Body Language, Intellectuals, Turbulence, Richard Dawkins, Bees, Romance


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The Body Language Of Power

Andreas Kluth | Handelsblatt | 4th August 2017

Angela Merkel projects authority by staying calm, even aloof, in her facial expression and her body language. She keeps hand movements to a minimum, defaulting to a “Merkel rhombus”, which is “really more of a kite formed between her hands”. Even in the most stressful situations she “keeps her finger tips barely touching, which suggests that Merkel has a low cortisol level. We choose those people as leaders who take longer to feel stress. So she is signaling something that she is not even aware of” (2,040 words)

Tough Broads

Elaine Showalter | TLS | 8th August 2017

Discussion of Tough Enough, by Deborah Nelson of the University of Chicago, about the ideas and attitudes of six modern intellectuals: Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus and Joan Didion. “Nelson originally titled her book Tough Broads … Their tone of unemotional clarity on the most traumatic events made them respected and feared; but crossing the line between detachment and heartlessness made them seem out of step with their times” (1,600 words)

A Pilot Explains Turbulence

Patrick Smith | Business Insider | 9th August 2017

You don’t need to worry. The plane is built for it. “Conditions might be annoying and uncomfortable, but the plane is not going to crash. Turbulence is an aggravating nuisance for everybody, including the crew, but it’s also, for lack of a better term, normal. From a pilot’s perspective it is ordinarily seen as a convenience issue, not a safety issue. The pilots aren’t worried about the wings falling off; they’re trying to keep their customers relaxed and everybody’s coffee where it belongs” (2,700 words)

A Conversation With Richard Dawkins

John Horgan | Scientific American | 10th August 2017

Topics include belief, President Trump, reproducibility, consciousness. “Some people define atheism as a conviction that there are no gods, and agnosticism as allowing for the possibility, however slight. In this sense I am agnostic, as any scientist would be. But only in the same way that I am agnostic about leprechauns and fairies. Other people define agnosticism as the belief that the existence of gods is as probable as their nonexistence. In this sense I am certainly not agnostic” (1,400 words)

How Beekeepers Make More Bees

Tim Taylor | Conversable Economist | 5th August 2017

Draw your own moral from this modern fable of the bees. When bees were found to be dying in large numbers five years ago, public imagination was fired. Time magazine proclaimed “A World Without Bees”. The “beepocalypse” acquired a suitably portentous name: Colony Collapse Disorder. And now? The crisis has passed. Bees and beekeepers are used to hitting rough patches every decade or so. “Replacing lost colonies by splitting hives is straightforward and takes about 20 minutes” (1,200 words)

Romance Novels By Artificial Intelligence

Elle O'Brien | Medium | 8th August 2017

“I’ve always been fascinated with romance novels — the kind they sell at the drugstore for a couple of dollars, usually with some attractive, soft-lit couples on the cover. So when I started futzing around with text-generating neural networks a few weeks ago, I developed an urgent curiosity to discover what artificial intelligence could contribute to the ever-popular genre. Maybe one day there will be entire books written by computers. For now, let’s start with titles” (1,200 words)

Video of the day: Helium Beer

What to expect:

Interesting if true. And yes, it should be a standard feature of all alcoholic drinks (4’05”)

Thought for the day

The Bible tells us to forgive our enemies, not our friends
Margot Asquith

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