Category Archives: Culture

What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs in the World?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureMost people enjoy their work, despite the fact that there are always some complaints — however minor or significant –regarding the workplace. But let’s look at the bright side — at least you don’t have to worry about risking your life to do your job. Or expressed another way: at least your job will not kill you.

Take a look at the list of the most dangerous jobs in the world. It’s sobering, isn’t it? Imagine leaving for work each day and having to ponder that this might be the last day of your life. And even worse — the salaries that you would earn in these jobs do not even factor in the level of danger that you would be exposed to on a daily basis. For example, in two most dangerous industries, logging and fishing, workers only earn an average salary of $32,870 and $25,590, respectively. And note, that to live comfortably in America, you need to earn around $39,000 to $50,000 (depending on what city you live in, and excluding the outliers) according to a recent cost-of-living survey conducted by GoBankingRates. Certainly, it prompts the question: is it really worth it to do this job? For many workers, due to a variety of circumstances, a job in a safer industry is not necessarily a viable option. So the next time you open your front door (made of wood) and step into your house (framed with lumber) or have fish for dinner, think for a moment of the brave souls who risked their lives to provide those elements of modern life. Or the next time you get frustrated at work for some minor annoyance, consider that you don’t have to carry a load of rivets on a narrow iron girder 840 feet above the city streets (recall the famous “Lunch atop a Skyscraper from the 1930s).

Here is the list of the most dangerous jobs in the world, the salaries, and the number of fatalities per 100 workers.

Logging Worker
Average annual salary: $32,870
Death per 100 workers: 127.8
Fast fact: Housing boom has forced industry to hire more inexperienced workers who are prone to more accidents

Average annual salary: $25,590
Death per 100 workers: 117
Fast fact: Most deaths are due to vessel disasters or falling overboard

Aircraft Pilots
Average annual salary: $76,050
Death per 100 workers: 53.4
Fast fact: Private planes have highest mortality rates because the planes are not well-maintained

Average annual salary: $34,220
Death per 100 workers: 40.5
Fast fact: Most deaths are due to falls

Mining Machine Operators
Average annual salary: $37,230 to $89,440
Death per 100 workers: 37
Fast fact: Most deaths are due to cave-ins, flooding, elevator problems, and lung and respiratory disease

Garbage Collectors
Average annual salary: $34,220
Death per 100 workers: 27.1
Fast fact: Most fatalities are due to traffic or machine accidents

Power-line Workers
Average annual salary: $62,300
Death per 100 workers: 23
Fast fact: Most deaths are due to exposure to harmful substances in environment

Truck Drivers
Average annual salary: $37,930
Death per 100 workers: 22.1
Fast fact: Drivers typically drive for 11 hours at a stretch

Agricultural Workers
Average annual salary: $73,700
Death per 100 workers: 21.3
Fast fact: 23% of injuries are due to machinery

Construction Workers
Average annual salary: $34,500
Death per 100 workers: 17.4
Fast fact: Most fatalities are due to falls

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If Shakespearean Characters Had Tinder Profiles

alex atkins bookshelf literatureAh, romance during the glorious Elizabethan times… Young men and women could marry as early as 14 years old (with parental permission); however the age of consent was 21, when most young people would marry. Following the wedding customs of the nobility, most marriages were arranged to increase the wealth or bring prestige to a family. Consequently, the soon-to-be star-crossed lovers met for the first time at the wedding altar, avoiding the foolishness and frivolity (not to mention the expense) of a long-drawn-out courtship. Get thee to the altar!

O brave new world — the Age of Google… Well, a lot has changed in 400 years. Today, young people throw caution and parental advice out the window and meet one another via Tinder, a location-based social app that allows singles (and sometimes married people masquerading as singles) to be matched and chat with one another. What happens after that introductory chat is left to fate… perhaps all’s well that ends well. Of course, many parents are clueless about Tinder — they think it is some sort of reading app (perhaps because it sounds like Kindle). 

However, if you are literary-minded, it prompts the question: what if Shakespearean characters had Tinder profiles. Over in the SparkNotes community, Klara Steeves and Chelsea Aaron, channeled the Swan of Avon to come up with Tinder profiles for some of his most enduring characters:

Hamlet, 30
I spend a lot of time thinking about the unknowable void of death and how it makes cowards of us all; Chipotle burritos, murdering my stepdad.

Iago, 28
Turn-ons: plotting, scheming, general villainy. Turn-offs: honesty, loyalty, a moral compass.

Lady Macbeth, 30
My style: moto jackers, crop tops, dresses stained with the blood of my enemies; if you’re not down with some casual regicide, swipe left.

Puck, 21
Outdoor sleepovers are my jam. Classic blunder: challenging me to a prank war. If you end up with a donkey head, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Romeo, 16
Trying to find my ride-or-die, not here for hookups. My ideal woman is down to get married within 24 hours of meeting me. Bonus points if your family is currently in a blood feud with mine.

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Helping the Less Fortunate

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsPulitzer Prize winning author Pearl Buck once observed, “Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.” [Emphasis added.] It is not often that you read about the privileged or 1-percenters who due to their great fortune (and you can read that one of several ways), realize or experience firsthand that the majority of people work very hard or even struggle — and falter — just to get by in this world. The response to this should not be contempt or indifference (witness, for example, how many governments treat their citizens), but rather, kindness and compassion. For inspiration, we should turn to the Dalai Lama who wisely observed: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

It is in this context, that one can appreciate the legacy of Princess Diana, known as the “Princess of Hearts” for her passionate philanthropy, who wanted to make sure her children understood that the plight of the less fortunate. In a candid interview with Newsweek magazine, Prince Harry, who is passionate about charity work and has earned a nickname that would make his mum proud (“Prince of Hearts”), shares these insights: “My mother died when I was very young [Harry was 12; Prince William was 15]. I didn’t want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good. I am now fired up and energized and love charity stuff, meeting people and making them laugh. I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better.” Harry explains how Princess Diana taught her sons to appreciate an ordinary life and privacy; he elaborates, “My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life, including taking me and my brother to see homeless people. Thank goodness I’m not completely cut off from reality.” [Emphasis added.] Indeed, empathy, is king.

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For further reading: Pearl Buck, My Several Worlds: A Personal Record

Best TV Opening Credit Sequences of All Time

alex atkins bookshelf cultureThere are some shows that have title sequences that are just as iconic as the TV shows themselves — remember The Beverly Hillbillies, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gilligan’s Island, MASH, Star Trek, Cheers, The X Files, and Game of Thrones? As these title sequences demonstrate, there is a real art to the title sequence; however, sadly they have been on the decline since network televisions prefers very short or no title sequence at all, leaving more air time for ads.

Television critic Alan Sepinwall believes that TV opening credit sequences fall into one of three categories (excluding, of course, those lame, unimaginative ones that simply show photos and names of the actors): opening credits as (1) expository device; (2) as explicator of theme; and (3) as setter of mood. Examples of the first type (expository device), like Gilligan’s Island and the Twilight Zone, that explain a show’s premise through a theme song, narration, or image montage. Opening credits as explicator of theme, like Dexter, Star Trek, and Cheers, are short movies that explain what the show is about. The third type (setter of mood), like Game of Thrones or Mad Men, are brief movies that try to evoke the feeling or mood of the show.

According to ScreenRant, here are the top ten TV opening credit sequences of all time:
1. The Simpsons
2. The Sopranos
3. True Detective
4. Cheers
5. Dexter
6. Mad Men
7. Game of Thrones
8. The X-Files
9. Cowboy Bebop
10. Batman (1966)

According to Paste Magazine, here are the top ten TV opening credit sequences of all time:
1. The Simpsons
2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
3. The Addams Family
4. Star Trek
5. Cheers
6. The Twilight Zone
7. The Drew Carey Show
8. The X-Files
9. Gilligan’s Island
10. Game of Thrones

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What is the Pinocchio Effect?

alex atkins bookshelf phrasesThere are so many lies coming out of Washington D.C. — each day alternative facts, fake news, misrepresentations, and misstatements are colliding with one another at such a dizzying pace, like atoms colliding, resulting in a spectacular explosion of bullshit that blocks out even the tiniest glimpse of reality. Even seasoned White House correspondents are scrambling for different ways of referring to all this bullshit by using different euphemisms like balderdash, baloney, booty chatter, bull honky, bunk, canard, cock and bull story, codswallop, concoction, crock, falsehood, fib, fiction, fish story, flapdoodle, hogwash, hokum, hooey, horse manure, inveracity, jiggery-pokery, malarkey, misrepresentation, misstatement, moonshine, piffle, pish posh, poppycock, prevarication, prevarication, rubbish, stretcher, tall tale, twaddle, untruth, whopper. Whew! All of this lying would even make Pinocchio’s little wooden head spin.

Speaking of Pinocchio — when discussing lies and lying, psychologists refer to the Pinocchio effect. No, the Pinocchio effect does not refer to the lengthening of the nose described in the famous children’s novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1881) by Carlo Collodi (otherwise most politicians could not fit through standard doorways without turning sideways). In science, the Pinocchio effect describes the increase in temperature around the nose and in the orbital muscle in the corner of the eye when a person lies. In a pioneering study conducted in 2012, researchers at the University of Granada, Emilio Gómez Milán and Elvira Salazar López, used thermographic cameras to measure temperature on the face of human subjects. When a person performs considerable mental effort (eg., being interrogated or lying), the overall temperature of his or her face drops (except around the nose and corner of the eyes); however, when a person experiences anxiety, overall face temperature rises. The researchers elaborate: “When we lie about our feelings, the temperature around our nose raises and a brain element called insula is activated. The insula is a component of the brain reward system, and it only activates when we experience real feelings (called qualias). The insula is involved in the detection and regulation of body temperature. Therefore, there is a strong negative correlation between insula activity and temperature increase: the more active the insule (the greater the feeling) the lower the temperature change, and vice versa.”

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What are the Most Common Lies on Social Media?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureWhile politicians in Washington, D.C. trip over themselves lying just about everything — major issues like climate change, healthcare, or taxation as well as less significant issues like size of crowds at the inauguration or the notorious Bowling Green massacre — people habitually lie on social media. Since the goal of many sites (think Facebook, Tinder, and its ilk) is to make a good impression, there is nothing more helpful than the age-old, seemingly innocuous, itty-bitty white lie. But no matter how you whitewash it, a lie is still a lie. Frustrated with the web of lies on the web, the Reddit community wanted to do something about it — they wanted to unmask all the pretenders out there by revealing the most common lies people tell on social media. Anyone who has seen the documentary Catfish, or the series of the same name, will not be surprised to learn that the most common lie on social media is using a fake photo. Equally surprising is that people seem to be very honest about their age. I suppose the takeaway here is that if a person uses a fake photo, at least it reflects the right age. Kudos, liars (you know who you are). Here are the most common lies people share on social media — remember being forewarned is being forearmed.

Using fake photos: 25.21%

Lying about owning something: 23%

Lying about dating, sex, or relationships: 14.84%

Lying about job, title, or salary: 13.23%

Lying about terminal illness or death: 6.97%

Lying about knowing or meeting someone: 4.95%

Lying about their ethnicity: 4.95%

Lying about weight or fitness: 3.34%

Lying about age: 1.61%

And where do people lie the most? According to the Reddit community, these are the social media platforms where people lie the most:

Reddit: 44.36%

Facebook: 26.22%

Others: 20.07%

Twitter: 4.52%

Tumblr: 2.98%

4chan: .99%

YouTube: .95%

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Reading Outrageously Bizarre Books on the Subway

alex atkins bookshelf booksWhat would people do if you were riding the subway and reading a really bizarre book? And I don’t mean books with a silly title, but rather a truly weird, in-your-face, politically-incorrect title like Mein Kampf for Kids or The Joy of Cooking Meth that would elicit a double-take, as in “did I really just see that?” Inquiring minds want to know. Enter Scott Rogowsky, creator and star of the hilarious internet series “Running Late with Scott Rogowsky.” Each week Rogowsky and his camera crew roam the streets — and subways — of New York to capture man-on-the-street segments that capture New Yorkers being… well, New Yorkers. For his segment “Fake Book Covers on the Subway” Rogowsky sat in a subway car, minding his own business, reading a fake book with an outrageously bizarre title — and keeping a straight face — while a colleague surreptitiously filmed the reaction of fellow subway riders. It’s hard to say which is funnier: the books titles or the reactions from fellow New Yorkers, ranging from shock and and disgust to chuckles and hearty laughter. And naturally, since we live in the social media generation, many people had to take a photo of Rogowsky immersed in his book to post on Facebook or Instagram with the “can you believe this shit?” emoji. Here are some of the bizarre fake book titles that Rogowsky featured in the videos:

How to Hold a Fart In: The New Rules for Career Success by Don Henderson
The Joy of Cooking Meth by Walter White
101 Penis-Lengthening Tips You Can Do at Home, the Office, or on the Go by Scott Rogowsky
Slut-Shaming Your Baby: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacker
Definitely Not Porn: So What Are You Looking At? Mind Your Own Business by Regular Guy
Gone Girl 2: Even Goner by Lillian Flynn
1,000 Place to See Before You’re Executed by Isis
Getting Away with Murder for Dummies
Mein Kampf for Kids by Adolf Hitler
Ass Easting Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for New Boyfriends by Nancy Mohrbacker
If I Did It: How I Would Have Done 9/11 by George Bush

Why Women Deserve Less by Porter Brandelle
How to Fake Your Own Death by Prince
Hiding Your Erection From God by Deepak Chopra
Math for Non-Asians: A Skill-Builder and Reference Guide for the Genetically Challenged
Great Vaginas Through History: An Encyclopedia

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