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the word that is a prayer

07/10/15 1 Comment

shared by former poet laureate natasha tretheway:

What I like best about poems, beyond their sheer aesthetic pleasures, is the way that the intimacy of a single voice speaking across time and space can become a call to empathy. In this poem, the close and particular focus invites a kind of mindfulness — a way to recognize ourselves in others, linked by our common need.

The Word That Is a Prayer
Ellery Akers

One thing you know when you say it:
all over the earth people are saying it with you;
a child blurting it out as the seizures take her,
a woman reciting it on a cot in a hospital.
What if you take a cab through the Tenderloin:
at a street light, a man in a wool cap,
yarn unraveling across his face, knocks at the window;
he says, Please.
By the time you hear what he’s saying,
the light changes, the cab pulls away,
and you don’t go back, though you know
someone just prayed to you the way you pray.
Please: a word so short
it could get lost in the air
as it floats up to God like the feather it is,
knocking and knocking, and finally
falling back to earth as rain,
as pellets of ice, soaking a black branch,
collecting in drains, leaching into the ground,
and you walk in that weather every day.

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Facebook can be depressing because everyone else’s lives are better than yours… But are they really?

one seedy aspect of social media is when people use it to make their lives seem better (to others or themselves) than they really are.  the short film what’s on your mind? does a great job highlighting this behavior and some of its consequences by showing what’s really behind one man’s facebook posts.

how does this video compare to your experience on facebook, twitter, instagram, wordpress, etc.?  via co.create.

related: real-life photoshop

what’s really behind your social media posts?

07/09/14

to my oldest friend, whose silence is like a death

05/08/14 1 Comment

The act of putting our losses into words and letting the world eavesdrop seems some sort of consolation, or at least an acknowledgement that we all suffer such losses.

in the poem below, lloyd schwartz lets the world eavesdrop on him losing a friend (note how he does it in a way that’s unique/personal to him yet still relatable to others).  share your reactions to the poem + similar experiences in the comments.  via poets.org:

To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death 
by Lloyd Schwartz

In today’s paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment

made me ache to call you–the only person I know
who’d still remember his talent, his good looks, his self-

absorption. We’d laugh (at what haven’t we laughed?), then
not laugh, wondering what became of him. But I can’t call,

because I don’t know what became of you.

–After sixty years, with no explanation, you’re suddenly
not there. Gone. Phone disconnected. I was afraid

you might be dead. But you’re not dead.

You’ve left, your landlord says. He has your new unlisted
number but insists on “respecting your privacy.” I located

your oldest son, who refuses to tell me anything except that
you’re alive and not ill. Your ex-wife ignores my letters.

What’s happened? Are you in trouble? Something
you’ve done? Something I’ve done?

We used to tell each other everything: our automatic
reference points to childhood pranks, secret codes,

and sexual experiments. How many decades since we started
singing each other “Happy Birthday” every birthday?

(Your last uninhibited rendition is still on my voice mail.)

How often have we exchanged our mutual gratitude–the easy
unthinking kindnesses of long friendship.

This mysterious silence isn’t kind. It keeps me
up at night, bewildered, at some “stage” of grief.

Would your actual death be easier to bear?

I crave your laugh, your quirky takes, your latest
comedy of errors. “When one’s friends hate each other,”

Pound wrote near the end of his life, “how can there be
peace in the world?” We loved each other. Why why why

am I dead to you?

Our birthdays are looming. The older I get, the less and less
I understand this world,

and the people in it.

related: gotye “somebody that i used to know” | 8 ways to let go | love and loss

I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self. But this is a destructive and fragmenting way to live. My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restrictions of externally imposed definitions.

activist/black/cancer thriver/caribbean american/feminist/lesbian/librarian/mother/poet laureate/”warrior” (and moreaudre lorde (via the countless things she served with her eyes).

heritage-01

few things “speak me” as much as this

04/23/14

the emergence of “people analytics” & how it may affect your career

11/27/13

mag-article-large

written by don peck for the atlantic:

In 2003, thanks to Michael Lewis and his best seller Moneyball, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane, became a star. The previous year, Beane had turned his back on his scouts and had instead entrusted player-acquisition decisions to mathematical models developed by a young, Harvard-trained statistical wizard on his staff. What happened next has become baseball lore. The A’s, a small-market team with a paltry budget, ripped off the longest winning streak in American League history and rolled up 103 wins for the season. Only the mighty Yankees, who had spent three times as much on player salaries, won as many games. The team’s success, in turn, launched a revolution. In the years that followed, team after team began to use detailed predictive models to assess players’ potential and monetary value, and the early adopters, by and large, gained a measurable competitive edge over their more hidebound peers.

That’s the story as most of us know it. But it is incomplete. What would seem at first glance to be nothing but a memorable tale about baseball may turn out to be the opening chapter of a much larger story about jobs. Predictive statistical analysis, harnessed to big data, appears poised to alter the way millions of people are hired and assessed.

Yes, unavoidably, big data. As a piece of business jargon, and even more so as an invocation of coming disruption, the term has quickly grown tiresome. But there is no denying the vast increase in the range and depth of information that’s routinely captured about how we behave, and the new kinds of analysis that this enables. By one estimate, more than 98 percent of the world’s information is now stored digitally, and the volume of that data has quadrupled since 2007. Ordinary people at work and at home generate much of this data, by sending e-mails, browsing the Internet, using social media, working on crowd-sourced projects, and more—and in doing so they have unwittingly helped launch a grand new societal project. “We are in the midst of a great infrastructure project that in some ways rivals those of the past, from Roman aqueducts to the Enlightenment’s Encyclopédie,” write Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier in their recent book, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. “The project is datafication. Like those other infrastructural advances, it will bring about fundamental changes to society.”

Some of the changes are well known, and already upon us. Algorithms that predict stock-price movements have transformed Wall Street. Algorithms that chomp through our Web histories have transformed marketing. Until quite recently, however, few people seemed to believe this data-driven approach might apply broadly to the labor market.

But it now does. According to John Hausknecht, a professor at Cornell’s school of industrial and labor relations, in recent years the economy has witnessed a “huge surge in demand for workforce-analytics roles.” Hausknecht’s own program is rapidly revising its curriculum to keep pace. You can now find dedicated analytics teams in the human-resources departments of not only huge corporations such as Google, HP, Intel, General Motors, and Procter & Gamble, to name just a few, but also companies like McKee Foods, the Tennessee-based maker of Little Debbie snack cakes. Even Billy Beane is getting into the game. Last year he appeared at a large conference for corporate HR executives in Austin, Texas, where he reportedly stole the show with a talk titled “The Moneyball Approach to Talent Management.” Ever since, that headline, with minor modifications, has been plastered all over the HR trade press.

The application of predictive analytics to people’s careers—an emerging field sometimes called “people analytics”—is enormously challenging, not to mention ethically fraught. And it can’t help but feel a little creepy. It requires the creation of a vastly larger box score of human performance than one would ever encounter in the sports pages, or that has ever been dreamed up before. To some degree, the endeavor touches on the deepest of human mysteries: how we grow, whether we flourish, what we become. Most companies are just beginning to explore the possibilities. But make no mistake: during the next five to 10 years, new models will be created, and new experiments run, on a very large scale. Will this be a good development or a bad one—for the economy, for the shapes of our careers, for our spirit and self-worth? Earlier this year, I decided to find out.

(more…)

leftovers

08/31/13 2 Comments

leftovers4

often times in portraits, faces are the center of attention.  this photo series however takes away that center literally and pushes your attention elsewhere.  details via nytimes:

Visiting the town of Gulu in northern Uganda, the Italian photographer Martina Bacigalupo happened upon discarded portraits with the subjects’ faces removed. They led her to the Gulu Real Art Studio, where Obal Denis sold ID photos by cutting rectangles out of larger prints. Bacigalupo gathered Denis’s scraps and interviewed his customers. Many had been affected by the war in northern Uganda, which lasted some two decades. Taken for driver’s licenses, new job and loan applications, the photos were the means for Ugandans to start new chapters in their lives. The “leftovers,” as Bacigalupo calls the images — showing at the Walther Collection Project Space in New York next month — evoke in her mind both the “agony of an entire community” and its resilience.

you can check out some of the series in the gallery below.  as you do, see if you can glean each subject’s backstory from details like clothing & body language.  also, try to imagine the face that belongs in the blank space.   for more, be on the lookout for bacigalupo’s upcoming book “gulu real art studio”.

how to fight racial bias when it’s silent and subtle

podcast above hosted by rene montagne & david greene; accompanying article below written by shankar vedantam. both via npr:

In the popular imagination and in conventional discourse — especially in the context of highly charged news events such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin — prejudice is all about hatred and animosity.

Scientists agree there’s little doubt that hate-filled racism is real, but a growing body of social science research suggests that racial disparities and other biased outcomes in the criminal justice system, in medicine and in professional settings can be explained by unconscious attitudes and stereotypes.

Subtle biases are linked to police cadets being more likely to shoot unarmed black men than they are unarmed white men. (Some academics have also linked the research into unconscious bias to the Trayvon Martin case.)

Calvin Lai and Brian Nosek at the University of Virginia recently challenged scientists to come up with ways to ameliorate such biases. The idea, said Harvard University psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, one of the researchers, was to evaluate whether there were rapid-fire ways to disable stereotypes. Groups of scientists “raced” one another to see if their favorite techniques worked. All the scientists focused on reducing unconscious racial bias against blacks.

“Within five minutes, you have to do something to somebody’s mind so that at the end of those five minutes you will now show a lower association of black with bad. And so this was run really like a competition to see which ones of them might work to reduce race bias and which ones don’t,” Banaji said.

The results were as surprising for what they didn’t find as for what they did. Teaching people about the injustice of discrimination or asking them to be empathetic toward others was ineffective. What worked, at least temporarily, Banaji said, was providing volunteers with “counterstereotypical” messages.

“People were shown images or words or phrases that in some way bucked the trend of what we end up seeing in our culture,” she said. “So if black and bad have been repeatedly associated in our society, then in this intervention, the opposite association was made.”

Banaji, who has been a pioneer in studying unconscious biases, said she has taken such results to heart and tried to find ways to expose herself to counterstereotypical messages, as a way to limit her own unconscious biases.

One image in particular, she said, has had an especially powerful effect: “My favorite example is a picture of a woman who is clearly a construction worker wearing a hard hat, but she is breast-feeding her baby at lunchtime, and that image pulls my expectations in so many different directions that it was my feeling that seeing something like that would also allow me in other contexts to perhaps have an open mind about new ideas that might come from people who are not traditionally the ones I hear from.”

related: the hunted and the hated: a look at the nypd’s stop-and-frisk policy

07/21/13 1 Comment

a thumbprint portrait colored with your favorite things

06/11/13 1 Comment

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details via artist cheryl sorg:

Thumbprint portraits use your own thumbprint to create a large (three feet high!), modern, colorful work of art that will be absolutely YOU.  I will use your own thumbprint and recreate its unique patterns using snippets of imagery, text and color from your favorite things (you’ll provide a list and I’ll pore through and gather hundreds of images to best represent that list).  Your favorites could include much-loved books, music, films, poetry, quotes, places traveled and lived and more.  The result is a truly one-of-a-kind portrait that captures your personality and passions.  It makes a wonderful gift for yourself or a loved one.  A great way to do a unique family portrait – you could create one for each family member, or (like the one shown above!) use one family member’s thumbprint and incorporate the interests of all family members into one portrait.

take a close look at the portraits in the gallery below.  think about what you might include your portrait (you can buy one here) and share in the comments.  to help you along, listen to “my favorite things” by john coltrane.

alabama shakes “hang loose”

just listened to alabama shakes‘s grammy-nominated album boys & girls and i loved it.  brittany howard’s voice pulls you in by dancing over the songs with playful passion.  fellow bandmates zac cockrell, steve johnson & heath fogg follow suit while rocking the bass, drums, and guitar.  here’s their uplifting single “hang loose” (lyrics below).  if you haven’t already, check out the full album for yourself and let me know which song is your favorite:

Don’t worry sweet baby!
Don’t you ever worry ’bout a thing.
Put them worries on the shelf ‘n’ learn to love yourself
Don’t be your own worst enemy.

Hang loose, hang loose
Let the ocean worry ’bout bein’ blue.
Hang loose, hang loose.
Go with the tide and I’ma take care of you.

Come with me sweet darlin’.
I got a seat ya ticket for the plane.
We gonna fly to Waikiki, it’ll just be you ‘n’ me.
And we’ll let the sun melt our cares away.

Hang loose, hang loose.
Let the ocean worry ’bout bein’ blue.
Hang loose, hang loose.
Go with the tide and I’ma take care of you.

Alright, we gon’ be alright.
Alright, you’re gon’ be alright!

Hang loose.
Hang loose!
Hang loose.
Hang loose.

05/29/13

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