Over the last few years I’ve seen so many stories that gutted me. The loss of New Orleans, the oil spill, my own government openly admitting to torture, the erasure of nearly half of the world economy, taking countless quiet lives. All of these with their ripples, stories of lives destroyed that won’t ever be told. I have what they used to call a melancholy temperament. Sometimes I just think of these things, and I rock and cry. The entire time I’ve been surrounded by lawyers. I’ve badgered them about why there have been so few or no cases related to the truly major crimes that have been tearing down society. I always get the same answer: that these things are simply too hard to prove, too politicly tainted, that law enforcement doesn’t like to take cases they might lose.
I can’t tell you how disappointing this answer is. It’s too hard? You might lose? Then do hard things and risk failure. What else are we on this earth for?
I’ve been living through the collapse of my industry as well over the last few years. After so many barrels of ink have been wasted on media’s navel gazing (and my god can we navel gaze) I have talked to may of my colleagues, and read much of the studies and analyses of the public consumption of media and news. For all of our gnashing teeth, it turns out either we’re doing our job, or someone else is. The public is more well informed than any other time such things have been studied in history. Yet scandals don’t carry the weight to reform they once did at anything but the most local level, and maybe even then only rural, where prosecutors still follow up. I have worried for some time that part of the public apathy we see is this: your profession has stopped taking the baton from mine.
Then there’s the matter at hand; you have accused Aaron of downloading a million journal articles. You’ve said you can prove this. You’ve asked me to contextualize this, and I’ve given you the only context that I can imagine– giving the global poor tools to better their state. I believe it’s the only context you have. I am still wondering how, in all a sea of troubles, that can really be worth your time and energy, how that can be worth the awesome and sacred destructive power you’ve been given. If you can tell me how spending your precious time on that, time you will never get back, time that can never be given to so many unaddressed oppressions on the human spirit, makes the world a better place, I will rest. Even if I disagree with you, I can rest. But I think I will know if you’re lying. If the actual answer is the other things are too hard, that you might fail, then you are already part of a grand failure. A failure so great and so close to us we can barely see it, mistaking it for the sky itself.
I copypasted this section into a note yesterday and now, for some reason, I cannot find the link on the web in a sufficient period of time. This is Quinn’s twitter, that will have to do for now.
Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means “Above all, do no harm“. The phrase is sometimes recorded as primum nil nocere.
The so-called Hippocratic injunction to do no harm has been an axiom central to clinical pharmacology and to the education of medical and graduate students. With the recent reexamination of the nature and magnitude of adverse reactions to drugs, the purposes of this research and review were to discover the origin of this unique Latin expression. It has been reported that the author was neither Hippocrates nor Galen. Searches of writings back to the Middle Ages have uncovered the appearance of the axiom as expressed in English, coupled with its unique Latin, in 1860, with attribution to the English physician, Thomas Sydenham. Commonly used in the late 1800s into the early decades of the 1900s, it was nearly exclusively transmitted orally; it rarely appeared in print in the early 20th century. Its applicability and limitations as a guide to the ethical practice of medicine and pharmacological research are discussed. Despite insufficiencies, it remains a potent reminder that every medical and pharmacological decision carries the potential for harm.
::: Via Pubmed :::
This is the indygogo campaign video for a movie called Be Brave. It is quick and worth watching. I shed tears (actually just a single, very manly tear)
Wow! Very compelling right?
Of course, if he was diagnosed with terminal leukemia briefly after returning from Mexico that means that the cancer had been growing in his body for years.
HOW DID THE MAYAN SPIRITS KNOW THAT HE WOULD STEAL THE BONE BEFORE HE DID IT!?!?!?
Do we have free will? Did the spirits know he was a bad person and pre-curse him? Grave robbing is pretty common (fyi, when Universities rob graves and steal valuable things it’s called “research”). I wonder about the other people that stole bones? Did they get leukemia too? Or was it just this one fascinating guy with an awesome sister?
On a broader level, I think this concern about the sanctity of the body is a thing we living people project onto our compatriots who have already passed. We live life in constant, petrifying fear of dying and so the sanctity of our death rituals is not so much for us but for the people we leave behind. If your soul has gone into the vastness of eternity, the physical form is irrelevant. It’s like, who rationally cares about what happens to their fingernail clippings?
Attn Geography Geeks
Above is an abstract performance art piece of a woman dancing on butter. It is super agonizing but I encourage you to watch it anyway. The reactions mostly focus around confusion, vicious humor, a bit of bigotry, art in quotation marks, art students, pretentiousness but there is also just a bit of empathy. That’s a rarity though, especially on the internet. However, the critical factor is that this flies way over most people’s heads. So seriously try again to watch as much of this as you can. Stay with me here.
Almost all the conversation on reddit focuses on whether or not this is art. Reddit users are only slightly less slackjawed than youtube users so the dialogue is based on the rather subjective analysis that reduces to:
Art = stuff I like
Not art = stuff I don’t like
In fact, Art is very simply, almost any human expression. There are some more academic definitions about form and content but that’s really all there is to it.
It probably happened a while ago but the realization just hit me. I just found out that I’m a serious, over the line Star Wars fan. POW, RIGHT IN THE FEELINGS!
This morning I was reading a blog post review of a recent episode on a Star Wars fan blog. You can watch that episode for free online here. A sometimes reviewer posted that he thought the episode was so good that he couldn’t possibly write a full. I snapped and wrote the following comment:
(be warned that this is some nerdy shit)
Huh, I guess I’m the only one who thought it was mediocre. The whole thing was wrought with plot devices which made no sense. Ashoka is able to fend of Grievous while he wields 4 lightsabers but has trouble with bumbling pirates. The location of illum is secret, how did the pirates even know the ship was going to be waiting in space at those particular coordinates? Why wasn’t the ship traveling back to the jedi temple in hyperspace? Furthermore, why was the jedi training ship just floating in space without shields? And why would it have no weapons in war time to defend against a pirate attack? Why don’t the pirates shoot grievous before he could have potentially killed ashoka? Why did a hit from the pursuing pirate tank destroy a much larger space vessel but not a tiny tank the younglings were in? Grievous’s fleet control’s the “whole system” that florrum is in, how could they escape? Maybe they are just totally incompetent.
None of this makes sense if you think about it for one second. It’s the hallmark of poorly thought out, sloppy writing. Someone said, hey we want an episode where younglings rescue ashoka and didn’t bother to think of something that might fit logically. For instance, the pirates can’t overpower ashoka (because at this point she’s basically a jedi knight apprenticed to one of the most powerful jedi in the galaxy), but they could capture a youngling and use them as a hostage. Since petro is such a hot head, one of his schemes going awry would be good. His angst over having lost ashoka would be critical character development. See, this isn’t hard but the writers and director don’t seem to know how.
The whole last episode was predicated on the notion that a large training ship couldn’t just squash a tiny speeder tank chasing our heroes. Sure, the animation is better and the action is good but the story itself is sucrose and poorly written.
- My comments above are only directed at obvious, gaping plot holes. The arc also ignores incredibly basic storytelling techniques. For instance, when Katooni is trapped behind the ice wall at the end of the gathering Petro decides to leave her behind the ice so that he can selfishly find his own crystal. The shot order shows him walking away from Katooni, reconsidering and then returning back. His change of heart is a piece of character development that shows he is dynamic character learning to care about others rather than being so self centered. Then the shot cuts to Katooni sobbing because she has no way out. Because we see Petro has already turned back, the viewer knows she’s about to be rescued and Katooni’s anguished emotional response has no feeling for the audience. Similarly, seeing Petro reconsider and turn back robs him of the surprise entrance against the ice. It’s kind of a major mistake to go to the trouble of setting up a shot and then flubbing the dramatic irony at the climax of a story. The TCW writers managed to steal both of the characters performance and development. All that had to be done was to just cut out the part where petro turns around and it could have worked.This isn’t a minor mishap in logical analysis, it is extremely basic storytelling technique. Sherlock holmes doesn’t reveal the mystery before the final confrontation. James Bond doesn’t learn the insidious plot after he escapes from the clutches of the villain. Comedians don’t tell the punchline before the end of the joke. All this stuff is very simple pacing and TCW writers are still younglings if they can’t handle it.
But I guess I’m totally alone on this. I could also say that every other piece of star wars media has shown padawans (not younglings) building their own lightsabers with the help of their jedi master but whatever, with Dunc’s advice about canon I’m learning to ignore that stuff.
I’ve seen this happen to other people, even close friends. I’m saying this now. Be careful, Star Wars is a lot like Twilight except there are like 200 books, 1000 comic books, 8 movies (soon to be more) and five seasons of a television show. Luckily there is still a chance for me. I haven’t started writing fan fiction or participating in forums. I guess this isn’t any different than people watching other shows and talking about them online but I somehow feel very dirty.
Though the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I Controlled Substance and bans its use for medical purposes, a growing number of states feel differently. Today, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana for people suffering from debilitating medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy, severe nausea, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. And on Tuesday, Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize marijuana for adult use, regardless of medical condition. But these states cannot stop the federal government from enforcing its own laws.
And federal drug laws are unjustifiably extreme. Consider the case of Chris Williams, the subject of this Op-Doc video, who opened a marijuana grow house in Montana after the state legalized medical cannabis. Mr. Williams was eventually arrested by federal agents despite Montana’s medical marijuana law, and he may spend the rest of his life behind bars. While Jerry Sandusky got a 30-year minimum sentence for raping young boys, Mr. Williams is looking at a mandatory minimum of more than 80 years for marijuana charges and for possessing firearms during a drug-trafficking offense.
This outcome is sad, of course — Mr. Williams will not be free to raise his teenage son — but it is also morally repugnant. Even if you think that the benefits of legalized medical marijuana do not outweigh the costs — a crucial debate, but one we can table for the moment — a coherent system of justice must explain why one defendant is punished more harshly than the next. It must explain why a farmer who grows marijuana in compliance with state law should be punished much more harshly than some pedophiles and killers. If we cannot explain this disparity, we should fight to change it.
:: The Fight Over Medical Marijuana + a cute little “op-doc” via The New York Times ::
The article goes on to mention that the guy had multiple opportunities to plea bargin and refused to take them. That’s a principled stance that probably isn’t a smart stance.
This is from a canadian newspaper from like ten years ago.
Thieves steal 18 tons of chocolate
“In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.”
|—||Car Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space|
Nate Silver at the FiveThirtyEight blog currently has meta poll analysis showing that Obama has a 83.7% chance of winning the election. It makes people annnnngry
The more I think about the rift between political journalism and Nate Silver, the more it seems that it’s one that’s fundamentally an issue of epistemology — how journalists know what they know. Here’s why I think that’s the case.
When we talk about the epistemology of journalism, it all eventually ties into objectivity. The journalistic norm of objectivity is more than just a careful neutrality or attempt to appear unbiased; for journalists, it’s the grounds on which they claim the authority to describe reality to us. And the authority of objectivity is rooted in a particular process.
That process is very roughly this: Journalists get access to privileged information from official sources, then evaluate, filter, and order it through the rather ineffable quality alternatively known as “news judgment,” “news sense,” or “savvy.” This norm of objectivity is how political journalists say to the public (and to themselves), “This is why you can trust what we say we know — because we found it out through this process.” (This is far from a new observation – there are decades ofsociologicalresearch on this.)
Silver’s process — his epistemology — is almost exactly the opposite of this: Where political journalists’ information is privileged, his is public, coming from poll results that all the rest of us see, too.
Where political journalists’ information is evaluated through a subjective and nebulous professional/cultural sense of judgment, his evaluation is systematic and scientifically based. It involves judgment, too, but because it’s based in a scientific process, we can trace how he applied that judgment to reach his conclusions.
Both of those different ways of knowing inevitably result in different types of conclusions.
At this point in the election everyone knows who they are going to vote for (or at least who they are posturing around but won’t actually get around to visiting the polls for). At this point horserace politics and endless snark is basically all that’s happening. I’m, much, much more interested in the way that we get at the nature of how we acquire our knowledge and the process by which we make decisions.
Lets talk accuracy and precision!
This is a short video on the One Point Perspective in Stanley Kubrick’s films. I’m not a film nerd so I’m not exactly sure what’s up here. I’ve heard that it’s not practically accepted for films to be made in one point but Kubrick did anyway and it’s obviously awesome. My friend sent me this video a few months ago and it’s radically changed the way I view media.
This is an exceptional TedTalk by Candy Chang on engaging communities through public art. It’s fast (5 min) and will cause lots of ideas.
:: via @ssdpIrina ::