Dr. Lees said vagrancy, as a biological mechanism, could help migratory birds expand their ranges, a potential advantage as global warming redraws the contours of suitable habitat. Dr. Farnsworth said, conversely, extreme weather — which is anticipated to grow in frequency and intensity as climate change progresses — can also play a role in displacing birds by hundreds or even thousands of miles.
What’s next for the lone, pioneering Steller’s sea eagle? It could migrate along with native bald eagles down the coastline. It could find its way back to northeastern Asia. It could stick around Nova Scotia, as it is well adapted to the cold and seems able to survive there. It could die, out of range of its original flock.
“It’s like an avian soap opera,” Dr. Lees said. “We’re all rooting for it. Will it make it home? Or is it doomed to never see another species of its own in its lifetime?”
I know people who’ve worked there (none of whom are with the company, mercifully) and have heard nothing but fascinating tales of dysfunction, fiefdoms, sinecures, overwork, and bureaucracy. One engineer told me that, of all the bad places he’d worked at, he felt his “soul dying slowly” at Oracle. It’s a generic and very real Evil Corporation™, and probably the company the protagonists in Office Space work at.
And this wouldn’t be too far-fetched a thought. Consider that the producers of Terminator: Genisys, who are an Oracle Co-Founders’s own children, based “Cyberdyne Systems, the fictional defense company responsible for the creation of the evil AI Skynet” on their dad’s company. Amazing.
Some examples: Let’s take our helmets off on an alien planet teeming with life forms we are yet to study. Let’s then just go ahead and touch and electrocute said life forms. And what exactly are David’s motivations? From Wikipedia: “Writer Damon Lindelof stated that the character provides a non-human perspective on the film’s events, and said, ‘What does the movie look like from the robot’s point of view? If you were to ask him, ‘What do you think about all of this? What’s going on? What do you think about these humans who are around you?’ Wouldn’t it be cool if we found a way for that robot to answer those questions?’” Let’s ask these questions, never answer them, and waste Michael Fassbender on this embarrassing shit instead. Oh and if you didn’t know that the ‘Engineers’ in the movie are mad at us and want to destroy us because we killed Jesus, you do now. ↩︎
In 1967, the Films Division of India1 asked all kinds of 20-year olds about their dreams and how they felt about the future of a nation that was, itself, 20 years old. Here’s the original video. A lot of the kids who speak English in the video (starting at 5:00) attend the august Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
A colorized and edited version of that video went viral. Here’s a most fascinating “Where are They Now?” follow-up by the author where he tracks down seven people in the video. It’s a mix of Hindi and English. Lessons learned: Life is way too short, way too fickle, and almost never pans out the way you think it will. Privilege helps a lot.
I’ve been looking for this song for a long while, settling for shitty movie extractions (which are exactly that.) I went to the extent of trying to contact Madras Talkies, the director’s production company, several times to no response or avail.
Twenty four years later, and thanks to the internet, I’ve finally found good versions of this elusive song 🥰
Journalist David Walsh recounting a story about his late son John in the context of his work uncovering Lance Armstrong and the USPS Pro Cycling Team’s “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful”1 doping program.
Summary of Wikipedia article: Japanese kimono didn’t have pockets. They needed something to store their stuff in. So they made containers that they hung from their kimonos’ sashes1. The part that secured the container to the sash at the top was called a netsuke (“root attached”.)
Here’s a really cute one of a sleeping cat from the 19th century 😻
I just ordered a set of “blackout” plates from the DMV here. They’re rather cool and look like this:
I didn’t know that they were actually a solution to a problem. People would take existing, specialized plates for Dordt University and cover them up to look like the blackout plates.
Clever! But led to some unnecessary altercations with law enforcement since doing this was a legal gray area. State Senator Charles Schneider was able to get the mandate for blackout plates included in 2019. Just in that year, the state raised $850,000 through the sale of these plates for the Road Use Tax Fund (simple arithmetic suggests that ~14,000 people ordered them.)
Renay Mandel Corren passed away at 84 a week ago (RIP 🙏). Her son wrote what is one of the best obituaries I’ve read in a while. A small excerpt:
Here’s what Renay was great at: dyeing her red roots, weekly manicures, dirty jokes, pier fishing, rolling joints and buying dirty magazines. She said she read them for the articles, but filthy free speech was really Renay’s thing. Hers was a bawdy, rowdy life lived large, broke and loud. We thought Renay could not be killed. God knows, people tried.
The premise is that there are enchanted forests which contain many (or sometimes very few) talking birds. Smullyan dedicated the book to Haskell Curry - an early pioneer in combinatory logic and an avid bird-watcher. The birds, which I suppose represent the combinators, have an interesting characteristic: Given any two birds A and B, if you call out the name of B to A it will respond by calling out the name of some bird to you.
This bird whose name A calls when you call B is denoted as AB. Once you have several birds in place, a single call can cascade around the forest with each call following rules depending on who produces it.
The very first bird we are introduced to is the Mockingbird whose characteristic behaviour is that whatever name you call to the Mockingbird, it will reply as if it is the bird whose name you called. This is denoted:
Mx = xx
For any bird x we can say that Mx (the result of calling x to a Mockingbird) is the same as xx (the result of calling x to a bird of type x). It really does mock other birds! And what’s more, the existence of the Mockingbird, in combination with various others, unlocks some really fascinating group behaviour from these birds.
Soon we discover that birds have certain properties: The can be fond of other birds, they can be egocentric if they are fond of themselves. The can be hopelessly egocentric if they only ever talk about themselves. There are happy birds, normal birds, agreeable birds and many others. We also meet other types of birds with specific properties - the Lark, the Kestrel, Sage birds, Bluebirds, aristocratic birds, Eagles, the list goes on and on. Luckily there is a Who’s Who list of birds in the back to keep track.
In case that link goes down here’s a cached version. Others include The Man Who Killed Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam, Revenge of the Jedi by David Cronenberg/David Lynch, Heart of Darkness by Orson Welles, and Gladiator 2 by Ridley Scott/Nick Cave. ↩︎
Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
— Law And Governance, The Spacing Guild Manual, Dune
Given the amount of rage I’ve had with awful product design and really, really shitty websites of late. The madness doesn’t stop with the web. On $250 Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, which are comfortable and have lovely sound and the best active noise-canceling I’ve ever experienced, opting to “Disable Voice Guidance” still means that the nice lady inside your headphones will tell you when you dis/connect your Bluetooth device. You gotta toggle a feature in the app to prevent iTunes from launching every time it pairs with your Mac (the Sony folk think this “feature” is “unfortunate” so there’s that at least.) Your headphones can just choose to turn off the moment you turn them on unless you update the firmware. Would you like to share your location? Do you want the Sony app to send you notifications? We’ll need the last four digits of your SSN so we can create a tailor-made listening profile for you. Is that OK? ↩︎
The Chess Sets used at the World Chess Championships cost $350 (plus $700 if you want the electronic piece tracking), are likely out of stock if you’d like one, take a lot of training and practice to make, are woodworked in Amritsar, India, and were designed by Daniel Weil, a former partner at Pentagram.
About half the set’s value lies with the most difficult piece to make: the Knight ♘
I had no idea that he performed at the Hancher Auditorium at The University of Iowa in 1997 and mortified most of a crowd of 1,200 excited kids and their parents who’d come to see him, Darrell Hammond, and Jim Breuer at the height of their SNL fame. The 250 or so who’d remained appear to have had a fantastic time: