Wednesday, October 31

Spinning dancer

The Right Brain vs. Left Brain Test (PerthNow)

This is one of the coolest optical illusions I have seen in a while. I challenge you to find ways to trick your brain into seeing her spin in the opposite direction. I've had the most success at this by scrolling down in my web browser so that I only see her foot, convincing myself that her foot is spinning in the opposite direction from what I naturally see, and then scrolling back up.

Yale neurologist Steven Novella has a good explanation for how this illusion works. He also completely debunks the claim that this is a "right brain vs. left brain" test (which sounded pretty silly to me from the get-go).

If you're still having trouble seeing her spin in both directions, check out these images.

Monday, October 29

Suicide hotlines

Wrong Answer (Boston Globe)

Summarizes some of the recent research on the effectiveness suicide hotlines. CrisisLink (where I volunteer) is one of the crisis centers affiliated with 1-800-SUICIDE, and was actually part of the Mishara study that is referenced in the article. Based on my experience this year, I have confidence that we are one of the "good centers" he mentions.

WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

WISQARS is a database of injury-related data published by the CDC. It's shocking to see that suicide is the second or third leading cause of death for Americans aged 10-34.

Just click "Submit Request" to see the basic data, though you can customize the report based on race, sex, etc. using the dropdown boxes.

Illegal immigration

What Part of 'Illegal' Don't You Understand? (New York Times)

A smart, incisive editorial about everyone's favorite topic.

The Case for Open Immigration (Freakonomics Blog)

British economist Philippe Legrain argues passionately for open immigration in this long, Q&A-style article. I have no doubt that many of his points are debatable, but I think he makes a lot of sense.


I love to gather and share information. I'd like to think of myself as a bit of a maven -- digging through endless amounts of information, and picking out the most interesting tidbits to pass along to others.

Back in the day, when I used to read Harper's Magazine, I would tear out interesting articles and mail them to friends or family. These days, I find myself emailing a lot of articles to those same folks. My goals remain the same: To share the enjoyment of learning about a fascinating topic with others, and to spark debate in order to enhance my own understanding.

You'd think it wouldn't have taken a computer engineer like me so long to realize that a blog is the perfect forum for such a discussion. Well... better late than never.

Anyway... welcome! I look forward to your opinions, corrections, speculation, meditations, notions, perceptions and the like.