Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Mike Alexander takes inspiration from Chandoo to add shapes to his Excel dashboards. Not for the faint-of-heart.
In light of NSA's spying revelations, Matthew Harwood shows how incredibly intimate metadata really is:
Metadata, no matter what the detractors say, collected over time is an intimate repository of our lives--whom we love, whom we're friends with, where we work, where we worship (or don't), and whom we associate with politically. The right to privacy means our metadata shouldn't be collected and analyzed without reasonable suspicion that we've done something wrong.
Ever wondered what does a rocket going up sound like? This video, created by NASA and sound designed by the amazing folks at Skywalker Sound, lets you rise 150,000 feet on a solid rocket booster, and then, after helping the space shuttle shoot into orbit, you (and the booster) tumble straight back to Earth. Keep those headphones on.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Charlie Stross writes science fiction - and explains the future that awaits the most recent addition to the UK's royal family.
What is it going to be like to be the heir to the throne, aged ten and starting at a public school (that is, a very high-end private school) in 2023?
Atul Gawande finds out , in the New Yorker, using the different trajectories of anaesthesia & anti-septics, both of which were discovered in the nineteenth century:
In the era of the iPhone, Facebook, and Twitter, we’ve become enamored of ideas that spread as effortlessly as ether. We want frictionless, “turnkey” solutions to the major difficulties of the world—hunger, disease, poverty. We prefer instructional videos to teachers, drones to troops, incentives to institutions. People and institutions can feel messy and anachronistic. They introduce, as the engineers put it, uncontrolled variability.Take the time to read through this thoughtful essay, with real-world examples that will make you pause & ponder.
Matt Tabibi's journalistic investigation discovers that the "too-big-to-jail" banks are up to more collusion.
..it's increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system...
Ctrl-Shift has a very good article that explains why data is the currency that is poised to overshadow money, not for the sellers but for consumers.
A huge amount of data today – the data collected by companies’ web sites, Google search terms, Facebook postings etc – are provided by individuals for free. If something is ‘free’ does that mean it has no economic value?
Monday, July 29, 2013
An interesting view by Maj Gen. H. R. McMaster, a US military commander on the misinformation about war:
Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past.
Polite fictions (also known as lies) are behind the two most often used words in the English language. Discover the history of these two impostors
The habit of always saying “please” and “thank you” first began to take hold during the commercial revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries — among those very middle classes who were largely responsible for it. It is the language of bureaus, shops, and offices, and over the course of the last five hundred years it has spread across the world along with them.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Hughes engineer Harold Rosen's team overcame technical and political hurdles to send the Syncom communications satellite into orbit 50 years ago.
Not only was the task technically tough, but they also were fighting many of the nation's top experts who did not believe their idea would work. Even their bosses — at a company founded by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes — were not sure their project was worth a modest investment.
"How to Quit Your Job Like Sherwood Anderson: The Best Resignation Letter Ever Written"
You have a man in your employ that I have thought for a long time should be fired. I refer to Sherwood Anderson. He is a fellow of a good deal of ability, but for a long time I have been convinced that his heart is not in his work.via Brainpickings
Well, if you are a hedge fund manager accused of insider trading, that is one of the defense you could put up! Here are a few thoughts on handling email - Prioritise or turn it off
"We could also say when we walk out the front door of where we live, 'Oh my gosh, there's so many blades of grass, I have lawn overload. It's really all about what's our point of view on it? Are these things really flying at us, or are we not making the choices we need to make?"
Thursday, July 25, 2013
From Open Culture:
Watch this video for some interesting insightsF. Scott Fitzgerald was right. The rich really are different from you or me. They’re more likely to behave unethically, according to a study by the researchers at the University of Berkeley, California.... the tendency for unethical behavior appears not only in people who are actually rich, but in those who are manipulated into feeling that they are rich. As UC Berkeley social psychologist Paul Piff says, the results are statistical in nature but the trend is clear. “While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything,” Piff told New York magazine, “the rich are way more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”
Just what the title says - and he's hilarious
A house, a mountain, & a very patient photographer make for a fantastic photo.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Before you start frothing at the mouth about the worst possible thing in a PowerPoint is animation (it is), take a moment to read through this instruction guide by Cole Nussbaumer using Excel, PowerPoint & QuickTime player. Not an easy task, but it can be done (especially for those of us not familiar with more advanced graphing tools) - and makes the story a lot more powerful.
Robot gymnast Hinamitetu does a perfectly executed quadruple backflip after a long history of trials and errors.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Researcher Danah Boyd is articulate, & explains why in modern society whistleblowing is the new civil disobedience. Scathing in her critique, she shares a perspective:
Unchecked power is how dictatorships emerge. If the rule of law is undermined and secrecy becomes the status quo, it becomes necessary for new civil disobedience tactics to emerge. And, more than the content of the leaks, this is what I think that we’re watching unfold.
Robert Kosara had a very relevant article (for me, at least), about having the right colors to depict the information in a chart. Using a rainbow color map from a paper on water resources published in the Journal of American Water Resources Association, he explains in some detail why a beautiful looking map chart was totally misleading.
Ed Snowden's spent four weeks in a Moscow airport, but Mohammed Al Bahish, a 26 year old Palestinian refugee has spent over 120 days in Kazakhstan's Almaty International airport. He reckons he's going slightly crazy.
He cannot enter Kazakhstan because he has no visa, but nor does he have a visa to enter any other country. Israel won't allow him to travel to the Palestinian territories, and the UN accepts that with no living relatives in Iraq, it would be unsafe for him to return to the country of his birth.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Bob Fulghum is moving, & writes about the experience. Read part 1 and part 2
and then thisMoving is like molting – your exoskeleton gets shed for a new skin. Moving is like migrating – new pastures – new opportunities. Moving numbs the mind and soul, and excites the imagination at the same time.
Yesterday, in a mind-numbing moving-and-storage funk, I went for a drive alone. In search of serenity, I visited my best Seattle real estate investment. I own it free and clear – no mortgage, no taxes, no obligations to it.
It’s a hole in the ground, actually – about the size of an old-fashioned telephone booth laid on its side – and covered, for now, in grass. This is my cemetery plot. In Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill.
Some really cool music from the Dawes. The lyrics are, well, you decide.
Warning: This music might be addictive, turn up the volume.
Warning: This music might be addictive, turn up the volume.
I buckle in my seat belt, plug my headset in a chair/ And to the music, I watch flight attendants move/ They are pointing out the exits, but it looks more like a prayer/ Or an ancient dance their bloodline reaches through
Sunday, July 21, 2013
A bipolar comedian, Joshua Walters, asks whats the right balance between medicating craziness away, and riding the manic edge of creativity and drive. Worth six minutes of your time.
Maybe there's no such thing as being crazy.
Gross, you think? They have something similar on the International Space Station - where drinking water is in scare supply. But this was cheaper to build, says Andreas Hammar, a Swedish engineer, using a technique known as membrane distillation. Watch the UNICEF video called Sweat for Water or read more about it here.
Nearly half a century after Alan Turing committed suicide, facing imprisonment & chemical castration upon being convicted of being a homosexual, the British government will consider pardoning him. As Lord Sharkey, the MP behind the bill said:
I think everybody knows, he was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency and sentenced to chemical castration. He committed suicide two years later. The government know that Turing was a hero and a very great man. They acknowledge that he was cruelly treated. They must have seen the esteem in which he is held here and around the world."
Sometimes, the best thing management can do is to get out of the way, writes Francis Gouillart in his blog on co-creation. Invited to assist in helping the local UK unemployment office in Harlesden engage with the ethnic communities in the region, Gouillart explains that overcoming his initial urge to jump on a plane back to Boston was worthwhile. An interesting read, if you are in any sort of leadership roles.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Apparently not - the color of the yolk has nothing to do with nutritional value. The brighter egg yolk color is almost entirely influenced by the birds diet, says a poultry specialist. Links in the article from the NPR.
Several decades ago, John H. Steinway (the great-grandson of Henry E. Steinway) narrated an audio tour of the New York factory, where he described the generations-old process of making a Steinway grand piano. In 2011 Ben Niles, the producer behind the documentary film Note by Note, synced the audio tour with present-day footage of the Steinway factory, giving us a glimpse of what goes into making the piano
David K Randall's book, Dreamland, explains how a seemingly change can have a profound effect on everything from academic performance to bullying.
Studies of teenagers around the globe have found that adolescent brains do not start releasing melatonin until around eleven o’clock at night and keep pumping out the hormone well past sunrise.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
You may have read from my link yesterday about the student who chronicled his experience of having the US' National Security Agency's recruiters at his college. The response? NSA took down the list of colleges that they were going to be recruiting at. Of course someone had already made a copy of the site & the scheduled events.
Wow. MT @cyphunk: In response 2 @Madi_Hatter #NSA recruiting intervention they took events list offline. Made a copy: http://t.co/nIzHVXYuo0Even small actions have significant impacts.
— M.T. (@Madi_Hatter) July 16, 2013
This guy decided having a lawn was pointless. A pictorial representation of the transformation. [via Reddit]
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Lindsey Bever explains:
Although there's an important distinction to be made between information we voluntarily sign away and private data that's seemingly subject to unwarranted searches and collection, many of us are inconsistent in our release of personal data. We're quick to hand over our privacy rights to corporations, but we get touchy when the government tampers with our information – even when we might be the ones allowing it.
At age 13, after losing a family friend to pancreatic cancer, Jack Andraka set out to discover why the available tests couldn’t detect the disease earlier and at a lower cost. Amazingly, he stumbled upon a way to do just that – he estimates his method is 168 times faster, 26,000 times cheaper and over 400 times more sensitive than the tests available at the time. He tells his story in this TED talk.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Madiha Tahrir's interrogation of the NSA language recruiters at her college went viral last week. Another student who was in the room writes about the experience:
Madiha Tahir has opened our eyes to a new form of protest. It is far more difficult than traditional public demonstrations but it has the potential to be far more effective. Instead of drum circles, placards, and chants, it relies on facts, arguments, and eloquence. It doesn’t target the upper echelons of the government...Instead, it targets the low-level employees and middle managers, the people who are essential to the day-to-day operation of these agencies. Its goal is to remind these people that they have moral agency, that evil actions don’t occur simply because high officials order them, but rather require that people like them carry out orders that come down from on high. It aims to remind impressionable young people like the high school students in that audience that they don’t have to go to work for agencies like the NSA.
Robert Gehl wonders if there is any chance of getting a "dislike" button in these days of "liking".
Liking in marketing was always meant to be a metonym for many other complex processes — persuasion, affect, cognition, recall — but it wasn’t meant to be exposed to the public as such. In Facebook, however, the “Like” button further reduces this reduction and makes it visible, making the whole process somewhat cartoonish and tiresome. The consequences can be seen in “Like us on Facebook to enter to win!” promotions and the obsession with Like counts among businesses large and small
Monday, July 15, 2013
On June 13th, 2013, the AeroVelo Atlas Human-Powered Helicopter captured the long standing AHS Sikorsky Prize with a flight lasting 64.1 seconds and reaching an altitude of 3.3 metres. The goal of the competition: hover for 60 seconds, reach a height of 3 meters, and stay within a 10m x 10m area.
Another science experiment for the kids or grand-kids -Have any vinegar and baking soda around the house? How about...
Sunday, July 14, 2013
In October 1974, as he lay on his death bed at the end of a battle with cancer and reflected on his past, Clyde S. Shield (pictured above) wrote a heartfelt letter to his 3-week-old grandson and offered some poignant advice for the road ahead:
If I could package (with ribbon) those gifts that I would most like to give you, I would. But how do you package integrity, how do you wrap honesty, what kind of paper for a sense of humor, what ribbon for inquisitiveness?
David from Raptitude reminds us that no matter what, The sun is setting at all times.
We have to acknowledge that truth is relative to the observer. If there were nobody observing the sunset there would be no sunset.
What matters is how things appear to be, from your perspective. Your quality of your life hinges on your perspective, not the theoretical state of the world, or “objective” assessments of your living situation.
Recent expose's of "back-door" entry into communications networks by government are helping bring other stories of blatant misuse by private individuals for personal gain. Read this from Cipher machines.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Headbutler Jesse Kornbluth makes an exceptional job of finding artists, current or past, that never achieved worldwide fame, but should have. Nick Drake, who killed himself at the age of 26, is another of my discoveries through Headbutler. If the guitar makes you gently weep, listen to Day is Done, & Time of No Reply, & 'Cello Song & Pink Moon (made famous in the Volkswagen commercial)
I saw this visualisation of the fastest hot-dog eater Joey Chestnut on Tableau's Viz of the Day - he downed 69 hot-dogs in 10 minutes. The video made me want to throw up - even though ESPN packages it up as "Sport Science"!
He lost both legs on the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, took his first steps a few days ago [Pics]
Jeff Bauman. Stories such as these very rarely get back into mainstream news.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The dead are no longer welcome at their own funerals. So how can the living send them on their way? [Article]
Thomas Lynch is a poet, essayist and undertaker. Reading this article, another one on death, from the perspective of the "business" that is a funeral parlour, especially true in the West, is worth your time.
Haiwatha Gray in the Boston Globe about the profiling of cellphone users
As we live our lives, we leave behind a vapor trail of information: the places we go and how fast we get there, the people we talk to, the stores where we shop, taverns where we drink, churches where we pray.
Powerful computers in our purses and pockets are now recording that data. The cellphone is not just a communication device; it is a diary. And with the data from millions of these diaries, businesses,
government agencies, and scientists are learning how to forestall medical crises, identify emotional problems, prevent the spread of infections diseases, or simply sell more pizza.
Discovered this from the link pile that Doc Searls shares very regularly..... 15 photographs from Egypt that you'll never see from the mainstream media.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Another incredible adaptation by the Sachal Studio Orchestra - the Paul Desmond written Take Five, & made famous by the Dave Brubeck Band - watch this blissful performance
The Sachal Studios Orchestra was created by Izzat Majeed, a philanthropist based in London. When Pakistan fell under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s, Pakistan’s classical music scene fell on hard times. Many musicians were forced into professions they had never imagined — selling clothes, electrical parts, vegetables, etc. Whatever was necessary to get by. Today, many of these musicians have come together in a 60-person orchestra that plays in a state-of-the-art studio, designed partly by Abbey Road sound engineers.
I discovered one of my favourite stories in a Khalil Gibran collection:
A rich and mighty Persian once walked in his garden with one of his servants. The servant cried that he had just encountered Death, who had threatened him. He begged his master to give him his fastest horse so that he could make haste and flee to Tehran, which he could reach that same evening. The master consented and the servant galloped off and the horse.
On returning to his house the master himself met Death, and questioned him, "Why did you terrify and threaten my servant?" "I did not threaten him; I only showed surprise in still finding him here, when I had planned to meet him tonight in Tehran," said Death.This article by Julian Baggini, who is trying to come to terms with his father's demise, reminded me of it. Not an easy read, but who said you'd find only easy reading here?
The question is, Will, why shouldn't you work for the NSA? A very prescient question, at that..
Monday, July 8, 2013
The Sachal Studios Orchestra, based in Lahore, Pakistan, perform their version of REM's Everybody Hurts. Music is universal in its language. The flute is 'Beautiful'.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Dr Ben Martynoga writes about the connected brain in the School of Life:
The information, entertainment and connectedness that the internet provides is highly compelling and often hugely useful. However ultimately we have to decide which devices to use, when to use them, and when to simply turn them off.
Steve Mould demonstrates the amazing properties of a string of metal beads - they seem to levitate, defy gravity, & jump out of the beaker. Why do they do that? Mould thinks he knows the answer, & watching the experiment in slow motion might explain it to some extent. If you have kids or grand-kids, definitely try this at home!
Mark Twain Drafts the Ultimate Letter of Complaint (1905).
Friday, July 5, 2013
Chinese pianist Yuja Wang plays Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee. 90 seconds, & you'll be blown away by her mastery, & speed. She's been learning the piano since the age of 6.
The world will be photographed again on July 19. The picture will be a very small picture, reminiscent of this image taken at a distance of about 3.7 billion miles away, from the Voyager in 1990. The pale blue dot at the centre of that image is our planet, which inspired astronomer Carl Sagan to write "Pale Blue Dot". Sagan narrated on this 90 second video, an animation by Joel Somerfield.
In Saturn's rings, the movie, is composed entirely of millions of still photographs using innovative visual techniques developed by the filmmaker. The photographs themselves were taken and beamed back by cameras on board the Cassini-Huygens Mission that landed on Saturn in 2004, a mission virtually unnoticed by the world. The film-maker is Stephen Van Vuuren, an award winning film-maker, whose love of image-making began at the age of 12 when his father gifted him a 35mm camera.
Nothing is above dispute, including naming of supernatural objects, as this article in the NPR describes.
A dispute over the names of two new moons of Pluto is highlighting a broader battle over who names what in our solar system and beyond. On one side is the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a venerable consortium of astronomers who have set the naming rules for the better part of a century. On the other side, a growing number of astronomers who feel the IAU has unfairly designated itself as the intergalactic naming police.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
A demonstration by Doug Engelbart from 1968. Doug passed away yesterday. If you don't know who he is, read this.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Not exactly a speech - but close enough.
From the 1940 Charlie Chaplin movie, The Great Dictator
Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!Full text of the speech here
Patrick Henry was a leading advocate of the American Revolution. After over a decade of struggle with the economic and political policies of the British under King George III, many citizens in the American colonies felt the need to resist British encroachment on their civil rights. In March of 1775 the Second Virginia Convention met at St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. There 120 delegates, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, met to debate the issue of organizing a militia to resist Great Britain's oppressive rule. On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered a speech which supported military action against the British. This stirring speech swayed the vote and was most likely the deciding factor in committing Virginia troops to fight the British. Less than a month after Henry's speech, on April 19, 1775, the Battle of Lexington and Concord took place marking the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
This farm in New Zealand reports that the chicken who are exposed to classical music being played in its vineyards lay eggs that are 19% larger than those who aren't. More on this from the NZ newspaper here
Monday, July 1, 2013
Two fascinating articles- The Gervais Principle, & The Gervais Principle, Questioned. If you're tired of the office bullcrap, definitely must reads, in that order. (will also get you through some time, if that is your thing ;)
Obligatory warning: As mentioned earlier, ideas are really the most dangerous things of all.
Thanks to Don Marti
Obligatory warning: As mentioned earlier, ideas are really the most dangerous things of all.
Thanks to Don Marti
“Prepared for the Worst, and becoming more and more dissatisfied with the Best, I am already anticipating the incomparable joys of growing old.”so ends this wonderful resume that the author Italo Calvino sent his publisher Franco Maria Ricci
[via Maria Popova's Brain Pickings]