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The Beauty Advantage
07.22.2010
02:02 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
beauty

 
Hypnotic animation—this is an ad, really, but it’s a soft sell—to get people interested to read the Newseek special report on The Beauty Advantage (which is quite interesting). There’s a fairly amusing punchline, but I won’t spoil it for you.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
“The whole world becomes kaleidoscopic”: Birthday Boy Marshall McLuhan Meets Norman Mailer

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Marshall McLuhan would have turned 99 years old today, and his status as the god-daddy of media studies still seems pretty rock-solid. I wasn’t previously aware of how often the Canadian theorist appeared on TV, and was especially unaware of his November 1967 duet with New York novelist Norman Mailer on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show The Summer Way, bravely moderated by Ken Lefolii.

Recovered from recent treatment for a benign brain tumor he suffered while teaching in New York, McLuhan gamely tugs at a few of Mailer’s pretensions. Mailer is recently back from levitating the Pentagon with the Yippies, with the siege of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention in his future.

McLuhan pops off a bunch of gems, including:

The planet is no longer nature, it’s now the content of an artwork.

Nature has ceased to exist…it needs to be programmed.

The environment is not visible, it’s information—it’s electronic.

The present is only faced by any generation by the artist.

Communications maven Michael Hinton goes speculative on his hero’s televised meeting with the Jersey-raised boxer-novelist, but of course it’s best to just check the thing out yourself.
 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
The creativity crisis in American children

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When I was a kid in the 1970s, I took the Torrance test three times, so I am well-acquainted with what it is and probably many of you reading this are as well. The idea that Torrance test scores, which measure ingenuity, problem solving and creativity, have fallen, dramatically, has very poor implications for the planet. Are we raising a generation of spectators with short attention spans, more interested in downloading Internet porn and playing video games than the arts and sciences? There’s been a lot of discussion in the culture of late, about older folks having a dim view of the “entitled” or “bratty” attitude of many of today’s twenty-somethings. Whether you buy into that or not (I can’t decide personally if this is an accurate perception/legitimate observation, but anecdotally speaking… well, maybe it is) this seems to indicate that a trend towards something not altogether positive might be accelerating, and that an evolutionary epigenetic change might be in the works. Not a good one.

High IQ parents, it’s up to you!

Like intelligence tests, Torrance’s test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

The potential consequences are sweeping. The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others.

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

Read the entire article:
The Creativity Crisis: For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it. (Newsweek)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Twitter Fail Cthulhu by Robert Cadena
07.12.2010
11:40 am

Topics:
Amusing
Science/Tech

Tags:
Twitter
Cthulhu
Fail Whale

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“We expect to be back in about 1 million years. Thanks for your patience.”
 
(via Super Punch)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla
07.10.2010
12:44 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech
Thinkers

Tags:
Nikola Tesla

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The great inventor Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Look Around You DVD Screening & Q & A*: An Intimate Evening with Robert Popper & Peter Serafinowicz

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Dangerous Minds readers who are lucky enough to live in Los Angeles (I love saying that) get yourself over to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre’s website right away to reserve your FREE tickets to a special screening with the creators of one of the single best, most genius comedy series of ALL TIME (so say I!):

Come and witness the nonsensical wonders of science as Robert Popper & Peter Serafinowicz present an audio/visual presentation of handpicked episodes from their BAFTA nominated comedy series Look Around You: Season One, on the day of its DVD release. The critically acclaimed series, which first premiered on BBC AMERICA and currently airs on Adult Swim, guides us through a series of madcap science experiments. In Season One, viewers observe a colony of ants build an igloo, find out the largest number in the world and more.

*Please ensure you have your copybooks at hand as you will be asked to take down notes from the screen.

Tickets are FREE but a reservation is required. Limit TWO tickets per customer.
Tickets will be released on Friday, July 9th.

The password is “thants”

Below, the wonderful “Germs” episode:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Alcohol under the microscope
06.30.2010
06:09 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Science/Tech

Tags:
alcohol

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Fascinating photo essay seen on Time.com that shows what 12 popular alcoholic drinks look like under a microscope. How ironic that these photographs, taken at Florida State University, are so amazingly psychedelic! Above sake, below tequila.
 
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What booze looks like under a microscope (Time)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
“There’s no story to hip-hop—just culture”: R.I.P. renaissance man Rammellzee

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Word from a Fab Five Freddy tweet and a post on his own MySpace blog is that New York hip-hop futurist Rammellzee has passed away at age 50 from as-yet-unrevealed causes. (@149st features a great, fact-filled interview with the man.) Emerging as a teen graffiti artist in the mid-‘70s, bombing the A-train from its last stop in his Far Rockaway, Queens hometown, Rammell ended up like many of his talented peers—a multidisciplinary creative icon submerged in the nascent metropolitan hip-hop scene.  He first surfaced as a persona to the world in amazing fashion, dressed in trenchcoat and wielding a sawed-off shotgun as he MC’ed for the Rock Steady Crew in the Amphitheatre scene of hip-hop’s famous first film, 1982’s Wild Style.
 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Scientific American explains jerking off
06.29.2010
07:50 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech
Sex

Tags:
masturbation

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Image via Zazzle
 
It would be impossible for me to summarize research psychologist Dr. Jesse Bering’s sprawling essay, One reason why humans are special and unique: We masturbate. A lot, so I won’t even try. However, amongst the more interesting things discussed in the article—trust me, it’s a great read—is the fact that most men basically need to spill their seed, drain the vein, etc, at minimum, every 72 hours. Pair that notion with studies that found women’s bodies rejected sperm that had overstayed its welcome in the male testes (had not been flushed out) by 48 hours.

Masturbation a biological imperative? Looks that way. As Bering points out in the article, imagine if only our parents had known this! The male libido has been exonerated!

But as the article is, as I wrote above, difficult to summarize, here are the final paragraphs, going straight to the punch line, so to speak, where Bering ties together all that had come before quite nicely:

The Psychological Bulletin article on sexual fantasy is chockfull of interesting facts, and those with a more scholarly interest in this subject should read it themselves. [...] But Leitenberg and Henning’s piece was written over fifteen years ago, summarizing even older research. The reason this is important is because it was still long before the “mainstreaming” of today’s Internet pornography scene, where zero is left to the imagination.

And so I’m left wondering … in a world where sexual fantasy in the form of mental representation has become obsolete, where hallucinatory images of dancing genitalia, lusty lesbians and sadomasochistic strangers have been replaced by a veritable online smorgasbord of real people doing things our grandparents couldn’t have dreamt up even in their wettest of dreams, where randy teenagers no longer close their eyes and lose themselves to the oblivion and bliss but instead crack open their thousand-dollar laptops and conjure up a real live porn actress, what, in a general sense, are the consequences of liquidating our erotic mental representational skills for our species’ sexuality? Is the next generation going to be so intellectually lazy in their sexual fantasies that their creativity in other domains is also affected? Will their marriages be more likely to end because they lack the representational experience and masturbatory fantasy training to picture their husbands and wives during intercourse as the person or thing they really desire?

I’m not saying porn isn’t progress, but I do think that over the long run it could turn out to be a real evolutionary game-changer.

 

 
One reason why humans are special and unique: We masturbate. A lot. (Scientific American)
Thank you Paul Gallagher!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
How to Abandon Earth: Your House without You

 
Talk about timeless. Journalist Alan Weisman’s book The World Without Us came out in 2007 just as the implications of the mortgage crisis started coming into focus. This video speculating on how the earth swallows a house over 500 years was produced in conjunction with the publication, and in view of so many foreclosed American houses trashed out by their owners and the oily cancer temporarily zombifying the Gulf of Mexico, it seems rather tranquil.
 
Get: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman [Paperback]

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
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