Sometimes I forget there’s music being made in other parts of the world. Oh, there’s a lot going on here, I know—the rise of iPods and the mostly wonderful resultant fragmentation of music. But let’s just talk pop. Pop radio play in the US. Ehh. I don’t actually really have a strong opinion about it, I realize now that I’ve totally set myself up to say it’s awful. I don’t care whether it’s awful or vibrantly creative. The point of this post is to share some Kpop. Pop music from Korea. Because to me it feels fresh and different, like it’s slicing from a different angle than I’m used to.

We’ll start with something fairly bland, amusing only for the sight of Koreans acting like American hiphop stars:

And this, which is kind of like a Korean version of the Pussycat Dolls:

….Aaaand the relatively nice-girl version of a girl group, T-Ara:

Which are pretty standard pop fare.

But I really like this. This girl is fierce!

And this is…strangely arresting. Behold G-Dragon:

And this. This is the masterpiece of the set. It’s G-Dragon with T.O.P., both reeking of charisma. And the song rocks:

If you’re not done with world music yet, here’s something from India. And this has to go here somewhere: Colbert doing K-pop.


So look, I know this might seem a little hinky, but check it out. Don’t be put off by the fact that the author was “ordained into the Order of Interbeing by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in 2005.” I give you a Buddhist psychotherapeutic approach to low self-esteem:

Once he felt ready to move on, I asked him to get back in touch with the self-critical voice in his chest. When he said he could feel it, I asked him to try saying, “Thank you for trying to keep me safe from Mom. I know you’re trying to help me.” He immediately started crying, and said he felt a huge relief. He talked about feeling reunited with a part of himself that had been cut off. I suggested that, between sessions, every time he noticed the self-critical voice, he express this kind of gratitude for its desire to protect him….Over time, he became adept at using compassion to disarm his inner critic, and had a much easier time loving himself.

(The hinky-sounding “Order of Interbeing” =/=spirit-channeling crystal-vibrating cult; =the Buddhist order founded in the 60s by Thich Nhat Hanh, =/= obscure sketchy guru, = respected Buddhist scholar and monk. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by MLK Jr for inspiring the latter’s non-violent civil rights movement by his peace activism in the Vietnam War. I tend to be skeptical of guys like this, who are the center of movements and who have clearly monetized their teachings (he’s written 100+ books). But there doesn’t seem to be much controversy attached to him, at least as concerns his sincerity or behavior. No cult stuff or anything, anyway.)

(Here’s a bit of Nhat Hanh’s teaching that may not be new, but is kind of lovely and inspiring in its simplicity.)


More details on the science, and amazing double levitation:

We can only really have 150 friends.

Why LDS wards are the size they are. I suspect it might have something to do with the average size of apartment buildings in NYC. Belies the idea of 1000 facebook friends.

So there’s this:

The elephant, a huge package of food that is easy to hunt, disappeared from the Middle East 400,000 years ago — an event that must have imposed considerable nutritional stress on Homo erectus….

Unlike other primates, humans’ ability to extract energy from plant fiber and convert protein to energy is limited. So in the absence of fire for cooking, theHomo erectus diet could only consist of a finite amount of plant and protein and would have needed to be supplemented by animal fat. For this reason, elephants were the ultimate prize in hunting — slower than other sources of prey and large enough to feed groups, the giant animals had an ideal fat-to-protein ratio that remained constant regardless of the season. In short, says Ben-Dor, they were the ideal food package for Homo erectus.

When elephants began to die out, Homo erectus “needed to hunt many smaller, more evasive animals. Energy requirements increased, but with plant and protein intake limited, the source had to come from fat. He had to become calculated about hunting,” Ben-Dor says, noting that this change is evident in the physical appearance of modern humans, lighter than Homo erectus and with larger brains.

And then there’s this:

The mathematics of cities was launched in 1949 when George Zipf, a linguist working at Harvard, reported a striking regularity in the size distribution of cities. He noticed that if you tabulate the biggest cities in a given country and rank them according to their populations, the largest city is always about twice as big as the second largest, and three times as big as the third largest, and so on. In other words, the population of a city is, to a good approximation, inversely proportional to its rank. Why this should be true, no one knows.

…Around 2006, scientists started discovering new mathematical laws about cities that are nearly as stunning as Zipf’s. But instead of focusing on the sizes of cities themselves, the new questions have to do with how city size affects other things we care about, like the amount of infrastructure needed to keep a city going….For instance, if one city is 10 times as populous as another one, does it need 10 times as many gas stations? No. Bigger cities have more gas stations than smaller ones (of course), but not nearly in direct proportion to their size. The number of gas stations grows only in proportion to the 0.77 power of population.

…Now comes the spooky part. The same law is true for living things. That is, if you mentally replace cities by organisms and city size by body weight, the mathematical pattern remains the same….on a pound for pound basis, the cells of an elephant consume far less energy than those of a mouse. The relevant law of metabolism, called Kleiber’s law, states that the metabolic needs of a mammal grow in proportion to its body weight raised to the 0.74 power.

This 0.74 power is uncannily close to the 0.77 observed for the law governing gas stations in cities. Coincidence? Maybe, but probably not. There are theoretical grounds to expect a power close to 3/4. Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute and his colleagues Jim Brown and Brian Enquist have argued that a 3/4-power law is exactly what you’d expect if natural selection has evolved a transport system for conveying energy and nutrients as efficiently and rapidly as possible to all points of a three-dimensional body, using a fractal network built from a series of branching tubes — precisely the architecture seen in the circulatory system and the airways of the lung, and not too different from the roads and cables and pipes that keep a city alive.

Oh, and here’s an even better summary of the city-elephant connection.

This is Tom Lee, getting into into stuff I don’t really care about (lifecycle of social networks, blah). But I am interested in the publishing criterion shift he describes.

Here’s how it goes. First, a network achieves viability — enough people are using it to send non-”hello world” messages that the community can sustain itself. Next, users experiment, publishing and republishing content that they find compelling. The system amounts to a collaborative filter, and the quality and novelty of the results are surprisingly good. At this point people begin to notice and discuss the potential for the network to have greater relevance — and, inevitably, those who don’t understand that participation in the filtering activity is non-negotiable begin whining about taking the medium seriously when they see so much trivial content on it. Despite this carping, more users join the network and its value and potential importance begin to be more widely understood. At this point users change how they identify content worth publishing or republishing: rather than the first-order “how compelling is this?” they begin using the second-order “how compelling will other people find this?” Although they were excellent and determining what they thought was interesting and appropriate, they’re comparatively terrible at determining what other people will like. Quality declines (“I blogged: links for 2009-07-02″). Worse, as users continue to try to shirk their collaborative filtering responsibilities, experimental uses of the medium are discouraged or otherwise become less viable. The system ossifies, and soon enough everyone is sick of having to check Facebook. Time for a new no-pressure medium for goofing off with your early-adopter friends. Rinse, repeat.

Makes me ask: do I do that? Because it makes sense that this would lead to a depressing kind of homogenization. To be clear, I don’t care about the quality of content in some sense related to the viability or importance of particular social networks. I’m interested in the way this kind of other-checking thinking leads us away from our real interests and idiosyncrasies and starts us trolling the internets for stuff we think other people might think is interesting so that they’ll think we’re interesting. I can’t help but think this is a damaging dynamic. And I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing it right now!

Maybe we should all just be idiosyncratic and let the power law do the work of deciding what gets socially recognized. That’s certainly what Mill would say. See also kottke in 2003 doing power law stuff. Oh boy, that’s kind of his hobby for a while.

Now I have to add this from a really great interview kottke does with Yochai Benkler. It sort of speaks to what I was getting at up there, re individuality:

The probability that any newspaper, however well-heeled, will be able to put together the kind of legal analytic brainpower that my friend Jack Balkin has put together on his blog, Balkinization, is zero. They can’t afford it. On the other hand, even the Weekly World News is tame and mainstream by comparison to the quirkiness or plain stupidity some people can exhibit. The range is simply larger. That’s what it means to have a truly diverse public sphere.

I’m not sure I agree with kottke that Benkler’s book might be seen in the future as on the order of Rawls’s A Theory of Justice. But it is free.

Original Lee quote via slate

I really wanted this to be true, but alas, it wasn’t.