Thursday, January 31, 2013

There are those that grow, and those that destroy [Article]

Economics makes the world go round, right? What happens when the ones who wield the clout bet on both sides? Ever wondered why so many people go hungry in the world while so much food is wasted elsewhere in the world? Or why the ones who grow the food you & I eat find it incredibly difficult to even cover the costs of producing such food? What about the economics of food? & what do bankers have to do with food? Goldman Sach's Food Speculation Turns Global Hunger Into Wall Street Profit

Face-off with a deadly predator [Video]

National Geographic contributing photographer Paul Nicklen had an incredible experience while filming in the cold waters of Antarctica. "Being adopted by a wild predator sea animal" is not something most people will ever claim - Watch "Face-Off With a Deadly Predator"

Rentals - china style [Article]

There is a price for everything - including for pogress. This news article covers the newest business opportunity for young males to hire themselves out as boyfriends, to help young Chinese women who go home to see their parents once a year for the holidays  deflect questions about settling down. Chinese women take 'rental boyfriends' home for the holidays.

How long to turn anything into a habit? [Article]

This article says that despite what you often hear - 21 days is how long it takes - the answer is significantly different, & in a very different way too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What should my child take up? [Thought, video]

I've frequently been asked, by parents whose kids are just about to finish their HSC, what stream has most employment opportunities. I have honestly no idea. I do think that we are fast approaching a robotic era - more & more work gets done by machines, & so would presume that knowing how to get those machines to do the work would be a more important skill than doing it. I just read this quote that summed it up really well "You either will be the person who tells the computer what to do or the person that the computer tells what to do."  Father Guido Sarducci shares his wisdom.

The Seldom Scene [Music]

Enjoy this excellent rendition of Lay Down Sally by The Seldom Scene. I didn't expect the topless dancers who took stage alongside the band either, but they made the whole show even more exciting :)

Father Philanthrophy [Video/ Article]

The incredible story of an artist / forger, Mark Landis, whose work fooled the most astute of art critics for over 30 years. He'd dress up as an Jesuit priest, & donate his work to institutions & art museums. He's never got any money for the trouble he took, & has never been charged with any crime.  Also begs the question, what do those art critics actually critic?

Tim-Berners Lee in Sydney [Article]

The father of the internet, Sir Tim-Berners Lee was in Australia & New Zealand & cautions that what our politicians have in the pipeline as data-retention law is so dangerous it is dynamite. This follows several leaders in the industry who have been voicing their opinion that governments around the world are disregarding the very principles of democracy that they want the rest of world to espouse.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Excel-lently well done product [Links]

I spend most of my work day - & quite a lot of leisure time - on Microsoft's Excel, A product that has its origins in Lotus-1-2-3. Dan Bricklin, the creator of VisiCalc, which was then pushed out of its numero-uno spot by Mitch Kapor's Lotus-1-2-3 shares some very interesting thoughts on its 30th anniversary, on a product that holds most of the world together (Doubt that? find out what your company uses to do any analysis!) He shares some rare footage from the time too (no one does the dance moves any more though!!)

The Time is Now [Creative Project]

facebook's graph search [article, links]

About a year or so ago, I decided to quit my experiment with facebook - for a variety of reasons that I wrote a post about at the time. It has grown surreptitiously from a tool that simply helped connect people to something more nefarious, (or so it appears to my reptilian brain) - but don't take my word for it. 

Tech commentator Tom Scott, who is among those invited to test Graph Search, a new feature, demonstrated what he found using Graph Search on this page: .. [it] has served up lists of family members of people who live in China and like Falun Gong, people who like the extreme rightwing group English Defence League but also enjoy a curry, and Islamic men who are interested in other men and live in Tehran, where homosexuality is persecuted.  Other lists included Tesco employees who like horses, a reference to the discovery of horse DNA in burgers sold by the supermarket chain, and spouses of people who like Ashley Madison, a dating site for people already in relationships. 
Are you male, & interested in searching for single women in your area who are looking for men & 'like' getting drunk? Or some more insidious ones that I won't even mention here? Easy peasy! How much information about you/ your kids do you want strangers to know?

The implications are far more serious than some harmless searches, but I will leave that to the newspaper headlines that will no doubt hit us soon enough. The Guardian & the Slate weigh in with their thoughts. 
This is how to change your privacy settings if you want to stay on facebook. Better still, this is how you delete your account.  And download a copy of your data before you do so.

Koyaanisqatsi [Movie]

"Until now, you've never seen the world you live in". I watched the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance over the weekend. It is directed by Godfrey Reggio with music by Phillip Glass. There is neither dialogue nor a vocalized narration, because, as Reggio explains, in his view, language does not describe in words the world that we live in. Make time for this 90 minute film.

Monday, January 28, 2013

First they came for the communists [article]

John Kiriakou, an ex CIA staffer, was jailed for 2.5 years, for blowing the whistle on the torture techniques that the CIA uses on its "terrorist" prisoners. Before his investigation, he was a decorated member of the staff, until he disagreed with the CIA's operational techniques.

And for those of us who don't care about things that don't impact us directly, this quote from Martin Niemoller summarizes it well:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

How old are you really? [Infographic]

For those of us constantly worrying about growing old (at least chronologically), this splendid New York Times infographic demonstrates how, except for your eyes, nearly every other part of your body is relatively new, no matter how old you are! 

Omari's story, continued. [Inspiration]

About a year ago, Anthony Omari, took a machete to the face while protecting 35 children who were housed at the Faraja Children's home in Kenya, run by this mother. Incredibly, he survived, & so did the children. The story was shared on a social networking site (Reddit) by a person involved with the Longonot Education Initiative, requesting people to help collect $2,000 to build a wall that would keep the children safe. The people on Reddit helped raise over $80,000. The scar on Anthony's face has nearly disappeared & the kids are no longer afraid to stay in the home. Here's the link, if you want to follow the story for yourself.  

Contemporary practices [pictures]

During the Victorian era, it was not uncommon to have pictures taken with your dead loved ones, especially with children. We look at them today as if it was a weird thing to do, but don't you think there are practices we have today that will be looked back at by the next couple of generations in the same light? 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vincent Lingiari; from little things big things grow [Video, Paul Kelly]

An Australian icon, Paul Kelly inspires, cajoles, tells stories, and is an incredibly talented songrwriter, although he claims otherwise. Listen to this song of Vincent Lingiari (or more popularly known as the song "From Little Things Big Things grow") co-written with Kev Carmody. Vincent Lingiari is an Australian aboriginal activist - who I think is to Australia what Rosa Parks is to the United States of America

The best marriage advice I've ever read. I repeat, Ever. [Article]

Old Bob Fulghum had me hooked to his writing when I was 16; when I read "Uh oh" from cover to cover instead of listening to an accountancy lecture on 'double entry system of bookkeeping'. One of my favourite people (not just authors), Fulghum has some advice about marriage to his beloved god-daughter - and universally applicable to anyone contemplating marriage (or who's already married). "Attend to your marriage, not your wedding."

The Unhappiness Motivator [Article]

Scott Adams wonders if having a manual job in one's youth is a good motivator for success. In The Unhappiness Motivator, he asks how much of a role unhappiness plays in peoples' ability to plan for success. His concern is the level of homework that kids have these days that he feels develops disgust in kids to avoid any sort of mental work.

The Extremist Cult of Capitalism [Article]

Richard Stallman calls it the worship of the invisible hand - the extremist cult of capitalism. Capitalism isn't turning out to be the panacea that it is often, mindlessly, purported to be to the economic problems of society. In the words of Bertrand Russell, "Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Overcoming obstacles [Video]

A little while ago, I'd posted about Gerry Leary, who is a master roaster of coffee beans and is blind. Here's another inspiration, blind skateboarder Tommy Carroll ['There's always a way to overcome an obstacle, if you really want it enough"] . And here's a reminder that it isn't only five physical senses that we humans have - never mind what you learned in school.

What determines life span? [art/article]

Photographer / blogger Yunfan Tan chronicles the lifespan of plants of all sizes, & this article, referring to it, claims that Life is short for small creatures, longer in big ones. Not true, say the biologists who have commented on this blog post, & caution us against mistaking art for research. Interesting pictures, nonetheless.

Remembering the anit-war Martin Luther King [Article]

Glenn Greenwald expresses dismay, on the occasion of Martin Luther King's birthday commemoration, that MLK's anti-war advocacy (as well as his economic views) are entirely ignored - while he is remembered only for his civil rights achievements. King, during an anti-Vietnam war speech on 4 April 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York City, called the US government the "largest purveyor of violence in the world" - a tag that is even more applicable today than ever before. Greenwald also contrasts that while Obama has been an inspiring by-product of King's civil rights work, Obama's policies are a manifestation of exactly the militaristic mindset which King denounced.

Too big for yourself? There is hope [Video]

If you find yourself worrying about what you will do with all that weight - you could just be the next percussion instrument for these guys - take a look

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Journey through the seasons [Video]

"A journey through seasons" is a creation of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, by recording the 10 hour, 473 mile journey four times through the year. This compressed 1 minute video is simply amazing. They also created a 10 hour documentary of this journey. But even more amazing is the fact that the entire 10 hour raw footage is available for download under a Creative Commons license.

You are going to die [Article]

The older you get, the more your chances of dying? The mortality rate for humans, in case you were avoiding even considering it, is 100%. Tim Krieder visited the age care facility that his mother chose to move into well before she got sick or unhealthy or unable to take care of herself, & his emotions & thoughts come gushing out. Worth reading "You are going to die".

Family Budgets [Article]

A family budget exposed for the world to see. Principles are sound, & worth emulating - at least in some very important aspects.

Papal Economics and the forgiveness of sins [Article]

For a long long time, it is known, at least among few, that forgiveness for earthly transgressions are a matter of simple economic principles.  Feel that weight on your conscience? Do not fear, child. The local religious house, of your chosing, has the solution to your problem. This Guardian article, another example, this one from the Catholic Church, shows just how intrinsically intertwined the nexus between religion & politics is.  Sure to anger/ annoy/ agitate those of strong faith.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nameless Statistic [Picture]

I can't vouch for the genuineness of this card, but if it were true, is just another indicator that a life, in or for, the US armed services (& for perhaps most of the rest of the world too), is valued much less than the lip service accorded. This just shows we are all just nameless statistics - Imgur

Concentratus interruptus [article]

Don Marti collects his, & others', thoughts on the subject of being constantly interrupted by mails & notifications & phones & other gizmos. Almost like, as he quotes Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 story, Harrison Bergeron, " George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains."  Notifications and Interruptions: out of style?

How to read faster [article]

Ever wondered how to read faster, while still retaining at least the essence of what you read? Bill Cosby, besides being a great entertainer, is an engaging author &, I learned today, spent considerable time in education. He has some advice for us on how to read faster!.

The Incomplete Self - [article]

Philosopher Martha Nussbaum has some advice on how to live a full life: Do Not Despise Your Inner World,  she says to anyone who is willing to listen

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cotton TShirts & the Planet - [NatGeo Video]

Like your cotton t-shirt? The National Geographic explains in this short infographic video how devastating an   impact it has on the planet, & what you can do about it.

Dave Winer: Why I write [blog]

I read about Dave Winer in an article that Om Malik wrote about people who inspire him. Ever since, Dave's is one of the first blogs I read as soon as I wake up (sometimes, even before I'm out of bed!); as is his river of news. After several months of reading about it from him, I finally caved in & installed the OPML editor and use it as my diary-writing tool (& enjoy it too, although a spell-check would help me significantly!).  Dave, in a longish post, explains why he writes on his blog.

The farce that is Bradley Manning's Court Martial [news]

If you were being tried in a court set up by war criminals, you'd expect no justice. Bradley Manning has been barred by the military court from presenting a whistle-blower defence. Richard Stallman opines that the judge works for the military command, including Obama, and knows her career depends on making the decisions that he command structure wants. The deck is stacked against Manning.

Ralph Nader's open letter to Mike Duke, the CEO of Walmart [Letters of Note]

Just what the title says. The American Dream has slowly turned into the Great Nightmare for the vast majority of its citizens. Ralph Nader elucidates in an open letter how much power ONE company really wields over the nation's citizens & their livelihoods. The US seems to have become a society in which political and financial elites systematically evade accountability for their bad acts, no matter how destructive. And this is the direction that the powers that be who rule "developing countries" want to go in.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Dog-house Blues [Video]

You don't believe animals have a sense of rhythm? Or that don't have a ear for music? Watch for yourself.

Driving in a slow car [Wiki entry]

An insatiable appetite for fuel has been a primary reason for countless wars - disguised, of course, as the good "fight for democracy". Several alternative energy sources are dismissed as being too "inefficient"to be of any practical use. However, as this wikipedia entry suggests, about a hundred years ago, rechargeable battery operated cars ran upto a mind-boggling 340km on a single charge, while 130km per charge was guaranteed. Granted, top speed was 20km, but adequate for city driving (have you been in a fast moving traffic jams that is ubiquitous the world over?). It's a bit hard to believe that despite all progress, there are no commercially viable batteries, after 100 years! Or maybe it is so by choice?

Presidential ageing: Time lapse photography

Take a fascinating look at how US presidents age when in office; & get a feel of what drives such immense physical change. 

Australian Indians, the originals [Article]

Researchers (how do they do this, I wonder) have traced about 11% of the genomes in contemporary Australian Aborigines to migrants from India - 4000 years ago! Them, & the ancestors of the dingo. That is roughly 141 generations ago. I guess its a little more material to work with for those really keen on genealogy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Surfing lessons from a 5 year old [Video]

Take inspiration, & surfing lessons, from Cameron, a 5 year old surfer, especially about why he let falling off disappoint him.

Big Mama Thornton, [Video]

I'm listening to quite a bit of blues music, going back a few decades, not years. Here's a short selection Big Mama Thornton singing "Ball N Chain" and "Hound Dog". If you like this, enjoy over four hours of blues on a playlist, from the American Blues & Folk Festival, 1962-1965.

Instant Ice, anyone? [Video]

Dmitry Klimensky demonstrates, from Novosibirsk, Russia, what happens when he throws a pot full of hot water out into the -41C air. And check out the scientific explanation of this effect, aka Mpemba effect, after a schoolboy from Tanzania, claimed in his science class that icecream would freeze faster if it was heated first before being put in the freezer. As the article says, the laughter stopped when a school inspector tried the experiment himself, & vindicated Erasto Mpemba.

Jann Arden & Jackson Browne, Unloved [Video]

A moving song about people drifting apart, Jann Arden & Jackson Browne, Unloved. Lyrics at the bottom of the page on the youtube video, here

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What it feels to ride a rocket [Video]

Elon Musk (yeah, the fellow who created PayPal, & now dabbles in ideas to get to Mars) shared this incredible video of a controlled rocket launch & relanding. SpaceX's Grasshopper takes a 12-story leap towards full and rapid rocket reusability in a test flight conducted December 17, 2012 at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Grasshopper, a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTVL), rose 131 feet (40 meters), hovered and landed safely on the pad using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. The total test duration was 29 seconds. Grasshopper stands 10 stories tall and consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage, Merlin 1D engine, four steel landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.

The story behind This note's for you [Video]

In July of 1988, almost immediately after their world première of Neil Young's "This Note's for You" — a song and video in which various high profile musicians are mocked for endorsing brands such as Pepsi and Michelob — MTV placed a station-wide ban on the video due to "problems with trademark infringement." In response, Young offered to re-shoot the video; however, MTV claimed the lyrics were just as problematic. Furious, he wrote the following open letter to the station's executives.
6th July, 1988
MTV, you spineless twerps. You refuse to play "This Note's For You" because you're afraid to offend your sponsors. What does the "M" in MTV stand for: music or money? Long live rock and roll.
Neil Young
The stand-off was big news, and MTV eventually reversed the ban. "This Note's for You" went on to win Video of The Year at the MTV Video Music Awards. source: Letters of Note

The fast way to allergies [article]

In another article from the Guardian, health editor Sarah Boseley sheds light on research that is showing strong links between fast food consumption & asthma & allergies, especially in young children & teenagers.

The economic road to destruction [Article]

George Monibot, writing in the Guardian, explains why the free market theory seems a fraud to him. According to its proponents, a dynamic, low-tax economy and a very flexible job market is good for everyone, creating employment, opportunities and prosperity. The reality however is starkly different. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A kilogram is not a kilogram [Article]

Are you old enough to remember when everything was different, maybe even better? You are right, even what you thought was 1 kilogram has changed, leaving physicists perplexed, as this article from the Economist explains.

eBooks & Tracking [Article]

eBook readers give its users so much convenience, as many would readily agree. But as is the norm, nothing in the world is free - so what is the cost of this convenience? asks this article/

Creative Resumes [..find out..]

Now this is what a resume should really look like!

Phone Operating Systems [Article]

If you have a smartphone, the chances are about 8 in 10 that it is either running Apple's iOS or Google's Android. You may have a BlackberryOS or Nokia/Microsoft. But as the MIT Tech Review points out, there are at least three others lurking in the background as alternatives that both carriers & hardware manufacturers are quite interested in  - expect Tizen, Firefox OS & Ubuntu to become viable alternatives, if not all too common in the near future.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nature inspires much, & often [Article]

The MIT Technology Review has this article about how researchers have taken inspiration from the abdomens of fireflies to boost the brightness of LED lamps.

Sometimes I do feel this like [Video]

Schoolkids perform "Feels like we only go backwards". Awesome 2 min video!

How does documenting 1 second of every day of your life for a year look like? [Video

Cesar Kuriyama recorded all this almost entirely on his iPhone. This is what he says on his video's commentary: "I spent a couple of years saving enough money to be able to take a frugal year off from work my entire 30th year of life... I spent it doing all the important things I never had enough time for... travel, my own creative projects, & family."

A craftsman at work - Calligraphy [Video]

The art of the written word.... Calligraphy penmanship like (maybe) you've never seen before

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to give a great presentation [Book]

Maria Popova (@brainpicker) discovers some timeless advice by ad-man Joel Raphaelson on How to Give a Great Presentation

My name is Sidney Poitier [Letters of note]

A homesick Sidney Poitier writes to FDRoosevelt  to borrow $100 to return home to Nassau. My name is Sidney Poitier

Mr. Botibol [Short Story]

This story from the Lapham's Quarterly had me hooked from the title: Mr. Botibol brings a radio symphony to life, in this mesmerizing short story by Roald Dahl.

Petals & Sepals, in Time [Video]

Take a minute to appreciate this breathtaking time-lapse compilation of yawning petals, stamens and pistils, created by Czech photographer Kate Pruskova. ... . All the flowers in the video were picked from either Pruskova's garden or her mother's. The footage comprises over 7,100 images and took over 730 hours to photographs, says Robert T Gonzales

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 in short phrases [Aphorisms]

Poet Charles Simic explores 2012 in fragments through the words he read/ heard. Here's a couple of samples: 
“Are there more idiots in the world today percentagewise than in some earlier ages?” asks Teofil Pancic, a columnist for Belgrade’s weekly Vreme. His answer is that it only seems so, because today they are more visible, more audible, and, of course, connected by the Internet. In the past, he wittily observes, everyone was his own idiot, isolated not only from the rest of mankind, but also from his fellow idiots, so that when something stupid occurred to him, there was no chance of it instantly becoming known to idiots in Tasmania and Uzbekistan.
A long night of tossing and turning in a hotel bed, unable to fall asleep. Meanwhile, in the next room, a couple who had come in late couldn’t stop laughing about something for what seemed like hours. Every now and then, I wanted to get up, bang on the wall and make them stop, but was afraid they’d fall silent and leave me alone with my thoughts.

QE II, the lady, as a teen [Picture]

Just a picture of Queen Elizabeth as an eighteen-year-old during WWII where she drove and repaired heavy vehicles, 1945.

Timewasting babies....[Video]

Baby can you shut up! A mashup of songs in 1 minute that have the word "baby" in them.

Book-makers [Video]

In this day & age of digital everything, here's a video from 1947 about how books are made

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wonder - a review by Kornbluth [Article]

Headbutler, connoiseur Jesse Kornbluth invites your attention to the protagonist of a book by RJ Palacio called "Wonder" that he read lately: "The main character in “Wonder” is an outsider. Auggie Pullman, now 11 and a fifth grader, was born with Treacher-Collins Syndrome, a rare stem cell condition that results in facial deformities --- small jaws and cheekbones, distorted ears and poor hearing. Inside, he’s a kid. Outside, he’s a freak."  The boy has had 27 surgeries, has always been home-schooled and knows his situation exactly: “I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.” A book is on my reading list.

Cosby on the Fallon show [Video]

He's one of my favourite artists - author, stand up comedian, - & Bill Cosby on the Jimmy Fallon show earlier this week proves why the man, at 80, still has his mojo! In two parts - here & here

Snow--shovelling [Video]

I've never been to Canada (or to any place that has snowfall) so this was quite a sight to see - How they remove heavy snow from the streets of Montreal

Resolutions, & inspiration [article]

Who says you can't learn new skills as you grow older? Gary Marcus encourages us to consider, as example, amblyopia, another long-standing example in the literature on critical periods. Amblyopia is a visual disorder in which the two eyes don’t properly align; sometimes it’s called “lazy eye.” The standard medical advice is to treat your child early, by getting them to wear an eye patch over the good eye (in order to strengthen the weak one). If you don’t treat the problem early, you can just forget about ever fixing it. Just after my book went to press, however, Dennis Levi, the dean of the School of Optometry at Berkeley, conducted a brilliantly simple study that was easy to conduct, yet would have seemed like a waste of time to anybody steeped in critical-period dogma. Levi and his collaborator stuck eye patches on the good eye of adult amblyopics, aged fifteen to sixty-one, whom everyone else had written off on the presumption that they could not learn anything new. He then set his subjects down at a video game—a first person shooter called Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, to be exact—and told them to have fun. Levi found that his subjects got better at virtually every aspect of visual perception he could measure. It wasn’t that it was too late for adults to overcome amblyopia, it was that the myth of critical periods had kept people from trying. [Daily Beast discovery]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A lethargic animal named after the number of fingers it has [Video]

From the Daily Beast, some very important facts about the sloth bear to help put your life in perspective.  Hilarious but relevant!

You Can't See It, But You'll Be A Different Person In 10 Years [Article]

"No matter how old people are, they seem to believe that who they are today is essentially who they'll be tomorrow" begins this article from NPR. Research suggests that despite knowing intimately that their personality & values have changed in the past, people continue to underestimate how much they will change in the future. You Can't See It, But You'll Be A Different Person In 10 Years.

Einstien & Gandhi [Article]

To my mind, the last century's two great men were Einstein & Gandhi. Gandhi had an immense influence on Einstein, a fact he expressed several times. Albert Einstein Expresses His Admiration for Mahatma Gandhi, in Letter and Audio

Close your eyes, & smell the Coffee [Video]

Imagine reading this text with your eyes closed. Or maybe doing an everyday activity in the same manner. Gerry Leary is a master coffee roaster - & plies his trade with his eyes closed. Except that it's not a trick he does to impress his clients - he was born blind. And I loved how he used his hearing sense to get into his second business! Listen to this inspiration here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The next US Secretary of Defense

Some happenings in the US of A have major repercussions around the world (very often). In a few days, Obama steps up to take oath for a second term, & will appoint some new faces into his cabinet. Chuck Hagel is an ex-Republican who has Obama's favour to take over from Leon Panetta as the next US Defense Secretary. Andrew Sullivan explains why Hagel's appointment matters.

Another look at Time [Article, Video]

Jesse McDougall re-examines our concept of time - if you think it too heavy reading, hear it from the philosopher Carlin here (at a show in 1978).

Copyright Reforms [Essays]

Copyright & trademarks have immense impacts on the cost of our daily life regardless of where we live in the world - medicines, entertainment, food, you name it..  You probably haven't even heard of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a negotiation between nations this is being done in secret, & is influenced more by corporations than by countries interested in protecting their citizens. A few weeks ago, Derek Khanna (@dkhanna11), a Republican staffer, authored a paper on Copyright reform, which was retracted almost immediately after pressure, ostensibly from the entertainment industry.  The Way Forward on Copyright Reform is a thoughtful essay by Khanna & expected this post to be updated as others weigh in.

Nickel in water [Video]

What happens when you drop a red hot ball of nickel in a cup of water? The video is a demonstration of what is called the Leidenfrost effect, named after its discovery in 1796 by Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Camera, Trombone, Fun [Video]

Awesome! At least I think it is!

5 Statistics Problems That Will Change The Way You See The World - [Article]

You may not, like me, hate statistics - but this article shed some light into how it can be unconventionally applied in real-life situations!

The scientifics of regifting [Article]

That gift you don't need (or didn't want) - what should you do with it? The folks at Harvard, Stanford, and the London Business School analyzed the psychology behind regifting to determine what people really think about it, and how much the social stigma comes into play.

Beat-boxing [Video]

Human beat-box. No words to describe this guy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Washing Drum [Video]

A 10 year old provides inspiration for an alternate use to the washing-machine: 

Hell's bells: The Economist weighs in [Article]

For hundreds of years, Hell has been the most fearful place in the human imagination. It is also the most absurd, says the Economist, taking the reader through the history of this (to some) very real place.

Priorities: Toilet? Or Cell Phone? [Article]

Kevin Kelly observed during a trip that the residents of farmsteads in remote China had no running water, electricity or toilets, yet everyone had a cell phone. He offers an explanation: "The farmers in rural China have chosen cell phones and twitter over toilets and running water. To them, this is not a hypothetical choice at all, but a real one. and they have made their decision in massive numbers. Tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions, if not billions of people in the rest of Asia, Africa and South America have chosen Option B. You can go to almost any African village to see this. And it is not because they are too poor to afford a toilet. As you can see from these farmers' homes in Yunnan, they definitely could have at least built an outhouse if they found it valuable. (I know they don't have a toilet because I've stayed in many of their homes.) But instead they found the intangible benefits of connection to be greater than the physical comforts of running water." Noah Millman shares his take on the topic: 

Un-resolutions [article]

Whether you've made (& broken!) your New Year's resolutions, or  whether you've not made any, Maria Popova shares a collection of how Jonathon Swift, Susan Sontag & Marilyn Monroe approached their New Year resolutions. Fascinating read.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Road through concrete jungle [Article]

You can't stop the elevators on floors 5, 6 or 7 of this building  in Osaka, Japan. Why, you ask. Well, that's because the express highway passes through those floors.

Language advantage [Article]

Research points out the definitive benefits that the bilingual (or multi-lingual) speaker has over those who speak just one language.  Be sure to watch the video of the 3 year old who speaks three languages at the end of that article.

Simple way to be happier [Article]

Sebastian Marshall explains how a simple elimination strategy helped him feel happier (Happiness is a feeling after all!) I've tried it for a few years now, & I concur with his view.

Bearing it out [Video]

There may be reasons you may one day have to approach a bear.. & this could be a very good reason you wish you had learnt to play the flute!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

For Anonymous [Article]

The young woman from Delhi who was raped, beaten & her intestines yanked out with a metal rod inserted into her body after the "men" ravaged her, died in Singapore on the 29th of December. Nilanjana Roy weeps for her, & for all women who have remained statistics, unnamed, and have endured the brutality that is socially referred to in India as "eve teasing".

Lawrence Krauss on the Universe [Video]

Lawrence Krauss puts forth the argument that despite the fact that the Universe doesn't care about us (humans), we determine our future, and that makes our future more precious.

"Why have a civilization anymore if we no longer are interested in being civilized?"

This video clip, from God Bless America, resonated with my thoughts at the moment, so I had to share it here. Please watch.

Jesus & Osama [Article]

As you may well know by now (if you've managed to read any of my links), I often post stuff that will  make me (& maybe even you) squirm. This one may do so for you  - Charlie Stross tries to build common ground between the man popularized as "Jesus Christ" & Osama bin Laden. He has 9 on his list, & the comments add quite a few more! Definite read!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Confirmation bias [article]

Selective truth-seeking is something we are all guilty of, according to this article.  The majority of us (who are too busy working, parenting, watching sports, and playing video games) tend to get our information from sources that we trust. It’s a convenient shortcut. Our trusted information brokers are usually determined by tribal affiliation (Fox News, Guardian, MSNBC, ABC)... & so....  To combat our own biases, some deliberately seek out perspectives from people outside our tribe. But even that decision is governed by trust–do I trust that person enough to be a fair interpreter of information, even if I think he’s biased?

Nature Therapy [Article]

Researchers are backing up with studies what most non-city dwellers know already - nature offers the best therapy for all things that are caused by un-natural living. 
(Photo: "Mononoke forest, Yakushima island" by Casey Yee)4278893510_e153060c22_b

Flamenco [Guitar]

Doing a job [article]

Admiral Hyman Rickover, retired, of the US Navy, had this to say to the graduating class of the Columbia University School of Engineering on Nov 5, 1981. In Doing a Job, he points out that "There is concern today over the apparent decline in U.S. productivity. In searching for its causes we should not overlook the impact of the many professional administrators who run large corporations. Though trained in management at our leading universities, they are often unskilled in the technical aspects of the company. As a result they manage largely in the terms they learned at school. Technical, operational, and production issues are quickly reduced to issues of numbers and dollars, upon which these administrators apply their management techniques. Although in this way they may achieve financial benefits, an overemphasis on short-term profits often ignores broader issues such as efficient production or planning for the future. How can they act otherwise, when they have knowledge only of management theories learned in school?.