Archive for the ‘Slate’ tag

#  Why Don’t We Know How Smart Cats Are? →

April 30th, 2014 at 10:00 // In Worth Knowing 

Because no one likes to study cats, they’re jerks. As a dog person, that was my answer. Turns out, that’s actually the answer:

To reduce the number of variables, Agrillo’s team always conducts the studies in its laboratory. But when owners brought their cats over, most of the felines freaked out. Even the docile ones displayed little interest in the test. Ultimately, Agrillo wound up with just four cats—and even they were a pain to work with. “Very often, they didn’t participate in the experiment or they walked in the wrong direction,” he told me. “It was really difficult to have a good trial each day.”

(via NextDraft)

#  People Dislike Creativity →

December 11th, 2013 at 22:01 // In Worth Considering 

This isn’t a shock, but it was interesting enough to make me think for a bit:

Even people who say they are looking for creativity react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s also something that most people would do almost anything to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas.

#  NCAA’s Transfer Rules →

July 12th, 2013 at 16:34 // In Worth Knowing 

I’ve long agreed with the basic premise that the NCAA is one of the more morally dubious organizations held commonly in high esteem. And this piece about the misplaced outrage about a “transfer epidemic” is more fodder for the cannon. Josh Levin is clear-sighted and empirical about student transfers and how the NCAA’s strange rules surrounding them can change the lives of “student athletes” is spot-on. A brilliant and much-needed attack:

Let’s examine what this epidemic looks like. Transfer rates for Division I men’s basketball players have hovered between 9 and 11 percent each offseason over the last decade. By comparison, a 2010 study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling indicated that 1 in 3 college students transfer during their scholastic careers. The only difference I’m seeing here is that English lit professors aren’t grousing about students running off with their copies of Moby Dick.

(via Daring Fireball)

#  Expensive Wine Words →

February 26th, 2011 at 12:42 // In Worth Knowing 

Another in the large pile of “most things about wine are bullshit” stories. This author did a statistical analysis:

Using descriptions of 3,000 bottles, ranging from $5 to $200 in price from an online aggregator of reviews, I first derived a weight for every word, based on the frequency with which it appeared on cheap versus expensive bottles. I then looked at the combination of words used for each bottle, and calculated the probability that the wine would fall into a given price range. The result was, essentially, a Bayesian classifier for wine.

(via more of what i like)

#  Playing Jeopardy Against IBM’s Watson →

February 19th, 2011 at 7:49 // In Worth Distraction 

A charming essay by Ken Jennings:

Indeed, playing against Watson turned out to be a lot like any other Jeopardy! game, though out of the corner of my eye I could see that the middle player had a plasma screen for a face. Watson has lots in common with a top-ranked human Jeopardy! player: It’s very smart, very fast, speaks in an uneven monotone, and has never known the touch of a woman.

#  The Last of His Tribe →

August 27th, 2010 at 19:10 // In Worth Knowing 

There are a lot of interesting aspects to consider in this piece about a man local experts believe to be the sole survivor of his tribe.

Eventually, the agents found the man. He was unclothed, appeared to be in his mid-30s (he’s now in his late 40s, give or take a few years), and always armed with a bow-and-arrow. Their encounters fell into a well-worn pattern: tense standoffs, ending in frustration or tragedy. On one occasion, the Indian delivered a clear message to one agent who pushed the attempts at contact too far: an arrow to the chest.

(via kottke)

#  What “Louie” Is →

July 26th, 2010 at 16:43 // In Worth Distraction 

Troy Patterson pretty much nails what’s great about the best new show on American TV:

It is as if, beneath the anger that every good comedian must cultivate and cherish, he’s achieved a kind of philosophical peace. Having meditated on the world’s absurd injustices, he greets them with absurdity in kind. In all, the outlook qualifies him as a kind of existential hero.

#  Toward A New Agnosticism →

July 2nd, 2010 at 17:43 // In Worth Considering 


I would not go so far as to argue that there’s a “new agnosticism” on the rise. But I think it’s time for a new agnosticism, one that takes on the New Atheists. Indeed agnostics see atheism as “a theism”—as much a faith-based creed as the most orthodox of the religious variety.

#  Photoshopping Space →

September 9th, 2009 at 15:37 // In Worth Knowing 

The thought had never really occurred to me, but it turns most of those really cool pictures from space are Photoshopped (that word looks ugly any way you write it).

An object that would in real life comprise several indistinguishable shades of red might be represented to the public as the composite of three pictures in red, green, and blue. As a general rule, professional “visualizers” try to assign red to the image showing the longest wavelengths of light and blue to the one showing the shortest.

#  A History of BMI →

July 22nd, 2009 at 11:00 // In Worth Knowing 

Jeremy Singer-Vine offers a concise history of the idea of body mass index, it’s short-comings, and an alternative: a simple measure of the circumference of a person’s waist is far more accurate at predicting their actual fitness level.