Monthly Archives: June 2012

Collected Quotes May/June 2012

The future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed. — William Gibson (source)

Shatner’s portrayal [of Kirk in Star Trek] is a little boy’s idea of what a captain is. He’s handsome, heroic, dashing, gets all the ladies. He makes all the right decisions. And his crew would follow him into the gates of Hell. That is the classic idea of the ship captain. Shatner just sells it. — Ronald Moore, writer for Star Trek, on Trek Nation

If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies. — Albert Einstein

‎”If you want to know where your heart is – look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” — Henri-Frédéric Amiel

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. — Joseph Brodsky

Thanks to friends for posting interesting quotes: Janice

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

TED Talk: Demise of Guys

For a few weeks The Demise of Guys by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan has occupied a corner of my attention. It started when a friend posted about the Reddit AMA: I am a published psychologist, author of the Stanford Prison Experiment, expert witness during the Abu Ghraib trials. AMA starting June 7th at 12PM (ET). I even bought the Kindle ebook and read it in a couple days.

The idea is according to the site (linked above):

We took an inter­est in this topic because we noticed an alarm­ing trend: in record num­bers, guys seem to be flam­ing out aca­dem­i­cally, wip­ing out socially with girls, and as they mature fail­ing sex­u­ally with women.

This seems to describe me. I was lucky to graduate high school and college mostly by exploiting loopholes. I have never had a girlfriend. I was in my late 20s when I started dating. Even then I am not often very excited about it.

The alleged causes in the video were video games, online activity, and porn. By my calculations I have played around 20,000 hours of video games, twice the level of concern. My time online easily exceeds 40,000 hours. (That is only assuming 50 hours a week * 50 weeks a year since 1996. That 50 hours a week average seems low to me.) The book focused on the video games and porn.

In Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, Steven Johnson made an interesting point that receptors for dopamine, a reward for almost accomplishing something, and oxytocin, a reward for social connections and establishing trust, occupy close areas. Activities like playing video games can activate dopamine, but doing so while alone ignores the oxytocin and too much of it is bad for the brain. Physical contact, just like the rhesus monkey choosing between the cloth fake mother and wire+milk, is good for us.

Playing video games were just one of many later activities adopted to escape being around others. If anything, then video games were an avenue that made me more social not less. It gave me something to talk to with other guys. That avoiding girls by being with guys is supposedly the problem. I also might go to their house or them come to mine to play. Without it, I probably would have been more alone. Reading, LEGOs, soccer, exploring the woods, and even biking were all activities whereby I achieved getting away from other people. Really, spending significant time away from other people was always a goal of mine.

I would like to see a debate between Susan Cain of Quiet and Philip Zimbardo.

If the below video does not work, then try Philip Zimbardo: The demise of guys?

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Ideological Identity

A post a few days ago was on immigration and marriage rights intersecting into trust and how our group affiliations, aka tribes, impact are perceptions of these groups.

Today is on ideology and trust. Back in January I posted The Enemy’s POV. I found this Ezra Klein article UNPOPULAR MANDATE: Why do politicians reverse their positions? interesting, especially this paragraph.

According to the political-science literature, one of the key roles that political parties play is helping us navigate these decisions. In theory, we join parties because they share our values and our goals—values and goals that may have been passed on to us by the most important groups in our lives, such as our families and our communities—and so we trust that their policy judgments will match the ones we would come up with if we had unlimited time to study the issues. But parties, though based on a set of principles, aren’t disinterested teachers in search of truth. They’re organized groups looking to increase their power. Or, as the psychologists would put it, their reasoning may be motivated by something other than accuracy. And you can see the results among voters who pay the closest attention to the issues.

Oh, right… I added some bold.

We change the facts to prevent long term cognitive dissonance. Holding together in our head the idea our tribe is both right and wrong troubles our minds. The strategy is smart. Dwelling on ideas that trouble us in the way cause stress which in the long run is bad for us. Better to alter or forget a few troubling facts than meltdown.

Klein uses the examples of conservatives, including the presumptive presidential candidate favoring a health care reform model up until the opposing party used it. Suddenly it was unconstitutional. Winning is more important than being right. Passing the opposition’s bill based on your own policy apparently is a loss.

This is what is wrong in government. The tribe should not be the party. The tribe should be the world. But that would mean no opposition. It would also mean not being completely vested in an idea that might lose.

A concept I love from the Baha’i Faith is in discussing a problem, any idea presented belongs to the group not the individual. Practiced well, it means stronger personalities do not ram a decision down everyone’s craw. Decisions also tend to be iterative, so the first may not be great, but something is learned from it so the second will be hopefully better and so on until the best is found. Striving to improve is what is important.

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

TED Talk: Identity in the 21st Century

Two major recurring political issues in the United States are related, I think, to issues of mixing cultures. There is an instinct to trust those like us more implicitly and consider those who do not look or act like us as bad. Coming to trust people as members of our “tribe” can reverse this instinct. That process means overcoming the instinct. We have to ignore the distaste of the instinct and get to know people.

Easier said than done. But people do.

Immigration as an issue is not unique to today. The same lame objections about the personal qualities of Hispanics were labeled against Italians, Irish, and others. They seem to completely fall in line with this distaste of the foreign tribe. Over time as almost all people started coming to trust the foreigners it disappeared. A different group became the “bad” one.

The objection to LGBTs, I think, falls into the same category. Melanin content, cheek bones, or height make for easier identification for inclusion or exclusion than behavior preference. The social conscience has only tracked this for a few decades. I expect a few more will be required for enough people to include them in the “tribe” and the issue to disappear.

In the mean time, I liked Bryad’s description in the video below of perceiving our instincts, understanding them as wrong, and holding the discipline to get past them to a better place.

If the video below does not work, then try TEDxEducationCity (2012) – Byrad Yyelland – Identity in the 21st Century

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Misprint

My Crack

A Feast for Crows when first published

Last year I bought a paperback set of A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, I own the four books in the set. (The fifth was published in hardback at the same time.) Rather than continue messing up my hardbacks from multiple reads, I thought paperbacks would be better. Well, I finally got around to reading them and noticed a big misprint. Pages 565 and 566 in A Feast for Crows were actually 575 and 576. It was not a great part of the story.

But it nagged at me so much that it was all I wanted to mention when asked by Goodreads about a review when I marked it as read. A friend commented on it. I wondered if someone had posted the page online. Just searching on “Feast for Crows 565″ led me to lots of reviews complaining about it. I found the missing pages in Google Books. Someone suggested contacting the publisher.

So I decided to try. Bantamdell.com printed on the book goes to randomhouse.com. There I found an FAQ entry suggesting for typographical errors, I contact customer service. So I sent a quick email to the address with the ISBN and title as requested. I just wanted the page. The response was they do not send a copy of the page, but if they have extra copies, then they would send me a whole free book. I just needed to send the printing run. I did.

Today I got the replacement copy. It has the correct pages at 565. Thank you Random House!

It has a very different print run number. Will have to dig at some point and try to figure out how companies come up with the print run number.

 

from Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4