Links from Around the Web

  1. Penn and Teller in praise of GMO food.
  2. The weirdest questions asked on Yahoo Answers. At once hilarious and depressing.
  3. Kaizen and baby steps to achieve goals.
  4. David Grann's 16,000 word piece in the New Yorker about the Texas execution of an almost-surly innocent man is just outstanding. I've been thinking about it for days. It has the power to change your view of capital punishment.
  5. My friend Steve Silberman in Wired gives one of the best analyses of the placebo effect I've read, and breaks some interesting news about how Big Pharma is reacting.
  6. Why (current) web statistics don't mean shit. Jeff Nolan reminds us that it's not how many people who visit your site that matters — it's what they do when they get there.
  7. Josh Kaufman outlines the 12 core human skills.
  8. The making of a secret service agent.
  9. Interesting interview with author Rebecca Solnit. At one point she implores writers to reject the easy path of being "apolitical," excerpt below.

    we tend to think of politics as a tiny fenced-off arena of unpleasantness, which most Americans avoid—except for the horse race of a primary season or fun moral questions often centered in irrelevant individual crimes and acts. But politics is pervasive. Everything is political and the choice to be “apolitical” is usually just an endorsement of the status quo and the unexamined life….

    Apolitical is a political position, yes, and a dreary one. The choice by a lot of young writers to hide out among dinky, dainty, and even trivial topics—I see it as, at its best, an attempt by young white guys to be anti-hegemonic, unimposing. It relinquishes power—but it also relinquishes the possibility of being engaged with the really interesting and urgent affairs of our time, at least as a writer. The challenge is how can you not be the moralizing, grandstanding beast of the baby boomers but not render yourself totally ineffectual and—the word that comes to mind is miniature. How can you write about the obscure things that give you pleasure with a style flexible enough to come round to look at more urgent matters? Humor matters here, and self-awareness, and the language of persuasion and inclusion rather than hectoring and sermonizing. You don’t have to be a preacher to talk about what matters, and you don’t have to drop the pleasures of style. If you can be passionate about, say, Russian dictionary entries from the early nineteenth century, can you work your way up to the reconstruction of New Orleans? And can you retain some of the elegance and some of the pleasure when you look at big, pressing topics? I think you can. It’s what I’ve tried to do. I still think the revolution is to make the world safe for poetry, meandering, for the frail and vulnerable, the rare and obscure, the impractical and local and small, and I feel that we’ve lost if we don’t practice and celebrate them now, instead of waiting for some ’60s never-neverland of after-the-revolution. And we’ve lost the revolution if we relinquish our full possibilities and powers.

3 comments on “Links from Around the Web
  • I found the article on the placebo effect to be very interesting. I knew about it, but I never knew that it was so powerful as to stack up comparably to blockbuster drugs already on the market. The article was very focused on the effects of this on the pharmaceutical industry, I hope that there are also people out there looking at this data and thinking OMG, how can we use this to cure people of disease without the side effects of drugs? I think biofeedback therapy is trying to tap into the mind’s power of self healing by training people to control certain internal body processes such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. It’s effectively being used to treat hypertension and many other disorders. I would definitely be very excited if we figured out a better / more consistent way to tap into this amazing power that our mind has!

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