1 month ago

Upton Sinclair famously declared that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Real wages for most US workers have increased little if at all since the early 1970s, but wages for the top one percent of earners have risen 165 percent, and wages for the top 0.1 percent have risen 362 percent. If Rastignac were alive today, Vautrin might concede that he could in fact do as well by becoming a hedge fund manager as he could by marrying wealth.(…)Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes it clear that public policy can make an enormous difference, that even if the underlying economic conditions point toward extreme inequality, what Piketty calls “a drift toward oligarchy” can be halted and even reversed if the body politic so chooses.(…)what matters is the after-tax return on wealth. So progressive taxation—in particular taxation of wealth and inheritance—can be a powerful force limiting inequality. Indeed, Piketty concludes his masterwork with a plea for just such a form of taxation. Unfortunately, the history covered in his own book does not encourage optimism.(…)Upton Sinclair famously declared that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Piketty, looking at his own nation’s history, arrives at a similar observation: “The experience of France in the Belle Époque proves, if proof were needed, that no hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest.”(…)So Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an extremely important book on all fronts. Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we’ll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to.

1 month ago

Grandma's Experiences Leave Epigenetic Mark on Your Genes | DiscoverMagazine.com

…If diet and chemicals can cause epigenetic changes, could certain experiences — child neglect, drug abuse or other severe stresses — also set off epigenetic changes to the DNA inside the neurons of a person’s brain? That question turned out to be the basis of a new field, behavioral epigenetics, now so vibrant it has spawned dozens of studies and suggested profound new treatments to heal the brain.(…)The mechanisms of behavioral epigenetics underlie not only deficits and weaknesses but strengths and resiliencies, too. And for those unlucky enough to descend from miserable or withholding grandparents, emerging drug treatments could reset not just mood, but the epigenetic changes themselves. Like grandmother’s vintage dress, you could wear it or have it altered. The genome has long been known as the blueprint of life, but the epigenome is life’s Etch A Sketch: Shake it hard enough, and you can wipe clean the family curse.(…)“It sounded like voodoo at first,” Szyf admits. “For a molecular biologist, anything that didn’t have a clear molecular pathway was not serious science. But the longer we talked, the more I realized that maternal care just might be capable of causing changes in DNA methylation, as crazy as that sounded. So Michael and I decided we’d have to do the experiment to find out.”(…)Why can’t your friend “just get over” her upbringing by an angry, distant mother? Why can’t she “just snap out of it”? The reason may well be due to methyl groups that were added in childhood to genes in her brain, thereby handcuffing her mood to feelings of fear and despair. (…)“The thing I’ve gained from the work I do is that stress is a big suppressor of maternal behavior,” she says. “We see it in the animal studies, and it’s true in humans. So the best thing you can do is not to worry all the time about whether you’re doing the right thing. Keeping the stress level down is the most important thing. And tactile interaction — that’s certainly what the good mother rats are doing with their babies. That sensory input, the touching, is so important for the developing brain.

1 month ago

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Where Do Eureka Moments Come From?

9 months ago

The need to portray life as it is style of expression has worked. The youthful idealism and the realism of broken lives comes expected, but that is why we love this so much, it comes expected in an industry of crowd pleasers as a refuge from shiny plastic people and becomes a movie of great emotional resonance to which someone can actually relate.

SHORT TERM 12 (2013), Directed by Destin Cretton

Developing a flow of seamless empathy that spans the entire film is a feat in itself, but doing it with style and ease is even more rewarding. Cretton`s full length adaptation of his 2009 short is wonderful, full of doubts, insecurities, that is to say-very human. In its wanting to portray a situation In which the filmmaker has been himself (Cretton has worked at a group home for at-risk teens), the movie feel right, the scenes ring true and the dialog is in place. At this point in 2013 we can easily say that it represents the best of American independent cinema, no gimmicks, conversation and mood centered, engaging camera work and cinema verité kind of acting. The opening and closing dialogs in the movie are indicative of a cultural frame, youthful but centered around experiences that deal with the kids, with no excess baggage it curls a smile on our faces. The need to portray life as it is looms over this style of expression and there is nothing wrong with that sort of realism. The youthful idealism and the realism of broken lives comes expected, but that is why we love this so much, it comes expected in an industry of crowd pleasers as a refuge from shiny plastic people and becomes a movie of great emotional resonance to which someone can actually relate.

The main character, Grace played by Larson Brie is an emotional wreck herself, holding it all together when at work only to fall apart any other chance she gets. Striking a balance between her own issues and the kids at short term 12 she is always marked by her caring and involvement. That is the soul food that drives her work, and also the baggage that stains her relationship with her 3 year boyfriend and co-worker Mason. The movie takes us into their lives to reveal the backbone of Grace`s involvement and care that goes into her work with the kids. The kids themselves are a great bunch, with Keith Stanfield as Marcus standing out as the oldest and most troubled alongside Kaitlyn Dever as Jayden. Much of the plot is situated in the group home, portraying situations like group meetings, individual relationships and transferring the aura of the home for us to feel.

Short term 12 is an easily watchable film, its narrative doesn`t give way to experimentation or long meditative shots, it`s theme and feeling come out of the situation the film depicts. The pacing is just right, and it doesn`t drop throughout the 96 minutes. Considering the neurotic outbursts that arise in many of the characters, it has no ups and downs in attention span, it just flows.

9 months ago

High Quality

11 months ago

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The existentialist weight of “Hide Your Smiling Faces”

Gattaca, a movie whose name is a faulty construct of the first letters of guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four nitrogenous bases of DNA is the inspiration behind Connecticut band Jeromes Dream. Music of extreme intensity and emotional resonance, a cd which in “Hide Your Smiling Faces” the boys listen to alone in their rooms. Being human in an “inhuman” (capitalism as a way of life opposed to the values of humanism) world does not let you move forward in life, your difference is a factor weighing you down, for better or worse. This message is in the (fatalistic) vision of screamo giants and many other emotionally perceptive entities such as Daniel Patrick Carborne in his “Hide Your Smiling Faces”. In Gattaca, An imperfect man has given his dreams in exchange for a chance at fulfilling those dreams to a socially perceived perfect person whose inability to be content with 2nd best had made him an accidental invalid, in his own perspective-once perfect, now no one. One who has decided to end himself but had not succeeded the first time around, in the end successful in leaving this world prematurely, just like the imperfect man from the beginning of the sentence. Both are given to stars in the movies beautiful end quote reminiscent of Carl Sagan which goes: “For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I’m suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I’m not leaving… maybe I’m going home”. Both gone from this earth, both poised for greatness through the sheer luck of their DNA structures, perfect or imperfect, human after all. Do neurological pathways hide hidden corridors of sense, do some of us feel the weight of the world on our shoulders as the Yiddish Lamedvavniks do pointed out by Timothy speed Levitch in the 1998 documentary “Cruise” (the story goes that there exist 36 righteous people whose role in life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of God. Since the 36 are each exemplars of anavah (humility), having such a virtue would preclude against one’s self-proclamation of being among the special righteous. The 36 are simply too humble to believe that they are one of the 36)? Does our lifetime hide a meaning besides the social construct of a well spent life and how do we begin to address such a monolithic question or are we just random atoms swerving in the cosmos? These questions are addressed in Carborne’s “…Smiling Faces” in the form of existential adolescent angst, in the mysterious act of death and the terrestrial, pedestrian view of it. This was the defining summer of these boys lives. It’s addressed in the broken flow of a seemingly good life, it’s the tragedy that happens in New Jersey and disrupts lives forever, just as atom structures are changed just by being, in constant relationship with everything, DNA structures are formed, reformed, and formed again. Our relationships to other people are formed, broken, and reformed, as social beings, the anxiety of our existance weighs heavy on us, thrown into the world and expected to follow the rules of our current civilization, adolescence is the period when our brain chemistry is at its weirdest, wildest, maybe purest form, it’s the time when we need to begin conforming to the rules of “normal” life, but how do we lead normal lives when some of us so early on learn that there are no guarantees of the promised normality through the norms of society. Tragedy is alienating, and that is life at its core. Death is a part of life in the animal kingdom, predators loom over prey, perpetuating the ecosystem-but not in humankind. At our most romantic, we were made for wonder, but devised ways to deceive ourselves and DNA structures of all kinds were free to rage rampant in our form of life. Consciousness is no longer a blessing, but a curse for some. The two young boys coping with external events in the form of tragedy recede inward for lack of ways of articulation and processing grief. After all, their little time on this earth has made them aware enough that they feel the pain and futility of existence in the face of loss of life. The brief moments of the boys listening to Jeromes Dream, Orchid and Saetia on the discman in their rooms reveals the filmmakers homage to his own coming of age, a sensibility that has I can only assume as many others exposed to that underground music scene shaped world views, outlooks and capacities for empathy. From that place in real life, in real tragedy, in real pain, Carborne transcends the narrative form and shoots a feeling more than a film. That’s why we love and relate to such ambition, it reminds us we’re not alone, our problems, anxieties and fears are not only our own, but for everyone to feel. There lays that something we never did figure out, is growing up giving up, is it giving in, or is it just a precious and unforgettable swerving of atoms that happens in all of us ?

Luka Tomas

hide your smiling faces promo

1 year ago

Why the Star Trek Franchise Is Great

Utopia requires moments of peace and quiet. Random episodes about an Android bonding with his cat, say, or a bartender’s schemes to increase his profits. You can’t make a lucrative sci-fi flick about people sitting around in a conference room debating options for resolving the situation peacefully—but something that can be accurately teased as primarily consisting of thrilling space battles is not the real Star Trek. A bunch of friendly folks using advanced technology to help people? That can only be profitable, I suspect, on the small screen.

1 year ago

The Science of Loneliness: How Isolation Can Kill You | New Republic

James Heckman, a Nobel Prize–winning economist at the University of Chicago who tabulates the costs of early childhood deprivation, speaks bitterly of “silos” in health policy, meaning that we see crime and low educational achievement as distinct from medical problems like obesity or heart disease. As far as he’s concerned, these are, in too many cases, symptoms of the same social disorder: the failure to help families raise their children.

1 year ago

1603 note(s)

Reblogged From:
brucesterling
High Quality
lostsplendor:

Armored Diving Suit, France c. 1878 (via Xerposa)

lostsplendor:

Armored Diving Suit, France c. 1878 (via Xerposa)

1 year ago

60 note(s)

Reblogged From:
soupsoup

soupsoup:

“Journalists are getting big stories wrong, over and over again.” - Scott Pelley