THR Web Features   /   April 24, 2015

The Hedgehog’s Array: April 24, 2015

Noteworthy reads from the last week:

"The Liberal Arts vs. Neoliberalism," Jackson Lears

"It is a platitude that we cannot defend the humanities without slipping into platitudes. Why is that?"

"An Ex-Cop Keeps The Country’s Best Data Set On Police Misconduct," Carl Bialik

"The whole data-collecting operation is powered by 48 Google Alerts that Stinson set up in 2005, along with individual Google Alerts for each of nearly 6,000 arrests of officers. He has set up 10 Gmail addresses to collect all the alert emails, which feed articles into a database that also contains court records and videos."

"Inside the Whimsical but Surprisingly Dark World of Rube Goldberg Machines," Brendan O'Connor

"Our modern era is riddled with machines doing ever less consequential tasks in ever more complex ways. The machines are digital, not mechanical, but the difference between the maximalism of the Rube Goldberg machine and the minimalism of the iPhone is perhaps not so great after all."

"Have We Seen the End of the 8-Hour Day?," Nathan Schneider

"Twenty years ago, 'flexibility' was considered a good thing, a desideratum for working mothers gaining a foothold in workplaces designed for sole-breadwinner men. In the intervening years, however, the flexibility discourse that had been developed to meet the needs of white-collar workers, especially women, has been turned against blue-collar workers, especially women. 'Flexibility,' and control over what it meant, became the privilege of employers, not employees."

"Managing the Decline of, Like, a Great Language," Barton Swaim

"What I’m advocating is the grammatical equivalent of legalizing marijuana but regulating it. Maybe it will turn out badly, but the policy of interdiction has failed."

"What World? Whose Algorithms?," Eitan Wilf

"If search engines can and do use similar algorithms to analyze a user’s profile based on the corpus of his or her past online activity to dictate advertising and customized content, they can potentially entrap users in a self-referential and narcissistic world that hinders and stifles personal development and growth. Yet the same algorithmic technologies can be reconfigured for the opposite end."