Weekend Reading, 9/16/2011

A little bit of politics, religion, parenting, plagiarism … you know, all the stuff you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table.  Plus one surprise for you at the end. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

“Pew’s Must See Picture of US Politics” by Rod Dreher at The American Conservative: Dreher provides an overview of the recently released Pew Center Political Typology Report, its first since 2005. Some interesting, counter-intuitive findings. Follow his link to the Pew page and you can take the survey to find out where you are in the Pew Typology.

“Varieties of irreligious experience” by Jonathan Rée in New Humanist: “The dividing lines between religiosity and secularism, or between belief and disenchantment, are not getting any clearer as time goes by, and if there has been a lot of traffic travelling from the camp of religion to the camp of disbelief in the past couple of centuries, it has followed many different paths, and is bound for many different destinations.” Well written piece in a Jamesian key on the subtleties of dis-belief in traditional religion.

“The Evolution of Data Products” by Mike Loukides at O’Reilly Radar: Helpful piece on the evolution and future trajectory of data and data products. “Data products are striving for the same goal: consumers don’t want to, or need to, be aware that they are using data. When we achieve that, when data products have the richness of data without calling attention to themselves as data, we’ll be ready for the next revolution.”

“What if the Secret to Success is Failure” by Paul Tough at the NY Times Magazine: Longish piece on efforts to instill character education in schools. “This push on tests is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.” “Our kids don’t put up with a lot of suffering. They don’t have a threshold for it. They’re protected against it quite a bit. And when they do get uncomfortable, we hear from their parents.”

“Uncreative Writing” by Kenneth Goldsmith at the The Chronicle of Higher Ed: Be warned, this piece may make you angry. Author argues the virtues of plagiarism claiming that writing must adjust to the conditions brought about by the computer, although there is a trajectory leading to this moment that pre-dates the computer. Some interesting points — it’s not a “crazy” piece — but my response is mixed.

And, last but not least, an impressive and surprising rendition of the national anthem from someone you wouldn’t have guessed could pull it off: watch it here.

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