For teenagers, the peer group provides valuable information about the self-concept. For instance, in response to the question “What were you like as a teenager? (e.g., cool, nerdy, awkward?),” posed on the website Answerbag, one teenager replied in this way:

I’m still a teenager now, but from 8th–9th grade I didn’t really know what I wanted at all. I was smart, so I hung out with the nerdy kids. I still do; my friends mean the world to me. But in the middle of 8th I started hanging out with whom you may call the “cool” kids…and I also hung out with some stoners, just for variety. I pierced various parts of my body and kept my grades up. Now, I’m just trying to find who I am. I’m even doing my sophomore year in China so I can get a better view of what I want. (Answerbag, 2007)

Wow, how in freaks did that person manage to hang out with the “nerdy kids” and manage to hang out with the “‘cool’ kids”? I mean, that’s two very different circles and are, usually, exclusive and wouldn’t go anywhere near each other.

To help them work through the process of developing an identity, teenagers may well try out different identities in different social situations. They may maintain one identity at home and a different type of persona when they are with their peers. Eventually, most teenagers do integrate the different possibilities into a single self-concept and a comfortable sense of identity (identity-achievement status).

That is very common, isn’t it? I mean, really. How many teenagers are really the same when they are with parent and when they are with their peers?

From Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor, emphasis added

The little kids in the neighbor’s are singing Justin Bieber.

There goes the chorus… Baby, baby, baby, oh…

Amazingly, they’re getting most of the words right.

A simple test of self-awareness is the ability to recognize oneself in a mirror. Humans and chimpanzees can pass the test; dogs never do.

So dogs really bark at themselves in the mirror? Never had the chance to test that one.

Some animals, including chimpanzees, orangutans, and perhaps dolphins, have at least a primitive sense of self (Boysen & Himes, 1999). In one study (Gallup, 1970), researchers painted a red dot on the foreheads of anesthetized chimpanzees and then placed each animal in a cage with a mirror. When the chimps woke up and looked in the mirror, they touched the dot on their faces, not the dot on the faces in the mirror. These actions suggest that the chimps understood that they were looking at themselves and not at other animals, and thus we can assume that they are able to realize that they exist as individuals. On the other hand, most other animals, including, for instance dogs, cats, and monkeys, never realize that it is they themselves in the mirror.

From Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor, emphasis added

Ovulation occurs about halfway through the woman’s menstrual cycle and is aided by the release of a complex combination of hormones. In addition to helping the egg mature, the hormones also cause the lining of the uterus to grow thicker and more suitable for implantation of a fertilized egg.

If the woman has had sexual intercourse within 1 or 2 days of the egg’s maturation, one of the up to 500 million sperm deposited by the man’s ejaculation, which are traveling up the fallopian tube, may fertilize the egg. Although few of the sperm are able to make the long journey, some of the strongest swimmers succeed in meeting the egg. As the sperm reach the egg in the fallopian tube, they release enzymes that attack the outer jellylike protective coating of the egg, each trying to be the first to enter. As soon as one of the millions of sperm enters the egg’s coating, the egg immediately responds by both blocking out all other challengers and at the same time pulling in the single successful sperm.

The story of the survival of the fittest.

From Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor, emphasis added

Newman and Baumeister (1996) have argued that even the belief that one has been abducted by aliens may be driven by the need to escape everyday consciousness. Every day at least several hundred (and more likely several thousand) Americans claim that they are abducted by these aliens, although most of these stories occur after the individuals have consulted with a psychotherapist or someone else who believes in alien abduction. Again, Baumeister and his colleagues have found a number of indications that people who believe that they have been abducted may be using the belief as a way of escaping self-consciousness.

Just sharing…

From Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor, emphasis added

Although researchers are still trying to determine the exact causes of dreaming, one thing remains clear — we need to dream. If we are deprived of REM sleep, we quickly become less able to engage in the important tasks of everyday life, until we are finally able to dream again.

True, we all need to dream. And I don’t only refer to those dreams spoken about in the the quote above. I also mean those dreams which make us able to achieve: our aspirations, our desires, our ambitions – all of them. For without them, we’re not gonna feel as alive as we are when we have them.

From Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor, emphasis added

April 29, 2011. A Royal Wedding Day. A day when two souls from entirely different circles of society are united in a binding promise of forever in the presence of God and by witness of the world. A few beautiful moments when people forget about the miseries of life and take hope in the light of the love of two people.

Remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always.
A promise, like a reward for persisting through life so long alone.
The belief in each other and the possibility of love.
A decision, to ignore or simply rise above the pain of the past.
The covenant, which at once binds two souls and yet severs prior ties.
The celebration, of the chance taken, and the challenge that lies ahead.
For two will always be stronger than one.
Like a team, braced against the tempests of the world.
And love, will always be the guiding force in our lives.
For tonight is mere formality, only an announcement to the world the feelings long held, promises made long ago in the sacred space of our hearts.”

Lucas Scott, One Tree Hill, Season II, Episode 16

My first bout with out book on databases, First Course on Database Systems, 3rd Edition by Jeffrey D. Ullman and Jennifer Widom and I am not liking it. It’s too… Well, academic. It’s not like the book on Java that we had from the previous terms – Introduction to Programming Using Java by David Eck.

Oh, well, the biggest difference – bookwise – between the two is that the new one is non-free. It’s published by Prentice Hall. This isn’t my first Prentice Hall book which makes the general character of the book hardly surprising.

Not good.

I can’t believe the length of the movie Gone With the Wind. I mean, 231 minutes?! Really? That’s only nine minutes short to reaching four hours!

Trying to make some sort of essay on human perception has lead me back to The War of the Ghosts. Thing is, I don’t understand what’s so surprising about it. What was supposed to be the “prior knowledge”?

The War of the Ghosts

The War of the Ghosts was a story used by Sir Frederic Bartlett to test the influence of prior expectations on memory. Bartlett found that even when his British research participants were allowed to read the story many times they still could not remember it well, and he believed this was because it did not fit with their prior knowledge.

One night two young men from Egulac went down to the river to hunt seals and while they were there it became foggy and calm. Then they heard war-cries, and they thought: “Maybe this is a war-party.” They escaped to the shore, and hid behind a log. Now canoes came up, and they heard the noise of paddles, and saw one canoe coming up to them. There were five men in the canoe, and they said:

“What do you think? We wish to take you along. We are going up the river to make war on the people.”

One of the young men said, “I have no arrows.”

“Arrows are in the canoe,” they said.

“I will not go along. I might be killed. My relatives do not know where I have gone. But you,” he said, turning to the other, “may go with them.”

So one of the young men went, but the other returned home.

And the warriors went on up the river to a town on the other side of Kalama. The people came down to the water and they began to fight, and many were killed. But presently the young man heard one of the warriors say, “Quick, let us go home: that Indian has been hit.” Now he thought: “Oh, they are ghosts.” He did not feel sick, but they said he had been shot.

So the canoes went back to Egulac and the young man went ashore to his house and made a fire. And he told everybody and said: “Behold I accompanied the ghosts, and we went to fight. Many of our fellows were killed, and many of those who attacked us were killed. They said I was hit, and I did not feel sick.”

He told it all, and then he became quiet. When the sun rose he fell down. Something black came out of his mouth. His face became contorted. The people jumped up and cried.

He was dead. (Bartlett, 1932)

From Introduction to Psychology by Charles Stangor

Dinner made me realize I was much more exhausted from that trip to the hospital – even if the trip wasn’t about me – than I thought I was. Or maybe it’s the digestion thing at work. Either way, I know I’d be better off sleeping early tonight and waking up early tomorrow than sleeping late tonight and waking up around the middle of the day – I know I’m the least active around those hours.

I’m still having issues about our textbook on databases and it’s not pretty. As I was expecting, Student Services suggested that I drop the course altogether. However, I’m much too stubborn for that. The pirate wins in this one.

My mother is positively pissed off. Of what, by what I’ve no idea. But it’s hardly surprising as she’s usually that way – in varying degrees.

The smell of burning rubber in the neighbor’s is really pungent.

I don’t know what prompted it but I suddenly remembered that episode of Glee that I got to see a few days ago while we were at the hospital. I’m talking about the new one with Charice in it.

I had a few issues with that episode. Firstly, there didn’t seem to be much point in her being there except to be there and sing. Well, it’s what she does. Maybe, I just expected something more from the character. See, the preview I got on the local news channel said she was supposed to be trying to come back to New Directions. Apparently, it wasn’t the case. Her character, Sunshine Corazon, made much more sense last time – except the part about her easily being swayed by the other glee club – Vocal Adrenaline?

Second, the song she sang. Given the flow of the episode, I so didn’t expect that song. If I’m not mistaken, that song was nowhere near the radius of “neglected”, let alone the artist. It didn’t sound like a song that one will perform in a “Night of Neglect featuring neglected songs by neglected artists” or some such. Except about the part of the message of the song itself, of course.

Thirdly, she was the bad guy in there. Or so I think. See, the episode ended without her non-appearance, and the her “600 Twitter followers”, being explained. Unless, of course, I missed it.

In the end, their concert, Night of Neglect, was still aptly named as the people who bought tickets to their show, indeed, neglected the show.

I’m moving tens of thousands of files from one disk to another and the process seems to be taking its sweet time so I decided to rant – it’s what I do, gives me something to do, something which is really light.

Although the root user account has a back seat in Ubuntu, its influence is felt everywhere. Most operating system files are “owned” by the root user, and have permissions so that only root can edit them. In other words, only the root user — or a user borrowing root powers — can delete or modify vital files. In some cases, even viewing operating system files by ordinary users is prohibited.

This simple mechanism of protecting operating system files through root user ownership is how Linux enforces security and system protection. It’s simple but highly effective, and has stood the test of time
for many years.

NOTE The fact that Windows fails to make this distinction, and effectively merges the standard and administrator types of user account, is one reason it’s so insecure. If a virus infects the system, it operates with administrator powers, so it can really cause trouble. Vista fixes this situation somewhat by pestering the user every time they do something even remotely dangerous to the system.

From Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference by Keir Thomas

Yeah, I’m just reading it now. And only because I am looking to do something I just can’t do. I am hoping that this one can help me.

‘But the real geniuses,’ asked Razumihin frowning, ‘those who have the right to murder? Oughtn’t they to suffer at all even for the blood they’ve shed?’

‘Why the word ought? It’s not a matter of permission or prohibition. He will suffer if he is sorry for his victim. Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth,’ he added dreamily, not in the tone of the conversation.

From Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

‘I analysed, if I remember, the psychology of a criminal before and after the crime.’

‘Yes, and you maintained that the perpetration of a crime is always accompanied by illness. Very, very original, but… it was not that part of your article that interested me so much, but an idea at the end of the article which I regret to say you merely suggested without working it out clearly. There is, if you recollect, a suggestion that there are certain persons who can … that is, not precisely are able to, but have a perfect right to commit breaches of morality and crimes, and that the law is not for them.’

Raskolnikov smiled at the exaggerated and intentional distortion of his idea.

‘What? What do you mean? A right to crime? But not because of the influence of environment?’ Razumihin inquired with some alarm even.

‘No, not exactly because of it,’ answered Porfiry. ‘In his article all men are divided into ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary.’ Ordinary men have to live in submission, have no right to transgress the law, because, don’t you see, they are ordinary. But extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way, just because they are extraordinary. That was your idea, if I am not mistaken?’

‘What do you mean? That can’t be right?’ Razumihin muttered in bewilderment.

Raskolnikov smiled again. He saw the point at once, and knew where they wanted to drive him. He decided to take up the challenge.

‘That wasn’t quite my contention,’ he began simply and modestly. ‘Yet I admit that you have stated it almost correctly; perhaps, if you like, perfectly so.’ (It almost gave him pleasure to admit this.) ‘The only difference is that I don’t contend that extraordinary people are always bound to commit breaches of morals, as you call it. In fact, I doubt whether such an argument could be published. I simply hinted that an ‘extraordinary’ man has the right … that is not an official right, but an inner right to decide in his own conscience to overstep … certain obstacles, and only in case it is essential for the practical fulfillment of his idea (sometimes, perhaps, of benefit to the whole of humanity). You say that my article isn’t definite; I am ready to make it as clear as I can. Perhaps I am right in thinking you want me to; very well. I maintain that if the discoveries of Kepler and Newton could not have been made known except by sacrificing the lives of one, a dozen, a hundred, or more men, Newton would have had the right, would indeed have been in duty bound … to eliminate the dozen or the hundred men for the sake of making his discoveries known to the whole of humanity. But it does not follow from that that Newton had a right to murder people right and left and to steal every day in the market. Then, I remember, I maintain in my article that all … well, legislators and leaders of men, such as Lycurgus, Solon, Mahomet, Napoleon, and so on, were all without exception criminals, from the very fact that, making a new law, they transgressed the ancient one, handed down from their ancestors and held sacred by the people, and they did not stop short at bloodshed either, if that bloodshed — often of innocent persons fighting bravely in defence of ancient law — were of use to their cause. It’s remarkable, in fact, that the majority, indeed, of these benefactors and leaders of humanity were guilty of terrible carnage. In short, I maintain that all great men or even men a little out of the common, that is to say capable of giving some new word, must from their very nature be criminals — more or less, of course. Otherwise it’s hard for them to get out of the common rut; and to remain in the common rut is what they can’t submit to, from their very nature again, and to my mind they ought not, indeed, to submit to it. You see that there is nothing particularly new in all that. The same thing has been printed and read a thousand times before. As for my division of people into ordinary and extraordinary, I acknowledge that it’s somewhat arbitrary, but I don’t insist upon exact numbers. I only believe in my leading idea that men are in general divided by a law of nature into two categories, inferior (ordinary), that is, so to say, material that serves only to reproduce its kind, and men who have the gift or the talent to utter a new word. There are, of course, innumerable sub-divisions, but the distinguishing features of both categories are fairly well marked. The first category, generally speaking, are men conservative in temperament and law-abiding; they live under control and love to be controlled. To my thinking it is their duty to be controlled, because that’s their vocation, and there is nothing humiliating in it for them. The second category all transgress the law; they are destroyers or disposed to destruction according to their capacities. The crimes of these men are of course relative and varied; for the most part they seek in very varied ways the destruction of the present for the sake of the better. But if such a one is forced for the sake of his idea to step over a corpse or wade through blood, he can, I maintain, find within himself, in his conscience, a sanction for wading through blood — that depends on the idea and its dimensions, note that. It’s only in that sense I speak of their right to crime in my article (you remember it began with the legal question). There’s no need for such anxiety, however; the masses will scarcely ever admit this right, they punish them or hang them (more or less), and in doing so fulfil quite justly their conservative vocation. But the same masses set these criminals on a pedestal in the next generation and worship them (more or less). The first category is always the man of the present, the second the man of the future. The first preserve the world and people it, the second move the world and lead it to its goal. Each class has an equal right to exist. In fact, all have equal rights with me — and vive la guerre éternelle — till the New Jerusalem,
of course!’

From Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

‘Your party yesterday, brother, has left my head rather…. And I am out of sorts altogether,’ he began in quite a different tone, laughing to Razumihin.

‘Was it interesting? I left you yesterday at the most interesting point. Who got the best of it?’

‘Oh, no one, of course. They got on to everlasting questions, floated off into space.’

‘Only fancy, Rodya, what we got on to yesterday. Whether there is such a thing as crime. I told you that we talked our heads off.’

‘What is there strange? It’s an everyday social question,’ Raskolnikov answered casually.

‘The question wasn’t put quite like that,’ observed Porfiry.

‘Not quite, that’s true,’ Razumihin agreed at once, getting warm and hurried as usual. ‘Listen, Rodion, and tell us your opinion, I want to hear it. I was fighting tooth and nail with them and wanted you to help me. I told them you were coming…. It began with the socialist doctrine. You know their doctrine; crime is a protest against the abnormality of the social organisation and nothing more, and nothing more; no other causes admitted! …’

‘You are wrong there,’ cried Porfiry Petrovitch; he was noticeably animated and kept laughing as he looked at Razumihin, which made him more excited than ever.

‘Nothing is admitted,’ Razumihin interrupted with heat.

‘I am not wrong. I’ll show you their pamphlets. Everything with them is ‘the influence of environment,’ and nothing else. Their favourite phrase! From which it follows that, if society is normally organised, all crime will cease at once, since there will be nothing to protest against and all men will become righteous in one instant. Human nature is not taken into account, it is excluded, it’s not supposed to exist! They don’t recognise that humanity, developing by a historical living process, will become at last a normal society, but they believe that a social system that has come out of some mathematical brain is going to organise all humanity at once and make it just and sinless in an instant, quicker than any living process! That’s why they instinctively dislike history, ‘nothing but ugliness and stupidity in it,’ and they explain it all as stupidity! That’s why they so dislike the living process of life; they don’t want a living soul! The living soul demands life, the soul won’t obey the rules of mechanics, the soul is an object of suspicion, the soul is retrograde! But what they want though it smells of death and can be made of India-rubber, at least is not alive, has no will, is servile and won’t revolt! And it comes in the end to their reducing everything to the building of walls and the planning of rooms and passages in a phalanstery! The phalanstery is ready, indeed, but your human nature is not ready for the phalanstery — it wants life, it hasn’t completed its vital process, it’s too soon for the graveyard! You can’t skip over nature by logic. Logic presupposes three possibilities, but there are millions! Cut away a million, and reduce it all to the question of comfort! That’s the easiest solution of the problem! It’s seductively clear and you musn’t think about it. That’s the great thing, you mustn’t think! The whole secret of life in two pages of print!’

From Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment