Brief asides


POSTED: Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Out of order, in any venue

Aloha is running in short supply in what usually are regarded as the most civil of venues. Less than a week after Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina interrupts President Barack Obama's address to Congress by hollering, “;You lie!,”; Serena Williams shouts, in profanity, that she wishes to stuff a tennis ball down the throat of a lineswoman in the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Wilson was wrong in claiming that health care proposals would allow coverage of illegal immigrants, while video reviews show the lineswoman was wrong in calling a foot fault on Williams. But civility, or the lack thereof, became the issue — and rightfully so.


Bubbling with creativity

A quarter for your volcanic thoughts?

Artistic, creative minds can start thinking about images for a new quarter that'll spotlight Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Due out in 2012, the Hawaii-themed coin will be part of the U.S. Mint's America the Beautiful Quarters Program highlighting national parks and sites.

Judging by response to the Hawaii state coin design process a few years ago, interest in creating the winning volcano design should be — wait for it — explosive.


Tweets not so sweet for brain

Don't let adolescents Twitter their brains away. That's the message from a Scottish researcher who found educational value in the online social network Facebook, but not Twitter. The difference, Education Week reported, is that Facebook users exercise their “;working memory”; by storing, manipulating and retrieving information. Twitter, by contrast, provides an endless stream of information so succinct that users don't need to process it.

Tracy Alloway of the University of Stirling based her conclusions on studies of low-achieving students involved in a brain-training program. She said the heaviest Facebook users boosted their IQ scores by as much as 10 points. Twitter brought no IQ boost, and may even harm the development of working memory, she said.