Test CircleCount PRO now!
Login now

Not your profile? Login and get free access to your reports and analysis.

Yonatan Zunger

Yonatan Zunger Verified in Google 

Chief Architect of Ambient Computing, Google

Occupation: Engineer (Google)

Location: Mountain View, CA

Followers: 134,872

Following: 2,422

Views: 100,373,433

Added to CircleCount.com: 07/06/2011That's the date, where Yonatan Zunger has been indexed by CircleCount.com.
This hasn't to be the date where the daily check has been started.
(Update nowYou can update your stats by clicking on this link!
This can take a few seconds.
)

Tags

Sign in

The following tags have been added by users of CircleCount.com.
You can login on CircleCount to add more tags here.

  • Blogs of August
  • Geeks
  • Google
  • Technology

Are you missing a tag in the list of available tags? You can suggest new tags here.

Login now

Do you want to see a more detailed chart? Check your settings and define your favorite chart type.

Or click here to get the detailed chart only once.

Yonatan Zunger has been at 2 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
STEM Women on G+182,624Join us for a STEM Women HOA as we speak to Dr.  @103389452828130864950 on how men can help with the issues of gender inequality in STEM fields. Yonatan is the Chief Architect of Google+ and also has a PhD in Physics with a strong engineering background. He is a passionate advocate of gender equality in STEM, and will talk to us about what we can do to encourage women in STEM. This HOA will be hosted by Dr @108510686109338749229   and Dr @110756968351492254645  , and you can tune in on Sunday March 2nd at 12.30 PM Pacific/ 8.30PM GMT. The hangout will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel(http://www.youtube.com/stemwomen) after the event. Follow us on Twitter @stemwomen and on www.stemwomen.netSTEM Women: How Men Can Help with Dr Yonatan Zunger2014-03-02 21:30:0099  
Blogger1,594,011We’re hosting a Hangout on Air with lead Product Manager @109161242786054443993 and lead Engineer @103389452828130864950 to discuss last week’s launch of Google+ Comments for Blogger. If you’ve got questions about the launch, please leave them in the comments below so that Dan and Yonatan can answer them during the Hangout.Join the team behind Google+ Comments for Blogger for a Hangout on Air2013-04-25 20:30:001150  

Shared Circles including Yonatan Zunger

Shared Circles are not available on Google+ anymore, but you can find them still here.

The Google+ Collections of Yonatan Zunger

Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

58
comments per post
36
reshares per post
244
+1's per post

1,534
characters per posting

Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 184

posted image

2016-04-04 17:59:33 (184 comments; 64 reshares; 329 +1s)Open 

A quick note for everyone: this weekend, something which may well be the mother of all leak stories broke. The entire paperwork of Mossack Fonseca, a legal firm which is one of the world's big players in hiding money offshore, from its founding in 1975 to the present, leaked, and over the past year a consortium of journalists from around the world have been studying it. The first round of articles came out this weekend, revealing data about 14,153 clients, with activities ranging from the perfectly legitimate towards the incredibly shady -- with a clear slant towards the latter.

This list has included 12 current or former heads of state, 61 close associates of heads of state (especially Putin's), 128 other current or former public officials, 29 people on the Forbes 500 list, and over 200 countries. 

Notably absent from the list have been any significant names from the US.... more »

Most reshares: 193

posted image

2016-03-23 17:13:56 (95 comments; 193 reshares; 443 +1s)Open 

We have a new experiment at Google which many of you may enjoy: "unfiltered.news," a site which analyzes news feeds from around the world, and tells you which news stories are most missed by the media where you live. From there, you can see how these stories are being covered around the world, and know what you're missing.

This is still a tool in beta, and it's got some rough edges, but the idea is excellent and has great promise.

Most plusones: 714

posted image

2016-03-20 19:57:25 (59 comments; 76 reshares; 714 +1s)Open 

There's an old bit of elementary-school folklore that you can't fold a piece of paper more than six times. And there's a mathematical theorem that shows exactly how many times you really can fold paper. And then there's the +Hydraulic Press Channel on YouTube, which decided to violate all the laws of mathematics and physics by brute force.

The result is a rather fascinating display of physics at work. I have a theory as to what's going on here, but I would need a hydraulic press, a thermocouple, and an electron microscope to be sure. (Anyone have these sitting around? This would be fun)

You can see the video, the math, and my proposed explanation here: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/folding-paper-with-a-hydraulic-press-c858f3d12a58#.n074iyfxv

Thanks to +Chris Colohan for finding this, and posing the challenging question of just what's going onhe... more »

Latest 50 posts

posted image

2016-04-27 07:48:12 (29 comments; 40 reshares; 358 +1s)Open 

Via +Steven Flaeck. I blame him for this.

___Via +Steven Flaeck. I blame him for this.

posted image

2016-04-24 11:46:43 (102 comments; 24 reshares; 186 +1s)Open 

From the department of Only in Israel: ten suspects arrested for possession of goats with intent to perform a banned sacrifice.

For context: this sacrifice is banned because it would be performed on the Temple Mount, and would be interpreted by the Muslim population as an open declaration of war. The people arrested know this very well, and mean it as such, which is just a part of why the organization they belong to is banned. (The rest of it has to do with their open advocacy of genocide. Lovely fellows.) 

From the department of Only in Israel: ten suspects arrested for possession of goats with intent to perform a banned sacrifice.

For context: this sacrifice is banned because it would be performed on the Temple Mount, and would be interpreted by the Muslim population as an open declaration of war. The people arrested know this very well, and mean it as such, which is just a part of why the organization they belong to is banned. (The rest of it has to do with their open advocacy of genocide. Lovely fellows.) ___

posted image

2016-04-23 19:49:29 (31 comments; 26 reshares; 340 +1s)Open 

While the title of this article may be a bit alarming, it's actually about some very positive developments. Today, underwater drilling rigs are inspected by people in individual submarines. But with new advances in swimming robots, derived from studying animal locomotion - in this case, sea snakes - it's become possible to create fleets of swimming robot cameras which can monitor sensitive underwater sites continuously. This means much better and earlier awareness of problems, which can prevent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon. Applied to scientific (rather than engineering) sites, it could mean ways to study underwater ecosystems continuously, without disturbing them.

That said, there's something pretty cool about having a pit of robot sea snakes in its own right. It may even be able to compete with sharks with friggin' laser beams. (Sorry, +Bruce Shark​) 

While the title of this article may be a bit alarming, it's actually about some very positive developments. Today, underwater drilling rigs are inspected by people in individual submarines. But with new advances in swimming robots, derived from studying animal locomotion - in this case, sea snakes - it's become possible to create fleets of swimming robot cameras which can monitor sensitive underwater sites continuously. This means much better and earlier awareness of problems, which can prevent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon. Applied to scientific (rather than engineering) sites, it could mean ways to study underwater ecosystems continuously, without disturbing them.

That said, there's something pretty cool about having a pit of robot sea snakes in its own right. It may even be able to compete with sharks with friggin' laser beams. (Sorry, +Bruce Shark​) ___

posted image

2016-04-23 15:15:51 (29 comments; 5 reshares; 127 +1s)Open 

There's nothing surprising in this article - thieves generally steal things which they can easily convert to money - but there are a lot of details worth thinking about, including how durable bulk goods like soap and cigarettes end up acting as something between goods and currency.

"""
In fact, the consistent demand for products like soap on the illicit market can make it as good as stealing cash. Tide laundry detergent has widely been reported as a favorite target of drug gangs. In 2013, New York Magazine ran a story that described a Safeway store that lost $10,000 to $15,000 a month to thefts of Tide detergent. 

Products like cigarettes and soap are appealing because they can perform some of the major functions of money. Since there is a consistent demand and market for them, even when they’re not on store shelves, they retain their value. (Unlike an iPod, they never become obsolete.) Since they have standard sizes, they can also be used as a unit of account. You can pay for a candy bar with a few cigarettes, or pay for an old phone with a few packs of cigarettes.
"""

This is something I recall from before, probably from Off the Books, though I generally assume everything I know about the economics of crime comes from there. Physically and socially isolated communities can end up lacking currency. Yes, they lack money as in purchasing power, but they also lack currency re abstract units of storage and account. Lack of jobs and the in-kind structure of welfare cause a shortage of just dollar bills in their more fundamental role as tokens. ___There's nothing surprising in this article - thieves generally steal things which they can easily convert to money - but there are a lot of details worth thinking about, including how durable bulk goods like soap and cigarettes end up acting as something between goods and currency.

posted image

2016-04-21 20:01:46 (21 comments; 15 reshares; 110 +1s)Open 

An odd bit of history for your day: in 1933, the FBI investigated a plot by American Jewish gangsters to assassinate Hitler. It is unclear whether or not the plot was real, but the FBI had no shortage of sources - mostly Nazi sympathizers - telling them where to look. 

An odd bit of history for your day: in 1933, the FBI investigated a plot by American Jewish gangsters to assassinate Hitler. It is unclear whether or not the plot was real, but the FBI had no shortage of sources - mostly Nazi sympathizers - telling them where to look. ___

posted image

2016-04-21 19:44:36 (34 comments; 16 reshares; 136 +1s)Open 

The increasing discoveries about Zika are both fascinating and terrifying. Apparently it is not only mosquito-borne, but can be sexually transmitted as well, staying in the semen long after it has cleared the bloodstream; and its effects on the nervous system of adults may be far more widespread than was earlier believed.

It's sort of like living in a live-action version of +Plague Inc.​, and the player just got some very nasty upgrades.

Much of the focus on the Zika virus has been the extent to which Zika can harm fetuses, but recent research is beginning to uncover the many ways this virus impacts nerve function in older children and adults. During this recent outbreak, we've seen people exposed to Zika go on to develop a startling array of neurological disorders. So far there has been one reported instance of acute myelitis (an inflammation of the spinal cord); one of meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and its outer membranes); two of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM (a brief but widespread inflammation in the brain and spinal cord), and a number of cases of Guillain-Barré.

We still don't understand the mechanism that causes neurological issues in people exposed to Zika, and research is ongoing. What is troubling about this outbreak is that the virus is not only mosquito-borne, but sexually-transmitted.

The first documented case of sexual transmission of Zika happened in 2008. The transmission was from a man to a woman; they had sex a few days before the man exhibited symptoms.

The first case of sexual transmission associated with the current outbreak was reported in early February in Texas. By late February, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had reported two additional cases of sexual transmission of Zika from men returning from Zika hotspots to their sex partners in the United States. As of March 18, 2016, the CDC has reported three additional cases, for a total of six confirmed cases of sexual transmission in the United States associated with this outbreak.

There have been two reports of Zika isolated from semen at least two weeks after onset of illness. Notably, blood plasma specimens collected at the same time as the semen tested negative for Zika. Another man's semen showed Zika particles 62 days after he experienced symptoms, though his blood by then was negative for the virus. We know that Zika remains in semen long after the virus clears out of the blood, but because we've not had the opportunity to do serial semen collection on those affected, we don't know exactly how long Zika persists in semen.

So far, we only know that semen can transmit Zika through the vagina, anus and mouth. We've seen transmission in heterosexual and gay couples. We don't know if vaginal fluid can transmit Zika yet. The CDC is currently recommending barrier protection during all types of sex, as well as mosquito control.

Zika virus was first discovered in 1947. It is named after the Zika forest in Uganda. At some point between then and 1952, when the first human cases were detected, Zika made its jump to humans. Since then, outbreaks of the virus have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. This piece in the Atlantic discusses Zika's trajectory, as well as the overall problem of a virus that has this type of long-term consequences.

For more information on the sexual transmission of Zika, please refer to the CDC's Interim Guidance for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus — United States, 2016: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6512e3.htm
___The increasing discoveries about Zika are both fascinating and terrifying. Apparently it is not only mosquito-borne, but can be sexually transmitted as well, staying in the semen long after it has cleared the bloodstream; and its effects on the nervous system of adults may be far more widespread than was earlier believed.

It's sort of like living in a live-action version of +Plague Inc.​, and the player just got some very nasty upgrades.

posted image

2016-04-21 14:30:32 (33 comments; 30 reshares; 266 +1s)Open 

As a reminder of why search-and-replace can be a dangerous tool, and in honor of both Her Majesty's 90th birthday and her 32,000th viable brood, I present you with this classic bit of science knowledge.

(Details of the typo at http://web.archive.org/web/20061109221316/http://www.regrettheerror.com/2006/10/reuters_typo_te.html ; thanks to Ed Yong for the find)

As a reminder of why search-and-replace can be a dangerous tool, and in honor of both Her Majesty's 90th birthday and her 32,000th viable brood, I present you with this classic bit of science knowledge.

(Details of the typo at http://web.archive.org/web/20061109221316/http://www.regrettheerror.com/2006/10/reuters_typo_te.html ; thanks to Ed Yong for the find)___

posted image

2016-04-21 08:50:51 (37 comments; 18 reshares; 143 +1s)Open 

The name "Benedict Arnold" is a synonym in American English for "traitor;" the general's defection to the British during the Revolution was a notorious, defining betrayal. But the history of it was considerably more complicated - and, as I'm sure will surprise nobody, the entire history of what actually happened during the Revolution was a lot messier, more foolish, and more venal than any of the simple stories of heroic patriots we were taught in school.

This is part of the story of complex betrayals, of simple greed and intricate revenge, which led to American independence.

In retrospect, it's hard to believe this didn't end in complete disaster. There were few, if any, signs that the thirteen colonies which rebelled were going to end up as anything other than a blood-soaked madhouse; the transition to something resembling a stable state happened... more »

The name "Benedict Arnold" is a synonym in American English for "traitor;" the general's defection to the British during the Revolution was a notorious, defining betrayal. But the history of it was considerably more complicated - and, as I'm sure will surprise nobody, the entire history of what actually happened during the Revolution was a lot messier, more foolish, and more venal than any of the simple stories of heroic patriots we were taught in school.

This is part of the story of complex betrayals, of simple greed and intricate revenge, which led to American independence.

In retrospect, it's hard to believe this didn't end in complete disaster. There were few, if any, signs that the thirteen colonies which rebelled were going to end up as anything other than a blood-soaked madhouse; the transition to something resembling a stable state happened only gradually, over the next several decades. Washington's main contribution wasn't, by most accounts, his generalship; it was his definition of what a normal function of government should look like a decade later. Prior to that, we had fellows like Reed, of the Supreme Executive Council of Philadelphia (the sort of name that quite rightly makes modern ears stand on end), who may or may not have been working for the British to sabotage the colonies, and who definitely wasn't working for anything wider than his own schemes of power. You'll hear a great deal about him in this story.

Via +Steven Flaeck​___

posted image

2016-04-20 19:50:14 (57 comments; 57 reshares; 462 +1s)Open 

Further in the why corvids are cool department: a 2014 study showed that brain volume was the best predictor of how well an animal would do on a certain kind of temporal reasoning test, with 36 species from chimpanzees to elephants to dogs to sparrows all competing. (Dietary breadth turned out to be the second-best predictor, and social group size not at all, which is pretty interesting as well)

A new study out today shows that this isn't a universal rule at all: when you add corvids to the mix, bird brains prove as flexible as the great apes. Jackdaws performed on a par with gorillas, while crows and ravens pegged the test at a perfect score, tied with chimpanzees. 

This continues a string of results showing that the corvids have exceptionally complex minds, despite being wired in a completely different way from our own. Apparently there are multiple different ways for brains to... more »

Further in the why corvids are cool department: a 2014 study showed that brain volume was the best predictor of how well an animal would do on a certain kind of temporal reasoning test, with 36 species from chimpanzees to elephants to dogs to sparrows all competing. (Dietary breadth turned out to be the second-best predictor, and social group size not at all, which is pretty interesting as well)

A new study out today shows that this isn't a universal rule at all: when you add corvids to the mix, bird brains prove as flexible as the great apes. Jackdaws performed on a par with gorillas, while crows and ravens pegged the test at a perfect score, tied with chimpanzees. 

This continues a string of results showing that the corvids have exceptionally complex minds, despite being wired in a completely different way from our own. Apparently there are multiple different ways for brains to function.

You can read the full text of both papers online; the 2014 paper is at http://www.pnas.org/content/111/20/E2140 , while the new 2016 paper is at http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/3/4/160104 .

h/t +Annalee Newitz.___

posted image

2016-04-19 17:23:53 (60 comments; 20 reshares; 132 +1s)Open 

Back in the late 90's / early 00's, +Matt Bell made a t-shirt for "genericdotcom.com" — "We're the people that make those things that do that stuff." It was a perfect parody of all the weird companies that were showing up around the later stages of the dot-com boom, with increasingly vague goals and nonsensical business plans.

This startup feels sort of like a blast from the past. It's not something to take as a sign of a bubble, because it seems to be primarily funded by its CEO, a Yale sophomore who is the son of a wealthy venture capitalist. Which is to say, this is simple nepotism, not a case of anyone actually investing their money in this.

But what's absolutely marvelous is that the reporter, after reading through their paperwork, contacting both the company and several members of its "brain trust," and doing various other bitsof... more »

Back in the late 90's / early 00's, +Matt Bell made a t-shirt for "genericdotcom.com" — "We're the people that make those things that do that stuff." It was a perfect parody of all the weird companies that were showing up around the later stages of the dot-com boom, with increasingly vague goals and nonsensical business plans.

This startup feels sort of like a blast from the past. It's not something to take as a sign of a bubble, because it seems to be primarily funded by its CEO, a Yale sophomore who is the son of a wealthy venture capitalist. Which is to say, this is simple nepotism, not a case of anyone actually investing their money in this.

But what's absolutely marvelous is that the reporter, after reading through their paperwork, contacting both the company and several members of its "brain trust," and doing various other bits of investigation, can get no idea whatsoever as to what this company does. It's the most extreme case of startup bullshit I've seen in years. It's almost as though someone took a blank template for a company pitch and forgot to fill it in with actual content before putting money into it.

But you'll be glad to know that "Helena is an organization of 30 global influencers who work together to achieve positive global impact. The group collaborates to create breakthrough ideas, then leverages its collective reach, strategic partnerships, and network to make them happen.

No word yet on whether you get fries with that.

via +Sarah Lester.___

posted image

2016-04-19 05:35:51 (25 comments; 12 reshares; 161 +1s)Open 

Damn. I hope someone makes a subtitled version available in the US - I'd love to see this. 

Damn. I hope someone makes a subtitled version available in the US - I'd love to see this. ___

posted image

2016-04-19 05:11:41 (27 comments; 7 reshares; 83 +1s)Open 

This article makes a sound argument for why the US intervention in Libya (not just any kind of intervention, but the specific kind we did around the downfall of Qaddafi) was actually the best call, and the present shitshow (to use Obama's rather apt term) is considerably better than what we would have had otherwise. +Andreas Schou​ gives a very good TL;DR of it.

This is pretty much my view. Libya is awful. Syria is worse. The reasons relate, at least in part, to the fundamentals -- Syria has more lines along which it can fracture -- but the intervention in Libya is also critical.

Unfortunately, "Considering the example of Syria and the fact that the Libyan government was already using saturation artillery fire on Benghazi's suburbs, I'm pretty sure that the shit sandwich which is post-Qaddafi Libya is better than what would otherwise have occurred, which is Qatari-abetted tribal/sectarian genocide" is a pretty good argument but not something you can actually say in a debate.___This article makes a sound argument for why the US intervention in Libya (not just any kind of intervention, but the specific kind we did around the downfall of Qaddafi) was actually the best call, and the present shitshow (to use Obama's rather apt term) is considerably better than what we would have had otherwise. +Andreas Schou​ gives a very good TL;DR of it.

posted image

2016-04-19 05:04:12 (26 comments; 37 reshares; 387 +1s)Open 

Fish (and whales) are a huge problem for sonar, and vice-versa. They clutter up any attempt at long-range detection, and powerful sound pulses can seriously injure sea life. But if you turn off the active part of sonar, and just use modern acoustic imaging techniques to listen to the sounds of the ocean, it turns out you can instantly do what researchers have been trying to do for ages: find out where the whales are.

Using this method, a research team has used a set of just 160 mikes to map the locations of eight different kinds of whale (blue, fin, humpback, sei, minke, sperm, pilot, and killer) over a region of 100,000 square kilometers. Adding some lower-power sound, they could also map the herring in the same region - and in the process, start to show how different kinds of whale divvy up their hunting grounds. 

Fish (and whales) are a huge problem for sonar, and vice-versa. They clutter up any attempt at long-range detection, and powerful sound pulses can seriously injure sea life. But if you turn off the active part of sonar, and just use modern acoustic imaging techniques to listen to the sounds of the ocean, it turns out you can instantly do what researchers have been trying to do for ages: find out where the whales are.

Using this method, a research team has used a set of just 160 mikes to map the locations of eight different kinds of whale (blue, fin, humpback, sei, minke, sperm, pilot, and killer) over a region of 100,000 square kilometers. Adding some lower-power sound, they could also map the herring in the same region - and in the process, start to show how different kinds of whale divvy up their hunting grounds. ___

posted image

2016-04-17 13:27:00 (73 comments; 28 reshares; 129 +1s)Open 

"The 20's were an exciting time," +A.V. Flox says. "Voronoff's enthusiasm for shoving monkey testicles into the human body was both ambitious and infectious," the article says, and no, that last word wasn't meant as a clever pun, although maybe it should have been. And this is before we get to the castle in Grimaldi or the attempt to create a race of super-sheep.

This story is absolutely mad, and you will not regret reading it.

The 1920s were an exciting time. Psychoanalysis had established a connection between pent up sexual desires and neurosis, and increasingly, sexual appetite was seen as a defining characteristic of vigor, leading to radical changes in social mores that would coalesce with increased freedoms for women into something of a sexual revolution.

When we think of the "roaring" decade, the first thing that comes to mind is the flapper, the woman who has cast aside the binding of her corset and length of her skirts in favor of shorter, looser garments and the new-found freedom these afforded her. But the '20s also brought a revolution for men: though testosterone would not be isolated until the '30s, by the 1920s, medicine was increasingly aware of the role played by glands in the body through the production of "precious bodily fluids." A number of rudimentary experiments had determined that the testicles produced secretions that radically impacted male health and stamina in a variety of species.

Though this field of medicine was still in its infancy, hundreds of men signed up to be seen by Dr. Serge Voronoff, who promised them newfound vigor through the transplant of testicular tissue. Human donors were, naturally, difficult to come by -- and there remained some concern that using tissues from convicted criminals would "pollute" the bodies of upright citizens with their "inherent" criminality -- so the good doctor turned to other primates to enable the procedure.

Yes, in the 1920s, it was all the rage for well-to-do gentlemen to receive testicle transplants from chimpanzee donors.

Like I said -- the '20s were an exciting time.___"The 20's were an exciting time," +A.V. Flox says. "Voronoff's enthusiasm for shoving monkey testicles into the human body was both ambitious and infectious," the article says, and no, that last word wasn't meant as a clever pun, although maybe it should have been. And this is before we get to the castle in Grimaldi or the attempt to create a race of super-sheep.

This story is absolutely mad, and you will not regret reading it.

posted image

2016-04-14 04:34:02 (120 comments; 68 reshares; 269 +1s)Open 

I certainly had low expectations of any report on the behavior of the Chicago PD, but I didn't expect quite this level of blunt honesty. Phrases like "no regard for the sanctity of life" don't often show up in reports like this. Neither does a recommendation that (essentially) the entire internal affairs division be sacked and replaced with outsiders, or that the police union and its contracts have in essence transformed the department into organized crime.

This is an official report, mind you, one commissioned by the mayor. Not simply some outside commentary by activists.

I wish that I could say that this seemed in any way inaccurate or unearned, but everything I have ever heard or seen of the Chicago PD makes this only seem more believable.

I honestly don't know how something of this scale can be fixed. Is it even possible for there to still be an... more »

I certainly had low expectations of any report on the behavior of the Chicago PD, but I didn't expect quite this level of blunt honesty. Phrases like "no regard for the sanctity of life" don't often show up in reports like this. Neither does a recommendation that (essentially) the entire internal affairs division be sacked and replaced with outsiders, or that the police union and its contracts have in essence transformed the department into organized crime.

This is an official report, mind you, one commissioned by the mayor. Not simply some outside commentary by activists.

I wish that I could say that this seemed in any way inaccurate or unearned, but everything I have ever heard or seen of the Chicago PD makes this only seem more believable.

I honestly don't know how something of this scale can be fixed. Is it even possible for there to still be an honest cop anywhere in such a department? It's hard for me to imagine how you could survive as such for any length of time. (This is why I often say that good or bad cops are rare; what you see are good or bad departments.) But you can't replace nearly 12,000 officers overnight.

If you want to see just how low a police department can sink, here you go. 

(NB: This report is just about the Chicago PD, not about the surrounding Cook's County Sheriff's Department. There's presumably a whole separate pile of dirty laundry there. But it's the political infighting between those two, the AG, the mayor, and a few other players which is likely responsible for an actually honest report coming out) ___

posted image

2016-04-13 04:15:53 (42 comments; 20 reshares; 138 +1s)Open 

This is a link to an extremely thoughtful interview about the history of "school busing" fights in the US from the 1950's to the 1970's. These were the aftermath of Brown vs. Board and the end of official segregation of schools: in many districts, students were sent to schools in entirely different neighborhoods (by bus, instead of on foot). In reality, most of these changes decreased the total amount of busing going on: the plaintiff in Brown had been bused 20 miles each way to a black school, while living four blocks away from a white school. But fighting "forced busing" became a political theme of the day, especially in the North.

This last part might surprise you: we're used to thinking of civil rights as a Southern issue. In fact, segregation has a very long and complex history across the US, and the fact that it was less overt in the North than in the South... more »

This is a link to an extremely thoughtful interview about the history of "school busing" fights in the US from the 1950's to the 1970's. These were the aftermath of Brown vs. Board and the end of official segregation of schools: in many districts, students were sent to schools in entirely different neighborhoods (by bus, instead of on foot). In reality, most of these changes decreased the total amount of busing going on: the plaintiff in Brown had been bused 20 miles each way to a black school, while living four blocks away from a white school. But fighting "forced busing" became a political theme of the day, especially in the North.

This last part might surprise you: we're used to thinking of civil rights as a Southern issue. In fact, segregation has a very long and complex history across the US, and the fact that it was less overt in the North than in the South (without the simple visuals of "white fountains" and "colored fountains") was a key factor in how the public and the press perceived this – which had a large effect on how "fighting busing" became a reputable cause, even among people who were otherwise fighting for civil rights in the South.

Matt Delmont, being interviewed below, is the author of a new book on the subject, titled Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation. If his comments below are any indication, it's going to be an excellent read.

One thing that I would add to the interview below is that busing (and the fight against it) was far from the only front in the battle against desegregation. In the South, it took on a slightly different form: the sudden, sharp rise in the number of religious private schools. Unlike public schools, these schools could legally remain segregated for much longer, and even once they were no longer permitted to, it was easy to maintain de facto segregation by a combination of admissions policies and fees. While these were initially used only by the wealthy, a system of locally-endowed scholarships and so on quickly formed as well, to permit a wide range of (white) families to take advantage of them.

This is an important context to remember, because private schools in the South remain overwhelmingly segregated to the present day, and while this is rarely described as their raison d'être, it's something which strongly contributes to their local perception as "good" schools. The debate over "school vouchers" – programs by which public school students are allowed to take all or part of their state funding and use it instead to go to a private or religious school, rather than a "failing" public school – is intimately tied in with this, since it allows public money to directly fund these academies. However, this is largely a local phenomenon (one I only understood after talking with many locals, in fact) and so when one hears the same debate with (for example) Californian ears, it isn't nearly as obvious what's going on.

The legality of segregation of these academies persisted, in fact, until the 1980's: the key court case which ended it was Bob Jones University v. US, (1983) in which the court ruled that the IRS was allowed to revoke the tax-exempt status of a religious institution which practiced official racial discrimination. In fact, there's been a very compelling argument made that the rise of the modern "religious right" movement wasn't actually triggered by Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) or Roe v. Wade (1973), but by this case. (You can read Randall Balmer's article on that at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133#.U4cuc15MkmY)

All of which is to say: the reconceptualization of race as a purity issue, with the possibility of contamination by contact, between the 1840's and 1950's, made certain kinds of desegregation seem profoundly unthinkable to many people – school desegregation highest among these, where one's children could be exposed. This meant that fights against desegregation were long and protracted, and even people who were otherwise willing to accept a more unified society were quite willing to fight over it. The language used for this ranged from the overt (e.g., explicitly segregated religious schools until the 1980's) to the subtle (e.g., fighting about "the quality of our children's schools" or against "forced busing"), depending on the place where it happened, but it was quite systematic across the country, not merely in the South.

h/t to journalist Kristen Green for the link.___

2016-04-12 15:34:36 (138 comments; 21 reshares; 183 +1s)Open 

Question for language and linguistics nerds out there:

For various reasons, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about ways to describe the meaning conveyed by sentences. One interesting case is about active-passive pairs, like

(A) Zombies ate John.
(B) John was eaten by zombies.

The "procedural" part of the two sentences is obviously the same (munch munch, mmm, brains), and there seems to be a difference in topic focus: (A) emphasizes the state change on the zombies (before they were hungry, now they're full), while (B) seems to instead emphasize the state change on John (before he was John, now he's lunch).

Can anyone think of any other difference, in implication, tone, or anything else, between the two sentences? If I were trying to describe what was conveyed, would it be enough to say that the two sentences are identical except... more »

Question for language and linguistics nerds out there:

For various reasons, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about ways to describe the meaning conveyed by sentences. One interesting case is about active-passive pairs, like

(A) Zombies ate John.
(B) John was eaten by zombies.

The "procedural" part of the two sentences is obviously the same (munch munch, mmm, brains), and there seems to be a difference in topic focus: (A) emphasizes the state change on the zombies (before they were hungry, now they're full), while (B) seems to instead emphasize the state change on John (before he was John, now he's lunch).

Can anyone think of any other difference, in implication, tone, or anything else, between the two sentences? If I were trying to describe what was conveyed, would it be enough to say that the two sentences are identical except for the topic focus?

(Footnote: "By zombies" is a great rule of thumb for checking if a sentence is actually in the passive voice in English. If you can stick "by zombies" after the verb and the sentence makes sense, then you've got a passive, there. This is important because (a) lots of people believe that the passive voice is somehow "bad," which it isn't, and (b) lots of the people who believe this, including the authors of Strunk & White (who appear to have invented this idea) are actually really bad at identifying passive clauses and get it wrong most of the time.)

ETA: Some good insights in the thread. The most important is that there are really two distinct concepts at play here: the topic focus of the sentence, and the indication of which information is novel. Active and passive sentences change the topic focus: "Zombies ate John" focuses on the action of the zombies, while "John was eaten by zombies" focuses on the state change in John. Novel information is flagged by a combination of this and stress, which is something we don't often convey in writing, but which is key to meaning: "Zombies ate John" leaves "John" as the big surprising new information, as opposed to "_Zombies_ ate John!" (not giant spiders!) 

It seems that the combination of topic and novelty marking completely expresses the difference between the six possible sentences you could get with different combinations of active/passive and word stress. So there was, in fact, more of a difference than just topic!___

posted image

2016-04-10 19:12:53 (59 comments; 78 reshares; 446 +1s)Open 

Let's say you're building a system to measure something, like a physical location. Sometimes you can measure to great precision; sometimes only to a very fuzzy precision. How your system tells its users about that can have drastic repercussions.

For example, let's say you're MaxMind, a company which provides a digital mapping service that tries to map IP addresses to physical locations, and provides this to everyone from suicide hotlines trying to find their callers to people engaging in lawsuits over things on the Internet. 

If you're smart about this, you'll give back an answer that reflects your actual knowledge: a lat/long if you have it, or "somewhere in Los Angeles," or "somewhere in the US" if that's all you can find.

If you're not smart about this, you'll just give back a lat/long describing the region where... more »

Let's say you're building a system to measure something, like a physical location. Sometimes you can measure to great precision; sometimes only to a very fuzzy precision. How your system tells its users about that can have drastic repercussions.

For example, let's say you're MaxMind, a company which provides a digital mapping service that tries to map IP addresses to physical locations, and provides this to everyone from suicide hotlines trying to find their callers to people engaging in lawsuits over things on the Internet. 

If you're smart about this, you'll give back an answer that reflects your actual knowledge: a lat/long if you have it, or "somewhere in Los Angeles," or "somewhere in the US" if that's all you can find.

If you're not smart about this, you'll just give back a lat/long describing the region where it's in, and leave it at that.

What goes wrong if you don't do this correctly? For one thing, it means that every time you want to say "somewhere in the US, not sure where" you indicate that by returning a lat/long at the center of the US. Which happens to be the lat/long of an actual farm, owned by actual people, who are then listed as the origin of half the malware, suicide hotline calls, and criminal activity in the country.

This wasn't due to malice or recklessness by the company, or by any of the other companies which do similar things. Most often, a company does the right thing, and provides two ways to get the data: a sophisticated API that tells you about regions and certainty, and a "simple" API that just gives you a lat/long for everything. That latter API is a reasonable way to talk to their computers if you just need a simple way to diagram things; e.g., maybe you want to plot a bunch of information on a map. Unfortunately, when you expose something like this, especially in a system designed to be used by decidedly non-technical lawyers, police, and so on, a bunch of people will ignore the API warning and treat the coordinates it gives you as gospel truth.

The moral of this story: it's never enough to express measurements on their own; measurements without a measure of uncertainty are less than worthless. This is just as important when you're designing API's as it is when you're quoting statistics to people.

Or as +Marcelle E put it so clearly in the comments: "it is just as important to know what is not being measured, as to know what is being measured." That's an aphorism to teach your students, right there.

Via +Jennifer Freeman ___

posted image

2016-04-10 06:22:59 (41 comments; 31 reshares; 239 +1s)Open 

The story below is not simply about a Stradivarius famous for having sat on a shelf, nearly unplayed, for centuries; it is about the entire industry of "famous violins," and how it is that violins by a handful of makers have come to command prices in the millions and tens of millions of dollars. That is, it is a story of hucksterism, showmanship, the manufacture of mystery, and no small amount of outright fraud. It is the story of how a mythology was manufactured by forgers.

My favorite part of this story is probably how an entire violin forger's kit, a collection of engraved blocks with high-quality imitations of famous labels, was sold by Sotheby's in 1978. There are very few criminal industries where people will not only sell the tools of the trade on the open market, but at high-end auction houses.

Incidentally, other musical instruments don't get this... more »

The story below is not simply about a Stradivarius famous for having sat on a shelf, nearly unplayed, for centuries; it is about the entire industry of "famous violins," and how it is that violins by a handful of makers have come to command prices in the millions and tens of millions of dollars. That is, it is a story of hucksterism, showmanship, the manufacture of mystery, and no small amount of outright fraud. It is the story of how a mythology was manufactured by forgers.

My favorite part of this story is probably how an entire violin forger's kit, a collection of engraved blocks with high-quality imitations of famous labels, was sold by Sotheby's in 1978. There are very few criminal industries where people will not only sell the tools of the trade on the open market, but at high-end auction houses.

Incidentally, other musical instruments don't get this treatment. An old piano, no matter how excellent its quality may have been originally, is of value purely as a historical curiosity; all of their components wear out with use and time, and even while some can be replaced, even the wood itself ultimately decays. Debates between the afficionados of Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Yamaha are over the relative acoustic qualities of the pianos being made today, not over pianos from decades (much less centuries) ago.

(For those who are wondering, Steinways are known for a rich, more sustained sound, very well-suited to classical pieces. Bosendorfer is no less rich but crisper, with a faster acoustic response that plays excellently with more modern pieces. Yamahas are the crispest of all, and well-suited to those who can't tell that they aren't nearly as good as the other two. Seriously, what are people thinking?)

h/t +Don McArthur___

posted image

2016-04-09 08:59:26 (68 comments; 32 reshares; 225 +1s)Open 

For those wondering about the absence of prominent American names in the Panama Papers, it appears there are two simple reasons why.

(1) Mossack Fonseca was highly focused on the European and Latin American markets and never bothered to market itself much in the US, and

(2) Apparently Panama's reputation for bank fraud, drug smuggling, and getting invaded by the US has made it an unpopular place for Americans to hide their money. Americans prefer the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man, and the ever-popular Switzerland. (Although the latter has become somewhat less popular of late, due to various changes in banking there)

It also seems that, thanks to a fairly systematic crackdown on this sort of thing in the US over the past few decades, fewer Americans are trying to hide money (ill-gotten or otherwise) in offshore accounts; the risks have gotten high enough that it... more »

For those wondering about the absence of prominent American names in the Panama Papers, it appears there are two simple reasons why.

(1) Mossack Fonseca was highly focused on the European and Latin American markets and never bothered to market itself much in the US, and

(2) Apparently Panama's reputation for bank fraud, drug smuggling, and getting invaded by the US has made it an unpopular place for Americans to hide their money. Americans prefer the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man, and the ever-popular Switzerland. (Although the latter has become somewhat less popular of late, due to various changes in banking there)

It also seems that, thanks to a fairly systematic crackdown on this sort of thing in the US over the past few decades, fewer Americans are trying to hide money (ill-gotten or otherwise) in offshore accounts; the risks have gotten high enough that it isn't worth it. To top this off, there are various economic factors dissuading Americans from doing this: illegal tax evasion is expensive and highly risky, and compared to the cost of an account to simply reduce one's tax burden, it's rarely worth it for that purpose. Kleptocracy isn't really a popular flavor of corruption here beyond the small-potatoes scale; people generally don't loot local coffers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and then get ready to flee the country as part of an amnesty deal. (It really wouldn't be a good plan) And money acquired outright feloniously is generally dealt with in a few basic ways: either by moving elsewhere along with the money (as in the case of drug lords), or by adjusting the law so that it's not felonious at all (as in the case of major financial players).

Which is to say, many of the incentives which make it quite sensible for people from other countries to hide their money in Panama don't work as well for Americans. Or put another way, America has succeeded in creating a legal and enforcement framework in which it makes much more financial sense to keep (and spend) your ill-gotten gains at home. 

Let's hear it for aligned incentives! Or something.___

posted image

2016-04-09 03:47:40 (29 comments; 15 reshares; 203 +1s)Open 

I would like to share with you some stories which bring a whole new meaning to "organized crime." Not in that the people doing it were particularly organized, but in that they were involved in a rather spectacular series of felonies involving human organs. As a bonus, I've added in disasters of early 20th-century medicine, a messy divorce, and the wonders of modern kidney donation rings, all in one.

All starting with an indictment around a human organ rental business.

(Many thanks to +A.V. Flox for putting me on the tail of this one...)

I would like to share with you some stories which bring a whole new meaning to "organized crime." Not in that the people doing it were particularly organized, but in that they were involved in a rather spectacular series of felonies involving human organs. As a bonus, I've added in disasters of early 20th-century medicine, a messy divorce, and the wonders of modern kidney donation rings, all in one.

All starting with an indictment around a human organ rental business.

(Many thanks to +A.V. Flox for putting me on the tail of this one...)___

posted image

2016-04-08 21:39:25 (18 comments; 27 reshares; 291 +1s)Open 

Today's XKCD (http://xkcd.com/1665/) is absolutely wonderful. I really love +Randall Munroe's sense of humor.

Today's XKCD (http://xkcd.com/1665/) is absolutely wonderful. I really love +Randall Munroe's sense of humor.___

posted image

2016-04-08 21:09:31 (48 comments; 11 reshares; 113 +1s)Open 

People say that a bunch of the new delivery startup ideas are ridiculous, but this one? This one is brilliant.

People say that a bunch of the new delivery startup ideas are ridiculous, but this one? This one is brilliant.___

posted image

2016-04-08 07:27:09 (70 comments; 62 reshares; 270 +1s)Open 

A report out today indicates that American-made weapons were used in an attack on a market in Yemen three weeks ago which killed at least 97 people, including 25 children. Examination of wreckage found at the scene appears to have identified US-made GBU-31 and GBU-48 bombs as the weapons used. Saudi General Ahmad al-Assiri has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Some source attribution notes and clarifications are needed here, because the players involved are complicated. Yemen has been in the midst of a civil war for several years, and al-Qaeda has been attempting to reestablish itself in the anarchy. To combat this, the US has been both directly attacking Yemen (especially via drone attacks launched from the Horn of Africa) and has been encouraging and assisting factions of the Saudi government who are waging a war, ostensibly against the Houthi rebels. In practice, the Saudis have been... more »

A report out today indicates that American-made weapons were used in an attack on a market in Yemen three weeks ago which killed at least 97 people, including 25 children. Examination of wreckage found at the scene appears to have identified US-made GBU-31 and GBU-48 bombs as the weapons used. Saudi General Ahmad al-Assiri has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Some source attribution notes and clarifications are needed here, because the players involved are complicated. Yemen has been in the midst of a civil war for several years, and al-Qaeda has been attempting to reestablish itself in the anarchy. To combat this, the US has been both directly attacking Yemen (especially via drone attacks launched from the Horn of Africa) and has been encouraging and assisting factions of the Saudi government who are waging a war, ostensibly against the Houthi rebels. In practice, the Saudis have been remarkably cavalier about mass murder, freely targeting civilians. Everyone in this game is well aware of the fact, but the US has decided that this is worth it and so has been increasing military supplies and rather strongly encouraging increased violence.

This attack happened on March 15th, and struck a crowded marketplace in Mastaba. 97 bodies have been identified, and more were damaged beyond recognition. The Saudis claimed they had attacked a "militia gathering," and that the marketplace was known as a place where people bought and sold qat. (A mild narcotic which is popular, and legal, in the area) The most interesting part about that last bit is that it indicates that al-Assiri was aware that a marketplace was being targeted. Locals confirmed that some Houthi fighters did regularly eat and sleep in a restaurant in that marketplace.

The news item linked below goes with this full report from Human Rights Watch (HRW): https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/04/07/yemen-us-bombs-used-deadliest-market-strike . HRW is an organization whose reports I always read with a certain amount of caution, since they have a strong political orientation and I don't have full confidence in the neutrality of their reporting. However, the facts of the attack on the marketplace and the casualties were confirmed in detail by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): http://www.msf.org/article/yemen-msf-treats-more-40-wounded-following-deadly-airstrike-marketplace . Them, I trust quite thoroughly, not least because of their multi-decade history of not giving a damn about anything except keeping people alive. 

The facts that nobody appears to be disputing are that Saudis attacked a marketplace in Yemen, killing around 100 people, including ten Houthi fighters. While there has been no chance yet to hear responses to the new report, it also appears unlikely that anyone will dispute the use of American weapons in the attack, or that these weapons were provided to the Saudis through overt channels by the US government. It is also undisputed that this is far from the first such attack by Saudis, in which a large number of civilians were killed to achieve a very questionable military objective.

Perhaps most damning about this story is that, if you live in the US or in Europe, this is most likely the first time you've heard about it. The attack was barely covered in the press, despite being a large-scale attack on innocent civilians which happened only weeks ago. 

This is part of a profoundly dangerous pattern: attacks on Western targets are widely reported, but equally large or larger attacks in the Middle East aren't even mentioned. The reason this is so dangerous is that it gives Americans and Europeans almost no context for what is going on: you might think that things like ISIS and al-Qaeda are happening in a vacuum, created out of some inexplicable hostility factory within the Middle East. In the Arab world, this attack was being reported on as much as the attacks on Brussels a week later was in the West, and in the same sort of language: you would hear about American-supported forces blowing up a marketplace.

A lack of context is a dangerous thing. Not hearing the entire story can leave you vulnerable to surprise.

I'm going to be taking a lot more effort in the near future to bring your attention to news stories like these, so that you can get a picture of what the world is seeing when they get their news from other sources.___

posted image

2016-04-07 21:51:29 (38 comments; 64 reshares; 296 +1s)Open 

Science! There's a tremendous amount of lore about how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs, including elaborate mechanisms involving pressure cookers and ovens. But it turns out that there hasn't been much actual science done. So one determined chef actually did a full set of experiments, and found that while no method is perfectly reliable, there is a fairly simple and easy-to-use set of rules which works robustly.

(Place cold eggs in boiling water, then immediately reduce to a simmer; cook 6 minutes for soft, 11 for hard. Then immediately shock in cold water, and let cool completely before peeling under water)

5K words on the perfect boiled egg, thousands of eggs later, with lots of experiments, and the verdict is in: This is how you make perfect eggs.

No sticky bits, no dimples, easily peeled. 

No, I'm not telling you. Go read the eggscellent article. ___Science! There's a tremendous amount of lore about how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs, including elaborate mechanisms involving pressure cookers and ovens. But it turns out that there hasn't been much actual science done. So one determined chef actually did a full set of experiments, and found that while no method is perfectly reliable, there is a fairly simple and easy-to-use set of rules which works robustly.

(Place cold eggs in boiling water, then immediately reduce to a simmer; cook 6 minutes for soft, 11 for hard. Then immediately shock in cold water, and let cool completely before peeling under water)

posted image

2016-04-07 16:42:52 (23 comments; 26 reshares; 288 +1s)Open 

+The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park has assembled a complete exhibit about the Lorenz cryptosystem used by the Nazi High Command. This was their most complex system, used for only the highest-security messages -- and like Enigma, it was cracked by the team at Bletchley, letting the Allies read Hitler's mail.

And by a complete exhibit, I mean a complete one: they have all the parts in one place now, from the encryption and typing equipment used by the Germans, to the interception equipment on the British shore, to the decryption equipment which would crack the codes.

I really need to get a chance to go visit this museum sometime.

A close-up of the wheels of the German Lorenz SZ42 and the British Tunny machine. Bill Tutte worked out the architecture of the Lorenz without ever having seen it and British engineers built their own version to decrypt messages once Colossus had found the wheel settings.  And, yes, they do look rather different! 
Full story about the newly arrived Lorenz SZ42 here: www.tnmoc.org/news/news-releases/encrypt-decrypt-full-lorenz-story___+The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park has assembled a complete exhibit about the Lorenz cryptosystem used by the Nazi High Command. This was their most complex system, used for only the highest-security messages -- and like Enigma, it was cracked by the team at Bletchley, letting the Allies read Hitler's mail.

And by a complete exhibit, I mean a complete one: they have all the parts in one place now, from the encryption and typing equipment used by the Germans, to the interception equipment on the British shore, to the decryption equipment which would crack the codes.

I really need to get a chance to go visit this museum sometime.

posted image

2016-04-07 03:08:33 (28 comments; 100 reshares; 494 +1s)Open 

If you've never played with oobleck, you are missing out. By mixing one part water and 2 parts corn starch, you get what's technically called a "non-Newtonian fluid." When you move it at low speed – say, swirling it around gently or scooping it up – it behaves like an ordinary, kind of thin liquid. But if you try to move it at high speed – say, by slapping it – it becomes solid! What's happening is that when the oobleck is exposed to a strong enough shear force (that is, a force that's trying to shear it, moving one part of the oobleck in one direction and another part in the opposite direction) it causes particles of cornstarch to bump into each other, and suddenly the fluid becomes much more viscous.

Now, if you have played with oobleck, you may have wondered what happens if you hit it much harder than you can with your hand. Say, with a chainsaw, a BB gun, agolf ba... more »

If you've never played with oobleck, you are missing out. By mixing one part water and 2 parts corn starch, you get what's technically called a "non-Newtonian fluid." When you move it at low speed – say, swirling it around gently or scooping it up – it behaves like an ordinary, kind of thin liquid. But if you try to move it at high speed – say, by slapping it – it becomes solid! What's happening is that when the oobleck is exposed to a strong enough shear force (that is, a force that's trying to shear it, moving one part of the oobleck in one direction and another part in the opposite direction) it causes particles of cornstarch to bump into each other, and suddenly the fluid becomes much more viscous.

Now, if you have played with oobleck, you may have wondered what happens if you hit it much harder than you can with your hand. Say, with a chainsaw, a BB gun, a golf ball cannon, or explosives.

Fortunately, the Backyard Scientist has tested this out for us, with the help of a high-speed camera, a friend, and a surprisingly patient dog. The short answer is something you can see in the GIF below: when the golf ball strikes the balloon full of oobleck, (at about 300 ft/s, carrying roughly the energy of a .38 bullet) the oobleck doesn't splash, it shatters. Chunks of it fly in all directions, and only once they slow down do they turn back into a liquid.

There are many other kinds of non-Newtonian fluids. Quicksand is the opposite of oobleck: when it's exposed to a shear force, it becomes less viscous and more liquid, which is why if you try to struggle in quicksand you'll drown. Ketchup and nail polish do the same, which is why ketchup moves much faster once it gets started. Yogurt, on the other hand, is "thixotropic:" it doesn't react to the amount of shear force, but to its duration, so if you keep pressing on it it will start to flow more and more easily.

These are great things to study, because you can find materials with amazingly complicated physics behind them in your own kitchen, and see examples of how each of them work. You can read some of the ideas here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Newtonian_fluid), but it's not the best explanation; if anyone can find a better one, I'll happily link it.

h/t to +Jennifer Ouellette and +Rachel Blum for the link!___

posted image

2016-04-06 21:52:01 (45 comments; 9 reshares; 129 +1s)Open 

Apparently GMU was close to announcing the new name (and corresponding endowment) of its school of law, when the name leaked, and... well.

It was going to be the Antonin Scalia School of Law.

Fortunately, they have realized the problem, and #ASSoL  (also known as #ASSLaw ) has now been renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School, a.k.a. #ASLS .

This may be the best branding move since the UK's Office of Government Commerce came out with their logo back in 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1901656/OGC-unveils-new-logo-to-red-faces.html

(Although in that case, they had an exceptionally classy answer: when the shape of the logo was generally realized, the official response was “It is true that it caused a few titters among some staff when viewed on its side, but on consideration we concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of thelett... more »

Apparently GMU was close to announcing the new name (and corresponding endowment) of its school of law, when the name leaked, and... well.

It was going to be the Antonin Scalia School of Law.

Fortunately, they have realized the problem, and #ASSoL  (also known as #ASSLaw ) has now been renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School, a.k.a. #ASLS .

This may be the best branding move since the UK's Office of Government Commerce came out with their logo back in 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1901656/OGC-unveils-new-logo-to-red-faces.html

(Although in that case, they had an exceptionally classy answer: when the shape of the logo was generally realized, the official response was “It is true that it caused a few titters among some staff when viewed on its side, but on consideration we concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters OGC - and it is not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on Government spend.”)___

posted image

2016-04-06 21:20:26 (31 comments; 77 reshares; 309 +1s)Open 

I'm glad to see we published this: this is the architecture Google has worked out for securing our corporate network. Traditional networks determine a lot of security by whether you're connected to the "internal" or "external" network; this is simple, but it means that once someone compromises that outer perimeter, a lot of the defenses vanish. If you're running a network that's routinely (or in our case, continuously) under attack by well-funded or state-level adversaries, this isn't enough. The "BeyondCorp" architecture is based on trusting devices based on things about that device we can measure, rather than simply where they are.

Happy to see this being discussed publicly!___I'm glad to see we published this: this is the architecture Google has worked out for securing our corporate network. Traditional networks determine a lot of security by whether you're connected to the "internal" or "external" network; this is simple, but it means that once someone compromises that outer perimeter, a lot of the defenses vanish. If you're running a network that's routinely (or in our case, continuously) under attack by well-funded or state-level adversaries, this isn't enough. The "BeyondCorp" architecture is based on trusting devices based on things about that device we can measure, rather than simply where they are.

posted image

2016-04-06 06:58:24 (129 comments; 66 reshares; 320 +1s)Open 

The story below contains nothing which is likely to surprise anyone: white men advocating diversity in the workplace get treated net neutrally for it, while women or people of color doing so get rated worse by their peers than ones who don't. What's important about this is the consequence: that if you are a white man, this puts more of the onus on you to do this.

This is part of a general pattern. We each have things beyond our control which lead to us being treated better or worse than other people. If you're seen as white in the US, you'll be treated better in various ways (by cops, by employers, by business owners, etc) than if you were otherwise identical but black. If you're "gender conforming" (e.g., you're male and you look it and you act it), you aren't (among other things) in danger of being killed for it. And many of these things can be subtle and... more »

The story below contains nothing which is likely to surprise anyone: white men advocating diversity in the workplace get treated net neutrally for it, while women or people of color doing so get rated worse by their peers than ones who don't. What's important about this is the consequence: that if you are a white man, this puts more of the onus on you to do this.

This is part of a general pattern. We each have things beyond our control which lead to us being treated better or worse than other people. If you're seen as white in the US, you'll be treated better in various ways (by cops, by employers, by business owners, etc) than if you were otherwise identical but black. If you're "gender conforming" (e.g., you're male and you look it and you act it), you aren't (among other things) in danger of being killed for it. And many of these things can be subtle and situational: there are times and places where (e.g.) being black, or being female, is an advantage, just like there are times and places where those aren't. And you almost certainly have a combination of features: maybe you're white, male, gender-conforming, and straight, but also grew up poor and had no access to a lot of basic things that everyone around you is taking for granted.

The technical term for a thing you can't control which makes people treat you better is "privilege." I personally hate this word, because in English it implies something slightly contemptible, and like if you have it then everything in your life must be fine. That's obvious nonsense, which makes this a terrible word for a very important idea. The technical term for the fact that everyone has different things for and against them, and these interact in complicated ways in their daily life, is "intersectionality."

But here's the thing: There's nothing wrong with having privilege. You can't control that, any more than you can control not having it. It's just something that's sort of there. It has no notion of whether you "deserve" it, because it's something that was assigned to you before you could deserve or not deserve it.

What you can control is how you use it. In particular, with each privilege comes a responsibility to use that privilege for the benefit of people who don't have it. (You didn't ask for the responsibility, either, but that's life for you. It doesn't really care.)

That doesn't mean infinite responsibility, and this is far from the only responsibility in your life. You absolutely can and should balance between them.

But you need to be aware of what privileges you have, and keep an active eye out for when something seems to be depending on them, and question that. Because here's the thing: lots of the things which depend on these things aren't even explicit "oh, I like this one better" sorts of things. They're things that happen so subtly that you don't even see them unless you're actively looking. In fact, the most common effect of a privilege is "not having to worry about X" – which means that it's only obvious to people who don't have it. Another common form is "there really aren't any X's around here;" well, what's stopping them from coming?

Spend your time talking to people who are different from you in various ways. Listen to them: recognize that their experiences might be really different from yours in a way that seems outright bizarre at first. ("That would never happen! People aren't like that!" "They aren't like that to you.") The things really going on often won't be obvious. 

And when you do find things, do something to fix them. Often what's needed most is something simple and straightforward: for example, people like X aren't showing up somewhere because they don't feel they'll be treated equally, that people will always see them as other. Just taking the effort to actively welcome people, and to seriously pay attention, is a very important first step.

(Far from the last step, of course, but it's an important place to start)

This isn't just true for managers; it's true wherever you work, live, or play. Take active steps to welcome people who are different from you. It'll make your, and their, lives better.___

posted image

2016-04-04 17:59:33 (184 comments; 64 reshares; 329 +1s)Open 

A quick note for everyone: this weekend, something which may well be the mother of all leak stories broke. The entire paperwork of Mossack Fonseca, a legal firm which is one of the world's big players in hiding money offshore, from its founding in 1975 to the present, leaked, and over the past year a consortium of journalists from around the world have been studying it. The first round of articles came out this weekend, revealing data about 14,153 clients, with activities ranging from the perfectly legitimate towards the incredibly shady -- with a clear slant towards the latter.

This list has included 12 current or former heads of state, 61 close associates of heads of state (especially Putin's), 128 other current or former public officials, 29 people on the Forbes 500 list, and over 200 countries. 

Notably absent from the list have been any significant names from the US.... more »

A quick note for everyone: this weekend, something which may well be the mother of all leak stories broke. The entire paperwork of Mossack Fonseca, a legal firm which is one of the world's big players in hiding money offshore, from its founding in 1975 to the present, leaked, and over the past year a consortium of journalists from around the world have been studying it. The first round of articles came out this weekend, revealing data about 14,153 clients, with activities ranging from the perfectly legitimate towards the incredibly shady -- with a clear slant towards the latter.

This list has included 12 current or former heads of state, 61 close associates of heads of state (especially Putin's), 128 other current or former public officials, 29 people on the Forbes 500 list, and over 200 countries. 

Notably absent from the list have been any significant names from the US. However, this is apparently because those stories are taking a few more days to wrap: we've heard from reliable sources that there are going to be some really interesting revelations in the immediate future.

Below is a link to the International Center for Investigative Journalism's summary of what's become known as the Panama Papers. (The ICIJ coordinated this massive research and journalism effort) Another good intro is Fusion's set of stories, which are quite clear and well-written: http://interactive.fusion.net/dirty-little-secrets/index.html 

Expect some seriously interesting things in the near future.___

posted image

2016-04-03 08:17:39 (156 comments; 69 reshares; 278 +1s)Open 

Until Thursday, Charlie Hebdo's satire had always been a fig leaf for something darker. On Thursday, they dropped the fig leaf. All the ugliness at the heart of European liberalism is coming out to the fore, to meet its new friends on the far right. 

This article is about why I am not Charlie, why I can never be Charlie, and why I never wish to be Charlie.

Until Thursday, Charlie Hebdo's satire had always been a fig leaf for something darker. On Thursday, they dropped the fig leaf. All the ugliness at the heart of European liberalism is coming out to the fore, to meet its new friends on the far right. 

This article is about why I am not Charlie, why I can never be Charlie, and why I never wish to be Charlie.___

posted image

2016-04-03 05:17:17 (75 comments; 28 reshares; 201 +1s)Open 

If you want to hear some truly spectacular bits of self-justification, and lose a great deal of your remaining faith in humanity, listen to this interview of former CIA Director Michael Hayden by Mehdi Hasan. My favorite exchange from this (starting around 7:20):

Q: Is waterboarding torture?
Hayden: I won't answer that question.
Q: If Assad waterboards rebels, you will not call that torture?
Hayden: Oh, that's completely different.

The extent of Hayden's determination to never admit the slightest bit of wrongdoing is kind of extraordinary. The last time I saw anyone quite this determined to avoid responsibility for their official actions, they ended up at the end of a rope.

If you want to hear some truly spectacular bits of self-justification, and lose a great deal of your remaining faith in humanity, listen to this interview of former CIA Director Michael Hayden by Mehdi Hasan. My favorite exchange from this (starting around 7:20):

Q: Is waterboarding torture?
Hayden: I won't answer that question.
Q: If Assad waterboards rebels, you will not call that torture?
Hayden: Oh, that's completely different.

The extent of Hayden's determination to never admit the slightest bit of wrongdoing is kind of extraordinary. The last time I saw anyone quite this determined to avoid responsibility for their official actions, they ended up at the end of a rope.___

posted image

2016-04-01 16:51:43 (53 comments; 44 reshares; 457 +1s)Open 

If you use Google's voice search at all, you'll have noticed that in the past few days a new voice has rolled out. What you may not know is how a voice like that is generated. Human speech is a complicated thing: letters sound very different depending on where they are in a word and what sounds are around them. +Nat and Lo spent some time talking with the team (and the new voice talent, although she doesn't appear on camera -- her identity is a closely-guarded secret) and end up giving a very clear explanation of just how computers today can speak.

If you use Google's voice search at all, you'll have noticed that in the past few days a new voice has rolled out. What you may not know is how a voice like that is generated. Human speech is a complicated thing: letters sound very different depending on where they are in a word and what sounds are around them. +Nat and Lo spent some time talking with the team (and the new voice talent, although she doesn't appear on camera -- her identity is a closely-guarded secret) and end up giving a very clear explanation of just how computers today can speak.___

posted image

2016-03-28 04:37:32 (54 comments; 58 reshares; 333 +1s)Open 

+Sundar Pichai has been Google's CEO since last August, when we restructured the company to separate out a lot of our more far-flung ventures into Alphabet. However, he's a far more low-profile figure than (say) Larry Page, Tim Cook, or Elon Musk; someone who can still wander around the Consumer Electronics Show without being recognized. As a result, many people haven't had a chance to get a sense of who he is.

So it's great to see this piece by +Mathew Honan about him: it talks about him as a person, and his vision for the future of the company and of technology. I think the piece captures him well, and it shows why I've been really enjoying working for him this past year or so.

h/t +Don McArthur for finding this!

+Sundar Pichai has been Google's CEO since last August, when we restructured the company to separate out a lot of our more far-flung ventures into Alphabet. However, he's a far more low-profile figure than (say) Larry Page, Tim Cook, or Elon Musk; someone who can still wander around the Consumer Electronics Show without being recognized. As a result, many people haven't had a chance to get a sense of who he is.

So it's great to see this piece by +Mathew Honan about him: it talks about him as a person, and his vision for the future of the company and of technology. I think the piece captures him well, and it shows why I've been really enjoying working for him this past year or so.

h/t +Don McArthur for finding this!___

posted image

2016-03-27 22:37:42 (155 comments; 29 reshares; 192 +1s)Open 

A few hours ago, there was a suicide bombing at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore, which was crowded with families celebrating Easter. Current reports count 69 dead, 193 injured, with numbers expected to rise.

The Taliban, may their houses crumble upon them, have claimed responsibility, saying it was an "attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter." This comes against the backdrop of deeper conflicts within Pakistan, as thousands of protesters marched today in Islamabad in support of Islamist gunman Mumtaz Qadri, executed last month for the murder of the governor of Punjab.

I don't have much more background or information to give at the moment, but for all of my friends in Pakistan, and for all those with families in Lahore most of all, my heart is with you and I hope that all of your friends and your families are safe.

A few hours ago, there was a suicide bombing at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore, which was crowded with families celebrating Easter. Current reports count 69 dead, 193 injured, with numbers expected to rise.

The Taliban, may their houses crumble upon them, have claimed responsibility, saying it was an "attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter." This comes against the backdrop of deeper conflicts within Pakistan, as thousands of protesters marched today in Islamabad in support of Islamist gunman Mumtaz Qadri, executed last month for the murder of the governor of Punjab.

I don't have much more background or information to give at the moment, but for all of my friends in Pakistan, and for all those with families in Lahore most of all, my heart is with you and I hope that all of your friends and your families are safe.___

posted image

2016-03-27 22:14:20 (26 comments; 65 reshares; 481 +1s)Open 

We know very little about Bronze Age life in most of Europe. Writing wouldn't reach this region until Roman times, and no large settlements have been uncovered. What we do know is that, around 1200BCE, there was a tremendous flux of people coming from somewhere inside Europe (and perhaps from Asia before that?) into the northern Mediterranean. We know about these from their effects: the Dorian invasions which brought about the fall of Mycenaean civilization in Greece (around the time of the Trojan War), the fights of Egypt against the "Sea People" pushed out from Greece around then, the arrival of the Philistines (also "sea people") in the western Levant. Greek civilization plunged into a dark age, with writing not recovered until nearly 500 years later when it was re-imported from Phoenicia; Hittite civilization in Asia Minor collapsed completely, as did Egyptian civilization in the... more »

We know very little about Bronze Age life in most of Europe. Writing wouldn't reach this region until Roman times, and no large settlements have been uncovered. What we do know is that, around 1200BCE, there was a tremendous flux of people coming from somewhere inside Europe (and perhaps from Asia before that?) into the northern Mediterranean. We know about these from their effects: the Dorian invasions which brought about the fall of Mycenaean civilization in Greece (around the time of the Trojan War), the fights of Egypt against the "Sea People" pushed out from Greece around then, the arrival of the Philistines (also "sea people") in the western Levant. Greek civilization plunged into a dark age, with writing not recovered until nearly 500 years later when it was re-imported from Phoenicia; Hittite civilization in Asia Minor collapsed completely, as did Egyptian civilization in the Levant.

Until now, we have always believed that this happened in a fairly piecemeal fashion: climate change or warfare in Asia pushed a wave of nomads west (as has happened repeatedly in history), not as a single army but as many individual tribes all migrating. They, in turn, fought with and displaced locals, who fled towards the Mediterranean in turn. Large battles would not have happened; those are things that only happen in areas of large civilizations, which Europe at the time completely lacked.

But the discovery in 1996 of an unexpected armbone in the mud of northern Germany, near the Baltic Sea, has changed all that. Over the past six years, this area has begun to be excavated in depth, and it has yielded the remains of a battle fought on a single day 3,200 years ago, by perhaps 4,000 soldiers: not farmhands with weapons, but trained professionals fighting with armor, swords, spears, and clubs, many showing evidence of past battle injuries. Nor were they simply "a bunch of local idiots," as Mainz geneticist Joachim Burger put it: evidence from DNA and isotopes in their bones suggest that they came from all over Europe, from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia. 

What's fascinating is that this may be the largest single battle site from this period in history to be found anywhere, and yet we know nothing of what happened: who fought, what civilizations or cultures they came from, what led to the battle this day. But the simple presence of a single battle of this scale, and of trained professional armies, suggests that Europe of the Late Bronze Age had a far more complex social organization than we ever suspected.

(The article below is completely fascinating and if you want to learn more, that's a good place to start. If you want to know more about the broader set of things happening around 1,200BCE, you might want to start at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Bronze_Age_collapse and go from there)___

posted image

2016-03-26 21:13:36 (107 comments; 33 reshares; 280 +1s)Open 

The uneven application of the law in this country is not merely a travesty – it's also a danger to us all. For those unfamiliar with the story, Celli wasn't simply ranting online: he had procured explosives and assembled a bomb, and had made specific threats to kill all the members of a local mosque. This man is, plain and simple, a domestic terrorist who was (fortunately) captured before he could bring his plans to fruition. 

However, he only faced state charges (despite his use of interstate media in the furtherance of the plot), and pled down to a 90-day sentence, plus three years' probation and anger management training.

This man was literally intercepted in the middle of a mass murder plot, and is going to go to jail for 90 days... after which, we are to presume, he will suddenly become a fine and upstanding member of society, and no longer be a danger to the livesof... more »

The uneven application of the law in this country is not merely a travesty – it's also a danger to us all. For those unfamiliar with the story, Celli wasn't simply ranting online: he had procured explosives and assembled a bomb, and had made specific threats to kill all the members of a local mosque. This man is, plain and simple, a domestic terrorist who was (fortunately) captured before he could bring his plans to fruition. 

However, he only faced state charges (despite his use of interstate media in the furtherance of the plot), and pled down to a 90-day sentence, plus three years' probation and anger management training.

This man was literally intercepted in the middle of a mass murder plot, and is going to go to jail for 90 days... after which, we are to presume, he will suddenly become a fine and upstanding member of society, and no longer be a danger to the lives of everyone in his community?

(For the record, had the local police called the FBI – whose jurisdiction would have come from his use of the Internet to further the crime – he could have been charged federally, under 18 USC §2332a, "Use of weapons of mass destruction," which is the law under which such people are typically charged. This would have been good for 9-11 years if it were charged as simple bombing, or 16-20 as conspiracy to commit murder, which his statements make fairly clear that it was, all assuming that he had no criminal record at all – something I wouldn't bet money on. People don't normally go from "nice neighbor, a bit kooky" to "mass murderer" overnight. cf USSC guidelines §2A1.5, 2M6.1, and 3A1.1)

h/t +Erica Joy.___

posted image

2016-03-26 03:38:50 (24 comments; 3 reshares; 171 +1s)Open 

I know people with the right kind of sense of humor to function in this day and age.

Maybe I should stop trying to read the electoral tea leaves, and switch to augury instead. If nothing else, you end up with dinner.

I know people with the right kind of sense of humor to function in this day and age.

Maybe I should stop trying to read the electoral tea leaves, and switch to augury instead. If nothing else, you end up with dinner.___

posted image

2016-03-26 03:22:40 (69 comments; 6 reshares; 182 +1s)Open 

Friendly reminder: This weekend is all about crucifying people and eating rabbits.

Let's try to get it the right way round this year, m'kay?

Friendly reminder: This weekend is all about crucifying people and eating rabbits.

Let's try to get it the right way round this year, m'kay?___

posted image

2016-03-24 16:12:23 (16 comments; 5 reshares; 191 +1s)Open 

I'm going to go look for a knoll somewhere to sit on and sniff dandelions.

___I'm going to go look for a knoll somewhere to sit on and sniff dandelions.

posted image

2016-03-24 15:49:14 (63 comments; 59 reshares; 329 +1s)Open 

There's an approach to conversational AI that's not based on understanding at all, but rather on learning what to say next based on what was said previously; essentially, treating words as opaque objects with meaningful patterns. I'm not very sanguine about this approach, and this case illustrates why: when Microsoft put a "teenage girl" chatbot on Twitter and told it to learn from the conversations it had, it learned... well, about what you would expect it to learn on Twitter, especially if you show up with both "teenage girl" and "Microsoft" signs around your neck during an election year.

The "Hitler-loving sex robot" descriptor of the headline is somewhat of an understatement.

Semantic understanding: yes, it's probably important. 

There's an approach to conversational AI that's not based on understanding at all, but rather on learning what to say next based on what was said previously; essentially, treating words as opaque objects with meaningful patterns. I'm not very sanguine about this approach, and this case illustrates why: when Microsoft put a "teenage girl" chatbot on Twitter and told it to learn from the conversations it had, it learned... well, about what you would expect it to learn on Twitter, especially if you show up with both "teenage girl" and "Microsoft" signs around your neck during an election year.

The "Hitler-loving sex robot" descriptor of the headline is somewhat of an understatement.

Semantic understanding: yes, it's probably important. ___

posted image

2016-03-23 17:13:56 (95 comments; 193 reshares; 443 +1s)Open 

We have a new experiment at Google which many of you may enjoy: "unfiltered.news," a site which analyzes news feeds from around the world, and tells you which news stories are most missed by the media where you live. From there, you can see how these stories are being covered around the world, and know what you're missing.

This is still a tool in beta, and it's got some rough edges, but the idea is excellent and has great promise.

We have a new experiment at Google which many of you may enjoy: "unfiltered.news," a site which analyzes news feeds from around the world, and tells you which news stories are most missed by the media where you live. From there, you can see how these stories are being covered around the world, and know what you're missing.

This is still a tool in beta, and it's got some rough edges, but the idea is excellent and has great promise.___

posted image

2016-03-23 15:51:06 (23 comments; 19 reshares; 173 +1s)Open 

The video of the construction is tremendously soothing to watch. If you need something pleasing today, here it is; it left me with the feeling of freshly sanded wood.

hat tip to +Jason Moore 

+Paul Bucalo .... dude. Just... dude. 

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/watch-a-master-carpenter-build-the-workbench-of-your-dr-1766456444___The video of the construction is tremendously soothing to watch. If you need something pleasing today, here it is; it left me with the feeling of freshly sanded wood.

posted image

2016-03-22 05:16:50 (34 comments; 33 reshares; 297 +1s)Open 

A few days ago, Taylor Huckaby, manning the Twitter account for BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit system) during a major outage, got especially candid about the real problems going on and why they were hard to fix. The story, and his tweets, went (deservedly) viral: #ThisIsOurReality  became the hashtag.

Today, he's following up with a short article about the broader realities of running a public transit system, and its real costs and benefits. And by being straightforward and up-front about it, he makes the best possible case for investing in its maintenance. When the $3.5B bond measure he describes comes up this November, I'll be voting for it now.

Sometimes, a bit of simple honesty is worth more than a ton of political campaigning.

Via +Kee Hinckley.

A few days ago, Taylor Huckaby, manning the Twitter account for BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit system) during a major outage, got especially candid about the real problems going on and why they were hard to fix. The story, and his tweets, went (deservedly) viral: #ThisIsOurReality  became the hashtag.

Today, he's following up with a short article about the broader realities of running a public transit system, and its real costs and benefits. And by being straightforward and up-front about it, he makes the best possible case for investing in its maintenance. When the $3.5B bond measure he describes comes up this November, I'll be voting for it now.

Sometimes, a bit of simple honesty is worth more than a ton of political campaigning.

Via +Kee Hinckley.___

posted image

2016-03-22 04:45:03 (27 comments; 17 reshares; 91 +1s)Open 

If this poem seems a little bit strange, be aware that not only did it coin a new word ("polyphloisboisteros"), but a new academic obscenity. ("What the digamma?")

Not that Greek (of the Modern, Ancient, or Archaic varieties) was ever lacking in obscenities. One of our best sources on the early evolution of the language comes from graffiti, some of it written as early as 750BCE – right around the time that writing was reintroduced to Greece after its Dark Age – and almost all of which was vividly obscene. This can make texts on ancient history a lot more amusing than you may at first expect.

What the digamma does this mean, and why did Lewis Carroll think it was so shocking?___If this poem seems a little bit strange, be aware that not only did it coin a new word ("polyphloisboisteros"), but a new academic obscenity. ("What the digamma?")

Not that Greek (of the Modern, Ancient, or Archaic varieties) was ever lacking in obscenities. One of our best sources on the early evolution of the language comes from graffiti, some of it written as early as 750BCE – right around the time that writing was reintroduced to Greece after its Dark Age – and almost all of which was vividly obscene. This can make texts on ancient history a lot more amusing than you may at first expect.

posted image

2016-03-20 22:15:19 (24 comments; 10 reshares; 84 +1s)Open 

They quacked at me. Fools. I'll show them all!

From Ducks: and How to Make Them Pay (1894)

4th Edition. Leaf through the book here:
https://archive.org/details/cu31924003102971___They quacked at me. Fools. I'll show them all!

posted image

2016-03-20 19:57:25 (59 comments; 76 reshares; 714 +1s)Open 

There's an old bit of elementary-school folklore that you can't fold a piece of paper more than six times. And there's a mathematical theorem that shows exactly how many times you really can fold paper. And then there's the +Hydraulic Press Channel on YouTube, which decided to violate all the laws of mathematics and physics by brute force.

The result is a rather fascinating display of physics at work. I have a theory as to what's going on here, but I would need a hydraulic press, a thermocouple, and an electron microscope to be sure. (Anyone have these sitting around? This would be fun)

You can see the video, the math, and my proposed explanation here: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/folding-paper-with-a-hydraulic-press-c858f3d12a58#.n074iyfxv

Thanks to +Chris Colohan for finding this, and posing the challenging question of just what's going onhe... more »

There's an old bit of elementary-school folklore that you can't fold a piece of paper more than six times. And there's a mathematical theorem that shows exactly how many times you really can fold paper. And then there's the +Hydraulic Press Channel on YouTube, which decided to violate all the laws of mathematics and physics by brute force.

The result is a rather fascinating display of physics at work. I have a theory as to what's going on here, but I would need a hydraulic press, a thermocouple, and an electron microscope to be sure. (Anyone have these sitting around? This would be fun)

You can see the video, the math, and my proposed explanation here: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/folding-paper-with-a-hydraulic-press-c858f3d12a58#.n074iyfxv

Thanks to +Chris Colohan for finding this, and posing the challenging question of just what's going on here.___

Buttons

A special service of CircleCount.com is the following button.

The button shows the number of followers you have directly on a small button. You can add this button to your website, like the +1-Button of Google or the Like-Button of Facebook.






You can add this button directly in your website. For more information about the CircleCount Buttons and the description how to add them to another page click here.

Yonatan ZungerTwitterLinkedInCircloscope