I found this amazing little temple being swallowed up by a tree behind one of the Marble Mountains yesterday in Vietnam. Finding…

I found this amazing little temple being swallowed up by a tree behind one of the Marble Mountains yesterday in Vietnam. Finding little random places like this are the reason I love traveling so much!

Found and photographed by @skaremedia who is currently traveling though Vietnam.

#danang #landscape #landscapephotograpy #tree #ancient #wow #amazing #temple #vietnam #atlasobscura by atlasobscura (via https://www.instagram.com/p/BD-TTmZKfcA/)

Why Do Taxonomists Write the Meanest Obituaries?

biology, taxonomy, classification, ICN, ICZN, history, openness, names

This tension between freedom and stability was long ago formalized in two sets of official and binding rules: the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), which deals with animals, and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). Periodically updated by committees of working taxonomists, these documents set out precise, legalistic frameworks for how to apply names both to species and to higher taxa. (The animal and plant codes operate independently, which means that an animal can share a scientific name with a plant, but not with another animal, and vice versa.) While this freedom opens up a valuable space for amateur contributions, it also creates a massive loophole for unscrupulous, incompetent, or fringe characters to wreak havoc. That’s because the Principle of Priority binds all taxonomists into a complicated network of interdependence; just because a species description is wrong, poorly conceived, or otherwise inadequate, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a recognized part of taxonomic history. Whereas in physics, say, “unified theories” scrawled on napkins and mailed in unmarked envelopes end up in trashcans, biologists, regardless of their own opinions, are bound to reckon with the legacy of anyone publishing a new name. Taxonomists are more than welcome to deal with (or “revise”) these incorrect names in print, but they can’t really ignore them.

via http://nautil.us/issue/35/boundaries/why-do-taxonomists-write-the-meanest-obituaries

Exxon and Shell Double Down to Defeat Climate Change Legislation


This report makes me gag. But, here in the U.S., thanks to the dead guy who used to be on the Supreme Court, Scalia, and his reactionary buddies such as Alito and Thomas and Kennedy and Roberts, corporations are people and people have first amendment rights and so corporations as people are entitled to speak and money is speak. So there. It’s still fucking awful.

If you read this chart slowly and deliberately, it will tell you a terrible story. To understand it a little better, “APPEA” is the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, a trade association for the oil industry. “WSPA” is the Western States Petroleum Association, another trade association. “API” is the American Petroleum Institute, the mother of all trade associations. 

Link into the article to learn more about the methodology of the research and link into the base report from InfluenceMap.org. But here’s an excerpt:

More significantly, InfluenceMap says, “Extrapolated over the entire fossil fuel and other industrial sectors beyond, it is not hard to consider that this obstructive climate policy lobbying spending may be in the order of $500m annually.”

The group drew particular attention to the sinister lobbying group American Petroleum Institute (API), “one of the best funded and most consistently obstructive lobbying forces for climate policy in the United States,” as InfluenceMap notes:

“With a budget in excess of $200m, we estimate, through a forensic analysis of its IRS filings and careful study of its lobbying, PR, media and advertising activities, that around $65m of this is highly obstructive lobbying against ambitious climate policy. We estimate that ExxonMobil and Shell contribute $6m and $3m respectively to API’s obstructive spending of $65m. Its CEO Jack Gerard received annual compensation of just over $14m in 2013, probably one of the world’s highest paid lobbyists. In the run up to COP21 last year, he dismissed the Paris process as a ‘narrow political ideology.‘”

Exxon and Shell Double Down to Defeat Climate Change Legislation

Note the blue line, which is a record of last winter. The winter peak in March was the lowest since satellite records began,…


Note the blue line, which is a record of last winter. The winter peak in March was the lowest since satellite records began, scientists say, according to an article in EcoWatch. More from EcoWatch:

What’s behind this winter’s low ice extent?

The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the global average, largely in response to rising greenhouse gases.

In March 2016, nearly all of the Arctic Ocean experienced exceptionally warm conditions, says the NSIDC report, with air temperatures about 3,000 feet above the surface typically 2 to 4C higher than the long term average.

This is consistent with what scientists have been seeing for the last few months.

Monitoring sea ice thickness can tell us about the age of the ice that’s left in the Arctic, as well as how it’s changing over short timescales. The oldest ice—more than five years old—is now at record low levels, making up just 3 percent of the total ice cover, according to the NSIDC report.

Of the sea ice in the Arctic basin, 70 percent is first-year ice (which means it’s melting and refreezing each year) while only 30 percent is lasting through one summer without melting.

The map below shows the age of sea ice across the Arctic for a week at the start of March. Red is the very old (5+ years) ice in the western Beaufort Sea, while dark blue is first year ice.

Generation Anthropocene

environment, literature, Anthropocene, WIPP, longnow, Solastalgia, semiotics

The New Mexico facility is due to be sealed in 2038. The present plans for marking the site involve a berm with a core of salt, enclosing the above-ground footprint of the repository. Buried in the berm will be radar reflectors, magnets and a “Storage Room”, constructed around a stone slab too big to be removed via the chamber entrance. Data will be inscribed on to the slab including maps, time lines, and scientific details of the waste and its risks, written in all current official UN languages, and in Navajo: “This site was known as the WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Site) when it was closed in 2038 AD … Do not expose this room unless the information centre messages are lost. Leave the room buried for future generations.” Discs made of ceramic, clay, glass and metal, also engraved with warnings, will be embedded in the soil and the shaft seals. Finally, a “hot cell”, or radiation containment chamber, will be constructed: a reinforced concrete structure extending 60 feet above the earth and 30 feet down into it

via http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/01/generation-anthropocene-altered-planet-for-ever

How David Hume Helped Me Solve My Midlife Crisis

David, Hume, history, Philosophy, Buddhism, Catholicism, Siam, Tibet, enlightenment, Alison, Gopnik

This story may help explain Hume’s ideas. It unquestionably exemplifies them. All of the characters started out with clear, and clashing, identities—the passionate Italian missionary and the urbane French priest, the Tibetan king and lamas, the Siamese king and monks, the skeptical young Scot. But I learned that they were all much more complicated, unpredictable, and fluid than they appeared at first, even to themselves. Both Hume and the Buddha would have nodded sagely at that thought. Although Dolu and Desideri went to Siam and Tibet to bring the wisdom of Europe to the Buddhists, they also brought back the wisdom of the Buddhists to Europe. Siam and Tibet changed them more than they changed Siam and Tibet. And his two years at La Flèche undoubtedly changed David Hume.

via http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/how-david-hume-helped-me-solve-my-midlife-crisis/403195/


It isn’t robots at the moment. It’s scripts, processes, procedures, automation of all kinds:

A ‘Brief’ History of Neural Nets and Deep Learning

history, machine-learning, machinelearning, neural-nets, deep-learning, AI, computing

This is the first part of ‘A Brief History of Neural Nets and Deep Learning’. In this part, we shall cover the birth of neural nets with the Perceptron in 1958, the AI Winter of the 70s, and neural nets’ return to popularity with backpropagation in 1986.

via http://www.andreykurenkov.com/writing/a-brief-history-of-neural-nets-and-deep-learning/

On Social Sadism - China Miéville

China, Miéville, culture, history, politics, sadism, power, Capitalism

this is about social sadism – deliberate, invested, public or at least semi-public cruelty. The potentiality for sadism is one of countless capacities emergent from our reflexive, symbolising selves. Trying to derive any social phenomenon from any supposed ‘fact’ of ‘human nature’ is useless, except to diagnose the politics of the deriver. Of course it’s vulgar Hobbesianism, the supposed ineluctability of human cruelty, that cuts with the grain of ruling ideology. The right often, if incoherently, acts as if this (untrue) truth-claim of our fundamental nastiness justifies an ethics of power. The position that Might Makes Right is elided from an Is, which it isn’t, to an Ought, which it oughtn’t be, even were the Is an is. If strength and ‘success’ are coterminous with good, what can their lack be but bad – deserving of punishment?

via http://salvage.zone/in-print/on-social-sadism/

Myanmar’s military goes to ‘democracy school’ with new civilian MPs

Myanmar, Burma, workshop, democracy, education, UN, parliament

It is an undeniably odd sight: a member of Myanmar’s military sitting in uniform taking notes on the basics of democracy. Next to him sit former political prisoners and human rights activists who now hold a majority in the country’s first credible parliament. Aung San Suu Kyi won a landmark general election last year, making her the de facto head of government. But her team of neophyte legislators, many of whom were locked up for years by the junta, are in need of a class in how to run the country. […] And so the former enemies sat down last week at desks in parliament to attend a United Nations-led intensive course on how to carry out the job of being an MP in a modern democracy.

via http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/26/myanmar-generals-democracy-school-new-civilian-mps

Radio Kootwijk

Radio, Kootwijk, Netherlands, history, telegraph, telephony

The station initially operated under the name Radio Assel, but also became known under the name Radio Hoog Buurlo. ‘Kootwijk Radio’ was the international call sign for radio traffic. Queen Emma brought about the first telephone connection in 1929 with the Dutch East Indies with the legendary words: “Hello Bandoeng Hello Bandoeng! Can you hear me?“. The first conversations, which invariably concluded with the Dutch national anthem Wilhelmus, were free as it was still in an experimental phase. Subsequently, people had to pay considerable amounts for a phone call to family members overseas.

via http://www.hierradiokootwijk.nl/p/english

A spiritual successor to Aaron Swartz is angering publishers all over again

sci-hub, openaccess, publishing, academic-publishing, arstechnica, piracy, Elsevier

I started the website because it was a great demand for such service in research community. In 2011, I was an active participant in various online communities for scientists (i.e. forums, the technology preceding social networks and still surviving to the present day). What all students and researchers were doing there is helping each other to download literature behind paywalls. I became interested and very involved. Two years before, I already had to pirated many paywalled papers while working on my final university project (which was dedicated to brain-machine interfaces). So I knew well how to do this and had necessary tools. After sending tens or hundreds of research papers manually, I wanted to develop a script that will automate my work. That’s how Sci-Hub started.

via http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/04/a-spiritual-successor-to-aaron-swartz-is-angering-publishers-all-over-again/

How an Army of Ocean Farmers are Starting an Economic Revolution

aquaculture, farming, food, sea, seafood, environment

After my farm was destroyed, it was clear to me that I had to adapt because I was facing a serious threat to my livelihood. I began to re-imagine my occupation and oyster farm. I began experimenting and exploring new designs and new species. I lifted my farm off the sea bottom to avoid the impact of storm surges created by hurricanes and started to grow new mixes of restorative species. Now, after 29 years of working on the oceans, I’ve remade myself as a 3D ocean farmer, growing a mix of seaweeds and shellfish for food, fuel, fertilizer, and feed.

via https://medium.com/invironment/an-army-of-ocean-farmers-on-the-frontlines-of-the-blue-green-economic-revolution-d5ae171285a3#.qzo4a6dj9

Largest leak in history reveals world leaders and businesspeople hiding trillions in offshore havens


An anonymous source has handed 2.6TB worth of records from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s largest offshore law firms, to a consortium of news outlets, including The Guardian.

The dump includes 11.5M files, whose contents reveal a complex system of tax evasion that implicates some of the richest, most powerful people in the world, from Vladimir Putin to former members of the UK Tory government and the father of UK Tory prime minister David Cameron.

Putin is implicated in $2B worth of offshore accounts, in a scheme that also implicates his top cronies. Also implicated are Nawaz Sharif, the PM of Pakistan; Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko; Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, and former Iraqi PM Ayad Allaw, as well as current and former members of China’s politburo. There’s even a member of Fifa’s ethics committee!

The company’s internal documents reveal that they view 95% of their work “consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.”

The Prime Minister of Iceland stormed out of an interview where he was questioned about his offshore holdings. Opposition leaders are calling for a snap election, which could bring the Pirate Party to power, a remarkable circumstance that would have major political implications around the world – for one thing, the Icelandic Pirates have previously lobbied for their government to extend an Icelandic passport and asylum to Edward Snowden.

As Snowden himself wrote, “Biggest leak in the history of data journalism just went live, and it’s about corruption.”


“THE VULTURES OF Britain’s International Centre for Birds of Prey don’t know it, but they’re dupes. Every day, the giant birds…

vultures, augmented ecology, data collection

“THE VULTURES OF Britain’s International Centre for Birds of Prey don’t know it, but they’re dupes. Every day, the giant birds carefully tend to their eggs, rotating them periodically so they incubate just right. But…take a closer look at that nest. Not every egg in there is made of calcium carbonate, and they don’t always contain baby birds.No, at this conservation center, some of those eggs are actually 3-D printed. And they’re packed with a bounty that may be more precious to the vultures than an actual embryo: sensors.”

via http://www.wired.com/2016/04/future-wildlife-conservation-electronic-vulture-egg/

Introducing Humdog: Pandora’s Vox Redux (1994)

humdog, 1994, cyberspace, Beaudrilliard, language, mass, gender, utopia, literature, editing, censor

i suspect that cyberspace exists because it is the purest manifestation of the mass (masse) as Jean Beaudrilliard described it. it is a black hole; it absorbs energy and personality and then re-presents it as spectacle. people tend to express their vision of the mass as a kind of imaginary parade of blue-collar workers, their muscle-bound arms raised in defiant salute. sometimes in this vision they are holding wrenches in their hands. anyway, this image has its origins in Marx and it is as Romantic as a dozen long-stemmed red roses. the mass is more like one of those faceless dolls you find in nostalgia-craft shops: limp, cute, and silent. when i say “cute” i am including its macabre and sinister aspects within my definition.

via http://alphavilleherald.com/2004/05/introducing_hum.html

“32/76, An W+B”, 1976, directed by Kurt Kren “I took a photograph of the view out of the window and had a very large negative…

video link


“32/76, An W+B”, 1976, directed by Kurt Kren

“I took a photograph of the view out of the window and had a very large negative made from it, which I fastened to the lens hood attacement in front of the camera. I tried to bring the negative into alignment with the real landscape which I could see through the camera. Then I filmed for months, changing the focus from near to far and then back again.”- Kurt Kren

The annual Boring Conference

boredom, boring, trivia, focus, obsession, conference, UK

The annual Boring Conference which is held in the UK as a celebration of “the mundane, the ordinary, the obvious and the overlooked”; subjects which, according to the Boring Conference website, are “often considered trivial and pointless, but when examined more closely reveal themselves to be deeply fascinating”. Previous topics discussed at the conference, which has been running for four years now, include sneezing, toast, IBM tills, the sounds made by vending machines, the Shipping Forecast, barcodes, yellow lines, and the features of the Yamaha PSR-175 Portatune keyboard.

via http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160401-what-i-learned-from-the-most-boring-man-in-britain

The point is… to live one’s life in the full complexity of what one is, which is something much darker, more contradictory, more…

“The point is… to live one’s life in the full complexity of what one is, which is something much darker, more contradictory, more of a maelstrom of impulses and passions, of cruelty, ecstacy, and madness, than is apparent to the civilized being who glides on the surface and fits smoothly into the world.”

Thomas Nagel (viasyntheticphilosophy)

Your attention: please?

attention, history, inattention, distraction, morality

The recent decades have seen a dramatic reversal in the conceptualisation of inattention. Unlike in the 18th century when it was perceived as abnormal, today inattention is often presented as the normal state. The current era is frequently characterised as the Age of Distraction, and inattention is no longer depicted as a condition that afflicts a few. Nowadays, the erosion of humanity’s capacity for attention is portrayed as an existential problem, linked with the allegedly corrosive effects of digitally driven streams of information relentlessly flowing our way.

via http://www.metafilter.com/158361/Your-attention-please

(…) there are many ways in which a person’s reality model can malfunction and differ from the true external reality, giving rise…

“(…) there are many ways in which a person’s reality model can malfunction and differ from the true external reality, giving rise to illusions (incorrect perceptions of things that do exist in the external reality), omissions (nonperception of things that do exist in the external reality) and hallucinations (perceptions of things that don’t exist in the external reality).”

Tegmark, Max.Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. London: Penguin Books, 2014. (viacarvalhais)

In an unusual attempt to prevent more [labour] protests, some of China’s biggest coal mining companies are now focusing on other…

“In an unusual attempt to prevent more [labour] protests, some of China’s biggest coal mining companies are now focusing on other businesses entirely, Chinese media reports. Coal mining companies in Jincheng, a city in north China’s Shanxi province have embraced pharmacies, solar power stations, restaurants, supermarkets, and vegetable and fruit planting, National Business Daily (link in Chinese) reported on Mar. 28.”

Zheping Huang, ‘China’s coal companies are so desperate, they’ve started farming to keep employees busy’ (2016)