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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Online Talk is Cheap



Taken from: Trust Psychology – Nautilus Nov/Dec 2017

“Totalitarian societies know the power of common knowledge very well. When the Institute for Quantitative Social Science reveres-engineered the Internet censorship practiced by the Chinese government, they found that the government cared less about insults and criticisms than one might expect.

What it censored aggressively were social media posts making plans to meet in person. Online talk is cheap; but face-to-face people can build common knowledge.”

                                                                                                                         Stuart Firestein

Postcard from Ellie - August 2018



 

Well, I have to tell you, in case you were worried. We made it to Finland. Mio and I had our first boat ride, a long one—about 13 hours I think. (I don’t wear a watch. I’m not into useless jewelry, but I do have an expensive collar, and some winter shoes in the closet.) I must tell you, neither Mio or me pooped on the whole boat trip.  I am so proud, and it wasn’t easy. Oi! There was a place to poop on the ship, they call it the poop deck. I think most ships have them, or they used to. I don’t like bathrooms. They seem so unsanitary.

Here’s the best thing, I won 1st Place. Best Bitch! That is so cool. My first International. I am totally pumped, and Mio got a best junior ribbon. He is still young, but I’m helping him along.

It’s time for bed, and another contest tomorrow. Lighting does not often strike twice, but I don’t care. I am a happy hound. Best Bitch, I love it. Music to my ears. The tune does not grow old with reputation.

Online Talk is Cheap





Taken from: Trust Psychology - Nautilus Nov/Dec 2017

“Totalitarian societies know the power of common knowledge very well. When the Institute for Quantitative Social Science reveres-engineered the Internet censorship practiced by the Chinese government, they found that the government cared less about insults and criticisms than one might expect. 

What it censored aggressively were social media posts making plans to meet in person. Online talk is cheap; but face-to-face people can build common knowledge.”

                                                                                            Stuart Firestein

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What Women Want - Susan Pinker Comment



Susan Pinker developmental psychologist and author of The Sexual Paradox.

There’s good research showing that, as a society becomes more egalitarian, the gender differences become much more obvious. One of the studies showing this paradoxical effect is led by David Schmitt, and it shows that gender differences in personality are way larger in cultures that offer more egalitarian gender roles and opportunities. This is not what one would predict if men and women’s preferences were exclusively constrained by cultural forces. Assuming that women are imply a tamped down, smothered version of men—and would always choose what men choose if they only had a chance—is neither respectful of women’s autonomy nor supported by data.

Taken from Nautilus  Nov/Dec 2017

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Amsterdam – Part 3 - 4 July


Amsterdam – Part 3

I’m walking back from my graffiti tour and stop at a temporary  bridge across the Oudezijds Achterburgwal  canal, in front of my hotel.  It’s closed to traffic now – dead water. My first time here in the Red Light District it was open, and wonderful. A constant stream of small boats full of happy people passing—waving, drinking, smoking, laughing – Having a time so good it was contagious.

The next year the city started repairing the canal’s century old walls. I remember waking up to a pile driver every morning and pretty much force out of my hotel during the day – because of the noise. They tore out dozens of beautiful trees that had lined the canal, old bridges were destroyed, and sidewalks. All this would be repaired, the city said. A year or two.

The two photos below were taken near the start, seven or eight years ago. This was my 2nd year in Amsterdam.

On my 3rd year’s visit they began driving pilings. They’re big on pilings. Amsterdam is built on ocean sand. You need a lot of pilings if you want things to remain stable.

 

Very big pilings. They drove a lot of them, eight hours a day. This photo taken from the porch of my hotel. The window in my room looks out on the canal below. Boom . . . Boom  . . .Boom, and then a pause, and then again. All day. Not fun to be around. I took some photos and got the hell out of the way.

It’s been an major project, and expensive. The big construction firms doing work here are often from Germany and England – less expensive. Things went well for a year or two, then progress stopped – for years now. Only an ugly barrier remains in the water. Someone’s dared to climb out on it and spray painted their initials. Graffiti.


This is the canal today.

  

I’ve heard two versions of the reason for work stoppage. The old buildings (most from the 1700s) that line the canal are sitting on pilings – an average of sixteen of them. Some say the canal project has shifted the sand below causing some of the buildings to lean. Costs millions to fix just one piling. Many of these old buildings seem to be leaning, but they were built that way. The floors inside are level. In photo below see hooks sticking out from the tops of buildings. These are used to haul things up to the various floors.  Slanted front prevents things from bumping into windows on their way up.

  
Typical Stairway

There are no elevators. Fourth floors are a four floor walk up. Stairs get narrower and corkscrew on their way to upper levels. You can see why furniture has to come in through the front windows. Rent goes from a thousand, or twelve hundred a month for these apartments, and they’re hard to get.

Bartender tells me work on the canal has stopped because of lack of funds. Other large projects in Amsterdam have met the same fate. Politics and money. Sad. The ducks and swans seem happy with the situation. Lots of new arrivals on the scene. I take a photo of a feathered family, then notice as I post this, the male has a ring of plastic trash stuck on his beak. I pray that he’s found a way to get it off.

 

The canal gets totally trashed every night, plastic. The sidewalks as well are littered every morning. Jerks throw cans, bottles, and plastic into the canal, or toss it on the sidewalks. Street cleaners start work at 7 a.m. and things look decent again by ten, when the tourists hit the street.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Things I Learn in Amsterdam - Part 2


Part 2 - Revision 1 July   Sticker Price

I’m spending the afternoon with Terry, an interesting friend I met 12 years ago—my first time Amsterdam.


.  

He’s an expat, like me — managing a coffee house now. He was a cook years ago, a stressful gig he chose to end. He goes to Columbia in the off seasons. Takes hang gliding lessons and is good at the sport. Can stay up for an hour, riding the thermals. Escorted by curious birds on occasion. Next year will be his final lesson.

“It’s called, Practice Falling— learning to survive a collapsed wing at 1000 meters.”

“Jesus. What if you screw up?”

“They do it over water.”  Terry takes a bite of lunch. We’re at the Oriental Chicken — my favorite restaurant in Amsterdam. “. . . and there’s a boat below,” he says, “They pick you up.”

“How do you make the wing collapse?”

“You pull straight down on the straps. Like this.” He puts his hands at the sides of his hip.”

“How do you get it working again,” I ask.

He does a bird like thing with his arms. "You've got a few seconds to get it right."
 
I think of Icarus, but don’t mention it.

We take a walk after lunch and I ask him about stickers I keep seeing in different places.

 
“Where the hell do these come from, Terry? What are they?

“It’s graffiti, man.” He seems surprised I’m ignorant of this— I’m old.

“They’re from Sticker Artists. There are thousands of them—everywhere. You make a design, a sort of icon, and you get ‘em printed up—rolls of them. It’s a form of graffiti. Graffiti is expensive if you’re serious about it. Spray paint is expensive. You might need six or ten cans, just to do one painting —then some poster guy wallpapers over it.”

“Poster guy?” I’ve never heard of poster guys.

“They work on paper, and then paste their art to walls.”

“Amazing. All these mediums. I never knew. How much does it cost, for stickers?”

“Roll of a thousand stickers costs from fifty to two hundred Euros. Depends on what you want—how many colors. Do you want the back slit, so it’s easier to peel them off? The quality. You get a lot of them. Two thousand, maybe three. They go all over the world, these guys, pasting their stickers. Want to see a good graffiti shop?”

I nod my affirmation. I didn’t know there were such things. Some fifteen minutes later we are at the Montana Graffiti Shop—also known as, Henx. No idea what inspired these names. Most probably have meaning to it’s clientele.  There is no name on the front.

   
I guess you are supposed to know—a sort of in thing.

Inside the place are thousands of cans—every color in the rainbow and some the rainbow never thought of. I’ve been trying to find some brown spray paint for some work I’m doing at home. Impossible. You can get black, silver, green and red, and white . . . that’s it. Photo below (1/3 of one wall of cans) shows a maker’s colors.

 
Paintings at top of this  photo were done with spray cans.

Below see price of cans. There are all kinds of nozzles that can give the artists anything from a straight line to a blur. The paint is water based, but users are advised to wear gloves a mask for protracted use.


Stencils 

 

They sell stencils. Stencil graffiti is the only graffiti I know a little about —the infamous Banksy. It should be Banksys. There is more than one, sharing the name. If the image takes your breath away, for one short moment . . . an imploding, wow. Then it’s a Banksy.

Seems a bit low bag to buy a stencil, but not everyone can be a Banksy—or Banksys. You can buy a stencil and plaster it everywhere. The skull below is a stencil. Noticed it on a wall not far from my hotel in the Red Light District.


Next Blog: Part 3   Noticing Graffiti

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Things I learn in Amsterdam – Part 1



I’m at Hotel Torenzicht again. I come back every year. This is my 7th visit. The amazing Anna’s tending bar.

She’s telling me about pet snails she keeps in an aquarium. I never knew there were so many kinds—all kinds of colors and designs.
















“They’re great,” she says. “And not much trouble. Some are from Germany, and other places. I import them. They are fun to watch. My mother thinks I’m crazy.”

“They don’t do anything,” Mom tells me.

“Yes they do,” I argue. They just do it slower.”

“Do they breed?” I ask.

“Oh yes. They have babies every month. I’ve got some shrimp as well—to keep them company. The snails used to stay in one corner of the tank, but now they hang out with the shrimp. The shrimp are colorful too.”

     

Amazing Anna’s also colorful, and fun to watch. A mini education every time we meet.