Monthly Archives: May 2012

Risk quotient

From a Slate/New Scientist article about the so-called “risk quotient” (RQ)–intelligence about risk:

One way [of increasing RQ] is by being aware of different cognitive biases. Another is to play a personal prediction game. Bet against yourself and estimate probabilities of anything: whether your partner will get home before six, or whether it is going to rain, and keep track of them. Expert gamblers are constantly on the lookout for overconfidence, biases and so on. It is hard work, but it means they know themselves pretty well and they don’t have illusions. They know their weaknesses.

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Car wash

An old college friend, Meredith S., remarks, “Going through the car wash feels a little bit like what I imagine going through a giant muppet’s digestive system would feel like.”

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Intermarriage

In what year do you think 50% of Americans first answered yes to the question “Do you approve of marriage between whites and non-whites?”

The answer is here.

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Coptic

My 10-year Harvard reunion is coming up, so I’ve been in touch with a few classmates. This gives rise to adorable emails like this. Very…Harvard.

I wrote a major paper on Coptic that is coming out in Le Museon in 2012. I started looking at Coptic like 4 years ago, and basically I discovered that people who work on it don’t have a firm founding in historical linguistics. They read it letter-for-letter like Greek, but I wrote a paper pointing out that spelling rules disguise regular intervocalic and postnasal voicing, and that they had a bitch of a time pronouncing Greek words (which are all over coptic texts), but used an “affected” pronunciation like English speakers do with French. I’m super stoked for this! It’s kind of odd since I’m not an Egyptologist, but it’s a good paper.

What, you don’t study Coptic phonology in your free time? :)

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Night

Here are some stunning excerpts from a practice SAT essay on the book Night. This was written by one of my SAT prep students a few years back.

“The Jews were stereotyped for being bad people which in their case was not totally true.”

“The Jews should have watched out for the Germans and prepared themselves for the Holocaust.”

“[This theme] helps portray the main reason why these ‘innocent’ Jews were captured and possibly killed.”

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Quote of the day:

Galen Cranz, a sociologist of architecture and perhaps the world’s preeminent chair scholar, has called ergonomics “confused and even silly.” For designers without a scientific background, it’s a clusterfuck.

More here.

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Lightning tattoo

This is a *tattoo caused by lightning*:

Via Kottke.

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