“There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. It is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. We have forgotten this language. We do not even remember that it exists.”— Derrick Jensen, from A Language Older Than Words (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2000) (via apoetreflects)
Here’s the full text of a piece I wrote for The Magazine a few months ago. I really enjoyed writing it, and would like to thank Marco once again for publishing it there. If you haven’t checked out The Magazine yet, you should. Anyway, here’s why you’re a total snooze:
Everything was going great until you showed up. You see me across the crowded room, make your way over, and start talking at me. And you don’t stop.
You are a Democrat, an outspoken atheist, and a foodie. You like to say “Science!” in a weird, self-congratulatory way. You wear jeans during the day, and fancy jeans at night. You listen to music featuring wispy lady vocals and electronic bloop-bloops.
You really like coffee, except for Starbucks, which is the worst. No wait—Coke is the worst! Unless it’s Mexican Coke, in which case it’s the best.
You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals. You stay up late on Twitter making hashtagged jokes about the event that everyone has decided will be the event about which everyone jokes today. You love to send withering @ messages to people like Rush Limbaugh—of course, those notes are not meant for their ostensible recipients, but for your friends, who will chuckle and retweet your savage wit.
You are boring. So, so boring.
Don’t take it too hard. We’re all boring. At best, we’re recovering bores. Each day offers a hundred ways for us to bore the crap out of the folks with whom we live, work, and drink. And on the internet, you’re able to bore thousands of people at once.1
A few years ago, I had a job that involved listening to a ton of podcasts. It’s possible that I’ve heard more podcasts than anyone else—I listened to at least a little bit of tens of thousands of shows. Of course, the vast majority were so bad I’d often wish microphones could be sold only to licensed users. But I did learn how to tell very quickly whether someone was interesting or not.
The people who were interesting told good stories. They were also inquisitive: willing to work to expand their social and intellectual range. Most important, interesting people were also the best listeners. They knew when to ask questions. This was the set of people whose shows I would subscribe to, whose writing I would seek out, and whose friendship I would crave. In other words, those people were the opposite of boring.
1. Weather Channel — it gives sunrise sunset, current temp, hourly temp, 10-day forecast in an easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate lay-out
2. Google Maps — do not upgrade to a phone (iPhone 5) or operating system that prohibits you from using this (such as iPhone’s iOS6)
3. Pulse — app with excellent interface for reading latest news on dozens of web sites at once, and sharing easily with social media — I prefer this to Flipbook
4. Podcasts - Native Apple app makes listening to and updating podcasts to which you subscribe fairly easy. Beats iTunes. Yes it’s still buggy but best alternative
5. Pandora - good for creating or subscribing to radio stations to listen to music. I use the free version with ads, but I’ll probably upgrade soon to paid version without ads
6. Instapaper — good for saving long-reads from magazines or other web sites for later reading
7. Kindle for iPhone — good for reading your Kindle books on the go on your phone
8. Yelp — good for finding local restaurants and reviews, directions to get there, phone numbers.
9. Seafood Watch — helps you choose the most sustainable fish on menus wherever you are in the world. Of course the best choice is no meat or fish at all if possible.
10. PostalPix — makes it easy to order prints of photos taken on your smartphone. Good idea to get prints because someday all these digital photos will be obsolete or inaccessible. Think about how long computer technologies last. Then think about how long paper lasts. Longer.
11. iBird Plus — spring for one of the more expensive versions of this app. excellent database for bird-watching and identifying.
12. MoonPhase — I like this for one fun reason — it plays a wolf-howl sound on the day/night of the full moon.
13. AwardWallet — tracks all your frequent flier points, hotel points, Amtrak points and other shopping points in one location
14. PaperKarma — allows you to easily get rid of junk mail simply by taking a photo of the offenders’ address. Fantastic app. Save the Indonesian forests where our paper is made.
15. Flashlight — get one of the free flashlight apps. At the very least, it helps you read menus in dark restaurants.
March Madness is a wonderful American sports tradition where over 800 college basketball teams compete to see who is the maddest! It’s VERY mad and everyone from President Barack Obama down to the lowliest, most recent immigrant from Sierra Leone or Canada get into it BIG TIME. It’s pretty much the most American thing that happens every year, more American than eating an apple pie off of a space shuttle’s hood on Jesus Christ’s birthday.
12:01 pm — Some Current Biology papers (others embargoed for Thursday)
12:01 pm — Canadian Medical Association Journal
3 pm — PNAS
4 pm — Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine — basically all the JAMA Archives titles
5 pm — Annals of Internal Medicine
7 pm — Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
9 am - Molecular Psychiatry (NPG)
10 am - International Journal of Obesity (NPG)
11 am — Nature Communications
1:20 pm — Molecular Therapy (NPG)
2:40 pm - Translational Psychiatry (NPG)
4 pm — JAMA
5 pm — PLoS Medicine, PLoS Biology, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (as above, official embargo time is 5 pm for all PLoS journals, but unofficially embargo lifts once the paper is published online, which may be as much as an hour earlier. Those on press list are advised to check if paper is online before publishing)
7 pm — All Royal Society journals, including Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biology Letters, Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Interface
1 pm* — Nature (*due to daylight saving, twice a year the time difference between US and UK is more than/less than 5 hours.)
1:40 pm - Kidney International (NPG)
2 pm — Science Translational Medicine
2 pm — Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics (NPG)
3 pm - Neuropsychopharmacology (NPG)
4 pm — JNCI?
5 pm — New England Journal of Medicine
7:01 pm — Conservation Biology (and all Wiley journals typically)
9 am - Scientific Reports (NPG)
9:20 am - Journal of Investigative Dermatology (NPG)
11 am - Nature Communications
12:01 pm — Cell journals, including Cell, Neuron, Current Biology
In a media environment saturated with such blatant disinformation, it’s not only our job to report on the progress of science, it is our job to report on those who are working furiously — and with vast resources — to demean and diminish the role of science in our society by framing scientists as merely another special-interest group with an agenda.
Alex Witze did a great job covering this talk that Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann gave at the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing meeting on Sunday.
Here are a few other of his more pointed statements from that talk:
"No doubt we are in for a period over next months or even years where climate science is likely to be subject to the sort of politically motivated inquisition that we frankly haven’t seen in this country since the 1950s and it is of course necessary not only for the science community to do the best that it can to defend itself from this attack but frankly we are entirely reliant on willingness of mainstream media to serve in its role as a critical and independent arbiter to not just report the two sides of this so-called debate but to establish what is fact and what is fiction. Scientists will not be successful in their own attacks coming unless the media is serving its role."
He added that we must “draw those analogies [to 1950s McCarthyism and its blacklisting campaigns] where they are appropriate. I think they are relevant and legitimate.”
And re: the Virginia AG’s efforts to get his hands on the climate scientists’ data, Mann noted that the data are already available to the public. He added that the attorney general “wouldn’t know what to do with data if he was given it. He doesn’t want any materials that relate to science and the conduct of science. He is looking to get hold of more private correspondences between scientists, emails written documents, that they can again mine for individual phrases that can be used to distort what climate scientists believe and say in their ongoing campaign to fool the public about reality of human caused climate change.”
As this story says, it is interesting to see Politico evolve. However, I don’t see any signs that consumers really believe that there is political “over-saturation” in the media. Consumers complain about this, but they keep on eating. Losing Kinsley is a big intellectual blow to the Atlantic, but they still have such a strong brand and the top blogger in the world, Andrew Sullivan. So I think they’ll hang tough. And Atlantic did just acquire sci-tech-energy-digital wizard Alexis Madrigal from Wired.
This is a smart, dynamic, surprising interview abt zero-carbon energy and 4x efficiency as a goal, and what is owed by US to the developing world. (via @dbiello) A great read. Includes take-down of @SciAm re: how easy it will be to meet the zero-carbon, higher efficiency goal.
A month ago or so, my Kindle dropped from a chair on our clay tiled front porch. Not good. A hairline fracture in the front cover (not screen) turned into a crack. Before rushing out to work this a.m., I went to Amazon’s customer service page and found that I could ask them to call me RIGHT NOW to talk about this. They called and are sending me a new Kindle immediately—I have to send back the old one w/in 30 days to avoid a fee. The crack falls under the warranty, which should have expired a month ago (we think the Kindle is one year old; time flies), but I think they made a friendly interpretation of it. I’m impressed with this customer service.
I mainly read books on Kindle now. I have lost 75 percent of my interest in reading printed books. Mainly due to its convenience. To me, it is the perfect reading hardware.
So once the big fish start metering, why won’t consumers just move over to smartphone app access? Cheaper if you have smartphone already. Maybe even if not. Is new industry ready for migration to mobile? Not just tech-wise but biz-model-wise?
This is one of the more thoughtful and useful pieces I’ve read on the generally panicked coverage of this topic that is driven by non-robust, one-off findings so far. One takeaway here — waiting for and responding to email takes up short-term memory space.