The Greencine Five, Part VI: The Knack… and how to get it, Raise the Red Lantern, Twin Peaks, Why has the Bodhi-dharma left for the east?, Doomed Megalopolis

It makes no sense. Hahaha.

I imagine in fourty years watching “Family Guy” will feel just like viewing The Knack… and how to get it. The physical and absurdist comedy is identical. The incongruous combination of conservative dress and risque subject matter is the same. And even the character of British accents on Family Guy (they “don’t so much speak English as chew on it”) is evocative of the strange enunciation and jargon of post-war British balinghou. The only difference is that, compared to The Knack, family guy is a cartoon and in color. And also funny.

A House with Many Mansions

Raise the Red Lantern
From filmmaker Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower) and actress Gong Li (2046, Hannibal Raising), comes this story of realpolitik among four wives of a prosperous man in northern Republican China. Centered around deception and zero-sum strategy. Raise the Red Lantern is a beautiful tragedy, as if House of Flying Daggers had all the kung-fu removed and diagogue about relationships thrown in. Recommended.

The Question

Twin Peaks Season 2(Disc 5 of 6)
Imagine if LOST reveals that the “island” is actually an uninhabited peninsula of Mindanao, in the Philippines. Further, imagine if (embarrassed by the whole “lost for months and months” things, the Filipino government grants the survivors rights to the peninsula, and they just had so much fun they stayed (minus Ben Linus, who is whisked away on multiple charges of kidnapping and never heard from again). Further, imagine that Jack Shepherd’s old nemesis from medical school, Megariath McEvilster III, sets up camp down on a nearby beach and causes all the predicable troubles. That’s about the story of Twin Peaks (Disc 5 of 6), four episodes in an increasingly derivative series that’s a mere shadow of what it once was.

It’s a threat!

Imagine a movie that dares not to be good. Imagine a movie that has much to say for it, intellectually, if one had infinite patience. Why has the Bodhi-Dharma left for the East? is just such a movie. A modern retelling of the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama, in the same way that Death of a Salesman is a retelling of Greek tragedies, Bodhi-Dharma is a tale of an master monk, a brother monk, and a young boy living in a hermitage somewhere in the mountains of South Korea. The chronology jumps back and forth, making an accurate retelling of the “story” difficult. Bodhi-Dharma is a profoundly Buddhist movie, and perhaps introduces the nothingness of Buddhism in the way that The Passion of the Christ retells the crisis of Christianity.

Blah blah evil curse blah blah

A thoroughly typical anime of the early 1990s, , Doomed Megalopolis (Disk 1) includes all the original suspects (Tokyo, evil spirits, ancient prophecies, etc). The artwork is mediocre, the soundtrack is mediocre, the story is mediocre. The heroine is ugly, so at least that aspects truly does stand out as sub-par. I’m writing this review as the episode is going off. I won’t be renting Disk 2.

Cognitive Development, Part IV: Representation and Concepts

I have been skeptical of the idea that adults are fully rational, so some passages in the text especially struck me. I prefer Siegler’s (1991b) “skills-first” view of counting development over Gelman’s (1990) “principle-first” orientation, because it fits with my own bias for procedural over declarative knowledge and rationality over rational agency. This is only a bias, however. Additionally, I also enjoyed the authors tying together of infant and adult cognition on pages 115-116 (“At any age period, including, adulthood, the cognitive system has both strengths and weaknesses.”). We do not expects infants to be rational, because infant members of no other species require rationality. Therefore, why should we expect adults to be rational, when adult members of no other species exhibit rationality?

Given my prior interests, I’m disappointed at the lack of examination of group-level genetic diversity. The authors cite two papers by Saxe (1981; 1981) to demonstrate that slow numerical development among New Guineans was because of culture. Certainly cultural variation is one possibility, but the other significant factor that varies between New Guineans and everyone else, race (or at least differences brought on by ancestry), is not addressed. The average IQ of Papua New Guinean s 84, compared with 98 for the United States (Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002). Similarly, the superiority of Americans to Chinese in various aspects of counting (Miller & Stigler, 1987) might be at least partially explained by the fact, also from Lynn & Vanhanen, that no country with a Chinese racial majority scores below 104 on IQ tests. Even if IQ is not highly heritable, which is unlikely (Devlin, Daniels, & Roeder, 1997), more than just “culture” varies between the cradle environment of an American and a Papua New Guinean.

The authors ignorance of race is all the more puzzling, because elsewhere they are not afraid to delve into social issues. Referencing an article which address sexual abuse on page 104, the authors note that children are unable to perform simple tasks with anatomically correct dolls because children become confused over what kind of action they are performing (DeLoache & Smith, 1999). Why are the authors unafraid of political controversial interpretations when it comes to sexual abuse, but not to race? The explanation for the silence, though is clear. The text is slavish is following current lines of research, and race differences is a weak line at best. This is not because of a lack of data, but because of academic censorship. The University of Nebraska’s IRB training procedure, for instance, expressly forbids such research, and I assume that many other universities are quieter in this suppression of knowledge.

To conclude this chapter, the discussion of limited capacity and consequences of child sexual abuse cases was excellence, the wall of silence when it comes to non-cultural group variation was not. This is perhaps the best that could be expected.

Cognitive Development, a tdaxp series
1. Introduction
2. Infant Perception
3. Infant Cognition
4. Representation and Concepts
5. Reasoning and Problem Solving
6. Social Cognition
7. Memory
8. Language
9. Questions and Problems
10. Bibliography