Wednesday, 11 Jul 2018

Thirty Years of Trump & Russia  

Donald & Ivana Trump, Saint Petersburg, 1987

New York Magazine has published an extensive piece by Jonathan Chait looking at Donald Trump’s thirty plus year relationship with Russia. If you have any interest in the ongoing Russia collusion investigation, this is worth reading.

Early in the article, Chait posits a sobering thought:

…suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. If that’s true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency. It would mean the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan’s party’s abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.

Also worth reading is the evaluation of Chait’s article by Tom Nichols from Politico Magazine. In his words, “Thirty years of contacts with Russia are hard to dismiss as a series of disconnected events”.

Friday, 6 Jul 2018

Memorising Piano Music  

Jocelyn Swigger gives a great TEDx talk on how she memorises complex piano pieces.

I’ve played piano for years but I’ve never taken the process of learning to this level of detailed analysis.

Thursday, 5 Apr 2018

2001: A Space Odyssey, how well did it predict the future?  

Fifty years after the release of Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stephen Wolfram makes a detailed analysis of how the future predicted in the film compares to the world today.

One of the most obvious is that the haircuts and clothing styles and general formality look wrong. Of course these would have been very hard to predict. But perhaps one could at least have anticipated (given the hippie movement etc.) that clothing styles and so on would get less formal. But back in 1968, I certainly remember for example getting dressed up even to go on an airplane.

This is a great read with lots of observations I would never have considered.

Tuesday, 20 Mar 2018

Why I Hate Facebook  

The New York Times continues to peel back the layers on the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica debacle. I’ve never trusted Facebook, never will, yet literally billions of people do. The quote below is just one example of why I dislike them so much.

…This wasn’t a breach in the technical sense. It is something even more troubling: an all-too-natural consequence of Facebook’s business model, which involves having people go to the site for social interaction, only to be quietly subjected to an enormous level of surveillance. The results of that surveillance are used to fuel a sophisticated and opaque system for narrowly targeting advertisements and other wares to Facebook’s users.

Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.

I fucking hate Facebook, did I mention that already?

Thursday, 8 Mar 2018

Blade Runner 2049 VFX Breakdown  

Framestore, recent Oscar winners for Best Visual Effects on Blade Runner 2049, share a number of videos showing the breakdown of their visual effects on various movies. The breakdown on Blade Runner 2049 is worth watching, the detail of the modelling and the sheer scale of the environments is stunning.

Wednesday, 21 Feb 2018

Mechanical Crustaceans  

Steeven Salvat has created a series of incredible detailed drawings of various crustacens showing cutaway mechanical internals. Even the paper he uses is hand made and tinted with tea to create a vintage look.

Monday, 19 Feb 2018

God's Plan  

Drake's new video for his single God's Plan is great - $996k can make a lot of people happy.
Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017

Drowning in Garbage  

The Washington Post has an eye opening article by Kadir van Lohuizen about the planet’s garbage crisis.

By 2050, there will be so much plastic floating in the ocean it will outweigh the fish, according to a study issued by the World Economic Forum. Scientists estimate that there are at least 5.25 trillion plastic particles — weighing nearly 270,000 tons — floating in the oceans right now.

The article looks at six cities around the world, Jakarta, New York, Lagos, Tokyo, Sao Paulo amd Amsterdam.