Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rules for Civility, from a 14 year old [Article]

Maria Popova discovers the rules for civility that George Washington wrote for himself, when he was 14.
Written of course in the English of his times, here's an example, on listening:
When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speec[h] be ended.

The most dangerous thing, still and always, is an idea.[Video]

What does spying do to the people who do it?
That’s the question writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck asks in “The Lives of Others.” And he asks it in the simplest possible way. Georg Dreyman is a successful playwright, and not just in the theater. He’s respected by his peers and tolerated by the government: “the only non-subversive writer we have.” He lives with an actress, a great beauty who has the misfortune to come to the attention of a government official. He knows he couldn’t seduce her on the strength of his own charm --- but what if he got Georg Dreyman out of the way?
Problem: there’s no dirt on Dreyman.
But in the down-is-up world of dictatorships, that only proves he’s guilty of…. something. And so, in the way that officials use their power for personal gain, the Stasi assigns Capt. Gerd Wiesler to eavesdrop on Dreyman.

[via Headbutler]

Think the smallest action has very little impact? Look again [Video]

University of Toronto’s Professor Stephen Morris knock over a 1-meter tall domino that weighs over 100 pounds by starting with a 5mm high by 1mm thick domino. TINY.   There are 13 dominoes in this sequence. If Professor Morris used 29 dominoes in total, with the next one always being 1.5x larger, the last domino would be the height of the Empire State Building.

BS detectors [article]

Hate BS? James Altucher does too, & has five quotes that he reckons can make your BS detector better.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The boy who loved math [Book review]

Cory Doctorow has a review in Boing Boing of a book that he's read thrice already to his five year old daughter. The book is about mathematician Paulo Erdos, written by Deborah Heiligman, & illustrated by LeUyen Pham.
....with lively, fun illustrations of a young Erdős learning about negative numbers, becoming obsessed with prime numbers and leading his high-school chums on a mathematical tour of Budapest. They also go to great lengths to capture the upside and downside of Erdős's legendary eccentricity -- his inability to fend for himself and his helplessness when it came to everyday tasks like cooking and doing laundry; his amazing generosity and brilliance and empathy in his working and personal life.

A movie to watch this weekend

No.  A movie by Pablo Larraín.
A true story of the marketing campaign that led to a revolution.
As Mr. Headbutler said in his review, beware: "NO" may give you ideas that, ninety minutes earlier, would have struck you as ridiculous.

The octogenarian widow behind the DOMA case [article]

In a historic judgement, the US Supreme Court dismissed the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, thereby allowing same-sex couples in the US to be legally married. The reason it came to this? 84 year old Edith Windsor was ordered to pay a $363,000 estate tax when her partner of 40 years, Thea Spyer passed away, because the State did not recognise their marriage as legal. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of the US upheld their marriage.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Edith Wharton on Marriage [Short note]

I'm sticking to short notes for today - quotes or tweets or such stuff.. like this one..

I begin to see what marriage is for. It's to keep people away from each other. Sometimes I think that two people who love each other can be saved from madness only by the things that come between them: children, duties, visits, bores, relations, the things that protect married people from each other. -Edith Wharton, novelist (1862-1937)

Read an exceprt from Eleven Rings: a book by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty

Read an excerpt from a book on leadership, management or spirit, from an NBA coach, Zen Master Phil Jackson. He's the guy who  famously told Michael Jordan: “Players who win scoring championships never play on teams that win championships.” Jordan got the message, learned to pass and won both NBA rings and scoring championships.

Twitter humor: [Tweet]

Minutes after Julia Gillard was ousted as PM of Australia, a message on Twitter, from someone at

Please put your phone in the fridge [Article]

Cloak & dagger stuff, James Bond style, you say? No, Ed Snowden will be credited with making this famous.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Whining about wine: [Article]

This makes for interesting reading, if you are an oenophile (and if you don't know what that is, read here)

Mickey mouse in Vietnam: Anti-war propaganda [Video]

During WWII,  Disney put its creative force behind the US, persuading citizens to pay their taxes and support the war. However, during the Vietnam war. Disney’s most iconic character, Mickey Mouse, did appear in an animated underground  film created by two critics of the war, Lee Savage and the celebrated graphic designer Milton Glaser, demonstrating that protest can take many forms. Watch this.

Let us blaze new trails [Letters of note]

Another classic letter to the bosses: Bill Bernbach persuading his employers to stick to their strengths.
I’m worried that we’re going to fall into the trap of bigness, that we’re going to worship techniques instead of substance, that we’re going to follow history instead of making it, that we’re going to be drowned by superficialities instead of buoyed up by solid fundamentals.

How big is the ocean [Video]

Understanding the single largest part of our planet: the ocean. A TED ED lesson by Scott Gass, animation by Sandro Katamashvili.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How many people can play the piano at once? [Video]

CDZA, featuring Damian Sim, Erika Dohi, Michael Thurber, Allan Mednard, and Mark Johnson conceived, rehearsed & performed this Daft Punk cover on the piano in under one hour.
The Piano Guys play the piano differently!

Then watch this incredible duet on the guitar, performed at the Brazilian Music Institute, team playing at its exceptional best. Gets even better with this next quartet.

I went overboard there, didn't I?

Known flying objects in an MRI [Article, photos]

You may not think that the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner can be dangerous. How about you have a look at the documented evidence to prove otherwise?
Once you've been in the MRI field for any length of time, you start hearing all of the various horror stories about thing that have flown into a scanner. Often, newcomers don't take the real danger of flying objects seriously until they witness an oxygen tank or gurney flying into a magnet themselves.

Make your own line in the road [Video]

This brief video by Koki Tanaka shows one way to draw a line on a road :)

Ambient noise for productivity [Article]

I like to have some music on when doing any work. Right now, for example, I have Cesaria Evora playing. This research says that the right balance of ambient noise can actually help increase productivity. Also a few links thrown in there.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cesaria Evora: Cape Verde's voice of hope [Music]

Listen to Sodade first. Then make up your mind if you want to listen to more (I promise you will!). A  HeadButler share (he interviewed her about 10 years ago)
It wasn't until her 50s that she became the darling of the world-music crowd. She still performed shoeless, to express her solidarity with her impoverished countrymen. She still stopped singing in mid-concert to sit at a small table and smoke a cigarette. And she never veered from the music she'd made for decades; the last thing on her mind, it seemed, was mass success

Plutocracy invading the developing world [Article]

Few people are aware of the scale of the protests in Brazil. Signs such as these are common:
 "We shouldn't be spending public money on stadiums. We don't want the Cup. We want education, hospitals, a better life for our children."
The mainstream media calls these protests against corruption, but Dave Zirin, writing in Common Dreams, has this to say:
 This isn’t a movement against [corruption in] sports. It’s against the use of sports as a neoliberal Trojan horse. It’s a movement against sports as a cudgel of austerity. 

Trusting Microsoft? How can anyone? [Article]

If you or your company uses Microsoft products, have a read through Glyn Moody's article, in the wake of allegations that several companies in the US are complicit in helping the US government spy on the communications of people around the world.
Companies buy Microsoft products for many reasons, but they all assume that the company is doing its best to protect them. The latest revelations shows that is a false assumption: Microsoft consciously and regularly passes on information about how to break into its products to US agencies. What happens to that information thereafter is, of course, a secret. Not because of "terrorism", but because almost certainly illegal attacks are being made against countries outside the US, and their companies.
Which is one of the other reasons why Bruce Schneir asks the question whether the US has started an Internet war.

Karzai, US, Taliban & Qatar: An interesting suggestion [Article]

Amid news that Hamid Karzai scuttled the planned meetings between the US & Taliban in Qatar (!), Richard Stallman has a radical idea for another Afghan problem:
The US should have armed Afghan women. Who knows what sort of gun a woman has under her burqa, and if a woman kills a talib, there will be no way to identify her afterward. Eventually the Taliban would be forced to order women not to wear burqas.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

for the parents: Bedtime math instead of bedtime stories [Interview]

Laura Overdeck is the founder of "Bedtime Math," thinks that tucking kids in with equations every night helps kids keep up their math skills over summer vacation. Listen to (or read the transcript of) her interview with Ira Flatow of NPR.
What's really great is when parents just weave math into the daily routine, into playtime. And I think that a lot of adults have math anxiety and shy away from doing that. Then kids go off to school, and their first introduction to math is school, which is homework and drilling. If kids can discover math before they have any preconceived notions, they're just going to be on much better footing.

Iris Dement: Our Town [Video]

A beautiful tune by the gorgeous voice of Iris Dement: Our Town. Lyrics here

Sharing away: the revolving doors between business and government [Article]

The New York Times had an article about the revolving doors between Silicon Valley & government.  And then we hear squeals of the sort we hear from the US now.

The cost of the tummy tuck, photographed [Article]

Found this website devoted to photography that documented the impact that cosmetic surgery is having in South Korea.
South Korean photographer Ji Yeo created a series called Beauty Recovery Room that graphically shows the fixation with cosmetic procedures. Post-operative surgery women are shown in their respective recovery rooms, black and blue, some of them obviously in some kind of pain, all more than willing to endure the agonizing process to achieve an unnatural look.
NSFW, discretion advised.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Ego and the Cosmic Perspective [Video]

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson echoes Ptolemy:
 ..if you were depressed after learning and being exposed to the (cosmic) perspective, you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego. You thought more highly of yourself than in fact the circumstances deserved.

Recycling: Can it be wrong, when it feels so right [Discussions]

Prof Michael Munger kicks off the debate with this statement:
Almost everything that’s said about recycling is wrong. At the very least, none of the conventional wisdom is completely true.  
Edward Humes, Melissa Walsh Innes, Steven E Landsburg contribute their thoughts to this discussion too.

Ignored in all this, I think, is the incredibly increase in the desire to consume, for most of the world.

How to do a product recall [blog post]

Leon Musk, the CEO of Tesla S, wrote this blog post explaining why there was going to be a partial recall of Tesla S cars.

Bored with Darwin? Artifical Selection by Baba Brinkman [Video]

The Rap Guide to Evolution - Baba Brinkman: a manifestion of the evolution equation in (modern) verse.  Or if you like a more historic perspective, read "Circle of Life" from around 320 BC, written by the Chinese philosopher, Meng

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The futility of comparing yourself to others [Article]

Leo Babauta illustrates why we aren't content with our lives, & why it is a wasted exercise trying to compare yourself to others:
It’s not a comparison that makes sense. You can’t compare apples to apples when you compare yourself to anyone else. Which means it’s a dumb comparison — why would you compare how tangy an orange is compared to a beach? They’re not similar things.

Maya Angelou on Freedom: A 1973 Conversation with Bill Moyers [Article]

Maya Angelou on Freedom: A 1973 Conversation with Bill Moyers.
You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.

Descending into the bowels of the earth: James Cameron's Odyessey [Article]

James Cameron writes in the National Geographic about Descending Into The Mariana Trench.

The Decoy Effect: "Relativity helps us make decisions in life." [Excerpt]

Read this in a newsletter today, and it piqued my interest:
According to psychologist Daniel Ariely, someone is given a choice between two vacations -- a week in either Paris and Rome at the same price with free breakfast each day -- where they are equally likely to choose either one. Then further suppose that a third choice is added -- Rome at the same price without free breakfast -- then that same person will become much more likely to select the option of Rome with the free breakfast. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The most dangerous traffic circle in the world? [Video]

This traffic circle in Ho Chi Minh City wins the dubious award from Rob Whitworth. After that, watch this (not time lapsed) video of traffic in an Indian city. You decide.

Some business reading - strategy [Article]

Popular VC Fred Wilson (him of Union Square Ventures who funded Twitter & Tumblr etc) clarifies what strategy means, and has a few suggested readings to go with it. If you are interested in business, make one site to read - not just the posts but the discussions that follow. Not for the faint-hearted.

Singing Happy Birthday? You might want to check this out first [Article]

Warner/Chappell Music apparently owns the copyright to the popular tune, & earns millions from licensing the song. A lawsuit has been filed to prove that the tune is in the public domain. An interesting case!

From Hope to Fear [Article]

Paul Harris, The Observer's observer in America, comments on the transmogrification of Barack Obama:
I have watched Barack Obama transform into the security president.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Does coffee really sober you up when drunk? [Article]

According to research ,
Caffeine can counteract the tiredness induced by alcohol, which might explain why a cup of coffee is popular in many places at the end of a meal. But it can’t remove feelings of drunkenness or some of the cognitive deficits alcohol causes. 

When work disappears - What do we do with people whose livelihoods are destroyed? [Article]

Megan McArdle worries about the not-so-distant days when work starts to disappear:
 In much of the industrial world, it seems to be increasingly difficult for people to earn a decent living without a fairly elite set of skills--or an elite set of credentials that mimic skills, like a BA in English Literature from an Ivy League institution. The ability to earn a decent living, either yourself or as part of a family, is one of the basic criteria for a decent life.

What do you do now that you always should have done? [Article]

David writes this, & it echoed strongly with me, after some recent events in my own life
Everyone has had the experience of making a change in their behavior that gave them an immediate and lasting advantage over the rest of their lives. We’ve all know what it’s like to make a simple change that is so clearly better than the old way that we wonder how it took us so long.

Airlifting performance [Video]

What do you do when your plane is on the tarmac, delayed for three hours? When a group from The Philadelphia Orchestra found itself delayed on the tarmac for three hours waiting for their flight from Beijing to Macao as part of the 2013 Residency & Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China, a quartet of musicians decided to provide a "pop up" performance for the passengers.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The best way to learn anything [Letters]

Few would disagree that Einstein knew what he was talking about. Maria Popova discovers a letter he wrote his 11 year old son with some advice
“That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

A surprising diving encounter [Video]

These guys diving off the coast of French Polynesia had an incredible experience - watch this

Thank you letter: Danny DeVito's mother [Letters of note]

Julia DeVito wrote to director Kirk Douglas to thank him for giving her son Danny a part in his movie called Scallywag. The link contains a video of Danny DeVito reading this letter out loud at some event to honor Kirk.

Securing your email - a relatively quick guide [Article]

In the background of NSA's mail snooping, Raj Sabhlok had this short article in Gigaom on securing your email.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Urban Bicycling is for Lazy People [Article]

A clever description by James D Schwartz:
I step outside my front door and hop on my bike because I’m too lazy to go downstairs in the parking garage to get the car. I pull my bike up to the front door at my destination because I’m too lazy to drive around looking for a parking spot then having to walk from the car to the building.

To the internet giants, you're not a customer. You're just another user [Article]

John Naughton explains why to a reader who wrote in with this problem:
"As you write about the internet, I wondered if you knew how long it takes Yahoo to get back to people. I have an iPad, but went to the library to print a document (attached to an email). Yahoo knew I wasn't on my iPad and asked me to name my favourite uncle. I replied, but Yahoo didn't like my answer, so locked me out for 12 hours. I can't get into my email account. Getting to the Help page is really difficult. Do you ever speak to anybody at Yahoo? I had to open another non-Yahoo email account, so I opened a Gmail account and it looks to have the same problem. Not easy to get in touch with anybody when things go wrong. I am sure I am not the only one who wants to discuss my problem with a human being. Yours sincerely…"

Don't drink & drive [Video, Ad]

A driving safety campaign from the UK.

The Online world according to Buzzfeed [Video]

What happens on the internet in the 60 seconds it takes for this video to play? Find out from this narrowly focused info-graphic from Buzzfeed

Thursday, June 13, 2013

for all the booface fans out there [article]

booface had its first annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday. Here's a short report. Also an indication of what happens when you have more money than sense:
"Facebook shareholder says she does not know how to use Facebook. She bought thousands of shares at $35 apiece. Also wants investment advice."
And if you have the heart (or time) to listen, an audio recording of the proceedings (90 minutes long)

Using metadata to find Paul Revere [Article]

For careful reading. Kieran Healy on metadata.
From a table of membership in different groups we have gotten a picture of a kind of social network between individuals, a sense of the degree of connection between organizations, and some strong hints of who the key players are in this world. And all this—all of it!—from the merest sliver of metadata about a single modality of relationship between people.

The jargon of junk food [Article]

Stomach share. Bliss Point. Feel-good-food. Flavour burst. Mouthfeel. All words that the junk-food industry has contributed to the English language. Paul McFedries explains in the IEEE magazine.

Jazz in Marciac Live - Yaron Herman Trio [Video]

Yaron Herman is a Jazz pianist, also performing at the TED Global event. Watch his 3 piece band perform - Jazz in Marciac 2010

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How to give a great presentation: [Article/ Video]

Richard Turere is a Masai teenager who presented this incredible TED talk. Curator of TED, Chris Anderson uses this example to show how to give a killer presentation

Getting enough.. and then some: what abundance is [Article]

Another post from Mr. Money Moustache - you might see why he is one of my favourite financial bloggers from this one called "Getting enough & then some":
...every expense profile is unique, and every person will eventually need to find a way to make expenses and income match when retirement comes – whether retiring at 25 or 85.


The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now [Article]

A problem I often grapple with is what activity should I be doing at any given point in time. I know I am not alone, but Leo Babauta articulates it much better than I could, and also shares his simple steps to handle this challenge. And what do you have to look forward to at the end of those steps?
And if you do these steps, you’ll get your task done, and then breathe. And smile. Because you came a long way, and you might have a long way to go, but you’re here. You’ve arrived. And it’s a lovely place to be.

Tariq Harb, Classical Guitar [Video]

Tariq Harb is performing at the ongoing TED Global Conference in Edinburgh - here is a brief recording of him performing Bach's Sarabande in Tokyo (this has had only 461 views thus far)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

George Carlin: The Illusion of Freedom? [Interview]

I get the impression that George Carlin was probably more a philosopher than a comedian. The older he got, the less bull-shit he was willing to take.

A relevant song for the times [Video]

Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi

Desperately Alone In A Crowd [Article]

David Berreby writes about the plight of Sunnat, a 16 year old Uzbek captured in Afghanistan, & transported to Guantanamo - a situation made worse by his near total linguistic isolation.

Viene De Mi - La Yegros [Video]

I wish I understood what these Spanish lyrics meant, but the soundtrack in catchy nonetheless. La Yegros' Viene De Mi

Monday, June 10, 2013

Creativity through a short list [Article]

Want to change something in your life, but aren't too sure how? Marc Lesser reminds us of a few ways that we can be creative, just as we were as kids:
Being more creative is a practice, a habit, and a process. A good way to begin is to notice how creative babies and young children are. Just the act of crawling, walking, and exploring can be enormously creative. Creativity is easy – just let yourself be more childlike, curious, open, 

Get your name into a Dilbert'ish book [Article]

Scott Adams has a book coming, titled How to Fail Almost Every Time and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life (why do books always seem to have the funny Camel Case sentences?), & is looking for "author blurbs". Here's a chance to get your name on the back cover of his book...
My publisher has agreed to print blurbs from you, my blog readers, knowing that none of you have read the actual book. What's in it for you is that you might see your name on the back cover of the book. 

Surviving Mass Extinction: An Interview with Annelee Newitz

Before you scoff at the audacity, listen (or read the transcript) to this interview that Ira Flatow of NPR had with Author Annalee Newitz, about her new book "Scatter, Adapt, & Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction"

In the middle of the middle [Article]

Robert Fulghum has another interesting view at life, through the eyes of a rag-tag bunch of 13 year olds
You will always be caught somewhere in the middle between where you’ve been and where you’re going, between what you have and what you want. It’s called Now - and it isn’t a place, it’s a condition.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What if there's no internet? [Article, video]

What If There's No Internet? While it is not a probability, what if it were to happen due to say, supernatural causes like a  solar flare?

Prof. Noam Chomsky on how to destroy the future [Article]

Prof Chomsky writes a powerful article in the Guardian
For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves. That's been true since 1945. It's now being finally recognized that there are more long-term processes like environmental destruction leading in the same direction, maybe not to total destruction, but at least to the destruction of the capacity for a decent existence.

Age no bar: watch this guy in a speedo do the hot step! [Video]

Ordering Pizza? [Video]

HT to @dsearls watch this video of a conversation betwen a patron calling in to order a pizza. Not very far from the reality

Friday, June 7, 2013

India meets skateboarding [Video]

What happens when someone who's never seen a skateboard, let alone ridden one, tries it out? Watch this short film called "INDIA: Meet Skateboarding" on YouTube

Why the minimalists do what they do [Article]

With an increasing number of options in almost every aspect of life, we presume that our results in each of those areas should be getting better and better, because with each new possibility it becomes more likely that one of them suits us perfectly. Our expectations for perfection and total satisfaction are too high.

The occasion of Byron's 86th Birthday [Article]

A beautifully written article by Dominique Browning, describing THE OCCASION OF BYRON'S EIGHTY-EIGHTY BIRTHDAY.

The burgeoning Robot Middle Class [Article]

Contrast the MIT Tech Review article wondering how a mass influx of robots affects human employment, to  the International Labour Organisation's report which warns of social unrest and growing unequality as number of unemployed people worldwide continues to grow.
Imagining the possible future scenarios for middle-class unemployment is a first step to considering ways in which we can preserve our quality of life given the robotic future that will meet us. Without doubt, robots can greatly improve many lives, offering everything from smart prosthetics to home care for the aging. But for humans, the robot future is a mixed bag. [MIT article] 
"In advanced economies, unemployment spells have lengthened and more workers are becoming discouraged and dropping out of the labour market altogether. This not only has adverse consequences on individuals and their families, but also can weaken previously stable societies, as opportunities to advance in a good job and improve one's standard of living become the exception rather than the rule" [ILO report]

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Truly take a vacation: Ideas for making a "email free holiday" a success [Article]

Microsoft Researcher Danah Boyd has a bunch of tried & tested techniques to make sure you are not tethered to that email inbox while you're trying to have a vacation.
The idea is simple: turn off your email. Set up a filter and Send all messages to /dev/null (a.k.a. the Trash). Send a bounce message telling people their message wasn’t received and that they should resend it after X date or send you the contents via snail mail. Of course, if you just turn off your email with no warning, you’re bound to piss off your friends, family, colleagues, and clients. So here are some tips to successfully taking an email sabbatical. 
Read on

Disruptions: The Echo Chamber of Silicon Valley [Article]

The NY Times Nick Bilton walks into the echo chamber called Silicon Valley, & discovers that lots of startups are solving fake problems that don't actually create any value (or in other words, a solution is search of a problem).  Read more from Evgeny Morozov here

Using yellow liquid to flush toilets [Improbable Research]

Improbable Research, as the site says, is research that makes people laugh and then think. "Our goal is to make people laugh, then make them think. We also hope to spur people's curiosity, and to raise the question: How do you decide what's important and what's not, and what's real and what's not — in science and everywhere else?"

Consider this one for instance, German research that explores using urine as the main fluid to make flush toilets flush
 the utilization of yellow water as toilet flush liquid seems to be advantageous. To be accepted for this purpose, urine has to be decolorized (and also deodorized).
Conserve water, & save your water bills - watch out for those new products hitting the shelves at a store near you shortly!

How do you measure a tornado? [Article]

Kurt Vonnegut's brother, Bernie, posthumously won the 1997 Ig Nobel Prize for meteorology for establishing that the then state-of-the-art method, involving a chicken carcass and a cannon was imperfect. The New Yorker had a recent piece on how tornadoes, or rather their impacts, are measured, using a scale that came into use in 2007, called the E.F scale:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mobile water companies and irrelevance [Article]

Ben Evans is an internet analyst, & writes that mobile operators innovations are irrelevant.
..the key point is that something can look like it's an adjacent area when actually all of your skills and leverage points are irrelevant. Mobile operators have almost none of the skills and leverage points needed to be relevant for anything other than connectivity.
He echoes others that have argued essentially the same. He publishes an excellent free weekly newsletter that covers the tech/ telco industry, if you are interested in this industry.

Interview with a dead man [Article]

Helen Thomas writes about Graham who lives with one of the world's most mysterious neurological conditions: he has a condition known as Cotard delusion. People with this extremely rare condition believe that they, or parts of their body don't exist. A fascinating, & for those with it - insufferable, insight.
Nine years ago, Graham woke up and discovered he was dead. "It's really hard to explain," he says. "I just felt like my brain didn't exist any more. I kept on telling the doctors that the tablets weren't going to do me any good because I didn't have a brain. I'd fried it in the bath."

Sabicas - the master of the flamenco [Video]

If you've never heard of Sabicas, you're (I am) not alone. But your favorite musicians (especially if you like flamenco) are probably hugely influenced by this man . Watch the legendary master of flamenco guitar perform live at Fantasia in 1990, shortly before his death.

The little book of contentment [pdf book]

Download and read The Little Book of Contentment.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An Ode to the Brain - Video

A nicely done video mash-up of talks, clips & images that feature various speakers & experts on the brain: The material sampled for this video comes from Carl Sagan's Cosmos, Jill Bolte Taylor's TED Talk, Vilayanur Ramachandran's TED Talk, Bill Nye's Brain episode, BBC's "The Human Body", Oliver Sachs' TED Talk, Discovery Channel's "Human Body: Pushing the Limits", and more.

Guantánamo Bay hunger strike worsens [Article]

Vladimir Bukovsky in the Washington Post in 2005 wrote this article called Torture's Long Shadow, in which he explains what force feeding is:
The feeding pipe was thick, thicker than my nostril, and would not go in. Blood came gushing out of my nose and tears down my cheeks, but they kept pushing until the cartilages cracked. I guess I would have screamed if I could, but I could not with the pipe in my throat. I could breathe neither in nor out at first; I wheezed like a drowning man -- my lungs felt ready to burst. The doctor also seemed ready to burst into tears, but she kept shoving the pipe farther and farther down. Only when it reached my stomach could I resume breathing, carefully.
This is what they're doing to the prisoners on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay, held under suspicion of being terrorists, without being charged or tried, for the last 10 years:
There are 103 prisoners on hunger strike, with 31 being force-fed by military authorities and one in hospital. Since then, not a single prisoner has stopped their strike, and now 36 of the detainees are being force-fed to keep them alive, with five of them being hospitalised. 

Language Requirements [Article]

Robert Fulghum explains what languages one must learn.

How one Irish woman made $22bn for Apple in a year [Article]

It is rather unlikely that the world speaks about Cathy Kearney in the same breath as Steve Jobs or Tim Cook. As Tim Cook appeared at the Senate committee hearing last week to explain Apple's corporate tax avoidance affairs, Guardian profiles the Irish accountant who shuns publicity, and is thought to be brains behind the Cork office that helped Apple save billions in taxes.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Letter from Prison - John Kiriakou [Letters of note]

John Kiriakou was jailed for 30 months for whistle-blowing against the CIA's torture methods. He wrote this letter from jail. Please take the time to read.

The letter details his life in prison, including an incident in which prison officials attempted setup a confrontation between Kiriakou and a Muslim prisoner, telling Kiriakou he was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, when in reality the imam was in prison for refusing to testify in the Lackawanna Six case. Prison officials also lied to the Muslim prisoner, telling him that Kiriakou had called Washington after they met and had been ordered to kill him.

Wozniak on Tax Reforms [News]

Where does Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak stand on corporate taxes? Filtered through the BBC News, here's where:
People are not taxed on profit, they are taxed on income, corporations should be taxed the same as people in my mind, that is how it should be, that would make things fair and right 

The New Digital Age: Assange & Morozov on Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen's book

Julian Assange critiques Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen's "The New Digital Age" in the NY Times. He is as scathing in his review (as is Evgeny Morozov in his critique here)

A metronomic symphony - video, article

From the NPR's science blog, here's two videos of metronomes starting out of sync & eventually aligning with no intervention. The science behind this is also explained in this article. Fascinating if you're a music buff or just have a curious mind. Ah, and the analogies that this triggered for me! The little metronome that wouldn't

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Running from addiction - Walter Barrera [Article]

Want to give up your drug-addiction? Take to untra-long distance running, like Walter Barrera did The Washington Post's Ken Babb writes about the challenges that Barrera had to face, fight and overcome - cocaine, prison, paranoia. He's kicked the habit, but is only that much away from a relapse. He runs, on an average, 125 miles, getting ready for the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile marathon through the Rocky Mountains at altitudes of upto 12000 feet to be run within 30 hours.
What can a man do when his body and mind are at odds — one sending painful signals to cut back, the other pushing him to go longer and farther?

Spelling Bees and Indian Kids [Article]

You may have watched or followed the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee contest in the US last week. 13 year old Arvind Mahankali won the championships. He is the sixth consecutive Indian-American winner of the Spelling Bee and the 11th in the past 15 years.Slate magazine wonders, & discovers, why Indian kids are so good at spelling.  There was some intense scrutiny on Twitter as well.

A wannabe pianista - hilarious [Video]

The neighbours complained about the noise, so the owner set up a webcam to see what was going on. An old video, but a good reminder - imitation is the best form of flattery!

Lethal autonomous robots are coming [Article]

Nicholas Carr picks up Christof Heyns' report on Lethal Autonomous Robots (LAR) to the UN Human Rights Council. 
LAR's are “weapon systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further human intervention,” have not yet been deployed in wars or other conflicts, but the technology to produce them is very much in reach. It’s just a matter of taking the human decision-maker out of the hurly-burly of the immediate “kill loop” and leaving the firing decision to algorithms. 
The question is will people take notice before this technology takes off big time.