Jordan is taking orders for custom-made, fleece-and-felt squid body-pillows, in 8' ($75) and 4' ($40) sizes. He's offering a very wide-range of customization options, including firmness, fabric, color, and patterns. Read the rest
One year ago today
Shambling Guide to New York City: The Shambling Guide to New York City is the first volume in a new series of books about Zoe Norris, a book editor who stumbles into a job editing a line of travel guides for monsters, demons, golem-makers, sprites, death-gods and other supernatural members of the coterie, a hidden-in-plain-sight secret society of the supernatural.
Five years ago today
Famous Swedish poet explains why he's voting for the Pirate Party: Swedish poet, novelist and scholar Lars Gustafsson blogged his reasons for voting for the Pirate Party in the next Swedish election to the European Parliament.
Ten years ago today
Red Mars: a very belated appreciation: Because now I've finally read Red Mars, and I am agog at what may be the finest sf novel I've ever read. Red Mars has all the hard-sf window-dressing that many of us imagine when we think of sf: great and accessible tours through speculative cog sci, geology, astronomy, rocketry, physics, biology, genetics, and so on, until the head swims with the sheer scope of the research task Robinson set himself in this book.
But the hard science is just the skin, and the meat of this book -- as with Pacific Edge -- is the "soft" science: the complex play of the community of his vast cast of characters as they set out to advance their competing agendas, writing the future of Mars. Read the rest
James Gill writes, "Cognitive Bias Parade is a site that takes a daily look at deviations in judgement and reconstructed realities. It is an illustrated review of the many ways the brain has evolved to lie to itself. It is not simply meant to scold. The spirit of the project was captured once in a quote by the magician Jerry Andrus: 'I can fool you because you're a human. You have a wonderful human mind that works no different from my human mind. Usually when we're fooled, the mind hasn't made a mistake. It's come to the wrong conclusion for the right reason.'
"I've given a Creative Commons Share-Alike status to my work on the site. I ask only that a link-back be given for my website as credit."
(Above: Observation selection bias... The effect of suddenly noticing things that were not noticed previously – and as a result wrongly assuming that the frequency has increased.) Read the rest
Google has released a report on the gender and ethnic makeup of its employee population, and the data shows that the company overwhelmingly hires white males, surprising approximately nobody. PBS NewsHour received an advance look at the data. On tonight's program, host Gwen Ifill speaks with Lazlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, to discuss the statistics--and the greater problem of how to ensure that more women and diverse ethnic groups become part of the power flow in the tech industry.
Tony Zhou created this fantastic, 7-minute critique of the visual style of comedy in US films, as compared with UK films (especially the films of Edgar "Shaun of the Dead" Wright). Zhou makes a compelling case for the superiority of British sight-gags and visual comedy -- and the fundamental laziness of US directors in their use of visuals to get a laugh.
To hook up some old KLH speakers to my computer, I needed a small amp. First up was the ultra-cheap Pyle PFA100, an allegedly 30-watt amp that's just $25. Though it had controls for treble, bass and tone, and jacks for headphones and a mic, it was so bad that none of it mattered. The Pyle was was noisy, distorted at louder volumes, and picked up radio interference. Even accepting the possibility that I got a lemon, it's clearly junk when you see it in the flesh. Replacing the power brick (as some suggest) did not make a difference.
I next considered trying the Lepai 2020, a similarly-tiny product at an even-tinier price. Though it's got a reputation as surprisingly good for the $20 you'll pay for it, I was dissuaded by the fact that it really does seem identical to the Pyle: the same controls and jacks, all in the same places, as if the only difference was the casing. While it only claims 20W output, suggesting at least some different innards, I decided not to be a sucker twice and opted for the Topping TP10.
Though three times the price, at $65, it's a simpler gadget with no mic or headphone jacks, and no bass or treble to fiddle with: signal in, signal out. It also claims only 15W of output, half that of the Pyle. It's nicer on the eyes, though, with a brushed-metal faceplate and superior knobfeel. Most importantly, it sounded much better than the Pyle, with no audible interference and clean audio at higher volumes. Read the rest
Apple today confirmed plans to buy Beats Electronics, which makes headphones, and Beats Music, a streaming music service, for about $3 billion. As part of the acquisition, Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple. The deal is expected to close in Q42014. Beats and iTunes will reportedly co-exist as separate services.
The confirmed price tag is lower than the $3.2 billion first reported by the Financial Times.
The New York Post, which was first with the news today, says Apple may announce a deal this week--though unveiling the details at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference next week seems more in keeping with tradition. Dre and Iovine are both expected to attend the event.
In Los Angeles, the theft of computers from a county contractor's office that contained personal data for over 342,000 patients has led to a call for tighter security. Read the rest