Elsewhere for October 13, 2018

You should read this for 10/13/2018:

Art, Film and TV

Via The Week: The first female Doctor Who might also be the best.

I spend the first season of every regeneration in Doctor Who grouchily acclimating to the new face before reluctantly being won over by the finale.
That just makes it all the more surprising that following Jodie Whittaker’s Sunday night debut, I was hooked within minutes. I have a feeling other fans felt the same — there is no doubt in my mind that she will be a great Doctor. In fact, she might just be the best in a generation.

This makes me very happy. I haven’t seen Doctor Who since 2007, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Books, Writing, and Language

American democracy is fracturing. Libraries say they know how to help

“The library is quietly one of the places that is saving democracy,” says Tony Marx, president of the New York Public Library. If that sounds like self-serving hyperbole, consider: more people visited the New York Public Library last year (around 17 million) than all museum visits and sporting events in the city combined.

Libraries build community and sustain spirits. They’re a crucial part of a well-educated democracy.

Via WIRED staff: Twenty Five Of Our All-Time Favorite Books

The Printed Word in Peril/a> “The age of Homo virtualis is upon us.” See Also: “>Brave New World vs Nineteen Eighty-Four (H/T Caxton).

I understand Self is concerned about the digital precipice we’re poised on, ready to fall. But I also think that we have larger worries, like the demise of democracy, and the devastation of climate change. I’m more worried about the future depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale than those of Huxley or Orwell. I don’t share Self’s concerns about the literary novel, at all.

Why So Many Fantasy Novels Are Obsessed With Academia


Teaching students about geography, one Google Hangout at a time

I used Google Hangouts Meet to connect my class with another one in an unknown state. To solve the mystery of where the other class was located, students shared fun facts about their state and asked yes or no questions like, “Are you west of the Mississippi River?”

Orthodoxxed! On “Sokal Squared”

The orthodoxy these men represent is not an orthodoxy of scientific legitimacy but rather the emerging consensus of tech bros, Davos billionaires, and alt-right misogynists. Each of these groups has its own reasons to hate feminist and other critical scholarship—whether for ideological reasons, positivist data fetishism, or the perception that they are uncommodifiable and hence worthless. 

Food and Drink

Poor Man’s Two-Egg Pasta Dough Recipe “Making homemade pasta dough doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need are two eggs, flour and oil—ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.”

Via WineMag.com: TOP 100 BEST BUYS OF 201

With 16 countries and more than 35 different grape varieties represented, this list has all the wines you want, from tried-and-true Prosecco and California Zin to out-of-the-box selections from Texasand Bulgaria.
And to top it off, this list boasts an average bottle price just over $12 and an average rating just under 90 points. 

History and Archaeology

A philosopher explains how our addiction to stories keeps us from understanding history

When I say “narrative,” I don’t mean a chronology of events; I mean stories with plots, connected by motivations, by people’s beliefs and desires, their plans, intentions, values. There’s a story.
The problem is, these historical narratives seduce you into thinking you really understand what’s going on and why things happened, but most of it is guessing people’s motives and their inner thoughts. It allays your curiosity, and you’re satisfied psychologically by the narrative, and it connects the dots so you feel you’re in the shoes of the person whose narrative is being recorded. It has seduced you into a false account, and now you think you understand.

Narrative lust is real.

How We Know Ancient Humans Believed In the Afterlife

This beautiful data visualization shows what Middle Eastern thinkers discovered long before the West

A History of Opium “Opium has been known and used for more than 7,000 years. A brilliantly researched and wide-ranging study brings its history up to date.” A review of Milk of Paradise: A History of Opium by Lucy Inglis

Science and Nature

Cassini Grand Finale Reveals Saturn’s Rings Blast the Planet With Organic Rain

The Saturn-orbiting Cassini-Huygens spacecraft died fighting—in fact, it kept gathering data right up until its final plummet into the gas giant. The daring plunge revealed incredible new things about the charismatic planet—like organic ring rain.

See also: This is What NASA Learned When Cassini Dove Into Saturn

Sinking Santa Cruz: climate change threatens famed California beach town

And then there’s the fires . . .


How Facebook polarized us during the Kavanaugh hearings

. . . a nagging question about the social network has been whether its viral mechanics — and the viral mechanics on YouTube, Twitter, and other platforms — have accelerated the split between the left and the right.

Today we have two stories that examine that phenomenon. The first concerns the fight over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. At a time when the sharing of news articles on Facebook is in general decline, the wrenching battle over Kavanaugh has been a top performer on the site. And many of the top performing posts, reports Craig Silverman, are among the most partisan in nature

This is very much related to the already familiar phenomena in print journalism: controversy, and even negativity, sells papers. It’s what drove yellow journalism.

Colin Powell: It’s now ‘me the president’ instead of ‘we the people’

FACT CHECK: Trump’s False Claims On ‘Medicare For All’ President Trump wrote an op-ed column that contained numerous unsubstantiated and false claims about healthcare.

The president is trying to play on the fears of seniors — who vote in large numbers — with the claim that any effort to improve health security for younger Americans must come at their expense. But that is a false choice.

This Disney heiress is here to tell you exactly what the 1% did with Trump’s tax cuts. “Spoiler: They didn’t create more jobs and increase salaries.”


Hardening macOS

See also Brad Terpstra’s How to Make Your Mac as Secure as Possible.

Women’s Work

A prestigious university just awarded a literary prize to one of its janitors

Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women

But by 2015, the company realized its new system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way.
That is because Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry.
In effect, Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable. It penalized resumes that included the word “women’s,” as in “women’s chess club captain.” And it downgraded graduates of two all-women’s colleges, according to people familiar with the matter.

This viral airport ‘mansplaining’ story shows what male allyship can look like.

Are women in science any better off than in Ada Lovelace’s day?

On the Trail of Missing American Indian Women “Lissa Yellowbird-Chase, an amateur sleuth, believes that every human being deserves to be searched for.”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

A Twitter convo about self-appreciation was the best thing on the internet this week

How a mom’s “This Is My Son” anti-feminist brag went viral — and completely backfired This this is what the ‘net is for. Also cats.

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