I would like to begin this week’s column with a small precursor: I am currently sans boyfriend. As everyone knows this grants me the right to be all woo-hoo about how free and single I am and enjoy the fact that I don’t have to share my Pringles with anyone. Taking that into account, I would like to discuss a hotly debated topic among my friends: couples on social media.

According to a new study, published this week, there is a direct correlation between soppy Facebook posts and a happy, committed couple. Yeah. Catalina Toma and Mina Choi, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted research by examining the eDA (that’s electronic display of affection, can I trademark that?) of student couples as well as the result of their relationship over the course of six months. Apparently the six-month timeframe was chosen because previous research has shown that relationships between students have a decent chance of crashing and burning in that time… Any students coming up to a six month anniversary maybe make your beau a bacon sandwich or something this weekend just to keep that shit locked down.

Read full article on The Debrief



Following a complaint filed by PETA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed cat abuse in taxpayer-funded brain experiments at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison) and fined the school more than $35,000 for seven separate violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

In one incident, a cat named Broc was severely burned by UW-Madison staff during surgery. Broc has been confined to a cage at UW-Madison for 12 years and is still imprisoned there today. A cat named NJ even had to have her eye removed after a metal coil became the site of frequent, serious infections.

A federal inspector reported that all the cats whom PETA profiled in its complaint had been “diagnosed with chronic infections” after having steel posts screwed to their heads and metal coils implanted in their eyes. The USDA noted that some cats had died because of these infections.

Double Trouble was tormented for months in a taxpayer-funded “sound localization” experiment. The gentle orange tabby developed serious infections, became depressed, and started to twitch, and half her face became paralyzed. Records show that Double Trouble’s anesthesia wore off during one surgery and that she woke up to what was likely a painful and horrifying experience as experimenters were cutting into her head and skull.

Experimenters justified using 30 cats per year not by saying that the experiments would lead to improvements in human health, but rather by stating that they needed to “keep up a productive publication record that ensures our constant funding.

After hearing from COUNTLESS PETA supporters the University of Wisconsin Madison has ENDED its cruel cat experiments and is adopting out its remaining cats! Reblog if you are HAPPY for cats today!
The Vocal Iconicity Challenge!
Devise a system of vocalizations to communicate a set of Paleolithic-relevant meanings. Your vocalizations will be tested by the ability of naïve listeners to successfully guess their meaning from a list of alternatives. The team whose vocalizations are guessed most accurately will be crowned Vocal Iconicity Champion! and winner of the $1000 Saussure Prize. Teams will devise vocalizations to communicate 30 Paleolithic-relevant meanings, divided into three semantic classes – actions (8 items), animate and inanimate things (12), and properties (10). Actions: eat, cook, sleep, gather, hunt, hide, cut, pound Things: man, woman, child, snake, tiger, deer, meat, water, fruit, rock, knife, fire Properties: good, bad, big, small, sharp, dull, one, many, this, that Vocalizations must be produced by the vocal apparatus of a human team member. For example, you may not use recordings from the Internet, nor may you record your barking dog, even after you have cleverly included him on your team.

This is an interesting study from University of Wisconsin-Madison looking at what early human communication might have sounded like. The challenge is open until July 15 - how to enter and more details about the study can be found here

I hope they release the winning sounds later for us all to hear! Perhaps as a public quiz? Even if they can’t use the quiz results in the actual research, I think it would be really fun and educational to try for oneself. 


Dearest Students,

This is my own composition notebook homework assignment in progress. Professor Chewbacca reflects on the crayon experience. I’ve inked it and now I’m coloring it in

I like to figure out problems in my composition notebook using drawing and slow writing and non-photo blue pencil to help me with certain problems that defy being approached head on. I’ve found there is something to moving ones hand in a certain way – like a coloring way– while filling in a space and half thinking and half not-thinking about this something you are trying to figure out that invites possible answers to present themselves..


Professor Chewbacca

Sooooo I’m definitely positive that this flash of Kevin’s girlfriend’s school is Bascom Hill at UW-Madison. Because I walk up that hill like every other day and that is without a doubt my college campus. IN SUPERNATURAL. I mean, I know you guys love Wisconsin but usually the Wisconsin episodes are filmed in Vancouver, so it’s quite flattering to show the ACTUAL Wisconsin, even though you’re pretending it’s somewhere in Michigan.

(I mean, come on, you can see the UW flags and everything. I don’t think Michigan school would have a huge red and white W everywhere.)

Poster for Lynda Barry’s class, “The Unthinkable Mind”, Spring 2013 at The University of Wisconsin-Madison


Spring 2013

Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

Day: Mon/Weds

Time: 1:20 -3:50

Location: 6261 Humanities

Limit: 20 Students, composed of eight students whose main interests are in the Humanities, eight students whose main interests are in the Sciences, and four wild cards.

Credits 3-4

Instructor: Lynda Barry

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

This is a rigorous class with a substantial workload. Along with twice weekly writing, picture making, and memorization assignments, students will be required to complete a handmade book using visual and written elements by the end of the semester.

Although this class is open to both graduate and undergraduate students from all academic disciplines, priority will be give to Art, Science, and English students currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin.

Applications for the class will be accepted either in person or by mail until 3:00 PM THURSDAY DECEMBER 5th. No electronic submissions will be accepted, but students will be receive an email confirmation that their application has been received. Class list will be announced on Wednesday, December 12th.

The Unthinkable Mind 2013 c/o UW-Madison Art Department
6241 Humanities Building
455 North Park Street
Madison, WI  53706

All applications must be formatted exactly as follows to be considered:  typed, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman with standard margins, black ink on regular white paper, no longer than 4 single-sided pages, stapled in the upper left hand corner.

Prospective students should answer each of the questions below without putting too much thought into it. The first answers that come to mind are the ones I’m most interested in.

Questions for Students Applying to “The Unthinkable Mind”

 1. Full Name:

 2. Student ID Number (10 digits,  no dashes or spaces)

 3. Email address: (please use your email address)

 4. Degree program or area of study and year  (eg BFA, Dance, Junior)

 5. This course is offered through different departments. Select the department through which you would like to take the course.

 6. Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

 7. What classes did you take during Fall Semester of 2012? Why?

 8. What classes will you be taking  Spring Semester of 2013? Why?

 9. What were some of the books you read as a kid?

10. What were some of the games you played?

11. What were some of your favorite fictional characters when you were growing up. (These can be any kind of fictional characters at all, from literary to cartoon to video game characters.)

 12. Who was your favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 13. Who was your least favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 14. Was there an object or thing disturbed you as a kid? Why?

 15. Was there an object or thing that did the opposite for you? Why?

 16. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that frustrated you?

 17. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that made you happy?

 19. What was your least favorite kind of fictional creature?

 20. What would be your least favorite kind of fictional environment?

 21. How do you feel about writing by hand?