Friday, June 21, 2013

TWIC: lego, groomed dogs, and lots of books

The change in Lego expressions to somewhat grimmer visages has not harmed your children.  An excerpt:
... New Zealand researchers demonstrated that LEGO faces have become much more diverse in the past 35 years, but the finding that got the most attention is that LEGO is making more angry-looking minifigures than ever before, to a point where the proportion of angry faces rivals that of happy ones. But, contrary to what you might have read, the study did not look into the effect that these facial expressions are having on children and their emotional development. In fact, the study did not involve children at all. ...
“Around 20 percent of reporters read the study beforehand,” estimates Bartneck. “The bad ones just copied what everybody else was writing.” This is unfortunate, because the findings of this study are interesting in their own right. has images of "bizarre-crazy" dog grooming.  One example.

Writing advice 1 (journalism):
2.) When interviewing for a job, tell the editor how you love to report.
How your passion is gathering information. Do not mention how you want to be a writer, use the word "prose," or that deep down you have a sinking suspicion you are the next Norman Mailer.
Writing advice 2 (sexy lamp test):
"The Sexy Lamp Test. If you can remove a female character, replace her w/ a sexy lamp & your story still works, you’re a hack." - @kellysue [Ed Yong]

Writing advice 3: self-publishers, let us know who you are.
I stumbled across the title Mad City Eats: Food Adventures in Madison, Wisconsin, by Adam Vincent Powell. ...I'm always vaguely curious who these local authors are (if they are truly "local") and what they're out there doing.But when I brought this book home, I was disappointed. I have no idea who this Adam Vincent Powell* is, and the book includes no introduction, preface, or really any kind of clue to enlighten me. The book literally just launches into its subject matter,
Writing advice 4: hard to excerpt from this one.  Two points in brief. a) be careful when your views change as you write a book so that the conclusion matches your introduction and b) be sure that people can recognize your voice from those of imagined critics.

Amazon has licences to allow fan-fiction to be sold on Kindle. Win (fan writers) - Win (Amazon) - Win (original writers).  Time for some Jedi knights to land in the Well of Souls (I'm reading some old Chalker now).

Hirschman felt that creative leaps were seldom intended but forced.  People just thought the project would be easier, then had to finish the damn thing.
 Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.

My son and I will soon be building an awesome robot!
Designed to be enjoyed by children with an adult on hand, Welcome to Your Awesome Robot provides perfect material for a fun family activity day or a kids workshop. Viviane Schwarz has illustrated hilarious comics throughout the book to explain the blueprint instruction pages, so this is just as much a story as it is a workbook.
Link below added mere minutes after first posting!

Dim the lights to be creative.
“Darkness increases freedom from constraints, which in turn promotes creativity,” report Anna Steidle of the University of Stuttgart and Lioba Werth of the University of Hohenheim. A dimly lit environment, they explain in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, “elicits a feeling of freedom, self-determination, and reduced inhibition,” all of which encourage innovative thinking.
Steidle and Werth describe six experiments which provide evidence for their thesis. The key one featured 114 German undergraduates, who were seated in groups of two or three in a small room designed to simulate an office.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Update and new TWIC

I have been working at a wildlife conservation area, educating groups of children on ecological and historical subjects, for the past six weeks and doing little else. I really enjoy my work -not the paycheck so much -and still have the energy to consume internet material but not to create any.  This disappoints me and one thing I need to be creating is more job applications.  After that, I want to write.  I want to write about creativiti, life in small-town Ontario, evolution and more.  I want to write fiction, non-fiction, travelogues, political rants...

My last post showed a few examples of my son's creative thinking.  This was only a still image of his output, which is probably similar to all kids his age.  We are not well-integrated into the community yet so he fills a lot of alone time with self-guided play and making his own narratives.

At work, I've made two fairly well-received jokes and many not-so-well received.  For the former, I spoke Spanish to visitors to my workplace - they were there for CUBAree, which apparently does not involve people from a large island near Florida - and told co-workers about the huge mass of "broken, no-name ping pong balls" I was finding.  The latter joke doesn't work if you don't know that the snapping turtles of the area are laying now and raccoons are digging up the clutches and feasting (leaving behind small, white, broken balls).

All right, time for the links:
Sci Am revisits the complexity of the creative mind:
In the 60s, after extensively interviewing some of the most creative people of his generation, legendary creativity researcher Frank X. Barron came to the following conclusion:
“Thus the creative genius may be at once naïve and knowledgeable, being at home equally to primitive symbolism and to rigorous logic. He is both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner, than the average person.”
Complexity, bank tellers and artists:
Consider a hot off the press study just published in Creativity Research Journal. Edward Necka and Teresa Hlawacz recruited 60 visual artists and 60 bank officers in Poland, and administered a variety of tests of temperament and divergent thinking (one component of creativity requiring the ability to generate many different possibilities). How did the artists differ from the bank officers?
Bank officers were about as good at divergent thinking as the general population, whereas artists were amazingly good at flexibly generating original pictures and words. In fact, they were almost at ceiling! What about temperament? This is where things get really interesting. On the whole, artists didn’t substantially differ from bank tellers in their temperament. To get to the bottom of this finding, the researchers looked at the relationships between the various measures within each group.

Not entirely on topic, but if we are looking at complexity, I guess we should look at individuality.
Still off-topic but back to complexity: is genius the result of nature or nurture?

On topic again, can we research comedy?
McGraw leans on historical references, formulas, peer-reviewed studies, curious findings from his “Humour Research Lab” and good old-fashioned jokes. Just as scientists before him sent a man to the moon, this one thinks he can break whatever code needs to be broken for us to understand what exactly makes people laugh. And to do that, McGraw has tiptoed away from a long-established study of judgment and emotion and cannonballed instead into the field of humour research.
...[big ellipses here!]
“Like a magician, the comedian wants to have some air of mystery. To reveal the trick may actually hurt the entertainment aspect of it all,” he says with some sympathy. “Another thing is, to crack the humour code in some way may take this thing that does seem so difficult, so special, and make it less special in their eyes.”

The late Iain Banks left 11 rules for good writing:
Number 3, "Never give your protagonist a simple motivation" is the one I liked the best - the others were too complex for me.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My son showing the way

At a little park in Penetang, my son found a small stream and some wood to use as a shovel.  He dug a little pond that was filled by the stream.

First, he thought that frogs could use it for their eggs.  Then he decided that since it was deeper than the stream, people could wash their hands in it.

I admit I had just been filling time, waiting to get home and do stuff.  The little Guy, on the other hand, was working to make Penetang a little better.