Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hamilton Story

Hamilton 3
New York Times op-ed:  Just Like Trump, I Avoided Paying Federal Taxes, by Bert Stratton:
I’m like Donald Trump, somewhat. We both inherited buildings from our fathers. I’ve kept my father’s properties and bought a couple more buildings. For my first couple of years I had “loss carry-forwards.” I lost money and paid no federal taxes.
Some dads teach their sons fishing. My dad taught me to do taxes.
He kept two sets of books — one pencil, one ink. Self-made guys, like my dad, often kept two sets of books, a retired accountant later told me. The second-generation, like me, usually goes legit, he said. ...

Hamilton via New York Times op-ed: I Paid $2,500 for a ‘Hamilton’ Ticket. I’m Happy About It, by N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard):
You may have heard that “Hamilton” tickets are hard to come by. ... We, however, had no problem getting tickets. Two weeks before our trip, I logged into StubHub, the online ticket marketplace owned by eBay. I found the performance we wanted, located some great seats and within a few minutes was printing our tickets.
The rub is the price. Including StubHub’s fee, I paid $2,500 a ticket, about five times their face value. Such a large markup is not unusual.

How Are Scientists Using Social Media in the Workplace? 

“People who are always praising the past
And especially the time of faith as best
Ought to go and live in the Middle Ages
And be burnt at the stake as witches and sages.”
– Stevie Smith, poet

“Of all the means by which wisdom ensures happiness throughout life, by far the most important is the possession of friendship.”
– Epicurus, Principle Doctrines, C300 BCE

 Future of Economy in The Chronicle of Higher Education  profiling Robin Hanson...

Four Trends In Understanding Audience: Measurement, Streaming and Politics 

This Week: Is there a correlation between value and attention in the arts?… Data’s in: the plus/minuses of live-streaming… Some ideas from a researcher on measuring aesthetic experience… How might the arts weigh in on politics without being dismissed?

Client engagement: Diane Arbus cultivated a bond between subject and photographer. She propositioned strangers -- to take their pictures and to sleep with them...  Bohemian Babushka  

Collins K, Shiffman D, Rock J (2016) How Are Scientists Using Social Media in the Workplace? PLoS ONE 11(10): e0162680. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162680

“Social media has created networked communication channels that facilitate interactions and allow information to proliferate within professional academic communities as well as in informal social circumstances. A significant contemporary discussion in the field of science communication is how scientists are using (or might use) social media to communicate their research. This includes the role of social media in facilitating the exchange of knowledge internally within and among scientific communities, as well as externally for outreach to engage the public. This study investigates how a surveyed sample of 587 scientists from a variety of academic disciplines, but predominantly the academic life sciences, use social media to communicate internally and externally. Our results demonstrate that while social media usage has yet to be widely adopted, scientists in a variety of disciplines use these platforms to exchange scientific knowledge, generally via either Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or blogs. Despite the low frequency of use, our work evidences that scientists perceive numerous potential advantages to using social media in the workplace. Our data provides a baseline from which to assess future trends in social media use within the science academy.”

Using metadata actively, Colin Bird, Simon Coles, Iris Garrelfs, Tom Griffin, Magnus Hagdorn, Graham Klyne, Mike Mineter, Cerys Willoughby 2016, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 76-85 doi:10.2218/ijdc.v11i1.412
“Almost all researchers collect and preserve metadata, although doing so is often seen as a burden. However, when that metadata can be, and is, used actively during an investigation or creative process, the benefits become apparent instantly. Active use can arise in various ways, several of which are being investigated by the Collaboration for Research Enhancement by Active use of Metadata (CREAM) project, which was funded by Jisc as part of their Research Data Spring initiative. The CREAM project is exploring the concept through understanding the active use of metadata by the partners in the collaboration. This paper explains what it means to use metadata actively and describes how the CREAM project characterises active use by developing use cases that involve documenting the key decision points during a process. Well-documented processes are accordingly more transparent, reproducible, and reusable.”

 I have no idea what prompted this or why The Washington Post thinks Carlos Ruiz Zafón is The bestselling literary sensation you may struggle to name, but Manuel Roig-Franzia profiles the The Shadow of the Wind-author -- and the anecdote about the 'Dragon's Cave', a pretty fancy author-indulgence, is certainly weirdly interesting.

   Well, there have been some nice multiple-brief-reaction round-ups, such as:
       There are some pro and contra discussions:
       There were a few pieces arguing that it wasn't a good choice:
       Far more, however, were pleased by the choice, and wholeheartedly endorsed it:
       There are also a few pieces that look at this selection and what it signifies for the Nobel Prize, and for literature:
       Finally, Adam Langer offers lists of The Best and Worst Things About Bob Dylan Winning the Nobel Prize at Forward. ...via saloon

Friday, October 21, 2016

Memoir Unleashing Demons: Memories of Czechoslovak Socialist Republic Army envoked by a Bridge Across Not So Cold River ...

Socialism is an alternative to capitalism as potassium cyanide is an alternative to water ... But some elite capitalists can also make H2O toxic just ask uncle George

Sir Craig Oliver, the former PM’s director of communications, describes Downing Street panic in his memoir Unleashing Demons ... David Cameron's director of communications feared that the then prime minister would have to resign over the family revelations contained within the Panama Papers, according to his newly published book. Related: David Cameron admits he profited from father's Panama offshore trust Sir Craig Oliver detailed the chaos behind the scenes at Downing Street following the Guardian's investigation of the Cameron family's tax affairs in April, which revealed that the prime minister's father had been a director of an offshore fund called Blairmore Holdings David Cameron's adviser feared Panama Papers would end boss's career

Although the hacker’s name has not been released, video of the arrest, provided by Czech police, shows how it went down. Accompanied by his girlfriend, the Russian drove into the heart of Prague, the Czech capital, in a high-end automobile, to a swank hotel. The went to the hotel restaurant, only to be confronted by police, who moved so quickly that the Russian had no time to resist.
Indeed, he was so stunned by the appearance of the police at his table that the suspect fainted and was subsequently hospitalized. He is now in custody, awaiting an extradition request from Washington. The United States has 40 days from his arrest to ask for the Russian to be sent here to face charges, but Czech justice authorities today stated that they have yet to receive any American extradition request.
We don’t know specifically what hacking the Russian stands accused of, although Czech police have stated that he had perpetrated cyber-crimes against Americans, and he was wanted on an INTERPOL Red Notice—an indication that the FBI wanted to get their hands on this man rather badly.
Where’s the extradition request?

At the TLS Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir offers a solid overview/introduction to 'Nordic noir', in Snowed under:
Extract of note: “Much has been written about the reasons for Nordic noir’s popularity. Among the most common explanations are the plain writing style, the attention given to issues of social injustice, the ingrained realism, the role of landscape, the dark, brooding quality and the allure of the anti-hero ... Even the contrast between near-perfect nanny-state societies and the awfulness of being killed comes into it, a contrast I am fond of. Evil is never as appalling as it is when juxtaposed with sweetness and innocence. And (COLD) snow. Don’t forget the snow. If there is no snow in the pages, it is sure to be on the cover. The appeal of Nordic noir is based on some mixture of all this, though the specific measure of each is somewhat elusive”

I remember the day my army fate was sealed. The instructions for a certain day in September 1977 with the destination were enclosed in a single letter that arrived in May 1977. I was three days shy of 19. My seven years old niece, Janka, who was visiting us screamed at passers-by, "Jozko is getting a gun! Jozef is getting a gun!" Army is a monster of the richest and poorest time on earth ...

An investigation into the history of  books bound in human skin reveals that it was usually a doctor wielding the knife... Judging Book by Its Cover  

courtesy  of Dan Dan Lewis:

 Marching Forward and Tumbling Down

Imagine a small group of military members, lined up four across, marching. You probably are now picturing two additional details; first, they're likely chanting some sort of military cadence, and second, they're likely moving in lockstep -- when one person takes a step  with his or her left leg, so do the other members of the group. That second thing is called military step, and it's typically required -- except when going over suspension bridges.

In that case? Lockstep marching is a really bad idea.

Let's start with a photo 

That photo (via flickr) is of the Albert Bridge, which crosses the Thames in London. If you can't read the sign, it says that "all troops must break step when marching over this bridge." In other words, troops can't stay in sync -- they need to mix it up a bit.

The reason isn't some weird antipathy toward the military, a dislike of parades, or a preference of chaos over order. It's science -- and ultimately, safety. The culprit? As LiveScience explains, "structures like bridges and buildings, although they appear to be solid and immovable, have a natural frequency of vibration within them." That's usually not a problem, as the architects and engineers factor those vibrations into account. But what happens when something comes along that adds more vibrations at the same frequency? In that case, something called "mechanical resonance" kicks in. LiveScience continues: in those cases, "[the] force that's applied to an object at the same frequency as the object's natural frequency will amplify the vibration of the object."

And too much amplification is bad news, as most buildings aren't designed to account for that. For some -- like suspension bridges  -- the results can be particularly dangerous. Unfortunately, that lesson was learned the hard way.

On April 21, 1831, a detachment of 74 British soldiers stationed in the town of Salford, Greater Manchester, were marching back home over the Broughton Suspension Bridge, which at the time was only five years old. They never made it across. Wikipedia explains what went wrong:
The soldiers, who were marching four abreast, felt it begin to vibrate in time with their footsteps. Finding the vibration a pleasant sensation some of them started to whistle a marching tune, and to "humor it by the manner in which they stepped", causing the bridge to vibrate even more. The head of the column had almost reached the [other] side when they heard "a sound resembling an irregular discharge of firearm." Immediately, one of the iron columns supporting the suspension chains on the [first] side of the river fell towards the bridge, carrying with it a large stone from the pier to which it had been bolted. The corner of the bridge, no longer supported, then fell 16 or 18 feet (4.9 or 5.5 m) into the river, throwing about 40 of the soldiers into the water or against the chains.
Thankfully, none of the men died -- the relatively shallow water meant a lot of broken bones and concussions, but no drownings. (That said, another bridge collapse -- in France in 1850 -- resulted in over 200 deaths, although corrosion, stress from a recent storm, and having too many troops on it at once may have contributed more to the tragedy than some coincidental harmonics.) And also thankfully, the architects at the time were able to identify mechanical resonance as the culprit.

As a result, you'll rarely see troops march over bridges in step. The Albert Bridge makes sure of that with its signs, but it doesn't really have to worry any more -- its nearby barracks closed in 2008. 

Knowingly taking placebo pills eases pain, study finds Science Daily

New Blog entitled "Being A Dad" Is Born During the Week as the Sydney Opera House Celebrates its Birthday

"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."
— Confucius, attrib

We feel like parents today in that we are welcoming a new member to borderless blogging family bunch .  Please give a round of applause to Brett Connors ...Thank you

As most readers are aware, is part of the GOOGLE family of websites and Brett has joined today the virtual platform in order to share positive parenthood stories.

Being A Dad (the Blog is still the work in progress ...)

Prior to 20 October 1973 the Opera House was also work in progress ...

Dads and fathers have come a long way since the days when they were distant authority figures. Young dads are showing their determination to outdo their own fathers, by seizing on the role with energy and enthusiasm.

Peter West: "Traditionally, fathers were breadwinners and disciplinarians. Fathers taught their sons how to play football and encouraged their children to “buy a block of land”. I’ve been researching fatherhood for 25 years and, in the past, the traditional role of the father was manifest. But this is changing substantially." How Fatherhood is Changing For the Better ...

Inner Circle of Dads

Dad blog reading list

The stainglass ceiling of the Old NSW Parliamentary Library where Buz Luhrman and Jozef Imrich used to fetch The House of Commons and Lords Hansard (circa 1980s ...)
Motto engraved in the stsinglass states: "Knowledge is the mother of wisdom and virtue"

CODA: In an antisocial organization, there are always good guys and bad guys, but the bad guys might well be considered good guys but the rest of the world.  The enemy to the ethically challenged is anyone who tries to stop them from doing whatever they want.  Another us and them is the organization and the customers and investors it freely exploits to make money.  Yet another us and them divide is between upper management and the people in the rest of the organization whose role is to shut up and keep moving product out the door. Antisocial Organizations Are Like Crime Families by DR. RICK KIRSCHNER on JULY 1, 201

Fake News Focus on Media and Cyber

Last week Sydney had the snakes in the center of the city and today it is covered in bushy smoke ... The suggestion that Peter Mitchell is responsible for the smokey visions is exaggerated.

Telepresence at workplaces  ... How a Facial Recognition Mismatch Can Ruin Your Life Intercept (Brian C). I saw a startup in this area some years back with bleeding-edge tech. It made me really leery. Just the way they conceptualized the problem struck me as too easy to generate false positives (as in the way they look for points on the face to anchor measurements could be distorted by lighting. That’s confirmed more recently by the way mere makeup can defeat facial recognition systems)

Let the fun begin ... Google Blog: “Over the last several years, fact checking has come into its own. Led by organizations like the International Fact-Checking Network, rigorous fact checks are now conducted by more than 100 active sites, according to the Duke University Reporter’s Lab. They collectively produce many thousands of fact-checks a year, examining claims around urban legends, politics, health, and the media itself. In the seven years since we started labeling types of articles in Google News (e.g., In-Depth, Opinion, Wikipedia), we’ve heard that many readers enjoy having easy access to a diverse range of content 
types. Earlier this year, we added a “Local Source” Tag to highlight local coverage of major stories. Today, we’re adding another new tag, “Fact check,” to help readers find fact 
checking in large news stories. You’ll see the tagged articles in the expanded story box on and in the Google News & Weather iOS and Android apps, starting with the U.S. and the U.K…”

"One of the ironies, I think, of the Internet has been the degree to which it's bringing us unprecedented knowledge, but everything on the Internet looks like it might be true. And so in this political season, we’ve seen just — you just say stuff. And so everything suddenly becomes contested. That I do not think is good for our democracy." — President Barack Obama at the White House Frontiers Conference

The most underreported conflict in the world right now ...

In Jerome K. Jerome's novel Three Men on the Bummel, which I recommend quite highly as a classic of Victorian humor by the way, the narrator explains why so many people find journalism an attractive profession:
Of all games in the world, the one most universally and eternally popular is the game of school.  You collect six children, and put them on a doorstep, while you walk up and down with the book and cane.  We play it when babies, we play it when boys and girls, we play it when men and women, we play it as, lean and slippered, we totter towards the grave.  It never palls upon, it never wearies us.  Only one thing mars it: the tendency of one and all of the other six children to clamour for their turn with the book and the cane.  The reason, I am sure, that journalism is so popular a calling, in spite of its many drawbacks, is this: each journalist feels he is the boy walking up and down with the cane.  The Government, the Classes, and the Masses, Society, Art, and Literature, are the other children sitting on the doorstep.  He instructs and improves them.

#RIPJournalism: Trust falls, Gallup 32%, Pew 18%, Facebook 12%, press group 6% Washington Examiner (Phil U). Of course, it’s Trump’s fault.

Naked Capitalism: Getting Through the Stupids to the Important

How Naked Capitalism is the antidote to media short-termism that otherwise allows powerful interests to control information flows.

George Orwell never dreamed of advertising as invasive as Yahoo’s proposal ars technica (

Facebook has repeatedly trended fake news since firing its human editors Washington Post 

AI’s blind spot: garbage in, garbage out Boing Boing 

Tax commissioner Chris Jordan says some Australians have serious questions to answer as a result of the leaked Panama papers Panama papers raised serious questions

Millennials Are Not Lazier Than Boomers RealClearScience (Phil U). S don’t see how anyone can think that. One, young people are always more energetic than older people. Two, everything is massively more time compressed than 30 years ago. Three, people are expected to work all the time unless they are in a blue collar job. Four, juggling multiple jobs is extra work even if it doesn’t show up in pay and way many more young people have to do that than older people did (except in chronically marginal economies like Maine).
What a Pizza Delivery Driver Sees Atlantic (resilc). One of our former tech people was a top Pizza Hut delivery person and got a scholarship. Her nickname was Krash. Derived from the opening sequence in Snow Crash, I assume.

British Banks Keep Cyber Attacks Under Wraps to Protect Image