A page for people, essays, and other items of interest

Interesting Folk

Nathaniel Comfort’s Genotopia

Alice Dreger

Steve Fuller

Bill Rankin’s Radical Cartography

Larry Moran’s Sandwalk

Alex Wellerstein’s Restricted Data

Nathan Yau’s Flowing Data

Craig McClain’s Science of the South

Thomas Basbøll’s Research as a Second Language

Essays of interest

A short history of Seti@home.

A heartbreaking story of Eudocia Tomas Pulido, a Filipino woman who lived as a slave in the U.S. for six decades.

A story in AeonMag about visiting your leg.

A pretty cool infographic on the history of programming languages.

This essay by Karen Kelsky on leaving academia remains is powerful today as it was in 2011.

NY Times profile of UW sociologist Alice Goffman six months after On The Run kicked up a lot of dirt.

Building computers in Minecraft that obey the laws of physics.

Machines made of water, twin prime theory, and the singular mind of Terry Tao.

Alice Dreger on the branded university.

Sociologist Mark Carrigan has some useful things to say about the “accelerated academy” and the impact of speeding up our thinking to satisfy changing academe over the last thirty or forty years.

Discover Mag has a decent article showcasing the scariness that is prescribing steroids to combat city-induced asthma, and how it almost ended in suicide for one young woman. Psychologists and psychiatrists, take note (paywall).

Here, enjoy this DNA analysis of the NYC subway system and its 48% unknown composition.

Mapping Brazil’s largest slums by hand.

A little bit in the Chronicle on a plagiarism case at the U  of Arizona. Will be interesting to see this develop. Hope she gets canned.

A nice piece on Russian smoke jumpers and their history of firefighting at NatGeo:

Stuart Schrader, a PhD Candidate in American Studies over at NYU, has a nice piece in the Jacobin about the almost-symbiotic relationship between domestic policing and empire in American history.

PZ Meyers has a piece over at Pharyngula on taxing Harvard’s 32b endowment. He’s against it. While generally I agree with his logic (costs getting passed on to students, not an effective way of changing higher ed), I have to point out that part of project has to be suggesting alternatives, even if they’re only a little less bad. And it can’t be “suggest donors give their money to smaller school.” So what’s the solution PZ?

Two great (if a little dated) pieces in the new issue of Nautilus: On the Loeb-Leopold case, and modeling epidemics using World of Warcraft.

When a radiation safety specialist turns to making coffee, you get The Black Blood of The Earth.

Eric Jarosinki, editor of Nein, on the what, the why, and the occasional how.

Excellent read over at Motherboard on the privacy rights of cyborgs.

Magnus Carlsen on the mental processes of chess.

Where does your state’s electricity come from?

My book chapter on the history of athletics drops tomorrow in Robert Sternberg’s The Modern Land Grant University, published by Purdue University Press.

The Amazon Fire is the dirtiest smartphone.

Craig Smith, a security researcher from Theia Labs, has released Car Hacker’s Handbook 2014. Download it for free here.

You could without any additional work replace philosophy with history in this piece. We are at a precipice, and to find a solution we must work together.

Devolution rhetoric is always sexy and mostly always the result of bad science mixed with the bias of a (historically imperial) western gaze.

Darwin’s Beagle library has been posted online, for the world to enjoy. Well done, world.

History of science is taking the neuro turn more and more seriously, according to the most-accessed articles of the last three months in Isis.

Nazi’s “perfect Aryan” poster child revealed to be Jewish, via the Telegraph.

Nautilus Mag has a killer piece on hybridization and the emergence of “grolar bears” and “narlugas” as the arctic environment undergoes radical transformations.

Migaloo, the only known all-white humpback whale, was recently spotted off the coast of Australia!

Every time Steve Fuller gives a talk that gets posted up, I lose an hour of work. Here he is, giving a keynote at the Networked Learning Conference titled, “Lecture 2.0”

Third data server from the sun, again from

Ettore Majorana, the disappearing physicist, over at

Chris Renwick, Steve Fuller, and Stephen Casper engage in a wonderful debate surrounding social biology and the development of the welfare state in the July 2014 issue of Philosophy of the Social Sciences.

Steven Bellovin has a great new article out on the chronology of crypto and the invention of the one-time pad.

2013-14 Faculty in Higher Education Salary Survey by Discipline, Rank and Tenure Status in Four-Year Colleges and Universities conducted by The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

Important considerations for graduate students on the market realities of turning one’s dissertation into their first published book, via University of Illinois’ Program for Research in the Humanities.

Ten-year editor of Isis Bernard Lightman on the 5 most influential Isis articles of all time.

Steve Fuller on the project that is Wikipedia.

Using math to solve all the problems.

Carl Sagan reading from Pale Blue Dot. Doesn’t get much better than that.

A text version of FDR’s fireside chat May 7 1933, outlining the New Deal, is here if you are curious.

A very excellent article by the New Yorker on Soylent by Lizzie Widdicombe, here.

A fascinating article on the tech bubble at xconomy: “Obviously, inequality is the issue of the day. Economist Thomas Piketty’s finding that capitalism, in the absence of progressive taxation, tends toward oligarchy, is now cocktail-party conversation around the world. That’s a good thing—it’s far more useful than debating whether the big banks deserved to be bailed out in 2008-2009. What I’m saying is that technology isn’t necessarily a leveling force, as many of its successful purveyors would like us to believe; in fact, it probably contributes to inequality by undermining wage growth for less-skilled workers.”  

A great piece from David Brooks at the NYT on deep reading, big ideas, and living life, when Historian Isaiah Berlin met Russian poet Anna Akhmatova  :

A perfect read if you want a nuanced and beautifully written representation of what will likely be the next generation of opposition against neo-environmentalism and techno-liberalism. Oh, and an interpretation that’s going to prove completely and utterly mistaken and wrong. Teaser: in the end he sides with the Unabomber.

One of my favorite short stories of all time. Terry Bisson’s 1990 “They’re Made out of Meat.” 

Yesterday morning, Paul Ryan introduced a budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2015 which eliminates all government funding for the NEA, the NEH and PBS. Here’s the relevant language from page  51: “Encourage Private Funding for Cultural Agencies. Federal subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting can no longer be justified. The activities and content funded by these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government. These agencies can raise funds from private-sector patrons, which will also free them from any risk of political interference.” Now, this has no chance in hell of passing, but still. You’re not going to see a lot of commentary on politics here, but you can bet your beans eliminating funding for the NEH gets a lot of people riled up. What is he, and the party leadership, thinking? Go here if you’re interested in voicing your discontent to whomever is your public official:

So there’s a robot named Baxter developed by Rethink Robotics who just worked 2,160 straight hours on an assembly line in PA. But that’s not the big news. The big news is that Baxter only costs $25,000. Do the math. At $11.57/hour, human workers just became obsolete. Granted, in a specific setting, doing a specific job. But that’s a big deal. The future is now.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY INTERNET. To celebrate, here’s TB-L’s original Information Management: A Modest Proposal

the time two people lived in caves for months, all for science

the evolution of bomb disposal

how one man beat the mackworth clock

great moments in bicycle-powered warfare

the history of the universal purchase code

the u.s. built a cuban twitter to undermine castro

if world war one were a bar fight

200 years of american history in one gif

the evolution of the atmospheric diving suit

1924 predicted the future of drone warfare

spontaneous generation in the 1950s

the cobb county, ga, martian hoax was caused by a monkey

airships, zepplins, and dirigibles throughout history

ten failed utopian cities that influenced the future

miss unsinkable: the woman who survived the titanic, the britannic, and the olympic sinkings

the mad gasser of mattoon

how the colors got their names

a history of invisibility and the future of camouflage

the minnesota starvation experiment from world war two

a pack of 40 historical photos you should check out

the greatest rocket scientist who ever lived

nasa photographs, 1964-1983

david brin on neo-reactionaries and pyramid-shaped societies

the allies at anzio: previously unpublished life magazine photos of the italian campaign 

the most accurate prediction of the atomic bomb was in 1915 by Arthur Train and Robert Wood

photos of the united states in 1900

redditor finds photos from grandparent’s of challenger in 1986

the bone wars, and how brontosaurus became a dinosaur even though it’s not

why overreliance on refrigeration is making us less safe

The nasogenital reflex

how london was redesigned to survive wartime blackouts

a better version of the milgram experiment: the hofling hospital experiment

a map of 19th c. shipping routes

bizarre, animal-human hybrids of the 1930s

the greatest newspaper correction every written (49 years too late)

how robert goddard almost killed spaceflight

700 maps from the history of the united states

the wacky history behind Plutonium’s chemical abbreviation

vintage posters promoting the American library

when the soviet union spent a billion dollars on “unconventional research”

alan turing finally gets his pardon

time beach, missouri, where the roads were paved with cancer

neat inventions of the past

twelve maps of america before we knew what american looked like

alfred loomis and his death ray

large-scale landforms made by animals

british parachuting dogs of world war two

the sculpture on the moon

a compendium of secret nazi weapons

how saint nick may have looked

nature’s twenty tips for evaluating scientific claims

spending a year in bed for science

an 1871 treaty and the importance of proper grammar

why people think friday the 13th is unlucky

manhattan project photos from the birth of the atomic age

architectural breakthroughs that changed the world

the rise and fall of arpanet in one gif

Douglas Engelbart demonstrates the computer mouse, almost 50 years go

scientists listened to the heartbeat of a prisoner as he was executed

interactive exploration of the sounds of 1920s New York

on why the “selfish gene” should die as a concept

the ape and the child: a research project conducted in orange park, florida, 1931-2

the launch code for u.s. nukes was 00000000 for 20 years

data whisperers and uncovering bad science

how braille was invented

the most devastating maritime disasters in history

concrete arrows pointing the way across america

the nedelin disaster

secret research submarine of the cold war

archive of the liberator, “arguably the greatest radical magazine ever produced in America.”

another set of soviet propaganda posters

hypothetical cold-war weapons of the soviet union

anti-communism propaganda posters

history of gunpowder

the animated life of alfred russell wallace

16th-c. ice superhighway in china

cow tunnels of nyc

what nyc sounded like in the 1920s

that time doctors tried to turn the pope into a vampire

a HUGE list of WWII aircraft photo

alternate histories of san francisco

the world’s first computer programmer was a woman living in England in the 1830s

230-year old infographics

soviet plane-spotting headgear in 1917

strange snapshots of police and emergency procedures from the past

in 1939, the British Interplanetary Society wanted to land on the moon

famous historic photographs transformed by color

tragic photographs of disasters that happened before 1920

the strange and wonderful history of diving suits

500 years of rare science illustrations

soviet space program propaganda posters part 2

soviet space program propaganda posters part 1

Gustav Luchy’s mosquito machine

time-traveling photos

when pets get drafted

an illustrated history of camouflaged ships

how presidential elections are impacted by a 100 million year-old coastline

boozy snapshots of american life under prohibition

creepy abandoned asylums


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s