Mad stories, Turing complete, Hiut, Fracking and the speed of light

If this sort of thing doesn’t demonstrate what is so great about the internet, then nothing will. Karol Martinka was a prominent business man and banker in pre-millennial Slovakia. His wife was a somewhat ‘unofficial’ adviser to the prime minister (Vladimir Meciar) whose relationship with the PM prompted a strange exchange in the Slovak parliament which finished with the incumbent PM making donkey ears at his opponent and storming out. That, however, is the least sensational thing about this story. Karol and his family, including his young son, were chased from the country by the government, and the mob, under accusations of significant financial skulduggery (understatement). They received asylum in Austria where in 2000 his wife stabbed her 9 year old son extensively before attempting suicide, unsuccessfully, by stabbing herself and jumping out of the 1st floor window. The young boy survived, even though the knife was pushed through his chest and out of his back, when his father heard his screams and rescued him. The mad wife was put into a psychiatric institution (who would have guessed) and eventually hanged herself when word of her estranged husband’s affair with his son’s long standing nanny reached her via her sister.
The son, Filip, did not deal with his subsequent adolescence well, with much needed, long standing , yet unsuccessful, psychiatric care. His nanny married his father, got a law degree and had a child (Filip’s stepsister). He now lives in Austria, works as a writer and translator, and all things considered is a relatively balanced individual (all things considered).
Here is his recent reddit AMA (as before with AMA’s the most efficient way to read is to scan for the name that is in bold. This is the answer, questions usually directly above). Just fantastic that we can have this kind of access to this kind of person, wow.
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This is a long piece but does a great job of articulating the philosophical problem I have with Apple. If you only read one link today it should be this one. It’s not an essay about Apple, but about the design philosophy that is a strong influence on Apple and other companies. It all runs around the user interface and the school of thought,led by Don Norman (a pre-eminent user experience design guru), that the computer itself should be invisible. The most effective interface he contends is no interface at all. It’s a seductive thought and resonates strongly with the whole ‘it just works’ ethos of Apple, and those that simply don’t fancy getting up to speed with the basics of computing. A number of technology breakthroughs are bringing the invisible computer closer and closer (touch screen, mobile, augmented reality). The problem is that an invisible computer leads to an invisible user, and that’s a whole different kettle of fish. Like it or lump it but the computer underlies modern western society now, and I can’t see that trend reversing. If we allow the invisible computer trend to dominate we will be giving the keys to our lives away, but we won’t even know who we gave them to or what they will do with them. This is no idle non threatening situation.
It’s slightly tangential, but to make my point I shall say that Open source computing is a fundamental requirement of a just and fair society. The problem is MOST people don’t know what open sourced computing is, much less how it contributes to a just and fair society. We can’t even have the debate.
http://contemporary-home-computing.org/turing-complete-user/
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I’m really loving this one. Let me introduce you to the Hiut Denim company from Cardigan in West Wales. They used to make jeans in Cardigan, almost 35,000 pairs a year and then… they didn’t. The company left and all that skill had nothing to do. Now we have Hiut making what I presume are pretty trendy jeans. As well as this heart warming tale (the website proclaims … “Our town is making jeans again” … on its homepage) is the delicious marriage of the digital and the analogue. When you buy a pair of Hiut jeans they come with a History Tag, a unique number not available to you until purchase, sewn inside the jean themselves. You go to the history tag website, put in your number and can then upload images and information relating to your jeans. Over the years the history of your jeans will be archived, and if you sell them, lose them or have them stolen th.is history can be maintained by those who come after you. Neat.
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The American 5th fleet is stationed in the Gulf and its role is to ensure that the flow of oil and gas from the region is unimpeded by, well, anything. However, now that the technology for fracking has become somewhat functional (both advances in the technology, and the higher oil prices of recent years are contributors) we have 2 new dynamics in the global oil markets and subsequently in the realities of geo-politics itself, which, of course, has long been highly influenced by oil. Firstly, America is facing oil independence again (!) and secondly, the world is, potentially, entering an era of energy abundance instead of scarcity. Big news indeed, but expect change to be fairly slow. The data is suggesting that the US will become the world’s largest producer by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia. This will potentially put a strain on the relationships between the US and the Gulf monarchies, change the dynamics of American support of Israel and introduces the thought that even if the Americans fancy leaving the 5th fleet where it is, just for kicks, as it were, they may have to share space with the newly emerging Chinese and Indian Blue-water Navys. The big losers might just be Russia and Putin,if he hasn’t been killed by a bear or a shark by then.
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This is the best way I’ve ever come across (the only way actually) to visualise the speed of light. It’s a TED talk and the link starts at the specific moment that a single photon of light is filmed passing through a bottle of water. It’s pretty cool, if a little underwhelming. What is awesome, however, is the comparison to a speeding bullet. If you were to watch a bullet, fired from a gun, making the same 14 inch journey….. it would take a YEAR to watch!
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