the neuroscience of aesthetic moments, green print wallpaper, datasexuals misplaced priorities

In environmental philosophy there is something called an aesthetic moment. A moment when the viewer is deeply moved by something or an event that is of the natural world. A Caribbean sunset, the lights of mountain cabins of a clear winter night, a cactus flower, a sea tornado just off the beach, a school of parrot fish. Not everyone has perfectly match aesthetic moments, and intensity can vary, but observing and having a reaction to natural beauty is universal. The same seems to be true for human-made works of art and be cause for contemplation as well, Aesthetic Appeal May Have Neurological Link to Contemplation and Self-Assessment

A network of brain regions which is activated during intense aesthetic experience overlaps with the brain network associated with inward contemplation and self-assessment, New York University researchers have found. Their study sheds new light on the nature of the aesthetic experience, which appears to integrate sensory and emotional reactions in a manner linked with their personal relevance.

[   ]…However, for paintings receiving a “4”—indicating a piece truly moved a subject—fMRI results showed the engagement of an additional neurological process. While subjects varied in which paintings received “4s,” the brains of all subjects showed a significant increase in activity in a specific network of frontal and subcortical regions in response to artworks they reported as highly moving. This activity included several regions belonging to the brain’s “default mode network” (DMN), which had previously been associated with self-referential mentation.

“Aesthetic judgments for paintings are highly individual, in that the paintings experienced as moving differ widely across people,” the researchers observed. “But the neural systems supporting aesthetic reactions remain largely the same from person to person. Moreover, the most moving paintings produce a selective activation of a network of brain regions which is known to activate when we think about personally relevant matters such as our own personality traits and daydreams, or when we contemplate our future.”

That would seem to indicate that we’re all wired by evolution to experience beauty, but what we feel or think is beautiful can be shaped by environment – or nurturing. At the opposite end of the spectrum this might also explain why people have such visceral reactions to things they personally find ugly or gross.

old fairy soap advertisement

Conservative Misogynist Donald Trump Hosts Birthday Fundraiser For Ann Romney. A couple of Trumps past comments:

3. “[Angelina Jolie's] been with so many guys she makes me look like a baby, OK, with the other side. And, I just don’t even find her attractive.” [2006]

5. “Well, you know ‘The National Enquirer’ did a story they said, ‘Who’s had more supermodels than any man ever in history?’ ‘Let’s name ‘em, let’s each of us name ‘em’ ‘I’ve had a lot of them, I’ll tell you that.” [2011]

So Trump thinks of himself as quite the man for all his alleged conquests. Yet he regards women who may have acted like him as immoral. Doesn’t that mean that by his own definition for proper moral behavior, that he is a whore.

green print wallpaper

Unfortunately you can only get the abstract to this paper, Why Joint Decision Making Exacerbates Rejection of Outside Information

Prior investigators have asserted that certain group characteristics cause group members to disregard outside information and that this behavior leads to diminished performance. We demonstrate that the very process of making a judgment collaboratively rather than individually also contributes to such myopic underweighting of external viewpoints. Dyad members exposed to numerical judgments made by peers gave significantly less weight to those judgments than did individuals working alone. This difference in willingness to use peer input was mediated by the greater confidence that the dyad members reported in the accuracy of their own estimates.

(a dyad is a group of two people)

I would not reject the two heads are better than one in all circumstances. I’m not a mathematician so while I can do some higher math, in situations where my figures will land on someone else’s desk I tend to have them double checked. The study does show that when working on a solution to a problem that might not be as cut and dry as math, your partner can actually give you more confidence in a solution that will not work. Even to the point that you both reject real solutions to the problem provided by an outside authority. It only takes two to begin to have a group bias. Bias that resists new information.

old town photography

blue town square bench

Does anyone realize what the GOP just did? Republicans save an unpopular tax loophole that favors the super-rich, and they might just get away with it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Credit: AP)
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Senate Republicans used a filibuster to kill the Buffett Rule last night.

The Senate minority kill the Buffet Rule – a minimum 30% tax on millionaires – even though the majority of the public supports such a change in the tax code. If you know that conservatives are going to use the filibuster to kill such a change, why bother. The thinking goes that this will embarrass conservatives. That might be with independents. Though is not likely to have much effect on conservatives since one would have to honestly look at the deficit, our infrastructure issues and slashes in education funding among other items and see that conservatives have no shame. They have no shame about making bridges crumble, letting education deteriorate, the elderly and disabled do without Medicaid in order to make government less effective at solving problems that individuals in this very complex economy, cannot fix on their own. So Democrats may be using the only tool they have in trying to highlight the regressive conservative agenda. It will only have limited effect on a political movement that takes joy in seeing the U.S. decay. Look at the nation’s that make a large share of our manufactured goods – Germany, Japan, Sweden China. They all, except China, have unions. They all have public health care plans. Their economies are in better shape than ours. Conservatives have no real world example now or in history they can point to and and say look at how great this country was government by conservative dogma. Everything they advocate is simply taken as a matter of political canon The Book of Right-Wingisms Verse 2 Chap 3. Where in those who were not born into wealth can suck it.

One last link, Meet the Urban Datasexual 

The same cultural zeitgeist that gave us the metrosexual – the urban male obsessive about grooming and personal appearance – is also creating its digital equivalent: the datasexual. The datasexual looks a lot like you and me, but what’s different is their preoccupation with personal data. They are relentlessly digital, they obsessively record everything about their personal lives, and they think that data is sexy. In fact, the bigger the data, the sexier it becomes. Their lives – from a data perspective, at least – are perfectly groomed.

[  ]…True datasexuals, however, will not stop at just collecting and recording bits of data from the Web. They are obsessively driven to use a proliferating number of mobile devices and apps to make data-grooming a reality. Consider the example of Placeme, a new app that is as “scary” as it is “futuristic.” What PlaceMe does is plug into the ambient monitoring functionality of your mobile device in order to relentlessly record all of your personal data on a highly granular level. Consider a typical trip to a retail store — Placeme would be able to record everything from which door of the store you entered, to how long you spent in each aisle, to the approximate speed at which you traversed various departments.

I’ll admit to being an info addict. Not a news addict – the latest headlines are not necessarily the most important events of the day. These people seem too obsessed with the mundane and what stuff other people consume. For most of us the trick is to whittle down all the information that comes at us to get at the marrow of what matters. Or even hopefully, something entertaining , or reason to have hope.

The Strypes – You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover. In black and white. Some very young guys who might be the next generation’s revival of a blend of R&B with rockabilly.