Sunday photoblogging: bike

by Chris Bertram on January 25, 2015

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My Fair Lady: A Series of Text Messages

by Belle Waring on January 25, 2015

Prof. Henry Higgins: I could totlly teach you to talk good lol.
Eliza Doolittle: no way! I talk too bad!
HH: you would even be hot then haha.
ED: but I have a smudge on my face.
HH: inorite?
ED: it’s small but it like hides my whole face. it is a magic smudge.
HH: if you didn’t have a magic smudge you could be hot. jk you will prolly never get that smudge off. you will never be hotlol.
ED: please teach me to talk good even though I suck and stuff plz!
HH: I guess, god whatever

ED: some dudes think I’m hot!
HH: as if. they are just saying whatever to get into your pants. they can tell u still talk stupid.
ED: OMG u r so mean I am seriously crying now for real!
HH: you are way too emoshe. that’s why I can’t even deal with chicks sometimes. this is all about a bet I made with my bro. a brotimes bet. brotimes.
ED: I hate you! I am running away!

HH: you ran away to my mom’s house because you love me.
ED: no one ever said I was hot before until you said I looked barely tolerable. will u PLEASE GO OUT WITH ME PLEADE!
HH: OK I am like 70 u know.
ED: and I am like 25 and no one ever said that they had gotten used to seeing my face among other objects they saw during the day, like cabs and umbrellas! u r the 1! you saw thru the magic smudge! IT WAS MAGIC!
HH: yeah I’m pretty amazing. OK fine.
ED: I love u so much!
HH: I love me too.

finis

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The Peripheral

by Henry on January 22, 2015

Attention conservation notice: A blogpost on the William Gibson book of the same name, with copious spoilers. At the very best, it presents a crudely simplified reading of one skein of the book, without any of the ambiguity and negative capability stuff that makes the novel fun. At worst, it’s both boring and completely wrong.

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Daumier Does Socrates, Robo Hates Dr. D.

by John Holbo on January 22, 2015

I’m glad to have spread the gorey news regarding Daumier. Some commenters were evidently unfamiliar. Here’s a nice Flickr set if you just want to browse. But, for CT’s especially philosophically-minded and discerning readership, one from Daumier’s “Histoire Ancienne” series. (It also belongs in my collection of philosophers looking silly. This one is also good.)

I present: Socrates doing a soft cancan, to Aspasia’s discomfort. [click to continue…]

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My department is working on a project for the department to try to get more systematic information about why undergrads become philosophy majors (and why students who might, don’t). As one component of that project, we’re planning to conduct two online surveys—one of current philosophy majors and another of students who recently took introductory-level philosophy classes. Obviously we’re particularly interested in why women and members of certain racial minorities become majors at lower rates than men and members of other racial groups. Thing is—being a philosophy department we are not over-endowed with expertise on how to frame or conduct surveys. We are going to enlist the help of experts but my colleague who is heading up the effort asked my department for initial suggestions of survey questions, and I thought, well, why not crowd-source it? Its entirely possible that other departments have already done this successfully, and it is quite likely that some of our readers will have useful suggestions of questions. So—suggest ahead.

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Daumier Does Edward Gorey

by John Holbo on January 20, 2015

While I’m on the subject of Honoré Daumier, let me just show a couple other items from the aforementioned whomping great volume. A pair of lithographs from the Caricatural Salon of 1840 (which I saved myself the trouble of scanning by finding here. Kind of interesting comparisons with some comics frames.)

Anyway, the first is “The Ascension of Christ. After the Original Painting By Brrdhkmann”:

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Travel photo blogging: MLK Memorial in DC

by Eszter Hargittai on January 19, 2015

MLK Memorial, DCIn honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, I am posting some photos I took at the MLK Memorial in DC when I visited there last Fall. There is no shortage of critical commentary about the memorial from when it was dedicated a few years ago. I wasn’t aware of these when I visited, which is probably a good thing as it would have tainted my visit, not necessarily justifiably as far as I’m concerned. (If you feel you must add your critical thoughts in the comments, I just ask that you try to be original.)

MLK Memorial, DCI admit that it wasn’t a particularly targeted visit on my part. I was in town for a conference and had an afternoon to roam the city. I had been walking for hours (winding my way back from the Thomas Sweet in Georgetown to the Mall) and found myself walking on Independence Ave SW when I spotted signs to the MLK Memorial. Once I saw the signs, I knew I wanted to see it.

I was lucky in the timing of my visit. It was early evening on a weekday, 9/11 to be precise. There was almost no one else around. This made a difference as I found the place perfect for contemplation. I entered from the northwest, which worked well as I appreciated walking through the rocks not knowing exactly what to expect.

MLK Memorial, DCAfter looking at MLK’s figure and taking in the scene of the Jefferson Memorial that is in the statue’s line of sight, I walked from quote to quote and reflected on each, especially given the Ferguson events still fresh in memory. I was able to do all of this almost in solitude. The early evening light added to the mood.

If you can, I recommend visiting early evening or perhaps early morning on a weekday when you may have the place mostly to yourself. Be sure to give yourself time, it wouldn’t have been the same had I felt rushed.

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Manspreading In 19th Century Paris

by John Holbo on January 19, 2015

So Manspreading is a thing, hence a controversy. I don’t have a lot to add to this Jezebel post on the subject. Except I do! I did some important historical research by remembering that Honoré Daumier got there first with “The Omnibus”.

pl1_371227_fnt_tr_ii [click to continue…]

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The Race Card, circa 1871

by John Holbo on January 19, 2015

Jon Chait has an interesting column about the origins of ‘waving the bloody shirt’, which means (if you are unfamiliar with the phrase) demagogically inflaming resentment about past wrongs. The utility of such flames consisting, in part, in the generation of a smokescreen obscuring present circumstances the speaker finds it inconvenient to address in a more reasonable manner.

Chait just read a book – The Bloody Shirt: Terror After the Civil War, by Stephen Budiansky – alleging we have it almost backwards. The bloody shirt that birthed a notion didn’t belong to some dead Union soldier. That is, ‘waving the bloody shirt’ wasn’t functionally a smear against post-Civil War Democrats, turning every debate about post-war issues into a re-commencement of old hostilities. Rather, [click to continue…]

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Sunday photoblogging: Alex sitting at the piano

by Chris Bertram on January 18, 2015

We’re in the middle of packing up before a house move this week, and there’s a lot to do after accumulating junk for 15 years. Here’s a picture from 2009 in what will soon be the old house, of my son Alex sitting at the piano. Taken with my 1932 Rolleiflex “Old” Standard.

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We took the kids to see Selma, and I think you should see it too. (I mean, my God: it’s got both Stephen Root and Wendell Pierce.) Its historical liberties notwithstanding, it’s a great piece of historical fiction. As a sometime practitioner of both history and historical fiction, let me explain why.

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Collective Intelligence 2015

by Henry on January 16, 2015

A conference plug for this event: I spoke at last year’s version and found it great (there’s a lot of interesting work happening at the interstices between data science and the social sciences, and this is a very good way of keeping up with the state of the art). The submission deadline is two weeks away.

Location

Marriott Hotel, Santa Clara CA
2700 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 988-1500

The topic areas for collective intelligence include:

The evolution of collective intelligence
Crowdsourcing
Human and social computing
The emergence and intelligence of social movements
Collective response to environmental constraints
The spread and containment of rumors
Collective robustness, resilience, and stability
The evolution of scientific intelligence
Collective intelligence in plants and non humans
The Wisdom of Crowds & prediction markets
Collective search and problem solving
Collective memory
Emergent organizational forms
The intelligence of markets and democracies
Technology and software that make groups smarter
Collective Intelligence in the new journalism
Crowd solutions to policy problems and crises

Conference Organizer:Scott E. Page, University of Michigan
Program Chairs:Deborah M. Gordon, Stanford University
Lada Adamic, Facebook

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Seeing the Monkees

by Harry on January 16, 2015

I grew up watching The Monkees on TV. Even when I was 8 or so (when I first watched them) I could tell that the carefree, enthusiastic attitude they seemed to have toward life was not going to be for me, and I was stupid enough to find Davey’s English accent utterly confusing (where did he get that accent from in California, I thought—I was equally befuddled when some character turned up in the Archers with an American accent, having lived in the US for 30 years). But I did love them, and even in my teens, when I my musical tastes were very much for the authentic and not-over-produced (I went, alone, to see Kevin Coyne live at the Marquee, for my 21st birthday, for example), I still enjoyed listening to them, and never blamed them for not being the Beatles, which seemed a pretty minor crime.

So when The Monkees DVDs first came out I bought both seasons, basically on a lark. The kids proceeded to watch them, over and over; and SW, the eldest’s friend, borrowed them for a year during which I suspect she did nothing except watch them. My middle kid is a particular fan, so last spring, when I noticed that the remaining three were performing in Milwaukee, I (with the help of SW) convinced the whole family to go together. A nice woman in Minneapolis who had gotten groupon tickets mistakenly thinking that the performance was there sold me her tickets over CraigsList, and seemed much more concerned about someone using the tickets than getting the money—when I couldn’t get Paypal to work, and given that there was some doubt that her groupons would actually transfer validly (they did), she told me to send her a check once I knew everything was in place. SW’s dad called to ask if he could come along. Which actually put the pressure on me, because he’s i) not a kid and ii) an accomplished and discerning musician. So I got another ticket at the regular price.

There was no opening act. The Monkees stage act combines musical performance (yes, they play their own instruments) with film—and opened with the backing band on stage watching archive footage of the boys auditioning for the TV show. Then, to the sound of Hey Hey…, and with the opening titles of the show up on the screen, three ancient men walked on stage. I had a moment—well more than a moment—of complete horror, thinking how annoyed my party was going to be at seeing three old men who should be in a home singing out of tune on stage. Tork, in particular, looked in a bad way, basically hobbling onto the stage. And they definitely seemed not up to much…. for about 2 minutes. Then, toward the end of the first song, some sort of transformation happened.

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Predictions for 2015

by John Quiggin on January 15, 2015

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future, as Niels Bohr is supposed to have said. I’ve certainly found it so. Apart from the obvious possibility of being wrong, there’s the risk that others will misrepresent you. But, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, it’s helpful to frame discussion around a sharp prediction. So here are three for 2015

1. Peak Oil: I predict that global oil production (conventional and shale etc) will decline in 2015 and will never again reach the peak level of 2014. My reasoning is that 2014 supply can’t be sustained at prices below, say, $75, and (given a downward underlying trend in the developed world), 2014 demand won’t be reached again at prices above $75.

2. The End of Bitcoin: I’ve written in the past that “Bitcoins will attain their true value of zero sooner or later, but it is impossible to say when.” However, I now think the necessary conditions are in place for most holders of Bitcoins to recognise that their asset consists of used-up computation cycles with zero value. In particular, because mainstream merchants now accept Bitcoin (which they immediately sell), it’s possible for hardcore believers to dispose of their holdings without explicitly betting that the price will fall. Of course, the price won’t fall precisely to zero, but it should be well below $100 by the end of the year, and below $10 not long after that.

3. The Paris conference on climate change, will produce a half-baked compromise, which nevertheless represents progress towards stabilization at 2 degrees of warming: OK, this is pretty much a no-brainer, given that this is what we’ve been seeing ever since Kyoto in 1997, but I want to be sure of getting at least one right.

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The Touchy Irving Howe

by Corey Robin on January 14, 2015

Last night, I was trying to find a comment I had remembered Irving Howe making about Hannah Arendt, and I found myself holed up, late into the night, with a volume of his criticism. I run into these sorts of detours a lot. I set out for a destination, and before you know it, it’s 2 am, and I’m miles away from where I need to be.

I’ve read Howe’s criticism many times before, but I never noticed just how touchy he is about what he perceives to be the haughtiness of authors and critics. Howe is sensitive, perhaps too sensitive, to the power dynamics of fiction and criticism: how writers look down on the people they’re writing about or the readers they’re writing for, how they create scenes and settings in which the sole object is to put on display the superior sensibility that conjured them.

The first time I noticed this tendency in Howe was in his essay on George Steiner’s In Bluebeard’s Castle, which he reviewed in Commentary in 1971:

A phalanx of crucial topics, a tone of high-church gravity, a light sprinkle of multilingual erudition, a genteel stab at prophecy—it’s easy to imagine the strong impression Mr. George Steiner’s lectures must have made when first delivered for the T.S. Eliot Memorial Foundation at the University of Kent. And now, when we read his first sentence announcing that his book is written “in memoration” of T.S. Eliot, we are prepared for some decidedly high-class prose.

High-class prose. Well, I thought to myself, it’s Steiner, who is a terrible snob, often embarrassingly so. Even when he’s talking about fucking, Steiner can’t help sounding pretentious (“The mathematics of sex stop somewhere in the region of soixante-neuf; there are no transcendental series.”)

But then, as Howe goes on, the resentment gets hotter. [click to continue…]

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