Contemplations – 2

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2013

360 view of the Aurora Borealis dancing above Östersund

The night sky above Östersund Sweden filled with streaming green light⩘  by Astrophotographer Göran Strand. Stunning.

http://astrofotografen.se⩘ 

Does money make you mean?

Short answer: Yes! But we can get past this through awareness. A talk by Paul Pitt. "Small psychological interventions, small changes to people's values, small nudges in certain directions, can restore levels of egalitarianism and empathy."

http://www.ted.com⩘ 

Libraries are the most important public buildings

Excellent interview in de zeen magazine with architect Francine Houben of Dutch studio Mecanoo about the future of libraries, centered around the amazing new library in Birmingham. I'm jealous!

http://www.dezeen.com⩘ 

500 Days Alaska to Argentina - The Modern Motorcycle Diaries

A truly mesmerizing point-of-view video of an 82,459-mile motorcycle journey.

https://www.youtube.com⩘ 

Is Chris Hadfield the most awesome astronaut ever?

He certainly has shared the awe of his experience aboard the International Space Station with us in exceptional ways, from his many incredible photographs⩘  and videos⩘  to the fun science experiment he performed that was designed by grade 10 Lockview High School students (Wringing out Water on the ISS - for Science!⩘ ) to his continuous engagement with Earthlings⩘ . But I think he really outdid himself today by making and sharing this music video as the finale of his journey in space (he's scheduled to return to Earth tomorrow evening). Bravo Commander Chris!

https://www.youtube.com⩘ 

Savin' a whale

I've been looking around the fascinating Stuff section⩘  of Jeff Bridge's website this afternoon and came across a truly amazing video he links to. Watch it full screen.

https://www.youtube.com⩘ 

A Boy and His Atom: The World's Smallest Movie

Astonishing.

Video: https://www.youtube.com⩘ 
Article: http://www.research.ibm.com⩘ 

Is Google Maps changing our behavior?

I've often wondered about this. I've had some really wonderful unexpected experiences throughout my life at times when I've been "lost." I've also noticed that when I navigate using navigation a phone, I'm more relaxed, but I also don't pay attention to and learn my surroundings as well.

http://www.citylab.com⩘ 

Frozen lighthouse on Lake Michigan

If I saw something like the frozen lighthouse that Tom Gill has photographed in a film, I'd presume it was fake.

http://lapstrake.blogspot.com⩘ 

Cage free and free range sound good, but …

When it comes to chickens and eggs, "cage free" and "free range" sound good, but they don't really mean anything good. The short film The Story of an Egg explains these terms and the currently more meaningful term "pasture raised"" Where our food comes from makes a difference.

https://www.youtube.com⩘ 

Evolution door

A door that opens by splitting in half with the two halves then folding into triangular shapes⩘  by Klemens Torggler⩘ 

https://www.youtube.com⩘ 

The Birth Of A Tool: Damascus steel knife making

A video showing how the John Neeman Tools craftsmen make their Damascus Steel knives⩘  by John Neeman Tools. These are some of the most beautiful handmade tools I've ever seen.

"We use our hands to produce tools that will live on, telling their story in the hands of the craftsmen after us. Each tool we make is born with energy and personality – a love and care that will be felt daily by each craftsman; a resonance from the heart of the tool."

http://www.neemantools.com⩘ 
Music by Foreign Fields: Fake Arms from the album Anywhere But Where I Am⩘ 

We have lost our republic

A talk that Lawrence Lessig gave at Google more than a year ago. This is personally important to me because I had given up on our political system. I felt hopeless. It seemed impossible to me that we can ever fix the viscously corrupting influence of money in politics. Until I watched this video. Now it just seems insanely improbable that we can fix this. And those are good enough odds to at least give it a try.

https://www.youtube.com⩘ 

We need schools, not factories

Professor Sugata Mitra's TED talk about Self Organizing Learning Environments (SOLE - the teacher only raises the question, and then stands back and admires the answer).

Two snippets:

"Encouragement seems to be the key. If you look at ... all the experiments I did, it was simply saying, 'Wow!' Saluting learning! There is evidence from neuroscience: the reptilian part of our brain, which sits in the center of our brain, when it is threatened, it shuts down everything else, it shuts down the prefrontal cortex, the parts which learn. It shuts all of that down. Punishment and examinations are seen as threats. We take our children, we make them shut their brains down, and then we say, 'Perform!'"

"We need to look at learning as the product of educational self organization. If you allow the education process to self organize, then learning emerges. It's not about making learning happen, it's about letting it happen. The teacher sets the process in motion and then she stands back in awe and watches as learning happens. I think that's what all this is pointing at."

http://www.ted.com⩘ 

Neil Harbisson is a cyborg

Fascinating interview with Neil Harbisson, who is a cyborg.

Ted talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_harbisson_i_listen_to_color⩘ 

From the introduction to the article:

"Protruding from his skull is an electronic eye that allows Harbisson, a 30-year-old who was born color-blind, to listen to color. For the past 10 years, the cybernetic device, which Harbisson calls his 'antenna,' has converted light into higher or lower-pitched tones that Harbisson hears through bone conduction.

"In a 2012 TED talk, Harbisson explained that going to an art gallery is like going to a concert and he looks at food in a whole new way: 'Now I can display the food on a plate, so I can eat my favorite song.'

"Harbisson, an artist and co-founder of the Cyborg Foundation, argues that technology can endow humans with an endless number of new senses and abilities that expand what they feel and, consequently, what they know about the world. While some speculate about the possibility of a sixth sense, Harbisson dreams of helping us attain a 13th or a 14th sense.

"'We don't depend on natural evolution anymore,' Harbisson explained. 'We can evolve during our lifetime and we can evolve in the way we wish.'"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com⩘ 

A related video with Neil Harbisson of the Cyborg Foundation: http://vimeo.com⩘ 
Funniest line: "I enjoy making portraits from hearing the sound of well-known faces. Prince Charles, for example, despite what you might think, sounds really good."

NASA: Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun

Still from the video of the solar flare showing a tiny Earth to scale

This is one of the most exquisite videos I've ever seen, and the music is equally beautiful. It alters my perception of life a little to have this vision in my mind's eye of the sun out there roiling and broiling away, sending out the light and warmth that makes our lives possible.

The song is titled Thunderbolt by Lars Leonhard⩘  and it's available to purchase via Bandcamp⩘ .

http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov⩘ 

Sublime artisans of the geometric

Exquisite wooden puzzle and glass-topped end table with incredible wooden geometric base

I came across the most amazing website this week. Jane and John Kostick are sublime artisans of the geometric, working in bronze and wood.

http://www.kosticks.com⩘ 

Amazing pano of London from the BT Tower

320 Gigapixels. 48,640 individual frames. The detail is astonishing!

http://btlondon2012.co.uk⩘ 

Lana Wachowski's HRC Visibility award acceptance speech

Wow, very moving speech given by Lana Wachowski when she received the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award.

"I am here because Mr. Henderson taught me that there are some things we do for ourselves, but there are some things we do for others.
"I am here because when I was young I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn't find anyone like me in the world, and it felt that my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others.
"If I can be that person for someone else, then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value."

https://www.youtube.com⩘ 

Texting is fingered speech

I love it when people get it like John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University, does in this short TED talk. His attitude of embracing the new is refreshing.

Article by Ken Fisher: "LOL, texting, and txt-speak: Linguistic miracles⩘ ", Ars Technica, Feb 28, 2013.
Video: John McWhorter: A surprising new language – texting⩘ .

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