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Life In The Fast Lane? It Comes With A Cost

“There’s a cost to living; there’s a cost to doing everything. That cost depends on the speed at which we’re living, to some degree. If we are living our lives at a very fast rate, we tend to wear out sooner. There is a strong relationship between metabolic rate—the rate at which we’re taking in oxygen and burning up food—and lifespan. Under good conditions, we focus most of our resources on sexual maturation. I’m speaking not so much about humans as animals in general. But this goes beyond the...
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.10.20


How Swedish Culture Explains Its Response To COVID

It also helps explain the Swedish policy response to Covid-19 — banning gatherings over 50, encouraging home working and social distancing, shielding of vulnerable groups, while keeping society as open as possible — which can be seen as typically lagom. It was designed to be proportionate to the threat, but unhysterical, and sustainable over the long term. To rip up a long-prepared pandemic plan and impose unprecedented measures just because everybody else was would be considered reckless; to c...
Tags: Art, Ideas, COVID, 08.10.20


Why Exams Continue To Be The Gold Standard For Education

Many of the criticisms levelled at exams as a framework for learning and a means of assessment have validity. There have been valiant attempts over the years to provide a balance between formal assessment and coursework-based, teacher-assessed learning, and this trend rightly continues in many vocational and technical courses. However, despite their drawbacks, exams do encourage and promote a much wider set of skills and values than is often acknowledged by their child-centred opponents. – Unhe...
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.12.20, Gold Standard For Education


How The Internet Turned People Into Users

Google is, as Joanne McNeil writes, “the intermediary between my ideas and action forward, the glue between my questions and answers, a placeholder for thoughts and a way to sort my desires.” But it’s also an advertising, machine-learning, and data-collection regime, with material incentives for addressing it as an advice column rather than an algorithm. – The Nation
Tags: Google, Art, Ideas, Joanne McNeil, 08.11.20


What’s Needed To Defeat COVID: Morality Pills?

When someone chooses not to follow public health guidelines around the coronavirus, they’re defecting from the public good. It’s the moral equivalent of the tragedy of the commons: If everyone shares the same pasture for their individual flocks, some people are going to graze their animals longer, or let them eat more than their fair share, ruining the commons in the process. Selfish and self-defeating behavior undermines the pursuit of something from which everyone can benefit. – The Conversat...
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.11.20


How Data Fueled The Progressive Era

Statistics in the Progressive Era were more than mere signs of a managerial government’s early efforts to sort and categorize its citizens. The emergence of statistical selves was not simply a rationalization of everyday life, a search for order (as Robert Wiebe taught a half century of historians to say).2 The reliance on statistical governance coincided with and complemented a pervasive revaluation of primal spontaneity and vitality, an effort to unleash hidden strength from an elusive inner ...
Tags: Art, Ideas, Summer 2020, Robert Wiebe


The Wellness Trap

Once we realize that we cannot find lasting happiness through relying on outer things, we might turn to meditation, but now a new problem can arise. Many people today are drawn to meditation practice for enhancing their own well-being: we would all like to achieve “inner happiness,” but again we are back to the search. The very attempt to seek a happy mind becomes endless, with chasing the happiness leading to more chasing. At the same time, our efforts to get rid of stress can seem to create e...
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.11.20


Those Ubiquitous Ads For MasterClass? Here’s What You Actually Get

MasterClass launched in 2015 with just three classes: Dustin Hoffman on acting, Serena Williams on tennis, and Patterson on writing. Since then the company has grown exponentially, raising $135 million in venture capital from 2012 to 2018. It now has more than 85 classes across nine categories. (Last year it added 25 new classes, and this year it intends to add even more.) After the pandemic hit, as people started spending more time at home, its subscriptions surged, some weeks increasing tenfol...
Tags: Art, Ideas, Dustin Hoffman, Serena Williams, Patterson, 08.10.20


How The Aztecs Recorded History

The Aztec historians, creators of a genre called the xiuhpohualli (SHOO-po-WA-lee), developed a highly effective way of keeping satisfying memories alive. The pictographic texts that Itzcoatl burned were only a part of the Aztec way of keeping history. The glyphs served as mnemonic devices designed to elicit volumes of speech. – Psyche
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.10.20, Itzcoatl


Our Collective Dreams Of Rome

So many legends, so much art, and yet … “Rubbish collects in gutters, litter spills from over-stuffed communal bins, pigeons scavenge among fallen, leaking garbage bags. People walk casually past the trash, a symptom of ineffectual politicians and waste plants straining for space. La grande bellezza is looking like shit.” Then the virus came. – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, Rome, Ideas, 08.09.20


Some Creative Ways To Reopen Theme Parks Safely

Nothing will be the same, or at least for a long while, so why not try something new? “It’s easy to imagine many areas of a theme park resort being refashioned into a special-event space. I’ve been holding out hope that the outdoor grounds of the Disneyland Hotel would be utilized for a food and drink event featuring the talents of the staff at its tiki bar Trader Sam’s. But this is also a chance to re-imagine the theme park space, to view the entire grounds as something akin to a game board.” ...
Tags: Art, Ideas, Sam, Disneyland Hotel, 08.08.20


Can German (Can Any) City Centers Be Saved During The Coronavirus?

Many things have battered the city center over the past two decades. “German mayors have tended to turn to marketing in an effort to attract more people to the city center. With retail moving online, entertainment, cultural events and good food became the primary selling points. And it worked for quite a while.” Then Covid-19 shut it all down. – Der Spiegel
Tags: Art, Ideas, COVID, 08.06.20


Of Experts And The Willingness To Be Wrong

When experts and pundits can’t or won’t say ‘I don’t know’, the consequences can be dire. In the short term, bad advice leads to bad decisions. In the context of admitting uncertainty about challenging questions, there are two ways this can happen. These are particularly clear and salient in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. – Aeon
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.06.20


When Fans Of A Show Become Its Owners

Fans come to see themselves not just as the audience for, or patrons of, a given “intellectual property” but (to paraphrase the old WestJet slogan) as owners too. This feeling of ownership is often vindicated by the franchises themselves, which deliberately pander to the hopes and expectations of their core audiences. – The Walrus
Tags: Art, Ideas, Audience, Westjet, 08.05.20


Frustrating: Quality Information Costs While Lies Are Free

A white supremacist on YouTube will tell you all about race and IQ but if you want to read a careful scholarly refutation, obtaining a legal PDF from the journal publisher would cost you $14.95, a price nobody in their right mind would pay for one article if they can’t get institutional access. Academic publishing is a nightmarish patchwork, with lots of articles advertised at exorbitant fees on one site, and then for free on another, or accessible only through certain databases, which your uni...
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.02.20


How Remote Work Will Remake American Cities

If white-collar workers are told the downtown office is forever optional, some will take their superstar-city jobs out of superstar cities. That much is obvious. But these shifts, even if they are initially moderate, could lead to more surprising and significant changes to America’s cultural, economic, and political future. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, America, Ideas, 08.05.20


Abstract Art Can Changes Your Mindset: Study

Looking at non-representational art tends to induce what’s called “psychological distance.” As one of the lead researchers put it, “This means that art has an effect on our general cognitive state, that goes beyond how much we enjoy it, to change the way we perceive events and make decisions.” – Inverse
Tags: Art, Ideas, Visual, 08.03.20


Tracing The Ancient Art Of Bullshit

If we want to trace bullshit back to its origins, we have to look a lot further back than any human civilization. Bullshit has its origins in deception more broadly, and animals have been deceiving one another for hundreds of millions of years. – Lithub
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.04.20


Princeton’s Existential Crisis

Groups of students have variously described the composition of Princeton’s faculty and its “institutional culture” as “pillars of its oppressive past,” declared that their education failed to prepare them to vanquish racism, and urged a “comprehensive transformation” of curriculum, programming, and faculty. More notable, roughly 350 faculty members and staff signed an open letter, published on July 4, that set forth nearly 50 demands. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Ideas, Princeton


New AI Browser Extension Factchecks What You’re Seeing

Beyond just matching up bogus claims with evidence to the contrary, the startup treats the fact-checking process like an assembly line, with an algorithm prioritizing and doling out tasks. As a basic example, one step might involve finding the source of a rumor, while another might involve researching the claim. Logically’s system can handle some of these tasks automatically, but it can also hand out assignments to human fact-checkers based on their area of expertise. – Fast Company
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.03.20


Understanding The Charismatic Leader

David Bell argues that charismatic leaders were a key product of the age of Revolution, which created the ideal political and cultural conditions for a new kind of civic heroism to emerge. It flourished initially in response to the development of print technologies, and the radical Enlightenment’s belief that governments should be founded not on the divine right of kings, but on the principles of secularism and popular sovereignty. It then proliferated with the overthrow of monarchies and the f...
Tags: Art, Ideas, David Bell, 07.31.20


Do We Really Want Brain-To-Brain Communication?

Let’s face it: we’ve all had second thoughts about language. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t stumble for words, stagger into misunderstandings, or struggle with a double negative. It’s a frightfully cumbersome way to express ourselves. If language is such a slippery medium, perhaps it is time to replace it with something more dependable. Why not cut out the middleman and connect brains directly? – Psyche
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.04.20


Writing To Write… And Not To Be Read. This Is Academia

Writing for the sake of publication—instead of for the sake of being read—is academia’s version of “teaching to the test.” The result is papers few actually want to read. First, the writing is hypercomplex. Yes, the thinking is also complex, but the writing in professional journals regularly contains a layer of complexity beyond what is needed to make the point. It is not edited for style and readability. Most significantly of all, academic writing is obsessed with other academic writing—with f...
Tags: Art, Ideas, 07.29.20


Should Unions Be Compulsory?

Given the degree to which workers lack autonomy and are at the mercy of arbitrary and capricious decisions by their employer, republican liberty is at risk when it comes to the employer-employee relationship. Without a union, employees are subject to all kinds of arbitrary treatment. With a union, employees have some protection against this. – Aeon
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.03.20


The Weaponizing Of Free Speech

The “free speech” argument can be a useful tactic. But it’s not necessarily a successful one in the long term. Overusing it can turn real debates into insoluble meta-arguments with no room for compromise, driving a self-perpetuating dynamic in which one party exudes a feigned and slyly provocative equilibrium while the other becomes increasingly bitter and confrontational. – Washington Post
Tags: Art, Ideas, 08.01.20


A Machine That Responds Intelligently To Queries

GPT-3 is a product of OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research lab based in San Francisco. In essence, it’s a machine-learning system that has been fed (trained on) 45 terabytes of text data. Given that a terabyte (TB) is a trillion bytes, that’s quite a lot. Having digested all that stuff, the system can then generate all sorts of written content – stories, code, legal jargon, poems – if you prime it with a few words or sentences. – The Guardian
Tags: Art, San Francisco, Ideas, GPT, 08.01.20


Why Racism Is Deeply Built Into Arts Institutional Structures

David Balzer: “Here, I want to go beyond critiquing institutional messaging and superficial pledges towards diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instead, I want to use my experience as the former co-leader of a cultural nonprofit — a white, cis-gender queer who attempted, not always successfully, to change that nonprofit’s relationship to colonialism and white supremacy — to explain why such statements were doomed to fail.” – Hyperallergic
Tags: Art, Ideas, 07.29.20, David Balzer


New York Is Getting Loud Again

“The pandemic offered a temporary reprieve from sound, both in cities and in oceans, giving scientists a once-in-a-lifetime (we hope) chance to study the sudden onset of quiet. The lockdown created a deeply unsettling soundscape, like the hush after an explosion, which extended on week after week. The quietude was revelatory, but not serene. Birds in neighborhood trees assembled into a network of local choirs, and the bated traffic let them be heard. The nights were laced with sirens, but devoi...
Tags: Art, New York, Ideas, 07.28.20


Report: Going Green Now Would Create 25 Million Jobs

A new report calculates, in detail, what it would take to aggressively transition to a clean energy economy in the U.S. by 2035—the timeline needed to make it possible to hit the target of the Paris climate agreement—and finds that decarbonizing the economy could quickly create 25 million jobs. “For a world looking to bounce back from a pandemic, there is no other project that would create this many jobs,” the authors write. – Fast Company
Tags: Art, Ideas, Paris, 07.28.20


Have We Made Progress On Global Poverty Or Not?

“The global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history,” Jim Yong Kim, a former president of the World Bank, recently argued. “This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time.” Or perhaps not. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Ideas, World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, 07.29.20



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