Friday, August 21, 2009

On Human Subjects

There are times when I wished I worked with animals. Human subjects can be incredibly frustrating; they are inattentive, often don't follow directions, and won't let you poke around in their brain or screw with their genetics. Seriously though, trying to get reasonable data from human subjects can be incredibly difficult, especially when those human subjects are undergrads who are doing your experiment just to earn credit. As much it would simplify matters, the IRB won't let me just take out their brains and look at them. Psssh, ethics.

Other times (and these are rare) the subjects are so good that they completely change the way you look at your experiment. I had a subject like that this week. In the post-test questionnaire he or she (I'm maintaining strict confidentiality here in case anyone who cares reads this. They don't. But let's pretend.) described their strategy for completing my task. Not only were they very articulate (a rarity, I'm discovering) but their strategy was explicitly different than the one I assumed people would use. This is an interesting development and is probably the first exciting part of this experiment so far.

Jon Stewert vs. A Professional Liar

Betsy McCaughey is the main pundit behind this whole "death panel" idea. She has difficulty with critical thinking.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
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The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Thursday, August 20, 2009


This thing is either going to be the biggest bomb in cinema history or make a quintillion dollars. Looks like Aliens meets The Lost World, which sounds good to me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Public University

Here is a fun anecdote that describes Stony Brook in a nutshell:

  • The bathrooms in one of the psychology buildings have been undergoing renovations since last September. All of them. Simultaneously.
  • Two of the bathrooms are still under construction. I've seen toilets and sinks installed in a single afternoon, I didn't realize that sometimes it takes 11+ months.
  • When I walked in this morning, I discovered that the two bathrooms mentioned above are now gone. The doors have been completely sheetrocked over.
  • Now there are no bathrooms on a floor completely devoted to running psychology experiments involving human subjects.
  • All of these decisions are being treated as completely rational and not at all ridiculous.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Deep Thoughts

1. I think I prefer the Red Sox as a wildcard team. More opportunities for angst that way.

2. It's incredibly pretentious, but I think Mad Med is my favorite show airing right now. With that said, I end up fastforwarding through most scenes involving Betty Draper. I can't tell if it's the character or the actress playing her, but something about her just puts me to sleep.

3. I'm finally starting to get paid for my Summer work study. Apparently it's perfectly fine to not at all unacceptable to not get paid for a few months. Hilariously, I'm also getting a bonus at the beginning of the semester... so kudos Stony Brook.

4. Barack Obama is apparently now a socialist. At least according to the ideologically ambiguous posters put up around town. First he was a Fascist, now he is a Socialist. I'm hoping next week he'll be something cool, like an Existentialist or a Post-Modernist.

5. Saw [500] Days of Summer the other day, pretty good all things considered. I mostly agree with this review.

6. Long Island sure gets hot in August. The best I can figure it, August = Summer, December = Winter, and it just rains every other time.

7. Facebook has just about supplanted the need for high school reunions. Now all the random gossip I don't really care about is delivered to me unfiltered and in real time.

8. I cleaned out my office the other day and by that I mean I threw a bunch of stuff away. I guess this is a genetic thing?

9. I think it would be kinda awesome if a historical drama just completely disregarded what actually happened in history. Like, if at the end of Gettysburg there was a sudden twist ending where the British ended up winning (Yes Phil, I know. I'm just trying to make a point.). Of course, this is probably going to happen in Inglorious Basterds.

10. Hot Wings are an ideal late night food. Incidentally, I miss Worcester.

11. I've been thinking a lot about secret menu items at Chinese food restaurants. Apparently it's a real phenomenon. I can't decide if it's cool or not.

12. Running subjects is really boring. It is also frustrating how they schedule appointments and then don't show up. This situation is why I'm blogging right now.

13. The new grad students are starting to arrive. This is weird.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wayne Maine vs. NYC (Part 2)

More pictures from the American Natural History Museum with banal comments disguised as captions.

Puppets, not dinosaurs.

You think he eats giant stone jellybeans?


I sneaked off to take a picture of this.

We saw dinosaurs, then we saw what made them extinct.

And this was before dinner.

Blame Neil deGrasse Tyson for Pluto not being here.