Friday, January 22, 2010

Links, Methinks

"Wealth is the ability to fully experience life."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Spending time on the Internet is like stumbling around in Charles Foster Kane's basement. It is a world overstuffed with the riches of other people's knowledge, talents and obsessions. Today, I'm sharing a few of the places I've been and people I've learned from lately.

Do you ever worry about being flimflammed? Those e-mails from Nigerians in need of a small favor for which you will be richly rewarded are obviously bogus, but what about a small time Bernie Madoff? Are you ready for him? This article from Psyblog, "The 7 Psychological Principles of Scams," outlines the concepts on which most everyday frauds are based.

From the New York Public Library, we have an overflowing file drawer of photos showing the changing New York City landscape in the years 1935 through 1938 — all by master photographer Berenice Abbott. Above, majestic Penn Station, which was torn down in the 1960s and replaced with an eyesore.

From the Symphony of Science we have four magical videos in which Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking and other scientists — set to music — help us understand our world.

Speaking of science and music, here are two fascinating musings on music and the brain.   

  • In "Music Sounds Like Moving People," cognitive science resesearcher Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic helps us understand how loudness, pitch, tempo and rhythm are properties not only of music but of how we hear and interpret the world around us; in the process, he provides a compelling argument for leaving the headphones at home when jogging. 

  • On his blog The Frontal Cortex, neuroscientist Jonah Lehrer interprets a new study on music's relationship with our brains. His conclusions: first, "music hijacks some very fundamental neural mechanisms" by messing around with our learned expectations; and second, we are most moved by music that surprises us by doing the unexpected.

Vintage Posters is a blog devoted to — guess what? — vintage posters; they scream to be seen and appreciated. The blog is written in French, but you don't need language skills to appreciate visuals like this one.

Finally, I'm in the mood for some Yeats. How about you? Here, in "A Prayer for My Daughter," the poet agonizes over what type of woman his young daughter will become. The poem was written in 1919, the year his daughter Anne — who grew up to be a painter and stage designer —was born.

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