Thursday, December 12, 2013

Best of the Week #115

Dear First Semester of Grad School,


Oh that’s right! I dropped off the face of the (internet) earth just before Thanksgiving, and now, one gargantuan project, one paper, and that damn exam later, I’m finally resurfacing. I currently feel some combination of relieved and overwhelmed -- I have learned all the things, analyzed many things, written a few looong things, and presented a thing. I cannot believe how much happened in just one semester! And how much more I know! And how many new things I can do! And now my brain is tired.

But for reals, this is how I felt as I finished my Role of Force 3-hour comprehensive exam exactly one hour ago:

(And clearly I mean "swagger" in a functions of force sense...)

If all goes according to plan, I will soon be sleeping in Sister 2’s apartment in Mill Valley, CA, looking forward to three whole weeks of no required work. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also been having a lot of fun along with the schoolz. As far as I can tell, grad school is about working crazy hard with crazy smart people, and then going to/hosting house parties. I am a fan.

But I am also a fan of pure 100% vacation. So to kick this one off right, here is your Best of the Week/month. I have been compiling this list for a while, so get psyched!

On a serious (-ly awesome) note:
“There is no passion to be found in playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -- Nelson Mandela

I want to marry this guy. For reals. BEST of the week. (You can read the poem here.)

Two parts hilarious, one part horrifying. "This Smart Bra Will Stop You From Eating Your Feelings. Ladies, Rejoice!"
  • According to the BBC, the blueprint “contains removable sensors that monitor heart and skin activity to provide an indication of mood.” The bra takes your EKG and feeds it to an app on your phone, which then counsels you to avoid the refrigerator, because you’re stressed, or to go ahead and cross the kitchen threshold. (You’re calm! You can handle it.) 
  • On the other hand, sometimes you think you know what you’re feeling but you really just need your bra to brasplain it to you, otherwise you will eat all the things.
I want to go to here so bad. So bad. Baikal Lake, Siberia, that is.

Satellites are just so freaking cool. “I'm Not Just Gaming, Ma! I'm Helping The World's Farmers
  • Here's how it works: Go to the site, and you see a satellite image with the question, "Is there any cropland in this red box?" 
  • "We know, for example, in Africa, there are huge yield gaps. This means you could produce much more food in certain places in Africa, but we don't even know where exactly the cropland is," Geo-Wiki's project lead, Steffen Fritz, tells The Salt. "So because we don't know where the cropland is, we don't know where the best investments could be made in terms of increasing production. So the first step is a very good cropland map."

For Sister2: "Amazing Goats Climb a Near Vertical Dam."

"5 Maps That Could Help Solve Some of the World’s Most Daunting Problems"
Incredible maps on slum infrastructure in Kibera, financial services in Nigeria, and disaster planning in Jakarta's Flood Zone, to name a few.
  • Enter Spatial Collective and Map Kibera. These two organizations, a company and a nonprofit, are mapping a Kenyan mega-slum called Kibera—the name is derived from a word meaning “jungle”—according to how its 200,000 inhabitants actually navigate it. The maps started with crowdsourced landmarks important to locals: water taps, schools, pharmacies. Residents with Internet access were invited to add to an open source map; others contributed data by SMS or attended community workshops, where they wrote on giant empty maps.
  • Spatial Collective overlays these community-generated maps with official data. One project tacked on sewer-line data (depicted here) from Nairobi City Water to find the most valuable spots to build new public toilets. Another mapped community-reported crime data to help the World Bank understand where to place safety interventions like lamps. These kinds of projects make Kibera more legible to its inhabitants and to outsiders.

I am very confused by the fact that this exists...but happy it does. "Russian Army Choir performs "Get Lucky"" Seriously, this is a must-watch.

How are climbing holds made? Well now let me tell you!

  • Chances are, if you’ve elected to read this article, you’re a rock climber. Another assumption is that you have most likely climbed at a climbing gym or at least have an understanding of what a climbing gym is. These facilities come in all shapes, sizes and are made up of a variety of materials such as fiberglass, plywood, concrete and plastic, to name a few. While every gym may look different, there is one thing that nearly all climbing gyms have in common; they all use climbing holds.
  • In recent years climbing has become one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. In 2013, climbing had a 25% increase in new participation with 1.6% of the entire population taking part in Sport Climbing, Bouldering or Indoor rock climbing.
  • I caught up with Peter Juhl, shaper and owner of Brooklyn-based, hold company Urban Plastix, to talk to him about how his company and where he sees the future of the climbing hold industry heading. 
I know this is old news, but I love this version of "Royals." "Florida State University AcaBelles Rock Lorde's 'Royals' A Cappella."

For those of you still in school: "Finals Week, as Told by Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis." My personal fave:

"The best examples of street art in 2012 (48 pictures)"

"What Eating Can Tell You About The People Around You"
  • 2. If Someone Tries Something They're Afraid To Eat...They'll also try things they're afraid of in life. Like ballroom dancing, sky-diving, learning a foreign language and speaking in public. These people are fun. Eat with them.
  • 5. If Someone Chews With Their Mouth Open...... They think they are above you and that the rules don't apply to them. (No seriously, this one is science.)
"English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet"
  • Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
  • You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet—explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I'm late because YouTube. You're reading this because procrastination. As the language writer Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: "'Because' has become a preposition, because grammar." 
This is so cool. I mean really, SO COOL. It's a dynamic map of Africa, showing ALL OF THE DATA on fatalities, heat-map style. Below is a screenshot, if you go to the site you can hover over each incident and see details. (#NerdAlert.) The main site is here -- well worth exploring.

This is exactly how I feel about meetings. "Paul Graham Explains Why Meetings Thwart the Flow of Creativity."

This is amazing. Particularly relevant since I spend a significant amount of my morning writing every single thing I have ever known about nuclear doctrine. "Time lapse map of every nuclear explosion ever."
  • Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing”the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.

On a much less serious note, this corgi knows exactly how I feel about being done with school!

To all my Fletcher friends (an any/all other students out there), GOOD LUCK WITH FINALS YOU ARE CHAMPIONS!