11 Jan

Go Pro Video Of Hawaii Plane Crash reveals some interesting insight into humans in emergencies

“Good Morning America got a hold of the GoPro video taken inside a plane’s cabin as it crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii last month.

A passenger on a plane, Ferdinand Puentes, also used the camera to take a selfie”

(Via Go Pro Video Of Hawaii Plane Crash – Business Insider.)


One of the things that interest me about this video is that the reports are surprised at how calm everyone is. Look, Hollywood, writers, people really push the idea that people are lemmings that panic mindlessly in emergencies and civil disasters. That people are incapable naturally of forming fast communities to engage with issues. Never mind that we’ve seen amazing coordinated action among people in amazing spots in history (to evacuate beaches of soldiers, move people across a river after a terrorist attack, etc).

The reporters shouldn’t be surprised, but they are because they are actually part of the issue that focuses on negative panics and ‘bleeds and leads’ stories. They should, however, educate themselves a bit.

18 Sep

The tale of the death of an adjunct at Duquesne University

You know, as Christ would have wanted them to do…

“Meanwhile, in the past year, her teaching load had been reduced by the university to one class a semester, which meant she was making well below $10,000 a year. With huge out-of-pocket bills from UPMC Mercy for her cancer treatment, Margaret Mary was left in abject penury. She could no longer keep her electricity on in her home, which became uninhabitable during the winter. She therefore took to working at an Eat ‘n Park at night and then trying to catch some sleep during the day at her office at Duquesne. When this was discovered by the university, the police were called in to eject her from her office. Still, despite her cancer and her poverty, she never missed a day of class.

Finally, in the spring, she was let go by the university, which told her she was no longer effective as an instructor — despite many glowing evaluations from students. She came to me to seek legal help to try to save her job. She said that all she wanted was money to pay her medical bills because Duquesne, which never paid her much to begin with, gave her nothing on her way out the door.

Duquesne knew all about Margaret Mary’s plight, for I apprised them of it in two letters. I never received a reply, and Margaret Mary was forced to die saddened, penniless and on the verge of being turned over to Orphan’s Court.”

(Via Death of an adjunct – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

As the corporatizing of everything continues, either we will have to figure out how to create safety nets that do not depend at all on where we work, worship, or live, or we will all die like Margaret Mary. The fact that she was a fellow of the same belief system, university, or educated class did nothing for her, I doubt any of them will save any of us either.

Stories like these make me hope ACA gets through in the next couple months.

[link via M J Locke]

Follow up thought. Corporations are always whining, particularly HR, about the fact that Millennials job hop, and have no loyalty to systems (corporations, parties, religions).

Gee whiz. I wonder why the fuck not?

18 Aug

Jamaica: lead and crime

Kevin Drums research about a strong correlation between lead and crime seems to impact the Caribbean as well:

“When I read The New York Times writing about a 40 percent fall in Jamaica’s murder rate (it’s still very high) I naturally wondered about Kevin Drum’s lead angle. And he says it fits the pattern: From 1990 to 2000, Jamaica started phasing out leaded gasoline. From 2009 to 2013, the crime rate has fallen forty percent. In other words, Jamaica is likely starting to see the beneficial impact of a youth cohort with lower levels of lead poisoning. And just based on the lead channel alone you’d expect to see meaningful further improvements over the next 5-10 years as the kids who were born after the complete eradication of leaded gasoline grow up.”

(Via Jamaica lead and crime..)

If this is true, lead removal should become the number one priority of governments worldwide, and communities across the US.

Additionally, it goes to show you the impact that being pollution free has. We could have avoided a lot of this. And what other heavy metals in the air are affecting society right now?

16 Aug

Interesting thoughts on meritocracy and lead

Matthew Yglesias on meritocracy and lead:

“Obviously the right response to lead and other atmospheric toxins is to clean them up. But the fact of the matter is that we’re not going to eliminate lead from the build environment next year, and we’re certainly not going to go back in time to the late 1960s and clean up the environment that today’s 45-year-olds grew up in. And though lead is very important, it’s also obviously not the only source of relative cognitive disadvantage out there (consider mercury or bad school lunches or just noise). The point, however, is that the unfairness that who your parents were and where they lived 30 or 40 years ago has a major impact on your income and opportunities today isn’t a contrast to the idea that the American economic system in some sense rewards merit—this happens precisely because the system rewards merit and possession of ‘merit’ is largely driven by factors that are themselves totally beyond a person’s individual control.”

(Via Meritocracy isn’t fair: Lead poisoned children are genuinely less able but still deserve great lives..)

16 Apr

Dove uses sketch artist to show difference between how women and others percieve themselves

Going viral on my twitter and Facebook feeds is this Dove Real Beauty campaign:

“Gil Zamora is an FBI-trained forensics artist with over 3,000 criminal sketches under his belt. Dove and Ogilvy Toronto hired him to interview and draw seven different women—two sketches of each. The first sketch was based on each woman’s personal description of herself. The second was based on a description provided by a stranger the woman had just met. Of course, the differences are vast. Watching these women come face to face with the version of themselves in their mind and the version everyone else sees is extraordinary.”

(Via Dove Hires Criminal Sketch Artist to Draw Women as They See Themselves and as Others See Them | Adweek.)

It really is stunning to see the difference in description.

When I have more time, I want to find out how they double blinded this. If they used the same artist, and he was aware that one was the stranger describing themselves, and the other the person who met them describing them, he would have been unconsciously influenced if he knew what the outcome of this experiment was supposed to be.

This is an advertisement by Dove. But I’d like to see the experiment done with two different sketch artists, so that there wasn’t a pressure on the artist to deliver a more ‘beautiful’ result (whether unconsciously or because he knew where his paycheck was coming from).

As a demonstration, brilliant. Much needed.

As a science experiment, I think it would be interesting to try it again with some controls to see if the experiment holds.

A much better meta-critique of the whole thing is found here:

And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is. It doesn’t really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is, and it doesn’t really tell us that fitting inside that definition isn’t the most important thing. It doesn’t really push back against the constant objectification of women. All it’s really saying is that you’re actually not quite as far off from the narrow definition as you might think that you are (if you look like the featured women, I guess).

And actually, it almost seems to remind us how vital it is to know that we fit society’s standard of attractiveness .

Yes, a viral video saying ‘you’re more beautiful than you think you are’ does actually reinforce conventional beauty, even though I think Dove’s intention wasn’t to do that, the soup of grounded assumptions is interesting.

“See, you’re not as ugly as you think you are” may not actually be the most empowering tag line in the world. I agree with the above blogger. The fact that so many people were touched by just being told “see you’re not as ugly as you think you are” is still, though, a pretty damning indictment of where things stand.

Though Dove is a large corporation, the fact that so many shared the piece and were affected by it is an indication of something interesting going on, and I would be slow to just dismiss it at hand. Something hit home.