Watching TV Makes You Smarter

The New York Times says that ‘watching TV makes you smarter’:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/24/magazine/24TV.html?ei=5090&en=e08bc7c1e7acbb59&ex=1271995200&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print&position=. They make sense too:

bq. For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common-denominator standards, presumably because the ”masses” want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But as that ”24” episode suggests, the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less. To make sense of an episode of ”24,” you have to integrate far more information than you would have a few decades ago watching a comparable show. Beneath the violence and the ethnic stereotypes, another trend appears: to keep up with entertainment like ”24,” you have to pay attention, make inferences, track shifting social relationships. This is what I call the Sleeper Curve: the most debased forms of mass diversion — video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms — turn out to be nutritional after all.

I find it hard to watch older sitcoms like the 70’s shows or Fraisier – they’re just to simplistic. There’s nothing to keep track of as everything is spoon fed to the viewer. This is what this article is about – that what everyone has assumed since time immemorial may be wrong: that the most debased forms of mass diversion — video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms — turn out to be nutritional after all – the idiot box has hit rock bottom and is now turning upwards in a _Sleeper Curve._

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On Writing

This text is being knocked out faster than… faster than… a typewriter? The music goes on, and on, but words get harder to write. Well the music gets harder to – see most music bands. The majority seem to lose whatever it is they had once upon a time which enabled them to churn out the good stuff.

So that’s why they have this thing called writer’s block. Perhaps it’s better to have writers block than to spew out words as fast as they can be typed. (well, maybe a little slower thant that.) And wait a minute – this is a weblog. So it ain’t even technically writing in the first place.

Anyways, it’s the words that matter. Soon they’ll be back, given time.

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Acceptance speech from the Sunburst Awards

Nice ‘speech:’:http://craphound.com/place/000110.php

bq.. No writer is an island, no idea is original, no effort is a solo effort. We stand upon the shoulders of giants, we collaborate with our colleagues and with the immortal words of our dead literary ancestors. Literature — indeed, all human endeavor — is dignified and uplifted through collaboration and cooperation. We sit atop a great erected infrastructure of human invention and effort, all of it embodied in the bricks and boards that surround us, and, most importantly, in the traditional knowledge that allows each generation to improve upon the bricks and boards of the last one.

The writer is engaged in dialog with the world and with posterity. Our words go on to form a layer of the substrate of human creation. Those who tell us that our words, our art and our posterity are best served with strong locks and high fences are *not on our side*. No writer could pen a single word but for the rich humus of public domain effort with which we garden our notions and conceits.

So thank you all, and thanks most of all to our ancestors, the bringers of fire and the inventors of the wheel, the Judith Merrils and the Phyllis Gotleibs, the Gilgameshes and the golems, the Turings and the Teslas. Thanks to the brave pirates who continue to preserve our posterity in the face of outrageous insult to creation. Thanks to the readers and to you all.

The english language

bq. “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” – James D. Nicoll

Change This

‘Change This’:http://www.changethis.com/:

bq. Welcome to our new kind of media. A form of media that uses existing tools (like PDF files, blogs and the web) to challenge the way ideas are created and spread. Poke around, give it a spin and share the best parts with your friends. And don’t forget to subscribe.

Some of the manifesto’s are really good. So is their outlook:

bq. People call the team at Change This optimists because we don�t believe it has to be this way. *We don�t believe humans evolved to be so bad at making decisions, so poor at changing our minds, so violent in arguing our point of view.* We�re well aware of how split our country and our world have become, but we don�t think the current state of affairs is built into our very nature.

>> ‘ChangeThis: About Us’:http://www.changethis.com/content/aboutus

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Leftovers

bq. “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” – “Calvin Trillin”:http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Calvin_Trillin

It’s not just leftovers of last nights dishes, it’s leftovers of food which no one can even remember eating. Sometimes it’s food which might even have been good if served fresh.

Gadgets Galore

Stuff to possibly get:

*TV products:*

Unites your network with your home entertainment center, allowing you to share, access, and enjoy your digital media-whether it is music, videos, or photos-in the comfort of your living room.

* “D-Link DSM-320 Wireless Media Player”:http://www.d-link.com/products/?pid=318 :: “Froggle Search for DSM-320”:http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=dsm-320&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&sa=N&tab=wf :: Plays back just about everything under the sun, and has built in 802.11g.

* “Prismiq Media Player”:http://www.prismiq.com :: complaints of it being buggy, slow, but otherwise seems very good. “review 1”:http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1558,1131079,00.asp :: “amazon link”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000V1IZU/qid=1082137018/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8__i1_xgl23/002-8510098-7224819?v=glance&s=electronics&n=507846

* “Roku HD1000”:http://www.rokulabs.com/products/hd1000/index.php :: High definition, but doesn’t support DivX playback. Primarily for photos and music. No built in wireless. Expensive. No good? “review 1”:http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,3973,1537443,00.asp

* “Pinnacle Showcenter”:http://www.pinnaclesys.com/ProductPage_n.asp?Product_ID=1481&Langue_ID=7

* “Actiontec Wireless Digital Media Player”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1573418,00.asp

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Automotive Tech

Automotive tech is akin to black magic in Pakistan. Most new cars in Pakistan are electronically fuel injected (EFI) now, even the locally assembled ones. In fact, on the bigger cars, EFI has been quite common since the late 80’s. So as time has gone by, these EFI vehicles have started trickling into workshops around the country, mechanics all over the country are tearing out their hair (and emptying the owners’ wallets) in frustration.

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