Archive for January 2014

#  How Much Snow Cancels School?

January 31st, 2014 at 15:06 // In Worth Seeing 

The US has been cold and snowy for weeks, so this map passes as quite topical.


And it’s just well made (by reddit user /u/atrubetskoy), who offers in the comment thread a great array of provisos:

  • Urban areas like Chicago and New York have more resources to clear snow and often need more to cause closings.
  • Clarification: The lightest green says “any snow” but also includes merely the prediction of snow.

#  Mapped Milk Consumption and Lactose Intolerence →

January 31st, 2014 at 13:07 // In Worth Seeing 

It’s kind of expected, but I still think it’s worth a second: maps of milk consumption and lactose intolerance are nearly inverts of each other. At a quick glance South America seems to be an odd exception.

(via @Amazing_Maps)

#  No Event Horizon →

January 30th, 2014 at 16:34 // In Worth Knowing 

Stephen Hawking, who’s perhaps the most famous physicist of black holes, believes that it’s inaccurate to think of them as objects from which nothing can escape. Because of “Hawking radiation”, things escapes eventually. The idea that black holes have a boundary from within which nothing can escape, but that they also leak radiation, is a paradox Hawking attempts to reconcile in a new paper:

In place of the event horizon, Hawking invokes an “apparent horizon”, a surface along which light rays attempting to rush away from the black hole’s core will be suspended. In general relativity, for an unchanging black hole, these two horizons are identical, because light trying to escape from inside a black hole can reach only as far as the event horizon and will be held there, as though stuck on a treadmill. However, the two horizons can, in principle, be distinguished. If more matter gets swallowed by the black hole, its event horizon will swell and grow larger than the apparent horizon.

(via kottke)

#  Against Long-Form →

January 30th, 2014 at 10:44 // In Worth Reading 

As a (too infrequent) reader and internet user, I’ve never really like the whole “long reads” phenomenon. Marco Arment distills its problem pretty well:

The problem is that long doesn’t mean good — it just doesn’t look like most of the junk. Too many people now ask for (and produce) “long-form” when they really want substantial. It’s entirely possible to be substantial without being long, and good editors have helped writers strike that balance for centuries. Emphasizing and rewarding length over quality results in worse writing and more reader abandonment.

#  The six things that make stories go viral will amaze, and maybe infuriate, you →

January 29th, 2014 at 10:35 // In Worth Reading 

Maria Konnikova pens a nice think-piece about virality on the internet. And while it’s fitting that the New Yorker would name a piece like it would be easy to digest and then not deliver, it is honestly annoying me a little bit that not only does the piece lack a list, but it even lacks something approximating it within the structure. But this is intersting:

First, he told me, you need to create social currency—something that makes people feel that they’re not only smart but in the know. “Memes like LOLcats, I think, are a perfect example of social currency, an insider culture or handshake,” Berger told me. “Your ability to pass it on and riff on it shows that you understand. It’s the ultimate, subtle insider signal: I know without yelling that I know. When your mom sees an LOLcat, she has no idea what it is.”

via NextDraft

#  Hacking Audio Transcription with YouTube →

January 28th, 2014 at 15:16 // In Worth Knowing 

I’ve needed to transcribe some audio recently, and found it quite a bear of a task. Transcription services aren’t error-free, and they typically take at least 24 hours to turn around. But YouTube videos get free machine transcription, and while it’s more error-full than a human transcription it’s probably faster.

Andy Baio explain:

How’s the quality? Pretty mediocre! It’s about as good as you’d expect from a free machine-generated transcript. The caption files have no punctuation between sentences, speakers aren’t broken out separately, and errors are very common.

But if you’re transcribing interviews, it’s often easier to edit a flawed transcript than starting from scratch. And YouTube provides a solid interface for editing your transcript audio and getting the results in plaintext.

#  17 Supermarket Tricks →

January 28th, 2014 at 10:27 // In Worth Knowing 

These aren’t so much tricks as interesting tidbits, but more than a few were novel to me. And I was working in a supermarket just last year… This one I’d not thought about at all, but seems obviously to have happened in the US on reflection:

Shopping carts are getting bigger so you’ll put more in them: “We doubled their size as a test, and customers bought 19% more,” explained Martin Lindstrom, marketing consultant and author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy.

(via NextDraft)

#  2014 Gates Annual Letter →

January 27th, 2014 at 16:44 // In Worth Considering 

Bill and Melinda Gates are trying to “bust” three myths about poverty in their annual letter this year, which is novel and cool. The design of the page itself is also something worth a look, in its own right.

To be self-serving for a second, I just published my personal annual review for the first time. I’ve unfortunately got nothing to say about how we solve large international issues, but you might be interested.

#  Population Lines →

January 27th, 2014 at 9:47 // In Worth Seeing 

This a neat map (direct link to image) that:

  1. Shows a novel visualization of the distribution of people across the surface of our planet.
  2. Evokes a rather famous album cover, that of Joy Divisions Unknown Pleasures.

Whichever makes you you like it, you’ve got to seriously consider buying the print.

#  Gallery of Minor Annoyances →

January 26th, 2014 at 10:41 // In Worth Distraction 

Too much of a neat little diversion not so share — it’s the weekend anyway — picture of small thing which sucks.

(via /r/funny, where someone points out the existence of /r/mildlyinfuriating, which is precisely the topic of the gallery)