Things That Didn't Suck 2016
← December 15, 2016 →
I kept track as the year progressed, so preparing this was substantially easier than in the past.
BOOKS + SHORT FICTION
- The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss - This book will make no sense to you unless you’ve read The Name of the Wind / The Wise Man’s Fear (TTDS 2015), and even then… It’s a weird book. There’s only one alive character. But there are plenty of not-alive objects in the story. IDK, just read it. Also, I love that Vi Hart and Patrick Rothfuss are friends.
- Animal Farm, by George Orwell
I feel like I read more than this, but I cannot remember! I worked a lot this year.
ARTICLES + SERIOUS VIDEO
- The Blood Harvest Possibly the most metal thing I’ve ever heard: we strap down horseshoe crabs and steal their blood for our own healthcare.
- Groundbreaking Computers are revolutionizing paleogeology.
- The Dragnet Stingray Cell-Site operators get caught.Bum-badum-dum. Bum-badum-daDUM. The story you are about to read is true…
- The 30th Anniversary of the Challenger Disaster
- The Crew Fell To Their Deaths Alive and Aware of What Was Happening
- Sally Ride passed Information Regarding O-rings
- Feynman wrote a special appendix to the ultimate report, and it’s the only one that’s easy to read and totally frank.
- An Engineer Still Blames Himself
- What Makes Mathematics Difficult To Learn by Marvin Minsky
- Campaign Against Sex Robots - interesting, but ultimately wrong.
- How New York Gets Its Water
- The Day We Discovered Our Parents Were Russian Spies - the true story The Americans is loosely based on.
- The Curse of the People Who Can’t Stop Making Puns It’s no laughing matter.
- What It’s Like to ‘Wake Up’ From Autism After Magnetic Stimulation
- Aphantasia is when you have a blind mind’s eye. I scored 15/40 (low, but not low enough to qualify as aphantasia) on an abridged test. I’ve noticed that I am extremely bad at visualizing specific colors, or biologically-reasonable motion. I can imagine what it feels like t to kick a soccer ball. But if asked me to draw someone mid-strike, it’d be extremely difficult. I think I could do it, ultimately, but there’d be a lot of injected reasoning and personal experience, rather than transferring a clear image in my mind to the paper. I’m good with directions, and do well at Pictionary, where stick figures or outlines suffice, but that has a lot more to do with abstract communication than faithful visual depiction.
Plaid patterns can change their appearance in da club.
- So Many Research Scientists, So Few Openings as Professor Science is the dumbest thing. I wish my field were one in six!
- Inside the World’s Only Surviving Tattoo Show for Medieval Pilgrims
- Who Will Command the Robot Armies I laughed, but it’s not funny.
- Inside a Moneymaking Machine Like No Other: Renaissance Medallion
- The Last Unknown Man A man is no one.
- Media Lab Director Ito interviews President Obama about AI
- Lego is the Perfect Toy
PHYSICS - SERIOUS
- Black holes are known to have a negative specific heat: they heat up as they radiate! We show how to derive the fact that black holes have negative specific heat from gauge theory and earned an honorable mention for our brief introductory essay.For physicists.
- The holographic principle is the conjecture that certain gravitational theories and certain quantum field theories are equivalent. We numerically computed certain quantities on the gauge theory side and found excellent agreement between gravity and QFT in one example.
- Neutrinoless double beta decay is a hypothetical ultra-rare nuclear decay that could shed light on the fundamental symmetries of Nature. We performed the first calculation of properties of fundamental nuclear physics needed to quantify our expectations.
- Nuclear Physics from Lattice QCD INT-16-1, Institute for Nuclear Theory, Seattle WA, Spring 2016.
- LATTICE 2016, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, July 2016.
- Frontiers in Nuclear Physics, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara CA, Summer 2016.
PHYSICS - FUN
- Why is the integral of 1/x equal to the natural logarithm of x?
- John Baez’s Favorite Numbers: 5, 8, and 24. The lecture on 24 has more details and background on the identity .
- The Difference Between Entropy and Complexity
- 8 Is Enough
- Meat by Terry Bisson. Will computers ever “think like a human”? Perhaps only in the same sense that air planes “fly like a bird”.
- LIGO found gravitational waves.
SPECTRAL GAPis Undecideable - Seth Lloyd and the original authors compare and contrast new results with known results (continued from TTDS 2015).
- Evolution in Action: Lizard Moving From Eggs to Live Birth
- Law & Order SVU - The whole spiel with Benson and the guy she beat the shit out of a few seasons back… man. And the whole thing with Rollins accidentally going under cover? Can’t we just have the tried-and-true rape ⟶ investigation ⟶ trial ⟶ possible sickening loophole.
- Breaking Bad - OK, I get what all the fuss was about.
- Orange is the New Black - Well, that turned pretty quickly.
- Game of Thrones - The Winds of Winter better be damn good if Martin is going to let the TV get so far ahead. I’m still hype for Cleganebowl.
- Sports Night - Sorkin sure does have some go-tos.
- The Secret World of Lego
- GNAR - Ski hooligans turn Squaw Valley into a game. I can’t believe you’re a pro—I’m so much sicker than you.
- Independence Day - I had never seen the original before.
- Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at the Oracle Colliseum, Oakland CA, 2016-03-13 .
- Mavis Staples opened for Bob Dylan at The Greek, Berkeley CA, 2016-06-09. Eh. He can’t really sing any more. I’m glad to cross him off the bucket list. He ended with Freebird.
- Steve Winwood opened for Steely Dan at the Shoreline in Mountainview CA, 2016-06-16. Concert was great. I love Steve Winwood. Steely Dan was exactly what you expect and it was good. No ticket stub, dumb e-ticket.
- Four Organs - It doesn’t really improve at all but I still found myself listening to the whole thing. There are some aural illusions, I think.
- Hey Joe as covered by bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien.
- მამა სერაფიმეს გალობა არამეულ ენაზე The Georgian Orthodox sang for the Pope. I have a hard time imagining what it must have been like to be a serf a thousand years ago and then hearing this.
- Can’t Find My Way Home - Just Steve Winwood and a guitar. Honestly I love just about every variant of this song on YouTube.
- Latin History for Morons - John Leguizamo’s one-man show.
- A Canticle for Liebowitz In 1960 NPR produced A Canticle for Liebowitz (TTDS 2015) by Walter M. Miller Jr. for radio. The story tracks an abbey in the American southwest whose mission is to preserve the Memorabilia—the technical knowlege of the society from before the Flame Deluge—as post-nuclear-apocalypse society comes out of a technological dark age.
- More Perfect - Radiolab covers the Supreme Court.
- The West Wing Weekly - Song Exploder Guy and Will Bailey go in-depth
- In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg (TTDS 2011)
- This American Life
- Planet Money
- 99% Invisible
- Heavyweight The episode with Moby is the best one.
- The Adventure Zone
- San Juan - Like Puerto Rico, but fast.
- Indigo This is basically a head-to-head version of the flash game Entanglement (TTDS 2011), so I predictably LOVED IT.
- Boss Monster You are the villain of an 8-bit video game and you have to make your dungeon dangerous enough to kill the heros the game throws at you. I only played this once but loved the idea and would play it again. The art is perfect and the rules and other box contents feels like an NES game.
- What’s My Word - Mastermind, but for words.
- Velocity Raptor - Special relativity is CRAZY!
- One Night Ultimate Werewolf - I played a perfect round in LA.
- Codenames Easily the best game of the year, and the first Spiel des Jahres winner I predicted in advance.
- Vive VR - I played with a Vive, which is like an Occulus Rift. It was AMAZING. I played a tower defense archery game, where I actually had to nock, draw, and loose. Also some other games. It was SWEET.
- Obduction - I haven’t put too much time in yet, but I’m extremely excited for the latest game from the makers of Myst.
- Skied often in Lake Tahoe, CA. Regained a lot of my confidence on skis after my fall. Still nervous depending on steepness.
- Los Angeles, CA
- Lei Out - Beach Frisbee.
- Jurassic Restaurant which was delicious.
- The La Brea Tar PitsA very redundant name, translating to “The The Tar Tar Pits”. - The most metal science museum?
- Pinnacles National Park - Pinnacles is simply amazing. Craziest damn rocks I’ve ever seen.
- Seattle, WA - Seattle is the best in the spring time.
- Camping in Santa Cruz - Camping at a secret beach campsite.
- Detroit MI for a wedding. Detroit seemed perfectly nice.
- Marine Mammal Center, Marin CA It’s a hospital for seals, sea lions, dolphins, etc. The back-stage tour is fantastic.
- Jülich, Germany - Stayed in Jülich, spent two days in Cologne, one in Bonn. Looking at neighborhoods, getting a feel for the place. Fooled a few people into just speaking to me in Deutsche.
- Southampton, England for LATTICE 2016. Conference went well, learned a lot, had some exciting ideas. Southampton leaves something to be desired, though Stonehenge was great.
- NUCLEAR 16 at Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara, Labor Day in LA, and hiking and kayaking in Santa Cruz on the way down.
- I moved to Köln, Germany!
- Hannover for expat Thanksgiving.
FOOD + DRINK
- Döner Kebap. I don’t know why it ends in a ‘p’, but it does. It’s guuuuuuuuuuuuut. And just a few euro.
- Really cheap ok-quality wine? Like 3€ for a huge bottle.
- Wurst: The Best?
- Kartoffelpuffer. I get to eat latkes all the time? SIGN ME UP.
- Real Life SkiFree
- Confessions of a Tetris Addict - Not quite Ecstasy of Order (TTDS 2015) but made by the Numberphile people.
- Spinning Levers - How a transmission works, explained by Chevrolet in 1936.
- Interview with Arthur C Clarke - He was smart.
- HYPER-REALITY - When we all have digital implants, the world is going to be awesome (wc?).
- Magnets and Marbles - A clever Rube Goldberg machine / marble relay
- Intelevator - Ylvis has a string of funny bits where they add a voice activated “feature” to everyday objects, like an elevator.
- KSK Key Signing Ceremony - The creation of the cryptographic key that secures the domain name system of the internet is a serious, formal, and human activity.
- Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion - Probably the best illusion I’ve ever seen?
- Very Clever 3D Printed Zoetrope - Man I want a 3D printer.
- Memory Lane - Gizmodo gets a tour of LEGO’s vault of all sets ever made.
- Lego Yellow Submarine
- Primitive Technology - This guy… he never says anything to the camera. He uses no words. Just clear filming and editing. He has a piece of remote property in the Australian bush. He builds everything from scratch or using tools he himself has made already. Basically, if the world ends, this guy is going to be fine.
- Never Happened - An 8 minute episode of Black Mirror: what if we could erase our memories easily?
- Is Mir Egal - A funny ad by the Berlin transit authority (turn on closed captions).
- SHAME! - The Soda Stream / Game of Thrones crossover advertisement we’ve all been waiting for.
- Protegion - Stop motion photography + geometry.
- Ice Call - Skiing on and in a glacier.
- DC Wants Statehood - If you don’t support statehood because DC is heavily democratic, I don’t support your right to vote because you’re an unprincipled partisan.
- Nation Elects First Black-Hearted President
- Letter from Leslie Knope
- Michael Moore on Morning Joe - Scarborough waved off every advertising break.
- Historians find German Decree Banishing Trump’s Grandfather
- Are Jews White?
- Millennial Jews Awake to Anti-Semitism
- States Rights for the Left
- But let’s insist that tech vendors insert backdoors into everything!
- What Was Comey Thinking?
THOUGHTS ON GERMANY
- Registration - What is the point of having a unified person registration system if, when they move, they still have to go to the DMV to change their car registration?
- The Poop Shelf - Only the Germans could have invented the poop-shelf toilet. It is really completely inexplicable. I am thankful every day that my home and office do not have them.
- Deutsche Post - I live in the middle of no where. Nobody is going to steal my packages. Just leave them. Don’t make me come to the post office to sign for them! What good is Amazon Prime if I have to go to the post office every time I order something? The line on Saturday morning was 20 minutes long! Fire those 4 Saturday-morning employees and easily recoup the cost of insurance against stolen packages. This is not the only example I have noticed where I think basically everybody would be better off if certain jobs didn’t exist but they’re not eliminated (I assume) out of consideration to the employee.
- Sunday - I imagine it’s great to have a nothing-open-on-Sunday enforcement of getting your errands done on Saturday, if you have family or friends to see on Sunday. If you have nobody, it’s not so good. OK, you can go for a walk. In an emergency you can go to the train station, where, if place you are is big enough, there will be a convenience store and a bookstore.
- Bread - It’s good. It’s cheap.
- Bakery - Standards are high, competition is fierce.
- Quark - It’s like… somebody whipped yogurt?
- Schocolade - Even the chocolate from AldiMore than a 7-11 but not a full grocer, either. is delicious. Also in Köln there is a chocolate museum, whichhaving not yet been, I assume is made out of chocolate and has a memorial to Augustus Gloop.
- Cost of Living - I make less, but I need less too. Fresh-baked rolls for 0,19€. 3€ bottles of wine. Decent 2€ beers in a bar. Gasoline is more expensive. I bought a decent bicycle, not outrageous in cost.
- Water - Seltzer is plentiful. Water is not free.
- Weihnachtsmarkt - Christmas markets are nice. Glühwein, brezeln, sweets.
- Alte Kacke - It’s weird to walk around and then BAM there’s something 1000 years old, or there’s a huge beautiful monument with a carved wreath and then inside the wreath the swastika has been removed.
- Beets - Man, fuck beets.
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