👓 Bullshit jobs and the yoke of managerial feudalism | The Economist

An interesting thesis to be sure. I’d bookmarked his book to read a while ago. Certainly looks more intriguing now.

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👓 How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million | New York Times Magazine

It took a few sittings to slog my way through this. It feels like the author is attempting to bash Paltrow, but somewhere in the middle she over-idolizes her before going back to bashing her a bit. It’s an interesting viewpoint on the credulity of celebrity in modern culture.

C’mon people! Celebrities are people too. They crap just like everyone else. The one difference I’ve found more often than not though is that they’re painfully insecure, regardless of what you may read or see. I suspect most people would be far better off reading the Greek philosophers to find eudaimonia rather than buying Goop from Gwyneth.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The minute the phrase “having it all” lost favor among women, wellness came in to pick up the pieces. It was a way to reorient ourselves — we were not in service to anyone else, and we were worthy subjects of our own care. It wasn’t about achieving; it was about putting ourselves at the top of a list that we hadn’t even previously been on. Wellness was maybe a result of too much having it all, too much pursuit, too many boxes that we’d seen our exhausted mothers fall into bed without checking off. Wellness arrived because it was gravely needed.  

August 05, 2018 at 11:59AM

Whom exactly were we trusting with our care? Why did we decide to trust them in the first place? Who says that only certain kinds of people are allowed to give us the answers?  

Part of the broader cultural eschewing of science as well? Is this part of what put Trump and celebrities in charge?
August 05, 2018 at 12:03PM

She reached behind her to her bookshelf, which held about a dozen blue bottles of something called Real Water, which is not stripped of “valuable electrons,” which supposedly creates free radicals something something from the body’s cells.  

I question her credibility to market claims like this. I suspect she has no staff scientist or people with the sort of background to make such claims. Even snake oil salesmen like Dr. Oz are pointedly putting us in hands way too make a buck.
August 06, 2018 at 01:40PM

Her feet were bare now, and they had a perfect, substantial arch, just as the Romans intended, engineered to support her statue body. I bet they were a Size 8. People make shoes so that feet like those can wear them. We blew smoke up the chimney.  

I feel like she’s taken an interesting article and flushed it in the preceding several fawning paragraphs.
August 06, 2018 at 02:34PM

Goop wanted Goop magazine to be like the Goop website in another way: to allow the Goop family of doctors and healers to go unchallenged in their recommendations via the kinds of Q. and A.s published, and that just didn’t pass Condé Nast standards. Those standards require traditional backup for scientific claims, like double-blind, peer-reviewed studies.  

Nice that they come right out and say it.
August 06, 2018 at 03:42PM

I thought about my children, one of whom plays the flute, but unwillingly, and therefore won’t practice. Yes, I thought about my children, only one of whom might shake your hand while the other would sooner spit on it, though they will both reliably do an elaborate orchestration of armpit farting while I’m trying to hear myself think. I thought of my mother and father, and an earlier conversation I had with my sisters that day about where to arrange our parents in a room for one of our kids’ bar mitzvahs so that they wouldn’t interact, so raw still are the wounds 35 years after their divorce.  

No mention of the difference between how we act at home with family versus with strangers. She’s set up a false dichotomy to accentuate a point that’s probably not worth making. Or if she wants to make a point it should be this one that I’ve just highlighted. If course she’s feeling inadequate. I’ll bet G. P. does too, particularly after the writer leaves and she doesn’t have to put her best face on.
August 06, 2018 at 03:46PM

After a few too many cultural firestorms, and with investors to think about, G.P. made some changes. Goop has hired a lawyer to vet all claims on the site. It hired an editor away from Condé Nast to run the magazine. It hired a man with a Ph.D. in nutritional science, and a director of science and research who is a former Stanford professor. And in September, Goop, sigh, is hiring a full-time fact-checker. G.P. chose to see it as “necessary growing pain.”  

But only to protect investors… Not customers that they’ve been duping all along.
August 06, 2018 at 03:52PM

I once went to an internist twice, complaining of preternatural exhaustion, only to be told that I was depressed and sent home. On the third visit, she begrudgingly took my blood and called me later to even more begrudgingly apologize and tell me I had a surprising case of mononucleosis. I know women who’ve been dismissed by their doctors for being lazy and careless and depressed and downright crazy. Was it any wonder that they would start to   

Sample size of one in an anecdote is just rubbish.
August 06, 2018 at 03:54PM

I heard a rumor that she  

Don’t these types of things happen to EVERY celebrity?
August 06, 2018 at 03:58PM

People think they want celebrities to speak honestly, but we’re not really that happy when they do.  

Definition of celebrity: one who is coddled and rarely said no to.
August 06, 2018 at 03:59PM

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👓 Selfies at Funerals | The Atlantic

An interesting and excellent follow-on from the prior story I read. Somehow the older mores of photographing and arranging the dead seem at least connected to those we’ve lost whereas some of these funeral selfies or so-called “caskies” they don’t seem to be mourning much of anything except the minute amounts of fame they may be losing.

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👓 Why Did I Teach My Son to Speak Russian? | New Yorker

A nice essay that focuses on the personal side of raising bilingual children. In my experience needing to have a reason to speak a language is very important. Often around the age of three (or the beginning of daycare and/or school) children who realize they don’t have to speak a language will give it up (and often flatly refuse) as they begin to become more broadly socialized. It definitely helps if they’ve got a peer group who primarily speaks the language as well.

I quite liked the parts about a language “filling one up” or the ways in which language was implicated with attention. These are intriguing observations.

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❤️ isislovecruft tweet

Liked a tweet by isis agora lovecruftisis agora lovecruft (Twitter)
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👓 Why Do Americans Stay When Their Town Has No Future? | Bloomberg

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

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

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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