Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in DC.

Everyday Lessons Learned: September 2011, Week 1

with 3 comments

Happy September!

01: Your senses are delayed by about 80 milliseconds. Your brain can align inputs from simultaneous sensations (traveling from different distances through your body) so they’re experienced in sync – in a way, your brain waits before registering the information it has gathered from your body.

New Yorker cartoon posted on David Eagleman's blog

02: According to a recent CDC report, 5% of Americans drink over 550 calories of sweetened drinks daily. Teenage boys drink the most of the sugary stuff.

A spotted Furby03: Caleb Chung, the creator of the Furby, wanted to improve upon the electronic pet idea (like the Tamagotchi and Giga Pet – very popular in the 90s) by creating a toy that could appear to be responsive and emulate machine learning. The more you played with a Furby, the more its vocabulary seemed to grow. It was programmed to gradually move from an unintelligible “Furbish” language to the English language, though the toy itself couldn’t actually hear or understand anything that was said to it. The Furby’s emotional expression are tracked to its ears – essentially serving as both its eyebrows and its arms. (Radiolab)

04: Pickling cucumbers doesn’t require many ingredients: cucumbers, water, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, and dill. I haven’t tried making them myself but hope to soon!

05: Verbal overshadowing is a term used to describe the strange effect studied by Jonathan Schooler: those who wrote down a description of a bank robber immediately after a staged crime actually had a harder time remembering the details later than those who didn’t describe the person right afterward. But his data began to regress towards the mean… (This one’s fascinating. Listen to the whole story here.)

06: The first Piggly Wiggly supermarket opened in Memphis, TN on this day in 1916. It was the first of its kind: a fully self-serve grocery store, in which customers could pick their items off the shelves without having to write an order to the clerk. According to the commemorative plaque at that site, “shoppers presented their orders to clerks who fetched goods, ground coffee beans, measured flour and sugar, and then added the bills in pencil on the back of sacks.”

07: An interesting analysis of China’s dependence on tobacco:

Smoking in China remains a highly gendered behavior with 57.4% of men and 3% of women smoking, respectively (WHO, 2010). The concentration of smoking among men reflects advertising and marketing strategies that have linked tobacco to traditional notions of masculine identity (nanzihan - 男子汉), political leadership (imagery of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping smoking) and expressions of nationalism and patriotism (cigarette brands such as Zhonghua – 中华). Anthropologists such as Matthew Kohrman have described how exchanging cigarettes forms the currency of male networking and friendship in rural and urban China (Kohrman, 2007).

Written by Crystal Bae

September 8th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

3 Responses to 'Everyday Lessons Learned: September 2011, Week 1'

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  1. Re: Smoking in China!

    Approximately 1 in 3 smokers in the world is a Chinese male. One of my fellow Fulbrighters spent 4 months in a village in Sichuan and would hand out cigarettes as a conversation starter in order to talk to male migrants who were returning home. He effectively became a pack a day smoker for four months!

    WD

    9 Sep 11 at 10:52 am

  2. The AI radiolab was amazing.

    I’m surprised you’re just now listening to it. Andy and I heard it while driving up to Rocky Gap.

    Buffy the Shiba

    10 Sep 11 at 12:11 am

  3. seconded on the smoking in china! also, not going to lie, when i see a woman smoking in china i’m usually pretty sure she’s a prostitute. it’s crazy.

    Kristin

    12 Sep 11 at 1:22 am

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