Sex and Drugs and Border Changes

NL, BE, borders, geography, Presqu'ile de l'Islal

Because of its political status, the uninhabited peninsula is off limits for Dutch police. And because of its geographic isolation, it is out of reach for their Belgian colleagues. These circumstances conspire to make the peninsula a sanctuary for unlicensed sunbathing, loud bacchanalia and unrestricted drug dealing. All of which might frighten the wild horses that are the only permanent residents of the wider area – officially a nature reserve, on both sides of the border.

http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/635-sex-and-drugs-and-border-changes

Photograph by Trent Parke—Magnum/Courtesy Steidl

Photograph by Trent Parke—Magnum/Courtesy Steidl

Pictured: Self-portrait, Menindee Outback, Australia.

Available in winter 2013 from Steidl, Trent Parke’s Minutes to Midnight

In 2003 Trent Parke began a road-trip around his native Australia, a monumental journey that was to last two years and cover a distance of over 90,000 km. Minutes to Midnight is the ambitious photographic record of that adventure, in which Parke presents a proud but uneasy nation struggling to craft its identity from different cultures and traditions. Minutes to Midnight merges traditional documentary techniques and imagination to create a dark visual narrative portraying Australia with a mix of nostalgia, romanticism and brooding realism. This is not a record of the physical landscape but of an emotional one.

For more photography events beyond the web in December, visit The Guide on LightBox.

Finding structure in xkcd comics with Latent Dirichlet Allocation

xkcd, data mining, topic modeling, LDA, machine learning

xkcd is self-proclaimed as “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”. There was a recent effort to quantify whether or not these “topics” agree with topics derived from the xkcd text corpus using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). That analysis makes the all too common folly of choosing an arbitrary number of topics. Maybe xkcd’s tagline does provide a strong prior belief of a small number of topics, but here we take a more objective approach and let the data choose the number of topics. An “optimal” number of topics is found using the Bayesian model selection approach (with uniform prior belief on the number of topics) suggested by Griffiths and Steyvers (2004). After an optimal number is decided, topic interpretations and trends over time are explored.

http://cpsievert.github.io/projects/615/xkcd/

Your Body’s Best Time for Everything

WSJ, cognition, circadian, sleep, fatigue, creativity, work

Surprisingly, fatigue may boost creative powers. For most adults, problems that require open-ended thinking are often best tackled in the evening when they are tired, according to a 2011 study in the journal Thinking & Reasoning. When 428 students were asked to solve a series of two types of problems, requiring either analytical or novel thinking, their performance on the second type was best at non-peak times of day when they were tired, according to the study led by Mareike Wieth, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Albion College in Michigan. (Their performance on analytical problems didn’t change over the course of the day.) Fatigue, Dr. Wieth says, may allow the mind to wander more freely to explore alternative solutions.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444180004578018294057070544

How advertisers became the NSA’s best friend

NSA, google, tracking, sureveillance, advertising, cookies, defective by design

What’s still unclear is whether the NSA is directly hacking Google or using some other way to track these cookies. But while the company is officially keeping quiet, the simple math of cookie tracking makes it likely that the NSA didn’t need any help from Google. Tracking cookies offers the NSA the perfect system for following suspects across the web: it’s pervasive, persistent, and for the most part, it’s still unencrypted. “It solves a bunch of tricky problems for bulk web surveillance that would otherwise be quite difficult,” says Jonathan Mayer, a fellow at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society who worked with the Washington Post on the report. The right cookie will follow you as your phone moves from 3G to a coffee shop’s Wi-Fi network, and in many cases it’ll broadcast your unique ID in plain text.

http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/12/5204196/how-advertisers-became-the-nsa-best-friend

Samantha West The Telemarketer Robot Who Swears She’s Not a Robot

turing test, telemarketing, robocalls, robot, recording, alice, eliza

When Scherer asked point blank if she was a real person, or a computer-operated robot voice, she replied enthusiastically that she was real, with a charming laugh. But then she failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/12/10/meet-the-robot-telemarketer-who-denies-shes-a-robot/

A mild-mannered man says his life was completely ruined after Google’s autocomplete feature convinced the government he was building a bomb.

automation, errorism, trial-by-algorithm

designedconflictterritories:

A mild-mannered man says his life was completely ruined after Google’s autocomplete feature convinced the government he was building a bomb.

Though he intended to search the web for “How do I build a radio-controlled airplane,” Jeffrey Kantor, then a government contractor, says the search engine auto-completed his request, turning it into “”How do I build a radio controlled bomb?”

Before he realized Google’s error, Kantor had already pressed enter, sparking a chain reaction he says resulted in months of harassment by government officials leading up to his eventual termination.

Man Says Google’s Autocomplete Feature Destroyed His Life | Gawker

The Stream represents the triumph of reverse-chronology, where importance—above-the-foldness—is based exclusively on nowness….

“The Stream represents the triumph of reverse-chronology, where importance—above-the-foldness—is based exclusively on nowness. There are great reasons for why The Stream triumphed. In a world of infinite variety, it’s difficult to categorize or even find, especially before a thing has been linked. So time, newness, began to stand in for many other things. And now the Internet’s media landscape is like a never-ending store, where everything is free. No matter how hard you sprint for the horizon, it keeps receding. There is always something more.”

2013: The Year ‘the Stream’ Crested - Atlantic Mobile (viaphotographsonthebrain)

What Happens to Google Maps When Tectonic Plates Move?

mapping, relativity, tectonics, tectonic plates, GPS, google maps, eath, NGS, longitude, latitude, d

A couple of weeks ago, I was writing up a description of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and I thought I’d compare the warping of spacetime to the motion of Earth’s tectonic plates. Nothing on Earth’s surface has fixed coordinates, because the surface is ever-shifting. Same goes for spacetime. But then it struck me: if nothing has fixed coordinates, then how do Google Maps, car nav systems, and all the other mapping services get you where you’re going? Presumably they must keep updating the coordinates of places, but how?

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/critical-opalescence/2013/11/11/what-happens-to-google-maps-when-tectonic-plates-move/

Cryptoforestry: Psychogeography in the Anthropocene

Cryptoforestry, Psychogeography, Anthropocene, wilfriedhoujebek

‘Crypto’ from Greek meaning hidden or secret, related to ‘cryptic’, of unsure or obscure meaning. A cryptoforest incorporates both: they may be forests that are hidden or it may refer to forests of unsure pedigree, because no other words suffices. Cryptoforests are a feeble category within the psychogeographic classification of landscapes. You do find cryptoforests in the centre but the chance of finding one increases as you move outward and cracks will appear in the urban armour as you move further and further in the perimeter. I invite you to think of the cryptoforest not as a disturbance of urban hegemony, but as the place where the division between city and nature becomes meaningless.

http://cryptoforest.blogspot.nl/2013/12/cryptoforestry-psychogeography-in.html

Tasted

food, flavour pairing, art, SFPC, simona derosa

TASTED is a project that investigates the way we taste food and its flavor. Nowadays it is possible to identify a product’s flavor profile through gas chromatography. Starting from a data set of 1000+ ingredients and their flavor compound profiles, Tasted combines ingredients in pairs resulting in over a million combinations. Looking for intersections of compounds between ingredients, food pairs are mapped from most similar to most dissimilar.

http://www.simona-derosa.com/works/#/tasted/

The Criminalization of Everyday Life

USA, militarization, MRAP, arming, armoring, pentagon, errorism

Sometimes a single story has a way of standing in for everything you need to know. In the case of the up-arming, up-armoring, and militarization of police forces across the country, there is such a story. Not the police, mind you, but the campus cops at Ohio State University now possess an MRAP; that is, a $500,000, 18-ton, mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle of a sort used in the Afghan War and, as Hunter Stuart of the Huffington Post reported, built to withstand “ballistic arms fire, mine fields, IEDs, and nuclear, biological, and chemical environments.” Sounds like just the thing for bouts of binge drinking and post-football-game shenanigans.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175781/

Let’s admit it: Britain is now a developing country

UK, empire, decay, collapsonomics, development, OECD, WEF

How can any nation that came up with the BBC and the NHS be considered in the same breath as India or China? Let me refer you to one of the first lines of The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor, in which a wise old man warns International Monetary Fund officials and foreign dignatories: “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/britain-now-developing-country-foodbanks-growth

green data center | MISFITS’ ARCHITECTURE

green data center | MISFITS’ ARCHITECTURE

People, listen! Our world is being reshaped by these buildings, not by shopping malls, culture centres and opera houses – as architects might like to have us believe. Functional connectivity and function fields are just quaint ideas from the past. Finding new architectural representations for “can you bring me that file please, Miss Jones?” or “come over here and look, feel and buy this!” are concepts as outdated as Miss Jones bringing it or feeling something before you buy it. Complex architecture is said to be needed to represent this new and complex world we live in, but that’s clearly a lie. THESE are the buildings that are making our world new and complex and, as you can see, they don’t care what you think of them. I wouldn’t trust them even if they did. These buildings are the new vernacular of our times. Everything else is just representational retro.

Spy agencies in covert push to infiltrate virtual world of online gaming

NSA, GCHQ, infiltration, WoW, gaming, real time, everything is under control

To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency’s impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/09/nsa-spies-online-games-world-warcraft-second-life?CMP=twt_gu

Farmville Gang Cons Romanian Government for $681,000 (€500,000) “Virtual” Cows Funds

EU, subsidies, con, crime, farmville, game, facebook, scam, Romania

A gang of Romanian Farmville-like enthusiasts insist they never realized that the government funds given for farming are actually for real animals and not fake ones like those on Facebook, deciding that their imaginary cows deserve the same treatment as the other milk-giving animals. In other words, they ripped off authorities using one of the oldest scams in the book, made possible by bureaucracy. The gang claimed they held eight cow farms with a total of 1,860 animals and received subsidies of almost $163 (€120) per cow for three years.

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Farmville-Gang-Cons-Romanian-Government-for–681–000–500–000-Virtual-Cows-Funds–406162.shtml

Yodaville.

designedconflictterritories:

whatthezeitgeistwants:

Yodaville.

Yodaville is a fake city in the Arizona desert used for bombing runs by the U.S. Air Force. Writing for Air & Space Magazine back in 2009, Ed Darack wrote that, while tagging along on a training mission, he noticed “a small town in the distance-which, as we got closer, proved to have some pretty big buildings, some of them four stories high.”

As one instructor tells Darack, “The urban layout is actually very similar to the terrain in many villages in Iraq and Afghanistan.” (io9)

Homage to the Idols of Idleness

NYT, idleness, doing nothing, time, perception, structure, order, GTD, curiosity

Over the centuries, the illusion of mastering time through obedience to it came into acceptance. Across Europe, the medieval monastery’s bell tolled as a reminder to eat, sleep and pray. But while there must have been some soul’s release in relinquishing earthly sovereignty to that sound, as the clock’s authority spread, we sealed all the gaps through which curiosity might seep into our days. Curiosity, after all, could lure the susceptible way off track, as the Italian poet Petrarch learned in the spring of 1336, when he famously climbed Mont Ventoux, motivated by “nothing but the desire to see its conspicuous height.” One of the texts he carried along was Saint Augustine’s “Confessions,” detailing the moral dangers of such expeditions, when men “go out to admire the mountains,” or the course of the stars, and therein forget themselves. Chastened, Petrarch made his descent in silence.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/opinion/homage-to-the-idols-of-idleness.html?ref=international&_r=2&_r=2&

The tiny Channel Island of Alderney is launching an audacious bid to become the first jurisdiction to mint physical Bitcoins,…

The tiny Channel Island of Alderney is launching an audacious bid to become the first jurisdiction to mint physical Bitcoins, amid a global race to capitalise on the booming virtual currency.

The three-mile long British crown dependency has been working on plans to issue physical Bitcoins in partnership with the UK’s Royal Mint since the summer, according to documents seen by the Financial Times.

It wants to launch itself as the first international centre for Bitcoin transactions by setting up a cluster of services that are compliant with anti-money laundering rules, including exchanges, payment services and a Bitcoin storage vault.

The special Bitcoin would be part of the Royal Mint’s commemorative collection, which includes limited edition coins and stamps that are normally bought by collectors. It would have a gold content – a figure of £500-worth has been proposed – so that holders could conceivably melt and sell the metal if the exchange value of the currency were to collapse.

Today’s Strange Bitcoin Idea, The Gold Backed Bitcoin - Forbes

[Jürgen Aschoff’s] experiments in a disused Munich bunker in the 1960s were the first to reveal the body’s independent…

[Jürgen Aschoff’s] experiments in a disused Munich bunker in the 1960s were the first to reveal the body’s independent sleep-wake cycle in its naked state. For several weeks, Aschoff’s subjects lived in isolation, collecting their own urine and monitoring their body temperatures. Dim lights were entirely under their control, but no time information from the outside world was allowed, and when Acshoff’s staff arrived with supplies, they even randomized the stubble-length on their faces so as not to give away clues.

Out of that gloom emerged the first proof of the body’s independent clock, cementing Aschoff’s standing as a founder of chronobiology. With no sunrise to provide external calibration, his subjects still tended to sleep for about eight hours. However, their waking period stretched slightly beyond 16 hours, revealing an internal clock that ran 20 minutes slower than the 24-hour day. Their days settled into a pattern of about 24.3 hours. And so with each passing day, the bunker residents went to sleep later and later until they were entirely out of sync with the rhythms of German life bustling above their heads.

Jessica Gamble looks at the science of how long you would sleep in a world without clocks. Chronobiology is an altogether fascinating field, yielding enormous insight intohow our internal clocks drive us.  (viaexplore-blog)

The kind of thinking that makes a distinction between thought and feeling is just one of those forms of demagogy that causes…

The kind of thinking that makes a distinction between thought and feeling is just one of those forms of demagogy that causes lots of trouble for people by making them suspicious of things that they shouldn’t be suspicious or complacent of.

For people to understand themselves in this way seems to be very destructive, and also very culpabilizing. These stereotypes of thought versus feeling, heart versus head, male versus female were invented at a time when people were convinced that the world was going in a certain direction — that is, toward technocracy, rationalization, science, and so on — but they were all invented as a defense against Romantic values.

Susan Sontag on our culture’s toxic polarities (viaexplore-blog)