Tears


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Why do we weep? And why don’t most other mammals?

Problem the first: There’s no reason for Nature to have designed us (by way of evolution) to use leaky eyes or a heaving chest simply to “process” any of our emotions. In fact, as a general rule, emotions aren’t the kind of thing that need to be “processed” at all — as if they were industrial byproducts that needed to be discharged from the thinking factory. Emotions (and their expressions) aren’t mere side-effects of something else — they’re purposeful unto themselves. They evolved because they put our brains and bodies (technically, those of our ancestors) into a locally-optimal state for dealing with specific problems or circumstances. If evolution devised to make our bodies do something, then the action is unlikely to be a meaningless side effect. There has to be a point to it.

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Kevin Simler — Melting Asphalt

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It is far from clear that requiring payments for data makes sense


Should we get paid for our data?

Herein lies the insight: to the extent that having consumers not be paid for their data is an indication that they value the use of their data by the network, by forcing the network to pay for that data, the consumer can be made worse off because they can no longer just give the data to the network. Thus, the whole analogy with slavery or the supply of pure labour breaks down because the consumer may want to encourage the network to make use of more of its data. Requiring the network to pay subverts that process.

In order for the notion of regulating payments for data makes sense, you have to believe that consumers do not gain utility by giving additional data to networks. Some (and perhaps many) consumers do give their data freely to networks now. Thus, it is entirely possible that they will be made worse off it networks are required to pay them for that data because those networks may structure themselves to no longer make use of the data rather than pay for it.

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Joshua Gans — Digitopoly

On Being an Arsehole: A defense


The arsehole, writes philosopher Aaron James, is someone who “allows himself to enjoy special advantages in social relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people.” At the other end of the spectrum is the fully cooperative person who recognizes others as equals and therefore acts respectfully. From my perspective I was being respectful to the archaeologist: the real disrespect, it seemed to me, lies in assuming your interlocutor needs to be treated with kid gloves. And if I broke the no-follow-up rule, well, that was down to a failure of self-control rather than an entrenched sense of entitlement: This is where the fun begins, I wanted to exclaim. Looking around the room, however, it was clear that I had already pooped the party. I had spoken out of turn, but more importantly I seemed to have revealed myself as the kind of person who is willing to embarrass a colleague to make a trivial point.

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Jonny Thakkar — The Point Magazine

A gang of teen hackers snatched the keys to Microsoft’s videogame empire. Then they went too far.


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Pokora reveled in the perks of his success. He still lived with his parents, but he paid his tuition as he entered the University of Toronto in the fall of 2010. He and his girlfriend dined at upscale restaurants every night and stayed at $400-a-night hotels as they traveled around Canada for metal shows. But he wasn’t really in it for the money or even the adulation of his peers; what he most coveted was the sense of glee and power he derived from making $60 million games behave however he wished.

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Brendan I. Koerner — Wired

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BOYCOTTING CAPTAIN BOYCOTT


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Have you ever wondered the origins of the word “boycott”?

With the rural poor dying from starvation, the Irish Nationalist Land League decided to make an example of Boycott. He was shunned by his neighbors, and many dozens laid siege to his farm in late 1880. They convinced Boycott’s laborers to join them or frightened off those who wouldn’t. Local shops also refused to serve him. He was essentially isolated with his family, three loyal staff, and a handful of guests.

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Matthew Wills — JSTOR Daily

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The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything


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It is always good to ask ourselves, once in a while, “Have I learnt anything, lately?”

There are two types of knowledge and most of us focus on the wrong one. The first type of knowledge focuses on knowing the name of something. The second focuses on knowing something. These are not the same thing. The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

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Farnam Street

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2017 Most clicked original article link: Jane Austen: Galloping girl


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Jane Austen wrote fast and died young. Her life on paper may have spanned three decades, but all six of her celebrated novels made their public appearance between 1811 and 1817. The phrase “tell-tale compression,” self-consciously applied by the narrator towards the end of Northanger Abbey (1817), captures something of Austen’s authorial career, too. Indeed, in her case it is appropriate that the word “career” can mean a short gallop at full speed, as well as the potentially slower progress of an individual’s working life. Novelists are more usually seen as long-distance runners than as sprinters, and Austen’s mature fiction has been cherished for the gradual emergence into consciousness of its heroines’ thoughts and feelings. Yet speedy progress—described in Emma (1815) as the “felicities of rapid motion”—remained central to this writer’s craft from start to finish.

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Freya Johnston — Prospect

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