Thoughts and Notes

Research-generated assonant symmetries, equal gender rights and global sexual satisfaction

NPR : Global Sex Survey: Satisfied in the West
A groundbreaking international sex survey reveals that couples in Western countries are the most sexually satisfied, while countries in the East appear to be less satisfied.

Feminism and computer gaming

Wired News: How Lara Croft Steals Hearts
I think young boy gamers loved Lara for reasons that were considerably stranger. They weren't just ogling her: They were identifying with her. Playing the role of a hot, sexy woman in peril -- surrounded by violence on all sides -- was, unexpectedly, a totally electric experience for young guys.

Cadences and harmonies of verbal and dramatic narratives

Several years before his death, the famous Estonian semiotician Yuriy Lotman came to Prague and the thing that I still remember from his talk is an admonition that boundaries are the places to study because that's the most interesting phenomena happen (or come to the surface) at the border between two stereotypes (my words not his).

Periodicity of nationalist conservatism: A hypothesis to be tested

I was just listening to the UK Prime Minister's Question Time. I don't do it very often, because the questions and answers are predictable in content and not particularly informative, but maybe I should tune in more often to get a sense of the tone of the exchange.

As I was listening, I was struck by the tone social conservatism, law and order and peaceful environment for the law abiding citizens. It felt to me like a representation of a yearning for return to the 1950s (or rather our rosy image of the 50s).

Multiple perspectives-models-stories in fiction and science

AfterEllen.com - The L Word's Vanishing Bisexual
The L Word’s representation of bisexuality reflects popular and sometimes opposing ideas about bisexuality. One belief--represented best on the series by Jenny--is that those who identify as bisexual are merely experimenting with their sexuality before they choose to identify as strictly heterosexual or homosexual, thus suggesting that a “bisexualâ€? identity is at best a transitional identity, and at worst a false one.

Semantic prosody of web design

Technology News: E-Commerce: Study: Poor Web Design Alienates Customers
One twentieth of a second. That's about how long it takes for a Web site Get Linux or Windows Managed Hosting Services with Industry Leading Fanatical Support. to make a first impression on an Internet user, according to researchers at a Canadian university, whose findings could have competitive impacts for businesses on the Web.
...

Geena Davis and the importance of individual role-model narratives

CNN.com - Quotes from the Golden Globes - Jan 16, 2006
"As I was coming in, I felt a little tug at my skirt. And I looked, and there was a little girl maybe 8 or 10 in her first party dress, and she said, 'Because of you I want to be president someday.' And I just -- well, that didn't actually happen. Awwww, but it could have." Geena Davis, best actress in a TV drama for "Commander in Chief."

Prejudice, shared meanings, local grammars and Google as a resource for research

The Prejudice Map The Prejudice Map According to Google, people in the world are known for...

Franklin and the complexities of American national identity

January 13, 2006, Science Friday = Franklin at 300

Franklin as inventor, socialite and statesman, and take a look at the Tercentenary Exhibition in his honor, now open in Philadelphia.

Wired News: Military Women Can Hack It

Wired News: Military Women Can Hack It
Female soldiers have long fought off perceptions that their bodies just aren't equipped to handle the rigors of training and warfare. But a decade's worth of research suggests that women are hardly as fragile as critics once thought.

Self-organization of iconic linguistic items

The Aargh Page
# Not surpisingly, "argh" is much more frequent than any of the alternatives, and the items with fewer 'a's or 'r's are more frequent than their longer neighbors.
# However, there are high-frequency islands, even way out in the long-word planes. For example, "a17r23gh" (17,23) occurs in 171 pages, even though if you change the number of 'a's or 'r's by one, it drops at least 20-fold. "A15r5gh" is almost 100 times more frequent than its neighbors.

Nature of the predictions genre

On The Media-- NAMING RIGHT

The key variables that differentiated the titles that had been number-one bestsellers from the titles that had failed to be were whether the title was literal or figurative, the word type of the first word, although it was interesting that the word type of the second word didn't matter, and also the title's grammar pattern.
...

News reporting as a cognitive (speech) act

ABC News: Sharon Reportedly Moves One of His Hands

The headline is the only thing of interest here. It is an example of several things. On the one hand, it shows how easily a person's personal tragedy can be abstracted away from the larger symbolism (Terry Shiavo last year and Charles Kennedy this are other examples).

Transformation of symbols across cultural borders

NPR : Muslim Migrants, 'Embracing the Infidel'

Author Behzad Yaghmaian spent two years traveling with Muslim migrants and collected their stories on safe houses, bribes, police custody, and human trafficking. He talks about his book, Embracing the Infidel: Stories of Muslim Migrants on the Journey West.

Social hypostasis of linguistic items

The GIF Pronunciation Page

The GIF graphics file format was invented by CompuServe in 1987. In the years since, a debate has been raging as to the correct way to pronounce "GIF": like "jif", or with a hard 'g' as in "gift" as a majority of Mac users seem to prefer. With this page I intend to clear this up once and for all...

A great site demonstrating (not intentionally) how important awareness of language use is to language (of course, after Labov, no great demonstration is needed).

Florida high court kills school voucher program

Florida high court kills school voucher program
In a ruling expected to reverberate through battles over school choice in many states, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a voucher program for students attending failing schools, saying the state Constitution bars Florida from using taxpayer money to finance a private alternative to the public system.

Are printed books dead? God I hope so!

iRex : The iLiad
Digital written content can now be read as easily and conveniently as the printed word on paper. The iRex Technologies E-reader provides true reading comfort, flexibility and versatility. It can be read outdoors, in sunshine or shadow. As well as reading you can also write comments, mark or underline sections, for a true two-way paper experience. And all of this at the lowest power consumption.

Analogies and blends - new category old ideas

I thought, I might add another category for the new year. analogies. This springs from two separate and seemingly conflicting tendencies in my intellectual life. One is to expose potentially harmful and disparate analogies and the other is to create new analogies to illuminate similarities otherwise unnoticed.

Conceptualizing gender differences in behavior

ABC News: Male Domination of the Internet Is Over, Study Finds

The study says 68 percent of men and 66 percent of women now go online. Since women make up a larger portion of the population, that means they outnumber men in cyberspace.
...
Although a similar percentage of men and women use the Internet, the study found they often use it quite differently.

The research suggests men largely go online to pursue solitary pursuits, while women use the Internet to enrich their existing relationships.

Towards a cognitive morphology of the folktale

Propp and other formalists had many things figured out quite right. Then the structuralists came and elevated emergent properties to the level of meaning creation. This post is an analogy in the sense that it compares the idea of the 'morphology of the folktale' but takes the source domain from cognitive morphology rather than traditional semi-structuralist morphology.

Creation of meaning and music analogies

Now, here's an analogy that occured to me as I was pondering the indeterminacy of the meaning of some technical term in social science (I think it was metaphor). But it occurred to me that creating meaning (in the Brunerian sense) is very much like playing certain instruments (such as slide guitar). With slide guitar, a note is played by approaching the position on the fretboard. However, unlike playing a normal tone, i.e. pressing a finger on a certain position, the note is held by constant motion of the slide over the fret.