Posts Tagged ‘psychology

09
Jun
13

6.9.13 … as time goes by …

time, passing of time, psychology:  Not there … yet!

They say that time goes faster after you pass sixty. No question about it, it’s true. Where are the long, lazy summers of my youth when I sat moping from morning till night unable to think of anything interesting to do? I recollect walking up to a mirror and repeating with greater and greater conviction, “Life is boring.” On such days, the old clock barely budged, just to spite me. You fool, I’m thinking today, that was pure bliss. The mystery of happiness was right there in that cheap clock your mother bought at Woolworth. Time graciously came to a stop in it; eternity threw open its doors and you hesitated or grew wary on its threshold and breathed a sigh of relief when the door shut in your face and the hand of the clock moved on.

via Explore – They say that time goes faster after you pass….

26
May
13

5.26.13 … it’s a small, small world …

packaging, small packaging, overeating, psychology:

Packaged-food makers might know the answer, even if you don’t. Aware that people snack a lot throughout the day, they continue to introduce new packaging that encourages consumers to eat their food anytime they have an urge to nibble, what some executives have dubbed “hand-to-mouth” eating.

Why is it so hard to tell how much you’re eating when you snack? Sarah Nassauer and INSEAD professor of marketing Pierre Chandon join Lunch Break with a look at why it’s hard to eat just one of anything.

The psychology behind how this affects eating behavior is complicated. Sometimes small amounts of food could drive you to eat more. There are cues savvy snackers can detect.

Hershey Co. HSY +1.48% learned that individual wrappers on bite-size candy were getting in the way of people eating candy in certain settings, like in the car. The company responded with Reese’s Minis, a small, unwrapped version of its classic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, in a resealable bag. It facilitates “I-can-pop-one-in-my-mouth, on-the-go type of behavior,” says Michele Buck, senior vice president and chief growth officer for Hershey.

via Overeating: The Psychology of Small Packages – WSJ.com.

06
Dec
11

12.6.2011 …. icbg … .. time for a second opinion … I think I will just go for the bg part … and don’t you think Jane looks lovely :)

yoga, Ayn Rand:  Makes you think …

The great appeal of yoga is that you are doing something selfish and virtuous at the same time. You are sweating and suffering and honing a “watchful mind,” but also taking a break from your daily burdens and acquiring fantastic-looking abs. And that’s the genius of Ayn Rand: She made egoism the ultimate good. What Christianity labels as the unfortunate consequence of original sin, Rand saw as man’s natural and best state. (Interestingly, while Ayn Rand’s atheism bothers conservative evangelicals, it seems to bother some of them less than does yoga, which they view as paganism parading as a health movement. John Galt, at least, would have shared their hatred of Obamacare.)

— Slate on the Who Is John Galt quasi-meme and what Aynd Rand and yoga have in common

via curiosity counts – The great appeal of yoga is that you are doing….

eternal youth, Tony Bennett, music, kudos:  Never liked him, but kudos!

In a youth-oriented industry, Tony Bennett is enjoying some of his greatest successes at the age of 85.

In September, the acclaimed vocalist scored his first-ever No.1 album on the Billboard 200, becoming the oldest living person to top the chart. Last week, he garnered three Grammy nominations for his hit album “Duets II.” And when he stopped by the Wall Street Journal’s acoustic music showcase the WSJ Cafe he talked about collaborating with such stars Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and Amy Winehouse, the British vocalist who passed away earlier this year at the age of 27.

via Tony Bennett: How To Be No.1 Your Whole Life (WSJ Cafe) – Speakeasy – WSJ.

apps, NPR:  Mu local station  has an app … which is great … now I can just pull up NPR.

NPR News: The ultimate portable NPR experience for your iPhone or iPod Touch. Follow local and national news and listen to your favorite NPR stations wherever you are and whenever you want to.

via App Store – NPR News.

Campbell Soup Company, csr, kudos: Idealistic Realistic …

Instead of making lethal cuts, we decided that our dream — our vision — was to transform Campbell into a place where employees wanted to be…and wanted to stay. You can’t have an organization that consistently delivers high performance unless you have a consistently high level of engagement predicated on trust. We needed to restore both — trust and engagement. If we could do that, then we were sure the profits would follow. There were a lot of things we changed, from the leadership team to package design — you’ve read about those. But what took the momentum at Campbell to an even higher level in terms of employee engagement happened more recently.

One of the primary things that makes Campbell a place where people want to come to work is the company’s earnest and ongoing commitment to our communities around the globe. We forged an ambitious plan to make Camden, our hometown for more than 140 years, a better place. That is what is helping employees feel more fulfilled despite even this latest economic crisis.

As a food company, working hand-in-hand with a cadre of strategic local and national partners, we centered our efforts on health and nutrition. The project, still in its infancy, is focused on cutting the BMI (Body Mass Index) of Camden’s 23,000 children in half over the next decade. It includes bringing nutritionists into schools and having Campbell’s chefs help parents think about ways to serve healthy food at home. And that is just the beginning: Today, Campbell is working to attract food retailers to Camden’s food desert — the city has only one supermarket — and helping to build neighborhood gardens to get children closer to the food supply. Campbell is also sponsoring activities for youth to increase physical fitness in schools and to help them remain active and occupied when school is not in session. And the company is developing the areas all around its world headquarters — leveling run-down buildings to attract commerce.

It is an ambitious agenda but it is right in Campbell’s sweet spot. And why not? It has advanced our corporate agenda. Focusing these efforts on food and nutrition has allowed us to smartly leverage our resources. Another part of the corporate social responsibility plan — committing to cut Campbell’s carbon footprint by half — has saved money and lowered costs. Campbell is earnestly and sincerely helping to build a better world within the scope of what the company does well. But even more than that, employees are proud to be associated with a company that is doing this kind of work, and consumers in the community and beyond have supported our efforts and our business.

The flywheel effect is astounding and ongoing: Winning in the community leads to winning in the workplace and winning in the marketplace. The more the Company takes care of the world, the more the world responds. The more the company leans into building a better society in a strategically focused way, the better the company performs.

Gallup, the polling and research firm, studied the engagement levels of Campbell’s managers back in 2002 and found that for every 2 people actively engaged in the business, 1 was actively disengaged. Anecdotally, those numbers were the worst for any Fortune 500 firm at the time. As of 2011, the story is far different: 17 Campbell employees are actively engaged for every 1 employee who is actively disengaged. Gallup considers twelve to one to be world-class.

via The Idealistic Realistic: What Really Helped Elevate Campbell Soup Company – Douglas R. Conant – Harvard Business Review.

short film:

Beautiful animated short film about a racist barber in 1930s New York, who moves away from bigotry after a magic trumpet arrives at his shop

via curiosity counts – Beautiful animated short film about a racist….

Christmas, cake balls:  This is my life for the next few weeks!

Easy to make and delicious to eat, cake balls can be made out of any of your favorite cake recipes.  All you do is make the cake, crumble it up and mix it with frosting or cream cheese then roll the cake mixture into balls, bake and dip.  But, don’t take our word for it, look at  Bakerella‘s video below.

Karen Chiumento uses only fresh, all natural ingredients in her hand made cake balls. Yes, they ship! Photo by Jacqueline Marque

Bakerella explains it very easily.  She also wrote the Cake Pops book (below) with recipes and decorating ideas. Cake Pops are Cake Balls with a lollipop stick in them!

Christmas Cupcakes, Cake Balls and Mini-Pies Baking Supplies | The Daily Basics.

journalists, media:  As a lawyer, I often feel “attacked” … never thought about the journalists feeling that way!

Writers from around the country have posted pictures and life stories at the ‘We Are Journalists‘ blog on Tumblr.

Launched  by St. Petersburg Times reporter Emily Nipps (pictured, via) the site gives journalists a place to share why they keep writing despite a challenging economy and a rapidly changing profession. Why do you keep writing?

Here’s more from the site: “We are journalists. We are proud of what we do. We are tired of bad press about the press. We are trying to be ‘team players.’ We are terrified of more layoffs and paycuts. We would like to produce quality work without ‘obamasux99′ posting some non-sequitur rant at the end of it. We complain because we want things to be better. We would like some respect, plz. We are journalists.”

via Writers Proudly Post at ‘We Are Journalists’ Blog – GalleyCat.

design, dichotomies, makes you think …:  Excellent essay … makes you think …

We’re at the apex of our power, but the nadir of our potency. Let’s start with the biggest heartbreaker of them all: We are at a moment in history when, as designers, we are at our most powerful. There is almost nothing we cannot make, enjoying the triumphs of research and development in materials science, manufacturing technology, and information systems. We can get any answer we seek through social networks, peer communities, or hired guns. We have sub-specialties at unimaginably thin slices of expertise—from ubiquitous computing to synthetic biology—and a plumbing system in the Internet that is simultaneously unprecedented in human history and entirely taken for granted.

At the same time, unbelievably, we have never been in worse shape: We are witnessing the collapse of every natural system on earth. Take your pick—on the ground we’ve got clear-cutting, desertification and agricultural run-off. Underneath we’ve got fracking and groundwater contamination. In the air, greenhouse gasses; in the oceans, ice sheet melting, acidification and Pacific trash vortices; in space we have the ghastly and ultimately impossible problem of space debris (we won’t be able to leave even when we’re ready to, and nobody will be able to get in to help us if they wanted to). We carry body-burdens of toxic chemicals leached and outgassed from our homes, our cars, our food packaging. The consequences of industrialization metastasize out to slave factory labor, massive river diversions, obesity, malnutrition, gender inequality, rampant poverty, minefields. We tax our economies with war machinery instead of fueling healthcare and education provision. We feel helpless on the one end and hopeless on the other.

How can we be so strong and yet so weak? How can it be that we, as a species, are at the absolute height of our power at exactly the same moment that we are on the precipice of self-annihilation?

via 1000 Words: The Critical Dichotomies of Design – Core77.

psychology, the mind, makes you think…: Another good essay …

If someone asked you to describe the psychological aspects of personhood, what would you say? Chances are, you’d describe things like thought, memory, problem-solving, reasoning, maybe emotion. In other words, you probably list the major headings of a cognitive psychology text-book. In cognitive psychology, we seem to take it for granted that these are, objectively, the primary components of “the mind” (even if you reject a mind/body dualism, you probably accept some notion that there are psychological processes similar to the ones listed above). I’ve posted previously about whether the distinction between cognitive and non-cognitive even makes sense. But, here, I want to think about the universality of the “mind” concept and its relationship to the modern view of cognition.

In fact, this conception of the mind is heavily influenced by a particular (Western) cultural background. Other cultures assign different characteristics and abilities to the psychological aspects of personhood. Wierzbicka (2005) delves into this problem in detail. She argues that speakers of a particular language make assumptions about what must be universal based on their own ability to imagine doing without a certain concept. Important cross-cultural differences in meaning become lost in translation. For instance, Piaget’s “The moral judgment of the child” was translated to English by substituting the French “juste” with the English “fair.” So, English readers think they are reading about the development of fairness in children, when this was not the author’s intention.

via Notes from Two Scientific Psychologists: How Universal Is The Mind?.

Christmas, Christmas carols, history:  this is a great history of Christmas carols in particular and Christmas generally.

At face value, the Christmas carol may be the least captivating style of occasional song. While other popular tunes arise from passion or desire, heroism or defeat, the Yuletide songbook is a catalog of modest thrills and postindustrial neuroses. A quick survey turns up portraits of manic stress release (“Jingle Bells”), overwrought hallucination (“Do You Hear What I Hear?”), complex Freudian trauma (“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”), desperate midlife lechery (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”), forced enthusiasm (“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”), and thinly veiled xenophobia (“Dominick the Donkey … the Italian Christmas donkey!”). It was apparently decided long ago that we can overcome these demons by frightening them away with feckless vocalization. Carol-singing, like drinking, accounts for a large part of boisterous group behavior in this country. If a large posse of merrymakers rings your doorbell in the quiet suburban night, there is an equal chance that you should call the cops or offer them a nutmeg-flavored snack.

Consider, too, that Christmas carols have no obvious counterparts among the other holidays. Large group odes are not sung in anticipation of Memorial Day.

If anything, their legitimacy as tradition has only increased in recent years. Today’s carols are one of our few genuine access points to the history of Western pop music, the centuries of mainstream fare buried beneath our own.

via The Long, Strange History of Christmas Carols – Slate Magazine.

flash sites, fashion, GILT:  I have never bought anything from a flash fashion site … new term for me … but have bought from groupon, etc.

It’s not surprising that fashion deal sites like Gilt Groupe, Rue La La and Ideeli, which often offer designer merchandise discounted up to 80%, have garnered more than 5 million members in just a few short years. Known for “flash sales”—deals that typically last just 36-48 hours—these members-only websites feature excess inventory from more than 1,000 brands at steeply reduced prices.

Gilt Groupe launched in fall 2007, and the industry has quickly become packed with competitors, with Amazon.com’s MyHabit launching in May. “There are lots of outlets that offer consumers huge assortments that take a lot of time to shop,” says Steve Davis, president of Rue La La. “The beauty of the flash business is that we’re perfect for that time-starved consumer. You can shop our site for five minutes every day. It’s a very specific, curated assortment, and we help to pick the right things for you.”

But the bargain sites aren’t just booming among consumers. In May, CNN Money reported that flash sites made $1 billion in sales in 2010, with a projected $6 billion revenue figure by 2015. As these retailers expand to include travel, home and culinary deals, TIME Moneyland asked the presidents and CEOs of the top five fashion flash sites about making the most of the online deal-hunting experience.

via Taking Advantage of Flash Fashion Sites | How Online Shoppers Can Make the Most of Fashion Flash Sites | Moneyland | TIME.com.

Jane Austen:  New picture … changed perception … This discovery reminds me of the movie Possession …

Jane Austen scholar Dr Paula Byrne claims to have discovered a lost portrait of the author which, far from depicting a grumpy spinster, shows a writer at the height of her powers and a woman comfortable in her own skin.

The only accepted portraits of Austen to date are her sister Cassandra’s 1810 sketch, in which she looks cross, and an 1870 adaptation of that picture. But when Byrne, biographer of Evelyn Waugh and Mary “Perdita” Robinson and with an Austen biography due out in 2013, was given a portrait of a female author acquired by her husband, Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate, at auction, she was immediately struck by the possibility that it could be a lost drawing of Austen.

The portrait drawing, in graphite on vellum, had been in a private collection for years, and was being auctioned as an “imaginary portrait” of Austen, with “Miss Jane Austin” written on the back. “When my husband bought it he thought it was a reasonable portrait of a nice lady writer, but I instantly had a visceral reaction to it. I thought it looks like her family. I recognised the Austen nose, to be honest, I thought it was so striking, so familiar,” Byrne told the Guardian. “The idea that it was an imaginary portrait – that seemed to me to be a crazy theory. That genre doesn’t exist, and this looks too specific, too like the rest of her family, to have been drawn from imagination.”

Byrne pointed out that Austen did not become famous until 1870, 50 years after her death, and the portrait has been dated to the early 19th century, around 1815, on the basis of the subject’s clothes. “Why would someone have wanted to draw her from their imagination, when she was not popular at that time?” she asked.

via Jane Austen biographer discovers ‘lost portrait’ | Books | guardian.co.uk.

media:

One of the coolest and most charming book releases of this year, The Influencing Machine is a graphic novel about the media, its history, and its many maladies — think The Information meets The Medium is the Massage meets Everything Explained Through Flowcharts. Written by Brooke Gladstone, longtime host of NPR’s excellent On the Media, and illustrated by cartoonist Josh Neufeld, The Influencing Machine takes a refreshingly alternative approach to the age-old issue of why we disparage and distrust the news. And as the book quickly makes clear, it has always been

via The Influencing Machine: A Brief Visual History of the Media | Brain Pickings.

 Kathryn Schulz, psychology, regret, TED: TED provides me with some of my favorite information.

My friend Kathryn Schulz, who penned the excellent book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error and who is, in my opinion, one of the finest, bravest, most thoughtful journalists working today, recently gave a TED talk about regret. As the new owner of ink that makes me very happy, what got me to pay even closer attention was Kathryn’s extended example of her own tattoo as a lens for examining the psychology of regret, a vehicle for her characteristically potent formula of universal wisdom channelled through personal anecdotes and hard data.

Make sure you watch to the very end, it’s well worth it.

via Kathryn Schulz on the Psychology of Regret and How to Live with It | Brain Pickings.

Twitter, ideal life:  I follow a couple of these …. Martha Stewart Wannabees …

 For more holiday ideas and inspirations, pop over to the rest of the #HolidayHQ posts today and discover what the experts are decorating, cooking and planning for a festive December.  And then join us on Twitter Thursday 8 December at 8pm EST for the popular #HolidayHQ tweet chat for even more holiday ideas.

http://www.housewifebliss.com/?p=1029.

Christmas, salt dough ornaments:  Add another to the list?

 

My fondest Christmas memory is sitting around our kitchen table watching my mother turn dough into works of art, she effortless hand crafted a jointed Santa Clause, an ornate rocking horse and many other keep sake ornaments while I fiddled around with gingerbread cookie cutters wondering why I did not inherit her creative gene.  While those around me are turning their kitchens into cookie factories, churning out confections for countless recipients, parties and hostess gifts, I am recreating my favourite Christmas memory and creating the most delightful decorations for our holiday tree, gift toppers and garlands.  While many of us think of salt dough crafts as the back bone of elementary school projects (and granted mine do have that air about them), artisans have been working with salt dough for centuries creating elaborate works of art using the most basic of ingredients:  salt, water, flour and paint.

viahttp://www.housewifebliss.com/?p=1029.

19
Nov
11

11.19.2011 … Downtown Charlotte tour … first stop CLS Senior art show … sites along Tryon … then Halcyon …

Charlotte, Charlotte Latin School, kith/kin, Jefferson Davis, Civil War History, Halcyon:

A little late to the CLS SENIOR ART EXHIBIT — at Spirit Square.

And then stumbled upon this on S. Tryon …

So here is what happened after he heard the news…

Jefferson Davis Memorial Park

On May 4, 1865, Jefferson Davis arrived in Washington, Georgia (178 miles NE of the Park), where he performed his last duties as President of the Confederate States of America. Shortly thereafter, with a small staff and escort, he departed enroute to the trans-Mississippi Department where, from which vantage point he hoped to negotiate a just peace.

Traveling via Warrenton and Sandersville, he reached Dublin (50 mile NE) about 11 o`clock May 7th, after being joined by his family early that morning. Leaving Dublin, he camped for a few hours near Alligator Creek (30[?] miles NE) and again four miles SE of Eastman (UDC marker at site), then he pushed on toward Abbeville, unaware that the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry (USA) had learned of his passage through Dublin and had begun a pursuit.

On the 8th, after a day of hard rains and boggy roads, his party crossed the Ocmulgee River at Poor Robin Ferry and camped in Abbeville (26 miles SW) and camped a mile N of the town in the present Jefferson Davis Memorial State Park. At dawn on May 10th, his camp was surrounded by men of the 1st Wisconsin and 4th Michigan cavalry regiments (USA) and he became a `state prisoner`, his hopes for a new nation — in which each state would exercise without interference its cherished `Constitutional Rights` — forever dead.

??? Georgia Historical Commission 19??

via Georgia Marker.

And then Halcyon … where John had Greens eggs and ham …

Thanksgiving, food-southern, menus, Hugh Acheson:  Turkey brined in sweet tea. 🙂

“Top Chef” judge and celebrity chef Hugh Acheson is known for reinventing traditional Southern cuisine with a bit of a French twist.

When he’s not dishing culinary advice on “Top Chef,” he’s chef/partner of the Athens, Ga. restaurants Five & Ten and The National, as well as Gosford Wine, and Atlanta eatery Empire State South.

He also has a new cookbook, “A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen.”

On “THE Dish,” a different famous chef each week reveals what he or she would have if they could have just one meal. That’s because for us, “THE Dish” is about the moment, the place, and the person you would share it with. It’s about the emotion behind the food, it’s about the conversation and the meal itself. We want to get to know these chefs on a deeper level and hope our viewers will, as well.

RECIPES:

ROASTED SWEET TEA BRINED TURKEY

via Hugh Acheson’s Southern take on Thanksgiving – CBS News.

art, photo mosaic:

Smile-one / Guinness World Records

Containing 137,200 photographs and measuring 1,562.39 square meters (or 16,817.3 square feet), the largest photo mosaic was created in Nagoya, Japan by Smile-one Taichi Masumoto on Nov. 16. And the finished product is pretty cute, too.

via Largest Photo Mosaic | Hula Hoops and Giant Underwear: Eight Odd Feats from Guinness World Records Day | NewsFeed | TIME.com.

Lip Service: The Science of Smiles,  books, psychology, anthropology, biology, medicine, computer science:  Another use for anthropology

Years ago, I did an undergraduate thesis on nonverbal communication and facial expression, a large portion of which revolved around the Duchenne smile — a set of anatomical markers that differentiate an authentic smile from a feigned one. The science of smiles is, of course, far more complex than the mere fake vs. real dichotomy — the universal expression of positive disposition lives on a rich spectrum of micro-expressions and nuances. That’s exactly what Marianne LaFrance explores in Lip Service: Smiles in Life, Death, Trust, Lies, Work, Memory, Sex, and Politics — a fascinating new book drawing on the author’s research at Yale and Boston College, alongside a wide array of cross-disciplinary studies from psychology, anthropology, biology, medicine and computer science, to reveal how smiles impact our inter-personal dynamics and our life experience as social beings.

via Lip Service: The Science of Smiles | Brain Pickings.

fashion, Versace, H&M:

High Fashion, Low Cost – Versace comes to H&M

via High Fashion, Low Cost | Video – ABC News.

careers, resumes, virtual badges:  OK, I thought this fascinating …

CLOTH and metal badges have long been worn by Boy Scouts, soldiers and others to show off their accomplishments.

Now the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is putting millions of dollars into a competition to spur interest in a new type of badge — one that people can display not on their clothing but on a Web site, blog or Facebook page while they are looking for a job.

The badges will not replace résumés or transcripts, but they may be a convenient supplement, putting the spotlight on skills that do not necessarily show up in traditional documents — highly specialized computer knowledge, say, or skills learned in the military, in online courses or in after-school programs at museums or libraries.

“The badges can give kids credit for the extraordinary things they are learning outside of school,” as well as being a symbol of lifelong learning for adults, said Connie M. Yowell, director of education grant-making at the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago.

Prospective employers could click on an e-badge awarded for prowess in Javascript, for example, and see detailed supporting information, including who issued the badge, the criteria and even samples of the work that led to the award.

“The badges are another way to tell the story of who you are and what you know,” Dr. Yowell said.

“What people are learning in school is often not connected to the world of work,” she said. “Badges can fill that gap. They can be a kind of glue to connect informal and formal learning in and out of school.” If valued, they might also inspire students to accomplish new tasks.

To create prototypes of these alternative credentials, MacArthur has started a “Badges for Lifelong Learning” competition that will culminate in March 2012, when the foundation will award a total of $2 million to several dozen winners, Dr. Yowell said.

In addition, the federal Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs will jointly award $25,000 for the best badge concept and prototype that serves veterans seeking jobs.

In preparation for the contest, MacArthur has also given $1 million to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation to develop a common standard or protocol for the badges.

Developers will use this protocol so that their badges will work across the Web on various platforms, no matter which organization is awarding them, just as e-mail works across the Internet regardless of the particular program used, said Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation in Mountain View, Calif.

“People will be able to take courses at a dozen places, and then put the badges from these different places on their Web site,” he said.

The badges can be verified in several ways. For instance, a badge can include a verification link that makes it possible to check with the issuer about authenticity and status, should the badge have an expiration date.

The Mozilla Foundation supports the development of free software that can be used throughout the Web. It owns the Mozilla Corporation, creator of Firefox, the open source Internet browser.

Mr. Surman’s group tested an early version of the badge system this spring at the School of Webcraft at Peer to Peer University, an online school offering free courses organized by peers, said Erin B. Knight, who works on the badge project for the Mozilla Foundation. Students in the pilot program were awarded badges in Javascript, HTML, teamwork, collaboration and other areas.

Many organizations, including NASA, Intel and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, are collaborating with MacArthur in the competition, providing information about their programs and activities that could be the basis for badge awards, said Cathy N. Davidson, a professor at Duke University and co-administrator of the competition.

NASA, for example, has educational programs in robotics for young people that might be suitable content for badges.

Designers have until Jan. 12 to submit their ideas for badge prototypes. Design winners will be paired with content providers to compete for the final awards, Dr. Davidson said.

Independent of the MacArthur contest, one company, TopCoder, in Glastonbury, Conn., has been awarding its own version of digital badges for several years. It holds online programming competitions that offer cash rewards, said Mike Lydon, its chief technology officer. Many of the programs become commercial products that are sold or licensed to customers like I.B.M.

TopCoder competitors who do not win cash awards can still obtain a useful credential, Mr. Lydon said — a digital emblem that, when clicked on, gives statistics about their prowess relative to others. Competitors use screen names that let them preserve their anonymity, but also share scores with prospective employers when the scores are ones they are proud of.

It is an extremely helpful badge to include in job searches, Mr. Lydon said.

“Rather than saying ‘look me up,’ ” he said, “people have this transportable widget at their Web site.”

via Digital Badges May Highlight Job Seekers’ Skills – NYTimes.com.

toys, gifts:  I did not think any of these interesting … KidsPost Holiday Toy Test – The Washington Post.

quote, Einstein, Disney, Jobs, Picasso: … ” It’s a real genius to tie art, emotion and technology together.”

I think that Einstein was in a different orbit. Steve was equal to Walt Disney or Pablo Picasso. Disney was probably the closest to Steve. The real genius of these men was that they were able to create an emotional connection with their products. Bob Dylan does the same with music; Picasso with art. It’s a real genius to tie art, emotion and technology together.

— The New York Times’ Nick Bilton has a great one-on-one interview with Walter Isaacson, author of the highly anticipated Steve Jobs biography

via curiosity counts – I think that Einstein was in a different orbit…..

‘sleep texting’:  Oh, my …

Doctors are seeing more cases of sleep deprived patients who are sleep texting.

Sleep expert Dr. Marcus Schmidt tells WTHR-TV that sleep deprivation can trigger common motor behaviors during sleep, including reaching for the phone when it goes off. Schmidt suggests keeping your cell phone away from the bed while you are sleeping, maybe even in another room.

Schmidt admits the phenomenon is new, so there isn’t a lot of empirical data to go with it.

via Doctors noting increase in ‘sleep texting’ | KING5.com Seattle.

graphics, web typeface:  for the real computer nerds …

There are those points in every interactive designer’s career when he becomes fed up with producing the same set of graphics all over again for every website he designs. It could be the social network icons, gallery arrows or any number of his «signature» butterflies for the footer of each of his projects. Similar for interactive developers that have to slice the same GIFs and PNGs each time art-director asks them to.

Until now. We want creative people to spend time on creative things. So we came up with the typeface that includes all frequently used iconographics and symbols. Although, the idea is not hot-baked — Webdings and Windings have been around for quite a time — all of them have a lot of unnecessary and sometimes actually scary symbols.

Web Symbols is a set of vector html-compliant typefaces, so it might be used in any size, color and browser (okey, mostly — but IE7 for sure).

via Web Symbols typeface.

street art, 3D street art: 🙂

3D pavement art: 3D painting by Joe Hill at Canary Wharf

3D street art around the world – in pictures

British artist Joe Hill’s creation has broken records for the longest and largest surface area 3D painting, according to Guinness Book of World Records. We take a look at some other great examples of 3D street paintings, from crevasses in Ireland to shark-infested waters in China

via 3D street art around the world – in pictures | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.

movies, holiday movies, kids’ movies:  I have heard that Hugo is good … mixed on the Muppets.

T he weeks between Thanksgiving and the new year provide lots of opportunities to go to the movies, and this year is no different. Here’s a look at some films made for kids that might be worth an outing for the entire family.

“Happy Feet Two”

“Arthur Christmas”

“Hugo”

“The Muppets”

“The Adventures of Tintin”

via Family-friendly movies for the holidays – The Washington Post.

12
Oct
11

10.12.2011 … 6 am flight to Charlotte … busy day … great trip …

GOP Primaries, journalism, fact checking:  OK, I really like it when the fact checkers go to work. Fact Checking the Post-Bloomberg debate – The Fact Checker – The Washington PostRepublican New Hampshire Debate Fact Check – NYTimes.com.

Fall, tradition, news, random:  How embarrassing!

Authorities in Massachusetts say a family that got lost in a seven-acre corn maze called 911 for help, apparently taking advantage of the police department’s motto that says “We Want To Be Bothered.”

The maze at Connors Farm in Danvers has pathways totaling seven-miles long and can take up to an hour to navigate.

A police officer and his dog entered the maze with a farm manager on Columbus Day to search for the disoriented father, mother and two children, including a three-weeks-old infant. The family didn’t realize they had almost made their way out and were just 25 feet from the street.

It took the search party about 10 minutes to find the family. They were helped by a police dispatcher who stayed on the phone with the caller and asked the couple to yell for help to enable those looking for them to identify their location.

“Never again!” the woman is heard telling the dispatcher on police tapes. “We thought this would be fun, instead it’s a nightmare.”

via Family lost in Mass. corn maze calls 911 for help  | accessAtlanta.

technology, digital media, textbooks, education: Tailoring textbooks …

For his marketing course at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Daniel Flint wanted his students to read a white paper on public relations, a couple of case studies, an industry report, and a chapter of a forthcoming book.

So he created a textbook with just that—more than 100 pages of material in one customized package for his students.

Mr. Flint, a professor of marketing at the university, used a new build-your-own-textbook service called AcademicPub, which arranged payment of royalties and compiled the material for publication. His students were given three options for buying the book: Download a digital edition for $14.95, get it in paperback for $27, or go for the hardcover for $45.

The companies that make traditional textbooks have been increasing their custom-publishing offerings as well. Just last year, McGraw-Hill Higher Education unveiled Create, a Web service that lets professors pick passages from thousands of the company’s textbooks, as well as law and business case studies, to make a customized edition. “We think the more all this becomes digital, the more people will want to customize,” Ed Stanford, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education, told The Chronicle at the time. “And we want to be able to do that.”

Macmillan Publishers has its own build-a-textbook service, too, called DynamicBooks, which offers instructors the chance to add their own material to the company’s titles. DynamicBooks also gives professors $1 for each student who uses a customized copy.

Traditional publishers still customize printed books, too. Melonie D. Rasmussen, a professor of mathematics at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, in Washington, recently used a copyrighted statistics textbook for which she didn’t need all the chapters. So she contacted the publisher and asked for a shorter, cheaper book. “And they’ve been willing to do that,” she said.

Ms. Rasmussen is also part of the state’s Open Course Library project, and she has been using open content for years, but so far she is part of a small minority.

The question now is whether customization could move into the mainstream, ending the one-size-fits-all model of textbook publishing.

via New Digital Tools Let Professors Tailor Their Own Textbooks – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Lucifer Effect, psychology:

This vintage stunt from a 1962 episode of Candid Camera makes for a good laugh. But it also captures something important about human psychology — something that social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, famous for his Stanford Prison Experiment, describes on a website related to his 2007 book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. He writes:

One of the most popular scenarios in the long history of Alan Funt’s ingenious Candid Camera programs is “Face The Rear.” An elevator is rigged so that after an unsuspecting person enters, four Candid Camera staff enter, and one by one they all face the rear. The doors close and then reopen; now revealing that the passenger had conformed and is now also facing the rear. Doors close and reopen, and everyone is facing sideways, and then face the other way. We laugh that these people are manipulated like puppets on invisible strings, but this scenario makes us aware of the number of situations in which we mindlessly follow the dictates of group norms and situational forces.

Often times, the mindless submission to group norms has entirely innocuous results. But, in other cases, it can lead to “good people engaging in evil actions.” Witness what happened within the controlled environment of the Stanford Prison Experiment. Or, worse, the devastating abuses at Abu Ghraib, which brought otherwise average people to commit atrocious acts. For more read The Lucifer Effect.

via The Power of Conformity | Open Culture.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, frenemies:

In 1997, Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld in Boston. It was one of his first public appearances after returning to the ailing company he’d left more than a decade earlier. Halfway through his presentation, he dropped a bombshell: Apple was teaming up with Microsoft. The audience of Apple fans jeered and booed. Microsoft was Apple’s archenemy; Bill Gates was evil incarnate. There wasn’t a worse partner for Apple. Gates appeared at the event via satellite, his face looming high over Jobs like Big Brother in Apple’s iconic 1984 TV ad.

It seemed an unlikely match, but in fact Jobs and Gates went way back. They met in the early ’80s, when Gates was one of the first software developers for the Macintosh. As Gates noted while paying tribute to Jobs after his death, they would go on to spend half their professional lives in each other’s orbit. They even went on double dates together.

Gates was an early evangelist of the Mac and enthusiastically boosted the platform. Jobs was so pleased, he lent Gates a prototype machine to work on. Gates called it SAND (Steve’s Amazing New Device). Soon, though, both companies were suing each other over copyright issues. The lawsuits led to nearly a decade of acrimony, insults, and taunts.

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste,” Jobs once said. “I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way.”

After Jobs died, Gates was one of the first to eulogize him. “Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago and have been colleagues, competitors, and friends over the course of more than half our lives,” he said in a statement. “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor.”

via The Best of Frenemies – The Daily Beast

children, development, depression, anxiety:  What are we doing to our kids …

An article in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Play details not only how much children’s play time has declined, but how this lack of play affects emotional development, leading to the rise of anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self control.

“Since about 1955 … children’s free play has been continually declining, at least partly because adults have exerted ever-increasing control over children’s activities,” says the author Peter Gray, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology (emeritus) at Boston College. Gray defines “free play” as play a child undertakes him- or her-self and which is self-directed and an end in itself, rather than part of some organized activity.

Gray describes this kind of unstructured, freely-chosen play as a testing ground for life. It provides critical life experiences without which young children cannot develop into confident and competent adults. Gray’s article is meant to serve as a wake-up call regarding the effects of lost play, and he believes that lack of childhood free play time is a huge loss that must be addressed for the sake of our children and society.

via All Work and No Play: Why Your Kids Are More Anxious, Depressed – Esther Entin – Life – The Atlantic.

Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy,  strip search, jailhouse dignity:  Shuffling of the court …

WASHINGTON — There was so much talk of anal cavities at the Supreme Court Wednesday morning that Justice Antonin Scalia asked, “You want us to write an opinion that only applies to squatting and coughing?” The comment provoked groans in the courtroom. But the groans could have just as easily applied to oral argument itself in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, which did more to confuse than enlighten the justices about the constitutionality of a jail’s routine strip-searching of all newly admitted arrestees, regardless of the gravity of their alleged offense.

In 2005, Albert Florence and his family were driving to his mother-in-law’s house when police pulled the car over. He was arrested, handcuffed and carted off to jail — all because a New Jersey county had failed to scrub from its system a civil contempt order for failure to pay a fine that he had since paid in full.

Upon his entry to the jail, Florence was instructed to open his mouth, take off his clothes, lift and rotate his genitals, and shower in front of an officer. Six days later, he was transferred to another facility where he went through a similar search, except this time it was conducted with other detainees present and he was asked to squat and cough.

When Florence was finally released a week after his arrest, he sued the facilities and their officers, arguing that they had violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches.

At this point, Kennedy tipped his hand. “It seems to me that your rule imperils individual dignity in a way that the blanket rule does not,” he said, referring to the policies of the New Jersey county jails who strip-searched every arrestee regardless of suspicion.

“Dignity” is Kennedy’s guiding light on the Court, and he will vote for whatever side respects the individual’s dignity the most. And according to Kennedy, Goldstein’s rule, which would be applied on a detainee-by-detainee basis, might lead to strip-searches “based on the person’s race” or other arbitrary and constitutionally forbidden affronts to personal dignity.

via Supreme Court Strip Search: Justice Kennedy May Be Swing Vote On Jailhouse Dignity.

economy, peanut butter:  I can deal with peanut butter price hikes more than gasoline.

How about just a jelly sandwich? A peanut shortage means that food manufacturers are paying roughly double what they paid for peanuts last year. In the coming weeks, that price increase is expected to be passed along to consumers in the form of peanut butter that’s 25% to 40% more expensive.

The problem started last spring, when many farmers in states such as Georgia and Texas decided to plant cotton rather than peanuts—because cotton was selling at record-high prices at the time. Over the summer, according to a story published in the Kansas City Star, drought and disease hurt the peanuts that were planted, resulting in a small harvest.

While the peanut supply has dropped, demand has risen over the past few years because, as every frugal mom and bare-bones-budget college student knows, peanut butter is a much cheaper source of protein than meat.

Soon, though, peanut butter won’t be quite as good a bargain. The wholesale price of peanuts has soared from $450 a ton to $1,150 per ton, and the net result will be much more expensive jars of peanut butter lining supermarket aisles

via Prepare to Shell Out: Peanut Butter Price Hike Coming | Moneyland | TIME.com.

War on Terror, news:  Bold plot on US soil …

The alleged plot to carry out an assassination on U.S. soil would represent, if proven, a significant escalation of a long-running covert struggle between Iran and the West that has included industrial sabotage, terrorist bombings and the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists.

It also would reflect a radical shift in tactics for a country that usually prefers to leave its dirty work to proxies.

Two people have been charged with conspiracy to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. A federal criminal complaint in New York says the two conspired to use a weapon of mass destruction and have ties to Iran. (Oct. 11)

The Obama administration on Tuesday directly accused Iran and its elite Quds Force of backing the alleged attempt to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, using hit men from a Mexican drug gang. The allegation plunged U.S.-Iranian relations into crisis and sent U.S. officials scrambling in search of new punitive measures to impose against a country that has already been hit with multiple rounds of sanctions.

via Alleged plot is uncharacteristically bold – The Washington Post.

Francis Bacon,  Rembrandt, art:  Inspiration … dark inspiration.

IN 1962 Irving Penn, an American photographer, went to visit Francis Bacon at his studio in London to make a portrait of him. The photograph he took shows Bacon clasping the front of his dark shirt and gazing up and away. Hanging on the wall behind his right shoulder, bent and creased and covered in paint, is a reproduction of a sombre, unfinished painting by Rembrandt, “Self-portrait with Beret” (pictured), from about 1659.

Bacon’s debt to Rembrandt’s self-portraits is the subject of “Irrational Marks”, the first show at Ordovas, a new gallery on Savile Row in London. Pilar Ordovás, the gallery’s owner is something of an art-world wunderkind, responsible for the sale of Lucian Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” for £21m in 2008. She has also managed Gagosian in London, and handled the estate of Valerie Beeston, who worked with Francis Bacon at the Marlborough Gallery. This exhibition shows intent: to put on contemplative considered exhibitions, as well as to be an art boutique with commercial clout.

The exhibition is tiny and tightly focused. On the ground floor there are just six works by Bacon, including two triptychs, along with the Rembrandt painting he liked so much and Penn’s photograph. Downstairs in the basement are three working documents from Bacon’s studio—all reproductions of Rembrandt self-portraits—and a short excerpt from “Sunday Night Francis Bacon”, a film from 1966 in which the painter speaks to David Sylvester, an art critic.

Bacon revered “Self-portrait with Beret”. It is an exercise in shadow and texture. The rough ruddiness of Rembrandt’s ageing cheek is no more than a patch of vertical lines scratched into the paint; his coarsened and wrinkled forehead crafted from layers of thick impasto in pale yellow and mottled red. Sections are left unpainted, allowing the ground colour to contrast with the brown pigments in a play of light and dark. But it was the eyes that fascinated Bacon. In the interview with Sylvester he says “If you analyse it, you will see that there are hardly any sockets to the eyes, that it is almost completely anti-illustrational.”

via Bacon and Rembrandt: Dark moments of self-appraisal | The Economist.

tragedy, news:   Man who served 10 presidents dies in his own squalor … tragedy.

The District’s Office of the Inspector General is looking into whether city agencies could have done more to prevent the death of Theodoric C. James Jr., the longtime White House employee whose friends and family had for months tried to get him help.

James, who had served under every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, had been showing signs of instability for about two years before he was found dead Aug. 1 inside his home during a brutal heat wave. He had stopped bathing. He wore the same tattered and fetid clothing. He went to the bathroom in buckets on the front porch of his Northwest Washington home.

Concerned that James, 71, was a threat to himself, his family and neighbors called every city agency they could think of, including Adult Protective Services, the Department of Mental Health, council members and the mayor’s office.

But James repeatedly turned the city’s social workers away, saying he did not want help.

via Squalid death of man who served 10 presidents being examined by District’s IG – The Washington Post.

Oprah Winfrey, Lifeclass:  Anybody watched a Lifeclass?

Oprah’s Lifeclass Tonight at 8/7c on OWN

In tonight’s lesson, Oprah talks to Cybil Shepherd and more women about aging and beauty. It’s time to apply their learning to your own life. And, tune in Friday for a live webcast at 9/8c.

via Oprah Winfrey’s Official Website – Live Your Best Life – Oprah.com.

Apple iOS5 software:  Upgrading … definitely …

You can use iCloud to synchronize your data, including music and photos, across your Apple devices.

The ability to edit photos right on the phone. This includes red-eye removal, cropping and auto enhancement of whole pictures.

iMessage, a new, free text-messaging service exclusive to users of iOS 5. It detects whether you are using the new system and routes a text message over the Internet instead of using the standard cellphone text services. It allows group messaging and notifies users when messages are read and/or delivered.

Built-in Twitter support. Without adding a Twitter app, you can tweet directly from within functions like photos, maps, the browser and YouTube.

Notifications of alerts, messages and dates can be gathered together in a drop-down panel, or can appear briefly at the top of the screen instead of displaying one at a time in a box that blocks your screen.

There’s quick access to the camera, by simply double-clicking the home button, even if the phone is asleep. And you can use the volume up button as a shutter button.

On the iPad, the browser has tabs, and you can split and move the onscreen keyboard to make thumb typing easier.

You can create customized typing shortcuts, such as “tks” for “thanks.”

In Mail, you can now format words so they appear in bold, italics or underlined.

Apple iOS5 software:  Upgrading … definitely …

via New Apple Software Adds Features to Older Phones – Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret – Mossblog – AllThingsD.

interior design,  blogs, lists:  Some new blogs to check out … need some help in the intereior design area.

Our Editor-in-chief, Cynthia Bogart, has been asked to moderate a panel speaking at the D & D Building  (The Decorating & Design Building ) in New York City tomorrow at 1 pm at the  Koroseal Showroom.

The panel consists of four very good interior designers who also happen to blog.  Why is that great?  These pro’s  – all of them, are BLOGGING.  Blogging means they are sharing their personal likes, dislikes and information you would otherwise only learn if you were talking to them in person.    These particular four are generating original interesting information.  They were chosen very carefully for this panel because they are considered trendsetters.  In other words, they have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening.

via Four Great Interior Design Blogs That Will Inspire You!.

travel, fall, empty nesters, lists:  Can’t wait or fall trips when we are empty nesters!

Cooler temperatures, striking colors, smaller crowds—autumn is the perfect time to travel, and here are ten of the best fall trips, picked by National Geographic Traveler editors. Where do you want to go this fall? Share your travel plans—real or ideal—below

via Best Fall Trips 2011 — National Geographic.

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10.2.2011 … I just saw regular unleaded gasoline for $2.92 in Spartanburg South Carolina … Mamma’ s birthday #85 has been celebrated and it was a grand event …

kith/kin: Mamma’ s birthday #85 has been celebrated and it was a grand event.  Prime at Lenox Square was a great choice.  Great to be with the siblings and my wonderful eighty-something mom.  She has the best mind I know.  And we did not discuss the Braves.

gasoline prices, travel: I just saw regular unleaded gasoline for $2.92 in Spartanburg South Carolina.

Occupy Wall Street Movement, bankers v. revolutionaries, Wall Street v. Main Street:  I hard on NPR that this movement was the liberal’s tea party before it gt politicized.

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement has taken over a park in Manhattan’s financial district and turned it into a revolutionary camp. Hundreds of young people chant slogans against “banksters” or corporate tycoons. Occasionally, a few even pull off their clothes, which always draws news cameras.

“Occupy Wall Street” was initially treated as a joke, but after a couple of weeks it’s gaining traction. The crowds are still tiny by protest standards — mostly in the hundreds, swelling during periodic marches — but similar occupations are bubbling up in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. David Paterson, the former New York governor, dropped by, and labor unions are lending increasing support.

I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.

“This was absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement,” said Tyler Combelic, 27, a Web designer from Brooklyn who is a spokesman for the occupiers. “Enough is enough!”

via The Bankers and the Revolutionaries – NYTimes.com.

Anwar al Awlaki, justified killing, war on terror, slippery slopes:  This killing of  a US citizen is going to be debated … “due process in war.”

Anwar al Awlaki’s rise from American-born cleric to key terror plotter had put him atop the U.S. terror “hit list.” Under the code name Objective Troy, intelligence tracked Awlaki for months near his hideout in Yemen.

Early Friday, a CIA drone found its target.

The Washington Post reports that a secret Justice Department memo sanctioned the killing of Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who became an al Qaeda propagandist and operational leader.

The document followed a review by senior administration lawyers of the legal issues raised by the lethal targeting of a U.S. citizen. Administration officials told the Post that there was no dissent about the legality of the killing.

The administration has faced criticism – and a legal challenge – over its targeting of Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents. The memorandum may represent an attempt to resolve a legal debate over whether a U.S. president can order the killing of American citizens.

With regard to the killing as a counter-terrorism measure, the memo deems, in the words of one officials, “due process in war.”

The killing of a U.S. jihadist

“The administration has tried to make very clear that this was an act of self-defense, that Awlaki was part of not only al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, but he was the external operations chief. He was ongoing in his plotting against American citizens – not only having done so in the past, but continuing to do so in an imminent way,” said CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate.

“So based on the rules of self-defense, based on the principles that we’re at war with al Qaeda and the fact that he was a part of the group, self-professed, all of that suggests that it’s lawful and appropriate to go after him and to kill him,” Zarate said.

When asked if the drone attack against a U.S. citizen – in effect, execution without trial – sets a precedent, Zarate said, “It’s a good question – you run the risk of a slippery slope here. I think people are asking very appropriate questions about what the limits of the government’s power can be in terms of going after Americans who are part of al Qaeda, and we’ve seen in the recent past that Americans have formed more and more part of the al Qaeda network – not just Anwar al-Awlaki, but others. There are important questions to ask about what the process is and what the procedures are to determine who is an imminent danger to the United States.”

via Justice memo authorized killing of Al-Awlaki – CBS News.

Former President Bill Clinton, President Obama, history:  They always say history repeats itself.  I am amazed how Bill Clinton seems to keep himself in the press. … “vigorous defense of President Barack Obama against what he calls the same anti-government stance he faced during his campaign and presidency.”

Bill Clinton is using the 20th anniversary of the launch of his presidential bid to offer a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama against what he calls the same anti-government stance he faced during his campaign and presidency.

Clinton told a crowd of about 5,000 people gathered outside the Old State House Museum in downtown Little Rock that Obama faces a different set of challenges than he did in 1992. But Clinton says Obama faces the same debate over the role of government.

Clinton spoke at an event marking the anniversary of his 1991 announcement that he’d run for president. He told the crowd that he decided to run because he believed the country needed a new kind of politics and a new economics.

via Clinton: Obama faces same debate from ’92 bid – CBS News.

Groupon, deal sites, marketing:   “Fading allure?”

Shopping coupons have a long history, and they will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in local merchants’ efforts to attract customers. But what has become apparent is a basic contradiction at the heart of the daily deals industry on the Internet.

The consumers were being told: You will never pay full price again. The merchants were hearing: You are going to get new customers who will stick around and pay full price. Disappointment was inevitable.

Some entrepreneurs are questioning the entire premise of the industry. Jasper Malcolmson, co-founder of the deal site Bloomspot, compares the basic deal offer with lenders’ marketing subprime loans during the housing boom.

Even worse from the merchants’ point of view, the popularity of the coupon sites fed a relentless bargain-hunting mentality among customers that did not use them. “Every day, we get an e-mail or phone call saying, Can we match someone else’s price?” said Ms. Bengel of Wellpath. “We’re not Wal-Mart.”

And the long-term reputation of the merchant may be at risk, according to a new study by researchers at Boston University and Harvard that analyzed thousands of Groupon and Living Social deals. The researchers found that fans of daily deals were on average hard to please. After they ate at the restaurant or visited the spa, they went on Yelp and grumbled about it. This pulled down the average Yelp rating by as much as half a point.

“Offering a Groupon puts a merchant’s reputation at risk,” said John Byers, a professor of computer science at Boston University who worked on the project. “The audience being reached may be more critical,” he said, “than their typical audience or have a more tenuous fit with the merchant.”

Even Amazon, the retailing juggernaut, has found quick riches are elusive. Its response in New York has been tepid. A subscription to The New York Observer had 84 takers, as did a “Sex and the City” tour. A Latin cooking class attracted 61 people, an Asian bistro 109.

Kevin Walters, manager of the Creole Restaurant and Music Supper Club on Third Avenue in Manhattan, said he was “very, very surprised” to sell only 77 deals through Amazon. “It should have been huge,” he said. Amazon declined to comment.

Despite the lackluster response, Mr. Walters will probably try another coupon. “I’m in East Harlem,” he said. “If the rest of the economy is shaky, then East Harlem is depressed. One way or another, I need to get people here.”

via Deal Sites Have Fading Allure for Merchants – NYTimes.com.

John F. Kennedy, Cold War, bomb shelters, Peanut Island, FL, history: I have toured the shelter for Congress at the Greenbriar and it was very interesting.  If I were nearby, i would probably go see this one.

President John F. Kennedy, who was facing a series of nail-biting face-offs with the Soviets, even recommended a fallout shelter for all Americans “as rapidly as possible” in an October 1961 speech. Two months later, Kennedy was presented with his own top-secret tropical bomb shelter off Palm Beach, Fla., on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean.

Few even know it is here, but some area residents believe that the bunker is a must-see attraction that could put Peanut Island, a manmade islet, on the map.

Termed the “Detachment Hotel” in documents, the fallout shelter here was built by Navy Seabees in less than two weeks at the end of December 1961 and sits a short stroll from a rambling colonial-style house that doubled as a United States Coast Guard station. Deftly camouflaged by trees, it was hard to spot. If people asked, they would be told it was a munitions depot, nothing more. Kennedy visited the bunker twice during a drill.

“The government never declared it existed until 1974,” said Anthony Miller, a member of the executive board of the Palm Beach Maritime Museum, a nonprofit organization that leases part of the land on Peanut Island and runs a charter school and gives tours of the bunker and the former Coast Guard station. “But it was the worst-kept secret in Palm Beach.”

With the Soviets intent on shipping nuclear warheads to nearby Cuba, Kennedy was assured a radiation-proof haven a mere five-minute helicopter hop from his oceanfront winter home on millionaire’s row in Palm Beach. Peanut Island sits just between Palm Beach and its ritzy companion, Singer Island. It was intended to be used as a terminal for shipping peanut oil; that never happened, but the name stuck.

To ensure the president’s safety during the summer, when he visited the Kennedy compound on Hyannis Port, Mass., a sister shelter was built on Nantucket Island in 1961; it has never been open to the public.

The Florida bunker, which fell into disrepair in the 1990s, was cleaned up and has been open for tours since 1999, shortly after the museum leased the land. Buried under layers of concrete and built with quarter-inch-thick walls of steel and lead, the bunker looks like something out of the television show “Lost.”

via For Kennedy, a Secret Shelter Was a Cold War Camelot – NYTimes.com.

Gov. Mitt Romney, politics, political strategy, 2012 Presidential Election:  Maybe his strategy is to play both sides … and to me closing loopholes seems like a fair way to solve the tax shortfall because loopholes are usually geared to a special interest group.

Much of the business community in Massachusetts was puzzled. Mitt Romney, a Republican with high-caliber corporate credentials, had run for governor pledging to sweep aside barriers to business and act as the state’s “top salesman.”

Gov. Mitt Romney in 2005. By the next year, he was in campaign mode and had scaled back a plan to close tax loopholes.

But just a few months after Mr. Romney took office in 2003, what he delivered seemed anything but friendly to the C.E.O. crowd: a bill to financial firms for what they saw as $110 million in new corporate taxes — and a promise of more to come.

“How could he do this to businesses as a business guy?” Joe Casey, then a top executive at a Massachusetts bank, Seacoast Financial, recalled asking colleagues whose companies had to pay up after the Romney administration closed a tax loophole. “It was very aggressive, and it was a surprise.”

For the next three years, the Romney administration relentlessly scoured the tax code for more loopholes, extracting hundreds of millions of corporate dollars to help close budget gaps in a state with a struggling economy. It was only after Mr. Romney was gearing up in 2005 for a possible White House bid that he backed away from some of his most assertive tax enforcement proposals amid intensifying complaints from local companies and conservative antitax groups in Washington.

Much of the business community in Massachusetts was puzzled. Mitt Romney, a Republican with high-caliber corporate credentials, had run for governor pledging to sweep aside barriers to business and act as the state’s “top salesman.”

Gov. Mitt Romney in 2005. By the next year, he was in campaign mode and had scaled back a plan to close tax loopholes.

But just a few months after Mr. Romney took office in 2003, what he delivered seemed anything but friendly to the C.E.O. crowd: a bill to financial firms for what they saw as $110 million in new corporate taxes — and a promise of more to come.

“How could he do this to businesses as a business guy?” Joe Casey, then a top executive at a Massachusetts bank, Seacoast Financial, recalled asking colleagues whose companies had to pay up after the Romney administration closed a tax loophole. “It was very aggressive, and it was a surprise.”

For the next three years, the Romney administration relentlessly scoured the tax code for more loopholes, extracting hundreds of millions of corporate dollars to help close budget gaps in a state with a struggling economy. It was only after Mr. Romney was gearing up in 2005 for a possible White House bid that he backed away from some of his most assertive tax enforcement proposals amid intensifying complaints from local companies and conservative antitax groups in Washington.

via Romney’s Strategies as Governor Bucked His C.E.O. Image – NYTimes.com.

culture, Great Recession, waste, Halloween:  Halloween used to a home-made holiday … a sheet and a pillowcase … $& Billion???

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans plan to spend $6.9 billion this year for Halloween. To put that number into context, the same NRF survey found that Americans planned to spend $3.3 billion as recently as 2005.

This biggest chunk of this money — $2.5 billion of it — will go to costumes. Of that total, a little more than $300 million will be spent on costumes for pets. We’ll also drop $2 billion on candy and just under that on decorations.

This year isn’t an anomaly, either. Halloween spending did decline in 2009, when it dropped by about $1 billion to $4.8 billion. But by last year, it had bounced back to $5.8 billion.

via Now That’s Creepy: Americans Will Blow $7 Billion on Halloween | Moneyland | TIME.com.

NYT, food, drink, media:  I actually enjoyed this interactive issue and especially this article on food cravings.

This Food and Drink Issue of the magazine — the fourth annual — is full of questions. I have two of my own, and they’re the same questions I’ve been asking myself since I began cooking 40 years ago. How can food change my life? And how can food change the world?

I grew up during a time when the awareness of the quality of food was practically nil. It’s true that in the ’50s and even the ’60s people still cooked, even if much of the food was “convenient,” like Jell-O mold or tuna tetrazzini. It’s also true that pigs were still raised on farms, most vegetables were seasonal and hyperprocessed junk hadn’t yet achieved hegemony. But back then we took the good stuff for granted and never thought it would get anything but better.

The ’70s and ’80s were a more optimistic era, because cooking was in the news and the American food revolution was in full swing. It turned out, though, that it wasn’t a revolution but a civil war. Our side featured good people arguing for real, mostly simple cooking done with fresh, well- raised ingredients, a retreat from convenience and overly fancy stuff and a return to the basics. Arrayed against us in this fight — a struggle for the American palate and ultimately the global diet — was Big Food, spreading like the Blob.

It was hardly a fair fight: we were naïve, optimistic and unprepared, armed with spatulas, good food and journalism. The bad guys had nuclear weapons like scientific marketing and advertising, billions of dollars and, worst of all, government support.

via The Food & Drink Issue – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

But can cravings for sweet or salt or fat be classified as actually, legitimately addictive? The processed-food industry doesn’t much like the A-word, preferring its own coinage: craveability. With financing from the World Sugar Research Organization, whose sponsors include Coca-Cola, the Welsh psychology professor David Benton has argued that food cravings do not meet the technical requirements of addiction. (Among other examples, fasting — the food equivalent of needing a hit — doesn’t result in enhanced cravings.) The American Beverage Association paid for a 2006 review that makes a similar argument about caffeine. While some may ingest the stimulant to suppress withdrawal symptoms, the study declared, caffeine “does no harm to the individual or to society, and its users are not compelled to consume it.”

The junk-food industry may have a point. Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says that drugs can set off brain responses that are far more powerful than those caused by even the most luscious food. On the other hand, she notes, “clearly, processed sugar in certain individuals can produce these compulsive patterns of intake.” The difficulty of trying to kick a food habit, however, is that you can’t just go cold turkey from all food. Still, the best strategy for the afflicted, according to Volkow, is to mimic drug programs and completely avoid foods that cause the most trouble. “Don’t try to limit yourself to two Oreo cookies, because if the reward is very potent, no matter how good your intentions are, you are not going to be able to control it.”

via The Food & Drink Issue – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

Former President  Bill Clinton, Back to Work, books:   Everybody want in on the solution …

“Back to Work” addresses the subject Mr Obama has been weakest with: job creation. Mr Clinton sounds some classic themes from the 1990s with a bit of fashionable greenery flown in. The private and public sector should be partners, not antagonists: anti-government rhetoric may be good for politics (and TV ratings) but it is bad for policy-making. A modern economy requires a government that is active but smart rather than one that is active but driven by vested interests. But the blurb also promises some “specific recommendations” on how to put people back to work and create new businesses—and even double America’s exports. It is impossible to judge whether this is just flannel or serious argument until the book is released next month. It is also far easier to make recommendations from the comfort of retirement than it is to govern. But a president who presided over America’s Indian summer—a period of sustained growth and disciplined government—should at least have something to say to a new generation of politicians who live in a far stormier time.

via Bill Clinton’s “Back to Work”: Missing Bill | The Economist.

architectural styles, polls: Well, how well do you know your architectural styles?

Colonial-style houses are best-sellers in the Washington area, comprising 40 percent of all home sales in the area.

How do you know if your house is one of those, and why does it matter?

As Susan Straight reports in this week’s Real Estate section, “real estate professionals say that knowing your Colonial from your Federal- and Tudor-style home really matters when it comes to buying and selling. That’s because certain styles are more popular than others, and a home’s style can factor into its resale value, agents say.”

via How well do you know your architectural styles? – Post User Polls – The Washington Post.

street art, websites, lists: From a postsecret tweet: Street Anatomy,   Wooster Collective and  Banksy – Outdoors.

NBA lockout,Stephen Curry, Davidson College:  You go Steph …

It was an awkward moment, that first day of class at history of education, when the professor did a roll call.

“Wendell Curry?”

“Actually, my name is Wardell,” the student replied. “But people call me Stephen.”

And with that, any hope of blending in was also history. The other students, mostly freshmen, stared and pointed because this was not your usual Davidson classmate.

via NBA lockout opens door for Stephen Curry’s education | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

business, management, lists:  The Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say  … this one struck me … most big firms close off access to such sites on the internet.  I agree that if they require you to be accessible 24/7, you should be allowed a little freedom 9-5 in exchange.

I won’t have you on eBay/ESPN/Facebook/etc. while you’re on the clock.

Decent managers have figured out that there is no clock, not for white-collar knowledge workers, anyway. Knowledge workers live, sleep, and eat their jobs. Their e-mail inboxes fill up just as fast after 5:00 p.m. as they do before. Their work is never done, and it’s never going to be done. That’s O.K. Employees get together in the office during the daytime hours to do a lot of the work together, and then they go home and try to live their lives in the small spaces of time remaining. If they need a mental break during the day, they can go on PeopleofWalmart.com or Failblog.org without fear of managerial reprisal. We are not robots. We need to stop and shake off the corporate cobwebs every now and then. If a person is sitting in the corner staring up at the ceiling, you could be watching him daydream—or watching him come up with your next million-dollar product idea. (Or doing both things at once.)

via Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say – BusinessWeek.

bike messengers, culture,  NYC, random:  You never know what you will find …

The scene, more reminiscent of a garage-band festival than a bicycle event, captured the spirit of the East Coast Messenger Stage Race, Mr. Horse’s hastily arranged, informal competition for a small group of hardy riders — mostly bicycle messengers — from across the country. The five-day race, through a tangled network of roads from Boston to Washington, was the latest project for Mr. Horse, a competitive cyclist and bike advocate who has emerged in recent years as one of the best-known figures in the city’s brigade of professional messengers.

Mr. Horse, 29, has raced against a sport utility vehicle from Harlem to Brooklyn in a Web advertisement for Mercedes-Benz, worked as a producer and cameraman on a reality series about bicycle messengers for the Travel Channel and performed stunts for more than two months for “Premium Rush,” a bike-centered action movie to be released next year. He has won national and international messenger competitions, as well as sponsorship deals with Red Bull, Oakley sunglasses and the urban bike-wear company Outlier.

But there is a paradox at work here: just as corporate brands and Hollywood try to harness the increasing visibility of urban cycling through its most recognizable character, the grease-grizzled New York City messenger, that subculture is dwindling in the face of higher-tech competition.

The contradictions don’t end there — what kind of grunt job garners brand sponsorships? — but such is the changing state of the messenger’s role as it has morphed from job to lifestyle. The Stage Race, too, is more about messengering as a rugged cowboy ideal than as an efficient way to shuttle important documents between corporate offices. Surely, few — if any — have sent a package from Boston to Washington by bicycle.

Amid this shift, Mr. Horse has become a symbol for a group that prides itself on standing apart.

via The Bike Messenger Goes Hollywood as a Culture Dwindles – NYTimes.com.

David Gerbi – “revolutionary Jew”,  Libya, synagogue, post- Arab Spring, restoration, history: “What Qaddafi tried to do is to eliminate the memory of us. He tried to eliminate the amazing language. He tried to eliminate the religion of the Jewish people,” said Gerbi, whose family fled to Italy when he was 12. “I want bring our legacy back, I want to give a chance to the Jewish of Libya to come back.”

David Gerbi is a 56-year-old psychoanalyst, but to Libyan rebels he was the “revolutionary Jew.” He returned to his homeland after 44 years in exile to help oust Muammar Qaddafi, and to take on what may be an even more challenging mission.

That job began Sunday, when he took a sledgehammer to a concrete wall. Behind it: the door to Tripoli’s crumbling main synagogue, unused since Qaddafi expelled Libya’s small Jewish community early in his decades-long rule.

Gerbi knocked down the wall, said a prayer and cried.

“What Qaddafi tried to do is to eliminate the memory of us. He tried to eliminate the amazing language. He tried to eliminate the religion of the Jewish people,” said Gerbi, whose family fled to Italy when he was 12. “I want bring our legacy back, I want to give a chance to the Jewish of Libya to come back.”

The Star of David is still visible inside and outside the peach-colored Dar al-Bishi synagogue in Tripoli’s walled Old City. An empty ark where Torah scrolls were once kept still reads “Shema Israel” — “Hear, O Israel” — in faded Hebrew. But graffiti is painted on the walls, and the floor and upper chambers are covered in garbage — plastic water bottles, clothes, mattresses, drug paraphernalia and dead pigeon carcasses.

via Libyan “revolutionary Jew” to restore synagogue – CBS News.

cities, urban development, homebuilding, suburbs:  Very interest article about homebuilding and what need to happen with the next generation of homes…

While we obsess over the new in terms of what we keep in our houses — the ever-increasing speed and functionality of our Smartphones, entertainment options built into refrigerators, sophisticated devices that monitor, analyze and report on our sleep cycles, even the superior technology of the running shoes we put on before heading out the flimsy fiberboard door — we’re incredibly undemanding of the houses themselves. These continue to be built the same way they have for over a century, and usually not as well. Walls and windows are thin, materials cheap, design (and I use the term loosely) not well-considered. The building process is a protracted affair, taking far too long and creating embarrassing amounts of building waste (over 50 percent of all waste produced in the United States, in fact).

Then there’s a company like Blu Homes, which has demonstrated a clear commitment to merging housing and high tech — to the tune of a $25 million investment, in fact. They recognized the tremendous inefficiencies in home-building and have developed 3D technology that allows for personal customization (clients can click a mouse to alter floor plans, choose green features and select finishes), as well as a proprietary building process and innovative steel-framing technology that allows their homes, as their Web site explains, “to be built to the highest aesthetic and environmental standards and be delivered quickly and economically nationwide.”

But following a long line of V.C. types dabbling in housing, Blu has set its sights on a small slice of an already niche market — high-end modern prefab, which accounts for maybe half of a percent of the less than 5 percent of architect-designed homes in the country. Devoting this much R&D and software development to so few homes feels akin to installing a $250,000 solar array on a garden shed. Why not devote that energy to transforming cookie-cutter developer homes?

Chang writes, “The disconnection between the rising diversity of housing needs and the monotony of housing production speaks to the tenacity of the postwar American dream — the enduring allure of the detached house with front lawn and backyard patio — as well as to the profitability of catering to these aspirations.”

Chang sees this moment — with millions of houses now in foreclosure, many deteriorating or abandoned — as one to seize, and I couldn’t agree more. It is possible, he considers, that once the economy revives we will simply return to home-building-as-usual:

But right now we have an opportunity to rethink suburban housing: to make it responsive not to dated demographics and wishful economics but rather to the actual needs of a diversifying and dynamic population — not only to the so-called traditional households but also to the growing ranks of those who prefer to rent rather than buy, who either can’t afford or don’t want a 2,000-square-foot-plus detached house, who are retired and living on fixed incomes and maybe driving less, who want granny or nanny flats, who want to pay less for utilities and reduce their carbon footprint, and so on.

Housing can’t be equated with high-tech: a home is, or was, a long-term investment not beholden to the dizzying speeds of change and innovation that drive say, Apple, which must continually reinvent and redefine its product to meet consumer demand. But housing is woefully behind the times, and now it needs to see opportunity in crisis, not wait it out by launching pop-up shops and interactive Web sites that empower consumers to such revolutionary things as customizing bathroom tile and kitchen backsplashes.

We’re beyond the point of a fresh coat of paint and a new sales pitch. If we’re going to continue to hold on to the single-family home, we need to transform it. There is a demand for smaller, more energy-efficient homes in less car-dependent neighborhoods; all aspects of the industry, from designers to lenders to planners to consumers, should meet it. In this era of anti-government fervor, subsidizing the American Dream isn’t an option; transforming it is the only one we’ve got.

via Shifting the Suburban Paradigm – NYTimes.com.

cities, photo gallery:  Great photo gallery/slide show of a city and its geometry, as seen from above … unfortunately I can’t pull the pictures.

“New York reveals itself only at a certain height, a certain distance, a certain speed!” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a half-century ago, before the city grew even higher. The ideal perch, Sartre suggested, is not at the pedestrian’s height, distance or speed, but in the sky. Here, benches and mounds of shrubbery combine to form an urban oasis of curlicues, now being redesigned, at the Jacob K. Javits Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

via City Geometry, Seen From Above – Slide Show – NYTimes.com.

Supreme Court , 2011 term, criminal cases,  First Amendment cases:  It will be an interesting year.

“The docket seems to be changing,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told reporters at a judicial conference in August.

“A lot of big civil cases are going to arbitration,” he said. “I don’t see as many of the big civil cases.”

Still, the shift in focus toward criminal and First Amendment cases will soon be obscured if, as expected, the justices agree to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law. That case promises to be a once-in-a-generation blockbuster.

In the meantime, the justices will hear an extraordinary set of cases that together amount to a project that could overhaul almost every part of the criminal justice system.

The court will decide whether the police need a warrant to use advanced technology to track suspects, whether jails may strip-search people arrested for even the most minor offenses, whether defendants have a right to competent lawyers to help them decide whether to plead guilty, when eyewitness evidence may be used at trial, and what should happen when prosecutors withhold evidence.

“The Supreme Court has positioned itself to improve the quality of the criminal justice process from beginning to end,” said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University.

The court will continue its intense engagement with the First Amendment. But where earlier cases involved quirky issues like dog fights, funeral protests and the Seven Aphorisms of a fringe church called Summum, the marquee First Amendment cases this term involve issues of sweep and consequence.

In one, the court will rule on whether the government may ban swearing and nudity on broadcast television. In another, the justices will decide for the first time whether there is a “ministerial exception” to employment laws that allows religious institutions to discriminate in ways others employers cannot.

The health care case is not the only juggernaut looming on the horizon. In the next term or two, the court may well address same-sex marriage, affirmative action and illegal immigration. For now, the justices are focused on criminal cases, especially ones concerning the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a fair trial.

via Supreme Court Turns to Criminal and First Amendment Cases – NYTimes.com.

Google, advertising, developing countries, Global economy, internet access, corporate social responsibility, India:  OK, Google doe they need internet access before clean water, medicine, healthy supply of food?

LIKE the travelling fairs that still roam India, a snazzy white bus trundles along the subcontinent’s B-roads, stopping in small towns for a few days at a time and inviting locals into another world. But in place of tightrope-walking girls and performing monkeys, its main attraction is access to the internet. For some visitors, it is their first time online.

The Google Internet bus is a free, mobile cybercafe dreamed up by the search giant and run in association with BSNL, a large state-owned internet service provider (ISP). It has covered over 43,000km and passed through 120 towns in 11 states since it hit the road on February 3rd, 2009. Google estimates that 1.6m people have been offered their first online experience as a result. Of those, 100,000 have signed up for an internet connection of their own. Like a high-school drug dealer, though admittedly less nefarious, the idea is to hook them young and keep them coming back. In return for its efforts, Google says it gains a better understanding of their needs. That, in turn, lets it develop products for the potentially huge local market.

via Internet in developing countries: Hailing the Google bus | The Economist.

iPhone, psychology, love, addiction:  OK, I love my iPhone, literally.

WITH Apple widely expected to release its iPhone 5 on Tuesday, Apple addicts across the world are getting ready for their latest fix.

But should we really characterize the intense consumer devotion to the iPhone as an addiction? A recent experiment that I carried out using neuroimaging technology suggests that drug-related terms like “addiction” and “fix” aren’t as scientifically accurate as a word we use to describe our most cherished personal relationships. That word is “love.”

As a branding consultant, I have followed Apple from its early days as a cult brand to its position today as one of the most valuable, widely admired companies on earth. A few years back, I conducted an experiment to examine the similarities between some of the world’s strongest brands and the world’s greatest religions. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests, my team looked at subjects’ brain activity as they viewed consumer images involving brands like Apple and Harley-Davidson and religious images like rosary beads and a photo of the pope. We found that the brain activity was uncannily similar when viewing both types of imagery.

This past summer, I gathered a group of 20 babies between the ages of 14 and 20 months. I handed each one a BlackBerry. No sooner had the babies grasped the phones than they swiped their little fingers across the screens as if they were iPhones, seemingly expecting the screens to come to life. It appears that a whole new generation is being primed to navigate the world of electronics in a ritualized, Apple-approved way.

Earlier this year, I carried out an fMRI experiment to find out whether iPhones were really, truly addictive, no less so than alcohol, cocaine, shopping or video games. In conjunction with the San Diego-based firm MindSign Neuromarketing, I enlisted eight men and eight women between the ages of 18 and 25. Our 16 subjects were exposed separately to audio and to video of a ringing and vibrating iPhone.

In each instance, the results showed activation in both the audio and visual cortices of the subjects’ brains. In other words, when they were exposed to the video, our subjects’ brains didn’t just see the vibrating iPhone, they “heard” it, too; and when they were exposed to the audio, they also “saw” it. This powerful cross-sensory phenomenon is known as synesthesia.

But most striking of all was the flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.

In short, the subjects didn’t demonstrate the classic brain-based signs of addiction. Instead, they loved their iPhones.

As we embrace new technology that does everything but kiss us on the mouth, we risk cutting ourselves off from human interaction. For many, the iPhone has become a best friend, partner, lifeline, companion and, yes, even a Valentine. The man or woman we love most may be seated across from us in a romantic Paris bistro, but his or her 8GB, 16GB or 32GB rival lies in wait inside our pockets and purses.

My best advice? Shut off your iPhone, order some good Champagne and find love and compassion the old-fashioned way.

via You Love Your iPhone. Literally. – NYTimes.com.

Paying the Grace Forward, Kent Matlock, culture, Jerry Richardson, Denny’s, kudos: I don’t think this side of the story has been told.  Kudos to Mr. Matlock for telling this story.

Dr. Gloster bestowed his grace on me. Early in our careers, we all have people who are kind and considerate to us, and I learned to treasure them for two reasons: They’re rare, and their actions inspire you to pay that grace forward.

In the early 1980s, I was an advertising manager at Georgia-Pacific. I had worked for a few ad agencies before that, and wanted to return to that side of the industry. I couldn’t find a job with an agency, however, so I decided to start my own. My mother, Jean, who had taught accounting, joined me a few years later as our accountant. At the time we started, minority companies in Atlanta often partnered with larger organizations, which gave the smaller companies more opportunities. We experienced much of our growth that way.

My mother taught me loyalty, and I learned several lessons from clients. Jerry Richardson, C.E.O. of the restaurant company TW Services, then parent of Denny’s, taught me about doing the right thing. We were working on crisis communications for Denny’s after it was accused of racial discrimination in the early 1990s. Jerry didn’t just write checks to settle lawsuits; he asked me what the company could do to improve its practices. He instituted a thorough review and worked with the N.A.A.C.P. on new corporate policies.

Some people criticized me and called me names for working with Denny’s, but Jerry taught me never to let anyone define you. We emerged as an even stronger firm, and Denny’s is still here today.

via Matlock Advertising’s Chief, on Paying the Grace Forward – NYTimes.com.

Bruce Ivins, anthrax mail suspect, Kappa Kappa Gamma – UNC Chapter:  I was in KKG at UNC in the late 70s … very strange. “Strange sorority fixation was link that led to anthrax suspect.”

The Kappa connection

Haigwood had met Bruce Ivins in the mid-1970s during graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She recalled his incessant questions about her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Having joined the sorority as an undergraduate, Haigwood stayed involved as the adult adviser at the UNC chapter. Ivins, she says, always asked her for information about Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Nancy Haigwood says Bruce Ivins was obsessed with her sorority.

“Every time I talked to him, nearly, he would mention it,” says Haigwood. “And finally I said, ‘You know, Bruce, that’s enough!'”

Ivins’ obsession with Haigwood and her sorority continued years after they graduated from UNC. Ivins had started his job at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases — USAMRIID — at Fort Detrick, Maryland, in 1980. Haigwood, too, was living and working in suburban Washington.

One day in 1982, she came home to find her sidewalk, fence and car spray-painted with red graffiti: “K K Γ” — the Greek letters of her sorority.

“Because of the Kappa connection, I immediately thought of Bruce Ivins,” Haigwood said.

via Strange sorority fixation was link that led to anthrax suspect – CNN.com.

headlines, War on Terror, drones, modern warfare: That one jumped out at me …

Wall Photos.

23
Jun
11

‎6.23.2011 … Final day/night for MAD at camp as JC … I don’t think she will ever wash another dish. :)

music, kith/kin:  From Bob … “There are some voices that are simply meant to sing together. When these three sing together, it far exceeds any of them individually. I could listen to this song for hours.” YouTube – Crosby Stills Nash – Southern Cross.

Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Pottermore, media, followup:  I hope she can keep another generation enthralled (and I define that to mean a 7 year-old will persevere through a 700 page book!) … YouTube – JKRowlingAnnounces’s Channel ‏.

natural disasters, tornadoes, Louisville, kith/kin, prayers:  Why am I so touched when animals are involved …

At least five barns were damaged and horses were running loose Wednesday at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, after a powerful storm that spawned tornadoes blew through Louisville.

Officials have no immediate reports of injuries to humans or horses.

The National Weather Service says a tornado touched down near the famed track and the University of Louisville campus about 8:10 p.m. EDT. Though no races are run on Wednesdays, there was simulcasting of races elsewhere, so people were there, said track President Kevin Flanery.

via Tornado hits Louisville near Churchill Downs – Sports- NBC Sports.

Paris, Hotel de Nice, hotels:  I just loved the opening image for this small modest hotel …

 Accueil.

education, history:  I enjoyed this article and found that I agree … learning history “today involves the retention of decontextualized historical facts.” I learn best and my children learn best when we experience history and share those experiences.

We make much of bad test results and idiotic answers to civics questions from the young Americans Jay Leno stops on Los Angeles street corners. It’s fun, but it is also misleading. We are promoting what Paxton calls “the false notion that the biggest problem facing history students today involves the retention of decontextualized historical facts.”

He and Wineburg, both education professors, say we should decide what history is worth knowing and teach it well. “The thousand-page behemoths that we call textbooks violate every principle of human memory that we know of,” Wineburg said.

Emphasizing reading and devoting more school hours to comprehension of the language no matter what the topic might give us the skills to develop an interest in public affairs. Many critics say the subject of history has suffered because schools are giving more time to reading and math. Why then, asks Wineburg, were the students who were most improved on the NAEP history test in fourth grade, where the concentration on reading and math has been greatest?

Even if we haven’t remembered our country’s history so well in the last century, we have learned to appreciate it, and act accordingly. This July 4, that’s worth celebrating.

via Is knowing history so important? – Class Struggle – The Washington Post.

writing, blogging, social media, Jeff Elder:  A class … I am actually thinking about taking it …

OMG! Writing for social media??? LOL. Actually, there are many opportunities developing for writers to develop their craft on Facebook, blogs, even Twitter. The best part? You have a captive audience that is immediately engaged. As companies, nonprofits, small business and other groups launch web sites and social media sites, content is desperately needed.

via WRITING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA.

culture, kindness, Gretchen Rubin, blog posts of note:  Just the other day, I excerpted an article about what not to say to a person who is ill … and today I find this post from Gretchen Rubin about what to say/not to say to a person divorcing.  I think we all have problems with this and we are detached from our teachers … our families, our churches and we no longer learn how to handle being kind.  Isn’t that really what it is all about.

A while back, I read a New York magazine article by Katie Roiphe, The Great Escape, in which Roiphe discusses her friends’ reaction to the news of her divorce. Bottom line: she’s annoyed that they’re acting as though she’s going through some terrible tragedy, when in fact, she feels fine — if anything, she feels freed and relieved.

It’s an interesting article on many levels, but the thing that struck me was – zoikes! If I were her friend, I’m sure I’d be saying all the wrong things, too.

So what’s the right thing to say?

via The Happiness Project: Tips for talking to someone about an impending divorce: dos and don’ts.

cities, psychology, mental health:  I love big cities … maybe I am crazy!

This may come as no surprise to residents of New York City and other big urban centers: Living there can be bad for your mental health.

Now researchers have found a possible reason why. Imaging scans show that in city dwellers or people who grew up in urban areas, certain areas of the brain react more vigorously to stress. That may help explain how city life can boost the risks of schizophrenia and other mental disorders, researchers said.

Previous research has found that growing up in a big city raises the risk of schizophrenia. And there’s some evidence that city dwellers are at heightened risk for mood and anxiety disorders, although the evidence is mixed.

In any case, the volunteers scanned in the new study were healthy, and experts said that while the city-rural differences in brain activity were intriguing, the results fall short of establishing a firm tie to mental illness.

via Big city got you down? Stress study may show why  | ajc.com.

gender issues, Great Recession, workforce:  I think this is very interesting.  I wonder how this shift in workforce gender balance compares to WWII.

In part, labor experts pin this trend on a recession that disproportionately affected male-centered industries such as manufacturing and construction, but this tells only some of the story. Throughout the first decade of the new millennium, men moved toward being the minority in a number of professions they had long dominated.

This was particularly prevalent in professions requiring advanced degrees. Medical scientists, for example, who typically need a Ph.D. to work in labs or at pharmaceutical companies, experienced one of the biggest changes in gender makeup of any profession. In 2000, the majority of those who worked in the profession (54%) were men, but by last year just 46% of medical scientists were men.

Likewise, the percentage of male veterinarians declined from nearly 70% in 2000 to about 44% last year, making this the profession with the single greatest shift in the proportion of men to women, according to an analysis of the BLS data.

Much of the changing gender balance, experts argue, can be traced to the early 1970s, when more women began pursuing college degrees and full-time careers.

“Young women in elementary and middle school began to look around and realize that they were going to be in the labor force for a substantial part of their lifetimes and therefore needed to concentrate more on professions that were better investments,” said Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University.

via Behind the Rise of Women in the Work Force – TheStreet.

cities, lifestyles, culture, Baby Boomers, Brookwood Hills, Atlanta, Wilmette, Chicago, small house movement:  I loved growing up in a neighborhood where our home was no more than 2500 sq feet and the neighborhood was our yard.  My children’s favorite of their 3 homes is the smallest, our Wilmette home.  I think my generation, the Baby Boomers, have really gone awry on the big house status symbol.  A house does not make a home.  My daughter says she never wants a “big house.”

Places like Hilton Head, with water adjacency and nice climates, are in high demand, and land values are insane. In the case of Hilton Head, which was developed in 1970 on what had been a mosquito- and alligator-infested swampy barrier island, land value has leaped from nearly zero to now unaffordable. The first batch of houses built here might have been normal-sized, but in the ten years that I’ve been coming here on occasion, I’ve seen them replaced by new ones that are enormous. About five years ago, we rented a house right on the beach that was arena-sized. We loved being right on the ocean, so we asked the owner if we could reserve time for the next year. No, he said, it wouldn’t be possible; he was tearing the house down. Why? To build a bigger one on the same lot. We saw the finished product a few years later: it looked like a house with severe edema, swollen to bursting, built to the very edge of the property line.

My husband and I built our house in New York about five years ago, and right before we began, I fell under the spell of the small-house movement; I had dozens of Post-Its in my copy of “The Not-So-Big House” marking author Sarah Susanka’s recommendations for designing a house that was efficient and inviting without being pointlessly gigantic. It’s not really such a new idea. A few weeks ago, I stayed for a night in the Penfield House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s an amazing place, with a jazzy sort of geometry. It’s also quite small (even though, as it happens, the owner, Louis Penfield, was six foot eight, and had actually wondered whether Wright could make a house that would work for a person his size). But the house is big enough. Everything is ingeniously designed to make use of all available space, and the floor-to-ceiling living room windows make it feel like there is only a thin skin between you and the outdoors, which gives the illusion of spaciousness. It’s a great house—that is, in the sense of the word “great” meaning an impressive accomplishment, rather than “large.”

Oversized houses, like oversized cars, seem to be a particularly American fixation. In many other countries, the land available is so limited and the cost of building so high that most people wouldn’t even consider building a Hilton Head-style jumbo. And the expense—in economic and environmental terms—of heating and cooling these places is vast. What’s funny is that these mega-mansions are so often located somewhere people go because they want to enjoy the natural environment. The house we had wanted to rent again had very little land around it when we rented it. Now, in its bulked-up state, the outdoor space is a narrow margin of sand and grass, not even wide enough to walk on.

via Free Range: The Too-Big House : The New Yorker.

reading, education, St. John’s College, Great Books Program, kith/kin:  St. John’s is a wonderful place.  My kith daughter is there and thrives.  Interesting is that she always loved to read (in contrast to this student) … but I think it is the type of education that suits a very gifted and creative mind.

As long as nobody had assigned the book, I could stick with it. I didn’t know what I was reading. I didn’t really know how to read. Reading messed with my brain in an unaccountable way. It made me happy; or something. I copied out the first paragraph of Annie Dillard’s “An American Childhood” on my bedroom’s dormer wall. The book was a present from an ace teacher, a literary evangelist in classy shoes, who also flunked me, of course, with good reason. Even to myself I was a lost cause.

Early senior year, a girl in homeroom passed me a brochure that a college had sent her. The college’s curriculum was an outrage. No electives. Not a single book in the seminar list by a living author. However, no tests. No grades, unless you asked to see them. No textbooks—I was confused. In place of an astronomy manual, you would read Copernicus. No books about Aristotle, just Aristotle. Like, you would read book-books. The Great Books, so called, though I had never heard of most of them. It was akin to taking holy orders, but the school—St. John’s College—had been secular for three hundred years. In place of praying, you read. My loneliness was toxic; the future was coleslaw, mop water; the college stood on a desert mountain slope in Santa Fe, New Mexico, fifteen hundred miles from home; I could never get into such a school; my parents couldn’t pay a dollar. And I loved this whole perverse and beautiful idea. I would scrap everything (or so I usefully believed) and go to that place and ask them to let me in. It felt like a vocation. It was a vocation.

In retrospect, I was a sad little boy and a standard-issue, shiftless, egotistical, dejected teen-ager. Everything was going to hell, and then these strangers let me come to their school and showed me how to read. All things considered, every year since has been a more intense and enigmatic joy. ♦

via Salvatore Scibona: “Where I Learned to Read” : The New Yorker.

Camp Illahee, kith/kin, end of an era:  As MAD  is ending her session as a JC, I am sad.  Nine years at Illahee have been a wonderful experience for her and something she will always cherish.  If you want a recommendation for an all girls camp, please contact me.  It has truly been a “heavenly world.”

In the Cherokee language, Illahee means “heavenly world.” This idea expresses the very best of what campers, counselors and staff create for a remarkable few weeks every summer.

For ninety years, Camp Illahee has given girls the opportunity to explore their interests, seek new adventures and forge friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

via Camp Illahee | A Summer Camp for Girls in Brevard, North Carolina.




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