October 24, 2013
OK, We Totally Did Not See That One Coming....
On the otter heiny, this was a no brainer (so to speak):
Perceiver mode results when the bottom-brain system is highly utilized in optional ways but the top is not. Think of the Dalai Lama or Emily Dickinson. People who habitually rely on Perceiver mode try to make sense in depth of what they perceive; they interpret their experiences, place them in context and try to understand the implications.
But they don't make and execute grand plans. By definition, such people—including naturalists, pastors, novelists—typically lead lives away from the limelight. Those who rely on this mode often play a crucial role in a group; they can make sense of events and provide a bigger picture. In business, they are key members of teams, providing perspective and wisdom but not always getting credit.
This seems to be our day for quizzes. We took a management style one earlier today and came up "Flexible Adaptor".
Positively Kama-Sutraesque, we are. If you knew anything about our day job, you'd know why we found this so amusing.
"You are a Data Analyst"
"Your talent is to see relationships in what everyone else sees as chaos. What confuses and overwhelms your colleagues fascinates you until you can find how all the puzzle pieces fit together. Your beautiful mind would most enjoy being a data analyst."
To find out what kind of thinker you might be, take the test. And don't forget to post your results in the comments so we can all marvel at your *beautiful mind*, too.
July 26, 2013
Worst Fake Disaster Movie Contest Winners
Due to our longstanding aversion to judging contests, the Editorial Staff enlisted the help of a Super Secret Contest Judge to pick the winners of the Worst Fake Disaster Movie Contest. And here are the winners!
Winner: (hands down) Grim’s “2021”: “I didn’t know that was a painkiller?”
“It isn’t, Dave. But it will give you something to hold on to while we rip your liver out.”
2nd place: Joatmoaf’s “CRABS”: Crabs is an infectious comedy everyone’s going to get in the end...
3rd place: spd rdr’s “My Great Big Fat Greek Bailout”
The world’s gonna need a lot more Windex!
Mille grazie to spd for the Volecano poster that got it all started.
Thanks to everyone who played! And many thanks to our Anonymous Judge :)
July 15, 2013
Worst Fake Disaster Movie Contest
How could the Editorial Staff resist linking a post entitled, "How Sharknado Explains the Federal Reserve"?
Sharknado, the movie, might just be a dumb story about sharks. But Sharknado, the business, is a story about a cable channel's need to keep upping the ante to persuade viewers that it can always come up with a crazier idea than the last. After all, this isn't the SyFy Channel's first foray into absurdist animal action. Before tornadoes started catapulting great white sharks at unsuspecting victims, there was Sharktopus and Dinoshark and Piranhaconda. But with each stoner nightmare of science-or-nature-gone-wrong, SyFy has had to turn the ridiculousness to 11 to keep anybody's attention: Alright, you've seen a genetically-engineered shark-human hybrid go on a rampage, but what about a genetically-engineered supergator ... versus, um, a a dinocroc!?! (Those are real movies by the way).
Upping the ante isn't just the job of the people in charge of SyFy Channel movies. It's also the job of the people in charge of the U.S. economy. Namely, the Federal Reserve.
"He'll get you, Granny! You, and your retirement fund, too!"
For the last five years, the Fed has been in the business of persuading investors that it can be irresponsible. Now, in normal times, the Fed is anything but; it's boring. It just raises short-term interest rates when the economy is too hot, and lowers them when it's too cold. But when short-term interest rates are at zero, the economy is stuck in what economists call a liquidity trap. The Fed can't really cut interest rates below zero, because if it did, people would move their money from bank deposits that were costing them to cash that weren't. The only way the Fed can get the economy moving again is to cut real interest rates by, as Paul Krugman originally put it, credibly promising to be irresponsible. The Fed has to say it will run looser policy than it should in the future to raise expected inflation now -- and markets have to believe it won't go back on this.
In other words, the Fed has to promise to be a little, well, crazy. But the thing about crazy is that once you've been Sharknado crazy, you need to be even crazier to stay ahead of the curve -- or else disappoint everyone.
We admit that even the most perverse imagination may have trouble conjuring up anything more soul destroying than the sight of The Ben Bernanke astride a Great White Shark. But take heart, peoples - the news these days is chock full of bizarre scandals that once would have seemed almost as improbable as the plot of Sharknado.
The scary movie genre offers its own parade of horribles. There's Mansquito, a beloved classic at Villa Cassandranita. And don't forget Mant ("Half man, half ant. All terror".) Or this disturbing Sharknado spook, served up by the indefatigable mr rdr. The Editorial Staff pestered him until - against his better judgment - he agreed to let us use it as a flimsy pretext for something we haven't had here at VC for a long time: yes, we're talking about another stupid contest:
Mount Vesuvius Blasts Skyward a Verisimilitude of Voracious Vegetarian Varmints
The headlines of late are horrifying enough as they are. But surely the assembled villainry can think of worst things than the fusillade of lame Sharknado references littering the digital landscape?
Feel free to suggest your own ridiculous disaster movie in the comments. Or better yet, take a famous movie and rewrite the plot summary to fit a major story in the news.
This could be fun :)
June 21, 2013
Friday Time Wasting Quiz
What if you had to re-qualify periodically in order to retain your American citizenship? Would you make the cut?
The Editorial Staff got a 53. Apparently we do not do enough civic-minded work in the community.
April 16, 2012
Via Dan Collins, an interesting Monday time waster:
In the battle for the moral high ground, it seems we have a winner at last.
A leading philosopher has claimed that women are more moral than men.
Professor Roger Steare developed the ‘Moral DNA’ test four years ago to measure both a person’s morality and the changes in their value systems when they enter the workplace.
Since then 60,000 volunteers have taken the questionnaire in more than 200 countries, ranging from chief executives to manual workers and housewives.
Professor Steare said the results show that your gender and age are most likely to influence your morality – with women and the over-thirties proving the ‘most moral’.
I've always been extremely skeptical of claims that men are more moral or rational than women or vice versa. We think, reason, and judge differently depending on our experiences, upbringing or faith, temperment, and yes - probably sex to some degree. But the larger problem with such broad pronouncements is that they presuppose a given definition of morality.
If you place a premium on caring then women will appear more moral but if you place a premium on justice then men tend to edge us out. I've often thought that the way men approach relationships with other people is more suited to a world of competitors: it optimizes on interacting with people with whom you have no bond, or with whom you are actively competing for resources. That kind of moral matrix is shaped by a sharp distinction between the way we treat family and close friends (people who can reasonably be expected to reciprocate kindness or trust) and the way we treat strangers or even enemies (people who cannot be trusted, or who may even wish to harm us). The down side of the traditionally male moral matrix is that having defensive walls up 24/7 isn't always appropriate with a spouse or close family. If you treat your spouse like you treat competitors, you're probably headed for divorce court.
Women tend to have an approach that is more suited to dealing with family or close friends. Intimacy and trust are easier for us. There are advantages to this model - one being that it often disarms other people and makes them more generous and fair. I've often found in the work world that it's easier for me to get others to cooperate (even when this means giving up something of value) than it is for my male co-worker. But it can also be disastrous when used with someone who is dishonorable.
It's also disastrous as a model for large societies, because we don't form the same bonds with total strangers that we form with family and friends. There is no reasonable expectation of reciprocity. I expect that this distinction (and not patriarchal oppression) explains why governments are usually run by men. Their moral model is more suited to the tasks governments must perform.
At any rate, these are gross generalizations. I find Jonathan Haidt's moral matrix interesting because he likens morality to an equalizer with six (OK, I just typed "sex" - I don't even want to think about what that means...) slider bars:
Grim has been taking Haidt's online quizzes:
Dr. Haidt has updated his online quizzes, which you may enjoy taking for fun or edification; or just to help see the point he's trying to make. I was pleased to score perfectly on the scientific knowledge quiz, for example; it's not hard, and I expect all of you will do likewise. Both liberals and conservatives average over six out of seven total points.
The point he is making that gets the most attention comes from his "Sacredness Survey," where he's pushing the argument that conservatives and liberals share three value systems (fairness, avoidance of harm, and purity), but that conservatives have two more (authority and in-group loyalty).
I learn from this survey that Haidt's model ranks me as considering all but one of these values considerably more sacred than is normal for either liberals or conservatives; the exception is authority, for which I apparently have almost no respect whatsoever.
Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory is a model, and like most models it can never capture the infinite nuances of human behavior. But that doesn't mean they have no value. Myers-Briggs is another model that doesn't perfectly capture the human personality, but it achieves its intended purpose, which was to help people understand those who think and respond differently. I can unreservedly credit Myers-Briggs for helping me to understand my mother in law. Once I figured out what type she was, I was able to understand where she was coming from and better predict what would appeal to her or upset her.
As Grim mentions, I've been reading Haidt's latest book The Righteous Mind, and it's fascinating. So if you're inclined, go over to Grim's place and take the quizzes (link is in his post).
I took them a long time ago but would probably have to re-take them as Haidt added "Liberty/Oppression" to the list. I did take the Moral DNA test. Here are my results:
Models, while not perfect, are helpful to the extent that they provide a framework for analyzing and understanding complex systems. Interesting stuff.
January 15, 2012
Which Candidate Best Matches Your Political Views?
I've always enjoyed these things and am frequently surprised by the results.
Answer a series of 11 questions to see which presidential candidate’s views are most like your own. At the end, you can also roll over each candidates columns to see what their specific positions are.
Via Chart Porn.
Update: here's another one but the questions are far less nuanced. According to this one, Gingrich's positions align with mine 76% of the time with Romney, Santorum, and Bachman aligning with mine 72% of the time. Huntsman isn't even in the running.
Assuming this is an accurate assessment (not sure it is because the questions were so vague), a 4% difference in alignment isn't going to move me into Gingrich's camp if, in my assessment, he lacks the requisite experience and I don't trust him.
Amusing side note - not sure if you can see it in the graphic below, but virtually every single candidate has a yellow bar across his/her icon that says, "Lacks courage":