take a hike to boost creativity, little zebra wallpaper, IQ is not the last word on achievement

Those that feel they’re in a creative rut or having yet another bout of writer’s block, might want to take a hike, and I mean that in a nice way, Creativity in the Wild: Improving Higher-Level Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings

Adults and children are spending more time interacting with media and technology and less time participating in activities in nature. This life-style change clearly has ramifications for our physical well-being, but what impact does this change have on cognition? Higher order cognitive functions including selective attention, problem solving, inhibition, and multi-tasking are all heavily utilized in our modern technology-rich society. Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests that exposure to nature can restore prefrontal cortex-mediated executive processes such as these. Consistent with ART, research indicates that exposure to natural settings seems to replenish some, lower-level modules of the executive attentional system. However, the impact of nature on higher-level tasks such as creative problem solving has not been explored. Here we show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers. Our results demonstrate that there is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting. We anticipate that this advantage comes from an increase in exposure to natural stimuli that are both emotionally positive and low-arousing and a corresponding decrease in exposure to attention demanding technology, which regularly requires that we attend to sudden events, switch amongst tasks, maintain task goals, and inhibit irrelevant actions or cognitions. A limitation of the current research is the inability to determine if the effects are due to an increased exposure to nature, a decreased exposure to technology, or to other factors associated with spending three days immersed in nature.

Not everyone has easy access to hiking trials so a walk in the park might have to substitute. Changing routines has also been proven to stimulate the creative thought process – take a different route to work, stop someplace new for coffee, switch back and forth between a PC and a MAC. if you always use a word processor try using pen and paper while sitting by a window.

young zebra wallpaper

young zebra wallpaper

Working memory better test of ability than IQ, says psychology professor

Tracy Packiam Alloway researches working memory at the University of North Florida and has developed the world’s first standardised working memory tests for educators. Her latest book is an edited collection, Working Memory: The Connected Intelligence, published by Psychology Press.

What is working memory?

You could think of it as the brain’s conductor. So for example, when we speak, working memory would be bringing the words that we know together and connecting them into a coherent sentence. It’s the conscious processing of information. We see working memory at work not just in education – researchers have looked at how working memory plays a critical role in a whole range of different daily functions.

[  ]…How is it different from IQ?

It’s so much more important than IQ. The very definition of working memory is your ability to learn, your potential; it doesn’t measure what you have learned. In a typical IQ test, you might have to provide a definition of a word. One of the studies I did in the UK was with students in two schools in very different communities. In one test, they had to give me definitions of words such as “police”. In one school they would say: “They wear uniforms, they keep you safe” and in the other they gave me responses such as: “I don’t like police, they took my dad away.” Unfortunately, the responses in the latter group didn’t match the kind of textbook answers that the test was looking for in terms of knowledge or IQ. In contrast, when I looked at working memory scores, there was no difference. The crucial aspect, which is very exciting, is that working memory is not dependent on environment.

You’ve done work with teachers to find out how they see children with poor working memory.

A lot of times, they describe these children as daydreamers, or maybe just not trying hard enough, or unmotivated. As they get older, they begin to disengage with education, they begin to feel “I can’t do it, I’m going to fail, so why should I try?” The gap between them and their peers begins to widen, because they feel more and more frustrated. These are common features of students with poor working memory.

I have some problems with putting too much emphasis on short term working memory as an indicator of intelligence and even the capacity to learn. Yet she may have a very good point in general about looking beyond standard IQ tests. Some very bright people have eccentric and inconsistent working memory, but are gifted in areas like math or history. There has also been some research that indicates that as a group those who score in the higher percentiles on standardized IQ tests tend to be more successful academically and earn more over their lifetimes. Though that explains only one facet of a group trend. Motivation and working memory may add up to the same academic results. Some kids just don’t like the classroom environment, they can up doing just as well as their gifted friends. Motivation and self discipline can make up so much of the difference between the gifted and the hard workers that the groups are indistinguishable.

Amazingly, just the simple act of offering financial rewards, increases how well someone does on an IQ test. Again, the motivation factor.

 s.i. russel celestral map

 s.i. russell celestial map, circa 19th century. Or “A map of the heavens in January, February and March”.

3,500 Comments Later, Racist Conservatives Apparently Don’t Like Jamie Foxx and Django Very Much. A good indicator of one’s moral and logical bankruptcy is to imagine one has been done great harm by the portrayal a of a slave taking revenge against his en-slavers. Much of this is from the same people who think there will never be an enough deaths to pay for 9-11. The eye for an eye until we’re all blind school of lunacy.

East African balearic crane, 1895

East African balearic crane, 1895

The collodion process was a wet chemical photographic development process that replaced the daguerreotype in the 1850s. It was the first negative process that gave clear details replicating the original photograph. I think it was Henry Fox Talbot who had the first negative process, but it produced a kind of hazy, almost stretch-like picture. The Wet Collodion Process


mike huckabee’s broken moral compass, spinning top wallpaper, memories add up to what defines us

Huckabee Says Connecticut School Massacre Occurred Because We ‘Removed God From Our Schools’

HUCKABEE: Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability? That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us. But one day, we will stand before a Holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.

Mr. Huckabee seems unaware of the reality of the tremendous freedoms students have to exercise their religion. They can pray before school with their families. They can pray at school, but not in an organized prayer by the school because that is a violation of the 1st amendment. He seems to imply that those children died because they violated Huckabee’s idea or concept of how schools should be conducted. Everyone of those children may have been religious. Certainly their parents talked to them about right and wrong. To suggest otherwise is an egregious slander against the parents. Teachers also teach kids about responsibility all through the primary and secondary education years. Discipline issues frequently end up with even more talks about acceptable behavior from schools administrators, with parents a part of those meetings. Huckabee seems to have a mental picture of public schools, children and parents of those children is detached from reality. His zealotry a wall over which he cannot see.

By implication Huckabee has brought up the Christian concept of free will. Huckabee is a Protestant. Protestants believe that God gives everyone the right to choose to accept the teachings of God and Jesus. The children were not allowed to exercise their free will and yet the God Huckabee believes in not intervene to protect the rights of those children.Christians such as Huckabee also believe, simultaneously with the concept of freewill that everything that happens in the universe is part of God’s will. That implies a vengeful or uncaring God that let’s children be terrorized and murdered.

Also according to any of the major denominations of Protestantism, if the murderer makes contrition and accepts Jesus as his savior, he will be forgiven and be given eternal life in Heaven. Huckabee is also thus implying that those children may or may not be allowed into heaven because “we’ve systematically removed God” from schools. Which clearly means that he believes none of the children or adults that were murdered had accepted Jesus as their savior. That brings up some differences in the concept of responsibility between those who tend towards rationalism and Minister Huckabee’s world view. By claiming that the religious practices or lack of, of the victims is shifting blame for their deaths away from the murderer. That seems like a point of view that many Americans would find deeply immoral, irresponsible or otherwise offensive. Maybe this is part of the greatness of the U.S., the Constitution and religious freedom. Minister Huckabee can shift blame to the victims, their parents and the school system, instead of the perpetrator and he will not be tarred and feathered, he will not be stoned to death or burned at the stake for expressing  malevolent thoughts about a national tragedy.

Let’s assume Minister Huckabee’s point of view for moment with a mental exercise. Let’s assume that all the children, adults and parents were atheists. Does that mean that they deserve to suffer the loss of their children. In terms of pure religious doctrine Huckabee has embraced certain moral dogma that does justify his point of view: Whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 2 Chronicles 15:13 and He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:    16. Thus the ten commandments which Huckabee believes in has some fine print with exceptions for the thou shall not kill rule when it involves non-believers. So little wonder that Huckabee is less outraged by the murders themselves than he is with the mere possibility that the children, their parents or the school system might have beliefs that differ from his. A point of view he shares in general concept with American Puritan Cotton Mather of witch trail fame, the Taliban and Iran’s fundamentalist mullahs.

update: rewrote parts for clarity and grammar.

spinning top, toys, orange

spinning top wallpaper

workers taking a break in the snow

workers taking a break in the snow. copyright corbis.

How Michigan’s Right-To-Work Law Came to Be. Amazing how much outside groups like the Koch brothers, ALEC and Grover Norquist had to do with lowering the average pay of a Michigan workers.

street vendor, new york, circa 1900

street vendor, new york, circa 1900.

New research builds on the original ideas of Einstein and adds a new ingredient: a third entangled particle

In 1935 Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen, known jointly as EPR, published a thought experiment designed to show that quantum mechanics was not sufficient to describe reality. EPR tried to demonstrate, with two entangled particles, that there must be some hidden parameters not accounted for in quantum mechanics theory. John Bell would later follow EPR’s arguments and determine that the hidden parameters that EPR argued for were incompatible with observations of nature, leaving the mystery of quantum mechanics intact. Today, the entanglement of two particles as first proposed by EPR, is a valuable resource in emerging quantum technologies like quantum computing, quantum cryptography, and quantum precision measurements.

Seventy-seven years after EPR’s landmark work, researchers at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and at the University of Calgary have experimentally extended the original ideas of Einstein and his colleagues from two to three entangled particles. This new form of three-particle entanglement, based on the position and momentum properties of photons, may prove to be a part of future communications networks that operate on the rules of quantum mechanics and could lead to new fundamental tests of quantum theory that deepen our understanding of the world around us.

As described in their paper published in Nature Physics, the researchers created quantum correlations between three photons from a single input photon. “It is exciting, after all this time, to be able to create, control, and entangle quantum particles in this new way,” says group leader Thomas Jennewein. “Using these states of light it may be possible to interact with and entangle distant quantum computer memories based on exotic atomic gases.” Unlike classical particles, quantum particles work together as opposed to individually. The creation of three entangled particles could lead to new advances in quantum devices development.

Nothing like being rudely booted out of your comfort zone. I had become used to two entanglements. I could imagine them. Whether my imagination did the concept justice might be debatable.

I didn’t especially like this essay as a whole, though it does have an interesting perspective. That must constitute some kind of strange entanglement, Proustian Memory and The Palest Ink

This seems not only sensible, but desirable. As Heidegger said, in Being and Time, “Forgetting is not nothing, nor is it just a failure to remember; it is rather a ‘positive’ ecstatic mode of one’s having been, a mode with a character of its own.” Proustian memory, not the palest ink, should be the ideal we are building into our technology; not what memory recalls, but what it evokes. The palest ink tells us what we’ve done or where we’ve been, but not who we are.

I admit to a strong anti-Heidegger bias, but in terms of the science of memory, forgetting serves some useful psychological and neurological functions. That said we do retain a lot of memories. They too serve a purpose. Contrary to that author’s take, our memories and experiences are a major part of the sum of who we are. he could only make, or attempt to make an evaluation of how important his lost data, his lost memories are, based on values built on a foundation of memory.

western skies wallpaper, too big to indict, broken doors

snow path

snow path

Some musical steampunk, A 120-Year-Old Mechanical Device that Perfectly Mimics the Song of a Bird

if we’re supposed to learn life lessons from the events around us, what kind of message does this send, Too Big To Indict

“It is a dark day for the rule of law. Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system. They also have not charged any top HSBC banker in the case, though it boggles the mind that a bank could launder money as HSBC did without anyone in a position of authority making culpable decisions.’

western skies wallpaper

western skies wallpaper

“Broken Doors”: A young, homeless couple, struggling to survive on the streets of Hollywood, confront one of the biggest challenges of their lives…an unexpected pregnancy.

Broken Doors (trailer) from goro toshima on Vimeo.

broken umbrella, michigan union man stands his ground against conservative thug, black and white mangrove wallpaper

Buster Keaton Holding Broken Umbrella in Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928

Buster Keaton Holding Broken Umbrella in Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928.

“Steamboat” was the inspiration for the first Walt Disney produced Mickey Mouse movie “Steamboat Willie”, also released in 1928.

Conservatives seem to love those “stand your ground” laws. The basic concept is that if you feel threatened by someone your can shoot them dead. Not a bad thing in concept, but a way of thinking that can easily be taken to absurd limits. In one incident, a neighbor’s house, not the shooter’s house, was being robbed. The man said he felt threatened and shot the two men in the back as they fled. Now a hired provocateur working for conservative media and the Koch brothers got up in some people’s faces – anyone that went to school in the USA knows how this works. This agent got up in one two many faces, apparently making one union protester feel. Is it ironic that the union man stood his ground and pushed the guy, Fox News revealed selective editing of punched Fox News contributor. Video of Steven Crowder getting punched is being used as evidence of union thuggery, but who got hit first? VIDEO. If Michigan Republicans, the Koch brothers and provocateurs they ship in from out of state are literally acting like the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, little wonder that the working class citizens of Michigan feel threatened. The Right is defining freedom as the right to take away rights from others.

black and white mangrove wallpaper

black and white mangrove wallpaper

10 Gifts to Celebrate Innovation.

8) Does a man tweet in the woods?: Just because you’re out in the woods doesn’t mean you need to act crazy and let your gadgets lose power. The Biolite CampStove not only allows you to avoid lugging cannisters for cooking–it burns twigs and pine cones and anything else combustible you find lying around–but it also converts the heat from your fire to electricity that can recharge your stuff.

So we’re back to block quotes not working. …I’ve seen a picture of this Biolite stove and it might be a gadget, but actually not a bad idea. I think I’ll pass on the jetpack from Neiman Marcus. Semi-related, “Tetra” sheds as contemporary and expandable modular building system, filed under minimalist architecture.

The arrest of a couple of corporate executives exposes a global racket, Chinese honey laundering

“Investigators would later allege that Giesselbach and von Buddenbrock were at the centre of a multimillion dollar scheme to import cheap Chinese honey and disguise its real origin to evade US tariffs. China is the world’s top producer of honey: it turns out about a quarter of the world’s supply.

Chinese honey is cheap and the US had been a major importer. But in 2001, in the wake of a US government investigation that found domestic honey producers being harmed by significant price disparities between Chinese and American honey, the US levied an anti-dumping duty of roughly $1.20 per pound (454 gm) on Chinese honey. This tariff, its imposition implying that this honey was being sold below its real cost of production, was intended to level the playing field for American beekeepers who could not compete with imported honey selling in America at half their cost.”

Is there anything, any business, any activity that someone somewhere cannot corrupt.

so comparatively i guess death threats against atheists are not that bad, stem cells from urine

The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist


-The annual “freedom of thought” report from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an advocacy umbrella group that represents and seeks to protect non-religious people, details laws and practices around the world that punish or restrict atheism. The group presented the report to the United Nations today.

The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist

larger map


The report tracks, among other things, which countries have laws explicitly targeting atheists. There are not many, but the states that forbid non-religiousness – typically as part of “anti-blasphemy” legislation – include seven nations where atheism is punishable by death. All seven establish Islam as the state religion. Though that list includes some dictatorships, the country that appears to most frequently condemn atheists to death for their beliefs is actually a democracy, if a frail one: Pakistan. Others include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, the West African state of Mauritania, and the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. These countries are colored red on the above map.-

Actual death sentences are rare, but obviously such blasphemy or heretic laws, have a tremendous oppressive effect on religious freedom and intellectual freedom. So I guess one should be grateful that we live in a country where being atheists will likely get you some death threats, will automatically disqualify you from elected office ( there have been some rare exceptions), may get you fired and keep you from getting a job ( though employers are generally clever enough to cite other reasons).

reach and grasp

reach and grasp

We’re all peepee heads now, From Urine to Neurons

-Chinese scientists have found a way to transform cells from human urine into neural progenitor cells that can become several different types of functioning brain cell. Published this week (December 9) in Nature Methods, the research offers a quicker and relatively easy way to generate neurons and glial cells that will be useful for studying neurodegenerative conditions, like Alzheimer’s, and for testing related therapies.-

I have my fingers crossed about breakthroughs in neruodegenerative diseases related to aging. I have issues with getting old, but none of them matches the dread of being severely cognitively impaired.

1950s city collage

1950s city collage


The Dave Brubeck Quartet “St Louis Blues”

Einstein and Schrodinger letters hint at discovery of dark energy, daffodil wallpaper

Old letters between Einstein and Schrodinger hint at early discovery of Dark Energy

“In 1917 Einstein published his Cosmological Considerations Concerning the General Theory of Relativity. In it was the first use of the cosmological constant. Shortly thereafter Schrodinger presented a note providing a solution to these same equations with the cosmological constant term transposed to the right hand side thus making it part of the stress-energy tensor. Einstein commented that if Schrodinger had something more than a mere mathematical convenience in mind he should describe its properties. Then Einstein detailed what some of these properties might be. In so doing, he gave the first description of Dark Energy.”

Block quotes do not seem to be working today. Anyway, Einstein said that not seeing that the universe was constantly expanding at an accelerated rate (the cosmological constant term transposed to the right hand side) was one of his biggest mistakes. It seems that  Schrodinger did and Einstein would have included early on, if Schrodinger had produced more evidence. Einstein did change his cosmological constant later. The quote is from the introduction to the paper, and it is one of those times where the researchers were good enough to make the full paper available for download for everyone.

daffodil wallpaper

daffodil wallpaper.

Yesterday was the 182nd anniversary of Emily Dickinson’s birth.



Bill O’Reilly is lucky the Pinocchio effect is just a fairy tale otherwise he’d need a dump-truck just to take his nose to work, Bill O’Reilly Does Not Understand The U.S. Tax Code. Usually what average Americans struggle with are allowable deductions. The basic tax rates, shown in your tax return booklet are relatively easy. O’Reilly and Fox News constantly repeat the zombie legend that lowering taxes and deregulating will allow corporations the income needed to create more jobs – the whole concept of demand gets lost. And reports like this keep coming along, CHART: Corporate Profits Skyrocket While Corporate Taxes Plummet, which means that corporations will not hire people as long as they are making huge profits without hiring.

This, Filed under Cinema / Forgotten Classics O Lucky Man! reminded me of If…. the movie, released in 1968 ( you have to have the four dots).

There has possibly been no better point in Britain’s political history to reinvestigate Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 film, If….  With the ‘ruling elite’ in Britain back where they think they belong, ie ‘ruling’ (but with no particular aim other than protecting their own god-given career trajectory), If…. is a brave and singular attempt to explain why this self-proclaimed elite are so out-of-touch with anything outside of their sheltered little realms (As is stated at the start of the film “Town is out of bounds”).

There is an overall 1968 anti-establishment vibe, but it has a larger appeal than just that. That part of us that gets into a mood and is contrarian about the social order and politics, everything is screwed up. They take verbal and literal shots at an establishment liberal ( a Tony Blair of 1968), the sadistic and authoritarian upper level boys ( who hand out the brutal corporate punishment), the worshipers of tradition for tradition’s sake – the conservative headmaster and other professors. If…. is available on DVD.

vintage magazine covers, canvas autumn leaf wallpaper, why does bob corker hate america

delineator magazine 1931

delineator magazine 1931. the delineator was founded in 1869, originally called the metropolitan monthly. under the direction of prominent journalist and editor, Marie Mattingly Meloney it acquired and made the magazine the designer part of delineator. one of the delineators manging editors was the great American writer Theodore Dreiser, the author of  An American Tragedy (1925). note that one of the writers on the cover is Dorothy Canfield who was named by Eleanor Roosevelt as one of the most influential women of the 20th century. She had a large part in bringing the Montesorri teaching methods to the U.S.

ladies home journal 1909

ladies home journal 1909. i included this cover mostly for the art work. it reminds me of some of winslow homers’ sea themed works.

mccalls magazine 1938

mccalls magazine 1938. mccalls was orignanly a small magzine called the queen stated in 1873. its published writers included Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald,  John Steinbeck, Anne Tyler and Kurt Vonnegut. for better or worse rosie o’donnell became editorial director and the magazine was renamed rosie. that magazine ceased publican in 2002. this cover is extraordinarily modern for 1938. it represents the trend toward a sporty casual lifestyle that would become the standard for american men and women.

 fashion magazine De Gracieuse late 1900s

fashion magazine De Gracieuse late 1900s. the oldest for last. the model may look old-fashioned, but that feminine imitation of menswear was a cultural trend setter. older women of the era would not have been shocked per se, but seen it as the kind of fashion they should would not have been allowed to wear when they were young.

Capt. Jessica Scott was voted one of Esquire’s Americans of the Year,

Poor, fat, sexless old white men. Such an oppressed minority. Especially poor, fat, sexless old white men driven to distraction by the very thought of women having nonprocreative sex. The very idea makes them so sweaty that they take to their radio shows and call these women sluts. That’s what Rush Limbaugh did this past spring. He went on the air and called Sandra Fluke, a college student who had the gall to advertise her need for birth control publicly, a “slut.”

And in the din that followed, nothing was as beautiful as the simple tweet of Jessica Scott, a captain in the United States Army, who wrote these words to the world: “I used #birthcontrol while deployed with my husband so I *wouldn’t* get pregnant & sent home. #iamnotaslut.”

139 women soldiers and Marines have died in Iraq and Afghanistan while Rush Limbaugh makes jokes about their right to the same full range of health care that men get. Rush of course makes millions from the misogynistic rubes that listen to him and he is still very much the unofficial head of the Republican party.

canvas autumn leaf wallpaper

canvas autumn leaf wallpaper

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)  gets up everyday wondering, what would a plastic patriot like me do today to give the average American a big rusty shaft, Republican Senator: GOP Should Hold Debt Ceiling Hostage As Leverage For Medicare Cuts. Conservatives are always babbling on about the decline of American culture. maybe that is to distract attention to their well-organized, well-financed efforts to push for the decline of American culture.

When Jonathan Harris ( http://number27.org ) turned 30, he began a simple ritual of taking one photo a day and posting it to his website before going to sleep, along with a short story. He called this project, ‘Today’.