Thursday LinkFest (7/23)

Technology and Science!

  • You’ve heard that light is both a particle and a wave. Scientists have figured out a way to photograph the dual nature of light.
  • Take a free course in “Poker Analytics and Theory” from MIT. The math is pretty heavy, be forewarned: poker is not a game for the innumerate.
  • Check out this wonderful talk on “Web Design — The First 100 Years”.
  • Crows are scary smart. Crows might be smarter than you are.
  • Self-described “experts” may not be as smart as crows: they’re more likely to believe things that simply aren’t true. Researchers from Cornell and Tulane found that a little competence turns into a big case of Dunning-Kruger syndrome.
  • We’re hearing a lot about how self-driving cars are going to “make things better”, but I’m unclear on how cars whose cost will exceed the US median income are going to help anyone but the plutocrats who make them, and their minions who can afford them. And we’re seeing proofs-of-concept that while they may cut down on accidental traffic fatalities, there’s a distinct possibility that they might facilitate some deliberate ones.
  • A new species of firefly has been identified in Southern California. Yeah, we have fireflies out here, but a vastly smaller population of a very limited number of species, they’re not nearly as flamboyant as the ones back East. Bright, flashing fireflies pretty much stop west of Kansas, no one really knows why.
  • Does cold-brewed coffee have more caffeine than hot coffee does?
  • A study just published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that extreme poverty may affect physical brain development, particularly in the areas responsible for things like learning. Another argument in favor of a guaranteed minimum income.
  • Boas, anacondas and other “constrictors” don’t kill their prey by asphyxiating them: they actually stop the blood flow in their prey’s body, according to new research.

Society and Culture


  • What happens when a paleontologist takes issue with pop-tart Kesha for manhandling a triceratops fossil he worked to restore? Nothing good.
    Also, bonus ageism:
  • Age discrimination at Google? Gee, ya think? A woman has joined a class-action suit against the Goog alleging that she was recruited no fewer than four times, had excellent interviews, and failed to get hired.
  • What do a shyster lawyer, nine million missing dollars, and several boxes of extremely rare comics books have to do with one another? Here’s a great story that will tell you.
  • When Twitter, a company where nine out of ten tech employees are dudes, throws a themed party, what’s the theme? Frat house, obviously.
  • The Timmins Public Library in Ontario started a robotics club, yay! But it’s only for boys, boo! But nine-year-old Cash Cayen’s mom didn’t take that sitting down, she got a petition going on, collected 27,000 signatures, and got the mayor to open the program to anyone who wanted to participate. Even girls.
  • The cop who stopped Sandra Bland did not have the right to tell her to put out her cigarette, nor to order her out of her car for no reason, nor did she have to do anything other than identify herself to him, nor could he “yank” her out of her vehicle, nor could he object to her recording this encounter with her cell phone, nor could he threaten to “light her up with a Taser”. It looks like your rights don’t matter much in the face of some Barney Fife’s aggrieved privilege.
  • Meanwhile, it seems increasingly likely that there are some shenanigans going on with the “now you see it, now you don’t” video of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop. Chicanery is being alleged.
  • A journey into the purring heart of Japanese Internet cat culture.
  • A robot is hitchhiking from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. What adventures will our plucky little droid encounter?
  • Sound engineering is “the grumpiest profession in the world”. As an occasional audio engineer, I can confirm this.
  • Am I wrong to find it horrifying that the Smithsonian Institution is reduced to panhandling on Kickstarter — and giving Kickstarter a healthy percentage of the proceeds — to restore and preserve a unique and important artifact of American history?
  • The brilliant thinkers over on r/adultery have some great ideas for how to explain your having a “Ashley Madison” account to your (dumb) wife.
  • Louisa Lim, author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia, wants to know how China managed to completely forget that the Tienanmen Square uprising ever happened.
  • “I gave up Ayn Rand for Bernie Sanders” — a journey back to sanity.
  • Speaking of Ayn Rand, here’s a nice piece on how she became the “Libertarian Sociopath Pixie Dream Girl”. Also, some hair-raising quotes from her newly-published-for-no-reason-whatsoever bad novelization of her very bad stage play, Ideal. Believe it or not, this is a quote: “He felt as if there was something—deep in his brain, behind everything he thought and everything he was—which he did not know, but she knew, and he wished he did, and wondered whether he could ever know it, and should he, if he could, and why he wished it.”
  • Why is Congress handing over Apache sacred lands to a British-Australian mining company?


Everything Else

  • No words are necessary. Just watch.
  • Ambient sound in movies — particularly the sounds you never notice but would absolutely miss if they weren’t there — is what “foley artists” and “soundscape designers” do.

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