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How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
Last week, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota emerged as climate change heroes when, with little political clout or media spotlight, they halted construction of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline. The defiance, based on a desire to protect both Sioux burial grounds and the waters of the Missouri River, evoked America’s ugly racial past—and present. “It feels like 1875 because Natives are still fighting for our land,” tweeted Native American writer Sherman Alexie, about a week before the pipeline security loosed attack dogs on the protesters, causing the internet to compare images of the ensuing chaos to images of Selma in 1965. A delegation from Black Lives Matter has visited the resistance camp, as have Amnesty International and MSNBC. But it's not the non-Native visitors who are the most interesting: what may be most important about the Standing Rock camps is that they have brought about the greatest gathering of Native Americans in more than a century. "Not since Little Big Horn have we stood together in this way," wrote one camp organizer. "The heart of the aboriginal world has been reawakened." [more inside]
"Most photography books talk about depth of field and depth of focus, but few of them give a formula for it. Here it is. N is the F-number, f is focal length, C is pixel size, and U is distance to the scene. We'll study this formula in lecture, and you'll be invited to experiment with depth of field in weekly photographic assignments."Lectures on Digital Photography: How Cameras Work, and How to Take Good Pictures Using Them. A free 18-lecture course taught by Marc Levoy, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford, and Principal Engineer at Google. Via. [more inside]
The HMS Terror, the second ship of Franklin's doomed expedition to find the Northwest Passage, has been located. Today the Arctic Research Foundation announced that it has located what it believes to be the HMS Terror, one of two ships belonging to the 1845 expedition. Official confirmation will come from Parks Canada. [more inside]
Essence of linear algebra - "[Grant Sanderson of 3Blue1Brown (now at Khan Academy) animates] the geometric intuitions underlying linear algebra, making the many matrix and vector operations feel less arbitrary." [more inside]
Free Soviet movies, with English subtitles. Cartoons! Comedy! Sci Fi! Melodrama! Drama Drama! Adventure! Everything!
Transcript of Surreptitiously Taped Conversations among German Nuclear Physicists at Farm Hall (August 6-7, 1945) (.pdf) (via @timhwang) [more inside]
With 52 days to go until the U.S. presidential election, the polls are tightening and some Democrats and Republicans are freaking out that Clinton might not win "this easy-ass election." (Nate Silver says we can wait a week before surrendering to panic.) [more inside]
The bizarre rise and fall and resurgence of tiki bars and cocktails is an interesting history that starts with two men, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, who traveled to the South Pacific and brought back some "island culture" to the United States with them in the 1930s, continuing on with the craze really booming after WWII vets returned from tours overseas. With the ebbs and flows of popularity, the cultural appropriation in "Tiki culture" has often been overlooked, as to the Māori mythology and meaning behind Tiki carvings and imagery and Hawiian culture of leis and luaus. Let's talk Tiki bars: harmless fun or exploitation. [Soundtrack: Les Baxter's Ritual Of The Savage ( 1951) and Martin Denny's Exotica (1957)] [more inside]
As the polls (slightly) tightened, Donald Trump surprised everyone by visiting the President of Mexico. While this appeared to signal a long-awaited pivot, Trump pivoted right back with a scathing immigration speech hours later. Trump's surrogates have followed suit, tweeting cartoons of Hillary in blackface and warning of taco trucks on every corner. Later in the week, Trump appealed to to the black community by visiting an African-American church. [more inside]
Coming off Labor Day weekend, the POTUS candidates answered questions in the first Commander in Chief Forum, the clear loser of which was Matt Lauer. Hillary managed to move attention to Trump's "basket of deplorables" for a day, but then drew it back to herself by stumbling or collapsing while leaving a 9/11 memorial. Her camp blamed dehydration, then revealed she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. [more inside]
Daveed Diggs, recent Tony Award Winner of “Hamilton” fame, just released an Afrofuturistic space opera-themed noise-rap concept album, Splendor & Misery, as part of his experimental rap collective, Clipping. [more inside]
Donny is flopping about on immigration and his "deportation force," and the view of Donald as a bigot are solidifying, as Hillary's camp keeps up the race-themed attack on Donnie. Meanwhile, Donny bought $10 million in ads for this week, his biggest buy yet, focusing on the economy. Ads will air in battleground states, including Colorado and Virginia, where Clinton’s top aides — citing the growth in minority communities and college-educated white voters — feel confident enough to pull local ads. And to keep things lively, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade jabs over their health. With a bit more than 70 days to go, it's too soon for Hillary to run out the clock, so let's go, get back on your feet!
else Heart.Break() (trailer) is simultaneously one of the most delightful, and most melancholy, games in recent memory. Welcome to Dorisberg, a town in which reality itself can be reprogrammed—using a variant of BASIC, no less!—and in which a group of aimless twentysomething rebels suffers under the watch of the all–seeing Ministry. The story is short, but the town is ridiculously complex, as hinted at by the sheer length and breadth of its soundtrack. There are secrets within secrets. And sadnesses within sadnesses, too. Users have been writing delightfully complex scripts, too, rewiring the entire city to suit their purposes. eH.B() was created by Erik Svedang, whose ultrashort Blueberry Garden has been one of my favorite games for close to a decade.
Matthew Anderson of the BBC tweeted a paragraph from the 2013 book The Elements of Eloquence detailing the order of adjectives in English and calling it a thing "English speakers know, but don't know we know". It went viral, with outlets from NPR to Good Housekeeping covering the story and the rule, while Quartz pointed out that this is a meticulously taught rule for non-native English speakers. [more inside]
From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
When people say "the climate has changed before," these are the kinds of changes they're talking about. A handy (and terrifying) infographic by Randall Munroe.
Here is a list of things that I am including in this book. Please send me my seven-figure advance.
- affluent family lives in suburb. The husband (who is a professor but also a novelist) is cheating on his wife, but he thinks it falls into a moral gray area because he is a Great Man
FRAMED: A Mystery In Six Parts. The LA Times' Christopher Goffard brings you a truly bizarre bit of true crime, involving planted drugs, PTA moms, sexy firemen, self-published novels, cold-blooded revenge, and a whole lot more. [more inside]