31 Jan 2007

on being sane in insane places

Jean-Philippe Charbonnier's Psychiatric Hospitals exhibition, indicated by Chestionabil, reminded me about one of the most interesting experiments i've ever heard about. The Rosenhan experiment was a famous experiment conducted by David Rosenhan in 1972, which challenged the assumption that specially trained professionals have the ability to make reasonably accurate diagnoses when it comes to mental illness. Published in the journal Science under the title "On being sane in insane places", the experiment's conclusion clearly shows that "it is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals".
Starting from the question "if sanity and insanity exist, how shall we know them?", the experiment consisted of two parts.
The first involved the use of healthy associates or 'pseudopatients', who
briefly simulated auditory hallucinations in an attempt to gain admission to 12
different psychiatric hospitals in 5 different states in various locations in
the United States. The second involved asking staff at a psychiatric hospital to
detect non-existent 'fake' patients. In the first case hospital staff failed to
detect a single pseudopatient, in the second the staff falsely detected large
numbers of genuine patients as impostors. The study is considered an important
and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis.
Both the description of the experiment, and the reactions are fascinating, especially for people who spend qite an awful lot of time trying to figure out how people think, feel and behave.

28 Jan 2007


on Friday evening, i went to see "Hiroshima mon amour" (Razvan made me do it), which i've been looking forward to watch in a very long time (especially since i've started to be more and more interested by the nouvelle vague movies and directors lately). The movie reminded me about a lot of stuff, more of them connected to film therapy than to film theory. And it also reminded me about two Noir Desir songs which i love very much, but haven't listened to in a long time.

18 Jan 2007

youth summit

"Youth Summit aims at being the most important meeting dedicated to young Romanian individuals.

Youth Summit is the space in which decision-makers (state authorities, companies, civil society and media) and young people meet in order to freely discuss the actual state of the young Romanian individual. Youth Summit is a combined effort from all parts involved to identify and solve the most important problems faced by young Romanians".
I have very high hopes as far as this summit is concerned, and, most important, as far as what follows is concerned. And i can't wait to post about my related future plans :).

16 Jan 2007

doercast episode 2: mihai mitrica

with a nasty delay caused by holidays, the second episode of Doercast is now up and about. It features Mihai Mitrica, of Este'N'Est, "the man behind Anim'Est", who talks about animations and how he ended up organizing an animation festival here in Bucharest, as well as future projects, such as Fest'Asia (an Asian film festival) and Sibiu Film Fest (which will bring together silent movies and a live orchestra). The recording is in Romanian.
My voice is obviously horrid, and we still know very little about doing such interviews, but it's really exciting, so i'm sure we'll learn in time :).

the blogosphere just got richer

I've spent a lot of time talking to various people about the wonderful events organized by the Czech Centre Bucharest. And each time i was sorry i couldn't indicate a site or a blog which was less formal than the official site and provided much more information (and pictures, and movies and all that) both about the Czech Centre projects, and about the discussions that followed most of these projects. Which is why we kept on nagging Monika about starting a blog, and she eventually decided to do so :). Czech-it is a must-read for anybody who wants to stay in touch with some great people doing great things.
Keep up the good work !

15 Jan 2007

judgement and planning in chess

"Planning" is a very common word, and it's used in basically all fields. Which is why one of the things i find extremely interesting is to look at other fields and try to figure out certain particularities of their form of planning, which might help me understand my role better, and make more out of it.

I am currently reading an absolutely fascinating book called "Judgement and planning in chess", written by dr. Max Euwe. The book is a wonderful introduction in the complexity of the phenomenon called chess, cause chess is obviously much more than a simple strategy game. With a number of legal positions estimated somewhere between 1043 and 1050, and with a game-tree complexity of approximately 10123, chess offers an enourmous amount of possibilities to seriously challenge one's mind. And the more you practise, the more absorbed you get.
The following extract is the introduction of the book, which i particularly liked for its description of "planning" in chees: "Often when a player has a fair understading of the principles of chess and can make quite pretty combinations, two or three moves deep and occasionally, in simple positions, even four, he suddenly notices, as he meets stronger players, that his development seems to have come at a standstill. He loses games without being able to asses the cause. He works out a series of moves as far ahead as he possibly can and then notices that his opponent has planned it and though it in an entirely diferent direction; in short, he loses the grip on the game which he had possessed at a previous stage. He learns opening variations by heart without accurately knowing why just these moves are played, with the result that he finds himself in totally unfamilia positions - positions which may well be favourable though he has neither any idea why they are so nor knowledge as to how to turn them to his advantage.
A new element enters the chess battle at this stage - namely "positional understanding". It does not grow of itself but must be developed by the process of drawing conclusions in practical play.It represents the increasing ability to form a judgement on any position whatever without going into details of exact calculation.
Just like the doctor, who first has to gain a clear picture of the diseased condition in order afterwards to plan the process of the cure - diagnosis, treatment - the chess player must malke a plan on the basis of such characteritics as he has found in the examination of a given position. Steinitz' axiom that the plan to me made must be in keeping with the characteristics of the position appears self-evident to us, for it is the logical outcome of our present method of taking effective action, though sixty years ago Steinitz' stipulation created a very revolution in chess thought.
Judging and planning. Coming back to our remarks on opening variations, we find that the theoretical work judges for us, generally by means of such symbols as + - =, etc. But this judgement in itself is not enough: we have to know not only which of the two players stands better, but also why. And with this the first step is taken, on the basis of Steinitz' axiom, towards the making of a plan. The forming of a judgement, and the making of a plan, are the topics to be dealt with in this book. They form for the beginner, the bridge, that takes him across to those higher regions where not impulse but reason determines the choice of a move without, however, minimising the significance of what we call "intuition"."

12 Jan 2007


video originally updated by LC323, who explains: "What if director Ingmar Bergman did a commercial for Coca Cola? Written and directed by Leslie Chase, the film is set in the late 50's and follows the thirsty, lonely lives of two Swedish sisters. "Plotting facial poses" and "repressing desires" while yearing for the taste of Coca Cola. Starring Leslie Chase and Allison Mackie. Cameo by hairy arm."

9 Jan 2007

publishing science, accelerating research

I have always been fascinated by reading pieces of research in different areas, and trying to understand them, or at least make something out of them. I think this might be a reminiscence of highschool times when i used to have endless discussions with my Philosophy teacher (who's a brilliant guy), my Maths teacher (who is in fact a proffesor teaching in the University of Bucharest) and my Physics teacher (who trained the Romanian team taking part in international olympiads). It was absolutely fantastic to tackle such issues with them, and i felt really lucky i was challenged to understand and reflect upon really complicated things.

However, with entering advertising and not actually having any such pro around to provoke me and so on, i didn't exactly stay focused enough on such matters. Until this winter break, when i talked to Space a lot about neuroscience, and with some other friend (PhD in Physics, in Romania for holidays only) about, well, physics, and with another bunch of smart people about science in general and astronomy...And i got the old flame back. Which is why it was a thrill for me to discover PLoS One: Publishing Science, Accelerating Research. The site, in beta, is "a new way of communicating peer-reviewed science and medicine" - basically, an open source of research in various domains. As prof. Lon Cardon, of University of Oxford, says: "PLoS meets a crucial need. By providing scientists from different disciplines with easy and free access to high quality research papers PLoS should actually enhance scientific progress itself."

8 Jan 2007

5 things you may not have known about me

i kinda got tagged by Bogdana. And now i have to comply and reveal my darkest secrets.

1. i have studied logics&philosophy very intensely and i was sure i'd become a philosophy teacher or something of the kind. i even graduated the Center of Excellence in Philosophy (where i also started studying old greek) and was accepted by The Philosophy Faculty, University of Bucharest, which i dropped after only a few months, out of extreme disappointment. My parents would have liked me to study physics.

2. i used to be absolutely fascinated by egiptology and i learnt a lot about hieroglyphs.

3. i was part of a theater group called "Personae" and we played lots of Beckett. God, i miss those times !

4. i absolutely, completely, totally hate being photographed.

5. i am a vegetarian.
Further tags (i hope you guys haven't already answered this): Cosmin, Razvan, Stefan.

6 Jan 2007

if you can dream it, you can do it.

One of the greatest things in blogging is that whenever you feel a bit down, or a bit confused, or a bit insecure, it's nearly impossible not to find some clever thinking or some great support coming from your fellow bloggers.
photo by Don Farrall
For example, i am very excited and frightened these days, because i'm embarking on a whole new project, which tackles some of the things i've learnt and applied during the years, and which is very much related to my planning job, but also quite different from it. All this feels extremely engaging, due to the passion and the enthusiasm and the challenge and the willingness to do something meaningful. But i'm also scared to death cause i realise that, after all, it means walking on some very new ground. However, reading this adorable post from Sharon reminded me that it's not that difficult to become an expert at something you know nothing about, as long as your interest in that thing overcomes any other potential obstacles, such as fear and the thought of quitting. Inspired by Steve Pavlina's post, "What are the odds of becoming a black belt?", Sharon quotes the following tips:
  1. Have a committment to mastery.
  2. Stay with it for the long haul.
  3. Don't let it bother you that you suck at first.
  4. Don't be discouraged that most people fail.
  5. Focus on learning rather than winning at first.

And in the end, as Vince Lombardi said, “I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious”. I'll post more about my little adventure very soon.

5 Jan 2007

building a bright green future

this must be one of those things that everybody knows about and checks out frequently and i'm the only one who doesn't know about it, but i have just come across it and fell in love with it.

Listening to photographer Ed Burtynsky's Ted speech revealed a fantastic blog called World Changing, which is an amazing collection of articles, tools, models and ideas for building a better future, all coming from contributors all around the world: "WorldChanging.com works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. That plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together."

3 Jan 2007

hard times

i have been away for a little while and apparently missed some very important moments. Gavin Heaton, of Servant of Chaos, one of the greatest and most supportive bloggers, has been going through a very tough time, since his father in law was involved in a serious accident. He could use all the support and good thinking that we all can provide. And, furthermore, Cam Beck has gone a step further setting up a special page for donations and support. Take care, Gavin !