Monday Links from the Bench vol. CDLXXXIII Monday Links from the Bench vol. CDLXXXIII
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    Default Monday Links from the Bench vol. CDLXXXIII

    First of the month, so I'm taking the risk of posting some stuff from sites I often don't include because of their annoying paywall limits. If you've already hit your quota on any of them, you'll have to copy the link and open it in porn mode a private browsing window

    • It Was Just a Kayaking Trip. Until It Upended Our Lives. - Jon Mooallem and friends went for a trip in Alaska, and as so often seems to happen to people who venture into the wilderness, disaster struck: ”Roberts was the crew member on the Mustang with the most current medical training; he would complete his E.M.T. certification the following month. As he started firing questions at Dave on the radio, he didn’t like the answers that he heard coming back… He was also unsettled to learn that Dave and I both lived in New York City — a red flag, he had found, when someone winds up in trouble in the wilderness.”

    • Robots on the run - Advances in robotics could mean the uprising will happen sooner than you think: ”When its guiding software performs well in the virtual world, that software is placed in a robotic body and then sent into the physical world. There, the robot will inevitably encounter limitless, and difficult to predict, irregularities in the environment… Hwangbo et al. have demonstrated a way of closing this performance gap by blending classical control theory with machine-learning techniques.”

    • What Can Fingerprints Tell Us About Ancient Artisans? - On smudges and what they can tell us about the past: ”While the use of fingerprints as a human marker of identity is a relatively recent practice and science, modern fingerprint technology has been helpful to archaeologists.”

    • The Day the Dinosaurs Died - There's a bit of a kerfuffle going on in academia at the moment as the New Yorker broke an embargo publishing this article based on a scientific paper by Robert DePalma. Furthermore, much of what's in the article isn't in the paper, so hasn't been peer-reviewed. But it's a cracking read: ”The asteroid was vaporized on impact. Its substance, mingling with vaporized Earth rock, formed a fiery plume, which reached halfway to the moon before collapsing in a pillar of incandescent dust… As the Earth rotated, the airborne material converged at the opposite side of the planet, where it fell and set fire to the entire Indian subcontinent… Meanwhile, giant tsunamis resulting from the impact churned across the Gulf of Mexico, tearing up coastlines, sometimes peeling up hundreds of feet of rock, pushing debris inland and then sucking it back out into deep water, leaving jumbled deposits that oilmen sometimes encounter in the course of deep-sea drilling. The damage had only begun.”


    • “The Big Error Was That She Was Caught”: The Untold Story Behind the Mysterious Disappearance of Fan Bingbing, the World’s Biggest Movie Star - If you thought HMRC was bad, consider the fate of the Chinese film star suspected of tax evasion: ”On Weibo, a famed TV host named Cui Yongyuan posted two versions of Fan’s contract for an upcoming film titled Cell Phone 2. One put her salary at $7.8 million; the other at $1.5 million. The implication was clear: Fan had fraudulently declared the smaller sum to the Chinese tax authorities, to avoid paying taxes on the rest… Sources close to Fan told me that she had been picked up by plainclothes police. While under detention, she was forbidden to make public statements or use her phone. She wasn’t given a pen or paper to write with, nor allowed any privacy, even when taking showers.”

    • The Physics of Building Jumps in The Matrix - ”It's one of the first real tests for Neo as he learns to manipulate this computer world. The goal is to run and jump from the top of one very tall building to the next building… Even though this is just a computer simulation, it's still fun to consider how a human could make this jump.” As part of Wired's look at the classic film on its twentieth anniversary, Rhett Allain explains how to beat the queue for the lift down and back up again.

    • Searching for Skylab - HT to DaveB for this site promoting a new film about NASA's original space station: ”Skylab was a crucial element in human space exploration, which happened to fall in the immediate shadow of the Apollo lunar missions. Hundreds of hours of video & audio recordings exist from it, yet it is unlikely that you've seen or heard much of it. Searching for Skylab is an independently-produced documentary made for people like you, to let you see and hear the real stories behind Skylab for themselves, some of which have never been told before!” As Dave says, "It really is an excellent bit of film making and worth the price of a pint to watch it (less if you live in That London)". He also linked to a review on El Reg: Searching for Skylab: Even the most casual astro-nerd will revel in this respectful elegy to unsung space history.


    • A dev trained robots to generate “garbage” slot machine games—and made $50K - ”This year's Game Developers Conference saw two game makers emerge with a possible chapter in a future dystopian sci-fi novel: the story of making money by letting robots do the work. In their case, that work was the procedural generation of smartphone games.” Plan B, anybody?

    • City of Coffins - Matthew Bremner visits Jucapa in El Salvador, where gang killings are so numerous that funerals have become a cornerstone of the local economy: ”Although the Pachecos are relatively new to the funeral business, they grew up around death. They’re from Jucuapa, a small city of about 18,000 people and about 30 coffin factories. Manufacturing the ‘wooden pajamas,’ as some locals call them, has become such big business in Jucuapa that families have abandoned their bakeries, butcher shops, and sugar cane fields to enter the funeral industry.”

    • Aleksey Kondratyev: Ice Fishers - ”Photographer Aleksey Kondratyev was working on a series about national identity in central Asia which took him to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. There he came across locals fishing through the ice on the River Ishin which bisects the city.” There are more photos and projects at Aleksey’s own site.



    Happy invoicing!

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    Great links, thanks!

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