Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

A Matter of Perception / Why People Who See the World Differently are Wrong – A Lunchtime Post

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Nov 10, 2015 @ 11:51 am PST

userpic=aughhIn a recent discussion in response to my Facebook post on Starbucks Red Cups, a very rationale friend of mine wondered by people became religious fundamentalists. I responded back that I didn’t know, but noted back “Well, lots of people have beliefs. But some people have beliefs that can be challenged or modified, and some are so convinced that they are correct that they won’t accept any evidence that contradicts their beliefs.”. While reading through my RSS feeds over lunch, an article came across with the intriguing title “Why you often believe people who see the world differently are wrong“. The article, which appears to be a transcription from a podcast I need to explore, explores what shapes our perception that we see the world as it truly is, free from bias or the limitations of our senses (which is termed “naive realism”). Naive realism leads us to believe we arrived at our opinions, political or otherwise, after careful, rational analysis through unmediated thoughts and perceptions. In other words, we think we have been mainlining pure reality for years, and our intense study of the bare facts is what has naturally led to our conclusions. As such, we can’t understand why others don’t think the same way. In fact, on most emotionally charged issues, there is no objective perspective that a brain can take, despite the fact all the people on each side of any debate believe their side is the one rooted in reality.

Here are some interesting quotes from the article:

…since you believe you are in the really-real, true reality, you also believe that you have been extremely careful and devoted to sticking to the facts and thus are free from bias and impervious to persuasion. Anyone else who has read the things you have read or seen the things you have seen will naturally see things your way, given that they’ve pondered the matter as thoughtfully as you have. Therefore, you assume, anyone who disagrees with your political opinions probably just doesn’t have all the facts yet. If they had, they’d already be seeing the world like you do. This is why you continue to ineffectually copy and paste links from all our most trusted sources when arguing your points with those who seem misguided, crazy, uninformed, and just plain wrong. The problem is, this is exactly what the other side thinks will work on you.


When confronted with people who disagree with your estimations of reality, even after you’ve pushed a bunch of facts in their faces, you tend to assume there must be a rational explanation for why they think and feel the way they do. Usually, that explanation is that the other side is either lazy or stupid or corrupted by some nefarious information-scrambling entity like cable news, a blowhard pundit, a charming pastor, or a lack thereof. Since this is where we often end up, they say what usually happens is that our “repeated attempts at dialogue with those on the ‘other side’ of a contentious issue make us aware that they rarely yield to our attempts at enlightenment; nor do they yield to the efforts of articulate, fair-minded spokespersons who share our views.” In other words, it’s naive to think evidence presented from the sources you trust will sway your opponents because when they do the same, it never sways you.

This is something I see happen continually on Facebook and other discussion forums. It is a very important thing to understand, and in many ways, it explains arguments with both fundamentalists and Republicans quite well :-) . I will have to go listen to the full podcast.

P.S.: Mental Floss has published an article on NPR’s new Podcast finder, earbud.fm. What’s interesting about this is that is it curated: the editors don’t just list good podcasts, but they recommend specific episodes as entry points for that podcast (and often, that’s not the first episode). I’d say I need to explore it, but I’ve already got more podcasts coming in than I have time to listen to. There’s loads of good stuff out there.


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A Virtual Witches Brew of News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 31, 2015 @ 7:09 pm PST


Are you scared yet? You might be after reading this collection of news chum:

  • From The Sexy Nurse. You’ve seen them everywhere: the “Sexy” (insert your noun here) costumes. I wrote about some of them recently. You probably don’t know about the company that made them, though. Leg Avenue. It was going with shorter skirts that transformed Leg Avenue from a small company that made leggings and lingerie into a dominant force in the Halloween costume business. How, by bringing in the “sexy”.
  • The Cars Have Ears. Back when I was in high school, I had a friend who liked to wrap his head in aluminum foil to avoid the radiation from the aliens. Don’t know whatever became of him. But aluminum foil — is still useful for wrapping things. For example, this article recommends that you wrap your car keys in aluminium foil.  Why? Your car is always listening. Not for your voice, like the Amazon Echo or Siri, but for an electronic signal, such as the coded “unlock” signal from your electronic key fob. If it’s a newer car model, you might not have to press any buttons; just approach your car and the doors will unlock automatically. In some cars, the engine will even turn on. If someone can copy and duplicate that signal, who needs the physical key? Scared yet?
  • First, Vocal Fry. Now NPR Voice. A while back, everyone was in a panic because vocal fry was everywhere. Be scared again. This time, it is NPR voice. This is a characteristic of NPR and many podcast announcers that derive from NPR. In NPR voice, in addition to looser language, the speaker generously employs pauses and, particularly at the end of sentences, emphatic inflection. A result is the suggestion of spontaneous speech and unadulterated emotion. The irony is that such presentations are highly rehearsed, with each caesura calculated and every syllable stressed in advance.
  • What Happens To My Accounts When I Die? The answer, if you don’t do anything, is that they become zombie accounts, alive but with no life behind them. How to prevent this? Make sure you share your password with someone you trust. Ideally, collect your passwords in a password manager, and store the password to that account in a safe place (such as with your spouse, in her password manager, while you store hers). Leave them in escrow with your lawyer. Put them in the pantry with your cupcakes. Oops, wrong song.
  • Your Friendships Will Change. One side effect of getting older is that your friendships change. All those close friends from childhood. Most are different than your adult friends. I think I have, perhaps, one close friend from elementary school days, with a few more on the acquaintance side. I have perhaps a handful from High School. Here’s the explanation of why friendships change when you become an adult.
  • Will You Die of A Heart Attack? You probably have a better chance not to die thanks to the contributions of Dr. Walter S. Graf, who died this week. Graf was a cardiologist who who helped establish the modern system of paramedic emergency care. Alarmed by high death rates and encouraged by new technology, a small group of pioneering physicians started equipping ambulances with defibrillators and paramedics who knew how to use them. Graf was former chief of staff for the Daniel Freeman Hospital. In the 1960s, he established what was thought to be the West Coast’s first dedicated coronary care units there and later created the groundbreaking Daniel Freeman Paramedic Training Program. In 1999, it merged with the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care. In 1969, Graf, who was then president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Heart Assn., converted a white Chevy van into a “mobile critical care unit.” How much of an influence was it? Consider that the TV series Emergency started in 1972, a mere 3 years after Graf created the idea.
  • Scared About Running Out of Water. Ever hear that old adage “water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.”? Scientists have discovered a gigantic ocean of water 400 miles towards the center of the earth. It could fill our oceans 3 times over. The problem: You can’t just drill down and get it. But due to it, we have our oceans.
  • Satellites Falling from the Sky? First there was Skylab. A really big thing to fall from the sky. Then more and more. Now we have smallsats and cubesats… and according to this article, thumbsats. A “ThumbSat” is controlled by a tiny circuit board and carries an experiment that is just 48 mm x 48 mm x 32 mm across at most and weighing around 25 grams (0.055lb).  The mission is cheap — about $20,000 US for an experiment — it will only last about eight to 10 weeks in orbit. This is long enough to do some science, but short enough to carry just a tiny battery. The payload is designed to be in a low enough orbit to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere shortly after finishing, to avoid becoming space junk.


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And They Say Los Angeles Has No History

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Oct 28, 2015 @ 6:36 pm PST

userpic=los-angelesMany people say that LA has no history, but here are some recent articles touching upon LA history:

  • Saved from the Wrecking Ball. If you have ever driven down the 5 freeway past Sun Valley (excuse me, 5 past Sun Valley), you’ve seen a set of golden arches in an automobile wrecking yard (and no, they aren’t the golden arches you are thinking of). These golden arches once stood above the car wash and Tiny Naylor’s coffee shop on Laurel Canyon at Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, and look roughly like a trio of gigantic boomerangs. They were built in the early 1960s, and may have been inspired by the “boomerangs” that adorn the Cathedral of Brasilia, designed by Futurist architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1958. They rose 86 feet from ground level through the roof of the car wash and were originally painted white. After the car wash was torn down, they were moved to the Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking (FB) yard. Today, it was announced that the Aadlen Brothers yard is closing.  The final day for the 53-year old, 26-acre yard in Sun Valley is New Year’s Eve, and  there will be a big sale beforehand. Some pieces, however, are not for sale: they have been donated to the Valley Relics Museum.  This includes an early 1930s Helms Bakery twin-coach, an amazing mid-century car that has been modified to look like a shoe, and the aforementioned arches. As I drive to the Colony Theatre in 2016, I’ll miss seeing those arches…
  • A Different Type of Shipping. If you went to UCLA in the 1980s or before, you’ll remember a little restaurant on Westwood Blvd called Ships. Ships Coffee Shop (FB) was open 24 hours (great for students), had wonderful breakfasts, and had a toaster on every table. There was one in Westwood, one in Culver City and one in West LA. Alison Martino, of Vintage Los Angeles, has a wonderful remembrance of Ships in Los Angeles Magazine. Ships was a model for Googie architecture. The first two Ships (run by Emmett Shipman) (Culver City and Westwood) were designed by Architect Martin Stern, Jr.; the third Ships at La Cienega and Olympic was designed by the architecture firm Armet & Davis. Armet and Davis also designed… you guessed it…  the arches just saved at Aadlen Brothers.
  • A True Ghost Town. I grew up in Westchester, a bedroom suburb just outside of the LA International Airport (LAX). When Westchester started, the airport was nothing. But soon the jets came, and soon the jet noise came — 707s and 727s were noisy. This led to the death of a number of communities: the portion of Westchester S of 92nd Street (we lived on 90th), and the community of Surfridge, on the bluffs you fly over when you take off from LA. I had numerous friends that lived in Surfridge when I was young (among them, Paul Jones, the brother of Anissa Jones from Family Affair). All those families were bought out and relocated by the airport. Luckily, Tres Bohemes has a wonderful look back at Surfridge, and the elite that once lived there, in the days before the Airport and the El Segundo Blue Butterfly. (…tying things back to the Googie theme, Westchester was also the home of the Loyola Theatre which had a wonderful neon sign out front, and the famous Googie Panns Coffee Shop, which is still there and operating)
  • Three Scoops for 15¢. If you grew up in Los Angeles, you remember Thrifty Drug Store, and you probably remember them for their ice cream, which was (for the longest time) 1 scoop for 5¢. I particularly enjoyed their chocolate chip and rocky road. All that is left of Thrifty is their ice cream brand, which was preserved by Rite Aid when they bought Thrifty in 1996. (coincidentally, the same year that the last Ships closed). Today, news came out that Walgreens is buying Rite-Aid, and the question on every Angelino’s lips was… what will happen to Thrifty ice cream. For now, it’s safe: Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso said Rite Aid products will be available while the drugstore continues to initially operate under its own name and that other decisions on product lines will be made later. Evidently, the question has social media (especially Twitter) in an uproar. (… and, to tie things back to Ships and Aadlen, the Thrifty at La Brea and Rodeo in Baldwin Hills had a 52′ Trilon (which is still standing), similar to the car wash arches)


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Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other: Saturday Chum Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 24, 2015 @ 11:06 am PST

userpic=schmuckThis has been the second very busy week in a row. I’ve accumulated a number of articles, but there are no coherent things, but lots of things I want to comment upon. So let’s get started with this news chum collection:

🏥  Sexism in the Emergency Room. The Atlantic had a fascinating article that I certainly believe: Doctors Tend To Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously. It is sad to think that this type of sexism still exists in the medical profession, but it does. There are fewer research projects to see the effect of medicine on women, and often a woman’s complaint is dismissed as hysteria (and by the way, if you don’t know the origin of that word, you should — it’s relevant). In this article, a woman almost dies because the doctors don’t believe her complaint about serious pain.

💏 Contributions of the Yiddish Theatre. As my daughter is busily studying Yiddish at UC Berkeley, news about Yiddish tends to catch my eye. Here’s an article about how the first lesbian kiss on stage was in a Yiddish theatre production. Specifically, the 1923 English-language production of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, at the Apollo Theater on 223 West 42nd Street, presented the first same-sex kiss in the history of Broadway, leading to the entire cast’s being arrested on obscenity charges. Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s Indecent, having its world premiere at the Yale Rep in New Haven this month, is a delightful, unexpected, and surprising play about Asch’s play.

🎭 To Review Community Theatre? An article in the On Stage Blog has prompted some interesting discussion. Its question: Should theatre reviewers review community theatre, and if they do, should they give an honest assessment? A fascinating question: after all, these are not professional actors, so should we hold them to the same quality standards? They are often true amateurs, and the directors are equally amateurs. Personally, I tend to agree with the VC On Stage Blog: I review honestly, but try more to couch my review as constructive criticism (how to improve, instead of “Bob stunck”).

🏊 A Hole in the Ground, Filled with Water. With the current drought, there’s more an more interest in demolishing pools. It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve thought seriously about. Pools can add to the value of a house, and in general a pool actually uses less water than a lawn. But they can leak easily — I’m pretty sure our pool has a leak somewhere in the piping deep underground that feeds the pump (I have to add water weekly). But the cost of removing the pool can be quite high — multiple thousands of dollars to remove the decking, break up the shell, etc. If it costs only an extra $50 to add water per month, it is cheaper to add water. Never an easy question.

💳 American Express in Trouble. Here’s a fascinating article about the woes of American Express: Specifically, the loss of their US contract with Costco is a big deal, no matter what they say. Amex no longer has the prestige it once had, and its higher fees often make people less likely to accept it. They can hang on, but they may be going the way of Diners Club over time.

💊 The Cost of Generics. By now, our insurance companies have drummed it into our heads: Buy generics, it is cheaper. But as we’ve read in the news, the cost of generics is actually rising, often thanks to greedy manufacturers. Who is that hurting? Small pharmacies, who are finding that their insurance reimbursements do not cover the cost of the generics. This means, due to insurance contracts, they often lose money on generics. Welcome to screwed up health care in America.

🔯 Holocaust Revisionism. This week, we had an interesting example of Holocaust Revisionism… from an Israeli leader, who proclaimed that Hitler didn’t want to kill the Jews — it was an Arab idea. Dr. Deborah Lipstadt — who was my professor for a number of Jewish Studies courses at UCLA including ones on Zionism and Antisemitism — wrote a very good rebuttal and analysis of Netanyahu’s statement. (if that link doesn’t work, go here, and then click on the article). As Dr. Lipstadt noted: “Netanyahu, however, did not paint [the Grand Mufti] as a supporter of this genocide. He credited him with coming up with the idea. There is a vast difference between the two. Historians continue to debate who originated the idea of the Final Solution. No serious historian, however, has ever laid the decision at the feet of the mufti. These are scary days in Israel. Arabs, some of whom have been incited to act by religious and political leaders, have stabbed, hacked, and stoned Jews. Others have mowed them down with cars. This inexcusable barbarism does not, however, legitimate rewriting of the past.”

🍕 Feeding the Addiction. I really try to avoid becoming an addict. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I am addicted to Afrin, but that’s a different story. This week I learned I really am an addict. So, here’s goes. My name is Daniel, and I’m addicted to Cheese.  Yup, a new study has shown that Cheese Addiction is real. Cheese happens to be especially addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins that play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element. The LA Times drilled down even deeper into the study, and concluded: So the decision to call cheese crack is entirely yours. And if the University of Michigan study makes you feel better about eating a quesadilla for lunch and half a cheese board before dinner, so be it.

🍷 Liquid Refreshment Andrew Ducker over on LJ alerted me to this article, which is related to a different type of food addiction. Yes, there are people who feel better after drinking blood, but no they are not vampires. The article is an interesting study of sanguinarians  — real life “vampires” and their communities.

💥 I Feel The Earth Move. Everyone started to run scared in LA after an article from NASA saying the chance of a major earthquake in the San Gabriel Valley is 99.9% in the next two years. But then again, Dr. Lucy Jones disputes the findings.  Specifically, a yet unpublished study from seismologists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab predicted with 99.9 percent certainty that we’d get a 5.0 quake sometime within the next couple years. They were 35 percent certain that it would be even bigger, registering at 6.0 or worse. However, Dr. Lucy “Earthquake Lady” Jones, a seismologist who works with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on earthquake preparedness, noted that the claim that it’s such a high probability is made in a paper by one individual group of researchers, and the paper doesn’t document how they came up with that number so it’s impossible for us to even evaluate whether or not the statement has any validity, because they didn’t say why. She also noted this is not an official NASA claim, and pointed out that a lot of us might not even be able to feel a 5.0 quake. What’s more likely? Dr. Jones says a more likely figure is a 2 percent chance of SoCal getting a big quake—7.5 or greater—each year. But there is a certainty that eventually be a big one, so it also helps to be prepared.

💺 The First Jumbo Jets. Airline Reporter had an interesting exploration of Delta Air Lines and their first jumbo jets: the 747-100s. Delta ended up settling on the DC-10s and L-1011s, and of course, now uses different jumbos. The article provides a great insight on why airlines order what, and what happens to an aircraft after it is no longer needed.

🍏 They’re back. Yay. Pippins are back in markets. Get them while you can.

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At Last, The Stew: Tasty Links in a Simmering Sauce

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 3:30 pm PST

Observation StewAnd finally, some tasty news chum stew, which has been simmering in the bookmarks for a couple of weeks:


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Shopping News: Haggen, Fresh & Easy, Handmade, and Jet.Com

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 2:04 pm PST

userpic=outofbusinessContinuing with part 3 of clearing out the links (there’s one more pure news chum stew post): Here are a series of posts related to shopping and stores:

  • Going Down Down Down. Although this is old news by now, Haggen is going under, and a number of their stores will be becoming Gelsons and Smart&Finals. In some ways, this is sad: Haggen bit off more than they could chew, and were doomed from the start (and likely set up by Albersons). It will be nice to have more Gelsons and Smart and Finals, though. Still no word on what will happen to the store at Sepulveda and Palms: I’ve seen that go through so many iterations by now it is silly. In similar news, it looks like Fresh and Easy is filing for bankruptcy again.  I still miss the F&E in Northridge; it was a good store with good selection. But this isn’t a surprise, as I don’t see the stores anymore. Supermarkets, in general, are getting beat by Target and Walmart adding groceries; the landscape will continue to grow as Aldi comes in. As for, we’ll keep shopping at the ethnics, Sprouts, and Trader Joes.
  • War of the Handmade. Amazon is taking on Etsy with their new subcompany: Handmade by Amazon. Will it be a success? I don’t know. Etsy is well known, but Amazon is a 400 lb gorilla. Handmade by Amazon has much tighter rules than Etsy, but people have been complaining that Etsy’s new rules have reduced the handmade aspect of what is sold. Should be interesting to watch — partially because my wife hope to restart the doll business on line. We still have lots of stock from the days working with Karen (Pratt) Holmes.
  • A Costco on the Internet. Recently, Planet Money had a fascinating episode on the Anti-Store: a store that makes it intentionally hard for you to buy things, find things, and pay for things. By doing that, they make oodles of money. The store: Costco. They make you pay for membership. They intentionally don’t sign the aisles so you have to explore the store. They take limited forms of payments and provide no bags. But it works, and people buy buy buy. At the end of the episode, they mentioned an internet variation: a company that was going to charge you to become a member, and would give you extra discounts if you ordered multiple different items from the same warehouse (allowing combined shipping) or decided to waive your ability to return items. The site? Jet.Com. Recent news has brought word that Jet.Com has decided not to charge its membership fee, because the profits from other areas — even with their discounts — make it unnecessary.   Might be worth exploring, for the bargain hunters.


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Technological Miscellany: Facebook, Mergers, AOL, Word, and Google

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 12:26 pm PST

userpic=cyborgI’m taking some time this morning to clear out the accumulated links. This post brings together a number of items of technological nature, some older, some newer, but all with hopefully some interest:

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It’s All About The Exposure

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 10:14 am PST

userpic=tortuga-heuvosIt’s Saturday — and time to start clearing the accumulated links. First up, a trio of links all connected to sex and exposure:

  • The Sexy Tampon. It has become a parody of itself, the “Sexy …” costume. So here are some more entries for your Halloween Costuming needs: the Sexy Cockroach, the Sexy Fetus, the Sexy Tampon… well, you get the idea.
  • It’s a Business. Here’s a fascinating article about the porn business: it explores why the business you think you know is nothing like the business you think you know. For example, is that oft-repeated claim that porn drives tech adoption true? Right now, the porn industry is going through hard times, with new media, “free” streaming attempting to compete with paid, condom laws, and often being barred from app stores.
  • Alone in a Hotel? You’re alone on a business trip, and in your hotel. What do you do? Increasingly, the answer is not to watch porn. Both Hyatt Hotels and Marriott Hotels have announced they are dropping pay-per-view adult movies.  Why? A number of reasons. With the increasing number of intrusions into hotels, patrons don’t want their porn preferences exposed to the world when their bills are exposed. Probably more importantly, people can watch for free over the Internet. As a result, revenue has plummeted, and hotels are looking for profit in different areas.
  • Nudes and Economics. Here’s an interesting detailed analysis of Playboy’s announcement to drop nudes from its magazine. Playboy has been faced with a significant circulation drop, and they discovered when they made their website SFW, views increased. To become a mainstream media brand — and one that attracts the lifestyle advertisers they want and need — they need to be more mainstream. How do they do that? Drop the nudity. It’s not like people can’t find it elsewhere these days — something that wasn’t true in the 1950s-1970s — they top days of Playboy.


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