Coping with the cesspool of news

There’s a certain smugness people get in ignoring the news. Congratulations, you have no idea what’s going on! But I like to stay informed. I’d prefer Walden with Wi-Fi. 

While most of the stories are flotsam, sometimes that one little insight can make the biggest impact on your train of thought.

The trick is to stay informed without being overly consumed. News hoarding is not a sport. No one needs the full details of a celebrity wedding. You might as well go catch some flies!

All you need to know about some events is that they come and go. And they all get archived. As a preventative, you can let your mind jettison the glut of all future reporting related to that event to the bin.

Ignore what is unnecessary

If you tried to digest everything, your brain would explode. Analysis begets paralysis. Instead, you should be deliberate in what it is you want to feed your neurons. Voluntary attention captures what’s necessary and ignores the rest.

The internet’s algorithms and 24/7 news beg for attention. No matter how many attention-seeking missiles it launches, don’t poke back. Instead, observe, read and listen lightly as coping mechanisms in building immunity against propaganda.

Dipping in and out, buoyancy remains uninvolved without feeling uninvolved.

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U.K. schools dismiss the traditional clock face

The U.K. is eliminating analog clocks from student classrooms because kids can’t read them.

Says one professor from the Times Educational Supplement newspaper:

“It is amazing the number of students I am coming across in year 10, 11 and in sixth form who do not know how to tell the time. We live in a world where everything is digital. We are moving towards a digital age and they do not necessarily have analogue watches anymore and they have mobile phones with the time on.”

Of course, kids in the UK can’t be the only ones who need digital clocks to tell time.

Generation thumbs in the USA can’t seem to either, as Jimmy Kimmel highlights in the video below.

Just as Google replaced the 3 x 5 index card, the iPhone silenced the tick-tock. At least adults and children can agree on one thing about time: it never stops.

The Record Play app identifies songs based on album artwork

We’re all familiar with Shazam identifying songs by audio. But what about Shazaming cover art?

App experimenter Patrick Weaver created the Record Player app to help match up cover art with music on Spotify. He posted the beta on Glitch.

This is a Rube Goldberg Machine of the Google Cloud Vision API and the Spotify API. After logging into Spotify, upload an image. The image will be sent to the Google Vision API, which will guess what it is. The app will then search Spotify using Google’s guess, and give you the first result to play.combined the Google

Watch how it works below:

Millennials are turning their apartments into “house jungles”

Millennials are turning their apartments into “house jungles”

Hilton Carter keeps 180 plants in his house. Apparently, he’s part of a millennial trend that’s obsessed with houseplants.

From The Washington Post:

Others prefer the term “urban rain forest” or the cutesy “jungalow.” In this aspirational landscape, outlandishly and photographically lush is ideal, and filling your home with plants is “urban wilding.” In less enlightened times, we probably would have just called it “decorating.”

The obsession helps generation thumbs bring a little outside, inside.

Writes Tovah Martin, the writer behind houseplant books The Indestructible Houseplant and The Unexpected Houseplant: “One of the first waves of houseplants was after the Industrial Revolution.” The move to cities compelled folks for more greenery, and albeit, oxygen.

“I think the current cycle has a lot to do with people hunkering down. A houseplant is therapeutic. It gives you something to nurture.”

PS. If you want to take care of your own houseplant, Amazon has a whole bunch on sale.

Watch Mark Zuckerberg testify live before the Senate right here

Watch Zuckerberg’s testify live before the Senate right here
(Photo via SAUL LOEB/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is about to testify before the US Senate. You can expect the hearing to focus on the manipulation of data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

‘Move fast and break things’

Can Zuckerberg rectify the damage he’s done to digital oil? We never worry about our privacy until its too late.

Watch the privacy theater live below and highlights after the jump. Scroll down for a live viewing of Day 2.

Day 1


Highlights Day 1:

https://twitter.com/hshaban/status/983782786292158468


Day 2 — Live Now…


Highlights Day 2:

https://twitter.com/margarita/status/984080813133320192

Instagram tweaks its algorithm to favor fresher posts

gif by Denis Sazhin

Instagram is making tweaks to the algorithmic feed it introduced two years ago. While the social network won’t bring back the chronological feed, it will emphasize newer posts first. You’ll also be able to manually refresh your feeds instead of kicked up to the to while browsing.

From the Instagram blog:

We’ve heard it can feel unexpected when your feed refreshes and automatically bumps you to the top. So today we’re testing a “New Posts” button that lets you choose when you want to refresh, rather than it happening automatically. Tap the button and you’ll be taken to new posts at the top of feed — don’t tap, and you’ll stay where you are. We hope this makes browsing Instagram much more enjoyable.

Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed. With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about. So if your best friend shares a selfie from her vacation in Australia, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.

I no longer use Instagram like I used to because the feed feels like a disorganized mosh pit. Timestamps are all over the place and my friends’ posts went missing at the cost of brands.

At least now it appears that Instagram is listening, sort of.

I’d still like the ability to create lists like Twitter. I’d create one feed specific to street photographers and another for my closest friends. An ad-less version of Instagram would be a bonus as well, even at the price of a monthly subscription.

Blame the humans, not the bots, for retweeting false news

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gif via Ryan Seslow

According to research done by data scientists at MIT, it is humans, not bots, which disseminate false news.

The study began with the 2013 Boston bombings when Twitter spread inaccurate rumors about the aftermath of the events.

The three authors of the study then took it upon themselves to dig deeper into the fake news phenomenon by examining tweets of 3 million users from the years 2006 to 2017.

Blame the humans, not the machines

The overarching result is that false news spreads faster than real news because people on Twitter are more likely to retweet novelty. Said MIT professor and researcher Sinan Aral, “We found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, bots accelerate the spread of true and false stories at the same rate. False news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.”

Sensationalism stokes retweets. In fact, “false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.”

MIT scientists believe misinformation also runs rampant on Facebook but is harder to detect because it lives in the echo chambers of a walled garden: FB groups, private posts, and direct messages (re: dark social). Because of Russia’s election meddling in 2016, both Facebook and Twitter are finally taking efforts to improve their platforms for better veracity detection. Fact-checking is more vital than ever.

Humans are suckers for captivating but erroneous news. Some people even refuse to let go. As Mark Twain so wisely noted, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” The good news is that the truth never expires, even if it takes longer to percolate.

No longer thinking straight


We are suckers for fake news not necessarily because we want to believe it’s true, but because the world has become so chaotic and polluted with noisy opinions that the possibilities are endless.

The coexistence of anxiety and confirmation bias prevents us from thinking clearly. We are stuck in perpetual worry of the next terrorist attack, natural disaster, and baseless tweet.

Even worse, the facts don’t change our minds. We are ignorantly settled on we think is right and only collect information that solidifies our beliefs.

We reject any proof, having lost our ability to rise above sidedness altogether. Our entire system of beliefs, beliefs about beliefs, are in a state of flux because we’re obsessed with being right.

We’ve lost our ability to pause and reflect, allowing the suck of dopamine to woo our biases instead.

The loop of deception feeds off our inattention. We are trapped in the illusion of knowledge.

“Nothing is real until it’s on television”

Image by Wells Baum

“It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.”

Tom Nichols

As Charlie Brown says after looking into the dark sky: “Let’s go inside and watch television. I’m beginning to feel insignificant.”

Newsletter: The Coltrane Doctrine 🎷

Web Gems

THE COLTRANE DOCTRINE

John Coltrane and Einstein shared interests in mathematical principles. In response to the Coltrane doctrine (image below), Thelonious Monk replied: “All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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+ Now that ⚾ is back, here’s a little-known fact on how the game influenced jazz music.

WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK

“I never sleep because sleep is the cousin of death,” spits Nas in his Illmatic track ‘N.Y. State of Mind.’ What he may have overlooked is that sleep, and indeed rest can make you even more productive. It’s a canard to think that all successful people do is just work. Charles Darwin and Ernest Hemingway were slackers.

THE SPIRITUAL, REDUCTIONIST CONSCIOUSNESS OF CHRISTOF KOCH

Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. We had hands that allowed us to manipulate our environment. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”

TOKYO’S HOTTEST NEW DJ IS THIS 82-YEAR-OLD DUMPLING CHEF

She makes dumplings by day and spins records by night. Check out 82-year-old Japanese woman DJ Dumpling. Watch the video.

Poll: What’s your jukebox preference: iTunes or Spotify?

WHO CAN NAME THE BIGGER NUMBER?

Scientists have shown again and again that the mind, like a piece of software, is elastic. We are the sum of a hundred billion neurons that strengthen through knowledge and experience. Our skull evolves within a gooey flesh.

But there has to be a cap on human acuity, surely. At some point, exponents can’t go any further. We can’t get any smarter, nor pinpoint the largest number which is infinity and beyond. Even “Moore’s Law peters out, “as microchip components reach the atomic scale and conventional lithography falters,” says computer scientist Scott Aaronson.

DR. GABOR MATE ON WHO/WHAT IS NORMAL

You’re either left brained or right. You’re either normal or mental. Rather, it’s a continuum of both. The stigma that goes along with differentness makes you an outsider, yet these ‘weirdos’ are exactly the ones crazy enough to change the world. Said the American mathematician John Nash: “I wouldn’t have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally.”

As Physician Dr. Gabor Mate explains in his interview, maybe we should make more space for those different to express themselves rather than hide in anguish.

Watch

THE STREETS OF PARIS

“Go out into the streets of Paris and pick out a cab driver. He will look to you very much like every other cab driver. But study him until you can describe him so that he is seen in your description to be an individual, different from every other cab driver in the world.” — De Maupassant

+ Speaking of cars, “Americans are used to cars the way that fish are used to water.” Ezra Klein explains why we should take a cue from Barcelona.


Digging In The Crates

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STUFF is a five piece instrumental band from Antwerp, Belgium. ‘Strata’ is the first track from the band’s second album old dreams new planets due out April 28th.

The song vacillates from broken jazz before weaving into a funky, electronic jungle. Says the quintet’s SoundCloud page, “it makes you doubt whether you’re at a rave or at a fusion jazz concert in some late 80’s basement.”

LISTEN

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Noga Erez is an electronic music producer from Tel Aviv. ‘Off the Radar’ is one of the lead singles from her debut album of the same name.

Noga’s electro-pop vibes will most certainly remind you of MIA’s adventurism. Says the artist, “have this idea of giving people moments of thought and inspiration, and at the same time offering escapism and fun.”

LISTEN

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With jungle nods to LTJ Bukem comes Mysterious of a Blunt, presumably an alias of Berlin-based techno producer Orson Wells.

Here’s how he describes his music-making process in an interview with EdHid:

 “It’s somehow a meditative process immersing yourself in a basic loop and trying to add selectively more elements based on your experiences you have collected. I didn’t have a mentor or did a programming study. Everything I do is the result of an autodidactic approach.”

LISTEN


For more interesting reads and new music, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or the Twitter feed. You can also subscribe to the blogs: wellsbaum.blog and bombtune.comIf you dig the blogs and want to support them, make a donation, buy a book, or email this post to a friend.

Newsletter: Disinformation and Frappuccinos™

web gems

  1. What an American football team in southeastern Ukraine can teach the US about the perils of disinformation, a term created by the KGB in the 1950s.
  2. In 1992, George Howell AKA “The Coffee Shaman” created the Frappuccino™. In 1994, he sold his twelve Boston-based Coffee Connection stores to Starbucks for $24 million. He still hates cold brews.
  3. Technology shapes us. Cities shape us. But urbanites across the world are all becoming the same. Read Future Life in the City and the Growing Spaces Between Us
  4. The cubicle was intended to be the action of office. What we got instead was “a mania for uniformity.
  5. Moving to a virtual utopia is saving the disabled from ‘information porn.
  6. Polish artist continues to make his thought-provoking illustrations.
  7. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

digging in the crates

  1.  “I still have a lot of time for putting out 12 inches.” Joy Orbison wasn’t lying. It’s been five years since his last solo release, but Joy Orbison is back with all new EP on his own label TOSS PORTAL. ‘Rite Ov’ steps into a dub groove that even Mark Ernestus would appreciate. I just wish I had a better sound system to do the bass justice. |
    LISTEN
  2. The Peter Franks Group is an instrumental and jazz beat collective from Bournemouth, England. The fresh and crisp flute-driven track ‘Leaving This Place’ is one of the standout tracks off the band’s album Days Past. ‘Inner Most’ is also a moody gem. | LISTEN
  3. “In 2005, while making his Saturday morning yard sale rounds around town, collector Blake Oliver stumbled upon a box of curiously marked tapes. At first, Oliver thought he’d found the lost masters from Clem Price and George Beter’s Columbus-based Prix label.” | LISTEN

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Tuning out the news

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In today’s age, unfollowing the news will give you a peace of mind. News entertains, it dances with sensationalism and highlights disappointing stories. ‘As it turns out, your hobby of monitoring the “state of the world” did not actually affect the world,’ blogs David Cain in his piece ‘Five Things You Notice When You Quit the News.’

The news is candy for the mind. There’s little currency in meta-truth and more credibility in depth. Books will always be more dependable than the news. The future is apt to repeat the past because people never learned the history taught in books in the first place.

‘If we only care about the breadth of information, and not the depth, there’s not much distinction between “staying informed” and staying misinformed.’

People substitute care with attention, thinking that knowing the latest news on Aleppo shows genuine concern. Their opinions on the issue tip-toe around ideal resolutions without doing anything about it.

‘The sense of “at least I care” may actually prevent us from doing something concrete to help, because by watching sympathetically we don’t quite have to confront the reality that we’re doing absolutely nothing about it.’

It doesn’t matter how well-informed you are because you won’t do anything to ameliorate the situation. You don’t need more news to fill your echo chamber of partisanship; you need to listen with intent.

It’s not even worth consuming the news at all. While that may sound callous, to “remain uninvolved without feeling uninvolved,” can bring focus to the things where you can actually make a difference.