“Your robot, the one you paid good money for, has chosen to kill you. Better that, its collision-response algorithms decided, than a high-speed, head-on collision with a smaller, non-robotic compact. There were two people in that car, to your one. The math couldn’t be simpler.”
Cognitive Lode is a beautiful and simple site, focusing on what it calls “brain gems for decision makers.” It’s a small listing of some really interesting terms like
the Von Restorff Effect (items that stand out from their peers are more memorable) and Round Pricing Preference (our perception that round numbers are more trustworthy and represent higher quality).
“Markus Persson, the game’s creator, planned for these worlds to be infinitely large: if a player kept walking in a single direction, the game would create more of the world in front of him, like an engineer forever laying track for an advancing train.”
“Why? Because they don’t want their database to get confused and think that you, a 45-year-old man, rode the teacups instead of your little son Timmy.This is one of the first examples I’ve seen of physical design (e.g., monogramming and coloring) for the sake of digital data purity.”
“The Hyatt lobby is empty except for rows of Buddha statues: a maze with no guests. The Business Center manageress not only has heard of the boy but is also of the opinion that he is being fed by snakes. Their venom, she says, is actually milk to him.”
“When White was 15, he flew to Sapporo for the Toyota Big Air contest. Some of the other riders gathered before the event to discuss dividing the purse – including the winner’s $50,000 and a Japanese car – regardless of how they placed. White refused to go along and won. The promoters gave him an extra $15,000 cash instead of the car. White kept the $65,000 for himself.”
“Entomologists report that the crazy ants, like other ants, seem drawn to electronic devices – car stereos, circuit boxes, machinery. But with crazy ants, so many will stream inside a device that they form a single, squirming mass that completes a circuit and shorts it. Crazy ants have ruined laptops this way and, according to one exterminator, have also temporarily shut down chemical plants.”
“The next step is to realize that those hundreds of pairs of eyes aren’t there to kill you, but to learn from you. They’re not lions and you’re not a zebra separated from the pack, they’re all monkeys and you’re the prettiest monkey and they desperately want you to tell them where the best bananas are located that will turn them into pretty monkeys as well.”
“Automation has become so sophisticated that on a typical passenger flight, a human pilot holds the controls for a grand total of just three minutes. What pilots spend a lot of time doing is monitoring screens and keying in data. They’ve become, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say, computer operators.”
One Strap or Two: The Gradual Shift in Backpack Wearing As Determined by Time, Pop Culture, and Some Dude Named Tom Ferguson
For many, the idea of one-strapping was silly or uncool, or never even occurred to them. “I wore my backpack with both straps, as did most people,” wrote one 2010 graduate. “I don’t remember ever having a conversation about how to wear a backpack in high school; no one seemed to notice.” “I think one-strapping, even temporarily, is unnecessary and unhelpful,” wrote one 13-year-old. A former college classmate of mine even told me, “I now teach sixth grade and it’s all about the backpacks with the extra straps and clasps. All straps on, all clasps closed.”
As a kid growing up in the 80’s with cable television, Time Bandits is one of those films that seemed to always be playing. I watched it so many times, there are still sections of the film that I feel I could quote verbatim, some 25+ years later.
Adam B. Vary has written a fantastic article on how the movie came to be, entitled “Something Terrible Has Happened Here”: The Crazy Story Of How “Clue” Went From Forgotten Flop To Cult Triumph. He tracks down the movie’s director, Jonathan Lynn, and gets a lot of the wonderful details and behind-the-scenes stories.
Today, I was reminded of Thomas Lynch’s excellent book The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. Lynch is an undertaking by profession, but an excellent, excellent essayist. I first came across his writing while in graduate school, and I found them incredibly moving. I find myself going back to this book at least once a year, and always find great joy in reading his words.
“Chuck Feeney is the James Bond of philanthropy. Over the last 30 years he’s crisscrossed the globe conducting a clandestine operation to give away a $7.5 billion fortune derived from hawking cognac, perfume and cigarettes in his empire of duty-free shops. […] Few living people have given away more, and no one at his wealth level has ever given their fortune away so completely during their lifetime.”
While Liz and I were driving to Michigan for her birthday roadtrip, I remember seeing a sign along the highway advertising an upcoming show by Huey Lewis and the News. I was surprised to see that the band was still around, and still playing venues (though the venues seemed to be smaller ones). Even after all this time, after all…