February 28th, 2010

Mihyang Kim

Mihyang Kim, Self-Portrait in October 2009.
Acrylic on canvas | 2009 | 61 x 71 cm

My work is about nature and the human body. Painting nature and the human body is the easiest way to express my ideas because I grew up in the countryside and I am a nurse. I am inspired by nature and organic shapes and vivid colors that can be found in the outside world and biological bodies. I think nature and human bodies live in co-existence with each other. My work has common themes of balance and co-existence. The balance found in nature and also the fight for balance and co-existence in human life or political struggles.

Mihyang’s website.

February 28th, 2010

harp guitar

Acoustic Instrumental Harp Guitar Solo by Stacy Hobbs at the — unlikely but wonderful — 3rd Annual International Harp Guitar Gathering.

February 28th, 2010

how and why we lie to ourselves

The excellent Psyblog has a fascinating post on cognitive dissonance. It picks apart a deliciously deceptive 1959 psychological experiment in order to help us understand how and why we lie to ourselves when confronted with opposing ideas/feelings that we desire to be reconciled.

The ground-breaking social psychological experiment of Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) provides a central insight into the stories we tell ourselves about why we think and behave the way we do. The experiment is filled with ingenious deception so the best way to understand it is to imagine you are taking part. So sit back, relax and travel back. The time is 1959 and you are an undergraduate student at Stanford University…

Read on.

Now did I really think that was a fascinating post or have I just convinced myself of that? Well I’m quite sure it’s genuinely interesting and worth a read. :)

February 28th, 2010

how genetics works


Photographer unknown. (9GAG via kottke)

February 26th, 2010


Click to enlarge.

Well it’s true, sometimes you just have to abandon something.

February 25th, 2010

the psychology of possibility

The Boston Globe has an interesting bio of phsychologist Ellen Langer:

Langer is a famous psychologist poised to get much more famous, but not in the ways most researchers do. She is best known for two things: her concept of mindlessness – the idea that much of what we believe to be rational thought is in fact just our brains on autopilot – and her concept of mindfulness, the idea that simply paying attention to our everyday lives can make us happier and healthier. She was Harvard’s first tenured woman professor of psychology, and her discoveries helped trigger, among other things, the burgeoning positive-psychology movement. Her 1989 book, “Mindfulness,” was an international bestseller, and she remains in high demand as a speaker everywhere from New York’s 92d Street Y to the leadership guru Tony Robbins’s Fiji resort. And now a movie about her life is in development with Jennifer Aniston signed on to star as Langer.

While other researchers might blanch at the Hollywoodization of their work, for Langer it’s almost an organic development – part of a long journey to bring the message of her research to the masses. Langer’s reputation in the field of social psychology rests on a set of ingenious experiments that expose the strange power of the mind to fool itself and to transform the body. In one of her best-known studies, she found that giving nursing home residents more control over their lives made them live longer. In more recent work, she made hotel maids lose weight simply by telling them that their work burned as many calories as a typical workout. And in the study at the center of the Aniston movie, a team led by Langer found that instructing a group of elderly men to talk and act as if they were 20 years younger could reverse the aging process.

Read more at the Boston Globe. (via 3qd)

February 24th, 2010

the lone tenement, george bellows 1909

Click to enlarge.

(via fivebranchtree)

February 23rd, 2010

those that lived

Those that lived are greening well,
pistachios in their burnished shells.

Those that haven’t are with their lips
and tongues and hands attached
to hips and salty, green, decaying faces,
sharing airless, nailed-up spaces.

February 23rd, 2010

and the olympic gold medal for painting goes to…

New York Times:

The dream of uniting sport and art, as they were once paired in the original Greek Olympiads, was in fact central to the mission of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the godfather of the Games. The goal was “to reunite in the bonds of legitimate wedlock a long-divorced couple — Muscle and Mind,” the baron loftily announced to an organizing committee in an early attempt to get the idea off the ground. But while the first athletic competitions got under way in Athens in 1896, it was not until the Stockholm Games in 1912 that medals would be given for architecture, sculpture, painting, music and literature.

What a noble aim. Sadly it proved too difficult to judge such contests objectively (amongst other difficulties explained in the New York Times article) and the marriage of sports and the arts did not last very long. Read more about it at the NYT Website.

More info about art competitions at the Olympic games at wikipedia.

February 23rd, 2010

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February 23rd, 2010

d.h. lawrence and the second brain

Speaking of the second brain… A friend has brought it to my attention that D. H. Lawrence has written with tremendous relish on the subject of the second brain, or solar plexus:

In that little book, “Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious,” I tried rather wistfully to convince you, dear reader, that you had a solar plexus and a lumbar ganglion and a few other things. I don’t know why I took the trouble. If a fellow doesn’t believe he’s got a nose, the best way to convince him is gently to waft a little pepper into his nostrils. And there was I painting my own nose purple, and wistfully inviting you to look and believe. No more, though.

You’ve got first and foremost a solar plexus, dear reader; and the solar plexus is a great nerve center which lies behind your stomach. I can’t be accused of impropriety or untruth, because any book of science or medicine which deals with the nerve-system of the human body will show it to you quite plainly. So don’t wriggle or try to look spiritual. Because, willy-nilly, you’ve got a solar plexus, dear reader, among other things. I’m writing a good sound science book, which there’s no gainsaying.

Now, your solar plexus, most gentle of readers, is where you are you. It is your first and greatest and deepest center of consciousness. If you want to know _how_ conscious and _when_ conscious, I must refer you to that little book, “Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious.”

At your solar plexus you are primarily conscious: there, behind you stomach. There you have the profound and pristine conscious awareness that you are you. Don’t say you haven’t. I know you have. You might as well try to deny the nose on your face. There is your first and deepest seat of awareness. There you are triumphantly aware of your own individual existence in the universe. Absolutely there is the keep and central stronghold of your triumphantly-conscious self. There you _are_, and you know it. So stick out your tummy gaily, my dear, with a _Me voilà_. With a _Here I am!_ With an _Ecco mi!_ With a _Da bin ich!_ There you are, dearie.

(from read print)


The primal consciousness in man is pre-mental, and has nothing to do with cognition. It is the same as in the animals. And this pre-mental consciousness remains as long as we live the powerful root and body of our consciousness. The mind is but the last flower, the _cul de sac_.

The first seat of our primal consciousnesses the solar plexus, the great
nerve-center situated behind the stomach. From this center we are first dynamically conscious. For the primal consciousness is always dynamic, and never, like mental consciousness, static. Thought, let us say what we will about its magic powers, is instrumental only, the soul’s finest instrument for the business of living. Thought is just a means to action and living. But life and action take rise actually at the great centers of dynamic consciousness.

The solar plexus, the greatest and most important center of our dynamic consciousness, is a sympathetic center. At this main center of your first-mind we know as we can never mentally know. Primarily we know, each man, each living creature knows, profoundly and satisfactorily and without question, that _I am I._ This root of all knowledge and being is established in the solar plexus; it is dynamic, pre-mental knowledge, such as cannot be transferred into thought. Do not ask me to transfer the pre-mental dynamic knowledge into thought. It cannot be done. The knowledge that _I am I_ can never be thought: only known.

This being the very first term of our life-knowledge, a knowledge established physically and psychically the moment the two parent nuclei fused, at the moment of the conception, it remains integral as a piece of knowledge in every subsequent nucleus derived from this one original. But yet the original nucleus, formed from the two parent nuclei at our conception, remains always primal and central, and is always the original fount and home of the first and supreme knowledge that _I am I._ This original nucleus is embodied in the solar plexus.

(from online literature)

Terrific! Thanks very much, Alice.

See also this glorious diagram of the network of nerves in the abdomen, including the celiac plexus or solar plexus @ wikipedia).

February 21st, 2010

the second human brain

Scientific American:

Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system, Gershon says.

This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to “feel” the inner world of our gut and its contents. Much of this neural firepower comes to bear in the elaborate daily grind of digestion. Breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and expelling of waste requires chemical processing, mechanical mixing and rhythmic muscle contractions that move everything on down the line.

Scientific American now has a fascinating article about our “second brain” — a sheath of nerves in our gut which has the power to influence our feelings/mood, as well as outsourcing a lot of the orchestration of our bowel movements and digestion. It can affect our mood and sense of well-being, and it’s the source of the “butterflies in the stomach” phenomenon.

Addendum: D. H. Lawrence has written on the subject!

February 21st, 2010

this wine tastes like mouse urine to me

I don’t believe this image exists. Thanks google image search.

The wikipedia page on wine faults describes with scientific detail all the things that can go wrong with wine, and describes the processes and causes.

I love the terms lightstrike, ladybird taint, ropiness and mousiness. The following is about ladybird taint:

Some insects present in the grapes at harvest inevitably end up in the press and for the most part are inoffensive. Others, notably types of ladybirds, release unpleasant volatile compounds as a defensive mechanism when disturbed. In sufficient quantities this can affect the bouquet and taste of wines. With an olfactory detection threshold of a few ppb, the principal active compounds are methoxypyrazines, or pyrazines, that are perceived as rancid peanut butter, bitter herbaceous, green bell pepper or cat urine.

More at wikipedia.

February 21st, 2010

the head

TheHead / hand-drawn animated short from parquerama on Vimeo.

I enjoyed this free spirited animation. Check out the link above for a larger version. (via neatorama)

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February 20th, 2010


(click to enlarge)

Another sketch from observation. Santa Margalida, Mallorca.

February 17th, 2010

anna charina’s russian scenery

First Ice. Moscow River with B. Ustinsky Bridge
(trans. Google Translate!) by Anna Charina

I found Anna Charina‘s painting blog completely by chance. If you speak Russian, then here’s a link without Google Translate engaged.

February 15th, 2010

ayurvedic tea

Sri Dhanvantari

A friend sent me some “kapha” tea — a stimulating blend of spices — and this led me to do a little reading on what kapha means. It led me to Ayurveda, an ancient but persisting philosophy of medicine, originating in India over 5000 years ago.

Ayurvedic medicine places individuals into one of three types or “doshas”. Following ayurvedic medicine, one is encouraged to adopt certain dietary and lifestyle habits specific to their dosha, in order to attain balance and a feeling of well-being.

Out of interest I took a (probably not very reliable) test that placed me in the Kapha type (as opposed to Pitta or Vata).

Good thing I was already sent the appropriate tea, then.

Whether or not i’m entirely sold on Ayurveda, I do like the kapha tea, especially with a drop of milk (although that’s probably not traditional). There’s a recipe for kapha tea online, but it differs from the commercial blend I have. The recipe here lacks black pepper, for one thing, which gives the commercial blend a nice kick.

(Right: Dhanvantari who, according to wikipedia, is “said to be an avatar of Vishnu from the Hindu tradition and God of Ayurvedic medicine”)

February 15th, 2010

incredible journeys: animal navigation

Ants have about a million times less brain power than the average person. So how do ants always find their way back home when I can barely navigate a signposted city using a map?

Another possibility is that the ants simply count their steps. In a remarkable experiment published in Science in 2006, scientists painstakingly attached “stilts” made of pig hairs to some the ants’ legs, while other ants had their legs clipped, once they had reached their food target. If the ants counted their steps on the journey out, then the newly short-legged ants should stop short of the nest, while stilted ants should walk past it. Indeed, this is what occurred!

More secrets of ant (and bird and gerbil) navigation at SEED.

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