Who hasn’t encountered people like this?

Who hasn’t encountered people in the workplace who are never satisfied with what others do but feel that they have to make suggestions for improvement even if they have no idea what they want or are completely unable to articulate it?

No one? I thought so.

Incidentally, the sound engineer who does not speak at all says the most with his expressions.

The age of the faux expert

Where I live there is a small regional airport and from my window I can see planes coming in to land or after taking off. On the Nextdoor neighborhood community discussion board there was a post by someone claiming that the airport does not follow standard aviation rules for which direction to take off and land depending on the wind direction, giving as the source for their complaint the responses they got when they did a search on Google on “what direction do planes fly with NW wind”.

Really? This person thinks that the people working in air traffic control and the pilots have no idea what they are doing and that this person knows better than people who do this for a living and who are well aware that lives depend on them getting it right? In response to the complaint, one commenter posted “Monterey Airport is HIRING!!! They are looking for employees just like you. Currently nobody knows what they are doing 😂😂😂 instead of criticizing maybe you should go help out.”

This illustrates the problem that we have, that people think a quick Google search makes them an ‘expert’ on pretty much anything. We see this most clearly with medical treatment, especially with covid-19. It is one thing to go on the internet and seek out information so that you can be better informed and have more meaningful discussions with your health care professionals by asking more pertinent questions and being better able to appreciate their answers. It is something else entirely to think that your judgment is now superior to that of those who do what they do for a living, day in and day out.

More civilians killed in Afghanistan

Whenever the US suffers a military setback, it reacts the same way. It lashes out in revenge, usually by bombing the hell out of some people in an effort to show that it is still powerful and to distract attention from its failures. While the US military always says that it aimed at and hit military targets, more often than not innocent people are among the victims of its actions. This seems to be the case with Joe Biden’s bombing of targets in response to the bombing near the Kabul airport that killed over a hundred people. The US military’s initial reports, as usual, claim that mostly militants were hit and that any civilian casualties, if any, were inadvertent or even the fault of the targets.
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The importance of background knowledge in humor

Cartoonists have a very difficult task because they do not have space to fill in all the necessary information and have to use images to convey a lot of background information so that people get the joke. But in doing so, they are heavily dependent on the reader getting the allusions.

As an example of how much background knowledge is needed for humor, take this cartoon.

(Speed Bump)

To get the joke, you have to recognize the person as William Shakespeare. You have to know that he was a playwright and thus his works were performed by actors, that many of his plays were done at the Globe theater, and be familiar with the aphorism written on his shirt.

This makes humor hard to cross cultural boundaries.

Evolution has won the war over creationism

We seem to be awash in various culture wars that seem to never end. So it is good to consider one that was major war less than two decades ago that seems to have ended quietly. A new survey suggests that the war between evolution and various forms of creationism has resulted in science winning a resounding victory. A paper based on survey results gives the reasons for this shift. Its abstract says:

The public acceptance of evolution in the United States is a long-standing problem. Using data from a series of national surveys collected over the last 35 years, we find that the level of public acceptance of evolution has increased in the last decade after at least two decades in which the public was nearly evenly divided on the issue. A structural equation model indicates that increasing enrollment in baccalaureate-level programs, exposure to college-level science courses, a declining level of religious fundamentalism, and a rising level of civic scientific literacy are responsible for the increased level of public acceptance.

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Looking at a Kandinsky in a dingy power station

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) is considered a pioneer in abstract art. In an example of art-within-art, director Nastia Korkia chose to display his 1932 work Dramatic and Mild in what was once the dingy break room of a Moscow power station and film the reactions of the viewers where only one or two people could see it at a time after standing in line for a long time.

This article describes the background to this unusual exhibit.

Whether it’s the Mona Lisa being crowded by selfie-happy tourists at the Louvre, or perhaps, more recently, a digital, from-your-desk tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, setting is an inescapable vital part of how we respond to an artwork. Capturing a scene in which three disparate elements – the Wassily Kandinsky oil painting Dramatic and Mild (1932), a small room, and an exceptionally fit security guard – come together in the context of a unique exhibition, this short from the Russian director Nastia Korkia invites viewers to contemplate the central role of place in the experience of art.

On its surface, Korkia’s film – eponymously named for the Kandinsky painting at its centre – is an unfussy exercise. It chronicles a small slice of the 2017 ‘Geometry of Now’ arts festival, which was held inside the decommissioned power station-turned-art-complex GES-2 in Moscow. With a fly-on-the-wall observation style, the short unfolds almost exclusively within what was once (and still very much looks like) a small workers’ lounge, where Kandinsky’s painting is on temporary display. However, that painting doesn’t make a cameo until the very end, as Korkia’s focus is on the people and small interactions that percolate in the space.

Corollary of Parkinson’s Law for sociopaths

The Minnesota Republican party is in shambles after multiple complaints that its chair Jennifer Carnahan created and oversaw a highly toxic environment of casual racism and sexism at all levels of the organization that resulted in many people leaving in disgust.

In conversations with seven current and former staffers of the Minnesota Republican Party, most of them women who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, all shared similar experiences of racism and sexual harassment or assault by high-level employees of the state organization. 

Likewise, all outlined a pattern of reprisal from Carnahan targeting anyone who spoke out about these and other issues within the organization, subjecting employees and even some activists affiliated with the party to repeated verbal abuse.
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