Football
Humans and other animals

Football, football, football…

A great analogy from redditor TheHoneyThief about what it’s like to be someone who doesn’t care about football from a thread in r/britishproblems:

Firstly, imagine every time within a day that football is mentioned by someone else. Secondly, replace it with something that you don’t want to hear about every day. Say… Archaeology. Then, think about how an average day would pan out.

So, you awaken to the clock radio. It’s 7AM. Just as you awaken, it’s time for the news and archaeology already. Not news and other historical investigations, like library restorations or museum openings (unless there’s another event happening), but just the news and archaelogy. Malaysian plane is still missing. Pistorius is still on trial. New dig announced in Giza. Ancient Mayan temple discovered. Exciting stuff.

Time for a bite to eat over the morning TV. More news. More archaeology. Yes, you are aware of what is up with the missing plane. Fine. Now the archaeology in video format. Video of people dusting off some skulls and bits of pottery. All well and good, but archaeology isn’t your thing. It would be nice to hear about something else. Even when it isn’t archaeology season, the media follow noted archaeologists. They drive fast cars, have sex with beautiful women, advertise fragrances, and sometimes they go to nightclubs and act in the worst possible way. Scandals erupt as the tabloids follow these new celebrities when they’re not searching the past for answers. It is entirely possible you can recite the names of certain researchers, even if you don’t pay attention to archaeology. You don’t know what transfer season is, but you know that someone was transferred to a dig in Peru for a sum of money that could fund the London Underground for two whole days.

Out of the car at 8:55 and into work. What are the colleagues talking about, I wonder? Oh, Jones dropped a 3,890 year old pot and smashed it? What a useless wanker! Someone should do something unpleasant to him. And don’t even ask about the unfortunate incident in Athens two years ago – you’ll be there all day! Breaking a pillar like that! We don’t talk about that here, mate. What? You don’t want to discuss the finer points of the prevalence of phallic imagery in Pompeii? Is there something wrong with you?

The drive home from work. Every thirty minutes, no matter the station, someone mentions the archaeology. Best sit in silence. Drive past a huge billboard with a black and white picture of a rakishly handsome archaeologist draped over an impossibly beautiful woman. He’s winking at you. Trowel in his left hand, supermodel in the right. Jurassic, by Calvin Klein.

And now the pub. A nice pub with a beer garden. Posters in the windows. LIVE EXCAVATION AT THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS! All of it on a huge TV with the volume up too loud. Drunken people yelling at the screen. “SEND IT FOR CARBON DATING, YOU USELESS CUNT!” “WHAT ARE YOU ON, MATE? DUST THE ANCIENT MEDALLION GENTLY! SMELTING METHODS OF THE TIME PRODUCED VERY SOFT AND IMPURE METALS EASILY PRONE TO DISFIGURATION!” All this from two men out of a crowd of twenty. One lousy drunken idiot and his chum ruin the image of other archaeology fans. Carbon dating report from the lab updates on TV, read by a man employed because they’ve been following the beautiful science since they were a boy. The drunk chimes in again. “WHAT PHARAOH’S REIGN DID YOU SAY? DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT THE UNDERPINNINGS OF OUR THEORY OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF 4TH BC EGYPT? GET IN, MATE!” A cheer cascades through the building and you can only wonder why.

Best go home and avoid anyone who might be drinking and singing. You once met a disagreeable chap who threatened to beat you up because you didn’t watch the archaeology. “Not a late paleolithic era supporter are you? Think you’re better than me? I’ll fucking have you, you scrawny cunt!”

To bed. To repeat the cycle tomorrow. The inescapable, inevitability that wherever you go, someone, somewhere, is just dying to talk to you about the archaeology.


As great as that is, I feel a better comparison would be with another form of entertainment, like film, TV or music. Archeology may be irrelevant to most people’s day-to-day lives, but it still advances our knowledge of the world. What if the prominence given to football was given to country music or historical fiction instead?

Soccer ball icon by Ricardo Moreira

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Michael Crichton
Use your words

The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect

In his 2002 speech titled ‘Why Speculate?’, Michael Crichton describes the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect: “I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.”

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.
Michael Crichton

(via)

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New York Times Retro Report: Not Just a Hot Cup Anymore

In 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled scalding McDonald’s coffee in her lap and later sued the company, attracting a flood of negative attention. It turns out there was more to the story.

Every news outlet should dedicate a regular slot or column to looking back at old news and how it was reported.

Obama
Humans and other animals

If we wrote about the US with the language journalists use to cover foreign countries

GlobalPost goes inside the United States to uncover the regime’s dramatic descent into authoritarian rule and how the opposition plans to fight back.

BOSTON, Mass. — Human rights activists say revelations that the US regime has expanded its domestic surveillance program to private phone carriers is more evidence of the North American country’s pivot toward authoritarianism.

The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported this week that a wing of the country’s feared intelligence and security apparatus ordered major telecommunications companies to hand over data on phone calls made by private citizens.

Over the last decade, the United States has passed a series of emergency laws that give security forces sweeping powers to combat “terrorism.” But foreign observers say the authorities abuse those laws, using them instead to monitor ordinary Americans.

On a recent visit to the United States by GlobalPost, signs of the increased security apparatus could be found everywhere.

At all national airports, passengers are now forced to undergo full-body scans before boarding any flights. Small cameras are perched on many street corners, recording the movements and actions of the public. And incessant warnings on public transportation systems encourage citizens to report any “suspicious activity” to authorities.

“What exactly is terrorism? The term is used so loosely these days it could include just about anyone,” said one anti-government protester, who was tear-gassed and then arrested in 2011 for participating in a peaceful demonstration in New York, America’s largest city and its economic capital.
Peter Gelling, Inside the United States

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Use your words

News is bad for you

Rolf Dobelli on how news misleads, is irrelevant, has no explanatory power, is actually toxic to your body, increases cognitive errors, inhibits thinking, is addictive like a drug, wastes your time, keeps us passive and kills our creativity.

Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

Society needs journalism – but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don’t have to arrive in the form of news. Long journal articles and in-depth books are good, too.

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Humans and other animals

The adventures of Russian Man

Russian Man leads an eventful life.

To some, he’s a marvel.

Russian Man does no-hands push ups

Russian Man refuels hang glider at gas station before calmly taking off

Russian Man flies power glider out of gas station

Russian Man reads longest word in English language

Russian Man saves woman on train tracks

Russian Man touches 1,000 women's breasts for Putin

However, despite Russian Man’s romantic nature, he is ultimitely unsuited to family life.

Russian Man fakes own death in car-crash marriage proposal

Russian Man pretends to die before proposing

Russian Man digs tunnel to pipeline, siphons 30 tons of oil out of 'curiosity'

Russian Man puts 8-year old daughter behind the wheel of a car

Russian Man jumps in chute to escape girlfriend

Military life doesn’t work out much better for Russian Man.

Turkish army attempts to draft paralyzed Russian Man

Drunk Russian Man drives tank into house

Russian Man attempts to blow up ex-wife

Inevitably, Russian Man loses what was only ever a very tenuous grip on reality…

Angry, naked Russian Man is upset that the metro is closed

Russian Man takes four hostages, only demands are a pizza and a Sprite

Russian Man attacks other driver with gun as his car rolls away

Russian Man arrested for putting foot in friend's rear, killing him

Russian Man kills and eats drinking partner after running out of snacks at vodka party … and sells leftovers at market as pork

Russian Man kept 29 mummified bodies

…With uncertain but tragic consequences.

Russian Man freezes to death after being wrongly placed in morgue

Russian Man killed, cemented in drum

Godspeed Russian Man.

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