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Tag Archives: pocket

  • What Came Before the Big Bang?
    The two things that I’m always curious about space/time is whether we live in a simulation, and what happened before the Big Bang. Here are 3 ideas on the latter.

    A second major hypothesis is that the universe, and time, did not exist before the Big Bang. The universe materialized literally out of nothing, at a tiny but finite size, and expanded thereafter. There were no moments before the moment of smallest size because there was no “before.” Likewise, there was no “creation” of the universe, since that concept implies action in time. Even to say that the universe “materialized” is somewhat misleading. As Hawking describes it, the universe “would be neither created nor destroyed. It would just BE.” Such notions as existence and being in the absence of time are not fathomable within our limited human experience. We don’t even have language to describe them. Nearly every sentence we utter has some notion of “before” and “after.”

  • How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food
    Junk food is not all bad. If it wasn’t for junk food, a lot of people in Brazil would be starving as they would not be able to buy enough food to sustain themselves. Yet is surviving on junk food any better?

    Ms. de Vasconcellos has diabetes and high blood pressure. Her 17-year-old daughter, who weighs more than 250 pounds, has hypertension and polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder strongly linked to obesity. Many other relatives have one or more ailments often associated with poor diets: her mother and two sisters (diabetes and hypertension), and her husband (hypertension.) Her father died three years ago after losing his feet to gangrene, a complication of diabetes.

    “Every time I go to the public health clinic, the line for diabetics is out the door,” she said. “You’d be hard pressed to find a family here that doesn’t have it.”

  • The Untold Story of Kim Jong-nam’s Assassination
    The real life assassination of a North Korean leader is almost unbelievable (as with many things North Korea), but someone has done a lot of leg work to try and get a detailed story of what happened.

    The liquid that Siti rubbed on Jong-nam’s face was likely not true VX. Experts have suggested that a modified version of normal VX—VX2—was employed instead. As Vipin Narang, a professor of political science at MIT who holds two degrees in chemical engineering, explained to me, “VX2 is made by dividing VX into two nonreactive compounds. What the women were likely doing was creating active VX on Jong-nam’s face by each delivering their ingredient.”

    This complicated method of poisoning Jong-nam would have had several advantages. First, the toxin would have been safe until activated. Even then, VX2 is not very volatile compared with other chemical weapons, meaning it was less likely to affect bystanders or first responders. If VX2 was employed, it’s unlikely Siti would have been affected, as striking first she never would have been exposed to the second reactant.

  • Valve is not your friend, and Steam is not healthy for gaming
    I never liked Steam as a store or a service. The software just seemed clunky and unnecessary and I’m not even a gamer so I can imagine what people who use it every day would think. This story is biased as the author has a big beef with it, but it also lists out a bunch of things wrong with the service

    Valve themselves eagerly trumpeted that they had paid more than $57 million to Steam Workshop creators over four years — an enormously impressive figure until you realize that it’s only 25 percent of the sale price, which means Valve just made $171 million profit from … setting up an online form where you can submit finished 3D models.

  • Where are all the aliens?
    This article talks about the Fermi paradox (if there are so many stars, why can’t we find other intelligent species?) and lists a bunch of reasons why it may exist. It’s a primer article on the paradox and I felt I’ve read it somewhere else before, but it’s still interesting.

    Possibility 5) There’s only one instance of higher-intelligent life—a “superpredator” civilization (like humans are here on Earth)—who is far more advanced than everyone else and keeps it that way by exterminating any intelligent civilization once they get past a certain level. This would suck. The way it might work is that it’s an inefficient use of resources to exterminate all emerging intelligences, maybe because most die out on their own. But past a certain point, the super beings make their move—because to them, an emerging intelligent species becomes like a virus as it starts to grow and spread. This theory suggests that whoever was the first in the galaxy to reach intelligence won, and now no one else has a chance. This would explain the lack of activity out there because it would keep the number of super-intelligent civilizations to just one.


  • The highly unusual company behind Sriracha, the world’s coolest hot sauce

    Reading this story, it either means that Sriracha is really secretive about its numbers, or maybe it just doesn’t keep track so they can’t tell you!

    Most commercially distributed hot sauces are made with dried chilies to make it easier to harvest, process and bottle the product at scale. McIlhenny, the maker of Tabasco, for example, buys its chilies from producers around the globe. But Sriracha is—and always always has been—made with fresh chilies. It’s what separates it from the competition, says Tran.

  • My Family’s Slave
    The author of this article had a domestic slave in their household as they were growing up, and this was in the 20th century. He talks about how and why she stayed with the family until she died.

    We couldn’t identify a parallel anywhere except in slave characters on TV and in the movies. I remember watching a Western called The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. John Wayne plays Tom Doniphon, a gunslinging rancher who barks orders at his servant, Pompey, whom he calls his “boy.” Pick him up, Pompey. Pompey, go find the doctor. Get on back to work, Pompey! Docile and obedient, Pompey calls his master “Mistah Tom.” They have a complex relationship. Tom forbids Pompey from attending school but opens the way for Pompey to drink in a whites-only saloon. Near the end, Pompey saves his master from a fire. It’s clear Pompey both fears and loves Tom, and he mourns when Tom dies. All of this is peripheral to the main story of Tom’s showdown with bad guy Liberty Valance, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Pompey. I remember thinking: Lola is Pompey, Pompey is Lola.

  • In Sync We Trust: Pop Music’s History of Lip-Syncing (and Lying About It)
    A look at the history and slow acceptance of lip syncing. I don’t think you can detail like this in a Wikipedia article so it’s nice to have a historical report collected. Especially now that lip syncing is not that big of a deal and people aren’t worried too much about it.

    An even more egregious example of this kind of pop-music bait-and-switch came via the Italian dance act Black Box, which released an album, Dreamland, in 1990 that was almost entirely sung by a woman named Martha Wash and with no credit to her. Instead, a model named Katrin Quinol lip-synced Wash’s vocals in videos for the group’s global hits “Everybody, Everybody,” “Strike It Up,” and “I Don’t Know Anybody Else,” and appeared on the covers of Black Box’s records. What’s galling about this particular case is Wash was already well known among dance-music fans—she was one half of the Weather Girls, whose 1982 single “It’s Raining Men” was a hit that time made an anthem, and before that she was known for her work with legendary disco diva Sylvester. Martha Wash’s soprano is as singular as it is titanic and it’s amazing that anyone ever tried to pretend that it belonged to someone else after it had already fallen on the listening public’s ears.

  • Will China Save the American Economy?
    China wants to move money out of their country and they are doing so by investing in America. Some are investing money into companies, but this article suggests that Chinese companies building/repurposing manufacturing plants in the US will save the American economy. I don’t see what or how Chinese management can bring to manufacturing jobs in American, when they left the US for a reason (high cost of labour, low efficiency, etc).

    In 2004, factory workers in China made $4.35 an hour, compared to $17.54 that the average factory worker made in the U.S., according to the Boston Consulting Group.

    But labor expenses are rising in China. According to the Chinese Business Climate Survey, put out by the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the consulting firm Bain & Company, businesses there cite rising labor costs as their top problem. That’s in part because worker organizations are gaining strength, and strikes and labor disputes are becoming more common. Today, Chinese manufacturing wages adjusted for productivity are $12.47 an hour, compared to $22.32 in the United States, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

  • Exposed: How maulvis take money for one-night stand with divorced women trying to save marriage

    Under Islam law, it’s not possible to remarry your original husband unless you marry someone else. So clerics have taken it upon themselves to do one-night marriages in order to get around this rule.

    At Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, the team met Zubair Qasmi, a qualified maulana married with two wives. He nominated himself up for a third at the prospect of nikah halala, in exchange for money.

    “I spend many nights out. It’s much easier to manage this with two (wives). One would think I am with the second. And the second would think I am with the other. It’s not at all difficult with two (wives),” he bragged.


  • At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction
    A lot of restaurants now use ingredients that are “locally sourced” or “from the farm”, but how true is that really? You usually just trust whatever is on the menu, but this food critic actually followed through and did some investigating. Not surprisingly, a lot of places lie.

    Dorsey said he buys pork from a small Tallahassee farm through food supplier Master Purveyors. But Master Purveyors said it doesn’t sell pork from Tallahassee. Dorsey said he uses quail from Magnolia Farms in Lake City. Master Purveyors said the quail is from Wyoming. Dorsey said he buys dairy from Dakin Dairy Farms in Myakka through Weyand Food Distributors. Weyand said it doesn’t distribute Dakin. Dorsey said he gets local produce from Suncoast Food Alliance and Local Roots. Both said they have not sold to The Mill. He named three seafood suppliers. Two checked out, but a third, Whitney and Son, said they had not sold to The Mill yet. They hope to in the future.

  • The Weird Economics Of Ikea
    This article talks about how Ikea handles its pricing for some of its most popular items, including two that I had around when I was a child – the lack table and the poang which I used as “computer chair” since it was more comfortable than a swivel chair.

    Indeed, the products have evolved. In 1992, part of the Poäng was changed from steel to wood, allowing the chair to ship more densely and efficiently in the company’s flat packs. (“Shipping air is very expensive,” Marston said.) And the Lack table was changed from solid wood to a honeycomb “board on frame” construction, decreasing production costs and increasing shipping efficiency. Baxter theorizes, though, that if a product is finicky — requiring design in Sweden, manufacture in China and intricate pieces from Switzerland, say — it may eventually be abandoned.

  • ‘I thought I was smarter than almost everybody’: my double life as a KGB agent
    A real life story from a former KGB spy where he discusses a bit about his training to become a spy. There are also some bits about being undercover, but frankly, that is pretty boring!

    Barsky, as he now was, moved to New York, carrying his new birth certificate. With that, he got a membership card at the Natural History Museum. And, with that, he got a library card and then a driver’s licence. He covered his hands and face with grime and did not wash for days before applying for a social security card; he had always worked as a farmhand, he told them, and never needed one. It worked.

  • ‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death
    This is a long article that serves as proof that various agencies within the UK have thought about and planned for the Queen’s inevitable death. Like much of the monarchy, this future event will be micromanaged to handle the press and reaction.

    The first plans for London Bridge date back to the 1960s, before being refined in detail at the turn of the century. Since then, there have been meetings two or three times a year for the various actors involved (around a dozen government departments, the police, army, broadcasters and the Royal Parks) in Church House, Westminster, the Palace, or elsewhere in Whitehall. Participants described them to me as deeply civil and methodical. “Everyone around the world is looking to us to do this again perfectly,” said one, “and we will.” Plans are updated and old versions are destroyed. Arcane and highly specific knowledge is shared. It takes 28 minutes at a slow march from the doors of St James’s to the entrance of Westminster Hall. The coffin must have a false lid, to hold the crown jewels, with a rim at least three inches high.

  • How Lego Became The Apple Of Toys
    This article raises the parallel that Lego is the Apple of toys because they are looking for innovative ways to get their products in the hands of children. I don’t really buy it though, particular because their goal is “that Lego continue to create innovative play experiences and reach more children every year”. Except then they go to great lengths to talk about how their products are appealing to adults.

    Eight years ago, a Chicago architect named Adam Reed Tucker, who had been building impressive Lego models of iconic buildings, reached out to Lego, suggesting that the company might be interested in making official kits similar to his homemade creations. “Doing anything that wasn’t for the target group, which was boys between, say, 5 and 11, used to be almost a complete no-go,” says David Gram, Future Lab’s head of marketing and business development. But a free-thinking Norwegian Lego exec named Paal Smith-Meyer—Holm admiringly describes him as “a true rebel”—saw value in AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) and came up with a stealthy, shoestring plan to prove their worth to the company. It came in the form of a counteroffer—which would help usher in the current era of innovation at Lego.


  • Unexpected Consequences of Self Driving Cars
    An interesting post about the social changes that self driving cars may bring about. No, not the trolley problem, but other interesting ways that society might change when we have the convenience of automated drivers for our cars.

    People will jump out of their car at a Starbucks to run in and pick up their order knowingly leaving it not in a legal parking spot, perhaps blocking others, but knowing that it will take care of getting out of the way if some other car needs to move or get by. That will be fine in the case there is no such need, but in the case of need it will slow everything down just a little. And perhaps the owner will be able to set the tolerance on how uncomfortable things have to get before the car moves. Expect to see lots of annoyed people. And before long grocery store parking lots, especially in a storm, will just be a sea of cars improperly parked waiting for their owners.

  • It’s a living – Circus is a traveling city with its own economy
    A quick look at what it’s like living in a travelling circus, and what it brings to each town that it visits.

    Gibson describes the economic impact on Chattanooga: 40 of the 120 circus employees stay at a local hotel; 24 travel in RVs that are parked in a nearby field.

    Each day, truckloads of hay and produce are hauled to McKenzie Arena to feed the animals. The circus vet banned peanuts from the elephants’ diet for being too fatty but allows them an occasional loaf of unsliced bread or some marshmallows for treats. On performance days, a local caterer feeds the human employees, or they buy their meals in restaurants or grocery stores.

  • Queens of the Stoned Age
    An interesting take at selling weed in NYC where the runners are models. This story is almost unbelievable and no doubt has some hyperbole built in (I could see it happening at a small scale) so I would chalk it up as interesting fiction.

    The Green Angels average around 150 orders a day, which is about a fourth of what the busiest services handle. When a customer texts, it goes to one of the cell phones on the table in the living room. There’s a hierarchy: The phones with the pink covers are the lowest; they contain the numbers of the flakes, cheapskates, or people who live in Bed-Stuy. The purple phones contain the good, solid customers. Blue is for the VIPs. There are over a thousand customers on Honey’s master list.

    To place an order, a customer is supposed to text “Can we hang out?” and a runner is sent to his apartment. No calling, no other codes or requests. Delivery is guaranteed within an hour and a half. If the customer isn’t home, he gets a strike. Three strikes and he’s 86’d. If he yells at the runner, he’s 86’d immediately.

  • I Was a Proud Non-Breeder. Then I Changed My Mind.
    This article was piqued my interest because I was a parent so I wanted to understand why some women didn’t want to have children. It didn’t delve too deeply into that but I think it was written well so I was able to empathize with the parenting aspect of it.

    Perhaps it says something about my pre-baby life that a lot of my metaphors for new motherhood were drug-related. Those endless hours we spent in bed, alternately nursing, dozing, and staring, amazed, at each other, reminded me of the time I’d smoked opium in Thailand. (And the other time I’d smoked opium in Laos.) Lugging my son around on errands brought to mind the first few times I got stoned as a teenager, when doing normal things like going to school or the drugstore became complicated, strange, and full of misadventure. The oxytocin felt like MDMA.

    Why, I kept thinking, hadn’t anyone told me how great this was? It was a stupid thing to think, because in fact people tell you that all the time. In general, though, the way people describe having a baby is much like the way they describe marriage — as a sacrifice that’s worth it, as a rewarding challenge, as a step toward growing up. Nobody had told me it would be fun.

  • How the Internet Gave Mail-Order Brides the Power
    This is another article that is more interesting for the people story, rather than the technology of what the Internet has done. When I think of mail-order brides, I think of Russia, but this one is focused on Philipines. An interesting read, but I had hoped for more stories.

    Hans’s experience was far from unusual — in fact, the shift between online and offline power is one of the major dynamics at play in modern dating among foreigners and Filipinas. Before a man comes to the Philippines, the woman has the advantage, because only a fraction of Filipina women have the technological capability and English knowledge to meet men online. Video chat may seem like a rudimentary requirement, but it’s not trivial to set it up in remote parts of the Philippines, as women either have to pay for expensive computers or smartphones with fast internet connections and no bandwidth restrictions, or go to internet cafes, which are also cost-prohibitive. But the tables turn once the foreigner arrives in the country. The cost of technology is no longer an obstacle, and he suddenly has many more eligible women vying for his attention.


  • Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself
    Much of the tech industry is confused why Peter Thiel would back Trump. Here, he gives some concise (although not entirely descriptive) answers to some common questions. His responses are almost the antithesis of Trump in terms of being dramatic.

    He recalls that he went through a lot of “meta” debates about Mr. Trump in Silicon Valley. “One of my good friends said, ‘Peter, do you realize how crazy this is, how everybody thinks this is crazy?’ I was like: ‘Well, why am I wrong? What’s substantively wrong with this?’ And it all got referred back to ‘Everybody thinks Trump’s really crazy.’ So it’s like there’s a shortcut, which is: ‘I don’t need to explain it. It’s good enough that everybody thinks something. If everybody thinks this is crazy, I don’t even have to explain to you why it’s crazy. You should just change your mind.’”

  • India’s ‘Phone Romeos’ Look for Ms. Right via Wrong Numbers
    Interesting story about how India doesn’t use Tindr and that sort, but just dial (or hold on to) wrong numbers to try and meet potential mates.

    Umakanti Padhan, a moon-faced 16-year-old garment factory worker, tried to call her sister-in-law. She misdialed and found herself accidentally conversing with Bulu, a railway worker eight years her senior.

    She hung up, alarmed. At home, beginning at puberty, she had been prohibited from speaking with any adult man, including her brothers and cousins.

    Ten minutes later, Bulu called back and told her that he liked the sound of her voice. “When I hear your voice, it feels like someone of my own,” he said. “I feel like talking to you all the time.”

    So she agreed. Every night, she slipped out to the roof of her Bangalore workers’ hostel, where she shares a room with 11 other young women, and spoke to Bulu about mundane things: how their shifts went and what they had eaten that day.

    “He’s told me everything that ever happened to him from the time he was a kid,” she said. “I don’t know whether it is good or bad, but I trust him. I know he will not betray me.”

  • Would the Cavs Be Better off With Andrew Wiggins Over Kevin Love?
    This is my occasional dive into the world of basketball, with this particular article being of interest because the Raptors may play the Cavs in the playoffs, and Wiggins being a Canadian. Nothing startling in this – Cavs made a trade for Right Now vs Potential, but provides some background on the Cavs.

    Love was the guy in Minnesota, a post machine who could score and facilitate. Over the past three years, his primary role has been to space the floor, though he is occasionally force-fed post chances. He’s like a more talented Ryan Anderson — a better rebounder, interior scorer, and passer. Except, for the role Love plays and the money he gets paid (tied for 22nd most in the NBA), Cleveland could be getting more bang for its buck.

  • Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains
    The travel industry is cyclic and it looks like the advantage is back in the courts of brands instead of the aggregators. My own travel planning has started at hotel brands now too, although my flight planning hasn’t shifted yet.

    He’s right: The price control pendulum is swinging back toward the hoteliers. “It was really easy for the aggregators to gobble up all this business in the past because the hotels weren’t really paying any attention,” that West Coast CEO told me. But eventually, the aggregators cornered so much of the market that they jacked up their commissions high enough that everyone had to take notice. The CEO revealed that his hotels typically paid aggregators 20 percent commission—and in many cases even 30 percent.
    In past two or three years the hotel industry has been fighting the aggregators by offering deals that wiggle around the contracts they originally set with them. Let’s say, for example, your hotel chain has a set rate for a room. You enter in an agreement with an aggregator that says you won’t further discount the rate that is the “lowest price” a customer can find on the internet. But you can get around it by offering a potential guest an instant membership in your “loyalty” program. You can throw in additional “amenities” (parking, spa, and so on) that would normally cost extra and you would not be violating your agreements by undercutting the base price of the room. Tricky? You bet.

  • No, Trump isn’t the worst president ever
    While there is a lot of doom and gloom. Trump has a ways to go before becomeing the “worst president ever” (or even of the last century). Mostly the presidents in the 1800s and how they dealt with the pro-slave states made them horrible.

    In December 1860 — after the Electoral College affirmed Lincoln’s election — southern states started seceding. Belatedly, Buchanan briefly considered sending some reinforcements south, but he let his Secretary of War — John Floyd of Virginia — talk him out of it. A few days later, Floyd resigned to join his home state in secession and treason.

    Until he left office on March 4, 1861, Buchanan continued to appease the Rebels. In the end, he gave the Confederacy a four-month head start in the Civil War. He let the South seize federal forts, arsenals and naval vessels, which they soon used to wage war upon the very country he had solemnly sworn to protect.


  • The chilling stories behind Japan’s ‘evaporating people’
    I didn’t know about this, but now that I know, it’s not too surprising. There are certain people in Japan who, after suffering to much shame, ‘evaporate’. What that means is that they just disappear and go somewhere else (instead of committing suicide), leaving their family and friends to wonder where they are.

    Whatever shame motivates a Japanese citizen to vanish, it’s no less painful than the boomerang effect on their families — who, in turn, are so shamed by having a missing relative that they usually won’t report it to the police.

    Those families who do search turn to a private group called Support of Families of Missing People, which keeps all clients and details private. Its address is hard to find, and its headquarters consist of one small room with one desk and walls sooty with cigarette smoke.

    The organization is staffed with detectives — often with evaporations or suicides in their own family histories — who take on these cases pro bono. They average 300 cases a year, and their work is difficult: Unlike the United States, there is no national database for missing people in Japan. There are no documents or identifiers — such as our Social Security numbers — that can be used to track a person once they begin traveling within the country. It is against the law for police to access ATM transactions or financial records.

  • The Great A.I. Awakening
    The efficacy of Google Translate improved greatly since last November, and the reason behind it is that Google started using AI to power the translations. This article talks about why and how they did that, but most importantly, how the use of AI in this feed can affect AI in general

    In the 1980s, a robotics researcher at Carnegie Mellon pointed out that it was easy to get computers to do adult things but nearly impossible to get them to do things a 1-year-old could do, like hold a ball or identify a cat. By the 1990s, despite punishing advancements in computer chess, we still weren’t remotely close to artificial general intelligence.

    There has always been another vision for A.I. — a dissenting view — in which the computers would learn from the ground up (from data) rather than from the top down (from rules). This notion dates to the early 1940s, when it occurred to researchers that the best model for flexible automated intelligence was the brain itself. A brain, after all, is just a bunch of widgets, called neurons, that either pass along an electrical charge to their neighbors or don’t. What’s important are less the individual neurons themselves than the manifold connections among them. This structure, in its simplicity, has afforded the brain a wealth of adaptive advantages. The brain can operate in circumstances in which information is poor or missing; it can withstand significant damage without total loss of control; it can store a huge amount of knowledge in a very efficient way; it can isolate distinct patterns but retain the messiness necessary to handle ambiguity.

  • Meet the husbands who fly first class – while their wives travel in economy
    An almost incredulous article where various men and women justify why spouses travel in different classes of the plane.

    “We left home as a couple, checked in our luggage together and went hand-in-hand to departures. When we boarded the plane, we parted, saying: ‘I’ll see you when we get there.’ We had a lovely fortnight together in Barbados. John was especially attentive — perhaps he was a little guilty.”

    Since then, Michelle has preferred to travel as far away from her husband as possible. And John couldn’t be happier: “Do I feel guilty? Not at all! I get treated very well in business class. And if, one day, we can afford it then I’d love for the whole family to join me there.”

  • Silicon Valley’s Culture, Not Its Companies, Dominates in China
    This makes a lot of sense. Who wants to work a rigid and long schedule when you can just work flex hours?

    Last year, Facebook fired an enterprising Chinese employee who played to the unmet demand and charged one group of tourists $20 each to tour the campus and eat in the company’s cafeteria. Now, the only thing notable for tourists to see is its thumbs-up sign.

  • “Architecture saved my life”: Pablo Escobar’s son is a good architect now
    I like stories like these where there is a juxtaposition between lifestyles within two generations. In this case, the architect seems to be making a career for himself, although I don’t know how much of this is actually a puff piece.

    I believe that in a way my father was also an architect, he was very clever. He was just an architect for his own convenience. There was a Sunday my father took me to airplane fields and in the middle of the jungle, we were standing on the airfield and he asked me, “where is the airfield?” I couldn’t see it, and he said, “You are standing in it.” I couldn’t see it because I was looking at a house in the middle of the runway and there was no way the plane could land because it would crash against the house. He took a walkie-talkie and told one of his friends to move the house. It was on wheels. When the airplanes from the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) were searching with satellites looking for hideouts, they couldn’t find anything because there was a house in the middle of what was a possible airfield. The planes can use it—just move the house.


  • What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
    What did Google find when it did research on finding the perfect that worked well together and delivered? I’ll save you the trouble of reading the article and quote the answer. However, I think creating teams that can foster these types of environment is difficult in practice.

    When Rozovsky and her Google colleagues encountered the concept of psychological safety in academic papers, it was as if everything suddenly fell into place. One engineer, for instance, had told researchers that his team leader was ‘‘direct and straightforward, which creates a safe space for you to take risks.’’ That team, researchers estimated, was among Google’s accomplished groups. By contrast, another engineer had told the researchers that his ‘‘team leader has poor emotional control.’’ He added: ‘‘He panics over small issues and keeps trying to grab control. I would hate to be driving with him being in the passenger seat, because he would keep trying to grab the steering wheel and crash the car.’’ That team, researchers presumed, did not perform well.

  • You won’t believe how Nike lost Steph
    There’s two stories in this article. How Nike lost Steph, and how Under Armor was able to convince Steph to come across to their world. Here’s a quote from the former:

    The pitch meeting, according to Steph’s father Dell, who was present, kicked off with one Nike official accidentally addressing Stephen as “Steph-on,” the moniker, of course, of Steve Urkel’s alter ego in Family Matters. “I heard some people pronounce his name wrong before,” says Dell Curry. “I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised that I didn’t get a correction.”

    It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant’s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials. “I stopped paying attention after that,” Dell says. Though Dell resolved to “keep a poker face,” throughout the entirety of the pitch, the decision to leave Nike was in the works.

  • What it’s like when your Tinder date lives across the U.S.-Mexico border
    This is an interesting problem faced by people who live near borders. I guess Niagara Falls/Buffalo could have similar things. Although, in this example there are some cultural hangups as well.

    Like Daniel, Jesús can tell from a profile where a girl is from, but it isn’t about language. He says a Mexican girl typically has a profile pic that’s a selfie set in a restroom with bad resolution: “American girls, you see them doing something, like going outdoors or to the beach or going clubbing or having lunch with their friends.” The key difference: “In Mexico, it’s ‘How hot are you?’ In America it’s more ‘What do you do, what are your interests, what do you like?’”

  • World Heat Record Overturned–A Personal Account
    This is a bit esoteric, but I found this to be interesting and convincing. The world heat record used to be 58°C (136.4°F) measured on September 13, 1922 at Al Azizia, Libya. Now the record has returned back to Death Valley!

    In any case, Randy picked up the ball and created an ad-hoc evaluation committee for the World Meteorological Organization to evaluate the record for the WMO Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes (http://wmo.asu.edu/). After this positive response from Randy, I asked El Fadli if Libya officially accepted the Azizia figure. He responded that they did not. Since records like this are, to a degree, the provenance of national interest and El Fadli responded that Libya did not officially accept the colonial-era data from Azizia (measured by Italian authorities at that time in Tripolitania), this became the catalyst to launch an official WMO investigation.

  • ‘How Much Suffering Can You Take?’
    I’m never going to do a marathon, or a triathalon, or an Ironman competetion. But these people do five consecutive Ironmans within 5 days! Is that crazy? Their bodies think they are.

    Ultra-endurance athletes appear to have an increased rate of cardiac arrhythmias, or unusual heartbeats, most likely because of scarring of the heart known as fibrosis. But what, if any, danger that poses has been hard to pin down, Hoffman said.

    “Exactly why the fibrosis occurs probably isn’t understood, but seems to be an adaptive response to this sort of exercise,” he said.

    These ultratriathletes, however, tend not to dwell on the wear and tear of their bodies, at least once the race is done.

    “I know this is not good for my body,” said Jay Lonsway, a urologist who completed the quintuple. “But it is good for my soul.”



  • I don’t think my situation will be exactly the same (since I don’t work “in” the Valley), but at some point I’ll end up with the same predicament. Everyone in tech will. So it’s interesting to hear stories about how older people are coping.

    At ProMatch, a state-funded job counseling and networking program in Sunnyvale, Calif., Robert Withers advises his mostly middle-aged or older clients to cut anything on their résumés that’s more than 10 years old, to use a professional photographer for their LinkedIn headshots, and to hang out in the parking lots of places where they’ll be interviewing to see what the people there wear.

  • Is there a ceiling on what our brains can understand?
    I’ve wondered about this before and am on the side of the fence that thinks there is a ceiling. The genesis for my ideas is the Star Trek TNG episode where they encounter a 2D civilization – they couldn’t comprehend 3D. Could we ever comprehend something in 4D (and I don’t mean some trivial cases).

    Say we could create a group of chimps that could live for a million years, and we have the best human teachers spend the whole million years trying to teach the chimps to understand quantum mechanics well enough that they’d be able to, on their own, build a working particle accelerator. It wouldn’t happen. Not possible. A chimp brain is simply not capable of learning something of that complexity, because there’s a ceiling on what a chimp brain can understand.

  • Why Do Tourists Visit Ancient Ruins Everywhere Except the United States?
    I approached this article with an for finding interesting things to visit in the US (i.e., via road trip instead of flying) but this article seems to only suggest 2 places: Cahokia in St Louis and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico

    Cahokia is mysterious to historians because North America did not have writing systems, and Cahokia’s population disappeared suddenly and mysteriously in the late 1300s. By the time Europeans found the site, even Native Americans knew little about it.

    What we do know is that a village was razed in 1050 to rebuild Cahokia on a grid, with a grand plaza and ceremonial structures built on two hundred huge, earthen pyramids. The population increased so rapidly—Dr. Pauketat writes that walking from the edge of Cahokia’s territory to the city center would have taken two days at its peak—that Cahokia must have drawn thousands of immigrants inspired by its religion, culture, or politics.

  • Research suggests being lazy is a sign of high intelligence
    I’ve been using the Pocket Recommendation feed to find articles and end up with a lot of short scientific articles that have an interesting hypothesis but not much substance in the article (almost not worth spending the time to blog as I’m more interested in long reads). Here’s one example, although it has this mind twister:

    Researchers suggested the findings could lend weight to the idea that non-thinkers get bored more easily, so need to fill their time with physical activity.

    But the downside to being brainer – and lazier – warned Mr McElroy was the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Why Do Famous People Get Paid $250,000 to Give a Speech?
    A look at the speaking circuit, how it works, and how much money people make. It’s not that great of a gig even if you’re super famous. The story of Up In The Air comes to mind.

    “We’ve essentially had every former president since Ronald Reagan,” says Chuck Carr, the Vice President for Convention, Education & Training at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), “and most of the secretaries of state.” As a professional association, ISRI not only wants to sell tickets to its annual conference. It wants good attendance from recycling professionals so they benefit from the networking opportunities. And people like Stanley McChrystal and Bill Clinton help them do that.


  • These Aren’t Wireless Headphones
    A look at Apple’s new wireless earbuds – if you’re like me and don’t really pay a lot of attention to Apple news, then you might know the ins and outs about this new product. Seems like it covers a lot of interesting use cases, but I’m not prepared to drop significant money on something that is so easy to lose (and only supports Apple devices)

    One more simple feature holds perhaps the most telling clue to what Apple has in mind for the future. Tap the AirPods twice while they’re in your ear and you’ll wake Siri, much like how you wake Amazon’s Echo by saying “Alexa.” Suddenly you’ll find yourself conversing with an A.I.–powered voice assistant via a tiny earpiece in your ear.

  • Hillary Clinton’s ‘Invisible Guiding Hand’
    It was surprising when I found out that analytics was such a big factor in a transient event such as an election, but after thinking about it, it makes a lot of sense. The data and analysis that has been accumulated can be reused for subsequent campaigns. However, I think it might be a waste that all the infrastructure might have to be recreated if the people are all new each time (I assume that there is a lot of custom analysis).

    The breakdown of the buy in Texas, powered by Kriegel’s modeling, shows how Clinton’s TV ads budget hunted for delegates, not votes. Texas is the rare state that used state legislative districts to award delegates, and Clinton spent $1.2 million on broadcast and cable ads even as she won the state by 32 percentage points. Sanders spent $0. She spent more on ads in tiny Brownsville ($127,000) and Waco ($142,000), ranked as the 86th and 87th largest media markets in the country, as she did in Houston ($105,000), the 10th largest, according to ad data provided by a media tracker.

    It paid off: In Texas alone, Clinton netted 72 delegates more than Sanders — a margin that more than offset all the Sanders’ primary and caucus wins through March 1.

  • Why Are Babies So Dumb If Humans Are So Smart?
    An interesting hypothesis as to why, when Humans are born, they’re so useless compared to other animals.

    And in modern humans, a few pieces of evidence appear to suggest that smarter parents are more likely to have offspring that survive. In one limited sample—two hundred and twenty-two Serbian Roma women—maternal I.Q. and child mortality were negatively correlated (that is, higher I.Q. meant lower mortality), even controlling for education, age, and a number of other factors. In a larger sample of Californian parents, in 1978, years of education were linked to infant-mortality rates. Global epidemiological studies suggest a decrease in mortality that equals between seven and nine per cent for each year of a mother’s education.

  • We might live in a computer program, but it may not matter
    I just blogged a similar article on this topic a few weeks ago, but this subject is so fascinating that I can’t get enough of it!

    Quantum mechanics, the theory of the very small, has thrown up all sorts of odd things. For instance, both matter and energy seem to be granular. What’s more, there are limits to the resolution with which we can observe the Universe, and if we try to study anything smaller, things just look “fuzzy”.

    Smoot says these perplexing features of quantum physics are just what we would expect in a simulation. They are like the pixellation of a screen when you look too closely.

  • The new science of cute
    Not surprisingly, this article is mostly about Japan – the epicentre of cute. There’s cute though, and there’s fame. This article tries to tackle both.

    But for a mascot to be successful, being cute is not always enough. For every popular yuru-kyara, there are a hundred Harajuku Miccolos – a 5ft-tall yellow-and-brown bee, who I met standing on the pavement outside the Colombin bakery and cafe, celebrating Honey Bee Day with three hours of loitering in front of the cafe, greeting passers-by, or trying to. Most barely glanced in his direction and did not break stride, though some did come over and pose for a photo. There was no queue.


  • They Promised Us Jet Packs. They Promised the Bosses Profit.
    A quick look at how Google X operates – did you know they get bonuses for purposely failing a project? In a way, it makes sense…

    The idea of celebrating failure is a Silicon Valley cliché, but Mr. Teller talks about it in the practical terms of a management consultant. Say you have a team of 20 people working on a project that is not going anywhere, he said in a recent interview. In a year those 20 people will be 30 people. The company has to pay their salaries and health insurance, and the team will inevitably hire a few consultants. Worse, they will have wasted a year.

    How much money could the company save if you could get them to cut bait a year earlier?

  • I have found a new way to watch TV, and it changes everything
    After hearing about this approach, I want to use it when I watch videos (is there a button that I can do toggle this on YouTube yet?). Although one area where this wouldn’t work is if you’re watching music videos (is almost half of the videos that I would watch).

    In the 1960s, a blind psychologist named Emerson Foulke began experimenting with this technique to accelerate speech. A professor at the University of Louisville, Foulke was frustrated with the slowness of recorded books for the blind, so he tried speeding them up. The sampling method proved surprisingly effective. In Foulke’s experiments, speech could be accelerated to 250-275 wpm without affecting people’s scores on a listening comprehension test.

    These limits were suspiciously close to the average college reading rate. Foulke suspected that beyond 300 wpm, deeper processes in the brain were getting overloaded. Experiments showed that at 300-400 wpm, individual words were still clear enough to understand; except at that rate, many listeners couldn’t keep up with rapid stream of words, likely because their short-term memories were overtaxed.

  • Everything we love to eat is a scam
    On the one hand, I suspect that the findings in this article are true (I’ve experienced a wide range of quality in salmon sushi), but as an avid food eater (which I hope you are too), it really sucks.

    Farmed Cambodian ponga poses as grouper, catfish, sole, flounder and cod. Wild-caught salmon is often farmed and pumped up with pink coloring to look fresher. Sometimes it’s actually trout.

    Ever wonder why it’s so hard to properly sear scallops? It’s because they’ve been soaked in water and chemicals to up their weight, so vendors can up the price. Even “dry” scallops contain 18 percent more water and chemicals.

  • The brilliant mechanics of Pokémon Go
    This Pokemon Go article is about how it is a great freemium game and some reasons why it is so addictive. Of course, now we have confirmation that it is a fad and doesn’t have dominant staying power.

    In Pokémon Go, there’s no feature that allows you to extend the life of your playing session by inviting or reaching out to friends. In fact, the social graph is almost non-existent in Pokémon Go. Instead, your in-game social graph is an extension of a supplemented version of your real-world social graph. A smartphone owner sees someone playing the game, becomes curious, downloads the game and plays it — both interacting with other players and inspiring curiosity in other potential new players. And the rest of the time you’re looking at screenshots of what’s happening in the game in your Facebook feed, or texting friends when you managed to catch that rare Pokémon.

  • How Chromebooks Are About to Totally Transform Laptop Design
    Just because Chromebooks run Android apps, doesn’t make it that attractive to me – I guess I’m not bought into the hype yet and I have a lot of use cases which seem like they will need local storage. Maybe if I wasn’t very OCD about my data I could live with one. In any case, here is a short history of the Chromebook and where we are right now.

    “The first people who bought Chromebooks were people who were computer folks,” he says. “They looked at the Chromebook and said, ‘This is not a real computer, it doesn’t have very many settings!’” They hated that you couldn’t find your files, or change the time setting. But why in the world, Sengupta argues, would any rational person want to manually change the time on their computer? It should just know. “The amount of work it took to eliminate all the settings,” he says, “so that you didn’t have to care and feed for your computer, was the thing that really made it successful.”


  • Babies’ brains are wired to learn multiple languages at once
    I think most people know that learning multiple languages is beneficial for kids, but I was surprised how early it needs to be done.

    Between six and 12 months, infants who grow up in monolingual households become more specialized in the subset of sounds in their native language. In other words, they become “native language specialists.” And, by their first birthdays, monolingual infants begin to lose their ability to hear the differences between foreign language sounds.

  • Can Attachment Theory Explain All Our Relationships?
    To add upon the IQ/EQ discussion, this article posits that attachment theory can show and affect a person’s social skills. And these are mostly set by the parents when the child is very young.

    If the baby was upset during separation but sits still as a stone when her mother returns, it’s likely a sign of an insecure attachment. If the baby was relaxed when left alone and is nonplussed by reunion, that’s less significant. If the baby hightails it to her mother, then screeches mid-approach, indicating a change of heart, that’s a worrisome sign too.

    But the most important moment is Reunion No. 2, after the mother leaves again and returns again. If a baby who was upset during separation still does nothing to acknowledge her mother’s return, it’s a sign that the baby, at only a year old, has already come to expect her advances to be rebuffed. If the baby reaches out for love but isn’t able to settle down enough to receive it (or it’s not offered), that may reflect a relationship filled with mixed messages. And if the baby is wild with sadness then jumps like a monkey into the mother’s arms and immediately stops crying, the baby is categorized as secure, coming from a relationship in which she expects her needs to be met.

  • Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff
    I’m very confused about this article. It almost seems satirical and from The Onion but it is also disconcertingly serious. Who knew that tidying up was such a big industry and that there were some many subscribers to this way of life.

    At Conference, I met women who organize basements. I met women who organize digital clutter. I met women who organize photos. I met women who categorized themselves as “solopreneurs,” which, what’s that now? I met a woman who organizes thoughts, and please don’t move onto the next sentence until you’ve truly absorbed that: I met a woman who charges $100 per hour for the organization of thoughts. I heard the word “detritus” pronounced three different ways. I met a woman in camouflage (though the invitation begged us to confine ourselves to our native business-casual), who carried a clipboard and called herself Major Mom, and instead of an organizer she calls herself a liberator, like in Falluja.

  • David Chang’s Unified Theory of Deliciousness
    I don’t understand cooking & food but this is an article I can relate to since it takes a scientific approach – David Chang of Momofuku fame talks about how tastes are ingrained in your memory and are reawakened by similar tasting foods

    But here’s the thing. When I taste that dish, I don’t taste Bolognese—I taste mapo tofu, a spicy, flavorful Chinese dish made with soft tofu, Szechuan peppers, and ground pork. I’ve had way more mapo tofu than I’ve had Bolognese, so that resonates more for me. I’d never seen a connection between Bolognese and mapo tofu before, but Joshua had inadvertently discovered this overlap between them. We hit the middle of a Venn diagram, creating something that incorporated enough elements of both mapo tofu and Bolognese that it could evoke both of them, while being neither one precisely.

  • The Top F2P Monetization Tricks and Chasing The Whale
    This one is a two-parter which I might have blogged before (I do remember reading about it before) on monetizing and the freemium model of mobile gaming. It’s already a few years out of date but the basic principles are still in use.

    Another novel way to use a progress gate is to make it look transparent, but to use it as the partition between the skill game and the money game. Candy Crush Saga employs this technique artfully. In that game there is a “river” that costs a very small amount of money to cross. The skill game comes before the river. A player may spend to cross the river, believing that the previous skill game was enjoyable (it was for me) and looking to pay to extend the skill game. No such guarantee is given of course, King just presents a river and does not tell you what is on the other side. The money game is on the other side, and as the first payment is always the hardest, those that cross the river are already prequalified as spenders.


  • This is what life would actually be like without processed food
    If you’re pedantic about not having any processed food, then this is what you’re going to get:

    The second and considerably more problematic consequence is that even the earliest form of food processing has probably contributed to obesity. When you process food, whether by cooking it or simply cutting it into smaller pieces, you tend to get more energy out of it relative to the energy expended processing and digesting it. So we now get more calories from the same amount of food than we used to, even though it’s no more satiating. Surely, Lieberman said, that helps explain why we’re eating so many more calories than we used to.

  • Handcuffed to Uber
    Here is a side you typically don’t hear about – early employees of Uber can’t leave the company because they can’t pay the tax on their options!

    In a completely hypothetical example, let’s say an early, top Uber engineer was given .5 percent of the company. Now let’s say this person was awarded options in 2011, when Uber raised $11 million in Series A funding at a reported $60 million valuation. His ownership stake at the time would have been $300,000. Yet today, that same stake (undiluted) would now be worth $300 million at Uber’s reported current post-money valuation of $60 billion. That’s a paper gain of $299,700,000.

  • A Bird’s-Eye View of Nature’s Hidden Order
    Fascinating introduction to the idea of hyperuniformity and how it appears in Nature. This is something you inherently know about, but haven’t ever formalized.

    Torquato and a colleague launched the study of hyperuniformity 13 years ago, describing it theoretically and identifying a simple yet surprising example: “You take marbles, you put them in a container, you shake them up until they jam,” Torquato said in his Princeton office this spring. “That system is hyperuniform.”

    The marbles fall into an arrangement, technically called the “maximally random jammed packing,” in which they fill 64 percent of space. (The rest is empty air.) This is less than in the densest possible arrangement of spheres — the lattice packing used to stack oranges in a crate, which fills 74 percent of space. But lattice packings aren’t always possible to achieve. You can’t easily shake a boxful of marbles into a crystalline arrangement.

  • After three weeks in China, it’s clear Beijing is Silicon Valley’s only true competitor
    I’m curious about how tech is run in China given the everything-goes business mindset and standard sweatshop conditions. Those sound like bad points for the industry, but I think that it actually means that they can compete better than western companies.

    In China, there is a company work culture at startups that’s called 9/9/6. It means that regular work hours for most employees are from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week. If you thought Silicon Valley has intense work hours, think again.

    For founders and top executives, it’s often 9/11/6.5. That’s probably not very efficient and useful (who’s good as a leader when they’re always tired and don’t know their kids?) but totally common.

  • What Are the Odds We Are Living in a Computer Simulation?
    This is a very fascinating article about the idea that we really are in “The Matrix”. It’s fascinating because I’ve thought the idea to be really interesting ever since watching Men In Black when they zoomed out at the end and it turns out that our galaxy was just a marble in a box of some bigger being.

    Bostrom, in his original paper, envisioned a different possibility: if the computational cost of all these nested simulations is too high, he wrote, our simulators might simply click “quit.” The invention of simulation might be the end of the world.


  • Not All Practice Makes Perfect
    Malcolm Gladwell’s written about Deliberate Practice, and he derived that term from work that this author has done. This author goes on to coin “Purposeful Practice”, which is kind of the same thing.

    We have especially strong evidence of this phenomenon as it applies to physicians. Research on many specialties shows that doctors who have been in practice for 20 or 30 years do worse on certain objective measures of performance than those who are just two or three years out of medical school. It turns out that most of what doctors do in their day-to-day practice does nothing to improve or even maintain their abilities; little of it challenges them or pushes them out of their comfort zones. For that reason, I participated in a consensus conference in 2015 to identify new types of continuing medical education that will challenge doctors and help them maintain and improve their skills.

  • One Swede Will Kill Cash Forever—Unless His Foe Saves It From Extinction
    It seems like a no-brainer to move towards a cash-less economy – we’re most of the way there anyways. But this article talks about a compelling reason that a member of ABBA raised to push us towards that goal.

    In 2010, 40 percent of Swedish retail transactions were made using cash; by 2014 that amount had fallen to about 20 percent. More than half of bank offices no longer deal in cash. To his claim that going cashless is the “biggest crime-preventing scheme ever,” Ulvaeus now has some statistics to back it up. The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention counted only 23 bank robberies in 2014, down 70 percent from a decade earlier. In the same period, muggings dropped 10 percent. While it’s unclear the extent to which the transition to cashless has affected the rate of street crime, police point out that there’s a lot less incentive to rob a bus driver, cabbie, or shopkeeper if they don’t accept cash.

  • How game theory can help you do a better job of parenting
    This is an interesting idea for an article, but unfortunately the article is too short – giving only 3 examples of how game theory could be applied. Here’s one of them:

    Now let’s make it a bit more difficult. The cake is half chocolate and half vanilla. Your son loves chocolate; your daughter prefers vanilla. If your daughter cuts the cake in a way that gives each of them half of the chocolate and half of the vanilla, the cut is fair. Each piece is the same size. But neither child is entirely happy, because each got some cake they didn’t want. Turn the cut the other way – and divide it into a chocolate half for your son and a vanilla half for your daughter, and both are far happier. Both cuts were fair, but the cut into chocolate and vanilla halves demonstrated what’s called Pareto optimality. Each was not only fairly treated, but also got the best possible outcome.

  • How Uber conquered London
    Yet another article about Uber, but this one covers a lot of things including how Uber started in London, and how drivers are paid.

    Driver No 1 was Darren Thomas. Before he joined Uber, most of his work came from Spearmint Rhino, the lap dancing club. Thomas had drifted back into chauffeuring after working for seven years as a salesman in the tiling industry. He signed up for as many hours as he could bear. “I absolutely caned it,” he told me. Soon he was earning £2,500 a week. On Uber’s first day in London, in the middle of June 2012, Howard had around 50 drivers on the platform. They did only 30 trips in 24 hours, but there was a single, glorious moment when seven rides were under way simultaneously and Kalanick happened to log in from San Francisco. “Travis was just blown away,” said Howard. “He was like, ‘Guys, look at London! This is unbelievable!’ It was just kismet, I guess.”

  • No one ever says it, but in many ways global warming will be a good thing
    Interesting article about the benefits of global warming – the press always talks about the negative effects, but it turns out that the global warming will actually help the human race significantly as well.

    Similarly, we know that many more people die from cold than from heat. The biggest study on heat and cold deaths, published last year in Lancet, examined more than 74 million deaths from 384 locations in 13 countries from cold Sweden to hot Thailand. The researchers found that heat causes almost one-half of one percent of all deaths, while more than 7 percent are caused by cold.

    As global warming pushes temperatures up, more people will die in heat waves; a point emphasized by campaigners like UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres. What we don’t hear from her is that fewer people will die from cold. One study for England and Wales shows that heat kills 1,500 annually and cold kills 32,000. By the 2080s, increased heat-waves will kill nearly 5,000 in a comparable population. But ‘cold deaths’ will have dropped by 10,000, meaning 6,500 fewer die altogether.


  • A Question of Privilege
    Depending how you write a story, it can be viewed as a privileged or unprivileged life. Here’s one example.
  • The hidden price Steph Curry pays for making the impossible seem effortless
    The first article I read about Steph Curry (so far). I’m sure there will be many more written about him throughout his career.

    Curry has dramatically scaled back his commitments. The offers still come in “on an almost daily basis,” Austin says, but mostly, the answer is no. His deals with State Farm and Express recently concluded, and he won’t renew. Instead, going forward Curry has prioritized a few lucrative contracts that feel true to him and bespeak a clean message. There are no candy or fast food commercials; instead he endorses Brita water filters. And of course Under Armour, which renegotiated to give him equity in the company and a royalty-cut of his sneaker sales. If he takes on anything new it will be something that offers him a stake, and doesn’t require a lot of appearances, or photo and video shoots.

  • The Minecraft Generation
    An article in the NY Times that talks about how Minecraft might be this generation’s garage tinkering for budding engineers.

    Redstone transports energy between blocks, like an electrical connection. Attach a block that contains power — a redstone “torch,” for example, which looks like a forearm-size matchstick — to one end of a trail of redstone, and anything connected to the other end will receive power. Hit a button here, and another block shifts position over there. Persson ingeniously designed redstone in a way that mimics real-world electronics. Switches and buttons and levers turn the redstone on and off, enabling players to build what computer scientists call “logic gates.” Place two Minecraft switches next to each other, connect them to redstone and suddenly you have what’s known as an “AND” gate: If Switch 1 and Switch 2 are both thrown, energy flows through the redstone wire. You can also rig an “OR” gate, whereby flipping either lever energizes the wire.

    These AND and OR gates are, in virtual form, the same as the circuitry you’d find inside a computer chip. They’re also like the Boolean logic that programmers employ every day in their code. Together, these simple gates let Minecraft players construct machines of astonishing complexity.

  • The Ikea Way
    Another IKEA article but this one is focused more on how IKEA does globalization

    Ikea used to be pretty lousy at expansion. When the company first went into the U.S. market in 1985, it forgot it was a retailer. Instead it behaved like an exporter, taking beds and cabinets measured in centimeters and plopping them down in its first U.S. store near Philadelphia. Even sales successes happened for the wrong reasons: Americans bought an inordinate amount of Ikea vases … using them as water glasses. The European-size ones were too small to satiate Americans’ preference for ice.

  • A controversial theory may explain the real reason humans have allergies
    Not really controversial, but the theory is new to me and possibly you.

    We know that allergens often cause physical damage. They rip open cells, irritate membranes, slice proteins into tatters. Maybe, Medzhitov thought, allergens do so much damage that we need a defense against them. “If you think of all the major symptoms of allergic reactions–runny noses, tears, sneezing, coughing, itching, vomiting and diarrhoea–all of these things have one thing in common,” said Medzhitov. “They all have to do with expulsion.” Suddenly the misery of allergies took on a new look. Allergies weren’t the body going haywire; they were the body’s strategy for getting rid of the allergens.


  • Inside China’s Memefacturing Factories, Where The Hottest New Gadgets Are Made
    We’ve been seeing a lot of hoverboards being ridden around so this article is timely. Not surprisingly, the hoverboards are made in China at factories that excel in agile development – they can quickly switch to producing the Next Cool Thing.

    Nearby, a bustling street hums with small restaurants and shops catering to Gaoke’s employees; above them rise identical two-story gray cement apartment blocks, balconies draped with laundry. Across from the the factory’s security gate, a small store stocks discontinued Gaoke products — televisions, rice cookers, English-language instruction cassette tapes — still in their original shrink-wrapping, to be sold at a discount to the factory’s workers. According to the shopkeeper, they’re a captive market and an easy way for Gaoke to get rid of dead stock.

  • For China’s upper middle class, driving for Uber is a cure for loneliness
    An interesting look at Uber in China that focuses on the drivers yes, and their motivation for driving; which turns out to be an excuse to socialize with their passengers. Not sure if this is just a few anecdotes or a real cultural thing – I don’t think people do this in North America.

    For example, he uses Uber to find tennis partners. Signing on Uber’s driver app right after he plays at a court, he is likely to pick up another player, he explained. In this way, he met a man from Portugal who works in the financial industry in Shanghai. They chatted during the ride, friended each other on WeChat, and met up for tennis. “His [tennis] skill is as good as mine,” Fu said, “but his English is even more terrible than mine.”

    He also intentionally picks up Uber passengers after he goes to a state-backed aerospace academy in Beijing to sell electronic components. He wants to know from the passengers coming from the academy “what products they are making,” he said. “I might get some opportunities.”

  • The Digital Dirt
    Whenever I read an article about a company, person or industry; the most interesting thing are the juicy/gossipy stories. That’s what makes this piece about the story behind TMZ so great, it’s basically stories about getting gossip stories. I might not read TMZ, but it’s interesting to read about stories they do, reject, and break.

    Twenty-four hours after the Bieber video came in, the newsroom learned that Levin had decided not to run the story. He did not destroy his copy of the video, however, and Bieber’s camp was aware that Levin could reverse his position and post it. Celebrity secrets are treated like commodities at TMZ, not unlike the way they were treated by J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I. “The power of secret information was a gun that Hoover always kept loaded,” Tim Weiner* writes, in “Enemies,” a 2012 book about the bureau. A former writer for TMZ told me that, for Levin, there was more to gain by sitting on the clip, and earning Bieber’s good will, than by running it and ruining his career. (Older gossip publications followed this strategy as well. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the “dark genius” of William d’Alton Mann, the publisher of Town Topics, was his realization that “stories that came into his possession were perhaps worth more untold than told.” In the nineteen-fifties, Confidential gained access to the head of Columbia Studios by leveraging tapes of Rock Hudson that referred to his homosexuality.)

    In the months before TMZ obtained the video, its coverage of Bieber had often been antagonistic; it ran a post suggesting that he had hit a twelve-year-old boy during a game of laser tag. After Braun and Levin had their phone conversation, numerous flattering Bieber-related exclusives appeared on the site: a photograph of Bieber backstage during a commercial shoot; pictures of him getting a haircut; a video of him and his girlfriend Selena Gomez performing karaoke; a story about how he bought “every single flower” at a florist’s and sent the flowers to Gomez’s house; video from a trip that Bieber took to Liverpool; and others, including a report of him watching “Titanic” one night, with Gomez, inside an otherwise vacant Staples Center.

  • The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens
    This is a bit of a rambling article about teens on Tumblr, why they use it, and how successful they’ve become. That is, until it all comes tumbling down (see what I did there??)

    “‘My best friend recommended it’ was one of my more major contributions,” Lilley said. He read from the post: “‘I lost 24 pounds in four weeks with minor exercise and no change in diet. Here’s how I did it: with this organic supplement’—that doesn’t sound good.” But “ ‘Here’s how I did it: with this organic supplement my best friend recommended’—just seemed to me more real-sounding and … just makes it seem like in the back of someone’s mind they could think, well, my best friend could have recommended this to me.”

    Exposely’s diet pill scheme got going in April 2014, and it worked—it worked like crazy. Trending.ly got almost 7 million views that month, and with the diet pill ads, they sometimes achieved a conversion rate near 10 percent. Once, across all their blogs, Exposely made $24,000 in a single day.

  • Is the Competitive Bridge World Rife with Cheaters?
    This is a fascinating article about how a whistleblower basically showed that a lot of top bridge teams are actually cheating their way to the top. It baffles me that the sport wouldn’t move to an (electronic) system where you can’t signal between players.

    Fred Gitelman, of Bridge Base Online, unveiled a proposed anti-cheating device, an iPad-like tablet on which players manipulate virtual cards—an innovation that the game’s top players have so far resisted, since card feel is a critical part of their experience at the table. The adoption of such a device, however, seems inevitable in a game where the ease of cheating, and the financial inducements to do so, have dogged the professional game since its inception.


  • An American Christmas Story
    You an tell that I’m quite behind in my reading because this article is (pre-)Christmas! It describes a company called American Christmas whose business is to decorate some of the most well-known places in Manhattan. No insider stories about designing a Christmas display for a high profile client, but some general insight into what it’s like to setup decorations for the festive season.

    The two weeks before Christmas are actually the slowest at American Christmas, and that’s when they take all the decorations left in the warehouse and make a boffo display for their annual holiday party. The commercial installations start in August, when teams begin the labor-intensive process of putting lights on live Christmas trees around the city (most clients just don’t turn the lights on until Thanksgiving approaches).

  • Access Denied
    This article starts by talking about Instagram, tabloids and celebrities but it’s actually discussing a very real and interesting issue about the diminishing access media gets with the subject that they are reporting on. The argument is that with the rise of social media, it’s easier and more prudent for the subject to release their own news via their social media accounts instead of asking for it to be presented in a particular way by media.

    With Instagram, the power shifts dramatically. A genuine Celeb Couple will have more combined followers on Instagram than virtually any publication, most of whom are actual fans. (There isn’t a single celebrity publication in the top 100 Instagram accounts. People, as an example, the 10th largest magazine in the country with a 3.5 million issue circulation, has 1.1 million followers; Chrissy Teigen’s Instagram pregnancy announcement went out to 4.1 million, and her partner John Legend’s simultaneous post went to another 2.7 million.) If Celeb Couple posts a baby photo themselves, Young Employee suggested, publications would have to embed or print it anyway. Celeb Couple wouldn’t have to fight about how to frame their story, or grant any more access to a reporter or photographer than they want.

  • The collapse of parenting: Why it’s time for parents to grow up
    I am a bit skeptical about this article which proposes that parents have gone lenient in giving kids autonomy and choice and need to swing back the other way. I think that part is true, but what’s missing is a discussion in knowing how far to regress. The answer is moderation, but where is moderation on the spectrum?

    Parents in North America have become prone to asking their children rather than telling them. “It’s natural,” says Gordon Neufeld, a prominent Vancouver psychologist cited in Sax’s book. “Intuitively, we know that if we’re coercive, we’re going to get resistance.” For trivial choices such as which colour of pants to wear, this approach is fine, he says. But “when we consult our children about issues that symbolize nurturance like food, we put them in the lead.” That triggers an innate psychological response, and their survival instincts activate: “They don’t feel taken care of and they start taking the alpha role.”

  • What It’s Like to Go Clubbing When You Have Asperger’s
    This article purportedly is about someone awkward going clubbing but I have difficulty seeing that. Two reasons: 1) The article is really well written and the story telling is convincing, and 2) The author seems to have a lot of insights about how the social interaction works. Maybe her Asperger’s is quite mild, but I guess I expected more awkward situations & anecdotes.

    The guy reaches across her and holds his phone in front of my face. It says, “everything this girl is saying smells like bullshit.”

    I don’t know why he’s so angry about it though. That’s the thing about neurotypicals: They’re so proud. For all their pompously wielded social skills they don’t seem to understand the nature of flaws.

    Underneath that he’s typed, “I like your dress.”

    I do have a boyfriend. He’s from my support group.

    I type my number into the hot guy’s phone.


  • Another late article related to Christmas – this one is about re-commerce; not the selling of items online but the returning of things online.

    More to the point, people most often return things because they are defective. Retailers simply don’t have the bandwidth to deal with the suppliers. “It would be very expensive for a company like Amazon to handle returns,” Ringelsten says. “They would have to sort it out—and there are a million manufacturers out there.” What’s more, he says, manufacturers usually supply items to retailers like Amazon through a contract where it’s understood that items that may be returned will simply be liquidated.


  • The Fake Traffic Schemes That Are Rotting The Internet
    Companies are having a lot of issues getting their money worth from advertising, and it’s not because you have an ad blocker! Since you have an ad blocker, your visit to a site doesn’t count as a view. However, there is a lot of fake traffic that is costing advertisers money from bot networks.

    He describes Advertise.com as an ad network that sells more than 300 million page visits each month to companies that want to boost their traffic. Among his customers is Bonnier, which, he says, mainly purchased his cheapest-possible traffic, including “tab-unders.” Say you’re watching a movie on Netflix. A tab-under opens up another window beneath the one playing the movie. You may never see that new window, which displays an Advertise.com customer’s website, but Advertise.com’s customer still generates another page view. Repeat a few thousand times, and you build traffic numbers.

    “I’ve found Advertise.com selling every type of worthless traffic I am able to detect,” says Benjamin Edelman, a Harvard Business School professor who researches the digital economy. “And doing so persistently, for months and indeed, years.”

    Yomtobian allows that tab-unders are “low-quality traffic” and that Bonnier complained about that. But he says his firm checks the traffic of its supplying partners for bots and sends only real humans to the Bonnier websites. “We would never deliver traffic that we don’t think is real,” he says. Yomtobian also disputes Edelman’s claims that Advertise.com’s traffic is worthless. After all, people sometimes do see tab-unders and click on them. “There is a huge distinction,” he says, “between worthless traffic and low-quality traffic.”

  • Sound Decision
    The story behind how the sounds of Skype are made. You don’t read a story on a topic like this very often, but the contents aren’t nearly as interesting as I had hoped.

    One of the only audio interface elements I really like, I tell him, is the paper-crunching sound of emptying the trash in Mac OS X. It doesn’t evoke nostalgia for tossing paper in trash bins — something I’ve never done in real life — but I get a little rush of satisfaction whenever I do it. It’s a well-designed sound, but that’s not all that’s going on.

    In addition to the trash crunch, people like the “send mail” sound a lot too, says McKee. “It’s a redundant thing. They end up liking it because it gives you that feedback that ‘Yes, you’ve done something.’”

    Clearing the trash means I’ve just made my computer a little more organized. The send email sound means I’ve checked a task off my to-do list. The noises I turn off are usually the ones that give me more things to do: new email notifications, phone calls that interrupt my day. It doesn’t matter how well-designed those noises are — I’ve ruined some of my favorite Android and iOS sounds by using them as morning alarms.

  • Sneaker Wars: Inside the Battle Between Nike and Adidas
    This article focuses on how Adidas is fighting a David vs Goliath battle with Nike by focusing on being indie and being less corporate – or at least that is the bias within the article. I suspect that the reality is that they are both very corporate and have different initiatives going to try and capture different parts of the market. Also this article conveniently does not mention any other sub-brands of Adidas, such as Reebok.

    Controlling 62 percent of the market (compared with Adidas’s 5 percent), Nike is the primary beneficiary of our addiction, and the reasons for its supremacy are myriad. It is big. It is smart. Its endorsement roster is a portfolio of human blue-chip stocks. It caters to traditionalists with old-school Blazers, Jordans, and Dunks—some of the coolest and most coveted sneakers ever made—while testing the bounds of how futuristic a shoe can look and feel. (See, most recently, the Flyknit.) It employs more designers than any other shoe manufacturer (650 compared with Adidas’s 200) and gives them unparalleled resources. Nike will take expensive risks, and when it whiffs, as it recently did with an ill-fated and quickly canceled snowboarding line, it acknowledges the error and moves on.

  • What Makes Uber Run
    I haven’t read an article about the history of Uber so here’s one that focuses on the CEO Travis Kalanick.

    What they did not appreciate initially was the effect that low prices would have on the service. When Uber would have, say, three cars prowling around San Francisco, riders had to wait 20 minutes for a lift; but on weekend evenings, when 15 or 20 cars might be on the streets, wait times plummeted. In other words, as Uber got busier, it got better. Drivers made more money and passengers were happier. “I started to see how math moved the needle,” he says. “Things clicked in my mind about how this could scale.”

  • The tragic tale of Mt Everest’s most famous dead body
    I’m a sucker for these mountain ascent stories because I think they are great feats of human persistence and athleticism, so this one is no different.

    a trip to Everest is seen as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The amount of time, money and energy invested in the mountain can encourage selfish and reckless decision-making. “There’s a mystique to Everest where people come to the conclusion that traditional rules don’t apply, whether that means how much risk they’re willing to take or what the value of reaching the top of the mountain is to them,” says Christopher Kayes, chair and professor of management at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “I think the closer you get to your goal, the more likely you are to come up with rationalisations for foregoing morals or values.”

    In some cases, he continues, it might “literally mean throwing caution to the wind.” In others, it might mean leaving a fallen climber behind who is deemed beyond helping.


  • Kay, Zales, and Marketing Diamonds to the Middle-Class Man
    The headline promises a bit more information than the article delivers, but this is an otherwise unknown look at how Signet (owns Zales, Peoples, other jewellers) runs its business.

    While Light told investors Signet was optimizing its e-comm experience, the company sees its sites as primarily as destinations for education and first impressions. Physical stores “will always be the most important element” of its strategy because, as Signet sees it, brick-and-mortar far outweighs digital in jewelry sales, even among young consumers.

    “What we find is the millennials who might buy from us online, they actually ship to a store to go see it, actively touch it,” says Zales CEO George Murray. “They’re not just buying everything online through mobile, no human contact, social media activity that’s going on. It is a very, very physical world.”

  • Amor Prohibido
    20 years after the death of Selena, a look at how her legacy is being preserved in her home town.

    When Fiesta de la Flor, the two-day Selena-themed festival held on April 17 and 18, was announced back in January, the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau made it very, very clear that it had the approval of the family. The constant reminder, repeated by city officials in press releases and interviews, seemed like a nervous tic, like someone walking through a tough neighborhood invoking the name of the local mafia don. In the end, Mr. Quintanilla did nothing to prevent my access to the event. At the Fiesta itself I overheard a friendly official working a security line for Chris Perez, who was sitting for photos, assure a fan from New Jersey that the event was Quintanilla-blessed. The Jersey girl hadn’t even broached the subject.

  • Learning to Speak Lingerie
    This is an interesting article that links together Chinese people, Egypt and lingerie – three things that don’t belong together. Basically there are a couple of people who are making money by selling lingerie in conservative Egypt cities. That’s the teaser, but it later delves into societal reasons as to why Chinese people are making money and why Egyptians are not, which is arguably a more compelling read.

    While Lin and Chen were building their small lingerie empire, they noticed that there was a lot of garbage sitting in open piles around Asyut. They were not the first people to make this observation. But they were the first to respond by importing a polyethylene-terephthalate bottle-flake washing production line, which is manufactured in Jiangsu province, and which allows an entrepreneur to grind up plastic bottles, wash and dry the regrind at high temperatures, and sell it as recycled material.

    “I saw that it was just lying around, so I decided that I could recycle it and make money,” Lin told me. He and his wife had no experience in the industry, but in 2007 they established the first plastic-bottle recycling facility in Upper Egypt. Their plant is in a small industrial zone in the desert west of Asyut, where it currently employs thirty people and grinds up about four tons of plastic every day. Lin and Chen sell the processed material to Chinese people in Cairo, who use it to manufacture thread. This thread is then sold to entrepreneurs in the Egyptian garment industry, including a number of Chinese. It’s possible that a bottle tossed onto the side of the road in Asyut will pass through three stages of Chinese processing before returning to town in the form of lingerie, also to be sold by Chinese.

  • Dinner and Deception
    I enjoy reading about waiters and their work (one of my favourite blogs used to be The Big, Weird Business of Prom
    The business of prom dresses is apparently really big, even bigger than some retail chains! This is not a great article for indepth knowledge, but it shares a few nuggets.

    Families with a total household income above $50,000 will spend an average of $799 on prom, and that number increases as income decreases. Families with a total household income below $50,000 spend $1,109, and families with a total household income below $25,000 will spend $1,393. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to pony up for a fancy gown. The cost varies by region as well. Northeastern families spend the most ($1,169), while Midwestern families spend the least ($733). In most circumstances, a significant fraction of a teenage girl’s prom budget is likely dedicated to her dress.


  • The Father of the Emoticon Chases His Great White Whale
    A look at the computer science professor who is famous because he invited :-). However, what he truly wants is to be known for is solving general AI.

    The fairy tale turns out to be an example of the role multiple viewpoints play in our understanding of reality — something that is extremely challenging for machines to grasp. To understand the story of the Three Little Pigs, one must comprehend what each of the characters knows. For a machine to replicate this understanding, it needs to recognize these individual sets of characters’ knowledge. It needs a single set to represent the pig’s knowledge of the world, another for the wolf’s, along with a representation of the mental state the wolf is trying to get the pig into — the deception. These contexts can be layered infinitely, and Fahlman is building a system that contains them.

  • The Really Big One
    If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you might be thankful that you don’t live in SF and have to worry about the danger of a huge earthquake – actually, that’s not true because you’re sitting on an even larger fault! This article has colorful descriptive language of what might potentially happen should a potential 9.0 earthquake hit.

    A grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water moving at 6.7 miles an hour. The tsunami will be moving more than twice that fast when it arrives. Its height will vary with the contours of the coast, from twenty feet to more than a hundred feet. It will not look like a Hokusai-style wave, rising up from the surface of the sea and breaking from above. It will look like the whole ocean, elevated, overtaking land. Nor will it be made only of water—not once it reaches the shore. It will be a five-story deluge of pickup trucks and doorframes and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Up in the Air: Meet the Man Who Flies Around the World for Free
    The story of a key member of FlyerTalk, how he got into the hobby of gaming frequent flyer programs, and a little bit about how he spends his life.

    Schlappig is giving me this economics lesson while he waits in the spa of the first-class Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in JFK Airport in New York. He has been up all night, downing eight cups of coffee and typing blog posts the entire flight; he maintains a militant work regimen, blogging only on Eastern time, jet lag be damned. “I think he’s not a person who was meant to work from nine to five,” says his mother. “Now he probably works 18 hours a day.” Schlappig is chatting through a complimentary massage, enjoying the elbow in his back from a plump spa therapist and straining occasionally to sip his dry gin with crème de mûre. She chats him back, smiling, and asks how he’s been — Schlappig knows almost the entire staff here by name, and he schedules his globe-trots to make a pit stop here every few weeks.

  • Jennifer Pan’s Revenge
    I remember following this news story in detail because it was about an Asian family in Toronto. Now that the trial is over, there’s a lot more information about what happened – and this account is even written by someone who went to the same high school as Jennifer Pan and her boyfriend.

    Jennifer’s parents assumed their daughter was an A student; in truth, she earned mostly Bs—respectable for most kids but unacceptable in her strict household. So Jennifer continued to doctor her report cards throughout high school. She received early acceptance to Ryerson, but then failed calculus in her final year and wasn’t able to graduate. The university withdrew its offer. Desperate to keep her parents from digging into her high school records, she lied and said she’d be starting at Ryerson in the fall. She said her plan was to do two years of science, then transfer over to U of T’s pharmacology program, which was her father’s hope. Hann was delighted and bought her a laptop. Jennifer collected used biology and physics textbooks and bought school supplies. In September, she pretended to attend frosh week. When it came to tuition, she doctored papers stating she was receiving an OSAP loan and convinced her dad she’d won a $3,000 scholarship.

  • Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person
    The most interesting thing about this article is how it breaks down the one word “Privilege” into different types of privilege. The generalization is overused, so it’s more interesting to think of how a person or a group is privileged compared to society – not all privilege is the same.

    I, maybe more than most people, can completely understand why broke white folks get pissed when the word “privilege” is thrown around. As a child I was constantly discriminated against because of my poverty, and those wounds still run very deep. But luckily my college education introduced me to a more nuanced concept of privilege: the term “intersectionality.” The concept of intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not privileged in others. There are many different types of privilege, not just skin-color privilege, that impact the way people can move through the world or are discriminated against. These are all things you are born into, not things you earned, that afford you opportunities that others may not have.


  • The Cycle
    Jose Bautista explains what it’s like to grow up in the Dominican Republic and become a baseball star. Sure, the money is great – but they are still behind in life. And if you’re not lucky, you go back to your life in your 20s with a 6th grade education.

    At age 12 or 13, you’ll be recruited to play at one of the many baseball academies across the country. “Academy” makes it sound like a school. Most of them are more like baseball farms. Your family signs a piece of paper for consent and you’re pulled out of school to go train at sparse facilities in the middle of nowhere. They’re not regulated. They’re private institutions run by guys called “buscones” — part trainers, part agents. You sleep in these big empty rooms filled with bunk beds. You do two things: You play baseball and you sleep. There are no books, no computers, maybe one old TV. Before you’re a teenager, your education is over.

  • Blockbuster Anatomy: Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos on the Tulowitzki and Price Deals
    Light story about the Jays’ deadline deals. Their record now is even better than when the article was written!

    Anthopoulos, though, said that questions over his job status didn’t influence his decision to be so aggressive at the deadline.

    “I’m always focused on both short term and long term,” he said, citing the $3.9 million spent to sign 16-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and his refusal to give up dynamic (and injured) starter Marcus Stroman for more immediate help. “You do the job as if you own the team, and as if you’re going to be here forever, because that’s your responsibility.”

  • Elite Snipers 101
    Jonathan Quick talks about what it is like to face world-class talents aiming to score a goal on him, and how he’s able to prevent it.

    Most guys have a little tell. You look at where the puck is in relation to their feet, or the way they’re bending their knees to get ready to shoot, and you just know what’s going to happen before it happens. But the problem with Datsyuk is that he fools you with his intentions. He will be way out on the wall with his hands, feet, and eyes positioned for a cross-ice pass — and it’s the right decision. It’s what 99 percent of players will do in that situation. So you instantly start cheating your eyes over to where he’s going to pass. Next thing you know — what the hell? — the puck is behind you in the net. He shot it. Who shoots from there? Datsyuk shoots from there.

  • The Death of Cantonese?
    It starts with schools teaching in Mandarin (~70% of schools in HK already do this), and writing in Simplified Chinese. Although I’m actually more curious what

    The potential for the erosion of Cantonese is not without precedent. Shanghainese was once the dialect for the entire Yangtze region and, despite the fact it still has around 14 million speakers, the Central Government has actively been discouraging its use in schools since 1992. A 2012 survey by Shanghai’s Academy of Social Sciences found four in 10 school students in the city couldn’t speak Shanghainese at all.

  • The Mob’s IT department
    A story about how 2 IT professionals ended up ensnared in a gang’s operations to smuggle drugs into Europe. They’re still in front of a judge, but this article paints them as unwilling participants.

    He and Van De Moere discussed going to the police. They later explained they dismissed the idea out of fear. These were clearly men who didn’t resolve disagreements with the usual conference call or attorney’s letter. Calling the authorities would anger them more. They decided the prudent course was to let the whole bizarre incident go and hope Maertens never heard from them again.


  • The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, the Experiment That Changed Superheroes Forever
    It’s been several years since I stopped reading comics, but when I did I devoured the Ultimate universe comics from Marvel. I didn’t know that it was winding down (not by choice) so this was news to me, and it is always interesting to hear some of the back story behind the genesis of the idea.

    The history of Ultimate Marvel is, in a way, a story about warring approaches to a reboot: Bendis’s and Millar’s. Bendis wanted to polish the old archetypes; Millar wanted to aggressively critique them. Bendis sought timeless stories; Millar craved biting contemporary political critique. Bendis was looking to inspire; Millar aimed to disquiet. As Bendis put it: “I’m writing about hope and he’s writing about nihilism, and I know he doesn’t always think he is, but he is. Constantly.”

  • In Flight
    An article that has been going around, written by a pilot, about what happens on a routine trip from London to Tokyo. There’s a lot of colorful English being used but beyond the high school english assignment, there are some interesting tidbits that you wouldn’t be aware of unless you were a pilot.

    INTAK is a waypoint. An airplane typically navigates through sky countries along a route composed of a few radio beacons and many waypoints. Waypoints are defined by coordinates or their bearing and distance from a beacon, and by a name, which typically takes the form of a five-letter capitalized word — EVUKI, JETSA, SABER — that’s pronounceable and distinct to controllers and pilots regardless of their first language. Waypoint names are the sky’s audible currency of place, atomized and distinct.

  • Viacom Is Having A Midlife Crisis
    Viacom used to be great, but the owner is not as involved anymore and it seems like it’s going downhill because of that. Of course, no one wants to admit that that is the reason…

    Dauman has taken an unusual tack when he’s spoken to analysts about Viacom’s recent performance. The lower ratings for its programming, he says, aren’t the result of the rising popularity of YouTube or poor creative choices at Viacom. Instead, the loss of viewers is an illusion, he says. The fans are there in growing numbers. They just aren’t being properly counted. According to Dauman, Nielsen’s ratings fail to account for the TV that people consume via apps on their smartphones, streaming devices such as Roku, desktop websites, or various video-on-demand services. “Inadequate measurement undermines innovation,” Dauman said during a recent earnings call, “and disproportionately impacts those leading programmers like us who effectively provide the multiplatform experiences that viewers demand.”

  • When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China
    A primer on how WeChat is different and why it’s successful in China. I tried using WeChat and Weibo in the past but since I can’t read Chinese, it was a non-starter for me. I guess I’ll have to wait until some company in the Western world brings over the idea.

    This focus on function over social has significant consequences for brands. Where brands must rely on static, one-size-fits all blasts in U.S. social networks — and users are confined to only liking, favoriting, commenting on, or sharing posts — WeChat shows us what’s possible when brands are offered more options for interacting with their users. For example, where Starbucks could post an offer for all users on its Facebook page, on WeChat, it could theoretically also allow a user to inquire after their gift card balance, place a favorite drink order, find the nearest store without having to specify intent, or receive a promotion tailored to drink preferences based on the weather in that city. Where a celebrity like Taylor Swift can share 140 characters about her upcoming concert on Twitter, on WeChat, she could send a concert discount code to users who purchased her album, or charge users a small fee for daily pre-recorded morning greetings (some celebrities in Asia actually already do this!).

  • How Canada’s economy went from boom to recession so fast
    Not surprisingly: lower resource demand and China.

    By the time the smoke cleared, nearly $3.2 trillion had been wiped off the Chinese stock market—or, about twice the value of India’s entire stock market value. Put another way: Greece’s total government debt—the cause of austerity measures, panicked bailout renegotiations, and even a referendum—is only $375 billion, or about one-10th the amount lost by Chinese stock traders.


  • I was an undercover Uber driver
    What is it really like to be an Uber driver? Doesn’t sound so luxurious or much different than a normal taxi driver…

    If there’s a $10 ride, $1 Uber will keep it, for insurance or safety or whatever they want to call it. [This dollar is technically called the “safe rides fee,” but yeah.] And then from $9, they will take 20 percent, that would be $1.80. So after, the driver will take home $7.20.

    If they cut the rate in half, the same ride is now $5. Just example, OK? So Uber takes $1, and then out of $4, Uber takes 80 cents, so the driver will make $3.20. And if the demand is double, then another driver will also make $3.20. So the total driver pay is $6.40 vs. $7.20 before, but customer paid same $10 — means Uber’s taking extra money.

  • Elon Musk’s Space Dream Almost Killed Tesla
    In the late 00s, Several of Elon Musk’s businesses including Tesla and SpaceX were on the brink…of bankruptcy. Here’s a look from the SpaceX angle before he found success.

    Currently, SpaceX sends up about one rocket a month, carrying satellites for companies and nations. The company can undercut its U.S. competitors—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences—on price by a wide margin. It also offers U.S. customers a peace of mind that its rivals can’t. Where competitors rely on Russian and other foreign suppliers, SpaceX makes its machines from scratch in the U.S. Its $60 million per launch cost is much less than what Europe and Japan charge and trumps even the relative bargains offered by the Russians and Chinese, who have the added benefit of cheap labor and decades of government investment.

  • Poor Little Rich Women
    This excerpt from a new book about the wives of wealthy Upper East Side residents has a tantalizing tidbit about so-called “wife bonuses”. I bet the rest of the book is nowhere near as controversial, but this teaser does pique my interest to read it.

    And then there were the wife bonuses.

    I was thunderstruck when I heard mention of a “bonus” over coffee. Later I overheard someone who didn’t work say she would buy a table at an event once her bonus was set. A woman with a business degree but no job mentioned waiting for her “year-end” to shop for clothing. Further probing revealed that the annual wife bonus was not an uncommon practice in this tribe.

  • How Shrek went from the world’s biggest animated franchise to the internet’s creepiest meme
    I thought the first Shrek was pretty good but then it dropped off the radar for me. Who knew it has spawned a bunch of sequels and aged quite poorly? I guess at some point I’ll have to watch it again and see if the jokes are corny now and whether the references are all dated.

    Chris Farley’s Shrek centered on a teenaged ogre who wanted to be a knight, opposite a sarcastic princess voiced by Janeane Garofalo. But Myers wanted to make Shrek his own, insisting on a total script rewrite before he joined the project. After recording his Shrek in a version of his normal speaking voice, Myers was struck with inspiration: Shrek should have a Scottish accent. Per his wishes, all of his dialogue was re-recorded in the Scottish brogue — an 11th-hour change that multiple sources claim cost the project at least $4 million. (Myers disputes the figure.)

  • “What’s one thing you’ve learned at Harvard Business School that blew your mind?”
    I approached this article thinking it would be a dud but it was actually quite interesting, including this theory which I’ve seen applied by the Dragons on Dragon’s Den

    There are two primary types of pricing: Cost-Based and Value-Based. In Cost Based pricing, you figure out how much it costs you to provide a service. Then you add a mark up and use that price to sell to the customer.

    The idea behind value pricing is that there’s actually a much wider wedge between the two things:

    First, there’s the amount your Product costs to make.
    Then, there’s the amount your Product saves the other company (or how much more it allows them to sell — but basically the financial impact giving your product has).

    You should charge somewhere between those two points.


  • Should You Bring Your Unborn Baby to Work?
    It’s not so much a question of should you work with an unborn baby, but how much work is too much. The scientific data however, seems inconclusive.

    One possible explanation for the differing outcomes is this: contrasting social realities may affect how citizens of different countries respond to stressors. Denmark and other Nordic countries have legendary social safety nets, including laws that require employers to accommodate pregnant women by changing their duties or, if they can’t, allowing the women to go on leave. The absence of a relationship between maternal stress and preterm birth in Denmark, Danish scientists note, may really show that preventive measures are working, not that job strain never causes problems.

  • The Credit Card Obsessives Who Game the System—and Share Their Secrets Online
    A light story about the world of credit card bloggers and the lifestyles that they seem to live due to their livelihood.

    “My friends and I say, ‘Chase the fare, not the destination,’” admits Michael Rubiano, a tech consultant who’s been collecting credit card miles for 25 years and calls himself a points “junkie.” Ben Schlappig, the 24-year-old blogger behind One Mile at a Time, kickstarted his points obsession at the tender age of 14 by doing mileage runs, taking trips for the sole purpose of earning miles. He adds that “a large part of the community doesn’t actually like to travel, but they love gaming the system.”

  • The Hidden Effects of Cheap Oil
    We celebrate cheap gas prices, but there are going to be ripples around the world that we don’t really think about.

    The collapsing price of oil played a role in the recent rapprochement between Cuba and the United States. Venezuela’s economic crisis heightened the risk that Havana would no longer be able to count on the enormous subsidy it has enjoyed for more than a decade from Caracas. The Cuban regime was thus eager to find another source of economic support. It found one in America.

  • Inside the Mad, Mad World of TripAdvisor
    I think TripAdvisor is useful, but has the same issues as other review sites like Yelp and Amazon which this article calls out: It’s not always easy to put yourself in the shoes of a biased review, so you probably won’t have the same experience.

    Those reviews carry demonstrable weight. A study by Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research found that for every percentage point a hotel improves its online reputation, its “RevPAR” (revenue per available room) goes up by 1.4 percent; for every point its reputation improves on a five-point scale, a hotel can raise prices by 11 percent without seeing bookings fall off. This has been a boon for smaller, midpriced, independently owned hotels. “Twenty years ago, the brands owned the sense of quality,” says Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. “If I stayed at a big-name hotel, I knew what I was getting.” That sense of confidence in quality, argues Hanson, has been supplanted by TripAdvisor.

  • About Face
    The plastic surgery industry in South Korea is pretty well known, but this is still an interesting article into how it is done and the rationale of why people do it.

    “When you’re nineteen, all the girls get plastic surgery, so if you don’t do it, after a few years, your friends will all look better, but you will look like your unimproved you,” a college student who’d had a double-eyelid procedure told me. “We want to have surgeries while we are young so we can have our new faces for a long time,” another young woman said.


  • The Talking Cure
    There’s a gap between preschoolers of wealthier and poorer families and one city’s attempt to bridge this gap is by running a program to encourage parents from less affluent families to talk to their kids more.

    In 2005, a research foundation named LENA (for Language Environment Analysis) had developed a small digital device that could record for sixteen hours and recognize adult words, child vocalizations, and conversational turns. Such distinctions were important, because researchers had determined that merely overheard speech—a mother holding a child on her lap but talking on the phone, for instance—contributed less to language development. The LENA recorder could also distinguish between actual people speaking in a child’s earshot and sounds from TVs and other electronic devices; children under the age of two appear to learn language only from other humans. The device was about the size of an iPod, and it fit into the pocket of a specially designed vest or pair of overalls. (Children soon forgot about the devices, though they occasionally ended up in the toilet or in the dog’s bed.)

  • The Truth About Your Smile
    A couple of tips that your dentist may have not told you (or maybe you weren’t listening). Some seem a bit far fetched, but a couple seem to be consistent with what I hear. So maybe they are all true?

    Gum, mouthwash, and mints can’t address odor that ultimately comes from the stomach, but cloves (yes, the little sticks that you often put inside of potpourri and Jack-O-Lanterns) have been proven to kill odor-causing bacteria in the mouth—they don’t just mask it like gum or mouthwash or mints do. My family have all known about this and practiced it for years (my parents and I all carry around little tins filled with cloves instead of mints, and I think its because we love garlic-y hummus but we hate bad breath). I suck on one before important meetings and hot dates.

  • The Rich Man’s Dropout Club
    In 2010, Peter Thiel gave 24 people who haven’t graduated college $100,000 to skip it. Here’s how some of them turned out – TLDR: No major success stories yet. Although I think this argues for gap year(s) where young adults can pursue some non-academic experience.

    One fellow, John Marbach, left the program after his first year. One of the younger participants, he felt out of step with the others. “The Thiel Foundation said, ‘Oh, we’d be happy to introduce you to VCs and CEOs and coaches,’” he recalls. “But there was no, like, ‘Oh, we could introduce you to some normal friends.’” He returned to Wake Forest and will graduate this year.

  • The Rat Tribe of Beijing
    A couple of stories about people in Beijing who live underground in converted bunkers – the rooms are still tiny, but at least the rent is a bit cheaper. Oh yeah, it’s illegal of course.
  • This Michigan Farmer Made $4 Million Smuggling Rare Pez Containers into the U.S.
    No doubt there is some hyperbole here to make the story read better, but this is a rags to riches story fueled by OCD about collecting.

    Steve first noticed Pez while hawking cereal-box toys at the Kane County toy fair outside Chicago. The psychedelic colors and addictive collectibility of the dispensers immediately hooked him. “I learned that Canada got different stock straight from Pez factories in Europe,” he says. Weeks later he began making pilgrimages north to buy boxes of rare Merry Melody Maker dispensers (with built-in whistles) and Disney designs, for mere pennies. In Michigan, Joshua organized the stock and sold it to American collectors via mail order at up to $50 apiece. The Glews could finally afford clothes and food. Steve’s Dumpster-diving days were over.


  • Is the IKEA ethos comfy or creepy?
    A look at the cult-ure that is IKEA, and how it became successful.

    In 2007, BJURSTA, an extendable oak-veneer dining table, cost two hundred and ninety-nine dollars. Mindful of the recession and of rising wood prices, IKEA hollowed out the legs (which reduced the weight, making transport cheaper) and consolidated the manufacture of parts (bigger orders cost less). Customers appreciated that the table was lighter and less expensive. The more tables they bought, the more IKEA lowered the price. By 2011, BJURSTA cost a hundred and ninety-nine dollars.

  • The Aging of Abercrombie & Fitch
    In contrast, here’s the story of how Abercrombie & Fitch went from a success to an also-ran.

    Abercrombie & Fitch went public in 1996. It had about 125 stores, sales of $335 million, and profits of almost $25 million. Jeffries wrote a 29-page “Look Book” for the sales staff. Women weren’t allowed to wear makeup or colored nail polish. Most jewelry was forbidden. So were tattoos. Hair had to be natural and preferably long. Men couldn’t have beards or mustaches. The only greeting allowed was: “Hey, what’s going on?” Store managers spent one day a week at their local college campus recruiting kids with the right look. They started with the fraternities, sororities, and sports teams. Managers forwarded photos of potential employees to headquarters for approval.

  • Have a scientific problem? Steal an answer from nature
    I thought this article would talk about how we’re using nature as a muse to solve problems, but instead it just talked about how nature has solved its problems in the optimal way.

    Some of the most interesting examples of optimality in biology take the form of exquisitely sensitive and discriminating sensors. Our own eyes provide a surprising instance of this. We are all aware that our vision is not the best to be found in the animal kingdom. We can’t see in the dark like many of our pets, and we have nothing close to the acuity of a bird of prey. But inside our eyes, on our retinas, are photoreceptors that can detect individual photons. The quantum nature of light means that, for light in the visible (to us) spectrum, it is physically impossible for our photoreceptors to be any better.

  • Father, Son and the Double Helix
    The use of genetic testing is a burgeoning industry…in India….to determine if a son is legitimate or not. I guess it’s not that surprising that commercial application of the science is happening, and it makes a lot of sense in this case.

    The trickiest case of a child swap he has dealt with was also one that became a primetime sensation. “In the late 80s, I came to India from the US at the request of the Delhi Police, who were facing incredible pressure to solve a child swap case in Safdarjung Hospital that was all over the media,” he says. Five couples had had babies in the hospital on the same day, four of them had died, and the only one alive, a girl child, was being turned down by the supposed mother, who claimed she remembered feeding a male baby before it was taken from her by the staff for a clean- up. “This was double trouble. Where was her child, then, and who did the baby girl belong to? The police brought up the remaining four couples and I took all their DNA samples. But meanwhile, the police was in a hurry to close the publicised case so they brought a male baby found at a railway crossing and gave it to the mother saying that must be her missing son. Before I could present the results of the paternity and maternity tests, the mother had accepted the boy as her own, even persuading me to believe that the newborn’s nose was just like her husband’s.” Dr Mehra, how ever, carried on with the investigations and what emerged at the end of it was bewildering. “We dug up the remains of the four dead children. It turned out that the lady’s son was amongst the dead, and the baby girl belonged to one of four couples who had gone back to their village and observed every ritual of mourning for the dead child. The woman who had lost the son decided to keep the baby from the railway track and raise it as her own.”

  • Scorched Earth, 2200AD
    A somewhat disappointing article which teased to talk about how we would live in the climate changed Earth of next century, but only a few paragraphs are spent on that topic.