The no-longer tolling bell

Whenever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Whenever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there… I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build why, I’ll be there.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (Chapter 28)

Ma Joad and Tom Joad discuss Tom's future.
Ma Joad and Tom Joad discuss Tom’s future. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest British Social Attitudes survey suggests the UK is becoming less charitable; looks like compassionate conservatism is here to stay.

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My superhero name is Señor Moment

Herpderp
Herpderp (Photo credit: bryan thayer)

I’ve passed a milestone: two senior moments in the one week.

While starting a meeting on Monday I made a point of loudly and clearly asking the person to my right if our product manager was in since it’d be useful to have him go over some things.

“Hi” said the person to my right doing a little wave.

Yep, I couldn’t see him even though I was looking straight at him.

Once isn’t so bad, right?  It’s a Friday, I’m tired, it’s hot, and all want to do is get out in the sun.

The next day Ang heads into town without me; for some reason, having to look after a slightly agoraphobic, misanthropic, yipping gerbil in a busy shopping district doesn’t appeal (no accounting for taste…) so I made plans to meet up with her  in a new crepery once she’d finished her chores unencumbered.  I get there, late as usual, and get a table outside before sending a text to say where I was and to express my irritation at being made to wait for 30 whole seconds. Shortly after the ‘message sent’ alert fades from my screen I hear a slightly confused voice  saying  “Uhm…Damo?”.  Oh, here it comes, the stroke’s finally happening. I’m being called to eternal rest. I’m coming grandma!

No.  Ang was sitting at the table opposite me and had been for five minutes before I’d turned up. Cue much merriment (and, more than likely some sympathy directed at Ang) from the waitresses.

I think it’s time for a holiday, but before you judge me, watch the following video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo]

See, it could happen to a bishop.

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Don’t trust your peripherals

The brain’s perceptual systems are very easily fooled. You’re probably already familiar with the Thatcher Effect (where oddities that are very noticeable can’t be detected when the face is upside down) and the McGurk-MacDonald Effect (we hear with our eyes).

The Flashed Face Distortion Effect, noticed by Tangen, Murphy, and Thompson, shows that you can’t trust your peripheral vision either:

Next time you’re out in a nightclub, maybe take a proper look before writing the place off.

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Level Up +2 Psychology

A little over five years ago I had a crazy notion – I was going to study psychology part time.  After several months of feeling completely burned out at work without any idea why I got into computers in the first place it was time to look for something more interesting to do.  Thankfully the burnout left along with the job but I kept the idea.

I was told I was crazy, told I’d never see it through, told that The Open University is actually just a society of house-bound, stressed-out recluses who can’t deal with the real world. In reality, it was hard work, but the OU has over forty years of experience in making higher and further education available and accessible to those who can’t afford traditional university (pretty much everyone now thanks to the Thatcher Con-Dem government).

All degrees are taught using a modular system, where each course counts for a number of experience points and when you gain enough you get to level up you’re awarded a degree. Imagining I was playing a very painful and boring Role Playing Game was enough to struggle through and be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology for Christmas.

So that it, right?  School’s out, no more teachers? Turns out all a Diploma means is that you can read a textbook and join the BPS, so I’ve signed up for an MSc this April.  The race is on the see if I can get a PhD before I reach retirement age.

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“HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.”

Argumentum Ad Verecundiam
Image by ShedBOy^ via Flickr

You Are Not so Smart is a blog about the many ways we delude ourselves based on psychological and economic research.  In a similar manner to the Freakonomics Blog it takes pot-shots at the conventional wisdom such as wine snobbery, the usefulness of meetings, and caffeine buzzes.

The Misconception: You know why you like the things you like and feel the way you feel.

The Truth: The origin of certain emotional states is unavailable to you, and when pressed to explain them, you will just make something up.

(via Kottke.org)

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The Original Sims

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Image by Damien Ryan via Flickr

Alter Ego was a video game released by Activision in 1986. The brainchild of psychologist Dr. John Favero it allowed players to play out an entire lifetime as if it were a Choose Your Own Adventure novel by playing out events based on hundreds of interviews conducted with people about their lives.

Now you can play a very faithful reproduction online.

Update: For $5 you can get a version for mobile phones using the Android operating system in the Android Market

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Elbow Patches, Redux

corporate logo

Image via Wikipedia

This is the time of the year when the excitement of a new set of books and a new course with the OU fades with the onset of the first Tutor Marked Assignment.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been leaving these to the last minute, which has ended up with me writing all night before it needs to be in and trying to buy time travel delivery from the local Post Office.

This year, however, I’m trying to be grown up so I’ve decided to get cracking a week and a half early. I’ve used Mind Maps before when taking notes so tried this
open source application
. I’ve managed to create my entire outline in the time it’s taken the boss to have a bath. Maybe I won’t be sneaking envelopes through my tutor’s
door this year.

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Send them down the mines

In a Grumpy Old Man moment, I previously remarked the young people today seem to have too much self-esteem which leads to an inflated sense of entitlement and general rudeness. While I had nothing to back up my opinion it turns out that my rant was at least close to the truth.

An extensive study of 16,475 college students from the United States has revealed narcissism has risen steadily among that population since 1982 due to the last couple of decades’ obsession with promoting self-esteem.

Is it my turn to call for national service to be reintroduced?

The study is due to be published in April and, of course, the author has a blog. Ironically the blog is hosted on Livejournal – home of the narcissistic, illiterate, and rude youth she highlights.

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The Yoof of Today

Every year the mindset list looks at the world through the eyes of the current set of entrants to Universities. This year, those young minds would have grown up never knowing the Soviet Union, always with a mouse in their hands, and thinking that Google has always been a verb.

It doesn’t seem to mention that generation’s general lack of social graces and entitlement complex though. What that lot need is less self-esteem, not more.

[via Metafilter.]

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