The federal government made enough money on student loans over the last year that, if it wanted, it could provide maximum-level Pell Grants of $5,645 to 7.3 million college students.
The $41.3-billion profit for the 2013 fiscal year is down $3.6 billion from the previous year but still enough to pay for one year of tuition at the University of Michigan for 2,955,426 Michigan residents.
It’s a higher profit level than all but two companies in the world: Exxon Mobil cleared $44.9 billion in 2012, and Apple cleared $41.7 billion. — Detroit Free Press, Federal government books $41.3 billion in profits on student loans.
Map Shows Zip Codes With Highest Income and Education Levels
The Washington Post reports on “super zips”—postcodes that rank highly for income and college education levels. A striking interactive map is included in the article, to show what money looks like from space.
Image: Washington Post
Traveling Through Layers
Via the Canadian Journal of Communication:
When the time came a few years ago to find an Inuktitut term for the word “Internet,” Nunavut’s former Official Languages Commissioner, Eva Aariak, chose ikiaqqivik, or “traveling through layers” (Minogue, 2005, n.p.). The word comes from the concept describing what a shaman does when asked to find out about living or deceased relatives or where animals have disappeared to: travel across time and space to find answers. According to the elders, shamans used to travel all over the world: to the bottom of the ocean, to the stratosphere, and even to the moon. In fact, the 1969 moon landing did not impress Inuit elders. They simply said, “We’ve already been there!” (Minogue, 2005, n.p.). The word is also an example of how Inuit are mapping traditional concepts, values, and metaphors to make sense of contemporary realities and technologies.
It’s too perfect, no? — Michael.
Tweeting is kind of an act of resistance and defiance, a way of shouting to the sometimes disinterested world that you’re stubborn, proud, and not giving in as everywhere else is turned into a clone of everywhere else. —
@herdyshepherd1, The Atlantic. Why This Shepherd Loves Twitter.
A lovely piece about global connectivity from an anonymous British sheep herder.
Every time somebody says to me, “It’s so impressive how you manage to get writing done despite being on Facebook/Twitter/etc. all the time,” I cringe. I’ve been hit by a backhanded compliment. I’m surfing, tweeting and emailing — leaving my digital prints everywhere and probably picking up some nasty computer viruses — while serious writers are working pristinely, heroically beyond the clutches of the Internet.
Jonathan Franzen found the Internet such a threat that he disabled it by plugging an Ethernet cable into his computer with super glue. The philosophy behind this act of almost rageful vandalism seems self-evident. Compared to the hard work of writing, the Internet gives an easy way out. Before, the writer took breaks for things like coffee, cigarettes, drugs — items that each have natural limits in the human body. But now, you’re basically working in an intellectual red-light district where, at any time — every three seconds if you want — you can dip into the constantly replenished streams of email/Facebook/Gawker/eBay/YouTube/Instagram. — Marie Myung-Ok Lee, New York Times. The Internet: A Welcome Distraction.
We’ve Found the One Thing Elon Musk Doesn’t Understand: How the News Works
Arguably the brightest innovator alive, Elon Musk took to Twitter a couple of days ago to ask the world a question:
"Why does a Tesla fire w no injury get more media headlines than 100,000 gas car fires that kill 100s of people per year?"
Good question. Why do the "unjust" headlines so misrepresent the facts?
Saying he feels “pistol-whipped” by the recent coverage, Musk joins a long tradition of accomplished CEOs who bristle about the “illogical” behavior of the news media. Those bristlers have usually mastered the specific logic of their own field—say, business, law or science—and have unconsciously come to believe that the logic of their field can and should be applied universally. Often faced with public criticism for the first time in their careers, they tend to reject news logic as irrational, and view the negative reports as "unjust" personal mistreatment. Some spend their entire careers fighting against the laws of news, while others eventually learn to use those laws to their own advantage.
So, what are the laws of news logic that explain why a Tesla fire does indeed get more headlines? Here are the top five.
Read more.[Image: Reuters]
FJP: Because, news logic.
Because Language -
Via The Atlantic:
The word “because,” in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, “because” has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I’m reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I’m reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which “because” lends itself.
I mention all that … because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use “because.” Linguists are calling it the “prepositional-because.” Or the “because-noun.”
You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet—explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I’m late because YouTube. You’re reading this because procrastination. As the language writer Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: “‘Because’ has become a preposition, because grammar.”
FJP: And now we know.
Not Every Social Network Doubles as a New Source
The Psychology of Selfies & A Handmade Pinhole Camera
We learned this week that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is selfie, the informal noun defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” It was added to the Oxford Dictionary Online (not the Oxford English Dictionary), which bases its entries on current and practical word usage, meaning they can be removed when they are out of use.
Blog posts about the psychology of the selfie abound. It’s a cheap fad. It’s a an evaluator of social reach. It’s a modern iteration of the self-portrait fueled by a hunger for social feedback. It’s a reflection of our loneliness and desire for image control. And on and on.
And then there is this.
Photographer Tatiano Altberg teaches children in a Rio de Janeiro favela how to make pinhole cameras out of recycled cans. There is no viewfinder and no button. They learn to create narratives through their photos, and to take self-portraits.
But unlike the countless “selfies” they were already used to seeing on social networks, these forced them to be more introspective, considering both their mood and environment.
“The challenge of working with pinhole photography is to make the self-portrait a process of reflection about one’s self — a product of an intention,” she said. “The idea is not to take photos in an automatic way, with poses and gestures that are seen in the pictures teenagers take with their cellphones and digital cameras. It’s necessary to pay attention to the surroundings and think before making an image. Pinhole is a slow process of creation that demands a lot of thought.”
The payoff has come with students who have become excited about the possibilities of self-expression. Jailton Nunes was a skeptical 12-year-old when he started the workshop, deflecting any compliment with jokes. But over time, he came to embrace the project, and a self-portrait of his was used on the cover of “Everyday My Thoughts Are Different,” which was published this year.
“Another photo taken by him that is very significant is the one where he appears beside a miniature sofa,” Ms. Altberg said. “He looks like a giant. The image has special symbolic meaning since he was explicitly self-conscious about his height, something that diminished throughout the year as he gained confidence.”
FJP: Here’s a thought. For young teens who live busy lives in crowded spaces (Rio or elsewhere) that are then compounded by an abundance of digital imagery in online social worlds, it’s difficult to find the space to know yourself, to construct an image of yourself for yourself and to capture that image. In a sense, the digital selfie is a way to try to create and preserve a controllable record of who you are in an otherwise uncontrollable world of too many records. It’s a very human need. If we look at it that way, the potential for teaching projects like Altberg’s is enormous.—Jihii
Image: Yasmin Lopez, via Brazilian Stories and Selfies Through a Pinhole, NY Times.
When she was in preschool she was interested in how babies are made, and we had this book, Where Willy Went, about a little sperm in a race to try to get to the egg. So she already knew about the sperm meeting the egg, but she didn’t know how [the sperm] got there in the first place. She asked me [about it], and I said, “You really want to know?” And she said, “Yeah.” And I just blurted it all out. It took about seven minutes. I told her the whole thing. She was like wide-eyed and I said, “Was that what you were expecting?” She said no. I said, “Has anyone talked about this at school?” And she said no. So I said, “Well, was it a surprise?” She said no. And then she said, “I mean yes.” I said, “Well, that’s it.” And then I had to tell all of the other parents [at her school], “Hey, by the way, if you hear [your kids say] anything about the penis getting bigger and blah blah blah, uh, this is where it came from. —
Molly Ringwald, on explaining sex to her daughter, in an interview with Maude Apatow for Rookie Mag.
Maude is 15 and a writer for Hello Giggles. Molly is, well, now 45 and still everyone’s teenage crush. The interview is delightfully straightforward and refreshing and covers everything from being a teenager, to writing, acting, dealing with technology warping your brain, and being a mom. Stuff like this is why I adore Rookie Mag, a radically real, endlessly creative online site for teenage girls (created by a teenage girl).—Jihii
Related: Last week, Her Girl Friday invited Rookie’s Editorial Director, Anahaeed Alani to share the Rookie story and some wisdom at a panel on lady-powered start-ups. Here’s a video recap of the event, and here’s an interview with Anaheed by ReportHers.
Broadcast Time for Obamacare vs. Typhoon Haiyan
Pew just released a study on how four major cable news networks divvied up air time to spend on two big stories last week (Nov 11-15): the Obamacare changes and the deadly aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. 80 hours of programming were studied: 4 hours per channel per day, 1 during daytime and 3 during primetime. The findings speak for themselves in the chart above.
The two channels with strong ideological identities in prime-time—liberal MSBNC and conservative Fox News—spent far more time on the politically-charged health insurance story than the overseas disaster. And the two organizations that built a brand on global reporting—CNN and Al Jazeera America, an offshoot of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera media network—spent considerably more time on the tragedy in the Philippines.
Image: Screenshot from Pew.