Noam Chomsky on Žižek and Lacan: Empty ‘Posturing’

via Open Culture:

In this brief excerpt from a December, 2012 interview with Veterans Unplugged, Chomsky is asked about the ideas of Slavoj ŽižekJacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida. The M.I.T. scholar, who elsewhere has described some of those figures and their followers as “cults,” doesn’t mince words:

What you’re referring to is what’s called “theory.” And when I said I’m not interested in theory, what I meant is, I’m not interested in posturing–using fancy terms like polysyllables and pretending you have a theory when you have no theory whatsoever. So there’s no theory in any of this stuff, not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old.

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Kids as Young as 12 Working in America’s Tobacco Fields

Tobacco field by John Buie via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Tobacco field by John Buie via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via Politico Magazine:

The Obama administration has made curbing nicotine use by kids a public health priority, with efforts including mass media campaigns to reduce teen smoking and a proposed ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors. But when it comes to the serious health risks run by thousands of children who work each summer on tobacco farms in the United States, the administration has been conspicuously silent.

Lax federal labor laws allow kids as young as 12 to work in tobacco fields, despite mounting evidence that they can contract acute nicotine poisoning from handling tobacco leaves. Even some tobacco growers and companies take the position that U.S. laws and regulations aren’t strong enough. But the Obama administration has said little and done even less. That needs to change.

A Human Rights Watch report released in May documented the dangers to children working on American tobacco farms based on a year’s research and interviews with 141 child tobacco workers, ages 7 to 17, in the country’s four largest tobacco-producing states: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

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We need more focus on the women poets of World War I

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Lisa Regan, University of Liverpool

Members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. PA/PA Archive

We’ve become very accustomed to connecting World War I with its soldier-poets. And the centenary celebrations in Britain have very rightly reminded us how important key figures such as Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Siegfried Sassoon were to their own generation and continue to be for future generations.

But for all that I was struck by actress Penelope Keith’s reading of Rose Macaulay’s poem, Many Sisters to Many Brothers at Westminster Abbey’s candle-lit vigil. It was refreshing – not least because Macaulay is an author often edged off the literary map. But despite this I was left wondering whether this particular poem was the right poem to choose.

Macaulay’s 1914 poem expresses women’s envy of men’s freedom to go to war (service being voluntary until conscription began in 1916).… Read the rest

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Against Sharing

Uber-Horizontal-Logo

via Jacobin:

Kazi drives a Toyota Prius for Uber in Los Angeles. He hates it. He barely makes minimum wage, and his back hurts after long shifts. But every time a passenger asks what it’s like working for Uber, he lies: “It’s like owning my own business; I love it.”

Kazi lies because his job depends on it. After passengers finish a ride, Uber asks them to rate their driver on a scale from one to five stars. Drivers with an average below 4.7 can be deactivated — tech-speak for fired.

Gabriele Lopez, an LA Uber driver, also lies. “We just sit there and smile, and tell everyone that the job’s awesome, because that’s what they want to hear,” said Lopez, who’s been driving for UberX, the company’s low-end car service, since it launched last summer.

In fact, if you ask Uber drivers off the clock what they think of the company, it often gets ugly fast.

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This Man Has 100 Orgasms A Day – and Calls It Hell

Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome is one of the most bizarre physical afflictions you’re likely to come across, and it’s perfect tabloid fodder for the New York Post. (What astounds me is that he’s gone public with his condition!):

Experiencing 100 orgasms a day may sound like the gift that keeps on giving, but a heartbroken man from Wisconsin can assure you — it’s much more of a curse.

Dale Decker is a 37-year-old husband and father of two who suffers from an uncontrollable condition known as Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome, Barcroft Media reports.

He first felt the symptoms after he slipped a disk in his back and was on his way to the hospital. Decker inexplicably ejaculated five times on the drive — and says the orgasms have kept on coming ever since.

“Imagine being on your knees at your father’s funeral beside his casket, saying goodbye to him — and then you have nine orgasms right there,” he said.

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Beautiful Paintings from a 5-Year-Old Autistic Girl

Iris Grace, an autistic 5-year-old, paints beautiful abstracts.

via irisgracepainting.com:

Paintings by Iris Grace, a 5 year old with an extraordinary talent to express herself through painting. She is Autistic and is only just starting to talk but is able to paint in a style far beyond her years. We wanted to share her art to raise awareness of her condition and inspire other families in similar situations to ours. Autism is currently affecting around 100,000 children in the UK and these numbers are rising. In the summer of 2013 Iris’s story was published Globally in 207 different countries and over 1.4 million people visited her site with now over 40 thousand following her adventures on Facebook. She has sold paintings to private art collectors here in the UK and all over the world, in Europe, America, South America and Asia.

To purchase Iris’ paintings or to look at more of her work, go here.… Read the rest

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William Faulkner on Writing and Why We Create

via Brain Pickings:

The writer’s duty, William Faulkner (September 25, 1897–July 6, 1962) asserted in his magnificent Nobel Prize acceptance speechin 1950, is “to help man endure by lifting his heart.” Faulkner’s idealism about and intense interest in the human spirit permeated all of his creative pursuits, from his views on writing and the meaning of life to his only children’s book to his little-known Jazz Age drawings.

In 1957 and 1958, the period halfway between his two Pulitzer Prizes, Faulkner served as a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. On the last day of his residency in May of 1958, he read from his favorite novel, The Sound and the Fury, at an event open to the general public. After the reading, he answered questions — wonderfully Southern-drawled questions — from the audience. The surviving recording, found in the University of Virginia’s Faulkner archives, is of questionable audio quality but makes up for it in sheer richness of insight into Faulkner’s views on writing and the project of art.

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This is What Heavy Multitasking Could Be Doing To Your Brain

 

By Ryan Ritchie via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Ryan Ritchie via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Psyblog:

Using laptops, phones and other media devices at the same time could be shrinking important structures in our brains, a new study may indicate.

For the first time, neuroscientists have found that people who use multiple devices simultaneously have lower gray-matter density in an area of the brain associated with cognitive and emotional control (Loh & Kanai, 2014).

Multitasking might include listening to music while playing a video game or watching TV while making a phone call or even reading the newspaper with the TV on.

Kep Kee Loh, the study’s lead author, said:

“Media multitasking is becoming more prevalent in our lives today and there is increasing concern about its impacts on our cognition and social-emotional well-being.

Our study was the first to reveal links between media multitasking and brain structure.”

The study used scans of people’s brains along with a questionnaire about their use of media devices, newspapers and television.

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Beaten by IDF & Cousin Murdered by Israeli Radicals: American Teen Seeks Justice

Abby Martin reports on the case of Mohammed Abu Kheidr, who was savagely burned alive by a group of Israeli settlers in a revenge killing for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers, speaking with family members of the victim including his 15 year old cousin, Tarek Abu Kheidr, who was arrested and beaten by Israeli police after attending a protest seeking justice for the death of his cousin.

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