Thursday, October 31, 2013
The ILHAIRE database is accessible to those who agree to certain conditions. The encompassing ILHAIR Project web site includes a list of public deliverables, some demos (including the Body Laughter Index), and more. [via Improbable Research]
Mitchell Moffit & Gregory Brown created this animation about the effect the snooze button on the alarm has on your sleep. Read more about this in an essay by Casey N Cep
On Wednesday, the Australian High Court had to rule upon a dreadful case of coitus interruptus. A hilarious write-up in the Sydney Morning Herald:
The matter revolved around a claim for compensation by a female public servant from Canberra who, while out of town in the NSW coastal town of Nowra on a brief work trip, met a chap and retired to her Commonwealth-paid motel bed for purposes other than sleeping.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Back in 2006, a group of students at Xavier High School in New York City (one of whom, "JT," submitted this letter) were given an assignment by their English teacher, Ms. Lockwood, that was to test their persuasive writing skills: they were asked to write to their favourite author and ask him or her to visit the school. Five of those pupils chose Kurt Vonnegut. His reply was the only response the class received
This unusual underwater journey in South Africa involves kayaking legend, French expat, and mad inventor Olivier Feuillette, and a modified kayak. With a waterproof top, a ballast (so that it will sink), scuba tanks for oxygen, a CO2 filter, an oscillating fishtail, and pedals, Feuillette’s SUBO becomes a one-person submarine that’s ready to go where no kayak has gone before.
I quite often forget that listening is as important as speaking in communication. Dave Winer had a very pertinent post about this a couple of days ago:
I tend to do a lot of talking myself, I'm aware of it, so I try to reign it in. Tell my mind to listen and not talk. That's hard for some reason, but it's important. Otherwise why bother spending time with others? I can hear myself talk any time. This is a different person across the table. Someone I don't see every day. What's their experience? What can I learn from them? I want to know. And if I can't get my mind to quiet down, none of that happens.
The only thing better than a story-teller Bob Fulghum is a reminiscing Bob Fulghum. He shared this letter he wrote from decades ago, titled Benediction.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I discovered Zen Pencils, a cartoon blog by Gavin Aung Than, over the weekend. The words of Bill Watterson, the wonderful creator of Calvin & Hobbes, come to life in this cartoon strip.
Neil Scott went through this bookmarks from the last seven years (how did he manage that, I wonder!) and shares his findings. None of the first 10 have anything to do with technology, if that surprises anyone. I loved the last one:
Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Erhu is a Chinese instrument, & in the hands of someone who knows it well (like everything else I suppose), makes magical tunes.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Nicholas Carr writes that the principles of 'scientific management' as counseled by Taylor have gone from being applicable to manufacturing workers to the office workers, & steadfastly resulting in narrowing of the realm of human possibility:
One thing that Taylor’s system aided was the mechanization of factory work. Once you had turned the jobs of human workers into numbers, it turned out, you also had a good template for replacing those workers with machines. It seems that the new Taylorism might accomplish something similar for knowledge work. It provides the specs for software applications that can take over the jobs of even highly educated professionals.
Not without feeling like all their made up work will be obsolete, says science fiction author Charlie Stross:
well, I'm just boggling. I've got a subplot for this trilogy (no spoilers!) which I think is up there with anything reality can throw at us and which is hopefully funny, plausible, and crazy (but in an "it just might be true" kind of way). Only now, I'm getting a sick feeling in my stomach. One month before publication, there's going to be a bombshell revelation and an ancient festering spyware secret will surface, blinking in the light of day like half-mummified groundhogs (Secret Squirrel need not apply!) and my satirical thriller will be obsolete.Bonus link from that article
These videos demonstrate the power of narrative. The voice is that of David Attenborough. The videos were constructed by the people at Wreck & Salvage (specifically: Erik Nelson, Adam Quirk, and Aaron Valdez).
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Vahid Iran Shahi claims to be the fastest guitarist in the world. His video demonstrates both skill & speed.
Prof. Jay Rosen's cover story in the American Review about the limits of investigative journalism tries to explain why some stories take on a life of their own & become purveyors of change, while others languish in the dark before dying prematurely. Worth a read.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Nigel Kennedy returns with Vivaldi's The Four Seasons -- with the Palestine Strings from the EDWARD SAID National Conservatory of Music as well as members of his own Orchestra of Life. A concert distinctly different, interpreted /interspersed with lilting Middle Eastern rhythms.
A recent article in the Economist, titled "Trouble at the lab" attempted to paint scientific research as being abysmally poor at identifying & correcting errors. Reminded me of that saying "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at others". Bob Frankston explains why:
Read more here for some thought-provoking discussion on this subject.The larger issue is understanding motivation as market processes and not confusing “Science” as a business (or bodies of knowledge) with “science” as an operational methodology that doesn’t seek the singular truth any more than evolution is directed towards a goal.
I am a lurker on Reddit, & enjoy the time spent on some of the sub-reddits. I've been fascinated with speed-reading (I'm not very good at it), and even more intrigued by those who seem to read quickly & remember what it was they read. This thread on the books subreddit was interesting for just that reason.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Maria Popova has another interesting post about Anne Frank's childhood - a short poem she wrote in her friend Juultje Ketellapper's poetry album, a few days after her 10th birthday.
I'll just link to this James Altucher blog post.
In this short talk from TED U, Joachim de Posada shares a landmark experiment on delayed gratification -- and how it can predict future success. With priceless video of kids trying their hardest not to eat the marshmallow.
[for the visually inclined]
David Byrne reminds that the medium is not the message - the message is the message:
David Byrne reminds that the medium is not the message - the message is the message:
One would hope that we could educate ourselves to be able to spot the evil infographics that are being used to manipulate us, or that are being used to hide important patterns and information. Ideally, an educated consumer of infographics might develop some sort of infographic bullshit detector that would beep when told how the trickle-down economic effect justifies fracking, for example. It’s not easy, as one can be seduced relatively easily by colors, diagrams and funny writing.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Sometimes rules make little sense. Like for instance in this case - the family of a mathematician decided to put an inscription of a sudoku puzzle & a mathematical equation on the headstone on his grave. The local parish council thinks that is lowering its standards.
In search of answers to some questions:
Why do people laugh when tickled? Why can’t you tickle yourself? Why are certain parts of the body more ticklish than others? Why do some people enjoy tickling and others not? And what is tickling, after all?Humans aren't the only species that are ticklish - even Shakespeare knew that apparently (I didn't). Read on if your curiosity is tickled.
GK Chesterton, from 1909, waxing eloquent about the virtues of lying in bed, also has a note of caution:
I am sure that it was only because Michael Angelo was engaged in the ancient and honourable occupation of lying in bed that he ever realized how the roof of the Sistine Chapel might be made into an awful imitation of a divine drama that could only be acted in the heavens.
The caution is this: if you do lie in bed, be sure you do it without any reason or justification at all. I do not speak, of course, of the seriously sick. But if a healthy man lies in bed, let him do it without a rag of excuse; then he will get up a healthy man.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Neil Gaiman's talk, [transcript here] is worth your time, if you care at all about nurturing the love of reading in the younger generation.
We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.
Leo Babauta has three little tricks to cope with those %*$@s who offend you (or is that who you let offend you?)
For all the wannabe oenophiles out there, here's a fun way to know/taste/smell through wine.
Knock wine off its pedestal. That's the goal of wine expert Richard Betts. And he has come up with a brilliant way to do it: a scratch n' sniff guide to the aromas and flavors of the wine world.
Mike Monteiro explains why your butt is having a affair with that chair you love, as an analogy for good design on websites.
for design to be truly great, it needs to be built into your projects from the very beginning. Because if you’re not doing it, you can bet your competitors are.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
An awesome story from Graham Nash about his 'strange' friend, Neil Young.
He asked me if I wanted to hear his new album, “Harvest.” And I said sure, let’s go into the studio and listen. Oh, no. That’s not what Neil had in mind. He said get into the rowboat. I said get into the rowboat? He said, yeah, we’re going to go out into the middle of the lake.
Joshua Davis, in WIRED magazine, traces the dramatic changes in educational methods that are having significant impacts on how students learn.
..a new breed of educators, inspired by everything from the Internet to evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and AI, are inventing radical new ways for children to learn, grow, and thrive. To them, knowledge isn’t a commodity that’s delivered from teacher to student but something that emerges from the students’ own curiosity-fueled exploration. Teachers provide prompts, not answers, and then they step aside so students can teach themselves and one another. They are creating ways for children to discover their passion—and uncovering a generation of geniuses in the process.The story of a student, Paloma, makes this story even more thrilling.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
David Cain chucked a pretty good job to do his own thing. Here's an interesting view from his first few days.
Because we’re so immersed in our lifestyles, it’s hard to see what individual parts of them are pushing and pulling on our minds.
Francois Gouillart explains why he's literally put his money where his mouth is - he's backing a a kitchen incubator project that helps local youth become food entrepreneurs through education and financing.
An incredible video, if you've not yet watched it, of the man who jumped out of a balloon from the outer fringes of space earlier this year.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
An incredible video story showing the stark differences between ideal, perception & reality of the American wealth distribution.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Charlie Stross paints a horrid picture for those who love to read - how readers will discover books in future.
Books are going to be like cockroaches, hiding and breeding in dark corners and keeping you awake at night with their chittering. There's no need for you to go in search of them: rather, the problem will be how to keep them from overwhelming you.
Elizabeth (Libba) Cotten was an American blues & folk musician, singer & songwriter. A self-taught, left-handed guitar player, watch her perform Spanish Flang Dang & A Jig on a TV show called "Guitar, Guitar"
Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) is nobody’s ideal of a public intellectual. He barely saw the inside of a school. He spent most of his working life as a longshoreman on the San Francisco docks. Almost every day, he took a three-mile walk. Along the way, thoughts formed. Later they became sentences, then books. Over the years, he wrote ten. “The True Believer” is his masterpiece. Watch an interview with the man
This one for the kids - Oslo is one of the greenest cities in the world, with plans to halve its carbon emissions by 2020. Key to achieving this is the country's biggest energy recovery facility, the Klemetsrud plant, which generates energy by burning rubbish. At full capacity, the plant will provide all the heat and electricity for Oslo's schools and heat for 56,000 homes.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Mary Schmich was never invited to give a graduation address, but there was no reason, she says, that we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.
Baz Luhrmann adapted these into a movie - listen here to Sunscreen, if you've never heard it.
Baz Luhrmann adapted these into a movie - listen here to Sunscreen, if you've never heard it.
Found this on a blog I have been following for a short while now:
In the rather good movie Berberian Sound Studio, an unpleasant film director defines it for us:
Gilderoy, let me just tell you what it is to be a professional. It’s very simple. You cooperate, you don’t question. You don’t argue. You don’t look at your watch. You just do the work you’re told to do and keep your personal opinion where it belongs. Am I clear?
via Om Malik: In this article from 2002, Pollan traces the history of corn, & how it's taken over the entire food supply without anyone noticing. It's progressively grown worse - see the policies that most Western governments have regarding this crop: commercial interests are more important than human interests.
Even farm-raised salmon are being bred to tolerate corn—not a food their evolution has prepared them for. Why feed fish corn? Because it’s the cheapest thing you can feed any animal, thanks to federal subsidies.
Siasi, by O-Shen, from the Putumayo CD "South Pacific Islands". Just voices & an ukulele can be very uplifting for the spirit.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Joi Ito has an interesting blog post around design. This sentence caught my attention:
Why is it then that we seem to insist on building and assessing our systems based on what our little mind thinks? Think about the testing in schools that only measures local knowledge and logical skills, or designing user interfaces around what the user is focused on like pull-down menus and the mouse pointer.Nothing new, but worth remembering that the "mind" is not as powerful as we consider it to be. Most response are inbuilt, unconscious & far less under our control, even when we assume it to be.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
James Altucher has a few tried and tested suggestions
And even better, we feed the soul by listening to each other. Ultimately, the best speakers are the ones who have put 10,000 hours into listening.
I read this story out at our Toastmasters meeting yesterday, because it was so well written. The writing prompt was "Wife kills husband. Make me sympathize with both characters". And this is the author acknowledging the praise he received for his writing:
In response to a lot of your questions, I'm not a writer, just a jackass with some free time. I'm still in college and trying to figure out what the fuck to do with my life. I'm really glad that a website like reddit exists where I can practice my writing and learn from some really bright people around the world.
167 theremin's + piano performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Juggler Alexander Koblikov demonstrates the art of keeping calm while keeping several balls up in the air.
The No Smoking Orchestra is smoking hot -
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
David C reminds us of the fallacy of worrying when overwhelmed, using a simple analogy:
Read his six simple reminders to cope.One maddening tendency of any small electronic device is that whenever the battery is low, it wastes most of its remaining power beeping and flashing to tell you that battery is low.
Nick Carr reviews Retromania by Simon Reynolds & makes a pertinent observation:
Though we live in a fast-forward age, we cannot take our finger off the rewind button.
Research shows that reading literary fiction is more valuable in improving empathy.
Popular fiction tends to be focused on plot, says Emanuele Castano, professor of psychology, and the characters are rather stereotypical. "You open a book of what we call popular fiction and you know from the get-go who is going to be the good guy and the bad guy." Literary fiction, in contrast, focuses on the psychology and inner life of the characters. And importantly, characters in literary fiction are left somewhat incomplete. Readers have to watch what they do and infer what they are thinking and feeling.
Monday, October 7, 2013
The language used to report domestic events in Western nations is often wildly different to similar events happening in 'hardline' countries. Slate's recent article shows the contrast from the US.
While the country’s most recent elections were generally considered to be free and fair (despite threats against international observers), the current crisis has raised questions in the international community about the regime’s ability to govern this complex nation of 300 million people, not to mention its vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
Marc Abrahams explains in this brief video. And read this insightful article by a laureate, Dr Elena Bodnar, who invented the Emergency Bra (not what you have in mind!)
Because most women wear one all the time – and it can provide two face masks – I considered using a standard bra as the basis for such a personal protective device and designed my first prototype.
Taylor Davis & Lara play by ear, no sheet music. Here's their rendition, on violin & piano, of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Brandon Todd is 5’5’’ and he can dunk. He has never believed his height to be a limitation but an opportunity to change how people view small athletes. Brandon transformed his body over the course of a few years, gaining over 80 lbs of muscle, increasing his vertical to over 45 inches. Todd hopes to teach others that through hard work and perseverance physical limitations can be overcome. Check this out.
Friday, October 4, 2013
ImprovEverywhere put a Carnegie Hall orchestra in the middle of New York City and placed an empty podium in front of the musicians with a sign that read, “Conduct Us.” Random New Yorkers who accepted the challenge were given the opportunity to conduct this world-class orchestra. The orchestra responded to the conductors, altering their tempo and performance accordingly.
A four minute film demonstrating the statistical concept of correlation through dance. And Variance, Sampling, & frequency.
James Altucher has some alternatives to the idea of going to college. And I think this commenter has a point too..
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Bob Fulghum never shies away from trying out something, & this time he's tried out the ju-ju-juices from his local store:
One morning I studied the shelves. The names alone make me nervous. “AMP”, “MONSTER”, “FULL THROTLE”, “ROCK STAR”, “GO FAST”, “BLUE ENERGY”, “ADRENALIN SHOT”, “BLAST”, “JOLT”, and, my favorite, “NO FEAR!” Most of them are available in Regular, Plus, and Gold..
The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. Richard Graham takes you on a tour of the cockpit
Ludwig Zamenhoff invented the simple international language in 1887. The Economist sees doom for the language that has never really taken off.
It remains thin on the ground... partly because language, more than any other tool, benefits from network effects. The more people who speak a language, the more desirable that language will be. This is of course why Esperanto speakers play up the biggest possible numbers for their community—the hopes that others will join, for the benefit of being able to use Esperanto with more people.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Mark Manson has some advice:
These are strategies anyone can use and require little practice. You can be up to speed and doing this stuff within a week or two. It will just take some conscious effort at first and a little bit of practice. For the most part, these tips are practical and logical, not some uber-speed-reading techniques.Check out Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book as well.
For the parents struggling to teach fractions, research suggests using pies isn't necessarily the best way:
When two pizzas sit side-by-side, slices of one divided into sixths may not look that different from slices of another divided into fifths........Fraction bars and number lines are considered easier than circles for children to draw and divide into parts. They also let students line up fractions in a row and see the difference in size, something they can't do when dividing up a pie in the traditional approach.
A 32-year-old man whose knee and lower leg were amputated in 2009 after a motorcycle accident is apparently the first person with a missing lower limb to control a robotic leg with his mind. A team led by biomedical engineer Levi Hargrove at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Illinois reported the breakthrough last week in the New England Journal of Medicine
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Richard Stallman explains why:
If the users don’t control the program, the program controls the users.
Two brothers were asked by their older brother to be the best men at his wedding. They made this video.
A reminder to be thankful that you can view this link, because in Spain, website owners can now get six years in prison for linking to copyrighted material.
The country enacted the law as a response to pressure from the US, where ironically the law is not as strict. Spain is in danger of being added to a list of countries that Washington considers to be the most egregious violators of copyright law, meaning it could be subject to trade sanctions from the US.