Saturday, November 24, 2012

Think about how stupid the average person is...

Science says we're getting dumber. And I personally can't argue against that.

Astronomy geeks: zoom in on galaxy MACS J0647.7+7015, the most distant galaxy seen to date by the Hubble.

Aviation geeks: Lockheed Martin's Code One Magazine has a video page with first flights of aircraft from the XB-24 to the F-35. (My favorites are the XB-36 and the XB-58.)

Movie geeks: Behind the scenes photos from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Just yesterday my son commented about some airport and a stupid place to put a runway. I wonder what he would think of these bizarre airport runways.

OK, just one more set of presidential voting maps by county, but this time there's an interesting animation of 112 years of presidential voting.

The FairTax. Basically a national sales tax to replace income tax. Hmm.
All those oatmeal raisin cookies add up. (Hint: I wear size XL.)
I'm not a huge fan of Poe, but this reading of The Raven by James Earl Jones is hard not to like.

An animated history of animation.

Here there be TL;DR.

A, B, and C players: "It is very hard to find people who can execute well on what they are asked to do." In this article about hiring, the observation is made that most people in the workforce are C players - they struggle to competently fill their role but can succeed with coaching. [I'm not sure I want to believe this. Are B players the best one can hope for? Is expecting A players just an example of grade inflation?]

SaaS and LTV: Here's more than you ever wanted to know about monitoring cancellation rates for your SaaS (software as a service) offering and how that affects your bottom line (e.g. knowing what kind of profit to expect from a customer over a lifetime gives you an idea of how much you can spend to get their business in the first place).

Reading vs. e-Reading: Yet another treatise against e-books based on a historical review of the tactile nature of reading. [With which I agree.]

What's in a name: A book-length review of a book about the significance of character names in literature begins with the rhetorical question why James Bond isn't named John Clark which made me wonder whether the reviewer knows that John Clark is the name of a spy in the books by Tom Clancy. If you are interested in exploring names, try the random name generator which is based on U.S. census data and let's you set an obscurity factor. For example, a less obscure result is Chris Whitener while a really obscure one is Willian [sic] Lieberg.

Speer. Albert Speer: Using the Nazi architect as an example, the author attempts to make the case that engineers need to learn more about humanity because they alone are responsible for creating the technologies of war and suppression. Starting from the position that engineers occupy an almost magical role in society because of their skill set, the author claims that students need to be force fed a curriculum of ethics to round out their agnostic allegiance to technology. Half correct - engineers do need more exposure to the humanities but non-engineers (i.e. everyone else) needs to develop an appreciation for and understanding of the sciences. (See C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures and the relevance of the 2nd law of thermodynamics and Shakespeare.) As for ethics specifically, I've never really bought in to the idea that it's something that can be learned in an undergraduate lecture hall. Instead it's something to be fostered and developed by one's upbringing. [Next week I think I'll link to an article about how politicians of both red and blue persuasions are antithetical to science.]

And now back to nuggets of inanity. 

An interesting tale about the law, Mississippi, brewing, and Lazy Magnolia Brewing.

Test your beer knowledge with this 8 question quiz. I got 6 of 8 correct.

Because it gets cold on that sled. (Hint: I wear size XL.)
Get a whiff of this. Scientists have discovered a new smell: olfactory white. It's the scent equivalent of white noise. (Didn't we just write about white and pink noise last week?)

More free software from movie studios: DreamWorks has made OpenVDB available. (It's "a hierarchical data structure and a suite of tools for the efficient manipulation of sparse, possibly time-varying, volumetric data discretized on a three-dimensional grid." Think voxels.)

Print vs. online advertising. One nit to pick - magazines aren't included. I would also like to see this compared to readership.
Rules for email signatures? I'll sign up for that. You've all seen the 40-line email sig. Back in the day, two lines were considered sufficient.  Now the lawyers have intruded ("This email contains private information intended for the recipient only blah blah blah") as have the tree huggers ("Think twice before printing this email." Makes me want to print it just out of spite.) Admittedly, after reading this article I removed the separator and 1 line from my own sig.

For those of you who need templates from which to cut gears from wood, try this interactive, animated gear template generator.

If you just like animated machinery without the template generating, here's an animated gun turret.

I'm sorry, but you can't just slap bacon on anything. F for effort. F for execution too (bacon doesn't even go all the way around.)  Bacon wrapped Twinkie.
Metal. Dress.

I guess I'm out of touch. Did you know that the old Convex crew has reunited to create Convey Computer? I recall being on a committee trying to decide whether to purchase a Convex or an Alliant supercomputer. Me and another guy were the only ones advocating the Alliant, for reasons I don't recall. But I digress...

How did I miss World Toilet Day on 19 November?

Reason I'm Going to Hell #9 - Cheesus Christ, Our Grate Lord
What could possibly link Mondrian to Super Mario? It's another case of form following function - the De Stijl movement's simplification forced Mondrian to become more creative just as the technical limitations of early video games forced composers to be much more creative while still creating tunes you can't unhear. Lest you think this is a one-off consider comic books and Roy Lichtenstein. Or how Roxy Music and Britain's pop art movement are intertwined.

Woop Woop

...and then realize that half of them are stupider than that. ~George Carlin

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