Archive for March 2012

#  Out of Contact →

March 26th, 2012 at 17:29 // In Worth Reading 

John Terborgh’s piece about the moral question of “uncontacted tribes” and the history of that answer in Brazil is a great read. As someone who’d mused at the thought a little, but never done much else, I learned quite a lot.

#  This Thing Will Make Me Happy →

March 13th, 2012 at 20:13 // In Worth Distraction 

This McSweeney’s piece, whether or not it knows it, is about the Buddhist idea that dukkha (“suffering”) in an inherent characteristic of samsara (the flow of life). In English, it’s about how our constant seeking after passions, objects, and experiences causes us a great deal of confusion, frustration, and pain. And finally, to paraphrase Daniel Gilbert, it’s about how the things we think will make us happy rarely do.

(via Kottke)

#  Changing the Question →

March 12th, 2012 at 19:18 // In Worth Knowing 

Oliver Burkeman’s latest features a very interesting, underrated, and useful observation about the way we think.

Faced with a cognitively demanding question, involving uncertainty – “Will this person do the job well if hired?” – interviewers unconsciously substitute an easier question, and answer that one instead: “Did this person impress me in the interview?” We all do it, all the time.

#  We All Sleep Together →

March 11th, 2012 at 19:18 // In Worth Reading 

David Cain hit the ball out of the park on this one. I literally finished it and said to myself (with a giggle), “That was both novel and enlivening.” If there’s a better standard to aspire to, I don’t know what it is. If you’re really too lazy to read it, the central thesis:

It’s an interesting quirk of Mother Nature — that she insists on taking us down to the ground like that, every day, no matter who we are. For all of us, the act of leaving consciousness is the same, it’s just our settings and situations — which bookend that unconsciousness — where we differ.

#  How Not to Improve Education →

March 6th, 2012 at 20:30 // In Worth Considering 

Diane Ravitch’s review of a few books about the state of American education is interesting, if only because she’s one of the few people I’ve seen standing athwart the consensus on the topic yelling “Stop!”. (To appropriate W.F. Buckley.) Whether or not you agree with her, I found this point salient:

If we were to improve the teaching profession, then perhaps more of the talented young people who now apply to Teach for America would choose to enter teaching as a career, not as a stepping stone to graduate school or another more remunerative line of work.

#  Mountain Meadows →

March 5th, 2012 at 20:29 // In Worth Knowing 

With Mitt Romney’s possibly certain status as the Republican presidential candidate, Mormonism is in the air. But the details of Mormon history aren’t. I had no knowledge of the Mountain Meadows massacre — explained here by Gilbert King on the Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog — which is a pretty horrific reflection on the actions of the young Mormon church.