Saturday, March 21, 2009

Primal Emo...

Apparently, there really is something universal about our music: emotion. A study using Western music and members of the African Mafa tribe who had never heard it before showed that anger, sadness, and fear in our music is understandable even outside our culture.
Fritz enlisted members of the Mafa, one of about 250 ethnic groups in Cameroon. He traveled to the extreme north of the Mandara mountain ranges, where they live, with a laptop and sun collector to supply electricity in his backpack.

Their studies showed that both Western and Mafa listeners, who had never before heard Western music, could recognize emotional expressions of happiness, sadness, and fear in the music more often than would be expected by chance. However, they report that the Mafa showed considerable variability in their performance, with two of twenty-one study participants performing at chance level.

Both groups relied on similar characteristics of music to make those calls; both Mafas and Westerners relied on temporal cues and on mode for their judgment of emotional expressions, although this pattern was more marked in Western listeners.

By manipulating music, the researchers also found that both Western listeners and African listeners find original music more pleasant than altered versions. That preference is probably explained in part by the increased sensory dissonance of the manipulated tunes.

HT Future Pundit

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Better than reality : a principle to live by

This article points out the futility of designing web interfaces to "emulate" (more like "mock", which actually works quite well if the intention is humor rather than usability) the real world.

The principle is clear: don't burden yourself with unnecessary limitations just to cleave to the familiar. Transcend.

HT: MR on the Kindle

Economic Stimulus you can believe in.....

Being quite pro-immigration (after all, I am an immigrant myself!), this item struck me as more than just amusing. Why isn't it being done?

To be fair, encouraging immigration of the well-to-do is actually quite common, although typically on the WEALTHIER end of that spectrum. Almost any country is willing to host a billionaire.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Goldfish Memories

I watched an enjoyable movie tonight with Jocelyn. It's a bit slow starting, and it's quite a challenge to keep all the characters straight (no pun intended, since most of them are not "straight"), but it is very sweet and gently humorous.

My favorite exchange (paraphrased from memory)

girl: "He's NOT my type"
friend: "Well, YOUR type is currently making love to another man, so maybe you should expand your range."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good documentation....

In the computer world, we are constantly reminded of the need for good documentation. This is an extreme case from the non-computer (military) world.

Could there be a more embarrassing lapse?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Previous lives...

Guys will put up with a bit of nonsense if it gets them what they want! Click on the image for more of these fun comics.