Beyond the argument that faith in God is irrational—and therefore illegitimate.
Read more. [Image: Waiting for the Word/The Atlantic]
“Do you ring a doorbell with a finger or a thumb?” That’s the kind of question Alice Rawsthorn, design critic for The International New York Times, asks when she thinks about design—all design—and the major role designers have in altering our lives.
Her answer, however, reveals a lot about how she thinks of design’s evolution. “The older you are, the likelier you will be to press it with a finger, probably your index finger,” she writes in her latest book of essays, Hello World: Where Design Meets Life. “If you are younger, you may well use a thumb, because it will have been exercised so thoroughly by typing text messages and gunning down digital assailants on game consoles that it is likely to be stronger and nimbler than any of your fingers.”
Rawsthorn cites this and other mundane behavior to show how technology has impacted design and how graphic, product, and interactive design are key in almost everything we experience today. It’s no wonder, then, that when Rawsthorn speaks, people who care about design’s influences listen.
I made a music video to share my own story as a Muslim woman in America. In doing so, I was expected to share every other Muslim woman’s story, too.
Read more. [Image: Sahar Jahani]
Or at least deeply contradictory: They’re always connected but distrustful. They’re selfish yet accepting of minorities. They’re “independents” who mostly vote Democratic and love Obama while hating Obamacare.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
There isn’t anything wrong with respectful appropriation. In fact, it is usually cause for celebration.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
A culture that tells people to “man up” when it comes to nudity invites strange problems.
Read more. [Image: AMagill/Flickr]
I started my middle-school English and Latin classes the same way every day: with short lessons in etymology and cultural literacy—knowledge of a society’s history, references, symbols, and stories. So, a typical day’s lesson might include the etymology of the word “calculus” (Latin for “small stone, pebble” used by Romans in order to calculate sums in the marketplace) and, in order to maintain a theme, a lesson in Demosthenes. Considered the greatest of Greece’s orators, he overcame a childhood stutter by filling his mouth with pebbles and speaking through them, a remedy portrayed in the film The King’s Speech.
I teach these daily etymology and cultural literacy items not for their individual educational merit, but because, taken together, they form the foundation of my students’ future learning.
Take for example, A Tale of Two Cities, one of my favorite novels to teach, and a perennial favorite among my eighth-grade students. The first page, in all of its beautiful rhetoric and brilliant prose, poses a real challenge to even the most dedicated modern reader. The first chapter sets the stage for the action to come: Dickens explains the political and social strife in England and France through references to cultural, literary, and religious figures.
Read more. [Image: Murray Close/Lionsgate]
The duo lives on in film after film because the ordinary couple’s desire for fame, not riches, resonates through the decades.
Read more. [Image: A&E/Joseph Viles]
Bitcoin, the newish digital currency, is a hot topic today, as legislators on Capitol Hill took up the issue of regulating this new form of money.
We started to wonder what people outside DC wondered about Bitcoin. So, we modified a bot to scrape all of Google’s suggestions when people started to search for Bitcoin. Imagine typing “bitcoin a” into Google’s search box and copying what the search engine’s suggestions are. Then “bitcoin b” and “bitcoin c,” etc. That’s what the script does: it’s a probe of the hivemind.
What it creates is a kind of ABCs of the digital currency, and it represents a compendium of issues that relatively large numbers of people are wondering about.
New Bitcoins enter circulation when computers solve some very complex mathematical problems. Doing this computation is called Bitcoin mining and it’s what many of Google’s suggestions relate to.
There are plenty of other search strings you’d expect: “bitcoin ATM,” because the first one was recently installed in Vancouver, BC, or “bitcoin arbitrage,” because that seems like a good thing to do with currency. There are the names of clients (Qt), trading platforms (Kraken), and other companies in the ecosystem (Zip Zap).
Ah, but some things are more revealing of Bitcoin culture.
Arizona’s attorney general called the program ”propagandizing and brainwashing.” An administrative law judge ruled that it “promotes racial resentment against ‘Whites,’ and advocates ethnic solidarity of Latinos.”
With that, the Tucson Unified School District’s controversial Mexican-American studies courses shut down in 2011. Yet a University of Arizona study found that the mostly Latino students who took the courses were 46 percent to 150 percent more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not. The study also determined positive effects on math and reading test scores. An independent audit of the curriculum confirmed that taking the courses helped students succeed in school.
Read more. [Image: Dan Koeck/Reuters]