Weekly round-up

The Price of Hypocrisy – Evgeny Morozov, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 

“This is the real tragedy of America’s “Internet freedom agenda”: it’s going to be the dissidents in China and Iran who will pay for the hypocrisy that drove it from the very beginning. America has managed to advance its communications-related interests by claiming high moral ground and using ambiguous terms like “Internet freedom” to hide many profound contradictions in its own policies. On matters of “Internet freedom” – democracy promotion rebranded under a sexier name – America enjoyed some legitimacy as it claimed that it didn’t engage in the kinds of surveillance that it itself condemned in China or Iran. Likewise, on matters of cyberattacks, it could go after China’s cyber-espionage or Iran’s cyber-attacks because it assured the world that it engaged in neither.

Both statements were demonstrably false but lack of specific evidence has allowed America to buy some time and influence. These days are gone…”



Fast Time and the Ageing Mind – Richard Friedman, New York Times

“When, as an adult, you look back at your childhood experiences, they appear to unfold in slow motion probably because the sheer number of them gives you the impression that they must have taken forever to acquire. So when you recall the summer vacation when you first learned to swim or row a boat, it feels endless.

But this is merely an illusion, the way adults understand the past when they look through the telescope of lost time. This, though, is not an illusion: almost all of us faced far steeper learning curves when we were young. Most adults do not explore and learn about the world the way they did when they were young; adult life lacks the constant discovery and endless novelty of childhood.”



Why you think your phone is vibrating when it is not – Tom Stafford, MindHacks

“Signal detection theory tells us that there are two ways of changing the rate of mismatches. The best way is to alter your sensitivity to the thing you are trying to detect. This would mean setting your phone to a stronger vibration, or maybe placing your phone next to a more sensitive part of your body. (Don’t do both or people will look at you funny.) The second option is to shift your bias so that you are more or less likely to conclude “it’s ringing”, regardless of whether it really is.

Of course, there’s a trade-off to be made. If you don’t mind making more false alarms, you can avoid making so many misses. In other words, you can make sure that you always notice when your phone is ringing, but only at the cost of experiencing more phantom vibrations.”



The Last Days of Big Law – Noam Scheiber, The New Republic

“…the security of the legal profession lodged itself inside our cultural imagination. For generations, the law functioned as a kind of psychological safety net for the ambitious and upwardly mobile. If you wanted to be a writer or an actor or a businessman, you could rest assured that law school would be there if your plans fell through. However much you’d maxed out your credit card, however late you were on your rent, you were never more than an admissions test and six semesters away from upper-middle-class respectability.”



Is Sex Addiction Real or Just an Excuse? – Jillian Keenan, Slate

“‘We don’t have a lot of information about what constitutes normative sexual behavior, so how can we conclusively determine what is deviant?’ said Dr. Rory Reid, a neuropsychologist at UCLA and the principal investigator for the DSM-5 field trial on hypersexual disorder. ‘I don’t think there is enough evidence to conclude that patterns of hypersexual behavior constitute a bona fide disorder in the scientific realm, but we also don’t have enough evidence to dismiss that possibility. It certainly warrants further research and discussion.’”



Why do writers drink? – Blake Morrison, The Guardian

“Fiction may look like the right form for alcoholics, as their dependency teaches them to be good at lying. But holding a novel in your head becomes more difficult when you’re holding a glass in your hand as well. ‘A short story can be written on a bottle,’ Fitzgerald told his editor Max Perkins, ‘but for a novel you need the mental speed that enables you to keep the whole pattern in your head and ruthlessly sacrifice the sideshows.’”



The Pixel Painter

“Hal Lasko, better known as Grandpa, worked as a graphic artist back when everything was done by hand. His family introduced him to the computer and Microsoft Paint long after he retired.

Now, Grandpa spends ten hours a day moving pixels around his computer paintings. His work is a blend of pointillism and 8-Bit art.”

The Pixel Painter from The Pixel Painter on Vimeo.


(Top photo by The Atlantic)