‘Quriosity’ Is Dead – Long Live ‘A Thinking Person’

Readers of Quriosity.com will be interested to learn that I have sold that domain (someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse). As a result, I have transferred all Quriosity content to the new domain and blog AThinkingPerson.com.

You’ll be glad to know that A Thinking Person will continue to publish the same brilliant commentary you have come to expect from Quriosity.

The new RSS feed address for A Thinking Person is https://athinkingperson.com/feed/ .

AB — 14 September 2010

Wake County, NC, Survey About Littering

The Raleigh News & Observer carried a story today about a new survey by the Wake County Environmental Services department about roadside littering in the county. (See “Wake is surveying our littering habits.”)

I confess that littering is a big pet peeve for me. It’s hard for me to conceive how anybody could think it doesn’t matter if they throw trash on the ground.

A news release from the county says the survey will study “the attitudes and perception of littering among Wake County citizens.” Survey questions focus on “awareness of litter; perceived location of, and problems associated with litter; personal experience with littering; perceptions of causes of littering and willingness to participate in voluntary litter-cleaning programs.” The results will be used in the development of an anti-litter awareness campaign. (See “Wake Conducts Roadside Litter Survey.”)

If you live in Wake County and you’re interested in taking the littering survey, follow this link.

AB — 1 September 2010

Which evil and crazy movements have the potential to scale?

Which evil and crazy movements have the potential to scale?

There’s plenty of craziness in the world. But evil only has widespread effect if it finds a way to scale, as in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and Al Qaeda.

So, my questions are,

What are the factors that allow evil movements to reach scale?

What are the crazy movements today that have the potential to scale and create havoc?

AB — 29 June 2010

Hollerin’ — one thing we know how to do in North Carolina

The announcement of the winner of the National Hollerin’ Contest held over the past weekend in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina, USA, reminded me of this time-honored southern tradition. I first became aware of it when a rock festival I attended about 40 years ago included a marvelous performance by the winner of the contest, who hollered a fantastic version of “Old Time Religion.”

This year, Tony Peacock of Siler City, NC, won the contest with a rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” hollered in just under four minutes. See the announcement today in the News & Observer: “N.C. hollerer wins with ‘Summertime.'”

There are some things that can happen only in North Carolina, and this is one of them. (Other examples are Benson’s Mule Days, the town of Lizard Lick, and the correct understanding of what constitutes barbecue — but we can discuss those another day.)

It’s a crime that there is no video of Peacock’s performance on YouTube, but this video from a few years ago has some nice examples of hollerin’, ending with a version of “Amazing Grace”:

In this video, the hollerer does a little lecturing about the practice:

AB — 22 June 2010

The Real Lyrics for ‘Louie Louie’ — Warning: Not Dirty

I was astonished to learn today that the lyrics to the 1960s hit “Louie Louie” are not obscene, as we speculated endlessly as teenagers. (See “What are the REAL lyrics to ‘Louie Louie’?” on The Straight Dope.)

The KingsmenAccording to The Wacky Top 40, by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo, The Kingsmen, who recorded the song in 1963, were surprised to learn that people thought they heard obscene lyrics when listening to the song. The group’s drummer is quoted as saying, “At one time we saw 35 different copies of the lyrics and they were all completely different, depending on what part of the country you were from.”

He says the lyrics were so hard to understand because the lead singer was too far away from the microphone in the recording studio.

According to The Straight Dope, the author of the song, Richard Berry, told an interviewer that the song is meant to be “the lament of a seafaring man, spoken to a sympathetic bartender named Louie.”

It’s a beautiful, touching song. Here are the actual lyrics, as given in the Dr. Demento lyrics database:

Louie Louie
by Richard Berry

Louie Louie

Oh no, me gotta go.

Louie Louie

Oh baby, me gotta go.

A fine little girl, she wait for me,

Me catch the ship across the sea.

I sailed the ship all alone,

I never think how I’ll make it home.

Louie Louie

Oh no, no, no, me gotta go, oh no

Louie Louie

Oh baby, me gotta go.

Three nights and days I sailed the sea.

Me think of girl constantly.

On the ship I dream she there.

I smell the rose in her hair.

Louie Louie

Oh no, me gotta go, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Louie Louie

Oh baby me gotta go.

(Okay, let’s give it to ’em right now!)

Me see Jamaica moon above.

It won’t be long me see me love

Me take her in my arms and then

I tell her I’ll never leave again.

Louie Louie

Oh no, me gotta go

Louie Louie

Oh baby, me gotta go.

I said we gotta go,

Let’s get on outta here.

Let’s go.

AB — 7 May 2010

How to Save Your Favorite TV Show From Cancellation

The Outer Limits Opening ScreenAs someone who, in 1965 at the age of 14, wrote an indignant letter to a Raleigh TV station when The Outer Limits got cancelled, I really appreciated the entry on Boing Boing today by guest blogger Craig Engler of Syfy — see “How to REALLY save your favorite sci-fi show from cancellation.”

One thing I learned from this insider’s perspective on advocating for your dying precious is that writing a letter (or an email) these days will have no more effect than it did in 1965 — and probably even less.

Engler says that even a few thousand written pleas are nothing:

[T]oday EVERY canceled show has a write-in campaign, often accompanied by some clever item… Jericho fans sent peanuts, Lexx fans sent dragonflies, etc. It’s so pervasive that it’s become background noise. People even start write-in campaigns if we change a show’s timeslot, or if an actor leaves a show.

Letter campaigns just won’t make a difference, he says. Interestingly, according to Engler, today’s media environment offers a way to campaign for keeping a show alive — and social media can play a role:

If a show isn’t successful with 900,000 viewers, it’s not going to start working with 950,000 viewers. It’s going to take a few hundred thousand new viewers to make an impact.

The way to do that is to go big. Instead of talking to us, talk to the critics and TV bloggers out there who have the most readers and try to get THEM to talk about the show. Do something so unique that your “save the show” campaign gets covered on the homepage of CNN. Find a way to get Jon Stewart to joke about your campaign on his show. Use tools out there like Twitter and Facebook that let you reach people on a mass scale. If you’re sending letters to the network, send them to your friends too. And send them to your friends’ friends.

But all this has to be done quickly, Engler cautions, because once a show’s cancellation is announced, entropy has already set in — actors and crew get fired, sets get struck.

What really works, Engler thinks, is to be a real fan of the show and advocate for it before trouble starts:

“Save our show” campaigns rarely work in reality, so ideally you don’t want to let it get to that point. You want to get in early with “pre-save” campaigns, because once a show is perceived as needing to be saved, viewers become a lot more reluctant to tune in. The best “save the show” campaign I’ve seen is the one you don’t have to use.

AB — 6 May 2010

Are We All on the Autism Spectrum?

Something Nassim Nicholas Taleb says in The Black Swan on page 194 raises the question whether we are all on the autism spectrum in some sense:

This mental block about the future has not yet been investigated and labeled by psychologists, but it appears to resemble autism…. Autistic people cannot put themselves in the shoes of others, cannot view the world from their standpoint…. Interestingly, autistic subjects, regardless of their “intelligence,” also exhibit an inability to comprehend uncertainty.

Just as autism is called “mind blindness,” this inability to think dynamically, to position oneself with respect to a future observer, we should call “future blindness.”

To me this raises the question whether in some respect we are all on the “autism spectrum,” but that those we diagnose as autistic are at the extreme in exhibiting a disability shared by all.

Interested in comments: Does this make sense?

Autism Spectrum

AB — 24 April 2010

Kodak’s Evocative ‘Turn Around’ Ad From the 1960s

I was happy to find a YouTube version of this Kodak ad from about 1963. I’m not sure why a 12-year-old would understand how it feels to watch your children grow up, but I remember I used to cry watching this ad.

I would have to say this is good advertising — makes a strong emotional connection with the viewer and an excellent tie-in to the product. Until today, I hadn’t seen this ad for over 40 years, but I still remembered that it was for Kodak.

Interestingly, the ad is two minutes long. I understand that the song “Turn Around” is by songwriter Malvina Reynolds.

AB — 7 April 2010