Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dream Memory

I encountered an interesting phenomenon last night. I'm sure this has happened to me before, but typically I don't remember what I dreamed about, much less what happened in the dream.

In the dream, I was watching some kind of fantasy/surreal movie with my family, and one of them (I don't remember who) asked what the movie was based on. I distinctly remember in the dream "knowing" who wrote the book the movie was based on, but I could not remember the name of the author. I said, "He's the guy that wrote that one series..." and then tried to recall the name of the series, thinking this would help me remember the author's name. "Oh, the Discworld series! Terry Pratchett."

Now, what is interesting about all this is that Terry Pratchett did indeed write the Discworld series (in fact there are some cheesy movies based upon a few of the books). What is really fascinating thinking back on this dream though, is that in this "dream world" I was able to recall information that I couldn't "remember" by thinking of things associated with the author, much like in my waking consciousness.

Obviously, the way things operate in the dream world is not the same as they do in "real life." However, even when the mind is essentially projecting the entire environment, some things like memory recall (and the inability to remember things!) may still be present.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Scientific" American Mind

A recent blurb in Scientific American Mind cites an article from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in which 137 students were asked to solve a problem in which they either pictured the problem being their own or a stranger's. The study found that 66% were able to solve the problem when they were imagining it as someone else's, whereas only 48% solved it when imagining it as their own problem. One implication of this study (according to the blurb) is that we may find better solutions to our problems if we imagine them as someone else's.

This makes a certain sense. Coming up with a solution for other people's problems usually seems easier than solutions to our own problems, but I don't think that is necessarily because our thinking is more "innovative" when we're "removed" from the problem. Rather, I think that we're simply more willing to accept any cost or discomfort that might be incurred when we ourselves are not paying the cost or experiencing the discomfort.

Even in the problem used in the above-mentioned study, it is somewhat easy to see why it was easier to solve the problem for someone else. The "problem" the subjects had to solve was being trapped in a tower with a length of rope not long enough to reach the bottom. The "solution" to the problem was to divide the rope length-wise and then tie the ends together so that they reach the bottom of the tower. Essentially, doubling the rope's length while cutting its thickness in half. Well no wonder people had an easier time suggesting this for someone else! Who wants to climb a skinny rope that might snap out of a tall tower? Of course it's easier to possibly send a stranger plunging to their death than to think about doing so yourself!

Social psychology write-ups (it's really not a "study") like this one illustrate perfectly the unique nature of so much of psychology: studying interesting things in order to postulate imaginary theories really doesn't contribute much to science, on the other hand, these types of write-ups can stimulate thought that might lead to a study that actually tells us something concrete about ourselves.

Think, reconsider, reimagine, and research. Ah, the soft sciences.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Awake, My Soul (and then Help Me To Sing)

I just got in a 2-CD set from Amazon based around the documentary on traditional Sacred Harp singing entitled "Awake, My Soul". The first disc is several recording of traditional sacred harp singing, which are certainly rousing, if not particularly enjoyable.

The second disc, however, is Sacred Harp hymns recorded by a variety of artists, and this CD is absolutely wonderful. I don't drink anymore, but if I did this CD would go perfect with a whiskey iced tea on a warm, slightly breezy summer evening while sitting on the porch.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

useKJVonly (dot com!)

I recently stumbled across a gem of a site: Now, most of us have heard of the "KJV-only" nutso crowd, who proudly show off their ignorance to all who will listen.

Of course, there's no point in going through the vast multitude of reasons why "use KJV only" is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous stances in all of Christendom, because many before me have already done this. A simple knowledge of the history of the KJV itself should dispel any notions about it being "the one true Bible."
But none of that is really the point of this post. I just wanted to post a few quotes from's absolute GEM of a tract, "Harry Potter: The Sorcerer & the Lake of Fire". We are informed that to "get to heaven" we must "Repent: Stop doing sinful things, including Harry Potter." So THAT'S the "key to Heaven": I need to STOP doing Harry Potter. Noted. Wait, does that just mean Daniel Radcliffe when he's dressed as Harry Potter, or do I have to stop doing Daniel Radcliffe altogether?

The tract also points out that we should "[N]ot suffer a witch to live" (according to Exodus). That, apparently, includes fictional witches who live in a world where non-witches are called "muggles". However, since none of Harry Potter's witches are actually available for us to kill, I think the tract is saying we should kill children who dress up as witches (including Harry Potter character-witches!).

You heard it here first: "KJV-only crowd: 'Stop doing Daniel Radcliffe, kill children.'"
I'm shocked.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ye Olde Boring Things!

Welcome to Ye Olde Boring Things. Have ye a looke arounde!

Actually nothing is really different. Except for the site banner, that's new.

I'm not in control.

You never were.

It felt like I was.

You weren't.

How would you know?

Because I was in control.

Oh, that makes sense. Did you let me steer sometimes?

No, never. Although I let you think so.


So I'd stay in control.

And now?

Yeah, you're in control now.

Who are you and why are you interrupting my blogging?

Hahahaha, "your" blogging...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

FREE on Craigslist!

If you have a large yard with multiple empty large sheds (and/or hangars), you may want to start thinking about stocking up stuff for the inevitable dystopia that lies in the future (zombie apocalypse, nuclear holocaust, a meteor, etc.)

Lucky for you, the free section on your local Craigslist has just the supplies you'll need.

First thing you should stock up on is mattresses. Anyone who has seen a futuristic disaster movie KNOWS that there is almost never a comfortable place to sleep. Sure, a "well-used" mattress may not be appealing NOW, but just wait until YOUR mattress is infested with deadly viruses.

You should also get a free spa. Of course, not to use as a spa (duh, there's no electricity), but to use as a foxhole/defensible position for your fortress. You'll be grateful (that word never looks right to me) for a surface on which to mount your rock launcher (which you cleverly made out of your free NordicTrac, recliner springs, and used landscaping rock).

A men's wetsuit may also come in handy, particularly if the major disaster involves massive flooding.

This shed may only have "some life left", but that'll be more life than your nuked house has left!

Finally (and no one ever thinks of this), you'll want something to keep each member of your survival party's stuff safe and secure. Sure, everyone can sleep with their stuff, tightly grasping it until they fall asleep and the Resident Post-Apocalyptic Asshole steals it, causing the group's unity to disintegrate first thing in the morning. In the worst case, this can lead to the Resident Post-Apocalyptic Honest-But-Hotheaded-Second-In-Command to point a gun at someone, and no one wants that. Nip this problem in the bud with a set of metal lockers.
Obviously, you'll need a lot more than just the above listed stuff. You might have to check the free sections of Craigslist towns nearby. You're welcome.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's Not What Bearing Witness Is

"Let go of what you know and honor what exists." - D. Bazan, "Bearing Witness"

I've been coming back to this lyric a lot lately. It's an interesting thought. In the context of the song, I'm pretty sure it means "Don't chase ideas, thoughts, or beliefs with no evidence for them."

At the same time, it has struck me as referring to living within reality rather than within my own mind. There is so much that I "know" but that has no real relevance or bearing on what I do from day to day. Of course this doesn't mean I should disregard all information that is not immediately relevant to my "day to day" life, but perhaps should simply try to live more in awareness of the current moment.

Of course maybe writing a blog about this very thing is somewhat contradictory in itself. At this point, however, erasing all of what I just wrote will not get back the time I spent writing it, and is itself an attempted denial of reality. So I'll just hit the "Publish Post" button.