Just a little disturbing

For the longest time my blog stats indicated that the most popular search term to bring people here was “muslim swimwear.”   Glad to know my thoughts on the matter are so valued. That, however, has now been well surpassed by the number of people coming here based on their search for “tennis porn.”  I must admit to being a little curious as to what exactly people are looking for with that search.

Accounting for taste

Found this article about “accounting for taste” in music, books, film, etc., to be quite interesting.  Some of it makes a lot of sense to me; parts of it less so.  Anyway:

After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that people’s aesthetic tastes can be broken down into five “entertainment-preference dimensions.”

They are: Aesthetic (which includes classical music, art films and poetry), cerebral (current events, documentaries), communal (romantic comedies, pop music, daytime talk shows), dark (heavy metal music, horror movies) and thrilling (action-adventure films, thrillers, science fiction). The first two fall under the general heading of highbrow, while the final three are labeled lowbrow.

“I believe most people stay in the high/lowbrow domains, and then communal,” Rentfrow said in a follow-up interview. He noted that, among study participants, “there was a fair amount of crossover,” usually between two of the highbrow or lowbrow categories. Communal — a category that also includes family films and TV reality shows — was the only one that attracted large numbers of devotees from both sides of the divide.

I’m not going to draw too many conclusions from myself (oh, why not, what’s the point of a blog), but I do have some issues with the basic breakdowns.  Poetry?!  I’m all about the aesthetic, but seriously, who actually reads poetry?  Also, I love science fiction, but not because it’s “thrilling,” but because its cerebral (at least good SF) is and makes you think about the world in new and different ways.  Also, I really like “dark” entertainment, i.e., bad things happen, no happy endings, etc., but have little use for heavy metal or horror movies.

This next bit struck me as somewhat dubious, too:

For instance, “individuals who enjoy the aesthetic entertainment factor, which may be regarded as abstract, dense and demanding, tend to be creative, calm, introspective and in touch with their emotions,” they write. Those who are drawn to dark entertainment genres tended to rate high on intellect and extraversion, but low on conscientiousness and agreeableness; they “may generally see themselves as defiant, reckless and immodest.”

In contrast, “It appears as though the psychological characteristics most central to individuals who prefer the communal entertainment factor are rather similar to the defining characteristics of that factor: pleasant, lighthearted, unadventurous, uncomplicated and relationship-oriented,” the researchers add.

Just how does a person get declared “uncomplicated” anyway?  I also think this study probably underplays the role of peer group influence on these tastes.  If you are a college professor talking about TV, you’ll find most of your friends will want to talk about HBO, AMC dramas, etc.  Other lines of work, are surely much more likely to discuss the CBS Monday night comedy line-up and CSI.  People like to consume the media that their friends consume to make it a more social experience.

Politically correct crime reporting?

I think the term “politically correct” is way over-used.  But, if you are giving the description of a criminal suspect, isn’t the color of their skin relevant?  From an email to the NCSU community today:

All suspects were males and described as being in their early 20’s. One suspect was wearing red shorts. One suspect was 5 foot 10 inches tall weighing approximately 170 pounds wearing dark shorts and a white tank top. A third suspect was described as having short dred locks. No other suspect descriptions were available.

Boehner’s tan

(Via Drum) Apparently Obama is trying to nationalize the election and to scare of voters of having John Boehner as speaker of the house.  Of course, the scariest thing about Boehner is his tan.

Amazing, PPP has actually polled on this (Drum supplies the images from their PDF):

I must say, I do have to wonder about those who thinks he has “the right amount” much less “not enough” tan.  Then again, nearly half the public as an opinion on Boehner’s tan in Q10, yet I bet if you showed the picture, less than 20% of Americans would be able to name him.

Make that Charts of the day

So, as for that last post, I had not taken the time to go through the whole Tim Noah slide show that Ezra Klein had linked to.  It’s amazing.  The story of what’s gone wrong with America’s economy in 10 simply charts.  Please check out the whole thing.  Here’s two favorites that speak for themselves (so long as you can read a chart):


I really don’t see how you can argue that this increasing concentration of wealth at the very, very top is anything but bad for our country.

Chart of the Day

Via Ezra:

This graph, for instance, is the best visualization I’ve seen of Larry Bartels’s striking data showing how different income groups do under Republican and Democratic presidents


Much more here.

Bartels is an absolutely kick-ass political scientist and he as looked at this data over a long time frame.  A couple elections and this could be statistical noise.  This, however, is real.  You would income growth for more than just the wealthiest Americans?  Elect a Democratic president.  I would say the number don’t lie, but sometimes numbers can be used effectively in the hands of liars.  I’ve never seen, however, any decent empirical rebuttal of the fundamental truth told here.  If only more than a few political scientists and smart bloggers appreciated what this chart shows…

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