## Philosophy

February 8th, 2016

# 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, ...

February 7th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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, ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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.

February 6th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 6th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 5th, 2016

# 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 ...

February 3rd, 2016

# 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 ...

February 3rd, 2016

# 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 ...

January 31st, 2016

# 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 ...

January 31st, 2016

# 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 ...

January 30th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 29th, 2016

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

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

Source

January 23rd, 2016

# 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 ...

January 20th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 18th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 16th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 13th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 13th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 13th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 13th, 2016

# Abusive searches by aggressive police

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 ...

January 13th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 13th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 13th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 12th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 8th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 5th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 5th, 2016

# 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 ...

January 2nd, 2016

# 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 ...

January 1st, 2016

# 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 ...

January 1st, 2016

# 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 ...

December 31st, 2015

# 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 ...

December 31st, 2015

# 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 ...

December 31st, 2015

# People who love spies do not love being spied upon

Interesting:

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 ...

December 30th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 30th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 29th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 22nd, 2015

# 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 ...

December 20th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 18th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 16th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 13th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 11th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 7th, 2015

# 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 ...

December 2nd, 2015

# 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 ...

December 2nd, 2015

# 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 ...

December 1st, 2015

# 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 ...

November 28th, 2015

# 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 ...

November 23rd, 2015

# 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

# 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 ...

October 13th, 2015

# 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 ...

October 11th, 2015

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 ...

October 11th, 2015

# 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.

September 28th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 26th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 16th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 16th, 2015

# 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.” ...

September 16th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 16th, 2015

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 ...

September 15th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 11th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 11th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 10th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 10th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 9th, 2015

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 ...

September 8th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 7th, 2015

# 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 ...

September 5th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 28th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 27th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 27th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 26th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 26th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 23rd, 2015

# 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 ...

August 22nd, 2015

# 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 ...

August 22nd, 2015

# 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 ...

August 11th, 2015

# Alexis Neiers: I wasn’t wearing Louboutins

Alexis Neiers Phone Call (Full Scene) by tbhuratchet

Source

August 11th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 8th, 2015

# 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 ...

August 2nd, 2015

# 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

# 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 ...

July 24th, 2015

# 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 ...

July 21st, 2015

# 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 ...

July 19th, 2015

# 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 ...

July 15th, 2015

# 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, ...

July 2nd, 2015

# 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 ...

May 28th, 2015

# 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 ...

May 27th, 2015

# 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 ...

May 26th, 2015

# 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

# 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 ...

May 18th, 2015

# 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 ...

May 18th, 2015

# 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 ...

May 18th, 2015

# 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 ...

May 10th, 2015

# “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

# 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 ...

May 8th, 2015

# 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 ...

May 4th, 2015

# “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

# 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

# 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. ...

April 12th, 2015

# 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 ...

April 10th, 2015

# 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 ...

March 31st, 2015

# 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

# 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 ...

March 23rd, 2015

# 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

# 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 ...

March 14th, 2015

# 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 ...

March 13th, 2015

# 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 ...

March 13th, 2015

# 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 ...

March 12th, 2015

# 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

# 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.”

...

March 9th, 2015

# 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 ...

March 6th, 2015

# 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 ...

March 6th, 2015

# 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 ...

March 3rd, 2015

# 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 ...

March 3rd, 2015

# 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 ...

March 1st, 2015

# 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 ...

March 1st, 2015

# 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 ...

March 1st, 2015

# 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 ...

March 1st, 2015

# 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. ...

February 26th, 2015

Interesting:

July 28th, 2014

# OKCupid experiments on its users again

Manipulations done by OKCupid. Remember, if a service is free, then you are the product.

But by comparing Love Is Blind Day to a normal Tuesday, we learned some very interesting things. In those 7 hours without photos… And it wasn’t that “looks weren’t important” to the users who’d chosen to stick around. When the photos were restored at 4PM, 2,200 people were in the middle of conversations that had started “blind”. Those conversations melted away. The goodness was gone, ...

July 28th, 2014

# Why is the solar system stable?

I am fascinated with the question of smart people thinking dumb things. Or rather, things that now strike me as stupid, partly because I grew up knowing the answer.

One of the smartest people who ever lived was Isaac Newton. And for a long time, he was convinced that the sun had a repulsive force that was pushing the planets away. Robert Hooke had to expend considerable effort to convince Newton that the sun had an attractive force. And then, ...

July 28th, 2014

# Why a woman becomes a social worker

A powerful story about why one woman wanted to become a social worker:

She’s a pacifist, she doesn’t believe in killing or maiming. Hitting either, I suppose.

“Not even to save a life?” I ask.

“Only if it was very clear-cut.”

“What if you knew of a person who had tortured and killed several women, and you had the ability to stop them?”

“I would call the police,” she says.

Fuck, if only I could be that innocent, to think I could just call the cops ...

July 26th, 2014

# The Perseus Cluster is huge and strange

Interesting:

Together with a team of more than a half-dozen colleagues, Bulbul has been using Chandra to explore the Perseus Cluster, a swarm of galaxies approximately 250 million light years from Earth. Imagine a cloud of gas in which each atom is a whole galaxy—that’s a bit what the Perseus cluster is like. It is one of the most massive known objects in the Universe. The cluster itself is immersed in an enormous ‘atmosphere’ of superheated plasma—and it is ...

July 21st, 2014

# Learning a new language boosts your memory

Interesting:

In the last few years, unable to hold a list of just four grocery items in my head, I’d begun to fret a bit over my literal state of mind. So to reassure myself that nothing was amiss, just before tackling French I took a cognitive assessment called CNS Vital Signs, recommended by a psychologist friend. The results were anything but reassuring: I scored below average for my age group in nearly all of the categories, notably landing in the ...

July 20th, 2014

# Shame and politics

During the 4 years that I was sick, 1995-1999, my personal politics swung sharply to the right. I’ve always had trouble describing why. However, this essay does a good job describing many of the emotions involved. Very interesting:

Even though we didn’t take the food stamps, we lived in the warm embrace of the federal government with subsidized housing and utilities, courtesy of Uncle Sam [Lyngar, at the time, was in the Army]. Yet I blamed all of my considerable problems ...

June 26th, 2014

# What allows a marriage to last?

Interesting:

Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat. He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang ...

June 24th, 2014

# The emergence of the jaw, in the late Cambrian, was one of the big breakthroughs for life on earth

Interesting:

Fossilized fish specimens from the Canadian Rockies, known as Metaspriggina, dates from the Cambrian period (around 505 million years ago), shows pairs of exceptionally well-preserved arches near the front of its body. The first of these pairs, closest to the head, eventually led to the evolution of jaws in vertebrates, the first time this feature has been seen so early in the fossil record.

Fish fossils from the Cambrian period are very rare and usually poorly preserved. This new discovery ...

June 24th, 2014

# Ellen Chisa on gender and technology

This is interesting:

I was vehemently against the Society of Women in Engineering (SWE). I thought anything that called attention to being female hurt me. That it would make people think I’d gotten my role for being “female” instead of for being excellent. I felt degraded. I felt like “those women” were making me less likely to succeed. They couldn’t compete on excellence, so they made shit up about how the playing field wasn’t level. They just weren’t good enough. Other ...

June 16th, 2014

# Breaking into your boyfriend’s email to find if he is cheating on you

This is from Slashdot, from perhaps 2002 or 2003. I tried to find this using Google, but Google failed me:

Posted by CmdrTaco From the it-happened-again dept. SyD writes: “Apparently there is a major security hole on Hotmail that could allow crackers to read your e-mail. A hacking group known as root core discovered the hole and reported it to Microsoft.“

This isn’t the first time that the folks who are gonna give us a internet wide universal login system had a hole. ...

June 10th, 2014

# Tumour necrosis factors have not changed in 550 million years

Interesting:

There are many ways of triggering apoptosis, and one route involves two large groups of proteins: the tumour necrosis factors (TNFs), and the receptors that they stick to. When they meet, they set off a chain reaction inside the cell. A large network of proteins is recruited, united, and activated, until the cell eventually dies. Think of TNF as a key twisting in the lock of a door, triggering a Rube-Goldberg machine that ends with the entire room catching fire.

Now, ...

June 9th, 2014

# Fasting helps bring back your stem cells

Fascinating article:

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then “flipped a regenerative switch,” changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed.

The study has major implications for healthier aging, in which immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease as people age. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles ...

June 3rd, 2014

# 800 dead babies in Ireland

Years ago, the Irish government apologized for the horrific sexual torture and human rights abuses that were inflicted on Irish girls who were considered wayward, and some monetary damages have been paid to surviving victims, but so far the Catholic Church has not fully apologized for the atrocities that were committed in institutions which it was running. In case anyone might forget how extensive the neglect and abuse was, here is a reminder:

Police are investigating the discovery of 800 ...

May 31st, 2014

# Math education in the USA

Very interesting post about math education:

When did we brainwash kids into thinking that math was about getting an answer? My students truly believe for some reason that math is about combining whatever numbers you can in whatever method that seems about right to get one “answer” and then call it a day. They rarely think about what they are doing as long as at the end of the day their answer is “correct”. Today they were ...

May 20th, 2014

# Who is responsible for dinner?

I like cooking large dinners for friends. I used to do a breakfast, once a month, at my apartment where I would simply invite everyone I knew in New York City, and I would feed whoever showed up. People are busy so I never got more than 15 people at my place, but I was always glad for whoever showed up. I have fond memories of the conversations. If someone else cooks dinner, I would have to be asked to ...

May 20th, 2014

# How should we handle unlimited leisure?

Interesting:

To Keynes, the coming age of abundance, while welcome, would pose a new and in some ways even bigger challenge. With so little need for labor, people would have to figure out what to do with themselves: “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won.” The example offered by the ...

May 20th, 2014

# What a dictionary is for

This is good:

Noah Webster is not the best-known of the Founding Fathers but he has been called “the father of American scholarship and education.” There’s actually this great history of how he almost singlehandedly invented the very idea of American English, defining the native tongue of the new republic, “rescuing” it from “the clamour of pedantry” imposed by the Brits.

He developed a book, the Blue Backed Speller, which was meant to be something of a complete linguistic education for young ...

May 12th, 2014

# The USA medical system needs to be more aggressive in treating pain

Interesting:

In those not-so-old days when Jeffrey was born, as a preemie, many doctors mistakenly believed that babies’ nervous systems were too immature to process pain and that, therefore, babies didn’t feel pain at all. Or, doctors rationalized, if babies did somehow feel pain, it was no big deal because they probably wouldn’t remember it. Besides, since nobody knew for sure how dangerous anesthesia drugs might be in tiny babies, doctors figured that if surgery was necessary to save ...

May 12th, 2014

# Bro culture on a rampage

This essay argues that the rise of bro culture is a panic response to the rise of gay culture:

The repressive, hypermasculine bro that stalks your local watering hole and pisses in the street is a modern, anxious manifestation of homosexual panic, an allergic reaction to the mainstreaming of gay culture (and, by extension, a loss of cultural power and sexual stability). The modern definition of manhood came about in strict domination over the feminine, both sexually and behaviorally. “Male-male relations ...

May 4th, 2014

# Are there any new ideas?

It’s possible that there have been no new ideas during the Great Stagnation, but it is worth noting that some ideas, such as agent based simulations, have made some progress.

The big ideas: The deluge of changes that shook Europe around 1800 — the making of the modern world — brought with them an explosion of big new ideas, new ways of framing the social, historical, and natural world which we inhabit. Darwin, Freud, Marx, Walras, Carnot, Poincaré, Einstein — each ...

May 4th, 2014

# Young blood reverses aging in old mice

This is an interesting study:

Two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

“I am extremely excited,” said Rudolph Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the research. “These findings could be a game changer.”

The ...

May 3rd, 2014

# The culture that is Japanese

Of course when girls take off their underwear, the underwear then transforms into a weapon that the girls can use to kill demons. Can you think of anything more Japanese than that?

Source

May 2nd, 2014

# What do you do, Mr. Gable?

Interesting:

He was so naive about the industry that he entertained hopes he would be writing for the famous movie star Mickey Mouse. But the folks at Metro informed him, No, Mickey lives at another studio out in the Valley—we want you for a Wallace Beery picture. “Who’s he?” Faulkner asked. The more he learned, the more frightened he became. “The truth is that I was scared,” Faulkner disclosed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I was scared ...

May 2nd, 2014

# Piketty

Interesting:

With his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty has lobbed a truth bomb that has blown up several decades’ worth of received opinion about the way the economy works in capitalist societies. He makes a powerful, meticulously-argued, data-driven case that inequality is a feature of capitalist economies, not a bug. Let to its own devices, wealth tends to become highly concentrated. The only events likely to prevent our society from plunging into a dystopian spiral of inequity are, ...

May 2nd, 2014

# Uptalk among men

Interesting:

This process is known as “uptalk” or “valleygirl speak” and has in the past been associated with young females, typically from California or Australia.

But now a team says that this way of speaking is becoming more frequent among men.

The findings were presented at the Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in California.

“We found use of uptalk in all of our speakers, despite their diverse backgrounds in socioeconomic status, ethnicity, bilingualism and gender,” said Amanda Ritchart, a linguist at ...

April 28th, 2014

# 39% survival rate for this guy’s kids

This is a lot of dead children:

In 1832, he married Varvara Alexeyevna Moiseyeva. They had a large number of children (eighteen according to his son’s memoirs, while only seven apparently survived into adulthood).

Source

April 26th, 2014

# Drowning: the game of life

I like how this game is so simple.

Source

April 25th, 2014

# Urban male hipsters love old men and Ruby programming

I was thinking about Ruby On Rails and male hipsters and wondering if there was a cultural affinity that brought male hipsters to Ruby in particular (out of all the possible computer programming languages). I decided there was. I notice a lot of male hipsters are into the idea of the old master, the old man who is great at some skill: A great tailor, a great leather worker, a great wood carver, a great painter, a great sculptor, etc. ...

April 24th, 2014

# Women’s reactions to behavior in the tech industry

This is very long, but its an interesting group of responses from the women:

When I was a grad student at Princeton in CS, before CS nerds ran most of the women out, I was leading a study session for some younger grad students when I saw some amazing international sexism on display. A woman, who would later have a pretty good position at Google, was explaining a homework problem about which there was some controversy. Every guy in the room, ...

April 21st, 2014

# The decline of teen births

I am very curious what drove the surge in teen births in the late 80s.

Source

April 18th, 2014

# The Healthy Hazda do not have the “healthy” bacteria in their gut

Interesting:

Researchers have known for decades that the biota in our gut vary depending on what we eat. But the Hadza microbiome still turned out to be surprisingly different.

To study the difference between the ancient and modern gut, researchers analyzed stool samples from 16 Italian urbanites and 27 Hadza foragers, of both genders.

The Italians’ gut flora was generally what they expected in Western diets, with some Mediterranean influences. The Hadza’s poop, however, was like stepping into a lost continent of microbe ...

April 10th, 2014

# Hacker School bans competitive feigned surprise regarding your ignorance

This is great:

If you have ability and a strong work ethic, people will notice. You will learn a lot from their reaction. If they react by treating with you with respect, they have strong character. If they react by taking every opportunity to belittle and undermine you, they perceive you as a threat to them. If you aren’t prone to petty jealousy and spiteful thinking, it will be difficult to empathize with people who are. Sadly, you must handle these ...

April 6th, 2014

# You don’t have to run faster than the bear

You just need to run faster than the guy next to you.

Source

April 4th, 2014

# Zero is a function

Is zero a number or a function? Probably a function:

I also wish to re-state zero is a function. It separates positive and negative numbers, real and imaginary numbers. So if smart people wish to argue 0^0 = 1 or NOT then same said people should arguably disagree that 1^(1/2) =1 … Or NOT Because -1 x -1 = 1

Source

April 4th, 2014

# Germany versus America

Written by a German who has been living in America for a long time:

The German system gives more power to the parties, since they decide which candidates to place on the list from which the parliamentarians will later be drawn. Parties finance the election campaigns; the candidates themselves do not need to raise substantial amounts of money. In return, there is a very high party loyalty in the German parliament. Parliamentarians vote their conscience only on rare, very important ...

April 4th, 2014

# Low expectations for sitcoms

I agree with “low expectations”. Sitcoms are slowly dying out: in 2000 there were 36 in prime time major networks, by 2013 there were only 16. They are being replaced by reality shows. Sitcoms were invented to fill time while being low-cost, but reality shows are even cheaper and can draw just as much audience. The rise of unscripted reality shows (when they are unscripted, which is rare) suggests that Keith Johnstone might have been correct when he suggested that ...

April 4th, 2014

# The war on science

Doesn’t the Entire Earth Have the Same Climate?

Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) demonstrated his inability to grasp the idea that the world’s climate varies across different regions (which, in fairness, is a sensible line of questioning—if we were living on the forest moon of Endor):

Rohrabacher: Do you believe that tornadoes and hurricanes today are more ferocious and more frequent than they were in the past?

Holdren: There is no evidence relating to tornadoes. None of all. And I don’t know any ...

April 4th, 2014

# Work should be fun

Interesting:

It’s also quite scary when you consider that we’re entering an era of technological unemployment. More and more jobs are being automated: they aren’t going to provide money, social validation, or occupation for anyone any longer. We saw this first with agriculture and the internal combustion engine and artificial fertilizers, which reduced the rural workforce from around 90% of the population in the 17th-18th century to around 1% today in the developed world. We’ve seen it in steel, coal, and ...

April 4th, 2014

# Woman takes a grant, is then called a hypocrite for criticizing university

If true, then this is a worrisome attitude for someone who offers scholarships to college students. Shouldn’t college kids be encouraged to make thoughtful dissents against the institutions they find themselves in?

Even more damningly, the administration seems to conflate “promoting civility” with “quashing dissent.” Over email, the current Coastal student told me, “I’ve been reluctant to write in the school newspaper and [be] critical thereof because students have warned me they’ve been called in by administration after publishing op-ed ...

April 1st, 2014

# The impact on gender relations of unpaid labor in open source?

Interesting:

A note on meritocracy

It’s difficult to go much further without mentioning the undercurrent belief in meritocracy that is particularly pervasive in open source communities, especially around participation in GitHub.

Meritocracy is the belief that those with merit float to the top – that they should be given more opportunities and be paid higher.

We prize the idea of meritocracy and weigh merit on contribution to OSS. Those who contribute the most, goes the general belief, have the most merit and are ...

March 31st, 2014

# A genuinely new thought about the history of human expansion

I thought I knew every theory of possible human expansion, but this was entirely new for me:

Dr. Guidon remains defiant about her findings. At her home on the grounds of a museum she founded to focus on the discoveries in Serra da Capivara, she said she believed that humans had reached these plateaus even earlier, around 100,000 years ago, and might have come not overland from Asia but by boat from Africa.

Humans traveled by boat from Africa to South America ...

March 30th, 2014

# Debtors prisons raise the risk of corruption in the USA

The problem with putting people in jail for debts is that the courts themselves get corrupted by the confluence of money and power. This is a step down a dark road:

In the spring of 2009, Burdette was doing well. For a year she had worked at the Piggly Wiggly in Childersburg, where nearly a quarter of the 5,200 citizens live in poverty. Burdette’s cashier job didn’t pay much, but it helped her get by.

One May afternoon, she was ringing up ...