Tag Archives: science

Gleanings: November 25, 2012

The American Scholar: Waste Management Services – William Deresiewicz

It used to be we had a deal. Professionals ran society for the bourgeoisie, and the bourgeoisie rewarded them handsomely for it.

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Herman Melville, Science Writer | The Loom – Carl Zimmer

“Cetology” reminds the reader that Melville came before Darwin. Ishmael tries to make sense of the diversity of whales, and he can only rely on the work of naturalists who lacked a theory of evolution to make sense of the mammalian features on what looked like fish.

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Orca aground: Romney’s high-tech ‘Get Out the Vote’ failure – Conservative News

The problems identified by Ekdahl and others include inadequate testing of the Orca system; a top-down infrastructure run out of Boston, instead of the nimble decentralized effort one might have expected from a campaign that praised the virtues of decentralized government; incorrect password information distributed to campaign volunteers; backup systems that failed as comprehensively as the primary system did; and unclear, or even inaccurate, instructions distributed to volunteers.

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Evening Harvest: May 13, 2012

Eat Drink Mammalogist Woman

Eating in the field can have the same dislocated, heightened quality that accompanies foreign travel. Far from the comforts of home, you find yourself cooking with people who you’ve only ever seen hunched over a lab bench. (You mean, they eat, too?).

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A Profile of London by A.A. Gill

If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

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David Simon | Welcome to Florida. Beware of gunmen standing their ground

That these laws sailed through legislatures and were signed by governors is indicative of a craven national culture, a panicked bunker mentality that now approaches the pathological.

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Neil Gaiman’s Journal: Popular Writers: A Stephen King interview.

“They pay me absurd amounts of money,” he observes, “For something that I would do for free.”

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The Impasse: When the “truth wins” assumption fails.

When we convey facts to an audience that doesn’t want to hear them, we come to an impasse. The stronger the pre-existing belief, the stronger the motivation to dismiss the contrary evidence and the journalists who convey it. And there’s not much journalists can do about this.

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Cindy Sherman’s Vintage Notecard

Fair Deceiver: I did not know until last night that you had a glass eye.

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How to End This Depression by Paul Krugman

The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve: all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending. Never mind all the talk of how we have a long-run problem that can’t have a short-run solution—this may sound sophisticated, but it isn’t. With a boost in spending, we could be back to more or less full employment faster than anyone imagines.

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Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms – Robert Reich

We’re not in trouble because gays want to marry or women want to have some control over when they have babies. We’re in trouble because CEOs are collecting exorbitant pay while slicing the pay of average workers, because the titans of Wall Street demand short-term results over long-term jobs, and because of a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading, and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations.”

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Pulitzer Prize Winning German Photographer Horst Fass Dies – SPIEGEL ONLINE

“Horst was one of the biggest talents of our time,” AP’s editor in chief Kathleen Carroll said. He was “a fearless photographer and a courageous journalist.”

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Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath? – NYTimes.com

Then last spring, the psychologist treating Michael referred his parents to Dan Waschbusch, a researcher at Florida International University. Following a battery of evaluations, Anne and Miguel were presented with another possible diagnosis: their son Michael might be a psychopath.

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The Short Sleep

This story about people who thrive on four hours of sleep a day reminded me immediately of Nancy Kress’ Beggars in Spain, on which I mused a couple months back. Two thoughts here:

  1. Speculative fiction writers need to ramp up their game if it takes only about fifteen years for science to catch up–Dr. Ying-Hui Fu talks about genetic modifications or short-sleep-in-a-pill, as though offering a synopsis of “Beggars”
  2. I’m jealous; I sleep about six hours during the week–in bed at 10PM, up at 4AM–and seven on the weekends, and that’s sufficient for me, but I sure wouldn’t mind having a couple more hours of wakefulness on occasion. When you’ve got that pill, Dr. Fu, drop me a line!

Ambulocetus considers the sea

Someday it will be ours,
that wide expanse of empty sea,
and we will be gods
in its secret abyss;
unfettered by gravity,
we will grow immense
and fill the oceans
with our rumbling calls.

I can feel my legs
in the deep dark dissolve,
swept away by waves
as my tail becomes
a mighty fluke
to drive me to new depths,
new heights,
a propulsion impossible
on this awkward airy land.

We will nudge our young
deeper into these lagoons,
chase them far from land
and make them swim,
demand that they conquer
for us
deep kingdoms.

Inspired by an “In Our Times” broadcast about the evolution of whales; ambulocetus, “the walking whale,” lived on the shores of the Tethys Sea 50 million years ago.

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