Six Lyrics That Show Why ‘Hamilton’ Is Tough to Translate

The original “Hamilton” score includes a number of quotations from American hip-hop songs. Most of them were cut from the German version because the translations made them unrecognizable…The original language is packed with American metaphors and idioms that just don’t translate. So the translators were given license to come up with their own turns of phrase.

Finding Your Roots

This is a link and lesson based on the popular series Finding Your Roots hosted by Henry Louis Gates. This provides a really interesting look at the methods of history and a great opportunity to discuss its relevance on a personal level. Thanks to my colleague for sharing her work with me on this.

I focused on Questlove’s story rather than play the whole episode through.

We watched the intro, 11:15-16:30, and 40:45 until the end of Questlove’s portion

Finding Your Roots Worksheet

Hunter Biden’s Laptop Story, “Fake News” and Ethics

The story of the laptop, what was on it, how the story was dealt with (and blocked) has been around for almost two years now but still worth exploring in a TOK context with connections to several themes (Knower, Technology, Politics). How do our prior beliefs affect how we interpret new information? How do we decide whether a claim is credible? What responsibility do social media companies have to decide what is true? What are the consequences of so few companies having so much power over the spread of information?

I like this topic because it pushes my students to confront their own discomfort with the potential weaponization of the concept of fake news but in a direction that suits their politics. The twitter video at the bottom of Sam Harris, ironically, communicates what many people actually believe.

Here are a few of articles that explain the controversy:

https://www.npr.org/2022/04/09/1091859822/more-details-emerge-in-federal-investigation-into-hunter-biden

Analysis giving greater context to the story and surrounding issues.

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/the-national-tragedy-of-hunter-bidens-laptop

The NYPost taking a victory lap when its discredited and blocked story was validated.

https://nypost.com/2021/10/12/one-year-later-the-posts-hunter-biden-reporting-is-vindicated-but-still-buried/

This was from a recent conversation with Sam Harris, whom I normally have great respect for. His defense of wide ranging conspiracies to generate politically desirable outcomes is interesting. This is a good example of consequentialist ethics.

Sam Harris’s Response

Against Scientific Gatekeeping

Science should be a profession, not a priesthood.

Most people prefer experts, of course, especially when it comes to health care. As a surgeon myself, I can hardly object to that tendency. But a problem arises when some of those experts exert outsized influence over the opinions of other experts and thereby establish an orthodoxy enforced by a priesthood. If anyone, expert or otherwise, questions the orthodoxy, they commit heresy. The result is groupthink, which undermines the scientific process.

https://reason.com/2022/04/03/against-scientific-gatekeeping/

Online activists are doxxing Ottawa’s anti-vax protesters

Experts warn this is blurring the line between activism and vigilantism.

This new form of online activism is making some people do things they wouldn’t normally do, she adds, and many of those involved may not realize in the moment of their anger that this behavior is not only unethical but illegal.

“What is the difference between public shaming and vigilantism?” she asks. “And what’s the difference between ‘good’ vigilantism and ‘bad’ vigilantism?”

https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/02/11/1045281/ottawa-antivax-protests-doxxing

Seeing the Whole Earth from Space Changed Everything

Fascinating reflections on the power of imagery to change our consciousness about ourselves.

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available…a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.“ — Astronomer Fred Hoyle, 01948

“A photograph would do it — a color photograph from space of the earth,” Brand said. “There it would be for all to see, the earth complete, tiny, adrift, and no one would ever perceive things the same way.” -Stewart Brand

“Here we came all this way to the Moon, and yet the most significant thing we’re seeing is our own home planet, the Earth. “— Astronaut Bill Anders

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’” — Astronaut Edgar Mitchell

Seeing the Whole Earth from Space Changed Everything

Prenatal Test False Positives: Bayes’ rule is still very, very important

Posted here are a NYT Article about genetic testing companies and the value of the results they provide along with an additional explanation of the math behind the issues.

Altogether, there are 415 positive tests: the 15 true positives, and 400 false positives. So if you get a positive test result, the chance that the fetus is actually affected is about 3.6%.

On its face, this sounds like a really good test! It detects 75% of cases, with only a 0.5% false positive rate. That seems like it should be helpful. 

https://emilyoster.substack.com/p/prenatal-test-false-positives

Further discussion from this author about Bayes’ rule

https://emilyoster.substack.com/p/bayes-rule-is-my-faves-rule

‘An American Tradition’: Lessons from a year covering conspiracy theories

“Our brains are not built for the truth,” David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told me earlier this year. “Our brains weren’t even built to read. Our brains weren’t. Evolution is a very slow process. It takes many, many, many, many, many generations. And the change in technology and particularly in information is so rapid that there’s no way for evolution to keep up.”…

We choose who to believe, we choose who to trust, often before we realize we are doing it. It is no wonder our disinformation battles can feel so personal, especially within families.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/12/29/american-conspiracy-theories-essay/

In a Nonbinary Pronoun, France Sees a U.S. Attack on the Republic

When a French dictionary included the gender-nonspecific “iel” for the first time, a virulent reaction erupted over “wokisme” exported from American universities.

Charles Bimbenet, its director-general, posted a statement rejecting the minister’s charge of militancy. “The mission of the Robert is to observe the evolution of a French language that is in motion and diverse, and take account of that,” he wrote. “To define the words that describe the world is to aid better comprehension of it.”

France, a country where it is illegal for the state to compile racial statistics, is particularly on edge over the rise of American gender and race politics. President Emmanuel Macron has warned that “certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States” may be a threat. Mr. Blanquer has identified “an intellectual matrix” in American universities bent on undermining a supposedly colorblind French society of equal men and women through the promotion of identity-based victimhood.

Partisan Science in America

Scientists corrode public trust when they pretend to have authority on social and political matters.

Science operates by a process of criticism. Scientists don’t experience divine revelations, they propose hypotheses that they and others test. This rigorous process of testing gives science the persuasiveness that mere journalism lacks. If a scientific periodical expels editors or peer reviewers because they don’t accept some prevailing theory, that process has been short-circuited. Those who call for such expulsions have missed the whole point of how science works. They are the true deniers, far more dangerous to science than a religious fundamentalist who believes the world is 6,000 years old.

To doubt a scientist is not to doubt science. Quite the contrary, personal authority is precisely what science dispenses with, as much as possible…

https://www.wsj.com/articles/partisan-science-antiscience-facts-misrepresentation-fauci-lancet-lab-leak-11633960740?mod=opinion_lead_pos6