I was good at football, so I survived school well enough. But my brother was legendary. They were reading The Old Man and The Sea in English class, and Raphael blew up at the teacher. She said that lions were a symbol of Hemingway being lionized when young. She said the old fisherman carrying a mast made him some sort of Jesus with his cross. He told her she had a head full of nonsense. I can see him doing it. He would bark with sudden laughter and bounce up and down in his chair and declare, delighted, “That’s blasphemy! It’s just a story about an old man. If Hemingway had wanted to write a story about Jesus, he was a clever enough person to have written one!” The headmaster gave him a clip about the ear. Raphael wobbled his head at him as if shaking a finger. “Your hitting me doesn’t make me wrong.” None of the other students ever bothered us. Raphael still got straight As. -Geoff Ryman, What We Found, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Extended Edition (Sept/Oct 2011)
Why was it that every villain had to have his obligatory speech before he blew everything to smithereens? -Tina Folsom, Amaury’s Hellion (Scanguards Vampires #2)
That nice looking black car in the front is an Enzo Ferrari. It will run you a cool mil (American $) to walk off the lot with one. Take two; they’re small. Oh, and don’t forget to order a yacht while you’re here.
…you can’t outearn dumb spending. Just ask all the millionaire celebrities, professional athletes, and lottery winners who end up broke. Let me repeat for emphasis: You can’t outearn dumb spending. -Gregory Karp, The 1-2-3 Money Plan: The Three Most Important Steps to Saving and Spending Smart
The rewards outweigh the risks — when you’re in a group, anyway. A new USC study explains why people take stupid chances when all of their friends are watching that they would never take by themselves. According to the study, the human brain places more value on winning in a social setting than it does on winning when you’re alone.
“These findings suggest that the brain is equipped with the ability to detect and encode social signals, make social signals salient, and then, use these signals to optimize future behavior,” Coricelli said.
As Coricelli explained, in private environments, losing can more easily be life-threatening. With no social support network in place, a bad gamble can spell doom.
In group environments, on the other hand, rewards tend to be winner-takes-all. Nowhere is this more clear than in sexual competition, where — to borrow a phrase from racing legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr. — second place is just first loser.
“Among animals, there are strong incentives for wanting to be at the top of the social ranking,” Coricelli said. “Animals in the dominant position use their status to secure privileged access to resources, such as food and mates.” -Science Daily
“Later, we sat in the sand as the other kids my age played a game of beach volleyball. My father must have seen an opening of some kind, because to my great embarrassment he stood up between matches and asked if I could join in. I tried to refuse, but there was no way to do so without seeming like even more of a loser. I was a decent athlete—I’d played lacrosse and hockey in Baltimore—but did not understand the most basic mechanics involved in keeping a ball up in the air with my forearms.
“While the other kids set and dug and belly flopped for shots, I stood in the corner of the court, praying that the ball would miraculously avoid my jurisdiction. Finally someone spiked the ball right at me, and I did something tragic. I caught it. I glanced at my father, still clutching the thing to my stomach. His eyes were squinched up, fixed somewhere near my feet, as if he couldn’t stand to look me in the face. It took me a second to realize he was staring at my legs.
“At the time, my father’s shame was overshadowed by the disgrace I felt in front of my teammates. Now, though, when I’m watering the plants or jogging around the reservoir near my house, I’ll think of my father’s face that day and feel the punch of that ball in my stomach. I’ll fantasize about all the things I might have done, like clock him in the teeth. Perhaps—at least I tell myself this, I insist on it, because the memory still hurts me deeply—he was really making the face at himself.” -Eric Puchner, Schemes of My Father
For years, psychologists have observed that people routinely overestimate their abilities, said study leader Dominic Johnson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Some experts have suggested that overconfidence can be a good thing, perhaps by boosting ambition, resolve, and other traits, creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
But positive self-delusion can also lead to faulty assessments, unrealistic expectations, and hazardous decisions, according to the study—making it a mystery why overconfidence remains a key human trait despite thousands of years of natural selection, which typically weeds out harmful traits over generations.
Now, new computer simulations show that a false sense of optimism, whether when deciding to go to war or investing in a new stock, can often improve your chances of winning. -Christine Dell’Amore, National Geographic News
Photo Credit: Mustafa Khayat on Flickr
You know that guy, the one with the red sports car. What message is he trying to send with that thing anyway? Here’s some research:
“Just as peacocks flaunt their tails before potential mates, men may flaunt flashy products to charm potential dates. Notably, not all men favored this strategy — just those men who were interested in short-term sexual relationships with women.” -Science Daily
Writing Prompt: Write about a guy on the prowl and what he uses to signal he’s on the make.
Journaling Prompt: How do you react to a show off?
Art Prompt: muscle car
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about your own midlife crisis (or that of someone you know).
Photo Credit: Reportergimmi on Flickr
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