So is the fancy world of wine tasting all pretentious bunk? Not exactly. The wine tasters in the experiments above were being influenced by the nasty beast of expectation. A wine expert’s objectivity and powers of taste under normal circumstance might be amazing, but Brochet’s manipulations of the environment mislead his subjects enough to dampen their acumen. An expert’s own expectation can act like Kryptonite on their superpowers. Expectation, as it turns out, is just as important as raw sensation. ….
Hartwick College didn’t really mean to annihilate the U.S. economy. A small liberal-arts school in the Catskills, Hartwick is the kind of sleepy institution that local worthies were in the habit of founding back in the 1790s; it counts a former ambassador to Belize among its more prominent alumni, and placidly reclines in its berth as the number-174-ranked liberal-arts college in the country. But along with charming buildings and a spring-fed lake, the college once possessed a rather more unusual feature: a slumbering giant of compound interest.
This lede kept its tab open for nearly two months before I finally read it today. Love that.
“Darkness is night, darkness is shadow; the one thing darkness is not is the absence of light. The retina is stretched like a drumhead, strung with tense nerves that toll every photon, an inchoate kaleidoscope so sensitive that it need only be pressed behind closed eyes to coruscate with phosphenes like the scintillas of cold light that kindle the eddies of the troubled sea. What light conceals from us, what we see in caves and face-down on the pillow is not darkness but eigengrau, the eyes’ gray, lightened by the twitches of our dreaming nerves. Seeing eyes have never seen full dark. Darkness is not even the opposite of light; it is only a mood of light.”—The Ruricolist: Darkness
I get this idea that we, as geeks, are expected to rise above the common herd that are influenced by advertising and self-hate. We’re so much cleverer than that, so much more accepting! We were the fat kids in high school!
But we’re not. After all, geek boys lusts after the thin ones, every geek girl is bombarded with pictures of thin Leia, thin Xena, thin Sailor Scouts. Comics portray thin people as good, fat people as bad. There’s a reason Desire is slim and Despair is fat. Women get the same role-models in geek culture as they do in the rest of the world, but that culture is determined not to address this, nor to address the problems it might cause us.
I’ve grown up through both geek and jock culture and they’re both the same. Dominated by men, a thin varnish over pervasive misogyny. The only difference is where the jocks know the girls have eating disorders, but don’t care; the geeks genuinely think that this part of the world cannot touch them.
Fantastic article. This entire movement has really made me aware of just how willfully ignorant the american media is, and how biased so many alleged “journalists” are. What a joke. And yet, the myth of the “liberal media” will continue to be perpetuated, because it supports the otherwise inexcusable motives of the other side. Sickening.
If your “hypocrisy!” reaction is too strong to override, stop reading now. I’m about to grump about the depiction of women in the Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire books, a popular book and TV series heralded as the second-coming of Tolkien (it’s not). Why am I a hypocrite? I strongly recommend people NOT read the books, boycotting the corrosive, flat, misogynistic headspace…yet I’ve read the full series yet published, all five books.
Still with me? Thank you for a shrug-filled understanding of human contradictions.
NEIL GAIMAN has curated an amazing new collection for Audible of amazing books that have never been in audiobook format before, including:
THE MINOTAUR TAKES A CIGARETTE BREAK by Stephen Sherrill, which I very nearly represented back when I was a literary agent, but didn’t because I quit to write about cheese for a magazine. MY LOSS
DIMENSION OF MIRACLES by Robert Sheckley, a truly insane and mind-tesseracting work of science fiction that predates and in many ways foreshadows A HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY except that it is more ribald, American, and neurotic, and was read by me, while sitting in a booth in Newark.
That is all, except: will someone please tell @altonbrown about THE MINOTAUR TAKES A CIGARETTE BREAK audio, as I happen to know he is a fan.
“Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Wall Street Journal editorial page between 2000 and 2011, and someone in the same period who read only the collected columns of Paul Krugman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of the current economic crisis? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?”—
“There is simply a limit beyond which economic inequality threatens democratic life, when the majority suspect that a tiny minority has fixed the system beyond repair through the existing institutions, and when the powerful minority begins to think of its own interests as distinct from the interests of its compatriots. That moment is one of real danger, especially when those elites can move themselves and their money more easily across the planet than ever before, and it is a sign of responsibility, not irresponsibility, to focus on it. Among the oldest authorities insisting on just such an issue was Aristotle, whose emphasis on the middle classes as the core strength of a viable democracy remains as true today as it was thousands of years ago. And Aristotle was not a hippie. Nor were Disraeli or Bismarck, two 19th-century conservatives who deployed government to prevent their countries from splitting into alienated haves and have-nots, and fearful of real radicals who could come along to exploit the gap.”—
This little tumblr just crossed another notable number of readers. To all of you, thank you for following! I don’t know how many of those following accounts are inactive—I’d like to think maybe under 20% given the vibrancy of Tumblr’s community. So for the 80% who allow me to add stuff to their dashboard day-to-day (never more than 6 posts, I promise), I’m grateful for your attention.
Even the response to my little ‘thanks’ on my geek-topic Tumblr was awesome. More proof of a great community.
Could the brain be using electromagnetic fields to communicate between hemispheres — the electromagnetic field theory of consciousness proposed by Johnjoe McFadden (School of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Surrey)?
Neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have made a puzzling finding: people born without a corpus callosum (which links the two hemispheres of the brain) — a condition called agenesis of the corpus callosum, or AgCC — still show remarkably normal communication across the gap between the two halves of their brains.
According to J. Michael Tyszka, associate director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, many areas of the brain display slowly varying patterns of activity that are similar to one another. The fact that these areas are synchronized has led many scientists to presume that they are all part of an interconnected network called a resting-state network.
"Gadhafi is gone, your turn is coming, Bashar," protesters shouted on Friday in the central city of Hama, long a hotbed of resistance to the regime.
The Syrian uprising has proved remarkably resilient over the past seven months, but has shown some signs of stalling in recent weeks as the government forges ahead with a bloody crackdown that the U.N. estimates has killed more than 3,000 people.
Although the mass demonstrations in Syria have shaken one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, the opposition has made no major gains in recent months, it holds no territory and has no clear leadership.
Now the armed uprising in Libya that drove Gadhafi from power — albeit with NATO air support — appears to have breathed new life into the Syrian revolt.
“The real value of a single-sex education isn’t in removing men entirely, but removing people who disrespect women. That does create a situation that’s isn’t much like the ‘real world,’ but I know that I wouldn’t have the same commitment to women’s issues or understanding of the subtle ways sexism works if I didn’t have a glimpse of what life looks like without it. I started Wellesley as one of those girls who doesn’t really consider herself a feminist and ended up, well, here.”—Margaret Hartmann ’06 in Jezebel. Read the story here. (via wellesleymag)
I went looking for a bubble the other day. I’d heard that prices for American farmland were spiking – up thirty percent over the past year, and double what people were paying five or six years ago. It sounded like irrational exuberance.
I flew to Iowa, drove to the town of Colo, an hour north of Des Moines, and dropped in on a land auction. It was a great scene: A hushed crowd of farmers, an auctioneer with a voice made for opera, and a climactic duel between rival bidders, one of whom raised the price with a wink, the other with a slight nod.
The winking man won, if you can call it a win when you have to hand over $1.5 million for 158 acres of corn stalks. The seller, a sweet middle-aged woman, seemed genuinely conflicted about selling her inheritance. But she needed the money, she said. And she said it: “It just seemed like we had this bubble going on with agricultural properties.”
But the more I learned about the economics of corn farming and farmland, the less bubble-ish it seemed.
Between the octave and the interval, the world almost seems made for us. This appearance is deceiving. The world is not just unfair, but rigged. Chances are you know what it is to pick up part A, and part B, never having doubted they went together, only to find that they don’t quite fit. The world is like that. Between the octave and the fifth there is a small but shattering discrepancy we call the Pythagorean comma.
The comma of Pythagoras is as bad as the flaming sword. It means that music, even music, must always be compromised, whether by a diet of a few safe notes, or an intricate microtonal dissection of the octave, or a distortion of the fifth.
In the 1980s, Satyajit Das worked for a finance company that owned a large stake in an airline.
Das got the airline to start making speculative bets on the price of oil. That decision was good for the bottom line: One year, the company made more money from trading than it did from selling tickets on its planes.
But in the long run, Das says on today’s show, this was part of a much larger shift in the global economy — and that shift turned out to be a disaster.
Das started his career in finance in the late 1970s. Around that time, in his words, “money started to get weird.”
This is one of the better explanations I’ve heard of the creation of financial services in business. Worth a listen, for sure.
…what it still is is a gold mine without, as yet, any sure way of getting the gold. And if too much dreck pours in, in the way of self-promoting tweets and obtrusive advertising, the gold may be lost forever. For Twitter, it’s a hazardous paradox. As Ashton Kutcher recently said, “There’s a danger of it becoming spammy, and that’s what really hurt MySpace … If Twitter doesn’t apply the proper filters, it’ll be harder to find the information you want. With Facebook, I’m probably not going to get spammed from my aunt or my best friend.”
Isn’t the greater argument that this dude’s aunt and/or best friend’s *general day to day activities* broadcast back through Facebook could easily cross the “spam” line? This seems short-sighted about both Twitter and Facebook’s (or any social network’s) potential junk-mail flame out.
Syrian security forces trying to suppress the resilient anti-government uprising killed five people Saturday, including one person who was attending a funeral procession for a teenager shot dead in protests a day earlier, activists said.
Another of the dead was an activist for the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights who was assassinated while in hiding in a besieged eastern city, the group said.
On Saturday, Assad set up a 29-member committee to draft a new constitution, part of reforms the president promised in a failed attempt to sap the uprising of its energy. The committee will have four months to produce a new charter, the state-run news agency reported.
Assad’s opponents, however, say they won’t accept anything short of his departure.
On Thursday, senior officials with Assad’s ruling Baath party said the committee will amend the constitution to allow for the formation of more political parties and to define presidential terms and elections. Syria has not had presidential elections in decades.
In this summer’s debate over raising the debt ceiling, the game of chicken fell apart. Both cars swerved, both sides claimed victory, and nothing happened. No one wants a repeat of this, so Congress has changed the stakes of the game by creating a supercommittee.
They’ve put the supercommittee behind the wheel and filled each car with both political parties’ children — budgetary items each party holds dear. If neither side swerves, automatic cuts will be made.
October 14, 2011
THE BOROWITZ REPORT
Wrong People Arrested on Wall Street
Goldman Boss: ‘Thought They Were Finally Coming for Us’
NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) - Millions of Americans cheered the news on Friday that arrests had finally been made on Wall Street, but were soon disappointed to learn that the wrong people had been taken into custody.
“I was like, finally they’re going to get those bastards,” said Tracy Klugian, 27, of Queens, New York, whose hopes were raised by an “Arrests on Wall Street” graphic he saw on CNN. “I guess it was too good to be true.”
NYPD spokesman Frank Hannefy explained the controversial decision to arrest Occupy Wall Street protesters while leaving the people who had brought the nation’s economy to the brink of Armageddon unmolested.
“As far as soulless individuals pillaging the country for their personal gain, that’s none of our business,” he said. “But we’ll be damned if we’re going to let people march on newly seeded grass.”
At banking giant Goldman Sachs, chairman Lloyd Blankfein admitted that when he heard police sirens outside his building, “I was sure they were finally coming for us.”
The Goldman chief said he started running up and down the halls “screaming at people to feed the document shredder like Chris Christie at a pie-eating contest.”
Mr. Blankfein said that he felt “palpable relief” when he realized that the police had come to arrest the protesters and were leaving the bankers at large.
“That was a close one,” he said, chuckling. “We’re all going to have a good laugh about this over the weekend in the Caymans.”
Elsewhere, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced what he called his “1-1-1” plan: “Every American gets 1 percent tax, 1 mandatory vaccination, and 1 execution.”
It’s not so clear there that en masse silence is a useful strategy, it varies by case, and the off-hand use of the “everyone knows that you don’t feed the trolls!” wisdom that was (arguably) effective in the case of lone trolls is in effect a message to people being targeted for harassment by a coordinated group, or who have a number of individual harassers, that no one gives a shit. Don’t talk about it, we don’t care about your problems.
It also means that we are continually surprised by the size and scope of the problem. Death threats? With your address attached? Weekly? This is a problem not only because of the continuing coziness of the “yeah right, never happens to me” crowd, but because we often aren’t sharing information among targets.
It’s not just you.
It’s not just you.
Every single time, there is someone who has been hurt by thinking it’s just them.
There’ll be turbulence. You’ll drop your book to hold your water bottle steady. Your mind, mind has mountains, cliffs of fall may who ne’er hung there let him watch the movie. The plane’s supposed to shudder, shoulder on like this. It’s built to do that. You’re designed to tremble too. Else break