Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘evolution

Thursday Links!

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Apocalypse, New Jersey: Matt Taibbi reports from Camden. Camden has been like this for decades — while the discourse in the state is always about whether Newark and Jersey City can be “saved,” Camden is simply and permanently written off.

“The countervailing voices of this notion that student-athletes are being taken advantage of has been the dominant theme and had played out pretty loudly in a variety of outlets,” Emmert said. “The reality is schools are spending in between $100,000 and $250,000 on each student-athlete.” Good news, everyone, I just figured out a really painless way to solve university budget crises!

* The academy as pyramid scheme.

* NYU re-unionizes. And Cooper Union blinks?

* Jason Segal to play David Foster Wallace in you know what I give up.

* Hopkins has a plan to recalibrate graduate school with larger stipends and summer funding with new faculty cohorts that will “lean junior” and “lean adjunct.”

New Data Show Articles by Women Are Cited Less Frequently.

A privileged childhood as tragic disability.

Prosecutors were hoping to send Couch to jail for up to 20 years, but the defense made the case for why Couch should be let go with just an ankle bracelet and a court order to go to rehab for a while. Their main line of argument was that Couch was actually a victim too. His parents enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege and due to that never bothered to teach Couch that actions had consequences, an expert brought in to defend Couch dubbed the condition “affluenza.”

* BREAKING: Dissent isn’t Possible in a Surveillance State.

* That reality TV show that wants to send a group of people to go die on Mars is really making of go of acting like they’re serious about it.

UW-Madison ranks as eighth ‘best value’ among public colleges.

* Dark horse apocalypses: Yellowstone supervolcano ‘even more colossal’ that previously thought.

* The Desolation of Smaug is basically Tolkien fan fiction, and Salon says that’s just fine.

* Meanwhile, The New York Post publishes some spicy Obama/Thorning-Schmidt slash fic.

* Draw feminist inspiration from this Pantene ad. No, really!

Megyn Kelly Wants Kids At Home To Know That Jesus And Santa Were White.

Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram.

* And science proves Mitochondrial Eve was killed by a really scary spider: Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors. And not to mention: Fear of Snakes Drove Pre-Human Evolution.

I’ve Already Optioned Three Paranormal Romance Screenplays Based on this Premise

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Written by gerrycanavan

November 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

Weekend Links

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* Annals of so totally completely missing the point: Hunger Games’ producers working on ‘potential theme park opportunities.”

The Public Option for Higher Education.

Instructed at 4 p.m. Thursday to cut $55,000 — or 20 classes — by 5 p.m.

* How to Write a Lifeboater Manifesto.

‘You Can Sleep Here All Night’: Video Games and Labor.

* Socialize Social Media! A Manifesto.

* Postal Service Insolvent Since 2006 Law Requiring It to Be Insolvent. Better privatize it!

Humanities degrees at Marquette remain steady despite national statistics.

* Colorized historical photos. Secluded Cultures on the Brink of Extinction. Michael Galinsky’s Retro Photos of 1980s Shopping Malls Are, Like, Totally Rad.

* Senate passes ENDA 64-32, now the House will completely ignore it. Obama Backs $10 Minimum Wage Secure in the Knowledge It Will Never Be Passed.

* The Chris Christie Hegemony. I Can’t Believe Terry McAuliffe Is Going to Be Governor of Virginia. Here comes 2016.

No, Crime Is Not Going to Start Soaring Under Bill de Blasio.

Terrible Columnist Richard Cohen Shocked To Learn That Slavery Was Really, Really Bad.

upinarms-map* “A Very Dangerous Boy”: the ten-year-old boy who killed his neo-Nazi father.

Secret ‘Bay Bridge Troll’ Guarded the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge for 24 Years.

* Advanced Readings in D&D.

* The eleven nations of North America.

School Named For Former KKK Leader Reconsiders Its Legacy. Christ, Florida, why the rush? Let’s be sure we really think this thing through.

* Declaring a war on warrior culture in the wake of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal. “The NFL’s Bully Problem”: Sports Columnist Dave Zirin Connects Violence in Sports to Rape Culture. Tony Dorsett Has CTE. More Living Football Players Show Signs Of CTE. Why It Matters That Tony Dorsett Is Showing Signs Of CTE. Why a Denver Broncos player suddenly walked away from the NFL and more than $1M.

* You can tell the human body was poorly designed by evolution. I mean, who puts sanitation next to recreation?

* Happens all the time: Super typhoon Haiyan just broke all scientific intensity scales.

Since 1890 every Wisconsin officer who took a life was cleared of any wrongdoing. Every single one.

Black students scored lower this year in every category of the nation’s benchmark reading and math test, which also showed that for all the dynamism in Wisconsin’s education scene, student achievement remains stagnant.

* Sweden formalizes the Bechdel Test.

* Pablo Neruda: Not Poisoned.

* The new normal: Black woman shot in head seeking help in white neighborhood.

This Is How Much Money Twitter Owes You.

* And at last some good news: That Saul Goodman Breaking Bad spinoff may be both prequel and sequel.

Wednesday! Night! Links!

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* Jonathan Senchyne on Breaking Bad, cancer, and Indian Country. I like the way he teased this on Facebook: “Walter White has lung cancer, but doesn’t smoke…”

You know that newfound Van Gogh painting has the TARDIS in it, right?

* From the archives, just in time for application season: Should I Go to Grad School in the Humanities? I wrote that a year ago. If I wrote it today I think I’d write basically the same thing, just be more emphatic about every part. In particular — with all the necessary caveats about the falseness of meritocracy fantasy — going to a highly ranked program with strong recent placement rate is absolutely crucial. If you don’t hit that, and you want to go, work on your writing sample for a year and apply again. Your grad school’s reputation becomes instant proxy for your reputation. It’s not something you should plan to make up for by working hard.

* Also with all the usual anti-meritocracy caveats: On selling yourself on the academic job market.

* From the Washington Post archives: This amazing George Will there-are-too-many-states-nowdays rant against denim crossed my stream today.

The Inside Story Of How A Fake PhD Hijacked The Syria Debate.

Go Play This 8-Bit Version of Game of Thrones Immediately.

* Thinking through The World’s End: Part One, Part Two.

* Rich people are freaked out about Bill de Blasio. Sounds like a good start.

Nate Silver vs. Public Policy Polling. I’m amazed anyone is taking PPP’s side on this. If you don’t like a poll, run it again and release both; otherwise you’re introducing a massive bias into your process and destroying the credibility of your brand.

Medical Examiner In Zimmerman Trial Sues For $100M, Claims Prosecution Threw Case.

Long Lives Made Humans Human.

* An oral history of The Shield.

The New Yorker on Truman Show Delusion. Subscription required, alas.

* Years later, everyone remembered the Cheese Winter: The city’s Department of Public Works will go ahead this winter with a pilot program to determine whether cheese brine — a liquid waste product left over from cheesemaking — can be added to rock salt and applied directly to the street.

* Life imitates the Onion, as always in the worst possible way.

* And Salon interviews the great Margaret Atwood.

Membership Has Its Privileges

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Written by gerrycanavan

October 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Tuesday

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* Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? Hogwash! It was the only thing that ever worked.

* The number of open faculty positions in English and foreign languages rose by about 3.8 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in 2011-12, according to figures released by the Modern Language Association.

* The Presumption of Literacy. Nice post from Angus.

* I think I linked to this before, but it’s still pretty great: romcom2012. Romney losing Ohio. Romney getting creamed. Romney’s nightmare scenario.

Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.

Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters.

* Dystopia now: news from Honduras.

Honduras is set to host one of the world’s most radical neo-liberal economic experiments under a plan to build from scratch the rules, roads and rafters of a “charter city” for foreign investors.

The Central American nation hopes the plan for model development zones, which will have their own laws, tax system, judiciary and police, will emulate the economic success of city states such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

* Analysis: 93 Percent Of Fox News Climate Coverage Is ‘Misleading.’ Honestly, I’m amazed they hit 7% accuracy.

* But at least climate change has an upside: global bacon shortage predicted.

* The cult of the entrepreneur.

* Chevy Chase Hates Everyone.

* Miniature Virgin Mary Statues Transformed Into Pop Culture Characters.

* How Humans Lost Our Chance at a Third Eye. So close.

* Animals are conscious and should be treated as such.

* Know your enemy! Economists walk among us.

* And a detailed plan for getting human beings off the Earth. Just don’t tell the plebes.

Tuesday Morning

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* Well, it certainly doesn’t sound very jubilant: A group of long-term unemployed jobseekers were bussed into London to work as unpaid stewards during the diamond jubilee celebrations and told to sleep under London Bridge before working on the river pageant.

The Wire: The Musical.

* The Watchmen sequel gets meta right off the bat.

André & Maria Jacquemetton talk to Slate about “Commissions & Fees,” while Jared Harris talks to the New York Times. Big spoilers for the most recent episode, naturally.

My case illustrates how success is always rationalized. People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck — especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don’t want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either. 

* Adam Kotsko reviews one of the next books in my increasingly long “free time” reading queue, Red Plenty.

* From the too-good-to-check files: 

A Dutch company has launched a reality television-type project to establish a human settlement on Mars by 2023.

Mars One, as the project is called, aims to bring a total of 40 astronauts to Mars between 2023 and 2033. Organizers say the astronauts will be expected to remain there permanently – “living and working on Mars the rest of their lives.”

Where do we sign up?

* Which Wisconsin? Lorrie Moore in the NYRoB.

 On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court cleared the way for Detroit voters to determine whether or not marijuana should be legal.

* A new study shows “Women earn 91 cents for every dollar men earn—if you control for life choices.” The whole idea of “life choices” is itself essentially an argument-from-privilege, taking male experiences as neutral and unmarked and female experiences as a deviation from the norm—but women earn ten percent less even when you buy that line.

* ‘No surprise at all: ‘stand your ground’ defendants more likely to prevail if the victim is black.’ No one could have predicted!

You already know how a bill becomes a law. Now let’s take a look at how a secret memo becomes a kill list.

* Pittsburgh, before smoke control.

* “Right of conscience” watch: NJ Doctor Would Reportedly Rather Let Patient Die Than Treat Him For ‘Gay Disease.’

* Special pleading watch: I can’t wait to find out why Minnesota’s big shift towards marriage equality doesn’t count as evidence for the bully pulpit, either.

What happens when psychiatric hospitals disappear.

* And Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal takes an old-school sci-fi glimpse at the future of human evolution.

‘Between 8,000 and 10,000 Years Ago, Humans Took a Leafy Green Plant and, by Selecting for Different Characteristics, Began to Transform It into Several Different Products’

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Wednesday Links

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* Tomorrow’s crimes today: man arrested for attempting to steal five tons of glacial ice in Chile.

* Parlor game of the day: French Toast. Via Alex, via MetaFilter.

* Major birth control pill recall. Bring on the lawsuits! Wow.

* Worst idea in comics history confirmed.

* Cary Nelson on fighting for the humanities.

We take it for granted that scientific knowledge must advance, that there is much we do not know and much that we will live out our lives without knowing. Knowledge of the physical universe beyond the solar system and the galaxy remains so limited that it is hard even to calculate its partiality. The nature of life elsewhere in the universe remains beyond our grasp, as does knowledge of the human body that would enable us to control diseases like cancer.

And yet we often—unreflectively, uncritically, and in a learned form of self-deception—assume that we largely know ourselves and our history. Through its institutions and the norms of social life, human culture immerses us in collective understanding that is often deceptive or false.

The task of the humanities is not only to show us the ways that artists and others have penetrated our illusions by creative acts both modest and grand but also to try to discover when human cultures as a whole have seen through a glass darkly.

* Somebody in Stockholm finally noticed that the commander-in-chief of the biggest military on the planet is an odd choice for a peace prize.

* A Kinseyan gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth.

* Abolish the dollar bill! For freedom!

* The headline reads, “India Factory Workers Revolt, Kill Company President.”

* Science uncovers the high cost of bad handwriting.

* Freddie deBoer on divorce rate hokum.

* And why do you have two nostrils instead of one giant hole in the middle of your face? io9 reports.

Belief in Evolution Versus National Wealth (Chart of the Night)

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Written by gerrycanavan

July 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Out of Their Minds

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Moments like this point to a growing asymmetry in our politics. One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.

Like the White Queen in her youth, the contemporary Republican politician must be capable of believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast…

Courageous Underdogs Fighting a Corrupt Elite Engaged in a Conspiracy to Suppress the Truth or Foist a Malicious Lie on Ordinary People

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Lots of Tuesday Links

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* A key feature of the case for Elena Kagan is her supposed ability to convince Anthony Kennedy of things. (Bill makes one version of this argument in the comments, though he himself doesn’t quite endorse it.) Like pretty much everybody I’m skeptical of this; I don’t know what the evidence is supposed to be that Kagan is better positioned to persuade Anthony Kennedy than anyone else on the shortlist, and her record as Solicitor General hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in this regard.

* Nate Silver makes the actuarial case for Elena Kagan.

Wood’s VORJ, we’ll assume, begins at 50, since we’re supposing that she’ll side with the liberals 100 percent of the time rather than 50 percent for her replacement. Kagan’s starts at 40: the 90 percent of the time we’ve supposed she’d vote with the liberals, less the 50 percent baseline.

As we go out into the future, however, the Justices become less valuable as they are less likely to survive. For instance, Wood has about an 18 percent chance of no longer being with us 15 years hence, so we’d have to subtract that fraction from her VORJ.

After about 20 years, Kagan overtakes Wood even though she’s less liberal, because she’s more likely have survived. She continues to provide excess value over [Wood] from that point forward, until we reach a period 40+ years out where both women are almost certain to be dead. On balance, Kagan’s lifetime expected VORJ is actually higher than that of [Wood]‘s (1,280 rather than 1,206, if you care), assuming that she’ll defect from the liberals 10 percent of the time whereas Wood never will.

Favoring near-term outcomes at a discount rate of 1.7% or more, though, favors Wood.

* What to do next to stop the spill in the Gulf? The New York Times speculates. Or, you know, we could just nuke it.

* Related: BP makes enough profit in four days to cover the costs of the spill cleanup thus far.

* Something good in the climate bill: Climate Bill Will Allow States to Veto Neighboring States’ Drilling Plans.

* Something good in a very bad-looking November: Richard Burr will almost certainly lose in NC.

* Žižek vs the volcano.

The confusion of natural and cultural or economic concerns in the arguments over the prohibition of flights raised the following suspicion: how come the scientific evidence began to suggest it was safe to fly over most of Europe just when the pressure from the airlines became most intense? Is this not further proof that capital is the only real thing in our lives, with even scientific judgements having to bend to its will?

The problem is that scientists are supposed to know, but they do not. Science is helpless and covers up this helplessness with a deceptive screen of expert assurance. We rely more and more on experts, even in the most intimate domains of our experience (sexuality and religion). As a result, the field of scientific knowledge is transformed into a terrain of conflicting “expert opinions”.

Most of the threats we face today are not external (or “natural”), but generated by human activity shaped by science (the ecological consequences of our industry, say, or the psychic consequences of uncontrolled genetic engineering), so that the sciences are simultaneously the source of such threats, our best hope of understanding those threats, and the means through which we may find a way of coping with them.

* ‘Confessions of a Tenured Professor': a tenured professor takes note of his adjunct colleagues.

* Middle-class white people are the only people: Atrios discovers a very strange lede at the Washington Post.

The idealized vision of suburbia as a homogenous landscape of prosperity built around the nuclear family took another hit over the past decade, as suburbs became home to more poor people, immigrants, minorities, senior citizens and households with no children, according to a Brookings Institution report to be released Sunday.

* Inside MK-ULTRA.

* Inside Alabama.

Just so we’re clear, in the 21st century, Republican gubernatorial candidates are attacked for accepting modern biology and being only a partial Biblical literalist.

* That about wraps it up for Britain.

* And confidential to Playboy: putting the centerfolds in 3D will not save you.

Friday Friday Night Night

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* Fox News: Don’t send your kids to college because they could catch the libralz. But if you do at least they won’t be as dumb as 30% of Texans.

* One Million Ways to Die.

* Stories to watch: activists may actually manage to bring the public option back from the death. Reid himself signaled he’s open to the idea today. Ezra Klein explains the politics at work:

No one I’ve spoken to — even when they support the public option — thinks that its reemergence is good news for health-care reform. It won’t be present in the package that the White House will unveil Monday. Everyone seems to be hoping this bubble will be short-lived.

But it might not be. The media is talking about it, liberals are organizing around it, none of the major actors feels politically capable of playing executioner, and Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson don’t have the power to do the job on their own. As of now, the strategy only has 20 or so supporters, and it’ll need at least another 20 or 25 to really be viable. But if it gets there, White House and Senate leadership are going to have some hard calls to make.

Ezra also says that as long as we’re playing make-believe it should be the Medicare buy-in we bring back.

* Rachel bestows unto Meet the Press another Maddow Bump. Will she do the same when she improbably shares a bill with me on Poli-Sci-Fi Radio this Sunday?

* I can’t help it: I love to see Wil Wheaton and William Shatner get work.

* Breaking: rich people are rich, pay no taxes.

* Iain M. Banks, Please Destroy The Culture! Via io9.

* Flowchart of the day: Does Tiger Woods owe you an apology?

* And Gynomite dramatically underestimates my level of interest in the penny’s new design. Coming Monday, my new blog, bringbacktheoldpenny.blogspot.com…

Thursday Thursday Thursday

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* A filibuster too far? Granting that no one has ever been thrown out of office for underestimating the attention span of the American people, filibustering a jobs bill at a time of 10% (official) unemployment seems like a really bad idea for Republicans interested in capitalizing on their apparent political momentum. Of course, this is the same party that spent eight months needlessly blocking the appointment of a woman confirmed today 94-2, so obviously we’re playing by different playbooks here.

* More bad policy that is also bad politics: the Republican “shadow budget” apparently calls for an end to Medicare. I’m so old I can remember when the Republicans were pretending they loved Medicare last summer. Can Democrats find a way to miss this pitch?

* The White House is how quietly telling people they support the course of action that is obvious to everyone.

* Visit Kcymaerxthaere, “a parallel universe that shares, to some degree, our physical planet.” Via MetaFilter, where a commenter notes this is reminiscent of the plot of Borges’s “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.”

* Also at MetaFilter: great moments in prank wills.

* Vu and Kottke both have articles about proposed revisions to evolutionary theory, the first highlighting enviromentalistic biases in traditional evolutionary theory and the second suggesting horizontal gene transfer has been the dominant mode of evolution for most of life’s history on Earth.

* And today’s saddest headline: ‘Ancient tribal language becomes extinct as last speaker dies.’

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