April 27, 2011
"It’s a safe bet that most hard-core porn watchers anywhere aren’t doing it to expand their minds, and computer keys are germy enough as they are." -- Death and Taxes [more inside]
The Photopic Sky Survey is a 5,000 megapixel, 360 degree panorama of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures. (via)
"Value-added modeling is promoted because it has the right pedigree -- because it is based on "sophisticated mathematics." As a consequence, mathematics that ought to be used to illuminate ends up being used to intimidate." John Ewing, president of Math for America and former executive director of the American Mathematical Society, criticizes the "value-added modeling" approach used as a proxy for teacher quality, most famously in a Los Angeles Times story that called out low-scoring teachers by name. A Brookings Institution paper says value-added modeling is flawed but the best measure we have of teacher value, arguing that the metric's wide fluctuations from year to year are no worse than those of batting averages in baseball. (Though the weakness of that correlation is mostly a BABIP issue.) Can we assign a numerical value to teacher quality? If so, how?
The Airtight Garage (some images may be NSFW) is a blog that explores the artwork of Moebius (Jean Giraud), France's most acclaimed comic book artist. It is named after The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius, a comic loosely based on Micheal Moorcock's protean hero. Moebius was recently the subject of an appreciation in Comics Alliance.
Third, class arbitration greatly increases risks to defendants. Informal procedures do of course have a cost: The absence of multilayered review makes it more likely that errors will go uncorrected. Defendants are willing to accept the costs of these errors in arbitration, since their impact is limited to the size of individual disputes, and presumably outweighed by savings from avoiding the courts. But when damages allegedly owed to tens of thousands of potential claimants are aggregated and decided at once, the risk of an error will often become unacceptable. Faced with even a small chance of a devastating loss, defendants will be pressured into settling questionable claims.—Justice Scalia delivers the opinion of the Court, and a knife in the back of class-action suits. [more inside]
Images of times past: abandoned monuments in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet era architecture in Bulgaria. [more inside]
Lynn Haludren, better known as the Empire Carpet Man, died yesterday at the age of 89. [more inside]
I just want to remind everyone that capybara, previously mentioned on MetaFilter, are awesome. The subject of song and poetry, capybara are the world's largest (non-extinct) rodent. This site has more information, including a list of zoos where you might find them and information on capybara in literature or on your dinner plate, [more inside]
Where is the Puck? The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season for the first time in 50 years. But what happened to the puck that was used to score what some are calling the "most famous goal in Chicago sports history?"
Earlier this month a pair of red-tailed hawks built a nest at NYU's Bobst Library, outside the window of the office of University President John Sexton. Bobby and Violet (named after the Library and NYU's school color) have been sitting on three eggs for the last month, with a webcam running a live feed. Based on a photo taken last night and analysis from hawk experts, it is believed that at least one of the eggs has begun hatching.
After rumors late last year about the Delicious bookmarking service being shut down, it was just announced that it has been sold. It's present version will disappear in July 2011. If you want your bookmarks to be transferred to the new incarnation, you have to opt in. According to a post on the Delicious help pages: "Sorry if we've caught you by surprise. Delicious has been acquired by the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen and will become part of their new Internet company, AVOS."
Swindon Viewpoint has recently released a glorious cache of rare videos from everyone's favorite English Settlers XTC! Please to be finding early live performaces by the handsome devils, early studio versions of your favorites, earlier still performances by The Helium Kidz, and even a lovely tour of Swindon with mad genius Andy Partridge! (Then with hair!) [more inside]
Before the iconic Power Rangers, Toei Productions tried some other "Super Sensei" series including 1977's JAKQ (pronounced jah-kuh) with their playing-card-themed identities. With online poker sites down, maybe it's time for them to make a comeback?
12 videos of creepy automata (well, actually only 11, because one of them is no longer online)
Emmanuel "Toto" Constant led a paramilitary organization called FRAPH that terrorized Haiti after the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When FRAPH's fortunes declined, Toto mysteriously appeared in New York City, where he was scorned by the Haitian community. Justice eventually caught up to Toto, who is now imprisoned in New York state. [more inside]
The E. chromi project is forging ahead with its plan, using recombinant bacteria to detect and display disease states of the human body in your toilet. [more inside]
What would have happened if a science fiction classic had been written by the father of French philosophy? Existential Star Wars. Extra special bonus: a little girl feels the power of the dark side.
John Mueller and Mark Stewart may have found the one part of government we can afford to cut in their paper "Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security" From the abstract "The cumulative increase in expenditures on US domestic homeland security over the decade since 9/11 exceeds one trillion dollars. It is clearly time to examine these massive expenditures applying risk assessment and cost-benefit approaches that have been standard for decades."
Vortex-based mathematics is the most advanced ever known to mankind. Don't have time for a time cube? Time need no longer limit us. Here, Marco Rodin (inventor of the Rodin Coil) gives us the background.
Michael had always claimed he could make anything from wood, and James called his bluff in a big way. More than 1,000 man hours and a considerable amount of skill and ingenuity later, the SplinterBike was ready to ride.
Hacker Typer - Now you can look like you're doing something important on your computer, like you've always wanted to! (hit hack and just start bashing at your keyboard)
"Surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith. Or for that matter my citizenship." - President Obama
Handwritten 1961 memo in father's immigration file notes Obama born in Hawaii. "Documents obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service through a Freedom of Information Act request offer evidence that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. A memo dated Aug. 31, 1961 from William Wood of Immigration and Naturalization Services indicates that Barack Obama, Sr., was attending the University of Hawaii on a student visa and that a son, Barack Obama, II, was born in Honolulu on Aug, 8, 1961." [Image of Memo]
Flogging as an alternative to incarceration? A thoughtful essay that considers flogging as an alternative to incarceration; the author uses this as a rhetorical device to point out the inefficiencies of incarceration, and get a conversation going. Some of the comments in the forum are priceless.