> Weird things happen when you go from thinking of your website as self expression to thinking about it as a model of your emerging thought — that memex-like collection of things you’ve read and thought and agreed with and disagreed with.
One of the things I do periodically is throw search terms at my Wikity site and see what comes back, to see if I’m thinking enough about issues I care about, or if I’m falling into just amplifying the things that pop up in my stream. (Source)
Instead it’s well established among academics interested in dating that “opposites attract” is a myth. Study after study supports the idea of “assortative mating”: the hypothesis that people generally date and marry partners who are like them in terms of social class, educational background, race, personality, and, of course, attractiveness.
There is an exception, however, to this seeming rule that people always date equally attractive people: The longer two people know each other before they start dating, the more likely it is that a 3 will date a 6, or a 7 will marry a 10.
Which is interesting to think about as dating apps, which match strangers up for dates, take over the dating world. Because if more and more people meet their future spouse on a first date, the mixed-attractiveness couple might just go extinct. (Source)
Blogging can be a great practice for writers. It forces you to write regularly and helps you discipline yourself in your craft. I’m a fan of it. Really.
But it can also be a disease — a people-pleasing addiction that saps you of your creative edge. The true writer must beware of and take caution when using this marvelous tool for one reason: Writing solely for others can cost you your (writing) soul. (Source)
Welcome to my online math tutorials and notes. The intent of this site is to provide a complete set of free online (and downloadable) notes and/or tutorials for classes that I teach at Lamar University. I’ve tried to write the notes/tutorials in such a way that they should be accessible to anyone wanting to learn the subject regardless of whether you are in my classes or not. In other words, they do not assume you’ve got any prior knowledge other than the standard set of prerequisite material needed for that class. In other words, it is assumed that you know Algebra and Trig prior to reading the Calculus I notes, know Calculus I prior to reading the Calculus II notes, etc. The assumptions about your background that I’ve made are given with each description below. (Source)
The newly discovered texts challenge long-held certainties about this era. Chinese political thought as exemplified by Confucius allowed for meritocracy among officials, eventually leading to the famous examination system on which China’s imperial bureaucracy was founded. But the texts show that some philosophers believed that rulers should also be chosen on merit, not birth—radically different from the hereditary dynasties that came to dominate Chinese history. The texts also show a world in which magic and divination, even in the supposedly secular world of Confucius, played a much larger part than has been realized. And instead of an age in which sages neatly espoused discrete schools of philosophy, we now see a more fluid, dynamic world of vigorously competing views—the sort of robust exchange of ideas rarely prominent in subsequent eras.These competing ideas were lost after China was unified in 221 BCE under the Qin, China’s first dynasty. In one of the most traumatic episodes from China’s past, the first Qin emperor tried to stamp out ideological nonconformity by burning books (see illustration on this page). Modern historians question how many books really were burned. (More works probably were lost to imperial editing projects that recopied the bamboo texts onto newer technologies like silk and, later, paper in a newly standardized form of Chinese writing.) But the fact is that for over two millennia all our knowledge of China’s great philosophical schools was limited to texts revised after the Qin unification. Earlier versions and competing ideas were lost—until now. (Source)
The researchers’ paper on their results says they generally found that students’ propensity to engage in certain activities was more strongly correlated with various educational outcomes than their actual engagement. In other words, students who wanted to engage in an activity, but had not yet done so, had educational outcomes closer to those who had already engaged in the activity than those who had forgone it based on a lack of interest.
The “Bad Fan” is a fan who reads a TV show’s purpose wrongly — and in some cases gets it entirely reversed. Often bad fans mistake problematic antiheroes for an admirable ones, or misread a critical take on a shallow world as celebratory.
For the Bad Fan, Tony Soprano is a tough and admirable protagonist, and Walter White is someone to be idolized. The consciousless law firm on The Good Wife is thought to be a fun and vibrant workplace. Sometimes the problem is less ideological, as with the people who watch Game of Thrones for the sex scenes but complain about the labyrinthine plot.
Emily Nussbaum originated the term when writing about the “Problem of the Bad Fan”:
A few weeks ago, during a discussion of “Breaking Bad” on Twitter (my part-time volunteer gig), we all started yakking about the phenomenon of “bad fans.” All shows have them. They’re the “Sopranos” buffs who wanted a show made up of nothing but whackings (and who posted eagerly about how they fast-forwarded past anything else). They’re the “Girls” watchers who were aesthetically outraged by Hannah having sex with Josh(ua). They’re the ones who get furious whenever anyone tries to harsh Don Draper’s mellow. If you create a TV show, you’re probably required to say something in response to these viewers along the lines of, “Well, you know, whatever anyone gets out of the show is fine! It’s not my place to say. I’m just glad people are watching.”
Luckily, I have not created a show. So I will say it: some fans are watching wrong. (Source)
Some people see All in the Family as having one of the original Bad Fan problems. See Bunker’s Backfire
There is no such thing as a left or right-brained person:
In a new two-year study published in the journal Plos One, University of Utah neuroscientists scanned the brains of more than 1,000 people, ages 7 to 29, while they were lying quietly or reading, measuring their functional lateralization – the specific mental processes taking place on each side of the brain. They broke the brain into 7,000 regions, and while they did uncover patterns for why a brain connection might be strongly left or right-lateralized, they found no evidence that the study participants had a stronger left or right-sided brain network. (Source)
The myth can do a lot of harm — the idea that there are two types of people — the creative and the logical — is pernicious, and encourages people to ignore talents they may have, It is also dis-integrative, not recognizing the creativity necessary to logical tasks, and the logic necessary to productive creativity.
Applying economics to survey design provides a better sense of what voters find important.
The researchers, a mix of academics and private-sector experts from a range of disciplines, theorized that if they imposed artificial scarcity on survey respondents, they could force them to make tradeoffs that would reflect their real-world priorities better than traditional polling. To test that theory, they conducted a survey that asked more than 1,000 Americans their opinion on 10 hot-button issues like abortion, gun control and pay equity for women. But in this survey, respondents were given 100 credits that they could allocate as votes on the different issues. Someone who cared deeply about immigration could spend all 100 credits on that issue, but then she wouldn’t be able to weigh in on any of the other subjects.
There was an added twist: Each additional vote on an issue cost more credits than the one before it. Casting a single vote in favor of abortion rights cost just one credit, but casting four votes cost 16 credits. As a result, it was more expensive to take a more extreme position.
The approach, which the authors call quadratic voting,2 is based on research from economist Glen Weyl, who first developed it as a way to improve group decision making. Weyl has co-founded a company, Collective Decision Engines, to apply the quadratic voting technique to market research, product design and other commercial purposes. (Source)
“It’s totally unsurprising that print readership has been shrinking, but it is extremely surprising that in-market online readership hasn’t been growing,” says Hsiang Iris Chyi, Ph.D., an associate professor at the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She wrote the paper with Ori Tenenboim, a doctoral student at UT.
Devolving power to the states to decide whether they would be free turned them into battlegrounds, and tore the country apart.
This compromise, while winning Douglas the support he wanted for his Illinois railroad plan, proceeded to backfire on the nation in spectacular fashion. Since the question of whether a territory would be slave or free now hinged on the number of voters within it who supported each, pro- and anti-slavery activists (including one anti-slavery fanatic who would pop up again later on: John Brown) rushed into Kansas and Nebraska, hoping by their presence to establish a majority for their side. Within a year open violence had broken out between the two factions, earning Kansas the sobriquet “Bleeding Kansas.” Rather than settling the question of whether Kansas should be free or slave, the legislation and the violence it created ended up leaving it wide open, as neither side would accept a vote that went the other way as legitimate.
Beyond the two territories that had prompted the debate, the effects were dramatic as well. Northerners, who had assumed that territories north of the old compromise line were safe from the expansion of slavery, suddenly found themselves confronted with a new reality in which any territory (or established state!) could switch from free to slave with a single vote. Many of those Northerners had previously been content to accept slavery in the South, so long as it never touched them directly; now they began to worry that someday they would have to confront the issue in their own communities. This caused the first major push that drove many of these previously apathetic citizens into supporting abolition. Anger at Douglas flared up across the North; as he himself put it, “I could travel from Boston to Chicago by the light of my own effigy.”[(Source)] (http://jasonlefkowitz.net/2013/03/stephen-a-douglas-the-politician-who-was-too-smart-for-his-own-good/)
Because it requires such concentration, the process of taking notes itself can be distracting. Dr. Kiewra recalled that when he was still a student, one of his professors banned note-taking in class because he wanted students to pay full attention to the lesson. The teacher instead supplied prepared notes for the entire class.
Nonetheless, Dr. Kiewra recalled that he continued taking his own notes, cradling his head in his arms to shield his notebook as he wrote. One day, however, the professor caught him in the act.
“Mr. Kiewra, are you taking notes in my classroom?” he demanded. The flustered student dissembled. “I’m only writing a letter to a friend back home.”
“Oh thank goodness,” the professor said. “I thought you were taking notes. “
Generally, people who take class notes on a laptop do take more notes and can more easily keep up with the pace of a lecture than people scribbling with a pen or pencil, researchers have found. College students typically type lecture notes at a rate of about 33 words a minute. People trying to write it down manage about 22 words a minute.
In talking about the Panama Papers the author makes an interesting point — revelations are meant to destroy, concealment, however, is meant to control. What if the Panama Papers was a warning shot for people not yet mentioned?
In sum, my thinking is that this could have been a Russian intelligence operation, which orchestrated a high-profile leak and established total credibility by “implicating” (not really implicating) Russia and keeping the source hidden. Some documents would be used for anti-corruption campaigns in a few countries—topple some minor regimes, destroy a few careers and fortunes. By then blackmailing the real targets in the United States and elsewhere (individuals not in the current leak), the Russian puppet masters get “kontrol” and influence.
If the Russians are behind the Panama Papers, we know two things and both come back to Putin personally: First, it is an operation run by RFM, which means it’s run by Putin; second, it’s ultimately about blackmail. That means the real story lies in the information being concealed, not revealed. You reveal secrets in order to destroy; conceal in order to control. Putin is not a destroyer. He’s a controller.[(Source)] (http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/order-from-chaos/posts/2016/04/07-panama-papers-putin-gaddy)
Learning is not always fun, and maybe it shouldn’t be.
Firstly, the premise is all wrong. Anybody who plays video games knows that they are not FUN. They are always engaging, but they are also often anxiety provoking, sometimes frustrating, occasionally anger-inducing. Secondly, the conclusion is absurd: learning is not, nor should it always be FUN. Learning is hard and learning can sometimes be excruciatingly painful. It forces you to sever ties to existing ways of understanding the world and replace them more articulate ones. Almost three millennia ago, when Plato described the process of education in The Republic, he used the metaphor of walking out of a dark cave and staring into the sun. At first, the light burns your eyes, but slowly you adjust to a new way of seeing. There’s nothing FUN about that.
The truth is that games and digital interactive learning platforms can help students become as passionate about learning traditional academic content as they are about learning to play Assasin’s Creed. All of the ways that humans make sense of the world—poetry, literature, math, science, engineering, history, etc.—are systems. And playing games is essentially an immersive process through which we learn to navigate complex systems. In other words, learning is already a game, but learning is not fun. (Source)
Harlem business leaders supported stricter law enforcement and harsher punishments for criminals. In 1973, nearly three-quarters of blacks and Puerto Ricans favored life sentences for drug pushers, and the Rev. Oberia Dempsey, a Harlem pastor, said: “Take the junkies off the streets and put ’em in camps,” and added, “we’ve got to end this terror and restore New York to decent people. Instead of fighting all the time for civil rights we should be fighting civil wrongs.” (Source)
At the same time, many African Americans, the social group most adversely affected by crime and the drug trade, supported Rockefeller’s anti-drug efforts. Since the late 1960s, many black activists pushed the state to take a tougher stand against lawlessness in their communities. African Americans wanted the state to fulfill its responsibility and provide protection. Black residents wanted to ‘escape the reign of criminal terror’ (New York Times, 1969a). In the late 1960s, for example, the NAACP Citizens’ Mobilization Against Crime advocated stronger law enforcement presence in black neighborhoods and lobbied Governor Rockefeller for stiffer penalties against violent offenders. In ‘Harlem Likened to the Wild West’, the New York Times (1969a) reported that African-American activists sent Governor Rockefeller and the New York State Legislature telegrams supporting increased police presence and minimum prison terms, including five years for muggers. (Source)
To impress an increasingly conservative Republican Party with his stance on crime, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York used the deep-seated fears and earnest pleas of African-Americans to frame and justify his tough antidrug proposals. Black leaders wrote editorials, appeared on television, testified before legislative committees and stood with the governor at a news conference in support. The black activist Glester Hinds said: “I don’t think the governor went far enough.” He called for “capital punishment,” saying that drug dealers “need to be gotten rid of completely.”
Facebook can get pretty creepy, but its “listening” feature is at present pretty mundane. From Snopes:
Myth: The feature listens to and stores your conversations.
Fact: Nope, no matter how interesting your conversation, this feature does not store sound or recordings. Facebook isn’t listening to or storing your conversations.
Here’s how it works: if you choose to turn the feature on, when you write a status update, the app converts any sound into an audio fingerprint on your phone. This fingerprint is sent to our servers to try and match it against our database of audio and TV fingerprints. By design, we do not store fingerprints from your device for any amount of time. And in any event, the fingerprints can’t be reversed into the original audio because they don’t contain enough information.
Myth: Facebook is always listening using your microphone.
Fact: Nope, if you choose to turn this feature on, it will only use your microphone (for 15 seconds) when you’re actually writing a status update to try and match music and TV.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t be vigilant. Neverending changes to privacy policies combined with a surveillance culture in government and business could (and has) led to some pretty awful things. But for the moment the Facebook feature is just a post-based version of Shazam.
The idea was formally described as the “Singularity” in 1993 by Vernor Vinge, a computer scientist and science fiction writer, who posited that accelerating technological change would inevitably lead to machine intelligence that would match and then surpass human intelligence. In his original essay, Dr. Vinge suggested that the point in time at which machines attained superhuman intelligence would happen sometime between 2005 and 2030.
Ray Kurzweil, an artificial intelligence researcher, extended the idea in his 2006 book “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” where he argues that machines will outstrip human capabilities in 2045. The idea was popularized in movies such as “Transcendence” and “Her.”
A lot of folks quote the observation, attributed to Margaret Atwood, that men are afraid women will laugh at them, but women are afraid men will kill them. It’s provenance is actually unclear, but the earliest version I have found is from Molly Ivins in 1991:
Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, once asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them. (Source)
Even this quote is only verifiable through GoodReads. It’d be nice to get visual confirmation.
When murdered, women are almost universally killed by men they know, and usually by an intimate partner.
Brown’s worries reflected a shocking truth: When women are murdered, they’re likely to be killed by men they know. According to a Violence Policy Center report, 94 percent of the 1,701 women murdered in 2011 were killed by men they knew, and 61 percent of the identified killers were intimate partners. (Source)
The Violence Against Women Act may have worked. See VAWA Success
The bane of many a professor’s existence is having to read shoddy undergraduate work. With research-based assignments in particular, professors need a lot of coffee and aspirin.
A massive new study out yesterday (April 4) reveals that more than half of US faculty members think their undergraduates “have poor skills related to locating and evaluating scholarly information.” Basically, they’re horrible at research. (Source)
What if we had to write as simple as we talk to a six-year-old? What if our emails could be as easy and fun to read as Randall Monroe’s descriptions of the Red World space car and the Upgoer Five? To play with that idea, I made a simple text editor that doesn’t allow words that are not among the 1,000 most common ones. Do I expect myself and other people to only use this editor going forward? No. That would be outright barbarous.
I open sourced my new text editor and put it on Github for anyone to use and modify. Not much happened. Then, a few months later, Malthe wrote a tweet about it. (Source)
After the Violence against women act passed, violence against women fell — though it is hard to tell if this was due to larger declines in violence. More importantly, the act improved the sensitivity and preparedness of police to deal with these issues.
In the decades after the VAWA was first passed in 1993, the rate of intimate partner violence declined 67 percent, according to statistics from the White House. Furthermore, between 1993 and 2007 homicide rates from intimate partners of women have declined 35 percent. For men killed by their partners, the rate declined 46 percent.
Overall, more victims are reporting domestic and sexual violence, largely because the issue is considered a crime in the public view. Compared with 1994, there are more resources for survivors of domestic violence, police are better equipped to handle such reports, and there are more federal and local laws to prosecute abusers. (Source)
Partisan sorting is an interesting phenomenon. In recent times we’ve increasingly seen voters taking cues from their party on what to believe rather than parties being constructed of their voter’s views.
As an example, consider the economic conservative and the issue of gun control. There’s no reason these two issues need to go together — the only reasons why the Republican party espouses both is historical, the coalition of the rich and the rural that they’ve put together. In previous times we could see this as a coalition, with rural voters continuing to espouse some economically liberal leanings and economic conservatives tolerating but not agreeing with anti-gun views.
But that’s not how it works today. In the age of the ideological party, a frame is adopted that ties these two things together — both are economic regulation and gun control are Big Government telling you what to do. This intellectual underpinning is of course a fiction in some ways — a retroactively constructed argument to rationalize a pre-existing coalition, but it connects the two issues and allows one to reinforce the other. Ideological consistency then demands that you be passionate about both.
This is true on the Democratic side as well — there’s no reason why someone who supports more limited use of the military should also believe in gender-neutral bathrooms — at least from a purely logical perspective. But your mind is, undoubtedly, already constructing the ideological case. (Note: there are of course emotional dispositions that might connect the two, but this is a different matter).
What to make of this? Two things — first, voters and candidates are becoming more ideologically consistent, and this is driving polarization. But second, and more interestingly, a lot of what we’re seeing right now is a result of this. People see Sanders and Trump as parallels, but honestly Sanders functions far more like Cruz in terms of party dynamics — an ideologically consistent candidate who takes the party line at face value.
Trump is something different — Trump is, perhaps, a post-Cruz and Sanders event in a party’s lifecycle. Trump is the unwinding of the ideological underpinnings for people tired of the partisan sorting. It’s a faction driven by cultural issues (largely around white identity, but not solely) that has gotten tired of the gymnastics of tying that to Right-to-Life, Religious Freedom, and taxation schemes.
The fact that anger caused conservative Republicans to believe the country was more polarized is important. In a different study conducted during the 2008 presidential campaign, we found that when Americans perceived other people as polarized in their support for candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, they were more likely to say they would vote. And we recently reported evidence that over the past four decades, the more divided people perceived Democrats and Republicans to be on various topics, the more likely they were to contribute to campaigns, to vote and to get involved in political campaigns.
So, anger causes people to be more polarized, to see more polarization, and, because they see more polarization, to take more political action (Source)
One feature of lifestyle politics is a vast overestimate of the lifestyles of adherents.
We document a consequential and heretofore undiscovered perceptual phenomenon in American politics and public opinion: Americans considerably overestimate the share of party-stereotypical groups in the mass-level parties. For instance, on average, people think that 32% of Democratic supporters are LGBT (6% in reality) and 38% of Republican supporters earn over $250,000 per year (2%). We experimentally demonstrate that these perceptions are genuine and party-specific, and not artifacts of expressive responding, innumeracy, or erroneous perceptions of group base rates. These misperceptions are relatively universal across partisan groups and positively associated with political interest. We experimentally document two political consequences of this perceptual bias: when provided information about the actual share of various party-stereotypical groups in the out-party, partisans come to see supporters of the out-party as less extreme and feel less socially distant from them. Thus, people’s skewed mental images of the parties appear to fuel contemporary pathologies of partisanship. (Source)
Polarization in Congress derives from both sincere ideological differences about policy means and ends and strategic behavior to exploit those differences to win elections. The combination of high ideological stakes and intense competition for party control of the national government has all but eliminated the incentives for significant bipartisan cooperation on important national problems. Consequently, polarization has reduced congressional capacity to govern. Congress has been less productive in legislation, more prone to delays in appropriating funds, and increasingly slow in handling executive and judicial appointments. While hard to quantify, there is considerable evidence for a decline in the quality of legislative deliberation and legislation. Of significant concern is the extent to which this reduction in legislative capacity has contributed to a shift in the constitutional balance as it enhanced opportunities for executive and judicial encroachments on legislative prerogatives. (Source)
Features of our electoral system such as political gerrymandering and partisan primaries are not likely to be important causes of polarization. That the House and Senate have polarized in tandem suggests that partisan districting cannot be a primary cause and researchers have failed to find much of an incremental contribution. Similarly, scholars have not identified any substantial impact of the primary system on polarization. The relationship between our system of private campaign finance and polarization is more complex. While there is little evidence that the origins of greater polarization lie in campaign finance, the growing participation of ideologically oriented donors appears to have exacerbated the problem. (Source)
While significant disagreement persists as to how much voters have polarized by taking increasingly extreme views, there is a consensus that voters are much better sorted within the party system. Conservative voters are much more likely to identify as Republican and liberals as Democrats than two generations ago. Moreover, voters’ partisanship increasingly predicts their positions on issues. Voters are primarily changing their issue positions to match the partisanship rather than switching parties. Since voters seem to be responding to the positions of their party leaders, the causal arrow seems to run from elite polarization to partisan sorting. Whether partisan sorting has an additional feedback effect on elite polarization is less clear. (Source)
Political polarization is asymmetrical, with the majority of the movement coming from the right.
The evidence points to a major partisan asymmetry in polarization. Despite the widespread belief that both parties have moved to the extremes, the movement of the Republican Party to the right accounts for most of the divergence between the two parties. Since the 1970s, each new cohort of Republican legislators has taken more conservative positions on legislation than the cohorts before them. That is not true of Democratic legislators. Any movement to the left by the Democrats can be accounted for by a decline in white representatives from the South and an increase in African-American and Latino representation. (Source)
Nolan McCarthy points out the timeline of polarization rules out a lot of explanations of it.
Based on both qualitative and quantitative evidence, the roots of our current polarization go back almost 40 years to the mid-1970s. Indices of polarization based on roll call voting in Congress have been nearly monotonical in both chambers of Congress since around 1978. This evidence is primarily important for the explanations of polarization that it rules out. It casts doubt on explanations focused on more contemporary events such as the Clinton impeachment, the 2000 presidential election, the election of Barack Obama or the emergence of the tea party. That both chambers have been affected suggests a limited role for explanations based on the institutional differences between the House and the Senate. The timing is much more consistent with explanations based on large historical trends such as the post-Civil Rights realignment of Southern politics and increased levels of economic and social inequality. (Source)
“Americans … values and basic beliefs are more polarized along partisan lines than at any point in the past 25 years.” (Pew Research)
Pundits bemoan this polarization, and await a leader who’ll cut the Gordian knot of gridlock politics to deliver us to a bi-partisan nirvana. The pundits will have a long wait.
America’s current hyper-partisanship stems from a perfect storm of factors (described below). And it’s created Belief Communities — where people who want to believe patently untrue things (e.g., that President Obama was born in Kenya) are never challenged in their beliefs, and may even be encouraged in their fantasies. (Source)
Clinton said she has received 2.5 million more votes than Sanders. That claim can’t be completely verified because we don’t have the raw vote totals from the caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Washington and Maine.
However, given the numbers we do have, it is likely that Clinton’s lead is at least in the neighborhood of 2.4 million votes.
That’s not much of a difference. We rate this claim Mostly True. (Source)
If appropriation turned #staywoke into a game, irony turned it into a punchline. What the competition and the joke share, however, is a belief in the frivolity of careful criticism. When racism is presumed to reside in persons and in objects rather than systems and institutions, the question “is this racist?” is the easiest one to answer and often the only one asked. But racism has had a long life, and keeps outliving those to whose names it is attached.
If hate is residential—dwelling in bodies and in objects—how can we account for the residual pain that lingers once those bodies and objects have disappeared? In her discussion of affective economies, Professor Sarah Ahmed (also behind feministkilljoys), writes that hate “does not reside in a given subject or object. Hate is economic; it circulates between signifiers in relationships of difference and displacement.” Hate often exceeds the containers we allow it, seeping out like plasma and expanding to fill the space. The most pernicious racism is unrecognizable precisely because it is that which binds. It’s difficult to name a racist when you yourself are bound up in their racism—either because you are the object of their hate, or because their hate has a history with which you are aligned. (Source)
The logic of the game is thus: Hate resides within the subject (Macklemore, Donald Trump, Grandfather), and justice within the copula (he is). To make racism disappear, attribute ignorance to someone else; name him publicly. Now you’re woke. But what masquerades as a feat of anti-racism is really just a poorly devised self-help regime, better designed to confirm the wokeness of its participants than to inspire any awakening. For Woke Olympians, resisting racism is as simple as bearing witness. The games rely on a theory of safety akin to the Department of Homeland Security’s If You See Something, Say Something™—when hate appears, report its apparition. Winning is nothing more than performing a vanishing act, or willing injustice away. If racism is wholly contained within malignant bodies, the easiest way to fight it is to make those people disappear. But this is the laziest kind of magic: sleight of hand that postures as sorcery.
Should competitors wish to test their critical ability, they can take Jezebel’s “How Woke are You?” quiz, whose questions include “How familiar are you with current events and social issues?” “What’s your favorite brand of coffee?” and “Who is bae?” Wokeness, as indicated by the quiz, is easy to gauge: “some people are woke” (here they offer Matt McGorry as an example), “some people aren’t woke” (hyperlinked to a video of Ted Cruz), and “other people don’t even know what woke means!” (with a link back to an oft-cited Yahoo Answers post: “My guess would be that [it means] ‘I stay awake’, but it is not good English.”). Everyone along this woke/non-woke spectrum, including the maker of the quiz, is white, but if a player scores high enough, her wokeness is represented by a stock image of a black man drinking coffee. (Source)
Flyover Country is an app that lets you study geology from the window seat of a plane.
I was on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix, peering out the window as the sun rose over the snow-dusted alien topography of the southwest, when I saw it, what could only be describes as a volcano-like formation rising out of the ultra-flat landscape around it. I nudged my seatmate to check it out, wondering out loud what it was. (He gave me the side-eye.)
If I’d had the new app Flyover Country, I would have been able to pull up the exact coordinates of our flight using my iPhone’s GPS signal, which works even when in airplane mode. It would have explained that the formation below was a nine-mile-wide extinct volcano called Sierra Grande. It’s part of a line of faults, the Raton hotspot trail, stretching from Colorado into Arizona, roughly the route our flight was taking that morning.
Following the information trail in the app’s UI, I could have read about the many other formations I had already spotted flying along this million-year-old fault line. I also could have seen where dinosaur bones have been discovered down below, or how a nearby volcanic field had gotten its name.
Not everyone has a burning desire to know what they’re seeing 35,000 feet below. But for Flyover Country’s creator Shane Loeffler, who traveled the world for his field work at the University of Minnesota, flying is a chance to observe “planetary scale processes and the ways humans live around them.” The app, which launched on iTunes and Google Play in December, was developed after Loeffler pitched the idea to his cocreator, University of Minnesota’s Amy Myrbo, and it was funded by a National Science Foundation grant that was accepted just “29 hours after we sent it in,” Myrbo says in a presentation.
Unsurprisingly, Loeffler got the idea for the app on a plane. “I realized that most people don’t have my geology background, and that they might be missing out on some of the wonder of that view because there was no good way to know where exactly your plane was, let alone what stories the landforms below could tell,” he tells Co.Design over email. “I tested the GPS in my phone while flying, found that it worked, and realized that there was a great scientific outreach tool waiting to be made.” When you open the app, you draw your flight path (it can be very rough) to access the relevant data points, which are then downloaded to the app so you can access them offline. (Source)
Fran Leibowitz on how tolerance is a better social goal than understanding or love.
For instance, I, unfortunately, take the subway a lot. It’s not my preference, but it is my lot in life. You sit or stand in the subway, and you look around —I do, because I don’t have a phone so I’m not playing a game—and you see people. You see a young girl wearing a headscarf, and standing next to her is a Hasid. And if you asked them, “Do you like that Jew?” She would say, “No, I hate him.” “Do you like that girl in the head scarf?” “No, I hate her.”
But here’s the great thing about New York: They leave each other alone. So in New York we have zillions of different kinds of people, many of them hate each other, but violence based on that hatred is really uncommon here.
This idea that people have to love and understand each other is absurd. It’s not human nature. But this idea that people cannot kill each other? It actually works here. More than it works in any other place. We have something here that you don’t hear about anymore; we have tolerance. Tolerance is really a better thing than understanding. Because it doesn’t agitate against human nature. Like love does. Or acceptance or understanding. Not only don’t they not understand people different from them, they hardly understand themselves. It’s placing too great a burden on the average intelligence. So forcing people into a situation where they’re supposed to adore each other is probably bad. But letting people get on and off the 6 train without stabbing each other, that’s good.(Source)
“Pain is the Fifth Vital Sign” was a campaign which changed doctor’s views about prescribing opioid medications. It is largely seen to have been a mistake, and many have claimed that it was funded and pushed by the maker of OxyContin.
Between 1996 and 2002, Purdue Pharma funded more than 20,000 pain-related educational programs through direct sponsorship or financial grants and launched a multifaceted campaign to encourage long-term use of OPRs for chronic non-cancer pain (86). As part of this campaign, Purdue provided financial support to the American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain
Medicine, the Federation of State Medical Boards, the Joint Commission, pain patient groups, and other organizations (27). In turn, these groups all advocated for more aggressive identification and treatment of pain, especially use of OPRs.
For example, in 1995, the president of the American Pain Society introduced a campaign entitled “Pain is the Fifth Vital Sign” at the society’s annual meeting. This campaign encouraged health care professionals to assess pain with the “same zeal” as they do with vital signs and urged more aggressive use of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain (9). Shortly thereafter, the Veterans’ Affairs health system, as well as the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals and other health care organizations, embraced the Pain is the Fifth Vital Sign campaign to increase the identification and treatment of pain, especially with OPRs. Similarly, the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine issued a consensus statement endorsing opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain (31). Although the statement cautioned against imprudent prescribing, this warning may have been overshadowed by assertions that the risk of addiction and tolerance was low, risk of opioid-induced respiratory depression was short-lived, and concerns about drug diversion and abuse should not constrain prescribing.
This was the report that kicked off the current opioid crisis in earnest. The Joint Commission, an accrediting agency, suggested that hospitals take pain management more seriously, and tie rewards to patient satisfaction with pain management. PDF
The opening lines set the tone:
Despite ongoing, significant advances in treatment options, studies indicate that pain continues to be poorly managed and undertreated. The increase in clinical information related to pain management, as well as recent high-profile press coverage of individual cases of undertreatment, has resulted in heightened awareness among health care professionals and the public that this critical issue must be addressed.
This in itself isn’t bad. But in practice it led to the opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands (maybe eventually hundreds of thousands) of people.
The Wong-Baker FACES scale traces its roots back to the 1980s, but came into wide use after the Joint Commission, an accrediting agency, named it as one of three possible measures for the assessment of pain.
While the scale itself is useful and continues to be used, the application of it shifted in the early aughts. If you went into your doctor for anything — anything — you might be asked to rate your pain. When patients indicated high pain, a pain medication discussion with their doctor would be initiated.
One of the early influential studies to claim that oxycodone might be safe for chronic pain had only 38 patients in the intervention condition. Of those, two (2!) had issues, but these were dismissed as both had had a history of drug abuse.
But let’s consider this. In a random sample 2 out of thirty-eight (5%) had “management” issues.
Thirty-eight patients maintained on opioid analgesics for non-malignant pain were retrospectively evaluated to determine the indications, course, safety and efficacy of this therapy. Oxycodone was used by 12 patients, methadone by 7, and levorphanol by 5; others were treated with propoxyphene, meperidine, codeine, pentazocine, or some combination of these drugs. Nineteen patients were treated for four or more years at the time of evaluation, while 6 were maintained for more than 7 years. Two-thirds required less than 20 morphine equivalent mg/day and only 4 took more than 40 mg/day. Patients occasionally required escalation of dose and/or hospitalization for exacerbation of pain; doses usually returned to a stable baseline afterward. Twenty-four patients described partial but acceptable or fully adequate relief of pain, while 14 reported inadequate relief. No patient underwent a surgical procedure for pain management while receiving therapy. Few substantial gains in employment or social function could be attributed to the institution of opioid therapy. No toxicity was reported and management became a problem in only 2 patients, both with a history of prior drug abuse. A critical review of patient characteristics, including data from the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire in 24 patients, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory in 23, and detailed psychiatric evaluation in 6, failed to disclose psychological or social variables capable of explaining the success of long-term management. We conclude that opioid maintenance therapy can be a safe, salutary and more humane alternative to the options of surgery or no treatment in those patients with intractable non-malignant pain and no history of drug abuse. (Source)
The problem with dismissing a drug as “safe for anyone without a history of or propensity to drug abuse” is that a large number of patients fall into that category. Take a group of twenty people, and the likelihood is that more than one or two will have some history of addiction, either personally or through a relative.
The potential side effects of prescription narcotics include constipation, sexual dysfunction, cognitive impairment, addiction, and overdosing. When patients receive narcotics for long periods, they can even become more sensitive to pain, a condition called hyperalgesia. (J. David Haddox, the vice-president of health policy at Purdue Pharma—the manufacturer of OxyContin—acknowledged “opioid analgesics have sometimes been associated with diminished pain relief in the face of increasing doses.”) (Source)
This is what the Pain Pill Epidemic looked like from the ground:
When I started working as a medical resident, in 2004, I heard from a patient I had inherited from a graduating resident. The patient had an appointment scheduled in a couple weeks. “But I need your help now,” he said.
He was a former construction worker who had hurt himself on the job a couple of years earlier. He told me, “I also need some more OxyContin to tide me over until I can see you.” The hospital computer system told me that he had been taking twenty milligrams of OxyContin, three times a day, for at least the last couple of years. I had rarely seen such high doses of narcotics prescribed for such long periods of time. I’d seen narcotics prescribed in the hospital to patients who had been injured, or to those with pain from an operation or from cancer. But I didn’t have much experience with narcotics for outpatients. I figured that if the previous resident—now a fully licensed doctor—was doing this, then it must be O.K.
What I didn’t know was that my time in medical school had coincided with a boom in the prescribing of narcotics by outpatient doctors, driven partly by the pharmaceutical companies that sold those drugs. Between 1999 and 2010, sales of these “opioid analgesics”—medications like Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin—quadrupled.
One issue with chronic use is chronic use can actually increase sensitivity to pain. See Hyperalgesia
The solution? Simple. Manufacture a demand. Establish not only a new system that gives doctors more freedom to prescribe narcotics for non-postoperative and non-malignant pain, but create an environment that actually demands it. Instead of fighting a losing battle against the existing medical framework, create an entirely new one — one that promotes opioid and opiate painkillers for everyday aches and pains — and work from within it.
To understand just how the American medical system became corrupted in the 2000s, you have to understand the role of Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the most powerful accreditation institution in the world.
The Joint Commission is the gatekeeper. They’re the last line of defense between the patients over here and the drugs over there. The Joint Commission is a nonprofit organization based out of a Chicago suburb, charged with setting the standards of care for hospitals in this country and accrediting more than 20,000 facilities in all but four states. They’re the ones tasked with inspecting hospitals and ensuring adequate care is being given and standards are being met. They also issue directives in care.
In 2001, while the pharmaceutical lobby spent just under $100 million in lobbying efforts, the Joint Commission issued a new directive to its 20,000+ hospitals across the country:
It was time to start treating pain.
And who did the Joint Commission bring in to teach the hospitals how to treat the pain?
Family owned and operated, Purdue Pharma struck narcotic gold. Not many companies can boast a product whose sales increased 2000 percent in five years, but the Sacklers can do just that. In 1995, the year after receiving FDA approval, OxyContin accounted for $45 million in sales. By 2000, sales increased to $1.4 billion. (Source)
An example of how often we miss data sources that are “right under our nose”.
Now, researchers from Harvard University and Northeastern University say they have identified an overlooked source that could offer the most complete accounting yet of fatal encounters with police. In a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers point to the National Violent Death Reporting System, a database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s trove of data on violent deaths, they write, “captures detailed coded data and rich narratives that describe the precipitating circumstances and incident dynamics for all suicides and homicides.” In other words, the data gives a pretty clear picture of the deceased and the moments leading up to their death. (Source)
While variety of platforms has exploded, so have exclusivity deals. As a result, the average user of online digital services has less choice than before.
It’s not your imagination – Netflix’s catalog is getting smaller. As competition in the OTT streaming space has increased, Netflix’s once-massive selection has decreased. In fact, it has shrunk by a third in less than two and a half years.
The statistics are simple and remarkable: in January of 2014, Netflix offered its US-based users a selection of 6,494 movies and 1,609 TV shows, for a total of 8,103 titles. As of March 23, 2016, they offer just 4,335 movies and 1,197 TV shows – 5,532 titles in total. That’s 2,571 fewer titles. In other words, Netflix’s catalog has shrunk 31.7% in less than two and a half years! (Source)
Reed points out that race is also important in civilian contexts. Think about your car. Reed designs crash test dummies. If a car is tested only with “Caucasian” dummies, it may not be as safe for Asians or African Americans. Why? Leg length determines how far back you sit from the steering wheel — a major impact point — and your proximity to the airbag. Seated height also affects what you can see. “We don’t want to build a dummy that’s based only on white guys,” Reed said. (Source)
Past attempts to target clothing to an ethnicity have sparked some controversy. In 2007, for example, Nike launched a line of sneakers decorated with colorful geometric patterns and arrowhead designs for Native Americans, called Air Native N7. Native Americans had wider fore-feet, Nike claimed, and thus needed wider shoes.
But from the moment he heard about the shoes, Alan Goodman, a biological anthropologist at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., suspected that Nike’s science was weak.
Nike says it measured 224 Native Americans’ feet around the country before concluding that Native feet were wider in the front. Who was measured, Goodman wonders, how old were they, and what was their condition? Native Americans have double the risk of diabetes compared to the national average. Was Nike really selling colorful, “native” sneakers for swollen diabetic feet? Or as one online commentator put it, “If this isn’t an example of corporate manipulation of race, I don’t know what is.” (I reached out to Nike for a response, but never heard back.) (Source)
We confuse attention as an objective fact, attention for the observer, with attention as consciously experienced. During complete absorption an onlooker may remark how attentive such a person is, or after such an absorption one may look back and say how attentive one was; but taking the absorption when it occurs, it means that only the subject matter is present in consciousness, not attention itself. We are conscious of being attentive only when our attention is divided, only when there are two centers of attention competing with each other, only when there is an oscillation from one group of ideas to another, together with a tendency to a third group of ideas, in which the two previous groups are included. The sense of strain in attention, instead of being coincident with the activity of attention, is proof that attention itself is not yet complete.
To establish the identity of attention with the formation of a new act through the mutual adaptation of two existing habits, would take us too far away from our present purpose; but there need he no hesitation. I believe, in admitting that the sense of attention arises only under the conditions of conflict already stated. (Source)
GitHub interface encourages long unbroken stretches of work. It motivates developers, but does it do so in the right way?
Stepping away from our work regularly is not only important to uphold high quality work, but also to maintain our well-being. For example, I personally do not generally work in the weekends. That’s completely healthy. I take a step back from work and spend time on other things. But in the contribution graph it means I can never make a long streak, even though I do work virtually every day except weekends. So the graph motivates me to work in my weekends as well, and not take breaks.
When I see someone with a 416 day streak, it means they haven’t taken a break for a single day in over a year. Although everyone can make their own choices, it makes me very worried about their well-being. Being based on git activity, which can easily backdated, the graph is also trivial to spoof – so not all long streaks may be real. (Source)
Programs such as Facebook’s “Free Basics” and Wikimedia Zero have disturbing parallels to colonial patterns of corporate behavior. In particular the pattern involves “saving” the population while in reality really just propping up market advantages.
“I’m loath to toss around words like colonialism but it’s hard to ignore the family resemblances and recognizable DNA, to wit,” said Deepika Bahri, an English professor at Emory University who focuses on postcolonial studies. In an email, Bahri summed up those similarities in list form:
ride in like the savior
bandy about words like equality, democracy, basic rights
mask the long-term profit motive (see 2 above)
justify the logic of partial dissemination as better than nothing
Star Trek is a bit of a mish-mash of colonialism and the desire to rise above colonialism. The famous intro is a good example of that tension.
The juxtaposition of TOS and later Star Trek franchise installments both reveals progress internal to the franchise and continuities that refuse to leave the past behind. For instance, TOS opened each episode with Captain James T. Kirk’s (William Shatner) masculine mission: “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” While this statement promised that Star Trek would bring viewers to peoples and places hitherto unknown, its purportedly universal “man” evinced the gendered exclusions of a utopian journey. Fittingly, TNG revised TOS’s mission in the late 1980s by informing viewers that they would “boldly go where no one has gone before.” This shift to the gender neutral corrected past omissions to make Star Trek’s travels more inviting to female voyagers.
This updated statement, however, does not include everyone. The persistent use of the phrase “new worlds” evokes a long history of inequality forged between “discoverers” and “discovered.” Though Kirk and Picard promise “to go where no man/one has gone before,” they expect to find “others” already there. Though Star Trek imagines social progress through the allegorical veil of extraterrestrial cooperation, its mission statement and naval metaphors reveal how the franchise maintains a Eurocentric vision of progress and discovery that excludes the rest from the West. By reconsidering Star Trek’s linear progress—a viewing practice facilitated by video on demand services such as Netflix, but prompted by the production history of Star Trek itself—we can see how Star Trek’s future remains mired in the past. (Source)
This website provides access to some of the remarkable materials digitized as part of the ongoing, multi-year Colonial North American Project at Harvard University.
When complete, the project will make available to the world digitized images of all known archival and manuscript materials in the Harvard Library that relate to 17th and 18th century North America. Scattered through twelve repositories, these documents reveal a great deal about topics such as social life, education, trade, finance, politics, revolution, war, women, Native American life, slavery, science, medicine, and religion. In addition to reflecting the origins of the United States, the digitized materials also document aspects of life and work in Great Britain, France, Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico. The ‘Essays’ on this website are the work of a Summer 2015 Arcadia Fellow, Alicia DeMaio, who was one of the first researchers to connect thematically related material from among the images digitized to date.
This website is updated continuously. Check back regularly for new content and features. (Source)
The controversial Wikimedia Zero program “zero-rates” Wikipedia access for Angolans (similar to the Facebook program Marc Andreessen got in trouble over). So, ho-hum, another example of digital colonialism, right? Except for this: wiki allows one to work around such barriers…
Wikimedia and Facebook have given Angolans free access to their websites, but not to the rest of the internet. So, naturally, Angolans have started hiding pirated movies and music in Wikipedia articles and linking to them on closed Facebook groups, creating a totally free and clandestine file sharing network in a country where mobile internet data is extremely expensive. (Source)
A good password is:
private: it is used and known by one person only;
secret: it does not appear in clear text in any file or program or on a piece of paper pinned to the monitor;
easily remembered: so there is no need to write it down;
at least 8 characters long;
a mixture of at least 3 of the following: upper case letters, lower case letters, digits and symbols;
not listed in a dictionary of any major language;
not guessable by any program in a reasonable time, for instance less than one week. (Source)
This pattern catalog describes 65 integration patterns, collected from many integration projects since 2002. The patterns provide technology-independent design guidance for developers and architects to describe and develop robust integration solutions. The inspiration to document these patterns came when we struggled through multiple integration vendors’ product documentation just to realize later that many of the underlying concepts were quite similar.
Why Enterprise Integration Patterns?
Enterprise integration is too complex to be solved with a simple ‘cookbook’ approach. Instead, patterns can provide guidance by documenting the kind of experience that usually lives only in architects’ heads: they are accepted solutions to recurring problems within a given context. Patterns are abstract enough to apply to most integration technologies, but specific enough to provide hands-on guidance to designers and architects. Patterns also provide a vocabulary for developers to efficiently describe their solution.
Patterns are not ‘invented’; they are harvested from repeated use in practice. If you have built integration solutions, it is likely that you have used some of these patterns, maybe in slight variations and maybe calling them by a different name. The purpose of this site is not to “invent” new approaches, but to present a coherent collection of relevant and proven patterns, which in total form an integration pattern language.
The Recurse Center is a free, self-directed, educational retreat for people who want to get better at programming, whether they’ve been coding for three decades or three months.
The Recurse Center is…
We value intrinsic motivation and self-direction, and believe people learn best when they're free to explore their passions and interests.
We're free for everyone. We also offer need-based grants for living expenses for people from traditionally underrepresented groups in programming.
We look for smart, friendly, self-directed, and intellectually curious people who enjoy programming and want to get dramatically better.
We have exceptional residents including Peter Norvig, Jessica McKellar, Yaron Minsky, Leigh Honeywell, David Nolen, Peter Seibel, Nada Amin, and more.
The atmosphere here is friendly and intellectual. We have a gender-balanced environment, and lightweight social rules.
We have a tight-knit community of more than 700 alumni from over 30 countries. Our motto is "never graduate."
Recursers have made significant contributions to dozens of open source projects and started many of their own.
We make money by helping great companies hire our alumni. There's no obligation to take a job if you don't want one.