Sunday Media For Your Brain

Sunday Media For Your Brain

Blargh. News media in the UK is awful today.

More pictures of that woman from outside Slough who is marrying her horse. Something about the world’s most incompetent terrorists in Sweden (which is saying something when you remember pants guy and the Saudi who exploded a bomb in his own ass).

Nothing there to get the ol’ neurons firing.

If you are in the same boat and would like some media to make sure all the red bits get to the purple thing in the blue sack (see image. I know science good.) then wrap your mind mouth (?) around these.

1. Religion. A force for good?

Recording of a BBC debate in Canada. The atheists get the brilliant and relentless Christopher Hitchens. God -for reasons only He can explain- gets former British Prime Minister, George Bush bumboy-and-fellow-war-criminal, Tony Blair. Victoria Coren wrote a recent piece for the Guardian bemoaning the lack of clever people stumping for God. At the moment the atheists have all the sexy grey matter. Coren’s piece is also worth a read. She’s always brilliant.

2. Getting Ahead Of The Curve In A World Of Cascading Global Crises.

So something light, then? It’s a tech piece but I am always on the lookout for new info on scenario planning due to its multiple magical applications.

3. Kids get bullied because they can’t pick up on non-verbal cues.

The impact of bullying was the topic du jour some weeks back which is why coverage of this research is included. I particularly like it from the point of view of magical target selection. If you know a kid that’s getting bullied then don’t just go Martian/protective, be sure to combo it with Mercurial/social observational skills.

4. How Entrepreneurs Really Succeed.

Another Gladwell piece for the New Yorker. The man is a god. Buy everything he ever writes. I do. Christmas gift suggestions if you’re looking for a book to give to the voracious know-it-all in your family: Either Outliers or What The Dog Saw. (Blink wasn’t his best.)

5. Alan Partridge’s Mid-Morning Matters.

Oh my, it’s unlikely this is going to make any sense if you live outside the UK/the Commonwealth. But it really is so, so good. Just trust me on that. And yes, I’m aware this has been out for a little while but I just watched the final episode of The Trip which has to be the most thoughtful meditation on post-40 maleness ever filmed and I suddenly remembered that there’s more Steve Coogan stuff legally floating around the internet, just gagging to be shared.

On a related matter, if you’re in the UK and you haven’t yet seen The Trip then nothing in this post is for you because you have a date with BBC iPlayer:

What about anyone else? Any brain food worth sharing?



Add yours
  1. 1
    Jason Miller

    I listened to the debate and I have to say that Tony Blair did a terrible job.

    Of course, take a look at the line up. Michael Hitchens is one of the top two spokespeople for his camp.

    Tony Blair is not. He is not a Master Theologian. He is not a scholar. He is not a Bishop, Priest, Minister, or anything else. I mean the man just converted to Catholicism a few years ago!

    They do not want to debate anyone that has a deep knowledge, nuanced view, or extensive experience with religion because they know their argument will fall apart.

    Lets have Hitchens debate Rowan Williams and see how it goes!

  2. 2

    Yeah, it wasn’t a good showing at all.

    They would have been better to spin an oversize game-show wheel of barnyard animals and have Hitchens debate whatever came out on top.

  3. 3
    Pallas Renatus

    Oh, were to begin?

    Terrorists need to start getting at least undergraduate physics degrees. I mean really, dampen the whole blast with a two-foot radius of squishy wet man-padding? Come on.

    I like Coren’s article, especially when she points out how New Atheism’s fundamentalists can mimic even the worst Christian fundamentalists. Atheism is all well and good, but if you want to defend it or sell it to others, you really need a better argument than “it’s logical”.

    I love love love the Nixon article. Although it might draw some short-sighted criticism from the anti-bullying crowd, it’s important to realize that social skills can be trained like any other, and that parents should be doing more than playing “blame the bully”.

    I can’t really say much about Gladwell other than how awesome his pieces are, and how much inspiration they should hold for magicians!
    Pallas Renatus´s last blog post ..On Where Not To Find Spirits

  4. 4

    @Jason: you´re so right. But then, a
    a deep, nuanced debate about religion probably wouldn´t work in television. The game-show wheel of barnyard animals would, thought. :-)

    I´m not so sure about the bullied kids article. While it is an interesting study, it almost seems to blame the victims – they are being bullied because they are “socially deficient”. I suspect that a study centered in psychological types (such as the MBTI) could be more useful in identifying the kids´ different ways of socializing. Some types, as INTJs and INFJs are VERY minoritary (1 to 2% of the population) and so seem to be “deficient” when they are simply different.

  5. 5

    @Hierax Not sure if blame is the right word. Certainly it’s an observation that is cold in its delivery… Like scientific findings tend to be.

    It definitely doesn’t let anybody off the hook. I saw it as a positive because it opens up the possibility that counselling resources can be used more effectively.

    Funnily enough, it rang true to me on a basic biological level. High level animals react in a hostile way if you display behave they perceive to be abnormal. Gorillas, sharks, you name it. Though I’m not sure how you would transfer those learnings into a schoolyard situation.

    Anyway, it was definitely interesting which was why I shared it.

    You’re right about the barnyard wheel though. They went Tony Blair because more people would come to see him than they would the Archbishop of Canterbury. Even non-commercial stations like the beeb have to factor audience numbers in.

    Also they both have books to promote. But that may just be a coincidence. :)

  6. 6

    @Gordon: Perhaps you are right. Some people got “bully victim” written in their faces. But I think there is a tendence to pathologize the difference, and what is more serious, to make money (HUGE money) with treatments and medicines for “disorders” that do not really exist. For instance, there is talk of expanding the autistic spectrum to include introverts, so that they can be treated with drugs since childhood…
    There is very interesting book by Lyall Watson called “Dark Nature” where he develops some theories about how “evil behavior” like abuse, murder, prejudice, etc., could derive from biological traits. Worth a look.
    “Also they both have books to promote. But that may just be a coincidence.” Heh.

  7. 7

    It’s time to confess. Until I followed that link I had never read Gladwell. That article was incredibly insightful, and my brain won’t stop joyously chewing those words. It’s time to adjust my amazon wish list a bit.

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