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2/07/08

4:35 PM While the website was down over the past couple of days, I began the book below, Gut Feelings, on our unconscious use of intuition. The book is highly interesting (mainly because of the subject matter itself) but I find it a bit verbose. Perhaps it’s tough to talk about such a sublime subject in a scientific capacity without getting a bit heavy on the verbiage, so I think overall the author does a good job.

Incidentally the book is all about how we use rules of thumb, mostly without realizing it. I blogged about some rules of thumb I had on my mind almost a week ago, but the meaning of the term here is slightly different.

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

Some interesting factoids I’ve learned so far (italics author’s, bolds mine):

• In one experiment people were categorized into two categories:

People who reported exhaustive search in shopping and leisure were called maximizers, because they tried hard to get the best. Those who engaged in a limited search and settled quickly with the first alternative that was satisfactory or “good enough” were called satisficers. Satisficers were reported to be more optimistic and have higher self-esteem and life satisfaction, whereas maximizers excelled in depression, perfectionism, regret, and self-blame.

Pg. 6

• There is a limit to how much information the human mind can digest, which usually corresponds to the magical number seven (plus or minus two).
Pg. 31

• Quotation from A.N. Whitehead:

“It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we could cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”

Pg. 40

• On the importance of how we frame questions and statements:

In an experiment, a full glass of water and an empty glass are put on a table. The experimenter asks the participant to pour half of the water into the other glass, and to place the half-empty glass at the edge of the table. Which one does the participant pick? Most people chose the previously full glass. When other participants were asked to move the half-full glass, most of them chose the previously empty one. The experiment reveals that the framing of a request helps people extract surplus information concerning the dynamics or history of the situation and helps them to guess what it means. Once again, intuition is richer than logic.

Pg. 100

5:57 PM Has anyone else noticed how, in non-fiction books (including the self-help type), there’s an increasing trend of presenting comparative situations with the antagonist as male and protagonist as female? I’ve noticed it in many books (most recently the one above), that the smarter person or the person who is right over another in a given situation is female while the one that is wrong is male. All the books that I can think of where I’ve observed this were written by men.

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2/01/08

4:59 PM Walked 8.16 miles (13 km) today, in approximately 2 hours, in the rain. It was awesome, even though my legs got tired by the end and I was soaking wet when I arrived home. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have music with me.

While walking I thought about rules of thumb. Just earlier I heard one on TV and it reminded me of two others I’d heard before. I have no idea where they came from (although I know where I got them from), and I have no clue how credible they are, but they’re told with such conviction that you can’t help but remember them after hearing them just once. The three I refer to are:

• You only truly love three women in your life (Haruki Murakami short story)
• Average time from a project’s inception to its publication is 7 years (stated in an interview by a soon-to-be-published author, who was in turn quoting her mentor/teacher)
• Men fall in love with the woman they’re attracted to; women become attracted to the man they love (movie Sex, Lies, and Videotape)

5:52 PM Interesting factoid on everyone’s darling Mahatma Gandhi from the book I’m presently reading (square brackets mine):

…But serious dissent was caused among even the most loyal of them [Gandhi's followers] by his “brahmacharya experiments” during 1946 and 1947. The aged Mahatma had been “testing” his vow of celibacy by sleeping at night in bed with a naked or partially clothed woman. The object of the experiments was to transcend physical arousal. One night, when the police turned up to arrest him, they found him in bed with a girl of eighteen. The British authorities decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and hushed up the police report.

…According to him [a distinguished anthropologist], several women were involved, and many among them became personally possessive of Gandhi, some to the point of emotional crisis. Gandhi’s grandniece, Abha, who started sleeping next to the Mahatma when she was just sixteen and he seventy-four, spoke of the experience in later life. “I don’t remember whether he had any clothes on or not,” she told an interviewer. “I don’t like to think about it.”

…Bose [Subhash Chandra Bose] remembered that “if anybody questioned Gandhiji’s purity in respect of sex, he could fly into an anger.” Along with several others, Bose felt he had no option but to resign from Gandhi’s service. The Mahatma was unmoved. “If I can master this,” he is supposed to have said of his experiments, “I can still beat Jinnah [founding father of Pakistan].”

Indian Summer, Pgs. 125-126

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1/30/08 / How I see knowledge

2:31 PM National Geographic on your brain.

2:44 PM Imagine, if you can, the following:

You enter a room, a big dark room. In your hand is a flashlight. You’re still; you turn on the flashlight and shine it around the room. You see the walls of the room and see how large it is. The room is existence, and the flashlight is the beam of your knowledge. Now – and this is the whole point of this picture – when you take a step you realize that the beam gets a bit brighter. You have more knowledge now than the previous moment, but the bitch of it is that now when you shine the light around the room, the walls aren’t any brighter or closer. In fact they’ve moved farther away from you: the room is getting bigger. Not only that, the room is getting bigger with each step you take, with every additional bit of knowledge you acquire.

That’s how I feel: that the more I learn, the more I learn that there’s so much more out there for me to learn. The beam of knowledge that’s represented by that flashlight is getting brighter day after day, but with it the container of knowledge, my consciousness, is getting bigger also – and the room is growing larger faster than the beam is growing brighter, so if right now I can see the walls of the room pretty soon I won’t be able to. It’s not a good feeling; not very fulfilling; it doesn’t leave me feeling wiser or accomplished.

7:48 PM Just learned that today is International Delete Your MySpace Account Day. My first thought, on reading the article, was when the same will follow for Facebook, and judging by comments on the article I’m not the only one who that thought occurred to. People are quite polarized when it comes to these social networking sites. There are those those are on all of them, those who feel Facebook is superior to MySpace, and finally those who say they all suck. The whole ordeal does make me feel somewhat relieved that I have my own port in the storm where I don’t have to get sucked into the politics of it if I choose not to.

Here’s the original article by the guy who initiated this international event. I’d like to take from his post his list of reasons why MySpace sucks, because it’s pretty exhaustive:

1. You rarely log in to Myspace except to delete spam friend requests from nude webcam girls.

2. You spend five minutes writing a wall post only to hit an error message when you try to post it because of all the website glitches.

3. You’re a girl who constantly gets marriage proposals from random men in the middle east.

4. You visit someone’s Myspace profile only to suddenly have music start blasting out of your speakers. Bonus points if it happens to you while you’re at work.

5. You have to make redundant clicks to perform simple tasks because Myspace keeps taking you to advertisement pages where you have to click on “return to myspace profile” in order to continue what you’re doing.

6. You visit someone’s profile only to have your eyes bleed because of terrible page layout with non-matching designs and font colors.

7. Your experience is hindered because of intrusive banner ads that either talk to you or try to reach out and block your view of what you’re trying to look at.

8. You read yet another news account about how some child predator using Myspace has abducted a little girl or that some hoax myspace account has caused a teenager to commit suicide.

9. You’re frustrated with the fact that Myspace doesn’t allow you to post your contact info, meaning to contact someone you can only use Myspace’s glitchy Instant Messenger, message/email system, or wall commenting.

10. You’re tired of seeing Tom stare out at you from millions of friends lists and just wish he would change his fucking profile picture.

I placed in bold reasons that I can relate to, although I do think it’s unfair to pick on MySpace simply because it’s the largest of the bunch. There are some really interesting user comments (from this same webpage) that I’d like to share here as well.

Here’s one denouncing social networking sites (SNS) as a whole:

Leo of BORG said,
January 22, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

Sheesh.

My favorite line coming from IRL friends is that they’re moving from SNS X -> Y because ‘the people are better’ or ‘it’s more mature’.. FaceSpace, MyBook, it’s all the bankrupcy of continual partial attention. Blur blur blur.

If you can’t brand yourself [for some reason], what’s the point of being on these SNS’s?????

So fine. You’re going to whack one line of spam and then go ‘SuperPoke’ your friends on the other??

Okay then, off you go.

Here’s one defending MySpace over Facebook:

Travis said,
January 22, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

Whats funny is most of the things he is talking about why he don’t like myspace. He can change that myspace has all the spam stuff added now so you don’t get any spam. All you have to do is go to your setting and in the last half year the spam has gone down anyways.

About error messages I have not got one for like 2 months. Myspace has stop that from happening. And if facebook had all the people myspace does then it would have just as many error messages.

About #4. You can turn music off so it doesn’t play

#6 I hate facebook b/c it look so boring and old. People on myspace likes to do stuff with there pages. And most of them look good if they don’t its ok b/c its the person profile they should be able to do whatever they like to it.

#9 You can do it there myspace doesn’t look at you page see if you have your email, aim and other stuff on it. I have never heard of myspace delete someone b/c of that. Most people don’t even know that you are not allow to.

#10 He doesn’t change he picture b/c he doesn’t want people to know that its him in real life and he said it works most people don’t know that its him b/c he really doesn’t look like that anymore.

In all everyone I know has myspace and in the last year myspace has added a lot of new stuff to make it even more better then facebook. And myspace has said there is more to come. :]]
and facebook is getting bad with all the feeds and applications now.

One about Facebook not letting users completely delete their profiles:

superwallofshit said,
January 22, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

Re. the “Delete your FB Account Day”… not sure how successful it’d be.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is investigating Facebook’s data protection policies after complaints by users that they couldn’t fully delete their profile. This has been an ogoing issue with Facebook as users are forced to manually… http://www.allfacebook.com/2008/01/facebook-under-investigation-in-the-uk/

This one’s just good:

scientist said,
January 22, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

you sir, are a moron. support facebook, but not myspace? That’s like quitting coke for pepsi because it has too much sugar.

And it goes on and on and on…

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Oh tabla!

What is the sound of you?

Like a thunderbolt, you strike a chord!
b d p t are your letters…and the occasional l.

Your voice is guttural and basic – even primordial.
When you first strike you speak of the birth of planets and space – not like a foot falling on a moist forest floor but a god yielding the whip over the horse of creation.

Your chaotic dribble is the hustle and bustle of this life.
You’re not high-strung or plucky (except for that occasional l).

Like a slap in the face is your palm strike,
Not glossy and sharp but matte and dull in timbre.

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