January 6 Link Roundup

Amputee Kristi Loyall was able to keep her leg after it was removed. She now takes it on vacation. I admire her doggedness – I was not allowed to keep my wisdom teeth, nor my dad his lipoma, despite arguing (in both cases) that they are our body parts and therefore our property. I do have my best friend’s baby teeth, which I use for teaching.

Here are 7 bad science and health ideas that need to die. Read through them, consider the facts, then share with friends and relatives who continue to believe them. This weekend I corrected someone who thought you shouldn’t eat fruit after dinner because “the acidity will stop digestion”.

On the empathy front, here are two articles presenting empathy as a tool for changing opinions. The nonprofit Narrative 4 invited individuals who are pro-gun or anti-gun and had them meet and share their stories, and then tell each other’s stories in the first person. It was emotional and tragic and triggering, but was it ultimately meaningful? Does radical empathy make a difference? On the other hand, it looks like simple human connection and understanding changed Derek Black from a white nationalist to a critic of the movement. Kudos for the students who took a risk with their emotional well-being and invited him to Shabbat dinner.

Derek had been working to put distance between himself and his past. He was still living across the country after finishing his master’s degree, and he was starting to learn Arabic to be able to study the history of early Islam. He hadn’t spoken to anyone in white nationalism since his defection, aside from occasional calls home to his parents. Instead, he’d spent his time catching up on aspects of pop culture he’d once been taught to discredit: liberal newspaper columns, rap music and Hollywood movies. He’d come to admire President Obama. He decided to trust the U.S. government. He started drinking tap water. He had taken budget trips to Barcelona, Paris, Dublin, Nicaragua and Morocco, immersing himself in as many cultures as he could.

Further, white nationalists love genetics.

85-year-old marathon runner Ed Whitlock, considered the best athlete of his age, doesn’t really like running – he just likes to win. He doesn’t record his training and doesn’t go in for fancy gear.

He does not experience a runner’s high, he said, and does not run for his health. He finds training to be drudgery and even racing brings as much apprehension as joy. “The real feeling of enjoyment,” he said, “is getting across the finish line and finding out that you’ve done O.K.”

China has gamified good citizenship (as defined by the ruling party). The program, called Sesame Credit, gives points for buying farm equipment and deducts points for buying anime. It will become mandatory in 2020. I wonder how it will work in areas with intermittent or nonexistent internet.

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