Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Jan Hoffman in The New York Times:
A common impairment with lifelong consequences turns out to be highly contagious between parent and child, a new study shows. The impairment? Math anxiety. Means of transmission? Homework help. Children of highly math-anxious parents learned less math and were more likely to develop math anxiety themselves, but only when their parents provided frequent help on math homework, according to a study of first- and second-graders, published in Psychological Science. Researchers tested 438 children from 29 public and private schools in three Midwestern states for math ability as well as math anxiety, at the beginning and end of the school year. Their parents completed questionnaires about math anxiety, and about how often they helped their children with homework.
So much for good intentions. The more the math-anxious parents tried to work with their children, the worse their children did in math, slipping more than a third of a grade level behind their peers. And the children’s weaker math achievements increased their nascent math anxiety. “The parents are not out to sabotage their kids,” said Sian L. Beilock, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Chicago and the author of “Choke,” about anxiety and performance. “But we have to ensure their input is productive. They need to have an awareness of their own math anxiety and that what you say is important.” For example, she said, comforting a homework-distressed child, by saying, “ ‘I’m not a math person either, and that’s O.K.,’ is not a good message to convey.”
From a Balcony
The sun is an orange from the Peloponnese
staining clouds and stuccoed walls,
sailboats tacking out to sea.
Damson shapes chase light from under vines;
shadows grope their way,
thick arabesques of lace furrowed at the frame.
Hills are a smoke-stained fresco flaking,
rooftops shrill as pomegranate seeds.
Poplars are the spears of long-dead warriors
sprouted from a rill of dragon’s teeth.
Rising from that faded terracotta dome
come the curling throaty notes
of evening mass below, swelling in
and out of polyphony like a weaver’s skilful woof
their path the disappearing smoke
dragged from a censer’s golden arc.
Far across this dim intaglio
a white cat pads along a cooling lintel stone.
Only the distant thrum of a scooter
navigating narrow roads.
by Sarah Howe
from A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia
Tall-lighthouse, Luton, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2015
by Leanne Ogasawara
Friends have been talking about Michael J. Lewis' recent article, How Art Became Irrelevant. An art historian at Williams College, Lewis is basically stating what we all have come to suspect: that museums have become the bread and circuses of our day.
Arguing that that there has been a collective disengagement with the fine arts in our society, he says that young people no longer care or have an emotional response to the art works themselves. And that is a worry.
Like many people, I have wondered about the pretty significant changes seen in art museums over the past twenty years. I'm pretty sure that no one passing the mob in the room where the Mona Lisa is hanging in the Louvre could fail to wonder if the picture itself is in any real way relevant to the experience of "seeing the Mona Lisa." Especially fresh in my mind was something that recently happened to me at the Uffizi. Standing in front of Botticelli's Venus on a very crowded summer weekend, an American family of five stepped up right in front of the painting and posed while someone else took multiple versions of their picture. It was a rather long process involving corralling the kids and then the posed shots. It was bizarre.
In LA, it is said that people go to the Getty but they don't look at the art. The Getty is putting on more photography exhibitions and flashy blockbuster shows now, maybe to address the financial implications of this (though you would think of all museums the Getty with its massive budget could do its own thing as directed by its own particular history and the endowment).It's actually not at all clear whether it is the commodification and privatization of museums (museums' disturbing transformation) that has affected these changes in museum-goers that Lewis describes or whether their lack of care is what is driving the transformation of museums into entertainment hubs. I have no idea.
Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Rogue Nation and the Perpetual Intensity of Elections
by Matt McKenna
There’s a scene in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in which CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) describes to a Senate oversight committee just how insane the IMF’s counter-terrorism practices are why the department should be shut down immediately. To provide context for readers unfamiliar with the Mission Impossible show or series, the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) is the franchise's super-secret government agency that tracks down bad guys--specifically those with violent, existential issues--and eradicates them. As you can imagine, over the course of each of their missions, the IMF explodes a goodly number of cars, helicopters, buildings, etc. Anyway, Hunley lands some great points about how the IMF is more of a liability than an asset because it has no accountability for the mayhem it causes. To drive home his claim about the recklessness of the IMF, Hunley shows footage from the previous Mission Impossible film in which, as a result of the IMF’s attempts to stop some such bad guy, a nuclear warhead grazes the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco and falls into the Bay, narrowly avoiding detonation. If the best the IMF can do is just barely avoid world-ending calamities via last-second heroics that nonetheless cause millions/billions/trillions in damage, Hunley suggests, perhaps it’s time to put our faith in a different form of international relations.
The first time I heard the phrase – “white black man” – Zola Kobas was talking about me. He paid me that compliment after hearing me play the trumpet at a July 4th party hosted by a mutual friend, Ade Knowles. When, three-quarters of a life ago, I had originally become interested in jazz, I was simply pursuing music which moved me. That Zola, a political fugitive from South African apartheid, should see me as a white black man affirmed the African spirit, the joy, the freedom and dignity, I cultivated in the heart of jazz.
When I was a young boy learning to play the trumpet I looked for musical heroes. Rafael Mendez, a Mexican-American who made his living playing in Hollywood studios, was my first. I admired his virtuosity and expressiveness. I was particularly attracted by the Hispanic part of his repertoire, with its tone colors and rhythms which sounded so exotic, and sensual. Then I discovered jazz.
By William Gottlieb, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY, April 1947.
My first jazz record was A Rare Batch of Satch, which I had urged my parents to get through their record club. I had heard that this Louis Armstrong was an important trumpet player and thought I should check him out. At first I didn't quite understand why this man was so important. For one thing, this was an old recording and the sound quality was thin. I had to hear through that. For another, I’d never heard anything quite like it.
But I listened and listened and, gradually, I learned to hear Armstong’s music. There was his tone – by turns jubilant, plaintive, tightly-coiled, tender – his ability to bend notes, to worry them. And his rhythm, his amazing ability to stretch or compress time, to float phrases over the beat. This rhythmic freedom was quite unlike anything I knew in the military band music which was the staple of my instructional and playing experience, the latter mostly in middle school and high school marching and concert bands. It was exciting.
David Noonan. White Rabbit, 2013.
Silk screen on linen collage.
by Akim Reinhardt
I've lost track already. During the past month, too many people to keep count of, each with a look of bemused panic in their eye, has asked me if I think Donald Trump has a chance. Knocked back on their heels by the frenzy surrounding Trump's recent surge, they implore me to tell them what I think.
Is it possible that this crude, bombastic display of runaway hair known as The Donald will actually succeed Barack Obama in the White House?
Alas, it's hard to blame these worry warts. Of late, the press marvels at Trump's soaring poll numbers, and ruminates endlessly on his success in spite of his obvious shortcomings and endless string of outrages, and what it says about American society and its broken political system.
From NPR to Ezra Klein, there's no shortage of media mavens trumpeting Trump and theorizing what his success means. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Or if they don't, they're desperate to find one. Confused by it all, The Atlantic went so far as to simply ask people why, oh why, do you support this man? Then, sans analysis, the magazine simply threw up its hands and published the responses.
Why, oh why indeed. Why is this barbarian at the gate? Why is this roaring, fatuous pig of a man on the verge of undressing our republic and claiming its highest office?
In looking for an answer, I believe we should not dig too deep. After all, Donald Trump doesn't seem to over think much, so we probably shouldn't over think him.
by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
When a political party can get hijacked by an outsider billionaire vulgarian like Donald Trump, it is palpable evidence that this party is on its last legs. Listen up, rich guys, you don't have to buy a politician to take over these days: why not skip all that and run for office yourself?
And the rudderless Republican Party is ripe for such predation. After all, now that the cultural wars have been won by the liberal left — witness gay marriage — what does the Republican Party have left to run on?
Cutting taxes? Look at the mess Kansas is in. Shrinking big government? That only happens under democratic presidents like Clinton and Obama anyway (and burgeons under the likes of Reagan and Bush). Less regulations? Deregulating the banks gave us the Great Recession.
The fact is that the Republican Party is down to its core racist agenda, which is nothing more than the following: lookie here, you Republicans — our enduring base of older white men — if you vote for us, you can be sure that we will NOT give your hard-earned taxes to the undeserving blacks and poors whom the Democrats expect you whities to carry on your backs.
Not a recipe for a lasting party (whose base of old white guys may be dead in another twenty years). Not a recipe for actual life if the racist, sexist GOP core keeps hating on women, blacks and Mexican immigrants, when young women, blacks and Latinos are where the votes of the future lie, as America becomes less white and more multicultural and gender-fluid.
And into this void that is the dying Republican Party, has stepped one Donald Trump.
by Brooks Riley
by Sarah Firisen
Big news: millions of married people, mainly men, are using the Internet to try to cheat on their spouses. The Ashley Madison hack scandal, the data dump of records of 32 million would-be adulterers, is apparently a surprise to some people. Not to me. Ever since I started online dating after my divorce, I’ve been blown away by the realization of just how many people, not all men, but probably primarily men, are in some way or another looking to cheat on a spouse. Based on the interactions I had over a few years, I’d break down these men (and I was only interacting with men) into a few categories:
- Saying they’re in open marriages – maybe they are, maybe they’re not.
- Feeling out the waters, maybe indulging in some online flirtation for titillation but probably wouldn’t go through with anything in person – probably
- Making their status as married men looking for an affair very clear upfront – not many of these
- Pretending to be single and actively cheating on spouses
I was a big Googler of men I was considering dating. Call me paranoid, suspicious, closed minded, whatever you want. The fact is, what I used to find by pretty simple Google searches of these men was pretty horrifying. There was the guy whose Tinder profile photo turned out to be his wedding photo up on Facebook, except with his wife cropped out for his dating profile. When I called him on his marital status, he of course initially tried to pretend otherwise. When I told him his wife’s name and where she lived (people, secure your Facebook pages for heaven’s sake), he finally spiraled through a bunch of lies: they were separated – I pointed out that in a Facebook post the week before she called him the love of her life and said that these 3 months of marriage – yes, they were newlyweds – had been the happiest of her life. Then he told me that he was planning on leaving her, she just didn’t know yet. Then, he told me she was pregnant.
by Sue Hubbard
It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.
Since early Christianity pilgrimages have been made to the Holy Land, to Rome, to Lourdes and Canterbury, by walking on foot. Buddhists, understanding that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, walk in mindfulness. The writer, Bruce Chatwin, wrote in his celebrated book, The Songlines, that "… a Bushman child will be carried a distance of 4,900 miles before he begins to walk on his own. Since, during this rhythmic phase, he will be forever naming the contents of his territory, it is impossible he will not become a poet". According to Aboriginal legend, the totemic ancestors – among them the great kangaroo and dream-snake – were first sung into existence, as was every feature of the natural world, as ancient Bushmen walked across the Australian continent.
The British artist Richard Long also walks. Other artists paint, sculpt or make installations but Long walks and as he does so he notices and records the minutiae of the landscape. Sometimes he stops to create interventions using the raw materials - stones and driftwood - found along the way as a means of articulating ideas about time and space. Through the act of walking connections are made to rivers and mountains, deserts and clouds, sky and ground. He touches the earth lightly, rarely re-tracing his steps. His interventions are tactful: a realignment of stones, a path trodden across scree, a track left in grass or water poured slowly onto rock. He has been walking for more than 40 years. His process is simple. He takes time, pays attention and records what he notices and hears, sometimes as text, sometimes in photographs so we, too, can share something of the experience. And although we might all engage with the natural world this way, the point is, we don't. He makes looking and seeing into art.
by Eric Byrd
Angelo Maria Ripellino (1923 – 1978) was a poet, Slavicist, translator of the great Russian Symbolists and Silver Agers (Bely's Petersburg into Italian, a transmutation as arduous and heroic as any of Ulysses, from what I've heard Nabokov say), and, most memorably, a servant of Czech letters whose devotion extended, in one instance, to the patient chaperoning of Věra Linhartová in her cognac-confused dipsomaniacal descent on Rome. Shortly after the Second War, Ripellino went to study in Prague, married a Czech woman, and lived in Prague for some years. He became a student of the city's hauntings and urban demonology, its "lugubrious aura of decay" and "smirk of eternal disillusionment." Denied visas after the Soviet invasion in 1968, he joined the émigrés in a sympathetic semi-exile. Shut out of Prague, "perhaps forever," Ripellino caught himself "wondering whether Prague exists or if she is an imaginary land," and under an exilic gloom compounded of ill-health and nostalgia, "despair and second thoughts," he composed – gathered – dreamt – Magic Prague (1973). Mournful anatomy, elegiac bricolage, rarefied and classless as the best books are; a civic enchantment (as St. Petersburg and Dublin had been enchanted), an ark of motifs, an "itinerary of the wondrous":
How then can I write an exhaustive, well-ordered treatise like a detached and haughty scholar, suppressing my uneasiness, my restlessness with a rigor mortis of methodology and the fruitless discussions of disheartened formalists? No, I will weave a capricious book, an agglomeration of wonders, anecdotes, eccentric acts, brief intermezzos and mad encores, and I will be gratified if, in contrast to so much of the printed flotsam and jetsam surrounding us, it is not dominated by boredom…I will fill these pages with scraps of pictures and daguerreotypes, old etchings, prints purloined from the bottoms of chests, réclames, illustrations out of old periodicals, horoscopes, passages from books on alchemy and travel books printed in Gothic script, undated ghost stories, album leaves and keys to dreams: curios of a vanished culture.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Muneeza Shamsie in Dawn:
Last winter, the Lahore-born poet Imtiaz Dharker consolidated her reputation as a mainstream British poet with her powerful and moving sixth collection, Over The Moon, which won her the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. The award, which was established in 1934 for Commonwealth writers, has been given to eminent poets ranging from Robert Graves and Derek Walcott to Ted Hughes and Fleur Adcock, but Dharker is the first recipient of South Asian origin.
Over the Moon is a spellbinding work, dedicated to Dharker’s late husband, Simon Powell, with the words “not because you died, but how you live”. Her collection is a poetic communication with him in which absence and memory are enriched and intertwined by an interplay of music, light and sound to convey both life and loss and worlds beyond the corporeal: Powell permeates the book as an ever-present, beloved, living spirit. Dharker grew up in Glasgow, with a strong awareness of Pakistan which she visited with her family and later spent several years in Bombay. Her book begins with a sequence rooted in Dharker’s subcontinental heritage and the cultural symbiosis so intrinsic to her poetry, and indeed her sense of self. ‘Taal’ captures the movements of time through the whirling imagery of music and dance.
Barbara Ehrenreich in The Guardian:
Back in the fat years – two or three decades ago, when the “mainstream” media were booming – I was able to earn a living as a freelance writer. My income was meager and I had to hustle to get it, turning out about four articles – essays, reported pieces, reviews – a month at $1 or $2 a word. What I wanted to write about, in part for obvious personal reasons, was poverty and inequality, but I’d do just about anything – like, I cringe to say, “The Heartbreak Diet” for a major fashion magazine – to pay the rent.
It wasn’t easy to interest glossy magazines in poverty in the 1980s and 90s. I once spent two hours over an expensive lunch – paid for, of course, by a major publication – trying to pitch to a clearly indifferent editor who finally conceded, over decaf espresso and crème brulee, “OK, do your thing on poverty. But can you make it upscale?” Then there was the editor of a nationwide, and quite liberal, magazine who responded to my pitch for a story involving blue-collar men by asking, “Hmm, but can they talk?”
I finally got lucky at Harper’s, where fabled editor Lewis Lapham gave me an assignment that turned into a book, which in turn became a bestseller, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Thanks to the royalties and subsequent speaking fees, at last I could begin to undertake projects without concern for the pay, just because they seemed important or to me. This was the writing life I had always dreamed of – adventurous, obsessively fascinating and sufficiently remunerative that I could help support less affluent members of my family.
Meanwhile, though I didn’t see it at first, the world of journalism as I had known it was beginning to crumble around me.
HG Masters in Arts Asia Pacific:
So much depends upon the acceptance of a few facts. This is what Edward Said was lamenting when, in August 2001, he wrote in the Cairo newspaper al-Ahram Weekly: “The appallingly unbroken history of Israel’s 34-year-old military occupation (the second longest in modern history) of illegally conquered Palestinian land has been obliterated from public memory nearly everywhere, as has the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948 and the expulsion of 68 percent of its native people, of whom 4.5 million remain refugees today.”
In the decade since, and as the occupation marked its 44th year in June, the struggle over the future of Palestine and the status of the Palestinian people remains one of representation, of the past and the present. Nearly everything about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is contested on the factual and semantic levels—how many people are wounded or killed by whom at any given demonstration, whether it is a “wall,” “barrier” or a “fence” that now runs through the West Bank, whether Israeli policies constitute “discrimination,” “apartheid” or “ethnic cleansing,” and even whether the 1947–48 Nakba happened at all. They are debates played out by politicians and activists, Israeli and Palestinian, on the international level for their respective strategic interests, as well as in the media, in proxy wars of propaganda and disinformation by factions competing to write the historical narrative of post-Mandate Palestine. As storytellers and emissaries of Palestinian culture, Palestinian artists across disciplines have been caught up in or have willingly participated in this struggle, as they address the urgent subjects of modern Palestinian culture: dispossession, nostalgia, exile and resistance.
Stephen M. Walt in Foreign Policy:
Over the past few weeks, proponents of the nuclear deal with Iran — from President Barack Obama on down — have marshaled a powerful attack on some of the deal’s most prominent opponents. Specifically, they’ve been pointing out an indisputable fact: Many of the individuals and organizations that are most actively lobbying and speaking out against the deal helped dream up the idea of invading Iraq or worked hard to convince Congress and the American people to go along with the idea. The logic of the pro-deal camp is simple: Given that the opponents were so catastrophically wrong about the Iraq War, no one should listen to their advice today.
I agree with this basic argument, of course, but opponents of the deal do have one line of defense against the “Wrong on Iraq, Wrong on Iran” meme. It is possible someone could have been dead wrong about the wisdom of invading Iraq in 2003, but nonetheless be correct to oppose the nuclear deal with Iran today. None of us is infallible, and it is at least conceivable that Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, James Woolsey, Fred Hiatt, Max Boot, et al. could have blown it big-time in 2002 — but be absolutely right this time around.
Conceivable, I suppose, but highly unlikely. Why? Because their views in 2002 aren’t independent from the views they’re expressing today. On the contrary, their earlier support for the Iraq War and their opposition to the Iran deal stem from the basic neoconservative worldview that informs their entire approach to foreign policy.
More here. [Thanks to Ali Minai.]
Helen Thomson in The Guardian:
Genetic changes stemming from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors are capable of being passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s life experience can affect subsequent generations.
The conclusion from a research team at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital led by Rachel Yehuda stems from the genetic study of 32 Jewish men and women who had either been interned in a Nazi concentration camp, witnessed or experienced torture or who had had to hide during the second world war.
They also analysed the genes of their children, who are known to have increased likelihood of stress disorders, and compared the results with Jewish families who were living outside of Europe during the war. “The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” said Yehuda.
Her team’s work is the clearest example in humans of the transmission of trauma to a child via what is called “epigenetic inheritance” - the idea that environmental influences such as smoking, diet and stress can affect the genes of your children and possibly even grandchildren.
The idea is controversial, as scientific convention states that genes contained in DNA are the only way to transmit biological information between generations. However, our genes are modified by the environment all the time, through chemical tags that attach themselves to our DNA, switching genes on and off. Recent studies suggest that some of these tags might somehow be passed through generations, meaning our environment could have and impact on our children’s health.
.. —for my sons
when i was twenty
five .. we hiked the grass
spare trails that snake
from ocean to Swan Pond .. my
two small crab catchers & me .. we
buried pet turtles at sea
.......... beneath the crooked
footbridge .. sailed stick regattas
in the slim stream in the slow
woods .. bouncing like great
explorers of Kettle Cove & sea
slashed rocks .. listening to each other's
breath .. we trudged home sand fed
by Jim Bell
from Crossing the Bar
Slate Roof: a publishing collective
Ben Ehrlich in Nautilus:
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a Spanish histologist and anatomist known today as the father of modern neuroscience, was also a committed psychologist who believed psychoanalysis and Freudian dream theory were “collective lies.” When Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900, the science world swooned over his theory of the unconscious. Dreams quickly became synonymous with repressed desire. Puzzling dream images could unlock buried conflicts, the psychoanalyst said, given the correct interpretation. Cajal, who won the 1906 Nobel Prize for discovering neurons and, more remarkably, intuiting the form and function of synapses, set out to prove Freud wrong. To disprove the theory that every dream is the result of a repressed desire, Cajal began keeping a dream journal and collecting the dreams of others, analyzing them with logic and rigor.
Cajal eventually deemed the project unpublishable. But before his death in 1934, he gave his research, scribbled on stained loose papers and in the margins of books and newspapers, to his good friend and former student, the psychiatrist José Germain Cebrián. Germain typed the diary into a book, which was thought lost during the 1936 Spanish Civil War. In fact, Germain carried the manuscript with him as he traveled through Europe. Before his death, he gave it to José Rallo, a Spanish psychiatrist and dream researcher. To the delight of scholars and enthusiasts, Los sueños de Santiago Ramón y Cajal was published in Spanish in 2014, containing 103 of Cajal’s dreams, recorded between 1918 and his death in 1934.1 Translated here into English for the first time, these dreams, and Cajal’s notes on them, offer insight into the mind of a great scientist—insight that perhaps he himself did not always have.
A Common Dream
[Falling of pants]
I attend a diplomatic soiree and as I am leaving my pants fall down (Is it desire?)
[Drowning with daughter]
I take a walk by the bay (Santander?) and I fall into the water with one of my little daughters in my arms. I fight the waves, I am almost drowning, despite touching the seawall. The nightmare awakens me.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Lina Sergie Attar in Politico:
Our recent history tells us that the revolutions of the Arab Spring broke the walls of fear and silence, especially in Syria, where people began speaking, writing and chanting about the injustices they endured as they demanded freedom and dignity. Then, the years past, the losses mounted and the world grew more and more indifferent; it was three full years ago that President Obama pledged to intervene if the Syrian government crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons, a promise he has broken. Some Syrians began to recede into silence, out of not only fear, and later, exhaustion, but collective trauma. In many ways, the realities Syrians faced had become simply inexpressible.
Now, the everyday violence and death Syrians witness is no longer recorded in full force unless events surpass the daily “acceptable” quota of death—like it did on August 16 in Douma, after more than 100 people were killed by a regime aerial attack on a crowded marketplace. These kinds of mass tragedies, like the chemical weapons attack in 2013 and the Daraya massacre in 2012, capture the world’s attention—headlines, outrage, condemnation—for a few moments before Syria’s suffering once again fades to white noise. When the country has been reduced to smoldering ashes and its people have been forced into a mass exodus to new countries and new homes, our capacity to document—to speak or write and chant—dwindles. History collapses into a simple etcetera.
More here. [Thanks to Idrees Ahmad.]
Tom Stafford at the BBC:
It is perhaps the most famous experiment in neuroscience. In 1983, Benjamin Libet sparked controversy with his demonstration that our sense of free will may be an illusion, a controversy that has only increased ever since.
Libet’s experiment has three vital components: a choice, a measure of brain activity and a clock.
The choice is to move either your left or right arm. In the original version of the experiment this is by flicking your wrist; in some versions of the experiment it is to raise your left or right finger. Libet’s participants were instructed to “let the urge [to move] appear on its own at any time without any pre-planning or concentration on when to act”. The precise time at which you move is recorded from the muscles of your arm.
The measure of brain activity is taken via electrodes on the scalp. When the electrodes are placed over the motor cortex (roughly along the middle of the head), a different electrical signal appears between right and left as you plan and execute a movement on either the left or right.
The clock is specially designed to allow participants to discern sub-second changes. This clock has a single dot, which travels around the face of the clock every 2.56 seconds. This means that by reporting position you are reporting time. If we assume you can report position accurately to 5 degree angle, that means you can use this clock to report time to within 36 milliseconds – that’s 36 thousandths of a second.
Putting these ingredients together, Libet took one extra vital measurement. He asked participants to report, using the clock, exactly the point when they made the decision to move.
Shahnaz Habib in The Guardian:
My father, who lives in India, loathes travel. He will tell you this himself. When he hears about other people’s road trips, he shakes his head, wishing they had more common sense. The greatest pleasure, for him, is to be at home, reading the news and eating rice and coconut chammanthi. Ideally, the coconut should be from his own village in southern Kerala.
Alas, all his children live abroad. My siblings live in the United Arab Emirates and I’m in New York. Every few months, my brother will send my parents a non-refundable round-trip ticket and my father’s reluctance to travel will battle with his parsimony. Eventually, he will climb on the flight, bundled up thoroughly against air-conditioning, which he hates almost as much as travel. Once he arrives at my brother’s house in Sharjah, he ventures out as little as possible. He knows what he likes: reading news. Why bother doing anything else?
Outside of these Sharjah exiles, my father has made two epic trips. As soon as my parents could afford it, they went on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The other journey was a visit to New York. When my daughter was a few months old my parents and sister arrived to take over my household, cook four multi-course south Indian meals every day, and sing endless lullabies. “You must be exhausted,” I said when they arrived at the apartment after 20 hours of flying. “Of course not,” my father said and fell asleep on the couch.
I knew that between my adventure-averse father and my infant, we would be home a lot. But I also wanted to show off my city. I surprised my parents with a helicopter tour over Manhattan. My mother got off the chopper with windswept hair and shining eyes. “Just wonderful. Everyone should do this,” she declared. My father shook his head and said, “eminently avoidable.”