Archive for April 7th, 2009

New Low In Reality TV

I’d like to think that this ghastly genre has finally hit bottom…

Coming to Fox: a reality series in which actual companies that are struggling to stay afloat in this lousy economy agree — presumably in exchange for money — to let their staffs decide which among them is going to get pink-slipped to save money.

To populate its new “Lord of the Flies”-esque series, “Someone’s Gotta Go,” Fox has lined up actual companies — smaller, Dunder Mifflin-esque-sized (15-20 employees) ones — having financial difficulties.

In each case, the company’s boss or owner will call all the employees together and tell them someone’s going to get laid off. But rather than the boss/owner making the decision, he or she will instead give the employees all the available information about one another — salaries, job evaluations, etc. — and let the employees decide who will get pink-slipped.

Fox — or at least its genius/madman head of reality-TV Mike Darnell, whom no one over there seems willing or able to reign in — thinks people will flock to this show. Because it is about — wait for it — wish fulfillment. Because we’ve all been there when someone — we’ll call them Mister A — once again cons their way out of getting shown the door at our place of employment, while poor old hard-working slob — Mister B — gets the old heave ho, and wished we were in charge so it hadn’t played out that way.

Even for reality TV, that’s pretty damn cruel.  I hope there’s at least one company where all the employees just walk out when their boss springs this on them.

Next up, perhaps a reality series set on Death Row, where inmates vie to be the last one executed.  Or maybe they’ll just option Bumfights.

April 7th, 2009 at 09:56pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Media,Wankers

Schizophrenics 1, Hollow Mask 0

It’s ironic that at least in this one small way, schizophrenics have a firmer grasp on reality than the rest of us.

Schizophrenia sufferers aren’t fooled by an optical illusion known as the “hollow mask” that the rest of us fall for because connections between the sensory and conceptual areas of their brains might be on the fritz.

In the hollow mask illusion, viewers perceive a concave face (like the back side of a hollow mask) as a normal convex face. The illusion exploits our brain’s strategy for making sense of the visual world: uniting what it actually sees — known as bottom-up processing — with what it expects to see based on prior experience — known as top-down processing.


This powerful expectation overrides visual cues, like shadows and depth information, that indicate anything to the contrary.

But patients with schizophrenia are undeterred by implausibility: They see the hollow face for what it is…. Some psychologists believe [their] dissociation from reality may result from an imbalance between bottom-up and top-down processing — a hypothesis ripe for testing using the hollow mask illusion.


When healthy subjects looked at the concave faces, connections strengthened between the frontoparietal network, which is involved in top-down processing, and the visual areas of the brain that receive information from the eyes. In patients with schizophrenia, no such strengthening occurred.

Dima thinks when healthy subjects see the illusion, which is somewhat ambiguous, their brains strengthen this connection such that what they expect — a normal face — becomes more influential, overpowering the actual, though unlikely, visual information. Schizophrenia patients, meanwhile, may be unable to modulate this pathway, accepting the concave face as reality.

It makes sense.  The brain uses all kinds of behind-the-scenes processing and shortcuts to (usually) simplify and manage our perceptions – anyone whose brain is unable to do that is necessarily going to experience the world in a very different way.  In some cases malfunctioning filters might make someone more perceptive, but it’s more likely that they’ll be flooded and overwhelmed (the filters are there for a reason, after all).  This was actually the explanation for the Joker’s insanity in the Arkham Asylum graphic novel: He’s mad because he perceives everything.

2 comments April 7th, 2009 at 08:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science,Weirdness

Bush OLCer Laments That Obama DOJ Not As Ethical As Dubya’s (No, Really)

Yes, overriding the OLC on voting rights for DC is far, far worse than providing legal justifications for warrantless wiretapping, torture, and unlimited detention without due process.  This right here is my favorite part:

Holder didn’t ask for Katyal’s best judgment as to whether the D.C. bill was constitutional. He instead asked merely whether his own position that the bill is constitutional was so beyond the pale, so beneath the low level of plausible lawyers’ arguments, so legally frivolous, that the Solicitor General’s office, under its traditional commitment to defend any federal law for which any reasonable defense can be offered, wouldn’t be able to defend it in court.

Oh yeah, that’s a much more inappropriate standard than “Would I fight tooth and nail to keep this legal judgment from ever seeing the light of day?”, which was still higher than the bar used by the Bush administration.

This was also priceless:

Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served as principal deputy in OLC from 2001 to 2004. His portfolio did not include national security matters.

You know, I can’t remember the last time I ever saw one of those blurbs describing what the writer is not.  I can only assume that it was an attempt to somehow preserve his credibility and make his argument look less laughable.  Didn’t work.

April 7th, 2009 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Obama,Politics,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

Code Inconnu

Apparently Republicans are aware of all kinds of secret codes that the rest of us are unaware of, although usually they do everything they can to keep them secret (states’ rights, anyone?).  But here Frank Gaffney explains that Obama bowing to King Abdullah and talking about “respect” for the Muslim world is actually code for “We will submit to sharia law.”  Who knew?

I mean, apart from Michele Bachmann, who recently revealed that “super-sovereign reserve currency” is code for “one-world government,” and “AmeriCorps” is code for “re-education camps.”

It’s a scary paranoid world they live in.

April 7th, 2009 at 07:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Foreign Policy,Politics,Republicans

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