November 16, 2009
Behind the growing Steven Pinker vs. Malcolm Gladwell feud (Pinker criticizes Gladwell, Gladwell snarkily replies) is a debate over the value of IQ, specifically, and intelligence, broadly, in success. Recent research has generally shown little link between intelligence and success within fields, and that there are multiple kinds of intelligences that drive achievement. On the other hand, scholars of psychometrics claim the opposite, showing that IQ at an early age can predict achievement, and no amount of study will help. Maybe everyone is right, with enough caveats.
“A deep political crisis of the Afghan society is obvious… The coalition of social forces continues to change in favor of the counter-revolution.The state regime is not capable of stopping the counter-revolution on its own.” CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen recently hosted a televised debate over Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan. Afghanistan: Noble Fight or Lost Cause?
Gabriel García Márquez's romance with power. During the youth of García Márquez’s grandfather, Colonel Nicolás Márquez Mejía, who was born in 1864 and died in 1936, a number of presidents and government ministers--almost all of them lawyers from the conservative camp--published dictionaries, language textbooks, and treatises (in prose and verse) on orthology, orthography, philology, lexicography, meter, prosody, and Castilian grammar. [more inside]
Can an obscure disease from Guam explain the explain the appearance of neurological disorders near Marscoma Lake in New Hampshire? The only people thought to contract Lytico-Bodig were Chamorros born before 1961 and related or married to particular familes living near the village of Umatac in Guam. It was theorised that it came from eating cycad seeds, but why were there no documented cases before the 1900s, and why are there no new cases on the island today? The popular author and neurologist Oliver Sacks visited the island and has continued to study the disease. He suggests that the cause is biomagnification of a toxin produced by cyanobacteria and concentrated twice - first by the cycads, and a second time in the flesh of the fruit bats. There are no new cases, he says, because the fruit bats have been nearly hunted to extinction.
Sky News Australia political editor David Speers interviewed Rupert Murdoch earlier this month, and covered a number of topics, including search engine access to news content under the Murdoch umbrella. In short, Rupert Murdoch is looking to a day when Google won't search News Corp. stories, and people will pay for their news (again). Murdoch's views of Google aren't new, claiming Google is stealing from News Corp. Murdoch's Google gambit set the internet buzzing, as briefed on The Opinionator. But Rupert Murdoch isn't the only one looking for Google to fall, with Mark Cuban proclaiming that Google can be taken down (again, or is that still?)
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is a survey that rated the 50 states of America from most to least happiest, based on things like emotional health, job satisfaction, and healthy decisions. The top states may surprise you.
Devil's Tuning Fork is "a first-person exploration/puzzle game in which the player must navigate an unknown world using visual sound waves" and was made by a group of students in 6 months to compete in the Independent Games Festival. Unfortunately, it appears to be windows only, but the trailer is worth checking out anyways. It is pretty.
Doll Kind :: Dolls of the 20th Century - A Celebration in Pictures and Histories
Last month the United Steelworkers entered into an agreement with the successful Spanish cooperative Mondragon to work toward establishing worker-owned manufacturing coops in the US. [more inside]
Two months & three thousand photographs later: here is a fascinating YouTube video of the making of Abigail Uhteg's new art book The Complex of All of These. [more inside]
Anthony Howe is a sculptor. Click on each work to see it in action.
Arkansas 5th grader refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance until gays and lesbians have equal rights. CNN and The Huffington Post pick up the story.
Sixteen workers are killed a day "Every eight hour workday, two people are killed on the job. Most companies are never prosecuted for negligence, even after repeated warnings that their workers were in danger. Meanwhile, workers who blow the whistle face threats and retaliation at the workplace." In a short video examining several cases of worker deaths, David Uhlmann suggests the sanction for an offense that results in a worker's death should be as great as the sanction for killing a deer out of season.
The first four issues of Stray Bullets set the world on fire when they came out. Paper burns, you see, and a comic book as inflammatory as Stray Bullets just had to be burned. The religious right burned them. The Godless left burned them. The people in the middle felt left out and burned them too. Only a few copies survived and are probably worth millions by now. Inaccessible to the common man, the wonders of the digital universe have finally arrived to allow you—the average Joe—to see what the fuss was all about.
In Cold Blood, 50 Years On : The Guardian takes a look at Holcomb, Kansas 50 years (to the day) after the crimes depicted in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.
RIP Edward Woodward, star of Callan, The Equalizer and The Wicker Man. Edgar Wright, who directed him in Hot Fuzz, pays tribute. [more inside]
Hear the Bible come alive in Dramatic Audio Theater! Jim Caviezel as Jesus (again). Lou Diamond Phillips as Mark. Malcolm McDowell as Solomon. Luke Perry as Judas. Max von Sydow as Noah. (warning: auto-playing video) The Word of Promise Audio Bible features over 1000 voice actors, a 150-piece orchestra, an iPhone app, 98 hours of recorded audio, and more. Meet the cast. Hear samples.
Renouncing Islamism: To the brink and back again — A generation of British Islamists have been trained in Afghanistan to fight a global jihad. But now some of those would-be extremists have had a change of heart. Johann Hari finds out what made them give up the fight.
Kiva transparency commentary: "I suspect that most Kiva users do not realize this." The controversy is summarized by the NY Times. [more inside]
October 29, 2009 marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Welcome To The Pleasuredome, by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, kicking off the short rule of Frankie over reality. oh so much [more inside]