Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Patt Morrison for Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

1-3 p.m.






1:06 – 1:19

Ben Stein says tax me: why he’s not happy with Obama, the Tea Party or Bush

In the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” Ben Stein plays an economics teacher, lecturing a bored-looking class about supply side economics, as championed by President Ronald Reagan during the 1980’s.  In real life, it turns out Stein isn’t much of a fan of that economic theory—blaming “the folly of supply side economics,” identifying the tax cuts of President George W. Bush, the ramped up spending of President Barack Obama and the “inflexible belief” of some Republicans that “low taxes were an American birthright,” Stein leveled criticism at just about everyone involved with the protracted debt ceiling fight.  Stein blasted all of the key players during a commentary aired on CBS “Sunday Morning” this weekend but it’s not the first time he’s been critical of the resistance to tax increases, arguing that the richest Americans can afford to pay a little more in taxes.  Plus, said the economist Stein on CBS, “That large cuts would yield higher government revenue…there never was any convincing data to back that up.”  We hear directly from the self-identified conservative economist about why taxes should be increased, spending should be decreased and how the country’s political leadership missed a golden opportunity to make some tough but necessary decisions.  Perhaps Uncle Sam can even win some of Ben Stein’s money if, as he has argued, we let those Bush tax cuts expire.



Ben Stein, actor, economist, lawyer, political commentator





1:21:30 – 1:39





1:41:30 – 1:58:30

Makeup producers up the ante on perfection once again

Companies like L’Oreal, Maybelline and Lancôme have long been operating under the premise that the visage of an actual person—even a famous person—isn’t enough to appeal to the modern consumer. They long dropped the mere child’s play of makeup for the big guns: digital air brushing that’s taken off and out of the realm of attainability. Now the British consumer watchdog Advertising Standards Agency is trying to put an end to this. They’re suing companies like Lancôme, charging that “excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm,” and we better “get back to reality.” Lancôme retorts that the pictures are only “aspirational.” And do they have a point? Should consumers—men, women, children, around the world—be given credit to know the difference and appreciate it anyway? Can we both be drawn in by the lure of such ads but still separate the illusion from reality? The preoccupation with physical beauty is as old as time, but has the influence that corporations have on our perceptions of ourselves and the way they manipulate people's insecurities about their bodies for profit changed in recent years? Or have love-your-body campaigns like the ones promoted by Dove altered the advertising landscape?




Jo Swinson, Liberal Member of Parliament from East Dunbartonshire



Sasha Strauss, founder of Innovation Protocol, a management consulting firm focused on brand marketing; he also teaches and lectures on brand marketing at USC, UCLA and UCI




2:06 – 2:39





2:41:30 – 2:58:30

Social x-ray glasses: curing social awkwardness and exposing your private emotions

Have you ever had the frustrating experience of wishing the person you were talking to would pick up on the subtle body language you’re trying to convey? Or, conversely, wishing that you could more accurately read the emotions of those around you? Turns out you’re not alone: the average person only accurately reads facial expressions 54% of the time. Luckily, researchers Rana el Kaliouby and Rosalind Picard have a cure for our social awkwardness: social x-ray specs. It started with el Kaliouby’s desire to create a device to help people with Asperber’s syndrome or on the autism spectrum, with whom reading social cues is a daily struggle. First, el Kaliouby had predominant facial expressions identified: thinking, agreeing, concentrating, interested, confused, and disagreeing. Next, she and Picard developed glasses that read and interpret the expressions through a tiny camera and computer and convey them to the glasses-wearer with visual cues, including varying colors, and a summary through an earphone.


The prototype proved popular with autistic people and the glasses, as well as similar technologies, are on the market now. El Kaliouby’s company, Affectiva, currently sells the technology to companies wanting to read, for example, how an audience responds to an advertisement or movie. Another technology, the jerk-o-meter, a badge worn around the neck, monitors how aggressive an individual is being based on his pitch and volume—the results of which can be sent wirelessly to, for example, a smartphone. Vertex Data Science uses similar technology on customer service representatives and claims to increase sales by as much as 20%. There’s even a jerk-o-meter, or sociometric badge, that measures speaking frequency, time, physical proximity, and person spoken to that has shown that: “Simply being able to see their role in a group made people behave differently, and caused the group dynamics to become more even. The entire group’s emotional intelligence had increased” (Physica A). Then there’s Picard’s Q Sensor hand glove, which allows the monitoring of emotions you may be hiding but that appear through temperature and skin conductance. Picard’s even developed a webcam that can do this, in principle without your consent, by reading your heart rate, blood pressure, and skin temperature largely through color changes in your face. Are social x-ray specs something you think could benefit you or someone you know? Or do you think emotions are best kept private unless expressed or detected by someone’s who’s emotionally adept?



Rana el Kaliouby, research scientist, MIT Media Lab



Jonathan Serviss
Senior Producer, Patt Morrison
Southern California Public Radio
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