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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
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Scientific American: Music Changes The Way You Think


Is it possible that hearing such isolated musical components can change the way you think? An ambitious new paper recently published by Jochim Hansen and Johann Melzner in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology argues precisely that. The researchers brought pedestrians into a laboratory and played them a short, stripped-down piece of music consisting of a series of alternating chords. Some people heard chords including the tritone; others the perfect fifth. A couple other tweaks were also made: in the tritone condition, the chords were played slowly—only once every four-beat measure—while in the perfect fifth condition, the chords went by rapidly, sounding every beat. Further, a “reverberation” effect was added such that the tritone chords sounded like they were being played in a cavernous cave and the perfect fifth chords in a carpeted closet.

What the scientists found is that the simple act listening to either of these two chord sets changed how people processed information in a very basic way. For example, the researchers asked people to take a list of shopping items and organize them into groups. Think detergent and paper towels: same kind of thing, or different? Results showed that “tritone” people formed fewer categories than “perfect fifth” people, indicating that they were thinking in broader, more inclusive categories than their counterparts.

In a separate measure, the scientists asked people to imagine buying one of two imaginary toasters. These toasters varied in what is known as “aggregated” versus “individualized” information. Do you know how on Amazon.com you can learn the average star rating of a given item? This is aggregated information; it’s pooled from a wide range of sources. Individualized information, by contrast, would be the customer reviews that appear at the bottom of the page. Which do you pay more attention to when these give conflicting messages—when, say, the aggregated information is largely negative but there is a single glowing customer review? Turns out that people who are exposed to “tritone”-type music samples are more likely to be swayed by aggregated information, and “fifth” people by the reverse.

Underlying these seemingly disparate questions is a relatively new theory in social psychology that has shown itself capable of explaining an impressive variety of human behaviors. It’s known as construal level theory, and its core premise is that there’s a link between how far things are from people and how abstractly they construe them. Distant things—a Hawaii vacation next year, say—appear to us general and decontextualized, their basic features (the beach, the sun) forefront in our minds. As they draw near, however, elements we never before considered (the packing, the possibility of rain) suddenly demand our attention. The forest, in other words, becomes the trees. Overall, the theory helps explain many seemingly disparate phenomena, like why we’re bad at predicting how long it’ll take us to fix the kitchen sink, why absence makes the heart grow fonder, and why we rarely follow through on New Years resolutions. In all these cases, what seemed a certain way from afar turns out, up close, to be a different beast entirely.

Jefferson County (Wis) Residents Seize Control of Enbridge Line 61 (Tar Sands Pipeline) Hearing

Way to go Cheeseheads!!!! I love ya!!!!!!!!!

Be sure to watch the video at the end!!


Jefferson, WI - Enbridge knew that the residents of Jefferson County, Wisconsin, were starting to catch on to the dangers of their proposed Line 61 tar sands pipeline expansion. So, in an attempt to create positive PR, Enbridge called for an event Tuesday night at the local Fort Community Credit Union called “Coffee and Conversation” in order to answer questions about the project. Enbridge set the agenda as well as the scope of the hearing, so nobody knew what to expect from the meeting. Nobody knew, that is, until the people of Jefferson County seized control of the event and turned it into a real public hearing.


Several of those frustrated by the company’s format for the evening started setting up chairs that were stacked on a wall in the room. Enbridge officials seemed perplexed as people started grabbing chairs and setting them into the room. At one point the lead Enbridge spokeswoman tried to tell those setting up chairs to move them to the back of the room, but by this point almost everyone in the room was helping with the impromptu action. Enbridge wanted people alone and isolated. The people in attendance, many of them strangers to each other, wanted a real public hearing.


Once the chairs were all placed everyone sat down and started asking tough questions of Enbridge officials. Most of the residents’ questions were answered with canned company talking points, not taken seriously, or in some cases completely ignored, as was the case when a representative of Enbridge was asked to explain the chemical make-up of the diluent used by the company to help transport thick tar sands. The company officials never gave a straight answer to this question. Finally another woman, despite attempts by an Enbridge official to halt her, revealed the toxic ingredients in the diluent to a horrified room.

Residents brought up many valid reasons to oppose or question the pipeline expansion, but one thing was for certain; the entire room, with one visible exception, was opposed to the pipeline’s expansion or needed more questions answered. Not surprising for a project that would expand Line 61 to carry a far bigger tar sands payload than the Keystone XL, which itself has been delayed multiple times due to fierce resistance. Why then has there only been one public hearing in Superior, Wisconsin on Line 61? Because Enbridge doesn’t want this pipeline to be delayed the same way as Keystone XL so they’ve stealthily moved the pipeline forward in hopes of avoiding the same scrutiny. As the standing room only crowd at this hearing can attest, the people of Wisconsin are not happy about such corporate trickery, and are not about to back down. As Enbridge officials were wrapping up the event, a chant rose from the back of the room: “Put the people before the profits!”

Borowitz: Boehner Calls Obama's Practice of Accomplishing Things Unconstitutional


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that he plans to sue President Obama for violating the United States Constitution with what Boehner called “his outrageous practice of accomplishing things.”

“The United States Constitution guarantees the American people that its government will be free from activity,” Boehner told reporters. “Again and again, President Obama has broken that sacred trust.”

Ripping the President for his “willful insistence on doing things,” Speaker Boehner said that his lawsuit was intended “to restore the inaction and inertia that have been the hallmarks of our democracy.”

The Speaker acknowledged that suing the President was an extreme measure, but added, “I take this step only after exhausting every other method to prevent him from getting anything done.” Concluding his remarks, Boehner said that he hoped his lawsuit would send a “powerful message” to President Obama: “If you stubbornly continue to take actions that result in tangible outcomes, you will be very, very sorry.”

World Bank: Fighting Climate Change Would Boost Global Economy Up To $2.6 Trillion A Year

Or we can make the Koch brother richer. Wonder which path our elected officials will choose.


World Bank: Fighting Climate Change Would Boost Global Economy Up To $2.6 Trillion A Year

An important new World Bank report concludes that just a few key policies aimed at cutting carbon pollution would boost the global economy. The study “Climate-Smart Development: Adding Up the Benefits of Actions that Help Build Prosperity, End Poverty and Combat Climate Change,” looks at the European Union plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and the U.S.

The Bank finds that if all six embrace three sets of policies for clean transportation plus energy efficiency in industry in buildings, “the annual benefits of just these policies in 2030 include an estimated GDP growth of between $1.8 trillion and $2.6 trillion.” Furthermore, the report found that “these policies alone would account for 30 percent of the total reduction needed in 2030 to limit global warming to 2°C .”

The overall benefits are staggering, as these policies avoid 94,000 premature pollution-related deaths and 8.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. They save nearly 16 billion kilowatt-hours of energy — roughly equivalent to taking 2 billion cars off the road.

This finding matches that of the recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report, “Energy Technology Perspectives.” The IEA found that an aggressive effort to deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency (and energy storage) to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of 2°C would be astoundingly cost-effective, “resulting in net savings of $71 trillion” by 2050.

Obama is sending 275 troops to Iraq. There are 278 Republicans in Congress.

So which three get to stay home?

Top Conservative Cat's tweets are a hoot!


Bobby Jindal signed law requiring doctors keep women on life support until menopause in case they are pregnant or might become pregnant.

Everyone is happy about the ceasefire in Ukraine, even Putin. Except John McCain, who called it a “waste of a good war.”

When confronted by his wife, Dick Cheney blames Obama for the toilet seat being up, saying it was perfect when he left it, just like Iraq.

Lindsey Graham: “The only way to settle a tie is with war. So why hasn’t President Obama bombed Portugal yet? He’s showing weakness!”

New Report Suggests Walmart Heirs’ Foundation Is A Massive Tax Dodge


A revealing new report suggests that the foundation operated by the children of Walmart founder Sam Walton is actually being used as a vehicle for the nation’s richest family to skirt billions of dollars in estate taxes.

Walmart 1 Percent, a project of Making Change At Walmart, examined 23 years of tax returns from the Walton Family Foundation, which holds itself out as being interested in improving K-12 education, conservation and improving the quality of life in northwest Arkansas. An analysis of 23 years of foundation tax returns revealed that Sam Walton’s heirs only gave only 0.04 percent of their combined net worth to their own foundation–not even a fraction of what other wealthy Americans give to charity.

Read the full report here or the executive summary here.


But wait a minute! The Walton Family Foundation has over $2 billion in the bank, and has spent $3.5 billion on the causes it supports. So where does that money come from? According to the report, over 60 percent of the contributions come from 21 trusts set up by Helen Walton, her estate and John Walton’s estate. These trusts, called charitable lead annuity trusts, take advantage of a loophole in the tax code. A portion of the income earned by these trusts, which were worth $8.8 billion in 2012, must go to the Walton Family Foundation for the life of the trusts. When the trusts expire, their beneficiaries–usually the donors’ heirs–receive any underlying assets plus leftover income from the trusts tax-free. By at least one estimate, this will allow Sam’s children and grandchildren to save $3 billion in estate taxes.

To be fair, this tax dodge has been used by several billionaires, which led former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to cite it as proof that “our estate tax system is broken.” However, given that the Waltons sit on a family fortune worth over $139.9 billion–more than either they or their kids will ever spend–their use of this tactic is particularly obscene.

5 Things Red State Liberals Want Blue State Liberals To Know


2) We do fight back! Just because you see a Republican controlled state running amok doesn’t mean that liberals on the ground are not fighting back. We are! Mississippi is a great example for every horrible bill you see signed by our Governor there are 30-40 more that people fought to get rid of. Just because you don’t see it in the news doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

3) Those really bad laws the GOP tries out in red states? Your states aren’t immune. I often hear from blue state liberals that they are so grateful they don’t “live in a state like Mississippi.” On the surface, I understand what they mean. I also think they are naive to think the Koch brothers, ALEC, Americans United for Life, the Tea Party, and other groups with far right agendas plan to confine their activities to red states. They do not. For proof, look no further than the U.S. House of Representatives, where the same extreme abortion laws we have seen at the state level are being presented at the federal level.

4) We need your support, not your pity or your scorn. Here’s the thing: we red state liberals get that red states statistically receive more federal tax money than we kick in. We get it. What is not productive is every time there is an article or discussion about something happening in one of our states that the people on our side fight to remind us. We aren’t the other side. We are on the team. It isn’t helpful in conversations about red states to default to “I feel so sorry for you.” Don’t. It’s not helpful to tell us how our states are so <fill in the blank>. Blue states aren’t without problems of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and oppression. Red states don’t own these areas. What is helpful is that we all support each other in making strides in politics and liberal causes.

5) We do exist! Since I live in the very red state of Mississippi, I get this all the time: “Where are the liberals in your state?” We are here. We are on the ground doing work; we are raising money for candidates, fighting back against horrid legislation and ballot initiatives, working for environmental causes and a host of other things. Just because you see big gains by the republicans doesn’t even mean it’s a true representation of the states electorate. Look no further than the effect gerrymandering has had on Pennsylvania where, despite a slight majority of democrats, the voting lines are skewed in favor of the GOP.

These are not left or right issues.

Oshkosh Waterfest Concert Series books Ted Nugent. Please sign the petition ....


Oshkosh, Wisconsin! Don't Tarnish Your Reputation Over a Concert!

The Waterfest Concert Series in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a self-proclaimed “quality of life” event that raises money for charitable organizations, has booked a performer for July 26, 2014, whose questionable reputation is not consistent with these values, and who is not inhibited from making obscene, violent and offensive comments while performing on stage.

Ted Nugent is perhaps the single most controversial act in rock music today, given his outlandish behavior and threatening statements that border on the obscene and the bizarre. He has time and again expressed these views while performing on stage. One only needs to perform a simple internet search to find a plethora of crude and offensive remarks he has made publicly.

He has called for the chopping off of Democrats’ heads and has threatened a sitting U.S. president. The list of his outrageous comments and threats is lengthy and reveals that he is simply a cold, heartless and ruthless coward and a fear-mongering profiteer.

Fan of Nugent’s music or not, we all can agree in a nonpartisan voice that his use of anger, intimidation and calls for violence will damage Waterfest’s reputation should he be allowed to perform. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment; it has everything to do with extremist views and comments that apparently Waterfest and the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce either endorse or are unwilling to acknowledge.

Petition at the link.
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