Torr Leonard Profile picture
28 Dec, 14 tweets, 3 min read
“In 1950s, sociologists worried that rampant individualism was tearing family apart. There were serious racial & class tensions, & everyone lived under threat of nuclear annihilation.

Many in 1950s thought the good old days were to be found in the 1920s.”…
“But in the 1920s, the pioneering child psychologist John Watson warned that because of increasing divorce rates, the American family would soon cease to exist.

Many people at the time idealized the Victorian era, when families were strong and children respected their elders.”
“But in the late 19th century, Americans were worried that the unnatural pace of life brought on by railroads and telegraphs had given rise to a new disease, neurasthenia, which could express itself in anxiety, headaches, insomnia, back pain, constipation, impotence, diarrhea.”
“Why are humans so nostalgic for past eras that seemed difficult to those who lived thru them? One possibility is that we know we survived past dangers—otherwise we wouldnt be here—so in retrospect they seem smaller. But we can never be certain we’ll solve the probs facing today”
“Another reason is that historical nostalgia is often colored by personal nostalgia.

When were the good old days?

Was it, by chance, the incredibly short period in human history when you happened to be young?”
“A U.S. poll found that people born in the 1930s and 1940s thought the 1950s was America’s best decade, while those born in the 1960s and 1970s preferred the 1980s.

In the 1980s, the popular TV show “Happy Days” was set in a nostalgic version of the 1950s;”
“Researchers found that we encode more memories during adolescence and early adulthood than any other period of our lives, and when we think about the past, this is the period we most often return to.

As we grow more distant from past, we tend to remember them more positively.”
“When schoolchildren returning from summer vacation are asked to list what was good and bad about it, the lists are almost equally long.

When the exercise is repeated a couple of months later, the list of good things grows longer and the bad list gets shorter.”
“By the end of the year, the good things have pushed out the bad from the students’ memories completely.”
“Vaccination, anesthetics, steam engines, railroads & electricity all met w/ resistance when they were first introduced.

Many feared bicycles would create a generation of hunchbacks, since riders leaned forward all day & that sitting in a bike saddle would make women infertile.”
“The point isn’t to show how silly previous generations were.

The same kinds of anxieties have been expressed in our own time about innovations like the internet, videogames, genetically modified organisms and stem-cell research.”
“And not all fears about the future are unfounded:

New tech do result in accidents, they disturb traditional cultures and habits, and they destroy old jobs while creating new ones.”
“But the only way to learn how to make the best use of new technologies and reduce the risks is by trial and error.

The future won’t be a utopia—but then, neither were the good old days.”
“This essay is adapted from the new book “Open: The Story of Human Progress,” by @johanknorberg.

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More from @torrHL

29 Dec
“Amazon’s Halo fitness tracker not only measures your heart rate and exercise routines but also your moods;

it records your voice, analyzes your tone, and issues detailed reports of your emotional states throughout the day.”…
“That first day a vexed emoji told me I was ‘stern’ or ‘discouraged’ for 16 percent of the day.

“You had one phrase that sounded restrained and sad’ for 1.6 seconds at 12:30 p.m. … But 8 percent of the day, including for 14.4 seconds at exactly 11:41:41 a.m., I was ‘satisfied.”
“Halo promises to deliver only narcissism and self-obsession.

The device doesn’t offer real insight into your inner states but reports on how you seem to other people.”
Read 6 tweets
29 Dec
"the number of misinformation-related terms posted on Twitter has surged more than 200% this year compared to 2019, from just over 8 million mentions last year to more than 26 million in 2020 — and the year isn’t over yet."…
"On the other hand, people are more likely to invoke misinformation as a way to dismiss uncomfortable facts or as a cause of various problems that they find challenging or unfortunate."
"But the online conversation surrounding misinformation often isn’t being driven by fact-checkers or media outlets reporting false claims.

Zignal Labs found that online discussion of misinformation came from a range of sources."
Read 4 tweets
29 Dec
“Jimmy Carter did something peculiar for a peacetime president.

He asked Americans to sacrifice:

to consume less, take public transit more, value community over material things, and buy bonds to fund domestic energy development, including solar.”…
“From our vantage, this may sound very farsighted and bold.

But any prescient, planet-saving leadership seen shimmering through hindsight is a mirage.

The speech and the panels advanced a program with the narrow goal of energy independence, not decarbonization.”
“Carter wanted to expand and secure the nation’s economic wheel beyond OPEC’s reach, not question it, shrink it, slow it, or “green” it.

“We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias [and] more coal than any nation on earth,” he boasted in the speech.
Read 8 tweets
28 Dec
"Children are more at risk of contracting the coronavirus at a social gathering than in a classroom or childcare setting, according to a study of nearly 400 youth in Mississippi."…
"Compared with children who tested negative, those who tested positive were more likely to have attended gatherings and have had visitors at home, the researchers found."
"Additionally, parents or guardians of children who were infected were less likely to report wearing masks at those gatherings."
Read 4 tweets
28 Dec
"one transit mode on TMNT’s chart was surprisingly carbon-light compared to nearly all others:

*Durable* “Vespa-like” electric scooters are greener than trains, buses, and any hybrid or EV."…
'an electric scooter subsidy could easily be modeled on CA’s EV subsidy.

Such a subsidy would actually be much more effective in tackling climate change, too, by actually changing the transportation habits—and maybe even other lifestyle decisions, down the line—of Americans."
"And for the working poor, many of whom live in places where car ownership is mandatory to find and keep work, it would amount to a revolution in mobility."
Read 11 tweets
28 Dec
"A few years ago, some blocks of Austin’s South Congress featured a castle-themed wax museum and comic book shop, a bar w/ $1 taco deals, an auto shop and a Santa on horseback.

Then, as at so many other places in Austin, the construction cranes came."…
"Those blocks recently reopened w/ a strip of buildings with shops offering brands from Lululemon to Le Labo perfumes. The $2k+ private club Soho House and an Hermès store are on the way.

Office tenants include consulting firm Deloitte & private-equity firm Tritium Partners LLC"
"developer said he saw a need for national luxury brands in a place where more well-paid execs were coming.

To manager of Auto Works that was there 28yrs before its lease was terminated, it was another reminder that some longtime Austinites can’t afford their own city any more."
Read 15 tweets

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