I decided to switch to a new layout before everything was ready, partly to force myself to finally get it done, and partly to stress myself out for no good reason. Come back in a week or so, and I'll have much more content up. You should probably be celebrating Christmas now anyway.
Google Research, using the information stored in image-recognizing deep neural networks to generate images, in some cases creating hallucination-like images by asking the networks to make everything in the image that looks animal-like even more so. There are more images in this gallery.
Julie Baker, a widow and the mother of four children in Baltimore, had rainbow-colored lights in her yard. An incensed neighbor left her the following note:
“Your yard is becoming Relentlessly Gay! Myself and Others in the neighborhood ask that you Tone it Down. This is a Christian area and there are Children. Keep it up and I will be forced to call the police on You! Your kind need to have Respect for GOD.
Baker responded by starting a fundraiser to add rainbows to her yard, and to "make my Home even More relentlessly gay."
People have long wondered why women have a much more negative opinion of nuclear power than men, and a common answer from nuclear advocates has been that women generally know less about it and have a less informed opinion. It turns out that that hypothesis has been studied, repeatedly, and there's simply no support for the idea that increased knowledge will lead to decreased concern.
On the contrary, surveys have found that nonwhite males agree with the women, so it's really white men, especially conservative white men, who are the outlier. The 1994 study called "Gender, Race, and Perception of Environmental Health Risks" concludes by speculating that
“Perhaps women and nonwhite men see the world as more dangerous because in many ways they are more vulnerable, because they benefit less from many of its technologies and institutions, and because they have less power and control. White hierarchical individualistic males were motivated to resist claims of environmental and certain other risks, we conjectured, because the wide-spread acceptance of those claims would justify restrictions on markets, commerce, and industry—activities important to the status of white men with those outlooks.
The Fallen of World War II is an interactive documentary that examines the human cost of the second World War and the decline in battle deaths in the years since the war. The 15-minute data visualization uses cinematic storytelling techniques to provide viewers with a fresh and dramatic perspective of a pivotal moment in history.
In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.
The MIT researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tested the efficacy of commitment devices. 52% of the people in the carrot-and-stick group (who risked $150 if they failed, or won $650 if they succeeded) managed to quit smoking (although most people assigned to this group opted not to participate).
The group measured polarization and other features in a beam of photons and found a level of overlap that could not be explained by the ignorance models. The results support the alternative view that, if objective reality exists, then the wavefunction is real. The conclusion is still not ironclad, however: because the detectors picked up only about one-fifth of the photons used in the test, the team had to assume that the lost photons were behaving in the same way. That is a big assumption, and the group is currently working on closing the sampling gap to produce a definitive result
“Today, I’m going to explain in plain English the top 10 most influential data mining algorithms as voted on by 3 separate panels in this survey paper. Once you know what they are, how they work, what they do and where you can find them, my hope is you’ll have this blog post as a springboard to learn even more about data mining.
“I'm honestly stunned by their results, both in terms of the sheer size of the effects they're finding, and the stability of those large effects across a great number of slightly different situations.
On May 6, 2015, the first self-driving truck hit the American road in the state of Nevada. The only real barrier to the immediate adoption of self-driven trucks is purely legal in nature, not technical or economic. Sergey Brin of Google has estimated that autonomous vehicles could be made legal at the national level as soon as 2017.
Well over 10 million American workers and their families have incomes that depend entirely or at least partially on the incomes of truck drivers. Truck driving is just about the last job in the country to provide a solid middle class salary without requiring a post-secondary degree. A company can buy a fleet of self-driving trucks and never pay another human salary for driving. Self-driving trucks will also never need to stop to rest. If we don’t provide ourselves a universal and unconditional basic income soon, the future is going to hit us like a truck — a truck driven solely by ourselves.
While working at Marvel post-acquisition, I saw a deck circulated by Disney’s Brand Marketing team. The desired demographics had no females in it whatsoever. I asked my supervisor why that was. Ever the pragmatist, he said, “That’s not why Disney bought us. They already have the girls’ market on lockdown.”
Disney bought Marvel and Lucasfilm because they wanted to access the male market. To achieve this goal, they allocate less to Marvel’s female demo, and even less to a unisex one.
“I was the only woman among the animators at one of the biggest media companies in the world. When I told my boss I should be paid the same as my 18 (!) other male co-workers, I thought he was going to apologize for the “mistake,” instead he told me to get a rich boyfriend.
Women and men who graduate from Sundance's prestigious labs in Utah finish their films at the same rate and get their films accepted to the world's top independent festivals at the same rate.
Then something unsettling happens. After competing at Sundance and other big festivals, the men who win awards are often tapped to direct for the Big Six: Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony and 20th Century Fox. But Big Six studio executives seem to ignore the award-winning female filmmakers, rarely inviting them to direct a picture.
This guy unlearned to ride a bike by learning to ride one whose handlebars turned the front wheel the other way.
Refugees coming to the EU have to risk their lives in boats on the Mediterranean Sea because EU directive 2001/51/EC mandates that airlines are responsible for evaluating which people are genuine refugees, and if they get it wrong, the airlines have to pay the costs for returning that person to their home country – so the airlines just refuse to deal with anyone who lacks the proper documents.
(I'm still not clear on why refugees can't offer to pay the airlines three times the regular price. Shouldn't that cover the return trip, if needed, while still being safer and not more expensive than boats?)