December 28th, 2010

womby and woman-tired

Shakespeare is known to have introduced a lot of words and meaning to the English language, either by enshrining existing language in his immortal works, or by creating new words. Looking through a glossary of his collected works, I’m enjoying reading about the words he used that faded from use or never caught on…

“Englut”, v. t., to swallow. Othello i,3.

“Elf”, v.t., to entangle hair in so intricate a manner that it is not to be unravelled; supposed to be the work of fairies in the night. King Lear, ii, 3.

“Fire-Drake”, n., a meteor, fiery dragon. Henry VIII v, 4.

“Flap-dragon”, n., a small burning body lighted and put afloat in a glass of liquor, to be swallowed burning. Henry IV ii, 4.

“Frippery” n., an old clothes shop. Tempest, iv, 1.

“Horn-mad” adj, made like a savage bull. Comedy of Errors, ii,1. Merry Wives of Windsor, i,4.

“Woman-tired”, adj., henpecked. Winter’s Tale, ii,8.

“Womby”, adj., hollow. Henry V, ii4.

Just a small selection from Pordes’ The Complete Works of William Shakespeare edited by W. J. Craig.

More information about the “flap-dragon” drinking game at wikipedia.

December 27th, 2010

these days

December 23rd, 2010

latent inhibition

Latent inhibition is a technical term used in Classical conditioning. A stimulus that has not had any significance in the past takes longer to acquire meaning (as a signal) than a new stimulus. It is “a measure of reduced learning about a stimulus to which there has been prior exposure without any consequence.” This tendency to disregard or even inhibit formation of memory, by preventing associative learning of observed stimuli, is an unconscious response and is assumed to prevent sensory overload. Latent inhibition is observed in many species, and is believed to be an integral part of learning, enabling an organism to interact successfully in an environment (e.g., social).

Low latent inhibition

Most people are able to ignore the constant stream of incoming stimuli, but this capability is reduced in those with low latent inhibition. It is hypothesized that a low level of latent inhibition can cause either psychosis or a high level of creative achievement or both, which is usually dependent on the subject’s intelligence. Those of above average intelligence are thought to be capable of processing this stream effectively, enabling their creativity. Those with less than average intelligence, on the other hand, are less able to cope, and so as a result are more likely to suffer from mental illness.

High levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine (or its agonists) in the brain have been shown to decrease latent inhibition. Certain dysfunctions of the neurotransmitters glutamate, serotonin and acetylcholine have also been implicated.

Low latent inhibition is not a mental disorder but an observed personality trait, and a description of how an individual absorbs and assimilates data or stimuli. Furthermore, it does not necessarily lead to mental disorder or creative achievement—this is, like many other factors of life, a case of environmental and predispositional influences, whether these be positive (e.g., education) or negative (e.g., abuse) in nature.


December 23rd, 2010

in company lies opportunity

For a century, people have been devising tests that aim to capture a person’s mental abilities in a score, whether it is an IQ test or the SAT. In just an hour or an afternoon, a slate of multiple choice questions or visual puzzles helps sift out the superstars — people whose critical thinking skills suggest they have potent intellectual abilities that could one day help solve real-world problems.

But separating the spectacularly bright from the merely average may not be quite as important as everyone believes. A striking study led by an MIT Sloan School of Management professor shows that teams of people display a collective intelligence that has surprisingly little to do with the intelligence of the team’s individual members. Group intelligence, the researchers discovered, is not strongly tied to either the average intelligence of the members or the team’s smartest member. And this collective intelligence was more than just an arbitrary score: When the group grappled with a complex task, the researchers found it was an excellent predictor of how well the team performed.

Read further at the Boston Globe.

December 22nd, 2010

masculine women and feminine men

Some great footage from the roaring twenties, including some colour shots towards the end.

Funnies. Source unknown. Impressively staged!

Posted in Ha!, Past, Video | No Comments »
December 22nd, 2010

what do you mean by that? I guess you mean something?

December 22nd, 2010


Gerhard Richter’s stained glass window in the Cologne cathedral.

In August 2007, Richter’s stained glass in the Cologne Cathedral was unveiled. It is an 113 square metre abstract collage of 11,500 pixel-like squares in 72 colors, randomly arranged by computer (with some symmetry), reminiscent of his 1974 painting “4096 colours”. Richter designed the window for free. Cardinal Joachim Meisner did not attend the window’s unveiling; he had preferred a figurative representation of 20th century Christian martyrs and said that Richter’s window would fit better in a mosque or prayer house.

Richter @ Wikipedia

Posted in Design, Ha! | 1 Comment »
December 21st, 2010

the wine shop

Edward Hopper, 1909.

December 20th, 2010

I put it shining anywhere I please

It’s a full moon.

The Freedom of the Moon by Robert Frost

I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
As you might try a jewel in your hair.
I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
Alone, or in one ornament combining
With one first-water start almost shining.

I put it shining anywhere I please.
By walking slowly on some evening later,
I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
And brought it over glossy water, greater,
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.

December 18th, 2010

designer snowstorm

“A careful study of this internal structure not only reveals new and far greater elegance of form than the simple outlines exhibit, but by means of these wonderfully delicate and exquisite figures much may be learned of the history of each crystal, and the changes through which it has passed in its journey through cloudland. Was ever life history written in more dainty hieroglyphics!” (Duncan Blanchard, 1970)

There’s a whole database of meticulously catalogued snowflake forms at the Schwerdtfeger Library

(via designsquish).

December 17th, 2010

evolution of a book

I’ve been working on a translation of a poem into sounds and smells. The sounds and smells are released in synchrony by a machine (made with help from my engineer friend Brecht) that selects scented beakers using the turntable of an old record player.

You can download an excerpt from the audio track here, smells not included. This one is the translation of the second stanza, which begins “fondants, fudge, caramels, taffy brittles”, and lasts one and a half minutes. The whole piece is approximately eleven minutes long.

I may improve upon the audio, smells and machine over the next weeks. This is a sort of work-in-progress or, I suppose, the continued evolution in my mind of the original text.

December 15th, 2010

you gotta change that blue

December 11th, 2010

a cat from deergrass

A cat from deergrass, sticks and maple seeds.

I love the resourcefulness of these DIY toys, made from the materials of nature. The illustrations are also charming in themselves. The resulting products are all the more charming and special because of their limited lifespans and their fragility.

Autumn was perhaps the best time for these. But the principle of resourcefulness is unseasonal.

(via designsquish)

December 4th, 2010

sound that doesn’t mean anything

John Cage (loved sounds just as they were).

Via the blog of Foxes in Fiction.

December 4th, 2010

love made madness magnificently

Qaeda Quality Question Quickly Quickly Quiet on Vimeo.

This video by Lenka Clayton takes a 2002 speech by George W. Bush and reorganizes the words alphabetically. It turns out to be an experiment in sound and words that’s sublime in its simple premise and resultant beauty. Some repetitions of words are mesmeric as they accumulate (“citizens citizens citizens citizens”, “from from from from from from”) and pleasing to the ear, some combinations and sequences of words are uncannily poetic or profound (“love made madness magnificently”, “gathering gay generosity”, “George giving glimpsed goals”).

Clayton has a website. And this video has a page on it. I also like the idea of her Accidental Haiku (2008) very much.

Via Sredzkistrasse.

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