Latest TTC course was Soul and the City: Art, Literature, and Urban Living. Eight 45-minute lectures taking a brief tour around the literature, art and sociology of the city.
Might have worked better in the video version: he talks about paintings a certain amount, pointing out various apparently interesting features. But even with the literature, this kind of a analysis seemed a bit shallow, removing the authors from their context. I don't think you can't fairly analyse Blake's view of the city just in terms of social issues: it was a metaphor for the physical world as opposed to the Kingdom of God. Similarly, I don't think you can understand Voltaire's rose-tinted view of London without realising he was using it as a stick to beat the French ancien re´gime.
Also the globalization and virtual reality stuff seemed a bit dated: dates from the early Nineties. Not a terrible course, but don't really recommend it.
Oh God, not again. I have one crappy unpublished novel from a decade ago sitting in a box somewhere: really don't need another. But I've got an Idea floating in my head, one that's too big for a short story. Must resist the urge.
Going to see the parents this weekend, so no weekend diary.
Pics. Naked ape
Tech. Coding Horror: Don't waste time arguing about the character select screen. Don't write maintainable code.
Semi-repeated article: Social networks
In our empirical work so far, we have found substantial evidence for the latter mechanism, the spread of norms, more than the spread of behaviors. It is a bit technical, but I will tell you why we have some evidence for norms. In our empirical work on obesity, we found two lines of suggestive evidence for a spread of norms. The first line of evidence caught everyone's attention, and frankly it caught our attention when we noted it. It showed that it did not matter how far away your social contacts were; if they gained weight, it caused you to gain weight. This was the case whether your friend lived next door, ten miles away, 100 miles away, or 1000 miles away. Geographic distance did not mater to the obesity effect, the interpersonal effect.
Why? Because for a behavior to spread, typically, you and I would have to be together. We would have to go running together, share meals together, or copy each other's behavior in some way. And that should decay with geographic distance because the farther away you are, the less time we can spend together. But a norm can fly through the ether. I might see you once a year and see that you have gained a tremendous amount of weight, which resets my idea about what an acceptable body size is. And minimal contact might be enough.
We also have found in our work that things beyond obesity and smoking cessation spread in networks. Happiness spreads in networks. If your friend's friend becomes happy, it ripples through the network and can make you happy.
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