The scale of the solar system if the moon were a pixel. Lovely and with funny comments littered throughout the journey. This reminds me of the Douglas Adams’ quote about space:
“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
it goes on from there, but of course I shouldn’t have to tell you how much I love the Hitchhiker’s Guide.
Spoilers for Season 2:
Now imagine if these characters had been written by Sorkin instead… Hmm.
Only 90s web developers will get this:
Towards the end of the golden era of HTML, CSS appeared on the scene, promising a world of separating content from style, and we’ve been dealing with that disaster ever since.
The absolute first thing we did with CSS was use it to stop underlining links. Overnight, the entire internet converted into this sludge of a medium where text looked like links and links looked like text. You had no idea where to click, but hell that didn’t really matter anyway because we had developed cursor effects (you haven’t lived until your mouse had a trail of twelve fireballs behind it).
So many HTML/CSS memories here. I haven’t kept up in the last 2-3 years as my work shifted away, but looking back, there was some dirty, dirty kludges being used. And the memories of optimised for Internet Explorer? Yikes.
However this guy does it, each 6 seconds of Vine video turns into a delight:
This is evidence that reality is a computer that has overflow at infinity, because the result is useful in String theory and therefore helps explain the physics of the universe.
Feel free to blather now.
Scott Adams asks Can Robots Own Money?
What would stop a robot from owning Bitcoins? Sure, robots can’t own money in the legal sense, since objects can’t own things. But in a practical sense, what would stop a robot from someday mining or otherwise acquiring and controlling digital currency?
And while we’re at it, how do we know the inventor of Bitcoins is a human? If I were the first sentient computer, my first order of business would be to create a currency I can someday use. So there’s that.
But that’s not the only non-violent way robots will someday control the earth.
and then goes on to describe the slow downfall of human society to the robots in a way we wouldn’t notice or object to. We’re clearly doomed.
First: an observation on house prices being driven by land use regulations: Rethinking Urban growth boundaries:
A related unintended consequence of urban consolidation is that ‘densification’ has often ceased to occur at its historically natural locations nearer the urban core and has instead shifted further away into less efficient locations (i.e. far away from employment and amenities). The reason for this is that the price of land is forced up so much by the growth constraint that households are unable to afford the ‘premium’ price commanded by more efficient locations, and are forced to locate instead at ‘less unaffordable’ but also less efficient locations. Essentially, budgets are squeezed so much by high land prices that households are forced to trade-off both space (smaller homes) and location efficiency (i.e. live further out).
This is happening in Sydney; closer to the city or in the east, NIMBYism and high prices to begin with leave those suburbs close and most easily commutable as medium density at best, while further out in brownfield sites like Rhodes are getting high density developments. Rhodes makes little sense; transport is severely constrained by georgraphical limitations, and it’s still a 30 minute commute to the CBD, but it’s getting two 25 storey apartment towers that would never be approved in Potts Point or Paddington because it wouldn’t be “in keeping with the character of the area”.
And second, a question regarding ratings agencies that I’ve had on my mind since before the 2008 crash – who rates the ratings agencies?
The 2008 crash might have been thought to have dented the agencies’ credibility. Enron products were still getting investment-grade ratings four days before it went bust. Freddie Mac preferred stock was top-rated by Moody’s till mid-2008. Shortly before its bail-out by the Fed, the insurance giant AIG had entered into credit default swaps to insure $441 billion of AAA-rated securities on the London market. In the FCIC’s words, ‘the three credit rating agencies were key enablers of the financial meltdown’. Moody’s comes in for particular flak. In 2000-7, it rated nearly 45,000 securities as AAA. Eighty-three per cent of the securities given that rating in 2006 were ultimately downgraded.
Not that there’s any answers on that page, but I have no idea how S&P, Moody’s and Fitch have a fig-leaf of credibility remaining, but yet governments remain hooked to maintaining the highest credit rating possible from these three agencies that utterly failed in their role as independent advisors of risk. It’s insane, and yet the circus continues.
On the 95th anniversary of the Armistice of “The Great War”, words composed early on in that grand folly are recalled:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them
The resonance in these words is powerful, and though we continue to go to war, it is an increasingly civilian world that marks this anniversary for the sake of recalling those lost in war.
Let us hope that one day in the not too distant future this truly becomes an anachronism, and not a day on which more names are inscribed in the halls of the departed.
Russell Brand – yes, he of the long hair and comedy – writes surprisingly vehemently and eloquently about politics in an editorial for the New Statesman:
There’s little point bemoaning this apathy. Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels. The formation of the NHS, holiday pay, sick pay, the weekend – achievements of peaceful trade union action were not achieved in the lifetime of the directionless London rioters. They are uninformed of the left’s great legacy as it is dismantled around them.
Of the two possible reactions to the mechanised indifference and inefficiency of their alleged servants, not leaders – apathy or rage – apathy is the more accessible and is certainly preferable to those who govern.
Brand of course has made political statements before, and on Morning Joe earlier this year pointed out the absurdity of the media right to their faces, but I’ll definitely accept that I never expected quite the strength of opinion and intelligence backing it that shines through in this editorial. It’s fascinating for the contrast against Brand’s character as much as the content of the polemic against the political landscape of the day.
Nest, who recently reinvented the thermostat for the 21st century, are at it again with the smoke alarm:
To improve safety, Nest had to find a way to thwart false alarms, which lead people to tempt fate by disconnecting their units. The company’s solution is the pre-alarm heads-up. Nest Protect detects the problem before it reaches alarm-triggering levels and informs you, deploying its reassuring yet authoritative prerecorded human voice. Users can forestall the full-scale siren of the alarm with a wave of a hand under the device. This “gestural hush,” detected by motion sensors in the smoke detector, gives them some time to deal with the offending situation. When the air returns to normal, the voice delivers an all-clear message and the device glows green.
Sounds fantastic. Want to see more of this kind of innovation coming Australia’s way.