No Coke, Day two

I’m on day two of having no Coke. It’s turrible to have an addiction.

I spend much of my day thinking “Boy, I’d like a nice, iced coca cola right now.”

On the plus side of today, I listened to a Science Friday Podcast about Bonobos.

Bonobos are the cooler chimpanzees, and reportedly as close genetically as the other chimpanzees we hear more about. Basically, they have a peaceful, matriarchal society where everyone has sex all the time. Or, at least, a lot. Enough so that the males don’t bother making trouble. And I’m thinking… perhaps someone in the White House needs to get laid more often.

I’m just saying, it’s science.

The other interesting bit was he mentioned a study of Larry King Live where they paid attention to vocal frequencies below 500 Hz. Apparently, the frequencies between conversers synchronized, with the lower status person changing to match the higher status person. Fascinating.

I wonder if teenagers and their parents, when in confrontation, fail to synchronize.


MOUTHS? Researchers from Kent State University taped 25 interviews
on the Larry King Live show, paying particular attention to vocal
frequencies below 500 hertz. In the past, most researchers had
disregarded these low-frequency tones as meaningless noise, a low,
nonverbal humming on which the spoken word rides. But as they toted
up their results, sociologists Stanford Gregory and Stephen Webster
noticed that in every conversation the low-frequency tones of the
two speakers quickly converged. This convergence seemed to be
essential for a productive conversation. The speakers literally
needed to be on the same wavelength. It wasn’t simply a matter of
two people finding some happy middle ground. In talking, as in
walking, one person sets the pace: King’s low-frequency tones
shifted to the level of his quest when he was interviewing someone
with high status, like the President. On the other hand,
lower-status quests tended to defer to him, “but with less gusto,”
the authors noted. The most deferential quest was Dan Quayle.

Gregory and Webster have since repeated their results in studies of
British politicians and past U.S. presidential debates. They
theorize that our vocal undertones provide a means by which we
routinely and unconsciously manage “dominance-deference relations.”
Gregory recalls talking to one of his graduate students at a party
when the dean briefly joined them. Gregory unconsciously shifted to
match the vocal frequency of the dean, who, on some subliminal
level, presumably expected the nod to his place in the hierarchy.
When the dean left, the graduate student said, “You just did it.”
This nonverbal form of communicating status, says Gregory, may be
why one person overhearing another on the phone can tell by tonal
qualities alone whether the speaker is talking to a boss or a
friend. The low humming beneath our words seems to be, as an
anthropologist once put it, “an elaborate code that is written
nowhere, known by none, and understood by all.” –Richard Conniff


I’ve never been a Boy Scout in the literal sense of the word (though I have been referred to as a Boy Scout in the derogative, goody-goody sense). But I clicked through to this article on Wikipedia about discontinued merit badges.

The most amusing, to my mind:

* Stalker 1910-1911 (replaced by Stalking)
* Stalking 1911-1952 (replaced Stalker)

I’m sure that means something else, but it looks funny. Plus, I’ve noticed that the quality of stalkers has fallen off since 1952. And this despite the technology has only gotten better!

And why are the following no longer badges, anyway?

* Blacksmithing 1911-1952
* Carpentry 1911-1952
* Civics 1911-1946
* Consumer Buying 1975-1995
* Interpreting 1911-1952
* Invention 1911-1917
* Masonry 1911-1995
* Master-At-Arms 1910-1911
* Pigeon Raising 1933-1980
* Printing/Communication 1982-1987
* Rabbit Raising 1943-1993
* Wood Turning 1930-1952

Pigeon and Rabbit raising was probably discontinued because they learned the animals got on quite well by themselves, thank you very much.

And they cancelled the Consumer Buying in 1995? No wonder the stock market ran out of steam just a few years later.

It seems 1952 was a dark year for merit badges.

Book Log – The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2001

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2001 Edited by Edward
O. Wilson

An interesting collection. I didn’t read every essay… there was one by
Jane Goodall that I just lost interest in.

Baby Steps was a refutation of the assertion that a child’s life is
determined by what happens to it between ages 0-3. Which is good, because
if that were true, I’d only have a week or so left to get Roan in line.

The Doubting Disease was a look at the prevalence of OCD behavior
in scientist types. Scarily, I kind of related, but not overmuch.

Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us was a great essay about various
future concepts, especially nanotechnology and the dangers it presents.
Very, very interesting thoughts.

The Best Clock in the World addressed topics I hinted at in a
microessay I wrote regarding clocks: their accuracy, what the passage of
time means, etc.. A neat discussion of the issues facing people who try
to keep time.

Book Log – The Borderlands of Science

The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense by Michael

I was kind of nonplussed by this book. He sets off to try and define the
difference between solid science, pseudoscience, and the gray area in
between. And near as I can tell, he doesn’t really come to any firm

Sure, he can rule out some pseudoscience fairly easily (Creationism is not
falsifiable, and therefore decidedly not science), but in the borderlands
(like SETI) he just says “Gray area, whatareyagonnado?”.

Plus, there was a lot of rehashing (or perhaps prehashing… I’m not sure
of the order) of the other books I’ve read by him.

Pantry, No Pantry

Because my company recently added Monday as a company holiday in an attempt to improve morale, for the first time I will have a day off when neither Roan nor Stacey do. And I will use it to remove a source of stress and disgust in my life: namely, the pantry.

I plan on turning 24.25 ft2 of mostly unusable, how-long-has-that-can-of-onion-soup-been-back-there shelf space into an efficent, 27.6 ft2 of pure ergonomic feng shui wonderfullness.

For the mathematically inclined, that’s a better than 13% increase in total shelf space, and probably a 50% increase in easily usable space. Everything will be in plain siight, instead of hidden behind the peanut butter.

Martha Stewart can bite me.