Archive for the 'Cool Stuff' Category

Fate, or Free Will?

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

From the Wall Street Journal, “Get Out of Your Own Way: Studies Show the Value of Not Overthinking a Decision” (link from Arts and Letters Daily and The Morning News)

The brain, they have found, appears to make up its mind 10 seconds before we become conscious of a decision….

Such experiments suggest that our best reasons for some choices we make are understood only by our cells. The findings lend credence to researchers who argue that many important decisions may be best made by going with our gut — not by thinking about them too much….

Moreover, the more factors to be considered in a decision, the more likely the unconscious brain handled it all better

These studies throw the concept of “free will” into question. If our body knows ten seconds before our brain does what the decision is, are we really choosing? Not addressed by the article is what happens when the body makes a decision, and the person overthinks and overrides it. (Story of my life, I believe.)

I am reminded of Douglas Adams’ directions for how to fly in the Hitchhiker books: Throw yourself at the ground, then forget that it’s there.

It’s Better Than Cats!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

At Where the Hell is Matt, Dancing 2008. I loved this. It made me laugh and smile. And I bet 4yo Drake is going to love it, too.

Link from Jim Walsh at MinnPost and Morning News

Aren’t I Too Old for this Kind of Thing?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Facebook, that is. Apparently not.

A friend from high school recently emailed that she’d joined Facebook. She’s an international athlete, and found it was a good way to stay connected to friends around the world.

I decided to test the waters, and have since found many, many friends who were already there, from all different parts of my life: family, former co-workers, neighbors, Philly friends, high-school classmates, and more. (Interestingly, no college classmates yet.)

I’m a bit overwhelmed by the scope of it, and the time-consuming possibilities. Remember back when google became a verb, because people looked up old friends? Facebook is like a school yearbook for the world. I’ve even gotten a friend request from someone I don’t know or can’t remember. What’s the etiquette for that? I may have bitten off more than I can chew, here.

The Sandman: volumes 1, 2 and 3 by Neil Gaiman

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I’ve begun to reread Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels, prompted by my recent viewing and reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare is but one of many sources the author draws on in this sprawling tale of Morpheus, the King of Dreams. Milton, mythology, and magic are a few of the others. The series of 76 total issues has been collected in ten graphic novels.

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes.

You say that dreams have no power here? Tell me, Lucifer Morningstar–ask yourselves, all of you–what power would hell have if those here imprisoned were not able to dream of heaven?

The first volume plants the seeds for both the mood of the series, and many of its later stories. Morpheus is captured and imprisoned for decades. Once released, he seeks revenge and to regain his power. It’s sometimes hard going, but the whole is well worth the reading. Don’t stop before issue #8; you’ll miss something wonderful.

Sandman: The Doll’s House. From the introduction by Clive Barker:

There is a wonderful, willful quality to this mix: Mr. Gaiman is one of those adventurous creators who sees no reason why his tales shouldn’t embrace slapstick comedy, mysterical musings, and the grimmest collection of serial kills this side of Death Row.

The tales diverge, and Rose Walker, an American teenager with a peculiar provenance, becomes the heart of the story, with Morpheus appearing on the fringes.

Sandman: Dream Country
. Of four standalone short stories, my favorite is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, based on and around Shakespeare’s play, and beautifully illustrated by Charles Vess. It was the first, and last, comic book to win a World Fantasy Award. (They changed the rules for the award so it would not happen again.)

Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.

I’ll Try Not to Covet

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Jane Eyre mugthese awesome mugs from Penguin. At about 40 dollars US apiece for mug and shipping, I will have to admire them from across the ocean. (Link from The Kitchn)

A Few Favorite Things

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Mother’s Day in the USA is this Sunday. Mothering Day started in England as a day off for servants to visit their mothers/see their kids. In America, it was transformed to celebrate the homemaker/nanny, perhaps just putting a gloss over Sisyphean attempts to stem the tides of snot, poop, and dirt.

So here are a few ideas, in case you haven’t gotten something for the mothers in your life.

Spring flowers. Narcissus are pretty and have a lovely, delicate scent.

Treats. Raspberry-flavored cherries taste like red Swedish fish! And _good_ chocolate, from near (Legacy) or far (Maison du Chocolat’s plain truffles), is always in good taste.

A spring bag. Candy-colored, croc (mock or not), and black/white bags are in.

Unguents. It’s been a long, hard winter. Good lotion, like Golden Door Eucalyptus, is a soothing, smoothing indulgence.

Rest, peace and quiet. Good luck with this one.

Related reading: This article from the Atlantic on mother-centered architecture. We live in a four-square bungalow similar to those described in the article.

“This is an awareness test”

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Do the test” (link thanks to Boing Boing) is part of a safety campaign in London. It highlights something called “change blindness” which was also in the NYT science section last week.

Funny and disturbing.