Tags: video

in motion

the button

I haven't had time or cash to go out to the movies in forever, and there's all kinds of good stuff out there that I'm missing! But when it comes to "The Box", I suspect I'm better off with this two-minute sketch anyway.

"It was supposed to be like a moral puzzle!"
in motion

new fiction

Suddenly the end of the year seems to be rushing towards us at an alarming speed. Must take time to smell the flowers, read the stories, etc. Why, here's a nifty one now!

A Brief Investigation of the Process of Decay, by Genevieve Valentine

There was a pause before "interested" that meant "acclimated," as if Mars was going to be just like the rez, except without oxygen.


If you're nominating short stories for any awards this year, I hope you will consider the delightful assortment available in the Strange Horizons archives. It would make us very happy to see some of our favorite stories get a well-deserved wider recognition.


Related only by virtue of the fact that Ms. Valentine is the purveyor of all things funny and has brought this skit to my attention: I have to admit there are times when I wish Jane Austen scenes would end this way.

in motion

(no subject)

Been thinking about communication lately, and forms of discourse, and political debate. Good article in the Atlantic last month about the intractability of our entrenched beliefs, and how we can hold onto them even in the face of evidence to the contrary -- sometimes especially in the face of that evidence:

...In other words, if people start with a particular opinion or view on a subject, any counter-evidence can create "cognitive dissonance"--discomfort caused by the presence of two irreconcilable ideas in the mind at once. One way of resolving the dissonance would be to change or alter the originally held opinion. But the researchers found that many people instead choose to change the conflicting evidence--selectively seeking out information or arguments that support their position while arguing around or ignoring any opposing evidence, even if that means using questionable or contorted logic.

That's not a news flash to anyone who's paid attention to any recent national debate--although the researchers pointed out that this finding, itself, runs counter to the idea that the reason people continue to hold positions counter to all evidence is because of misinformation or lack of access to the correct data. Even when presented with compelling, factual data from sources they trusted, many of the subjects still found ways to dismiss it. But the most interesting (or disturbing) aspect of the Northwestern study was the finding that providing additional counter-evidence, facts, or arguments actually intensified this reaction. Additional countering data, it seems, increases the cognitive dissonance, and therefore the need for subjects to alleviate that discomfort by retreating into more rigidly selective hearing and entrenched positions. [emphasis mine]

The article concludes with this rather poetic way of looking at the problem:

Part of the reason, according to Kleiman, is "the brute fact that people identify their opinions with themselves; to admit having been wrong is to have lost the argument, and (as Vince Lombardi said), every time you lose, you die a little." And, he adds, "there is no more destructive force in human affairs--not greed, not hatred--than the desire to have been right."

[...]He points to the philosopher Karl Popper, who, he says, believed fiercely in the discipline and teaching of critical thinking, because "it allows us to offer up our opinions as a sacrifice, so that they die in our stead."

A liberal education, Kleiman says, "ought, above all, to be an education in non-attachment to one's current opinions. I would define a true intellectual as one who cares terribly about being right, and not at all about having been right."

Such a subtle distinction there, the difference between being right and having been right, and such a vital one. Go read it.


Via io9, this brief article on some studies at Stanford, about the circumstances in which people are most comfortable voicing their opinions. Nothing too surprising here: people are loudest when they believe their statements reflect the majority opinion, and people holding extreme views tend to speak out more than those with more moderate views. Still essential stuff to consider, in light of the social/cultural divisions that come about when people form identity within communities who (seem to) share their politics.

“You have a cycle that feeds on itself: the more you hear these extremists expressing their opinions, the more you are going to believe that those extreme beliefs are normal for your community.”

And finally: a short video blog by Penn Jillette that I found really moving.

"I sat on TV, while my hero Tommy Smothers yelled in my face how pissed off he was at me for appearing on Glenn Beck. It broke my heart."

"I've just always thought that the answer to bad speech was more speech."

in motion

emotional landscapes

Almost the weekend! If your spirits need a boost to get you through the rest of Friday, these might do the trick:

The PS22 Chorus has turned in many amazing performances, but my favorite may be this one, from their very first rehearsal of a song I love, Björk's "Jóga."

And this clip of Stephen Fry narrating an unusual encounter with a kakapo has been making the rounds, but the bonus framework of Rachel Maddow losing her composure makes it twice as sweet.

Have a spectacular weekend!

in motion

the winter wind howls through my arms

This has been haunting me for days and I suppose the only way to exorcize it is to release it into the wild: Polly Paulusma's "The Woods". 

It's not often that we hear a fairytale from the perspective of the forest.

I saw it all crystal clear
I know who brought those children here

The video features artwork by Rima Staines, who wrote,

Polly's lyrics inspired the forest-as-witness-to-a-dark-happening story ... which calls to mind a rather less than sugary Hansel & Gretel tale and conjures imagined fears of the archetypal forest as well as a real horror of a terrifying bogeyman, in more tangible guises. It speaks too of the turning of the year ...

(The artist's website is so chock-full of images that it takes forever to load, but it's worth the wait, because there's a lot of great stuff over there.)
in motion

the inner drama

I can barely remember a time when PBS was actually interesting, but during its early years, before corporate funding took over, it was quite the provocative and controversial little network, to to mention the home for groundbreaking children's shows like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

In the mid-1960s, the National Educational Television Center had a six million dollar yearly grant from the Ford Foundation to do programming on cultural and public affairs, which allowed it to produce a series of documentaries like The Poor Pay More, Black Like Me, Appalachia: Rich Land, Poor People, and Inside North Vietnam.  These were critically acclaimed, but station affiliates, especially in the South, complained about the network's radical "East Coast Liberalism."  Private funding dried up.  PBS, created in 1969 to oversee NET, looked to the government in hopes of getting more support for educational television.  But the Nixon administration was violently set against independent federally-funded programming, and was making massive budget cuts.

Here's an amazing clip of Fred Rogers going before the U.S. Senate in 1969, speaking for six minutes, and securing $20 million dollars of funding for PBS.

I know some of the widely reported stories about Mr. Rogers may be apocryphal, but I love them all anyway, because they speak to something true about the man.  He really was that guy.

(thanks, neighbor)
in motion

kuroshio sea

The list of things I want to link to has become so vast and unwieldy that I don't even recognize half of what's on it, but I'm determined to shed all these little treasures I've collected, and send them out into the world. Let's start with water:
This giant tank is known as the Kuroshio Sea. It holds the volume of three Olympic-sized swimming pools, housing eighty species of sea life local to the ocean around the aquarium's site in Okinawa, Japan.  The glass in this window is more than 60 cm thick.

(If you like this, I recommend clicking through to see it embiggened in high def.)
in motion

"i don't know if i can call it a talent..."

My boys are far away in Sweden right now, and while I am truly loving the time to myself here, it does make me a bit wistful, because I haven't been over there in a couple of years.  When people ask me what the culture is like, it's hard to explain what I miss about our Swedish friends, and the particular mix of goofy enthusiasm, cleverness, and sly mischief that epitomizes Swedish humor.

But perhaps this "Sweden's Got Talent" clip may give you some idea.

(One thing I do not miss about Sweden is eating knäckebröd, the enormous round cram-like crackers put to good use as props in this dance.)