Quick hits (part II)

1) In part of an effort to actually treat prisoners like humans, New York is doing away with Nutraloaf.

2) Unique features of Yoda’s syntax, this article describes.

3) How to actually persuade people when you argue with them– appeal to the issue through their— not your– moral framework.

VEDANTAM: So the data comes from Matthew Feinberg at the University of Toronto, and along with Robb Willer, they find that both Liberals and Conservatives tend to fall back on the moral frameworks of their own side when making arguments. When the researchers asked Liberals and Conservatives to make arguments – for example, they asked Conservatives to formulate arguments about why English should be the official language of the United States, overwhelmingly, Conservatives used the argument that having a united country meant speaking the same language. Very few appealed to a liberal moral framework by saying, for example, when people speak English, they are less likely to face racism.

The same thing happened with Liberals on the subject of gay marriage. Instead of painting same-sex marriage as a patriotic issue, most Liberals framed their support for same-sex marriage using arguments about fairness. Now it should be no surprise that when Liberals and Conservatives actually used arguments that spoke to their opponent’s moral framework, they were actually far more likely to persuade their opponent.

4) USB type C– technology of the year.

5) Bush v. Gore was a truly abysmal Supreme Court decision.  Always nice to have a reminder explaining why.

6) Apparently there are actually Sandy Hook deniers.  There’s a professor at Florida Atlantic looking to lose his tenure for falling into this category.  Yes, I believe in tenure and academic freedom, but even tenured professor should have some minimum expectation of connection to reality.

7) John Williams‘ (easily the best composer of the 20th century, for my money) movie scores ranked.  One of my favorite anecdotes– they seriously considered a disco score for Star Wars.  Safe to say it would not have been the same.

8) Damn it.  Now I’ve got to feel guilty for the environmental impact of watching Netflix.

9) Ana Swanson on why violence is contagious:

However, research into the brain and violent behavior suggests that exposure to violence — whether personally or through the media — is one important factor. Some people who study violence explain these recurring patterns with a simple metaphor: That violence is contagious and spreads like a disease. Just as tuberculosis spreads in the lung and cholera multiplies in the intestine, a violent experience or image can take hold in the brain, and be reproduced from there into real life. The more emotional and shocking the images — as were those that emerged from Columbine — the more contagious violence proves to be…

In practice, that could mean new reporting suggestions for the media on how to cover violent events like mass shootings. It could mean that average people, realizing that their brains are vulnerable to violence, choose to take additional steps to shield themselves or their kids. Or, it could mean rethinking how communities police themselves, putting more resources into detecting and stopping conflicts and violent events before they start, instead of punishing people afterward.

10) Say what you will about Paul Ryan, I do like the man’s beard.

11) With all the great reviews of the new Star Wars movie (I’m planning on going Monday), a nice reminder that the Phantom Menace actually got great reviews when it was new.

12) Vox on the huge growth in the popularity of podcasting.

13) Milennials are much more likely than older generations to see Christmas as primarily a cultural holiday (rather than religious).  I very much see it as both and enjoy it as both.

14) And if you see Christmas as primarily religious and have a nativity scene, here’s what’s wrong with it.

15) Sticking with Christmas– why cash is the worst gift (i.e., economists don’t really understand everything).

16) Fascinating story of the epidemic of Hepatitis C in Egypt and the huge effort now underway to treat it.

17) David Roberts with the best story I read on the recent climate deal.

18) Loved this essay on how and why English is such a unique language.

19) Several people posted this story about a false rape accusation on FB and said it was a must-read.  They were right.

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