The Index: 9/22-9/28

7 Reasons Not to Cede Your Online Professional Identity to LinkedIn by Joshua Kim (article)

This article is not the anti-LinkedIn listicle I thought it was going to be. In fact, it celebrates LinkedIn for its unique ability to help you keep track of the people you’ve met and organizations you’ve been a part of, though that wasn’t the main point. Dr. Kim’s argument is not to get rid of your LinkedIn, but instead to augment your online presence (your Self 2.0, if you will) with a personal homepage of your own devising. Obviously, I don’t disagree.

Applying the Theory of Constructed Emotion to Police Decision Making by Joseph Fridman, et al (article)

The theory of constructed emotion (TCE) says that the primary purpose of the brain is to perform predictive allostasis, coordinating the body’s resources in anticipation of action. This preparation includes mental events essential to decision making, implying that the brain does not react to the outside world, but instead builds predictive models that serve as aids in guiding decisions. From previous internal models, the brain is able to make generalizations about particular instances. Affect impacts both what one expects to see and what one actually does see, which can lead to threat perception failure: individuals who are upset or who feel threatened are more likely to make perceptual errors that confirm their threat bias. Danger can be made “affectively real.” An individual may misinterpret physiological cues triggered by something else (food and other substances, ongoing life events, etc.) as being a part of the situation when they are entirely separate. This evidence suggests that officer training should involve diverse scenarios that train officers to orient to relevant aspects of the scene while remaining aware of physiological responses and other factors that could motivate decision making. Training would have to induce affective states similar to what an officer would feel in the field in order to be effective.

How Not to Be Alone by Jonathan Safran Foer (article)

“We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes.”

Foer argues in this essay that as our communication becomes diminished into shorter and less rich forms, we, too, are becoming diminished versions of ourselves. What we often see as augments to our reality (our cell phones and other digital tools) are often distractions in disguise, cheapening our relationships and hindering our moral and emotional growth.

Online Statbook by David Lane (online resource)

This semester, I am taking a second-level stats class. This is coming two and a half years after I took my first-level stats class, so it goes without saying that I need frequent refreshers on basic concepts. Fortunately, Online Statbook exists. This week, I refreshed testing a single mean, degrees of freedom, all sorts of stuff about the t-distribution, dependent and independent grouping, and confidence intervals. Things are coming back to me more easily than expected – stats may be fake, but they make a lot of sense. I’m beyond grateful to be returning to these core concepts as I’m entering into the data analysis phase of my undergraduate thesis. It’s one thing to be able to do the statistics, but another thing completely to understand them.

Revisionist History: Season 4, Episode 8: In a Metal Mood (podcast)

What do Pat Boone and Taco Bell have in common? If cultural appropriation comes to mind, then you’re right on the money. But Malcolm Gladwell seems to think that some kinds of cultural appropriation are acceptable where others aren’t. What this episode demonstrated to me was that we have a language that is too imprecise for describing various types of cultural exchange, and maybe it shouldn’t be white people doing this kind of definitional work.

What the Tortoise Said to Achilles by Lewis Carroll (essay)

A fun essay response to Zeno’s Achilles and Tortoise Paradox, which you can read about in Aristotle’s Physics on MIT Classics. This is a great (and short!) explanation of the math, if you’re interested!

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie (book)

My book of the week was Sherman Alexie’s 2017 memoir. The book is mostly about grief and Alexie’s experiences as a Native American, including reservation life, navigating the world away from the reservation, and various instances of racism. There were moments of illumination, but mostly there was redundancy. I get that redundancy was the point, or, at least, he says that redundancy was the point, but that doesn’t make the redundancy interesting. The better literary device at play was the deep irony of hearing a man accused of sexual harassment and cheating on his wife and being nearly impossible to work with describe with disdain those same types of actions when done by others. Unsurprisingly, the book is laced with self-aggrandizing statements and awkward situations with women. In one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the book, he asks his wife to touch the acne scars on his back while he pontificates about who he would have married had he stayed on the reservation. Yikes. This article, by Monique Laban, summarizes how it feels when your literary hero turns out to be less-than heroic.

Featured image by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash.

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