Archive for January 30th, 2012

January 30, 2012

Walk of Shame

walk of shame by robert marbury

The walk of shame refers to where a person must walk past strangers or peers alone for an embarrassing reason before reaching a place of privacy. Most commonly, it occurs the morning after a night out at a bar, dance club, or party.

People undertaking the walk of shame are understood to have spent the night at the house, apartment, or dorm of a sexual partner (or perceived sexual partner), particularly a one night stand. The topic is often the subject of college newspaper commentary. The ‘walker’ may often be identified by his or her disheveled appearance and incongruous evening attire, particularly on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

January 30, 2012

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

Yiddish Policemens Union

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is a 2007 novel by American author Michael Chabon. The novel is a detective story set in an alternative history version of the present day, based on the premise that during World War II, a temporary settlement for Jewish refugees was established in Sitka, Alaska, in 1941, and that the fledgling State of Israel was destroyed in 1948.

The novel is set in Sitka, which it depicts as a large, Yiddish-speaking metropolis. As a result, two million Jews are killed in the Holocaust, instead of the six million in reality.

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January 30, 2012



An eruv [air-oov] is a ritual enclosure that orthodox Jewish communities construct in their neighborhoods as a way to permit carrying objects outdoors on Shabbat, which they would otherwise understand to be prohibited by Jewish law (Halakha). There are 39 categories of activity prohibited on Shabbat including moving an object from one domain to another, no matter its weight or purpose. The prohibition is not found in the Torah, but in the Talmud (Rabbinical law and commentary).

The eruv permits traditionally observant Jews to, among other things, carry keys, tissues, medicines, or babies with them, and to use strollers and canes. According to tradition, the eruv must be made of walls or doorways at least one meter in height. In public areas where it is impractical to put up walls, doorways are constructed out of wire and posts. It is these doorways, which often serve no practical purpose, that are what is usually referred to as an eruv.

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January 30, 2012

Positivity Effect


parental hindsight by lisa maltby

In psychology and cognitive science, the positivity effect is the tendency to make situational attributions about negative behaviors and dispositional attributions about positive behaviors for individuals one prefers.The term also refers to age differences in emotional attention and memory. Studies have found that older adults are more likely than younger adults to pay attention to positive than negative stimuli. In addition, compared with younger adults’ memories, older adults’ memories are more likely to consist of positive than negative information and more likely to be distorted in a positive direction. This version of the positivity effect was coined by Laura L. Carstensen’s research team.

Gender roles effect the behavior of the individual as well, and how they perceive others. Males tend to take more dominant roles, whereas females tend to be more nurturing and caregiving. Person-perception studies state that the characteristics of the perceiver are as important as the characteristics of the one being perceived. Since females are deemed to be the more nurturing and selfless by nature, they perceive others more favorably than men do. This is known as the ‘Female Positivity Effect.’ For example, women are more likely to be social and agreeable in a group task situation whereas the males are going to be mainly focused on the task at hand.

January 30, 2012

Socioemotional Selectivity

rose-tinted glasses


Socioemotional Selectivity Theory, developed by Stanford psychologist, Laura Carstensen, a life-span theory of motivation, maintains that as time horizons shrink, as they typically do with age, people become increasingly selective, investing greater resources in emotionally meaningful goals and activities.

According to the theory, motivational shifts also influence cognitive processing. Aging is associated with a relative preference for positive over negative information in attention and memory (called the ‘positivity effect’).

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January 30, 2012



A maven [mey-vuhn] is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from Hebrew, via Yiddish, and means one who understands, based on an accumulation of knowledge. The Hebrew word ‘mevin’ (‘one who understands’) relates to the word ‘binah,’ which denotes understanding or wisdom in general.

It was first recorded in English around 1952, and popularized in the United States in the 1960s by a series of commercials created by Martin Solow for Vita Herring, featuring The Beloved Herring Maven. In network theory and sociology, a maven is someone who has a disproportionate influence on other members of the network. The role of mavens in propagating knowledge and preferences has been established in various domains, from politics to social trends.

January 30, 2012

Pareto Principle

80 20 rule

The Pareto [pah-re-tawprinciple states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Business-management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He then carried out surveys on a variety of other countries and found to his surprise that a similar distribution applied. He even found that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., ‘80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.’ The Pareto principle is only tangentially related to Pareto efficiency, which was also introduced by the same economist. Pareto developed both concepts in the context of the distribution of income and wealth among the population.

January 30, 2012


six degrees of kevin bacon

Connectors are said by author Malcolm Gladwell to be people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub. Connectors usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles. Although connectors are rare—only one in several thousand people might be thought of as a true connector they are, like mavens (experts) and salesmen, very important in the healthy function of civil society and business. Connectors are also important in trendsetting.

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term connector in his 2000 book ‘The Tipping Point.’ Paul Revere, Roger Horchow, Ahmed Ibrahim, and Lois Weisberg are notable connectors. Gladwell also suggests that mavens may act most effectively when in collaboration with connectors – i.e., those people who have a wide network of casual acquaintances by whom they are trusted, often a network that crosses many social boundaries and groups. Connectors can thus easily and widely distribute the advice or insights of a maven.

January 30, 2012

Six Degrees of Separation

John Guare

Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, ‘a friend of a friend’ statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.

It was originally set out by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare.

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January 30, 2012

Jewish Geography

Legendary Vienna by Harvey Pekar

Jewish geography is a popular ‘game’ sometimes played when Jews meet each other for the first time and try to identify people they know in common. An Israeli version of the game, pitsuchim, has been a common pastime among young Israeli backpackers traveling the world, taking its name from a 1980s television quiz show.

As Etan Diamond observes in his book ‘And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia’: ‘This ‘game’ of ‘Jewish geography’ follows a simple pattern. One person asks, ‘You’re from [insert name of city here]? Do you know [insert person’s name here]?’ The other one usually responds something like, ‘Sure, he sits behind my uncle in synagogue,’ or ‘I met her once at a youth group convention,’ or ‘She is really good friends with my sister’s college roommate.’ Non-Jews often find it astonishing that such links are made so easily, but given both the relative smallness of the Jewish community – and the even smaller size of the Orthodox Jewish community – and the extensive overlapping social circles within these communities, it should not surprise too much.’

January 30, 2012

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger by Michael Leavitt

Barbara Kruger (b. 1945) is an American conceptual artist. Much of her work consists of black-and-white photographs overlaid with declarative captions—in white-on-red Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed. The phrases in her works often include use of pronouns such as ‘you,’ ‘your,’ ‘I,’ ‘we,’ and ‘they.’ Much of Kruger’s work engages the merging of found photographs from existing sources with pithy and aggressive text that involves the viewer in the struggle for power and control that her captions speak to. In their trademark white letters against a slash of red background, some of her instantly recognizable slogans read ‘I shop therefore I am,’ and ‘Your body is a battleground.’

Much of her text questions the viewer about feminism, consumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, although her black-and-white images are culled from the mainstream magazines that sell the very ideas she is disputing. Kruger juxtaposes imagery and text critical of sexism; the circulation of power within cultures is a recurring motif in her work. A larger category that threads through her work is the appropriation and alteration of existing images. The importance of appropriation art in contemporary culture lay in its ability to play with preponderant imagistic and textual conventions: to mash up meanings and create new ones.