Archive for April 2014

#  Why Don’t We Know How Smart Cats Are? →

April 30th, 2014 at 10:00 // In Worth Knowing 

Because no one likes to study cats, they’re jerks. As a dog person, that was my answer. Turns out, that’s actually the answer:

To reduce the number of variables, Agrillo’s team always conducts the studies in its laboratory. But when owners brought their cats over, most of the felines freaked out. Even the docile ones displayed little interest in the test. Ultimately, Agrillo wound up with just four cats—and even they were a pain to work with. “Very often, they didn’t participate in the experiment or they walked in the wrong direction,” he told me. “It was really difficult to have a good trial each day.”

(via NextDraft)

#  Who Gets in Internet Fights? →

April 29th, 2014 at 16:41 // In Worth Distraction 

This is a simple small chart that points to a deeper and subtler truth. Worth a quick click.

(via Language Log)

#  Henrietta the Raccoon →

April 28th, 2014 at 16:09 // In Worth Distraction 

A political columnist writes about his raccoon neighbor. It’s not so amazing a story, but I do like this conclusion:

Despite the banality of the thought, we have all found it uplifting to see this small confirmation that despite every natural and human challenge and unkindness, life has waged a battle that it has never lost. I should probably apologize for this platitudinous little yarn, but I will not — I have reviewed what other columnists and bloggers have written in the last few days on the more frequent current political and economic personalities and subjects, and Henrietta and her cub are more interesting and more admirable.

(via The Browser)

#  Baseball Fandom Maps →

April 28th, 2014 at 10:05 // In Worth Seeing 

I’ve seen many of American sports fandom maps, but this is the first that seems really throughly researched and well done. And it comes with an amazing write up of the details of the interesting boundaries.


(via kottke)

#  White Male Privilege Squandered On Job At Best Buy →

April 23rd, 2014 at 18:56 // In Worth Distraction 

I am a white upper-middle-class American male. I spent almost exactly four years working retail. This hit hope:

Despite being the beneficiary of numerous societal advantages and having faced little to no major adversity throughout his life, local man Travis Benton has spent the last four years squandering his white male privilege on a sales floor job at Best Buy, sources confirmed Tuesday. “You can get by with a regular HDMI cable, but if you’re looking at a length longer than 10 feet, I’d go with a gold-tipped one,” said the man dressed in a bright blue polo shirt and pin-on name tag as he continued to fritter away such innate life advantages as greater access to higher education, leniency from the justice system, and favorable treatment from other white males who lead and make hiring decisions at a disproportionately high number of American companies.

#  The Medieval Water Myth →

April 22nd, 2014 at 15:34 // In Worth Knowing 

People in pre-modern time had to drink wine and beer because their water was unsafe to drink.

I don’t know that this idea is as well established at this article suggests, but I’d definitely heard it and never doubted it very hard. But the point, being made, seems true to me:

There is no specific reason then to believe that people of the time drank proportionately less water than we do today; rather, since water was not typically sold, transported, taxed, etc., there simply would have been no reason to record its use. Did people in the time prefer alcoholic drinks? Probably, and for the same reason most people today drink liquids other than water: variety and flavor. A young man in a tenth century Saxon colloquy is asked what he drinks and answers: “Beer if I have it or water if I have no beer.” This is a clear expression of both being comfortable with water and preferring beer.

(via MetaFilter)

#  A Large Collection of Medieval Maps →

April 21st, 2014 at 14:33 // In Worth Distraction 

Unfortunately there is almost no explanation provided on this site for any of the maps on it, but it is quite a collection.


(via kottke)

#  Graph TV →

April 17th, 2014 at 16:30 // In Worth Distraction 

This is a really fun little web app: check out the way a television show performed over time in the eyes of its audience. It’s pulling data from IMDb and graphing it simply. Some interesting samples, if you’re too lazy to think of them:

  • The Wire, every white intellectual-ish American’s favorite show.
  • Lost, whose final episode was widely panned.
  • Dexter, which seems to have totally lost its audience the whole last season.
  • Two and Half Men, the much-panned sitcom which famously lost Charlie Sheen and replaced him with Ashton Kutcher. Guess when…
  • Breaking Bad, the recently concluded quite popular show about a science-teacher turn meth dealer.
  • Arrested Development, the short-lived much-loved sitcom whose revival on Netflix got mixed reviews.

(via 5 Intriguing Things, which is consistently fanastic. Seriously, you want this in your inbox.)

#  Mormonism’s Digital Conversion →

April 17th, 2014 at 9:59 // In Worth Reading 

Really interesting story of how since deciding that technology wasn’t a sinful temptation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has found it much more effective as a way to use the young people engaging in its famous missionary period:

Even within a church legendary for adding converts with machine-like efficiency, the Internet-only mission has been an outlier. Whereas traditional Mormon missionaries convert, on average, six people during their 18- to 24-month service, the online apostles in Provo have averaged around 30 converts per missionary per year, says Burton. And these people stick around. Ninety-five percent of the Internet converts have kept active, a retention rate more than triple the norm.

(via The Browser)

#  People Just Want to Date Themselves →

April 16th, 2014 at 17:45 // In Worth Considering 

I’ve always found this idea kind of tenuous, but hard to deny:

The data reveals a clear pattern: People are interested in people like themselves. Women on eHarmony favor men who are similar not just in obvious ways — age, attractiveness, education, income — but also in less apparent ones, such as creativity. Even when eHarmony includes a quirky data point — like how many pictures are included in a user’s profile — women are more likely to message men similar to themselves. In fact, of the 102 traits in the data set, there was not one for which women were more likely to contact men with opposite traits.1

Men were a little more open-minded. For 80 percent of traits, they were more willing to message those different from them. They still preferred mates who were similar in terms of height or attractiveness2, but they cared less about these traits — and they didn’t care much at all about other things women cared about, like similarity in education level or number of photos taken.3 They cared less about whether their match shared their ethnicity.4

While the author is kind of careful, she does have a bit of a corrupted data set — using data almost exclusively form a website whose whole business model is matching similar people — she at least acknowledges it. Still would like to see someone find a better way to study the topic, but the basic fact that most couples are more similar than different is hard to deny.