One of his most publicized research projects was a 2009 study on multitasking. He and his colleagues presumed that people who frequently juggle computer, phone or television screens, or just different applications, would display some special skill at ignoring irrelevant information, or efficiently switching between tasks, or that they would prove to have a particularly orderly memory.
“We all bet high multitaskers were going to be stars at something,” he said in an interview with the PBS program “Frontline” after the paper he and his colleagues wrote, “Cognitive Control in Media Multitaskers,” was published in 2009.
“We were absolutely shocked,” he said. “We all lost our bets. It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another.”
He added, “One would think that if people were bad at multitasking, they would stop. However, when we talk with the multitaskers, they seem to think they’re great at it and seem totally unfazed and totally able to do more and more and more.”
With children doing more multitasking and people asked to do more of it at work, he said, “We worry that it may be creating people who are unable to think well and clearly.”
Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Death
Smoking is bad for your health.
Should I ever happen to kill myself while trying to perform a simple task — I’m trying not to, but if it does happen — please don’t publish a photo of me in a college hoodie.
Au revoir, professor!
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking kills about 1 in 5 people in the United States.
Is that bad? If so, why? You’ve got to die somehow. Would it be better if those people died from some other cause? How would you prefer to see them die?
Also: Some percentage of Americans would rather be dead than alive anyway. I don’t know what that number is, but I’d bet it’s higher than 1 in 5.
(If you Google “percentage of people who would rather be dead,” the top results all point to a 2008 survey in which 52 percent of respondents said they would rather be dead than disabled.
If you change the search to “percentage of people who would rather be dead than alive,” you get a mishmash of links, including a few more links to the “dead vs. disabled” survey, but you still don’t get the number you’re looking for. Phoning up random Americans and asking if they’d rather be dead is evidently not considered an appropriate thing to do, although it seems like a highly relevant question to me.
Slight digression: I also found a survey in which people were given the option of saving either their pet dog or a foreign tourist from in front of an onrushing bus. Forty percent chose the dog, which seems low to me.)
Anyway, the American Cancer Society goes on to say:
About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year about 443,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.
Where does that number — 443,000 — come from? The problem with throwing out numbers on smoking deaths is that there’s no way to know that any given smoker died because of smoking.
If a smoker dies from lung cancer, is that automatically counted as a smoking-related death? There’s no way you can know that. Because non-smokers get lung cancer too. Not as often as smokers, but they get it.
You can look at a lot of cases collectively and say that smoking is associated with a higher risk of lung cancer. You could even say that smoking causes lung cancer. But for any given person, you can’t say that this person’s lung cancer was caused by smoking and if he didn’t smoke, he would not have died of lung cancer.
Same thing with other diseases — if a smoker dies of heart disease or a stroke, is that because of smoking? There’s no way you can know that.
The second problem with the numbers is that if smoking kills 1 person in 5 (20 percent), and half of all smokers die because of smoking, then you’d have about 40 percent of Americans as smokers. That’s too high. According to the CDC, 19 percent of U.S. adults are smokers (as of 2011).
Why not keep it real, skip the bogus numbers and say, “Smoking helps some people get through the day. It revs them up or it calms them down or I don’t know what it does, but it helps them get through the day. That being said, there are other ways to get through the day, and setting a vegetable product on fire and inhaling the smoke into your lungs is clearly not the most healthful thing you can do.”
Joe Bell, 48, was walking cross-country from Oregon to New York to memorialize his gay son, who killed himself after being bullied.
Bell’s journey began April 20 and ended this week on a two-lane road in eastern Colorado, where he was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer whose driver had apparently fallen asleep.
A Montana woman was charged on Monday with killing her husband of eight days by pushing him off a cliff at Glacier National Park during an argument and after expressing doubts about the marriage, court records show.
Jordan Graham, 22, was charged with second-degree murder in U.S. District Court in Missoula stemming from the July 7 death of her husband, Cody Johnson, 25, of Kalispell. . . .
Graham on July 11 reported to emergency dispatchers at Glacier National Park that she had found her husband’s body below a steep hiking path. It was not immediately clear how far he had fallen.
Graham later admitted to authorities that she had lied about Johnson’s death and that she had shoved him off a cliff during an argument while hiking.
Jordan Graham taking a page from my playbook, in which I postulated years ago that the best way to murder someone and get away with it would be to push them off a cliff, because it would be very hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the fall wasn’t accidental.
Maybe I should have added, although it seems obvious, “unless you confess to the crime.”
On the flip side: Don’t get into an argument with your spouse when you’re standing at the edge of a cliff.
If you know me, and you outlive me, and you want to say something on the occasion of my demise, please do not quote a snippet of poetry or other literary material, e.g., “He did not go gently into that good night.” Or: “I think Wordsworth said it best . . .”
Bullshit . . . Wordsworth did not say it best. Wordsworth didn’t know me. You knew me. Go ahead and say something from the heart if you have something. Keep it real.
He was not a good person.
He had the most appalling social skills, which is why he had no close friends.
After his son moved out, he just unraveled like an old sock.
I remember at Jackie O’s funeral, her kids — was it just one kid, or both? I think both — read a poem. A poem! That’s when you really know that your life was not well-lived, when your own children have nothing to say about you.
Don’t you hope to god that your children at least will have some personal remembrance to share after you’re gone?
I remember when we used to go to the park and he pitched baseballs to me.
He spent a year of his life helping me with algebra homework.
He always believed in me.
To anyone tempted to eulogize me with a literary reference, I swear I will rise from the grave — in spirit if not in body, although body will be my preference — and cast a shadow upon your soul.
Hi everybody! it’s me, Lightning!
I knew I should have killed those two guys under the truck so there wouldn’t be any witnesses.
HA HA! Kidding! I wasn’t even in Florida!
[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan -- PE]
A 1-year-old girl was shot dead in her babysitter’s arms in New Orleans, prompting the city’s mayor to declare “enough is enough” as police hunted for two suspects with little help from witnesses.
Londyn Samuels, who was just learning to walk, was struck by a bullet fired into her 18-year-old nanny’s back as she carried the toddler home from the park.
There’s a train they call the City of New Orleans, and it is on a fast track to Hell.
First of all, let me say for the record that everyone is equal in Hell — regardless of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, blah blah blah, or any other legally protected status.
That said, when I see a headline like 1-year-old shot to death on New Orleans street, I know when I click through, I’m going to see a black face on the other side.
White people have their own peccadilloes, but they don’t shoot babies in the street.
As for the second part of the headline — “Enough is enough” — an 11-year-old New Orleans girl rocking her baby cousin to sleep was killed a few days later when gunmen started shooting into her house.
It’s getting to where I myself am afraid to go to New Orleans. Ha ha, no I’m not, but you see what I mean.
Anyway, here’s some advice from a guy who’s been around: If you’re black, and you want to be remembered fondly, or remembered at all, make sure you get shot by someone who’s not black.
For example: a kid in Florida named Trayvon Martin was shot by a Hispanic man with a white name: George Zimmerman. Everyone remembers Trayvon Martin. Even the president talks about him. Black “leaders” shuffle his parents in front of various assemblages demanding Justice for Trayvon.
He’s remembered lovingly by people willing to overlook the fact that he was trying to beat George Zimmerman to death when, unfortunately for him, Zimmerman pulled a gun and shot him.
Trayvon Martin is . . . well, let’s just say that God doesn’t like violent troublemakers, despite being a violent troublemaker himself. What a phony.
Londyn Samuels is in heaven, of course. She led a short, blameless life.
But because the man who shot her was black, not only is no one demanding Justice for Londyn, witnesses won’t come forward to ID the shooter, and no black “leader” has directed so much as a “shame on you” toward anyone involved.
See you in Hell!
The way we are living,
timorous or bold,
will have been our life.
- In Memoriam Seamus Heaney (text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com)
I know Leonard wrote at least one good book though and that book is Get Shorty. It’s not Proust but it’s a good novel, not just good as genre fiction. I really enjoyed it.
In fact, my enjoyment was such that I bought another Leonard book, Maximum Bob. If I’d read Maximum Bob first, I would have stopped right there with the Leonard canon. Maximum Bob is so bad, it’s hard to believe these two books were written by the same person.
I read Gold Coast as a tiebreaker. Gold Coast is better than Maximum Bob, no question about it, but not nearly as good as Get Shorty. So I stopped reading Elmore Leonard books, but I highly recommend Get Shorty.
R.I.P. Elmore Leonard
Gov’t delays requiring rearview cameras in cars — Associated Press
Rearview cameras in cars seem like a good idea. Who wants to accidentally back over a child or a pet, right? It’s upsetting, not to mention whoever the child or pet belonged to is probably going to hold it against you forever.
Let’s make rearview cameras required by law.
In fact, let’s make rearview and frontview cameras required, because kids and pets can get under the front of your car too, and running over them is bad, no matter what direction you’re going.
I’ve seen TV commercials where cars can detect obstacles in their path and stop automatically to avoid a collision. That’s great. Let’s make that required too.
In fact, let’s make so many features required by law that you can’t even buy a car anymore for less than $50,000.
You know what else is a good idea? Freedom, which is the reason we started up this country in the first place. Let people buy and sell whatever they want.
Witnesses told police no one was standing near a Rockdale County man when he fell 85 feet to his death at Turner Field, investigators said Tuesday.
Ronald Lee Homer, 30, of Conyers, landed in the players’ parking lot outside of the stadium when he fell from the fourth level around 8:30 Monday night, Atlanta police said.
He died doing what he loved — watching a Braves game. Well, technically he wasn’t watching the game, he was falling off the stadium, but we’ve got to make the “doing what he loved” bromide work.
And please, no jokes about Homer’s (85-foot) odyssey, you sick bastards.
From a corporate alumni group on Facebook:
We lost another good guy last night. [Name redacted] fell off his boat crabbing in the Chesapeake. He died doing what he loved.
He loved falling off boats? That’s unusual. It’s too bad he didn’t love swimming. Or wearing life vests.
African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans.
Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.
[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan -- PE]
I’ve been at this gig a long time now but it still amazes me the hyperbole that surrounds the death of actors. Every one of them who dies is one of the great thespians of all time, if you buy into the post-mortem hype.
Most lines of work have objective standards. When Joe Shlabotnik bites the dust, you can’t eulogize him as one of the great ballplayers of all time. But acting is something anyone can do well. You learn the script, say your lines and pick up your check.
“He died too soon,” people say. When was he supposed to die? Like we can’t find another fat Italian guy to learn a script, say his lines and pick up his check?
As George Burns used to say, “Good acting is when Walter Matthau says to me, ‘How are you?’ and I answer, ‘Fine.’ That’s good acting. If Walter Matthau asks me, ‘How are you?’ and I answer, ‘I think it fell on the floor,’ then that’s bad acting.”
George is in heaven now.
Gandolfini’s in Hell for a couple of reasons. He was married — not when he died, but a long time ago — to a woman named Marcy Wudarski. He divorced her in December 2002, after he got famous from being on the television. They had a young son together.
Listen up, big shots. And this goes for the ladies too. You wake up one day and realize that you’re famous and you’re married to a Polack from New Jersey. You took what you could get at the time but you could do a lot better now. (Gandolfini’s widow is an Asian ex-model.) Do you have kids? No? Fine! Do whatever you want!
But God likes for married couples with kids to stick together. He says that all the evidence points to kids with intact families doing a lot better in life. Yeah, I know you’re bored with your relationship but your kids aren’t bored with it so quit being selfish.
Reason number two: God gets angry when people pretend to kill and be killed for entertainment purposes. Heads up: A lot of folks are going to Hell over this one. Death is the main source of entertainment in the U.S. at this time. Death and karaoke shows. And God doesn’t like karaoke shows either.
Gandolfini is famous for being on a TV show that entertained people with violence and death. Who’s laughing now, fat boy?
See you in Hell . . .
Frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is. They have descended from the realm of reasonableness that was the mark of conservatism. They dream of anarchy, of ending government.
My fellow Americans –
I’ll tell you who’s insane: anyone who’s not dreaming of anarchy at this moment in history is insane. People forget that this great nation was founded by anarchists, born out of an armed revolution against a corrupt government.
As I said at the time, “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
I assure you, though, that regrettably neither current political party dreams of anarchy. They both dream of exactly the same things: self-aggrandizement and rewarding their most powerful supporters with political spoils.
The well-known liberal cartoonist Ted Rall wrote a book a couple of years ago advocating a new American revolution. Unfortunately, while popular uprisings do continue to occur around the world, I am not optimistic that it will ever happen again in America.
The great majority of our citizens now are far more informed about fantasy football and reality TV than they are about current events. They understand politics at only the most simple-minded level: Team Red vs. Team Blue.
I’m Team Blue! Let’s go, Blue! BOOOOO, Team Red! Or vice versa.
Notice, for example, that all of the things that Team Blue hated so much about the George W. Bush administration are okay now that they’re being carried out by President Obama.
Obama didn’t stop the wars or the torture or the spying. He’s just as cozy with Wall Street. Gitmo is still open for “prolonged detention.” Moreover, he’s killing foreign civilians, and sometimes American citizens, with drone strikes, and he’s eliminating whatever civil liberties you think you have left.
Torture and war and economic collapse don’t matter as long as they’re being supervised by my team! Go Blue! We’ll all be in a gulag in 10 years. Go Blue!
Some despotic regimes around the world rely on starvation and threats of violence to keep the people in a state of submissive compliance. Here in America, the same collective stupor is effected via mindless entertainments and gadgetry.
I should raise myself out of depression, paralysis and failure and resist this massive government/corporate dystopia — but I might miss my TV programs.
In 1776, we decided that being Americans meant being free men and women, not serfs and lackeys. We mutually pledged to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor to throw off the abuses and usurpations of the Government, and to secure the blessings of Liberty.
How soon they forget.
I bid you God speed,
Thomas Jefferson, anarchist
Take that, liberal heathen! She’s not “supposed” to pray in a school but she did it anyway! And that’s why she’s alive today!
It would be useful to know for the purpose of assessing the value of prayer as a tornado survival tactic, how many of the 24 people who didn’t survive the Oklahoma tornado were praying at the moment of their death.
Of the 10 children who were killed, were any of them praying? Maybe God said to himself, “Okay, change of plans. I was going to hit Rhonda Crosswhite with this tornado, but since she’s praying out loud in a school, I’ll redirect it into those 10 kids.”
Country music legend George Jones dies at 81