January 5, 2011
We can all cite instances in which we know that we should act differently in our own self interest or in the wider interest, but for one reason or another do not. We need to think about ways of supplementing the more traditional tools of government, with policy that helps to encourage behaviour change of this kind. The Behavioural Insights Team has been established to do just that. [more inside]
Dutch Winter: Kasper Bak shoots handheld video on skates on frozen Netherlands waters. If you feel cold after watching that, try warming up with some great Dutch winter food.
8pen, a replacement for QWERTY on touch devices. (SLYT)
It's barely been a half-a-week, and your New Years Resolutions are probably running out of steam. The cure? IFeelUnmotivated.com! [spawned and via Reddit's /r/getmotivated]
Let’s put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out 75 percent of all the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes we can, because they were not exposed to Jersey Shore. Dave Barry reviews 2010, the worst of all years, ever.
"If you get arrested in California, better hope there are no incriminating texts or e-mails or sensitive data stored on your phone. On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled [PDF] that police in that state can search the contents of an arrested person's cell phone." [more inside]
This is not satire. This appears to be a completely serious attempt to justify the extension of the Bush tax cuts by showing a "typical" family of 4 with no debt (other than a mortgage) struggling to get by on a quarter of a million dollars a year. They clearly can't afford to pay a couple thousand more in taxes. They can barely afford to send the kids to summer camp as it is.
The Children of Leningradsky. A 20 minute short by two Polish directors, Andrzej Celinski and Hanna Polak, nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject. 'Since the fall of the Iron Curtain an estimated four million children have found themselves living on the streets in the former countries of the Soviet Union. In the streets of Moscow alone there are over 30,000 surviving in this manner at the present time. The makers of the documentary film concentrated on a community of homeless children living hand to mouth in the Moscow train station Leningradsky.' Through Liveleak.
"The rich are different than you and me." A new study out of the Harvard Business School suggests that frequent use of luxury goods and services may encourage a narrower, more self-interested view of the world. Here's a link to the report itself. (Achtung! it's a PDF.)
Today is a day for a Heavy Metal Penguin
Yesterday there was a partial solar eclipse over most of Europe and northwestern Asia. There were a lot of great pictures, but the most spectacular may have been the solar transit of the International Space Station during the partial eclipse, taken by French astrophotographer, Thierry Legault. Bad Astronomy has more on why he chose the Sultanate of Oman, and how he captured a picture that was possible for less than a second. Bad Astronomy also covered his picture of the lunar transit of ISS, captured December 21, 2010.
Amazing World of Insect-Wing Color Discovered "A closer look at seemingly drab, transparent insect wings has revealed realms of previously unappreciated color, visible to the naked eye yet overlooked for centuries. Until now, the wing colors of many flies and wasps were dismissed as random iridescence. But they may be as distinctive and marvelous as the much-studied, much-celebrated wings of butterflies and beetles." The paper (pdf) was published in PNAS.
With Air Force's Gorgon Drone 'we can see everything.' "In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military's most valuable new tools. This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town."
"What dudes do have for inspiration is Fuck Yeah Menswear, a new anonymous blog dedicated to the poetry of self aggrandizing and hurting people’s feelings through your personal style." Via.
Portrait of an Immigrant Detainee as a Young Man. Meet New York bike-scene fixture Pablo Airaldi. He made friends with everyone—except ICE officials.
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist is an American animated series that originally ran on Comedy Central from May 28, 1995 to December 24, 1999. The series used an unusual animation style called Squigglevision and often featured prominent comedians like Jon Stewart and Mitch Hedberg. Many of the episodes can be found online... [more inside]
Google Refine is a free data-cleaning tool provided by Google. You install it on your own computer and run it through your browser. It’s very similar to PivotTables in Excel, but there are some advanced features such as data matching. On their blog, ProPublica provides a practical example of how they used the software to clean medical billing data for one of their investigative reports.
Story of the King James Bible. There are still a few things BBC Radio 4 does superbly well. Jim Naughtie's current three-part history of the King James Bible is one of them.
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, an annual British trivia show featuring a panel of comedians, humorists, and celebrities, returns with its 2010 edition. Expect puns, rants, inside jokes, teasing, and at least a few UK-specific news stories that'll leave you scratching your head if you don't follow the Sun. (NSFW due to language) [more inside]
Monday, 1/3/11's episode of How I Met Your Mother, "Bad News," has caused a bit of a stir. [more inside]
The Dubai Job: One year ago, an elite Mossad hit squad traveled to Dubai to kill a high-ranking member of Hamas. They completed the mission, but their covers were blown, and Israel was humiliated by the twenty-seven-minute video of their movements that was posted online for all the world to see. Ronen Bergman reveals the intricate, chilling details of the mission and investigates how Israel's vaunted spy agency did things so spectacularly wrong (previously)