Map: The Waning “Middle Ground”

Marriage Equality and Constitutional Amendments Map
Key: Red: Anti-equality constitutional amendment | Green: Legal marriage equality | Grey: Neither constitutional amendment or marriage equality

As more states arrive at marriage equality, whether through the courts, legislatures, or ballot box, the number of states with neither equality or a state constitutional amendment forbidding equality have almost all left to the ends of the continuum. Indiana looks set to pass a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, which will leave only Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming in this limbo (all three states, and Indiana, do have laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman).

The campaigns for marriage equality have achieved surprising successes over the last decade, but moving forward, winning equality through the legislatures and state referenda will be more difficult, since repealing a constitutional amendment is typically a difficult fight. Most or all state supreme courts are bound by the state constitution, which will make action by them difficult. This will leave only the federal judiciary and U.S. Supreme Court to expand equality further.

Note: Yes, Utah briefly had marriage equality, but since the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on the lower court’s ruling, I’m counting their constitutional amendment as still in force.

René Magritte’s Guide to Personality, Literacy, and the Uncanny Valley

Attending the René Magritte exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art last month, several pieces struck me as strong illustrations of principles that became widely recognized long after he produced his works.

Portrait of Paul Nougé (1927) by René Magritte with commentary by exhibit curator, Anne Umland


Trait Theory vs. Social Psychology

When Magritte painted Paul Nougé, he doubled the image, reproducing his own image of his friend while subtly changing it. In doing so, he broke from the tradition that portraiture should “represent a singular self.” Rather, Magritte is saying, all representations are just that, a record of one view of a person, one facet of their personality.

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Art, the Camera, and Memory.

Taking Pictures (Caillebotte) by Nicholas Knight
Taking Pictures (Caillebotte) by Nicholas Knight

“But the King said…’The fact is that [writing] will produce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it. They will not need to exercise their memories, being able to rely on what is written, calling things to mind no longer from within themselves by their own unaided powers, but under the stimulus of external marks that are alien to themselves. So it’s not a recipe for memory, but for reminding.'”
-Plato, Phaedrus


I’ve been going to art museums more lately, attending the Hopper retrospective at the Whitney, and more recently, the Magritte retrospective at MoMA. Not having been to many art museums in the last decade, I was surprised to see a behavior familiar from concerts: a seeming greater focus on capturing just the right picture or video than on experiencing the thing being recorded.

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9 reasons You Can Start Using Facebook More Effectively in 2014, 1 Cause for Concern, and 1 Good Reason You Should Quit Altogether

Huffington Post just released a list of “11 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook in 2014.” The complaints seemed largely to be focused on undesirable content. That Facebook is a platform, and that you have a share of the responsibility for what you see on that platform, are facts worth remembering. Fortunately, Facebook provides a number of tools that, if used effectively, mean you can stay up-to-date with friends without most of the ills outlined on HuffPo.

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Crowdsourced Playlist: Time

Each week, I host a “crowdsourced playlist.” I give the theme (and three examples) and the crowd throws in their suggestions. Check out the progress on this week’s playlist below, or head over to Facebook to follow me and contribute.