What I Wish I Was Reading: December 2017

With guests at the house, a sick kiddo and snow in the forecast, I have had no time to read this new paper on how regional temperature affects population agreeableness. I will be doing so soon however, because as someone who’s heard a lot about how unfriendly Boston is I’d like some validation for my go to “we’re rude because we’re cold” excuse.

Funny story: when my out of town guests picked up their (4 wheel drive) rental car, the lady behind the counter mocked them and said “expecting some snow or something”? When they got to my house and we confirmed that there is actually snow in the forecast, they wondered why she was so condescending about it. We explained that for Bostonians, a forecast of 4-6 inches over 20 hours isn’t really “snow”. They informed me that in Seattle, they’d be calling out the National Guard.

Also, my sister-in-law (married to my teacher/farmer brother) has informed me her new parenting slogan is “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” we she apparently got from this book of the same name. I like this theory. It goes nicely with my adulthood slogan of “There’s no such thing as strong coffee, only weak people.”

I hope to have a review of the paper up on Wednesday this week, stay tuned.

The Assistant Village Idiot linked  to this article (via Lelia) about those with no visual memory. I’ve been pondering this as I’m pretty sure my visual memory has some gaps.  I can’t read facial expressions baseline, and one of my recurring stress nightmares is being handed documents/books that I recognize but can’t decipher the text. I feel something’s related here, but I have to reread the article before I comment further.

Also, I know I always chide people to read behind the headline, but this headline’s so good I’m pretty sure I’ll love it when I finally get to read it: 5 Sport Science Studies that “Failed”. The author specifically took note of studies he saw that asked interesting questions and got negative results. He wanted to talk about this to fight the impression that the only interesting findings were positive findings.

8 thoughts on “What I Wish I Was Reading: December 2017

  1. The article about visual memory (or visualization in the present) is so interesting, and even more so are the responses to it. I have people telling me their husband is like that, their boy is like that, that poetry is meaningless to them, or one who can’t hear the words as she reads them. Some of us love lyrical (me!) and some of us hate it. And most of the dislike or dislike IS related to whether or not one can call up to the mind’s eye a visual of what is being described. And then there’s the guy, who never met anyone disabled he wasn’t delighted to say they were faking it, who said the article was bullshit. (I may have extrapolated his attitude) So I told he he needed to learn about neurodiversity and a good place to start would be Oliver Sack’s An Anthropologist from Mars.


    • I have to think a huge chunk of the population might be dealing with slight cognitive abnormalities they don’t realize they have. I didn’t know I couldn’t read facial expressions until I was in my late 20s, but it explained a lot once I found out.

      Has the no disability guy ever worked around any piece of complicated machinery? The idea that machines can go wrong but our brain must always be uniform is completely bizarre. Sending him towards Sacks seems like a good call.


    • You did occur to me as a likely source, but I couldn’t quite place it. It fell so heavily in the category of “a thing you would say” I couldn’t tell if it really was you.


  2. Also, my sister-in-law (married to my teacher/farmer brother) has informed me her new parenting slogan is “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” …

    Yup. Such as cotton and shorts in 95 degrees and layer upon layer in 20 degrees. Many who move from a warmer to a colder climate have problems because they haven’t yet learned the key to survival in cold climates- layer upon layer. Most uncomfortable climate is ameliorated by getting outside, enabling your body to get accustomed to it.

    I am ambivalent about Boston. My sister lived in Boston or suburbs for decades, so I am quite familiar. Beautiful, old brick buildings. From my experience, the worst drivers in the country. The overwhelming majority of my street experiences in Boston have been neutral to friendly. Nonetheless, I have had several street experiences – apart from my driving experiences- that fully justify the term Masshole- experiences which I haven’t had in other areas of the country.

    I am reminded of my sister-in-law from Massachusetts. Suffice it to say that I now spend as little time with her as possible. I am tired of biting my tongue. Nonetheless, I have quite `


    • Yeah, we top out “worst drivers” lists pretty regularly (example). I actually wonder how much of that is due to temperature issues as well…snow and ice certainly make you more likely to get in to an accident.


      • I doubt that ice and snow is the leading factor, since my experiences about “worst drivers” come from too-warm-to-snow months. Snow is a factor. OTOH, road crews tend to be very efficient in clearing snow off the roads.The cowpaths turned into roads are also a factor. It is very easy to make a wrong turn in Boston. Urban density also a factor.

        I am reminded of a neighbor from my hometown who got a ticket for speeding on the Mass Pike. The reaction of her brothers: “You got a ticket for speeding? On the Mass Pike?” I also found that hard to believe. The Mass Pike, where people will pass on the right shoulder lane. OTOH, people get arrested for corruption in Venezuela- maybe one out of ten thousand.

        My sister-in-law from Massachusetts has a personality I find rather overbearing. I would not label her a Masshole, as I have spent a fair amount of time with her parents and siblings, all of whom I have found much more congenial than her. It’s just her personality.


      • Now I’m interested. I wonder if I could rustle up some accident data plus precipitation data plus days below freezing, then see what the driving factors were? May be a project for my holiday break!


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