Category Archives: Politics

Art Politics Technology

NYC CitiBike Usage Time Lapse

I love the swarms around 8am and 5pm, though it’s fascinating that people prefer to take the bikes home from work, rather than to work. A fascinating intersection of urban life, technology and art.

Politics Rants Science

Perspective is Everything



One of the great mistakes, I think, of economics is it fails to understand that what something is, whether it’s retirement, unemployment, cost, is a function, not only of its amount, but also its meaning.


So where economists make the fundamental mistake is they think that money is money. Actually my pain experienced in paying five pounds is not just proportionate to the amount, but where I think that money is going. And I think understanding that could revolutionize tax policy. It could revolutionize the public services. It could really change things quite significantly.

Rory Sutherland, via TED

Politics Science

Embrace the Chaos

divergence3final

I am a staunch believer in leading with the bad news, so let me get straight to the point. Earth, our anchor and our solitary haven in a hostile universe, is in a precarious situation. The solar system around us is rife with instability.

The Madness of the Planets


The enlightenment idea of the divine clockwork of the cosmos is largely a lie. Our solar system was born out of chaos and despite our relatively predictable recent past, to chaos it will eventually return.


In addition, an excellent youtube video explaining the idea of orbits with marbles and spandex:

Politics Science

This Video is Going to Hurt

A fascinating video all about a deeply important field of study.

History Politics Science

Maps Showing the Origin of Common Words

Bear:Europe Etymology map v1.3 - Imgur

 

Beer:Europe Etymology map v1.3 - Imgur

Apple:

Europe Etymology map v1.3 - Imgur

Tea:

Maps showing the origin of common words: Beer, Apple, Church, Tea ETC.

Politics Science Technology

Billions of habitable planets in the galaxy

Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy, based on a new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.

The odds that we are alone just got infinitesimally small. This discovery emphasizes how much we need a replacement for the Kepler space telescope.

History Politics Technology

NSA Decoded

Incredible article from The Guardian, information rich, compelling, beautiful, technologically advanced, and telling one of the most important stories of our age: NSA Decoded

Politics

The shutdown was rigged

On October 1st, the Republican members of congress voted to change the rules of the House so that only the speaker of the house could bring the budget to a vote, prior to this, any member of the house could put budget up to the vote. If put to a vote, the a clean CR budget would pass, the government would open, and these shenanigans would end. Republican Speaker of the House Boehner is singlehandedly keeping the government shut. Unprecedented and Unconscionable.

 

UPDATE: It was pretty much a party-line vote, held at 1am on October 1st.

Politics

Wealth Distribution: ideal, estimated, and actual.

 

When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.

– Cree Prophecy

 

History Politics Rants

Bike Lanes Boost Local Business

NYC study finds that bikes lanes boost local retail sales by almost 50%, at a time when average retail sales increased by 8%. Additionally, dedicated bike lanes reduced all injuries for all street users by over 30%.

NYCDOT_-_9th_Street
NYC_DOT_-_Pearl_St

Download the pdf here.

Also relevant:

Politics Technology

The Thing: a Soviet analogue listening bug

In the American Embassy in the Soviet Union, installed in the Great Seal of the United States, was a secret, analogue bug that transmitted sound from inside the embassy without any electronics or batteries. Oh, and the it was invented by the same guy that made the Theremin instrument, Leon Theremin. Amazing.

The Thing, designed by Léon Theremin,[2] was very simple by today’s standards. It consisted of a tiny capacitive membrane connected to a small quarter-wavelength antenna; it had no power supply or active electronic components. The device, a passive cavity resonator, became active only when a radio signal of the correct frequency was sent to the device from an external transmitter. Sound waves caused the membrane to vibrate, which varied the capacitance “seen” by the antenna, which in turn modulated the radio waves that struck and were retransmitted by The Thing. A receiver demodulated the signal so that sound picked up by the microphone could be heard, just as an ordinary radio receiver demodulates radio signals and outputs sound.

Thing (listening device) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Politics

Death and Taxes 2012

The 2012 discretionary federal budget, in handy infographic format. Perfect when someone wants to shut down NPR to balance the budget, and you wonder, wait a second, would that even matter? The answer is no. No it wouldn’t.

Politics

Straight White Male: Lowest Difficulty Level in the Game of Life

Using the language of difficulty levels common in video games, John Scalzi does an excellent job of unpacking what it means to have privilege. Like all metaphors, the video game difficulty metaphor of privilege has its limits, but it certainly is illuminating:

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

You can lose playing on the lowest difficulty setting. The lowest difficulty setting is still the easiest setting to win on. The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.

via: BoingBoing


See Also: I’ve always like the idea of the invisible knapsack: everyone has one, each one is different, and we are all largely blind to its contents and what those contents enable us to do.

Awesome Politics

Epic Time Lapse Map of Europe

Covering more than a thousand years of history, this time lapse shows the shifting boundaries, nations, and states of Europe. There is a slower version that shows the year with annotations for particular events.

The opening lines of the Charter for the Fundamental Rights of the European Union(PDF) make much more sense now:

The peoples of Europe, in creating an ever closer union among them, are resolved to share a peaceful
future based on common values.

Additionally, the opening few lines of the Schuman Declaration of 1950 also become crystal clear:

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.

Politics

Welcome to the Anthropocene


‘Welcome to the Anthropocene’ Earth Animation