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Whose laughter? Which comedy? "The Politics of Humor
(Plus- Voltaire imprisoned)
“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious”*…


The surprisingly surprising history of the pronoun "you"
(Plus- Omar Khayyam)
“If thou thou’st him some thrice, it will not be amiss”*…

Muse on modes of address:

How exploitation and predatory pricing drove the transformation of the US meat industry – and created the model for modern agribusiness: "The price of plenty: how beef changed America."
(Plus- the table knife)
“The great packing machine ground on remorselessly, without thinking of green fields; and the men and women and children who were part of it never saw any green thing, not even a flower”*…

Muse on meat:

Philip K. Dick describes our current situation... writing in 1976. (Plus- "The Chaser")
“This may be the most important proposition revealed by history: ‘At the time, no one knew what was coming’.”*…

Ponder prescience:

Capitalism as a system-- and how to address its all-too-manifest faults: "History of the Capital AI & Market Failures in the Attention Economy."
(Plus- the Agricultural Adjustment Act)
“Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America”*…

Wonder about the water in which we swim:

Matthew Butterick's witty and wise observations on the design choices made by presidential candidates (so far): "Typography 2020: a listicle for America"
(Plus- the oldest book)
“You cannot bore people into buying your product”*…

Face up to face-value:

Carol Kaye, the unsung bassist who played (with the Wrecking Crew) on more hits than you can name
(Plus- The Turtles play the White House)
“In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous”*…

Credit where credit is due:

Disney writes down its investment in Vice...

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”
- Roy Amara

Nine scientists-- geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists-- provide some fascinating "alternative history": "What If the Asteroid Never Killed the Dinosaurs?"
(Plus- the Museum of Natural History)
“When the world changes faster than species can adapt, many fall out”*…

Explore the road not taken:

Outsider artists and their work: "Finding Jesus on the Front Yard"
(Plus- Coca Cola)
“The vitality of the ordinary members of society is dependent on its Outsiders. Many Outsiders unify themselves, realize themselves as poets or saints.”*…

See through different eyes:

From dark living rooms to dark ecology-- a meditation on the humble, but crucial light switch: "Let there be light switches
(Plus- Beethoven's Ninth)
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that”*…

Shine on at:

Examples of the kinds of tricks that charts can try to pull, explained: "Five Ways to Lie with Charts"
(Plus- the Flash Crash)
“There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics”*…

Stack the deck at

A consideration of construction (and on-going maintenance) as a way of being: "Building a Cathedral"
(Plus- Carnegie Hall)
“Cathedrals are unfinished. It is just the nature of the beast.”*…

Take the long view:

The remarkably impactful design movement founded by Walter Gropius 100 years ago: The Bauhaus
(Plus- Mel Edwards)
“Design came into being in 1919, when Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus at Weimar”*…

Integrate form and function:

How to reduce digital distractions: advice from medieval monks
(Plus- the longest-running musical)
“At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles”*…

Focus on focusing:

The Case of the Gone Girls (and what it might mean): "First big survey of births shows millions of missing women"
(Plus- Dr. Spock)
“Demography is destiny”*…

Be a booster for balance:

The Case of the Gone Girls (and what it might mean): "First big survey of births shows millions of missing women"
(Plus- Dr. Spock)
“Demography is destiny”*…

Be a booster for balance:

People want to believe a powerful and charismatic leader is on their side in an unjust world: "The age of the elected despot is here."
(Plus- Goebbels)
“Authoritarian populism can be seen as a pushback of elements of human nature—tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, zero-sum thinking—against the Enlightenment institutions that were designed to circumvent them”*…

Think for oneself:

The story of Claude Shannon, his colorful life-- and the birth of the Information Age: "How Information Got Re-Invented"
(Plus- more on Claude, as it's his birthday)
“Information is a difference that makes a difference”*…

Separate signal from noise:

Political polls: A cautionary research roundup
(Plus- Coxey's Army-- the inspiration for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?)
“A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought”*…

Stock up on grains of salt:

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Refactor Camp

Mastodon instance for attendees of Refactor Camp, and members of various online/offline groups that have grown out of it. Related local groups with varying levels of activity exist in the Bay Area, New York, Chicago, and Austin.

Kinda/sorta sponsored by the Ribbonfarm Blogamatic Universe.

If you already know a few people in this neck of the woods, try and pick a handle they'll recognize when you sign up. Please note that the registration confirmation email may end up in your spam folder, so check there. It should come from administrator Zach Faddis.