Friday, January 3, 2014

Best of the Week #116

I looked out my window this morning at 15 inches of snow, heard my roommate mention that it was feels like -20 when she was supposed to leave for work at 5 am (it feels like -14 right now), and thought hmmm so what was it that made me think moving to Boston was a good idea???

I'm not going out there to take a better picture.
Flashback to my brilliant* (*not brilliant) idea of running outside yesterday. There were maybe 4 inches of snow on the ground and more coming out of the sky, but my street was reasonably scraped off, and I knew that it was only going to get worse, so sure, why not run? I regretted that decision SO HARD. I know now that Somerville is significantly better at snow removal than Cambridge -- a lesson I learned by slip-sliding five miles through the snowy snowy streets of Cambridge, only to return to Somerville and see that it was far less bad here. (Still bad though.) All the while I was mentally raging against snow and Boston and New England in general. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

The good news is that school was canceled today...the bad news is that we are going to make it up on Sunday, and therefore will have class six days in a row next week. Le sigh. Pre-session course. I did this to me.

In other news, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your 2013 ended well and your 2014 is off to a good start. If you recall, 6x6, LLCLOTR-Emily, and I dubbed last year The Year to Be Brave. And we were SO BRAVE last year. In so many ways. The four of us spent most of this past year on completely different continents -- Hawaii, US or Asia (Me), Sweden, and South Africa -- made and started some major life decisions (jobs, schools, etc.), and tried many many new things along the way. What’s next? Now that we have been brave and made decisions and taken chances, it’s time to have fun and excel at the things we have chosen to do. So welcome to 2014: The Year to Be Awesome.

Alright enough chatting, let's do Best of the Week!

31 Biggest Dog Fails Of 2013, It was a ruff year.” This one is what will happen to me if I go outside today:

29. This dog who forgot how to dog.

  • "You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, I told him, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.” ― Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
Insanely cool but also kinda creepy: "Best Video Of The Day? MIT's 3-D Remote 'Touching' Device."
  • What it does, The Associated Press writes, is allow a person in one location to move an object somewhere.
  •  "while it's debatable whether we'll ever be able to teleport objects or people around the world at the speed of light, the inFORM system from Tangible Media Group at MIT might be the seeds of the next best thing."
"40 Astonishing Photos That Won Awards In 2013."

  • 32. Honorable Mention, Places - Andrew Lever - ‘Cows And Kites’. “I was driving along the beach highway when I noticed the bulls sunbathing on the empty beach. I initially thought I was seeing things, but no it really was sunbathing cows! I had to park my car a fair distance away and that meant a long walk along the beach in 35-degree heat. It did not matter because I had to get the shot! When I got closer to them I was careful not to spook them so I crawled on my stomach on the hot sand to get a good picture of them. Mission Accomplished! It was worth the effort!” - Andrew Lever
To the horror of most of my friends, I love looking over edges. And mountains. So I'm pretty sure I would love this: "New Glass Room in French Alps Offers Amazingly Scary View." It is incredibly deplorable that I have never been to Europe.

  • On the uppermost terrace of Aiguille du Midi, Europe's highest mountain peak, sits a glass cube that looks like it's suspended in mid-air. Now the tallest attraction in Europe, the structure has five transparent sides made of three layers of glass binded together. Of course, when you step into the box the most vertigo-inducing feeling will come when you look straight down through the glass floor to the dizzying view 3,395 feet (or 1,035 meters) below.
"Scientists say great novels can change brain's biology"
  • A great novel can produce measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading.
  • “The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” Berns said.
  • “We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”
Calling all nerds who love food! Aka me. “The 8 Nerdiest Food Articles of 2013.” I’ve read The New Yorker’sFire Eaters: The Search for the Hottest Chili

Ok one more nerdy thing: "Finding Big Data’s Place in Conflict Analysis."
  • The key question for me becomes: is there a role for Big Data in conflict analysis? Is it something that will empower communities to prevent violence locally, as Letouze, Meier and Vinck propose? Will it be used by the international community for real-time information to speed responses to crises? Could it be leveraged into huge datasets and used to predict outbreaks of violence, so that we can be better prepared to prevent conflict?
  • ...the volume of data coming out of a region goes down as violence goes up; what we end up with is information that is shaped out of the conflict itself. If we rely on that data to be our predictor of conflict likelihood, we have a major logical problem – that data is endogenous to (part of) conflict. 
Well, alright. One more. "Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien: The Iconic Storyteller’s Little-Known, Gorgeous Art." Did you know he illustrated his books? I had no idea! My copies of LOTR and The Hobbit are the old ones, so they have his illustrations!
  • ...few realize that Tolkien, who self-illustrated many of his famous works, was as much an artist of pictures as he was of words.

Kinda silly ("25 New Year’s Resolutions Every Person Should Actually Make For 2014"), but I particularly like # 24: Stop being so shallow. Next time you find yourself judging someone based on his or her appearance, imagine the person standing in front of you saying, “I’m beautiful.” You’ll start to believe it.

Ha! Go Napoleon? "10 Lines From Napoleon's Love Letters That Sound Like Crazy Texts."

  • 1. In a letter to Josephine a few months after they married, Napoleon wrote, “I don’t love you, not at all; on the contrary I detest you – You’re a naughty, gawky, foolish slut.” And that was just the first sentence.
  • 6. Napoleon goes on to let her know that he is nothing without her. “Without his Josephine, without the assurance of her love, what is left him upon earth? What can he do?” We should note that he was the Emperor of almost all of Europe.
  • 10. Napoleon wrote to his brother of his failing love for Josephine. "The veil is torn…It is sad when one and the same heart is torn by such conflicting feelings for one person… I need to be alone. I am tired of grandeur; all my feelings have dried up. I no longer care about my glory. At twenty-nine I have exhausted everything."
  • What makes this one so embarrassing? The British intercepted it and published it in all their newspapers, humiliating Napoleon. Like a teacher reading your note out loud to the class for shock value.
This collection of "No" gifs embodies exactly how I feel about snow (when I'm not skiing). And starting school again. And the massive stack of reading (of the un-fun variety) I have planned for today.

Alright that's all for now. Stay warm out there friends!