Wii Sports

“What strikes you immediately playing Wii Sports — and particularly Tennis — is this feeling of fluidity, the feeling that subtle, organic shifts in your body’s motion will lead to different results onscreen. My wife has a crosscourt slam she hits at the net that for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out; I have a topspin return of soft serves that I’ve half-perfected that’s unhittable. We both got to those techniques through our own athletic experimentation with various gestures, and I’m not sure I could even fully explain what I’m doing with my killer topspin shot. In a traditional game, I’d know exactly what I was doing: hitting the B button, say, while holding down the right trigger. Instead, my expertise with the shot has evolved through the physical trial-and-error of swinging the controller, experimenting with different gestures and timings. And that’s ultimately what’s so amazing about the device.” Steven Johnson

In my language

“Someone mentioned being dropped in the woods alone. That’s an interesting example… There are many other stories of autistic children — some thought to not understand a whole lot — who suddenly perform very well in survival situations. I have said before that I would probably perform better in a survival situation than in an apartment. In an apartment, the steps required to get things like sustenance are pretty divorced from what the things around you tell you. There’s nothing about refrigerators or stoves that tells me how to get food from them, and that’s something I in fact have a good deal of trouble with. In a survival situation, obtaining food becomes a much more physical and practical problem, something that I could probably handle better. It’s been shown that if you put me alone in an apartment for awhile, I can’t pick up any environmental cues for how to do things, so I don’t do a lot (I am not as good at most purely internally-directed physical actions). In a survival situation there are a wide variety of environmental cues that would prompt me into more action more readily. (Even living on the streets, which I only did for a few days during a housing problem, makes what needs to be done more apparent than living in an apartment.) This is of course not true for all of us, but I don’t doubt that it would be true for a substantial minority, and stories seem to bear that out.” Silent Miaow, an autistic woman who comments on her YouTube video, In My Own Language

Fake smiles

“Although fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles, they are actually slightly different, because they are brought about by different muscles, which are controlled by different parts of the brain. Fake smiles can be performed at will, because the brain signals that create them come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract… Genuine smiles, on the other hand, are generated by the unconscious brain, so are automatic. When people feel pleasure, signals pass through the part of the brain that processes emotion. As well as making the mouth muscles move, the muscles that raise the cheeks – the orbicularis oculi and the pars orbitalis – also contract, making the eyes crease up, and the eyebrows dip slightly. Lines around the eyes do sometimes appear in intense fake smiles, and the cheeks may bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting and the smile is genuine. But there are a few key signs that distinguish these smiles from real ones. For example, when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold - the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid - moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.” BBC, Spot The Fake Smile

Center of the Universe

“Teenagers have become so much the focus of everybody else. In a certain sense - at least as far as marketers and parents and maybe law enforcement are concerned - teenagers are the centre of the universe. But it’s not the kind of attention any human being needs. It’s attention trained on how to market to them, predict their behaviour, and, at worst, turn them into compliant mindless consumers. The strange part is that all this marketing seems to work better on the adults than the kids.” Douglas Rushkoff, producer for the award-wining Frontline documentary, The Merchants Of Cool

Magical

“There are many different modes of creating wonder—psychology, misdirection, suggestion. A magician must find out what people are drawn to—what colors, what numbers, what shapes—so that you can kind of get a general idea of what people want to see. We’re kind of in the same business as advertisers, because we give people what they want to see, but on our terms. It’s hard to give an example without revealing secrets.” David Copperfield

Black and white

“Every writer wants to be liked… I feel like we honestly just start trying to please, and then the writing isn’t pure and it’s not real, and it comes from nowhere except an ability to say, ‘I want to be liked.’ Comic books are a medium that cater to people, myself included, with self-esteem problems and issues of good vs. bad. And that’s why we love the black and white. That’s why we love the punch and the pow. That’s why we love being loved. We all have that issue–and maybe it’s because we came from our lonely places, or our dark places. So the idea that a writer is going to be completely unaffected when someone goes on a message board and says, ‘You’re being too harsh with my character, stop killing my darlings.’ You’re going to eventually want to be liked and read–and it’s going to affect you.” Brad Meltzer, New York Times best-selling author and writer of DC Comic’s Identity Crisis miniseries

Information junkies

“Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix. The ‘click’ of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances… The brain’s craving for a fix motivates humans to maximize the rate at which they absorb knowledge.” Edward Vessel, on a recent study by the University of Southern California

Shiny

“Sometimes, when passing a shiny window, I make like I’m looking through to the other side, but I’m really just checking myself out.” Rachel

What I really really want

“Why does one grab your attention, make you snap your head up, and why is the one that’s pure sweet, and imitating a fragrance that’s one of nature’s most beautiful, almost unbearable? Here’s why. Because, at the center of the expensive perfume, underneath the ‘good’ scents, there’s a bad scent, intentionally placed. A smell that if that was all you got in the bottle, would likely make you throw up. There’s a deliberate element in there designed to slap you right across the goddamn chops, and before you can be appalled, the ‘good’ mix of scents takes root. On the other hand, all Wal-Mart thinks you want in your bath ball is an overpowering floral smell. And it turns out, we don’t really want that.” Gail Simone

5-Second Rule

“Researchers at the University of Illinois say the so-called ‘5-Second Rule’ isn’t a myth. They say when you drop food on the floor, it’s still safe to eat if you pick it up within five seconds… By the way, if you try getting rid of germs on your food by blowing on it or dusting it off, you’re wasting your time. It doesn’t work.” WAFF 48 News