Friday, December 27, 2013

Improve Your Brain. Read a Novel.

How a book really can change your life: Brain function improves for DAYS after reading a novel 

  • Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta Georgia used fMRI scanners to identify brain networks associated with reading stories
  • The study showed heightened connectivity in an area of the brain associated with understanding language after the reading of a novel
  • It suggests reading a novel can transport a person into the body of a book's protagonist as neural changes are linked with movement systems

U.S. researchers used fMRI scanners to identify brain networks associated with reading stories and found that changes in the brain linger for a few days after reading a powerful work of fiction.

They set out to unravel the mystery of how stories ‘get into’ the brain and find the lingering effects of literature.

Scientists from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, said reading a novel can cause changes in the 'resting-state connectivity' of the brain, which can last for days. They set out to unravel the mystery of how stories 'get into' the brain and find the lingering effects of literature

Scientists from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, said reading a novel can cause changes in the ‘resting-state’ of the brain, which can last for days.

James Franco & "The Selfie"

The Meanings of the Selfie

Selfies are something new to me, but as I have become increasingly addicted to Instagram, I have been accused of posting too many of them. I was called out on the “Today” show, and have even been called the selfie king.

Maybe this is so, but only because I’ve learned that the selfie is one of the most popular ways to post — and garner the most likes from followers. The likes spin out of control for selfies of me and my two handsome brothers, especially Dave, the other actor, whose image pulls in its own legion of teenage fans.

Great Suit Less Than $1000

The Essential: A Great Suit for Less Than a Grand

You might not know it looking at our leaders in D. C. or the gang on Duck Dynasty, but we are living in a golden age of suits. Chalk it up to greater manufacturing efficiencies or a greater emphasis on closer (read: correct) fits from even the massest of retailers, but it has never, ever been easier to own a superb-fitting two-piece without spending a ton of money. DKNY has crafted a go-anywhere, do-anything suit in mélange blue cut from the brand's signature stretch wool, a fabric that benefits a trimmer silhouette, for less than $700. A bargain, sure, but a blessing, too, for those occasions (work, weddings, the odd funeral) when nothing but a great suit will do.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Verbs for Emotion

The Emotional Power of Verbs

The characters in my students’ stories were not quite jumping off the page. The characters were clear and beautifully described, but sometimes I felt a bit impatient reading them. The problem was not with the descriptions — my students skillfully created characters with nouns and adjectives,  constructing the characters and their world so that I knew them. The issue was that everything seemed to be still and perfect as a photograph.
“Stop thinking about nouns and adjectives when you’re creating characters,” I told my students one day. “Think verbs.”

Dressing for Persuasion

Persuasion - Stimulus & Response - continues to be a core DJK topic...
For many of us, what we wear for work has become automatic and habitual. We drag on a suit each day, out of routine, nothing more. Or we slouch about in baggy casual gear because we’re freelance, or working remotely, so we can. - 
By dressing mindlessly we’re ignoring the large amount of evidence showing the profound effect of clothing on our thinking style, on how we feel, and on the way others perceive us. Starting today, you can use clothing and props to improve your work performance through these simple steps:

Dress for the task: the “Lab Coat” effect

Consider the findings of a study published last year by the Kellogg School of Management. They showed that students were far more accurate on tests of attentional focus and sustained concentration while wearing the white lab coat of a scientist. Crucially, spending time thinking about the lab coat didn’t have this benefit, it had to be worn.

These results suggest that donning symbolic apparel can alter our thinking style in beneficial ways that are consistent with the meaning that the clothing holds for us. So whatever project you’re currently working on, consider dressing for that role. Think what clothing symbolizes the attributes you need to succeed and wear those threads while you work. If there’s nothing as obvious as a lab coat, why not look to role models in your field and see what they wear – perhaps something flamboyant for when you want to be creative, a shirt and tie for when you’re working on the accounts. The important thing is that the clothing has the right symbolic meaning for the work you’re doing. In the study, the white coat had no attentional benefits when the students thought it was a painter’s jacket, not a scientist’s coat.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Letters of Note

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.”
― T.S. EliotFour Quartets



Spotless Minds - Reality

Unwanted Memories Erased in Electroconvulsive Therapy Experiment

Scientists Search for New Treatments for Mental Trauma

By GAUTAM NAIK - Wall Street Journal - Dec. 22, 2013 9:14 p.m. ET

Scientists have zapped an electrical current to people's brains to erase distressing memories, part of an ambitious quest to better treat ailments such as mental trauma, psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.

In an experiment, patients were first shown a troubling story, in words and pictures. A week later they were reminded about it and given electroconvulsive therapy, formerly known as electroshock. That completely wiped out their recall of the distressing narrative.

"It's a pretty strong effect. We observed it in every subject," said Marijn Kroes, neuroscientist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands and lead author of the study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The experiment recalls the plot of the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," in which an estranged couple erase memories of each other.

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in a scene from the film "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Associated Press

Science has tinkered with similar notions for years. In exposure treatment, repetitive exposure to a phobia in a nonthreatening way is designed to help patients confront their fears and gradually weaken the fear response, a process known as extinction. Some researchers also are experimenting with antianxiety drug propranolol. The hope is that one day it may be possible to selectively eliminate a person's unwanted memories or associations linked to smoking, drug-taking or emotional trauma.

Prime Cuts

Spring's leather accessories get the light-as-air treatment with beautifully intricate laser cuts.

December 23, 2013
Spring 2014 Accessories Trend: Prime Cuts


Sunday, December 22, 2013

"How To" Books are Subjective

This is Your Brain on Santa

Santa on the Brain

ASHLAND, Va. — I’LL never forget that December day 12 years ago, and the family holiday crisis I so narrowly averted. I had spent the morning at my office writing a neuroscience textbook, and was looking forward to returning home to spend some time with my 3- and 7-year-old daughters, Skylar and Lara. But the news I received from my husband as I walked through the door was devastating. The girls had been exploring in the attic — a space I’d thought was the perfect hiding place for Santa’s gifts. It was more than a week before Christmas and they had just seen their presents!

I’m not sure where it came from but some maternal lobe in my brain immediately became activated, and I morphed into Santa’s legal counsel. “I was afraid this would happen!” I told the girls. I went on to explain that Santa had contacted all the parents whose kids were expecting bulky gifts that year and shared that he was having back problems. Mrs. Claus had insisted that Santa send some of those gifts ahead of time via U.P.S. so he wouldn’t be in so much pain delivering them on Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Guy Who Invented Karaoke

Someone Had to Invent Karaoke—This Guy Did

It's hard to believe karaoke is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but in 1970 it did not exist.

An original Juke 8 (The Appendix)

It's hard to imagine, but there was once a time when karaoke didn't exist.
Sure, there have long been singalongs and pianomen. And people have made drunken fools of themselves at bars since there were bars. (And before:Alcibiades at Plato's Symposium? Awkward!)

But this particular fixture of the festive landscape, the karaoke bar and the machine(s) that enable it: This had a discrete moment of creation. And then, like a big bang of joyous, off-key mewling, it blasted out into the universe, expanding and cooling into the formations that you see today. Like The Mint in San Francisco. Or The Alibi in Portland. Or Winnie's in New York.

They are legion.

It turns out that the inventor of karaoke is a man named Daisuke Inoue, who was born in a small Japanese town in 1940. He was a drummer, by trade and sensibility, which means he ended up returning home "almost penniless" to live with his parents at the age of 28. He started playing the keyboard in particular bars called "snacks."

And that's where the story of karaoke really begins.

30 Recipes To Master By The Time You're 30

30 Recipes You Should Know How To Cook By The Time You're 30

There are some basic, fundamental recipes that every cook should have in his or her tool belt. As cooks, we learn some of these in college, on a tight budget with limited time. As we get a little older, we start to find our favorite tweaks, substitutions and improvements. Ideally, by the time we hit 30, we have an arsenal of great recipes that we feel comfortable making anytime. This way, if you invite someone over for dinner, you don't have to panic and thumb through every cookbook you own (unless you want to).
In our minds, these are the 30 essential recipes every cook should know by the time they turn 30. If you can master these, you'll have most of the tools you need to learn any other recipe with relative ease. This list is tailored toward an omnivore, but there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly options here as well, in order of relative ease and simplicity. What do you think is the most important recipe you ever learned? 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wolves of Manhattan

Leonardo DiCaprio's 'Wolf' Pack Takes Manhattan
with contributions from DAVID LIPKE

At the after party for the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” at Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan Tuesday night, Fran Lebowitz circled the booth where Leonardo DiCaprio held court, waiting to be waved in.

She was separated from the actor by several layers of people, from lowly Instagram-takers to the actor’s own inner circle, which was comprised of Martin Scorsese, Orlando Bloom, Jonah Hill, Joe Pesci, Kate Upton and Brad Grey, the chairman and chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures, which released the film.

Lebowitz was not among the groupies hoping for a selfie with DiCaprio.

She had been inside earlier, talking Scorsese’s ear off. But she stepped away and when she returned, she found her plush, courtside seat at the center of gravity of the big premiere suddenly impossible to reach. A bodyguard blocking the entrance only offered a conciliatory shrug that suggested he either didn’t recognize her or, perhaps more charitably, that there was no more room inside for a New York humorist.

Naturally, Lebowitz made a beeline for the door.

“It’s quite a hubbub back there,” she said.

“Wolf” follows the spectacular, hedonistic Nineties rise and fall of real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, played by DiCaprio, who founded the infamous brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont and was later indicted for securities fraud and money laundering. The after party was the culmination of an equally sprawling premiere, held earlier at the 2,000-seat Ziegfeld Theater, befitting of a production as lavish as this one, a big-budget, three-hour, star-studded epic that’s also Paramount Pictures’ main contender for awards this year. The cast features Matthew McConaughey and filmmakers Rob Reiner and Jon Favreau, all in attendance, in small but important roles. For a dash of extra star-wattage, Giorgio Armani, who collaborated on the film’s costume design, presented both the premiere in New York and in London, which took place last week.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

3D Fashion

Taking Fashion to a New Dimension


Left, a rendering of the 3-D outfit worn by Lindsay Ellingson, right, in the Victoria’s Secret show.

Will the 3-D printer replace the sewing machine as the favored tool of fashion designers?
In recent months, 3-D-printed clothes and accessories have shown up on “Project Runway” (a contestant printed belts), the actual runway (the Dutch designer Iris van Herpen’s 3-D-printed collection called Voltage) and on the Neiman Marcus website (which sells 3-D pieces like Bathsheba Grossman’s sculptural stainless-steel orbs).
A few days ago, 3-D-printed fashion had perhaps its biggest moment when CBS broadcast the annual “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.” The model Cara Delevingne walked the runway in computer-generated angel wings, while Lindsay Ellingson was outfitted in a corset, bustle and arm pieces intricately designed to look like snowflakes.

The Best CEO's List

Jeff Bezos, John Idol Make First 'Best CEO's' List’s Jeff Bezos and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.’s John Idol both found a home on Sydney Finkelstein’s first list of best chief executive officers of the year.

Finkelstein, professor of management and associate dean at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, has long issued an annual worst ceo’s list. This year, both former J.C. Penney Co. Inc. chief Ron Johnson and Sears Holdings Corp. ceo Edward S. Lampert qualified for worst-of mentions.

In an interview Webcast on Yahoo, Finkelstein cited Bezos’ “unbelievable focus on customers” and “nonstop innovation” for his selection as the best ceo of the year. The educator also pointed out that Bezos is setting Amazon on a collision course with the fashion industry, which Finkelstein considers “rife for disruption….No one is better at it than Amazon.”

Citing Michael Kors’ successful initial public offering two years ago and stock appreciation since, Finkelstein credited Idol with bringing the company “open-mindedness, debate and discussion” and an ability to “break down the silos” in plotting the company’s course.

The other outstanding ceo’s for the year were Akio Toyoda of Toyota and Pony Ma of Tencent in China.

Johnson took second place to Eike Batista of Brazil’s EBX/OGX/OSX among the list of worst ceo’s. He was described by Finkelstein as among the worst ceo’s of the decade for making the fatal mistake of thinking that, as was the case with Johnson’s stewardship of Apple’s retail operations, there was no need to discount because people “are in line for your products.”

“It’s almost like he fired his customers,” Finkelstein said.

Lampert was faulted for following “a classic financial strategy at Sears” in which one cuts costs, sells off assets and then buys back stock. He acknowledged that Sears’ real estate still has value but that, with the stock off 70 percent from its highs of a few years ago, there’s no advantage in buying it back.

He referred to Lampert as “the anti-Mickey Drexler,” contrasting the Sears ceo’s lack of understanding of merchandising, his customers and of “how to manage the stores” with the superior instincts and insights of the J. Crew Group Inc. ceo.

Thorsten Heins, now ousted ceo of Blackberry Ltd., qualified as the third worst ceo in Finkelstein’s ranking, between Johnson and Lampert.

Top Trends 2013

click here for video:

Important FYI: Top trends in the “How To?” category included knitting, kissing, flirting and blogging, but the top spot went to the recurring mystery for millions of American men: “How to Tie a Tie.” DJK

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Know where EVERYTHING is

Location-awareness will be built into more than just phones. All of our stuff will know where it is, and how to connect... DJK

Google’s Road Map to Global Domination

Dan Winters for The New York Times
Luc Vincent, the man in charge of all the imagery in Google's online maps, next to a Trekker.
  • SAVE

Fifty-five miles and three days down the Colorado River from the put-in at Lee’s Ferry, near the Utah-Arizona border, the two rafts in our little flotilla suddenly encountered a storm. It sneaked up from behind, preceded by only a cool breeze. With the canyon walls squeezing the sky to a ribbon of blue, we didn’t see the thunderhead until it was nearly on top of us.
Dan Winters for The New York Times
The custom-made panoramic camera that has made Google’s Street View possible.
The Google team on the Colorado River.

Readers’ Comments

I was seated in the front of the lead raft. Pole position meant taking a dunk through the rapids, but it also put me next to Luc Vincent, the expedition’s leader. Vincent is the man responsible for all the imagery in Google’s online maps. He’s in charge of everything from choosing satellite pictures to deploying Google’s planes around the world to sending its camera-equipped cars down every road to even this, a float through the Grand Canyon. The raft trip was a mapping expedition that was also serving as a celebration: Google Maps had just introduced a major redesign, and the outing was a way of rewarding some of the team’s members.
Vincent wore a black T-shirt with the eagle-globe-and-anchor insignia of the United States Marine Corps on his chest and the slogan “Pain is weakness leaving the body” across his back. Though short in stature, he has the upper-body strength of an avid rock climber. He chose to get his Ph.D. in computer vision, he told me, because the lab happened to be close to Fontainebleau — the famous climbing spot in France. While completing his postdoc at the Harvard Robotics Lab, he led a successful expedition up Denali, the highest peak in North America.
A Frenchman who has lived half his 49 years in the United States, Vincent was never in the Marines. But he is a leader in a new great game: the Internet land grab, which can be reduced to three key battles over three key conceptual territories. What came first, conquered by Google’s superior search algorithms. Who was next, and Facebook was the victor. But where, arguably the biggest prize of all, has yet to be completely won.
Where-type questions — the kind that result in a little map popping up on the search-results page — account for some 20 percent of all Google queries done from the desktop. But ultimately more important by far is location-awareness, the sort of geographical information that our phones and other mobile devices already require in order to function. In the future, such location-awareness will be built into more than just phones. All of our stuff will know where it is — and that awareness will imbue the real world with some of the power of the virtual. Your house keys will tell you that they’re still on your desk at work. Your tools will remind you that they were lent to a friend. And your car will be able to drive itself on an errand to retrieve both your keys and your tools.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Branding From The Wizard of Oz, Himself



At long last, Dorothy and her friends walked toward the Great Voice of Oz. But Toto, mischievous as any creature, tugged at the curtain in the corner of the room, and revealed not a Wizard at all but a trembling bald man with a wrinkled face!

The Tin Woodman, raising his ax, ran toward the little man and cried, “Who are you?” The little man trembled, “I am Oz, the Great and Terrible!” Our friends looked at each other in surprise and dismay. “I thought Oz was a Great Wizard,” said Dorothy.

“I did, too,” said the Scarecrow.

“How did you do it?” asked the Lion.

“How are you Oz, the Great and Terrible?” asked the Tin Woodman.

“Two words,” said the little man. “Personal branding.”

Store Clerks Become Web Shippers

Retailers Turn Store Clerks Into Web Shippers

From Sears to Saks, Chains Are Trying to Combat

Dec. 9, 2013 8:04 p.m. ET

ATLANTA— Cameron Holloway, a sales associate at Sears in the Cumberland Mall here, is hard at work helping a customer—a virtual shopper 300 miles away in Semmes, Ala.
The Sears website just sent a message to Mr. Holloway's iPhone telling him the customer wants a $145 18-inch Craftsman chain saw, so he retrieves one from the store floor, labels it and loads it onto a pallet next to cameras, tools and other holiday gifts.
At 5 p.m. a United Parcel Service Inc. UPS +0.43% truck will arrive to ship it west, and Mr. Holloway will have successfully kept Sears from losing another holiday shopper toAmazon.comAMZN +0.78% Inc.
Sears employee Cameron Holloway picks and packs items at a Sears store in Atlanta that will be picked up that day by a UPS driver. Laura Stevens/The Wall Street Journal
"If you want to go head-to-head with Amazon, you go out and build a bunch of distribution centers," said Jeff Starecheski, vice president of logistics services withSears Holding Corp. SHLD -2.68% , referring to the dramatic steps some competitors consider to stave off the e-commerce rival. But Sears and its sister retail chain Kmart blanket the country with about 2,000 stores. "We're already close to the customers," he says. Sears just needed a delivery strategy.
The success of the holiday shopping season—the difference between winners and losers—usually hinges on factors like the economy, fashion, color, price, or a blockbuster new items like tablet computers or videogame consoles. Increasingly, though, another factor is coming into play: Shipping. Package delivery is becoming a competitive weapon in the holiday retail season.