Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Crossposting: mind body dualism research

I recently blogged about new research on consciousness at CreationEvolutionBusan, my ranting blog for arguments about evolution.

One part of the research article fits on this blog.  A big part of why I began to research creativity was to learn how new ideas suddenly appear in my (or anyone's) head.  I still don't know and it appears no one does.  The closest people come to an understanding is to offer tips on how to have these flashes of inspiration, how to prepare our minds for them.  But not how they occur.

From the article (my bolding):
Compare consciousness to the Internet, Morsella suggested. The Internet can be used to buy books, reserve a hotel room and complete thousands of other tasks. Taken at face value, it would seem incredibly powerful. But, in actuality, a person in front of a laptop or clicking away on a smartphone is running the show -- the Internet is just being made to perform the same basic process, without any free will of its own.
The Passive Frame Theory also defies the intuitive belief that one conscious thought leads to another. "One thought doesn't know about the other, they just often have access to and are acting upon the same, unconscious information," Morsella said. "You have one thought and then another, and you think that one thought leads to the next, but this doesn't seem to be the way the process actually works."
I may be making too much of this sentence fragment.  It certainly doesn't answer questions.  I can only hope it points where we need to look.

Many researchers have noted the connection between creativity and mental illness (here is one example from this blog) so Morsella's thoughts in that direction may be of interest:
The theory has major implications for the study of mental disorders, Morsella said. "Why do you have an urge or thought that you shouldn't be having? Because, in a sense, the consciousness system doesn't know that you shouldn't be thinking about something," Morsella said. "An urge generator doesn't know that an urge is irrelevant to other thoughts or ongoing action."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Aspirations of becoming a classic

Not every Grant Snider drawing fits my interests, but many sure do.  He has a new drawing up, on my birthday, no less, that I love. Here is half and this half has been greatly shrunk so if you want to see it full size - and you should- follow the link!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The discipline of Twitter

"I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter."

A humourous thought crossed my mind during dinner and I worked out in my mind how to maximize the surprise at the end.  It fit without difficulty on Facebook and I expect accolades to pour in there.  But it was more than double the allowable length for Twitter.  Still, the idea, the punchline, was succinct. Could I shrink it to one-third length and retain the meaning? See below

Twitter version:
I live near an industrial area where many trucks pass all day long. Yet, there are times when we hear only natural sounds.
Fucking cicadas.

Full length Facebook version:
I live in an apartment complex of more than twenty buildings, next to another complex of similar size.  We are near an industrial area where many trucks come and go all day long.  Despite this, there are times when we hear no man-made sounds at all; nothing but the sounds of nature.

Fucking cicadas.

Transitional versions:
I live near an industrial area where many trucks pass all day long. Still, there are times when we hear only natural sounds.

Fucking cicadas.

Even shorter than Twitter required:
I live near an industrial area where trucks pass all day long. Yet, there are times when we hear only natural sounds.
Fucking cicadas.
Not every time, but when I think I have added my own content and some value, I post a link on Twitter my posts.  Would it be too Ouroborosian to that this time?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Unusual writing habits discussed at Quora

Read Rod McLaren's answer to What are some unusual work habits of famous writers? on Quora

Uh, I used Quora's embed code above for the first time and am not sure what my reader will see when this is published.  For that reason, here are a few of the examples given:
Will Self uses a wall of Post-It notes to plan and structure his writing.
Elmore Leonard writes on yellow legal pads.
Michel Faber corrected the first manuscript of The Crimson Petal and the White with house paint because he couldn't afford Tipp-Ex.
Gustav Hasford was a serial hoarder of very overdue library books, and had 10,000 of them in storage lockers.
Don DeLillo types each paragraph onto its own sheet of paper, so that he might concentrate better.
Gay Talese would pin pages of his writing to a wall and examine them from the other side of the room with binoculars.
Jonathan Safran Foer has a collection of blank sheets of paper.

Cormac McCarthy said that his perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper.

TWIC: Youtube tips for teachers, dealing with criticism, and the New Media Cargo Cult

Turns out Youtube has some less-known features that would be handy for teachers.  If you're making a video, you're creating so the article deserves mention here.
Teachers would particularly find instructions on blurring faces in videos.  Privacy is often an issue when recording video, or stills, in class
There are also tips on how to add captions or add links to the video in a format to make a follow-your-own-adventure style games.
At i09, Charle Jane Anders discusses how to deal with harsh criticism.  My favorite part was the Gaiman quote:
There’s a quote from Neil Gaiman which is super helpful: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
Anders also looks are reviewer you ask for criticism - who are expected to be helpful -and impersonal critics lurking in Goodreads and etc, who have no duty to be helpful.  His main point on the latter is NEVER RESPOND TO THE REVIEWS.  Don't argue with them.  I've noticed that readers who do are further mocked and think I've documented some examples on this blog. [searches]: Yes, I have.
David Moldawer, at Boingboing, argues against following link-bait protocols.  He is upset with algorithms and the pseudoscience that goes into Search Engine Optimization  (I hope that's what SEO stands for).
Except something's changed. Whether you blame Facebook, Buzzfeed, HuffPo, or "algorithms," the new media landscape has grown a big fat mainstream of its own. Not at one particular site, but in the sense of a particular mechanic of creative expression: tailored for clicks, pasteurized, grabby. The long tail of odd and authentic content is bigger than ever, but if you find your content the way most people do, through the algorithmically warped suggestions in your social media feeds, the stuff you stumble onto feels less like writing and more like wordage, a sort of tips-and-tragedies lorem ipsum.
...[ellipses of a few paragraphs here]...
Even the social media experts have begun to agree that no one person really understands the mechanics of the process, and it's becoming next to impossible for individuals (as opposed to content farms employing teams of data analysts) to keep up with algorithmic "best practices" to amass clicks, likes, faves, hearts, stars, and clovers.
We don't understand why some things catch on and others don't, so we imitate the tone and cadence of the content farms and we pray for rain to come. New media is a cargo cult.
Every day, excellent and unusual writing continues to fall through the cracks as we're fed one "weird trick" after another. We reassure each other by saying the Web generally helps the cream rise to the top, eventually, if you just, um, follow these top 5 tips for writing a great headline that my friend just shared on LinkedIn.
Meanwhile, scratch the surface of a "viral phenomenon" that "came out of nowhere" and you'll find four ad agencies standing on the back of a giant pile of corporate cash standing on the back of a giant turtle. (It's turtles all the way down.)
...['nother big ellipses]...
I have faith, though, that if we develop our craft as online writers based on our own tastes and on the feedback of people we know and trust, with the understanding that finding and keeping our audience is just as much a part of the creative work as the writing itself, we'll take this new form in wonderful and unexpected directions. Online content is a separate and worthy discipline and a nascent art form in and of itself. Let's give ourselves permission to experiment, make mistakes, and develop new approaches to the craft. It's too early to imitate as much as we've begun to, because there are still no sure things.
When I was one of only a few English bloggers in Gangwon Province, South Korea, my blog had novelty value.  International travelers would ask questions and Gangwon Tourism did as well,  I still didn't have many visits per day or week or whatever, but I did have novelty and useful information hard to find elsewhere.

This current blog, and my two others (Yes, I understand.  Point me to the nearest Bloggers Anonymous) are more journals or records of my life and things I want to study.  I would love it if people learned how to be creative here or visited my creationism/evolution blog to argue science with me or visited surprisesaplenty to see what one of many Busan bloggers has to say.  But mostly, these days, my content is for me.  I would be thrilled if people received valuable advice here but it doesn't drive me.

One thing about Moldawer's article that jumped out at me was "Even the social media experts have begun to agree that no one person really understands the mechanics of the process,"  This reminded me of the Darius Kazemi video comparing creative success to winning a lottery.  I discussed that a little here.

Incidentally, I feel a strange connection to Moldawer.  I first followed him on the Kickass Mystic Ninjas podcast which ran from 2005 to 2010.  He has a blog at moldawer.com.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Paley at the Creationism Museum

Not William Paley who might have approved, but Nina Paley, who did not.  Ah, that's too harsh.  She very much approved of the craftsmanship:
Paley is very open minded about sharing content and I have already included a link, but let me point out that the image below has been shrunk.  To see it full size, follow the link.
"Like the rest of the Creation Museum, this quilt was good looking and well made. That the content is batshit makes you appreciate the craftsmanship all the more."

In her post, she frequently describes the workers are professionals who work for money and have likely made similarly weird and historically inaccurate stuff for Vegas.  A fair point.

As my reader knows, I also blog about creationism/ evolution and don't want to cross contaminate the two blogs.  I may write more about Paley's visit but at creationevolutionbusan.blogspot.com

Friday, July 24, 2015

This is your brain on words, and on word making

When I read a story for the first time, I think that I have a nearly equal role in making the story.  That is, I have read several stories and recalled them later as light-hearted adventure romps only to reread them and find a much darker tone than I remembered.  I don't usually stop to work out the shape of the room or the location of characters while I read but somehow I am adding my own details and definitely removing some as well.

Scientific American has looked at how our brains handle the symbols of words as we read.
There writing is a fairly dry description of the research but anyone who communicates with the spoken word will find it interesting. A single paragraph:
Sound may have been the original vehicle for language, but writing allows us to create and understand words without it. Yet new research shows that sound remains a critical element of reading.
And now, when we write our brains are like those of NBA players performing their skills. The New York Times has some kind of anti-copy-n-paste arrangement so let me offer a fragment of a screenshot:

Both of these experiments relied on MRIs and in the latter article, the excellent Carl Zimmer points out some of the challenges.  The people in the MRIs had to keep their heads still so they wrote on a notepad that they viewed through mirrors.  I'm sure the researchers knew what they were doing but it sure sounds like an artificial environment.
All this talk about brains has led me to thinking about.... zombies!  A Kickstarter campaign is underway for a book of feminist bicycle zombie fiction.

I've long believed that one idea is not enough for a story or well anything.  You need two or more and work on how they interact to create novelty.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an excellent example. Salt mixed with chocolate and caramel is another.  A restaurant near my apartment opened some time ago offering 'bizarre taste of Korea' with the traditional spicy and garlicky Deokpoki mixed with ice cream.  It was good by gimmicky, by the way; I was done after three spoonfuls.

In your (my) next writing project perhaps you should look at the Genres of Netflix tumblr.
Huffington Post offers 9 eerily specific Netflix genres.  #4 is 'Violent Nightmare Vacation Movies"
For less polished writers, A quick guide to avoiding common writing errors.  It doesn't offer the continuous tense of 'lie' as in 'not tell the truth'.  Lieing?  Lyeing? Lying?  The final one looks right but I'm not using lye.