2010: Week 33 Blots

BLOT: (20 Aug 2010 - 11:21:22 AM)

The NYTimes on why innocent e-mails can lead to trouble

This is a three-year-old article, but it makes some good points: E-mail is easy to write (and to Misread). Central to it, are these lines:

New findings have uncovered a design flaw at the interface where the brain encounters a computer screen: there are no online channels for the multiple signals the brain uses to calibrate emotions.
Face-to-face interaction, by contrast, is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us not only from their tone and facial expressions, but also from their body language and pacing, as well as their synchronization with what we do and say.
Most crucially, the brain's social circuitry mimics in our neurons what's happening in the other person's brain, keeping us on the same wavelength emotionally.

And, as anyone who has ever received an e-mail from their unrequited love interest knows, this next bit:

In an article to be published next year in the Academy of Management Review*, Kristin Byron, an assistant professor of management at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management, finds that e-mail generally increases the likelihood of conflict and miscommunication.
One reason for this is that we tend to misinterpret positive e-mail messages as more neutral, and neutral ones as more negative, than the sender intended. Even jokes are rated as less funny by recipients than by senders.

Like that bit about jokes isn't well known by anyone who has ever, EVER, received a joke from their mom. What I find most interesting (and I'll return this after doing some more studying on it) is that we don't merely see our own emotions in the e-mails we get, but we see emotions based on a complex interchange of concepts. I can attest that neutral e-mails feel dismissive rather than quick, perfunctory instead of efficient. Weird people, we are. Weird people.

TAGS: E-mail

*: The article in question is - BYRON, KRISTIN. "CARRYING TOO HEAVY A LOAD? THE COMMUNICATION AND MISCOMMUNICATION OF EMOTION BY EMAIL." Academy of Management Review 33, no. 2 (April 2008): 309-327. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (Assension Number: 31193163). I have not read it, but have saved it and will be reading it this weekend.

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 33
BY MONTH: August 2010

BLOT: (18 Aug 2010 - 01:57:48 PM)

Holy Neptune's Nascent Nebula! Star Gazer (nee Star Hustler) is still active!

When I was a younger lad, say about from about eight to maybe thirteen or fourteen, I would stay up late on Saturday nights and watch old Doctor Who and, later, Are You Being Served (etc) episodes on APT's WDIQ (yes, W-DIQ, pervert). At the time, it was "Channel 2" out of Dozier. Now it looks like digital channel 10. It's coverage just reached us in Evergreen, and not always super well, but I had this little black and white TV that I would hook up to an elaborate antenna system that was specifically set up to get that one station, and then would still have to get up and tweak it once or twice an hour to get better reception. After their Saturday late night block (which was prefaced by, and I think still is, the Lawrence Welk Hour/Show, which I hated as a kid), they would have a short, couple-of-minute program called The Star Hustler. "Some people hustle pool, some people hustle cars. now here's that man you've heard about, the one who hustles stars."1. Then it would start playing Isao Tomita's rendition of Debussy's Arabesque No. 1, and Jack would come out and say something like "Greetings, fellow stargazers!" and would go on a short lecture about some event or planet or what have you that you could see naked eye. Then he ended it with "Keep looking up".

I have not watched the show since some time in the early 90s, and in that human way, had assumed it was no more. It had a quaint name, a quaint feel, with bad green-screen technology and an unusual host. Still, I miss it from time to time. Especially when I'm watching one of the old Doctor Who episodes or "Brit-coms". Today it was especially bad, because I was watching the DW serial "The Leisure Hive" that not only was one of the old ones back on APT but also happened to have some horrid green-screen moments. I decided to look old Star Hustler (LGT: Wikipedia) up. And found out that it is now Star Gazer (LGT: Official site). Holy crap. It's still around!

For sample...

And, it's quality is pretty poor but you can see on of the mid 80s ones that I might have watched as an 8 year old: The Centaurs Secret Revealed and Tipping Tea on a Terrible Tail. Notice that half the featured videos beside it involve Star Gazer, and half involve breasts (at least when I open the link).

According to the Wiki link, above, the show changed it's name due to the Internet's obsession with porn, and there is no way that Hustler would not trip up something as a keyword. Reading through the website also confirmed my tingling suspicion that it was aired nightly (or near nightly) but I wouldn't have seen it on school nights and such. At any rate, good times...

1: Of course I could not remember that whole thing, so I looked it up on this long and truly fascinating read about the birth of the program and the travails of its host: THE MANY PHASES OF JACK HORKHEIMER [note, I have a copy on my site, but the original was linked to here, since there are spaces in that link, it might not work just right].

TAGS: Science Popularization, TV Shows

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 33
BY MONTH: August 2010

BLOT: (18 Aug 2010 - 08:57:02 AM)

From CNN.com: Girls Reaching Puberty Early

From Study: More U.S. girls starting puberty early:

More than 10 percent of white 7-year-old girls in the study, which was conducted in the mid-2000s, had reached a stage of breast development marking the start of puberty, compared to just 5 percent in a similar study conducted in the early 1990s.Black and Hispanic girls continue to mature faster than white girls, on average. Nearly one-quarter of black girls and 15 percent of Hispanic girls had entered puberty by age 7, according to the new study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics...
Experts aren't sure what's behind the increase in earlier puberty, but it's likely due to a combination of factors, including the childhood obesity epidemic and substances in the environment.

I blame plastics.

Ok, I don't exactly blame plastics, but they have shown micro-build-ups in animals' systems (livers and such) can cause higher than normal levels of various biologically altering substances to stick around [see the book The World Without Us for several discourses on this]. They make little chemical nets, leading to a problem in some fish and in animals that feed off fish, and since a lot of plastics break down into little beads and fibers almost too small see (if not too small to see) then the problem can be entirely overlooked. However, since these plastics tend to build up in animal's inner organs, which eight year old girls don't tend to eat, I wouldn't stake anything like a professional reputation on it. It is actually mentioned in the article, though, to some degree. "Chemicals in the environment - most notably bisphenol-A (BPA), which is found in many hard plastic products - may affect hormones as well..." [Doug's note: Take any science mentioned on CNN.com with such a heavy grain of salt that it will raise your blood pressure]

By the way, favorite line in the whole thing? "But it's not yet clear why girls - and especially white girls - are starting to physically mature at younger ages." Apparently it's one thing when those mocha-fine tweens are budding breasts, but when lily-white does the same, it's a problem.

Second favorite line is the completely overlooked link between mother's who enter puberty early and daughters who do the same. And, this might be a stretch, but maybe mom's who have kids early due to early kid-bearing possibilities might just have kids more. Genetics? CNN.com don't need no stinkin' genetics.

Of course, make note that by "puberty", they are mostly talking about breasts "budding" (their quote, I swear, but doesn't that put you in mind of the same sort of dime-store romance novel that would use the phrase "sighs with unspent passions" waaaay too many times?) and frankly, a fat 7-year old white boy is going to have breast buds, too. But still, I blame plastics.


BY WEEK: 2010, Week 33
BY MONTH: August 2010

BLOT: (18 Aug 2010 - 01:16:05 AM)

Thanks, Huntsville Times, for living up to expectations...

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 33
BY MONTH: August 2010

Written by Doug Bolden

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