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👓 How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk | The New York Times

Read How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk by Josh Katz (nytimes.com)
What does the way you speak say about where you’re from? Answer all the questions below to see your personal dialect map.

I’d love to see the data sets and sources they used for these visualizations.

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👓 Why Do Americans Stay When Their Town Has No Future? | Bloomberg

Read Why Do Americans Stay When Their Town Has No Future? by Alec MacGillis (Bloomberg.com)
Family and community are the only things left in Adams County, Ohio, as the coal-fired power plants abandon ship and the government shrugs.

A stunning long read here. The problems presented in this story are multi-faceted and are a good microcosm of some of the major complex issues that America is facing. There’s economic, cultural, and political.

I particularly find it interesting how very little that any politician was able to generally offer here. Unmentioned generally is the Trump administration which during the campaign promised to do more for the coal industry, but apparently those cries here have gone unheeded. I suspect that those who have been pulled into Trumpism will be generally left unsupported and will end up needing to change camps again. The real question is to where will they go for help? The divisiveness of the two party system will have to have some sort of change for things to get any better, particularly as the inevitable changes of globalization continue apace.

Also addressed here in part is the subtle changes in the “American Spirit” which don’t seem to be widely written about or reported on.

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👓 Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult | C Thi Nguyen | Aeon Essays

Read Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult by C Thi Nguyen (Aeon)

First you don’t hear other views. Then you can’t trust them. Your personal information network entraps you just like a cult

Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry. Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention. An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side. An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

A stunning essay that gives me hope that we’re not in a “post-truth” world. On the other hand, we’re going to need to do a lot of work …

hat tip: Ian O’Byrne

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🎧 Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears | Revisionist History

Listened Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

Revisionist History goes to Nashville to talk with Bobby Braddock, who has written more sad songs than almost anyone else. What is it about music that makes us cry? And what sets country music apart?

Why country music makes you cry, and rock and roll doesn't: A musical interpretation of divided America.

The big idea in this episode that there is a bigger divide in America that falls along musical lines more than political ones is quite intriguing and fits in with my general experience living in South Carolina, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, and California. Having been raised by a Catholic family with one parent from the city, another from the countryside, and having lived in many blue/red states surrounded by people of various different musical tastes, I do have to wonder if there isn’t a lot of value in this thesis. It could make an interesting information theoretic political-related question for research. This might be the type of thing that could be teased out with some big data sets from Facebook.

Beauty and authenticity can create a mood. They set the stage, but I think the thing that pushes us over the top into tears is details. We cry when melancholy collides with specificity.

Malcolm Gladwell in The King of Tears

He then goes on into a nice example about the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses:

And specificity is not something that every genre does well.

This reminds me of a great quote in Made to Stick from Mother Theresa about specificity.

Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

There’s something very interesting about this idea of specificity and its uses in creating both ideas as well as storytelling and creating emotion.

There is one related old country music joke I’m surprised not to have seen mentioned here, possibly for length, tangential appropriateness, or perhaps because it’s so well known most may call it to mind. It plays off of the days of rock and roll when people played records backwards to find hidden (often satanic) messages.

Q: What do you get when you play a country music song backwards?
A: You get your job back, your wife back, your house back, and your dog back.

The episode finally rounds out with:

If you aren’t crying right now I can’t help you…

Thanks Malcolm, I was crying…

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🎧 Season 2 Episode 4 The Foot Soldier of Birmingham | Revisionist History

Listened Revisionist History Season 2 Episode 4 The Foot Soldier of Birmingham by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

Birmingham, 1963. The image of a police dog viciously attacking a young black protester shocks the nation. The picture, taken in the midst of one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous marches, might be the most iconic photograph of the civil rights movement. But few have ever bothered to ask the people in the famous photograph what they think happened that day. It’s more complicated than it looks.



S2e4 content
CREDIT - Bill Hudson, AP
S2e4 content 2
“The Foot Soldier” by Ronald S. McDowell

What a stunning and unexpected story. I do so love this podcast.

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👓 Neanderthals produced symbolic art, research suggests | Cosmos Magazine

Read Neanderthals produced symbolic art, research suggests (Cosmos Magazine)
Grooves on an ancient piece of flint might have been made intentionally to encode information. Andrew Masterson reports.

An interesting synopsis though I suspect the paper is far more detailed.

h/t to @CosmosMagazine


bookmarked on May 03, 2018 at 09:03PM

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🎧 Episode 10 The Satire Paradox | Revisionist History

Listened Episode 10 The Satire Paradox by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

In the political turmoil of mid-1990s Britain, a brilliant young comic named Harry Enfield set out to satirize the ideology and politics of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His parodies became famous. He wrote and performed a vicious sendup of the typical Thatcherite nouveau riche buffoon. People loved it. And what happened? Exactly the opposite of what Enfield hoped would happen. In an age dominated by political comedy, “The Satire Paradox” asks whether laughter and social protest are friends or foes.

An interesting dissection of satire and the effects it does (or doesn’t) have on society. Sadly, a lot of the best biting satire doesn’t have the effect that many of us would like it to have. How can we subtly change this to create more desirous effects? I’d like to delve more deeply into the paper he references.1 [pdf]

Some of this reminds me of the ideas relating to doublespeak that I’ve written about in the past, but here, it’s actually comprehensible and understandable.

References

1.
LaMarre HL, Landreville KD, Beam MA. The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report. T. 2009;14(2):212-231. doi:10.1177/1940161208330904
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📺 “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” West Virginia | CNN

Watched "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" West Virginia from IMDb
Bourdain digs deep into the proud, often misunderstood culture of West Virginia, as he traverses a 5,000 foot mine, observes the demolition derby-like sport of rock-bouncing and dines on signature Appalachian dishes.

There’s some interesting simple honesty to this show. Reminds me a bit of a more serious and food centric version of what W. Kamau Bell is doing with his show on CNN.

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🔖 Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences in daily life in China | Science Advances

Bookmarked Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences in daily life in China by Thomas Talhelm, Xuemin Zhang and Shigehiro Oishi (Science Advances)
Traditional paddy rice farmers had to share labor and coordinate irrigation in a way that most wheat farmers did not. We observed people in everyday life to test whether these agricultural legacies gave rice-farming southern China a more interdependent culture and wheat-farming northern China a more independent culture. In Study 1, we counted 8964 people sitting in cafes in six cities and found that people in northern China were more likely to be sitting alone. In Study 2, we moved chairs together in Starbucks across the country so that they were partially blocking the aisle ( n = 678). People in northern China were more likely to move the chair out of the way, which is consistent with findings that people in individualistic cultures are more likely to try to control the environment. People in southern China were more likely to adjust the self to the environment by squeezing through the chairs. Even in China’s most modern cities, rice-wheat differences live on in everyday life.
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🎧 Episode 01 The Lady Vanishes | Revisionist History

Listened Episode 01 The Lady Vanishes from Revisionist History

In the late 19th, a painting by a virtually unknown artist took England by storm: The Roll Call but after that brilliant first effort, the artist all but disappeared. Why?

The Lady Vanishes explores the world of art and politics to examines the strange phenomenon of the “token”—the outsider whose success serves not to alleviate discrimination but perpetuate it. If a country elects a female president, does that mean the door is now open for all women to follow? Or does that simply give the status quo the justification to close the door again?

The roll call
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

I can tell that I’m going to love this series already. Strong and interesting theses melded with some great stories.

What does it mean to be the first of something? Does it improve things for those who come (or don’t) after?

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👓 Do you live in a bubble? A quiz | PBS NewsHour

Read Do you live in a bubble? A quiz (PBS NewsHour)
There's a new upper class that's completely disconnected from the average American and American culture at large, says Charles Murray. Take this 25-question quiz to find out just how thick your bubble is.

I’m not one for quizzes, but I’ve scored a 66 on this–on the far side of being stuck in a bubble apparently. I’m glad I can manage to see many sides of our culture.

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👓 The forgotten art of squatting is a revelation for bodies ruined by sitting | Quartzy

Read The forgotten art of squatting is a revelation for bodies ruined by sitting by Rosie Spinks (Quartzy)
Westerners have forgotten how to squat, and it's causing health problems.

I’m curious how long it takes for someone to invent the “squatting” desk as the next evolution of the standing desk?

There’s also a cultural mention of both Yoga and “grounding”, though not quite specific, and this is the third reference to the idea of “grounding” that I’ve heard in the past two weeks. I suspect that is becoming a “thing” now too.

I’d love to read some of the evolutionary and physiological studies about this phenomenon. This particular quote was about as close to a scientific reference as there was:

Every joint in our body has synovial fluid in it. This is the oil in our body that provides nutrition to the cartilage,” Jam says. “Two things are required to produce that fluid: movement and compression. So if a joint doesn’t go through its full range—if the hips and knees never go past 90 degrees—the body says ‘I’m not being used’ and starts to degenerate and stops the production of synovial fluid.

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👓 Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities | AP News

Read Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities by Steve LeBlanc (AP News)
One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead. And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit. Uber and Lyft argue that in Boston, for instance, they complement public transit by connecting riders to hubs like Logan Airport and South Station. But they have not released their own specific data about rides, leaving studies up to outside researchers. And the impact of all those cars is becoming clear, said Christo Wilson, a professor of computer science at Boston’s Northeastern University, who has looked at Uber’s practice of surge pricing during heavy volume. “The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion,” Wilson said.

It’s interesting that the “simple” story peddled by ridesharing companies is the one that’s most believed. Outside studies like this are certainly both wanted and needed.

It’s always seemed to me that these companies weren’t quite doing what they said they were from a simple economics standpoint. Particularly with these companies losing money to build market share, they’re essentially subsidizing a portion of their user’s cost. The fact that they’re siphoning off people from public transportation isn’t widely reported. I suspect that outside of major metropolitan areas they’re not doing as much as they are in them. They’re building market share, but primarily by breaking regulations in places with taxi or other related services. I’d certainly love to see more broad based statistics of their ridership compared with statistics from taxi companies and municipal transportation services. I have a feeling the economic piper will eventually come for them when the playing field is leveled.

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