August 31, 2010

August 27, 2010

Please vote for me!

I’m delighted to let you know that I’m in the running to moderate a panel at the upcoming South by Southwest (SXSW) conference – and that YOUR vote helps to decide if our session is chosen! The panel is called Ethical Storysharing for Social Change, and it will feature Aspen Baker of Exhale, Amy Hill of the Center for Digital Storytelling, and Jeff Simmermon of And I Am Not Lying.

We will answer the following questions:
  • What can be learned from successful examples of online story sharing by previously marginalized communities?
  • What do organizations need to consider if they advocate open story-sharing online?
  • What are the privacy considerations of storytellers?
  • How can advocacy organizations ensure a respectful partnership with storytellers?
  • What is ethical storytelling practice for advocacy organizations?
Please vote TODAY for our panel! Today is the last day of voting. Click here; sign in to SXSW’s democratic, crowd sourcing Panel Picker (it takes less than a minute); enter Storysharing under title; and then hit Thumbs Up! And please consider leaving a comment, too. Thank you so very, very much!

August 26, 2010

cars go bang

If you get the chance to attend a county fair demolition derby, we suggest that you go. But bring earplugs.

[Photos: At the Delaware County (NY) Fair, last Friday]

August 25, 2010

make the cars go bang

While we do not have a regular NeuroCooking feature entitled "stuff we like that's loud and transgressive", if we did, we would surely include not just the Ramones, but also the uniquely American hybrid between motorsport and gladiator combat known as the Demolition Derby.

[Photo: Last Friday night at the Delaware County (NY) Fair; more photos here.]

August 13, 2010

size vs. shape

Scientists studying brain anatomy know that size ain't everything, because shape matters, too. And so there is a growing literature on the shape of brain structures.

Recently, a similar realization, regarding a different aspect of human anatomy, appears to have occurred to the good people at Levi's.

August 12, 2010

Some data are better.

We've written about the need to repeat measurements in order to determine the uncertainty in an estimate.

Today I want to address a related question: What is the best estimate?

Let's say I want to know how high my desk is. So, I take a tape measure, and measure the desk ten times. The best estimate is the average of those ten measurements.

Now let's say that I ask one hundred people to measure the height of the desk ten times each. Now I have one thousand measurements (one hundred people, times ten measurements per person) of the height of the desk. What is the best estimate? Is it the average of those one thousand measurements?

No, it is not.

Because, someone whose ten measurements vary more than average, is probably a sloppy measurer; their results should be understood to have more uncertainty than other peoples' measurements, and should be somehow discounted.

And, someone whose measurements are significantly different from the group average, is probably an odd measurer – maybe their problem is optical parallax, or not knowing how to use a tape measure – so their results should be somehow discounted.

This insight – that some data are better than others – is what allowed Drs. Joern Diedrichsen & Reza Shadmehr to develop an approach to improve brain activation estimates from functional MRI data that contain artifacts.

August 11, 2010

"The Inspector"

A new opera will premier at the Barns of Wolf Trap in the Spring!

"The Inspector", with music by John Musto and libretto by Mark Stephen Campbell, is "loosely" based on "The Government Inspector" by Nikolai Gogol.

From the description on the Wolf Trap Opera website:
"The Inspector is set in 1930s Sicily in a fictional small town not far from Palermo. A crafty drifter is perceived to be a high-ranking government inspector by town officials, who go to great comic lengths to hide the extent of their corruption."
Tickets for the world premier on April 27th do not appear to be for sale, but tickets for the performances on April 29th and May 1st are available.

August 9, 2010

brewing & building

We are brewing:

And, NeuroCooking friends, in addition to making beer, we are building our vocabularies!

Why, just one month ago, I would have no idea what these mean:

"Pitch the wort."
(translation: add yeast to the warm extract of malted barley in water)

"To remove trub, rack to the secondary."
(translation: siphon the fermenting beer from one container to another, leaving behind the sediment)

Let's hope (hop?) the beer is as good as the words.

August 6, 2010

It didn't move.

Georgetown University is in Washington, D.C., but its seal doesn't say so.

Rather, "Collegium Georgiopolitanum Ad Ripas Potomaci in Marylandia" says that Georgetown is located "on the banks of the Potomac in Maryland".

What happened? Did the school move?

No, but it was founded in 1789, before the District of Columbia was established. Then, Georgetown was indeed in Maryland.

August 5, 2010

seems unlikely

You can place a bet with Paddy Power, a bookmaker in Dublin, that CERN's Large Hadron Collider will, by the end of this year, discover proof of the existence of God.

The odds are 100 to 1 against. To put those odds into perspective, we note that the same bookmaker offers 1,000 to 1 odds against Paris Hilton being elected President of the United States in 2012.

[Please note: NeuroCooking cannot be a source of financial or investment advice; we do not encourage the placing of wagers over the internet; readers are urged to consult local authorities or their legal advisors regarding local laws and regulations relevant to such activities.]

August 4, 2010

No suckers.

Hops is a bine.

The flavorful and antibiotic hops plant appears to be of little use except in beer-making, where it plays four important roles:
  • Hops provide bitterness to balance the flavor of beer
  • Hops provide beer with a pleasant aroma
  • Hops protects against unwanted microbes during yeast fermentation
  • Hops preserves finished beer
A bine climbs by spiraling up 'round any support it runs into, using stiff, downward-pointing bristles, while a vine climbs by attaching itself with tendrils and suckers.

Bines ain't got no suckers.

August 2, 2010

A charming malapropism.

Our late grandmother used to tell her friends that I, her grandson, had "invented nuclear magnetic renaissance".


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