Shanghai Building to be Demolished

Philosophy

September 27th, 2016

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Why wouldn’t people buy Hermione Granger and the Philosopher’s Stone?

This is an interesting argument, that Hermione might have been one of the more original aspects of Harry Potter, and perhaps its most tolerable aspect.

This is something that the Harry Potter fan community has been discussing for years: Hermione drives the story because she has her own story. No one in their right mind would trust 13-year-old Harry Potter with a Time Turner, but Hermione gets one and she deserves it. She dates a celebrity, and she outsmarts Rita Skeeter, ...

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September 27th, 2016

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Inequality ruins romance

Interesting article:

Lily is, essentially, upper middle class. She has enough money and status to play bridge and attend balls with the truly wealthy, but she is living beyond her means, and her debts are always mounting. In order to secure a place for herself in society and to pay off her debts, she has to find a rich husband. Lily’s story illustrates the strain of the upper middle class trying to achieve true wealth—and the terrible consequences of failure—in a ...

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September 20th, 2016

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Software as a metaphor for human behavior

I’m focusing on “sensitivity chip”. Interesting:

Jennifer Aniston is interviewed by Vanity Fair’s Leslie Bennetts. In the profile, titled The “Unsinkable Jennifer Aniston,” Aniston (crying the whole time) speaks on her marriage to Pitt, telling Bennetts, “We’re divorced, and you can see why,” referring to the aforementioned W spread.

She adds, “Brad is not mean-spirited; he would never intentionally try to rub something in my face. In hindsight, I can see him going, ‘Oh—I can see that that was inconsiderate.’ But I ...

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September 18th, 2016

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Women at the White House amplify what they each say, so as to avoid being ignored

This is brilliant:

In the early days of the Obama White House, nearly two-thirds of Obama’s senior staffers and advisors were men. The Washington Post reports that the “women complained of having to elbow their way into important meetings. And when they got in, their voices were sometimes ignored.”

So, the women of the Obama White House banded together and sketched out a strategy that would effectively force their male colleagues to listen to them. They called it “amplification,” a simple ...

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September 18th, 2016

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The universe as a Church encoding

I think it is extremely messy that math has integers, fractions, irrational numbers and worse. If I was rich, I would work on a model of the universe where the only primitive is the function. One has to admit, the idea of a universe with only one primitive is extremely attractive.

In mathematics, Church encoding is a means of representing data and operators in the lambda calculus. The data and operators form a mathematical structure which is embedded in the ...

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September 18th, 2016

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What sort of apps would we get if everyone could program?

This issue has been brought up many times over the decades, most especially with Hypercard, and then again with the invention of the Web in 1989. Are there categories of software that we don’t get now because the only people who create software are highly skilled specialists?

Here is a story of a young woman creating an app, and it suggests what the world might be like if anyone could create software:

A lot has changed since I was in ...

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September 18th, 2016

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Video games as a supplement to other mental medications

Interesting:

At a young age I knew I was different, but always just hid behind a theatre kid exterior and chalked all my anxiety up to “budding creativity” that just needed an outlet. Surprise! Turns out my anxiety is actually a chemical imbalance in my brain that kept escalating until it exploded. I was nearly 21, living at college, and having a full-on anxiety attack every day. After dropping about 10 pounds (I’m very small to begin with) and not being ...

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September 18th, 2016

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The economy is a collection of many distinct but interconnected practices

Or as Joseph Schumacher said, “The social process is really one indivisible whole!”

This is interesting:

We should see our economy not simply as a capitalist market system but as a collection of “many distinct but interconnected practices”. Neither the traditional economist’s focus on firms in markets nor the Marxist political economist’s focus on exploitation of wage labour by capital is a viable way of understanding the real economy, and the book takes some steps towards an alternative view.

Both of ...

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September 18th, 2016

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Post-Real Theory

I think this is actually happening in most fields, not just economics. It’s happening in physics, in biology, in computer technology:

In response to the observation that the shocks [in DSGE models] are imaginary, a standard defense invokes Milton Friedman’s (1953) methodological assertion from unnamed authority that “the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions (p.14).” More recently, “all models are false” seems to have become the universal hand-wave for dismissing any fact that does not conform to the ...

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September 18th, 2016

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Is this a story about women in journalism in the 1920s, or is this a story about burnout?

Since I’ve dealt with my own episodes of burnout, I would say this sounds a lot like burnout. If you both love a profession and find yourself unmotivated to do the work, then you are suffering from depression/burnout.

The couple married in 1934. Velva sold her automotive Corona and would soon retire to the serenity of the Outpost Estates home where Rick grew up. She was free from the rat race.

And yet, when I looked in city directories for the ...

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September 17th, 2016

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How not to transition from celebrity life to politics

Ivanka Trump is used to getting easy questions from the celebrity press. She is surprised to face tough questions now that she has entered politics. Interesting:

For the rest of the interview, she’s combative: “You said he made those comments,” she says to Gupta. “I don’t know that he said those comments.” When Gupta reiterates that, yes, Donald Trump said pregnancy was an inconvenience, Trump responds, “There’s plenty of time for you to editorialize around this, but I think he put ...

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September 17th, 2016

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Americans are less enamored of the status quo

Interesting:

Politics is seeping into American public life — and with it, the belief that the status quo isn’t worth saving

We’ve seen in this cycle — in the candidacy of Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump — the appeal of a politics that puts forward a robust alternative vision for society. A politics that doesn’t just promise improvements to the lives of individual voters but declares what America itself ought to be.

That’s not a vision that can be put into ...

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September 11th, 2016

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Could crime prediction software force patterns of crime to continue as they have in the past?

If a town starts off, years ago, policing an area heavily because that area is black, and therefore many incidents in that area are formally reported, and then software is used to look for patterns of reports, and the software highlights the black areas, then we are using software to legitimate the over-policing of certain neighborhoods.

Very interesting article:

The fact that we even call these systems “predictive” is itself a telling sign of excessive confidence in the systems. The ...

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September 11th, 2016

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Rolling coal is sheer aggression

This is an interesting point:

Entire dissertations could be written about rolling coal. Even more than Trump’s ascension, it seems to perfectly capture a moment in time, an inarticulate yawp of protest from angry white men. They feel disdained and overlooked and they will blow thick black smoke in your face until you pay attention.

There’s no faux nostalgia involved. Unlike with, say, hunting, there’s no tale of rugged rural self-sufficiency to draw on. This is not some sturdy heartland tradition ...

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September 11th, 2016

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When co-workers doubt complaints of sexual harrassment

This is a story that I think will become a reference point, in future years, for how badly one’s co-workers react to this kind of thing:

Skepticism of women who report sexual misconduct is deeply ingrained in our culture. It’s a reflexive, often subconscious bias that can be hard to shake. Some people will take longer to shake it than others — even in the relatively hip-to-feminism era of 2016 America.

So it’s always encouraging to see people realize and publicly ...

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September 11th, 2016

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Women generally do more housework than men, but this pattern varies immensely in degree across countries and over time

The most interesting sentence:

These patterns of behaviour exist even among individuals living alone

This is a great article, but it doesn’t mention the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. But this seems to be an example of Sapir–Whorf:

Women generally do more housework than men, but this pattern varies immensely in degree across countries and over time. Why?

Using time-use survey data from the US, we show that female immigrants coming from countries whose dominant language relies on sex-based grammatical distinctions bear a far larger share of ...

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September 8th, 2016

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Political reactions to recent protests in Dallas

Interesting the way some people see broad conspiracies in what is probably a small terrorist plot:

Walsh gained a reputation while in office for aligning himself with a group of politicians who showed themselves to be rape apologists just before the 2012 election (which Walsh lost to Rep. Tammy Duckworth). Walsh, who is pro-life without exception, also somehow misinterpreted science so grossly that he stated publicly that it was virtually impossible for a woman to die from a pregnancy.

“This is an ...

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September 5th, 2016

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Hausdorff space

What is fully normalized data? Reading up on this, it is fascinating to consider the overlap here between database schemas and topology:

In topology and related branches of mathematics, a Hausdorff space, separated space or T2 space is a topological space in which distinct points have disjoint neighbourhoods. Of the many separation axioms that can be imposed on a topological space, the “Hausdorff condition” (T2) is the most frequently used and discussed. It implies the uniqueness of limits of sequences, nets, ...

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September 5th, 2016

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What is continuous?

I like this simple set of examples:

As an example, consider the function h(t), which describes the height of a growing flower at time t. This function is continuous. By contrast, if M(t) denotes the amount of money in a bank account at time t, then the function jumps at each point in time when money is deposited or withdrawn, so the function M(t) is discontinuous.

Source

September 5th, 2016

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Social media is the highlight reel of other people’s lives

Interesting comment:

Social media and the internet has made it incredibly easy to see the various people out there who are in the top of their league at any particular hobby, vocation or activity, and made it seem like that’s the ‘norm’. If you’re an entrepreneur, it can feel like everyone’s making millions off their startup ideas and that anyone who isn’t is a failure. If you’re a web developer, it can seem like the majority of developers are experts in every ...

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September 5th, 2016

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The oxytocin receptor gene comes in several variants

Interesting:

“The oxytocin receptor gene comes in several variants, and there are indications that some of these variants make you respond in less reactive ways to oxytocin in your blood,” explains Luc Goosens, a developmental psychologist at the University of Leuven in Belgium. If you have the most common genotype of the oxytocin receptor gene, GG, you may be more attuned to the emotions of others but also more sensitive to rejection and more likely to end up feeling lonely.

In a ...

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September 4th, 2016

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A virus that breaks itself up into 5 pieces before it spreads

And biology is also stranger than we can know:

A team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases has found a mosquito virus that’s broken up into pieces. And the mosquito needs to catch several of the pieces to get an infection.

“It’s the most bizarre thing,” says Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney, who wasn’t involved in the study. It’s like the virus is dismembered, he says.

“If you compare it to the human body, ...

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September 4th, 2016

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A galaxy of almost pure dark matter

The universe is stranger than we can ever know:

But now scientists have found something entirely new: a galaxy with the same mass as the Milky Way but with only 1 percent of our galaxy’s star power. About 99.99 percent of this other galaxy is made up of dark matter, and scientists believe it may be one of many.

The galaxy Dragonfly 44, described in a study published Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, is 300 million light years away. If scientists ...

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September 4th, 2016

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The political divisions in working class towns

The end of this article was where it got interesting:

Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Traficant, who went by the nickname Jimbo, annoyed and defied members of both parties, dished out scathing personal insults, blasted Washington insiders and purported to speak for the average Joe. He proposed sending troops to secure the Mexican border and criticized free trade. He even sported a flamboyant and gravity-defying hairdo, though it proved to be a toupee.

Back in Youngstown, the fondness for Mr. Traficant lingers despite ...

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September 4th, 2016

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The end of the 58 year old political cycle

Why did the the Western countries favor trade liberalization after World War II? There were many reasons, but a lot of it was driven by war. The USA wanted to create a free-trade zone that would be solid against Communism. France wanted to bind Germany in the European Coal and Steel Community to make World War III impossible. The great European empires collapsed, and the newly freed Third World had to be tempted away from Communism. The trade opened ...

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September 4th, 2016

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Normal_gaussian: The communication benefit group chats gave me was phenomenal

Interesting comment:

I was in school when msn and facebook were big. I lived in the same town as the school, which was a twenty minute drive from the village most of my friends lived in. They eventually forced me to use Facebook, and it changed my social life drastically. The communication benefit group chats gave me was phenomenal. Nowadays facebook lets me organise my climbing life, and makes a handy contact book for acquaintances. I’m on snapchat. I follow Justin because its funny, ...

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September 4th, 2016

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Mitochondrial genes show a similar pattern of change in a vast array of creatures

Interesting study:

We found the same two mitochondrial genes (cob and nad5) under selection in lineages that independently invaded the land. This was a strong hint that similar selective forces left their footprint in the mitochondrial genome; both genes encode enzymes deeply involved in the energy production pathway, which is in line with our assumption that adaptation to the land environment required changes to cope with the increased energy demands.

Mitochondrial proteins are vital to organisms, and as such are highly conserved ...

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September 3rd, 2016

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Will shows like “The Girlfriend Experience” ever explain the industry they cover?

Sad and lonely.

Empty.

Have there been good movies on this theme?

Why so few good shows for television or Netflix?

Some stories are written by those from the inside, but they never seem to get wide attention. Why?

It’s sort of like 50 Shades Of Gray. There have been hundreds of great novels written about BSDM. How is it possible that such a terrible novel carried BSDM into the mainstream? Why not one of the great novels? What is it about ...

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September 1st, 2016

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I stopped counting, she said, because it was too upsetting

This is a very dark and tragic story:

With her co-op board’s approval, Linda set up another security camera in the hallway of the third floor, and pointed it at Alex and Jonas’s apartment. She would watch the footage periodically, and over the next two months, Linda began sending Detective Nugent still photos of what she had seen. “They would come in with women who were happy and relaxed, and the women would come out—woman after woman—would looked stunned and upset ...

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August 25th, 2016

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The relentless criticism of sorority recruitment videos

An interesting point of view:

Despite the popularity of the 2016 Delta Gamma video, the comments it received on YouTube and Facebook are full of anger and criticism, particularly from men. The comments typically characterize the women in the video as shallow, dumb, slutty, time-wasting, privileged, un-diverse, and ignorant. “I look forward to seeing how little each of you contribute to society,” ran one typical piece of user feedback.

The existence of the video was an excuse for viewers to lash ...

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August 25th, 2016

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The alt-right meme

I had literally not heard of the “alt-right” until yesterday. And now I see there are several articles about its influence on politics in the USA. I suppose this is a case of a particular movement hitting some new level of power and so everyone needs a label for it?

For instance, Hillary Clinton is complaining about the alt-right:

In her most direct critique yet connecting the Trump campaign to white nationalists and the conservative fringe, Mrs. Clinton is framing Mr. ...

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August 25th, 2016

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End of the unacknowledged advertisement on social media?

Very slowly, the Internet is being forced to obey all the rules that apply to the rest of society:

Look at them, following rules! Only time will tell if these displays of somewhat honest business practices will stick or if they’re just playing along now while the story is still hot.

The Kardashian krackdown follows a report that the FTC is planning on getting tougher about sponsored content for all the C-list actors, reality stars and Instagram celebrities out there.

For now, an ...

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August 25th, 2016

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City as skyscrapers

Interesting point:

One of the weird cultural things in the US is the equation of “urban” with “downtown” and “downtown” with “Manhattan-like.” Basically, the city is where the skyscrapers are. NIMBYism related to density in urban areas that experience it (San Francisco especially these days) always raises the specter of 2-3 story residential neighborhoods being turned into “Manhattan” (And by Manhattan they mean Midtown or Downtown. You know, where the skyscrapers are).

Not everybody wants to live in Manhattan! Fair enough. ...

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August 22nd, 2016

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How much did war contribute to the strength of the early blogosphere?

Or rather, how much is debate energized by having an important issue to talk about? I think of this in relation to Andrew Sullivan:

And after 9/11, General Sullivan enlisted in the Fighting 101st Keyboard Kommandos, otherwise known as the “warbloggers,” whose primary mission was to fight America’s most important enemy, the enemy at home known as “Americans.”

In the Sunday Times of London on September 16, 2001 (!!), Andrew had these lines:

The middle part of the country – the great red ...

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August 22nd, 2016

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The 20% of Real America

The math behind this is interesting:

If you’re one of these “real Americans,” you’re in the majority in almost every respect. Most Americans are white, most are Christian, most don’t have college degrees, and most live in the South or Midwest Census Bureau regions. And yet, only about 1 in 5 voters meets all of these descriptions.

Source

August 22nd, 2016

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Blinded by its simultaneous romanticization of and contempt for working-class America

A very interesting article:

But most of all, this kind of punditry, while ostensibly praising the Real America, is in fact marked by deep condescension. One pats the simple folk on the head, praising their lack of exposure to quinoa or Thai food — both of which can be found in food courts all across the country. Sorry, but there are no country bumpkins in modern America. Most of us, in all walks of life, have a pretty good sense of ...

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August 19th, 2016

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When is a woman a woman?

A great article about Caster Semenya and the unfair way that the Olympics tries to narrowly define what it means to be a woman:

What is it, exactly, that makes me a woman? Is it my breasts? If so, is it because they are a certain size? Is it that I have a womb? Does it matter that I have no idea if my womb works because I’ve never tried to get pregnant? Is it my two X chromosomes or my ...

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August 19th, 2016

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Unnecessary amounts of gender at the Olympics?

Interesting:

Indian gymnast, Dipa Karmakar, just missed an Olympic medal by a small margin. She is the first Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics. Dipa is one of only five women worldwide who have successfully completed the Produnova, the most difficult vault currently performed in women’s gymnastics. Here is an excellent article by Sharda Ugra of ESPN on Dipa, on the northeastern state of Tripura where she comes from, and on the story behind gymnastics’ unusual popularity there. ...

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August 19th, 2016

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Limits on hate speech in Western democracies

An interesting article about hate-speech:

The second kind of argument concerns hate itself, and the insidious effects that hateful ideologies have on individuals, groups, and the polity. EU reports make an effort to capture the essential nature and harms of hate (link). Hate incites mistrust, disrespect, discrimination, and violence against members of other groups. The social effects of hate are toxic and serious. Do these effects suffice to justify limiting hate speech?

This is a difficult argument to make within the context ...

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August 19th, 2016

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The Roman economy was in danger of continuous secular stagnation

Here is Mark Koyama, who sounds stupid while trying to sound smart:

For Brown’s thesis to hold, therefore, the Roman economy must have been in danger of continuous secular stagnation.

Of course, every single economy in the history of the world was in continuous secular stagnation before 5,000 BC, and nearly all economies were in continuous secular stagnation from 5,000 BC to 1,500 AD. Escape from continuous secular stagnation is rare. Continuous growth, for several decades, is extremely rare in human ...

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August 16th, 2016

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What the culture gains and loses from gay dating apps

Interesting:

My biggest concern about my use of Grindr is that it will inflate my ego—and that I’ll furthermore get used to that inflation so that the day it pops, and I realize I’m too old to be considered desirable by any but a small niche, will fling me into a free fall. But for men whose egos have been already deflated by cultural stereotypes—as is the case for a gay Filipino-American academic I talked to for this piece, Anthony Ocampo, ...

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August 16th, 2016

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The big new insult of 2016

Interesting:

Although “cuckold” has been used since the thirteenth century (the word itself derived from cuckoo birds, which lay eggs in another’s nest), “cuck” was added to Urban Dictionary in 2007. Any more exact tracing of its origins is lost in the dense knot of the internet and the speed with which its population seized upon an insult to emasculate others. The word gained political potency during the 2016 election in the portmanteau “cuckservative” (cuck + conservative) used to imply that the ...

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August 11th, 2016

In Philosophy

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The problem with Terry Richardson

This is a good point about Terry Richardson:

His style reflects the non-aesthetic of the grunge 1990s, when Richardson began work as a photographer, and his punk youth as a heroin addict. Subjects ranging from Beyonce to President Obama stand in front of a white backdrop, captured in candid and unexpected, yet still flattering moments strongly reminiscent of a rawer, sexualized Jeurgen Teller. Images posted to Richardson’s Twitter showcase mundane, unsurprising locations. The photographer appears in front of the camera ...

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August 7th, 2016

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The viewpoint of police in Germany

Interesting:

Another reason for that is the difference in prison sentences. If I was a drug dealer in the US and I had 20 pounds of coke in my trunk when a cop stops me for a broken taillight, I’d seriously calculate my chances of killing him and getting away. There is simply no reason for me to do that in Germany. The prison sentences are laughable here. It’s just not worth it. If they arrest me with the coke here, ...

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August 7th, 2016

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The popularity of artificial languages in the 1800s

Interesting:

Volapük was a hit! Volapük clubs started popping up throughout Europe. Large conventions were held first in Friedrichshafen in 1884, then Munich in 1887, and finally Paris in 1889. The first two conventions were held in German, but by the third conference, everyone was speaking in Volapük, even the waiters!

Kerckhoffs, who was an early friend and popularizer of the language, would subsequently sow the seeds for its destruction. Kerckhoffs was unhappy with some parts of the language and thought they ...

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August 7th, 2016

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Confusing French

Hilarious:

Gender’s a bitch. Le poêle: a stove. La poêle: a frying pan. A man’s shirt, une chemise, is feminine, but a woman’s shirt, un chemisier, is masculine.

This is also good:

Another way to try to rate the difficulty of a language is to consider its unusual features: putting the verb before the subject in a sentence, for example, or not having a question particle (“do”). Researchers analyzed two hundred and thirty-nine languages to create the Language Weirdness Index, anointing Chalcatongo Mixtec—a ...

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August 6th, 2016

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What causes burnout?

A very interesting article:

We commonly use the term “burnout” to describe the state of exhaustion suffered by the likes of Steve. It occurs when we find ourselves taken over by this internal protest against all the demands assailing us from within and without, when the momentary resistance to picking up a glass becomes an ongoing state of mind.

Burnout didn’t become a recognised diagnosis until 1974, when the German-American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger applied the term to the increasing number of ...

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August 6th, 2016

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You don’t have plenty of time

I love this:

“Plenty of time” is a fat bankroll, and you’re buying drinks at the bar. “Plenty of time” is wasted training cycles when you weren’t taking care of business. “Plenty of time” is failing at the little things, but it’s cool because it’s NBD. “Plenty of time” is spent before you know it. “Plenty of time” isn’t.

I’m not talking about priorities. You should have those, and believe me, Powerlifting hasn’t been #1 in my life maybe ever. I’m fine ...

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August 5th, 2016

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Conversations which have not changed in 50 years

I relate to the bit about this conversation being tired:

How tired are you of talking about “women in comics?” Can the conversation move on to something more nuanced/complex or in your opinion is it still a necessity to highlight the gender disparity in your field?

I’m so tired that I could be medically dead. It’s historically and culturally ignorant; like, if you don’t know who Marie Severin is and why she’s important, you don’t fucking know comics. Period. To act like ...

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August 3rd, 2016

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Prison should not be a government’s profit center

A very worrisome attitude among some government officials:

The next to fall in Mississippi will be workers at regional jails that have lost 20 percent of their inmates. Officials in Stone County and George County said that around 40 employees in each would be laid off if the jails were forced to close, a necessity if the inmate population or the state reimbursement doesn’t increase. The counties are losing $72,000 per month each, officials said. Both counties still owe significant sums ...

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August 3rd, 2016

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A Swede lands in Silicon Valley and is disappointed

A very interesting point of view:

I encountered levels of homelessness and mental illness that I was entirely unprepared for, but was repeatedly discouraged from donating any spare change by my new American community. It’s not your problem, that was the mantra that un-ironically flowed from the lips of entrepreneurs that otherwise convinced themselves that they were making the world a better place, presumably for themselves and the people who were their problem. There was something absurd and almost obscene about ...

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August 2nd, 2016

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Why do people join hate groups?

This is an interesting article:

But it is problematic to use data garnered in externalist studies to draw conclusions about micromobilization since it is not possible to infer the motivations of activists from the external conditions in which the group emerged. Because people are drawn to far-right movements for a variety of reasons that have little connection to political ideology (Blee 2002)—including a search for community, affirmation of masculinity, and personal loyalties— what motivates someone to join an anti-immigrant group, for ...

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August 2nd, 2016

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Grief regarding the end of the old political system

My sense is the changes will eventually involve fundamental constitutional revision. For now, people are talking about minor changes of policy:

The emergence of the Trump and Sanders insurgencies in the US, the Brexit vote in Britain, the formation of ultra-nationalists movements in Europe, are obvious markers of the new mood. The sea-change presents itself in different ways in different places. ISIS is a protest too.

Writers on the left have been taking positions on these issues for years, not ...

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August 1st, 2016

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Why people hate Clinton

This is an interesting point of view:

My research indicates that the reality — the facts (I realize facts are immaterial when talking to many Trump supporters) — are that Hillary Clinton is one of the most honest politicians tracked by the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking project Politifact. I would also call upon Jill Abramson’s piece in the Guardian. Most of you probably know Abramson from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. Abramson writes:

As an editor I’ve launched ...

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July 25th, 2016

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This is one dirty latrine

I’m trying to imagine how dirty a latrine gets after 220 years of use?

Cambridge researchers Hui-Yuan Yeh and Piers Mitchell used microscopy to study preserved faeces on ancient ‘personal hygiene sticks’ (used for wiping away faeces from the anus) in the latrine at what was a large Silk Road relay station on the eastern margins of the Tamrin Basin, a region that contains the Taklamakan desert. The latrine is thought to date from 111 BC (Han Dynasty) and was in ...

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July 23rd, 2016

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The rigidity of gender norms

An optimistic take would be that the people most willing to reconsider gender norms are non-conformists who see no need to get married. So the lack of flexible marriages doesn’t indicate a lack of flexible relationships. A very interesting article:

Bargaining models of the household assume that households are able to bargain – that men and women can change the way that they relate to each other; they can change the way that they spend money and allocate tasks. And ...

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July 21st, 2016

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Milo Yiannopoulos is proving the power of the modern troll

Milo Yiannopoulos has a style and humor that could only work in the era of Internet. He first gained fame from Gamergate. Trolls need attention, but they also get attention for getting attention — that is, their fans are often minor trolls themselves, all hungry for attention, so they give props to the better trolls, for being good at it, just like a tennis player might admire another tennis player of exceptional skill.

Milo Yiannopoulos, a bleach-blond Brit whose ...

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July 21st, 2016

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Honey Lee Cottrell is dead

I haven’t read Susie Bright in a while, so I missed this:

Honey Lee was my second butch girlfriend, but she was my first famous love, my first older woman lover . At the end of our first date, she dropped me off on the curb and said, “Bye–You’re a nice kid.” I was put out by that, but I was dutifully intimidated. Honey Lee had already been partners with a string of women who were like the Who’s Who of ...

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July 20th, 2016

In Philosophy

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The Republican National Convention

I laughed:

Jenkins also reportedly asked the crowd to “raise your hand if you believe in science,” to which they responded with boos.

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July 20th, 2016

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Germs protect from allergies, biting nails helps

A very interesting theory:

When they tested at 13 for allergies to common things such as dust, grass, cats, dogs and molds, they found that 38% of those who had an “oral habit” tested positive — whereas 49% of those who didn’t suck their thumbs or bite their nails tested positive. This “protection” was still there at 32.

This fits with the “hygiene hypothesis,” which says that when children are exposed to germs early in life, their immune system gets trained to ...

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July 13th, 2016

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You are dragging this man by his ankles, through sliding glass doors down wide empty aisles

Isn’t this a brilliant opening paragraph?

You think: I want a flathead screwdriver. You imagine a large hardware store by your house. You are dragging this man by his ankles, through sliding glass doors down wide empty aisles, his pinkish, chewed down nails clacking against gray tile and his mouth still flapping though not saying too much of anything useful. In a word, blathering. Yammering. Prattling, etc. An unending tape loop of your yadda-yadda-yaddas.

That’s from Matthew Thompson. I worked with him ...

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July 13th, 2016

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Why national legislators in the USA are ignorant about important topics

A very interesting article about the political process in the USA:

What now surprises me is when I come across a member of Congress who really does understand a particular issue in detail. And this sometimes does happen. Little pockets of expertise are scattered hither and yon all throughout Capitol Hill — especially when members dig in to work on idiosyncratic pieces of legislation that are off the radar of big-time partisan conflict. But on most issues, most of the time, ...

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July 10th, 2016

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How people get sober

A good article. And the struggle to learn new habits:

The modern world is designed for loneliness. Podcasts, Netflix, Amazon streaming. All that technology can disconnect us, yes, but it can also keep us tethered when real human contact feels like too much work. I spent six months in hiding, and do you know what I discovered in that time? How common it was. So many people drop out of life for MUCH more dire reasons than mine. Medical diagnoses, ...

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July 10th, 2016

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How to be a writer

I love this article:

I became a writer relatively late, well into my 40s. That makes me a second-career or mid-career writer, even though by now, I rarely use the qualifiers at all. Like millions of other people in the world, I now identify myself simply as a writer. It seemed like a great act of personal delusion (or vanity) to think I could join the ranks of such an exalted club, the one full of people whose tools are only ...

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July 10th, 2016

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Asymptotic

I’ve always known what this word meant yet I don’t think I could have come up with so clear an example:

A simple illustration, when considering a function f(n), is when there is a need to describe its properties as n becomes very large. Thus, if f(n) = n2+3n, the term 3n becomes insignificant compared to n2, when n is very large. The function f(n) is said to be “asymptotically equivalent to n2 as n → ∞”, and this is ...

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July 10th, 2016

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Emi Bryant Lotto moves to Kodansha

I worked with Lotto at Open Road Media. She is very in-touch with current trends in certain segments of the culture. In particular, new genres and new media formats, of which she can be said to be at the very cutting edge. From Japanese Kanji to manga to whichever genres of novels are doing well in the current publishing environment, Lotto is always absorbing more about this unique moment of rapid cultural evolution. I learned a lot from her.

Perhaps most ...

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July 10th, 2016

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Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you

These are great quotes:

Source

July 9th, 2016

In Philosophy

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Why are Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston pretending to date each other?

I admit, I am utterly intrigued with this story, since this is apparently how young people, and their celebrities, are adapting to the Internet. In an era where celebrities can’t have real privacy, the only way for them to control the narrative is to go to war with it.

Most telling, though, is Swift’s own demonstrated self-awareness about her image. Swift — not to mention her team of publicists and agents — is savvy about the realities of media attention, ...

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July 9th, 2016

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Why the police sometimes abuse their authority

This is an interesting point of view, written by a black police officer:

And no matter what an officer has done to a black person, that officer can always cover himself in the running narrative of heroism, risk, and sacrifice that is available to a uniformed police officer by virtue of simply reporting for duty. Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was acquitted of all charges against him in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, both black and ...

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June 29th, 2016

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In Pergamon there is a huge marble altar, forty feet tall with large sculptures: it also includes a Gigantomachy (Battle of the Giants)

This sounds amazing:

In January 1880 the great Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, author of Fathers and Sons and one of the most cosmopolitan Russian writers of the time, was visiting Berlin, when he paid a visit to the Altes Museum. What he saw there not only made a profound impression upon him personally but marked the beginning of a momentous transformation in European understanding of the art and culture of the ancient Mediterranean world. He had been standing before a group ...

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June 29th, 2016

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Ленин — гриб

I would say this is an example of how dangerous it can be to remove all humor from a medium — people become more vulnerable to hoaxes:

Lenin was a mushroom (Russian: Ленин — гриб) was a highly influential televised hoax by Soviet musician Sergey Kuryokhin and reporter Sergey Sholokhov. It was first broadcast on 17 May 1991 on Leningrad Television.

The hoax took the form of an interview on the television program Pyatoe Koleso (The Fifth Wheel). In the interview, Kuryokhin, ...

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June 29th, 2016

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That strange isolation of raising kids

Very interesting:

Pregnancy and motherhood can be both a source of social detachment and foster an intense need for community, all at once. I’ve never felt simultaneously so siloed and also so much a part of the fabric of humanity than I have this past year, which hit me with endless contradictions. Pregnant, I felt incredibly special and also like a freak. I felt like an assembly-line conformist breeder and also an earth mama gushingly, glowingly, united with the cosmos (“like ...

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June 29th, 2016

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Maybe students and professors need to push back against the University?

This is interesting:

I study Classics professionally, so I have more at stake in this issue than most. I taught Antigone just last semester. And I hope that students never stop being disturbed by it. If you’re mocking students for having a strong emotional response to that text, you haven’t read it. (It should but doesn’t always go without saying that, if you haven’t read something, you have no right to an opinion on its appropriateness for the classroom, particularly ...

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June 29th, 2016

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The importance of taking a break

Such a good point about burnout and mental health:

I’ve definitely burnt myself out in the past. I’ve often worked morning till late night, most of the time, for months (years, since the breaks didn’t feel like they really counted?). And before that, being a broke student working multiple jobs wasn’t exactly great in terms of stress.

Part of me looks back and realizes that this is partially my fault, partially my managers’. The senior people around me also worked a ...

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June 29th, 2016

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Merav Michaeli changes the Hebrew language

What an interesting fact:

Michaeli has long lobbied for action against sexual harassment and sexual assault, and has urged Israeli women to refrain from getting married until civil marriage is an option (in Israel, the rabbinate has jurisdiction over such matters; women married under Jewish law cannot get a divorce unless their husband agrees to it); she recently passed legislation creating alternative dispute solutions for couples seeking divorce. Perhaps most interestingly, she has had a remarkable influence on the Hebrew language ...

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June 29th, 2016

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The arrogance of computer programmers

I think there is something to this:

As computer programmers, our formative intellectual experience is working with deterministic systems that have been designed by other human beings. These can be very complex, but the complexity is not the kind we find in the natural world. It is ultimately always tractable. Find the right abstractions, and the puzzle box opens before you.

The feeling of competence, control and delight in discovering a clever twist that solves a difficult problem is what makes being ...

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June 29th, 2016

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Everyone who becomes a writer becomes a writer in their own way

A very interesting article:

I do not recall the exact moment, but I do remember the awkward conversations during the most self-doubting times. There was, for instance, the dinner party where my friend, the hostess, seated me beside a Pulitzer Prize-winning author as if we had something in common. I had recently finished the first draft of a novel, and on my desktop floated the files of a dozen or so essays that were in the process of being ...

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June 25th, 2016

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What age group stans on social media?

When the blogosphere was at its peak in 2005, I noticed that people only started blogging on political topics when they were about 24 or 25. If they were 18 or 19, large-audience blogging made no sense to them. At 18 or 19, what they wanted was a blog for their personal friends. They might have had a LiveJournal blog, and they expected a few of their friends to follow their diary. But blogging for a bunch of adults who ...

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June 21st, 2016

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VioletBlue writes of being harassed by Jacob Appelbaum

I am worried about psychopaths like Appelbaum and how they manage to go on with their harassment, year after year:

When Jake got hired, he started giving tours. I only went on one of them. I had invited my editor and colleagues from the Chronicle to that happy hour, and we decided to go with him when Jake began leading people through the buildings for his tour. Kink’s main offices at that time were a wide, open-plan floor, with no ...

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June 15th, 2016

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When your trusted friends take the side of a charming psychopath and gang up against you

Wow, this is a very sad and shocking story:

Because the last thing anyone needs is to be targeted by Jake Appelbaum, I purged everything this person and sent and refused to hand over anything on privacy grounds. I explained what my reasoning was for doing what I did, was chastised further, let it go and considered the matter over.

But really, I thought, why would Jake be so defensive about some random LT that might have otherwise gone completely unnoticed? ...

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June 15th, 2016

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Trolling is more and more a professional specialty

Sad and sickening:

A few years ago, Jamie Bartlett, a social media analyst and author of The Dark Net, met up with the man behind a popular online white supremacist account in the UK. The meeting took weeks to set up—numerous calls and emails were exchanged before the man (whom Bartlett calls “Paul”) agreed to meet him in the small northern English town where he lived. When the two finally linked up, Bartlett said he was surprised to find that the ...

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June 15th, 2016

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When a pregnancy isn’t viable

This is a sad story:

What happened at 31 weeks?

We went back to get a growth scan, and we saw the growth had fallen off a cliff. And this was the first time that we had been presented with this idea that there was something deeply wrong with the baby that had nothing to do with me. Until that point, all the really bad news had been with me, and my weird body. He had been thriving despite the environment.

But on ...

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June 14th, 2016

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Tech forums can be nasty

And Hacker News is already a million times better than places like Reddit. We need more diversity in tech, but some folks seem willing to undermine the project of reforming the industry. I still see comments like:

He was privileged to be a black man since this drastically improved his odds of getting into Princeton. It’s not anywhere near as much of an achievement as you are making it out to be.

As of 2006, between 2/3 and 5/6 of black ...

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June 14th, 2016

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Mother and daughter and a short skirt

Just now. At the corner of Broadway and 96th street in New York City, daughter is 12 or 13, mother is 40 or 45, they are talking about a woman they just passed, who did not notice them. The woman was perhaps 20 and was wearing a red dress and holding a black purse.

Daughter: I so love her purse! And that dress! Such an outfit!

Mother: It was too short.

Daughter: And the fabric and…

Mother: It was too short.

Daughter: … the earrings ...

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June 14th, 2016

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A screaming lunatic

True story:

Yesterday I went to the park along the Hudson River, near 96th st, and I started running north. I do a circuit up to 125th st, then back down to where there is construction around 88th st, and back, about 8 kilometers total. The path on the right side is sometimes for bikes and sometimes for a mix of bikes and pedestrians.

I’m running north and there is a guy on a bike coming toward me. He is extremely ...

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June 11th, 2016

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Math is confusing even for those who are good at it

Always be learning:

Many people who are in this position, trying to learn mathematics on their own, have roughly two approaches. The first is to learn only the things that you need for the applications you’re interested in. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s akin to learning just enough vocabulary to fill out your tax forms. It’s often too specialized to give you a good understanding of how to apply the key ideas elsewhere. A common example is learning very ...

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June 11th, 2016

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Inemuri

Interesting:

However, this experience of sleeping in the presence of others as children is not sufficient on its own to explain the widespread tolerance of inemuri, especially at school and in the workplace. After some years of investigating this subject, I finally realised that on a certain level, inemuri is not considered sleep at all. Not only is it seen as being different from night-time sleep in bed, it is also viewed differently from taking an afternoon nap or power nap. How ...

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June 7th, 2016

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Meditation can lead to madness

Interesting:

“Recovery,” “permanently ruined”—these are not words one typically encounters when discussing a contemplative practice.

On a cold November night last fall, I drove to Cheetah House. A former student of Britton’s, I joined the group in time for a Shabbat dinner. We blessed the challah, then the wine; recited prayers in English and Hebrew; and began eating.

Britton, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior, works at the Brown University Medical School. She receives regular phone calls, emails, and letters ...

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June 7th, 2016

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The thugs in Russia

There is a worrisome authoritarian movement in Russia. Many of its members are known criminals. They go after anyone who is vulnerable, just to demonstrate their contempt for the rule of law.

Datsik has a huge criminal background. He is an ex-fighter and boxer. Datsik has been imprisoned several times. He is a former member of the ultranationalist Slavic Union, which has similar political ideologies as Nazi Germany. The Slavic Union was banned in Russia because of their promotion of ...

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June 7th, 2016

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Anna Rose Holmer is a genius

I saw a screening of this movie at the Gawker offices. I loved this movie. And Royalty Hightower is an amazing talent.

ANNA ROSE HOLMER: We started to talk about the film as a coming of age film—and even now, I’m so hesitant to use that phrase because it comes with a lot of baggage, particularly for stories about girls and young women. I think often it’s placed like five years later when you’re talking about sexual awakening, the idea that ...

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June 6th, 2016

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What does it mean for a criminal to express remorse?

Interesting:

I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of promiscuity. By definition rape is the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply ...

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June 6th, 2016

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Elite conservatives attack the white working class

I am altogether amazed at the fissures opening up in the conservative coalition in the USA. The coalition came together after 1958, and has been the dominant voice in the USA since 1968. But that era appears to have ended.

My childhood was different from Kevin’s, but I grew up in Kentucky, live in a rural county in Tennessee, and have seen the challenges of the white working-class first-hand. Simply put, Americans are killing themselves and destroying their families at ...

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June 6th, 2016

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Fighting against poverty, yet indulging in corruption

The progress is great, but the money wasted on corruption is very sad:

The outsiders’ view of Rio de Janeiro—sexy beaches and city slums—make an incomplete sketch of the country. 193 million Brazilians live outside of Rio, many of them digging into the ground for water, using a community phone to receive calls, and walking long distances to catch buses to banks, where they stand in line for hours while awaiting the government assistance promised by the Worker’s Party.

Many Brazilians would ...

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June 6th, 2016

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What makes a great fake viral story

Interesting:

And then there’s the anecdote, which feels like a mini-drama in and of itself. Act 1: A young, beautiful woman auditions for a part. We know, because of the face of this young woman and the connotation of actorly dominance that it has come to carry, that she was, without question, good enough for the role. Act 2: The people making the film think she’s not beautiful enough. She was, or theoretically was, sent to the precipice of disbelief: the ...

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June 3rd, 2016

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Sexual ideas you should really avoid

This is funny. 33 things that happen in porn that you should never try yourself:

Propositioning your friend’s mom

Propositioning your mom’s friend

Propositioning your step-anybody

Spying on someone in the shower while assuming voyeurism turns them on

Picking someone off a street in your van

Sex with a strange pizza guy, plumber, electrician, or anyone else who’s paid by their employer to go to your house

Answering the door in only a towel

Answering the door completely naked and not expecting it to end ...

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June 3rd, 2016

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The way Trump is changing politics in the USA

In his excellent book Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch makes the point that the riot that occurred in Oxford, Mississippi (over the arrival of James Meredith) on September 30, 1962 was the last large scale white racist gathering in the USA for several decades. And for some decades, it seemed that there had been a permanent change in the USA, that such things would never happen again. And certainly, the Republican leadership would not allow such things, for a long ...

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June 2nd, 2016

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Pure objectivity in news is an impossibility

This is good:

Pure objectivity in news is an impossibility, and pursuit of such pure objectivity is a fool’s errand. As you pointed out, the editorial process in which a selection is made between newsworthy items is highly subjective. Every day only a few news items make it onto the front page, and there cannot possibly be a neutral metric that can determine which ones. Journalism doesn’t just provide the facts, it also has an obligation to educate and inform the readers. Impartiality ...

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June 2nd, 2016

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The diverse factions of the progressive movement in the USA during 2016

Interesting:

1.Genuine idealists: For sure, quite a few Sanders supporters dream of a better society, and for whatever reason – maybe just because they’re very young – are ready to dismiss practical arguments about why all their dreams can’t be accomplished in a day.

2.Romantics: This kind of idealism shades over into something that’s less about changing society than about the fun and ego gratification of being part of The Movement. (Those of us who were students in the 60s and ...

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May 29th, 2016

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Zana Vrangalova’s research on human sexuality

A very interesting research project:

Still, the site is far from clinical. The home page is a colorful mosaic of squares, color-coded according to the category of sexual experience (blue: “one-night stand”; purple: “group sex”; gray: the mysterious-sounding “first of many”; and so on). Pull quotes are highlighted for each category (“Ladies if you haven’t had a hot, young Latino stud you should go get one!”). Many responses seem to boast, provoke, or exaggerate for rhetorical purposes. Reading it, I felt ...

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May 24th, 2016

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Math papers are hard to read because people invent their own syntax

Obviously professional mathematicians need the power to continue to create new syntax. But should there be a syntax for creating syntax? I’m thinking of Lisp programming languages, that allow a programmer to invent new syntax, but enforces some rules along the way. One counter-argument, to applying such reasoning to math, is that vernacular languages, such as English, can be used to describe any syntax. But that is surely cheating: if math is to be a language, then the syntax for ...

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May 15th, 2016

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Angry while female

Interesting:

Why, asked thousands of Twitter and Facebook users, can’t a woman be outraged without being labeled a diva?

Anger, as we have been told ad nauseam during this election cycle, is the driving force of American discourse, the bond that unites supporters of billionaire dabbler Trump with the earnest progressives behind Sen. Bernie Sanders. It fuels our commentary, our comedy, our drama, our love of social media. At worst, we have become a nation of venters, easily provoked and quick ...

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May 15th, 2016

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Who is Christian?

Interesting:

While the amount of constituents there is growing by the day, numbers in the West (the United Kingdom and United States, in particular) have nosedived in recent years, some 25 percent from 1972 to 2002, according to the Friends World Committee for Consultation.

Source

May 1st, 2016

In Philosophy

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If women could be fathers

Cloning would have to be 100% safe, and so would extracting the male genes from a woman’s cell. But the technology is not yet ready, and I have trouble imagining that any government will give this line of research any priority. Because a lot of people are afraid of women having that kind of freedom. But this is what Shulamith Firestone dreamed of:

So that just as to assure elimination of economic classes requires the revolt of the underclass ...

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April 28th, 2016

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Lying is a lot of work, especially in romance

Yes, the guy is trolling, but there is a grain of truth here. I do think lying requires a lot of work. For that reason, I avoid lying. I don’t have the energy for it.

I’m a corporate strategist so I approached my extramarital affair with an eye to the long game. I planned accordingly to have a mistress same as I planned years ahead to embezzle my retirement. Get married, share finances, and most importantly: have kids. Bind yourself ...

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April 23rd, 2016

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Love is hard because everyone is crazy

Interesting:

In a wiser society, prospective partners would put each other through detailed psychological questionnaires and send themselves off to be assessed at length by teams of psychologists. By 2100, this will no longer sound like a joke. The mystery will be why it took humanity so long to get to this point. We need to know the intimate functioning of the psyche of the person we’re planning to marry. We need to know their attitudes to, or stance on, ...

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April 23rd, 2016

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Weddings are not over

This is a very silly and stupid rant. This particular fight doesn’t really touch me directly. I’ve only been to two weddings in my life, for cousins, and I was young and I had to go. That was back in the 80s or 90s. But excess at weddings is likely to continue. Wealth in the USA is concentrating, and the working class no longer gets married, so marriage has emerged as a powerful status symbol. 50 years ago, when ...

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April 22nd, 2016

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If your characters don’t interact then you don’t have a story

I love this:

Maybe it’s the rape, or the violence, or how it’s really boring. Everyone seems to have an opinion about why Game of Thrones, once a mesmerizing fantasy land that darkly mirrored modern day dilemmas, has become near unwatchable. (Which is not to say people have by any means ceased to watch it.) But there is one reason that rises above them all, and it is very simple.

Hardly any of the characters on Game of Thrones interact with each ...

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April 10th, 2016

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What is education really for?

Interesting:

Forager children aren’t told what to do; they just wander around and do what they like. But they get bored and want to be respected like adults, so eventually they follow some adults around and ask to be shown how to do things. In this process they sometimes have to take orders, but only until they are no longer novices. They don’t have a single random boss they don’t respect, but can instead be trained by many adults, can select ...

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April 10th, 2016

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The rare moments I help someone

I wish I was more active helping out on open source projects. The few times I’ve contributed, advice or code, I tend to get positive feedback.

And my code suggestions are not wholly misplaced:

So really, why don’t I do this more often? I really am not sure. I suppose the desire to start my own business had me focus all my efforts on that, instead of the various open source communities?

Source

April 10th, 2016

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Femslash and the growing power of fandom

I’m not saying anything new if I say that fandom has changed the relationship between the reader and the author. I have the impression this change started in Japan and has been imported to the USA. That’s despite fandom mostly living on the Internet and the Internet having been mostly developed in the USA.

Fandoms influence on authors tends to be trivial. Two characters who have never kissed, but of whom there is slash fiction, end up kissing, and the ...

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April 1st, 2016

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What does the word herbivore mean?

The herbivore serial killers:

He then spent six years in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, along with Charles Brown of the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma – and watched the squirrel death toll soar to 163.

“It boggles the imagination that something like that was going on under our noses and we didn’t notice,” says Hoogland. He describes the killings as “quick, subtle and unanticipated”.

While some prairie dogs chased the squirrels, others stalked them, waited outside their burrows or even ...

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April 1st, 2016

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Planning the wedding a long time before the wedding

Interesting and funny:

OK here’s the thing. Knowing what you want to wear…. sure. Fine. Its a time you get to wear a pretty dress. But until you’re kind of close to the actual deal, I absolutely can’t stand it when women taaaaalk and talk about a wedding that isn’t even remotely on the map. I’m in a in a 6 year relationship that’s headed towards marriage; I love TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress – I still don’t ...

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March 27th, 2016

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The languages of politics

Conservatives prefer the certainty of nouns:

This use of nouns, rather than adjectives, is seen to preserve stability, familiarity and tradition – all of which appear to be valued more highly by conservatives than liberals.

Because nouns ‘elicit clearer and more definite perceptions of reality than other parts of speech’, they satisfy the desire for ‘structure and certainty’ that is common among social conservatives, the research authors found.

The research was based on studies carried out in three countries – Poland, Lebanon, ...

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March 27th, 2016

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Churchill’s vivid writing

I’m coming back to writing lately, after 20 years, and I find that self-expression means very little to me now, whereas making money does, so I am much more interested in writing things that other people will find entertaining. So I can relate to this bit about Churchill’s writing:

In fact Churchill resigned from the Conservative front bench in the 1930s so he could earn more money as a writer and to some extent make up for these losses; that ...

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March 26th, 2016

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Are bootcamps better than University?

My Europeans friends think its weird that universities in the USA insist that students take a wide range of classes. In Europe, university is seen as a time when one becomes a specialist in a particular skill. For instance, in Poland, it is common for a person to go to university for 5 years and graduate with the equivalent of a masters in a given field.

Especially considering how expensive university has become in the USA, asking students to take ...

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March 26th, 2016

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What name should the children get?

Interesting:

As my belly grew, the comments got even stranger. I had secretly hoped for no reaction, for our choice to be as common as saying, “I went with the mustard instead of the ketchup.” No reaction would mean something good, right? That women in this country are, for example, no longer considered the property of men, even in name. That archaic systems are truly collapsing. That we can reclaim language that was formerly used to control us.

But it seemed, ...

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March 22nd, 2016

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The First Civil War may end in time for the Second

Yet another sign that people are increasingly ready to move beyond the First Civil War:

Maryland lawmakers took a step Thursday toward scrubbing references to “Northern scum” and other Civil War-era phrases from the official state song.

The Maryland Senate voted 37-8 for the changes, while also recognizing “Maryland, My Maryland” as the state’s historic song. Supporters of the measure, which now goes to the House, said it was a compromise that removes offensive language and recognizes history.

“They keep the historic ...

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March 22nd, 2016

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History is not individuals

I’ve noticed this too. We’ve come a long way from Braudel:

As I more closely looked at the books displayed, I noticed a peculiarity. Almost all books … on the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions were not only critical of the revolutions, focused on the destruction they wreaked, but were exposés of their leaders, of their murderous natures and sexual perversions. Robespierre is a green-spectacled misanthrope who never had sex; Lenin hated people and loved only his mistress; Stalin was not ...

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March 22nd, 2016

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The end of what was in San Francisco

Rarely does there seem so extreme a case of affluent people moving to a city because it seems creative, and then, by their own efforts, killing off the creativity.

Sad and worrisome:

I just can’t. I was born in San Francisco; my parents live there, today.

Gentrification is real and palpable. Once cozy neighbourhoods have become playthings for the rich and entitled. Where botánicas once opened their doors, now pricey designers have moved their precious boutiques. Where once a freewheeling, affordable, ...

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March 18th, 2016

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The big trials remind us of the changing times

Oscar Wilde’s trial reminds us of where gay rights stood in the 1890s, his astonishingly bold defense of gay sex reminds us that Victorians standards were beginning to crack. Big trials do that, they make an era vivid. The same is true of the trial of O J Simpson, which reminds us of where race relations were in 1994/1995.

I’d forgotten how much Marcia Clark was herself put on trial during the trial:

But, surely, the hardest part ...

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March 18th, 2016

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How the movies talk about authoritarian tendencies

I don’t understand why the movies need to use superheroes to talk about these issues, but it is good they are talking about these issues:

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March 17th, 2016

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The new politics at National Review

There are some fundamentally new politics being expressed by the National Review. In some ways, these beliefs sound like the unpopular conservative beliefs of the era before 1958, which is basically the era before the National Review (which got going in 1955 and which helped launch the modern conservative movement). There is an aspect to this writing that expresses the contempt that wealthy Protestants expressed for the working class back in the 1800s. Really, this is a kind of politics ...

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March 17th, 2016

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How to erase a woman from her biography

To the extent that identity is imbued in the body and manifests as a nose or an eyebrow or a skin color, then changing a nose or an eyebrow or a skin color, even in subtle ways, can erase a person’s identity.

I do not believe and never said that the nearly all-white team behind film are out-and-out racists who sought to disrespect Nina Simone’s legacy. But, as Coates notes, “racism is a default setting,” and unless we are doing ...

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March 17th, 2016

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The new politics in the USA

This is worrisome:

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March 14th, 2016

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The math teacher who could not read his own math writings

Interesting:

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March 14th, 2016

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You can know someone day in, day out, love them completely and never really understand them

Interesting:

And that occurred to me over and over again as I read through the book. Couples tend have a lot of the same squabbles over money, domestic labor division, sex, free time, for a reason. But this book is not really a test of this couple; it’s a test of marriage itself. In a way, it’s an indictment of an institution that will take even the most easy going, low-key, adventuresome couple and leave them standing in the kitchen arguing ...

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March 12th, 2016

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Had Linda been more confident, we’d have won

Interesting:

The other night, I was reminded that under-confidence also has costs. In our pub quiz one of my team-mates suggested several answers but with little confidence, causing our captain to choose other answers. However, she was right every time and our captain wrong. The upshot was that we slumped to an abject defeat to the bottom team in the league. Had Linda been more confident, we’d have won.

Is that right? Surely most of the blame attaches to the captain? What ...

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March 10th, 2016

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Garth Greenwell talks about the importance, and the cost, of gay marriage

Very interesting:

I certainly was aware—and I was aware of this as a reader, and I was aware of this as somebody in the literary community—of this stigma about gay books. And I was also aware of a kind of gap between the generation of these trailblazers like Edmund White and Andrew Holleran, and my generation, in terms of those novels that document gay life at a particular moment. One explanation for that is very obvious: It’s AIDS.

Another explanation for that, ...

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March 9th, 2016

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Sweden leads the world in the ratio of women to men getting college degrees

Interesting:

In 2013, six million students across OECD countries graduated from a higher education institution with a bachelor’s degree; 58% of them were women. This percentage ranges from 69% in Sweden [emphasis added] to 45% in Japan. Besides Japan, only Germany, Korea, Switzerland and Turkey still have more male than female graduates.

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March 9th, 2016

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What used to be bad about Microsoft

Apparently this has gotten better under the new CEO:

In my (very-biased) opinion, I believe collaboration is fundamentally broken at Microsoft. It is all about politics, not great outcomes, and that is absolute death in a functional organization, which has nothing but collaboration to hold together cross-functional product teams. At least in a divisional model all of the relevant team members have a common product and a common boss, meaning everyone has no choice but to work together. Unless the employee ...

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March 8th, 2016

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Why women leave the STEM fields

These are worrisome stories:

I have my masters in a STEM field (forensic biology) and worked in the industry for 7 years before quitting and shifting careers completely. The terrifying and extremely persistent offers on late-night scenes, comments in the lab, and straight-up harassment from police officers in the field meant that I had to be an emotionless robot all the time or else risk my reputation/credibility. In many cases, my unresponsiveness made it worse and made the guy in ...

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February 27th, 2016

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When will New York City have a functioning subway system?

There is too much truth in this:

No man is an island except a man who lives in Williamsburg because the L train, his lifeline between Manhattan and home and the parties he is just slightly too old to attend in Bushwick, is definitely going to be shut down or at least crippled for many months or even years so there will be no way for him to get to any of those places, requiring that he be almost entirely ...

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February 14th, 2016

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The first duty of an artist is to survive

I recently got done writing a parody of the craziness of the current tech startup scene, in particular the many scam artists and pretend “visionaries” who have been pulled into the scene by the recent gold rush mentality.

The antagonist is a man named Titian, who is distrusted by most of the artists and creative types that he needs to move his project forward. They regard him as a pretend visionary. At a large gathering, he gives a dinner toast, ...

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February 14th, 2016

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We never know the hour

I am not religious, but since Jess is gone, I have been thinking about that quote in the Bible Matthew 24:36:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

I was writing a bit of fiction, and in it the antagonist must convince a bunch of artistic types to trust him. They do not trust him. Over a year ago, I wrote most of his speech as ...

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February 14th, 2016

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Goodbye Jess, I will miss you very much

It’s been 3 weeks, but I remain in a state of shock. My dear friend Jess is dead. She was a truly amazing human being. I will miss her more than I can easily say.

She was murdered in Grenada, where she and her husband had gone on vacation. Grenada is generally thought to be a safe island, so this is astonishing on many, many levels.

Jess originally thought she would make a career in publishing. After college, Jess went ...

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February 11th, 2016

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Why are great artists so weird?

The newest theories in science are invented by outsiders? Why are committees so awful? Because they move to consensus?

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February 8th, 2016

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The importance of fun

Virginia Postrel at her best:

Bell was, however, wrong, or at least incomplete. He confused the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of sensation and left out the creative, productive role of play. He saw the California of hot tubs and casual sex (this was the ’70s) but ignored the Silicon Valley and Hollywood that worked practically round-the-clock. He both embraced and condemned the bureaucratic Organization Man but couldn’t imagine that a dynamic culture would find a more interesting, more productive, ...

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February 7th, 2016

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Dorothy Thompson examines the fascists in 1941

August of 1941. The USA has not yet joined the war. But which of the guests at a dinner party would join up with the Nazis? Dorothy Thompson examines the different psychological types:

Sometimes I think there are direct biological factors at work—a type of education, feeding, and physical training which has produced a new kind of human being with an imbalance in his nature. He has been fed vitamins and filled with energies that are beyond the capacity of his ...

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February 6th, 2016

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A recursive definition of what an expression is

I like this:

We’ll give a recursive definition of what an expression is; in other words, we’ll state what the most basic kind of expression is, we’ll say how to create new, more complex expressions out of existing expressions, and we’ll say that only things made in this way are valid expressions.

Variables are valid expressions.

If ee is any expression, and xx is any variable, then λx.eλx.e is an expression. Here it helps to think of e as typically (thought not ...

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February 6th, 2016

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When we are held back by our plans

Jessica Abel suggests that sometimes our plans take the place of action.

I got this term from Kazu Kibuishi when I interviewed him for Out on the Wire episode 7: Dark Forest. His name for the concept was new to me, but it solved a huge problem: what to call this struggle with creative sunk costs that I understand all too intimately. Here’s Kazu: I try not to to look at what I’m going to do as this amazing great grand ...

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February 6th, 2016

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I miss the old blogosphere

I am reminded of the quality of the conversations back then. I can recall a time when I my daily activity included checking on the weblogs of people such as Shelley Powers, Jeneane Sessum and Tara Hunt, among many others. Something important was lost when that blogosphere ended.

Several people did respond to the statement, both in my comments, in a post that Jeneane Sessum wrote and also in Tara’s posts. She didn’t specifically mention this in her second post, ...

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February 6th, 2016

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A major turnover of the population in Europe around 14,500 years ago

A dramatic turnover in the population of Europe, as the region began to warm:

The new data show that the mitochondrial DNA of three individuals who lived in present-day Belgium and France before the coldest period in the last Ice Age—the Last Glacial Maximum—belonged to haplogroup M. This is remarkable because the M haplogroup is effectively absent in modern Europeans but is extremely common in modern Asian, Australasian, and Native American populations.

The absence of the M haplogroup and its ...

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February 6th, 2016

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The casualties of casual dismissal

I like the phrase:

And the larger LARGER problem for the blogosphere and twitterspehere is that a culture is developing — thanks in part to time-saving, fragment-tossing platforms like twitter, that by design silence dissenting voices — we have all become easy targets for extinction, the casualties of casual dismissal.

THAT’s what bothered me about this situation, about what Mike said to Shelley, about what Mike and others said about Lane without asking Lane anything, and STILL DOES bother me. ...

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February 6th, 2016

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Does weblogging disempower women?

From 2005:

I guess that other than this is my area of interest and my essay and so therefore I see the issue as more global, a key difference, to me, is that technology and weblogging have become so tightly intertwined; even more so than journalism and weblogging. After all, isn’t the focus of BlogHer’s first session on the technology, and its impacts? If the number of women in technology has declined in the last eight years, about the same length ...

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February 6th, 2016

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When did bloggers start counting links?

This post, by Shelley Powers, in 2005, is a treasure trove of lost blogging culture:

Three or four years ago or so, weblogging didn’t seem to be as competitive. Oh, some folks would brandish their web site hit count, and demand we bend down and kiss the dusty hems of their royal robes. But for the most part, we seemed to be a mish-mash of people, some who had more readers than others.

I’m not sure when we started counting links. I ...

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February 6th, 2016

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Has there been any improvement for women in tech?

Despite the current conversations about diversity in tech, it is interesting to go back and read someone like Shelley Powers, who wrote a lot about the issue 10 years ago. I’m left with the impression that things are still getting worse.

She complains that merely talking about gender and tech gets her dismissed as a niche writer:

I don’t believe I’ve commented on anything related to ‘feminism’ or bias against women in his weblog. I may have noted the hostility ...

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February 6th, 2016

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Paul Krugman sometimes starts with a graph and then goes to learn the math

I am glad to hear this from someone so well-known, because I’ve leaned in this direction myself:

My own mathematical intuition, and a lot of my economic intuition in general, is visual: I tend to start with a picture, then work out both the math and the verbal argument to make sense of that picture. (Sometimes I have to learn the math, as I did on target zones; the picture points me to the math I need.) I know that’s ...

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February 5th, 2016

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When no one listens, perhaps violent and ruthless truth-telling will save us

A very interesting quote from Keynes:

My book is completed and will be issued in a fortnight’s time. I am now so saturated with it that I am quite unable to make any judgement on its contents. But the general condition of Europe at this moment seems to demand some attempt at an éclairecissement of the situation created by the treaty, even more than when I first sat down to write. We are faced not only by the isolation policy of ...

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February 3rd, 2016

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Destroy the old cells to regenerate the body

Interesting:

Mice whose senescent cells were killed off over six months were healthier, in several ways, than a control group of transgenic mice in which these cells were allowed to build up. Their kidneys worked better and their hearts were more resilient to stress, they tended to explore their cages more and they developed cancers at a later age. Eliminating senescent cells also extended the lifespans of the mice by 20–30%, Baker and van Deursen report in Nature on 3 February1.

The ...

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February 3rd, 2016

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Fasting has benefits even if your long-term calorie intake is unchanged

Surprising:

Bimonthly cycles that lasted four days of an FMD which started at middle age extended life span, reduced the incidence of cancer, boosted the immune system, reduced inflammatory diseases, slowed bone mineral density loss and improved the cognitive abilities of older mice tracked in the study. The total monthly calorie intake was the same for the FMD and control diet groups, indicating that the effects were not the result of an overall dietary restriction.

In a pilot human trial, three cycles ...

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January 31st, 2016

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The importance of intuition in the discovery of a person’s medical conditions

This is an interesting story:

I told the doctor that I kept having visions of my organs colliding like a lava lamp. As it turned out, there’s a name for that problem—the “placenta accreta,” wherein the placenta merges too deeply into the uterus, causing hemorrhaging and potentially a need for a hysterectomy. It’s life-threatening for both the baby and the mother.

The doctor ordered an MRI so that he would be able to see whether an accreta had formed. If the ...

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January 31st, 2016

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Chasing stats to the detriment of your team

Soccer is less vulnerable to this, since there are less stats in soccer:

Draymond Green and the Warriors lost by -3 in Philadelphia to those guys who are always hogging the court down at your local Y. The Warriors clinched the narrow loss with a Harrison Barnes three, from a great pass out of the middle from Green. However, they really shouldn’t have let it get that close. Golden State blew a 24-point lead, turned the ball over 23 times, and ...

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January 30th, 2016

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A nation’s income can be predicted from its technology in 1500 AD

Interesting:

Half the variation in income per capita in 2002 is associated with variation in technology in 1500AD. It is worth stopping here to say something about what CEG are saying empirically. This is not a “policy experiment” paper, and I don’t think it is appropriate to evaluate it as such. This is a paper about forecasting, basically. What their result says is that if you tell me the level of technology in 1500AD, I can predict with a good amount ...

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January 29th, 2016

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Why did Nasa allow the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster to happen?

Incredible this could happen after Nasa had been given such a clear warning.

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January 23rd, 2016

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The non-rational roots of politics

Interesting:

For their part, psychologists have responded that they aren’t dismissing conservativism as irrational. After all, just because people are predisposed to believe something doesn’t make them wrong. Saying someone is more likely to find an argument persuasive because of their psychology doesn’t invalidate the argument. As psychologists see it, the desire for simplicity is just a fact about the way people think — one that several decades of research has now confirmed.

Hibbing of the University of Nebraska says this ...

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January 20th, 2016

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Humans have been practicing genocide for a long time

I suppose this only confirms what we all knew, but it is bit awful to read:

Skulls smashed by blunt force, bodies pin-cushioned by projectile points and hapless victims—including a pregnant woman—abused with their hands bound before receiving the fatal coup de grâce.

This violent tableau resembles something from the darker side of modern warfare. But it instead describes the grizzly demise of a group of African hunter-gatherers some 10,000 years ago. They are the victims of the earliest scientifically dated ...

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January 18th, 2016

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The end of _why

One of the great performance artists of the tech industry has closed out their personality, leaving us wondering what it all meant:

Impermanence is possibly the biggest question raised in CLOSURE.

kafka would be a lot harder to get into if the trial only ran on a power pc. – one of _why’s last tweets

This tweet was really confusing, until CLOSURE. _why reveals that one of his biggest problems is what we call ‘bitrot’: you can’t just write a program, it must ...

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January 16th, 2016

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Bayghazi

Uh, “military contractor” is a euphemism for “mercenary”. We have come a long way as a nation if it is now socially acceptable to root for these people. Interesting

Tuesday’s carnival laid bare the strange and changing nature of the Benghazi obsession—the odd way it veers from sincere and mournful to maudlin and kitschy, the way it’s been instrumentalized. It was, in some sense, intended to be a memorial. People filtered into the stadium under giant waving flags on the stadium’s ...

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January 13th, 2016

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When the history of gay marriage is written…

At some point, some historian will write a good history of the events that lead up to the legalization of gay marriage. They can start with the changes in the culture that began in the late 1800s. The trial of Oscar Wilde might be a good starting point. Then there was the cultural influence of Weimar Germany, which impacted all Western nations. Then there was the cultural revolution of the 1960s.

However, in a more immediate way, there was the ...

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January 13th, 2016

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How much should kids be allowed to walk around?

When I was a kid, my family lived in a middle-class suburb in New Jersey. I went to an Elementary School that was a little less than a mile away. I walked there everyday. So did all the other kids. I would see my friends walking by my house and I would go out and join them and we would walk to school together. The first week of kindergarten my dad walked me to school, to be sure that I ...

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January 13th, 2016

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Money changes a city

Interesting:

New York in the late 1970s and 80s, though economically battered, was a fertile place for young writers and artists. Sante’s friend Adele Bertei, a member of post-punk band the Contortions and an actor in films such as Born in Flames (1983), says “We did all feel like cultural émigrés. It was as if we had this dystopic playground to ourselves to make whatever we wanted out of it. Luc was part archaeologist, part kid in a candy store. It ...

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January 13th, 2016

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Abusive searches by aggressive police

Interesting and sad:

From the Hartes’ perspective, the headline covers precisely what happened to them. They were raided by a tactical team. The only things they did to cause that raid were shop at a hydroponic gardening store and drink loose-leaf tea. Those two actions are why the police began to investigate them (in a half-hearted sort of way), conducted field tests on the tea for which the officers had little training, and procured a search warrant. Those two actions are ...

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January 13th, 2016

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Saint Teresa as a role model for single women

Here is an unusual opinion:

Her book “Life” got her called before the Inquisition to investigate whether her teachings lined up with the era’s strict orthodoxy. Many of her writings were radical, but she used charm to convince her inquisitors that she was harmless. “But what do I know, I am just a wretched woman.” She advocated for reform, and in her convents the emphasis was on piety, poverty and charity. And while her books were originally intended only for clergy ...

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January 13th, 2016

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Some sports can be reduced to statistics, but not soccer

Interesting:

While in basketball everyone debates about who “the best ever” is by referring to their career averages in points, field goal percentage, PER, etc. In soccer the only statistic that is ever used is goals scores, and goals scored is only one small dimension of a player, even smaller if he is not a striker. It would be silly to judge Andrés Iniesta or Zinedine Zidane on how many goals they scored in a season.

So what is it about soccer ...

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January 13th, 2016

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Free time is only useful when your friends have free time

Interesting:

Our study, which drew on data from more than 500,000 respondents to the Gallup Daily Poll, examined the day-to-day fluctuations and patterns in people’s emotions, week after week. Two facts about emotional well-being emerged — one that was intuitive, the other surprising.

The intuitive finding was that people’s feelings of well-being closely tracked the workweek. As measured by things such as anxiety, stress, laughter and enjoyment, our well-being is lowest Monday through Thursday. The workweek is a slog. Well-being edges up ...

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January 12th, 2016

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Malaysia a wants Nobel Prize winner by 2057

Small countries that dream of Nobel Prizes:

The Nobel Prize in Literature remains the great seal-of-cultural approval — see, for example, Julia Lovell’s The Politics of Cultural Capital (sub-titled: China’s Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature) — and many nations still measure their literature by how (they feel) its chances for a Nobel rate. This week’s example at least doesn’t set the Nobel as a short-term goal: Malaysia wants Nobel Prize winner by 2057 Tasnim Lokman reports in ...

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January 8th, 2016

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Japan keeps a train going for one person

Interesting:

For years, there’s only been one passenger waiting at the Kami-Shirataki train station in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Japan: A high-school girl, on her way to class. The train stops there only twice a day—once to pick up the girl and again to drop her off after the school day is over.

It sounds like a Hayao Miyazaki film. But according to CCTV News, it was a decision that Japan Railways—the group that operates the country’s railway network—made more than ...

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January 5th, 2016

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When minor problems provoke great rage

I think this issue of rage crops up in a lot of areas of human life, including software:

Here’s Erick Erickson engaged in what could be considered an incitement to violence:

At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

So what motivated this rage? Regulations banning phosphate ...

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January 5th, 2016

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The new personalism of new new journalism

New Journalism emerged in the 1970s and at the time many journalists were critical of it for bringing a personal style to what should be objective writing. But the trend has continued to sharpen and nowadays we get this:

William is the guy sitting third from the left in this picture. He’s also the first man to hit on me in 2016, and he’s my first kiss of the new year. As well as my second. And third. And… you get ...

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January 2nd, 2016

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Churchill almost went bankrupt

This makes me feel a bit better about my own history:

Money also illuminates his inner life. The Black Dog struck in 1937-8, when he was savaged by margin calls in the hundreds of thousands of pounds on his appallingly ill-thought-out share portfolio, pursued by the Inland Revenue, enormously overdrawn at his bank, writing 2000 words a day or more for fear that his publisher would reclaim the long-spent advance on Marlborough: His Life and Times. Of course he was depressed.

That ...

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January 1st, 2016

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Things I associate with the Great Stagnation

I’ll come back to this blog post, and add to this repeatedly, as the years go, and also subtract from it repeatedly. The collection of trends that I associate with the Great Stagnation is still a bit vague. I’m sure I will refine it over time. Also, my perspective here is mostly from the USA, though I know the same trends were active in all Western nations, give or take 5 years.

When did the Great Stagnation start? There is ...

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January 1st, 2016

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Narcisstocracy

Interesting:

Irving Berlin on taxes: The New York Times reports on how some of the US’s richest men are dodging taxes. Compare this to the response of Irving Berlin when his lawyer offered him a tax shelter:

I want to pay taxes. I love this country.

He even wrote a song expressing this sentiment. He said: “I owe all my success to my adopted country.” …

He embodied — knowingly so — a point made by Herbert Simon, that we westerners owe our ...

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December 31st, 2015

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Fundamentalist upbring leads to viewing women as stereotypes

This is a story about a guy who is manipulative and gross. One theme in this story that the author did not follow up on, and I wish she had, was the theme of fundamentalism. The bad guy in this story is named Jared. He grew up in a Christian fundamentalist household, where sex was considered a great sin. Now he is in his 30s, and he is nominally secular, but he continues to see the world in black and ...

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December 31st, 2015

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Finding the one kanji that sums up the year

An interesting look into Japanese culture:

Likewise, in 2008, the Association chose 変 (hen), which literally translates as “change.” From the “Change We Can Believe In” promised on Barack Obama’s campaign posters to the global economic changes wrought by the Lehman Shock, 変 seemed to be in the air in 2008.

With so much meaning condensed in so little space, kanji have the power to express an entire year’s spirit in just one character.

With so many candidates, things are bound to get ...

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December 31st, 2015

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People who love spies do not love being spied upon

Interesting:

Ah, schadenfreude at work:

Pete Hoekstra: Obama Stopping Key Surveillance Programs Dec 11, 2015

Pete Hoekstra: New Spying Scandal Biggest of Obama’s Presidency 13 hours ago

Not that Hoekstra is going to change his tune on surveillance; he just believes in the national security state for thee, not me. I’ve always felt that one of the more corrupt aspects of the UK security state was the exemption granted to Parliament from the kinds of intrusions other citizens lack protections against; now I expect ...

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December 30th, 2015

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The reaction in Poland

There is a right-wing reaction sweeping through Poland. The most worrisome aspect is the official support for xenophobia:

Polish police tell British Sikh man ‘what do you expect after Paris attacks’ after nightclub beating

Mr Sawhney claimed the bouncer along with his colleagues from the city’s Shakers nightclub had stopped him entering and then became aggressive and spat at him but despite him offering to shake the bouncer’s hand and walk away.

“The bouncers then surrounded me and one punched in the ...

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December 30th, 2015

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Why do women use Tinder?

A bit of a rant, but interesting:

More likely, these women are interested in hooking up (or at least open to some opportunities of it happening) but don’t want their friends and colleagues knowing this should someone come across their profile, so like the Playboy readers who buy the magazine for the articles, these women are on Tinder “just for the lulz.”

Which brings me to my second point: Despite their loud claims, women are not on Tinder to find their ...

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December 29th, 2015

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Groupies and artists

Interesting:

For me, the most interesting question that “Groupies” raises has less to do with cultural pathways and more to do with old-fashioned carnality and the places within us that it comes from. Perhaps it’s not so much that sex was the only option for these women, but that it was their preferred option. Fandom operates differently than a creative or critical impulse—and it wants for different things, too. People find all sorts of ways to manage the magnificent, sometimes ...

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December 22nd, 2015

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The Great Stagnation, as seen in movies

Interesting:

All that is meant by Decadence is ‘falling off.’ . . . . The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.

That seems to be our lot today, I suggested, using the prism of the McFly family saga to illustrate the point. “We’re now as far from the Reagan 1980s as the teenage Marty was from his parents’ 1950s,” I wrote, “and ...

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December 20th, 2015

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In science the only confirmation that matters is whether you will proceed

Interesting:

Except sometimes it is. Rationalism guided Einstein toward his theory of relativity, which he believed in wholeheartedly on rational grounds before it was ever tested. “I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed,” Einstein said in 1933, years after his theory had been confirmed by observations of starlight bending around the sun.

The question for the philosophers is: Without experiments, is there any way to distinguish between the non-empirical virtues of vortex theory and those ...

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December 18th, 2015

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The biggest bribery scam in India ever?

Interesting:

In 2013, the year the scam was first revealed, two million young people in Madhya Pradesh – a state the size of Poland, with a population greater than the UK – sat for 27 different examinations conducted by Vyapam. Many of these exams are intensely competitive. In 2013, the prestigious Pre-Medical Test (PMT), which determines admission to medical school, had 40,086 applicants competing for just 1,659 seats; the unfortunately named Drug Inspector Recruitment Test (DIRT), had 9,982 candidates striving for ...

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December 16th, 2015

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Melting glaciers slow the rotation of the Earth

Interesting:

At issue is a scientific quandary known as “Munk’s enigma,” which was introduced by famed oceanographer Walter Munk in a 2002 paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The enigma refers to a key discrepancy between the amount of sea-level rise believed to have occurred during the 20th century and the effects it should have produced on the planet — specifically, on the Earth’s rotation.

The planetary effects of sea-level rise

That’s right — in addition to all the ...

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December 13th, 2015

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The rise of Liberalism in Sweden

The sad fact is that Sweden, like all other Western nations, has been shifting to the right since the end of the 1970s.

Megafon does not start any fires. Why are journalists and politicians so interested in Megafon denouncing the rebellion? Young people are being demonised to prevent all of us from seeing the truth—because the truth will sting. The editorial pages and the police also demonise us in Megafon, saying that we are responsible for what is happening—because we ...

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December 11th, 2015

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When can sex or violence be justified as a plot point in a story?

I agree with the “add to a larger conversation” line of thinking:

When I read your books, I was like, “Fuck YES”—you both actually created a conversation about assault and about rape culture, rather than just using rape as a plot point, something that will show us how evil a villain is or allow a man to play hero around. This is a rhetorical question, probably, but I am guessing you were both fed up with that type of plot device ...

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December 7th, 2015

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What parts of the movie Her will come true first?

What parts of the movie Her will come true first? Content Since I started on my new startup, everyone has been telling me to watch the movie Her. So last night I was at a friend’s house and she had a copy and so I watched it. I thought it was a great movie, though I have some criticism in terms of “How do we bring this to market?”

My thoughts right now are mostly focused on Amazon Echo, so I will offer ...

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December 2nd, 2015

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Uneasy is the head that wears the crown, even among baboons

Interesting:

After the matriarch died last year, a vicious battle erupted among the female baboons at the Toronto Zoo for her throne that endured for months, prompting a brief closure of the exhibit and providing a fascinating glimpse into the animals’ behaviour.

Medical records show numerous injuries among five of the six female olive baboons, from deep lacerations near their eyes to hair ripped out and tail injuries. At least two required surgeries to close deep gashes.

The exhibit was closed for several ...

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December 2nd, 2015

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Progress in math is needed for progress in science

Interesting:

The problem was that, in order to build a theory on this insight, Einstein needed to be able to create those descriptions in warped four-dimensional space-time. The Euclidean geometry used by Newton and everyone else was not up to this job; fundamentally different and much more challenging mathematics were required. Max Planck, the physicist who set off the revolution in quantum mechanics, thought this presented Einstein with an insurmountable problem. “I must advise you against it,” he wrote to ...

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December 1st, 2015

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The problem of locking intellectuals into universities

Some of this overlaps with what Ian Stewart has written about the profession of mathematicians. Ian Stewart has written a bunch awesome books about math, and he writes in a classic 20th Century style of science/math popularizer, believing that there is a “general” public out there that might find math interesting. More about him here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stewart_(mathematician)

From the essay itself, this part struck me:

“What I called the transitional generation, those born around 1920, entered the universities, often late in their careers and ...

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November 28th, 2015

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Using Twitter for long-form stories

[[UPDATE]] So this was later confirmed as a mostly true story and now this is becoming a movie.

I think this story is about 3,000 words? It’s 155 Twitter posts. This is an interesting new way to try to offer fiction. I would be surprised if this caught on, but everything about Twitter has surprised me so far. It’s seems like an awkward way to read a story, but sometimes people eat more chocolate if they are offered tiny pieces ...

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November 23rd, 2015

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Sometimes things go fast

I told a friend via email that this was one of those months when it seemed like a lot of exciting things were happening to me, unlike some previous months which had seemed uneventful. I like how she said this:

I am familiar with that phenomenon- swaths of arid, fallow months as far as the eyes can see in any direction, then, seemingly without any effort or origin possibility sprouts all about.

So well said!

Source

October 23rd, 2015

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The glacial speed of reform in Morocco

Interesting:

Within the month, King Mohammed VI would unveil his constitutional reforms and call for a referendum. The proposal stipulated that a prime minister, chosen from the largest party in parliament, would take over as the head of the government, although the king would retain control of the judiciary, the military, and the Islamic faith in Morocco. There was even an article guaranteeing women civic and social equality with men. The February 20 movement argued that the process had been undemocratic ...

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October 13th, 2015

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The process of writing software will change the way you think

Angus Deaton just won the Nobel Prize for Economics. For awhile I’ve said that writing computer code changes the way one thinks. So this caught my eye:

It was during my time at Bristol that John Muellbauer and I worked together on our book. The computer facilities at Bristol were terrible — the computer was a mile away, on top of a hill, so that boxes of punched cards had to be lugged up and down. I was told to ...

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October 11th, 2015

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Kill your heroes

Interesting:

Hero worship

Another case where we see evidence of a fixed mindset is with hero worship. So Julie Pagano did a great talk at PyCon 2014 about impostor syndrome, and one of her suggestions for a way to combat impostor syndrome was “kill your heroes.” Don’t put other programmers on a pedestal, don’t say “that person is so different from me.” Fixed/growth mindset is a really useful framing for this too. If you have programming heroes, do you consider them to ...

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October 11th, 2015

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The protest at 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City

All 3 men are wearing the circular badge for Human Rights, a movement among the athletes:

Norman was a white man from Australia, a country that had strict apartheid laws, almost as strict as South Africa. There was tension and protests in the streets of Australia following heavy restrictions on non-white immigration and discriminatory laws against aboriginal people, some of which consisted of forced adoptions of native children to white families.

The two Americans had asked Norman if he believed in ...

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September 28th, 2015

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The Liar, The Bitch and the Wardrobe

(The 2nd of 20 reviews of romance novels. I’m reading romance novels so I can learn how to better write about romance in my own works of fiction. My first review was of Evening)

The Liar, The Bitch and the Wardrobe is by Allie Kingsley

This is a very light book. I might compare it to Augusten Burroughs book Sellevsion, which was a bit of light comedy.

Kingsley’s book might have been written as a Young Adult book. I don’t mean that as ...

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September 26th, 2015

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積ん読

Interesting:

There are some words out there that are brilliantly evocative and at the same time impossible to fully translate. Yiddish has the word shlimazl, which basically means a perpetually unlucky person. German has the word Backpfeifengesicht, which roughly means a face that is badly in need of a fist. And then there’s the Japanese word tsundoku, which perfectly describes the state of my apartment. It means buying books and letting them pile up unread.

The word dates back to the very ...

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September 16th, 2015

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Never a victim or always a victim

I like this understanding of trauma:

Psychologist Mark Epstein argues that trauma’s root is less the fact that bad things happen and more the fact that we don’t know what to do with what’s bad. Trauma is rooted in lack of communication. Sharing our experiences with another person—facing the traumas we are made of, and the new ones that continually shape us, Epstein says, helps create a balanced mind that can hold the truth. Better this than just telling ourselves that ...

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September 16th, 2015

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Racist school administrators go after Islamic child for science project

14 year old boy arrested for bringing a science project to school.

A 14-year-old boy in Irving, Texas named Ahmed Mohamed was taken into police custody after he brought a homemade clock to school. The boy, who, according to a piece in the Dallas Morning News, “makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart,” wanted to show his engineering teacher his handiwork.

School officials originally thought his clock was a bomb and now are simply calling it a “hoax bomb.” ...

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September 16th, 2015

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Ahmed Mohamed’s father has been an activist fighting for justice for muslims

The father of the 14 year old who was arrested for bring a science project to school. As is often a case, when a 14 year old shows courage in the face of injustice, they have a parent who has also been a crusader on political issues.

Mohamed also defended the Quran when pastor Terry Jones tried to burn it

In 2012, Florida pastor Terry Jones said he was putting the Quran on trial. Jones had threatened to burn the Quran ...

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September 16th, 2015

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School administrators committing crimes

In light of this weeks events, it is good to remember the time that school administrators used spyware on computers to spy on children even when the children were at home in their bedrooms.

The suit alleged that, in what was dubbed the “WebcamGate” scandal, the schools secretly spied on the students while they were in the privacy of their homes. School authorities surreptitiously and remotely activated webcams embedded in school-issued laptops the students were using at home. After the ...

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September 15th, 2015

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Most cells in the body keep time

Very interesting:

Not that long ago, as Partch knew, it had become clear that nearly every cell in nearly every tissue in the body keeps time. Every 24 hours, responding to a biochemical bugle call, a handful of proteins assembles in the cell’s nucleus. When they bind to each other on the genome, they become a team of unrivaled impact: Under their influence, thousands of genes are transcribed into proteins. The gears of the cell jolt into motion, the tissue ...

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September 11th, 2015

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The problem with Meetups

This is good:

Consider the meetup speaker. She’s had a topic in mind for while, and so when the request went out for speakers, she volunteered. But that was three months ago, and now the meetup’s only a few weeks away, and she hasn’t even begun. She starts to outline the talk, but can’t quite figure out where to start. She can explain all the details easily, but the order in which they should be introduced, the organizing structure of ...

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September 11th, 2015

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Stanislaw Lem’s dystopia

Stanislaw Lem’s vision of the future deserves more attention. I like this writer. I read Memoirs Found in a Bathtub which I thought was awesome.

I attended two more Singularity Summits, in 2008 and 2009, and during that three-year period, all the much-vaunted performance gains in various technologies seemed paltry against a more obvious yet less-discussed pattern of accelerating change: the rapid, incessant growth in global ecological degradation, economic inequality, and societal instability. Here, forecasts tend to be far ...

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September 10th, 2015

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Free, white, and 21

Interesting:

And so, “free, white, and 21” was as much about power denied as asserted. Women used it more often precisely because their freedom was restricted. Men would use it too, whenever challenged. In That Certain Woman (1937), Henry Fonda tells of his desire to work up the courage to use the phrase against his domineering father. In real life, Henry Ford used it in 1919 to justify defying his stockholders. The saying was an assertion of will, of the rights ...

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September 10th, 2015

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Ritual burial 3 million years ago?

Interesting:

The researchers who made the find have not been able to find out how long ago these creatures lived – but the scientist who led the team, Prof Lee Berger, told BBC News that he believed they could be among the first of our kind (genus Homo) and could have lived in Africa up to three million years ago.

Like all those working in the field, he is at pains to avoid the term “missing link”. Prof Berger says naledi could ...

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September 9th, 2015

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Sad love story

Relationships are difficult:

When I told this story to the man I love, I felt shame flooding me at the point when I’d said too much to stop yet hadn’t gotten to the worst part. I realized I made a mistake; I didn’t want him to hear about this. I started sharing because I was trying to explain what it feels like to pitch and write while I know this is what editors really want to run, what readers want ...

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September 8th, 2015

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How to play cricket

Interesting:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go ...

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September 7th, 2015

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Suicide on campus

Interesting:

Ms. Holleran was the third of six Penn students to commit suicide in a 13-month stretch, and the school is far from the only one to experience a so-called suicide cluster. This school year, Tulane lost four students and Appalachian State at least three — the disappearance in September of a freshman, Anna M. Smith, led to an 11-day search before she was found in the North Carolina woods, hanging from a tree. Cornell faced six suicides in the ...

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September 5th, 2015

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A website with teacher reviews got a student suspended from school, in 1994

How can schools teach young citizens that they have the right of free speech, and yet then impose harsh punishments for free speech?

Fortunately, both my parents and everyone I talked to during my suspension (the length of which the school refused to define, but ended up being five days) were largely supportive of my cause. They argued (and I agreed) that what I had done was careless, and I could have avoided the whole mess in the first place by ...

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August 28th, 2015

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Police caught on tape talking about a woman

I agree with this:

Olivarius-McAllister didn’t, at first, hear the latter portion of the message, figuring it was just dead air. She forwarded it to her city editor, though, who did listen to the whole thing.

“He turned around the office and said, ‘These people are very opinionated about your body,’” Olivarius-McAllister said in an interview. “I thought he was joking. I listened to it and felt just utterly appalled.”

The Durango Herald was instrumental in helping current La Plata Sheriff Sean ...

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August 27th, 2015

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The personal responsibility to build a durable ego

Interesting:

I do not suggest, of course, that all men lack these skills, but I am suggesting that many do, and that it manifests itself in various, troublesome ways. It seems to me that we must do a better job of teaching our children, especially our sons, that your ego does not own you and the world does not owe you. That a woman has the right to not be interested. That you might get fired. That your ex-wife might ...

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August 27th, 2015

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Good writing is difficult

I don’t understand this. Sit at one’s typewriter, no matter the result, because writers are the same on all days? That is not even coherent. If the results vary day by day, then clearly the writer has different ability to deliver on different days.

“All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand — are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. I have experienced those moments myself. Their lesson is simple: It’s a ...

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August 26th, 2015

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Zach Tellman: the heuristics of the government fail and the heuristics of software fail

Zach Tellman gives a speech that almost compares urban planning to writing software. He never exactly states his idea, but he is often on the brink. He compares the state and the nomad and suggests that the state is attempting to force reality to conform to a simplified version of itself, so as to make it tractable. He never exactly says “All of your attempts to write software are doomed” but that is implied by his implied criticism of the ...

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August 26th, 2015

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Men cite their own work more than women cite their own work

Interesting:

But the new study (while confirming the 2013 work) is much larger and crosses many disciplines. This one is based on an analysis of 1.6 million papers written from 1950 to the present in the scholarly database JSTOR. While some first names are not gender exclusive, the study looked at first names that correspond with either men or women, but not both, at least 95 percent of the time, according to various public records. Papers written by people with names ...

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August 23rd, 2015

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Pretty in kindergarten

Life is complicated:

And yet, here we are in the actual world as it is, are we not? Just this morning I was getting my five-year-old daughter dressed for kindergarten. She wanted to wear a new dress we hadn’t really tried on at the store; I’d just held up to her quickly to size it up and move along. Putting it on, I realized it was kind of big. It looked nothing like the cute little Jackie-O style number I’d ...

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August 22nd, 2015

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Influences in 進撃の巨人 (Attack On Titan)

I watched the first 5 episodes of 進撃の巨人. I thought I could pick out a few dozen influences that get recycled in this animae. Some are old Japanese obsessions, such as invasion by powerful outsiders. Some seemed more international.

It starts with humans living behind walls. They live in a village that is of Franco-Germanic design, and the people dress in a similar fashion. The people and the village are straight out of Bruegal painting.

The people are cut off ...

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August 22nd, 2015

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A good society is safe for children

I think this image is meant sarcastically, but I find that I 100% support all of the slogans:

Traffic safety is an important issue. In the USA, most homes open directly onto a street, or they have a yard, which touches upon a street. This is insane. There should be 100 meters between any house and any car. We should not be telling children “Don’t play in traffic”, we should, instead, redirect traffic so it never comes close to any ...

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August 11th, 2015

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Alexis Neiers: I wasn’t wearing Louboutins

I had totally forgotten about this. Truly one of those moments that captures the zeitgeist.

Alexis Neiers Phone Call (Full Scene) by tbhuratchet

Source

August 11th, 2015

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What poor and uneducated brilliance looks like

There must be a lot of this now, and it must have been much worse in the past, people of intelligence who lived without education, and died in poverty:

Unlike all of Havard’s other correspondents Virginie wrote almost entirely in the local langue d’oïl dialect, Gallo. This may have been a daily language of communication in the region but there was almost nothing in print available at the time. In effect Virginie had to invent her own orthography and ...

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August 8th, 2015

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Dogmatism Skepticism Eclecticism

Interesting:

In a paper delivered to the Aristotelian Society on 12 March 1956,[1] Walter Bryce Gallie (1912–1998) introduced the term essentially contested concept to facilitate an understanding of the different applications or interpretations of the sorts of abstract, qualitative, and evaluative notions[2]—such as “art” and “social justice”—used in the domains of aesthetics, political philosophy, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion. Garver (1978) describes their use as follows:

The term essentially contested concepts gives a name to a problematic situation that many people ...

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August 2nd, 2015

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man recently released from prison kills at Gay Pride in Israel

I suppose hate never goes away, it just finds different subjects to focus on, during different eras.

Sixteen-year-old Shira Banki died on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the Hadassah Medical Center said. Her organs will be donated.

Six people were wounded Thursday by Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man recently released from prison. Haaretz reports that Schlissel had been serving a 10-year sentence after comitting a similar attack at the 2005 pride parade, when he stabbed three people.

Source

July 31st, 2015

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Fatherhood circa 2015

Regarding Millenial Men Aren’t the Dads They Thought They’d Be.

Short-term waves ride on top of long-term waves, but if we want an accurate picture of reality, we need to simultaneously remember the short-term and long-term waves. The trough of one wave can mitigate the peak of another wave, should their frequency be off in such a way that they interfere with each other. Likewise, with social trends. Any article about what men think about marriage and fatherhood should be juxtaposed ...

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July 24th, 2015

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Advice columns still survive in newspapers

I am surprised that advice columns are still surviving in newspapers. Of course, I’m also surprised that newspapers still exist. Carolyn Hax offers relationship advice at the Washington Post:

You probably don’t want to hear it, and I certainly don’t like saying it to someone who is engaged, but you don’t sound terribly well suited to each other. All relationships involve some accommodation, but not so much that you feel like you have to draw and hold awkward lines just because ...

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July 21st, 2015

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Men who lose at video games are the most likely to harass women

Interesting:

That should sound a whole lot like a lot of other, frequently sexist online spaces: Think Twitter. Or Reddit. Or 4chan.

In each of these environments, Kasumovic suggests, a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy. That’s okay for the guys at the top — but for the guys at the bottom, who stand to lose more status, that’s very threatening. (It’s also in keeping with the evolutionary framework on anti-lady hostility, which suggests sexism is ...

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July 19th, 2015

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When is it ethical to out someone?

Interesting:

Everyone’s feeling very proud of themselves today for being grossed out by a Gawker post containing the text and email exchanges between a male escort and a well-connected, married executive who was trying to procure said escort’s services. The issue at hand, according to everyone who’s outraged, is that this is the outing of a gay man who would otherwise have been living a closeted life with his wife and three kids, harming no one. Because he is not ...

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July 15th, 2015

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Sydney Leroux’s fake eyelashes

Interesting:

Everywhere I go, people are talking trash about Sydney Leroux’s fake eyelashes. To be fair, I’ve been in Canada, where she’s particularly reviled. I get it, she turned her back on you, Canada. You’re hurt. But through the pain, I beg you, do not bring her eyelashes into this. Because let’s be real: those eyelashes are amazing.

Female soccer players have long balanced their athleticism and femininity. And at least in the United States, they’ve long balanced it the same way, ...

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July 2nd, 2015

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Ronda Rousey Fights Like An A Very Unusual Human

Interesting:

The story below was written before Saturday night’s fight in Rio de Janeiro, in which Ronda Rousey knocked out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds. That means Rousey is 12-0, and 6-0 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the biggest promotion company. Rousey has now won nine of her fights by armbar submission and three fights by KO/TKO, and remains the best pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world.

——–

Ronda Rousey is the rare athlete who dominates her sport while transcending ...

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May 28th, 2015

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Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Kelly Faircloth on romance novels

Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Kelly Faircloth are talking about the use of the word “alpha” as it relates to men and as the concept is used in romance novels. :

I here quote some of Faircloth’s remarks, but the whole thing is interesting.

KF: So, alphadom in romance is, in my opinion, often fundamentally about taking care of the heroine and nurturing her. It’s about all that confidence and capability being focused on the heroine and working on her behalf. Now, it ...

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May 27th, 2015

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Niki Tisza writes about burnout

Interesting:

I read a lot and I found lots of interesting articles. Reading more and more it became clear to me I was experiencing a job burnout. I got nearly all the symptoms, even I wasn’t even 30 at that time. These were my warning signs:

Fatigue Frustration or decreased level of patience Stress Lack of motivation Feeling of being overwhelmed, trapped, helplessness Losing sleep Getting sick from all the sudden Going to your previously beloved workplace because you have to, not because you want to After spending a ...

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May 26th, 2015

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We get trapped by our virtues more than our vices

I like this:

Qualities That Keep You in a Sick System

Loyalty Patience A strong work ethic Optimism Self-sacrifice A need to be useful to others Forgiveness Farsightedness Trust Hope

You don’t need to lose these qualities to get out. But if you’re stuck and trying to figure out what’s keeping you in, remember that people rarely get stuck because of their vices. They’re usually caught by their virtues.

Source

May 24th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The effect of blind auditions on orchestras

Interesting:

But there are many different moments when I look back and think, gosh, how could I have been so optimistic? For example, Cecilia Rouse and I decided that we would study the effect of orchestras switching to blind auditions. [In a 2000 paper in the American Economic Review, Goldin and Rouse found that the practice of having musicians audition behind a screen significantly increased the proportion of women in symphony orchestras.] Many orchestras did not know they had records on ...

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May 18th, 2015

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The life of single moms

Interesting:

In our culture, we want mothers to be everything: good wives, strong role models, educators, friends, and empathetic listeners. We want mothers to shed their former selves in order to carry on the role of inspiring their children to be something. We want mothers to be intelligent but compassionate; generous but self-aware; at work but at home, all at once. That responsibility is difficult enough to bear when there is another warm body willing to step into a parental role ...

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May 18th, 2015

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GamerGate losers continue the argument on Wikipedia

Very, very pathetic, but the argument over GamerGate continues on the Wikipedia talk page.

Chrisrus continues to raise legalistic objections to those editors who are trying to be reasonable:

@Gamaliel: What new accounts? What does your closing and hiding of this thread have to do with new accounts editing the article? The thread had nothing to do with new accounts editing the article or not editing it. We were talking about how people respond to reader feedback on the talk ...

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May 18th, 2015

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Starve yourself

Interesting:

It’s calorie intake that is really fueling the obesity epidemic. But it’s not just the number of calories we’re eating as how we’re getting them. The sugar calories are particularly bad. Stanford University researcher Sanjay Basu recently led an analysis of 175 countries that evaluated the amount of sugar in each nation’s food supply. As sugar availability increased by 150 calories per person per day (the equivalent of a can of cola), there was a 1.1 percent rise in the ...

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May 10th, 2015

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“Habits” by To Love

A friend of mine in Stockholm sent me this link about Swedish singer To Love, who I had never heard of, but now I’ve spent an hour watching her videos on YouTube and I like her.

Source

May 8th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Can you defend your relationship?

This is a cute list:

No relationship comes without its obvious detractions: the counterargument against your imaginary defense. If you’re old enough to have had a relationship, you’re old enough to have had a nagging thought about it. One of my first boyfriends was great and everything—if it weren’t for the fact that he always smelled like hot dogs. Another one seemed really into me, but he was also really into “doing donuts” in his Camaro. Here are some other assorted ...

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May 8th, 2015

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The public no longer thinks of GLBT celebrities as being scandalous

Once upon a time, not that long ago, this would have been a big story:

Miley Cyrus… revealed to the AP that “not all her past relationships were ‘straight, heterosexual’ ones.” The piece continues, “She did not elaborate.”

Miley says she already spent a lot of time struggling with traditional gender expectations—and being resentful that she was a girl. “I didn’t want to be a boy,” she clarifies. “I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people ...

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May 4th, 2015

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“My daughter came home one day crying and said, ‘Mommy, somebody told me you made a lot of money …’ “

Interesting:

WITHERSPOON: My daughter came home one day crying and said, “Mommy, somebody told me you made a lot of money …” and I was like, “Why are you crying? … I worked hard for that. You should never feel embarrassed about a woman doing well in this world.”

Source

May 3rd, 2015

In Philosophy

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Poland is the most Slavic nation in the world?

I did not know this, but this map shows Poland as having the highest percentage of Slavic heritage:

Source

April 21st, 2015

In Philosophy

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What happened to Ani DiFranco?

What happened to Ani DiFranco? In 1993 I dated a woman who introduced me to Ani DiFranco. For the next 12 years, a lot of my female friends were in love with Ani DiFranco. She was a huge icon to a particular demographic. danah boyd maintained a page of Ani DiFranco lyrics. (I also liked DiFranco very much.)

Over the last 10 years, DiFranco has vanished. I am not aware of any of my female friends who still follow her. ...

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April 12th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Evening, by Susan Minot

(The 1st of 20 reviews of romance novels. I’m reading romance novels so I can learn how to better write about romance in my own works of fiction.)

In the early 1990s Susan Minot published some articles in Esquire magazine and I liked her stuff so I’ve been meaning to read some of her books. I was busy for the last 25 years, but I just finally got to reading her novel Evening.

Her focus is with the white upper-middle class ...

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April 10th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Zed Shaw’s legacy

I love this:

Once again, Zed Shaw preaches the truth.

The worst thing about the era of the Internet is how often I (and I think all of us) read something that effects my thinking forever, and then that thing vanishes, and no one can ever read it, and no one can ever hope to understand what shaped my thinking on a particular subject. 100 years ago, if I read a good book, there was a good chance some copy of ...

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March 31st, 2015

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Jodhaa Akbar

I recently watched the movie Jodhaa Akbar. Watching it I realized how strange it was that Richard Attenborough’s version of Ghandi was so entirely secular. Jodhaa Akbar shows Akbar experiencing the mystical wonders of Allah and Jodhaa experiencing the mystical wonders of Krishna. But Gandhi is not shown experiencing any mystical wonders, even though he was a great spiritual leader. Attenborough’s version of Gandhi is very Western and secular.

Source

March 23rd, 2015

In Philosophy

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The most important election in the history of Israel

Interesting:

I’m not interested in debating the normative side of the election, or various peace plans, right now. What I find striking is how unready many critics are to confront what has happened, not just in the “Plan B” sense but also rhetorically. The possibility that civil rights progress, peace progress, and self-governance and democratic progress simply have stopped, and won’t be back any time soon, is before us. If anything, matters might become worse yet, especially once ...

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March 23rd, 2015

In Philosophy

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You can’t take my pretty adjectives, damn you

In Strunk and White’s book Elements Of Style we are told that adjectives are bad. But here’s a book that says they are all liars:

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=18345

They also say that we should not start sentences with “but”. But I look them straight in the eye and say “Make me.”

Source

March 16th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The cost of failure

I was sick from 1994 to 2000, so I can relate to this:

Back when I made comics, I lived in a forest. I was poor. I had few options in life. I avoided the topic of college because I didn’t know what I wanted to “do with the rest of my life,” and I didn’t have the money to pay for it. It was much easier to tell myself I wanted to “do what I love, make comics for ...

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March 14th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Teaching yourself computer programming is morally correct

Interesting:

I have come to learning Haskell in an unusual way. I have a master’s degree in linguistics and some background in logic (due to a BA in philosophy). I have no background in either math or computer programming. At all. I was persuaded, somehow, to learn Haskell by a friend with a notable fervor for Haskell advocacy, and because he got me sort of excited about natural language processing, I decided to give it a whirl. He is a person ...

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March 13th, 2015

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Kate Heddleston on argument culture

Interesting:

In a perfect world, people win arguments through the use of logic, facts, and better information. In reality, most people are pretty terrible at using logic, facts, and information. People make decisions from a place of emotion. We know this because if the emotional centers of a person’s brain are damaged, they become incapable of making even the most basic decisions [4]. Arguments are inherently emotional interactions where the goal is winning, and if we have learned anything from ...

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March 13th, 2015

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Tardigrades can not be destroyed

Interesting:

If you go into outer space without protection, you’ll die.

The lack of pressure would force the air in your lungs to rush out. Gases dissolved in your body fluids would expand, pushing the skin apart and forcing it to inflate like a balloon. Your eardrums and capillaries would rupture, and your blood would start to bubble and boil. Even if you survived all that, ionising radiation would rip apart the DNA in your cells. Mercifully, you would be unconscious in ...

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March 12th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Women’s drinking peaks at age 40

Basically, women drink more and more every year until the worries about age-related health begin to influence their behavior. Interesting:

Source

March 12th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Bad female boss suddenly understand mothers now that she has a kid

Interesting:

I secretly rolled my eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks with me and my team. I questioned her “commitment” even though she arrived two hours earlier to work than me and my hungover colleagues the next day.

I didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she “got pregnant.”

...

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March 9th, 2015

In Philosophy

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If you measure something intermediate, be sure it also contributes to your end goals

Interesting:

In 1962, what’s now known as the Perry Preschool Study started in Ypsplanti, a blue-collar town near Detroit. It was a randomized trial, resulting in students getting either no preschool or two years of free preschool. After two years, students in the preschool group showed a 15 point bump in IQ scores; other early education studies showed similar results.

In the 60s, these promising early results spurred the creation of Head Start, a large scale preschool program designed to help economically ...

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March 6th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Women stealing happiness from women

Interesting:

“You know Weil hired Lauren? She just got her letter yesterday.”

It was Emma, smiling at me as though there was no one else she’d rather see.

“I guess they’re less fixated on first-year grades than they pretend,” she said, “because Lauren’s first year grades were”–here she made a soft clicking noise that made me want to strangle her.

“Incoming,” hissed Emma’s best friend, another girl who was notable mostly because her parents owned one of New York’s most expensive restaurants. And ...

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March 6th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The professionalization of childhood sports is child abuse

Interesting:

“It’s definitely child abuse,” Dohrmann said in an interview with ThinkProgress.

Dohrmann said that LeBron James Jr. might be an example of a rare kid with the support system that will allow him to survive the maw of youth basketball. He has a father who understands the system, is used to the attention and doesn’t need the money. He’s likely to get a coach who understands the game and even if he doesn’t he has his dad, one of the greatest ...

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March 3rd, 2015

In Philosophy

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I don’t get the zombie craze

All the zombie movies — I am not clear why this genre is so popular now. Typically when Sci-Fi has some popular breakthrough its because of events happening elsewhere in society. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a hit when Anti-Communist hysteria was at its peak. Star Trek was a hit when the USA government was actually trying to get to the moon. Planet Of The Apes was a hit when white America no longer felt free to speak openly ...

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March 3rd, 2015

In Philosophy

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Europe has seen a surge in voluntary childlessness

Interesting:

Europe has also seen a surge in “child-free” adults—voluntary childlessness. The proportion of childless 40-something women is one in five for Sweden and Switzerland, and one in four for Italy. In Berlin and in the German city-state of Hamburg, it’s nearly one in three, and rising swiftly. Europe’s most rapidly growing family type is the one-person household: the home not only child-free, but partner- and relative-free as well. In Western Europe, nearly one home in three (32%) is already a ...

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March 1st, 2015

In Philosophy

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What makes Buzzfeed good?

Interesting:

Where the Buzzfeed crew distinguish themselves from older media organizations, and even many of their contemporary online competitors, is in their lack of quality control, which borders on an actual rejection of the notion that “quality” ought to be an important factor in determining whether or not to publish something.

That’s Buzzfeed’s crucial differentiating factor. Combine it with their killer CMS (which encourages the rapid creation of exactly the sort of content we imagine when we think of lazy Buzzfeed ...

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March 1st, 2015

In Philosophy

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The short version of Kino Haruki Murakama

I think this story has too many words. This is my version, with less words:

Kino remembered the first time the man had come to his bar. His appearance had immediately caught Kino’s eye—the bluish shaved head, the thin build yet broad shoulders, the keen glint in his eye, the prominent cheekbones and wide forehead. He looked to be in his early thirties, and he wore a long gray raincoat, though it wasn’t raining.

The man sat in the back ...

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March 1st, 2015

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Lying is good for you

Lying is an important social skill:

The ability to lie is adaptive. When kids start lying when they’re younger, they’re essentially supposed to. It’s a good developmental sign their brain is working correctly when they become aware both that you actually can’t see everything they do and also that you can’t read their minds. Sure, they may not be that good at lying yet by our standards—my 4 year old recently insisted she was turning flips right in front of ...

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March 1st, 2015

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How can anyone remember where they saw a movie 25 years ago?

I am confused how anyone can remember these details:

My first time with James Cameron’s sci-fi war movie was a great filmgoing experience. I saw “Aliens” at the NorthPark 1 and 2 theater at NorthPark Mall in my hometown of Dallas, with a high school classmate who was, at that time, my regular action movie-watching buddy: Gabe Michaels. We drove to NorthPark to catch the 11 a.m. show on opening day and got in line a couple of hours early. ...

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February 26th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Dating someone wealthier

Interesting:

I dated a guy once whose father was quite wealthy and worked in finance. He often told me things straight-faced that, I—someone who had grown up on food stamps—found preposterous. He’d say that the couple grand he received as allowance each month was not very much money, and that his family was extremely careful not to show off their wealth too much, which he told me while we sipped booze on his dad’s $80,000 speedboat.

We went to restaurants where a ...

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February 25th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Fashion freedom in Britain

I agree, famous women in Britain seem to me to be under less pressure to minimize fashion risks, and therefore can dress in more interesting ways:

I am constantly hammering this point because it’s true: British fashion right now is, on the whole, so much more creative and interesting than American fashion. That’s certainly true on the runway, but it’s also true on the red carpet, even moreso with musicians, because on the whole British women aren’t as bananas about ...

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February 25th, 2015

In Philosophy

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What is the difference between depression and procrastination?

This sounds like depression:

You are too old to learn, they said. At your age it is impossible to change behavioral patterns, they concluded. “They” being these voices I have been hearing in my head lately — a side-effect of the isolation that comes with being a slave to/freelancer on the Internet.

A couple of days ago I would have agreed. Honestly, I would have agreed to anything. I felt done. Depressed. If somebody would have told me that I would never ...

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February 25th, 2015

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We lack a good theory for depression

Interesting:

The problem is that we’ve never had an adequate theory of what depression is, and the evidence seems to be that it is far more complex and situational than any one-pill-fixes-all approach could ever attack. The author is correct, but hardly novel or prescient, in noting that there are serious issues with the long-term efficacy of SSRIs and SNRIs (and most other classes of psychoactive drugs). The problems of discontinuation of drug therapy, especially for long-term users, and that the ...

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February 25th, 2015

In Philosophy

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How much of Gamergate is simply mental illness

Hitler believed that the Jews controlled the world and were working to destroy Germany. Racism that extreme is an obvious sign of mental illness. And likewise with misogyny. Where exactly is the line that divides banal everyday misogyny from mental illness? And how do we limit the damage that the mentally ill can do, while getting them the help they need? Several of the more extreme Gamergate men seem to be suffering from mental illness, Jace Connors being the obvious ...

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February 25th, 2015

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The most popular resist-sexual-assault training manual is out of date

Interesting:

Universities across the country have been eating this program up since 1989, and no wonder: R.A.D. is a perfect slice of patriarchal fear-cake, studded with nuggets of bad advice and thickly frosted with condescension.

Take, for example, these “Risk Reduction Strategies”:

HOME: Try “casing” your own home, at night and/or during the day. Attempt to gain access when locked and “secure.” If possible, invite a security survey from your local Police Department.

Drapes and Shades: Draw the drapes and pull the shades. ...

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February 25th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The hollowness of the neutral meditation promoted by business

This is very good:

When I read about the general spread of mindfulness, I’m gladdened and encouraged. It is a simple thing, available as freely as breath to practically every human, that can steady our faltering steps on the path of life. I would not begrudge anyone their mindfulness practice, no matter what form it takes.

When I read about mindfulness in the business world, though, I’m left with uneasy questions. Apparently, I’m not the only one. In their review of ...

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February 25th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Are polyhedra of equal volume equidecomposable?

Interesting:

Just as any pair of polygons of equal area can be decomposed and reassembled into the same square, can any pair of polyhedra of equal volume be decomposed and reassembled into the same cube? Are polyhedra of equal volume equidecomposable? Are they equicomplementable?

By the end of the nineteenth century there were several examples of equalvolume polyhedra that were both equidecomposable and equicomplementable, but there was no general solution. One simple example is prisms with the same height and equal area ...

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February 22nd, 2015

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Online bullying intensifies the attacks against women

Interesting:

It’s a point that I’ve been making for much of the last year about women in tech and Silicon Valley. We are in a strange place where there is both more opportunity for women than ever before, but also more disgusting and overt hate, whether it’s from anonymous trolls or senior executives and founders of the largest most powerful companies in the Valley. Worse are the excuses the industry makes for those in power, whether they’re justifications that being ...

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February 21st, 2015

In Philosophy

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Communism and corporatism are the same

This is interesting:

Following publication of the Short Course, which gave the author as “A commission of the ACP(b) Central Committee,” Stalin explained: “We were presented with … a draft text and we fundamentally revised it.” The Soviet leader’s deployment of the “royal we” suggests that he suffered from what Koestler called the “shamefacedness about the first person singular which the Party had inculcated in its disciples.” (Once a young department head—and Stalin’s future son-in-law—dared to speak for the party ...

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February 17th, 2015

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Odious behavior from George Washington

Gross and disgusting behavior from the First President. Maybe he wasn’t the rapist that Jefferson was, but Washington was still gross.

The act began dismantling slavery, eventually releasing people from bondage after their 28th birthdays. Under the law, any slave who entered Pennsylvania with an owner and lived in the state for longer than six months would be set free automatically. This presented a problem for the new president.

Washington developed a canny strategy that would protect his property and allow ...

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February 15th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Sleep paralysis is heredity?

I sometimes get sleep paralysis, so I find this surprising. Neither of my parents had sleep paralysis, so I wonder how far back it goes?

Sleep paralysis often occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, when people are usually dreaming. In REM, the muscles are nearly paralyzed — possibly to prevent people from acting out their dreams, scientists say. Some people who suffer from sleep paralysis experience hallucinations of a terrifying figure pressing down on them and ...

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February 13th, 2015

In Philosophy

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革命的非モテ同盟

Kind of sort of hilarious, but sort of sad:

On February 14th, Kakumei-teki himote doumei (革命的非モテ同盟) — literally, “Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Woman Are Not Attracted To”– will gather in Shibuya, an area of Tokyo popular with young couples, to protest Valentine’s Day and its roots in what they call “romantic capitalist oppression.”

Source

February 11th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Drinking water in the Middle Ages

Interesting:

People in the time certainly knew the difference between bad and good water. Pliny, in discussing drinking water, says: “It is a fault also in water, not only to have a bad smell, but to have any flavour at all, even though it be a flavour pleasant and agreeable in itself…. Speaking in general terms, water, to be wholesome, should have neither taste nor smell.”. Centuries later, Paulus Aeginata (seventh c.) wrote: “of all things water is of most ...

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February 11th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The growing importance of doulas during birth

Interesting:

Doulas are a growing force in the ever-changing culture of maternity, at once a manifestation of the growing demand for personal service (the doorman, the yoga teacher, Amazon Prime) and a backlash against the perceived overmedicalization of birth, with its high rates of cesarean sections.

But because of resistance from the medical profession and lack of insurance reimbursement, they are still a small part of the system. A recent report estimated that there are as many as 400 doulas working ...

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February 10th, 2015

In Philosophy

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How to think about your exercise regime

Interesting:

Let’s clarify something: When I say lazy, I’m not talking about physical laziness. In fact, I encourage trainees to do the minimum amount required for results. This might mean taking the elevator if you hate stairs.

When I say failure, I am not talking about setbacks. On your fitness journey, you will have continuous setbacks, like an accidental binge or feeling too unmotivated to go to the gym. That’s okay. By “failure,” I mean it in the sense of throwing in ...

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February 10th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The Compulsory Vaccination Act of 1853

Interesting:

At the time, there existed no obligation to vaccinate in England. Physicians and health reformers encouraged vaccination and, in 1840, successfully convinced Parliament to make the shot free of charge. But the public continued to spin fears about the vaccine’s effects, and in doing so, continued to catch smallpox. It became increasingly clear that simply suggesting vaccination to the public was not enough.

In 1853, those same reformers convinced lawmakers that “smallpox posed a serious danger to the national community,” and ...

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February 9th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Um

Interesting:

Liberman has been studying these so-called “filled pauses” for almost a decade, and he has made a rather curious discovery.

“As Americans get older, they use ‘uh’ more,” he says. “And at every age, men use ‘uh’ more than women.”

If you look at “um”, exactly the opposite is true. Younger people say “um” more often than older people. And no matter the age, women say “um” more than men. Nobody, not even the linguists, were expecting this result; until they studied ...

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February 9th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The assumption that programmers are men

Julia Evans calls out some comments on her blog that assume she is a man:

When this happens, when people implicitly assume that a Technical Thing On The Internet must be written by a man, I find it confusing. I didn’t grow up with the idea that I was worse at math or programming than the men around me (because, well, I wasn’t!) And I didn’t grow up with the idea that it was weird for me to write programs ...

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February 8th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Problems with the schools in the USA

There is this:

My Son just recently graduated High School and now is in his first year of college for dual major in Aviation Science (to be an air traffic controller) and Business. His high school (Valhalla High School in El Cajon California) gave him a test to determine his aptitude that said he should go into “building maintenance” (being a Janitor more or less) and wouldn’t move up his classes to more difficult ones so he was in classes with ...

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February 8th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Good British manners at a brothel

A British woman, with good manners, goes to a brothel in Nevada to get a naked massage. This bit of dialogue is priceless:

“Now. Would you like a little tongue action on those nipples?” she asked.

“If it’s no bother,” started my very English reply, “yes please.”

From Vice.

Source

January 30th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Do you think mothers play an important role during birth?

If I asked you “Do you think mothers are important to birth?” you would probably regard that as a stupid question, and you would regard it as a stupid question because the answer seems so blindingly obvious. And, indeed, you would probably agree that mothers play an important role during birth, unless you happen to be in charge of the USA medical system, in which case mothers are the last thing that you ever worry about. This says it well: ...

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January 26th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Groupon is not a joke

I went to lunch today with some folks who work at Second Life. It was kind of amazing to remember that Second Life still exists, and people still log in there. (And likewise, MySpace still exists.) Alot of forgotten companies keep going, and apparently Groupon is doing fairly well:

But it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off: By June 2012, the company was valued below Google’s proposed acquisition price. The following March, founding CEO Andrew Mason was ...

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January 26th, 2015

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Depression and sex

Interesting:

You’re probably not a doctor. Even if you are, you are not your reader’s doctor. You should at no point be doling out medical advice. You should not be offering diagnoses and the phrase “talk to your doctor” should come into play. And please, for the love of god, do not tell people which medications they should or should not be taking. I keep hearing “why don’t you just take______?” in relation to Orgasm Quest and, it’s incredibly inappropriate ...

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January 26th, 2015

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A girl gets propositioned

Interesting story over at Vice:

So after dinner, he drove me home, and then just handed me £500 in cash. I clearly looked very confused, and insulted, and he just said, “Oooh, you haven’t done this kind of thing before?” Of course, I jumped to conclusions and was like, “I’m not going to have sex with you!” And I actually gave the cash back to him. But he just said, “Look, I’m not delusional—you’re a smart, pretty, young girl. ...

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January 19th, 2015

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How much should gender figure in a story about women fighting in Afghanistan?

Interesting:

Percy sets the stage with what might be called “disarming candor.” A mere three weeks after arriving in Afghanistan, she hears about this woman who runs a militia, sees a photo of her, and boom, we’re off to see the warlord–in Percy’s foggy notion, Mistuh Kurtz in a chador:

“I’d been living in Afghanistan three weeks when my guide…showed me a photograph of the country’s only known female warlord, Bibi Ayisha, nom de guerre Commander Pigeon…In the photograph, she looked ...

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January 18th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Stuff I do when I am burned out

I’ve noticed these are the things I do when I am depressed and burned out:

1.) read newspapers

2.) watch television

3.) watch movies on/from Netflix

4.) read weblogs

5.) read novels or history books

6.) sleep

If I am very depressed and burned out:

7.) post comments on websites, in response to things I’ve read

When I had my own business, 2002-2008, I was so excited about my work that I rarely did any of the above. I recall, at one point, I went 6 months without ...

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January 18th, 2015

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Why men love war

Interesting:

War is an escape from the everyday into a special world where the bonds that hold us to our duties in daily life–the bonds of family, community, work, disappear. In war, all bets are off. It’s the frontier beyond the last settlement, it’s Las Vegas. The men who do well in peace do not necessarily do well at war, while those who were misfits and failures may find themselves touched with fire. U. S. Grant, selling firewood on the streets ...

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January 18th, 2015

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The heyday of the Romans ended with a crash

The Classical World hit its peak fairly early. For Greek science, the peak was from 300 BC to 150 BC, mostly in Alexandria. The system was in trouble from 88 BC on, with occasional revivals. Somehow the system in the West lasted until 415 BC. It was very long collapse, from a good era much earlier:

Dr Philip Kay of Wolfson College Oxford has produced the most detailed analysis of Rome’s economic development in the late Republic period and this ...

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January 18th, 2015

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The unique suffering of being rich

This:

Michael M. Thomas, a former investment banker and a novelist of Wall Street manners, said that if he were ever to write a book about his own privileged upbringing, he would title it “Orphans With Parents.” Meaning that despite the private clubs, the best schools and all the many things that money can buy, there has always been for those born into this world a sense of acute loneliness that can strain ties with parents and mark a child forever.

is ...

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January 11th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Encouraging new developers

Interesting:

Let me give an example — say a new coder had somehow, impossibly, in their first month of coding, created an app that would save the planet, plunging us into a permanent state of world peace and 100% clean energy. What’s the first thing that you as a senior developer would say to that person before seeing or testing their project? Let me guess — you’re thinking, “Is it responsive?”

To put this in perspective, someone who knew ...

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January 11th, 2015

In Philosophy

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How should a programmer grow?

Interesting:

Software wants to be a meritocracy, but the sad reality is that effectiveness of an individual programmer depends on the environment. Drop a 1.8+ engineer into a Visitor-infested Java codebase and he turns into a bumbling idiot, in the same way that an incompetent player at a poker table can fluster experts (who may not be familiar with that particular flavor of incompetence). The result of this is that detecting who the good programmers are, especially for a non-programmer ...

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January 8th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Women in economics

Interesting:

Today, women in economics face a Catch-22, where speaking up can easily make them look like a shrew, while not speaking up robs them of legitimate power. There may be some loopholes in this Catch-22, but women starting out in economics need to be shown the ropes. And with so few senior female professors in economics, who can show a female graduate student how to promote herself gracefully, and break into predominantly male conversations without raising hackles? Somehow, that question ...

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January 7th, 2015

In Philosophy

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The Tracy-Widom distribution

Apparently phase shifts follow a unique distribution:

The Tracy-Widom distribution is an asymmetrical statistical bump, steeper on the left side than the right. Suitably scaled, its summit sits at a telltale value: √2N, the square root of twice the number of variables in the systems that give rise to it and the exact transition point between stability and instability that May calculated for his model ecosystem.

The transition point corresponded to a property of his matrix model called the “largest eigenvalue”: ...

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January 7th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Peer-to-peer health

This is a great example of peers helping peers:

Humans of New York (HONY) is a blog and Facebook page that features portraits of New Yorkers, each paired with a caption in the subject’s own words. With over 11 million followers, HONY is adept at bringing into focus the experiences that shape people’s lives. A recent post made me stop in my tracks and think. The subject said:

My children’s father was physically and emotionally abusive, so by the time I left ...

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January 5th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Kevin Drum expects more of the same

Kevin Drum has an article where he basically predicts all current trends will continue for the next 30 years. The article reminds me very much of all the articles written during the 1960s that basically said “5% annual growth will continue forever and 100 years from now we will all be super wealthy and no one will ever work and everything will be perfect”, and then 1973 came a long and the post-war boom ended and we suddenly had increasing ...

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January 5th, 2015

In Philosophy

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Why is gender still an issue?

I was a small child in the 1970s, and my mom subscribed to Mz. magazine. I recall reading some articles about women being ignored or underestimated by men. I assumed this was a problem that merely needed to be pointed out, and then it would go away. Apparently it is still an issue, almost 40 years later. Why is that?

Germaine Greer, in 1971, at a debate in New York filmed in Town Bloody Hall, spoke of “having to confront ...

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January 4th, 2015

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Asian films worth seeing

I want to see this:

“The Golden Era” (China/Hong Kong)

Director Ann Hui won best director at last month’s Golden Horse Awards for her three-hour literary epic depicting the troubled life and tumultuous relationships of novelist Xiao Hong, one of China’s most-prominent women writers whose work emerged during in the 1930s. The film employs the unusual technique of characters breaking the fourth wall to address the audience with their recollections of Xiao Hong. Actress Tang Wei (who will be seen next ...

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December 30th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Mae Keane, swallowed radium, died at age 107

Interesting that she lived to be 107 despite the radiation exposure. This is possibly in the same category of story as the apartment building in Taiwan that was accidentally built with weakly radioactive steel, and the people who lived there had lower than average cancer. There might be some very low level of radiation that does more harm than good. After all, we use it as the main form of therapy against cancer.

In the 1920s, a young working-class woman ...

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December 27th, 2014

In Philosophy

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When rational thinking is correlated with intelligence the correlation is modest

I consider myself smart and rational, so I was surprised that I stumbled on many of the test questions. I got this one wrong, though you would think, having been programming computers for 15 years, I surely should have gotten this one right:

Jack is looking at Anne, but Anne is looking at George. Jack is married, but George is not. Is a married person looking at an unmarried person?

A) Yes

B) No

C) Cannot be determined

Oddly enough, I feel that if this ...

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