Ever found yourself in an office, several floors up looking out of the window, a large window that in fact stretches from the floor to the ceiling? I have, quite a few times actually (not that its anything special). On a few occasions I have leaned against the glass trusting that it would be secure, and the evidence of this being written of course tells that it was. On a few other occasions I have pondered the idea of testing the glass with something more substantial than a simple lean. Its a very easy idea to walk away from. I am never going to run at the glass to test that it is strong enough to prevent me falling to my death. If only Garry Hoy felt the same way he wouldn’t be dead. Running at the glass was Garry’s party trick until one day the whole pane popped out of its frame and that was the end of him.
Then there is Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart and officer in the British army. He was possibly the hardest man who ever lived. From his Wikipedia listing.
He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a POW camp; and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in World War I, he wrote, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war.”
Meet J002e3f an object found to be orbiting earth in 2002. This was a mystery as it had long been the accepted wisdom that the moon was the only substantial body in orbit in our skies. Originally it was assumed to be an asteroid but eventual analysis showed that the electromagnetic spectrum of the object was consistent with the paint used by NASA for the Saturn V rockets. Its no longer flying around us as the moon helped to slingshot it out of our orbit, although it is expected to return some time in the 2040’s. The first link shows its orbital path as it flirted with hitting us.
I have recently found a number of Wikipedia entries that just purport to function as simple nodes for crowd sourced lists. A nice dynamic resource. Here are 3 of them. Objects in the solar system by size, science in 2013 by month and emerging technologies by sector.
Alan Moore, the man who wrote Watchmen, is a pretty thoughtful guy. Here he delivers some really profound observations on the nature of modern celebrity, comparing it to the youthful adventure of ‘going to sea’ in centuries past, the requirements of the modern media landscape and the risks that celebrities are subsequently opened to.
This is a really well made anti drug driving advert from New Zealand. Three young kids sitting in a car waiting for their father, who is inside getting ‘blazed’ . There is no horrific moment of terror and destruction but a well written and performed piece as the children deliver light but poignant impersonations of the fathers driving under the influence.
This is pretty cool. A camera on an eagle.
Finally the 1k project. Ever wondered what 1000 Koenigsegg’s might look like ? Like this, sort of.
Dave Winer is a man with an interesting angle on a whole bunch of things. Here he makes a point about the Snowden leaks that I haven’t heard anywhere else. What starts, seemingly, as just another tech journalist having a go at Apple is in fact nothing of the sort. In fact its a nice and concise argument suggesting that at no stage did we need a whistle-blower to tell us that there was a significant issue that needed the attention of a horde of tenacious investigative journalists. Instead we get the PR department’s (from all the big tech companies, not just Apple) increasingly bland orchestrations. You have no doubt heard of the invisible layer of modern society, the computing or coded layer so to speak. Some of it, at least, is not as invisible as it once was. Winer makes the interesting observation that Snowden’s revelations, the biggest story of the century (so far), was an unambiguously technical story, but that all the tech journalists were prostrate at the feet of forced obsolescence and, some might say, were therefore somewhat derelict of duty.
The Strait of Hormuz is a very important body of water. Something like 20% of the world’s oil supply passes through the narrow choke-point (21 miles wide at the narrowest point) with Iran on the one side, the United Arab Emirates and Oman on the other. The US has apparently spent $20 trillion dollars on protecting and maintaining access to this deeply important bit of the world. This article from the Diplomat, outlines an Iranian strategy to try and re-balance the vast military asymmetry, focused on this body of water, with a surge in production of light submarines. The plan is essentially a predetermined suicide mission, the idea being that these small submarines can pre-deploy to the Straits and then wait, silently, for the moment they are expected to fire their torpedoes. At which point they are no longer hidden, the asymmetry reasserts itself and destruction follows.
This final article is a very long, serious piece from the Yale Journal of International Affairs, which asks, somewhat frighteningly, “Who authorized preparations for war with China?”. It covers a great deal more than just that one stark question, describing the components and derivation of a likely military strategy designed specifically for the potential conflicts with China, that someone, somewhere thinks we need to be ready for.
The article is worth reading for an introduction to the concept of Air Sea Battle (ASB). ASB is, in short, an acknowledgement that anti-ship missiles have become pretty good, and have subsequently reduced the actual threat of naval superiority via unimpeded access. If your aircraft carrier can be blown out of the water, then what good is your aircraft carrier? ASB, therefore, targets these anti ship installations (in the lingo, “anti access area denial capabilities”) at a very early stage in any conflict. The flash point inherent in this line of action is that these installations are situated on mainland China, and hence as a strategy ASB has the unfortunate side effect of increasing the risk of nuclear conflict.
The main question being asked here is about the lack of civilian, and hence elected, oversight to the development of this somewhat intense military approach. This is a very important question, no doubt, but for me and my money this article’s value lies in a somewhat detailed explanation of the whole concept and its history. Eye watering stuff.
James Bridle is the man behind the New Aesthetic, and an all round interesting person. Aside from making some truly important and reflective observations about the nature of our modern digital life he also spends time making artifacts that allow us to play and interact with various elements of the digital world. Like his Rorschmap, a sort of kaleidoscope for Google maps, and, even more fun, Rorschmap for Streetview. You can lose yourself in this ‘toy’ for hours. Here are a few of my favourite images.