Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Hedge - A short story by Don Marti

Could be a story, but as the author says, reality's catching up pretty quickly. Gripping. Read it for yourself.  The Hedge

NO [Movie]

Trust Jesse Kornbluth to shine a light on things that will otherwise be obscure. This time it's a movie that won no Oscars. No is a Chilean movie about the referendum on Pinochet's government, a man that most people don't know was helped by the CIA to become the country's dictator. Read Kornbluth's evocative review here.

Print me an ear [Article]

3D printing is not the future, it is already here. Here's another application of the technology in the medical profession - the goal is to make print cartilege - ears reliable enough to be used for children born with deformed ears, and adults who lose them from injuries. Print Me An Ear

The Trans Pacific Partnership (or is it?) [Article]

Most of us won't care about it- yet, the US corporate sponsored TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) will soon inflict more misery on the world through an intricate, very secretive partnership between countries that is being pushed though their respective parliaments to become law. Essentially, the plan is to skirt domestic laws and courts and privately enforce the terms of a public treaty by directly challenging governments’ public interest policies before foreign tribunals to demand unlimited sums of taxpayer compensation. The premise for including such extreme extra-judicial enforcement procedures in past agreements has been that the domestic legal systems of developing country trade partners have not been sufficiently trustworthy. Japan is the latest country getting ready to sign up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Money Management for the Moustached Man [Article]

I've posted a few links by Mr. Money Moustache, advocating living within one's means as a pretty easy way to retire at age 30. Whatever your age, if taking control of your financial life interests you, then find you way around MMM's great site through this easy to read article on Getting Rich: From Zero to Hero in One Blog Post. Highly recommend read (also be warned that you will probably spend a good few hours devouring this blog, once you start).

Workplace productivity & survelliance [Articles]

According to a recent internal memo, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer is not in favour of the 'technologically forward' working from home concept. Despite being touted as a progressive idea for many occupations that do not require a physical presence in the office, working from home is apparently no longer finding favour with management, citing loss of 'productivity'.  As this Salon article points out, Tesco is taking productivity to another level (or sinking to a new low - whatever your perspective), by using high tech survelliance to track employees.Collaboration, folks, is the new corporate buzzword, so expect to be in the office more & longer.

Drones, Dalai Lama, & the US Never-ending war [Article

Tom Gallagher asks a very pertinent question on the current push by the US towards drones as the preferred mode of military engagement: "What if China used a drone to kill the Dalai Lama?" how would the world feel about it?

Bradley Manning's 1000 days in prison [Article]

A commentor on the Guardian site says it well: "Considering all the lies and deceit that led to the Iraq War, Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo, rendition, torture, the propping up of brutal dictators, the war crimes and indiscriminate drone killings, the propaganda on our "news" channels, the trillions of dollars lost, stolen, or tossed dow a hole in the desert, we are prosecuting the wrong guy.".  Bradley Manning, 25, has spent 1000 days in military prison, most of it in solitary confinement, for "the largest leak of US state secrets" to wikileaks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Insanity in love [Letters of note]

A passionate love letter from one literary giant to another - Henry Miller implores his paramour, Anais Nin, not to expect him to be sane anymore.

Faking feelings to feel better [Article]

Scott Adams shares his secret to feeling good - and it is a lot simpler than you think, just the answer to the question, How Are You Today?

A Function-al story [Article]

Allow Excel Grandpa Walkenbach (of the Excel Bible fame) to entertain you with a story written (almost) entirely with Excel formulas (or functions, as they are also called).


Won't say anything about this chilling reminder of what the human species is capable of doing to its own:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sounds of the sun [Article]

Robert Alexander is a sonification expert. I had no idea what that meant, so I looked to this Wikipedia entry to understand it a bit more. Essentially, it is converting data into sound to interpret it (forget for now the philosophical implications of that statement). Alexander has created sounds & symphonies from data that NASA collected of the Sun's radiation, its rotation, & of its Solar flares.

For the reading List, I'm on my own & so are you [Book review]

In the last six months or so of reading his blog, Jesse Kornbluth has earned my respect & admiration for the stuff he shares as Headbutler, a job he does with aplomb (I mentally picture him as a modern day Jeeves!). He shares an exercpt of Judy Resnick's book "I'm On My Own and So Are You: Financial Security for Women".

Repairing the rungs on the ladder [Article]

This Economist article paints a rather glum picture of meritocracy - or rather, the paradox of meritocracy. The apparent benefit of globalisation and all those other fancy nomenclatures, was that money would flow to merit, rather than connections, as it had in the past. What is happening, at least in America as this article states, is that the clever rich are turning themselves into an entrenched elitist.  Education is at the centre of this transformation.  No point spending your live to reach the top of the ladder, only to find it leaning against the wrong wall?

Printing food in space? [Article, Video]

3D-printing is all around us. This futuristic technology, that has been around over two decades, is only now showing up in the mainstream. Additive printing, as it is scientifically called, is explained in this educative 10 minute video, if you've not seen it yet (I expect not, since it has had only 743 views at the time I'm typing this). The applications of this technology are incredibly diverse - as this team at Cornell University demonstrates, but using it to "print" meals for astronauts.  Agree or not with the concept, 3D printing shops will be as ubiquitous as the corner "photocopying" shop used to be in my not so long past.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to entertain a dog (or, rather, who we could entertain ourselves) [Video]

For some strange reason, this quiet video of a dog playing in the snow reminded me of my childhood days. Life is made of memories- memories are the only things we are left with when we lie down each day.

Infographic tools [Resouces]

A picture speaks more than a thousand words. And here is a list of 10 tools to help you create an effective visual message (also known as an infographic). 

Drawing is Thinking [Book Review]

Alberto Cairo refers to the masterpiece book by Rudolf Arnheim, Visual Thinking, in a book review: 
Our entire educational system continues to be based on the study of words and numbers. In kindergarten, to be sure, our youngsters learn by seeing and handling handsome shapes, and invent their own shapes on paper or in clay by thinking through perceiving. But with the first grade or elementary school the senses begin to lose educational status. More and more the arts are considered as a training in agreeable skills, as entertainment and mental release. As the ruling disciplines stress more rigorously the study of words and numbers, their kinship with the arts is increasingly obscured, and the arts are reduced to a desirable supplement. (…) The arts are neglected because they are based on perception, and perception is disdained because it is not assumed to involve thought.

Take a tour of the museum's storage facility with Emily

This girl, Emily, makes even dead things come to life.  
No, seriously, she's so good in her job as a curator - let her take you into the bowels of a museum that she works at, & discover all the things they've got in their storage there!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Pirate Bay Documentary [Video]

Watch the New Pirate Bay Documentary Free Online. I've not watched it yet - but will over the next two weeks - I'm on vacation!!!  Posts maybe intermittent due to travel schedules until Monday next.

Online vs Offline Dating [Article]

Another first world problem. Paul Miller gave up the Internet and discovered that his dating life suffered as a result. Made me laugh, but also made me wonder how mankind has lasted all these years without facecook!

A secondary market in digital goods [News]

Like your Kindle? and all those e-books you're reading on it?  What about reselling the e-book once you've read it? The company that amazed the world with its transformation from a bookseller to a technology leader has some other plans for the e-books it sells so cheaply. It intends to create an exclusive second-hand market for used e-books, according to a patent that it has recently been awarded. Nicholas Carr weighs in with his thoughts on the idea that pushes the envelope on the idea of "goods". 

Facts, Truth & Stories in the _____ Era [Opinion Blog]

Data is not information, 
Information is not knowledge, 
Knowledge is not understanding, 
Understanding is not wisdom.  ~ Clifford Stoll

Electric cars are taking on the might of the gas-guzzlers. John Broder, a NYTimes journalist, says his car broke down, in his review in the NYTimes on Feb 8, 2013. Elon Musk, the Chairman of Tesla, rebutted Broder's claims in a blog post, with vehicle log data, claiming that Broder set out with the intention to discredit the Tesla S.

Data should speak louder than opinions, you say?  Rebecca Greenfield, writing for the Atlantic, read Musk's data in a very different light. NYTimes's Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, weighs in with her opinion of the way in which the case is unfolding.

David Weinberger explains why facts don't work the way we want.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Glass Harp: A street performers tribute to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah [Video]

Performed on wineglasses filled with water. Enjoy this video

Ladybugs in flight [Video]

Koyaanisqatsi: We don't really know the world we live in. Watch this soundless video of ladybugs opening their wings & flying - a slow-motion recording of the sequence of movements that we will never get to watch at the speed at which they happen. Thank Rainer Bergomaz from Blue Paw Artists for his work.

Adam Gopnik on Galileo, the Moon Man [Article]

Celebrate Galileo's 450th birthday in 2014 with this video of  Namibian nights by Marsel Van Oosten. Find out more about Galileo's genius in the accompanying article - discover why he was really exiled by the Church- & how his contributions have shaped astronomy.

Who by Fire - a video & a song [Video]

A beautiful Leonard Cohen song "Who by Fire" - is the background music for this "Dance on Camera Festival 2013" video. Watch another incredible Leonard Cohen performance at London in 2009

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meet the skull & crossbones [Article/Documentary]

If you've wondered, as I did when I heard about pirates off the coast of Somalia, how come pirates still existed in these times, a new documentary called Stolen Seas by Thymaya Payne, & this article shed light on why they operate, & the complicity of the Western nations that cause them to take up arms.The documentary was shot almost entirely by Somali youth that Payne taught to use a film camera

Edison on 'light' sleeping to success [Article]

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, & that meant the end of the sleep habits of the people of the time. He apparently regarded sleep as a waste of time, & used to brag about not needing more than 4-5 hours of sleep each night. Maria Popova discovers his secret: power naps during the day.

An Excel-lent Debacle: A Microsoft contribution to its ignorant users in the finance world [Article]

Microsoft's Excel is the glue that sort of holds the world together. Most finance folks know this already, but in case you don't, here are two recent articles expose the extent of the influence that Excel has in the banking system & how dramatic the results are of reliance on spreadsheet models. The first article is about Excel's contribution to the London Whale trading debacle, & the second is a comment thread on YCombinatior.

Scott Adams on cheesy complexity [Article]

Decisions that make sense when looked at in insolation make no sense in the complexity that forms an integral part of our lives. Scott Adams is confounded with the decision to charge for paper bags at the local supermarket, and says it is making his life overly complex. An interesting read

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The History Of The ❤ [Article]

This blog entry investigates the origins of the symbol for love, the heart. The answer connects the seed of one plant used as a protection against the seed of mankind, in the old city-state of Cyrene :)

Love's labour's never lost [Article]

He calls it a labour of love - it took Payam Rajabi 27 miles and a few hours, & quite a few calories to create for his girlfriend Clare a Valentine's day present. That was last year, by the way. This year, the corporate folks wanted to turn it into an advertisement. Guy Pumps Out A Valentine — Literally

Sean Penn Acerbic Letter to Fox [Letters of Note]

Sean Penn wanted Fox to lend him a private jet to take him & his family to a screening of The Thin Red Line, in which he had starred. The good corporate folks at Fox declined, earning them this excoriating missive from Penn.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Our ideas of dinosaurs, well for most of us anyways [Article] [Article]

... is based on the work of an exceptionally talented cinematographer by the name of Steven Spielberg. Robert Krulwich of NPR discovers a whole different world of dinosaurs which are documented throughout history and who have been given visual form by a Natural History Illustrator and Paleo-artist by name Julius T. Csotonyi, PhD, of Edmonton, Canada.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Python Challenge (You don't need a computer for this one) [Article]

When I first read the words, "The Python Challenge", I presumed it was a website that taught you to write computer code. This is something else - Florida, US, apparently has had a pestilence of Burmese pythons, who can grow to be 23 foot long & about 200 pounds heavy! Because the python's head remains active for about an hour after it is chopped off, you can still have a painful bite from a severed head. The recommended pest control action is firing a pressurized bolt into its brain or shooting it in the head with a gun.

The Polar Bear Capital of the World [Article]

Discover Churchill, Canada, also known as the Polar Bear capital of the world. Where folks leave their cars & homes unlocked, apparently, to allow pedestrians an easy escape from the polar bears that may accost them on the streets. Interesting tidbit about a place I'll probably avoid visiting! :)

Introducing Boubacar Traore [Musician]

Fall in love with Boubacar Traore, a Mali-born musician, now 65, whose music I discovered this morning thanks to Jesse Kornbluth.  Begin with Mondeou, and follow it up with Kar Kar Madison, Traore's nickname. Incredible music that touches the soul - put those headphones on, turn off the lights & turn up the volume. The entire playlist of his music is here

Big problems with Big Data [Article]

Stephen Few cautions us against falling for the marketing hype of Big Data. He highlights the horror stories of Americans whose credit ratings have been irreparably damaged by credit card companies, by opaque algorithms that churn out credit assessments, with countless errors, & no recourse for those impacted by such mistakes to have the errors corrected!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ultra- ever dry [Video/ article]

Next Time Your Mom Says Don't Go Out in The Rain, Spray Yourself With This says NPR's Krulwich. Jaw dropping video, certainly! Nano-technology marvel.

Surfer falls off his board, under a giant wave [Video]

Yeah, you watched Garett McNamara surf the 100 foot wave in Portugal a few days ago. But I'm sure you didn't watch this other guy fall off the surf board just as another giant wave the size of a building was about to crash on top of him. Have a look.

Spoonfed guitar [Video]

Watch Hannes Coetzee impovise using a spoon, his neck & a guitar. The tune's catchy as well!

Blast from the past: The kitchen of 2001 viewed from 1967 [Video]

Walter Cronkite, in 1967, imagines the kitchen of 2001. Cronkite was a US journalist, and in his heyday as anchor for CBS evening news, was the "most trusted man in America".

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scott Adams on Technology & Etiquette [Article]

A hundred years ago, if two people were in the same room they would be . . .  in the same room. That seems straightforward.

Fast-forward to 2013. Now if you put two people in the same room, at least one of them will be texting someone who is not in the room.  The mind of the person doing the texting will be, for all practical purposes, somewhere else. That person has smeared space. His mind and body are in two completely different places.
Scott Adams wonders whether our behaviour is changing how humans are evolving.

Happy Birthday, Rosa Parks [Article]

Rosa Parks would have turned 100 on Monday the 4th of February. Gwen Ifills corrects some misconceptions about her, & throws some more light on the spirited person who lit the fuse of the Civil Rights movement.

The Spy Novelist who knows too much [Article]

Imagine churning out 200 spy novels over a period of 50 years. You have to have either a very lucid & vivid imagination, or a great source of ideas, or both. You also are pretty old. Gerad de Villiers, a 83 year old French spy novelist was recently featured on the NYTimes as the Spy Novelist who knows too much. Discover the extent of his connections, & why he's never become famous in the other parts of the spy novel loving world. 

XKCD usually nails it, as with this one [Philosophy or Cartoon?]

Another astute observation by XKCD on herd mentality:
And it says a lot about you that when your friends jump off a bridge en masse, your first thought is apparently 'my friends are all foolish and I won't be like them' and not 'are my friends ok?'.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What we remember ...[Article]

is not the same as what actually happened, says Neurologist Oliver Sacks on Memory, Plagiarism, and the Necessary Forgettings of Creativity.. We necessarily forget the sources of our information - if as humans we  were to tag the sources of our information, we would soon breakdown,  overwhelmed with irrelevant information.

The Church and its stance on rape [News article]

The older I get, the more the Catholic Church's actions befuddle me. In Brazil, the Church has excommunicated the mother of a 9 year old rape victim for approving abortion, & the doctor who performed the medical procedure on the child. The man accused of the rape however has not been excommunicated. The explanation from church is, well, you make up your mind. Does progress mean embracing a newer set of superstitions?

Letter to Applebee's boss [Letters]

You may (or may not) have missed an small but bizarre news report out of the US: When pastor Ms Alois Bell who was at an Applebee's restaurant got the bill, instead of either leaving a tip or just ignoring it, she wrote "I give God 10%, why should you get 18%' referring to the 18% tip printed on the bill. The poor waitress posted a picture of the bill on a social networking site (with no other reference than the customer's signature). Applebee's decided that the act was worthy of the watiress' dismissal. The dismissal prompted a backlash against Applebee's action, including this letter from a Michael T Zybura, a furious regular customer who is also a part-time pizza delivery guy.

Charles Dickens note to his youngest son [Letters]

Timesless advice from Charles Dickens to his son, Edward Bulwer Lytton, fondly referred to as Plorn, upon his departure to Australia.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hand Sanitizer [Cartoon]

An astute observation by XKCD about hand santizers.

Hipster CDC Reports Flu Epidemic Peaked Years Ago

Google Street View Takes You on a Panoramic Tour of the Grand Canyon [Maps, Article]

Google Maps takes you on a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. Click on the 'behind the scenes' button at the top of that page, and discover how a team of 15 managed to compile this for the benefit of the rest of the world who may never get to see the Grand Canyon.

I am sorry for your loss [Letters of note]

The bulk of the medical profession separate their emotions from the patients that they treat. There are exceptions however, as this heartfelt letter from a doctor to the husband of a lady who recently passed away, demonstrates.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sand art by Tony Plant [Video/ Article/ Pictures]

'Till the luck runs dry' is the song that accompanies this incredible video of environmental artist Tony Plant while he transforms the beachs into temporary canvas for his swirling sand drawings. Click here if you prefer just the pictures.

Amination, Gangnam style [Video]

Sure you've heard PSY's Gangnam Style - that's already crossed 1.275 billion views - the highest ever. But have you seen this incredible flip-book animation of the same song, by Timothius Martin? I wonder what he does in the free time he doesn't have!

How much should we really work? [Article]

I thought it was another joke about the ever shortening work-week, but no it isn't. James W Vaupel, head of the new Danish Max Planck research center says the 40 hour week (for some of those lucky folk) is outdated. He proposes instead that we work only 25 hours a week, but work until we turn 80.  Spreading out working hours over the full course of a person’s life, Vaupel argues, is both psychologically and physically beneficial at all stages of life.

Sunny Cowgirls - Green and Gold [Video]

The Sunny Cowgirls paint a vivid picture of Australia in their brilliantly written song called "Green and Gold".

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Three conversations for parents: navigating networked publics [Article]

This short article is probably more suited for parents of young children:  Microsoft researcher Dana Boyd has some advice for parents who are struggling with their children's use of social media: she reminds us that the advice that children need to negotiate networked publics parallels advice that parents have always given when their children encounter public spaces. The networked society that we live in today may feel radically different, but many youth are struggling with the things they’ve always struggled with.They’re trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the bigger world. They want to hang out with friends, but they’re also trying to figure out the status games of their peers.

C'mon lets do the twist: How owls turn their heads around 270 degrees [Article]

They are the only species that can turn their heads around 270 degrees.  Educate yourself on how owls do the twist without breaking their necks or severing their arteries. A couple of interesting videos in there too! What would you do if you could see behind you this way?

I've been everywhere [Video]

I found this to be the best way to get to know of Australian town names - listen to one of the giants of Australian folk music, Lucky Starr performing "I've been everywhere". And here's a lyrical list of the towns he says he's been to.

Henry the fiddler [Video]

John Walkenbach (yeah, him of the Excel Bible series), posts some superb links of musicians (& you thought all Excel users were geeks?). You won't see Henry the Fiddler being touted as the next big thing, but watch this man play the violin & feel the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Incredible!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What to do with a little space [video]

Graham Hill has 8 rooms in his tiny 420sqft apartment in New York. Let him take you on a 5min tour of his small house - and be inspired by the incredible functionality that can be built into even the smallest of spaces.

This space is yours too [Video]

In her final days as Commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded an extensive tour of the orbital laboratory and downlinked the video on Nov. 18, just hours before she, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency departed in their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan. The tour includes scenes of each of the station's modules and research facilities with a running narrative by Williams of the work that has taken place and which is ongoing aboard the orbital outpost.

Born to rule - the chasm between the rich and everyone else [article]

George Monibot, writing in the Guardian, expounds on one of the reasons why the rulers (politicians/ plutocrats) seem to make decisions almost entirely disconnected with the reality of the vast majority of who they rule. When the rich are born to rule, the results can be fatal. It has some interesting observations of the the impacts that elite private / boarding schools have on the impressionable young minds going through the system.

Dedication...[old but inspiring news article]

This is an older story - from 2009. An Italian brain surgeon,  Claudio Vitale, suffered a heart attack as he was performing a brain surgery. Despite worsening pains, he continued his work, saying his patient would die if he had stopped to get treatment himself. ,

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Un-natural wonders of the world...[pictures]

Takes a look at the outliers in the human race. Words fail to describe.

Should you be merciful towards robots? [Article]

More & more robots are getting into mainstream work, replacing humans at a fraction of the cost - an industrialist's dream come true. They're also becoming more human-like in their appearances, as Scott Adams points out, and asks the question: 'Who has the right to kill a robot?' But more importantly, as this other article about a 2007 research discovers, the way humans relate to 'human-like' machines is changing too - discover how

A psychic experience [Video]

All I will say is watch this video: for your own online & offline life's sake.. and do something about it.

Development? Or Displacement? [Article]

What does development mean, really? For the very poor in every nation? Around the world, development essentially has been anything but good for those whose lands have been taken for 'construction'. A recent example from Liberia, whose landless people have a lesson for visiting world leaders.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cultural progress: A Russian perspective from 1886 [Letter]

We all have our notions of what it means to be cultured. Money, public behaviour, private standards of decency, morality, etc ad infinitum. Anton Chekov, the Russian author wrote this letter in 1886, when he was 26, to his elder brother Nikolay who was 28, with the 'eight traits of cultured people'. Timeless truths, if you are wondering how our idea of culture has progressed over 125 years since Chekov advised his brother.

Radically reviving the true meaning of education [article]

Susan Sontag was a prolific American writer, film maker, political activist and professor. Having been a part of the education system, she echoes Henry Miller's words about what seems to be our theory of education: "...based on the absurd notion that we must learn to swim on land before tackling the water." She wonders why not eliminate schooling between age 12-16? It’s biologically + psychologically too turbulent a time to be cooped up inside, made to sit all the time."

The Masters of Time [Article/ Video]

Successful people - whatever be your definition of success - have mastered their time. The quintessence of any time management technique is, ironically, managing not time, but activity. The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency. Read this brief article for some simple tips.  And does time bother you? After the serious article, watch one of my favourite philosophers (who for most people is a comedian) give some more tips on how to manage time.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1964 [Video]

Jazz giant Dave Brubeck, passed away on Dec 5, 2012. Here is a clip from the BBC concert on August 25, 1964, featuring Paul Desmond on alto sax, Joe Morello on drums, and Eugene Wright on Bass. A previous entry I had posted here with a classic impromptu performance with a young Russian violinist, if you are interested.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Coming out of the HIV Closet [Real life story]

Many people find it hard to deal with homosexuality - and the ostracism & violence that gays & lesbians face is incredible.  Coming Out Of The HIV Closet is the real life story of a man who says he fell in love with his friend's son. Before you let your imagination run before you, please read his story in its entirety, & then make up your mind.

Paying attention [Video, article]

You've probably seen this video of the invisible gorilla before - but in case you haven't, check it out. Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, explains that we have only a finite amount of attention, which we "pay" in exchange for whatever it is we we do. An interesting excerpt from the book is here.

Intended consequences? [Article]

The world's rich & powerful meet every January to discuss ways, apparently, to alleviate the world's manifold problems (or if you like conspiracies, to decide how to collectively direct the exploitation of the rest of the world). The Davos summit draws an eclectic mix of businessmen & politicians from around the world. If you ignored the mainstream media (controlled of course by those same rich folk), you may (or may not) be surprised to hear that, according to a recent Oxfam report, merely the increase in the wealth of the world's top 100 wealthy people was enough to end the entire world's poverty and still have 3/4ths left over. As the executive director of Oxfam notes, “We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true.” 

Let Li-bor Lie [article]

Banking, we were taught while at school, is a matter of trust. We could trust that the money we left in the care of those good bankers was safe. But if you have cared to notice in the last few years, banking is more like a pit of vipers. Case in point: the 'respected' LIBOR: the London Inter Bank Overnight Rate, or the interest rate that banks pay to one another for short term borrowings - & in essence the rate that determines the cost of money for the rest of the world - has been shown to be rigged by the very players who are 'trusted' & have no regulatory oversight. None. Libor Lies Revealed in Rigging of $300 Trillion Benchmark

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Rip Van Winkle Family in Siberia [Article]

The Lykov family, in Siberia, Russia, lived completely disconnected from the rest of the world for 40 years, a la Rip Van Winkle, until they were discovered by a pilot & four geologists. An incredible story of the family who knew there were places called cities where humans lived crammed together in tall buildings. They had heard there were countries other than Russia. But such concepts were no more than abstractions to them. Their only reading matter was prayer books and an ancient family Bible. 

The mechanics of giant waves [Article, Video]

You may have already read the news reports or seen videos of surfer Garett McNamara riding a world-record 100 feet wave in Portugal. Here's an explanation as to  why do these giant waves happen so frequently in Portugal.

Bird Ballet [Video]

Amazing video of starlings flying in formation  - a phenomenon that neither biologists nor anyone else has so far been able to explain how the birds can process information so quickly & act on it so quickly. A flock of starlings is also known as a murmuration. The song in the background is Pachelbell's Canon in D major

How to grow your listener base, public radio style [Interesting Advert]

A public radio station in the US wants more listeners. It is inspiring its existing listeners to help in this endeavour with some interesting advertisements. Results may vary though.