Weekly Digest, 9/26/2021
the twenty-second digest post
I saw the orthopedist at last. Nothing came up on the X-rays. He thinks I tore my rotator cuff, which would be not so great because I already tore that rotator cuff. We won’t know until I get an MRI, which I need to get before I see the doctor again in two weeks. The saga continues.
I was on Razib Khan’s podcast recently and had a good time. It’s only available to his subscribers, but if you like genetics, genealogy, and history you should consider subscribing to him. (So long as you feel you can support someone who’s been declared an undesirable.)
This Week’s Posts
Monday, September 20th - Joe Rogan, Parody of the Open Mind
I find the endless Joe Rogan discourse to be pretty impoverished, torn between his rabid supporters and lots of critics who refuse to recognize his virtues. So I wrote my own version, arguing that his vaunted open-mindedness doesn’t always stand up to scrutiny. An insane amount of comments on this one, a bunch of dropped subscriptions and huffy emails, but also some very sweet words of encouragement. Just exactly the space I want my work to operate in.
Thursday, September 23rd - Smoking Weed Doesn't Feel Good for Me Anymore, and It Hasn't For a Long Time
Pretty much what it says in the title - I’ve been through more trees than Sonny Bono, but I find I don’t really enjoy it anymore, yet it’s hard to really definitively quit, for the reasons I lay out here. Many, many comments and emails echoing my experiences with this one.
Friday, September 24th - The Heart Wants What It Wants (subscriber only)
Trying to sketch out the tangled relationship between what we think with our minds and what we desire with out bodies and hearts. A lot of pushback on this one.
Also this week, I announced the book review contest for subscribers! If you subscribe, I hope you’ve consider participating. We also had a new post in our lively book club and Chapter Eleven in The Red, The Brown, The Green.
From the Archives
Here’s a little example of the kind of academic work I used to enjoy doing, just a little correlational study utilizing a big corpus and algorithmic analysis of text samples. In this one I wanted to see if performance on a widely-used test of vocabulary predicts broader variety in vocabulary in written production by second-language writers. My finding was that it does not; there was little relationship between scores on that test and the lexical diversity in the corresponding essays. The measurement of variety of vocabulary in a written sample is actually far more complex than you’d think and there are several different algorithmic methods to measure it and serious philosophical differences in the literature. Don’t think I even bothered to submit this one to a journal, if I remember correctly; it was clear by this point that my career as an academic was over.
Song of the Week
Subprime Attention Crisis, Tim Hwang, 2020
A brief little burst of information and a frankly shocking indictment of the basic economics of the internet. Though short, Subprime Attention Crisis is meticulous in demonstrating that the financial health of pretty much the entire online content industry stands on an entirely shaky foundation, with huge amounts of the engagement numbers used by advertisers inflated by fraud and technological errors. Worse, the evidence that any of this targeted advertising works, or at least works sufficiently to be worth the considerable investments such ads require, is very thin on the ground. Really appreciated how tight and focused it was; I read it in a weekend.
NFL Pick of the Week
Well, as I predicted last week, the Packers beat the Lions. Unfortunately for us, they also covered the spread. Well, we’re gonna get ‘em this time. The Atlanta Falcons, it’s fair to say, are not a good football team. But neither are the Giants, and I have far more faith in the Atlanta passing attack than I do in Daniel Jones and a gimpy Saquon Barkley. Both teams will be desperate to avoid an 0-3 start, but the NFC South is just a far more impressive conference than the NFC East. So we’re taking the Atlanta Falcons +3.0 this week, and you can put this biggest padlock you can find on that. I’m telling you, you’re getting gold here.
Comment of the Week
My wife is a psychiatrist, and weed is a huge source of frustration to her for this reason. Her patients think it's completely harmless. Like you said, it's linked with psychosis, and can also cause anxiety and attention problems, in addition to interfering with the medications she prescribes. She also has patients who want to stop but can't.
We both think it should be completely legal as a recreational drug -- in part because once we get rid of the criminal laws, we can have honest conversations about the risks and negative effects. The laws have forced advocates to pretend it's some miracle plant with no drawbacks, but it's not true, and some people have suffered because of this mentality.
I smoked in college (as did my wife) but lost interest after that. I'll probably present it to my kid as similar to alcohol. It's okay to try it, but heavy use is bad for your lungs and brain. Monitor how it affects you, be careful not to overdo it -- and don't drive stoned. - Carina
That’s it for this week! If you’re a subscriber, please consider submitting a book review for our first contest. Cheers.
Getting literally cancelled (drop in subs) for criticizing Joe Rogan. Strange world.
If you are in the mood to be taking suggestions for songs of the week next week, the late great Pete Seeger’s “Talking Union” has been stuck in my head for a wee while.