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Arts / Misc / Science26.11.2014

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

In 1959, I worked as a scientist at Allied Research Associates in Boston. The company was an MIT spinoff that originally focused on the effects of nuclear weapons on aircraft structures. The company received a contract with the acronym GLIPAR (Guide Line Identification Program for Antimissile Research) from the Advanced Research Projects Agency to elicit the most creative approaches possible for a ballistic missile defense system. The government recognized that no matter how much was spent on improving and expanding current technology, it would remain inadequate. They wanted us and a few other contractors to think “out of the box.” When I first became involved in the project, I suggested that Isaac Asimov, who was a good friend of mine, would be an appropriate person to participate. He expressed his willingness and came to a few meetings. He eventually decided not to continue, because he did not want to have access to any secret classified information; it would limit his freedom of expression. Before he left, however, he wrote this essay on creativity as his single formal input.


Internet / Misc / Technology13.10.2014

Amazing Military Infographics

Some nights I like to get the kids to bed, pour a drink, and search the web for military-produced PDFs in order to look at the amazing graphics within them. I’d thought I was the only person with this hobby, but a few weeks ago my friend Finn Smith told me that he, too, likes military PDF graphics. The Internet is wonderful at bringing people together.


Misc / Society / Strange23.12.2013

Unable to afford Gangnam-style plastic surgery, Korean teens deploy DIY methods

“We want to become pretty without spending all the money,” said Na. “We know that these methods aren’t approved of, but lots of our peers do it. Girls [in our all-girls school] like girls who look pretty.” At times, the “patients” are as young as 12 or 13. Sitting in their apartments, the pair explained that every day they spend some time wearing eccentric glasses that forced their eyes to stay open without blinking. The goal: a cheap version of double-eyelid surgery, which aims to give Asians a... “Hollywood look.” At least, that’s what sellers told them. A pair sells on the web for anywhere from $5 to $20. But fads come and go quickly in South Korea, and this duo opines that even the strange-looking specs are becoming old news. “Elementary school kids wear them,” one girl chimed in dismissively. They’ve become “lame,” she said — not because of their outcome, but because of this growing demand from ever-younger fashionistas.


Berlin / Business / Misc07.07.2013

Leipziger Straße in Berlin – Begehrte Platte

Sobald eine der Wohnungen der „Alten“ frei wird, gestaltet sie der Eigentümer um. Nach den Umbauten heißen die alten Zweiraumwohnungen dann „Studio“ oder „Loft“ oder wenigstens „City-Appartement“. Das zieht offenbar. „Vor allem bei jüngeren Leuten“, sagt Tanja Füting. Die Maklerin bietet gerade zwei Hochhauswohnungen an der Leipziger Straße im Auftrag eines Kunden zum Kauf an. Eine liegt im 20. Stock, die andere noch zwei Etagen höher. Ein wenig erstaunt sei sie schon über das Interesse gewesen, erzählt sie. „Viele meldeten sich aus dem Ausland.“ Kaufpreise von 2500 Euro je Quadratmeter und teilweise 3500 Euro seien mittlerweile üblich für die Wohnungen in den hohen Etagen.


Misc / Politics / Society09.03.2012

Whistleblowers: 70 percent of U.S. ground beef contains ‘pink slime’

A former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist has come forward with a startling tale of how a substance known as “pink slime” has been embedded in about 70 percent of ground beef sold in the U.S. — a topic ABC News investigated for a segment Wednesday night. “Pink slime” is largely made up of connective tissue that used to be reserved only for dog foods. It was not classified as “meat” because it was largely seen as unfit for human consumption. It also contains ammonia, which is used to kill off bacteria so people who eat it do not get sick.  But in the early 90s, former undersecretary of agriculture Joann Smith decided that it was meat, allowing it to enter the human food chain. When she left her post in 1993, she immediately took a job with Beef Products, Inc. on their board of directors.



Sturgeon’s Law

90% of everything is crud. Crawford's Corollary: Should you ever find that less than 90% seem to be crap, your standard is set too low and should be adjusted.


Misc / Society09.01.2012

Doubts surface as police sharply increase Taser use

A Tribune analysis shows Taser use has jumped fivefold in the city since 2008 and suburban agencies that were surveyed were on pace to double their use, as departments equipped more officers with the devices. Chicago police were deploying Tasers at a rate of more than twice a day in 2011.



Spider-Man’s lost lustre

Spider-Man was invented 50 years ago, and swiftly became Marvel's most popular character. The company did what companies always do when a product hits big: they manufactured more product. The original Amazing Spider-Man magazine was joined by Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, Spider-Man Family, Ultimate Spider-Man and many, many others. Thousands of storylines were spun, each increasingly desperate to milk some more web-fluid out of the property. Each super-villain was killed and reanimated and re-killed ad infinitum. Spidey's secret identity was revealed, re-hidden, revealed, re-hidden. Fans gawped in exasperation when Peter Parker's moribund Aunt May was finally shot, only for Peter to make a bargain with the demon Mephisto to resurrect her in exchange for the erasure of Peter's marriage to Mary Jane. Confused? It gets a lot more complicated than this.


Misc / Videos13.03.2011

March 11 Earthquake in Tokyo

From my office in Otemachi, central Tokyo. Rough footage started 10 seconds into today's quake.


Misc / Sports / Videos04.03.2011

VCA 2010

Valparaiso Cerro Abajo urban downhill course in Valparaiso, Chile.


Misc / Strange27.02.2011

Ziona Chana, the head of the world’s largest family

Ziona Chana, the head of the world’s largest family (and, also, of a sect that allows men to marry as many women as they want), lives in a 100-room mansion with his 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren. One evening meal consists of 30 whole chickens, 132 lbs of potatoes and 220 lbs of rice.



Barclays bank forced to admit it paid just £113m in corporation tax in 2009

"The Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who lobbied Barclays' chief executive, Bob Diamond, to reveal the tax paid by the bank, described the figure – just 1% of its 2009 profits – as "shocking"."


Misc / Science21.02.2011

CCC-Aktivist über Anonymisierungsdienste

Julius Mittenzwei vom Chaos Computer Club erklärt im Interview den Anonymisierungsdienst TOR. Er glaubt, dass ihm eine große Zukunft bevorsteht, auch weil der Staat immer mehr wissen will.



US Loses Its Fat Supremacy

The fattest industrialized nation is now the United Arab Emirates, with an average body-mass index (BMI, or a calculation based on height and weight that estimates a person's fatness) of 28.9, followed closely by Qatar at 28.5.