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It’s not news that liberals and conservatives have different reading tastes when it come to political books. But research shows that political differences affect the selection of science books as well. According to a study released in Nature Human Behavior found that liberals and conservatives prefer different science subjects. Right-leaning readers prefer applied science, like…

Myopic Political Bubble?

imageIt’s not news that liberals and conservatives have different reading tastes when it come to political books. But research shows that political differences affect the selection of science books as well.

According to a study released in Nature Human Behavior found that liberals and conservatives prefer different science subjects. Right-leaning readers prefer applied science, like criminology or medicine, while those on the other side of the political aisle seek books that explore science for science’s sake, like zoology, or abstract physics.

This article in Wired offers a few more details from the study of reading habits: “There are two important general differences between the two ideologies,” says Michael Macy, computational social scientist at Cornell University, and co-author for the study. “Liberals tend to be more interested in basic science that is motivated by intellectual puzzles, empirical exercises, philosophical musings, and conservatives are looking for solutions, problem solving, and applied research.”

Another difference in reading habits was discovered as well. From the Wired story: “Liberals tend to purchase science books that are interesting to anyone who is interested in science, regardless of whether they read political books. And conservatives are more cloistered, preferring science books that are only of interest to people who buy conservative political books.”

The study adds another piece of evidence of a trend that Americans are increasingly associating with only like-minded individuals, without genuine dialogue with opposing viewpoints.

Posted by Joel on April 05 2017 • Current Affairs

An Accurate Map of the World

Do you think that today’s maps present an accurate description of the world we live in? Think again. This post at Open Culture shows how difficult it is to show what the world is actually like on a flat page. That is, until a Japanese designer solved the problem last year.

“For either cultural or navigational reasons, this hugely distorted map inflates the size of Europe and North America and makes Greenland and Africa roughly the same size. A long overdue update, the Peters Projection from 1973, improved the Mercator’s accuracy, but at the cost of legibility and proportion. But last year, architect and artist Hajime Narukawa of Keio University’s Graduate School of Media and Governance in Tokyo solved these problems with his AuthaGraph World Map, at the top, which won Japan’s Good Design Grand Award, beating out “over 1000 entries.”

This video explains the problem, and the solution, in greater detail. Fascinating.

Posted by Joel on March 11 2017 • Current Affairs

Libraries are for Everyone

Hafuboti is the work of a self-described “Punk Rock Book Jockey, crafter, ukulele player, do-gooder, TV watcher, pop culture enthusiast, Jim Henson fan, and a lot more.” The site’s creator, Rebecca McCorkindale, is also a Nebraska public librarian. Definitely check her site out. She created these great graphics for all to use online. Thank you. I love the message: Libraries are certainly for everyone.

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Posted by Joel on February 19 2017 • Current Affairs

Prince's Final Performance

Prince gave his final concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Thursday, April 14. As this article at US magazine says, his performance of Purple Rail “will give you chills.”

Posted by Joel on June 01 2016 • Current Affairs

American Renewal

imageYou must read the great cover story in the March 2016 Atlantic written by James Fallows. Most Americans believe their country is going to hell, he writes. But after a three-year trip across the country in his single-prop plane, Fallows learned that what has been said about American decline is different that how it appears from our national dialogue:

“As a whole, the country may seem to be going to hell. That jeremiad view is a great constant through American history. The sentiment is predictably and particularly strong in a presidential-election year like this one, when the “out” party always has a reason to argue that things are bad and getting worse. And plenty of objective indicators of trouble, from stagnant median wages to drug epidemics in rural America to gun deaths inflicted by law-enforcement officers and civilians, support the dystopian case.

“But here is what I now know about America that I didn’t know when we started these travels, and that I think almost no one would infer from the normal diet of news coverage and political discourse. The discouraging parts of the San Bernardino story are exceptional—only five other U.S. cities are officially bankrupt—but the encouraging parts have resonance almost anywhere else you look ... What is true for this very hard-luck city prevails more generally: Many people are discouraged by what they hear and read about America, but the closer they are to the action at home, the better they like what they see.”

Posted by Joel on February 21 2016 • Current Affairs

Frank Lloyd Wright on Religion, Education and Nature

Frank Lloyd Wright shares his unique perspectives on religion, nature and education in this rare clip from June 1957.

Posted by Joel on September 12 2015 • Current Affairs

Montaigne on Self-Esteem

More from Alain de Botton, author of The Consolations of Philosophy and founder of The School of Life: A Guide to Happiness: How Six Great Philosophers Can Change Your Life. Here he talks about how Montaigne can speak to all of us as we feel we often don’t measure up. (Courtesy of Open Culture.)

Posted by Joel on August 03 2015 • Current Affairs

Still Racing in the Street

Bruce Springsteen recently made a surprise visit to the annual Light of Day benefit concert in Asbury Park benefitting Parkinson’s disease. And at 65 he still played until 2 a.m.

One of my favorites, Racing in the Street:

Posted by Joel on February 07 2015 • Current Affairs

The Bacchanal of Disruption

Leon Wieseltier writes a wonderfully provocative lead essay in today’s New York Times Book Review:

“The discussion of culture is being steadily absorbed into the discussion of business,” Wieseltier writes.” There are “metrics” for phenomena that cannot be metrically measured. Numerical values are assigned to things that cannot be captured by numbers. Economic concepts go rampaging through noneconomic realms: Economists are our experts on happiness! Where wisdom once was, quantification will now be.”

On “scientism, which is not the same as science:”

“The notion that the nonmaterial dimensions of life must be explained in terms of the material dimensions, and that nonscientific understandings must be translated into scientific understandings if they are to qualify as knowledge, is increasingly popular inside and outside the university, where the humanities are disparaged as soft and impractical and insufficiently new.”

On American intellectuals:

“Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life. All revolutions exaggerate, and the digital revolution is no different. We are still in the middle of the great transformation, but it is not too early to begin to expose the exaggerations, and to sort out the continuities from the discontinuities. The burden of proof falls on the revolutionaries, and their success in the marketplace is not sufficient proof. Presumptions of obsolescence, which are often nothing more than the marketing techniques of corporate behemoths, need to be scrupulously examined.”

Posted by Joel on January 18 2015 • Current Affairs

What is Philosophy For?

A delightful animated video, exploring what philosophy is for, from Alain de Botton, author of The Consolations of Philosophy and founder of The School of Life (courtesy of Brain Pickings):

Posted by Joel on November 02 2014 • Current Affairs