Sunday links

  1. Violence in New York is up….In the last 28 days (through July 12), compared to last year, shootings have more than tripled (318 vs. 97). (link)
  2. How to Tell GPT-3 from a human? “The lesson here is that if you’re a judge in a Turing test, make sure you ask some nonsense questions, and see if the interviewee responds the way a human would.” (link) [not so fast, gwern shows how to circumvent this nonsense (link), also “Tempering Expectations…(link)”
  3. TV and radio could command our attention the way the speaker in a classroom would, through people paying attention to what others were attending to. But we use 21st-century media in isolation. (link)
  4. The human sperm flagellum rotates the cell to beat equally on all sides in 3D, not an eel-like, side to side motion. (link)
  5. Warlords of the air, Sergey Brin’s Revolutionary $19 Airship. (link)
01/08/2020

Tuesday links

  1. Lebanon is now one millimeter before total collapse. “Newly impoverished people are taking to Facebook to offer to trade household items for milk. Crime is on the rise. In one widely circulated video, a man wearing a coronavirus mask and wielding a pistol holds up a drugstore and demands that the pharmacist hand over diapers.” (link)
  2. Tokyo has rapidly gone from canceling a ballistic missile defense system to considering strike capabilities against foreign adversaries. (link)
21/07/2020

Thursday links

  1. typical skyscraper will have at least double the carbon footprint of a 10-storey building of the same floor area. (link)
  2. At least 16 people, including an army general, have been killed in fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan forces in the worst outbreak of hostilities in years. (link)
  3. The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers. (link)
  4. Good news. Memory T cells induced by previous pathogens can shape the susceptibility to, and clinical severity of, subsequent infections (link)
16/07/2020

Saturday links

  1. The USMC is smack-dab in the middle of a transformational institutional revolution.  It has decided to redefine itself as anti-China force, and is making some radical changes to its force structure and doctrine for that purpose.  (link)
  2. So many frustrated traders have showed up at Robinhood’s Silicon Valley headquarters that the stock-trading app installed bulletproof glass. (link) doctrine for that purpose.  (link – NY times)
  3. Traumatic brain injuries declined 32% from 2012 to 2018, after more than a decade of increasing rates, a new study finds. The decline seems to be largely related to the decreasing number of kids playing tackle football and the increase in the additional contact limitations put on the game (link)
  4. Attackers can get information about what’s going on in front of the security camera via its cloud storage, and infer when there is someone home. (link)
  5. A touching description of OCD in times of COVID-19 – “What happens when constant hand-washing is actually recommended, when friends are quarantining their groceries for 72 hours, when the most practical people you know have taped-off contamination “hot zones” in their homes next to arsenals of hand sanitizer? The line between the rational and irrational – once clear even as I performed bizarre rituals – risks becoming blurred. (link)
11/07/2020

Links

  1. An extra-virgin olive oil made in China has been selected as the best product out of 430 different types from 17 countries at this year’s Athena International Olive Oil Competition (link)
  2. A TV commercial for a Dutch-made bicycle has been banned by France’s advertising watchdog for creating a “climate of fear” about cars (link). I can only imagine the quality of life if “climate of fear” was banned from media altogether.
  3. New viral song is spreading in Canada’s sparrow community and replacing the traditional triplet call (link)
  4. Researchers say apocalyptic movies prepare people for Covid-19 and make them more resilient (link)
  5. The frequency of emitting virtuous victim signal predicts a person’s willingness to engage in and endorse ethically questionable behaviors.. (link)

06/07/2020

Links

  1. Off road mega train (link)
  2. A huge star, from Kinman dwarf galaxy, has disappeared (link)
  3. Researching violence against healthcare, a report. (link)
  4. External powers have intervened in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, supplying advanced conventional weapons that have intensified the conflicts. But not all of the weapons have performed as claimed. (link)
  5. British law enforcement officials have “broken into” a communication system used by criminals in their biggest ever series of strikes against serious and organised crime. (link)

03/07/2020

Boiling lead and early communication skills

Gutenberg’s key innovation was really in the typecasting process. Before Gutenberg’s time, creating letters out of metal, wood, and even ceramic was extremely time consuming and difficult to do in large quantities. Gutenberg revolutionized hot metal typesetting by coming up with an alloy mostly made of lead that could be melted and poured into a letter mold called a matrix. He also had to invent an ink that would stick to lead.

and

The Monotype System is an exquisite piece of engineering, and in many ways represents a perfection of Gutenberg’s original workflow using Industrial Age technology. It’s also a fantastic example of early “programming” since it made use of hole-punched paper tape to instruct the operations of a machine—an innovation that many people associate with the rise of computing in the mid-20th century, but was in use as early as 1725.

(Link)

Africa Links

  1. More than 350 elephants have died in northern Botswana in a mysterious mass die-off described by scientists as a “conservation disaster”. (Link)
  2. Ethiopian troops have been deployed in the country’s capital in a second day of unrest, sparked by the assassination of the popular musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, which has claimed more than 80 lives. (link)
  3. Uganda – Data from the UN’s refugee agency indicates that the rates of attempted and actual suicide have increased significantly here over the past three years. This is an indication of a wider mental health emergency that also manifests itself in addiction, depression and trauma-related disorders. (link)
  4. Libya – Foreign powers – notably Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Russia – are increasingly active in this new chapter of the war, leading to fears of another drawn-out proxy conflict similar to Syria. (link)

02/07/2020

Slow speed as a design preference

If your task is to be present in a slowly varying environment over a long time scale, being slow seems like the right way to go. 

and

How do sloths inspire SlothBot’s functionality?

Its motions are governed by what we call survival constraints. These constraints ensure that the SlothBot is always able to get to a sunny spot to recharge. The actual performance objective that we have given to the robot is to minimize energy consumption, i.e., to simply do nothing subject to the survival constraints. The majority of the time, the robot simply sits there under the trees, measuring various things, seemingly doing absolutely nothing and being rather sloth-like. Whenever the SlothBot does move, it does not move according to some fixed schedule. Instead, it moves because it has to in order to “survive.”
(Link)

Today’s links

  • Economic growth: The persistence of poverty Mellisa Dell, recent winner of the John Bates Clark Award, shares her fascinating research about how decisions made over 400 years ago can affect economic outcomes today.
  • Price ceilings and floors: English Bread Regulations Fresh bread is clearly better than stale bread, but you might not think to ban FRESH bread during a wheat shortage. However, it’s been tried: The English prohibited the sale of fresh bread in order to suppress demand during a bad wheat harvest around 1800, and the UK tried the same trick during WWI.
  • How we lost our ability to mend (link)
  • Huge Political Disconnect Over the State of the Economy. In 2008 everyone knew the economy was in bad shape. Today, views vary tremendously by party affiliation. (link)
01/07/2020