Anger and creativity
"Countless ideas have been offered to help stimulate one's creativity," Tom Jacobs writes for Miller-McCune magazine. "Daydream. Brainstorm with others. Follow your intuition. Or simply sit passively as someone speaks to you in an angry tone of voice. Oddly enough, the latter approach appears to work, at least for certain people. That's the conclusion of a new study from the Netherlands." In the research, 63 undergraduates were assessed for their "personal need for structure." They were then given standard creativity tests and viewed a video clip with an actor reading a list of instructions. "Half the participants saw a version of the video in which the actor was emotionless. The other half saw a version in which 'he frowned a lot, spoke with an angry and irritable tone of voice, clenched his fists and looked stern,' [the researchers write] His palpable annoyance affected different people in different ways. The researchers found exposure to the angry man increased the creativity of participants with high epistemic motivation (those relatively open to new information), but decreased it for those with low epistemic motivation (those with a strong need for structure)."
"It's a hard-to-believe eBay listing: a toilet 'personally owned & used' by J.D. Salinger. The price? One million dollars," Carolyn Kellogg reports for the Los Angeles Times. The listing says: "When he died, his wife inherited all of his manuscripts with plans to eventually release some of them! Who knows how many of these stories were thought up and written while Salinger sat on this throne! This vintage toilet is from 1962 and is dated under the lid. It will come to you uncleaned and in its original condition when it was removed from Salinger's old home!" May we find a better way, Ms. Kellogg writes, to honour the legacy of the author who wrote The Catcher in the Rye.
That slow-mo feeling
David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, has gathered a huge number of stories from people who have survived falls, car crashes, bike accidents and the like, U.S. National Public Radio reports. "Everyone, he says, seems to say the same thing: 'It felt like the world was moving in slow motion.' " He had volunteers undergo a terrifying experience - SCAD diving, being dropped from 50 metres in the air and landing in a net three seconds later. " 'Turns out, when you're falling you don't actually see in slow motion. It's not equivalent to the way a slow-motion camera would work,' [Dr. Eagleman]says. 'It's something more interesting than that.' According to [him] it's all about memory, not turbo perception. 'Normally, our memories are like sieves,' he says. 'We're not writing down most of what's passing through our system.' Think about walking down a crowded street: You see a lot of faces, street signs, all kinds of stimuli. Most of this, though, never becomes a part of your memory. But if a car suddenly swerves and heads straight for you, your memory shifts gears. Now it's writing down everything - every cloud, every piece of dirt, every little fleeting thought, anything that might be useful."
"Brazil's comedians and satirists have been banned from making fun of candidates ahead of the nation's presidential election in October," The Daily Telegraph reports. "The legal ban could last until a possible runoff on Oct. 31. Brazilian performers are planning to fight for their right to ridicule with protests in Rio de Janeiro and other cities on Sunday. Dubbed the 'anti-joking law,' the relic of Brazil's 1964-85 dictatorship prohibits ridiculing candidates in the three months before elections."
Lawn bowling rowdies
"A south London lawn bowls club - the majority of whose members are drawing a pension - has paid the ultimate price for its rambunctious atmosphere and rowdy parties: the loss of its drink and music licence," The Guardian reports. People living near the Temple Bowling Club in Denmark Hill complained repeatedly about the loud music and disorderly behaviour. One resident said: "People around here eventually got sick and tired of it. It's a shame really as pensioners need a place to go and socialize and this club would be perfect if it just wasn't so noisy."
"The owner of a New York café said she cancelled the weekly singalongs for young children because parents refused to keep their kids under control," United Press International reports. "Aleksandra Kameneva, 35, owner of The Oak & The Iris Café, said children ages 2 to 6 would break dishes and run around out of control while their parents refused to curb their behaviour during the 45-minute weekly events, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday. … Some parents reacted angrily to the announcement that the two-year-old Thursday tradition was being cancelled. 'To set yourself up as kid-friendly and then be appalled by a normal range of kid behaviour seems bizarre to me,' a neighbourhood mother said. '… the sing-alongs were joyful occasions.' "
Thought du jour
"I think we should always look back upon our past with a sort of tender contempt."
- Dennis Potter (1935-94)