Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Should You Be Nice or Nasty in Book Reviews?

Teresa Amabile did a series of controlled experiments using fictitious book reviews. While the reviews themselves essentially provided the same content in the observations about the books, she manipulated the tone in which the fictitious reviewers expressed their observations, making some nice and some nasty or unkind. What Amabile found was:
"… negative or unkind fictitious reviewers were seen as less likeable but more intelligent, competent and expert than those who expressed the the same messages in gentler ways."
In other words, when writing book reviews, there may be some payoffs for being an asshole!  Being flip, clever, or sharp in your review carries a secondary gain in creating an image that you are more intelligent.

As a matter of fact, this can also pay off in terms of the job market.  In magazines with book (or movie) reviews, readers pay more attention to clever, entertaining reviews.  And publishers will see this as increasing sales, in the long run.

There's one problem:  If too many reviewers follow this ploy, then their acidic reviews do not stand out as much in relationship to the others.  The contrast effect is muted.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Pencil Test for Breast Ptosis

Years ago, advice columnist Ann Landers proposed this test to determine whether a woman can go without a bra.  To perform this test, the person lifts one of her breasts, places a pencil under it, and releases the breast.
If the pencil falls down, she can go braless (under a shirt, of course, provided it is sufficiently opaque).   If the pencil is held in place by the weight of her breast, she should wear a bra.
I used to use this as an algorithm for whether I needed a bra, not taking pokies into account.

Technically, the condition that necessitates a bra is called breast ptosis.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quote From the Volunteer State

"A lot of their extremists got elected to the Legislature.  Our extremists did not get elected to the Legislature."

                   -- Rep. Mike Turner (D - Nashville)

                   Representing District 51.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


CAPTCHA is an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."  This is that annoying set of crazy letters and numbers that you have to typ in to post something on Blogger.

I think it's a pain; so I made this blog entirely CAPTCHA-free.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Most and Least Romantic Cities

According to Foursquare, a social networking site, the most romantic cities in the United States were: San Francisco, New Orleans, New York City, Savannah, Honolulu, Portland, Harrisburg, Seattle, Charleston and Denver.

The least romantic ten cities were Trenton, Akron, Virginia Beach, Springfield in Missouri, El Paso, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Greenville, Lansing and Tucson.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Pope's Abdication

Some popes are loveable; many are not.  The late Pope John Paul seemed to be nice and had a progressive side to him.  Pope Benedict seemed to be a staunch reactionary who was trying to reverse any positive steps that had taken place.  And most of what he did fit into that framework.

So yesterday he totally surprises everyone, except for the chosen few in Vatican circles, by this intent to resign or abdicate.  Now this is something that a pope did not do since the 1400's.  It just proves that there are surprises now and then.

In his own way, Pope Benedict XVI caused a possible revolution in the Catholic Church: he re-set a precedent that a pope could resign, whether it be because he was physically or otherwise impaired, or he didn't have his heart in the job, or whatever.  Now it's not a good idea for positions of awesome influence and responsibility being filled by ancients; but this was a trap that the Catholic Church had been in.  Consider this:  If they elect only old guys as pope, and a pope is elected for life, then it's a certainty that some part of many papalships will have a guy in it that's too old for the job.

This is a big, first step.  What next?

Term limits for popes?

A woman being elected pope?

A vice-pope in addition to a pope?

These are interesting times.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The District of Columbia Should NOT Get Statehood

We see or hear the same old hoary arguments for District of Columbia being given statehood: it has a larger population than several states like Idaho, Alaska, and Wyoming, it has a larger GNP, and so forth.  However, let's look at it differently: how does it compare in population to other cities?

Very clearly, if we utilize the argument that size should be a determinant, then New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are large enough to be city-states.  Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, and San Diego also all have over a million population.  They deserve some consideration as well.

Washington's population in 2011 was estimated to be 617,996 and its rank was 25th.  Indeed, it is comparable in size to Baltimore and Nashville! 

And what does Washington produce?  Government.  Mostly effing government.  And lobbyists. 

There's the old joke:  Why was the government located in Washington, and toxic waste sites located in New Jersey?  Because New Jersey got first choice.

To my way of thinking, it would make as much sense to divide Tennessee into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and East Tennessee.

Now I know that the establishment of the District of Columbia set up a situation in which a percentage of American citizens cannot vote for senators; but the whole idea was flawed to begin with.  A porton of the original D.C. was reverted back to its original donor: Virginia.

Why not give back the remaining District of Columbia to Maryland instead of a separate statehood.  This would make Washington the second largest city in Maryland, and the Redskins and the Ravens could have a primo sports rivalry.  Also, Washington governmental workers could eat crab cakes.

Seriously, the most defensible entrant for the 51st state is Puerto Rico.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rocky Top II

Sportswear for Northern Tennessee:

Southern Tennessee gets a matching thong.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rocky Top

There's a type of song that naturally rouses up Southern audiences at concerts.  Obviously, you can probably think of "Dixie" or "Sweet Home Alabama" or "Freebird."  These are more occasions to whoop and holler, as the activity is called.  They don't mean any more than an affirmation of group solidarity for the audience, much like fight songs at football games.

One such song  is "Rocky Top."  "Rocky Top" is a fast-tempo song by songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant about the passing of a way of life:

Wish that I was on ole Rocky Top,
Down in the Tennessee hills.
Ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top,
Ain't no telephone bills.

Once there was a girl on Rocky Top,
Half bear the other half cat.
Wild as a mink, sweet as soda pop,
I still dream about that.

Rocky Top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me.
Good ole Rocky Top,
Rocky Top Tennessee, Rocky Top Tennessee.

and other verses.

This song has been covered by numerous singers and groups, and is a sure-fire crowd stirrer.  Rocky Top is the official fight song of the University of Tennessee Volunteers.

Rocky Top is a real place.  It's one of the peaks of Thunderhead Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Here's the original Osborne Brothers bluegrass version:

And here's some cute Korean kids doing theirs:

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Joys of Dry-Humping

Toni Nagy, in the Huffington Post, wrote an article "The Case for Dry-Humping: Why Being Prude is a Feminist Statement."  While it's a sign of the time that the venerable Huffie deigns to discuss this previously forbidden topic, her take on it is old school wet blanket.  Here's her take on it:

"Of course, not all sex has to be about relationships, but denying the connection between emotions and sex is ignoring the complexity. Sleeping with someone makes you feel something. But isn't that okay? If sex were as intimate as a handshake, what would happen to the magic?

"That is why I am an advocate for dry humping. It honors the involvedness of sex, giving you time to actually sort out how you both feel about each other, but still leaves something to build up to. And the likelihood of you feeling like crap because a guy you wiggled around with never called is less then if he actually penetrated your panties. But if you are both attracted to each other, the dry humping session will only make you more so."
She seems to view sex as a way of closing the deal; maybe almost to the "if we're engaged, then we can do it" process.  And as a way of acting as a talent scout:

"Yet if you audition people with the dry hump, your restraint will not only benefit you, but your fellow female sisters as well. By being a little prude, you are helping the male species remember that being inside a woman's body is actually a really big deal. In the world of nature, the males dance like Michael Jackson, or kill some another dude just to get into some bird's wings. Going home with someone who bought you a beer is hardly worth letting them inside your body. The harder a guy has to work to get into your pants, the better he will treat the girl wearing them."

In a lot of ways, she views dry-humping as sort of a consolation prize.  Like giving a loser perfunctory pity sex.

Butm why not view it instead as another, alternative form of intimacy that can be delightful in itself?

Indeed, why not make an effort to make dry humping a primary part of your sex life. It can serve as a “soft third” — a clean version of third base with no nudity or bodily fluids exchanged.   It can either be part of foreplay or the main entree if you are committed to premarital virginity or “taking things slow” or would like an intense interlude when it is not possible to go all the way in making love.  You can get both him and yourself hot while grinding your intimate parts, talk dirty until you are both light-headed, and possibly even have sweet orgasms without fear of STDs, pregnancy, having to reveal negligent bikini grooming, or laundering sheets. It’s the most perfect form of sexual activity ever invented!