Friday, November 30, 2012

Benevolent Sexism

This article is all over the net. "Why is Benevolent Sexism Appealing?" by Connelly and Heesacker. Since all that people cite is the abstract, I thought I should delve a little deeper since I have access to the paper.

"Despite benevolent sexism's negative consequences for women and its perpetuation of gender inequality, women and men alike might be motivated to possess benevolently sexist beliefs because they are associated with increased life satisfaction through diffuse system justification."

Let me see if I can unpack that. I'm a layman in this field (this is from Psychology of Women Quarterly), but if I assume some distant relationship to English I can guess at the jargon.

  • "diffuse system justification" ≈ something is indirectly suggesting that the world is running more or less OK ("In general you find society to be fair")
  • "increased life satisfaction" ≈ people feel good about themselves and their lives
    In terms of validity, the authors found that the Satisfaction with Life scale was positively correlated with happiness and positive affect and inversely correlated with negative affect. In addition, Lucas, Diener, and Suh (1996) found that the scale was positively related to other measures of well-being, including self-esteem and optimism, among students.
  • "benevolent sexism" you have to read the article, and a few others apparently, to figure out. It is held up in opposition to "hostile sexism" ("Women seek to gain power by getting control over men" was the given example) Their definitions come from Glick and Fiske, whose abstract has to be seen to be believed.
    Abstract: The authors present a theory of sexism formulated as ambivalence toward women and validate a corresponding measure, the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI). The ASI taps 2 positively correlated components of sexism that nevertheless represent opposite evaluative orientations toward women: sexist antipathy or Hostile Sexism (HS) and a subjectively positive (for sexist men) orientation toward women, Benevolent Sexism (BS). HS and BS are hypothesized to encompass 3 sources of male ambivalence: Paternalism, Gender Differentiation, and Heterosexuality. Six ASI studies on 2,250 respondents established convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity Overall ASI scores predict ambivalent attitudes toward women, the HS scale correlates with negative attitudes toward and stereotypes about women, and the BS scale (for nonstudent men only) correlates with positive attitudes toward and stereotypes about women. A copy of the ASI is provided, with scoring instructions, as a tool for further explorations of sexist ambivalence.

    Perhaps I'm missing something, but it looks as though the Glick and Fiske dislike "Paternalism", differences between sexes, and reproduction. Paging Darwin on line 2.

  • "gender inequality" ≈ the sexes are not equal, or the sexes are not identical in all roles. Both concepts appear and blur together.
  • "negative consequences" refers to alleged ill effects "such as heightened feelings of incompetence and self-doubt", which would certainly be an ill effect if the finding was justified. I cannot access the full report, but I'm skeptical, since it contradicts my own observations. But read their abstract yourself:
    Four experiments found benevolent sexism to be worse than hostile sexism for women's cognitive performance. ... Experiment 4 showed that impaired performance due to benevolent sexism was fully mediated by the mental intrusions women experienced about their sense of competence. Additionally, Experiment 4 showed that gender identification protected against hostile but not benevolent sexism. Despite the apparently positive and inoffensive tone of benevolent sexism, our research emphasizes its insidious dangers.
    I added the highlighting. They seem to be concluding that holding the door for a woman is worse for her job performance than accusing her of being manipulative.

The first five sentences of the famous paper are:

In 2010, Blayne Bennett, president of the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) at Arizona State University (ASU), appeared on the local morning news show, Good Morning! Arizona. Bennett promoted her chapter's Second Annual Gentleman's Showcase, an event honoring the 10 most chivalrous men at ASU. A "gentlemanly act" ranged from opening a door for a woman to lending a "damsel in distress" money for printing. "I get to read the nominations people submit, and I get a huge grin on my face the whole time," Bennett told the program's host (Beardsley, 2010).

When asked what might be contributing to a lack of chivalry on campus, Bennett responded, "The radical feminist movement has really kind of put us in a Catch-22. . . . Men are told that if they're chivalrous, it could be demeaning to women. . . and women are told we need to be really independent and self-sufficient. . . . But when we asked the campus, we got a different answer. Women want to be treated like ladies."

Connelly and Heesacker's view of the world is much grimmer than Bennett's: "Given that women live in a hostilely sexist environment, benevolent sexism's flattery might be particularly effective in coaxing women to accept the status quo." and "By highlighting how a warm female nurturer complements a strong male provider, benevolent sexism implies that society is fair and functions as it should in part because of balanced and seemingly well-designed gender roles."

However, this reasoning does not imply that benevolent sexism is beneficial overall or should remain unchallenged. Fischer and Good (2004, p. 439) argue that the anger and distress caused by awakening feminist consciousness are inherent in "the longer term, growthful process of developing a healthy resistance to injustice." Although questioning sexist attitudes and behaviors may detract from some aspects of subjective satisfaction, only by challenging such prejudices can we hope to create an egalitarian society free of intolerance and its many harmful consequences.

Happiness must be secondary to living a good life, in other words. Oddly enough, I agree with that sentiment, but I object to their implicit definitions of a good life, which has no reference whatever to virtue.

Let me grab a famous razor and guess that kindnesses that make everybody happier are probably good things. Since I'm skeptical of the alleged ill effects, and I noticed that happier men and women seem to reproduce, no matter whether you study the matter from the point of Christian chivalry or "survival of the fittest", this pair wrote rubbish, to describe it kindly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brothers raising each others' children

I'm trying to remember where I read about this. There was a Nigerian folk story, and I recall reading about it somewhere else.

The idea is that after a few years the child is sent to be raised by his uncle and aunt(s), and the uncle reciprocates.

It isn't quite the same thing as sending the kids to be raised by the rich uncle--that's not so uncommon; I know at least one such.

I understand that the noble Brits of the Middle Ages used to send their kids to be sort-of servants to the higher and mightier so they'd learn manners and how to be good companions/side-kicks. That's not quite the same thing either.

Does anybody remember anything like this?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Even in distant lands, some things don't change

From the Heritage in Monrovia, via AllAfrica I learn that student protests are alive and well as University of Liberia students stormed the General Auditing Commission's offices to demand the reinstatement of 40 employees dismissed in a "peculiar and dehumanizing" manner who were "breadwinners for many people."
"What Mr. Kilby has done to poor people who are mothers and fathers is bad because many of those dismissed suffered to acquire the kind of education they have only to be declared redundant in such malicious manner," Mr. Williams among other things stated in a rather dejected tone.

It can be recalled that when he took over the GAC as its new head, AG Kilby vowed to restructure the Commission, a pronouncement his critics termed as 'witch-hunt'. The GAC administration has said the prevailing economic situation and its accompanied budgetary constraints prompted it to initiate what GAC called a cause saving and restructuring review of the operations of the Commission. This process, the administration averred, has resulted into both staff and logistics reduction across the board.

To hear the other side:

AG Kilby admitted that he has hired four new directors from the United Stated States of America and promoted four persons internally within the GAC.

Among other things, he added: "These are people who we feel will accelerate the process of trying to clean up the back-loge we have because they have 20 plus years experience who can get on governmental accounting and get us going forward."

Four new directors? Directors? Does he mean "auditors?" American auditors would be terribly expensive, but also far less likely to have family or crony ties. He probably means Liberians who were living in the US. I'm not sure the words he uses mean what he thinks they mean.

n his formal communication dated November 14, 2012 and addressed to the Acting Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Audit and Expenditure, Senator Isaac Nyenabo, a copy of which is in possession of this paper, AG Kilby begged for the committee to give him more time to enable him package 'meretriciously' documents requested by the Committee, an excuse the committee accepted for fairness in the hearings.

The students were yelling "Ah...o say! Kilby must go back to where he came from. Kilby die today we will bury him today." What was the grievance that earned such a threat?

In a followup story we learn that

Mr. Kanneh wants President Sirleaf to immediately dismiss Mr. Kilby for undermining her government's promise of creating 20,000 jobs annually for young people in the country.

According to Konneh, SUP, in collaboration with the Liberian student community would ensure that Mr. Kilby is dismissed for proving the president's vision on the contrary.

"We are calling on all youth groups in the country to join us in this fight to denounce this wicked act of Mr. Kilby. If you refuse to join us the next group could be your husband, wife, brother, sister and uncle," Mr. Konneh noted.

Sinecures for new graduates are scarce. (Most graduates are in business administration not entrepreneurs! and law.)

An editorial claims that "out of a budget of a little over US\$6million, US\$5.3million is being expended annually on salaries, lest to mention the over 25 janitors at the GAC some of which receive US\$1600.00 on a monthly basis while auditors are paid US\$400 to US\$700." and that the audit reports from his predecessor were mostly denounced by the EU funding agencies that wanted to see where their money was going.

I'm sure you can think of several events in the USA in the past few weeks that have the same focus.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Is there any "there" in the EU?

I've wondered off and on whether there was any developing sense of EU/pan-European identity, something that would help the nations hold together in mutual sacrifice in a crisis. Since I only met scientists and engineers, and since the elites run the European newspapers just as ours do here, I really have no clear picture of what the common man thinks.

From The Global Journal you find an interview with Professor Jürgen Habermas in which Fukuyama asks him about this directly.

But isn’t the weakness of current European identity due to the fact that it has been described in such largely negative terms, i.e., to be a European means to be against war, against national selfishness, etc., instead of in positive terms, e.g., "I am proud to be member of a European civilization that represents X or Y" as positive values? And if so, how do we define those values and what kind of education project is necessary to give them meaning?

Jan Werner Müller, a younger professor of political science at Princeton university, recently rebutted the frequently heard accusation of the "failure of European intellectuals" with an argument that I find convincing. The expectation that the intellectuals should construct a "grand European narrative," a European "identity," with the aid of a new founding myth remains captive to a "nineteenth-century logic," he argued. After all, the now well-studied history of the "invention" of national consciousness by historiography, the press, and school curricula during the nineteenth century, in view of its horrible consequences, does not provide an inviting example. We in Europe are still coming to terms with forms of ethnonational aggression – as is shown, even within the EU, by the example of Hungary. This is why I think it is sufficient to cite a couple of concrete demographic and economic statistics to remind ourselves of the diminishing weight of Europe in the world and to ask ourselves whether we must not pull ourselves together if we want to remain in a position to defend our cultural and social forms of life against the leveling force of the global economy – and, most importantly, to maintain a certain amount of influence on the international political agenda in accordance with our universalistic conceptions.

That's scary. Habermas seems to miss the point. Whether "European intellectuals" ought to be the source of the "grand narrative" isn't quite the issue: I'm not sure that class has done a bang-up job of designing "narratives" in general and some of the narratives of the last century were pretty vile. But the point isn't that "nineteenth-century logic" is passe or that Mussolini's mythic vision of Italy was evil. The point is that there needs to be some positive center for identity or there's no cohesion, and that the positive vision needs to be taught somehow, either implicitly through the culture or explicitly through schooling. It is not sufficient to "cite a couple of ... statistics to remind ourselves." The children must learn what is positive about their land before they understand statistics and start to worry about needing a passport for hitchhiking across the continent.

The tribe and nation are extensions (a little attenuated) of the family. Unless there's some species of love involved, the construct is fragile.

At some level the EU and the US are rivals (explicitly on their part), but we're part of the same culture and same economy and I'm not looking forward to the disintegration of the EU.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


This evening I read my mail, checked two sites, and looked at Facebook for the first time in a week on my better half's suggestion.

The web isn't a great place to count blessings, as my previous post probably proves. I need a little quiet time for that.

This wasn't a quiet day, which is one of the blessings. 3 of the kids, an old friend, and 5 visitors (Chinese students at UW who wanted to see what an American Thanksgiving dinner was like) plus the better half and I around the table--make that two tables. We had to empty the living room to set up. We have a small house as houses go in this county, but it is bigger than those I grew up in.

I have to fast for the blood work tomorrow, but I'm still so full of lunch that it would be hard to eat.

The email revealed no catastrophes at work, the weather was beautiful and warm (63!), traffic was smooth when I picked up the students.

And this morning I was meditating on the difference between Jesus' "Whoever is not with me is against me" and His message to the disciples "Whoever is not against you is for you." The first is a warning of judgment, but the second is an encouragement and reminder that the power of God works in many ways, and the one who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward.

I think it is time for a little quiet and thanks. God bless you all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When the crunch hits, what then?

You don't need any gift of prophecy to see that there's going to be a very serious economic crunch, and soon. If it is more than a year out I'll be very surprised.

The crunch was coming no matter who was elected--if we wanted to avoid it we should have picked different representatives years ago. I judge that the policies and priorities of the Democrats have made things worse than they should have been, and that too much power was handed to the unelected. Still, some things came from the society as a whole and not the political elite: sky-high divorce rates, plummeting birth rates, borrowing for pleasures and not for production, an eroding sense of integrity (numbers would be hard to come by, but I suspect that the upper echelons of the business world have ethics as bad as in the Gilded Age), lassitude, an irritable sense of entitlement, and so on.

We're very tribal, explicitly parsing ourselves out by ethnic groups (except whites, who aren't supposed to play that game). But because of that divorce rate and family fragmentation, most of those tribes aren't very resilient against calamity: cousins who aren't quite related anymore are not so likely to take you in and share resources when you can't pay rent.

That leaves the churches and Uncle Sam to help out, and Uncle Sam's record of tolerating alternative loyalties hasn't been very good recently. So who gets the big slices of the diminishing pie? California has one answer (the Praetorian Guard), but their big test hasn't come yet. Will benefits to the "hispanics" (which flavor?) or "asian" (which flavor?) or teacher's union be paid first?

Look at India for how affirmative action quotas become entrenched and cheated and battled over--and then look at how immigration offices here are told to automatically waive fees for "hardship" on appeal by particular favored groups. It is no secret that having the wrong ethnic mix can be proof of discrimination, and the circle of associations affected by that presumption seems to be growing larger--it isn't just universities and businesses trying to sell to the Feds. Do you cut back on the number of asian students in order to increase the number of black students? So far, yes, but what happens when the asian-ancestry groups start wielding clout?

I suspect the tribal divisions will dominate the pie-division. I could be wrong on that: sometimes people will band together, especially if there's a common enemy.

Either way--tribal divisions or a common enemy--the state is already on the path to control of the economy, which always means favors for the connected and interminable rules and taxes for everyone else. It needn't mean war, or even civil war (who would be fighting for which territory?), but it would mean loss of liberties.

Who would support such a thing? Besides -redacted to avoid dispute, but he sponsored CFPB-.

You might be surprised, but you might not. The link is to a 1941 article "Who goes Nazi?" about the kind of people who gravitate to that kind of thing. The article (go read it!) shows its age. There are new types that appear today. Think of the OWS types: some of them would be down with a neo-N government if it used their language, and others might fight it. (I suspect that the anarchist type would support it at first.)

One of the article's assertions is that when the barbarians seem to be ascendant, character matters. It matters in the crunch time. I don't remember seeing much about good character in the kid's school books, nor in the large swaths of the pop culture that I can't avoid.

But focus on character turns up here and there in the culture. "With great power comes great responsibility." And the churches are still preaching. And by definition I don't hear much from the ordinary people who don't get the microphone. I wonder what the crunch will show.

Whatever happens, ten years from now we'll be saying "We obviously should have done X."

In a science fiction short story I read years ago, a man asked the rhetorical question: why would people fight and die to support one group of parasitical kings instead of another. The why is complicated, but look at the vampires that rule Detroit and marvel at the support they continue to have from the subjects they flatter. Tribalism.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Who picked the vanity plate?

A stubby little grey car of very recent vintage aggressively weaved through traffic this morning, hitting well over 75mph as he shot past me on the right. (Don't ask how I got that estimate, OK?)

The plate said Eeyore 1. Conflicting messages... was he trying to compensate?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Correlation is not causation, but

it would be sweet if the causation suggested by this correlation were true.

Chocolate consumption and Nobel Prizes probably share some boring kind of common factor like a country having enough surplus capacity to allow for appreciation of fine food and for supporting the kind of "impractical" research that leads to the breakthroughs celebrated in Nobel Prizes and undreamed of new industries.

However, I will suggest to the PIs that it might be worth the experiment to see if more chocolate leads to more science discoveries.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seafaring "cavemen"?

If they've dated tools correctly (a big if) that they found on Crete, then somebody was making tools there 170,000 years ago. That's pushing the boundaries of modern humans; the ones most active about then seem to have been the Neanderthals. There's no land bridge to Crete as far as I can see; and the big refilling was about 5,000,000 years ago. So whoever got to Crete went by water.

I don't trust dates on stone tools very far, but it is wild to imagine a group of Neanderthals on a raft or canoe. Maybe the Neanderthals were the smart ones after all.

I gather the latest claim is that humans and Neanderthal didn't interbreed. If the reporter didn't screw the story up again it sounds like the researchers contemplated a kind of blurring between groups, with North African sharing more genes with Neanderthals via a common ancestor than South African. And then then North Africans were the ones that left for greener pastures. Which suggests far less mixing in Africa than I'd expect: wouldn't a group that wasn't averse to migrating migrate in different directions?

Coals to Newcastle?

This short news story from Minneapolis is odd. McHarding Degan Galimah is charged with smuggling arms into Liberia. (Odd name too: Scots-Liberian?)

The warring factions in Liberia quit fighting but never did turn in their AK47s and grenade launchers, which presumably are still hidden in odd corners in the county. Is this a new faction or subfaction needing machine guns? Or are these civilian small arms for the otherwise relatively defenseless (and violent crime is quite common) "middle class"? The picture associated with one story suggests the latter. Big difference.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Have you been hearing some of the vote fraud whispers?

I won't link to them. You can find them easily enough. Districts with nearly 20,000 Obama votes and not one Romney vote. Think about that a moment: not even one ballot error? To be so error-free requires a little assistance, though in an all-black inner city area Romney supporters are pretty rare. There were counties in Colorado with more voters than residents. Something wrong with the census, maybe? It probably wasn't military ballots from overseas; they'd be legal residents, and in any event they're often effectively disenfranchised because many states haven't fulfilled their obligations.

Just because you failed to win a state you expected to doesn't imply fraud anywhere.

Was there fraud? You bet. They voted in Chicago too. Did fraud change the outcome of the presidential race? Probably not. I'd guess most of the effort went into local races.

Are we going to hear about any convictions for fraud?


  • In an area with almost no fraud, you won't hear about what isn't there.
  • In areas with a lot of fraud, you also won't hear about it, partly because of shielding by the powers that be and partly because it is part of the water people swim in.
  • Only in areas with previously little fraud would you be at all likely to hear about it, and even there I doubt there'd be enough evidence to convict anybody, especially if they're careful to do their work without witnesses. Somebody will blab (3 can keep a secret if 2 are dead) but that won't be good enough to convict anybody with any connections.

Clowns or sleight of hand?

Donald Sensing seems to know whereof he writes about court martial (not) of Petraeus and Allen. Some of the news reports are frankly unbelievable. 30,000 email messages? No way. The reporter got the number wrong, or the content wrong, or both; and the lie goes round the world while the truth is lacing on boots.

An FBI agent becomes so besotted with Kelley that he sends her shirtless photos of himself and tries to work up the investigation into a big deal. A pair of broke "socialites" hobnob with generals, who offer help in a custody battle.

A biographer seems to be spilling info about secret CIA jails in Benghazi. And somehow she lost her drivers license too?

Who is writing this stuff?

That soldiers, and especially officers, attract women is not exactly startling news. Nor that they reciprocate the interest. I seem to recall an old story about a fellow named Samson who couldn't keep secrets from his lady either.

This story(ies) doesn't seem like a deliberate distraction; not with the Benghazi leak to tie it back in. So I conclude that it is mostly real, albeit seriously garbled in the usual "first reporting" style. Perhaps Petraeus was doing a "Publish and be damned!" and letting everything explode.

He was running the CIA. Neither confirm nor deny.

Monday, November 12, 2012

There's probably no good solution

This is West Washington Avenue looking out the window.

Traffic headed from upper right to lower left T's off at the capitol, and the city planners would rather have it go around an outer loop instead of the somewhat congested inner loop.

The dashed lines outline a dedicated bicycle lane.

Therefore two auto lanes and one bicycle lane turn into 4: 2 auto lanes turning right, 1 auto lane going straight at the capitol loop, and 1 bicycle lane going straight.

The bicycles in the right-most lane have to cross two lanes of automobile (and truck) traffic in half a block. The layout seems nicely designed to crush bikes.

Cyclists are not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, but sane ones do.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Update on excommunication

A German reader kindly sent me some links describing updates on the revolt against paying church taxes in Germany. OK, a few people doesn't constitute a revolt. Yet.

One is an opinion blog post which describes the Catholic church in Germany as non-transparent and sometimes competing with private companies. I'm not convinced he has all his facts straight (I'm tolerably sure most of the USCCB opposes abortion, and perusing a couple other posts on his site suggests the presence of an agenda) but it is another precinct heard from and interesting.

The other is a a 2006 ruling on canon law which seems to this (non-canon-lawyer: I'm not even Catholic) reader to mean that a request to leave the church must be made to the "competent authority of the Catholic Church"; which sort of leaves the German state out of the loop.

Zapp seems to have won his case, which has been going on for 5 years, btw.

I'm not German and have no say in this, but a little friendly advice from across the pond: don't be afraid to try the American scheme in which churches fund themselves with no help from the state. Phase it in. If the Apostle Paul could ask that Christians distinguish themselves in giving, surely mere bishops and preachers can do it now and then too. Not all the time though, please.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Review before elections

AVI's laconic but timely post had me looking up an old post or two of my own. Pre-election I was trying to guess what kind of presidency his would be.
I judge Obama unsuitable for the office, on grounds of character, experience, and philosophy; but I don't believe him to be the devil incarnate. There ought to be some good arising from his presidency, and it would be a useful exercise to try to figure out what it might be.

Most of my subsequent musings were predicated on the assumption that he would be active instead of passive, and are consequently worthless. I also wasn't expecting such a thorough sweep of House and Senate, with results that make drunken sailors look stingy. All in all, he was worse than I expected.

The worst president we've had in these states was Jefferson Davis: nobody else is even close. My grasp of the doings of earlier presidents has a few gaps, but I think there's no question that Obama was the worst of the past century. Even if you are a devout Keynesian and statist, he was a limp flop with a taste for cronyism.

Our national competitors like him fine, but I don't find that a hopeful endorsement.

I decline to predict tomorrow's outcome (OK, I predict Dane county will elect the Democrat to the House. In other breaking news, water is wet.). Polls with 9% response rate are going to have huge systematic errors. They cite 3% or 5% statistical errors, but I'd go with systematic errors of 28%: the 1/sqrt(12) that you get from the uniform distribution. Which is to say I don't trust them at all and the real vote for a candidate could be anything from 4% to 96%. My gut says there are a lot of yellow-dog Democrats (and Republicans) out there, but you couldn't prove there are more than 4% from the polls.

I promised to weigh the campaign material that arrived, but other family members ditched part of it on arrival, so I can only say there were less than about 16 cards. However, we received something on the order of 50 phone calls for either surveys or "please vote for X" in the past two weeks; all but about 4 being robocalls and about a third of them in the middle of supper.

No matter who gets elected, the worst economic trouble is yet to come. And even more certain than death and taxes--"Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust."

Putting things in perspective

The Obama campaign is having a big rally downtown today, two blocks from my office.

I would rather go to an Obama campaign rally than have a root canal done. I would rather have a root canal done than have a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

One advantage of working from home is that lunch is easy.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


From Discover magazine there’s an interesting story about turning off habits. Earlier research suggested that infralimbic cortex was involved with habits. A team at MIT decided that slicing and dicing the "ILC" was too crude, so:
They turned to optogenetics. This revolutionary technique takes light-sensitive proteins from around the tree of life, and uses viruses to introduce them into an animal’s neurons. By choosing the right protein, and targeting the right part of the brain, scientists can now excite or silence a chosen group of neurons with astounding precision, using little more than flashes of coloured light.

Working with supervisor Ann Graybiel and optogenetics founder Karl Deisseroth, Smith filled his rats' ILCs with halorhodopsin – a protein that comes from salt-loving microbes, and silences neurons when hit by yellow light.

They then trained them to turn one way in a simple maze. A flash of light could turn off neurons in the ILC, so:

Then, Smith inactivated the rat's' IL, while they were running through the maze. The effect was dramatic: almost immediately, they behaved as if they had never acquired their habit in the first place.

Whoa! Then they trained them for a new habit, and were surprised to discover that the rats not only lost the new habit, they recovered the old one.

So the ILC is responsible for maintaining habits. (Which is scary: some habits are kind of important. Want to relearn how to drive?) Also, apparently habits aren’t forgotten, but remain around like unused subroutines in an old program, until the ILC calls it from a list of possible "actions".

I know we're supposed to cultivate mindfulness, and doing things automatically is deprecated, but sometimes I'd like to contemplate other things while automatically locking up at night. Their methods sounds kind of shotgun.

Misspellings are in the original

Friday, November 02, 2012

All is not lost

Even in Madison.

The city's Vending Oversight Committee considered and rejected a proposal from a (vegetarian) vendor to require all food carts to offer vegetarian options. Sanity from an unexpected source.

I wasn't present, so I don't know if they suggested that he'd be smarter to keep the business for himself.

FWIW, quite a few carts do have vegetarian dishes: there are a lot of vegetarians in the county. I don't eat much from carts, but when I do it is usually an Ethiopian lentil/potato dish from Buraka's stand on Library Mall.