Archive for May 23rd, 2007

Reading along in Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert‘s great popular book on the psychology of perception and its consequences, when I hit the “Hound of Silence” chapter. This one is about how difficult it is to notice what isn’t there, the absence rather then the presence of something. The chapter begins with a famous selection from Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of Silver Blaze” in which Sherlock Holmes notices “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” What was curious? The dog didn’t bark when he probably should have. By noticing what wasn’t there, Holmes cracked the case.

The section after the intro is titled “The Sailors Not.” There are no sailors mentioned in the section. What is mentioned is an experiment on how absence works against perception as it did on all the subjects in the experiment. No Holmes among them.

Okay I said, “No sailors” and read on to the next section “Absence in the Present.” Wait! This is all about sailors! And about sailors who were absent in a story that Sir Francis Bacon borrowed from Cicero.

Now, am I a nit-picker who noticed that the copyeditor fell down on the job and let pass that the two section heads had been switched?

Or am I a wit who picked up and some sly psychological tricks being played by Gilbert on less wily readers?

Or am I a twit who spends far too much time trying to tease something significant out of a simple printing and layout error?

Am I more of a twit to say that telling you this makes me happy. Almost as happy as when I solve a Friday New York Times Crossword?

Whilst still in my twit mode, let me note that I am reading the 2006 first edition Knopf hardback.

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The OM Opening Ceremony has been said to be modeled on the Olympics, but there are only a few similarities. The States and Countries in do send representatives to march into the stadium. Brief bits of the national anthems are played. The ceremony ends with a shout in unison of “Let the Games Begin.” Really the Opening ceremony is more like a stadium concert with laser lights and smoke machines and loud music. Well, maybe a bit of both.

This year’s opening ceremony filled MSU’s Breslin Arena. Over 800 teams are here to compete. Among the countries represented are Germany, China, Kazakhstan, and Mexico.

Hats are a big deal at OM gatherings as are pins which can represent a state, a country, a team, or even a long term problem being worked on. Pins are traded all over sometimes giving the appearance of a large meet up with budding sidewalk “Rollex” salesmen.

When we left our team, they were looking for their international buddies, the team from Fushan Jiujiang Town Middle School in Guangdong, China.

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Arrived in da Mota City and hied directly to Okemos which touches East Lansing which touches Lansing. Then off to check out the venues. Outside of the temple to Basketball is a life-sized statue (?) of Magic Johnson (okay maybe heroic scale at 12 feet tall). Inside the arena is being set up for a faux stadium concert cum opening ceremony for tonight.

We also stopped to check out the venue for the team’s long term “Big and Small of It” skit/presentation. A great old theatre, the Fairchild, with a lot of wood. The backstage setup is a bit tight. One team was in the hall inspecting their set. True to OM, the coaches were a distance away talking among themselves and the kids were worrying over the travel-produced scrapes and bruises that their props and inventions had taken on. One boy looked back to the coaches and his fellow team members; he had found a big crack. What to do? The coaches didn’t say anything. But one of his team members ran over to a powerplug and jacked in her solution. “Clear out! Danger! Red head with a glue gun!” she shouted.

Things were under a kind of control.

In other news, our team has been assigned an international buddy team — the Chinese who won in our division last year.

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