newyorker:

Early notes on “The Sun Also Rises” give readers a sense of how different Hemingway’s novel might have been: http://nyr.kr/X4TaMU

“At the start, it seems, Hemingway was attempting to write a novel very different from what would become ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ which made his name as one of ‘those ones with their clear restrained writing.’ He imagined a book in which the ‘whole business’ of life gets expressed, in all of its messy detours and associations.”

Photograph by Robert Capa/Magnum.

thesciencestudio:

Please welcome our first guest picker, Virginia Hughes! Here’s her first pick:

A few weeks ago I saw UCSF neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley give a talk about his group’s Glass Brain project, which produces three-dimensional visualizations of a live human brain based on data from a suite of brain-imaging technologies. This clip takes you on a short, flashy ride through our most mysterious organ.

Read more about the Glass Brain Project here »

Virginia Hughes is a journalist based in Brooklyn, New York, who writes for a wide variety of magazines. She focuses on the brain, behavior, and genetics for her blog, Only Human, which is hosted by National Geographic.

Two reads for the day: war photos, & war between mother and infant

Screenshot 2014-08-08 08.24.13

War photographer Tyler Hicks on how he gets the goods (but no pictures of Hamas). A Q&A with James Estrin at the NY Times Lens blog.

This is a war fought largely behind the scenes. Hamas fighters are not able to expose themselves. If they were to even step a foot on the street they would be spotted by an Israeli drone and immediately blown up. We don’t see those fighters. They are operating out of buildings and homes and at night. They are moving around very carefully. You don’t see any signs of authority on the streets. If you can imagine every police officer, every person of authority in America gone, this is what that would look like.

If we had access to them, we would be photographing them. I never saw a single device for launching the rockets to Israel. It’s as if they don’t exist.

Pregnancy is a war between mother and child. Suzanne Sadedin at Aeon.

To see this spirit of maternal generosity carried to its logical extreme, consider Diaea ergandros, a species of Australian spider. All summer long, the mother fattens herself on insects so that when winter comes her little ones may suckle the blood from her leg joints. As they drink, she weakens, until the babies swarm over her, inject her with venom and devour her like any other prey. You might suppose such ruthlessness to be unheard-of among mammalian children. You would be wrong.

For more, get my daily newsletter, Read Two of These And Come Back Tomorrow, or check the Read Two feed at Neuron Culture

scribnerbooks:

Happy Birthday, Papa!

What are the qualities that make a work “relatable,” and why have these qualities come to be so highly valued? To seek to see oneself in a work of art is nothing new, nor is it new to enjoy the sensation. Since Freud theorized the process of identification—as a means whereby an individual develops his or her personality through idealizing and imitating a parent or other figure—the concept has fruitfully been applied to the appreciation of the arts. Identification with a character is one of the pleasures of reading, or of watching movies, or of seeing plays, though if it is where one’s engagement with the work begins, it should not be where critical thought ends. The concept of identification implies that the reader or viewer is, to some degree at least, actively engaged with the work in question: she is thinking herself into the experience of the characters on the page or screen or stage.

But to demand that a work be “relatable” expresses a different expectation: that the work itself be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader or viewer.

Read two: replication and ramen, PTSD and DNA, The Beast

A daily sampler of my toobz reading. You can also get this via my Tinyletter mailing, Read Two of These and Call Me in the Morning.  

Psychologists repeat fight over whether they should repeat experiments. Science wins. - by Michelle N. Meyer and Christopher Chabris

Social priming, the field that is near the center of the replication debate, is like Asch and Milgram on steroids. According to social priming and related “embodiment” theories, overt instructions or demonstrations from others aren’t necessary to influence our behavior; subtle environmental cues we aren’t even aware of can have large effects on our decisions. If washing our hands can affect our moral judgments, then moral “reasoning” is much less rational and under our deliberate control than we think. Some social priming researchers have even proposed that their findings could underpin a new type of psychotherapy. What’s at stake in this research, then, is far from trivial—it is our most basic understanding of human nature. And law, economics, philosophy, management, political science, and other fields now rightly turn to psychology to ensure their own work reflects accurate and up-to-date accounts of human nature.
 

How Ramen Got Me Through Adolescence - by Veronique Greenwood

Instead of eating during the school day, I read. Every day at lunch, when the other kids ambled toward the cafeteria, I went the other way, to the library. The school let you check out two books at a time, and at lunch break I took out my allotment. I read with my book hidden under my desk in nearly every class until the end of middle school. This is when I read “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (good), “Stones for Ibarra” (sad), “Midnight’s Children” (confusing), “Crime and Punishment” (perfect), “The Milagro Beanfield War” (weirdly obsessed with sex). The teachers didn’t bother me about it. I got high scores on homework and tests, and they had other things to deal with. The only teacher who extracted revenge for my reading was my eighth-grade English teacher. She took “One Hundred Years of Solitude” away from me and made me sit at my desk for the rest of class, powerless, alone, unsupported. I waited furiously for this time to pass.
 

How many vets are faking or exaggerating their PTSD symptoms? And why is it sinful to ask this question? by Alan Zarembo, LA Times
 

A 2007 study of 74 Arkansas veterans with chronic PTSD, most of them from the Vietnam War, concluded that more than half were exaggerating symptoms. Other research has found little evidence of malingering.

In the aftermath of serious trauma, most people experience symptoms of the disorder. But the nightmares, concentration problems and heightened state of alert usually go away in a few weeks. In a minority of cases, certain combinations of symptoms persist. That’s PTSD.

Because the diagnosis relies mainly on what patients report, it is easy to exaggerate.

In online forums, veterans trade tips on how to behave in their disability evaluations. Common advice: Dress poorly and don’t shower, refuse to sit with your back to the door, and constantly scan the room.
 

A Desperate Town Hands Over Its DNA. How do you make that deal fair?  - by Amanda Wilson at Pacific Standard

There’s something clearly unsettling about the thought of scientists profiting from one woman’s cells without her knowledge—and without her, or her family, sharing in any of those profits. In Kannapolis, the case is far grayer: There, scientists are drawing samples from thousands of people who do sign a consent form, however open-ended. If this case, too, seems morally unsatisfying, it poses a difficult question: What, then, do Kannapolites deserve—in terms of clarity, if not also in terms of recompense?

One answer may lie with the open-source movement in research. John Wilbanks, a prominent expert on biomedical research at Sage Bionetworks, a non-profit organization that creates data-sharing platforms, proposes a new model for human biological studies. It would give subjects access to their own genetic data, allowing them not only to see the findings that derive from any analysis of their personal biosamples, but also giving them the freedom to contribute their data to the research projects of their choice, or to data “credit unions” formed around specific areas of inquiry.

In Kannapolis, the directors of the MURDOCK Study have the discretion to share data with a range of researchers, commercial or academic—and even transfer biological samples to them—while participants get no information out of their contribution. This kind of arrangement is deeply unsatisfying to Wilbanks. “Give me a copy of my data,” he says. “I can give it to arthritis research, I can sell it to PhRMA. If I have that data, I can use it to get involved with any research I want.” And at the very least, Wilbanks says, “I can use it to understand myself better.” 
 

Riding “The Beast,” the loose, dangerous system of trains and trails that lead hopeful immigrants from Honduras to Texas — if they’re lucky - by Alex Horton at Foreign Policy

The bandits put the remaining men on their knees as if readying a mass execution. Then they began to torture the migrant who had shot back at them. One bandit carved pieces out of him with knives before another shot him in the head. Neftali was second in line, still on his knees. He grimaced as he waited for a gunshot. But it never came. After holding them for four hours and collecting the names and addresses of their families back home in Guatemala as a threat to keep quiet, the bandits let the survivors go before sunrise.

instagram:

Mountaineering the Scottish Highlands with @ruairidhmcglynn

To view more photos and videos from Ruairidh’s mountaineering explorations of the Highlands, follow @ruairidhmcglynn on Instagram.

"In early 2013, my brother asked me if I’d like to climb a Munro in Scotland called Schiehallion (which is famous for its distinct conical shape). I took my brother up on his offer,” says Edinburgh Instagrammer Ruairidh McGlynn (@ruairidhmcglynn), of his first mountaineering experiences in the Scottish Highlands. “At 6:00AM on a typically dreich (dull and miserable) day in January, we embarked upon the journey from Edinburgh. The summit was shrouded in cloud so there was disappointment from the seasoned veterans over the lack of view. But to me that didn’t matter because it was about this great journey and story that I’d just captured. From that moment on, I was hooked.”

Ruairidh posted an image from that trip to Instagram. Now, having invested in proper equipment and conquering 40 of the 282 of Scotland’s Munros (mountains of more than 3,000 feet or 914.4 meters), he pushes himself to capture each journey to share it with others. “Instagram is the perfect tool that allows me to convey to others the beauty of the mountains,” he explains, “the journeys that I go on and the things that you can achieve when you put your mind to it. I hope to inspire people to appreciate the outdoors and to embark upon similar adventures (responsibly and safely).”

As for photo tips to share, Ruairidh adds, “Where possible, I always like to include people to give a sense of scale and adventure balanced with dramatic weather and light, which more often than not is never far away in Scotland.” instagram:

Mountaineering the Scottish Highlands with @ruairidhmcglynn

To view more photos and videos from Ruairidh’s mountaineering explorations of the Highlands, follow @ruairidhmcglynn on Instagram.

"In early 2013, my brother asked me if I’d like to climb a Munro in Scotland called Schiehallion (which is famous for its distinct conical shape). I took my brother up on his offer,” says Edinburgh Instagrammer Ruairidh McGlynn (@ruairidhmcglynn), of his first mountaineering experiences in the Scottish Highlands. “At 6:00AM on a typically dreich (dull and miserable) day in January, we embarked upon the journey from Edinburgh. The summit was shrouded in cloud so there was disappointment from the seasoned veterans over the lack of view. But to me that didn’t matter because it was about this great journey and story that I’d just captured. From that moment on, I was hooked.”

Ruairidh posted an image from that trip to Instagram. Now, having invested in proper equipment and conquering 40 of the 282 of Scotland’s Munros (mountains of more than 3,000 feet or 914.4 meters), he pushes himself to capture each journey to share it with others. “Instagram is the perfect tool that allows me to convey to others the beauty of the mountains,” he explains, “the journeys that I go on and the things that you can achieve when you put your mind to it. I hope to inspire people to appreciate the outdoors and to embark upon similar adventures (responsibly and safely).”

As for photo tips to share, Ruairidh adds, “Where possible, I always like to include people to give a sense of scale and adventure balanced with dramatic weather and light, which more often than not is never far away in Scotland.” instagram:

Mountaineering the Scottish Highlands with @ruairidhmcglynn

To view more photos and videos from Ruairidh’s mountaineering explorations of the Highlands, follow @ruairidhmcglynn on Instagram.

"In early 2013, my brother asked me if I’d like to climb a Munro in Scotland called Schiehallion (which is famous for its distinct conical shape). I took my brother up on his offer,” says Edinburgh Instagrammer Ruairidh McGlynn (@ruairidhmcglynn), of his first mountaineering experiences in the Scottish Highlands. “At 6:00AM on a typically dreich (dull and miserable) day in January, we embarked upon the journey from Edinburgh. The summit was shrouded in cloud so there was disappointment from the seasoned veterans over the lack of view. But to me that didn’t matter because it was about this great journey and story that I’d just captured. From that moment on, I was hooked.”

Ruairidh posted an image from that trip to Instagram. Now, having invested in proper equipment and conquering 40 of the 282 of Scotland’s Munros (mountains of more than 3,000 feet or 914.4 meters), he pushes himself to capture each journey to share it with others. “Instagram is the perfect tool that allows me to convey to others the beauty of the mountains,” he explains, “the journeys that I go on and the things that you can achieve when you put your mind to it. I hope to inspire people to appreciate the outdoors and to embark upon similar adventures (responsibly and safely).”

As for photo tips to share, Ruairidh adds, “Where possible, I always like to include people to give a sense of scale and adventure balanced with dramatic weather and light, which more often than not is never far away in Scotland.”

instagram:

Mountaineering the Scottish Highlands with @ruairidhmcglynn

To view more photos and videos from Ruairidh’s mountaineering explorations of the Highlands, follow @ruairidhmcglynn on Instagram.

"In early 2013, my brother asked me if I’d like to climb a Munro in Scotland called Schiehallion (which is famous for its distinct conical shape). I took my brother up on his offer,” says Edinburgh Instagrammer Ruairidh McGlynn (@ruairidhmcglynn), of his first mountaineering experiences in the Scottish Highlands. “At 6:00AM on a typically dreich (dull and miserable) day in January, we embarked upon the journey from Edinburgh. The summit was shrouded in cloud so there was disappointment from the seasoned veterans over the lack of view. But to me that didn’t matter because it was about this great journey and story that I’d just captured. From that moment on, I was hooked.”

Ruairidh posted an image from that trip to Instagram. Now, having invested in proper equipment and conquering 40 of the 282 of Scotland’s Munros (mountains of more than 3,000 feet or 914.4 meters), he pushes himself to capture each journey to share it with others. “Instagram is the perfect tool that allows me to convey to others the beauty of the mountains,” he explains, “the journeys that I go on and the things that you can achieve when you put your mind to it. I hope to inspire people to appreciate the outdoors and to embark upon similar adventures (responsibly and safely).”

As for photo tips to share, Ruairidh adds, “Where possible, I always like to include people to give a sense of scale and adventure balanced with dramatic weather and light, which more often than not is never far away in Scotland.”

texasmonthly:

At this moment exactly 48 years ago, one of the greatest tragedies in Texas history started. Go to TexasMonthly.com to read Pam Colloff’s 2006 story “96 Minutes”, an oral history of the UT sniper. (at Texas Monthly)

newyorker:

What are the qualities that make a work “relatable,” and why have these qualities come to be so highly valued? Rebecca Mead writes: http://nyr.kr/1tCReIz

“The concept of identification implies that the reader or viewer is, to some degree at least, actively engaged with the work in…

Casco Bay #sunset #nofilter

austinkleon:

Joshua Wolf Shenk, Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs

I get sent a lot of books about “creativity” and “innovation,” and most of the time I throw them on the pile, but after Shenk’s Atlantic piece on Lennon and McCartney got passed around so much, I thought I’d give this one a spin (I also remembered that my friend Ryan Holiday recommended his book on Lincoln’s depression.) Glad I did, because so much of what Shenk has investigated here is stuff I looked into for Show Your Work!

Some excerpts, below.


How creativity really works doesn’t fit neatly into a traditional narrative

The lone-genius idea has become our dominant view of creativity not because of its inherent truth — in fact, it neglects and obscures the social qualities of innovation — but because it makes for a good story.

The network model has the opposite problem. It is basically true, but so complex that it can’t be easily made into narrative. Where the lone-genius model is galvanizing and simplistic, the network model is suitably nuanced but hard to apply to day-to-day life.

Shenk says the “creative pair,” on the other hand, gives us a clearer narrative as an anecdote to the lone-genius myth without getting scrambled by the messiness of networks.

The trouble with this knowledge is that people want the lone genius myth — something marketers certainly know:

Members of an audience want to identify with a single individual, a person with whom they can have an imagined relationship. It’s well known in publishing that coauthored books are generally a tougher sell than works by single authors because readers expect (often unconsciously) to be in direct communion with an author.

This is backed up by studies that have found “viewers value single creator art better than art created through a collaborative process”:

Our perception of art… is largely dictated by the amount of time and effort we think went into it. This notion was first put forth by Denis Dutton in his book The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, where he argued that we evaluate art not just by the final product, but also by the process that created it. We then use our evaluation of the process and final product to determine the quality of the piece we are admiring.

So, if people value our work based on what we tell them about our process, is our duty to be honest about how we work, or to give them a good story that makes them feel good about the work?

The lone genius idea is wrapped up in our Romantic notions of the individual and the self

…it’s a fantasty, a myth of achievement predicated on an even more fundamental myth of the enclosed, autonomous self for whom social experience is secondary.

The “lone genius” is usually backed up by a partner who remains in the shadows.

Take the couple I just wrote about: George Lucas and his first wife, Marcia. Or William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy. Or Tiger Woods — his caddy, Steve Williams wouldn’t just carry his bag, but he’d give him wrong yardage to compensate for his distance problems and he’d taunt him to “get his blood up,” and “deliberately misled him when he thought it would improve his play.”

There’s also a hilarious story about Picasso and his girlfriend, Francoise Gilot—every morning the chamber made would bring him coffee and toast and then he’d begin this ridiculous process:

Picasso “would groan and began his lamentations… He would complain of his sicknesses… He would declare his mercy, and how little anyone understood it. He would complain about a letter from [his ex-wife] Olga. Life was pointless. Why get up. Why paint. His soul itches. His life was unbearable.”

Then Gilot would basically have to convince him to get out of bed, and after AN HOUR, he’d finally get up.

As Shenk writes, “No one is freed of the burdens of everyday life. One may, however, outsource them.”

(Speaking later of John Lennon, Shenk has another good line: “No grownup lives like a kid unless someone around him takes the adult role.”)

“We need to be able to get wired up without overheating, and disconnect without going cold.”

Finding a balance between is tricky, and depends on the individual.

John Lennon, for instance, was so devoid of an internal relation that he had a hard time being by himself. “His reclusive lifestyle notwithstanding,” his friend Pete Shotton said, “John could never bear to be left completely alone — even when he was composing his songs. Much of my time at Kenwood was spent idly reading or watching TV while John, a few feed away, doodled at the piano or scribbled verses on a scrap of paper.” “If I am on my own for three days, doing nothing, “ [Lennon] told Hunter Davies in 1967, “I’m just not here…I have to see the others to see myself.”

And:

The art of living, as [Esther] Perel wrote, is to “balance our fundamental urge for connection with the urge to experience our own agency.”

(Which, come to think of it, reminds me of this Rob Walker quote I almost used in SYW.)

Side note: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre used to work in the same cafe but at separate tables.

Even Emily Dickinson needed to connect.

She just had to do it through words.

”Her letters are beyond brilliant,” Christopher Benfey, a Dickinson authority who teaches at Mount Holyoke College, told me, “and you can’t really understand her as a poet and a writer without seeing that she approached this form, alongside her poetry, with equal energy and commitment.”

Dickinson wrote poems for specific people in her life and mailed them — she even sent “more than two hundred letters and two hundred and fifty poems” to her sister-in-law Susan, “even though they lived next door to each other.”

A good rivalry, if used constructively, can push the opposite parties further than they could go on their own.

Witness Lennon and McCartney’s competitiveness (Lennon said his new album would “probably scare [Paul] into doing something decent and then he’ll scare me into doing something decent, and I’ll scare him, like that.”) or Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

“The feeling of rivalry,” [William James] said, ”lies at the very basis of our being, all social improvement being largely due to it… The deepest spring of action in us is the sight of action in another. The spectacle of effort is what awakens and sustains our own effort.”


On a side note to all this, I have a bad habit when reading books of wondering to myself what other structures the book could’ve taken, and whether I would have done it differently. I do wonder how this would’ve read if the “grand theory” of collaboration were stripped out and each creative pair were given their own chapter, with the stories simply juxtaposed against each other. This idea is actually alluded to in Shenk’s (rather strange, actually) epilogue:

About a year ago a friend of mine, an accomplished editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, told me that the plan for the book — to consider scores of stories alongside one another — was nuts.

Shenk himself seems to have realized it is the stories of these pairings that really fly:

I’ve pushed for organization via the traditional mode of narrative; [my editor] has pushed for a more audacious organization by idea.

And that he’s well aware (as we all are) that this book is going on a certain spot in the bookstore shelves:

My job is to push against the conventions of “big idea” books. Eamon’s job is to hold the project to the primary necessities of the form.

Regardless, I found this a fascinating read. It comes out next week.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Charles Dickens does the Thames w a cop with the Thames police, “Pea.” 1851. It’s like a Talk of the Town piece, only London. Here Pea tells him of the types of thieves that steal from the boats there.

Land ho. Just. #latergram #fog (at Great Diamond Island Maine)