The Coventions are over. But you may be scratching your head wondering what happened. Well, if you feel more or less likely to go and vote after the convention, then they got you. Here’s how.
DO INDEPENDENTS MATTER? If you really aren’t interested in the question, let me answer right off the bat. No. They don’t. It’s not because the opinions of a sizable portion of the electorate won’t affect the outcome. Recent work done by social scientists on the question has recently been popularized by NPR, on both Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation. These segments more or less reiterate what some political scientists have tried to point out for a long time: political independents don’t matter much because they don’t really exist. If you call yourself an independent, please, let me start by asking you to stop tricking yourself.
Link: Books Without Borders
A bookseller recounts “My Life at the World’s Dumbest Bookstore Chain” – discovered by @Andrlik. In my youth I worked as a bookseller – at a large chain, then an indie. This story, told from the perspective of a former employee, tells the sad tale of one chain’s demise.
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It’s embarrassing now, but on the day that I was hired to work at Boston’s flagship Borders store in 1996, I was so happy that I danced around my apartment. After dropping out of college, I had worked a succession of crappy jobs: mall Easter Bunny, stock boy at Sears and Kmart and Walmart, a brief and nearly fatal stint as a landscaper. A job at Borders seemed to be a step, at long last, toward my ultimate goal of writing for a living. At least I would be working with books. And the scruffy Borders employees, in their jeans and band T-shirts, felt a lot closer to my ideal urban intellectuals than the stuffy Barnes & Noble employees with their oppressive dress code and lame vests.
The fact that Borders offered me a full-time job, which allowed me to quit two part-time jobs (at a Staples and a Stop & Shop) and offered health insurance (that promised to help pay for my impending wisdom tooth extraction), was a pretty big deal, too…
The psychologists call it “deindividuation”. It’s what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic deindividuation experiment concerned American children at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters were invited to take sweets left in the hall of a house on a table on which there was also a sum of money. When children arrived singly, and not wearing masks, only 8% of them stole any of the money. When they were in larger groups, with their identities concealed by fancy dress, that number rose to 80%. The combination of a faceless crowd and personal anonymity provoked individuals into breaking rules that under “normal” circumstances they would not have considered.
Deindividuation is what happens when we get behind the wheel of a car and feel moved to scream abuse at the woman in front who is slow in turning right. It is what motivates a responsible father in a football crowd to yell crude sexual hatred at the opposition or the referee. And it’s why under the cover of an alias or an avatar on a website or a blog – surrounded by virtual strangers – conventionally restrained individuals might be moved to suggest a comedian should suffer all manner of violent torture because they don’t like his jokes, or his face. Digital media allow almost unlimited opportunity for wilful deindividuation. They almost require it. The implications of those liberties, of the ubiquity of anonymity and the language of the crowd, are only beginning to be felt.
From The New Yorker
by Nicholas Schmidle
Shortly after eleven o’clock on the night of May 1st, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters lifted off from Jalalabad Air Field, in eastern Afghanistan, and embarked on a covert mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Inside the aircraft were twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six, which is officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. A Pakistani-American translator, whom I will call Ahmed, and a dog named Cairo—a Belgian Malinois—were also aboard. It was a moonless evening, and the helicopters’ pilots, wearing night-vision goggles, flew without lights over mountains that straddle the border with Pakistan. Radio communications were kept to a minimum, and an eerie calm settled inside the aircraft…
Watching the film was a fun and interesting challenge for me: on one hand, I read film like a text, as I sometimes like to wear a film critic’s hat; on the other, I personally know some of the ‘stars’ of the film and seeing David Carr and Brian Stelter on screen was great, but also a bit surreal.
I would imagine that any New York media person (whether journalist or PR person who has worked with any of the film’s narrators) had similar thoughts while watching this film. But to applaud the film based on knowing the social actors doesn’t do the film justice, so this ‘review’ looks at “Page One” through an expository mode of representation lens, which is meant to highlight a) how to read documentary film, b) how this film uses a the expository mode of representation to push its agenda and from that, c) can documentary film be objective?
Urban Exploring in NYC
July 29, 2007By BEN GIBBERD
JOE ANASTASIO, a slim, dark-haired Web designer for a Wall Street publishing company, was standing outside Madison Square Garden, dressed in black work boots, a torn blue check shirt and a bomber jacket. It was a brisk Sunday morning in the spring, and among the swirl of tourists clutching maps and hockey fans in Rangers jerseys, he might easily have been mistaken for a Metropolitan Transportation Authority track worker heading to a shift.
That is how Mr. Anastasio likes it. A 33-year-old native of Astoria, Queens, he is an urban explorer, to use a term he and his fellow adventurers accept somewhat wearily, along with urban spelunker, infiltrator, hacker and guerilla urbanist. Urban explorers, a highly disparate, loosely knit group, share an obsession with uncovering the hidden city that lies above and below the familiar one all around them. And especially during the summer, they are out in full force.
Alone and with cohorts, Mr. Anastasio has crawled, climbed and sometimes simply brazenly walked into countless train tunnels, abandoned subway stations, rotting factories, storm drains, towers, decaying hospitals and other shadowy remnants of the city’s infrastructure the authorities would rather he did not enter. Although he records his adventures on his Web site, ltvsquad.com, anonymity is, for him, a necessary tool.
A few minutes later on this Sunday morning, Mr. Anastasio was joined by a Korean woman in her 20s named Miru Kim, who with her delicate looks and glossy, shoulder-length black hair offered a striking contrast to Mr. Anastasio’s grizzled appearance. The two headed off, bound for the netherworld beneath their feet.
A few blocks west, they looked around cautiously. Several trucks were parked behind a wire mesh fence, its gate wide open, but no one seemed about. Beyond the fence lay an entrance to the Amtrak tunnels that run north-south along the West Side. They stepped through the gate and headed for the tunnel’s mouth.