The adventures, thoughts, and general scrawlings of a classical pianist

The Sunday Reading Roundup [01.17.16]


I am most definitely not putting off sending work emails or rewriting my bio. Procrastinating? What’s that?

Anyway, here are some things worth reading. A couple are from a while ago that I totally forgot somehow didn’t make it into last week’s roundup.

Some Variations on a Theme

BBC: “The man who studies the spread of ignorance

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

Quartz: “There’s a good reason Americans are horrible at science

Surprisingly, despite America’s outstanding science credentials, the population at large is not science savvy. About a third of Americans think that there is no sound evidence for the existence of evolution or benefits of universal vaccination. Our leaders and wanna-be leaders say that evolution is a myth, vaccines cause autism, and a snowball constitutes proof that climate change isn’t a problem.

Bloomberg View: “How Facebook Makes Us Dumber

A new study focusing on Facebook users provides strong evidence that the explanation is confirmation bias: people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, and to ignore contrary information.

The Standalones

New Republic: “Dispossessed in the Land of Dreams

San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area are gentrifying rapidly—especially with the most recent Silicon Valley surge in social media companies, though the trend stretches back decades—leading to a cascade of displacement of the region’s poor, working class, and ethnic and racial minorities.

Note: This was a horrifyingly fascinating read—and it packs an especially guilt-laden punch when you live in the Bay Area.

The Wall Street Journal: “Europe’s New Medieval Map

Look at any map of Europe from the Middle Ages or the early modern era, before the Industrial Revolution, and you will be overwhelmed by its dizzying incoherence—all of those empires, kingdoms, confederations, minor states, “upper” this and “lower” that. It is a picture of a radically fractured world. Today’s Europe is, in effect, returning to such a map.

Fusion: “Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame

The disconnect between internet fame and financial security is hard to comprehend for both creators and fans. But it’s the crux of many mid-level web personalities’ lives. […] In other words: Many famous social media stars are too visible to have “real” jobs, but too broke not to.

Quartz: “The long, incredibly tortuous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font

The default set for English-language fonts contains about 230 glyphs. A font that covers all of the Latin scripts—that’s over 100 languages plus extra symbols—contains 840 glyphs, according to Březina. The simplified version of Chinese, used primarily in mainland China, requires nearly 7,000 glyphs. For traditional Chinese, used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the number of glyphs is 13,053.

Speaking of Taiwan…

BBC: “Tsai Ing-wen elected Taiwan’s first female president

::praise hands emoji::

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