How my computer crisis was like a predator attack

Having never experienced a true computer emergency, it’s been easy to consider myself immune from them. It’s like how I had never missed a flight until I was almost 30, and thought I had some kind of superpower. But once I did, both miss a flight and have a computer emergency, it was the closest thing I think I’ve ever been to a survival situation. Which isn’t to demean people who face true physical danger in the world, but a statement to how my digital self has become a part of my identity to the point that a threat to my computer is a threat to myself. Earlier in the week, I packed up the corpse of my three-year-old MacBook and took it to the Apple Store in Back Bay around noon. I wrapped my external hard drive, which had everything I have in life, digitally speaking, backed up on it, in an old t-shirt. I entered a three-level store that looks like Spielberg’s Minority Report. All transparent or frosted plastic and glass. Brushed aluminum.

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Where do those songs stuck in your head come from? Everywhere.

Even something as tuneless as reading a psychology research paper can get a song stuck in your head. In my case, it was “Mistaken for Strangers” by The National, which has a quirky drumbeat that is particularly sticky. It’s like, bum BUM bumbum badabum, bum BUM bumbum badabum. And so on, you get the idea.

Ok, this particular paper is about getting songs stuck in your head, so while it may be ironic, it wasn’t completely counterintuitive that it would happen to me while reading it (the song is mentioned in the study).

But the research in question, which sought to classify the circumstances that lodge little tunes in our brains — Involuntary Musical Imagery, INMI, or just “earworms” — found that the set of contributing factors are more varied and complex than you might think. Earworms are ubiquitous, and the circumstances associated with them run the gamut from banal to mathematic to profound.

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Online daters lie on their profiles, but their hearts are in the right place

When singles sit down to create their profiles on or OkCupid, they have but a mouse and keyboard to answer a philosophically weighty question — Who am I? Not only that, but why would someone else love me? They have to capture who they really are in a way that is most attractive, but won't disappoint upon flesh-and-blood scrutiny.

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Wealthy are more likely to cheat, lie, be jerks in traffic

People in Cadillac Escalades are more likely cut off pedestrians. Those with bigger bank accounts will lie to win cash prizes. And bejeweled fingers will steal candy from the mouths of children. Ok, so a slight exaggeration, but members of the upper class are, in fact, more likely to conduct unethical behavior, according to a study by published today. In a series of seven laboratory and real world experiments, wealthy subjects were more likely to break traffic rules, cheat in a game of dice, and yes, take candy intended for children.

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Blogger hacked his brain's perception of time

Matt Danzico has concluded that he lived 14 hours, 43 minutes and 29 seconds more than everyone else in 2011. That's about two-and-a-half minutes of extra perceived life each day. If you buy into the premise of the amateur self-experimentation blog The Time Hack, Matt Danzico intentionally subjected himself to one new experience daily, and to some extent, "hacked" his brain's perception of time. His hypothesis was based on research that suggests new experiences impact how the brain perceives the passage of time, and how well our brain records time's passage.

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You're wrong about your favorite team

Sports fans may owe the referees of the world an apology. In fact, a lot of us may owe a lot of people apologies. A recent study suggests that the outrage behind a “bad call,” and the all-too-common dead certainty that our team outperformed the other, is more than just loyalty. It’s a product of our brains perceiving events incorrectly based on our affiliation with the team.

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Stress can fool our memories, study finds

Originally published in The Arizona Daily Star, 2000 Tate Williams

Stress muddles memories, according to a UA study that raises doubts about eyewitness testimony in criminal cases.

Results of a standard word-memory experiment suggest that stress increases the likelihood that people will remember hearing words they actually did not hear. The participants in the study tended to remember the general themes of the words they had heard but confuse the details.

"Be really careful on not depending on the details," said Lynn Nadel, head of the University of Arizona psychology department and co-author of the study with graduate student Jessica Payne.

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