Defomicron

Software, Hardware, Silverware


Entries tagged: The World

We often overlook that outside our sphere of technobabble, there’s a tumultuous world out there unraveling through time.

Ferguson, Missouri and Police Militarization

If you haven’t been paying attention, Ferguson, Missouri has been put through a lot of shit since one of their cops shot an unarmed black man six times, twice in the head. Peaceful protests have been turned violent by a militarized police force acting seemingly on their own authority, though so far no higher authorities have stepped in to really say so. As usual, the best commentator on the situation is British.

Cormorant, MN Elects Seven Year Old Mayor

Amy Unrau from the local ABC station (how is this not national news?):

And now that he’s mayor, I wanted to see how he handles media. “Mr. Mayor, could I get a statement from you? Nothing?”

I guess he’s all bark, no sound bite. Even so, his constituents still say this Great Pyrenees makes a great leader.

David says, “It’s quite the country.”

Duke is going to be officially sworn in Saturday at 10AM during Cormorant Daze. As for the mayor’s salary, Tuffy’s Pet Food out of Perham is donating a year’s supply of kibble to reward him for his service.

Buzzfeed has all the GIF’s.

Carpe Diem

In light of events, I’ve been thinking a lot about this scene from my favorite Robin Williams film, Dead Poets Society.

Son Doong, the World’s Largest Cave

Man, Earth is beautiful. If you do nothing else on the internet today, scroll through these photos.

Six-Hour Workday Experiment

Ben Brooks, commenting on this Fast Company article on six hour workdays:

It will be interesting to see what they learn. A lot of people love working “Four Tens” where you work four ten hour days instead of five eight hour days. However research seems to point to that being a poor choice overall for workers. I’d be a big fan of six hour work days overall, as I am pretty sure that is about the total amount of productive hours I get out of people.

In my experience, corporate America gets maybe 4 hours of work out of employees, if they’re lucky. If we cut our working hours in half to 20 hours a week I don’t think we’d see a dramatic downturn in productivity.

Watch a 40-year-old Deaf Woman Hear for the First Time

Jay Hathaway at Gawker:

Milne is also able to listen to music for the first time. Her friend Tremayne Crossley, who posted this video to YouTube, put together an “Introduction to Music” playlist—including Prince, Bruce Springsteen, The Smiths, and Nirvana—which was played out for Milne on BBC6 Music earlier this week.

The first song she heard? John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

The Father of the Sandy Hook Killer Searches for Answers

Andrew Solomon of The New Yorker spoke to Peter Lanza, father of Adam Lanza. The whole article is powerful and worth reading, but I pulled two quotes I found especially powerful:

When Adam was fourteen, shortly after Ryan had left for college, Peter and Nancy took him to Yale’s Child Study Center for further diagnosis. The psychiatrist who assessed Adam, Robert King, recorded that he was a “pale, gaunt, awkward young adolescent standing rigidly with downcast gaze and declining to shake hands.” He also noted that Adam “had relatively little spontaneous speech but responded in a flat tone with little inflection and almost mechanical prosody.” Many people with autism speak in a flat tone, and avoiding eye contact is common, too, because trying to interpret sounds and faces at the same time is overwhelming. Open-ended questions can also be intolerable to people with autism, and, when King asked Adam to make three wishes, he wished “that whatever was granting the wishes would not exist.”

And:

When I visited Peter, he produced four binders of printouts of his e-mails with Nancy and Adam since 2007. By 2008, when Adam turned sixteen and was going to school only for occasional events, Nancy’s e-mails describe his escalating misery. “He had a horrible night… He cried in the bathroom for 45 minutes and missed his first class.” Two weeks later, she wrote, “I am hoping that he pulls together in time for school this afternoon, but it is doubtful. He has been sitting with his head to one side for over an hour doing nothing.” Later that year: “Adam had a rough night. He moved everything out of his room last night. He only kept his bed and wardrobe cabinet.”

God Speed, Columbia

Lee Hutchinson with the untold hypothetical rescue mission that could have saved Columbia:

During the writing of its report, the CAIB had the same question, so it asked NASA to develop a theoretical repair and rescue plan for Columbia “based on the premise that the wing damage events during launch were recognized early during the mission.” The result was an absolutely remarkable set of documents, which appear at the end of the report as Appendix D.13. They carry the low-key title “STS-107 In-Flight Options Assessment,” but the scenario they outline would have pushed NASA to its absolute limits as it mounted the most dramatic space mission of all time.

CVS Plans to End Sales of Tobacco Products by Oct. 1

Stephanie Strom for The New York Times:

CVS/Caremark, the country’s largest drugstore chain in overall sales, announced on Wednesday that it planned to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October.

The company’s move was yet another sign of its metamorphosis into becoming more of a health care provider than a largely retail business, with its stores offering more miniclinics and health advice to aid customers visiting its pharmacies.

The company estimated that its decision would cost an estimated $2 billion in sales from tobacco buyers, which includes incidental items like gum that those customers might also purchase.

Is That a Luge in Times Square?

If New York City hosted the winter Olympics.

1,000 Handwritten Contacts

James Legge for The Independent:

According to the AFP news agency, he said he sent a text message to the thief, saying: “I know you are the man who sat beside me. I can assure you that I will find you.

“Look through the contact numbers in my mobile and you will know what trade I am in,” a reference to the Chinese pub trade, which is widely held to have links with gangs.

“Send me back the phone to the address below if you are sensible,” it concluded.

New life goal: become someone who can write that note.

Skydivers’ Terrifying Collision

Two aircraft carrying 11 combined souls collided in mid-air; one plane broke apart in mid-air; 10 parachuted to safety while the last landed the second plane safely on the ground. It’s a miraculous story, and it was caught on video. It’s a horrifying image that looks straight out of Iron Man 3.

The End of the Waffle House

A surprisingly heart-wrenching story about the death of a Waffle House, by Jessica Contrera for the Indiana Daily Student:

Bud — everyone called him Bud — checked on the dwindling supply of breakfast sausage, peered into the nearly empty freezers, tried to explain to his regulars why it had to be this way.

“It’s time,” he said over and over.

At 79, Bud was tired. Except for Christmas, the restaurant was always open, day and night. Now a developer wanted to replace it with another apartment building for college kids. The offer was too good to pass up.

Tow Truck Fail

It’s like a video moment of zen: “Crap. Uh oh, uh oh. Fuck me. You have to be kidding me.”

“What would aliens say when told Earthlings shift clocks twice a year to fool themselves into thinking there’s more sunlight?”

— Neil deGrasse Tyson

Retire Daylight Savings

Allison Schrager:

It would seem to be more efficient to do away with the practice altogether. The actual energy savings are minimal, if they exist at all. Frequent and uncoordinated time changes cause confusion, undermining economic efficiency. There’s evidence that regularly changing sleep cycles, associated with daylight saving, lowers productivity and increases heart attacks. Being out of sync with European time changes was projected to cost the airline industry $147 million a year in travel disruptions.

This comes up every March and November, but I really wish the issue didn’t fade between then. Daylight Savings is stupid and I hate it. Time is arbitrary. If you want to get up when the sun rises, then get up when the sun rises. We don’t need to adjust every clock in the country for you, you can adjust your bloody alarm.

I take issue only with this passage from the linked piece:

It’s true that larger time zones would seem to cheat many people out of daylight by removing them further from their true solar time.

No. We aren’t robbing anyone of daylight by taking it away and we aren’t giving daylight to anybody by keeping it. Sun don’t care; Sun don’t give a shit about what our clocks say.

Workplace Equality Is Good for Business

Tim Cook for The Wall Street Journal:

At Apple, we try to make sure people understand that they don’t have to check their identity at the door. We’re committed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation.

As we see it, embracing people’s individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We’ve found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives.

Apple’s antidiscrimination policy goes beyond the legal protections U.S. workers currently enjoy under federal law, most notably because we prohibit discrimination against Apple’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. A bill now before the U.S. Senate would update those employment laws, at long last, to protect workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

We urge senators to support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and we challenge the House of Representatives to bring it to the floor for a vote.

We Don’t Need Daylight Saving Time

I hate Daylight Saving Time.

Homeward Bound

Saroo Brierley lost his family when he was left alone on a train in India. Using Google Earth, 26 years later he found his way home. “It was a needle in a haystack,” he said, “but the needle was there.”

The History of the Trapper Keeper

Erin McCarthy for Mental Floss:

In the fall of 1981, second grader Mike Ryan was walking through the halls of his new school when he realized something terrible: He was the only kid without a Trapper Keeper.

1491

Charles C. Mann, writing in 2002 about the “new” world before Columbus:

Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.

I urge you to read the entire thing.

The Life and Death of Buran, the USSR’s Space Shuttle

Amy Shira Teitel for Ars Technica:

Just before dawn on the morning of November 15, 1988, the mood at Baikonur, the Soviet Union’s launch site, was tense and businesslike. It was a cold morning marked by low cloud cover, a persistent drizzle, and warnings of gale force winds. It was a terrible day for a launch.

Fascinating story.

In 1961, the US Almost Obliterated North Carolina

Nathan Olivarez-Giles for The Verge:

In North Carolina, the two atomic bombs were released after a B-52 airplane carrying the payload went into a tailspin during a routine test flight — one of the bombs eventually landed in a tree, and the other in a meadow, The Guardian says. The document says the bombs should have detonated — parachutes were deployed and triggers were armed, but one low-voltage switch failed to activate as it should have, preventing what would have been devastating and widespread damage.

What the hell.

The New Mammal

Joseph Stromberg for Smithsonian:

For all of modern history, a small, carnivorous South American mammal in the raccoon family has evaded the scientific community. Untold thousands of these red, furry creatures scampered through the trees of the Andean cloud forests, but they did so at night, hidden by dense fog. Nearly two dozen preserved samples—mostly skulls or furs— were mislabeled in museum collections across the United States. There’s even evidence that one individual lived in several American zoos during the 1960s—its keepers were mystified as to why it refused to breed with its peers.

Bus-Sized Lump of Fat Discovered in London Sewer

This should do wonders for London’s tourism industry.

“No doubt Jenny McCarthy will soon be on The View speaking out against city sewer systems, septic tanks, and washing your hands.”

— John Moltz, on the return of the Bubonic Plague.

Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe

Ben Orlin:

Once at a picnic, I saw mathematicians crowding around the last game I would have expected: Tic-tac-toe.

Terrorist Murders Six in California

Ian Lovett for The New York Times:

At least six people were killed and five wounded on Friday morning as a gunman, dressed in black and carrying an automatic rifle, strode across Santa Monica firing at people, cars and buildings before being shot and killed by the police at the Santa Monica College Library.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of all those we lost today.

And fuck him. Fuck him and fuck anyone who opposes background checks, an assault weapons ban, or any kind of gun control whatsoever.

Tender Moments Caught on Russian Dashboard Cameras

Russia ain’t too band.

A Hidden Message for Children

The Anar Foundation’s message posted on bus stops uses lenticular to display different messages to children, aimed at stopping child abuse.

Wish: Granted

Josiah Hackett (whose father, Stephen Hackett, you may know) and his family spent the last week at Disney World and Legoland through the Make-A-Wish foundation:

Upon landing and picking up our rental car, we headed to Give Kids the World. GKTW is a 70-acre resort with over 140 villas. There’s a theatre, a carousel and play areas specifically designed for children with special needs. There’s a pool, ice cream parlor and giant model train set. Disney characters visit almost every day, and there’s a party every night.

I have volunteered at Give Kids the World a couple times, and I can tell you it is awesome to meet all those brave young kids facing diseases and disorders most adults couldn’t handle.

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

— Jason Collins, the first openly-gay professional American athlete.

The Paris Time Capsule Apartment

Henry Samuel for The Telegraph:

“There was a smell of old dust,” said Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery. Walking under high wooden ceilings, past an old wood stove and stone sink in the kitchen, he spotted a stuffed ostrich and a Mickey Mouse toy dating from before the war, as well as an exquisite dressing table.

An Parisian apartment left untouched for more than seventy years.

A Moment From the Boston Marathon

The New York Times has a beautiful visualization of a dozen or so first-hand accounts from the moment the bombs went off in Boston.

“Yes, we like the Yankees. But today we’re all rooting for Boston.”

— Christopher Weyant, in Tuesday’s daily cartoon for The New Yorker.

‘See You Next Year’

Thomas Brand:

May we never forget the tragedy of 2013 Boston Marathon. Never forget the courage of the victims, or the heros we saw running into the face of danger that day I know that in the years to come, if I am asked if I ran the 2013 Boston Marathon I will say yes. But the more important question is if I came back to run again The Boston Marathon is too good a tradition to be tarnished by terrorism, and no coward can keep me from coming back to race again.

See you next year.

3 Dead, 140+ Injured in Boston Marathon Bombing

Two bombs detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon today at around 3:00 PM. Three are dead, including an eight-year-old boy. My thoughts are with all hurting tonight.

Close Call for Alaska-Based Soldier

Lacie Grosvold, writing for KTVA:

Stubleski wasn’t carrying it for calling or texting. He said he used it as a camera or for music. The doctors told him how lucky he was that the bullet didn’t hit the femoral artery. They said that the iPhone probably changed the trajectory of the bullet, making the wound shallower in his flesh.

Body armor? There’s an app for that.

Columbia Casualties Remembered

Ten years ago today, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up in re-entry, killing seven:

20 Schoolchildren, 6 Adults Murdered in Connecticut

Mike Bloomberg, New York City mayor in a statement on his website:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.