Archive for September, 2009

Extroversion Bias

What factors influence the people we gravitate towards in new situations? Are these factors the factors that ought to influence our social decisions?

If I’m in a social situation with several new people, I’m naturally going to gravitate towards that outwardly warm and bubbly one, the one who is more likely to talk and emote and carries the conversation. Most other people do this too. This isn’t surprising: When faced with a choice, people want to engage (consciously or subconsciously) in social situations that are low cost as opposed to high cost. An extroverted individual is easier to talk to; you don’t have to pry information out of them or worry about coming up with new strands of conversation. When meeting new people, there are a few factors to discriminate by and one of those factors is how extroverted an individual is. So, naturally, when introduced to new people, people will gravitate towards extroverts due to the lower cost of conversing with them.*
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Paul Shirley Doesn’t Like The Beatles

Et tu, Paul?

Listen Mr. Shirley, we like you here at NPI. We like sports. We like books. We like people who write good books about playing sports. You even tweeted at Tim. But if forced to choose between you and the Beatles, well, we’re gonna have to go with the Beatles.

Now, I have no problem with unconventional stances; in fact, I like them a lot. And I have no qualms with someone’s personal tastes. It’s also true that people who don’t like the Beatles are unfairly maligned (you guys should form a support group with people who don’t think The Godfather is that great and people who think Shakespeare is overrated).


Some of what you say is certainly true: “[T]he mythology that surrounds the Beatles has overwhelmed rational humans’ ability to judge the band by its music.” There is no denying that when you are brought up and essentially conditioned to think something is good, that is going to affect your judgment of that thing, whether your judgment is positive or negative. Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 2: The Defining Moment

“But of course you must remember, fans, the turning points in our history are not always so grand as they are cracked up to be in the murals on your post office wall.”

—The Great American Novel

I’m struck by some parallel notions after two weeks of the NFL season. The first combines the fact that Eli Manning again showed why he might be the best “last 4:00 of a game” quarterback in the league* on Sunday night in a huge game against the Cowboys with the fact that the Giants play the Buccaneers this upcoming Sunday. You see, it was in Tampa two seasons ago that Manning led the Giants to his first playoff win—a victory that at the time was unremarkable and seemingly insignificant (in a big picture sense). But it was the turning point, for Manning went on of course for three more playoff wins in 2007 and has been one of the league’s 10 best quarterbacks since.

*And I’m serious on this. Outside of his brother, I don’t know if anyone is really close. Brady failed on Sunday in the final minutes, and his greatest late comeback drives involved 1) The Tuck Rule; and 2) His team recovering a fumble after he threw an interception on 4th down (in San Diego in 2006). Brees has never done it in a big spot, McNabb is terrible in the 2:00 drill, Warner always scores too quickly (THREE times in the Super Bowl he’s scored too quickly), Rivers hasn’t done it, Roethlisberger has the Super Bowl drive but little else.

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Joie de Vivre: Praising the Bretzel


Yes, you read that correctly. If you thought I was actually writing about “Braising the Pretzel”* and became enthused, then I sincerely apologize for causing false excitement.

*Nonetheless, an article on such a topic does not make much sense so I would question your logic if you did indeed become enthused. I would still maintain an overall apologetic tone though.

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Reactions: The First Episode of Season Seven of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

So are you guys sick of hearing about Curb Your Enthusiasm yet? Well, too bad. Here are reactions from F.P., Josh, and John S to last night’s season premiere…. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while condescending others with small fruit…

The Plague and Allegorical Representation

Summoned to give evidence regarding what was a sort of crime, he has exercised the restraint that behooves a conscientious witness. All the same, following the dictates of his heart, he has deliberately taken the victims’ side and tried to share with his fellow citizens the only certitudes they had in common—love, exile, and suffering. Thus he can truly say there was not one of their anxieties in which he did not share, no predicament of theirs that was not his.

These words, coming toward the end of Albert Camus’ 1948 allegory of German occupation, The Plague, serve as both the revelation of the novel’s narrator* and the mission statement of its author. The Plague is at once a very informative and very misleading title, for the novel is, practically, about a plague that overtakes the Algerian city of Oran. Theoretically, however, the novel is less about disease than about the mental shackles placed on an imprisoned population, with the plague acting as a stand-in for the occupation of France during World War II.**

*Shh…it’s kind of a secret. And I mean “kind of” here literally, in that it’s only “kind of” a secret.

**Funny story: I first read The Plague in high school on my own with no knowledge or inference of its allegory, even though it was pretty explicit upon my re-reading in college. It is a testament to Camus’ abilities as a writer that the novel works regardless.

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Trying to Contain Our Enthusiasm for Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry and Jeff

Tonight is the premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Seventh Season, so John S, Josh and F.P. Santangelo got together to discuss their thoughts and expectations for the new season in the second part of our two-part prelude to Season Seven. Continue reading

Which Season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is the Best?

Two of our favorite things here at NPI are comedy and Larry David. Naturally, then, we love Curb Your Enthusiasm. In fact, we love it so much that it’s hard to pick a favorite season. But that didn’t stop us from trying. In the first part of a two-post prelude to the start of Season Seven (which we are stoked for), John S, Josh, and F.P each offered their own rankings to provide one of NPI’s patented* rankings. Now, these rankings proved difficult (some odd methodologies were used) since there really are no bad seasons of Curb; as proof, we each included our favorite episode from every season. At the end of the list, we each offered a brief justification for our choices, though we were all satisfied with the overall outcome.  

*Unfortunately, this is a lie. We have no patent on rankings…..yet.

Without further ado, our rankings of Curb Your Enthusiasm seasons:

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Secretly Liberal?

This week’s New York magazine has, amidst an interesting profile of Neil Patrick Harris and some disappointing hesitancy from David Cross about the Arrested Development movie, an odd article about marijuana: It seems to vacillate between “Pot is practically mainstream now” and “Pot is still pretty taboo.” Nevertheless, it offers a revealing analysis of current marijuana laws.

Maybe the most interesting thing about this article, though, is how tired the debate seems to be at this point: Most people who bring up the topic of legalizing marijuana are staunchly in favor of it, and their arguments are fairly reasonable, but there seems to be little to no chance of it actually happening.

What’s most disconcerting for me isn’t that marijuana will probably not be legalized in my lifetime—I’m white, I don’t have to worry about pot laws—but what this says about the political status quo.

The conventional political wisdom in this country is that the general public is slightly right of center, meaning that liberal measures are tougher to pass. As such, legalizing marijuana would cost more political capital than it’s worth. Continue reading


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