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Books

Brush Up On Your People Skills, Read a Novel

“I never read fiction,” is a point of pride for many people, along the lines of “I never watch TV.”

The implication is that nonfiction is a higher calling, that fiction is a frivolous pastime while nonfiction is a serious education. This has been a push-pull throughout the history of the novel, especially since early novels tended towards salacious or scandalous, more Danielle Steel than Ian McEwan.

Poet Samuel Coleridge, (1712 to 1835) stated his...
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Addiction

Are Our Emotions Cranked To 11?

Have you been watching "Downton Abbey" like the rest of us?

Think about the Dowager Countess of Grantham, marvelous Maggie Smith. When she doesn’t like something, she gets a face like a cat that’s smelled something bad. And you get the message.

If you read authors like Edith Wharton and Jane Austin, you know there’s not a lot of bellowing and stomping around. Hearts are broken, fortunes lost, people became ill, or bereaved, despondent...
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Consumer Behavior

Why Stacy and Clinton May Be Right

I love me some What Not To Wear —or any makeover show, for that matter. I get a kick out of watching Stacy and Clinton take frumpy dumpies and zazz them up into snazzy sassies. I don’t always agree with the styling (what is this obsession with flat irons?), but usually, the afters are lots better than the befores.

Women on these show who start out resistant to the makeover process often argue...
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Cognition

Creativity Under Pressure In The New Media Landscape

“The Internet has ruined everything,” my husband likes to grumble.

In some ways, he’s right.

The Internet has laid waste to newspapers and threatens traditional publishing in all forms. It sucked the money out of the music industry. It's killing off traditional bookstores--even the superstores that killed off the small independents.

New technology has opened up forms of expression to people who had been blocked by gatekeepers, but at the same time threatens to drag down the...
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Books

Audio Books vs. Book Books: Which Does the Brain Prefer?

I’ve recently started listening to audio books. The idea never appealed to me much because I’ve never liked being read to. Reading is a solitary experience for me and being read to always seemed a little icky, though I couldn’t tell you why.

Certainly being read to has a venerable history. At one time, all writing was meant to be read aloud, since few people could read. And reading aloud was family entertainment in...
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Creativity

What Baseball Taught Me About Writing

Let’s go Rangers (clap, clap, clapclapclap)!

I’m sorry for anyone who isn’t following the World Series this year (and it’s the lowest rated ever) because boyhowdy it’s been exciting. Some people say it ranks as one of the greatest ever. And so tense! By the end of a game, Texas Rangers fans are nearly as exhausted as the players themselves. (I can’t speak for Cardinals fans but I can guess.)

Baseball can be incredibly slow, but...
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General

A Question of Spontaneity

I am not a spontaneous person.

When a surprise invitation or opportunity appears, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll pass it up. Maybe even 60/40. Maybe even more, but I don’t want to admit that to myself.

Spontaneity is a good thing. I know this because in romance movies, guys always dump their tightly-wound girlfriends for kooky, devil-may-care, spontaneous girls.

And I can see for myself that spontaneous people lead colorful lives full of surprise.

My life is pretty...
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Anthropology

Research Happens: “Post Secret” As An Archive Of Our Id



Since I wrote this post, Frank Warren has had to withdraw the Post Secret app because people just couldn't play nicely. 

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When Frank Warren launched the Post Secret blog in 2004, it was a lark. “A creative prank,” he calls it. He gave out 3,000 postcards to strangers around Washington , and asked each person to write a secret on it and mail it to him. And they did....
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