McClatchy: We’re in contact with uncontrolled chemicals.
NY Times: The Way of the Agnostic.
“Atheism may be intellectually viable, but it requires its own arguments and can’t merely cite the lack of decisive evidence for religion. Further, unless atheists themselves have a clearly superior case for their denial of theistic religion, then agnosticism (doubting both religion and atheism) remains a viable alternative. The no-arguments argument for atheism fails.”
Wired: To Make Open Access Work, We Need to Do More Than Liberate Journal Article.
Top of mind, right now. I’ve been delving into genetically modified products and the issues surrounding them, and the real problem is identifying scholarly research from just plain garbage. Every time I turn around, a study I find is debunked elsewhere. There have to be specialized search engines, there need to be threaded results (study in 2006, updated or invalidated by study in 2009, etc.), there needs to be a color-coding system to indicate authority of research body, etc.
Nothing’s more frustrating than digging for information, and repeatedly finding you’re going down a road that was actually torn up twelve years ago. Search engines like Google need better indexing. The amount of old, inaccurate and purposely misleading information hogging the top spots in SERPs is just a travesty.
ArtDaily: Mexican researchers extract intact DNA from Palenque’s Red Queen.
What on earth did they do to that photo?
Naked Cap: How Americans Stack Up In Dying From Violence, War, Suicide, And Accidents.
An inconvenient truth is that we venerate violence, as a culture.
TNR: Victoria Beale Reviews New Books By Alain De Botton And Philippa Perry.
“I felt dissatisfied. I found I was dreaming of replacing all my furniture. What was I doing? … I was breathing shallowly.” Read the whole thing - a romp. This is how I feel reading many of the latest A-list bloggerati these days.
naked capitalism: Imminent Death of the Blogs Predicted, Except Not.
An older blog comment goes zombie. Talk about overthinking something! But of great interest to blog-wonks, notwithstanding.
ArtDaily: Paintings hidden beneath Tudor portraits revealed.
“In the case of Sir Francis Walsingham, the Protestant Spymaster with the Roman Catholic image of the Virgin and child beneath, you do wonder if the artist might be enjoying a private joke at the expense of the sitter.” Or, it may display a Tudor emphasis on political personality over devotional icons.
The Atlantic: Umberto Eco on Why We Love Lists.
“At first, we think that a list is primitive and typical of very early cultures, which had no exact concept of the universe and were therefore limited to listing the characteristics they could name. But, in cultural history, the list has prevailed over and over again. It is by no means merely an expression of primitive cultures. A very clear image of the universe existed in the Middle Ages, and there were lists. A new worldview based on astronomy predominated in the Renaissance and the Baroque era. And there were lists. And the list is certainly prevalent in the postmodern age. It has an irresistible magic.”
Preparing us for the season of ‘Best of 2012’ lists.
The Atlantic: The Real College Crisis Isn’t High Costs, It’s Low Information.
“For all we study and write about college, the vast majority of the families applying (and not applying) to school have basically no idea how it’s meant to pay off. Compared to the level of detail investors receive with a mortgage or a 401(k) plan, a two- or four-year degree is essentially a black hole of data.” Can’t even really kick the tires, to gauge value. Never thought about it that way.
ArtDaily: Dried squash holds headless French king’s blood.
“… not having the DNA of any kingly relation, researchers could not prove beyond doubt that the blood belonged to Louis. Until now. Using the genetic material, the team managed to draw a link to another gruesome artefact—a mummified head believed to belong to Louis’ 16th century predecessor, Henri IV.” Wow. And in the process, authenticate TWO historical objects. There’s a win-win for you. Gross and fascinating, as so much of science can be.
ArtDaily: Liberal arts colleges forced to evolve with market shedding their liberal arts identity.
“Liberal arts colleges are proven launching pads to the top of business, government and academia (graduating 12 U.S. presidents, six chief justices and 12 of 53 Nobel laureates over a recent decade who attended American colleges, by one researcher’s count).” What you train for today, is bankrupt information tomorrow. A liberal arts degree lasts.
Guardian.UK: Diarykeeping is an exceptional and heroic act.
“But to write a diary for any extended period is an exceptional and eccentric act. If historians wanted to relate a truly representative history through diaries, they would have to include the vast, forgotten majority that do not see January out. It would be an eternal winter in this alternative history, populated by a tribe of initially loquacious people who suddenly become monosyllabic and then lapse irrevocably into silence.”
NY Times: Chicken Farms Try Oregano as Antibiotic Substitute.
We relearn the wisdom of Hippocrates.
Extreme Tech: Scientists discover how our brains categorize and map everything we see.
“The map is made ‘semantic neighborhoods,’ which are essentially just categories of things that the brain finds similar to each other. The researchers found that, for instance, the brain organizes the catefgories of ‘humans’ and ‘animals’ in a related manner, whereas ‘eyeball’ and ‘car’ are stored in completely different areas of the brain. Along with finding out how the brain organizes different categories of objects, the researchers also found out that different people’s brains organize things in similar ways.”
Aeon Magazine: A culture of fake originality.
“Hence for a long time now, it has been assumed that there can be no authentic creation in high art which is not in some way a ‘challenge’ to public culture. Art must give offence, stepping out armed against the bourgeois taste for the conforming and the comfortable, which are simply other names for kitsch and cliché. The result of this is that offence itself becomes a cliché.” YES.
Smithsonian: What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web?
ArtDaily: ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ package mystery solved.
In case you hadn’t heard: “The school found out the journal was the work of a Guam man [snip] described as a ‘prop replicator.’”
BBC: Has World War II carrier pigeon message been cracked?
An individual inherited a WWI codebook, which exhibits similarities.
The Atlantic: High-Profile Studies Overrate Going to College and Picking the Right Major.
“… to say that “college isn’t for everyone” isn’t to be patronizing. It’s simply to say that the income gains attributable to holding a college degree aren’t as large as is claimed, and some people could come out ahead financially by not attending college.”
A thought: it would be interesting for colleges to have entry exams and exit exams. Exit exams to guarantee the curriculum’s been learned to a satisfactory standard. And a twist: Exit exams created and administered by competing schools, rather than by their own faculty. It’d liven things up.
SciAm: Have Scientists Found Two Different Higgs Bosons?
NY Times: The Power of Concentration.
Concentration allows you to ‘Holmes’ in on the answer.
Salt Lake Tribune: Turn off iPhone, take a hike – your creativity will soar.
“The most-telling number from the research is 50 percent: as in backpackers scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after four days in nature and away from smartphones, iPods and laptops.” Cool. Already knew taking a walk wakes up my creative self.
London Review of Books: Jeremy Bernstein -Memoir, At Los Alamos.
“At the other end of the building there was a large workbench where a man was filing something that looked to me like white putty. I had read enough to know that what looked like white putty was a high explosive which was going to be attached to the pit to cause the implosion of the plutonium sphere. Next to him a woman was knitting a green sweater.”
SciAm: What Makes Dave Brubeck’s Unorthodox Jazz Stylings So Appealing?
“Langham says that from a dance point of view, the meter of Take Five combines a waltz and a two-step, both of which were popular in the 1950s and 1960s with the parents of teenagers. ‘This allowed college students to be different, in the sense of adding a funky twist to it.’” This is a fine point that is often missed; it wasn’t parents who got into Take Five - it was kids. Those who today would be going Swift-ly Gaga, went nuts over Dave.