News for Aug 14-20 2016

We’ll Sing in the Sunshine

• News is a misleading way to understand the world.

100 Greatest Motown songs.

• British Airways tells Swiss musician she must have a visa for her cello.

• Description of a trip from Montreal to Minnesota on the Great Lakes. (long)

• A new kind of computer memory (now called 3D Xpoint) is probably going to market this year.
Imagine turning on your computer and everything is just exactly as you left it … 1000x faster than Flash memory, 10x denser than DRAM.

Great Story In 1966, in order to meet the Beatles, they pretended to be the opening band.

Reader zone!
All week Warptastic! scours the web looking for newly-posted, engaging articles. (Now and then finding them.) Onbeat, offbeat, never lamebeat!
Skip the filler, the SOSDD, the ads disguised as ‘stories’. Stop by. We promise you’ll never see the T-word.

Hero Status Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. (long)
≫ BBC Special (1979, 40m)
≫ Spex: World Turned Day-Glo single
≫ Spex: Germ Free album.

• How Sam Phillips invented the sound of rock and roll.
(For one thing he kept it simple. That might work today!)

• Some taxi drivers are switching to Tesla Taxis.
Christian says that the expensive monthly payments are dwarfed by the money he saves on gas and maintenance.”

• Seattle millenials see a scary future.

1959 Farmer’s advice to gay son.
From StoryCorps, an oral history project.

• Questions gay people hate being asked.

• California gang database includes 42 people under 1 year old.

There are two kinds of people in this world, my fren. Those with an antenna on their car, and those without.

• Want cheaper Comcast rates? Move to a city with Google Fiber.

Private prisons to be shut down?
less safe and less effective…”
Yeah? but but but but …

How young sunflowers follow the sun’s path.

• She quite school, worked in a record shop, joined a band, then
got interested in string theory.

• You may be a happy housekeeper.

• We don’t understand AI because we don’t understand intelligence.
Even if scientists develop the technology to create an artificial brain, there is no evidence that this process will automatically generate a mind. There’s no guarantee that this machine will suddenly be conscious. How could there be, when we don’t understand the nature of consciousness? “

QUOTE You can’t rule the world in hiding. You’ve got to come out on the balcony sometimes and wave a tentacle. — Doctor Who

Warptastical News for Aug 7-13 2016

They Live

20 important lessons for all 20 somethings.

The messy end of alternative rock. A detailed overview, part of 1996 Week at AVClub.
Bonus track: 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders is part of Dave Tompkins’ big, big music database.

• AVClub looks back at the 2000s Dance-Punk revival. Yeah Yeah Yeah.

L.A. record store photo-essay.
Or … how about Radio in 80s NYC?

• The Atlantic picked out 100 exceptional works of journalism. (Apparently most great journalists live in the US.)

• Nat. Geographic offers printable USGS map quads (topographic, 1:24,000) for all your wandering needs.
Browser-only: USGS tool. USGS FAQs.

• Heard of the new Link NYC‘s kiosks? Here’s how they look and work.

• Where physicist Marie Curie grew up (Russia-controlled Poland), women couldn’t attend college. So she attended Warsaw’s illegal Flying University.

• Won an Olympic medal? Don’t forget to pay your taxes!

10 interesting facts about DNA.

• It’s possible that Venus was once a balmy paradise.

Tabby’s star is dimming faster than any theory can explain.
Hope it isn’t an approaching fleet of Reavers.

1000 new Mars pictures from the amazing HIRISE camera.

• Microsoft sent a Secure Boot backdoor into the wild where it got found.

Will the BBC vans be able to sniff streamers watching without a license?

NYT: Too poor to afford the Internet.
In all five boroughs … libraries are lending a total of 10,000 cellphone-size Wi-Fi hot-spot devices for up to a year in neighborhoods that are digital deserts.”
(Comment) I live in a country with a minimum wage of $58 a month (Ukraine) and yet the internet is one of the few things that pretty much anyone can afford: high speed connections (50-100mbps) cost about $2-4; rarely more.”

The Egyptians made their rocks from four main ingredients; limestone, lime, water and mud.

Story of feminist punk in 33 songs. (via MeFi’s ‘Filthy Light Thief’)

• The List of Lists of Lists of Lists. Yes for real. WARNING: Web 1.0 fell into this!

Warptastical News for Jul 31-Aug 6 2016

Strange days indeed. All the way to Eleven.

• Gamers eagerly await the upcoming release of No Man’s Sky. What you need to know.
Also: Interview with the band that made the sci-fi sounds.

What Difference Does It Make is an insight-full feature-length film, about the lives of musicians of all stripes, young to old, pro to beginner.

Suzanne Ciani: Diva of the diode. 60s NY commercial synthesist.

• Over at MeFi, the story of the British EMI label includes a fine link collection to videos illustrating its past 50 years.

Cooking with wasted food.
The nonprofit has rescued excess restaurant, corporate, catering, hotel, hospital and grocery store food for almost 30 years.

• (Half of the) 10 rules for negotiating a job offer. Good stuff from the guy who wrote this (longer).

• Oxford scholar writes that swearing is good for you. Utter bollocks, stupid git.
Stephen Fry (1) (2)

• The ground is melting out from under the Alaska Highway, built during WW2.

Beepi and Carvana: New ways to buy a car … without the dealership!

• Thieves use laptop to steal 30 jeeps and drive them to Mexico.

TV’s are still too complicated.

• Washington State AG goes after Comcast for $100 mill for worthless service plans.

• Famed hacker starts business to grade software on security with his wife, an ex-NSA mathematician.

Oh joy | Batteries on laptops or phones can be used to track their location.

Geek corner | For laughs and memories, I recommend an episode or two of the old TV show Computer Chronicles (started in 1983). (Online resolution is low; you may want to download higher.)

<aside>Things done thousands of years ago that can’t be explained? Some people like to blame aliens. Because? No way some ‘cave man’ was smarter than them. </aside>

Warptastical News for July 24-30 2016

Antidote for those post-convention blues

Will Smith’s biggest entrance. Matt Damon’s future pick for Vice President!

A thermometer is not Republican or Democrat.

• The US is finally building its first offshore windfarm. Better late than never. (For comparison, World’s biggest.)

• Distraction from the heat? Hallmark’s line of Star Trek themed Christmas ornaments.

• The Solar Impulse sun-powered plane has completed its trip around the world on July 25. It took 17 months.

Am I Emo? A revisit after 14 years.

• 2016 astronomy photo of the year contest entries. (Run by Royal Observatory Greenwich; 2700 entries in 2015)

Big bad Russian machine lays down a railroad track. Ties, gravel, the whole works.

Ruins of Hitler’s Olympic village. (Atlas Obscura. About.)

• The world isn’t getting worse; our info’s getting better.

Dangers of the internet of things. (Schneier)

Parkour in troubled Kashmir.

History in the Making | He was mocked for being England’s first umbrella user. (Hated by cab drivers.)

• Story of the guys who started Zimride Lyft after their first biz fail in 2012.

• Consumer Reports names 15 supplement ingredients to avoid.

• Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s bird videos. Studying birds since 1929. Birdsong archive.
Bonus track: Mozart’s starling.

<aside> Most of my screen wallpaper is pictures of the great outdoors. Maybe it’s the city living. I wonder: if I lived in the great outdoors, what would my collection look like? Tagged garage doors? Telephone poles festooned with flyers? Does your collection have a theme? </aside>

Facepalm Corner | A lame-ass chemical test found donut glaze to be positive for methamphetamine.

These new-fangled galaxy things

We’ve all heard how Copernicus, back in the 1500s, raised the thought that the Earth isn’t at the center of the universe. And how Galileo got in trouble for it. That was all quite a while ago.

But acceptance of the idea that there are galaxies out there is pretty new, no older than today’s oldest living citizens.


William and Caroline Herschel polishing a lens

By the end of the 19th century, big telescopes had existed for over a century. The Herschel family (William, Caroline, John and Alexander) had so many, they sort of made a family business out of astronomy.

While the galaxies had been spotted, in more primitive telescopes they looked like fuzzy smudges and so they were thought to be nebulas … patches of dust and gas. (Like the famous ‘Horsehead Nebula’ in Orion.) And all the nebulas – glowing either by the stars within them or reflected starlight – were thought to be in “the universe” we now call the Milky Way.

Great Debate

But by the end of the 1800s, a storm was brewing between the “conservative” and the “liberal” astronomers. Then in 1908, a lady astronomer (rare indeed) named Leavitt discovered a way to calculate the distance to objects in space … by studying stars called Cepheids.

And in 1920 there was a Great Debate between members of the two factions (Harvard vs Pittsburg). In 1924, a man named Hubble wrote a paper that began to change everyone’s view of the Universe. He said that he had found Cepheids … stars … in the ‘great spiral nebula in Andromeda’. And that it is millions of light-years away. It is not a nebula. It is the Milky Way’s big brother. End of that debate!

Before long…

In 1933 Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky was working at Caltech. He was studying a relatively nearby group of galaxies, over 1000 of them, called the Coma Cluster. (It’s about as wide in the sky as your thumb held at arm’s length.) He realized that they weren’t putting out enough light to explain their motions, and decided that much of them must be made of what he called ‘dark matter’.

The idea had to sit around waiting patiently for decades. (Am I suggesting that scientists will ignore hypotheses they personally don’t like? Yes! all the time.) Of course, the dawning realization that the universe was very, very large was keeping them all very busy at the time. Today, thanks to a telescope named Hubble, we know that there are more galaxies in the visible universe than there are stars in the Milky Way.

In the 1970s, lady astronomer Vera Rubin discovered that stars orbiting the outside of a spiral galaxy travel just as fast as those orbiting closer to the center. The question arose: why don’t galaxies fly apart? The answer hasn’t arrived!

Science moves on when confronted with enough facts. Of course, whether dark matter exists is still very much a question. Today, you could even say, there’s a great debate.

Warptastical News for July 17-23 2016

Big world out there.

I got arrested in Kazakhstan and represented myself in court.

Roadside America maps out attractions in every state. Don’t drive past the good stuff.

Pallet skating in Bratislava.

• Open, neutral internet. Community-owned. WiFi->Fiber. 30,000 users. Spain.

Awkward new magician gets a Penn & Teller thumbs-up.

The Encyclopedia of Matt Damon.

• First look at Blade Runner 2 concept art.

How to hide anything.

Pro kayaker, geomorphologist Natalie.

Fancy crow hop song. 2016 Alberta pow-wow – one of a hundred.

• About foreign words with no equivalent in English.
If you’re feeling some sehnsucht, weltschmerz or saudade, you’re probably not alone.

Punk chick gives talk at British Library, then defaces exhibit.

• A look at the new Aphex Twin EP.

• San Francisco’s queer spaces fighting gentrification too.

• 25 members of the US House have formed a Fourth Amendment Caucus.

US House investigates dangers of Pokemon Go (PDF).

• Nautilus’ issue 38 is about Noise.

Department of Wallpaper | Dead Horse Point | National Geographic travel photos.

Propellerhead Corner: | Lighting up a 20,000-watt lamp | At only 1/4 ‘power’, the new MeerKAT telescope found 1300 new galaxies | History of the URL | The bicycle problem

Websites people liked | Fanlore Wiki | Hardcore Gaming 101 | Reddit:Lectures | Wait But Why | Github Trending

If you’re at all a fan of:
Elvis Costello then this NYPL interview podcast is remarkable. (Nov. 2015)
Henry Rollins then here’s his weekly radio show archive.

Warptastical News for July 10-16 2016

• A cavity-stopping fluid dentists can paint on.

• What it’s like getting your genome sequenced.

• You’ll soon see the new Universal Flash Storage (UFS) cards (530MB/sec read!), replacing Micro-SD cards.

• The Library of Congress has a website they call Everyday Mysteries. BUT: if there’s an answer, what’s the mystery?
OTOH, there are plenty of mysteries in D.C. already.

• Anu Partanen says: What Finland and its neighbors do is actually walk the walk of opportunity that America only talks.

• “We are the warning signal.

• A person with 90% of their brain missing, active and mostly functional.

• Sales of music downloads continue to crash.

In 2015 a new class of antibiotic was discovered. None too soon.

14 gravity-defying funiculars.

• Colm Hogan reflects on Mixtape Memories & Deadbeat Dads.
I’m not sure what the solutions are for our current predicaments. I just know I love this tune.”

• Care to time travel? Listen to selections from 78RPM records from Africa.

• This pure CSS 3D animated environment will give your browser a workout.

Cute little homes are carved out of caring. And, maybe a little mud.

Google “deletes” artist’s blog, erasing 12 years of work. And there, ladies and gents, is The Cloud for ya. In a nutshell.

Apart from news …

This week’s Internet radio | In the world of classical-music FM radio, Minnesota Public Radio‘s remains one of the best. It’s found online here.
For those who prefer the melodic calm of the renaissance, there’s Hampshire, UK’s Ancient FM; tune in online here.

Podcast | The New York Public Library Podcast. RSS Feed. Website.
| The Longform Podcast. RSS Feed.
| On Being with Krista Tippett. RSS Feed. Website.

Useful factoid | Vitamin B12, needed to make red blood cells, was first isolated in 1948 and is only made by certain bacteria and archea. Even a slight B12 deficiency (caused by diet or disease) can cause fatigue, depression and poor memory. Over time it can damage the brain and nervous system.
Until the 1920s, the disease pernicious anemia was common; it was discovered that eating raw liver effected a cure. PA results when the intestines lack, or cannot properly absorb, B12. Mary Lincoln probably had it.

Best wry humor | Toward the end of Oscar-winner The Big Short, two guys sneak into the empty, trashed offices of recently bankrupt investment company Lehman Brothers.
Magaro (sighs): This isn’t how I pictured it.
Wittrock: What did you think we’d find?
Magaro: Grownups.

This week brought to you by Pokemon Go.

July 10 2016 | 160ya: Birthday of long forgotten, now celebrated inventor Nikola Tesla. Inventions | 0ya: Boon Sheridan’s garden and driveway are invaded by Pokémon Go players.

July 11 2016 | 30ya: Infocom releases interactive fiction computer game Leather Goddesses of Phobos.

July 12 2016 | 70ya: Instrument maker Harold Rhodes reveals his portable piano, the 38-key Rhodes piano. Before long there’s an electric version.

July 13 2016 | 48ya: Toronto band Steppenwolf releases hit song Born to Be Wild. | 0ya: Shayla Wiggins, a Wyoming teen hunting Pokemon, finds a dead body.

July 14 2016 | 54ya: Ray Stevens’ song Ahab the Arab makes the top-40 charts. | 2ya: Citigroup agrees to a $7 Billion fine for mortgage fraud. | 1ya: Pluto gets its first visit.

July 15 2016 | 4ya: Korean singer Psy releases massive hit song Gangnam Style. The video has 2.6 Billion views.

July 16 2016 | 65ya: Publication of Salinger novel The Catcher in the Rye. | 10ya: Launch of Twitter. What are you doing?