* Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach (Washington Post). A clear article summarizing psychological literature on why myths remain, and why it's often not a good idea to try to counter a myth. If you don't feel like reading it, listen to the story The Truth of False (WNYC's On The Media via NPR).
* The Marketing Sí Change (WNYC's On The Media via NPR). An interesting piece about the ways in which marketers target hispanics and how it's different from targeting anglos. I especially enjoyed the discussion of the problems translating the Got Milk campaign into Spanish and how they decided to fix it. That part starts at 2:50. If you're interested in the topic, read the lengthy original article, How Do You Say 'Got Milk' En Español? (New York Times). The radio segment is simply a few of the article's highlights.
* The Sex Drive (WNYC's On The Media via NPR). One often hears about pornography being a major impetus of technology, pushing the advancement of, for example, the printing press, photography, and motion pictures. This radio segment is interesting because it describes how pornography isn't pushing the edge of the latest technology: Web 2.0. Sure, pornography's at the forefront (in fact, judging by the segment, pornography's using more Web 2.0 interactivity and community features than I expected), but it isn't driving the technological improvements.
* The Wealth of Nations: A country's competitive edge can spread industry to industry, like a disease (Science News). This is the sort of research I want to do: discover interesting patterns from mounds of data.
* Ancient Islamic Penrose Tiles (Science News's MathTrek). I'm not surprised to hear that old architectural designers implicitly used knowledge of complex mathematical techniques. Nonetheless, it's still an interesting story about how Islamic buildings managed to have such large and perfect decorative patterns.
* Rethinking Bad Taste: How much mimicry is outright cheating? (Science News). It's nice to see such fairly realistic, outside-the-lab biology studies. If you want a copy of the article, ask.
* Believers gain no health advantage (Science News). Surprisingly, a study found no psychological advantage to holding spiritual beliefs--i.e., there's no belief-in-god placebo effect. The abstract of the source article, Spirituality, religion, and clinical outcomes in patients recovering from an acute myocardial infarction (Psychosomatic Medicine), is freely available.
* Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site (New York Times). In short, if there were some interesting articles I've mentioned that you previously couldn't read because of the Times's old policy of only leaving articles freely available for a couple of weeks, you can read them now. And you can read the columnists for free, too.
Posted by mark at Saturday, February 09, 2008
I was in Anaheim from Monday, February 4, 2008, to Wednesday, February 6, 2008, in order to visit Disneyland. I took a few pictures and videos on this trip.
I didn't do anything the day I arrived. Although I'd planned to do something, the hour-and-a-hour bus trip from the airport (Burbank) to my hotel (Embassy Suites Anaheim South) drained my energy, making me not want to get on a bus to go somewhere else. And, having only eaten a bowl of cereal, a yogurt, and a pack of peanuts, my low blood sugar likely contributed to this lack of desire. Instead, I remained in my hotel. I ate what I'm sure was a 2000+ calorie dinner (judging by the size of the chicken sandwich and the pile of fries) at the restaurant in my hotel. Mostly, I relaxed in my hotel room, a pretty snazzy two-room suite on the sixth floor.
Tuesday I had breakfast in my hotel (eggs, sausage, bacon, roasted potatoes, french toast, and lots of fresh melons), then headed to Disneyland.
- Disneyland Railroad. A relaxing way to sit and see some greenery.
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. The best non-roller-coaster attraction I rode. You have a gun and you're supposed to shoot Zs as you sit and ride around a Buzz Lightyear battle scene. It keeps score. Think about it as laser tag practice.
- Star Tours. A relatively lame simulator-based ride.
- Space Mountain. A roller coaster in the dark. Only (fake) stars are visible. I kept attempting to determine, given my guess at the planar way the stars were mounted, the location of panels and which way we'd go next. My engineering mind at work.
- "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience." A 3-D movie.
- Innoventions. An exhibit which included many interactive games, including many xbox games. It also had some exhibits on health. (I got my BMI read.) Shadow soccer (see picture) was slick.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. A fun roller coaster. I liked this more than Space Mountain, perhaps because I also could take joy in anticipating the movements that would come.
- Haunted Mansion. Not scary. Nevertheless, they do cool things with holograms.
Then I went to the adjacent amusement park, Disney's California Adventure.
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Perhaps my favorite ride! In the dark, an elevator drops precipitously, giving one the temporary feeling of weightlessness. Somehow, despite liking this, I couldn't bring myself to get on the Maliboomer, which is a similar ride except outside in the daylight.
- Muppet Vision 3D. What can I say? I like 3-D. And I enjoyed seeing Statler and Waldorf.
- Mission Tortilla Factory. A demonstration assembly line showing how tortillas are made. Fairly neat. They distribute free tortillas coming off the end of the line, though sadly don't provide any toppings. (Perhaps that's because there's a Mexican restaurant next door run by the Mission Foods company?)
- The Bakery Tour hosted by Boudin Bakery. A demonstration sourdough bakery. Like the tortilla factory, there was a video. However, the factory itself was less interesting because not much seemed to be happening.
- Sun Wheel. A cute, huge gondola.
- Orange Stinger. Basically, a giant circular swing set. Simple yet fun.
- Mulholland Madness. I apparently don't like roller coasters that don't have banked curves. It just doesn't feel right.
When I returned to the park, it was reserved for employees from my company. I hit the rides I still wanted to try but previously missed. There was no or practically no line on any of them, though sometimes it took five or ten minutes to walk from the entrance through the winding waiting areas to get to the ride itself.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds. A great ride, nicely banked, entirely downhill. It had great nighttime views of Disneyland. I accidentally rode this twice because the people at the front of my cart asked to go around again. As there was no line, the crew indulged the request.
- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. A simple yet satisfying ride of a car that dips and turns sharply, smashing open doors to reveal new scenes. I knew I rode this in Florida as a kid. The memories came flooding back.
- Indiana Jones Adventure. A pretty good ride in a jeep-like vehicle. I especially like how projected light made it look like rats, snakes, and spiders were crawling on the wall. I also thought how the ride made it seem like a boulder was rolling down at us, with us dropping into the floor, was well done and scary.
- Pirates of the Caribbean. A surprisingly sedate cruise on a boat past countless, intricate, elaborate scenes of pirates fighting, a pirate village, a treasure island, etc.
After the rides, I grabbed food. I appreciated the fact that food was free because the company had reserved the park and agreed to subsidize the food. This allowed me to try a lot until I got something that satisfied me. First I tried a bowl of gumbo, which wasn't really a gumbo except for the fact that it was a thick stew with rice and okra. It came with a pretty tasteless dinner roll. I threw most of these away. Then, at a grilled meat joint, I got a chicken skewer, which was served coated in an overly sweet sauce, and a beef skewer, which was too spicy and too tough in texture to eat. These came with a light, toasted bread stick. Though certainly better than the dinner roll, it wasn't particularly good. I ate about half of this meal before giving up. Finally, I chose a pulled pork sandwich, which was satisfying. It came with baked beans and a wedge of pickle.
After dinner, I briefly explored the dance area and party, decided it wasn't my scene, and grabbed a hot chocolate for the bus ride back to my hotel.
The following day was devoted to flying home. The flight attendant who made announcements was a comedian--he told fairly good Google jokes.
Posted by mark at Thursday, February 07, 2008