Thought you were going to escape the holidays unscathed? Think again! I’m actually in the holiday mood this year, and I’m not afraid to inflict it on others…. Muahaha…
This is an early animation by Terry Gilliam, from Christmas 1968. Laughing Squid posted it to Tumblr this morning.
Every since my brother introduced me to Monty Python when I was about eight, I’ve been enamored with highly visual absurdist humor. And I especially adore Terry Gilliam’s ability to upend our assumptions of space, time, place, scale, and intention.
We live in an unpredictable world, where meaning shifts drastically as context changes. We’re forever falling into a new picture frame, and parts of other pictures intrude rudely upon ours. Laughter is the best way to stay afloat amidst chaos. And there is always, always chaos.
Just because someone posts something personal online doesn’t mean it’s OK to use that to manufacture a faux-personal connection in order to persuade them to do you a favor.
Case in point: Yesterday a clueless media relations professional whom I do not know sent me an e-mail with the subject line: “I sent a poem to a wannabee crotchety old bitch.” He was alluding to my recent birthday post, in which I reflected on aging.
The comment this person attempted to append to that post — which I did not approve — was the poem When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. That was in itself a mistake, though not a fatal one. If ever there was an overused, reflexive cliche response to any woman who mentions aging in a positive light, that poem would be it.
So this PR guy e-mailed me to let me know he’d tried to post that comment. Here’s the start of his message, and where he really screwed up…
A recurring theme in my thoughts and work lately is psychological resistance to demonstrable facts. (See: Why facts will never be enough to make people believe). Sometimes that’s due to cognitive dissonance, emotional reasoning, or herd reinforcement. But sometimes it’s due to a plain lack of understanding of what science is and how it functions.
So this recent episode from The Onion Radio News reduced me to helpless giggles. Enjoy!
It’s on a similar theme, with a twist: The collective, self-reinforcing cognitive dissonance and fervent but meaningless arguments that keeps sports fandom and the pro sports industry rolling — and why the people involved in pro sports probably shouldn’t draw attention to that fact. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and all that.
I think you might be able to search-and-replace the sports references here with references to politics, religion, smartphone platforms, or news/media brands, and it would still work.
Right now I’m reading Seth Mnookin’s Panic Virus — a book about the bad science, bad science media coverage, and quirks of human psychology that fostered the anti-vaccine movement (by parents concerned that vaccines cause autism, despite the wealth of peer-reviewed science to the contrary).
I’m reading it because I’m fascinated and concerned why people (sometimes in large numbers) tend to cling to beliefs/positions fiercely long after they’ve been factually debunked/disproven, whether by science or by journalistic, legal, or other systematic investigation. (WMD, anyone?)
This kind of anti-fact, anti-science backlash tends to really confuse and frustrate journalists and scientists.
It sucks when you work really hard to do the fairest, most systematic investigation of a topic that deeply affects many people’s lives — but the very people who are suffering most from the topic of your research refuse to believe what you have to say, or accuse you of being part of some conspiracy to hoodwink them. And meanwhile, your less skilled or less ethical colleagues are producing their own research and reports designed to foster fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
That generates considerable friction, controversy, and conflict. And worse, it delays the discovery and implementation of real solutions.
Why does this happen — and what can journalists and scientists do about it?…
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed my personal patterns of writing and reading have changed significantly. Some of this has been in response to the changing technology of communication — the rise of social media, in particular. But some of it has also been about where I am in my life and my work.
Here’s a quick rundown of my own changes, and contributing reasons for them. I’d be curious to hear about other people’s personal media evolutions, too. Please share your own experiences in the comments below…
More than a year ago, in June 2008, I wrote about how Nokia’s clueless approach to serving the US smartphone market basically handed that market to Apple on a silver platter by the time the 3G iPhone launched.
“Nokia is looking to collect patent royalties of 1 or 2 percent for each iPhone sold, according to a note from Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, which — given the roughly 34 million iPhone units already in the hands of users — would amount to $200 million-$400 million. That’s not a lot of money to either company, of course. But Nokia is clearly hoping it can be more successful in the courtroom than it’s been in the marketplace.”
Hierarchy of Digital Distractions: Top of a brilliant, too-accurate pyramid infographic by InformationIsBeautiful.net
Productivity and task management seem like strictly practical issues, but in fact they’re deeply emotional. That’s what David Allen describes at in the first chapter of Getting Things Done, when he talks about the sense of calmness instilled by having a mind like water.
It seems to me that tuning into and recognizing your own feelings (especially hope, shame, relief, and fear) is THE crucial first step for figuring out what to do, getting stuff done, and letting stuff go. That’s what I’ve been working on today. Here is a little background, and some thoughts and lessons on this theme…