Fascinating. To me, anyway… I just got the results back on my Ancestry DNA test.* I suppose mine are like everybody’s: they confirmed a lot of what I already knew and also threw a couple little curves at me. A … Continue reading Ancestry DNA Results and My Mystery Grandmother
This is sublime. This is technology at its best. Thanks to Frank Venturo for passing it along. Continue reading Helplessly Hoping
I was talking yesterday with my friend Petr, who has recently launched Expert Decision, a news and commentary site covering issues facing his native Russia. The site being in Russian, and my Russian skills being limited to a couple words, it’s been necessary to resort to the translate tool in Chrome. Continue reading “Imagine if every web site in the world existed automatically in every language”
David Lynch inspired a generation of genius TV. And a moment of unfettered silliness. Continue reading “Twin Peaks: The Return and the Red Room: a collaborative reverse spoken word”
The 2017 remake of the manga classic is marvelous to behold, but not especially filling emotionally.
Went to see Ghost in the Shell the other day. In IMAX. IMAX 3-D, to be precise. Initial impressions:
1) It’s just fucking gorgeous. The designers have studied the classics, from Blade Runner on down, and they create a world that does justice to the genre. This flick ought to win all the technical Oscars.
2) The story itself works well. Continue reading “Ghost in the Shell: a 2-minute review”
No, famous people won’t stop dying on January 1. But we lost too many bright lights this year and we hope that 2017 will be better. Here’s a list of noteworthy people who died in 2016.
For the past several months a lot of us have been saying we can’t wait for this damned year to be over.
2016 gave us the worst election season I can remember, and every ten minutes or so another beloved artist would die, it seemed. Any year that gives us Donald Trump and takes Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince in return has done more damage than some decades.
No, people aren’t going to stop dying at the stroke of midnight tomorrow. Continue reading “Remembering 2016: the year when everyone died”
Can new procedures tell us who killed the child pageant queen? Were there multiple murderers?
According to NBC News, “new DNA testing is planned in the unsolved murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.”
The news was first reported by NBC affiliate KUSA in Denver, Colorado, and by the Boulder Daily Camera. The two news outlets did a joint investigation in October which pointed to a variety of potential flaws in the interpretation of the DNA evidence in the case.
Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett confirmed in a statement to NBC News Wednesday that his office had met with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which he said will be conducting “some further testing of the DNA evidence in the Ramsey case, as well as other cold case homicides and pending investigations,” in a new lab with new testing procedures.
There is now doubt as to the conclusions reached by former Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy in her 2008 letter clearing the family. Specifically: Continue reading “Boulder, Colorado Bureau of Investigation planning new DNA analysis in JonBenet Ramsey case”
The once and future first daughter’s bout of reefer madness notwithstanding, please remember: “anecdotal evidence” is another way of saying “no evidence”…
Chelsea Clinton, who has been out on the stump a bit lately “helping” her mother’s campaign, recently dove face first into the muck by saying that pot can be fatal.
“…we also have anecdotal evidence now from Colorado where some of the people who were taking marijuana for those purposes, the coroner believes, after they died, there was drug interactions with other things they were taking.”
Clinton didn’t provide any details on this “anecdotal evidence,” and later one of her “spokesmen” was trotted out to explain that Chelsea “misspoke.” Continue reading “Chelsea Clinton and "anecdotal evidence"”
With the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle asserted itself as the city that invented the future. Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle, Key Arena, the Pacific Science Center and other Jetsonesque architectural wonders, gave us a stunning Mid-Century Modern vision of our presumed technotopian future. In 2000 the EMP Museum opened, inserting a postmodern generational overlay in the form of Frank Gehry’s gripping postmodern architectural style. Ever upward, ever forward. For #HopeTuesday today, I offer you a metaphor. Let’s rekindle our dream of a clean, sustainable, prosperous future with opportunity for all – a true and attainable American dream. I took this shot of the … Continue reading Monorail to the Future: reasserting the American Dream for #HopeTuesday
In 1993, during my first year in the PhD program at the University of Colorado, we had a guest speaker in one of my classes. The subject was information technology and the Internet. He explained that at that moment, the largest repository of stored electronic data on Earth was at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, about four miles away. That building hosted two terabytes of data.
One of my external backup drives seems to be failing, so I ventured out to get a replacement. Continue reading “A brief snapshot from the Information (Overload) Age”
I’m a huge fan of a good debate. And by “debate” I don’t mean the sort of ginned-up scream-lie-and-spinfests we have come to associate with the term in the past few decades. No, I mean spirited, intelligent, thoughtful exchanges between parties with honest, good-faith disagreements. Lucky me, I tripped across one today.
My new friend – the lovely Christine – recently turned me onto RadioLab, and I’ve been streaming some of their podcasts while I work out. Today I listened to one that’s as fascinating as it is disturbing. It’s called “Eye in the Sky,” and if you’re plotting any crimes I suggest you give it a few minutes of your time before you pull the trigger, so to speak. Continue reading “Security vs privacy: RadioLab and the case for the surveillance state”
In their fascination with technology, are Libertarians really just seeking certainty?
I just finished reading George Packer’s remarkable, if not especially uplifting, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. One of the people he considers in his biography of the modern US is billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel.
Thiel is, among other things, a diehard Libertarian. Packer is … not. But the author doesn’t let his decidedly progressive perspective get in the way of telling Thiel’s story and representing the man’s perspective.
Toward the end, in a discussion of Thiel’s belief in the power of technology to free us from the innately limiting drag of politics, something occurred to me. Continue reading “An insight into Libertarianism? George Packer’s Unwinding, Peter Thiel and techno-Libs”
Esquire blog discusses a famous brewer’s secret for staying (relatively) sober. We test it out.
You may have seen Aaron Goldfarb’s recent Esquire blog entitled “How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk.” Great headline, and how cool would that be, right? I was skeptical, for obvious reasons, but it turns out that what is proposed is an idea developed by Joseph Owades, who Samuel Adams co-founder Jim Koch calls “the best brewer who ever lived.”
I figured I’d test the method myself, and not just because it would give me an excuse to drink too much.
It may seem like a small thing, but if you write for one of America’s premier tech magazines, you have a responsibility to understand how probability works.
Earlier today Wired published an article on how a new Quantum theory could explain the flow of time. Great stuff, and really interesting. Definitely give it a read.
But in the course of the article the writer makes a mistake that I see more often than I’d like. Here’s the graf, and I have boldfaced the problem section.
Consequently, a tepid cup of coffee does not spontaneously warm up. In principle, as the pure state of the room evolves, the coffee could suddenly become unmixed from the air and enter a pure state of its own. But there are so many more mixed states than pure states available to the coffee that this practically never happens — one would have to outlive the universe to witness it.
You know how schools sometimes have assemblies where outside speakers or entertainers put on a show for an hour? Right.
Well, when I was in first grade my school, Wallburg Elementary in sleepy little Wallburg, NC, had a musician come in. I don’t remember much about the show, except for this one thing. He said he was going to do something amazing. Then he draped a blanket over the piano, put on a pair of boxing gloves, sat down and went to town on a rag of some sort.
Holy hell! How did he DO THAT?! Continue reading “Kids today aren’t like we were”
The brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful. It isn’t trying to accurately remember what happened. So, what do you remember that’s wrong?
Science has long known that human memory is far less reliable than most people imagine. For fun, Google [memory not reliable] and when you get a few spare minutes work your way through the 89,300,000 results that pop up.
I first encountered this body of research – not all of it, of course – as an undergrad at Wake Forest in Dr. Jerry Burger’s Intro to Psychology class, and then we studied it a bit more when I later took him for Social Psych. Utterly fascinating was the research on eyewitness memory in criminal investigations. We all imagine that if we’re sitting in a room watching a lecture and a guy bursts in and beats up the professor, we could probably give an accurate enough description and pick him out of a lineup a few minutes later, but it turns out that this isn’t the case nearly as often as you’d imagine. Continue reading “New study says your memory is lying to you”
TEDx: It’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” for the Techoliterati crowd.
Happy New Year, a few hours early, from the staff of Scholars & Rogues. Have fun tonight, but please be careful. Big holiday occasions are amateur night and we don’t want you getting run over by drunken idiots. It goes without saying that we don’t want you being drunken idiots.
That said, I’m going to ask you to take ten minutes to read this (or watch video, which is below). It’s Benjamin Bratton’s TEDx Talk in San Diego a couple weeks ago, where he was apparently invited by TED to stomp the balls off everything they do and stand for. Continue reading “And now, let’s get 2014 started: Benjamin Bratton’s epic anti-TED Talk TED Talk”
No, this clever program isn’t 100% there yet, but listen to the audio and think about it for a second. Continue reading “The first machine to pass the Turing Test is going to be … wait for it … a telemarketing robot”
Google recently implemented their new “Hummingbird” organic search algorithm, perhaps the company’s most significant overhaul in more than a decade. Thomas Claburn at Information Week explains that Hummingbird is an expansion of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which was
“introduced last year as a way to help its search engine understand the relationships between concepts rather than simply matching keywords in documents. The Knowledge Graph structures data, so that a search for, say, Marie Curie, returns facts about her contributions to science, her life, her family and other related information, not all of which are necessarily contained in the same document.” Continue reading “SEO: Google’s Hummingbird algorithm from a content strategist’s perspective”
Yes, PowerPoint sucks. Here’s why, plus some suggestions about how to fix the problem.
Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that promised to make us beautiful but didn’t. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: It induced stupidity, turned everyone into bores, wasted time, and degraded the quality and credibility of communication. These side effects would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall. – Edward Tufte Continue reading “PowerPoint is making us dumber and damaging our businesses”