Thursday, February 9th, 2023
I never thought to google it, but once upon a time in the 1980s I made a nice speech in public speaking class at the American International School on the Nacirema. Turns out back in 1956 it had been a prank academic paper, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner in American Anthropologist, as this article JSTOR Daily article “The Long Life of the Nacirema” reminds us.
Tuesday, July 12th, 2022
Paula Wright has done us a service if we are willing to listen with her piece “We Need To Talk About Karen” on the danger of giving women a pass on malignant behavior. She uses some nice literary references as well, such as Les Miserables and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (though of course the feminist-inclined might point out that these are works penned by men).
It’s all fine and dandy lionising supposedly benign female traits, like “empathy” and “equality” but the evidence is right before our eyes that the female of the species can be just as deadly as the male, if by sleight of hand and not yet recorded in official statistics.
Why is this relevant?
As more women enter politics and managerial positions; as workplace policies become shaped by the invisible hand of female strategies of competition, whilst at the same time we remain both ignorant and in denial about them – this is why we must talk about Karen.
Saturday, May 14th, 2022
Venkatesh invites us to join him in exploring the hive mind (very meta). What a candy-maker, this one.
Thursday, April 14th, 2022
Jonathan Haidt is wise enough to note that it is mainly America, not necessary the rest of the world, that has gone particularly mental the past decade. Haidt blames social media. But the word “marriage” does not occur even once in the article, despite the decade having seen same-sex marriage transformed from oxymoronic absurdity to self-evident cudgel. If a human institution so deep — deeper than the nationstate, than monotheism, even than history itself — can be so decidedly upended, then what chance has anything else of standing, the collective subconscious must wonder.
Saturday, October 30th, 2021
A nice and curt summary of the emotions a programmer has.
Wednesday, July 7th, 2021
The Guardian posts an excerpt from Gillian Tett’s Anthro-Vision. Regarding working from home, a senior trader at JP Morgan observed:
The really big problem was incidental information exchange. “The bit that’s very hard to replicate is the information you didn’t know you needed,” observed Charles Bristow, a senior trader at JP Morgan. “[It’s] where you hear some noise from a desk a corridor away, or you hear a word that triggers a thought. If you’re working from home, you don’t know that you need that information.” Working from home also made it hard to teach younger bankers how to think and behave; physical experiences were crucial for conveying the habits of finance or being an apprentice.
Monday, June 14th, 2021
Mary Catherine Bateson, conversations at Edge [via Hacker News, again].
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
Live by the CoC, die by the CoC; pardon my schadenfreude over posts like this where people who eagerly support the marauding bull get tangled in it themselves and even then continue to grovel their ongoing support for it.
Thursday, April 2nd, 2020
Complete with photos, the fucking Chinese wet market is back in business. From the Daily Mail article: “The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures.” So I am finally posting this thought for posterity: #nukeWuhan.
Monday, March 9th, 2020
Friday, February 28th, 2020
First one to get back to reality is the biggest sociopath in the room.
Venkatesh Rao, The Shtickbox Affair
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
Latitudinal psychology? “Like happiness, [individualism and creativity] trend higher as one moves away from the equator.”
Saturday, August 3rd, 2019
How the rich differ, according to the currently-popupar Big Five psychological framework. More conscientious, less neurotic, less agreeable, more extravert, and more open to experience.
Sunday, May 26th, 2019
Goodbye, Judith Kerr, goodbye!
Monday, May 13th, 2019
We must be facing this: David Gelertner on giving up Darwin. Like Smith’s invisible hand and even Newton’s laws of physics, these glorious, newly-algorithmic cosmologies — the precursors to our wonder-world of bitty digitalism — aren’t the full explanation.
Tuesday, December 11th, 2018
Our subterranean biosphere is teeming with some 20 billion tons of micro-organisms, scientists discover.
Sunday, December 9th, 2018
The insect apocalypse is here, reports The New York Times. This seems likely to be what does us all in; indeed most of us already have been.
Tuesday, October 30th, 2018
Species eradication and wiping out animal populations seem to me a more dire problem than mere climate change. It should be our environmental priority.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
Wednesday, August 15th, 2018
Clips from the great British documentary The Great British Year. No need for a BBC license; this is the programme’s web page. Just great stuff.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2018
“Shouting ‘Peace, peace’ may actually push peace away,” argues game theorist and Nobel Economics laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann, New York-born head of the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at Hebrew University.
This is just about common sense — by that I mean it’s only a single twist of what Edward Luttwak calls the paradoxical logic of strategy. Yet perhaps there are further twists; I suggested one back in 2003 in “Allah Help the Jackals”:
Perhaps Israel is following a subconscious national strategy of the strong, in which it behaves too meekly for a decade or so, emboldens its vicious but feeble enemies until they go too far, then lashes out in a now-obviously-justifiable response and gains untold assets in the process.
Not to mention that the more time goes by, the more Israel strengthens and the Palestinians weaken.
This subconscious national strategy of delay by dint of wanting too hard, if it ever were effective, seems to have played itself out now, as demonstrated by Israel’s shift of focus towards undermining UNWRA, which plays such an underlying role in prolonging the conflict.
What with the Sunni warming to Israel and the supremely sympathetic Trump Administration, Israel it seems believes that allowing the conflict to fester for gradual gain has now become counterproductive, and so seeks a new path to end it.
All that notwithstanding, nothing ends until the Palestinians begin educating their children towards co-existence alongside Israel.
Monday, March 12th, 2018
In the search for an interesting riff on Black Panther, Teju Cole, photography critic at The New York Times Magazine starts it up, complete with dueling translations of Rilke’s “The Panther”.
Tuesday, March 6th, 2018
A review of the new disenchantment with our overly-enchanting digital lives by one Arianna Huffington of all people.
Friday, November 24th, 2017
Jon Stewart with Howard Stern for some 90 minutes; they cover family, showbusiness, animal welfare. Two fine Yiddle, unlocked.
Sunday, September 10th, 2017
In this adaptation from Esther Perel’s forthcoming book The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, the argument goes that extra-marital affairs are often about self-development.
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
The key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships. This from an 80-year ongoing study of Harvard’s class of ’38.
Sunday, June 25th, 2017
As an antidote to the borderline smarminess of Jason Horowitz’s New York Times article about returning to Rome, here is a more substantial, dignified, rewarding and useful guide to visiting the city by a blogger named Nan Quick: My Recipe for a Stress-Free Week in Rome. Warning: she takes a couple of paragraphs to warm up.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
Free-running amazingness may well become, like swimming, an increasingly common part of the human repertoire. Good monkey, good.
Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
At last — birth control for rats! A Long Read in The Guardian.
Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
Speed of Dark
I was brought to this most non-sci-fi of sci-fi novels by the Brighton Science Fiction Discussion Group. Narrated in character by its autistic protagonist, Speed of Light initially reminded me of Mr Robot. Yes, I did like it, but wasn’t sure if the thinness of the other characters is due to our narrator’s limitations or those of the author; I don’t know her other work so can’t say. A mostly unsentimental decency permeates — actually it’s an exploration of decency — which gives it an appreciable pre-cyberpunk, almost square feel.
Saturday, August 20th, 2016
What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
Friday, August 12th, 2016
“Losses” evokes stronger negative feelings than “costs”.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
Thursday, August 11th, 2016
The illusion of loss is the place we suffer.
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
The illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.
Monday, August 1st, 2016
Sustaining doubt is harder work than sliding into certainty.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
Friday, June 3rd, 2016
“You can’t cross the species barrier but, by bumping up against it, you can learn things.” In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman surveys ventriloquism of the soul. “Tolstoy’s animals teach us to be good,” he explains. “Joyce’s teach us to be alive.” [via aldaily.com]
Monday, April 25th, 2016
I was amazed when my own dog Jam found her way home through 5 miles of unknown territory. This sheepdog found its way home 240 miles away.
Monday, August 12th, 2013
Dr Mark Post of Maastricht University serves the world’s first non-lethal hamburger.
Sunday, April 7th, 2013
A suggestion for a retitling: The Book of the Author’s Flaring Nostrils. For much of the time during the first half of the book I was more than irritated with the author’s unmooring, which threatened to seriously undermine my value of his previous book, Spell of the Sensuous, which I loved. I did enjoy his honest account of his silly heightened action state coming out of the theatre after watching a James Bond movie.
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
On Google Glass:
What happens in Vegas stays… at Google.
Friday, January 18th, 2013
It’s official: women are mate-poachers. I would have wagered on this anyway. “Offered a single man, 59% [of single women] were interested … But when he was attached, 90% said they were…”
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
The World Until Yesterday
It’s been criticized that nobody comes alive, and it’s also repetitive, and would be a better book if it were denser. but it’s great. It tells us some real truths about an important thing: how we were for the vast majority of our time. The implications of tribalism, where meeting any stranger is potentially deadly, is important. What a memoir.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
Humans evolved to run long distances, argues Daniel Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, and the evolutionary approach helps us use our bodies better. Great stuff!
Friday, August 31st, 2012
To paraphrase what Lincoln said about slavery, if cruelty to animals is not wrong then nothing is wrong.
Friday, August 17th, 2012
BBC presenter Ben Fogle’s eulogy of his black labrador. This dog angel helped him win his fame, fortune and hot wife. Commiserations.
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
A brief step into the fascinating question of early-life memory. Lots of comments as well, some are interesting.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
“ A world that places any value on the idea of universal human rights
should no longer overlook North Korea’s enormities. ” —The Economist
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Though I and the author, 42-year-old David Bainbridge, may be biased, middle-aged humans are the crowning achievement of evolution. [via aldaily.com]
Sunday, March 11th, 2012
Sunday, March 27th, 2011
Festo’s SmartBird: a robotic flying seagull.