Monthly Archives: May 2012


“Bumps on the head:

As usual, the cranial exploration students start taunting the phrenologists, and phrenological manipulation hammers are produced. Mayhem breaks out shortly thereafter, and the porters lead a charge of the hired help to break things up. You are in the thick of things, and suddenly you are surrounded by a coterie of second year students armed with cranial implements. You put up a sterling show of arms, but there are too many and you soon find yourself phrenologically manipulated into unconsciousness. You wake the next day, on an examining table. It seems that you have been studied.”

–Storylet result in Fallen London online game.  Web.


“Joss Whedon loves apocalyptic moments, perhaps because it’s an ideal situation in which to let characters out to play–what Buffy decides during different apocalypses displays her development as a superhero, as a woman. But Whedon seems particularly drawn to the quandary that results when just one person can save the world or kill it. He continually places his characters in the apocalyptic moment with the power to save the world, and both of his movies of this spring–The Avengers and The Cabin in the Woods–feature characters who have to make sacrifices to save the world.”

–Lisa Vox. “Joss Whedon and the End of the World.”  Geekstory May 24, 2012.  Web.


“What makes you happy?

That was the question more than 400 UC Berkeley students had to consider before they completed Psychology 162 this spring.

A scene from Bill's Story, the winner of our Human Happiness Student Video Competition.
A scene from Bill’s Story, the winner of our Human Happiness Student Video Competition.


This was no ordinary assignment, and it was no ordinary class. The class, called ‘Human Happiness,’ was taught by Greater Good Science Center Faculty Director Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at Berkeley. Keltner offered his students an interdisciplinary tour of the new science of happiness, covering topics such as gratitude, awe, humor, and compassion.

Toward the end of the semester, Keltner presented his students with an unusual extra credit assignment: Produce a short video illustrating at least one of the key concepts covered in ‘Human Happiness.’ The videos had to be short (1-3 minutes), draw on the material they covered in class, and answer the question, ‘What makes you happy?'”

–“The Results of Our Human Happiness Video Competition.”  The Greater Good.  May 17, 2o12.  Web.


“Members of the Class of 2012,

As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you’re picking up today.

You’re f*cked.

Well, not exactly. But you won’t have it easy.

First, you’re going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. The job market you’re heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of the graduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking.

That’s been the pattern over the last three graduating classes: It’s been taking them more than a year to land the first job. And those who still haven’t found a job will be competing with you, making your job search even harder.

Contrast this with the class of 2008, whose members were lucky enough to get out of here and into the job market before the Great Recession really hit. Almost three-quarters of them found jobs within the year.

You’re still better off than your friends who didn’t graduate. Overall, the unemployment rate among young people (21 to 24 years old) with four-year college degrees is now 6.4 percent. With just a high school degree, the rate is double that.

But even when you get a job, it’s likely to pay peanuts.

Last year’s young college graduates lucky enough to land jobs had an average hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. That’s about $35,000 a year – lower than the yearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the Great Recession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, adjusted for inflation.”

–Robert Reich. “The Commencement Address That Won’t Be Given.”  The Berkeley Blog May 21, 2012. UC Berkeley. Web.


“In the early ’00s, McDonald’s tried to satisfy a craving that most Americans didn’t know they had–and thereby kill as many of those Americans as possible–by introducing the Sausage McGriddle, a simple breakfast sandwich consisting of a greasy, salty sausage patty slapped between two miniature pancakes.”

–Josh Modell, Keith Phipps, Tasha Robinson, and Kyle Ryan, eds.  Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Lists.  New York: Scribner, 2009.  Quote on page 186.


“For the Class of 2016′s last sweet summer before college, UC Berkeley is offering its annual, eclectic list of reading suggestions suitable for inquiring minds — be they at the beach, taking a break from work or hanging around the house waiting to pack for school.

‘Revolutions’ is the theme of this year’s Summer Reading List for Freshmen, a compilation of recommendations from Berkeley faculty and staff.”

–“Revolutionary Reading List Offered for Summer.” UC Berkeley NewsCenter.  May 16, 2012. Web.


“Dragon is a free-flying, reusable spacecraft being developed by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Initiated internally by SpaceX in 2005, the Dragon spacecraft is made up of a pressurized capsule and unpressurized trunk used for Earth to LEO transport of pressurized cargo, unpressurized cargo, and/or crew members.”

–“Dragon Overview.” Space X. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Web.


“The Poet meets a skulking gaggle of suspicious figures. You observe the meeting from the shelter of a rat-ridden rubbish heap. He asks a great many excited questions. What are the latest outrages perpetrated by the Masters of the Bazaar? Are the heights of the Flit still safe from the Constables? What is the next target for the next bombing?

The Poet’s acquaintances are clearly anarchists, but they’re not telling him much. They’re more interested in the package he’s carrying. He hands it over. They open it to check the contents: pies. The Starving Poet has been starving himself to feed anarchists.”

–Storylet in Fallen London online game.  Web.


“So which misfit crew is [Joss] Whedon’s favorite?

‘You know, I love all my raggedy children,’ he said. ‘But if I could be anywhere, I’d be on board Serenity.'”

–Noelene Clark. “‘Avengers’: Joss Whedon Talks Sequel, ‘Buffy’, and ‘X-Men’ Parallels.”  Hero Complex, Los Angeles Times May 15, 2012. Web.


“The popular media have publicized the idea that social networking Web sites (e.g., Facebook) may enrich the interpersonal lives of people who struggle to make social connections. The opportunity that such sites provide for self-disclosure-a necessary component in the development of intimacy–could be especially beneficial for people with low self-esteem, who are normally hesitant to self-disclose and who have difficulty maintaining satisfying relationships. We suspected that posting on Facebook would reduce the perceived riskiness of self-disclosure, thus encouraging people with low self-esteem to express themselves more openly. In three studies, we examined whether such individuals see Facebook as a safe and appealing medium for self-disclosure, and whether their actual Facebook posts enabled them to reap social rewards. We found that although people with low self-esteem considered Facebook an appealing venue for self-disclosure, the low positivity and high negativity of their disclosures elicited undesirable responses from other people. . . .

What, then, should people with low self-esteem do to use social networking more constructively? Discouraging people with low self-esteem from ever expressing negativity on Facebook seems unwise. Their negative Facebook disclosures may provide them with nonsocial benefits (e.g., improved physical and mental health; Pennebaker & Chung, 2007). And we do not advocate being inauthentic. However, given that more positive and less negative updates are better liked by strangers than are less positive, more negative updates (Studies 2 and 3) and that people with low self-esteem receive better responses from Facebook friends for more positive updates than for less positive updates (Study 3), people with low self-esteem might benefit from making more positive and less negative updates. Rather than posting phony positive updates, however, people with low self-esteem might try to share more of the positive things that do happen to them and to be selective about what negative things they post. Perhaps, then, Facebook really could be a tool that not only makes the world “open and connected” (Facebook, 2011a), but also one that helps people with low self-esteem create rewarding social relationships.”

–Amanda L. Forest and Joanne V. Wood. “When Social Networking Is Not Working: Individuals with Low Self-Esteem Recognize But Do Not Reap the Benefits of Self-Disclosure on Facebook.” Psychological Science 23.3 (March 2012):295-302. Sage Journals. Web. Quote from the abstract and the final paragraph.