I was planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I’d be hopping on and off of planes, trains, and automobiles, then going on excursions into the wilderness, and possibly fighting sasquatches. I’d need gear for that, and my aging man-purse wouldn’t hold it. I felt a tingle at my shoulders, like the ghosts of my high-school and university selves were whispering: you need a damn backpack!

Me fighting a sasquatch during the trip.

So I researched how backpack technology had changed since my textbook-hauling days. …


This is the stock image that came up when I searched for “confusing.”

Last night I opened up my drafts folder on Twitter, and found the following half-finished thought that I’d saved earlier: “life isn’t supposed to not be confusing.”

At first I dismissed it as a drunken tweet gone wrong, but once I got over the perplexing double-negative (how meta, drunk self), I realized that maybe there’s something to it.

There’s a lot of crap going on, out there in the world. So that we can navigate this world without dying, Mother Nature shoved a whole bunch of competing subpeople into our brain. …


Meal delivery boxes don’t actually look this nice.

I’ve been trying some meal delivery services recently. A few weeks ago it was GoodFood, and this week HelloFresh. They were good! Tasty food, decent portion sizes. But as a sciencey dude, I can’t help but think in math, and question whether the cost / benefit ratio makes sense for these services.

Some background: we’re two people with no kids, a love for bold and delicious food, and very little free time. As with everything, if your situation is different, your calculations will be different too.

Benefits of Meal Delivery

How much time do we spend grocery shopping? About 1 hour a week? And…


I may have been wrong about artificial sweeteners. I’ve always been a big fan of them, because I love stuffing sweet things in my mouth, but also try to keep my daily calorie count somewhat reasonable.

Sweeteners also have an ideological draw — I love artificial things. I’m typing this on an artificial iPad, powered by artificial electricity, basking in artificial heat, under an artificial roof. So when I see people react with hostility to anything that isn’t “natural” (whatever that even means), I push back. You think artificial sweeteners are poison because Splenda packets aren’t plucked from the ground…


One thing I love about big cities is the history.

This is the view from my hotel room in San Francisco.

It’s not much to look at, so I was disappointed for a moment. Then I looked closer at all that’s there, outside my window, and indeed everywhere in San Francisco: layers of history, starting at the street and stacking up to the rooftop of every looming building.

One thing caught my attention here: “Hotel Paisley,” in faded letters at the top of the building I’m facing, partially covered over by history. The windows below look like they’d crumble if…


Walking: it’s good.

I try to walk a lot. My step count has gone down since I started working from home, but I still get out and wander the neighborhood at least once a day, and use my feet as a means of transportation whenever I need to be somewhere else. Through years of walking, I have come to realize something:

Walking is good.

Not only for the health benefits, which certainly do exist, at least on days I don’t use hitting my step goal as an excuse for an extra slice of cheesecake. …


Hollywood Horror by Tedakin

My PhD was on the psychology of horror. A while ago, I was contacted by a media agency who had seen one of my talks, and wanted help putting together a Halloween marketing campaign that could really frighten people. I wrote them the below summary, and while I have no idea if the campaign ever went anywhere, I figure it makes for an interesting read, so here it is.

Why are horror movies scary?

The answer to this is less obvious than it first appears. It may seem self-evident: scary movies are scary because they have scary things in them…


The London Regional Children’s Museum has seen better days. I have fond memories of going there as a kid — a highlight is when a traveling Jim Henson exhibit was set up there, and I got to see the actual muppets from my favourite movie at the time (okay, still), Labyrinth.

There’s a story about how one of the animatronic muppets from Labyrinth, Hoggle, was later neglected, misplaced, and eventually found in an airline’s unclaimed baggage department looking like this:

I feel like the entire Children’s Museum has followed a similar path as Hoggle. The building has been sold, but…


My girlfriend came back from an expedition to the bad part of town, and shouted “I got you a gift! You’re going to love it!”

She was correct.

This is Auntie Virus. The first thing you’ll notice is that she is extremely dirty. Just soaked in various fluids. That’s because she has been sitting on the shelf of a second-hand store for a very long time; if I had to guess, I’d say since the 90s. Meg thought she might have bed bugs or worms, so she lived in a plastic bag for a while.

Why would I assume she’s…


I’m a scientist now. Specifically, a scientist at a neuroscience company. But not a neuroscientist. I know, confusing, but the point is that I’ll probably be writing more about neuroscience at this blog now.

One project I’ve been working on involves intelligence. For decades, there has been a war between the idea that intelligence is one thing — i.e., there is a general “g” factor that powers all intellectual feats — and the idea that intelligence is many things — i.e., there are several independent factors that power different intellectual feats.

I have no idea which is true. The data…

Phronk

Writer of weird books (http://www.forestcitypulp.com). Scientist. Scholar of horrific and low-quality content.

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