Weekly Newsletter

May 10, 2015

Police Brutality

Why Cops Like Me Are Quiet
A former NYPD officer discusses police brutality from an officer’s perspective.

Neuroscience

The Science of Craving
Profiles Dr. Kent Berridge’s research into the science of craving. Presents an interesting perspective on the difference between desire and pleasure and discusses meditation, a favorite topic of mine.

Medicine

Overkill
Argues that the American health system encourages careless overtreatment of illness. I’m sympathetic to this view but wish the author had delved more into alternative payment models since it seems these models contribute to the problem. The author briefly discusses the incentive structures of Medicare and Obamacare but doesn’t dive into the fundamental ideas underlying health insurance. While doing so would’ve made the article even longer, it would’ve added much-needed context.

Work

What Hollywood Can Teach Us About The Future Of Work
Argues that Hollywood’s project-based work structure will increasingly come to dominate other work areas. I thought the author’s argument didn’t give enough statistical evidence considering the size of the claim he makes but the assertion is interesting despite being poorly defended.

Books

Mind of a Mnemonist
Before you click this link, I’m warning you that this is a book not an article. I’ve realized recently that a lot of the things I read about are better explained in book form, so I’m going to start including more full books in the newsletter. I read this particular book this past week and found it so fascinating and engrossing that it sparked this entire line of thinking.

The author of this book, a Russian psychologist named Aleksandr Luria, studied the subject of the book, a man with the pseudonym S., over the course of 30 years. S. was remarkable for his prodigious memory derived from incredibly vivid and often debilitating visual imagery. I’m fascinated by visualization and visual imagery in general. Learning about S. further informed me about human capabilities in this area. Luria’s coverage of the ways in which S.’s unique abilities affected his mind adds to the book and puts it above the average science tome. To summarize, the book is short but packs a wallop with a story of a man whose mind functioned radically differently from yours or mine (unless you secretly have an eidetic memory).

Other Contributions

The art of butchery (Mark Malina)
A former vegetarian discusses her experience butchering meat and her interpretation of the relationship between butchery and society. I agree with this author’s analysis of most individuals’ relationships to meat. I find that I often try to avoid the sadness I feel associated with eating a piece of meat, but this article suggests I’d do better acknowledging it and owning the moral aspect of it. My current avoidance reflects an unwillingness to accept the moral choice that one implicitly makes when they choose to eat meat.

Phew. My faith in the British people was entirely justified (Paul Finkelstein)
Celebrates the result of the recent British election, which defied the expectations of most pollsters and pundits including Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight fame. Paul sent me this quote from the article which I think sums up its main argument quite well:

“Somehow we have arrived at a point where the conscientiously held beliefs and values of the majority of the population have become a matter for secret shame. The desire to do as well as you can in life, to develop your potential and expect to be rewarded for it, to provide your family with the greatest possible opportunity for self-improvement and to do that on your own without being dependent on the state – these are the assumptions that seem to have become so unacceptable that identifying with them is beyond the pale, or at least so socially outrageous that it is not worth the ignominy of admitting to them.”

Discussion, links, and tweets

I'm a software developer currently working at UberEats. I keep a low social media presence, but, if you enjoy what I have to say or want to rant at me, you should email me at stephenmalina@gmail.com. If you're interested in what I'm currently programming, check out my Github. I occasionally rant on Twitter as well.