Friday, December 28, 2012

Expired Food [Article]

I used to be very worried about the expiry dates on food (I sometimes still am). But as this article explains,  those expiry dates are really "sell by" dates - there to protect the reputation of the food. They have very little to do with food safety. If you're worried whether food is still OK to eat, just smell it.

Su-doku, solved [Article]

What is the minimum number of clues required to solve a Sudoku puzzle? For me, it is 70(!) But mathematicians have used brute force to prove that 17 is the bare minimum. I've got to step up my game here!

Reindeers around the world [Pictures

And they're not only from the North Pole.

Playing thyself [Video]

People playing themselves on screen. Ooops, that didn't sound right, did it? ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas, explained [cartoon]

No comments.
The local police, growing increasingly concerned about this church, ask parishoners to take a sip of wine and then spit it back out for DNA testing. It's blood, and it matches a 1970s murder victim.

Dosa remixed [article]

JP Rangaswami (@jobsworth) is the Chief Scientist at Salesforce, but that doesn't detract him from speaking his mind on things he is passionate about. I love how he is able to weave a story around the past & the present while helping to shape the future. He does that splendidly while writing about two things he is passionate about - food & software - in this blog article titled "On Habanero Dosas, platforms & makers" .

The Lion's Roar [Video]

Another song to the list throughout this week - Klara & Johanna Soderberg, also known as the "First Aid Kit perform The Lion's Roar from their album

Songs from space...[Audio]

This is a recording of a song called "Jewel in the night" performed by astronaut Chris Hadfield aboard the International Space Station.

Starry eyed [Article]

XKCD traces the path that the Three Wise Men would have taken if they'd followed the star that informed them about the birth of Christ.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

View from my coffin [Article]

Sheng Li made a visit to see what the fuss was about this 5 hour therapy that claimed to be an extreme but very effective way for people to realize the value of their lives. Coffin therapy that will make you lie down & see the light.


Happy is the title of this eminently dancing video. Enjoy.

Busy-ness [Video, article]

Slow down, says Giles Harvey, - but you have time only for this 90 second video. Do you ever feel like this? Do you need help? I know at times I do!

Online buying [Video]

What if real-life shopping at a store was like online-buying? Really. Have a look at this video from Google Analytics!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Healthy space travel [article]

Seats are available aboard the Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo to go to space. But are you healthy enough (even if you can afford the $200,000 ticket)? Get yourself educated, (& maybe even start preparing now!)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rhythmik [Music Video]

Rhythmik - bodypercussion. Another video of what wooden floor, steel chairs, hands, feet & bodies can accomplish!

KoBaGi - Kele [Music]

Continuing this week's theme of sharing video links (mostly), look at what this bunch of bare-chested guys do with just their bodies & a few bamboo sticks. KoBaGi

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm your man [Music]

Ever since I discovered Leonard Cohen a few months ago (thanks Greg!), I've been delighted with Cohen's impressive songwriting - here's a teaser from a performance in London in 2009. I'm your man, croons this versatile artist! And if you like it, here's another one - Take this Waltz - the duet, flute & the oudh are all outstanding! (lyrics at the bottom of the page on both videos)

That wasn't me [Music]

Brandi Carlisle introduces, & then performs "That wasn't me".

Landfill music [Video]

A mind-boggling, inventive effort to change that - musical instruments made from trash. In the barrios of Paraguay, a humble garbage picker uses his ingenuity to craft instruments out of recycled materials - and a youth orchestra is born. Music arises and children find new dreams. This is a teaser of the movie LandfillHarmonic.

Makeover, airplane style. [Video]

For aircraft aficionados, here's an hour long video on the make-over of a British Airways Boeing B747

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sounds of Lincoln [Video]

Sound designer Ben Burtt explains his work to provide "sound" authenticity into the Steven Spielberg movie "Lincoln", through the use of actual devices that Lincoln may have used during his lifetime. The Sound of Lincoln. Examples he provides: the sounds of doors was recorded at the White House, Lincoln's actual pocket watch which is preserved at the Kentucky Historical Society provided the tick-tock accompaniment.. interesting video!

Solitude [Picture]

Aussie pets [News]

A reminder to watch what your kids store away.

Eagle Eyed [Video]

This video, of an eagle almost snatching away a child, has been proved to be hoax. There had been a case such as this earlier, which proved to be excellent fodder for the limericks crowd. Here are a few.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa writes, Mark Twain style [Letters of note]

3 year old Susie Clemens, who may be more recognisable as Ms. Mark Twain Jr., woke up one Christmas morning to find this letter from Santa. Ah, the joys of having a writer for a dad!

Bad news for middle managers [Article]

Scott Adams reckons its the middle managers, not the skilled manual labour, that will be replaced by robots. He observes that that the least skilled employees are promoted to management. You need your most skilled people doing interface design, engineering, and the hard stuff. Management is mostly about optimizing resource allocation, and that is something a robot can learn relatively easily, at least compared to most skilled jobs.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

7 Down [Article]

I grew up with a (perhaps unhealthy!) fascination for crossword puzzles. I just realized from this article that the job of the cross-word puzzle creator isn't as well paying as playing with spreadsheets, although the newspaper that runs these crosswords makes a pile!!!

Films for Action [Links]

This holiday season, you may want to watch some movies. Or you can watch Films For Action, for free. The catch is that they really are short videos, & provide you some food for thought. Here's a sample, called "Pirates & Emperors", highlighting in verse & in under 4 minutes, how governments maintain control.

Memories in a drawer [Video]

If you find yourself losing your memory because of your age (or Alzheimers), have a look at this 2005 chinese animation called "A drawer of memory" that attempts to make poetic sense of what goes on for an old lady with dementia.

Suicide, Assisted [Essays]

Warning: Approach this topic only if you think you are willing to stress test your belief system about life, death & the role medicine. 
Drs. Howard Ball, Philip Nitschke, & Patrick  Lee put forth their views, for & against, on a topic that is guaranteed to shake the very foundations of our concepts of ethics, law & policy as it applies to death. In a couple of states in the US, a terminally ill patient can ask for & receive a prescription from his doctor that can end his life. Physician assisted death (PAD) differs from euthanasia - where the doctor administers the lethal amount to his patient (remember Dr. Jack Kevorkian?).  Dr. Bell opens the discussion with an overview of the ethics, law & policy conflicts of PAD in America. Dr. Nitschke reacts with his opposition to the decriminalization & medicalization of suicide. Dr. Lee wants PAD to remain illegal, & explains why. The discussion continues with Ball responding to the detractors.

Basket-case architecture

The Basket Building (Ohio, United States): The Longaberger Basket Company building in Newark, Ohio might just be the strangest office building in the world, as the text on this video clip says. The 180,000-square- foot building, a replica of the company's famous market basket, cost $30 million and took two years to complete. Many experts tried to persuade Dave Longaberger to alter his plans, but he wanted an exact replica of the real thing.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Wow! is all I could muster to describe my feelings about this picture. An immaculate job of photography & photoshopping.

How to avoid work [Article]

Advice from the 1950's from a career counselor, William J Reilly rings true to this day. As he says in his book, How to Avoid Work, "life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want." This echoes what Thomas Edison said when asked about his secret to success. " You do something all day long, don’t you? Everyone does. If you get up at seven o’clock and go to bed at eleven, you have put sixteen good hours, and it is certain that you have been doing something all that time. The only difference is that you do a great many things and I do one. If you took the time in question and applied it in one direction, you would succeed. Success is sure to follows such application. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not have one thing to stick to, letting all else go."

The good news [Song]

This song, written & performed by Sarah Thomsen was written in response to the church shooting in Knoxville, TN (in 2008) and in response to a news editorial in Duluth, MN (2010) titled "The Gospel can bring change into homosexuals lives."  Echoes of the past ring again after the massacre last week (mental health this time).

Grand - parents! [Article]

To add fuel to the grandparents competition fire, some researchers found that your mom's parents are the better half of grandparents. Guaranteed to raise more than a few eyebrows!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tragedy [Opinion]

I'm not going to link to another analysis on the tragedy that befell Newton, Connecticut over the weekend. The words that Helen Philpot wrote however are worth reading. I personally find it strange that the "richest" country in the world has more legislation on ladders than it has on the ownership of guns.

Clothing optional [article]

What exactly is the etiquette to be followed in a co-ed bathhouse where clothes are not allowed? American Brian Blickenstaff tries to breakdown the mental paradigm behind his experience in a German sauna. An excerpt: "Throughout our lives, how often are we actually in the buff? Excluding showering and (for some) sleeping, it happens pretty seldom, right? I mean, the only other time we shed clothing is when we’re getting intimate. Try as we might, it becomes difficult to divorce intimacy from the act of being n u d e, and this coupling casts a certain strange shadow over the proceedings at a place like Friedrichsbad."

Eat & let live [article]

Food is the glue that holds civilizations together, says G. Murphy Donovan. In his eyes, there are four key threats to the modern family - cell phones, video games, the internet, and junk food. We allow the first three because they are cheaper than tutors, private schools, and nannies. Read on.

Topsy Turvy [Audio]

Could you handle a world that looked upside down? Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of The Annals of Improbable Research, shares a case study in which the subject was made to wear vision-flipping goggles. Ten days later, the man was riding a bicycle and playing catch in the park—his only impairment the strange headgear itself. Listen to this interesting conversation (short 4:38 audio)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stuffed with memories [article]

This explains my constant hunger! Maybe I'll pay more attention to my lunch (& dinner) - just after I finish reading this report! 
"We've known for a while that people who are distracted while eating — such as by watching TV or typing — are not really thinking about what they're eating. They're not making memories of the food, and may be setting themselves up for later hunger." 

Dead People Like Facebook. [Article]

You use Facebook to connect with your friends.  But a sharp eyed user had a disturbing occurrence - his facebook feed said one of his friends liked something. Except, that friend was dead. For a while.

The Refrigerated Workforce [Article]

This interview with Nicola Twilley about food ends with the following poignant statement about the direction that people who spend their working hours in refrigerated spaces are going in " 
When you spend a lot of time in refrigerated spaces, you slow down. In a lot of the frozen food warehouses, workers are not allowed to work alone. You don’t even realize that you are slowing down, and eventually you stop moving. We have these buildings that we maintain at extraordinary expense that we, physically, are not optimized for all. We are not optimized for spaces that slow down decay, to preserve “freshness” — whatever that means — in our fruits, vegetables and meats. On the temporal level, what refrigeration does is so weird. It is an extension that slows everything down. 


Blinded by the light [Article]

Earlier this week, I linked to an article about lighting by gravity. And the critiques begin, almost immediately. A Clean Energy Breakthrough

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Floppy Disk Desk [Article]

Nostalgic for the days of the 3.5" floppy disk? (Now, now, don't let your mind wander!) You can have it in your living room, in a much larger size as a desk! Check it out.

Gee Pee Yes? [Article]

The pervasiveness of GPS has taken the fun out of navigation, says this Smithsonian article. Quite possibly true. I prefer maps personally - even though it takes a little longer to get to where we need to - maps allow you to get a sense of the environment & the geography in a way that electronic devices don't.

Amelia Earhart on Marriage [Letter]

Fiercely independent, the pioneering female aviator Amelia Earhart wrote this letter to her future husband, George Putnam.

Flush with [insert feeling here]

The height of American excesses, as demonstrated by this advertisement for, of all things, a commode.

Ustad Ravi Shankar [Videos]

Ravi Shankar, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 92, recorded while teaching George Harrison.
Watch him energize a sleepy audience at the Monterey Pop in 1967, in a spellbinding minute performance along with the great master of tabla, Alla Rakha. The audience erupts at the end of this performance. (for context about this, read this blog post) And here's a video of him collaborating with Alla Rakha's son, another giant of Indian classical music, Zakir Hussain.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Santa vs Snoop Dogg [Video]

An epic rap showdown! Brilliant!! Even if you believe in either Moses or Santa Claus. Or both. Or not.

Would anyone miss you? [Trailer]

What if you died & no one knew? From a review of a disturbing documentary, "Dreams of a life", here's an excerpt: " In January 2006, reports broke in London newspapers that Joyce Carol Vincent had been found dead in her bedsit flat in Wood Green, a northern suburb of the city. She was in her late thirties. She had been tall, vivacious and always smartly dressed—she reminded some people of Whitney Houston. She had had an Indian mother and a West Indian father; they were dead now, but Joyce had sisters. No cause of death could be ascertained because she had been dead for nearly three years. The sketch of a corpse was there on the sofa, a window was slightly open, and the television was still playing."

Lit by gravity [project]

GravityLight, as the name suggests, is an attempt by designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves to "develop a realistic alternative to kerosene lamps by harnessing the power of gravity". Watch the awesome video for the idea. I hope they achieve success in this venture.
PS: They've already reached their crowd-funding goal of raising $55,000.

Papal Twittering [News]

Keeping up with the Church's tradition of quickly embracing technology (when it can't decimate it), Pope Benedict XVI is on Twitter (as if you didn't know that already!). With just over 666k followers at the time of this blog post, I thought his first tweet needs to be documented. You know, just for historical reasons.
No apologies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

D is for Bond, Dennis Bond [Interview]

What connects Adolf Hitler, Ian Fleming & James Bond?  Author of "D is for Deception", Tina Rosenberg explains how a true story of Dennis Wheatley, a British spy who was hired to deceive Hitler,  was perhaps the inspiration for Ian Fleming, who worked with him during the war, to create the fictional James Bond.

Tree Stories [Article]

The story of the second largest tree in the world. 

What can the food industry do? [Video]

A medical doctor was invited to speak at a food conference. And then was dis-invited (if that is a word!). As he says in this video, since he had all the slides ready, why not post it on the Internet, where more people could hear his message? Dr. Yoni Freedhoff exposes the hypocrisy of the food industry. He also has some thoughts for anyone who eats. Definitely worth your time.  

The Height of Science [Video]

Rarely do we stop to think of the chaps who repair stuff that's installed on the top of towers - cellular equipment, tower lights, etc. This video is a great way to see the climb to the top, & the view from the top.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Theremin [Musical instrument]

One TV series that I've watched, under duress of course, is Midsomer Murders. The theme music (you can listen to it here) is played on an instrument called the Theremin (if you're a fan of Big Bang Theory, watch Sheldon annoy his room-mates on the theremin here). & if you're interested in learning to play the instrument, a new Theremin mini-kit is available for purchase for a meager US$39.99 here!

Throne Table? [Article]

This is a bit over the top for me, but apparently more stuff gets done while you're on the toilet seat than anywhere else - so says this invention.

Sensory Overload [Article]

What is it to be overloaded with information? or in this instance, for a kid with autism to be overloaded with sound? This animation by Miguel Jiron attempts to shed some light on what an autistic kid feels like

Bikies & Truckies [Video]

This safety video demonstrates how invisible bike riders really are to a truck driver.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ask, Why? [Article]

There is nothing more frustrating than coming up with the right answer to the wrong question. This tidbit recommends asking this question more often.

RIP Dave Brubeck [Article]

Dave Brubeck passed away one day before his 92nd birthday, on 6th December 2012. This piece in the NY Times is a wonderful recap of his life. Here's a delightful video of Brubeck & a young Russian violinist improvising. Addendum: The violinist's name is Denis Kolobov, & he's an internationally renowned violinist - watch him here playing Campanella

Incredible speed tricks [Video]

French magician Yann Frisch performs one trick. Very well. He practices it, iterates it and improves it. And with his latest version, just won the top prize of the Beijing International Magic Convention.Don't blink.

Golden Vault [Video]

How much gold does the vault at the Bank of England hold? Find out in this awesome video.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kurt Vonnegut on Violence [Letters of Note]

These are two letters from Kurt Vonnegut. The first is to his son's conscripting officer, supporting his son's denial to join the army in Vietnam. The second was written in the context of censorship,in Canada, of one of his books.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Imagine Music from Guns [Article]

A Mexican artist has converted a stockpile of weapons into musical instruments, currently on display at the Istanbul Design Biennial. Titled Imagine, Pedro Reyes wonders what the logic behind Hollywood movies is, where actors cannot smoke cigarettes but can carry guns and appear sexy for it.

Flight safety [video]

You may be amused, or terrified, if this lady made the flight safety announcements.

Lincoln's barber [Article]

William Johnson was the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln's barber. He was also a black man. This brief article by Matthew Bell explores the impact that this unknown figure in history would have had on Lincoln's Barber "It's conjecture, but it's not entirely out of line to venture that Johnson and Lincoln had the same kind of rapport you have with your barber today. In fact, it could well have been more intimate, given the expanse of Johnson's duties. Regardless, this much is clear: Johnson served as Lincoln's most personal and direct connection to black America at the time."

I love June Carter, I Do. [Letters of Note]

Being married for 35+ years, Johnny Cash & June Carter were inseparable. These two notes, written by Johnny - one on the occasion of her 65th birthday (1994), & the second shortly after her death in 2003 wouldn't have been around if it was a text message, I guess. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Evil's architect [Article]

This fascinating examination of the life of Albert Speer, the genius architect of Adolf Hitler's empire, asks, especially engineers & technicians, is Speer so different from us?  "How many of us would be willing to compartmentalize our emotions, suppress our consciences, almost to sell our souls, for the opportunity to work on the grand projects that Speer was involved in? How many of us are so focused on solving a technical problem that we fail to contemplate where that solution might lead?"

Excessive exposure [Article]

Andrew Sullivan, quoting from Melik Kaylan, relives the trauma he faced as a H. I. V positive, gay person. 
A Web That Can Entangle And Expose Us All is an alarm over the loss of privacy in the Internet age.

In lhe context of the Environment [Article]

Context is everything, says Charlie Stross, while talking about our fascination about "Saving the planet". Certain to antagonise the environmental protection types, but the facts he presents are worth considering. And the comments make for spectacular discussion on the theme too. Not to forget the George Carlin rant on the same subject.

Filtered information [TED video]

Think you can get all the information you want on the omniscient Internet? The speaker, Eli Pariser, explains the automatic filters that every single website that you frequent has in place to give you "the best experience", & the implications. A must watch.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yawns [Article]

When was the first time you yawned? Apparently, as this article indicates, you begin while still in the womb!

Your life in averages [Article]

Harry S Dent is renowned (or scoffed at, depending on what you think of the man). He presents an interesting research about spending habits over a lifetime. Men's spending on underwear, apparently, is fascinating everyone.

Gardening Clothes [Article]

The Abbey House Gardens in Wiltshire is drawing attention for its clothing-optional days. Interestingly enough, all the interviewee's seem to be in their sixties

Chocophiles [News]

The Himalayas [Picture]

via Imgur

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Time Ticketh [Article]

Charlie Stross twists a regular question: Rather than wonder how life will turn out if you win the lottery, what if you learned you had only five years to live? It isn't as abrupt & frightful as 6 months, so you do have time to consider (& build) your legacy.

A momentary mistake [Article]

Jason Fried learns a life lesson perspective from a Navajo rug trader: the mistakes in the rug patterns are unintentional, but the decision to leave them in is deliberate.

Obama on the Rosa Parks Bus [Picture]

US President Barack Obama contemplates what may have been going through Rosa Parks' mind as he sits on the historic bus that altered the course of history for black America. 

Will Smith on Life [Video]

A compilation of Will Smith interviews sharing his philosophy about life

Monday, December 3, 2012

Who rules the Internet? [Articles]

Who's going to govern the Internet? These two articles, one from The Hindu (Hyping one threat to hide another), & the other, from the Economist (System Error), explore two perspectives of what is at stake here. Definitely a must read.

The Publishing Industry [Opinion]

If newspapers are losing money on their print edition, why do they still print newspapers? An obvious question, but the answer is not as simple. Nicholas Carr takes a crack at the problem.

Artistry [Picture blog]

What an artist can do with three women!

Inspiration [Picture]

A picture speaks a thousand words. This one certainly does:  a mother getting her daughter ready for school, while her younger child is still draped around her shoulder, sleeping. A daily Indian occurrence.

A ship shipping shipping ships (video)

The Blue Marlin is a ship carrier, this wikipedia entry says. Watch this incredible footag. Part 1 & Part 2

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Signal vs Noise [Article]

There is such a problem as too much of a good thing, especially with information, says Nicholas Carr, as he adds his thoughts to a quote from author Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book Antifragile.

Food Horror [Article]

Genetically modified crops are everywhere, with the sole purpose of growing food very efficiently to feed the billowing human population (& making money, of course, for those commercial interests behind it). But what impact does such modification have on the eco-system? Here's a look through a photographer's lens.

Pallet Palace [Picture]

The authors of the article said you can build this house in one day with only basic tools. You can also upgrade it in time with insulation, airconditioning, smoke detectors - pretty much whatever you would like!  An awesome looker too!

Practical Bookshelves [Article]

Books on a bookshelf often fall over if there isn't a book-end. This design solves that problem, while at the same time is aesthetically pleasing too!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Creativity [Picture]

Apparently this farm owner was denied a council permit to build a horse shelter. Fortunately, you don't need a permit to build a table and chairs.

Vulture Capital (no, not venture, really!) [Article]

Fifteen years after vultures disappeared from Mumbai’s skies, the Parsi community here intends to build two aviaries at one of its most sacred sites so that the giant scavengers can once again devour human corpses.

Arthur Conan Doyle [Interview]

Possibly the only ever filmed interview available of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he talks about his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes, & spiritualism. About 10 mins long.

2512: A prediction

An attempt to predict the world in 2512 by Charlie Stross: As all such predictions go, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

A matter of life or death? [Article]

An intensive care nurse questions the prevailing absurdities in the not so simple matter of choosing between life & death. I have posted earlier a perspective from a doctor on how they (he) choose to die. Not an easy read either, but who says life (or death) is easy?

Stolen bike recovery [Article]

Stolen bike recovery, software-style! As the authors wondered, "Bike theft hurts a lot of people, but it’s not like anyone is going to devote actual resources to stopping it. So, at Priceonomics, we thought we’d take a crack at trying to reduce bike theft. Could we use software to help people fight back against bike thieves?"

Wealth of Nations, Revisted [Article]

Say Adam Smith, & the word image that pops up is "Economist" or "Father of Capitalism". Yet, despite the image, Adam Smith's work was more philosophical / moral than purely economics, says The Philosopher's Beard.

Outlove [Idea]

Seth Godin iterates something that a lot of folks have said / or are saying about competition in business.

3300 patents, & counting [Article]

Meet the most famous inventor you've never heard of! Dr. NakaMats, the Man With 3300 Patents to His Name