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.
I'm glad that some people take the time to edit these bloated films down to their essence.
“ Andromeda Strain is a crystalline agent that causes instant death from coagulation and deterioration of one’s circulatory system. We chose not to vaccinate our son against the Andromeda Strain because it’s a fictional disease, so it’s very unlikely that he would contract it.
In economically mixed areas, poorer boys engaged in more antisocial behaviour - such as lying, cheating, swearing and fighting. But disadvantaged boys living in areas where three-quarters of the population was poor had the lowest rates of such behaviour.
Poor boys' behaviour was worse in middle-income neighbourhoods and worse still in the wealthiest neighbourhoods. The researchers found no sign of a similar effect on girls. Prof Odgers said "relative position hypothesis" suggests children evaluate their social rank and self-worth based on comparisons with those around them. So being poor may be more distressing to a child surrounded by others who are better-off.
“ In many ways there is really very little difference between Muslims and everybody else. (...) most Muslims, once one controls for everything that needs to be controlled for in these statistical analyses, actually do not want to fuse religious and political authority. (...) there are big problems in the Muslim world relative to other regions, and among Muslims relative to people of other faiths when it comes to gender inequality. (...) but socioeconomic inequality is lower in predominantly Muslim countries. (...) I found that while Muslims are disproportionately responsible for acts of terrorism over the last couple decades or so, I also found that when it comes to other forms of violence, like murder rates, that Muslims actually do better. They tend to have lower murder rates in predominantly Muslim societies than elsewhere. This relationship holds up even when we control for things like type of political regime ... (...) there seems to be something about Muslim societies that makes people less prone to engage in homicide.
“ In the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robin Hood, Robin Hood splits an arrow down the middle. Some consider this the ultimate archery trick. They're wrong. The ultimate archery trick is splitting an incoming arrow in two with one of your own. We do not recommend you trying this at home.
Someone on r/AskHistorians/ comments:
“ This guy neglects to mention that archers are generally always deployed in larger formations, not as individuals. There's not much room in a unit of 300 men to play around on roller skates or shoot from a chair. Shooting as quickly as possible was far less important than the ability to shoot in coordinated volleys and stay in formation when maneuvering. Also, this guy seems to be shooting at point blank range for most of these shots. For many archers, this would be the point where they would either 1) drop their bows and pick up melee weapons or 2) run like hell for the protection of their heavy infantry.
Another, more detailed critique is here:
“ The really egregious part is the staggeringly inaccurate, misleading, and hyperbolic narration, written by somebody with little-to-no actual knowledge of archery history and a willingness to distort facts to make a bogus case.
There were 644 new measles cases in 27 states last year, according to the CDC. That's the biggest annual number we've seen in nearly a quarter-century. A 2014 AP-GfK survey found that only 51 percent of Americans were confident that vaccines are safe and effective, which is similar to the proportion who believe that houses can be haunted by ghosts.
Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.
But what happens if you put a rat in a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends? The rats with good lives didn't like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. And when rats that were heavy drug users were moved to the good cage, they went back to having a normal life.
It’s bigger and more substantial than Google Glass, but far less boxy than the Oculus Rift. If I were a betting woman, I’d say it probably looks something like the goggles made by Magic Leap, the mysterious Google-backed augmented reality startup that has $592 million in funding. But Magic Leap is not yet ready to unveil its device. Microsoft, on the other hand, plans to get Project HoloLens into the hands of developers by the spring.
Fricatives convey “faster” and “smaller” — as do vowels that are voiced near the front of the mouth, like the a in “bat” or the i in “hid.” Plosives, or stops, convey “slower” and “bigger” — as do vowels that are voiced at the back of the throat, like the o in “token” or the double o’s in “food.” So-called voiceless stops like k, p, and t are more alive and daring than voiced stops like b, d and g, while the voiceless convey less luxury than the voiced. And all sound-symbolic effects manifest differently depending on context. They take on properties of the product being named.
Trials with 216 babies up to 12 months old indicated they were unable to remember new tasks if they did not have a lengthy sleep soon afterwards.
The University of Sheffield team suggested the best time to learn may be just before sleep and emphasised the importance of reading at bedtime.
“It is clear Simon has experienced a tragedy—something monstrous, like the death of someone close. I get to his office and gently open door. Simon is sitting at his desk, shaking his head and muttering under his breath. His skin is pale and he is out of breath from screaming.
“Goddam Internet’s down,” he says. “Second time this morning.”“What is internets?” I ask.“It’s a thing on computers.”“What is computers?”It takes him long time, but eventually Simon is able to explain. A computer is a magical box that provides endless pleasure for free. Simon is used to constant access to this box—a never-ending flow of pleasures. When the box stops working—or even just briefly slows down—he becomes so enraged that he curses our God, the one who gave us life and brought us forth from Egypt.
The decades-long drought in antibiotic discovery could be over after a breakthrough by US scientists.
“So far 25 new antibiotics have been discovered using this method and teixobactin is the latest and most promising one.
“I gave my son a crash course in video game history, compressing 25 years of gaming history into about four years.
Of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, only one in 10 can support complex life like that on Earth, a pair of astrophysicists argues. Everywhere else, stellar explosions known as gamma ray bursts would regularly wipe out any life forms more elaborate than microbes. The detonations also kept the universe lifeless for billions of years after the big bang, the researchers say.
“Does the criminal justice system treat African-Americans fairly? I decided to waste my precious free time reading seven zillion contradictory studies to figure out what was going on.
There seems to be a strong racial bias in capital punishment and a moderate racial bias in sentence length and decision to jail.
There seems to be little or no racial bias in arrests for serious violent crime, police shootings in most jurisdictions, prosecutions, or convictions.
About 100 years ago, we’re told, boys wore pink clothes, but then during the early 20th century, it flipped over. This is often used as an example of how arbitrary gender stereotypes are.
However according to psychologist Marco Del Giudice, the whole “pink-blue reversal” is an ‘urban legend’. According to Google NGram, a searchable database of over 5 million books, there are lots of instances of the terms “blue for boys” and “pink for girls” going back to 1890, but none for the reverse at any time point.
The exceptions are four magazine articles – quoted in the paper that started the whole debate – but these examples may be typos or attempts to subvert existing conventions.
Remember when Mark Zuckerberg justified Facebook's $2B purchase of virtual reality pioneer Oculus VR by calling it the next great communication platform? It sounds like Magic Leap wants to do the same thing—only layered on top of the real world.
It sounds like they hope to do that with a lightweight headset mostly indistinguishable from eyeglasses, save a fiber optic cable running down to a pack where the projector (and possibly the battery and other processing components) are housed. It sounds like that device will be absolutely jam-packed with cameras and sensors to exactly know where it is, and which direction it's pointing, inside a depth-mapped recreation of the real world. It sounds like it will run Android, have its own app store, and focus on games and interactive comic books to start.
In other words, it sounds absolutely bonkers. But $542 million in funding and Google on the board of directors suggests it's pretty damn real, and that it might only be a matter of time until Magic Leap can make it small enough to comfortably wear. Which could put Facebook and Google in one heck of a battle for the future of wearable computing, I imagine.
Blue Peacock was a British tactical nuclear weapon project in the 1950s. One technical problem was that during winter buried objects can get very cold, and it was possible the mine's electronics would get too cold to work after some days underground. One particularly remarkable proposal suggested that live chickens be included in the mechanism. The chickens would be sealed inside the casing, with a supply of food and water; they would remain alive for a week or so. Their body heat would, it seems, have been sufficient to keep the mine's components at a working temperature. This proposal was sufficiently outlandish that it was taken as an April Fool's Day joke when the Blue Peacock file was declassified on April 1, 2004. Tom O'Leary, head of education and interpretation at the National Archives, replied to the media that, "It does seem like an April Fool but it most certainly is not. The Civil Service does not do jokes."
Released on January 29, 1964, the film caused a good deal of controversy. An expert at the Institute for Strategic Studies called the events in the film “impossible on a dozen counts.” A former Deputy Secretary of Defense dismissed the idea that someone could authorize the use of a nuclear weapon without the President’s approval: “Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth.”
In retrospect, Kubrick’s black comedy provided a far more accurate description of the dangers inherent in nuclear command-and-control systems than the ones that the American people got from the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media.
Most recommended author: Ursula K. Le Guin (Nine Lives, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Word for World is Forest, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, The Dispossessed, The Author of the Acacia Seeds and Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics, Always Coming Home, Changing Planes).
Second place: Philip K. Dick (The Defenders, Autofac, Time out of Joint, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ubik, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, Radio Free Albemuth, A Scanner Darkly).
Third place: Ted Chiang (Stories of Your Life and Others) and Greg Egan (Learning to Be Me, The Infinite Assassin, Permutation City, Diaspora, Axiomatic, Reasons to be Cheerful).
A nice overview of Metafilter, one of the very best websites out there.
“If Twitter is people you don’t know at their wittiest, and Facebook is people you do know at their most mundane, then MetaFilter, I would say, is a family of strangers.