Archive for August 2011
The family vacation: an unpleasant episode marked primarily by an accelerated production of waste, a careless and profligate use of money, and the unreasonable transporting of household crap from one location to another by means of the D.O.W. (That stands for “Despair on Wheels,” also known as the mini-van.)
If you disagree vehemently with that, you’re probably not interested. If not, this lazy and half-hearted argument against the practice of vacationing probably deserves to be read.
(via Mark Larson, from whom I’ve seen a number of anti-vacation things)
An interesting and potentially controversial idea that I’m totally on-board with — Buddhism stripped of all the supernatural stuff is completely compatible with a scientific worldview and the best way to cope with reality:
In the Western tradition, materialism and determinism have been cause for despair. Buddhism is useful, Flanagan argues, precisely because it’s undaunted by them: It actually takes this world-view as its starting-point, and then goes on to ask moral questions about how we ought to behave in an impermanent, materialist, determined universe. In fact, in the Buddhist world, materialism and determinism can be morally informative. You have to work pretty hard, through meditation and study, to accept the materialist reality. But, once you have accepted it, you understand that you aren’t as important or permanent as you think you are — that, in a fundamental sense, your self or soul doesn’t really exist in any lasting way. (That’s a conclusion, incidentally, shared by Western philosophers like John Locke and Derek Parfit.) This, in turn, suggests a moral idea: that satisfying your own personal needs and wants shouldn’t be your number-one priority. Instead, you should focus on projects that benefit everyone, and work to become more kind and generous to your fellow human beings.
There’s been a great deal of much deserved love for Steve Jobs this past week in the wake of his resigning as Apple’s CEO. This short video is the first piece churned up by that really struck me as appropriate for this space.
(via Daring Fireball)
This post has two small but good traits that together made this worth posting. One is Jonathan Coulton’s best song (in my opinion), “You Ruined Everything.” The other is why he’s not written more like it:
Personal songs feel perilous to me. It’s scary to reveal what I think and feel about something, even in conversation with a single person, let alone with the whole internet. There’s the risk that I’ll reveal something about myself that I think is universal, and instead everyone will finally know what a monster I am.
(via Merlin Mann’s kung fu grippe)
I think this little piece from Jeff Campagna is limited by its vocabulary, but I still think there’s valuable stuff in it. Like:
The small armies of love will march longer and further than the massive armies of hate. The world’s lovers are aware of the world’s haters. The world’s haters are unaware of the world’s lovers. Lovers spread love. Haters spread hate. But, lovers spread actively while haters spread passively.
A way to see your culture differently: spend five minutes watching some “Lost Boys” move from Sudan to the United States.
(via Stellar Interesting)
Donald was the first child ever diagnosed with autism. Identified in the annals of autism as “Case 1 … Donald T,” he is the initial subject described in a 1943 medical article that announced the discovery of a condition unlike “anything reported so far,” the complex neurological ailment now most often called an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. At the time, the condition was considered exceedingly rare, limited to Donald and 10 other children—Cases 2 through 11—also cited in that first article.
A fantastic piece that gives a nice history of how autism came to be named and what it’s like to live with it. It has both educational and empathetic value.
A really well phrased idea from Arnold Kling:
In the legacy education model, teachers combine coaching, feedback, and content delivery. By coaching I mean advice, guidance, and encouragement. Feedback includes formal grading as well as informal praise and criticism. Content delivery includes lectures and reading assignments.
Perhaps the key to radically changing education is to break up those functions.
Much of the excitement about the Khan Academy idea is that it offers part of this separation. But the ability to have all tests made and marked uniformly seems like it could also greatly improve consistency across the country. And so Kling proposes A Means A, Inc.
(via Ben Casnocha, who explores these ideas a bit more thoroughly)
Three credible, interesting, and different myths of the creation of the iconic “high five” exist. Which, if any, are actually true?
Jon Mooallem doesn’t actually take a strong stance on that question, but his exploration of the three stories makes for very compelling reading.
While I can’t fully ascent to what Ian Bogost is saying, or the full-throated way he’s saying it, I find it hard to disagree with this basic point:
Gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway.
That truck driver you just flipped off? You probably don’t understand his reality, and your anger is probably misplaced.
This is right now on the front page of both Hacker News and Reddit, which delights me. It’s a great example of the category that I termed (in a slightly different context) Covert Crusaders for Compassion.