Friday, March 06, 2015

Batch of links

- Did you know that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women? It doesn’t only affect smokers, either.

- Here’s a great animated short of how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain.

- I very much liked this plea to the media to quit using the word adoption, which you should follow up with a video appropriately titled If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job…

- This video on archery is the coolest. Makes me want to pick up a bow and arrow next time I need a hobby, really.

- A great guide to spend 24 hours in Montreal, by Ali Inay. This makes me realize I’ve been gone a while, since I’ve never heard of many of these places!

- It turns out it isn’t illegal to deface Canadian banknotes, just frowned upon (the Bank of Canada says it is “inappropriate”). On a related note, my friend the Actor says, “Of all the Prime Ministers we’ve encountered on our money, Spock was the most… scribbled.”

- Did you know that gamers are more likely to be social and educated than non-gamers?

- Oklahoma lawmakers are taking a stand – against history, because they don’t like what is being taught. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

- The Internet in Real Time: watch how quickly data (and money) are generated!

- I wanted to share a link to Spent: Looking for Change, a 40-minute documentary about Americans who don’t have a bank account. (I found it via STFU, Parents.) I had no idea that it was so difficult for some people to open or maintain a bank account (even though they have a SSN and a job), and obviously, not having access to the financial services that come with a bank account makes life very hard. This was eye-opening!

- Former Governor Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) tried living on minimum wage for a week – he made it to Thursday.

- Oliver Sacks on learning he has terminal cancer. This was a good read.

- We’ve all noticed that Facebook restricts certain things in our newsfeed. For example, we don’t see all the posts from a page we’ve “liked” unless the creator of that page pays to have posts transmitted to more users – which is all the more unfair given that when we users “like” a page, we usually do so because we want to be kept in the loop! We also tend to see more of our friends’ content if we “like” it or comment on it, and the content with which we do not interact tends to disappear over time. This can lead to a situation where Facebook becomes a self-affirming bubble in which we only interact with things that don’t challenge our world views. This video explains it best by comparing the role of advertisers and monetization in Facebook and YouTube.

- I remember being at a bed-and-breakfast in France, maybe in 1999, when I met an interesting jazz aficionado. This man would go from Paris to London once a month to buy jazz records, and every once in a while, he would get together with his friends and they would pay for a private performance by their favorite artists, jazz or otherwise. He named some jazz greats (whose names I’ve since forgotten), but the one that stuck out to me was Jonny Lang. (This man liked talking about his love of music so much that, I kid you not, he travelled with a photo album of these performances. This was before smartphones, obviously.) Up until that point, it had never even occurred to me that “civilians” could pay for a private concert if they so pleased! Now, we tend to hear about it in the news when it’s someone uber-rich, like the Sultan of Brunei or something, but really, there are regular Joes out there who pay for this sort of thing! In any event, that’s why I was so interested when I found this price list for various artists. My favorite band’s in the $25-30k range; let me know if you want to chip in!

- How the music industry is literally brainwashing you into liking bad pop songs. It turns out that repeated exposure is a more effective way of getting you to like a song than actually writing one that suits your taste.

- On a similar note, I’ve said that country music often sounds the same to me. This six-song mashup proves my point better than I could express.

- Some people boycotted Amazon over its treatment of publisher Hachette, though with today’s retail landscape, this is becoming increasingly hard to do. Luckily, that dispute has been settled. There are other concerns, however, like the way Amazon treats its employees (or lets its subcontractors treat their employees), especially with the increased business around the holidays each year. I’m not sure that individuals boycotting such a big chain is useful or practical), but I think this is a case where being vocal about aspects we don’t like could create positive changes. (Just like Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey, who will be phasing elephants out of their performances by 2018, because customer expectations have changed. Hurray!)

- Finally, the USPS announced two weeks ago that it would issue a stamp honoring Maya Angelou, though at the time there was no release date and no artwork. Well, I’m pleased that for once, things are moving fast: the stamp will be released in a month, shortly after what would have been her 87th birthday. I’ve preordered mine!


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