February 10, 2006

Hey Little Sister - Shotgun!

  • Zillow.com (tools, realestate, maps)
    • What are the home values in any given area? Check them all out on a Google-style map with this interesting tool.
  • Sketch Swap (art, web, drawing, fun, flash)
    • Draw one, get one back.
  • Waterfall 2006 - International Conference on Sequential Development (humor, programming, satire, development)
    • Software developers are revolutionary type folk, and they like to make fun of previously popular development models.
  • 30 Boxes | it's your life (calendar, tools, web)
    • Simple, efficient online calendar
  • Katamari Damacy Song Lyrics - Translated (games, lyrics)
    • Ever wonder what they're singing in Katamari Damacy (hands down the most entertaining and creative video games in the last few years)? Here you go.
  • Count to 31 on One Hand (math, productivity, tips, howto)
    • Count from 0 to 31 if you do it like a computer does it. OK - it's obvious to math and computer folks, but it's fun for the whole family. Teach your kids!
  • 18 Tricks to Teach Your Body (fun, health, howto, science, tricks)
    • Teach an old bod new tricks. So handy! F'rinstance, clear your sinuses without Sudafed. Ease a toothache. Distract your bladder…
  • TypeNow.net Themed Fonts Movie and Music Fonts (art, resources, download, fonts, graphics)
    • Download fonts similar to those used in familiar movie, music and other contexts.


Posted by James at February 10, 2006 12:41 AM
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I don't know how that person got its cat to sit for those pix, but cats hate citrus.

Funny, though.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 10, 2006 10:11 AM

Of course, I'll be singing about chutney all day now. Thanks, James.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 10, 2006 10:14 AM

I don't like it when people dress up animals. I hope when that guy woke up the next morning, he found a dead mouse in an appropriate location. Like inside his bottle of mouthwash.

Posted by: Maggie at February 10, 2006 11:40 AM

Y'know, I really hate "Men's Health" magazine to begin with, because I think it's like "Glamour" for men, and did men really need that pain? Some marketing genius thought so. But, all that aside, some of the suggestions in the "18 tricks to teach your body" are absolutely ridiculous. I can get rid of my nearsightedness by relaxing my muscles? Please. My nearsightedness is genetic, I've had it since I was 12, since long before I was staring at a computer screen. There were a couple of other really stupid ones. I hate this trend of short, pithy lists in magazines. What a useless and misleading form of media.

Posted by: Maggie at February 10, 2006 12:04 PM

Hey, that sinus-clearing one really works.

But, yeah, I suppose that nearsightedness is a sham perpetrated on us by the laser surgery lobby. ;) Or people who jsut plain like to wear glasses.

Everybody had perfect vision in the days before computers.

Posted by: James at February 10, 2006 12:58 PM

Oh, I wasn't knocking your interesting links. I just have a pet peeve against quippy little magazine blurbs that are generally poorly researched, by nature incomplete, and often just plain wrong.

You'll see on the cover "cure your vertigo," for example (this is a true one), and then inside, rather than there being a comprehensive article on the different kinds of vertigo, there's a brief, two-paragraph column about one kind of vertigo, discussing it as if all vertigo were caused by the same underlying anatomical malfunction.

When I was a teenager I used to believe some of these things, and it's only more recently that I've begun to regard them as evil. The people in this country need to grow an attention span.

Posted by: Maggie at February 10, 2006 1:36 PM

Interesting you should bring that up, because I just saw a book in the store recently called "Think" which was a rebuttal (kind of) to Malcom Gladwell's "Blink," which the author thought contributed to the devaluation of reflection and thought.

I have to say I had a similar reaction when I saw the flutter of interest over that book. I haven't read it, so I can't comment on whether it does contribute to the search for easy answers.

People love "tips." It's just too bad that the hunt for tips sometimes does not lead them to go a little further in their study.

Yet another symptom of our rushed society. I would say, though, that tips are often better than no tips, except int he case of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." My worry is that people end up thinking they know more than they do, which isn't just an image problem. It becomes a practical problem when they have to apply their knowledge. Or vote, for instance.

Posted by: James at February 10, 2006 1:43 PM

Where is everybody?

Oh, well.

I think it gives people the impression that they can understand a given situation in five seconds or less. Of course, that's based completely on nothing, and it may be that this is about all most humans can do anyway, or that "tips" and "blurbs" are not contributing to the problem, they're just a symptom. I don't object to "tips" and "blurbs" if they're an accurate summary. It's just that many magazine "tips" and "blurbs" have built-in marketing which makes them misleading and false.

Now, on the complete flip side of "tips" and "blurbs" is 24-hour news coverage of the death of two people, where absolutely nothing new or interesting has happened in the last 12 hours. Yet we keep going, showing the same pictures, the same video, and the same headlines. How many people have died in that 24-hour period, from problems that we could actually control and change?

But I ranted about that all last night, so you've heard that one. And nobody else seems to be here except you, me, and Patti! (And I know Julie's lurking because she implied that I'm in an angry mood. :-P )

Posted by: Maggie at February 10, 2006 3:11 PM

I'm going to talk more about "Blink" for no particular reason.

One of the premises of that book is that people often make their best decisions on little information with not much thought.

Since my first reaction to "Blink" was that it was BS, I am going to put it behind me and not waste my time thinking about it anymore. ;)

Posted by: James at February 10, 2006 3:25 PM

I'm lurking too. didn't have much to add except that I pretty much agree with you Maggie and that the whole thing falls in line nicely with my theory that "People are Stupid". I suppose it shouldbe "In general, people are stupid" but the "in general" part seems to be the exception rather than the rule so I'm going to leave it out.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at February 10, 2006 3:38 PM
My worry is that people end up thinking they know more than they do, which isn't just an image problem. It becomes a practical problem when they have to apply their knowledge.

Like when they need to find a stapler, for example.

To avoid coughing, stick your finger in your ear. To avoid hearing, stick your finger down your throat.

Posted by: at February 10, 2006 3:39 PM

That... was... MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Posted by: Julie at February 10, 2006 3:39 PM

Everybody thinks they know more than they do (myself included). If they didn't no one would ever be wrong (at least not unintentionally).
And I'm always right.
Just ask Patti.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at February 10, 2006 3:56 PM

I was busy working, so I didn't have a chance to rebut my fabulous husband. He doesn't argue a point unless he firmly believes he is right.

Case in point: last week, our yard flooded for the nth time, and our neibhbor, Mr. OCD Tidy, came by to give us his "helpful" suggestions. Bob finally got the chance to tell him that the flooding is much worse because Mr. OCD Tidy cut down ~60 trees two years ago. When he replied that he doesn't think that has anything to do with it, Bob looked at him and said, "Scott. Come on."

I just wanted to headbut him.

Back to the point that people think they know more than they do. This dude has his own version of nature and science, which is very '50s, in the sense that Man must dominate Nature because that's the way it should be.

Maybe I should go over and ask if there's anyting he can do about the snow storm predicted for this weekend.


Posted by: Patti M. at February 11, 2006 9:34 AM

Maggie, to your point about frivilous magazines with their silly lists, I'm right there with you.

As some of you know, I work mostly with women, which is sometimes difficult for me as their interests seem to revolve around dieting, complaining about their husbands, and discussing childbirth/child rearing/child care/child sickness, and their children in general. Seeing as though I genuinely like my husband, am comfortable with my body, and have no children or interest in same, I have little in common with them. This seems like a tangent, but bear with me.

I like to read all manner of things, from sci fi/fantasy to mystery to mythology to history. I like news and enjoy reading the news--I feel it's important to be well-informed about my world and wish others felt the same (we might be in a better world if people put down the Meister Brau and chicken wings, got off the couch, shut off Fox, and investigated their world).

In addition to the books I read, I subscribe to The Economist (weekly), Science News (weekly), and read the daily Boston Globe, as well as two weeklies (The Dig and The Boston Phoenix). A while back, I mentioned a news item too my group (blank stares) and opined that the news was depressing and perhaps I read to much of it. The response from one was that maybe I should pick up a "fun" magazine like Glamour.

Right. What would I gain from such an endeavour? Someone tell me. Please.

I suppose it may be too much to expect others to be similarly provoked to action by the news.

Bob often says that people are basically stupid, as does my boss (the one other informed member of my group at work). I like to say that people are willfully ignorant, which I think is more accurate than Bob's phrase.

People choose to get their news from Fox as they laze on the couch with beer 'n' wings. If they wanted to be more informed, they could be; they choose not to be.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 11, 2006 9:53 AM

I think people aren't that smart, Patti, and that they honestly believe they're being informed. The information you like to read is pretty much information. The information they absorb, in whatever form, is information+marketing. Sometimes, it seems, 90% of the "information" is "this is important information." Look at the revolving icons and the ticker at the bottom and the big headlines and the video! This must be really timely, important, and full of action!

Posted by: Maggie at February 11, 2006 10:35 AM

The other day we turned on CNN to see a story on a particular subject (it had been advertised as being part of one of their news shows) and the story never came on.


Because earlier in the day, that Entwhistle guy was arrested.

On the local channels you have a choice. Hear about Entwhistle or hear about the snowstorm that's coming.

Anything about this story?

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

Call me crazy, but it sounds to me like this is big news. The White House didn't use the available intelligence until after it needed to start justifying the decision.

But we need to hear about Entwhistle. And we need to be reminded 20 times that it might snow hard. Even though we have a whole freaking channel for the weather, plus time devoted to the weather in each local newscast.

Posted by: James at February 11, 2006 11:21 AM
But we need to hear about Entwhistle. And we need to be reminded 20 times that it might snow hard. Even though we have a whole freaking channel for the weather, plus time devoted to the weather in each local newscast.
Plus the gray clouds and snow falling outside. That's a good indicator, too. I like when they tell you it's "currently sunny and in the 50s" when there's a downpour outside the window.

Re: Willful ignorance vs. Stupidity
I think people have a core set of beliefs and they tend to agree withg anything that supports those beliefs. Which is stupid, but also willful. Would you believe willful ignorance tinged with stupidity? Or perhaps self-delusional ignorance.

Re: Thinking and books
I'm reading one now called "You can be happy no matter what". I try to read or listen to one of those every few books or so in the hopes of learning something. It's got some good things to say, but some of the underlying premises are worrisome. The author says that people think too much and THAT is the source of most of their problems. I think a more accurate statement would be that they focus their thoughts in unproductive ways than that they think too much.

Posted by: briwei at February 11, 2006 12:33 PM

Hey, Bri,

"Learn to relax. That'll be five cents."
--Lucy Van Pelt

"The ear can hear only so many notes."
--Emperor Joseph from Amadeus

"Thinking too much" sounds like "too many notes." Your author can't, or is too lazy to, sort out all the thinking, so he just calls it "too much." "Stop thinking so much. That'll be five $12.95 for the hardcover."

Am I thinking too much about how to teach my class? Am I somehow going to do a better job if I think less? I doubt it! The more I think about the subject, the more confident I am walking into class. Might I think too much about my child having an autoimmune disease and what her future will be? Yes, because there's nothing I can do about it beyond what I'm already doing, and it's only going to upset me. I agree with you, it's *what* you think about, not how much. I was just discussing this with my mother, in fact, with regard to emotional disorders. You can train your brain to think in ways that make you less depressed or anxious.

I think you're absolutely right.

Posted by: Maggie at February 11, 2006 4:06 PM


Are people stupid?

Or are they just easily distracted?

A whole other question.

Posted by: James at February 11, 2006 6:20 PM

Heard in the market tonight where we went to get stuff we would get anyway, not because of the impending doom called snow:

"Well I didn't even bother to shop for tomorrow. I don't care."

Her tone suggested that she sort of did care, but was putting on a brave face.

I said to Bob, as we walked out, "For god's sake, it's not like the plague is coming! It's just snow!"

The DJ I listened to on WMBR on the way home advised listeners to heed the snow emergency parking signs. "As a Cambridge resident, I can tell you, they mean it!" She then referred to the impending doom that is snow. She was really funny!

The information they absorb, in whatever form, is information+marketing.

This is what is known as infotainment. People who get their news from shows like "A Current Affair" are getting infotainment, not news.

Brian, self-delusional ignorance would take a level of intelligence I'm not willing to grant the mouth-breathing masses who I describe as willfully ignorant. These people would probably be offended if it were suggested they read a daily paper or [gasp!] listen to NPR to be informed of how their country is run (and running them).

I really wish I lived on my own private island. If I did, I would havce in my employ a dude to man the velvet rope at the dock. He'd have a very short list of "allowable" people. And he'd be very very big.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 11, 2006 6:24 PM

I could be wrong, but I think "A Current Affair" has been off the air for years. Oh, right - I heard some time ago that it might be resurrected. Like we need that. The Fox Nooz Channel is pretty much a 24-hour edition of "A Current Affair."

Anyway - yes, I think people are not only wilfully ignorant, but eagerly distractible. "Bad news almost penetrated my cranium. Quick, please tell me more about Brangelina."

I did go to the store tonight, to get the things I would normally get on my regular Sunday shopping trip. I don't know if that counts as blizzard-panic or not. I don't even know if we're still expecting a blizzard. I'm sure I'll find out when I wake up tomorrow, though.

Posted by: Julie at February 11, 2006 10:46 PM

Y'know, we joke about people going to the market before a blizzard and emptying out the milk, egg, and battery sections, but wouldn't we think they were pathetic if they *didn't* do that and then ran out of stuff on the day of the blizzard? At least they're preparing themselves.

I went out yesterday and got the stuff I knew I wouldn't be able to get today for the week, in case the superintendent in Somerset doesn't pee his pants and cancel school Monday. If there's school, I have everything I need for breakfast and lunch for my children.

Everything we read or see on the news is distilled and distorted to some degree. Everything has marketing built in to some degree. And I think James recently read a study that said we get a response in the pleasure center of our brain if we read or see something that is in accord with our political views. So Fox is like a great big gerbil reward bar for the people who've been watching it long enough to think it's information.

Posted by: Maggie at February 12, 2006 9:36 AM

Great big gerbil reward bar. I love it!

Posted by: Patti M. at February 12, 2006 12:55 PM

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