Face Of The Day

Oct 25 2014 @ 10:48am

Steven_Laxton_04

In an interview about his series Circo El Salvador, Steven Laxton describes his inspiration for a project that “captures the magical moments behind the scenes of El Salvador’s traveling circuses”:

I was looking for a new personal series, something with depth that interested me and would also lend itself to my personal style and technique. Over dinner a friend was raving about these gypsy circus families. I expressed interest, so he invited me down. I booked my tickets not really knowing much about them and not even having seen a photo of them.

I went to El Salvador the first time for three weeks on a mission to find and possibly photograph these circuses. As they have no fixed address and no travel itinerary or contact info, they were very hard to find. They literally move on a whim. I was about to go home without even seeing, let alone photographing, a circus. The day before I flew out, our detective work payed off, and I found one. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to come back as soon as possible and make it my next project. I loved what I saw: humble yet beautiful artists. It seemed to resemble what I imagine the gypsy circuses of yesteryear in Europe would have been like.

Check out other photographs from the series here. For more of his work, see Laxton’s website here or follow him on Instagram and Twitter here and here.

It’s A Hard Smock Life

Oct 25 2014 @ 10:19am

BFAMFAPhD_ArtistsReportBack2014-8-1

A new analysis of Census Bureau data indicates that art students have a mere 1-in-10 chance of becoming working artists. And that’s not all:

Most surprising was the lack of overlap between working artists and arts graduates. In the United States, 40 percent of working artists do not have a bachelors degree in any field. Only 16 percent of working artists have arts related bachelors degrees. Though arts graduates may acquire additional opportunities and skills from attending art school, arts graduates are likely to graduate with significant student loan debt, which makes working as an artist difficult, if not impossible. … Although there are 1.2 million working artists over the age of 25 in this country, there are only 200,000 working artists with arts-related bachelors degrees. The majority of working artists have median earnings of $30,621, but the small percentage of working artists with bachelors degrees in the arts have median earnings of $36,105.

But Alexis Clements is skeptical:

Read On

Why Women Belong On Mars

Oct 25 2014 @ 9:28am

dish_marspic

Last year, Kate Greene and five teammates simulated living conditions on Mars for a NASA-funded project (the experiment actually took place on a volcano in Hawaii). What she noticed while collecting and managing data:

Week in and week out, the three female crew members expended less than half the calories of the three male crew members. Less than half! We were all exercising roughly the same amount—at least 45 minutes a day for five consecutive days a week—but our metabolic furnaces were calibrated in radically different ways. During one week, the most metabolically active male burned an average of 3,450 calories per day, while the least metabolically active female expended 1,475 calories per day. It was rare for a woman on crew to burn 2,000 calories in a day and common for male crew members to exceed 3,000.

Female astronauts, Greene suggests, may simply be more cost-effective than male ones:

Read On

Heidi Tworek proposes a fix for grade inflation in the US:

Why not simply have fewer grades and accept that the majority of students might receive the same mark? The United Kingdom’s system only has three classes of grades: first, second, and third (although second is split into 2:1 and 2:2). A first denotes work of outstanding quality. In 2012 to 2013, 19 percent of students graduated with a first. An overwhelming 76 percent of students received a second-class degree (51 percent earned a 2:1, 25 percent a 2:2). Only 5 percent were given a third.

The U.K. is not immune to disputes about grade inflation. But it’s telling that the most common grade by far is still a second, not a first. When employers all accept that a second-class degree already provides a stamp of quality, it removes the narcissism inherent in minor differences. There are also fewer incentives for professors to assign higher grades if students recognize that the majority of them will receive the same mark.

Forget overzealous regulators; according to Ryan Avent, the biggest obstacle to widespread use of driverless vehiclesover the next decade or two at any ratemay be the effects of rapid technological progress in other parts of the economy”:

As a recent special report explains, technological change over the last generation has wiped out many middle-skill jobs, pushing millions of workers into competition for low-wage work. That glut has contributed to stagnant wages for most workers, and low pay has in turn reduced the incentive to firms to deploy labour-saving technology. … [C]heap labour could pose a formidable threat to the driverless car. The cost of the sensors and processors needed to pilot an autonomous vehicle is falling and is likely to fall much more as production ramps up. Yet the technology is still pricey, especially compared with a human, which, after all, is a rather efficient package of sensory and information-processing equipment. At low wages, a smartphone-enabled human driver is formidable competition for a driverless vehicle.

The Psychology Of Heroes

Oct 25 2014 @ 7:34am

Katy Waldman cites new research on the subject. One finding? Heroes tend not to over-think it:

In a study out last week in the journal PLOS ONE, Yale researchers recruited more than 300 volunteers to read statements by 51 contemporary “heroes.” These men and women had all received the Carnegie Hero Medal for “civilians who risk their lives to save strangers”; the experimenters wanted to know whether they had acted without thinking or after exerting “conscious self-control” in order “to override negative emotions like fear.”

The volunteers—and a computer algorithm, for safesies—analyzed the medal winners’ statements for evidence of careful thought, or of unpremeditated action. Overwhelmingly, they found that day-savers rescue first and reflect second. As Christine Marty, a 21-year-old student who wrested a trapped senior citizen from her car during a flash flood, said, “I’m thankful I was able to act and not think about it.” Study author David Rand noted that people playing economic games are similarly less likely to share resources when they ruminate about their moves, but more generous when they don’t take time to consider strategy.

Waldman goes on to note previous studies that shed light on the thoughts of altruistic risk-takers:

Read On

The End Of Gamer Culture? Ctd

Oct 24 2014 @ 10:15pm

Just a short note because the last sentence in the post is being misunderstood, which is my fault, because I wrote it. Here’s the context:

That piece was not so much “covering the phenomenon” as viciously skewing it. And yes, its tone smacked of bullying and dismissal. When you’re telling people they don’t even deserve to be in a debate, and associate them with segregationists and every other entity good liberals have been taught to despise, “dismissive” is the least of it.

Look: whatever case the gamergate peeps have, they have botched it with their tactics. Those tactics have been repellent in every sense of the word. But bullying has occurred on both sides, and only one side was bullied before.

The two sides I am describing are the journalists whose work I was just criticizing and the gamergate supporters. Not the whole two sides of gamer culture; not men and women; just the journalists I’ve been citing, and the people they’ve been lambasting.

This Is Your Brain On Sleep

Oct 24 2014 @ 9:00pm

eddybowie

Cody C. Delistraty highlights the latest research on sleep’s importance for your mental health:

Getting less than five hours of sleep a night makes people dumber and less able to concentrate, and it can make people more susceptible to false memories, according to a new study published in the September issue of Psychological Science.

Led by Steven J. Frenda of the University of California, Irvine, the study found that of the 193 people tested, participants who slept for less than five hours a night were significantly more likely to say they had seen a news video when they in fact never had. The sleep-deprived group was also more suggestible. While recounting a personal story, 38 percent of them incorporated false information the researchers had given them, whereas only 28 percent of those who had more than five hours of sleep accepted the researchers’ false information in their story retelling. Frenda and his researchers postulate that not sleeping significantly disturbs our ability to encode information.

(Photo: Eddy and Bowie zonked out)

Face Of The Day

Oct 24 2014 @ 8:32pm

Shooting At High School In Marysville, Washington

Students and family members embrace after leaving Marysville-Pilchuck High School in the aftermath of a shooting on the high school’s campus in Marysville, Washington on October 24, 2014. At least two are dead, including the shooter, according to authorities, with several more wounded. By David Ryder/Getty Images.

Why Do Americans Go Out Sick? Ctd

Oct 24 2014 @ 8:00pm

A reader shakes his head:

The post this morning in which Julia Ioffe blames American individualism for the tendency of Americans to go to work or school sick is missing the fundamental cause. According to a report by the Center for Economic Policy and Research, the United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation time and is one of only a few rich countries that doesn’t require employers to offer at least some paid holidays. A full quarter of the US workforce receives no paid vacation or holiday time. It shouldn’t be surprising to find that when faced with the prospect of not getting paid or giving up scarce vacation days, American workers choose to show up sick.

Another notes that even businesses with sick-leave policies discourage workers from calling in with the flu:

Read On