From the monthly archives:

March 2010

Note: The High Definition version of this video by Shawn Knol is only available on vimeo.com. I suggest you view it there. Full screen.

via Maria Popova

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Summarizing a recent study:

…the tactile disadvantage extends to the conceptual domain. That is, we seem to be slower at recognising when a word is tactile in nature than we are at recognising whether words are visual, to do with taste, sound, or smell.

The researchers had dozens of participants look at words on a screen, presented one at a time, and press a button to say if they were related to the tactile modality (e.g. ‘itchy’) or not. Some words were tactile-related whilst others were fillers and related to the other senses.

The same task was then repeated but with participants judging whether the words were visual-related, auditory and so on, with each sense dealt with by a new block of trials. The key finding is that participants were much slower at this task in the tactile condition than for the other senses. This was the case even when words were presented for just 17ms, which is too fast for conscious detection but long enough for accurate responding.

Connell and Lynott say their findings provide further evidence for the tactile sense having a processing disadvantage relative to the other senses. They think this is because there’s little evolutionary advantage to sustaining attention to the tactile modality whereas there are obvious survival advantages with the other senses, for example: ‘…in hunting, where efficacious looking, listening and even smelling for traces of prey could afford an advantage.’ You may think of pain and damage detection as reasons for paying sustained attention to the tactile domain, but remember these are served by spinal reflexes. ‘We do not wait for the burning or stinging sensation to register with the attentional system before responding,’ the researchers said.

I can think of lots of reasons for sustained attention to tactile sensation, but they probably don’t have any evolutionary purpose.

via Bobulate

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Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at London’s Barbican from The Wire Magazine on Vimeo.

Video footage of musician and artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s installation of electric guitars and zebra finches at London’s Barbican Curve gallery, 23 February – 23 May 2010

I’d like to hear a longer version of this, without the camera crew chasing the finches from guitar to guitar.

A proposed sequel: finches in a room full of lid-less grand pianos, with cement blocks on the damper pedals to let the strings sound. Why didn’t Henry Cowell ever get animals involved? Other than human animals, that is.

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But is it not this pillowy
principle of repulsion
that produces the
doily edges of oceans
or the arabesques of thought?

from Repulsive Theory by Kay Ryan

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Amy Hillman recently tweeted this photo of the dedication in a book from Bob’s Red Mill:

...a simple, sustaining way of life...

...a simple, sustaining way of life...

Not too surprising that someone who cares about his wife, work and values this much gave the company to his employees on his 81st birthday.

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