebrity clienteles.

There are between 1,000 and 1,200 vegetarian restaurants in the U.S., almost double the number seven years ago.  Find them at http://www.vegdining.com

02:03:04 05/06/07 April 23, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, Life.

At three minutes and four seconds after 2:00 am on the 6th of May this year,

the time and date will be: 02:03:04 05/06/07.

This will never happen again.

Pointed out by Jeff Ullian.

1900 Predictions April 20, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Lifestyle, Science & Technology, Technology.
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1900 Predictions
The Ladies Home Journal from December 1900, which contained a fascinating article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years” (more…)

The Pirate Pose April 20, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Books, Business, Economy & Business, Life, Lifestyle.
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The Pirate Pose – Executive Articles – Portfolio.com
Twenty years after Bonfire of the Vanities, the author checks in on the new masters of the universe and finds them even coarser and ruder than their predecessors could have ever imagined being.

A long (7,000 word) article by Tom Wolfe on the blue jean lifestyle of this new Gilded Age creation – The Hedge Fund Manager- to launch Vanity Fair’s new on-line magazine.

Surfers Barely Rescued April 19, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Life, Sports.
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Standup To The Rescue – FKA Kiteboarding Forums
Dead of winter, a couple hours before sunset off of Northern California. You hit the 50 degree F surf looking for some great rides in head high and better swells. Instead of an epic surfing session you are flushed by too strong a current far away from land. You paddle for all you’re worth and then paddle some more to exhaustion, numbing cold and beyond. The guys in the lineup vanished below the horizon a while ago and there are no boats, lifeguards or anyone else that knows where you are. It’s just you and your bud being dragged westward towards the Farallon Islands and the cold wet unknown. Dread and cold fear take over as your options sink away. You see something small and hazy in the distance moving slowly toward you from land. What is it … ? Click on the link for the rest of the story. Thanks to Randy Marks.

Video of Life & Nature April 18, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Enviroment, Life, Streamingvideo, Video.
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Full Screen Flash Video

A slide show with music from the BBC of nature and life around the world.

Kiva.org – Loans that change lives April 11, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Business, cool stuff, Enviroment, Life.
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Kiva.org – Loans that change lives

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

Death of the Music Store April 6, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Life, Music.

Spinning Into Oblivion – New York Times
Our intention was to offer a haven for all kinds of music lovers and obsessives, a shop that catered not only to the casual record buyer (“Do you have the new Sarah McLachlan and … uh … is there a Beatles greatest hits CD?”) but to the fan and oft-maligned serious collector (“Can you get the Japanese pressing of ‘Kinda Kinks’? I believe they used the rare mono mixes”). Fourteen years later, it’s clear just how wrong our assumptions were. Our little shop closed its doors at the end of 2005.

In the late ’90s, our business, and the music retail business in general, was booming. Enter Napster, the granddaddy of illegal download sites. How did the major record labels react? By continuing their campaign to eliminate the comparatively unprofitable CD single, raising list prices on album-length CDs to $18 or $19 and promoting artists like the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears — whose strength was single songs, not albums. The result was a lot of unhappy customers, who blamed retailers like us for the dearth of singles and the high prices. (more…)


Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Life, Science & Technology.
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Edge: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE By Steven Pinker
This doctrine, “the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions—pops up frequently in the writing of public intellectuals like José Ortega y Gasset (“War is not an instinct but an invention”), Stephen Jay Gould (“Homo sapiens is not an evil or destructive species”), and Ashley Montagu (“Biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood”),” he writes. “But, now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward: Far from causing us to become more violent, something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler.” As an example:

From Wikipedia

Cat burning was a form of zoosadistic entertainment in 16th century Paris, France. In this form of entertainment, people would gather dozens of cats in a net, hoist them high into the air from a special bundle onto a bonfire. According to Norman Davies[1], the assembled spectators “shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized.”[1]

“[I]t was the custom to burn a basket, barrel, or sack full of live cats, which was hung from a tall mast in the midst of the bonfire; sometimes a fox was burned. The people collected the embers and ashes of the fire and took them home, believing that they brought good luck. The French kings often witnessed these spectacles and even lit the bonfire with their own hands. In 1648 Louis the Fourteenth, crowned with a wreath of roses and carrying a bunch of roses in his hand, kindled the fire, danced at it and partook of the banquet afterwards in the town hall. But this was the last occasion when a monarch presided at the midsummer bonfire in Paris. At Metz midsummer fires were lighted with great pomp on the esplanade, and a dozen cats, enclosed in wicker cages, were burned alive in them, to the amusement of the people. Similarly at Gap, in the department of the Hautes-Alpes, cats used to be roasted over the midsummer bonfire.”[2]

When a 6′ Tiger Shark Bites Both Feet April 4, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Enviroment, Life, Sports.
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Tiger Shark teeth are more like needles, than the typical “V’-shaped Great White’s teeth. That is why you don’t see the usual tearing of most shark attacks in these photos, even though the surfer was yanked off of his board, as he was paddling out. (Click on them to enlarge) From the bite pattern. experts estimated that this was a 6 footer. Here is his story:

sharked-foot3.jpg sharked-foot.jpg sharked-foot2.jpgMy girlfriend and eventual wife, Nat and I were in Florida visiting her family. During our stay the surf had been either flat or small, but on this day the surf had come up to overhead or better. We decided to watch the swell for awhile and wait for the tide to drop so the reef break in front of her house would build a little juice.

At about 10:00 am we put on our suits, waxed up the 6’2’s and walked the 2 blocks back up to the beach. Upon arriving, I slapped on my leash, ran down the beach to the water, and quickly began paddling through the soup as we had to go through about five rows of waves to get to the main peak. After three duck dives, I was about 30 meters off shore and still in white water, when I was grabbed from behind by my feet and pulled off my board, directly backwards. I was not shaken but was held for what seemed like forever, in fact, it was most likely two seconds or so. It was a shark…. (more…)

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