Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jonathan Miller sheds light on why we exaggerate

"The Body in Question" is a classic TV program by "that British man for all seasons", Sir Dr. Jonathan Miller. I found episode 3 (titled "How do you feel") particularly interesting.
Miller explains a series of experiments which established a map of how the brain sees the body, it looks like a cartoon character.

note: first 48 seconds show footage of surgery

John Kricfalusi often uses the term "emotional weight", and I am very pleased to see this term has scientific credibility. the parts we tend to exaggerate indeed have more "sensitivity points" as mapped by the brain. it makes perfect sense for why it is natural for cartoonists to exaggerate.

IMO Jonathan Miller is one of the most fascinating and admirable people alive, listening to him is always pleasurable and educational.
Sir Dr. is a real Renaissance man, gifted and skilled at so many different areas, to which he always puts his inimitable personal stamp. It is not by coincidence that he has the most important skill of all-- the ability to see to the core.
His superb analytical skills and critical thinking enables him to apply his varied skill and talent to any topic.

Some of my personal favorite Miller discussions:

Humor/Why we laugh:

Stammering (at 7:17)

"Major" film producers (at 6:00) :

On the fallacy of post-sixties education systems- "everyone being equal is an emphasis on equal talent" ( at 1:25) (This can also be explained in Steven Pinker's book "The Blank Slate- A modern denial of human nature")

On science as a candle in the dark: how medicine removed his fear of death:

Link to the complete series of chats with Dick Cavett

And an interview by Kristy Wark

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"The Barley Way" Pitch

Yehezkel, The teen Science genius Discovers an earth-like planet with his home made super telescope.

He rushes outside to tell his father and brother, who are pre-occupied playing soccer with their heads.

They pause to look at him "Are there girls on it?" asks Joseffat "Or Beer?" asks dad.
"I could only find vegetation and liquid water" replies Yehezkel
The attention is yet again stolen by Jossefat "Hey dad look at me! Forget about that science stuff, check out my soccer ball!"
Dad is captured "That's nice about your lil' planet, son... But I can't pass on a good soccer game!"
Discouraged, Yehezkel walks off... and Jossefat adds insult to injury by saying "You find something worthwhile, and MAYBE we'll listen!"
"Oh you'll see!" retaliates Yehezkel "I'll beat you at your own game!"


Players assemble in a junior high soccer arena, preparing for a big match, Yehezkel at the goal.
In the audience, Dad is rather anxious, he turns to his smug looking boy asking "Jossefat, you think your brother is ready to be a goalie?"
-"HAHA...Probably not!"

The game begins with a super strong kick from the other team, Yehezkel's players run away in fear of this, but he stays determined to protect the goal...but the ball then causes his beheading and hospitalization.


"WHY did you do it SON?"

"Well, *sniff* I just wanted you to be proud of me..."

"But don't you see, I already am proud of you!"

Yehezkel is lead to believe he's had dad's appreciation all along....but wait!

"NASA found proof of life on your planet!"


*to the sound of a referee's whistle, the alien girl anticipates, and uses her head to successfully nudge a football coming from off-screen"

"That's a good one, eh son? Haww Haww!"

We truck out of the hospital as rocketships leave the earth by the dozens.


Copyright © Amir Avni 2009
Background for panel 8 taken from Astronomy Picture of The Day