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23 October 2013

Empathy helps kids understand sarcasm

“It’s a very tricky thing to recognize that people are deliberately hiding what they mean,” Pexman says. “Children have to listen and look beyond the words to what’s in the mind of the speaker and the emotion they’re trying to convey. Empathy seems to help children get beyond the literal meaning of the words.”

Pexman and her colleagues wondered why some kids got the joke earlier. They suspected that children who were more empathetic might be quicker to recognize the contradiction between what was being said and the tone and expression of the person saying it....

When the researchers correlated the empathy findings with the responses to the puppet shows they saw a clear role for empathy: the more empathetic kids were, the more likely it was that they’d correctly identify sarcastic comments in the puppet shows.
I'd love to see the results of this across a larger group over a longer time. I'd be curious to see how this differs across cultural and class upbringings, as well as whether this understanding of sarcasm has any impact as to how the kids employ both sarcasm and empathy as they age.

What Averaged Face Photographs Reveal About Human Beauty

As per the finding that 32 faces are seen as more attractive; I used this as the threshold for the amount of faces to average. The selection of images to use was based on my own criteria: facing forward, eyes looking into the camera, limited facial expression, decent size and decent colouration.

For each ‘category’ (Male and female, attractive and unattractive) I aligned and resized the images, until the internal features of the face (eyes, nose, lips and chin) were as aligned as feasibly possible. Then they were averaged....

What’s interesting is that attractive male and female faces seem to have similar structures and similarities. When aligning the images in Photoshop; I could see that faces which appeared completely different actually have similar basic proportions. You can see this in the averages and in relation to conformity with the Marquardt mask.

The most interesting aspect, to me, is the incoherence seen in the ‘unattractive’ averages. Attractive faces seem to conform to a basic attractive structure, with little variance of internal features. Unattractive faces have more varying features – this would explain why the unattractive averages are less coherent.

Knitting + Running = Knunning?

Let’s get the obvious question about David Babcock’s unusual feat of skill and endurance out of the way first:

No, he doesn’t worry about putting his eye out.

During Saturday’s Kansas City Marathon, the graphic design professor from the University of Central Missouri broke the Guinness world record for longest scarf knitted while running a marathon.
Seeing as how I can barely put one foot in front of the other without falling over, I am extremely jealous of this ability.


Dallas led all markets in smartphone and tablet penetration: 76% of its residents own and use a smartphone; 48% own and use a tablet. New York City is last on the list for smartphone adoption (48%), while Atlanta has the fewest tablet users (30%).

SOASTA’s survey showed that 91% of smartphone owners in every market are likely to delete or uninstall mobile apps they purchased if they didn’t work properly or had frequent technical issues. Again, Dallas was highest at 97%.

07 October 2013

Hint, Don't Fall on your Face

Running in Texas is a delicate balance. It's 90+ degrees from April to October (if you're lucky), so good weather is the best thing ever. Saturday brought a cold front, and a 40º drop to 55º (Fahrenheit, for you Canadians). It was bliss. Absolutely bliss. I was able to put on a jacket, sweat and unzip said jacket. I heard a little girl say she could see her breath when she got out of the car. Although doubtful, in Texas, we celebrate the little things. Such as dropping 2 minutes off each mile because even if the humidity was over 80%, I didn't feel like the air was liquid lava.

This week the weather is a high of 85º. I thought this was amazing. My run this afternoon was amazing; the woods were shady, cool, ground was spongy wet, and my time was amazing for my laziness and trail running. I was looking forward to more of the same this week.

Unfortunately, I am the clumsiest person ever, and should be permanently wrapped in bubble wrap. I was doing so well, until that stupid little tree stump this afternoon tripped me up. Jerk. Plus side, my ankles are almost totally okay, which is a new thing. Downside, stupid knees.

Please wish me luck. I need to run. I need to not keep hurting myself. I need everyone to send me bandages and anti-inflammatory drugs.


Nuance from Marc-Antoine Locatelli on Vimeo.

Siblings Are Why You Drink

Children with faster verbal development may be more likely to have alcohol problems as adult, according to a new study....

In addition to the earlier talkers and readers drinking more, they also found that the more verbally-proficient group was four times as likely to get drunk at least once a month compared to their counterparts.

Though the behavior might sound alarming, the authors noted that the verbally-skilled twins' frequent drinking was not enough to categorize them with a drinking disorder. No connection was made between being the first speaker or reader and a propensity for alcohol addiction.

The study authors hypothesized that while higher intelligence may make people pause to think of the consequences, it may also make them more willing to try more risky things.

Also, verbal intelligence in particular makes people more social, and in fact, the study authors discovered that the earlier speakers and readers had more friends than the twins that had less verbal prowess. In turn, that could make them more likely to be in more social situations where there is alcohol.
Thanks Ja', for making sure I read fast by not waiting for me to finish a page before you turned it. Totally fair when you were only 4 years older. Also, does it count as social if I drink while knitting things for other people?

Astronaut Sews Dinosaur Toy from Space Station Scraps

"Made in space!" Nyberg, an Expedition 37 crewmember, exclaimed in her caption for a photo of the toy giant lizard she uploaded to the pinboard-style photo-sharing website Pinterest. "I made this dinosaur for my son last Sunday, September 22."