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Here are things I’ve created myself.
2014-12-23 Site News

Site redesign

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.

Found

Funny or interesting things from the internet.
2014-12-17: Linkblog

20 Shirtstorm Narratives and What's Wrong With Them


2014-12-10: Linkblog

A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay


2014-12-09: Linkblog

Playing With My Son


"I gave my son a crash course in video game history, compressing 25 years of gaming history into about four years."
2014-11-27: Linkblog

Whales Aren’t Keen on Being Flayed Alive By Gulls


"Kelp gulls, like most of their kind, are opportunists. They’ll pluck fish from the sea, and scraps from landfill sites. And those near Peninsula Valdes in Argentina have started stripping flesh from the backs of whales. The wounds might riddle the whales with skin infections, especially if the gulls are sticking their faces in rubbish heaps beforehand. Fazio found that the whales spend a quarter of their daylight hours trying to avoid the gulls, which might exhaust them, while depriving them of feeding opportunities."
2014-11-26: Linkblog

Complex life may be possible in only 10% of all galaxies


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.
2014-11-26: Linkblog

Race and Justice: Much More Than You Wanted To Know


"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."
2014-11-25: Linkblog

Did Boys Use To Wear Pink?


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.
2014-11-20: Linkblog

How Magic Leap Is Secretly Creating a New Alternate Reality


"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."
2014-11-11: Linkblog

Essential Math for Games Programmers


2014-11-09: Linkblog

Blue Peacock


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."
2014-11-08: Linkblog

Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True


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.
2014-11-06: Linkblog

Philosophical Science Fiction / Speculative Fiction: Recommendations from 36 Philosophers


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).
2014-11-01: Linkblog

The Internet’s First Family


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."
2014-10-24: Linkblog

An Imaginary Town Becomes Real, Then Not.


In the 1930s, the General Drafting Co. added the fictitious place "Agloe" to their maps, so they could find out if anyone copied their work. And a few years later, the map company Rand McNally published a map with Agloe on it. But they had a defense: In the meantime, someone had built a store in that spot, and named it Agloe General Store, after the General Drafting Co.'s map. So a made-up name for a made-up place inadvertently created a real place that, for a time, really existed.

The store is long gone, but until last week, Agloe could still be found on Google Maps.
2014-10-23: Linkblog

Blink, point, solve an equation: Introducing PhotoMath


The PhotoMath app solves equations using the camera on an iOS or Windows phone and will be available for Android early next year. More important, PhotoMath is not just a camera-based calculator. Its value is not just in giving the phone user the answer but in being able to display the solution in steps taken to solve the problem. The user can understand the process that was used to solve the problem.
2014-10-23: Linkblog

A Summary Of The Gamergate Movement That We Will Immediately Change If Any Of Its Members Find Any Details Objectionable


"The rape threats and hate speech are coming from only one, extremely vocal, extremely visible faction within Gamergate. These radical individuals distract from the main message of Gamergate. It is important to remember that the members of Gamergate, only some of whom threaten to rape and murder women, are simply fighting for ethics in gaming journalism.

In order to clarify their message, members of Gamergate have seen to it that any individual who unfairly singles out the violent and bigoted aspects of the movement for criticism immediately becomes the target of sustained online harassment. Needless to say, we don’t mean for that last sentence to sound like a criticism of Gamergate. We’d even go so far as to say that anybody critical of Gamergate probably had it coming, if that is better.

Listen: If you’re thinking about targeting the authors of this article, or mounting a campaign to get funding for this website pulled, please reconsider, and instead, just tell us how to make this thing look the way you want it to look.

Like you, we value ethics in journalism, and will alter our content in whatever way you feel best supports those values.

Please don’t hurt us."
2014-10-22: Linkblog

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.


The car can’t travel a single inch without a map that describes the exact three-dimensional location of streetlights, stop signs, crosswalks, lane markings, and every other crucial aspect of a roadway. Google admitted that the process it currently uses to make the maps are too inefficient to work in the country as a whole. The company frequently says that its car has driven more than 700,000 miles safely, but those are the same few thousand mapped miles, driven over and over again.

It can’t currently find a space in a supermarket lot or multilevel garage. It can't consistently handle coned-off road construction sites, and its video cameras can sometimes be blinded by the sun when trying to detect the color of a traffic signal. Because it can't tell the difference between a big rock and a crumbled-up piece of newspaper, it will try to drive around both if it encounters either sitting in the middle of the road.
2014-10-21: Linkblog

When Women Stopped Coding


The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers. They were marketed almost entirely to men and boys.

Movies like Weird Science, Revenge of the Nerds, and War Games all came out in the '80s. And the plot summaries are almost interchangeable: awkward geek boy genius uses tech savvy to triumph over adversity and win the girl.

In the 1990s, a researcher named Jane Margolis interviewed hundreds of computers science students at Carnegie Mellon, which had one of the top programs in the country. She found that families were much more likely to buy computers for boys than for girls — even when their girls were really interested in computers.
2014-10-21: Linkblog

Maybe Better If You Don’t Read This Story on Public WiFi


Wi-Fi security is terrible. If you've ever connected to a trusted wireless access point, then from that point on, your phone will ask random access points in your vicinity if they are that trusted access point, and all a malicious device needs to do to gain access to your communication (including seeing your passwords, or putting child porn on your phone) is to answer "yes".
2014-10-20: Linkblog

Study Reveals Discrimination Starts Before Grad School


"Across 10 different fields, professors are much more likely to respond to a student who sounds like a white male than to a student who sounds like a female or minority. Aside from the name, the words in the email were exactly the same.

Private universities, which charge more for tuition, saw the greatest difference. Names that sounded like white males were 29% more likely to receive a response than a female who sounded Asian. Professors of a higher stature are also more likely to have a bias.

If females and minorities cannot even get a response when trying to participate in undergraduate research, it diminishes their chances of getting the necessary experience to be a strong candidate for a doctoral program and succeed in a chosen field."
2014-10-18: Linkblog

What people get wrong about the Yes Means Yes law


This past week, a young writer named Sophia Katz wrote an essay accusing Stephen Tully Dierks, the editor of an online "alt-lit" literary magazine, of raping her multiple times.

And yet because Dierks claims to have been confused about whether Katz consented, an astonishing chorus of blame has been directed at Katz for not doing enough to fend off his assaults — or even inviting them. Elizabeth Ellen, the editor of literary journal Hobart Pulp, devoted a lengthy essay to criticizing Katz, at one point suggesting that it was "almost entrapment" for her to have stayed in Dierks's apartment. When Gawker covered the story, commenters criticized Katz for visiting Dierks in the first place, for returning to his apartment night after night (even though she had nowhere else to go in New York and no money for a hotel), and for failing to say "no" strongly enough, even though she said it many times, in many ways.

Which brings us to the ways in which these sorts of attitudes disadvantage all women. When our society treats consent as "everything other than sustained, active, uninterrupted resistance," that misclassifies a whole range of behavior as sexually inviting. That, in turn, pressures women to avoid such behavior in order to protect themselves from assault.

As a result, certain opportunities are left unavailable to women, while still others are subject to expensive safety precautions, such as not traveling for professional networking unless you can afford your own hotel room. It amounts, essentially, to a tax that is levied exclusively on women. And it sucks.

Ezra Klein: Every woman I spoke to talked about this tax in the same way: as utterly constant, completely unrelenting. It's so pervasive that it often goes unmentioned, like gravity. But it colors everything. What you wear. Who you have lunch with. When you can hug a friend. Whether you can invite someone back to your house. How you speak in meetings. Whether you can ask male colleagues out for a drink to talk about work. How long you can chat with someone at a party. Whether you can go on a date without having a friend who knows to be ready for a call in case things go wrong. Whether you can accept seemingly professional invitations from older men in your field. Whether you can say yes when someone wants to pick up the tab for drinks. For men, this is like ultraviolet light: it's everywhere, but we can't see it.
2014-10-09: Linkblog

Dogspotting group somehow turns into fascist regime


If the dog spots you spotting it, all points go to the dog. If the dog is acting violently, points are subtracted from your total.

If you think Dogspotting sounds like a pleasant and irreverent way to pass the time, think again. The world of Dogspotting has become polarized between two very different spotting methods: the "Boruffian Orthodox" and the "Free Point System."

The most controversial rule within the Boruffian orthodox method is the subtraction of points for small dogs. This anti-small dogs stance infuriates loyal spotters, who have voiced their discontent on social media.
2014-09-29: Linkblog

Potoooooooo


Potoooooooo (foaled in 1773) was a famous 18th-century Thoroughbred racehorse who defeated some of the greatest racehorses and later became an influential sire.

His name was originally "Potatoes", and his owner, Willoughby Bertie, told the stable lad to write the horse’s name on a feed bin. The boy misheard it as "pot-eight-o's" and wrote "Potoooooooo". Bertie found it so funny that he kept that as the horses name.
2014-09-17: Linkblog

Zero-calorie sweeteners may trigger blood sugar risk by screwing with gut bacteria


2014-09-10: Linkblog

Years of Rape and ‘Utter Contempt’ in Britain


During a 16-year reign of terror in an English town, at least 1,400 children, some as young as 11, were groomed for sexual exploitation while the authorities looked the other way. One girl told investigators that gang rape was part of growing up in her neighborhood.

Some officers and local officials told the investigation that they did not act for fear of being accused of racism. But Ms. Jay said that for years there was an undeniable culture of institutional sexism. Her investigation heard that police referred to victims as “tarts” and to the girls’ abuse as a “lifestyle choice.”

In the minutes of a meeting about a girl who had been raped by five men, a police detective refused to put her into the sexual abuse category, saying he knew she had been “100 percent consensual.” She was 12.

emilyw at Metafilter comments:
"The young girls that we are talking about are often seen as low level criminals. They may have run away from home multiple times, have been involved in truancy, nuisance activity (drinking on the corner and swearing at passers by) or petty crime; they may have a very Bad Attitude when it comes to authority. If they aren't doing any of this, people may assume they are anyway.

The sexual activity of young girls who are lumped into this category is viewed as just another aspect of their Bad Behaviour. There's an assumption that they are hooking up with older men deliberately in return for money or drugs or a mobile phone (apparently how it often starts), and that the appropriate reaction is to punish the misbehaving kid in the same way as you would punish them for shoplifting."