Following his retirement, Oklahoma’s preeminent television meteorologist Gary England appeared on The Colbert Report. It was fun seeing someone I’ve watched since childhood, and who in part led to my interest in meteorology, on such a cool show.
To commemorate the interview, I made a couple of fun websites: Sleet Thunderslush and Windy Rains. You’ll have to watch the video to understand the context.
I would also suggest you read this great New York Times article that details the “Weather God of Oklahoma”.
Maia Weinstock, writing for Scientific American, on LEGO’s recently unveiled minifig, Professor C. Bodin:
She is the first female lab scientist in LEGO minifig form, although her specialty is deliberately vague. She might look like a chemist, but reading her official bio, one gets the sense she could equally be a biologist, biophysicist, materials engineer, theoretical physicist, or roboticist
Weinstock details LEGO’s historical stereotypes surrounding their female minifigs, and why releasing a female scientist continues a positive trend from the company.
WeatherBell’s Joe Bastardi, formerly of AccuWeather, made an ass of himself this past weekend. Bastardi decided to tweet following the announcement that the May 31 tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma was downgraded from an EF-5 to an EF-3:
Regardless of what intensity the National Weather Service assigned to the tornado, there were over 20 fatalities1 that resulted from the storm - including children. Bastardi showed that he cared more about making a self-congratulatory, non-scientific, political opinion than he did about the victims. That makes him the Jerk of the Week.
As a meteorologist, I’m embarrassed that he has any association with our field.
this post is about another, more subtle happy moment in the lifecycle of a paper: it’s that email you get, when the production team sends you a PDF and you first see your paper in its typeset form. This the final form with which your work will enter the scientific record. And, it’s beautiful!
We believe that a scientific paper can be a thing of beauty in its own right. Which is why for our inaugural post, I opened the archives and took a closer look at the design trends and beautiful papers from the past 350 years.
There is nothing like seeing your work in its final form. As Washietl details, the typography and layout of that work yield a form that is gorgeous.
The Oatmeal nails it again.
Laura Northrup, Consumerist:
Sure, you can drink beer. If you encase it in dough, you can even deep-fry it. Until now, though, we’ve been unable to spread beer on other foods, having to content ourselves with delicious but non-alcoholic substances like butter or Nutella. No longer.
Dip your pretzels in spreadable beer. Two birds. One stone.
Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, with photos from the 2013 Red Bull Illume contest:
The winners have just been announced in the 3rd edition of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest photo competition. The overall winner, top 10 category winners and top 50 finalists were unveiled at a ceremony in Hong Kong earlier today. The contest invited photographers to submit images of the world of action and adventure sports in one of 10 categories, including Energy, Illumination, Sequence, and Experimental (where digital manipulation is allowed).
Some of these are really great. I’m particularly fond of the surfing photos.
A very handy directory that provides links so that you can more easily delete accounts from various online services.
Justine Sharrock, BuzzFeed, asked prisoners at California’s San Quentin State Prison about the internet - something most of them haven’t ever used:
It is illegal in the United States for federal prisoners to go on the internet. Most prisoners who have been serving long sentences in prison have never been online. Some inmates have managed to go online through illegally smuggled cell phones. But most of them haven’t tried out smartphones, apps, or instant messaging. Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp are vague concepts. The idea that apps can know where you are or remember your information sounds like sci-fi. They hear about these things from friends, television, and magazines, but it’s hard to conceive what they are and how they have transformed the world.
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech today, here is an interesting tidbit about someone you might not think of as a civil rights activist. Ken Gewertz, in a 2007 piece for the Harvard Gazette, shares several anecdotes about Albert Einstein and his push for racial equality:
Here’s something you probably don’t know about Albert Einstein.
In 1946, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist traveled to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the alma mater of Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall and the first school in America to grant college degrees to blacks. At Lincoln, Einstein gave a speech in which he called racism “a disease of white people,” and added, “I do not intend to be quiet about it.” He also received an honorary degree and gave a lecture on relativity to Lincoln students.
J. Dana Stuster, writing for Foreign Policy:
This is what data from a world in turmoil looks like. The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979, according to its website, and is updated daily.
John Beieler, a doctoral candidate at Penn State, has adapted these data into striking maps, like the one above of every protest recorded in GDELT — a breathtaking visual history lesson.
Stuster goes on to discuss the limits of the animation. For instance, the nature of each protest is not conveyed in a meaningful way. Still, it is a very interesting project.
(note: click on the little “x” in the upper-right of the web page if it prompts you about a membership)
Ben Orlin introduces us to a scenario in which an engineer, mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, and economist must split the check after a lovely meal. The tale starts with a discussion of taxes (the remainder is equally harrowing):
Engineer: Remember to tip 18%, everybody.
Mathematician: Is that 18% of the pre-tax total, or of the total with tax?
Physicist: You know, it’s simpler if we assume the system doesn’t have tax.
Computer Scientist: But it does have tax.
Physicist: Sure, but the numbers work out more cleanly if we don’t pay tax and tip. It’s a pretty small error term. Let’s not complicate things unnecessarily.
Engineer: What you call a “small error,” I call a “collapsed bridge.”
Economist: Forget it. Taxes are inefficient, anyway. They create deadweight loss.
Mathematician: There you go again…
Economist: I mean it! If there were no taxes, I would have ordered a second soda. But instead, the government intervened, and by increasing transaction costs, prevented an exchange that would have benefited both me and the restaurant.
Anna Gunn, in an Op-Ed for The New York Times, on how playing Skyler White has revealed society’s view of traditional gender roles:
I enjoy taking on complex, difficult characters and have always striven to capture the truth of those people, whether or not it’s popular. Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” wanted Skyler to be a woman with a backbone of steel who would stand up to whatever came her way, who wouldn’t just collapse in the corner or wring her hands in despair. He and the show’s writers made Skyler multilayered and, in her own way, morally compromised. But at the end of the day, she hasn’t been judged by the same set of standards as Walter.
As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch. But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or “stand by her man”? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?
It’s notable that viewers have expressed similar feelings about other complex TV wives — Carmela Soprano of “The Sopranos,” Betty Draper of “Mad Men.” Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol.
Gunn goes on to describe how the hatred toward her character has transferred toward her personally. It’s sad, but not very surprising. Just think about a typical professional environment. A man who is cut-throat and willing to do whatever it takes to advance his career is regarded as a driven person. The same traits executed by a female will garner her with the “bitch” monicker.
Professor Adam Frank, in a smart Op-Ed for The New York Times:
In 1989, when “climate change” had just entered the public lexicon, 63 percent of Americans understood it was a problem. Almost 25 years later, that proportion is actually a bit lower, at 58 percent.
The timeline of these polls defines my career in science. In 1982 I was an undergraduate physics major. In 1989 I was a graduate student. My dream was that, in a quarter-century, I would be a professor of astrophysics, introducing a new generation of students to the powerful yet delicate craft of scientific research.
Much of that dream has come true. Yet instead of sending my students into a world that celebrates the latest science has to offer, I am delivering them into a society ambivalent, even skeptical, about the fruits of science.
Frank goes on to detail the many examples in which the public has been misguided into believing non-existing controversies. A main reason for the recent distrust or dismissal of the process, in my view, revolves around the politicization of science and the media’s infatuation with false equivalency.
An interesting set of mugshots from the 1920s. Crimes included selling opium, murder, and stealing an umbrella. Based on these photos, I’d argue that fashion for men has somewhat digressed in subsequent years, while the opposite is true for women.
(via: my sister, Melissa)
A clever parody site from DataCoup that pokes fun at the NSA’s data collection practices.
Maciej Winiarczyk’s awesome video made it on NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day:
Why would the sky still glow after sunset? Besides stars and the band of our Milky Way galaxy, the sky might glow because it contains either noctilucent clouds or aurora. Rare individually, both are visible in the above time lapse movie taken over Caithness, Scotland, UK taken during a single night earlier this month.
Do yourself a favor - go fullscreen and blast the music.
Matthew Butterick released a full-fledged book on typography and published it exclusively online. Readers can access everything for free. Butterick is relying on people to help pay for the work through font purchases or PayPal donations. I’ve just started reading - it’s really good. Here is a quick blurb that introduces the book’s motivation:
You might be a programmer, writing documentation for a new software tool.
You might be a scientist, writing a proposal for a research grant.
You might be a lawyer, writing a brief for court.
When we think of “professional writers,” maybe we think of novelists or journalists. But the programmer, the scientist, the lawyer—and you, if your work depends on presenting written ideas—all deserve to be called professional writers.
But as professional writers, we do more than write. We edit, we format, we print, we generate PDFs, we make web pages. More than ever, we’re responsible for delivering the written word to our readers. So we’re not just writers—we’re publishers.
Typography is the visual component of the written word. And being a publisher of the written word necessarily means being a typographer.
This book will make you a better typographer.
A really cool interactive tour from The New York Times that illustrates the many changes in New York City over the past twelve years:
From buildings to bike lanes to painting over Broadway, how the city changed in 12 years of Bloomberg
TwistedSifter has compiled their favorite photos from a subreddit that colorizes old black and white photos:
When we see old photos in black and white, we sometimes forget that life back then was experienced in the same vibrant colours that surround us today. This gallery of talented artists helps us remember that :)
Below you will find a collection of some of the highest rated colorized images to date on r/ColorizedHistory.
The Hindenburg photo is astonishing.