Natalie Walchover's "A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature’s Laws" is the most interesting thing I have read about physics in a decade.
Xerox copies used to have a bug that caused them to change numbers in certain copies. Amazing to learn that a machine you think of as a simple copier has software complex enough to have a bug that replaces one digit with another.
Amazing gold necklace found in 7th century grave in Northamptonshire, England.
Count Things is a successful ap that counts things. This page has dozens of examples of the things people count with the ap, looks like lots of warehouse work.
Instead of banning people, social media might one day employ "heavenbanning, the hypothetical practice of banishing a user from a platform by causing everyone that they speak with to be replaced by AI models that constantly agree and praise them, but only from their own perspective."
You can rent the whole Italian village of Petritoli for $1,577 a night, with accommodations for 200.
Coded letter sent by Emperor Charles V in 1547 finally translated, mentions his fear of assassination.
The ten best art installations of 2022.
And fifty great photographs from around the world.
Mitzi Perdue, widow of chicken magnate Frank Perdue, is selling her $50,000 emerald engagement ring, salvaged from a 1622 Spanish shipwreck, to raise money for Ukraine. (NY Times)
Tyler Cowen, Why I am Disillusioned with the Westminster System of Government. Some Americans admire the lack of checks and balances, which allows a party with a good majority to do pretty much whatever it wants. But that of course depends on a party 1) knowing what it wants, and 2) wanting something achievable. "Brexit with no costs" did not qualify. My takeaway would be that any system struggles when the nation is badly divided, and a wide variety of systems could succeed when the nation is unified.
Looks like the US is headed for a nasty flu season.
Wonderful gold leaf artifact from Silla Dynasty Korea.
In New York, a "mental health crisis" on the streets: during the last week of November, 911 dispatchers received on average 425 calls a day for "emotionally disturbed persons," more than double the rate of a decade ago (NY Times). The writer calls for vastly expanded mental health care, but good luck getting voters to pay for it.
Life with 13 golden retrievers. He says it's all happiness but nobody asked him about the hair.
Kevin Drum demolishes a dumb Vox article on the "crisis" of pedestrians being killed by SUVs and vans. It turns out that pedestrian deaths have fallen a lot since 1990; they have risen some lately, but not as much as miles driven. The basic cause of rising pedestrian death tolls in some cities is greater crowding of the roads.
Photographs of unrelated people who look remarkbly alike.
At the New School in New York, adjunct faculty are on strike. (NY Times) True, they are horribly paid and treated, but the university insists they can't afford to pay the adjuncts better. The heavy use of adjuncts is one way many universities have kept themselves alive in the horrible academic climate, and the grim reality is that there are lot more people who want to be professors than there are students who want to take their courses. If these and other adjuncts win and universities actually have to compensate them fairly, the outcome is likely to be that a bunch of schools have to close.
On Russian television, talk about what happens if Russia loses: "everyone will be considered at fault, no exceptions. . . . We will all be found guilty." Which inspired an interesting comment from a German guy who says a bunch of Brits called him a Nazi and chased him out of their town, in 1978. So, yeah, the Russian talking heads are probably right. Not that they don't deserve it.
How Russia spies on Telegram chats in the occupied parts of Ukraine.
Interesting thread on Putin's 7 December speech.
More on the US military's plans to increase weapons production, which will include tripling output of 155 mm artillery shells. Different sources give different numbers for both current and planned production; not sure if that is different ways of counting or disinformation. And here's a list of weapons purchases authorized in the new Defense Authorization Act, including 864,000 155 mm artillery shells and 1,700 missilies for HiMARS.
Drone attrition: "The average life expectancy of a quadcopter remained around three flights. The average life expectancy of a fixed-wing UAV was around six flights."
Crazy short video showing the front line somewhere in the east.
Interesting NY Times story on the divided loyalties in a Ukrainian town where many people are pro-Russian. The town was conquered by Russia in the spring, then recaptured by Ukraine. Some of the people who stayed looted the houses of those who fled – understandable to me, in a town damaged by shelling – and now there is suspicion all around, plus the Ukrainian authorities are hunting "collaborators."
So far the biggest winner from Russia's invasion of Ukraine appears to be Serbia, where 140,000 Russians, 22,000 Ukrainians, and 5,000 Belarussians have applied for residency since February 24. The new arrivals have already launched more than a thousand new compaines.
Igor Girkin, now a convicted war criminal, is back online with a long post explaining that Russia can't win because nobody knows what they are fighting for, and therefore what winning would look like. Russian troops, he says, are too apathetic to achieve any real success.
And Girkin again; apparently someone told him to take a more positive tone, so he goes for full irony.