Weakly Post #4

From Wired Magazine.

From Wired, you can get a Harley….electric! Wow. Want.

Here are some links to my posts this week. How to Pay Attention. The Pilot V Fountain Pen rocks. Best movie of the decade: Roma.

Other links I have found worthy of reading (I don’t recommend unless I’ve read it). Causes of Death in the US: #1: Cancer. #2: Heart disease. #3: Stupidity. How to Avoid Stupidity. (Thanks Bill Snyder). I love science. Especially when it debunks hysteria (a word originally applied only to women, but now to people like Marco Rubio and the DT. The Havana Embassy Mystery (Vanity Fair; long, but worth it.). Tim Herrera at the NYTimes shows us that one way to remember something is to draw it. Don’t write the word. Draw it. History will show that Nancy Pelosi is one of the most important politicians the US has ever had. During the Lehman shock, the 2008 debacle, she stood up for the people. The most adult in the room. We see why John McCain lost a few weeks later. (The Atlantic). Books have been changed, not so much themselves (they are the container) but everything around books has. An author from Japan tells of how production is different now. (Wired) What is the difference between a language and a dialect? A Swedish researcher has assembled some impressive data and come to a conclusion. How to murder somebody. The best way, according to the CIA, is by pushing them off a ledge. No guns, no explosions, no fuss. And it looks like an accident. Does the culture remember John Lennon? Looks like there is a halflife of about 15 years on verbal cultural memories. Written lasts longer. The other media are different (Nautilus). Busy streets make for a less engaged community. Fewer friends and acquaintences (Kottke). Here’s one to get mad about. Small towns in the US make money by fining poor people. It has become a business model. Weird time fold with a 50’s TV show. Texas western where a snake oil salesman comes to town and says the world is ending, and the only way to save yourself is paying him to build a wall. The huckster is named Trump. Really.

Attention! is important

The first of the 5 Digital Literacies in Howard Rheingold‘s book Net Smart is Attention. At first, I thought this was just a warm-up to the other literacies, one to get things going to study Critical Consumption (crap detection), Participation, Collaboration, and Net Structure. Then I started teaching with the book. Then I started doing research, and have come to the conclusion that Attention is the most important of the five.

I have noticed in my classes that there are more kinds of attention. I have noticed myself managing different levels of attention. Managing your own attention is key to all of the others. Indeed, meditation shows both how and why.

I have been able to focus more as a result of monitoring my own (lack of) attention. Here are 20 Ways to Win the War Against Seeing by Rob Walker (Medium). They are great ways to practice Attention, and will help you manage your own. Here is part of a newsletter (called Noticing) by Jason Kottke about, well, noticing things.

So here’s the skinny. The book is called The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday, will be out in May 2019, and can be preordered from Amazon right now. Walker describes it as a practical guide to becoming a better observer, “a series of exercises and prompts and games and things you can actually do (or reflect upon) to build attention muscles or just get off your phone and enjoy noticing stuff that everyone else missed”.

Pilot V fountain pen

I went through a list of the top 100 pens last month, and found this one, the Pilot V fountain pen rated highly. The ink flows nicely, no scratchiness, as smooth as my rollerballs, but more…sensual. What can I say? Costs about $3 (¥300). I may go back to longhand.

Best movie of the decade

Roma, by Alfonso Cuaron. I just finished. A masterpiece. The best movie of the year (2018). Maybe of the decade. And in black and white, better than color. In Spanish (with a lot of Oaxacan as well). Cuaron’s story of growing up in a tony area of Mexico City, the Roma neighborhood in 1970. It follows Cleo, the maid as the family, the city, her friends and the times swirl around her in a dizzying rhythm. The noise, the world, all impinge on her quiet soul. And the actress. The only word I can think of is beatific.

I am 6 years older than Cuaron. My family traveled in Mexico the summer of 67, just 3 years before this movie was set, so I was the age of the oldest brother in this film. There were 4 kids in the family, much like mine. I remember vividly visiting my mother’s friend and her family in Cuernavaca. A similar situation. All of those details resonated with me. Cuaron, as a kid, was a superlative observer.

The detail in the movie is astounding. Watching dozens of art-house flicks when I was in Barcelona helped me understand the graphic language of black and white movies, the subtle connections beween worlds. The airplane, the dog shit, the car, the “poza” (pond) and the water, and a half dozen other things. It had me on the edge of my seat through all 2 and a quarter hours, even though it was a relatively normal family for that time. 

Roger Ebert’s website gives it 4/4 stars.

With some of the most striking imagery of the year, “Roma” often blends the surreal and the relatable into one memorable image.

Read Kristopher Tapley in Variety getting the backstory from Cuaron.

Wow. I will have to watch this one again. A work of art. 

Weakly Post #3

Media: Marie Kondo (or in Japanese, Kondo Marie) is famous for her technique of tidyng up. She has a new show on Netflix. I am not sure what to think of it. She is a small bubbly (yes, bubbly) woman who speaks little English, giving advice to families in the USA. I’m not sure if her ultra Japanese-ness is affected or genuine. The families seem to eat it up. The real star of the show is the translator. Maybe something to use in class as an example of how people do simultaneous translation. You only need to watch one episode. I watched 2 and they are the same. Unless you want to see more cluttered homes (voyeur!). Evidently organization porn is a big hit.

Politics: Crazy stuff when the American Taliban prosecute a woman for having a miscarriage. (NYTimes). And other countries might start thinking about tourists from America trying to emmigrate, because of health care. Pet stores in California can only sell rescue dogs and cats (NYTimes). You have to go directly to the breeder if not. Designed to limit puppy farms and animal cruelty, and reduce the state animal shelter budget, this has me wondering.

Business: Amazon is the place where America shops online. Following up last month’s link about how opaque the marketplace (The Verge) is on Amazon, where 3rd parties (small business) sell through Amazon, you can also make money by giving advice to new sellers. But is it legitimate? (Atlantic)

Media: Elsevier owns 2,500 academic journals, publishing articles by unpaid faculty, and charging over US$30 to access each article. Sci-Hub pirates these articles, much like the torrent network does for TV, movies and music. Meanwhile in Europe Open Science is gaining support for Plan S to require all government funded research to appear in Open (free) publication immediately. Publishers are worried, but this really needs to be a global concern to succeed, and this is the first step.

Writing: Is the exclamation point (!) an intensity marker or a sincerity marker? That and more, in how we overuse them!

Looking at this post, I don’t like the mish-mash of topics. I am going to start separating the posts and let the Categories help you find what you need, along with a much shorter Weakly Post each Sunday pointing to the other stuff I posted during the week. Check back here often (or better, add me to your RSS feed reader), and make a comment. I may even start an email list to notify people of Weakly Posts.