Archive for January, 2015

Finding the Perfect Amount of Creativity in Cars & Religion – Facts So Romantic

January 31, 2015

The Abduction of Europa (1716), by Jean-Francois de Troy, depicts one of the many Greek myths in which Zeus transforms into an animal.Wikipedia

Creativity is an important driver of innovation, and in the arts and industry people work hard to be more creative, sometimes shelling out lots of money for creativity consultants. But is more creativity always better? Is there such a thing as being too creative?

Although many art innovations of the 20th century were wildly creative, most people prefer to look at paintings with more traditional and realistic depictions. It seems to take some level of expertise to appreciate more abstract and conceptual stuff. This is true of product design as well. Auto experts, for example, prefer cars with more unusual designs than everybody else does. This expertise effect has been has been demonstrated in laboratory experiments—simply exposing people to innovative car designs makes them, in a sense, experts, who then prefer more innovative designs. 

These studies suggest that there is only a certain level of novelty that most people are willing to tolerate. Too little creativity is boring, but if it’s too creative people will think it’s weird. What is…
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The Necessity of Musical Hallucinations – Issue 20: Creativity

January 29, 2015

During the last months of my mother’s life, as she ventured further from lucidity, she was visited by music. In collusion with her dementia, her hearing loss filled her consciousness with musical hallucinations. Sometimes welcome, more often not, her musical visitations were vivid, yet segmented and tattered. She would occasionally comment on the singers. On rare occasions she would identify the performer.

Mitch Miller, who wrote oppressively cheerful arrangements of popular songs from the 1950s, seemed to command a prominent role in her hallucinations.

At times she would spontaneously hum fragmentary melodies, apparently singing along to the music she was hearing. But since the music was inaudible to me, all I heard were occasional vocalizations. I felt compelled to transcribe these wordless shards of her past for posterity. Here are the notes I transcribed on Jan. 16, 2010, played on a piano.

With lots of patience and some luck, I was able to trace these fragments comprised of ascending melodic leaps, and among my mother’s more persistent and recurrent visitations, to their origin, a popular song from the 1940s called “Cruising Down the River.”

“Cruising Down the River” was number one on the Billboard charts the week…
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The Necessity of Musical Hallucinations – Issue 20: Creativity

January 29, 2015

During the last months of my mother’s life, as she ventured further from lucidity, she was visited by music. In collusion with her dementia, her hearing loss filled her consciousness with musical hallucinations. Sometimes welcome, more often not, her musical visitations were vivid, yet segmented and tattered. She would occasionally comment on the singers. On rare occasions she would identify the performer.

Mitch Miller, who wrote oppressively cheerful arrangements of popular songs from the 1950s, seemed to command a prominent role in her hallucinations.

At times she would spontaneously hum fragmentary melodies, apparently singing along to the music she was hearing. But since the music was inaudible to me, all I heard were occasional vocalizations. I felt compelled to transcribe these wordless shards of her past for posterity. Here are the notes I transcribed on Jan. 16, 2010, played on a piano.

With lots of patience and some luck, I was able to trace these fragments comprised of ascending melodic leaps, and among my mother’s more persistent and recurrent visitations, to their origin, a popular song from the 1940s called “Cruising Down the River.”

“Cruising Down the River” was number one on the Billboard charts the week…
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Why Are You So Smart? Thank Your Mom & Your Difficult Birth – Facts So Romantic

January 27, 2015

A reconstructed skeleton of Lucy, the famous human ancestor. By 3.2 million years ago, Australopithecines were walking upright, imposing strict limits on the size of the female pelvis.Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Looking around our planet today, it’s hard not to be struck by humanity’s uniqueness. We are the only species around that writes books, runs experiments, and builds skyscrapers. Our intelligence must have also been useful when we were evolving—presumably it helped us to be better hunters and avoid being hunted ourselves, for instance. Perhaps even more importantly, our growing intelligence enabled early humans to compete with each other: We evolved to be intelligent to keep up with everybody else evolving to be intelligent. Smarter people are more attractive to others, and are better at jockeying for status within complex social groups. It is well-known that humans underwent an intelligence arms race that resulted in a rapid growth in cognitive ability. What is less well-known is how the need for women to be able to walk and run helped this boom in smarts.

A lot of our growth in intelligence is due to an increase in brain size. Even when looking at the differences between one person and another,…
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Before We Painted Like Picasso, We Had to Share Like Gandhi – Facts So Romantic

January 24, 2015

A comparison of the facial features of ancient modern humans (left) to more recent modern humans (right). Modern specimens have a less prominent brow ridge and a shorted upper face. Researchers suspect these changes were caused by a decrease of testosterone.Robert Cieri 

In Earth’s not-so-distant fossil record of human ancestors, an important change appears around 200,000 years ago. Compared with earlier specimens, these skeletons are relatively fine-boned, with big skulls, delicate jaws, and flat, vertical foreheads. Such remnants are thought to depict a time in history when the human became modern—anatomically comparable to you and me today.

Atop these iconic fossils lies a more recent layer of Earth full of artifacts created by a modern sapien. The fossil record here, about 50,000 years old, represents a massive surge of culture: tools crafted from animal bone and antler, rather than simple stone ones from earlier eras, and evidence that people were applying pigment and jewelry to their bodies, creating intricate burial sites and painting on the cave walls. “It’s not that we were inventing tools,” says University of Utah doctoral candidate Robert Cieri, “it’s that we were inventing much more complex tools that look like they were made by…
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Before We Painted Like Picasso, We Had to Share Like Gandhi – Facts So Romantic

January 24, 2015

A comparison of the facial features of ancient modern humans (left) to more recent modern humans (right). Modern specimens have a less prominent brow ridge and a shorted upper face. Researchers suspect these changes were caused by a decrease of testosterone.Robert Cieri 

In Earth’s not-so-distant fossil record of human ancestors, an important change appears around 200,000 years ago. Compared with earlier specimens, these skeletons are relatively fine-boned, with big skulls, delicate jaws, and flat, vertical foreheads. Such remnants are thought to depict a time in history when the human became modern—anatomically comparable to you and me today.

Atop these iconic fossils lies a more recent layer of Earth full of artifacts created by a modern sapien. The fossil record here, about 50,000 years old, represents a massive surge of culture: tools crafted from animal bone and antler, rather than simple stone ones from earlier eras, and evidence that people were applying pigment and jewelry to their bodies, creating intricate burial sites and painting on the cave walls. “It’s not that we were inventing tools,” says University of Utah doctoral candidate Robert Cieri, “it’s that we were inventing much more complex tools that look like they were made by…
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The January 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

January 24, 2015

Six Steps to Surviving an Acquisition By Peter DeHaan I’ve been involved in buying over a dozen telephone answering services. While some parts of the transition were fun to plan and easy to handle, the employee aspect was always the … Continue reading

Why You Keep Dreaming About Being Naked – Issue 20: Creativity

January 22, 2015

I was naked. So was Laura,” begins one dream of the more than 20,000 collected in G. William Domhoff’s DreamBank. “I was re-stringing an unvarnished electric bass, so I guess it was naked, too. At one point I put a screw in to secure a string, but then realized I wasn’t holding the bass but Laura…” The dream is one of many “naked” entries in the database, and Domhoff says dreams about being naked or exposed in public in ways that betray a fear of embarrassment are widely reported. But why?

Domhoff, a distinguished professor emeritus specializing in psychology at the University of California-Santa Cruz, has spent years collecting self-reported dreams in journals and laboratory settings, meticulously tagging and cataloguing each one. An outdoor setting, for example, is marked with an OU, a familiar character with a K, and physical activity with a P. Individual dreams can then be described with their own idiosyncratic combination of labeled elements. Domhoff calls this coding system “quantitative content analysis.” He’s concluded that at least some dreams have universal elements related to common human preoccupations and concerns.

Some “typical” dreams long studied for their figurative meaning—such as dreams where you fly under your own…
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There Is Help Out There For People Coping With Depression

January 22, 2015

There Is Help Out There For People Coping With Depression

Depressive disorders is a intellectual illness which affects so many people today. They wake up in emotional soreness, live in mental pain, and go to sleep in emotional pain. This is not a way to live living, the one daily life you get.
Despression symptoms is something everybody has faced at some point. If you are experiencing bouts of depression it is best to see a <a href=”http: //relifecovery.com/dr-richard-oelberger-beverly-hills-california/”>clinical psychotherapist</a>. Quite often, they can identify a problem with your way of considering and try to reform it. In this way, the root cause is handled and not just the symptoms.
Simple changes in life-style can help with major depression. One way to create a dent inside your depression is to exercise daily. Just a short walk down the block and back can help you start becoming more energized, although depression can cause you to not have much energy. The road, to recovering from depression, requires taking pro-active measures.
You should endeavor to keep active in social activities, even when it is the last thing you would want to do, if you are suffering from depression. When suffering from depression, it usually feels more comfortable to withdraw from the world and crawl into your protective shell. Closing yourself off from others will not help you beat depression though. You will find that being around others will help you feel less depressed.
Don’t let your depression interfere with your normal life. Just as people who are having trouble with physical diseases shouldn’t stop everything, neither should you stop your life just because you are suffering from this problem. Find ways to motivate yourself to get out of the house and you may even find your depression greatly reduces.
Eat food that will make you feel positive about yourself. Eating fatty and lifeless fast food will make you not only look bad but feel bad too. Do not think that the food that you eat has nothing to do with the way you feel and why you are depressed. Even if you crave the sugar or fat, these kinds of foods only lead to making you feel worse.
Depression is often cyclical. This means that your lows and highs will start to come in waves. If you pay close attention, you may even be able to forecast when the next strong down will come. This can help you greatly as you will be capable of preparing yourself for what is to come.
If you suffer from depression, you should take time out to focus on your past accomplishments. After life and failures setbacks, it is easy to forget all of the positive things that you have achieved in your life. Focus on your strengths and build yourself up by remembering these past successes.
Listen to motivational speakers. When you are depressed, your inner voice becomes increasingly negative. Don’t give that voice a chance to bring you down. When you feel your inner voice start to be negative grab a recording of your favorite motivational speaker and let them be your inner voice for a while. It will fill your mind with uplifting words instead of pessimism.
When you feel depressed, your first instinct may be to hibernate, but socializing can actually be a great way to bring you out of the blues. When you are depressed, it is important to have contact with those who love you and care how you are doing. If you’re going out more, you won’t be as depressed.
<a href=http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977″>Depression</a> plagues our society today. More and more people find themselves in some psychologist’s office asking for help. There is no shame in seeking help, in fact it is exactly what you need.

New Year’s Resolutions and the Science of Willpower – Facts So Romantic

January 22, 2015

The “marshmallow experiment” has become a famous way to measure the self-control of children. (This is a version of the test made for entertainment, not research, purposes.)

Every year since 1988, my friend Lou and I have picked a New Year’s resolution together. We meticulously keep to each promise for exactly one year. The 2014 resolution was to not eat peanut butter or cotton candy (it’s funnier that way).  Now it’s 2015, and I have been eating a lot of peanut butter, but not touching rice—that’s this year’s resolution.

Back in the 80s these resolutions just seemed like a fun thing to do, but I had vague ideas that it might be training my willpower. Now that we know more about psychology, I realize that my intuitions were right.

Willpower turns out to be incredibly important. People with more willpower are happier and healthier, have better relationships, make more money, are more successful in their careers, live longer, and are better able to manage stress, deal with conflict, and overcome adversity. Having lots of self-discipline predicts success better than IQ.

So how do you make your willpower stronger? Willpower works like a muscle in two important…
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