Is there something you've been procrastinating on? Something that really needs must be done, but is kind of a pain in the tuckus? Today's challenge is to do That Thing.
Go team, go! We can do it together!
NOTE: Optional 5 minute challenge for those who just do not have the brains for this challenge, because it is just too much. (Which is totally okay). Spray down *a* mirror (or *a* window, you pick) with the cleaning solution of your choice and wipe dry. Stand back and enjoy the shiny surface.
After I returned home, I was told by my son that I was no longer welcome to visit my grandchild unless I apologized to his wife for trying to undermine her parenting. I told him she should apologize to me for not showing me respect as the grandmother.
How can I make my son see that it is his wife who is wrong, and not me? -- UNAPPRECIATED GRANDMA
DEAR UNAPPRECIATED: It would be interesting to know how closely you adhered to your parents' and in-laws' parenting advice, because when your children came along I'll bet you had your own ideas on the subject.
Showing respect and following your orders are not the same thing. It is a mother's right to care for her baby as she sees fit, and you should show her the respect she deserves by allowing her to do that and not turning it into a power struggle. Unless you do, you will be seeing very little of any of them.
Jeb Bush gave a Spanish-language interview on Sunday with Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart. This is the first time since the launch of his presidential campaign that his functional bilingualism has been on full display.
So how did he do? Here is the assessment of National Journal's Alexia Fernández Campbell ("How Well Does Jeb Bush Habla Español?"):
It's clear that the Republican presidential candidate speaks Spanish fluently (with a gringo accent, of course). During the sit-down interview, Bush discussed immigration reform, Cuban foreign policy, and the Puerto Rican debt crisis with only a handful of minor word-gender mistakes.
Bush, who is married to a Mexican woman and who has been embraced by Miami's Cuban exile community, kept his Spanish mostly neutral during the chat. You could only hear a slight trace of Miami in his accent, when he dropped the last "s" in some of his words. He did refer to himself as a niño popis when he met his wife, Columba, during a high school trip to central Mexico. That's Mexican slang for "spoiled boy."
If Jeb made it to the White House, he would be the first bilingual U.S. president in 70 years. The last one was FDR, who spoke French and German fluently. Past presidents have brushed up on their Spanish, knowing how important it is to reach Latino voters. But few, including President Obama, can really say much.
While Obama doesn't speak much Spanish, his Indonesian skills are not half bad, considering he hasn't lived in Indonesia since he was ten years old. See my series of Language Log posts:
- "Obama's Indonesian redux" (1/15/09)
- "Obama's Indonesian pleasantries: the video" (1/23/09)
- "Obama's Indonesian pleasantries: now with food!" (11/9/10)
- "Obama's Indonesian: the grand finale" (11/10/10)
Now, could Obama have made it through a 20-minute Indonesian-only interview as Jeb Bush did in Spanish? I suspect not. The closest he came was a March 2010 White House interview with a correspondent from Indonesia's RCTI.
Before the interview proper begins, Obama gives a brief Indonesian response to the question of whether he can speak the language. He says, "Masih bisa omong sedikit," or "I still can speak a little," before returning to English ("I used to be fluent, but I don't get a chance to practice"). Then, at the beginning of the formal interview, he exchanges pleasantries, responding to "Apa kabar?" ("How are you?") with "Baik-baik, terima kasih" ("I'm fine, thank you"). Again he is asked about his Indonesian proficiency: "Masih bisa bahasa Indonesia?" ("Can you still speak Indonesian?"). Obama says in idiomatic Indonesian, "Masih bisa sedikit, sudah lupa banyak tapi" ("I still can [speak] a little, but I've forgotten a lot") and continues in English. Then, at the very end, he tells the interviewer, "Terima kasih, selamat jalan" ("Thank you, goodbye").
(Full transcript of the Obama interview is here, as an appendix to Muh. Shohibussirri's 2011 thesis, "An Analysis of Politeness Strategy in Putra Nababan's Interview with Barack Obama." I haven't come across a transcript of Jeb's Telemundo interview, but here is an English translation.)
Whether FDR could have held a wide-ranging interview in French or German, or Herbert Hoover in Mandarin Chinese, I cannot say. But I bet Martin Van Buren could have done quite well in Dutch. (See this Wikipedia page for more on presidential bilingualism.)
If you don't know who Lei Feng is, you should. He's China's equivalent of the Good Samaritan and Alfred E. Neuman ("What, me worry?") all wrapped up in one (for those of you who are not familiar with Alfred E. Neuman, one of my high school heroes, here's the real McCoy).
That's the cover of a new magazine devoted to promoting Lei Feng as the spiritual hero for the age, as introduced in an article by Yuen Yeuk-laam from Global Times:
Since this article appeared in Global Times, a newspaper published by the People's Daily which is often used to disseminate Chinese Communist Party (CCP) policy positions, we can be sure that the government is taking this new venture very seriously.
Lei Feng, a soldier of the People's Liberation Army born in 1940 and died at the age of 21, has been highly praised by the Party leaders for his selfless acts and has been portrayed as a role model after his death. The country even launched an annual nationwide "Learn From Comrade Lei Feng" campaign to encourage people to do good deeds since 1960s.
With the passage of time, Lei's spirit has faded in the society increasingly driven by materialist gains. A group of cultural experts and Lei's supporters therefore decided to launch a monthly magazine that instills positive energy into the society and enhance moral values.
This being Language Log, I do not want to get into the pros and cons of the ideological content and political intent of the new magazine. I simply want to focus on one striking aspect of the cover that caught my attention. Namely, together with the benign, smiling visage of the eponymous hero, looming very large in the background is his name in gigantic Roman letters.
In standard script, that "grassy" (cursive) calligraphy would be 雷锋 (pinyin with tones: Léi Fēng). These two characters are from Mao's "famous" inscription written in memory of Lei Feng:
Xiàng Léi Fēng tóngzhì xuéxí
Learn from Comrade Lei Feng
Comment from a colleague who is a historian and connoisseur of Chinese calligraphy: "Mao's calligraphic style is supposed to be the cursive, though strictly speaking, it's somewhat nondescript and nonscholarly."
What are the designers trying to convey with this arrangement? Why make the pinyin overshadow everything else on the cover, including Lei Feng's face (the clearly visible white letters overlie Lei's gray, fuzzed photograph)? I can understand putting the pinyin somewhere on the cover, especially since a lot of people might have trouble recognizing both of the characters (particularly the second one), but why make it so large? The pinyin occupies more than one quarter of the height of the cover.
[Hat tip to Geoff Wade]
It's National Eye Exam Month, guys! So how 'bout we give the old peepers a check up?
First, read the following aloud:
[scribbling on clipboard] Good, good....
Hmm, not so good.
Let's try something else: read these numbers from right to left:
Now, find the fly.
Very good! Hard to believe the baker missed that.
Next let's test your visual pain tolerance. Tell me, which of these hurts more to look at?
And finally, how many fingers am I holding up?
Good news, your eyes are fine!
But these bakers may want to get their heads examined.
Thanks to Judy M., Miranda N., Amanda L., Ellin P., Wes T., Elissa R., Kimberly L., Spring P., & Claudia P. for seeing what we did there.
Bianca Nogrady, "Music preferences reveal your inner thoughts", ABC Science 7/23/2015:
There is a clear link between people's cognitive styles and the type and depth of emotion they prefer in music, say researchers.
Their work, published today in PLOS ONE, shows people who are more empathetic — have a greater ability to identify, predict and respond to the emotions of others — are drawn to more mellow, sad, poetic and sensual music, such as R&B, adult contemporary and soft rock.
However people with more analytical tendencies (called 'systemisers') go in the opposite direction, seeking punk, heavy metal, avant garde jazz and hard rock.
Makes sense, right? But here's what the underlying data looks like. Each red x represent the relationship between one individual's "empathy quotient" (on the horizontal axis) and his or her preference for "mellow" music (on the vertical axis):
Would you say that this represents a "clear link between people's cognitive styles and the type and depth of emotion they prefer in music"?
Actually, that's some fake data that I made up to match the strongest correlation (-0.14) found in Study 1 from David M. Greenberg , Simon Baron-Cohen, David J. Stillwell, Michal Kosinski, & Peter J. Rentfrow, "Musical Preferences are Linked to Cognitive Styles", PLoS ONE 7/22/2015. Here's their Table 1:
Note. Cell entries are correlations between the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and the MUSIC music-preference dimensions. S1 = Sample 1, S2 = Sample2, S3 = Sample 3, S4 = Sample 5. S1 and S2 provided preferences rating for mixed genre excerpts; S3 provided preferences ratings for only rock excepts; and S4 provided preference ratings for only jazz excerpts. Ns = 2,178 (S1), 891 (S2), 747 (S3), 320 (S4).
*p < .05;
**p < .01
The real dataset is apparently available from mypersonality.org, but I don't expect that it would look different in any relevant way.
A correlation of -0.14 means that one variable explains -0.14^2 = 1.96% of the variance in the other variable. Call it 2%. And that was highest correlation of the 40 relationships reported in Table 1.
Their second study combined "empathizing" and "systematizing" dimensions into one "brain type" dimension, and unpacked musical types into 25 "psychological attributes". Study 2 found relationships that were stronger than those in study 1:
To investigate the extent to which preferences for specific psychological attributes in music differ by brain type, we performed analyses of variance on each of the 25 psychological attributes (standardized) using brain type as the independent variable. Results revealed a significant effect of brain type on preferences for all but three of the psychological attributes (i.e., joyful, fun, and undanceable). Of those for which there was a significant effect, effect sizes ranged from F(2, 341) = 3.68, p < .05, partial eta squared = .02 (for amusing) to F(2, 341) = 8.11, p < .001, partial eta squared = .05 (for animated).
A "partial eta squared" of 0.05 — the best out of 25 tries — means that relations between the "brain type" variable and the musical attribute of animated accounted for (i.e. predicted) 5% of the variance in preferences for different pieces of music. All of the other relationships were weaker than this. 5 percent-of-variance-accounted-for is more than twice as much as the 2% that was the strongest relationship in study 1 — but it's still not a very strong predictor.
Although the effect sizes in both studies are small, they're in line with community standards in social psychology — thus F.D. Richard, C.F. Bond, and J.J. Stokes-Zoota ("One hundred years of social psychology quantitatively described", Review of General Psychology, 2003) present this distribution of correlations:
This article compiles results from a century of social psychological research, more than 25,000 studies of 8 million people. A large number of social psychological conclusions are listed alongside meta-analytic information about the magnitude and variability of the corresponding effects. References to 322 meta-analyses of social psychological phenomena are presented, as well as statistical effect-size summaries.
That doesn't mean that such studies are wrong or without value — marketers, like politicians, are happy to exploit effects that explain only a few percent of variance in customer behavior. Tiny improvements in click-through rates or voting behavior can mean a lot.
But the popular press is unable — or unwilling — to distinguish between "a tiny but statistically significant correlation" and "a clear link", often expressing the relationship using generic plurals. "People who are more empathetic […] are drawn to more mellow, sad, poetic and sensual music", according to that ABC Science News piece.
This is true even in the more intellectual strata of the mediasphere. Thus Olga Khazan, "The Soul of the Metallica Lover: What our music tastes say about our personalities", The Atlantic 7/29/2015:
Greenberg found that people who scored high on empathy tended to prefer music that was mellow (like soft rock and R&B), unpretentious (country and folk), and contemporary (Euro pop and electronica.) What they didn’t like, meanwhile, was “intense” music, which he classified as things like punk and heavy metal. People who scored high on systemizing, meanwhile, had just the opposite preferences—they kick back to Slayer and could do without Courtney Barnett.
Or Aimee Swartz, "Do you have a mellow brain or an intense one? Cognitive style linked to preference in pop music", Popular Science 7/22/2015:
Researchers found that people who scored high on empathy preferred what researchers categorized as “mellow” music—such as R&B, soft rock, and adult contemporary tunes—“unpretentious” music—such as country, bluegrass, and folk—and “contemporary” music—which included everything from acid jazz to Euro pop. They disliked “intense” music, such as punk, hard rock, and heavy metal.
In contrast, people who scored high on systemizing liked intense music, but disliked mellow and unpretentious musical styles.
As I've pointed out many times, this way of thinking about relationships among variables is as problematic as the Pirahã's reduction of numbers to the concepts "small size", "large size", and "collection".
For further exploration of statistical cognition among the hunter-gatherers of the media savanna, see here.
Dear Readers, I'm afraid there's no post today. Tilly had an operation yesterday, and although she's home now and doing well, she needs care and attention on this first post-op day. I'll be back tomorrow.
''Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.'' - Linda Hogan (The Woman Who Watches Over the World)
Doesn’t Ikea just get better and better? I was very excited when I heard about the collaboration with Ilse Crawford and even more excited when I saw the images for myself. The SINNERLIG collection consists of more than 30 pieces for the home and can be loosely categorised into three groups: working, dining and lounging.
I actually really do love every single thing about it. It’s very organic. All of these natural materials of course look amazing in this setting, with lots of green plants and the outside very much in, but they have been designed to fit into all of our lives. They are modern, but the textures would sit happily in any setting. And not only do they look good. They are also lovely to touch and use. There is a pleasing attention to detail too.
Ilse says about the collection that took 3 years to come to fruition ‘Early on, Marcus and I became excited by the idea of upgrading natural materials. We were looking at materials, visiting cork forests, bamboo plantations, and looking at grasses and “weeds” such as water hyacinth. From a sustainability point of view, these materials have a lot of possibilities. Design can make them appealing by applying intelligence to the way they are used and making them more expressive. It’s why using cork for the table in this collection makes sense – cork feels good and a table is something you are going to touch!’
And all of this at Ikea prices. Amazing!
The only down side that I can see is that these products are not going to be around for ever. Items are only available while stocks last. You have been warned!
One of my favorite flowers, common garden foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), is native to most of temperate Europe and a classic cottage garden plant, so I was rather surprised to not find it already established when we moved in. I set myself to fixing that oversight as soon as I could. It took a...
Voila, a series of 31 of my vids in roughly chronological order, with some margin of error because I can't remember what year it is right now half the time much less what year I premiered a vid in. It's also missing a tiny handful of old vids because I haven't put them on youtube yet.
It's really wild to see even just in my own work how rapidly vidding aesthetics and video quality has changed. Ugh, I still remember trying to make vids in the bad old days with the whatsit Dazzle thingy that imported from a VCR: you had to plug in the VCR and actually play the video tape on an attached little TV to see where it was, and hope you got a usable clip and it was just nightmarish. It's amazing there are as many clips as there even are in some of those early vids :P but they feel SO SLOW now. I keep mentally going and... CUT! Cut now? How about now?
When I first heard about their plans to conceive, I was devastated. After a few months, Mom and I were able to reconnect and talk about it. I'm happy they're happy, but I'm still uncomfortable with the situation. When the children are born, I am unsure how I will be known. Mom says Brian and I will have "a sister and a brother."
Brian is excited that he will no longer be the youngest. But at my age, as a business owner and in a serious relationship, I prefer to consider Brian my sibling, not the twins. I will love the babies because they are connected to me, but I'm leaning toward being called their uncle or cousin because the twins will not be my blood relations.
I guess I'm "old school," and with all the changes I've experienced in my life I'm not sure I want all of a sudden to say I have new siblings. Is this OK? -- FINDING MY WAY IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR FINDING: I don't think you have to announce anything when your mother's children are born. As long as your relationship with them is a loving one, I don't think the "label" matters.
- Wig, push-up bra (what even are these monstrosities seriously), pink dress acquired
- Premieres vid uploaded, AO3 draft created
- Old badge holder dug up
- Camaro rented (WHAT, I'm embracing my fandom)
I have also gotten ambitious and am going to upload a whole slew of my back catalogue vids to AO3 today, so apologies in advance if you get a bunch of subscription notifications!
One faces many questions in today's bakeries. But one in particular most of all:
"They're puppy dogs, of course!"
"Someone order a Star Trek cake?"
"That? That's a cheerleader, hon. See the pom-poms?"
And last, but never least:
"Believe it or not, it's supposed to be bacon."
Yep. Our thoughts exactly.
Thanks to Kelsey D., Claudia S., Katusha, Melanie H., & Kelley J. for bringing home the... well, that.
2. Today we found Molly up on the kitchen counter twice and while we're very proud of her jumping/climbing/exploring skills, this is not the sort of thing we want to encourage. But thankfully it turned out she was not just jumping straight from the floor to the counter (yet) but was using a chair to get up there, so we rearranged things so she can no longer get up on the counter. (Instead she gets on the chair and paws frustratedly at the stuff we used to block her. :p)
3. Today we had one of the closing cashiers call in sick, so for the last hour there was only one cashier and I had to help out at the register, but I was still able to get everything I needed to do done.
4. There's a new Gravity Falls tomorrow! (And then probably another three weeks until the next new episode. Seriously, I do not know what is wrong with this show.)