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Rare and Unusual Birds Photographed Like Humans

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British photographer Tim Flach has spent years scouring the globe for the world’s most striking and endangered birds, shooting highly-controlled portraits of them.

Some of the photos are shot in a studio while others are shot in the birds’ natural environment. Some of the birds are critically endangered while others are more plentiful on Earth, but all are unusually beautiful.

Red Splash Jacobin Pigeon
Crested Miniature Duck
Vultrurine Guineafowl
Philippine Eagle
Gouldian Finch
Himalayan Monal
King Vulture
Shoebill
Victoria Crowned Pigeon
Grey Crowned Crane
Silver-Laced Rooster

Several of the portraits seen here are part of Flach’s 2017 photo book titled Endangered, which documents animal species on the edge of extinction. Others will be featured in an upcoming book of his about birds.

You can find more of Flach’s work on his website and Instagram.

(via Tim Flach via Colossal)


Image credits: Photographs by Tim Flach and used with permission

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dmierkin
12 days ago
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bogorad
12 days ago
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Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
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The First Words of Thanksgiving

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When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth rock in 1620 they were cold, hungry and frightened. Imagine their surprise when on March 16 as they unloaded cannon from the Mayflower in preparation for battle an Indian walked into their encampment and asked, “Anyone got a beer?” Seriously, that’s what happened. Samoset, the thirsty Indian, had learned English from occasional fishermen.

Even more fortunate for the Pilgrims was that Somoset was accompanied by Squanto. Squanto had been enslaved 7 years earlier and transported to Spain where he was sold.  He then somehow made his way to England and then, amazingly, back to his village in New England around 1619. It’s a horrific story, however, because during his absence Squanto’s entire village and much of the region had been wiped out by disease, almost certainly brought by the Europeans. Nevertheless, in 1621 Squanto was there when the Pilgrims landed and he hammered out an early peace deal and most importantly instructed the settlers how to fertilize their land with fish in order to grow corn.

Squanto instructed them in survival skills and acquainted them with their environment: “He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died.”

Anyone got a beer?

 

The post The First Words of Thanksgiving appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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dmierkin
14 days ago
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Anyone got a beer?
- perfect story for Thanksgiving
tingham
14 days ago
Perfect story for most americans
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Pretty stunning data on dating

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Interesting throughout, but most of all see pp.5-6, comparing how men rate women to how women rate men.  Here is half of that story:

Here is the link, by Dan McMurtrie, via David Perell.  The top of p.2 will indicate why friendship may be in decline:

You also can see that meeting on the job peaked in the 1990s, and do I need to tell you about meeting through church and the neighbors?  Recommended.

The post Pretty stunning data on dating appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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bogorad
26 days ago
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Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
dmierkin
26 days ago
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1 public comment
freeAgent
25 days ago
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I have a pair of cargo shorts, and I love them. Also, the source PDF is not too long and very interesting/entertaining. This is why I hold stock in Match.
Los Angeles, CA

By NaomiWu in "everyone is a badass until there's a knock at the door" on MeFi

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Thanks everyone for keeping it reasonable and raising reasonable questions. I'm a bit less handcuffed now in what I can talk about, although it's debatable if it's smart, but fingers crossed.

>her problems only came about when she flipped out on the female reporter for perfectly legitimate fact-checking towards the end of the process, in apparent anger that she was not able to completely control the story.

Sorry, asking a high profile lesbian in an authoritarian country that still jails LGBT activists about someone you know for a fact is her beard when you have agreed not to discuss this is not "perfectly legitimate fact checking".

Key issues:

1. Every journalist I had met with up until that point had agreed to "No discussion of relationships or sexual orientation". Most were initially surprised by what is obviously meant, but quickly realized the issue and were very good about it.

2. China issues: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-14/many-gay-chinese-prefer-fake-marriages-facing-family-home Nearly every picture of me for the last four years has my wedding ring in it. This is normal for us, and saves a lot of hassles- particularly with parents and business dealings. If I had my way I would have never had to be open about it. Vice had other ideas.

3. I spent three full days with Sarah Emerson (whom I don't blame for all this, everything I've been told indicates she was duped by Jason Koebler who needed someone I would trust, I think she did the interview in good faith but he had other plans). During those three days Sarah she did something I did not allow any other journalist to do- visit and film in my home. I only allowed this because of the agreement and because I had to put to rest rumors that I was fake- which I did by spending several hours fabricating a robot to pour drinks for them while they filmed. Once you are in my home- the whole thing is really clear, sleeping arrangements and such.

Once you have seen first hand what my arrangement is, and know my orientation "Heeeeeeey how about that husband of yours?" is no longer a good-faith question. But it's a question that *sounds* innocent to readers who don't know what Vice knew when they asked.

Vice has a circulation of over 1 million- and is widely translated and distributed all over Chinese social media. Which is why I agreed to interview with them- a slightly higher online profile could translate into a degree of latitude with my open and illegal VPN activity. Being popular in the West and giving face to China can make you a *lot* safer. Unlike Reddit, 4chan, or other places the rumors that "it must be a White man responsible for all my work" were circulated. If Vice brings it up, it's going on Weibo, they will dig- and that can get very, very bad.

>I saw that video where you say you're [name redacted's] wife

1. I could say nothing- which would make me guilty by omission, it would be the same as admitting it was true in the eyes of most. "What are you hiding?" was a very dangerous question at the time for people to start asking.

2. I could admit to having a foreign "husband"- but provide no detail other than that. With Vice's circulation, I would immediately be accused by Chinese of being influenced by "Western hostile forces". Given that I had already engaged in socially disruptive conduct over the inclusion of Chinese women at tech events: https://imgur.com/gallery/pk2Xd The Feminist Five had been jailed for doing something far more innocent. Of course the gov knows about me, but Chinese netizens are another matter. I'd be in very deep shit, very quickly if my campaigning for inclusion could be chalked up to me being the puppet of a foreigner.

The minute the Human Flesh Search Engine was launched in response to my "husband", I'd be outed. I have enough past partners that would would speak up- thinking she was defending me, plenty of photos with dates floating. My arrangement would not hold up to the kind of scrutiny that Vice discussing it would bring to bear from Chinese netizens (and did not, I was effectively outed by them).

I spelled this out for Vice- I begged them for a month. I asked them to consult *any* China foreign correspondent and verify what I was saying. I contacted over a dozen journalists for help they refused, I contacted journalist ethics orgs- was told Vice was not breaking the law. I contacted the EFF, women in tech orgs- and was ignored. This was not me "angry I could not control the story" and instantly doxxing someone- this was me begging for someone to verify what I was saying with experts who deal with Chinese sources for a month.

Then there was another problem- which I can't go into. But suffice to say it was made absolutely clear that it was critical that my story "not embarrass China". And sorry, you do what you have to do at that point. But I did everything in my power to get some mediation, some arbitration, someone to say either I was full of shit or not- but all the people who say I did the "wrong thing" afterward- were completely unwilling to step up and help before I did. Vice came to China- I didn't go there, they asked to interview me, then after they left decided to put eyes on something that it was made absolutely clear could result in detention. I'm sorry I got my dirty blood over their nice clean knife but none of this was initiated by me, up until Vice everyone who interviewed me had nothing but good things to say. But afterward, yes their spin and smear campaign was very effective- it's what they do for a living, I make stuff.

What Netflix did is pretty straight forward and easy to verify. You don't include high profile Chinese nationals- in any context, in a video critical of their countries leadership without their permission. That's why all the others in their video were overseas residents because it's insanely dangerous to even be adjacent to this stuff.

As far as the NYT/YouTube/Twitter thing I know I sound like an absolute nutter which is why I provided such meticulous documentation (although being a nutter is still on the table). I can try to provide more detail on what's going on there but yeah- I absolutely get how it sounds. I still have my Twitter account permanently locked right after tweeting about the NYT theft of my content and challenging them to...er something like a dual. Which has happened three times before when I tweeted about their theft- only then I could unlock it.
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dmierkin
30 days ago
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skorgu
30 days ago
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Financial Incentives Are Weaker Than Social Incentives But Very Important Anyway

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NYT: Economic Incentives Don’t Always Do What We Want Them To (h/t MR). For the first time in history, the title actually understates the article, which argues that incentives can be surprisingly useless:

Economists have somehow managed to hide in plain sight an enormously consequential finding from their research: Financial incentives are nowhere near as powerful as they are usually assumed to be.

The article starts with some surprising facts. Increased taxes on the rich don’t make rich people work much less. Salary caps on athletes don’t decrease athletic performance. Increased welfare doesn’t make poor people work less. Decreased job opportunities in one area rarely cause people to move elsewhere.

Then it presents a neat chart showing that most people believe others would respond to an incentive, but deny responding to that incentive themselves. For example, 60% of people say a Medicaid program with no work requirement would prevent many people from seeking work, but only 10% of people say they themselves would stop seeking work with such a program.

…but keep in mind an alternate interpretation would be “desirability bias makes people deny they would work less and evade taxes”

All this suggests that:

If it is not financial incentives, what else might people care about? The answer is something we know in our guts: status, dignity, social connections. Chief executives and top athletes are driven by the desire to win and be the best. The poor will walk away from social benefits if they come with being treated like a criminal. And among the middle class, the fear of losing their sense of who they are and their status in the local community can be an extraordinarily paralyzing force.

They conclude that this argues in favor of policies like raising taxes on the rich and removing all requirements from welfare programs.

The authors are Nobel Prize winning economists, so I assume they’re basically right. And I’m not up to doing a complicated literature review to compare all the cases where economic incentives do work to the cases where they don’t and develop a well-informed understanding of the subtleties in their position. So instead, a few low-effort thoughts.

First, it matters less whether the average person responds to economic incentives, and more whether the marginal person will. If I need someone to cover the graveyard shift at work, nobody will do it for normal pay, and I offer double pay, all I need is for one employee to be incentive-sensitive enough to take me up on it. Maybe most people wouldn’t accept any amount of money to become an oil rig worker, a McKinsey consultant, or a camgirl, but ExxonMobil/McKinsey/MyFreeCams.com only need just enough qualified people to accept whatever deal they’re offering.

Likewise, perhaps if I had no alarm system protecting my house, 99.999% of people still wouldn’t rob me. But 99.999% of people not robbing you is still known as “getting robbed”.

So “most people don’t respond to most economic incentives” is totally compatible with “economic incentives rule the world and control everything around us.”

Second, grant that most people care primarily about “status, dignity, [and] social connections”. A lot of how that works out in real life is “doing the socially acceptable thing”. Even if incentives are weak in the short term, they can be very strong in the long term after they have time to act on what is or isn’t socially acceptable.

It’s all nice and good to say “most people wouldn’t steal even in the absence of punishment”. But what about music piracy? Nobody had any way to enforce rules against pirating music. Maybe only a few people pirated at first. But then more and more people did it, and eventually the unwritten rule among teenagers became that music piracy was okay – in fact, that you were weird if you didn’t do it. On the other hand, stealing a CD from a record store still feels horrifying and criminal and inconceivable. Although there are subtle differences between the two cases (it costs nonzero money to make a physical CD) I still think a lot of this is social norms that formed downstream of enforcement-related incentives.

Or: most people would never cheat on welfare. But there are Alabama counties where over 25% of the population are on disability, an increase of 50% from just fifteen years earlier. I don’t want to accuse any of them of cheating, per se, and see here for a more in-depth analysis. But I think it’s easy to normalize taking disability for lesser and lesser afflictions, and that part of the normalization process involves an economic incentive to do it and a lack of incentive not to.

Or: in Sierra Leone, 84% of people say they have paid bribes; in Japan, 1% have. So do “people” care about financial incentives or not? Grant that “status, dignity, [and] social connections” are more important, and that this is what prevents bribery in Japan. But once these factors permit bribery, it becomes rampant. And are these factors themselves maintained partly by incentives, eg punishments upon being caught? I’m not sure.

Third, remember that principles are usually downstream of politics. So one fun game is to take a principle usually used on one side of the political spectrum, then apply it in support of the opposite side and see if you still hold it.

So. We know there’s no reason not to raise taxes, since rich people don’t respond to financial incentives. But there’s also no reason to close tax loopholes – rich people defrauding the government of money through tax evasion is surely as unthinkable as poor people defrauding the government through welfare scams. And there’s no reason to question the bonuses of Wall Street traders, since it’s not like anything as crass as a financial incentive would cause them to make risky trades.

Did pharmaceutical companies incentivize opioid overuse through paying doctors to overprescribe? Doesn’t matter, doctors would never let financial incentives affect their prescribing decisions. Are senators cozying up to companies that will give them lucrative sinecures later in a “revolving-door” system of legal bribery? No, because incentives aren’t powerful enough to make senators abandon their dignity. Are billionaires destroying the environment just to make a buck? No, the financial incentives to do so wouldn’t outweigh the cost in status and social connections.

None of this snark disproves the real empirical research the authors use to show that rich people’s taxes, poor people’s welfare use, and economic mobility are not very incentive-sensitive. But I hope they prevent people from generalizing to a general sense that financial incentives don’t matter, or turning this into a purely partisan issue where anyone who believes in financial incentives at all gets accused of “dog whistling” conservativism.

Fourth, and most important, the more we’re ruled by social incentives, the more importance financial incentives take on as a counterweight. Quoting my favorite part of the article again:

If it is not financial incentives, what else might people care about? The answer is something we know in our guts: status, dignity, social connections. Chief executives and top athletes are driven by the desire to win and be the best. The poor will walk away from social benefits if they come with being treated like a criminal. And among the middle class, the fear of losing their sense of who they are and their status in the local community can be an extraordinarily paralyzing force.

I think this is profoundly true, so true that it’s almost impossible to appreciate enough. The article frames it positively – we care about community more than money, how heartwarming. But I find it disquieting – it could equally be framed “We care more about fitting in and not seeming weird than about anything else in the world”. 99% of world-changing ideas are stillborn when their would-be-inventor worries they might sound weird for proposing them. 99% of great companies don’t get off the ground because their would-be-founder worries about what other people would think. The most important ideas for changing government and society sit on the lunatic fringe, because everyone worries that supporting such ideas might keep them out of the Inner Ring.

Paradoxically, I think this argues in favor of financial incentives. The beauty of financial incentives is that they provide a counterbalance to status incentives. The counterbalance is weak, inconsistent, blink-and-you-miss-it, but it is real. If all the cool people say “we do it this way”, 99% of people will do it that way to fit in, but there will be one person who does it the much better way that lets them outcompete everyone else and make $10 billion. And having $10 billion brings “status, dignity, [and] social connections” of its own. Even if only a tiny number of people are sensitive to money, it’s enough to create a core who occasionally try making things better even when that’s not cool.

One corollary of this is that when you remove financial incentives, you don’t get everyone acting ethically for the good of all. You just get status incentives with no counterbalance. I can think of few things scarier.

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dmierkin
43 days ago
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Social vs financial incentives. It’s complicated.
Framing it as “we need independent incentives same way we need diversity for creativity” is clever.
skorgu
44 days ago
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“We care more about fitting in and not seeming weird than about anything else in the world”
popular
43 days ago
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larrymc
16 days ago
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Key insight.
Philadelphia, PA

Your Skull Shapes Your Hearing

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The resonant properties of your skull can amplify some frequencies and dampen others—and, in some cases, affect your hearing. Christopher Intagliata reports. 

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com






Download audio: http://flex.acast.com/www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/podcast.mp3?fileId=1496F02E-8B14-49AB-A05F790C355F4753
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dmierkin
55 days ago
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