Archive for the ‘The Guardian’ tag
I feel I’ve read a number things about laughter, but this piece offers quite a few stats about the role of laughter I’d never encountered — especially novel was the point about the gendered-nature of laughter. The general truth:
Mutual playfulness, in-group feeling and positive emotional tone – not comedy – mark the social settings of most naturally occurring laughter. Laughter is more about relationships than humour.
I link to this story not because it’s exceptionally good (it’s not bad, just unexceptional), but because I find its subject rather interesting. I can’t help but feel affinity for people making points like this:
“The arrogance that says analysing the relationship between reasons and causes is more important than writing a philosophy of shyness or sadness or friendship drives me nuts. I can’t accept that.
“I had a line in the book I cut that said ‘The nirvana would be if the questions raised by Oprah Winfrey would be answered by the faculty at Harvard.’ The questions she asks are the most central – how do we live with other people, how do we cope with our ambitions, how do we survive as a society – though she fails to answer them with anything like seriousness.”
And though I would characterize it as similarly unexceptional, his most recent TED talk was recently made available.
I’m not sure how useful this old piece from Charlie Brooker is, but because it’s almost exactly how I feel about them, I found it quite enjoyable. I’ve certainly thought things like this before:
I’m convinced no one actually likes clubs. It’s a conspiracy. We’ve been told they’re cool and fun; that only “saddoes” dislike them. And no one in our pathetic little pre-apocalyptic timebubble wants to be labelled “sad” - it’s like being officially declared worthless by the state. So we muster a grin and go out on the town in our millions.
(via a reddit comment I couldn’t find)
The two basic values of this piece are: (1) showing what an utterly appalling farce international relations can be, and (2) giving some view into a country you very likely know almost nothing about. It’s also an amusing and well-told story.
(via The Browser)
There are few things that environmental activists have enjoyed attacking more in the last decade than meat, and so to see one of them reconsider that is nice.
If pigs are fed on residues and waste, and cattle on straw, stovers and grass from fallows and rangelands – food for which humans don’t compete – meat becomes a very efficient means of food production. Even though it is tilted by the profligate use of grain in rich countries, the global average conversion ratio of useful plant food to useful meat is not the 5:1 or 10:1 cited by almost everyone, but less than 2:1. If we stopped feeding edible grain to animals, we could still produce around half the current global meat supply with no loss to human nutrition: in fact it’s a significant net gain.
It should be noted, however, that this theoretical world where ideal meat-raising is practiced is quite different than the methods currently used to do so.
This had never crossed my mind:
The full, plump bosom seen in the human ape is an anomaly. No other primate has a permanent breast.
I would extend the article’s evolutionary point to say that we’re probably the only species that has ever been successful enough to select so strongly for aesthetic preferences of members of the species. A quick look couldn’t find anything about this, but I’d be interested to know that I’m wrong.
I think this is a useful dichotomy:
An Asker won’t think it’s rude to request two weeks in your spare room, but a Guess culture person will hear it as presumptuous and resent the agony involved in saying no. Your boss, asking for a project to be finished early, may be an overdemanding boor – or just an Asker, who’s assuming you might decline. If you’re a Guesser, you’ll hear it as an expectation. This is a spectrum, not a dichotomy, and it explains cross-cultural awkwardnesses, too: Brits and Americans get discombobulated doing business in Japan, because it’s a Guess culture, yet experience Russians as rude, because they’re diehard Askers.
Noted for posterity: not all — perhaps even few — writers always enjoy the act of writing.
These are thoughts I can get behind:
…you can never get properly clean by simply wiping, since you are, effectively, pushing the [shit] into your skin.
I felt obligated to add the mild profanity that the author’s editor needlessly removed.
An interesting fact: The LA Times’s online advertising revenue is now sufficient to fund its entire editorial operation — both print and online.
It’s also worth noting, as Mr. Jarvis does, that the Times newsroom is nearly half the size of its former self.
To address this problem, I looked for a pun to make this post worth writing. I didn’t find it, but I still find Simon Pegg’s argument against running zombies to be fairly compelling.
More significantly, the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety. As monsters from the id, zombies win out over vampires and werewolves when it comes to the title of Most Potent Metaphorical Monster. Where their pointy-toothed cousins are all about sex and bestial savagery, the zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.
I feel like I’ve come across this more than a few times before. In any case, it’s a good way to satiate your inner voyeur.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition and, depending on who you ask, it’s president elect penned a Op-Ed in The Guardian today. The most bruising line:
How can global leaders espouse the values of democracy, yet when they are being challenged fail to open their mouths? Why is it that a supposed “war on terror” ignores the very real terror of broken minds and mangled bodies that lie along the trail left by Mugabe?
Speaking of criticism… John Freeman had some useful insight into why one might — and might not — want to read criticism at all.
In a way, pre-judgement is a necessary evil of criticism: there are far more books published than anyone could possibly read, busloads of awarded writers who aren’t actually worth reading. There’s no way to approach this forest gingerly. You need a buzz saw to clear some breathing room, gain a sightline, and criticism has to have enough teeth and ubiquitous availability to be that instrument.
(via Andrew Sullivan)
The Guardian presents a interesting picture of China’s vibrant and spottily-regulated publishing scene. The whole thing’s interesting, but this was striking:
“The internet has a much more significant role in literature than it does here [in Britain],” he says. “It’s taken very seriously, discussed very seriously and famous writers take part.”
The general manager of Penguin China, Jo Lusby, is even more emphatic. “All credible interesting writing in China begins online at the moment,” she says. “It’s given an added boost because it exists in a relatively free space outside of the tight constraints of traditional publishers.”