3-2-1 For 10-30-16

Three readings worth your time this week.

Many parents (and other relatives) post millions of pictures of kids on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other places online every day. The co-author of a parenting book wonders if that is an invasion of the child’s privacy. It’s a good question. At least everyone should remember that any materials posted to Facebook is fair game for them to use in ways you may not like. (about 7 minutes)

The Guardian has for you a list from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, 40 things you can stop doing right now. A couple of them are UK-specific, and I’m pretty sure I can never talk my wife into the one about never owning more than 10 items of clothes, but the serious entries are intriguing. (about 6 minutes)

Despite living right outside DC, I don’t pay close attention to the minutia of politics, although it’s hard not to notice during this never ending presidential election. However, New York Magazine’s inside look at the Final Days of the Trump campaign is thoughtful and very compelling. Read it, then go watch some Adult Swim to regain a little sanity. (about 16 minutes)

Two audio tracks for your commute.

For rational members of the 50% or so who believe there is “massive” voter fraud going on in the US, know that it is really, really, really hard to pull off that conspiracy. Really! Listen to this episode of Decode DC for directions on how you too can be a fraudulent voter, and why it’s not happening. (33:02)

The Smithsonian is trying it’s hand at podcasting with one called Side Door. With only two episodes, it’s promising but still a little rough around the edges. But the first episode, titled tech yourself, is worth a listen just for the discussion about how teens use their smartphones. They could have spent the whole program on that topic. (20:00)

One video to watch when you have a few minutes.

You may not think of the Blue Man Group as musicians but the folks at NPR invited them to do a Tiny Desk Concert anyway. It’s very entertaining to watch these performers up close. I want someone to try that Meditation for Winners activity at their next faculty meeting. “Your day won’t get any better than this, I guarantee it.” (13:15)

3-2-1 For 9-25-16

Three readings worth your time this week.

The old adage is that necessity is the mother of invention. But, according to Scientific American, several studies of humans and other animals point to other reasons why they engage in creative activities. One could be that invention comes when people feel secure in their basic needs. Didn’t Maslow make that connection? (about 5 minutes)

Certainly not comprehensive, this guide to your privacy from the Consumerist blog is still a good, concise review of how much control you have in the areas of health, finance, and communications, plus a section children on the internet. Each section also points to the agency you can complain to if something isn’t right. (about 10 minutes)

Many of us try to recycle as much as possible, thinking that the bottles, paper, plastic, and other waste in those bins will actually be reused rather than ending in a landfill somewhere. That may not be the case with those millions of old smartphones and other electronics discarded every year. Motherboard explains that A Shocking Amount of E-Waste Recycling Is a Complete Sham. (about 8 minutes)

Two audio tracks for your commute.

Can better schools improve the economy? Specifically, Springfield, Ohio has reopened the town high school as the Global Impact STEM Academy in hopes it will encourage graduates to stay and bring new high tech jobs to the area. NPR Morning Edition has the interesting, and unfinished, story. (5:48)

The theory that the 1969 moon landing was faked is one of those persistent conspiracies that just won’t die. In a unique approach to the idea, the Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know podcast interviews the director of a new thriller in which two novice CIA agents looking for a Russian mole within NASA find something more sinister. (40:00)

One video to watch when you have a few minutes.

I am a big fan of movie soundtracks. Not the collections of pop songs used in many films,1 but music composed specifically for the production. A Theory of Film Music is a little geeky but is also an interesting analysis of why the music in most modern high profile films (think anything from Marvel) is not particularly distinctive. He doesn’t touch on my favorites, however, the music from Pixar films. (12:14)

3-2-1 For 9-4-16

Three readings worth your time this week.

Remember all the talk from a few years ago about how MOOCs were going to disrupt higher education? Audrey Watters offers a great review of all the hype and attempts to figure out what happened to the MOOC revolution? Spoiler alert: it has to do in part with course completion rates around 15 percent. (about 8 minutes)

To celebrate the opening of a new year in most US schools, The Atlantic published the opinions of a panel of “education experts” on six different topics. The post on homework is an interesting read, and, despite the title of When Homework is Useless, most of the experts felt kids should still be required to complete at least some form of the traditional assignment. (about 5 minutes)

It’s probably only for total geek baby boomers, but I enjoyed this oral history of the 80’s 20-minute-into-the-future media phenomena that was Max Headroom. The program is still entertaining, and possibly even more relevant. (about 30 minutes)

Two audio tracks for your commute.

In a segment of the podcast Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell (whom you may know from books like The Tipping Point) talks about The Satire Paradox (39:10). The paradox being that satire doesn’t seem to change anyone’s mind. Something to think about.

Planet Money took a novel approach to the issue of fossil fuels by actually buying some oil and following it to the pump, looking at a variety of issues along the way. If you don’t have time for all five segments, listen to the last one that imagines a World Without Oil. (26:29)

One video to watch when you have a few minutes.

When it comes to TED talks, you probably think of inspiring lectures. But the E in the name stands for Entertainment and in this “talk” from a 2015 TEDx in Sydney, Australia, the wonderful acapella group The Idea of North explain their music and provide great, very entertaining examples. (17:04)


Picture Post #13

It’s been more than a month since I posted pictures to this space so here are a few of my better ones from that time. As always, a larger collection of my photographs are in my Flickr feed, at least until Yahoo has their fire sale.

Cooling Off

On a hot June day, this young lady enjoyed cooling off by walking through the water feature in the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery. Most adults just walked around it.

Lighter. Simpler. Faster

This is a 50’s era “portable” reel-to-reel audio recorder used by Voice of America reporters. It’s part of a display on the history of the organization in their Washington DC headquarters.

Guitar Player

The guitarist was part of a jazz quartet that provided music during an open house at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building. The Building is undergoing extensive renovation and will soon reopen with a history of world’s fairs held in both the US and other countries.

The Old Post Office Pavilion

The Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC is being renovated into a luxury hotel to open sometime later this year. It will be a long time before I will be able to apply the new name to the building without gagging. :-)

Artistic Television

There’s much to like about Stephen Cobert’s Late Show that debuted last September, starting with the opening credits. The visuals are hard to describe, a video flyover of New York scenes, modified using techniques that make the images look like a combination of miniatures and a color saturated drawing, slightly out of focus at the edges to give a dream-like feeling.

capriMany different inexpensive and free image editing programs allow amateurs like me to play with the technique (like one of my pretty lame attempts at the right) but it takes real artistry to create the 45 seconds that open Colbert’s program every night.

Now the show has released a longer, “director’s cut” version of the opening video 2 with about 90 seconds of unreleased footage. As a bonus, it’s backed by the full version of the show’s wonderful jazz-funk musical theme. Go. Watch. Enjoy.

And I’ll go back to playing with my software.