Linky Friday #182: The Everything


science photo

Image by GoToVan Linky Friday #182: The Everything

[Sc1] Here’s an interesting study on rats and empathy, which discovered that rates will forgo chocolate to save a drowning comrade.

[Sc2] Everything you may have wanted to know about chasing gravitational waves.

[Sc3] Geoff Watts looks at the rational and irrational fears of radiation.

[Sc4] I could be wrong, but it sort of seems to me that planets like these are too precarious to harbor advanced life. The margin-of-error being kind of small for the millions of years of evolution that would be needed.

[Sc5] Better space exploration through chemistry.

[Sc6] has a solid list of science myths that won’t die.


body photo

Image by cristian_may Linky Friday #182: The Everything

[B1] In addition to not saving money, cancer screening may not reduce overall mortality.

[B2] Most addicts – at least unpoor ones, simply grow out of doing drugs.

[B3] Given the sanitation issues, is there a reason why we don’t brush our teeth in the kitchen?

[B4] It’s no coincidence that top competitive eaters are skinny. The lack of fat gives them more room for food.

[B5] The rise and fall of Quaaludes

[B6] The effects of caffeine on the brain.


brain photo

Image by Pierre-Olivier Linky Friday #182: The Everything

[M1] When consuming an audiobook, your brain does mostly the same things as when reading, depending on what you’re consuming. This tracks with my own experience, where the meatier something is the better it is in text. But the difference is overestimated by some.

[M2] Scott Barry Kaufman argues that neurosis and creativity aren’t linked.

[M3] Why do we believe the viral myths we believe? Because they have the right heroes and villains.

[M4] This makes sense: There is an important distinction between resilience and endurance.

[M5] Here’s a fascinating look at visual stereotyping of people’s face. What I find interesting is when my mind draws connections between people who don’t look alike in describable features, but nonetheless make that connection.

[M6] Gabrielle Oettingen on the powerlessness of yes, and Tim Harford on the power of no.


science photo

Image by joeflintham Linky Friday #182: The Everything

[So1] Linked: Cleanliness, neuroticism, and God.

[So2] Mormons and boy scouts (there is some overlap) say… Be Prepared.

[So3] Mark Naugle is an atheist attorney who helps Mormons resign from the LDS Church. Also, a story of conversion to and from the LDS Church.

[So4] Phil Zuckerman looks at our hatred of atheists.

[So5] Causality is always murky on these things, of course, but religious service attendance correlates with lower suicide rates.

[So6] A story of crime and bigotry.


Earth photo

Image by Jonas B Linky Friday #182: The Everything

[E1] So as the oceans rise, who gets saved? NASA says we may be needing to say our goodbyes to Louisiana and Galveston.

[E2] Stop trying to get me to like the Secretary of Energy, it’s not going to work.

[E3] As if there wasn’t enough reason to hate Monsanto, they’re working to save bees.

[E4] For the sake of wildlife conservation, folks are burning ivory. Wolf Krug explains that might not be a good idea.

[E5] I’m inclined to agree… these are plants we can probably do without.

[E6] We developed TCP/IP… ants discovered TCP/IP.

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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88 thoughts on “Linky Friday #182: The Everything

  1. Two things about the bee guy. One: I did not trust Monsanto before I read the article and the article did nothing to change my mind. Two: They tested some beeswax, pollen, and bees and found 118 different pesticides in them.


  2. B3: I brush my teeth everywhere. I spend more time doing it than most people so I usually wander around while doing so and will just rinse where ever.


  3. Sc6: We have an EXPENSIVE brain, not a super mega large one. This is why the forehead is the last place on a human to get fat — we need it to get rid of heat.
    The world’s population has enough to eat. For now. Give us 30 years, and that’ll change.


  4. M2: Neuroses and Creativity are linked by a hidden variable that affects both of them. It also affects a bunch of other things, including sexual orientation.


  5. So4: I would say that number 4 makes a lot of sense. However, I wonder what does religiosity mean in this context. What is the demographic profile of the 40 percent of Americans who say they could not vote for an atheist? Are they all conservative Republicans or does it include a lot of liberal democrats as well?

    How are we defining religious? San Francisco is a lot more religiously inclined than it gets credit for. There are lots of churches, synagogues, Buddhist temples, mosques, etc. People attend religious services and other functions, they get involved.

    Does this mean that they go every week? As far as I can tell no. SF still has a lot of secular brunching on Sunday and hanging out in parks. Same in NYC or even the Bay Area suburbs. Are Jews who attend services on the High Holidays and maybe a few other times a year religious or largely secular with some dabblings? How about Christmas-Easter Christians? Etc…

    When we debate issues of religiousness and secularism, we seem to be stuck in an all or none definition. You are either a weekly attender or a complete absentee. There is a lot inbetween


    • I think the issue is mostly a conflation of “religious” (or even “spiritual”) with “morals”.

      A surprising number of people seem to think you can’t have morals or ethics without religion. So saying you’re an atheist implies that, well, you’re a psychopath.

      I’ve literally been told that, as an atheist, I must be okay with rape and murder and that all that stops me is the thought of getting caught.


      • Which is, to me, kind of scary – that in their own estimation, the only thing keeping those folks in check from raping and murdering is the belief in a god or pantheon thereof that doesn’t want them to. What happens if their faith lapses?


        • I think that’s sort of unfair. While I’ve actually talked to people who believe that (that only fear of Hell stops them from acting on certain urges), most just have their morality so entangled with their religion that they simply don’t really think of them as separate.

          So when you say you don’t believe in God, that also says you don’t believe in morals, because you can’t have morals without God.

          They’d be perfectly moral people if they stopped believing in God tomorrow. It’s just right now, they don’t understand how one can happen without the other.


          • Oh, I’m sure they actually would be fine people without religion.

            I don’t find it scary that they would go about raping and murdering if not for fear of angering God(s). I find it scary that they think so little of themselves that in their own estimation they would do so.

            Well, perhaps there would be a “lost years” period during which they were lost for what to do without fear of hell, but otherwise I’m sure they are actually possessed of an innate sense of morality.


            • I find it scary that they think so little of themselves that in their own estimation they would do so.

              They don’t think that of themselves, though. The misunderstanding occurs when they mentally model an atheist, by first taking themselves and removing their belief in God.

              To them, cutting out “God” cuts out so much else for them because it’s all tied together to them. (Morality, empathy, instinctive repugnance towards certain acts, etc).

              It’s obviously not an accurate mental model, and plenty of former religious folks are great example of how that mental model is flawed, but that’s kind of hard to explain where they’re going wrong.

              They’re not restrained from violent or immoral impulses by a belief in God, so much as they can’t mentally model an atheist because religion is a cornerstone of their worldview. Trying to cut it out cuts out a lot more than is really necessary, so their end result is skewed.


          • My gut reaction is close to Pinky’s on this. I would have thought that philosophers would be more inclined to distinguish “ethics” from “morality” more than the lay public. Not that I’d know, because I’m not trained in philosophy and haven’t read much on it.

            I’ve said this before (somewhere) but here’s my (very, very) rough distinction between the two: If you’re unethical, you’ll get sued; if you’re immoral, you’ll go to hell.


            • @gabriel-conroy

              There are some (perhaps very old fashioned) philosophers who will try to make some distinction, but they are a very small minority.

              The field of moral philosophy is divided up into meta-ethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. Perhaps “Applied moral philosophy” just doesn’t roll off the tongue so naturally. People we call ethicists are usually just people who work in applied ethics. The reason why we think being unethical gets us sued is because ethicists (or more accurately, applied ethicists) have an outsized influence* among the three and applied ethics predominantly focuses on

              *This is sad because of the three sub specialities, I think applied ethics is the most lacking in terms of philosophical rigour and importance. To be clear, not universally so (there is some very good applied ethics, but the worst of applied ethics is a) barely even philosophy and b) if philosophy, really really bad. The same cannot be said for the other two. Part of this is because applied ethics journals have become far too ubiquitous and publishing in those is too easy.


              • Speaking, again, as a person not trained in philosophy, I tend to see what passes for “applied ethics” (outside of philosophy as a discipline) as more like “risk management” or like “learning the standards in one’s field so that one doesn’t transgress the standards (and so that one thereby remains “ethical”).”

                But thanks for the clarification on how philosopher’s use the term.


                • In my view, it’s only sorta like risk management. Real risk management, as a discipline or practice, is based on the intersection of current practices, evidence and the law, while applied ethics relies, often enough, on some questionable “ethical” “theories”. So it’s not so much risk management as conclusions based on a series of abstract and very disputable conditionals.

                  Add: On the other hand, if a person buys in to the base theory upon which the application is justified, the logical entailments are almost like doing science!


          • I’ve always thought that morals are for personal life and ethics are for behavior in professional life. Some things are both. It is unethical but not immoral for me to accept a gift from someone selling a product or service to my company. It is immoral but not unethical for me to commit adultery. If I was committing adultery with someone who worked for me, it would be both unethical and immoral.


    • If you read theory number 4 in any other context, would you take it seriously? Say, people don’t like me because they’re threatened by my good looks? Or those American Idol judges said I’m a lousy singer because they can’t handle my level of talent? The easiest thing to sell someone is that other people look down on them because they’re covering up their insecurities.

      I agree that definitions are tricky with regard to religiosity, but I’d have to see the details of the individual studies. And I don’t know that we fall into all-or-nothing definitions more or less with regard to religiosity than with anything else. Again, it depends on the way the study is built.


        • You do get my point though? Down below Oscar says that he avoids religious communities. Someone could say he does that because he’s insecure in his irreligiosity. More likely, he just finds religious people creepy. No need for a further explanation. Likewise, some religious people find irreligious people creepy. There’s no underlying neurosis behind it.


  6. So6: I get why the police couldn’t do much to Mr. Majors just over threats, but when he ran over the mom, given the history of threats, how did he make bail?


    • The story is kind of astonishing. But maybe shouldn’t be? I’m curious to hear what the police/prosecutor/judge were thinking.

      I also thought it interesting the story led off by identifying the family as Lebanese Christian.


  7. Sc4: My understanding is that the real problem with life evolving is extinction events – e.g. meteor strikes, gamma ray bursts. One reason we evolved is Jupiter is out there acting as an asteroid shield. So a tidally locked planet that has a couple gas giants in outer orbits to act as shields, and isn’t near the galactic core where you have a lot of stars dying, could have life evolve.


  8. [So5] – Apparently the correlation between atheism (or at least lack of active attendance of church services, being a rather different thing) diminishes to the point of disappearance as one looks at highly secular societies. For example, in Sweden (only 17% church-attending) there is basically no correlation between atheism and depression, suicide, etc.

    The explanation I’ve seen proffered, and it makes sense to me, is that the correlation is actually two-fold:

    atheism in a highly religious society – isolation
    isolation – depression and suicide

    In other words, in a society as passionate about, and as hung up on the shunning and shaming of those who avoid, seafood, as American society is about religion, then studies restricted to that social context would find the same strong correlation between suicide and shellfish allergies.

    Or, shorter:
    [So5] because [So4].


    • Well, anecdotally, my wife and I, being very irreligious, have, more than once, investigated the number of houses of worship in an area, the diversity of those houses, and any indicators toward how deeply religion influences local society & politics.

      And if it’s high, we don’t move there.


    • I didn’t read the underlying study for So4 (and probably wouldn’t have understood it if I had), but I’d posit another (potential) explanation:

      People who attend religious services regularly often get support and benefit from being part of a community of people who care about them. Perhaps that lowers the risk of suicide. (Or not….maybe something else explains it.)


      • I think your way of putting it is the other side of the same coin – in more secular societies, people have the same need for communities of support, and form them just add much, but their access to them is not tied to religiosity.


  9. Okay, one of the things that usually gets a laugh from me is the whole “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter/you got your peanut butter in my chocolate” joke that takes two things that are just a little bit funny but adds them together and, magically, it turns them into something really, really funny.

    You’ve got to use the right two things, of course. “You got your tuna casserole in my upside-down cake!” doesn’t work.

    Anyway, a couple of days ago, the internet was taken by storm by an article that explained “how to talk to a woman who is wearing headphones“.

    It spawned a thousand “is this parody? It’s got to be parody… OH MY GOD IT ISN’T PARODY” tweets and articles. You probably saw some of them. You might have written some of them.

    Well, today, Lena Dunham’s interview in the Lenny magazine has a conversation between Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer. This conversation contains the following tidbit:

    Lena Dunham: You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was so surreal to get to do that.

    I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, “That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.” It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused.

    The vibe was very much like, “Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.” It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, “This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.”

    See what she did there? Well, as you could probably guess, this resulted in a thousand hot takes on twitter and in blogposts as well.

    Neither of those was particularly funny in and of themselves, of course,… but then I saw this:

    How to talk to an Odell Beckham Jr when he's wearing headphones— Devin Rosni (@DevinRosni) September 2, 2016



    • An interesting sidenote here is that there are… Rumors? Whispering? Speculation? That ODB is gay. Much of this has come from within NFL circles (i.e., other players). I obviously don’t know if he is or care if he is and have no real interest in the is he/isn’t he game. But if he is, it puts a whole other spin on his interaction with Dunham and adds another layer to that Tweet.

      Though I don’t suspect Dunham or the Tweeter knew of any of this.


        • He’s not out that I know of. What I mean is that if he is gay, it certainly changes the interaction he had with Dunham. And, hell, regardless of rumors, why assume his reaction was based on sexual attraction (or lackthereof)? That’s a weird bit of heteronormativity.

          “He ignored me because I’m not sexy enough for him!”

          Her comments strike me as rather weird, to be perfectly honest. I can think of two dozen reasons he’d have reacted as he did that have nothing to do with his sexual orientation OR his particular attraction towards her.


          • Which isn’t a criticism of your initial post which I found rather interesting. Unpacking it a bit and the fact it included ODB made me rethink the Dunham comment and followup Tweet.


            • I’ll confess to not knowing a ton about her. She seems to be wildly successful and I’m sure the odds are in favor of me having seen at least one of the films she was involved in. When people talk about, they do so in a way that conveys real talent and smarts.

              And yet the few times she has seemed to poke through far enough to get on my (shitty ass) radar, it seems to paint her in a peculiar light.

              Now peculiarity and talent are far from mutually exclusive. But here she seems to have very quickly typecast ODB… Because he’s black or an athlete or cool or whatever, who knows. Dunham lightly poking fun at ODB probably feels like punching up, especially given that he seemed to dismiss her. And yet maybe it wasn’t. Here is a black male athlete who has been dogged with rumors about his sexual orientation and how he carries himself in public (“Look how he dresses! Look how he dances!”) who was OHBYTHEWAY at a Met gala and she took a weird cheapshot at him? I dunno. Like I said… Weird. But who knows that *I’M* missing in the whole thing.


                • For me? Or Dunham? Both probably.

                  It just seems weird — not wrong, weird — to mock a black male athlete who has gotten his share of shit for how he lives his life because he was insufficiently interested in you at the Met gala.

                  If she wasn’t mocking ODB, then I’m missing more than I realize. Where’s Glyph when you need him? (Hell… Where’s Glyph?!)


                  • She was using that anecdote as a stand-in for “men”… which is nonetheless unfair to him.

                    As a personal and public person (one who seems to embody a sort of economic and social privilege) she is prone to missteps. It’s not wrong to call her out on those, but some seem to enjoy doing so too much.

                    (Not a reference to anyone here.)


                  • (For her)

                    Maribou explained to me that, as she read it, she saw that what was written was nothing more than Lena Dunham’s insecurities and foibles put into words and she wasn’t trying to say “this is what he was thinking” but “I am insecure and neurotic and when I met him I was certain that all of these thoughts were going through his head because that’s how insecure and neurotic I am!” but, unfortunately, phrased it in such a way where she wasn’t saying “here’s how messed up I am” but “he did this thing”.

                    So, taking that into account, my take is that the wacky thing is that if she said “here’s how insecure and neurotic I am… I was in a place surrounded by Greek Adonises and I felt so insecure and out of place!”, we would all smile sadly and nod and say “I have been there.”

                    But she didn’t say that. She, instead, phrased it in such a way that instead of it being about her, it turned weird.

                    She’s already sending out “clarifying” remarks, by the way. The fact that people are weirded out by her original comments are evidence of… something. Apparently.


                    • That definitely changes things. Kinda surprised (pleasantly) that my reaction wasn’t totally off kilter.

                      And by “new place”, I imagine prior generations had few people like Dunham and Beckam — or rather few people who could live as openly themselves as Dunham and Beckham do — and rarer still were moments where their paths crossed.

                      I rarely take solace in the discomfort of others but Beckham and Dunham sharing an awkward moment at the Met gala feels like a positive thing overall.


                      • Well, the thing to watch out for now is the following dynamic:

                        “Hey, that thing that Lena Dunham did was a little messed up.”
                        “Jesus Christ, why don’t you people understand that we aren’t the enemy here?”

                        And the conversations that follow from that.


                        • Ideally the Dunhum people say, “This was an unfortunate misstatement,” and the Beckham people say, “We understand what it’s like to be misunderstood,” and the rest of us take notes.


                          • Since her clarifying remarks, she has actually gone and given a for-real apology:

                            I owe Odell Beckham Jr an apology. Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don’t rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it’s hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he’d rather be seated with. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it. Because after listening to lots of valid criticism, I see how unfair it is to ascribe misogynistic thoughts to someone I don’t know AT ALL. Like, we have never met, I have no idea the kind of day he’s having or what his truth is. But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies- as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. I’m so sorry, particularly to OBJ, who has every right to be on his cell phone. The fact is I don’t know about his state of mind (I don’t know a lot of things) and I shouldn’t have acted like I did. Much love and thanks, Lena

                            Golly. That’s a good apology. It’s usable in the future for a good example of what apologies ought to look like.


              • To (maybe?) clarify…

                The initial situation seemed to me to be…

                Asshole guy pens dumb piece on irritating women.
                Dorky, frumpy female writer pokes fun at jock.
                Twitter person further lampoons dumb piece by referencing writer/jock interaction.

                But if we reframe the writer/jock situation, everything changes. Which framing is right? I dunno… Probably neither in their entirety. But it seems Dunham pegged ODB wrong — and possibly in a really big, totally-relevant-to-her-comment way — and maybe should reserve that criticism.


                • Dorky, frumpy female writer pokes fun at jock.” [emphasis added]

                  I think this is a perfect example of what you and are talking about and shows how easy it is to make these mistakes in our new world.


                    • Cruelty has a human heart,
                      And Jealousy a human face;
                      Terror the human form divine,
                      And secrecy the human dress.

                      The human dress is forged iron,
                      The human form a fiery forge,
                      The human face a furnace seal’d,
                      The human heart its hungry gorge.

                      The Divine Image – William Blake
                      Songs of Experience


  10. On the general news front, the NY Times has announced that starting next week they will have a section titled “California Today”. I am curious to see what the editorial tone will be. Straight news, acknowledging that the most populous state (12.1% of US population) is important? Jealousy, what with the Times being anchored in a declining region (New York appears likely to lose another House seat in the 2021 reapportionment)? That California is an increasingly foreign place? My suspicion is, based on the timing, that it will be the last one.

    Fullish disclosure: My typical morning news read doesn’t include the NYT. Denver Post first for local stuff; LA Times second for western regional, national and international stories; Washington Post third for Congressional news. All news writing is slanted; I’m much more comfortable with the LA Times’ slant on national/international than I am with any of the other major papers.


    • “That California is an increasingly foreign place?”

      I don’t know how representitive of the west CA is anymore either. The coastal west is starting to really stand on its own at this point, away from the general feel and politics of the traditional west that you often talk about . At least until you go east of the coastal ranges, then you feel much more a part of the general west.

      Then again, maybe I’m just jaded.


      • Me? I thought I wrote about a West whose population is dominated a handful of metro areas, in particular the suburbs and large suburb-like portions of the anchor cities [1]. Where water and fire are different subjects than they are in the rest of the country. Where politicians of all stripes are frustrated by the massive federal land holdings, for assorted different reasons. Where major policy decisions are routinely made by citizen initiative. Where there’s been a (possibly not conscious) decision to bet the house on renewable power for keeping the lights on in the long term. Where the parts of most western states that fall into the “traditional” category based on mining, ranching, and farming with irrigation have (a) suddenly discovered that they don’t have nearly the political power they thought they had [2], and (b) they’re terrified about what that means.

        For better or worse, I assert that California is the model for the West. They seem more extreme because they’ve run into the same problems that most western states will face sooner.

        [1] I was talking with a friend from Portland the other day, and we agreed that the suburbs of Denver and Portland are culturally much more like the suburbs in California than like any place east of the Great Plains. He’s an ethnographer and studies that sort of thing professionally.

        [2] They haven’t had the power they thought they had for a long time, it’s just that the problems of growing urban/suburban population have reached the point where the rural areas aren’t going to be allowed to do as they please any longer.


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